summer

garden decides

Cashew & Spelt Gnocchi

We had a massive clean out in the garden this weekend, kind of an everything-must-go clearance of spent broccoli, earwig-eaten kale and woody fennel. And just in time to grab the last of the nettles too. The season turned really quickly this year – it seemed to take forever to get here, but the transition was complete in 2 days, according to the wilted and browned state of the veggies. So we did what we do every year, and pulled everything out ready for the next season’s efforts. I’ll admit to getting a bit sentimental over this process at times, I always feel bad pulling anything out that may still have a skerrick of green about it, but all it takes to quash that and buck up, is to think about the many pioneering hands that have worked the very same soil on our hill in the 100 or more years there’s been a veggie garden here. Our little patch is a good place for big thoughts.

Had to laugh at myself though, when I interrupted my subconscious mulling over the idea of changing my Instagram name. All romantic notions of connecting with my pioneering forebears ran off right about then. Thing is, the idea of an Instagram name wouldn’t have even been on my radar 5 years ago. Maybe 6. Does it ever make your brain hurt at where things might be at for all of us in another, oh, 5 years? Anyway, I did change it. My Instagram name, that is. Figured I write it in the wet cement of our renovations so it would be there in another 100 years. It’s bound to have historical significance. Having sorted that pivotal point out, I also made plans for dinner. To be honest, the garden decided that one without me. Here’s what the days gardening efforts became…

img_8905img_8964img_8920 img_8922 img_8936 img_8950 img_9004

Cashew & Spelt Gnocchi 

Serves 2

I make good use of the cashew cheese I make each week for the Scullery’s Saturday pop-up, so this recipe is exactly what I’ve been promising our cashew cheese customers, for maybe 6 months now. Eeep. Or you can always follow the recipe for cashew cheese here if you’re not able to call in to the Scullery this Saturday!

I make my own egg replacer for things like gnocchi too, but you can just as easily use 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water.

If you’d like to make the egg replacer, it’s great for when you want a lighter finish, with things like biscuits and cakes. This will make a batch that you can store to use beyond this recipe. To make it, mix together 1 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking powder and 1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum. Store it in a glass jar for up to 6 months.

For the gnocchi:

1 cup cashew cheese

1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour

1 tsp Himalayan salt

3 tsp egg replacer mixed in 6 tbsp water

Mix cheese and egg replacer liquid mixture in a medium sized bowl and add flour and salt, stirring together until you have a dough consistency. You should be able to handle it without it sticking to your hands. If it’s still sticky, add a little more flour, bit by bit.

Roll into sausages about 1 cm thick on a floured board and cut into 1-2 cm pieces with a sharp knife. On a floured board, make sure to keep them from touching, while you’re preparing the remaining gnocchi, you don’t want them to stick.

When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to the boil and gently drop the gnocchi in. Wait until they float to the top and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Serve with pesto immediately.

For the nettle pesto:

A generous handful of each of the following herbs –

organic nettles

organic fennel fronds

organic mint

organic sage

organic oregano

1 clove garlic

extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp capers in salt (don’t rinse)

Blitz together in a food processor until you have the consistency you prefer, adding the olive oil as you go.

To serve the gnocchi, drizzle generous spoonfuls of pesto across the hot gnocchi, top with extra rocket flowers, fresh herbs or whatever takes your fancy. These little guys are filling, so don’t be put off by what seems like a small amount!

 

wake up tea

Alu Paratha with Lemon Achar

Every morning that we were trekking in the Himalaya, we were woken up with hot tea brought to our tent; if that one action doesn’t set the scene for how much we loved being in India, I don’t know what could. Beyond stating over and over again how extraordinary the magnitude of the Himalayas is, and how I tried to find new spaces in my head and heart to cram it all in, I really can’t find a way to wrap words around the experience. It was as though every spiritual teaching I have ever happened upon, all the beautiful passages of poetry, every minute of yoga practice, and all the meditation I have ever sat in, all met in a point of singularity, and what really, really blew my mind was how they all just fell away, in an instant. And there I was breathing and walking. Breathing and walking became the most incredible things. Stuff I’d be doing, let’s face it,  for quite sometime now, these everyday things, all of a sudden became truly sacred. And that’s pretty much how it played out, from one moment to the next, so overwhelmed with the beauty of breathing and walking in surroundings that asked nothing more or less of me. Insane levels of peace right there. Wake up tea indeed. And that’s before we found ourselves sitting in the kitchen of an 1100 year old Buddhist monastery. Crazy beautiful.

