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Ford On Food

Ford on Food

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Ford On Food

Ford On Food

Ford on Food

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Jason Ford has over 25 years of extensive experience in the food service industry. He is a professional chef, qualified commercial cookery lecturer, published food writer and culinary entertainer.Visit http://fordonfood.com.au/

Latest Episodes

Episode 52: Turning A New Leaf

Sometimes referred to as ‘Chinese parsley’ or ‘cilantro’ – coriander is a native herb of the Middle East and Southern Europe.However, it has also been popular throughout Asia for thousands of years.It grows wild in Egypt and the Sudan, and surprisingly can also be found growing wild in English fields.Most Australians would recognise coriander as an ingredient regularly used in Thai cuisine.The pungent tasting fresh green leaves almost look like the leaves of parsley, but with more of a flat and jagged appearance.The fragrant dried seed is globular and almost round, brown to yellow red, and 4mm in diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges. The seeds have a mild, distinctive taste similar to a blend of lemon and sage.The taste of the fresh leaves and dried seeds are so different from each other, that some people may love one, yet loathe the other.Some recipes, such as Thai curry paste often calls for the use the fresh roots of the coriander plant for its earthy, depth of flavour.Coriander tastes great with ingredients such as chilli, lime and ginger. Zucchini with Garlic and Coriander 500g zucchini1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil3 cloves garlic, minced2 tsp ground coriandersalt and pepperQuarter the zucchini lengthwise, and then cut pieces in half crosswise.Add zucchini to a medium saucepan of boiling salted water and cook uncovered over high heat for approximately 3 minutes or until just tender, but still firm.Drain the zucchini well and transfer to a shallow serving platter.Heat olive oil in saucepan used to cook zucchini, add garlic and cook over low heat for approximately 15 seconds or until light brown.Add ground coriander and stir over low heat a few seconds to blend.Then immediately add to zucchini and toss.Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.Serves 4.

2 min2016 AUG 14
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Episode 52: Turning A New Leaf

Episode 51: Spice of Life

My wife is of Hungarian and German heritage. Growing up, she relished visits to her Grandfather’s home to indulge in all manner of Hungarian culinary delights.The corner-stone of this Central European cuisine is a distinctive blend of spices – of which paprika is ‘King’.There are very few aromas that beat the combination of onion, garlic and paprika frying in a pan. This simple combination of ingredients results in a depth of savoury flavour that is uniquely Hungarian.Paprika is the name commonly given to a wide selection of red powders, ground from various members of the chilli pepper family.Although there are many grades of paprika, they often share similar flavour characteristics such as sweet, savoury and subtle warmth.The differences in colour depth are due to the amount of ‘Capsanthin’ found in the ripe chilli pepper. And the scale of heat is dictated by the quantity of ‘Capsaicin’ which is found in the seeds. The non-spicy, sweeter paprika is made by grinding the dried chilli flesh without seeds, while spicy paprika contains varying quantities of dried flesh and the chilli seeds.Paprika’s delicate flavour has the ability to compliment other ingredients without overpowering or dominating them.The spice is used as a seasoning in many recipes such as soups, stews, rice dishes and sausage fillings.However, the world’s most famous paprika flavoured dish would have to be Hungarian Goulash. Most people recognise Goulash as a stew, and that’s how it is mostly prepared nowadays, but it is originally a soup.If you are unfamiliar with paprika, a great way to introduce it to your dinner table is as a simple seasoning for homemade French fries or generously sprinkled on steaks, lamb chops, grilled chicken or fish fillets.Hungarian GoulashOne thing Hungarians are passionate about, is cooking. And, my wife’s late grandfather was no exception. My fondest memory of him will always be the Goulash he cooked in a camp oven suspended over an open fire.No matter how stealthily I tried to find out his cooking secrets, he always knew what I was up to and would rarely share his recipes. He even went as far as physically removing me from his kitchen while he was cooking – all in good fun though.Here is my personal goulash recipe, not quite the same as the genuine article, but it’s reasonably quick, easy and great soul food for the cooler winter months.500g veal, diced100g onion, diced100g red capsicum, diced100g potatoes, dicedpinch salt1/2 tsp pepper2 tsp paprika (approx.)1 tbsp chili sauce1/4 tsp fresh chill, chopped (optional)2 tbsp olive oil750ml chicken stock2 tsp cornflour for thickeningHeat oil and add the chopped chilli, onion, capsicum and potato, cook gently until tender.Take out of the pan and put aside.Heat a little more oil in the pan and seal the diced veal. (Do not overcook)Add the paprika, chilli sauce, some stock and return the vegetables to the pan.Bring to the boil. Mix cornflour with 1 tbsp water and stir into meat mixture.Cook for approximately 2 minutes to thicken.Adjust the seasoning to taste.Cook for approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours.* Goulash is delicious served with creamy mashed potato or dumplings.

