Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marty's Meatballs

This is one of my favourite things to cook, but every time I make it, it changes. It’s really never the same each time, but I’m going to post my last make so I finally have something captured. Meatballs are a two pronged endeavour; purists would argue less is more, and others would argue that more is the end of the story. I like more. But granted, there is a time and a place. On a winter’s night I want heat, I want texture, I want spice and I want complex.

Meatballs have been prepared all over the world for many years and there are records in the Ancient Roman cookbook Apicius that make reference to meatballs.

Serves four - five
For the meatballs
500g beef mince
2 eggs
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ large onion
½ large field mushroom
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
4 cloves, crushed
1 tsp nutmeg
3 ground bay leaves
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp salt
½ teaspoon chilli flakes

For the Sauce
2 cans whole, peeled tomatoes
3 large vine ripened tomatoes, diced
½ cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
1.5 large field mushrooms, diced lengthways
Olive oil for cooking
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
½ chilli flakes
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by finely dicing all of the meatball ingredients and combine, using your hands to meld the mixture. Roll into small balls and let sit in refrigerator.

In a pan, heat olive oil and fry meatballs off on medium to high heat, browning evenly, then set aside. Add more olive oil to the pan and add garlic, onions and mushrooms to brown. After cooking for 3 -5 minutes, remove from pan and add a dollop of red wine to deglaze. Let the alcohol cook out of the wine to leave behind the grapey nodes. Add tomatoes, both fresh and canned and then add back garlic, onions and mushrooms. Add the herbs and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, adding and adjusting herbs, salt and pepper to taste. It is a matter of trial and error until you reach your desired taste.

Bake in the oven with meatballs for 40 – 60 minutes at 180 degrees. Serve with pasta, as desired. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Pickle Sandwich

A beautiful smoked salmon rye bread sandwich with pickles, salad and mayonnaise. A perfect open sandwich for a luncheon with friends and family.

I love sandwiches with endless amounts of salad, mayo and some form of meat. Salad sandwiches always remind me of primary school and lunch with friends. You need sweet and savoury, and you need crunch and you need a power packing punch of taste! Served open plate

Serves two
4 slices of rye bread
100g smoked salmon
Handful of mixed salad leaves
8 cornichons
6 slices beetroot
2 slices cheese
Bunch of snowpea sprouts
3 tbsp mayonnaise


On a plate, or small chopping board, plate each slice of the bread as you please. The first for me was mayonnaise, greens, sprouts, beets and then salt and pepper. The second is butter (if you like) and salmon.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Semolina Calamari

Three Ingredients to Semolina Calamari

The easiest squid calamari recipe! Always use fresh calamari if you can and cut into rings at home, it’s fresher and not so tough.

Serves three – four

2 medium sized calamari hoods
¼ cup semolina flour
¼ cup regular flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small red chilli (optional)
Olive oil for cooking

Start by washing calamari and then lightly dry to remove too much excess moisture. Keep it at room temperature too before cooking. With the calamari flat, cut to make thin rings. Combine semolina and regular flour and lightly toss the calamari. In a shallow pan, heat olive oil on medium heat and cook rings once heated for no more than 1 minute, flipping once to brown evenly. Place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.

Once cooked, add salt, pepper and chilli and toss calamari. Serve with lemon and aioli mayo.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Seared Scallops with Wasabi and Avocado Puree

The butter of the sea paired against a beautiful wasabi avocado puree, topped with fried onions

This is a fusion Japanese dish, melding butter and Chinese wine to sear scallops. Scallops are naturally rich and buttery in flavour and searing in butter really enhances the taste of the scallop.

I love wasabi and purists would never really mix wasabi, as it dilutes the intensity. However, modern cooking calls for adaptation. Mixing wasabi and lime with avocado really adds so many levels of sensory confusion when you eat with a buttery scallop. I wanted to create a new intensity, to augment the purist ideals of traditional Japanese cooking. Adding the walnuts to the puree gives the dish a beautiful crunch and you really need it as the whole dish is quite soft.

You don’t have to cook the life out of the scallop either, nicely seared on either side, with a mellow translucence in the centre is perfect. The fried onions topped on the dish and the Chinese cooking wine are readily available in most supermarkets in the Asian aisle.