IMG_3017 IMG_3051 IMG_3113 IMG_3174 IMG_3199 IMG_3215 IMG_3228 IMG_3250 IMG_3254 IMG_3284 IMG_3320 IMG_3359

And of course there’s so much more, there always is. And it’s still coming, even now that we’re home. I love that. And Alu Paratha, I love Alu Paratha. If there was a quintessential meal for me while we were in India, it was Alu Paratha, with Achar (pickle) and chai. So good. It’s our new Sunday brunch now that we’re back, and if the Gayatri Mantra is loud enough in the background, it just about tastes like the real thing – only with Spelt Flour, Vegan Butter and Almond Milk. Here’s our rendition of the originals if you’d like to create your own Little (Vegan) India.

Lemon Achar (Pickle)

The lemon achar will need to be made a few weeks before hand to allow the skins of the lemon quarters to soften, this is when you’ll know it’s ready.

1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-4 strands of saffron

1 small dried chilli

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt 

4 organic lemons

300 ml mustard seed oil

Lightly dry roast the spices in a pan until fragrant and popping, then add the salt and saffron and roughly crush in a mortar and pestle.

Cut the lemons in quarters and remove the pips. Put in a bowl and stir the spices through to coat the lemon quarters. Put the quarters into sterilised jars, stacking the fruit as you would for preserved lemons.

Gently heat the mustard oil in a pan until it is hot, but not smoking. Add the small chilli into the jar and pour the hot oil over the lemons. Make the jar airtight and leave for at least a week until the lemon skins have softened, again in the same way preserved lemons do.

IMG_6458 IMG_6466 IMG_6471 IMG_6474

 

 Alu Paratha

For the paratha:

1 cup organic spelt flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

2 tablespoons organic coconut oil

For the alu:

2 organic potatoes

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Boil the potatoes, drain and cool. Mash together with the spices, salt and lemon juice.

Mix the spelt flour with the salt and rub in the coconut oil. Slowly add the water until you have a workable dough.

 Split the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece out to about 1/2 cm thick. Place a tablespoon of the potato mix in the centre of each and fold the edges of the dough over the potato like you were wrapping a present.  Turn the dough over and gently roll out as thinly as possible to spread the potato mix throughout the bread, but trying not to break the dough and let the potato bust through. This can take a little practice!

Heat a flat grill plate and cook each paratha until golden, flipping halfway through the cooking time to cook both sides evenly.

Serve with lemon achar and chai.

IMG_6486 IMG_6487

 

 

you say tomato…

Roasted Tomato Passata

It’s been a bit of an odd season for tomatoes this year. I love that a 20 minute conversation can take place across our Farmer’s Market trestle discussing just that. It’s not that tomatoes haven’t grown this Summer, more that they seem to be waiting in the wings for something spectacular to call them into their starring role. Who knows what the trigger is to turn a tomato from green to red; I unconvincingly placed my faith in the Sun taking that job on, but nope, we’ve had plenty of that and still no dice. A new theory did emerge after last weekend though.

We have a truly brilliant manager at the Barossa Farmer’s Market, we all love Jess, and not just for the extra shine she’s brought to Saturday mornings, but also for the fact she really gets what communities are authentically looking for – participation. Showing up and making something happen. In this spirit, Jess organised the inaugural Barossa Farmer’s Market Great Passata Collective, complete with hand drawn logo. No need to explain why we love her so; hand drawn and hand coloured logo. On the back of a brown paper bag. It’s true.

 

 

IMG_5793 IMG_5799 IMG_5803 IMG_5833

 

The idea was, that a group of us keen green thumbs picked up our baby tomato plants in time to nurture a serious amount of homegrown produce to pool in the ‘Collective’s’ passata pot, at a later stage in the season. The part the tomatoes didn’t understand was their obligation to be ripe for the occasion, but to quote our Collective Commander, “never let perfect get in the way of good” – so we bought 200kg of tomatoes from fellow stall holder and the day was underway. It was brilliant. Dean Martin was cranking, interspersed with John on his mandolin, the passata was flowing and a quietly ingenious pasta machine assembly line assembled itself, so we could all share the day’s efforts with a communal lunch. Jess adoration was at its peak at this point!

 

IMG_5874 IMG_5875 IMG_5842 IMG_5863 IMG_5864 IMG_5882

 

So my latest theory on tomatoes and ripening, developed after the Great Passata Collective, because that’s exactly when our tomatoes ripened. Little punks knew we’d set a date for them to be ready and figured our expectation needed a little tempering with a reminder of who’s running this show. That’d be Nature. Let’s call the Collective the best way to have a practice run in passata making – ever – and run with the chance it gave me to tweak a few things after the fact. In lieu of a missing assembly line of pasta machines at the ready and all those extra hands to make light work, I went with the easiest option I could think of; put all the uncut tomatoes, stems and all, into a roasting pan with a good dousing of olive oil, salt and pepper, and this way the oven makes passata for you while you drink tea, or similar. I’ve never done this before so I was quietly relieved when it actually worked. Once the tomatoes are burnished and shrunken, throw the whole lot into a colander, or mesh sieve, over a pan and use the back of a spoon to push the reduced tomato pulp through. The stems and skins stay on one side of the fence and the already seasoned tomato puree lands in the pan. Done.