2 min2016 AUG 13
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Episode 51: Spice of Life

Episode 50: The Sweet and the Sour

Balsamic vinegar is very popular, due to it’s rich, sweet characteristics.It features prominently in many Italian recipes.It is so sweet in fact that it can also be used in desserts.Unlike most vinegar, Balsamic vinegar is not derived from wine but from newly pressed grape juice.In its most traditional form, balsamic vinegar is made from the Trebbiano grape, which flourishes in the Modena region of Italy.It is aged by transferring between barrels made from oak, chestnut, juniper or cherry, ash and finally mulberry. The transferring from one barrel to the other is known as ‘rincalzo’, which normally takes place in spring.Throughout the prolonged aging process it gradually evaporates, requiring incrementally smaller barrels. Due to the dramatically reduced yield from the original volume of grape juice, balsamic vinegar is quite expensive.The most authentic balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena, is one of the most expensive liquids on earth. It is aged and blended for up to fifty years and each bottle is signed and numbered.Balsamic VinaigretteDrizzle this simple and delicious dressing on your favorite garden salad, which goes great with Italian food.1 small garlic clove1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard75ml extra virgin olive oilBlend garlic clove with a little salt.Add Balsamic vinegar and half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.While continuing to blend, gradually add extra virgin olive oil until a smooth emulsion is formed.Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Balsamic StrawberriesOne of my all time favourite uses is with strawberries. Yes, you read correctly! The following is a pretty standard and well-known recipe. You could also add a little cracked black pepper.500g strawberries1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar3 tablespoons icing sugarWash and drain strawberries, then remove the hull.Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.Gently toss the strawberries with the vinegar and sugar.Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving with double cream.

2 min2015 SEP 6
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Episode 50: The Sweet and the Sour

Episode 48: Sweet Succulent Sea Scallops

Scallops are named after the fanned, fluted appearance of their shell.They are categorised as a bivalve mollusc.There is hundreds of species found throughout the waters of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific Oceans.The closer you live to the ocean, the better your chances of purchasing scallops still alive – but in most cases they are sold already shucked (removed from the shell) and frozen.The reason for this is that scallops deteriorate quickly when removed from the sea and after they have been shucked.If not frozen they should be eaten within a day.Scallops should be light pink in colour, moist, shiny and with a fresh seawater smell.I have purchase scallops with and without the bright orange roe – this depends on what you prefer.Some people don’t like the strong taste of the roe, or the reality that it’s the reproductive organ of the scallop. Personally it doesn’t bother me, and the orange row looks spectacular on the plate. In fact I’ve worked in some restaurants where we only served the roe.Scallops should be cooked quickly (grilled or seared) served medium-rare to remain plump, sweet and succulent.Seared Scallop SaladDress a salad of mixed baby lettuce leaves with vinaigrette made with freshly squeezed lime juice, honey, white wine vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Lightly toss fresh scallops in a little oil and place on a very hot grill plate – cook for about one minute on each side. Arrange scallops on top of salad, and Bob’s your uncle.

2 min2015 SEP 6
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Episode 48: Sweet Succulent Sea Scallops

Episode 48: Whip It Good

Pavlova wouldn’t be half the experience without lashings of whipped cream. And, in the absence of whipped cream an ice-cream sundae would be just… a bowl of ice-cream.People have been whipping cream in Europe for centuries, and now-days it has found its way into the cuisines of most cultures.But, whipping cream is not quite as straight forward as you may think, there is some important science involved in the process.To begin with, pure cream has to contain at least 30% fat or it will be unable to hold air bubbles. To make lower fat creams whip successfully, the manufacturers add thickening agents.Basically, while whipping cream (by hand or machine) the fat droplets connect into a network that collects and holds the air bubbles being incorporated during the whipping process.This method is referred as ‘aeration’, and results in a thick, fluffy mixture approximately twice the volume of the original cream.However, if you continue whipping for too long the fat droplets will stick together and begin forming butter. So don’t whip it too good. This will collapse the mixture, and turn into a yellowish slop of butter and liquid. Trust me, I’ve gotten distracted and made butter quite a few times.Whipped cream can have flavourings such as sugar and vanilla added, as in ‘Crème Chantilly’, which is delicious.It can also be folded through a chocolate mousse for enrichment. Whipped cream makes a fantastic accompaniment to scones, pumpkin pie, cakes, waffles or dollop on liqueur coffeesStrawberries Romanoff250g strawberries, chopped2 tbsp icing sugar30ml strawberry liqueur150ml cream2 tbsp caster sugar1 tsp vanilla essenceCombine the strawberries, icing sugar and liqueur in a bowl and leave covered in the refrigerator for 1 hour to macerate.In a bowl, combine the cream, caster sugar and vanilla essence.Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.Fold the macerated berries into the whipped cream, spoon into a glass and serve immediately.Note: Can be garnished with orange segments and a fresh mint sprig. Crumbled meringue can be added for texture.