Serves two
6 -8 scallop
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Chinese Wine

For the Puree
1 medium avocado
¼ lime juice
½ tsp wasabi
¼ cup walnuts
2 tbsp chives, diced
2 tbsp fried onions
1 tsp chives

Start by leaving the scallops in a paper towel for 5 minutes to absorb excess juices they may release when cooking. Next, smash all the puree ingredients, making sure you retain some crunch from the walnuts. In a pan, heat butter on a medium to high heat. Butter won’t burn too fast, but adjust heat as needed. Put the scallops on as soon as the butter is piping hot. Sear on the first side for 1 -2 minutes then turn carefully once with tongues and sear for around 1 to 1.5 minutes. Add Chinese cooking wine at the last moment to deglaze the pan and to pick up all of the beautiful flavours, it almost caramelises the scallop.

Plate the scallops on the puree, drizzle remaining butter and finish with fried onions and chives. Salt and pepper to taste

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chilli and Garlic Caramel Crab

 Lime, chilli and garlic caramel swimmer crab with sage butter potato medallions and a radish salad with ginger vinegar

I really enjoy food that heightens the senses with acute tastes, sharp on the palette contrasted against texture. I decided to experiment today and shift my focus to seafood and Asian fusion. I wanted to use beautiful soft crab meat to pair against bitter and sweet flavours, as well as adding soft and crisp elements with salad and vegetable. The meal has three elements and is a lot easier to finish quickly if you do all of your preparation first. Start with crab element, then potato than radish – quick fast execution gives you a beautiful meal that looks and tastes equally amazing.

Serves two

For the Crab
1 medium swimmer crab
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
½ tsp fish sauce
½ lime
1 clove garlic
1 small bullet chilli

For the Potatoes
2 medium washed potatoes
3 tbsp butter
3 – 4 sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Radish and Ginger Vinegar
3 medium radishes
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ water
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
Sprouts for plating.


Start by preparing the crab; boil in a pot for 5 - 7 minutes. While boiling, dice chilli and garlic. When done, open the torso, clean and carefully remove the meat – this can be timely, but have patience. In a pan, heat butter and add remaining ingredients. Softly stir through the crab and remove from heat shortly after to avoid over cooking the crab meat. Set aside.
Slice two potatoes length ways, and using a scalloping instrument, make medallions and set aside. I was savvy and used a metal medicine measuring cup. In a pan, heat butter and add potato. Fry evenly on each side for 3 -5 minutes until brown, adding sage and salt. Set aside.

In a pan, combine ginger, vinegar, water and sugar and bring to the boil. Cook and reduce for 7 – 10 minutes. Slice radish and when vinegar has cooled, toss radish and plate.

Plating is your creative freedom, I used snowpea sprouts to lay under the delicate crab meat, and the heads to colour the dish. You can also serve crab legs in a bowl on the side, a chance to get sticky and messy after the delicate dish; it’s all about contrast, right.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Inspiration and a Great Google Search Result

 Cooking for me has always been such a huge part of my childhood, I have so many beautiful memories of family and sharing meals. In later years, I found two extended members of my partially imaginary family – the Two Fat Ladies. The late Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson are two of the most inspirational cooks to date. Although they received a lot of criticism within the media for their weight, political correctness and culinary indulgence, I think a lot of people were missing the point and can agree that it is most definitely not for the light hearted.

No one can deny the value behind rich, over the top, artery clogging, decadent food, these ladies just took it to the next level. Behind every recipe was a story, an origin, a comic value and behind every meal was a table of unsuspected  niche group sort out by the women to cook for. I am a big boy at heart I think  - everything that they cook screams heart attack and there’s nothing better than having what you know you shouldn’t, at least in moderation.