 

IMG_5646 IMG_5672IMG_5692 IMG_5766

big’s the new small

Homemade Verjuice

With all good intentions to be back in blog-land on a regular basis, life got a bit too big over the last month. And mostly because it kept reminding me it doesn’t go on forever. That’s the big bit, the rest I can handle. I’ve said goodbye to some truly beautiful souls this month, and been cheerleading for others who are going through serious illnesses, and in all the moments that my stomach has been flipped with raw emotion, and all the analysing of what could or couldn’t be, the very simplest notion has surfaced, slowly but surely; whether a soul is physically with you or not, you have the choice to keep loving them. So each time my hands dropped from covering my face and slid into place over my heart, I tried to just keep loving.  It didn’t always work, but when you strip everything back, what else is there to do? The sadness is just another way love wraps itself up. The silver lining concept doesn’t always sit well when you’re in the thick of things though, more than happy to be the first to acknowledge that. Silver seems to be the chosen colour of our elusive buddy, perspective.

That hit home in all sorts of ways over the last month too. Not least in what was happening in the garden with the crazy weather we had going on – extreme heat followed by torrential rain for 3 days straight. I was so relieved for all of our animals and the land itself, that I forgot to be upset by what it did to the bounty of grapes we had almost ready for picking on our few vines. When you are surrounded by vignerons though, it doesn’t take long to be reminded as to what that kind of weather can do to an entire year’s worth of work prior to harvest. Agriculture’s a tricky game to play if you try to force your hand. I’ve been working with Maggie Beer for the last 9 or so years and she’s such a great ‘silver lining hunter’, which is why verjuice was the first thing that came to mind when I saw all of our unripe grapes had split. It’s exactly how things happened for Maggie all those years ago too – provenance or perspective, whichever name you give it, rolling with the punches seems to be the best way to honour the ‘bigness’ of it all.  Little things never stay small for long when you remember to leave a seat spare for perspective. I’m so grateful for that. And for intuitive grape stealing puppies who jump into your life just when you need them the most. Little Wolfie had no problem finding the positive in a basket of just picked grapes, ripe or not. God, it made me laugh to watch him.

So, verjuice. You may have come here for a recipe after all! This is exactly how Maggie suggested making verjuice to me, without going through the stabilising process she needs to. This is truly the homemade option, and super simple. You’ll just need unripe green grapes, a juicer and some ice cube trays. And then whenever the mood for risotto, pasta, quinoa, soup, salad dressings, or fancy roasted veggies should strike, you just pop a couple of ice cubes from the freezer and you’ll be banging on about verjuice like you were Maggie herself! It’s really good stuff.

 

IMG_5529 IMG_5535 IMG_5538 IMG_5555

 

Homemade Verjuice

As many organic unripe green grapes as provenance will muster

Just juice the grapes and pour into ice cube trays to keep frozen for when you need verjuice in any recipe. The freezing process simply halts any fermentation of the grape juice, keeping that wonderful bite to the verjuice. Use it wherever you would use lemon juice or white wine in a recipe. I love drinking it with sparkling mineral water too.

IMG_5558 IMG_5563 IMG_5567

 

 

 

hiding from summer

Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

It has been so ridiculously hot here out on the hill. Not the kind of heat that encourages swimming or running through a sprinkler to cool off. Uh uh. This is the kind of heat you do everything you can to hide from. We’ve been getting up extra early to try and make everyone’s days a little easier to bear. The piggies get a new mud puddle to wallow in all day – they really know what they’re doing with mud as sunscreen. The big brown pony gets his summer rug on in the hope the brightness of the white fabric will reflect as much sun in the opposite direction as possible. He also gets a fly veil on for obvious reasons – not just because the whole get up makes him look like the horse equivalent of the Masked Avenger. ‘Cause it does. We set up a sprinkler for the geese and ducks – they love it. The chooks just stand on the periphery shouting out encouragement but never going in themselves, it’s like a stage show musical complete with synchronised swimming by the ducklings who are bobbing around like marshmallows in the ‘pool’. Amusement is always at hand out here, at least that’s never razored by the haze of heat.