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 48: Whip It Good

Episode 47: Dodging Bunya Nuts

A few years back, while picnicking at the Bunya Mountains, one of my children was almost hit by a bowling ball sized Bunya cone, which hurtled to Earth faster than the speed of sound.It exploded into the ground, making a crater before rolling down the hill into our picnic blanket. Good thing my son had just moved away seconds earlier.Bunya nuts are one of Australia’s greatest indigenous bush foods. They are large almond shaped nuts that grow in tight cones, on giant rainforest pine trees of South-East Queensland – particularly the Bunya Mountains.The Aboriginal people used to eat them raw, or toasted in the fire and eaten like chestnuts, or even ground up like flour.Nowadays, chefs have found many other uses for them, such as soups, quiches, pastries, cakes, biscuits and condiments. They easily absorb other flavours.The biggest problem with the nuts is their hard and fibrous shell. As yet, nobody has come up with an effective method of harvesting and shelling them.You can find shelled and frozen Bunya nuts at many bush food suppliers around the country – or just wait to dodge one before it clobbers you on the head at a picnic.Bunya Nut PestoThis recipe came from an apprentice chef I trained.2 cloves garlic55g Bunya nuts55g fresh basil leaves70g parmesan cheese, grated125ml extra virgin olive oilpinch of saltBlend garlic and Bunya nuts to a smooth puree.Blend in basil leaves and parmesan cheese.While blending, gradually pour olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved.Note: You could also add a little melted butter. Use as a sauce for pasta, or spread on crispy Italian bread. Serve the meat and sauce with mashed potato or creamy polenta.Serves 4.

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 47: Dodging Bunya Nuts

Episode 46: Life Is Sweet

Sugar could be described as a pure carbohydrate, used all around the world to sweeten food. Most people are unaware of how many varieties of sugar are available.Conventional sugar is mainly obtained from the juice of sugar cane, but can also be made from the sucrose of the sugar beet.There are alternative sweeteners such as bee’s honey, date sugar, palm sugar and maple sugar (obtained from maple tree sap). And of course, there are countless sugar substitutes, from the highly artificial ‘Saccharine’ to the natural ‘Stevia’, which also comes from a plant.There are a few different types of the cane variety of sugar which can be attributed to the level of refinement. One of the least refined is raw sugar, which has been coloured with molasses.The most common and all-purpose sugar is bleached white granulated sugar, but it can’t be used in some baking.Therefore, it is refined further into the smaller caster sugar crystals. Further grinding of white sugar produces a powder called icing sugar. Icing sugar is used in cake decorating and to sweeten cream, as it dissolves instantly.One of my favourites for bakery is raw caster sugar, which has a richer flavour than the white caster.Salted Butterscotch SauceWhen I think of cooking with sugar, I can’t go past the rich and decadent salted butterscotch sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make and can be served with almost any dessert, such as sticky date pudding, deep fried ice-cream or bread and butter pudding.•200mlcream•180gbrown sugar•70gbutter•15mlvanilla extract•pinchsalt1.Combine the cream, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat until it starts to boil.2.Remove from the heat and whisk until completely emulsified. 3.At this stage you could add a dash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt for depth of flavour. 4.Or, for an interesting twist, stir in a couple of spoons of peanut butter – yum!