‘Never trust a skinny cook’
‘Most vegetarians relapse on bacon, you know’

A lot of my recipe ideas come from this idea of decadence and the ‘no shame’ attitude Jennifer and Clarissa both had. Rarer, richer and robust. A lot of the recipes they cooked are niche and bordering on extinction so recreating an inspiration for the blog has really helped with the value it holds within the ‘blog world’.  After just short of 10 months of blogging, 39% of my recipes now hold top places within Google’s organic search. Admittedly  some of my recipes aren't very suspecting or common, but they still take the top of the board for what they are worth. I always grappled with the idea of ‘blogging’ but more than anything, it’s been really rewarding to actually achieve something that was inspired so much by my past. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Carbonara and Orange Wineries

Carbonara takes its origins from Latium, Italy. Traditionally this recipe uses eggs alone to make a creamy sauce, it also uses bacon or pancetta. Like most of my recipes, my carbonara will also be bastardised, using speck, butter, cream and less cheese, it’s balanced really well and reminds me less of greasy pasta in pseudo Italian restaurants. I went away to Orange for the week, a country city located in the Central West region of NSW. Orange is everything you want in a getaway; good weather, food, wine and people. Orange holds a lot of history, amidst modern development and  still retains its architectural beauty.  I cooked my pasta for lunch, doubling as a thick-carbed lining for my stomach, before I spent the afternoon visiting wineries. 

While I was in Orange, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the owners of Word of Mouth Wines, a beautiful clean practice winery from Orange, located 1000m above sea level, growing beautiful grapes along the mountainside of Mt Canobolas. The winery currently stocks to some of Sydney’s finest restaurants like Long Grain. I am going to be working closer with Word of Mouth Wines, in months to come, in time for Orange Food Week (hopefully!) and as spring rolls along, to see a great yield of wine produced this year, which promises good things for the palette.

Serves four
500g  spaghetti
250g Speck
1 brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large field mushrooms
1 cup thickened cream
2 egg yolks
Pecorino cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the speck into bite sized pieces, it will be beautifully marbled with fat and cured meat. Finely dice onions and garlic. The larger field mushrooms can be sliced thinly too, longways. In a pan, brown garlic, onion and mushrooms in butter. Once cooked and browned, set aside and cook speck, browning evenly on all sides. Add mushrooms, garlic and onions and set pan aside. Boil water, adding salt and olive oil and cook spaghetti as directed. Separately mix egg yolks with cream and add to the pan once it has cooled completely. This will stop the egg yolks from curdling. The egg yolks enhance the creaminess of the sauce, acting almost as a thickening agent.  Lastly combine pasta into pant and mix through, adding cheese, salt and pepper to taste.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paul Smith SS14 Zigzagging Between the 60’s and 70’s.

A first look at Paul Smith SS14 – With US Menswear Buyer for Paul Smith

Paul Smith has done it again, delivering another optimistic collection to the fashion world, carrying the power of cuts through from seasons past and moving ahead with optimism, colour and nostalgic prints. The collection contemporises flash colours proudly, paired with a classic Paul Smith English rock feel. The colour on colour blocking seen in previous seasons has evolved to geometric subtlety, with small, loud accents contrasted against black and unique hues. Paul creates a heightened proportion by elongating jackets and coats with leather extensions to the sleeve.

Although parallels can be drawn to the previous spring summer collection, which offered a nostalgic, kodachromatic excellence, Smith’s current master piece adds and extends, with greater lengths to exude English spring cheerfulness. This cheerfulness ties in a whimsical mushroom motif, with beautiful miniature pop colours, with each piece taking you on a trip through the 60’s.

True to inspiration, Smith also delivered key trends with models sporting the subtle ‘murse’ (man purse), geometric prints and an almost ‘teddy boy’ feel to the collection. Smith married sharp tailoring with a move to a more sports aesthetic.  

Paul Smith Menswear Buyer for the USA, Tyler Ruzicka gives exclusive key notes on the collection. 

The collection for SS14 was a story of rock and roll, the Rolling Stones, bordering on a psychedelic throwback, with an emphasis on contemporary sportswear meets vintage tailoring and new shapes for a modern Paul Smith man.

The themes followed an emphasis on dusty pastels with pops of damson and turquoise as well as electric pink, alluding to the psychedelic reference. Mushroom prints and prismatic colours further aided to the retro feel established.

I personally believe the contemporary sportswear will carry this collection. Key pieces are the vibrant mushroom, hand painted shirt as well as the mushroom print sweat top, eluding to a youthful, playful market. New formal-meets-playful trousers are also a strong feature. Mixed leather and engineered fabrics are classic in shape but modern in execution. Appealing to a the fresh, hip client.

A subtle colour pallet with pops of vibrant hues makes this collection eye catching and exciting. Texture is key in continuing to carry on this excitement. 

Images taken from style.com