We also wander around with a hose attached to the end of our arms for at least an hour each morning, watering anything that isn’t protected by drip irrigation. Once the greenhouse is thoroughly drenched and all the terracotta pots are brimming with their own reservoirs, we head inside to disappear behind the striped light of window blinds and the moments of relief as the fan oscillates past us on its constant back and forth and back again. And then it’s time to irrigate ourselves!

I’ve been making up all different kinds of fruit and flower waters this Summer, letting different ingredients grab my attention while we water the garden each morning. There’s been some really delicious combinations and gorgeous colours with the added bonus of all the vitamins and minerals from whatever fruits, flowers and herbs are swimming around in the jug.

There are so many options with the produce Summer offers –

cucumber / green apple / mint

strawberry / basil / lime

lemon / celery / grape

rosemary / apricot / ruby grapefruit

And because we’ve been making our own essential oils at home, I’ve been adding a splash of hydrosol too. Unfortunately our hydrosol is in the same little brown bottles as our essential oils and I introduced my Mum to some ‘lovely rosemary water’ the other day that she nearly choked on. Yeah, so don’t do that. Hydrosol is the water leftover after the essential oil is separated out, don’t be tempted to substitute on that one, or your Mum may never drink anything you put before her without wincing and sniffing it first.  My poor Mum, no wonder she’s suspicious of my ‘alternative’ lifestyle. Now she’ll have to add ‘normal’ water to her BYO list of instant coffee and cow’s milk when she visits.

Anyway, here’s one of our current favourites and it’s delicious, trust me…

IMG_5054 IMG_5059 IMG_5063

 

Blueberry, Calendula, Orange & Lavender Water

1 litre rainwater

10-12 organic blueberries

1 organic orange, cut into quarters

3-4 fresh calendula flowers

6-8 fresh borage flowers

1 tbsp lavender hydrosol

Pour the water into a jug and slightly squash and squeeze the fruit as you put it in along with the flowers and hydrosol. Add ice and hydrate to your heart’s content.

IMG_5047 IMG_5074 IMG_5081

 

 

 

 

plane picnic

Beetroot Burgers

At the risk of sounding like a retreat junkie, I’m on a plane heading to Bali to do another dose of yoga and meditation. If only this could be an ongoing monthly occurrence in my life! More about that when I get back.

Because it’s all I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of days, I wanted to talk about what to pack when you’re flying if you don’t eat really overcooked non-descript meat and cold white bread rolls. I’m flying with a couple of buddies today and between us we could just about open a wholefoods cafe on board. We’d be the ‘alternative’ flight attendants. Dressed in organic hemp uniforms, no doubt.

The thing with taking food on planes is that you want to eat anything that will help hydrate you, but you don’t want anything that will leak over your only pair of socks. Beetroot burgers. Plus fresh fruit; apples are great because you don’t have any skin to peel and they can handle a bit of a pre flight bumble about in your bag. Raw nuts are really good too. I’ve packed a ziplock bag of rocket that I picked from the garden this morning, no dressing, but that’s forgiven, it’s still a load of chlorophyll going in along with the burgers. I usually pack dehydrated coconut water powder to mix into whatever water I drink on board too, really good stuff to up your electrolytes. And maybe a little orange and chia seed muffin or two. And tea! I always pack loose leaf tea with a single cup infuser so you just need to ask for hot water.

The easiest thing is to make these burgers for dinner the night before you fly out so you can quickly pop a few of them into a container once they’re cold the next morning. They taste pretty good cold too, another factor to tick off when your packing your plane picnic. When we had these last night, we added nettle pesto but that’s not exactly plane friendly when you think about opening a jar of raw garlic under the nose of the person next to you. It’s really good with these though, for the non-flying times.

 

IMG_4859 IMG_4855

 

 

Beetroot Burgers

makes 12

 

3 medium sized organic beetroot, grated

1 organic leek, finely chopped

300g organic borlotti beans, cooked and cooled

2 cups organic brown rice, cooked and cooled

1 cup fresh organic chervil

1 cup fresh organic parsley

1/2 cup organic pepitas

1/2 cup organic sunflower seeds

1 heaped tablespoon organic tahini

2 teaspoons organic coriander seeds, dry toasted and ground

1 teaspoon organic cumin seeds, dry toasted and ground

1 teaspoon organic fennel seeds, dry toasted and ground

organic GF whole flour or spelt flour, to coat burgers

Celtic salt & pepper to taste

 

Blitz the cooked beans, herbs, tahini, spices and half of the seeds in a food processor until you have something resembling hommus.

In a large bowl, combine the pureed bean mixture with the chopped leek and grated beetroot. Add the remaining seeds and cooked brown rice. Season to taste.