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 46: Life Is Sweet

Episode 45: A Taste For Olives

My first taste of olives was on vacation, as a young teenager.Shortly after taking off from Bahrain Airport, I was served lunch of assorted cheese, Middle Eastern style meats and (in my youthful ignorance) what I thought was a couple of black grapes.The grapes happened to be black olives and with revulsion I impulsively spat one out and it landed at the feet of an airline steward.Embarrassed, I cried out, “There’s something wrong with that grape”, only to have the steward laugh at me.These days, olives happen to be one of my favorite foods – it’s astounding how your tastes change and develop with age.Olives are the fruit from the evergreen olive tree, are available in two main colours – black and greenThey have been cultivated for thousands of years, but their country of origin is subjective, although they have a noble heritage with the Middle East and the Mediterranean.Egyptian mummies have been found with olive branches around them.Olive oil was burned to light up Roman lanterns.Most of the olive’s history and mythology originates from the ancient Greeks.The first Olympic flame was carried on an olive branch (a bit different from London 2012 ).The olive branch has been a symbol of peace for centuries, and the bible includes nearly 100 references to olive trees.In the last century olives have found their way to the furthest corners of the world, with an estimated 700 varieties.My personal favorite is Kalamata olives, which are dark eggplant-colored Greek style olives.They’re usually packed in olive oil or vinegar, and are frequently slit so they absorb the flavour of the marinade in which they are soaked.Olives should have a rich and fruity flavour.

2 min2015 APR 11
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Episode 45: A Taste For Olives

Episode 44: Holy Passionfruit

The passionfruit is an elongated oval or round fruit which originates from Central America.The two most common varieties are – the yellow or purple kind.The name ‘Passion’ is not referring to love.The fruit is named after its flower, which is in fact a reference to the Passion of Christ, on the Crucifix.Centuries ago, Spanish priests adopted the passion flower as a symbol of Crucifixion.The outer layer, made of 72 colourful, fine petals represents the Crown of Thorns; the 10 larger petals represent Christ’s faithful apostles (Judas appears to have fallen off the passion fruit vine).There are 3 stigma which symbolize the nails (of the Crucifix) and the 5 lower stamen signify the wounds of Christ.And, the vines of the plant where seen as whips. Quite amazing really!When buying passionfruit, its best to choose fruits that feel rather heavy for their size.Passionfruit can be stored out of the fridge for up to two weeks or refrigerated for up to a month. Store them in plastic bags so they don’t dry-out.If you won’t be able to use them all up, the pulp freezes really well.And, contrary to popular belief, passionfruit does not have to be wrinkled to be considered ripe.Passionfruit are also easy to grow at home, they just need a fence or structure to grow on.Although they generally have a sweet, perfumed taste, passionfruit are often tart and are a great accompaniment to sweet desserts, such as Pavlova or sponge cakes.I’ve also made curds and jams with them.However, the easiest preparation is to cut them in half and scoop the passionfruit pulp straight into your mouth.Pumpkin and Passionfruit SoupIt might sound like chalk and cheese – but it’s actually a gem of a recipe, and you’ll love it.750g pumpkin15g butter1 medium onion, diced2 rashers of bacon, diced100g potato, diced50g carrots50g celery1 Lt chicken stock6 passionfruits, pulpedsalt and pepper250ml cream.Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and chop into smallish pieces.Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan.Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is soft.Add the pumpkin, potato, carrot, celery and the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour or so, until the pumpkin is really soft.Remove from the heat and let the soup cool down, the add the passionfruit pulp.Process it in batches in a blender. Pour it back into the saucepan, season to taste and stir in the cream. Reheat it to serve.Serves 4.

2 min2015 JAN 1
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Episode 44: Holy Passionfruit

Episode 43: The Hip Fruit

Limes must be one of the world’s most hip citrus fruits.Demand for varieties like Tahitian and Kaffir has built up enormously over the last decade or so, probably because Asian cooking is so popular.There are several common varieties grown:Tahitian Lime is a very juicy fruit and grows all year round. When ripe they are a seedless green fruit – however they can be left on the tree to turn yellow, which makes them softer, juicier and a little sweeter.Wild Finger Lime is a long, narrow fruit with a red brown coloured skin native to Australia. The juice is contained in little spherical cells (quite amazing to see), and has a tart flavour that works well in Asian dishes. Kaffir Lime is essential in Thai cooking. The leaves of the Kaffir lime tree are used in Thai curries. The zest of the nobly looking fruit is also used in certain recipes. However, the flesh of Kaffir lime is full of seeds, little juice and is generally discarded.I have kaffir lime growing in my back yard and it’s one of my favourite trees – it’s often so full of fruit i don’t get to use them all.Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C. A (Not So) Fun FactIn 1795 the British navy began to distribute rations of rum, laced with lime and lemon juice during long sea voyages. That’s where the nickname ‘Limeys’ (meaning British sailors) originated.The Vitamin C in the citrus juice was largely successful in preventing scurvy.It is a little known fact that well-known English Explorer Captain James Cook wrote an ill-informed report to the Admiralty based on experiences from his first and second voyages, that came to delay the introduction of lemon and lime juice rations for twenty years – costing countless lives.Tom Yum Kung (Sour Shrimp Soup)350g raw green prawns, peeled and deveined2 Lt chicken stock3 lemongrass stalks, bruised and finely chopped3 galangal slices3 chilies5 kaffir lime leaves, torn2 tablespoon fish sauce70g straw mushrooms2 spring onions, finely sliced3 tablespoons ime juice (fresh)3 tablespoons coriander leaves, tornIn a saucepan bring the stock, one stalk of lemongrass and the galangal to the boil.Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes.Strain the stock and discard the flavourings.To the stock, add the remaining 2 stalks of lemongrass, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, straw mushrooms and spring onions. Simmer for another couple of minutes.Add the prawns and cook for another couple of minutes until the prawns are firm and pink. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander leaves, then serve.It’s also nice to add spoonfuls of steamed jasmine rice to your bowl of soup as you eat it.

2 min2014 DEC 30
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Episode 43: The Hip Fruit

Latest Episodes

Episode 52: Turning A New Leaf

Sometimes referred to as ‘Chinese parsley’ or ‘cilantro’ – coriander is a native herb of the Middle East and Southern Europe.However, it has also been popular throughout Asia for thousands of years.It grows wild in Egypt and the Sudan, and surprisingly can also be found growing wild in English fields.Most Australians would recognise coriander as an ingredient regularly used in Thai cuisine.The pungent tasting fresh green leaves almost look like the leaves of parsley, but with more of a flat and jagged appearance.The fragrant dried seed is globular and almost round, brown to yellow red, and 4mm in diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges. The seeds have a mild, distinctive taste similar to a blend of lemon and sage.The taste of the fresh leaves and dried seeds are so different from each other, that some people may love one, yet loathe the other.Some recipes, such as Thai curry paste often calls for the use the fresh roots of the coriander plant for its earthy, depth of flavour.Coriander tastes great with ingredients such as chilli, lime and ginger. Zucchini with Garlic and Coriander 500g zucchini1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil3 cloves garlic, minced2 tsp ground coriandersalt and pepperQuarter the zucchini lengthwise, and then cut pieces in half crosswise.Add zucchini to a medium saucepan of boiling salted water and cook uncovered over high heat for approximately 3 minutes or until just tender, but still firm.Drain the zucchini well and transfer to a shallow serving platter.Heat olive oil in saucepan used to cook zucchini, add garlic and cook over low heat for approximately 15 seconds or until light brown.Add ground coriander and stir over low heat a few seconds to blend.Then immediately add to zucchini and toss.Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.Serves 4.

2 min2016 AUG 14
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Episode 52: Turning A New Leaf

Episode 51: Spice of Life

My wife is of Hungarian and German heritage. Growing up, she relished visits to her Grandfather’s home to indulge in all manner of Hungarian culinary delights.The corner-stone of this Central European cuisine is a distinctive blend of spices – of which paprika is ‘King’.There are very few aromas that beat the combination of onion, garlic and paprika frying in a pan. This simple combination of ingredients results in a depth of savoury flavour that is uniquely Hungarian.Paprika is the name commonly given to a wide selection of red powders, ground from various members of the chilli pepper family.Although there are many grades of paprika, they often share similar flavour characteristics such as sweet, savoury and subtle warmth.The differences in colour depth are due to the amount of ‘Capsanthin’ found in the ripe chilli pepper. And the scale of heat is dictated by the quantity of ‘Capsaicin’ which is found in the seeds. The non-spicy, sweeter paprika is made by grinding the dried chilli flesh without seeds, while spicy paprika contains varying quantities of dried flesh and the chilli seeds.Paprika’s delicate flavour has the ability to compliment other ingredients without overpowering or dominating them.The spice is used as a seasoning in many recipes such as soups, stews, rice dishes and sausage fillings.However, the world’s most famous paprika flavoured dish would have to be Hungarian Goulash. Most people recognise Goulash as a stew, and that’s how it is mostly prepared nowadays, but it is originally a soup.If you are unfamiliar with paprika, a great way to introduce it to your dinner table is as a simple seasoning for homemade French fries or generously sprinkled on steaks, lamb chops, grilled chicken or fish fillets.Hungarian GoulashOne thing Hungarians are passionate about, is cooking. And, my wife’s late grandfather was no exception. My fondest memory of him will always be the Goulash he cooked in a camp oven suspended over an open fire.No matter how stealthily I tried to find out his cooking secrets, he always knew what I was up to and would rarely share his recipes. He even went as far as physically removing me from his kitchen while he was cooking – all in good fun though.Here is my personal goulash recipe, not quite the same as the genuine article, but it’s reasonably quick, easy and great soul food for the cooler winter months.500g veal, diced100g onion, diced100g red capsicum, diced100g potatoes, dicedpinch salt1/2 tsp pepper2 tsp paprika (approx.)1 tbsp chili sauce1/4 tsp fresh chill, chopped (optional)2 tbsp olive oil750ml chicken stock2 tsp cornflour for thickeningHeat oil and add the chopped chilli, onion, capsicum and potato, cook gently until tender.Take out of the pan and put aside.Heat a little more oil in the pan and seal the diced veal. (Do not overcook)Add the paprika, chilli sauce, some stock and return the vegetables to the pan.Bring to the boil. Mix cornflour with 1 tbsp water and stir into meat mixture.Cook for approximately 2 minutes to thicken.Adjust the seasoning to taste.Cook for approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours.* Goulash is delicious served with creamy mashed potato or dumplings.