To shape the burgers, have a plate of spelt flour at the ready and as you mould each burger with your hands, coat both sides in the flour, this will stop them sticking when you cook them.

Heat a flat grill and cook the burgers for 8-10 minutes, flipping half way through the cooking time to ensure both sides are evenly cooked.

Serve with fresh greens, whether at your table or in seat 16F.

IMG_4836 IMG_4838

moonlighting

Whole Spice Cola

With the very first Full Moon Farm Gate happening this Saturday night under not just a full moon, but a super full moon, I figured it would be especially good timing for my buddy Ben to share one of the most amazing recipes that will sit trestle-top on the night. Superfood cola. I can’t be entirely sure my earliest taste of this wasn’t the driving force to create the Full Moon Farm Gate in the first place. Thanks so, so much for sharing Ben, and even more for making this, it’ll be the coolest thing to be sipping on this Saturday night. After reading the epic ingredients list for this, all those heading to Langmeil on the 25th may well want to genuflect at the Moonlight Cola stall prior to purchase.

 

Beautiful pics, witty narration and epic recipe by Ben…

Cola Ingredients bottle and glass

 

 

So, this is a recipe for making cola syrup at home. I can’t remember exactly what started this little project – I suspect there may have been rum involved – but it’s developed into a series of still-running, sticky experiments which take over our kitchen for days at a time. Thankfully, it makes the house smell amazing throughout the process, otherwise I think I’d be making it in the garden shed by now.

A funny thing about cola is that it’s a wholly modern invention – well, late 1800’s anyway – and was made from the start with a lot of chemistry, using essential oils for flavour. Unlike a lot of recipes that are now mass-produced, there’s no ‘original homemade version’ we can go back to if we want the real thing (pun absolutely not intended). The name ‘cola’ comes from the Kola nut used in the original recipes, but Kola nut doesn’t really taste of much on its own – vaguely woody, and a bit bitter – it’s just there to provide caffeine. The real flavours that make something taste cola-ish are vanilla and sour citrus to offset the sweetness.

Anyway, the idea behind my tinkering is to make something that’s definitely cola, but by using real ingredients: whole spices, fresh zest and unprocessed sugars for sweetness. Really, it’s just a big, involved pot of some sort of mutant chai tea, with sugar added to turn it into a concentrated syrup. It keeps forever in the fridge – just add sparkling water whenever you fancy something sweet (yes, you can add rum if you’re a grown-up and/or a pirate).

 

Pestling

 

Whole Spice Cola

 1l water

Round one

3 whole vanilla beans

10 star anise nibs (1-and-a-bit whole stars)

10 green cardamom pods

10g coffee beans

10g cacao nibs or whole beans

5g cinnamon stick

2g long pepper

2g black peppercorns

4 cloves

10g dried açaí berry

 

Round two

24g tamarind pulp

20g fresh ginger

5g fresh turmeric

5g fresh galangal

pinch of saffron

2g lavender flowers

 

Round three

10g whole, fresh citrus leaves (lime, lemon, orange, cumquat are all good)

15g lemon zest

15g lime zest

15g orange zest

 

Round four

75g rapadura sugar

50g raw caster sugar

25g dark muscavado sugar

A pinch of sea salt

2tsp of citric or tartaric acid (taste!)

 

Take all the whole, woody spices (that’s all of round one, except the cinnamon, vanilla and açaí) and gently crack them in a mortar and pestle – we’re just trying to open the pods and seeds, without making any fine dusty bits. Dust is our nemesis, as you’re about to find out! Split the vanilla pods with a sharp knife – don’t worry about doing the famous ‘seed scrape’, for once we don’t need the floaty little specks. 

Starting cold, add the water and all the round one ingredients to a pot, and bring it to just under simmering. We’re really just making our giant pot of tea at this point, so we don’t need to see any bubbles. Keep it at this temperature for 30 minutes, stirring whenever you feel like it.

Lime and cinnamon

Add all the round two ingredients to the pot and give it a good stir. Keep it at the tea-brewing temperature for another 10 minutes, then go fishing for the tamarind pulp with your wooden spoon – it’ll be sitting in soft-ish lumps at the bottom of the pot. Either with the back of the spoon, or with your fingers if you’re feeling heatproof, break up the lumps so they dissolve nicely. Once that’s done, give everything a big stir, and let it keep brewing for another 30 minutes. 

Turn off the heat, then add the round three ingredients. Stir the pot well, cover it tightly, and let it cool completely. Adding the citrus ingredients last, and letting them infuse in the cooling liquid keeps the raw, zesty flavours better intact.