2 min2016 AUG 13
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Episode 51: Spice of Life

Episode 50: The Sweet and the Sour

Balsamic vinegar is very popular, due to it’s rich, sweet characteristics.It features prominently in many Italian recipes.It is so sweet in fact that it can also be used in desserts.Unlike most vinegar, Balsamic vinegar is not derived from wine but from newly pressed grape juice.In its most traditional form, balsamic vinegar is made from the Trebbiano grape, which flourishes in the Modena region of Italy.It is aged by transferring between barrels made from oak, chestnut, juniper or cherry, ash and finally mulberry. The transferring from one barrel to the other is known as ‘rincalzo’, which normally takes place in spring.Throughout the prolonged aging process it gradually evaporates, requiring incrementally smaller barrels. Due to the dramatically reduced yield from the original volume of grape juice, balsamic vinegar is quite expensive.The most authentic balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena, is one of the most expensive liquids on earth. It is aged and blended for up to fifty years and each bottle is signed and numbered.Balsamic VinaigretteDrizzle this simple and delicious dressing on your favorite garden salad, which goes great with Italian food.1 small garlic clove1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard75ml extra virgin olive oilBlend garlic clove with a little salt.Add Balsamic vinegar and half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.While continuing to blend, gradually add extra virgin olive oil until a smooth emulsion is formed.Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Balsamic StrawberriesOne of my all time favourite uses is with strawberries. Yes, you read correctly! The following is a pretty standard and well-known recipe. You could also add a little cracked black pepper.500g strawberries1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar3 tablespoons icing sugarWash and drain strawberries, then remove the hull.Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.Gently toss the strawberries with the vinegar and sugar.Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving with double cream.

2 min2015 SEP 6
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Episode 50: The Sweet and the Sour

Episode 48: Sweet Succulent Sea Scallops

Scallops are named after the fanned, fluted appearance of their shell.They are categorised as a bivalve mollusc.There is hundreds of species found throughout the waters of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific Oceans.The closer you live to the ocean, the better your chances of purchasing scallops still alive – but in most cases they are sold already shucked (removed from the shell) and frozen.The reason for this is that scallops deteriorate quickly when removed from the sea and after they have been shucked.If not frozen they should be eaten within a day.Scallops should be light pink in colour, moist, shiny and with a fresh seawater smell.I have purchase scallops with and without the bright orange roe – this depends on what you prefer.Some people don’t like the strong taste of the roe, or the reality that it’s the reproductive organ of the scallop. Personally it doesn’t bother me, and the orange row looks spectacular on the plate. In fact I’ve worked in some restaurants where we only served the roe.Scallops should be cooked quickly (grilled or seared) served medium-rare to remain plump, sweet and succulent.Seared Scallop SaladDress a salad of mixed baby lettuce leaves with vinaigrette made with freshly squeezed lime juice, honey, white wine vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Lightly toss fresh scallops in a little oil and place on a very hot grill plate – cook for about one minute on each side. Arrange scallops on top of salad, and Bob’s your uncle.

2 min2015 SEP 6
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Episode 48: Sweet Succulent Sea Scallops

Episode 48: Whip It Good

Pavlova wouldn’t be half the experience without lashings of whipped cream. And, in the absence of whipped cream an ice-cream sundae would be just… a bowl of ice-cream.People have been whipping cream in Europe for centuries, and now-days it has found its way into the cuisines of most cultures.But, whipping cream is not quite as straight forward as you may think, there is some important science involved in the process.To begin with, pure cream has to contain at least 30% fat or it will be unable to hold air bubbles. To make lower fat creams whip successfully, the manufacturers add thickening agents.Basically, while whipping cream (by hand or machine) the fat droplets connect into a network that collects and holds the air bubbles being incorporated during the whipping process.This method is referred as ‘aeration’, and results in a thick, fluffy mixture approximately twice the volume of the original cream.However, if you continue whipping for too long the fat droplets will stick together and begin forming butter. So don’t whip it too good. This will collapse the mixture, and turn into a yellowish slop of butter and liquid. Trust me, I’ve gotten distracted and made butter quite a few times.Whipped cream can have flavourings such as sugar and vanilla added, as in ‘Crème Chantilly’, which is delicious.It can also be folded through a chocolate mousse for enrichment. Whipped cream makes a fantastic accompaniment to scones, pumpkin pie, cakes, waffles or dollop on liqueur coffeesStrawberries Romanoff250g strawberries, chopped2 tbsp icing sugar30ml strawberry liqueur150ml cream2 tbsp caster sugar1 tsp vanilla essenceCombine the strawberries, icing sugar and liqueur in a bowl and leave covered in the refrigerator for 1 hour to macerate.In a bowl, combine the cream, caster sugar and vanilla essence.Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.Fold the macerated berries into the whipped cream, spoon into a glass and serve immediately.Note: Can be garnished with orange segments and a fresh mint sprig. Crumbled meringue can be added for texture.

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 48: Whip It Good

Episode 47: Dodging Bunya Nuts

A few years back, while picnicking at the Bunya Mountains, one of my children was almost hit by a bowling ball sized Bunya cone, which hurtled to Earth faster than the speed of sound.It exploded into the ground, making a crater before rolling down the hill into our picnic blanket. Good thing my son had just moved away seconds earlier.Bunya nuts are one of Australia’s greatest indigenous bush foods. They are large almond shaped nuts that grow in tight cones, on giant rainforest pine trees of South-East Queensland – particularly the Bunya Mountains.The Aboriginal people used to eat them raw, or toasted in the fire and eaten like chestnuts, or even ground up like flour.Nowadays, chefs have found many other uses for them, such as soups, quiches, pastries, cakes, biscuits and condiments. They easily absorb other flavours.The biggest problem with the nuts is their hard and fibrous shell. As yet, nobody has come up with an effective method of harvesting and shelling them.You can find shelled and frozen Bunya nuts at many bush food suppliers around the country – or just wait to dodge one before it clobbers you on the head at a picnic.Bunya Nut PestoThis recipe came from an apprentice chef I trained.2 cloves garlic55g Bunya nuts55g fresh basil leaves70g parmesan cheese, grated125ml extra virgin olive oilpinch of saltBlend garlic and Bunya nuts to a smooth puree.Blend in basil leaves and parmesan cheese.While blending, gradually pour olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved.Note: You could also add a little melted butter. Use as a sauce for pasta, or spread on crispy Italian bread. Serve the meat and sauce with mashed potato or creamy polenta.Serves 4.

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 47: Dodging Bunya Nuts

Episode 46: Life Is Sweet

Sugar could be described as a pure carbohydrate, used all around the world to sweeten food. Most people are unaware of how many varieties of sugar are available.Conventional sugar is mainly obtained from the juice of sugar cane, but can also be made from the sucrose of the sugar beet.There are alternative sweeteners such as bee’s honey, date sugar, palm sugar and maple sugar (obtained from maple tree sap). And of course, there are countless sugar substitutes, from the highly artificial ‘Saccharine’ to the natural ‘Stevia’, which also comes from a plant.There are a few different types of the cane variety of sugar which can be attributed to the level of refinement. One of the least refined is raw sugar, which has been coloured with molasses.The most common and all-purpose sugar is bleached white granulated sugar, but it can’t be used in some baking.Therefore, it is refined further into the smaller caster sugar crystals. Further grinding of white sugar produces a powder called icing sugar. Icing sugar is used in cake decorating and to sweeten cream, as it dissolves instantly.One of my favourites for bakery is raw caster sugar, which has a richer flavour than the white caster.Salted Butterscotch SauceWhen I think of cooking with sugar, I can’t go past the rich and decadent salted butterscotch sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make and can be served with almost any dessert, such as sticky date pudding, deep fried ice-cream or bread and butter pudding.•200mlcream•180gbrown sugar•70gbutter•15mlvanilla extract•pinchsalt1.Combine the cream, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat until it starts to boil.2.Remove from the heat and whisk until completely emulsified. 3.At this stage you could add a dash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt for depth of flavour. 4.Or, for an interesting twist, stir in a couple of spoons of peanut butter – yum!