Infusing

Alright – what we’re dealing with now is the base flavour for our cola. Taste it: you should get sourness from the zest and tamarind, big earthy dark flavours from all the woody spices, and some sweetness and a big dose of vanilla perfume. It will taste bitter, too – just like you’d expect an hours-long-brewed tea to. That’s fine, even desirable. The real challenge now is our nemesis – the floatie. I’m going to digress on a little bit of science here (if I don’t bring science to a guest-post on the Scullery blog, I’ve failed) – but if you want to skip this part, be warned. There is filtering in your future. Lots of it.

So, the science. It’s about bubbles. Bubbles belong in cola like, well, like they belong in champagne. The problem with our lovely home-infused concoction is that it’s full of all the little floaty particles that separated from our delicious whole ingredients. Bubbles and floaty-particles are really, really good friends – as soon as sparkling water touches a floaty-particle, a big new bubble springs into being (bonus nerd points – every particle is a potential nucleation site). If there are thousands of floaty-particles in your syrup, then you get thousands of bubbles all at once – which gives your glass a head like badly homebrewed beer, and you a flat drink about 30 seconds later. Incidentally, I imagine this is why the original and ‘clone’ recipes you see floating around for the famous, mass-produced colas all call for essential oils of orange, lemon, neroli – you get some of the flavour without any floaties).

Anyway, presuming you’re going to mix your cola syrup with some lightly sparkling water we need to get our syrup as clear and free of floaty bits as we practically can. Let’s get started:

First, slowly pour off the liquid, through a colander and into a bowl. If you’ve got a fancy conical one, use that. That removes the bits bigger than 5mm or so. Save the vanilla beans, and throw the rest in the compost. Clean your pot, then pour the liquid back into it, this time through a fine mesh sieve. Pour slowly (you don’t want to push bits through the mesh with the force of the liquid), and tap gently on the side of the sieve to encourage things if you like. Definitely don’t rub spoons or anything around inside the sieve – let gravity do its thing. We’re down to soft pieces smaller than about 1mm now, which are still plenty big enough for bad nucleation to happen – we’ve got to keep going!

Set yourself up a clear glass bottle, funnel, and the clean mesh sieve. Pour the liquid gently through the sieve again to fill the bottle. Cap the bottle, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Decanting

The next day, you should find a layer of sediment has settled to the bottom of the bottle. Gently, gently take the bottle and pour off the clear liquid on top, back into the pot. Stop before you hit the goo in the bottom. If you want to save every last drop, pour the goo layer back through the sieve, and into a paper coffee filter. You might also see some yellowish solidified oils around the neck of the bottle – don’t worry, they’re there as evidence we’ve used real, proper ingredients, and they’ll reincorporate once you add the sugar.

Now, if you want super-crystal-clear syrup, you can paper-coffee-filter the liquid at this point. Be warned though – filtering through paper takes hours (or days, as I found out while experimenting). If you’re going to do it, set up lots of funnels and lots of filter papers, to spread the load out as much as you can. If you can’t be bothered with this step, just be gentle when you pour the finished syrup – the last little bits tend to settle out in the fridge over time.

When you’re happy with the amount and clarity of the liquid, gently warm it in the pot, just enough to take the chill off. Pour all the sugar into a clean bottle, add the liquid, and shake and stir until everything’s dissolved (you can be rough with it, it’s cool!). Now’s the time to have a taste test as you add the final two ingredients: the sea salt and the acid. The salt is a funny thing – you definitely won’t taste anything salty, but it really brings out the flavours of everything else. The acid is perhaps a debatable point: with everything else being completely whole and natural, it seems a shame to add it, but it gives the finished drink a sourness and ‘rightness’ that I just haven’t been able to get with any other ingredient. Tartaric acid is my pick – it has the handy benefit of preventing the syrup crystalizing in the fridge, and seems to help the mixed drink hold onto its bubbles better. In any case, both acids are naturally found in fruit: citric in citruses, tartaric in grapes (amongst other things), and if you use baking powder in a cake, you’re using tartaric acid anyway. You can easily, easily overdo the acid, though, so add a little bit, mix up a mouthful with water, then adjust until you have it as sour as you like. My syrup usually has about 3 teaspoons per litre, but you’ll need to adjust depending on all your other ingredients. 

For the final drink, I usually use 6:1 sparkling water to syrup – roughly 1 shot in a tumbler of sparkling water – but this syrup isn’t very sweet, as far as these things go. You can personalise the flavour a lot with the blend of sugars you use: More muscovado will give you caramelly-molasses flavour, and the dark-brown colour people expect from cola. Panela or rapadura brings mellow honey flavours, and lighter sugars (raw or even white) are sweet but very neutral, which let more of the herbs and zests come through. 

All that’s left is to bottle it however you like. Depending on how assiduous your filtering is, you’ll get about 800ml of syrup, and it’ll keep for months in the fridge. Cheers!

Finished

flavour punch

Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

So much of what has arrived on our plates of late has been homegrown in friends’ gardens. I know I tend to bang on about this, but it’s such an incredibly precious thing to me. If you gave me your new puppy that you just picked up, it would be on a par with how I feel about being handed brown paper bags full of hand nurtured cucumbers and tomatoes. We’re talking serious appreciation. This week eggplants arrived across the trestle at the Farmer’s Market – from the side that we are supposed to give to, there’s been a lot of receiving going on this Summer. We all get to play shops and everyone’s happy. These eggplants were the lovely long type, perfect to cut through into chunks and know they would still melt down beautifully when cooked. Add the yellow tomatoes that were on the stall behind us at this week’s market and it had to be curry.

This is such a simple recipe, but man, it packs a flavour punch. As long as the produce is great to begin with. Broken record cliches of recipe writing I know, but it makes every difference. This curry had both Damien and I sitting in silence for a minute before we started eating, nothing planned or ritualistic, we were just stopped by the gratitude of beautiful people sharing incredible food.

I’m on a plane at the moment heading to Singapore to meet my brother for an awards dinner our restaurant has been nominated for. That’s a very cool thing. And I can’t wait to hang out with my big brother for a while. The reason I mention this though is because often when we have something delicious that we’ve cooked at home and it’s had that magical something about it, I’ll say “oh, I should do this at Eat Me”. The thing is without these eggplants and these tomatoes and this purple basil, it wouldn’t be a pinch on what landed on our table this week. That’s not to say we don’t get amazing produce in Thailand, we do. But there is something above and beyond about homegrown veggies. I guess that’s why so many restaurants are creating their own produce gardens. I guess that’s why I bang on about it so much. Right, might be time to turn the rooftop at Eat Me into a garden instead of a bar. Garden bar? Serving green smoothies instead of cocktails? And just picked eggplant and yellow tomato curry. Could be a thing.

IMG_2857

IMG_2799 IMG_2809IMG_2879

 

Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

serves 4

 

4-5 small organic eggplant, cut into 2 cm rounds

2 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 tsp organic turmeric, freshly grated

4 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

6 black peppercorns

2.5cm piece organic ginger, freshly grated

1/2 tsp paprika

handful of organic purple basil leaves, or fresh coriander

3 organic yellow tomatoes, and some baby toms too, roughly chopped

1 tsp Himalayan salt

juice of 1 organic lemon

 

Dry roast the cumin, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns in a pan until they start dancing. Remove and grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium size saucepan and add the eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric and spices. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, until tender. This is somewhere round 15 minutes. You might need to add a bit of water to stop it sticking. When everything is cooked, remove from heat, season to taste and add the lemon juice and fresh purple basil. I added a few extra fresh tiny toms too

We ate ours with cucumber coconut raita and blackbean chapati while the sun went down. It was declared a good day.

IMG_2814 IMG_2786 IMG_2828

raw gratitude

Raw Plum & Raisin Choc Tops

The most amazing generosity happens at this time of year in the Valley. Orchards and veggie patches kindly offer their wares in brown paper bags, handed over with the care and reverence homegrown produce deserves, accompanied by a simple ‘thought you’d like these’ or ‘our peach tree’s having a good year’. Sometimes it’s just a smile as the package gets put down and conversation continues on easily because both parties are fully aware of the exchange – equal parts kindness and gratitude. I can’t tell you how much I love this unspoken, old school, country practise.

In the last fortnight we have had gifts of homegrown cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and asian greens (thanks Pete and Beck), just picked figs (thanks Ilona), peaches and plums from gnarly old trees that know exactly what flavour is (thanks Janelle and Paul) and the most beautiful little bean flowers (thanks Jenny). Any gardener knows the preciousness of bearing witness to food being created in amongst leaves and tendrils, which is probably the reason that any gardener also completely understands the joy in sharing it. It’s far from just a bag of peaches that gets placed in your hands.

So, this is the state of mind I was in when I received a handpicked bounty of lovely dark plums the other day and the shrine of plum appreciation began its construction. That’s my romantic take on ‘these-raw-plum-and-raisin-choctops-take-a-while-to-make’. Not as long as the tree took to create them though. The deal’s still well in our favour here.

 

IMG_2665 IMG_2582 IMG_2591 IMG_2596 IMG_2608

 

Raw Plum & Raisin Choc Tops

makes 4 – 6 

 

1 cup organic raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours

1 fresh organic drinking coconut

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 tablespoon organic raw maca powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons organic coconut nectar

1 vanilla bean, stripped

8-10 organic dark red plums

1/2 cup organic raisins

batch of raw chocolate, for dipping

paddlepops sticks or similar for ‘handles’

bee pollen ‘sprinkles’

 

Start this ice cream the day before by dehydrating the plums until semi dried to really intensify the flavour. You can soak the cashews the day before too if that helps the flow of things. 

To make the ice cream, crack open the young coconut and scoop out the flesh being carefully not to bring any husky bits with you. Put into a food processor or Vitamix, along with the coconut oil, maca, 1 tbsp coconut nectar and vanilla seeds. Blitz until really smooth. Drink the coconut water while you wait.

Once the mixture is thick and creamy, stir in the raisins and put aside in a jug ready to pour into the moulds or cups that you have chosen to set the ice creams in.

To make the raw plum ripple, simply blitz the semi dry plums, cinnamon, cloves and remaining coconut nectar in the processor until smooth.

Have your sticks and ice cream moulds ready. I used vine cuttings because I didn’t have paddlepop sticks and I think I’ll do this every time now because they looked pretty cute. Just make sure if you head into nature for your sticks that they haven’t been sprayed.

To assemble the ice creams, fill about 1/6 of the mould with the raisin/coconut ice cream mix, then add a dollop of plum jam, and continue layering like this until the mould is full. Push your ice cream stick into the mix and stir it around no more than twice before positioning it in the middle of the mould. Repeat with all moulds until full and place into the freezer to set.

When the ice cream is really solid, you’re ready to dip into the raw chocolate. Remove the ice creams from the moulds by setting the moulds into hot water for a few seconds and then slide the ice creams out by gently pulling on the sticks. Set the ice creams on a piece of baking paper back into the freezer to harden again while you make the raw chocolate.

While the chocolate is still runny, dip each ice cream into it to coat and sprinkle bee pollen over the chocolate as you turn the ice cream round in your fingers. Place back into the freezer to harden once the chocolate has lost its shine and you know it has set.

You will probably need to take these out of the freezer for 5 minutes before you want to eat them as they are solid ice cream. But so creamy. And good for you. Done and done.

grape giving

Schiacciata

Shopping in supermarkets made me forget how precious food is for a while there. Growing our own food again was the best reminder. Planting something, caring for it, saving it from earwigs and rogue free range chickens, and finally harvesting it, put me firmly back into the loop of appreciating just what plants do for us. It seems a deal that’s pretty much skewed in our favour too; a little water, some horse poo and a place in the sun is exchanged for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Which brings me to the fact we’ve been eating grapes for three meals a day of late. This is the first year our vines have said ok, fair’s fair, you’ve loved us from our infancy across the last 5 years, and now here’s enough food to see you through Summer. It’s a beautiful thing. I feel like I’m in an advert for local tourism when I walk away from the row of vines with handfuls of grapes wrapped in the makeshift bucket of my t-shirt. The dialogue of thanks between me and the vine while I’m picking, is not something I can imagine getting away with in the fruit and veg section of a supermarket.

So, fresh grape juice and grapes in smoothies and bowls of fresh grapes make for easy breakfast options, then lunchtime salads of grapes and cashew cheese, walnuts and greens are a winner, but dinner can get a bit trickier. Enter schiacciata. Never has ‘squashed’ bread been so good.

We used a sneak of sourdough from our mix of baking for the Farmer’s Market for the base, but you can easily use any favourite pizza dough recipe, or even make things a bit gnarlier with some wholegrain additions. The thickness of the base can be anywhere from a focaccia size to a flat bread but because I cooked this in our sandwich grill and couldn’t get anything too thick in there, I went with more of a traditional pizza base thickness.

As a quick side note, a couple of very clever friends put the hemp food cover you can see over the dough, in my hands this week and I have to share the joy of no more plastic cling film. Hemp, beeswax, tree resin and organic cotton. Washable and reusable. How cool is that? Check out Abeego if you want more info. Ok, community service announcement over!

 

IMG_2744 IMG_2736IMG_2750 IMG_2762

 

Schiacciata

 

1 generous bunch organic red seedless grapes

fresh organic rosemary

Himalayan salt

Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Organic pizza dough

Extra flour for rolling

 

 

After you have made your base and let it go through its rising time, roll it out into 2 pizza bases on a floured board.

Place onto the grill, or onto a pizza stone if you are planning on cooking it in the oven, and press the grapes into the dough, along with the fresh rosemary sprigs.

Cook to your liking and serve seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil.

IMG_2731 IMG_2739 IMG_2723

« Older Entries