2 min2015 SEP 5
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Episode 46: Life Is Sweet

Episode 45: A Taste For Olives

My first taste of olives was on vacation, as a young teenager.Shortly after taking off from Bahrain Airport, I was served lunch of assorted cheese, Middle Eastern style meats and (in my youthful ignorance) what I thought was a couple of black grapes.The grapes happened to be black olives and with revulsion I impulsively spat one out and it landed at the feet of an airline steward.Embarrassed, I cried out, “There’s something wrong with that grape”, only to have the steward laugh at me.These days, olives happen to be one of my favorite foods – it’s astounding how your tastes change and develop with age.Olives are the fruit from the evergreen olive tree, are available in two main colours – black and greenThey have been cultivated for thousands of years, but their country of origin is subjective, although they have a noble heritage with the Middle East and the Mediterranean.Egyptian mummies have been found with olive branches around them.Olive oil was burned to light up Roman lanterns.Most of the olive’s history and mythology originates from the ancient Greeks.The first Olympic flame was carried on an olive branch (a bit different from London 2012 ).The olive branch has been a symbol of peace for centuries, and the bible includes nearly 100 references to olive trees.In the last century olives have found their way to the furthest corners of the world, with an estimated 700 varieties.My personal favorite is Kalamata olives, which are dark eggplant-colored Greek style olives.They’re usually packed in olive oil or vinegar, and are frequently slit so they absorb the flavour of the marinade in which they are soaked.Olives should have a rich and fruity flavour.

2 min2015 APR 11
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Episode 45: A Taste For Olives

Episode 44: Holy Passionfruit

The passionfruit is an elongated oval or round fruit which originates from Central America.The two most common varieties are – the yellow or purple kind.The name ‘Passion’ is not referring to love.The fruit is named after its flower, which is in fact a reference to the Passion of Christ, on the Crucifix.Centuries ago, Spanish priests adopted the passion flower as a symbol of Crucifixion.The outer layer, made of 72 colourful, fine petals represents the Crown of Thorns; the 10 larger petals represent Christ’s faithful apostles (Judas appears to have fallen off the passion fruit vine).There are 3 stigma which symbolize the nails (of the Crucifix) and the 5 lower stamen signify the wounds of Christ.And, the vines of the plant where seen as whips. Quite amazing really!When buying passionfruit, its best to choose fruits that feel rather heavy for their size.Passionfruit can be stored out of the fridge for up to two weeks or refrigerated for up to a month. Store them in plastic bags so they don’t dry-out.If you won’t be able to use them all up, the pulp freezes really well.And, contrary to popular belief, passionfruit does not have to be wrinkled to be considered ripe.Passionfruit are also easy to grow at home, they just need a fence or structure to grow on.Although they generally have a sweet, perfumed taste, passionfruit are often tart and are a great accompaniment to sweet desserts, such as Pavlova or sponge cakes.I’ve also made curds and jams with them.However, the easiest preparation is to cut them in half and scoop the passionfruit pulp straight into your mouth.Pumpkin and Passionfruit SoupIt might sound like chalk and cheese – but it’s actually a gem of a recipe, and you’ll love it.750g pumpkin15g butter1 medium onion, diced2 rashers of bacon, diced100g potato, diced50g carrots50g celery1 Lt chicken stock6 passionfruits, pulpedsalt and pepper250ml cream.Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and chop into smallish pieces.Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan.Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is soft.Add the pumpkin, potato, carrot, celery and the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour or so, until the pumpkin is really soft.Remove from the heat and let the soup cool down, the add the passionfruit pulp.Process it in batches in a blender. Pour it back into the saucepan, season to taste and stir in the cream. Reheat it to serve.Serves 4.

2 min2015 JAN 1
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Episode 44: Holy Passionfruit

Episode 43: The Hip Fruit

Limes must be one of the world’s most hip citrus fruits.Demand for varieties like Tahitian and Kaffir has built up enormously over the last decade or so, probably because Asian cooking is so popular.There are several common varieties grown:Tahitian Lime is a very juicy fruit and grows all year round. When ripe they are a seedless green fruit – however they can be left on the tree to turn yellow, which makes them softer, juicier and a little sweeter.Wild Finger Lime is a long, narrow fruit with a red brown coloured skin native to Australia. The juice is contained in little spherical cells (quite amazing to see), and has a tart flavour that works well in Asian dishes. Kaffir Lime is essential in Thai cooking. The leaves of the Kaffir lime tree are used in Thai curries. The zest of the nobly looking fruit is also used in certain recipes. However, the flesh of Kaffir lime is full of seeds, little juice and is generally discarded.I have kaffir lime growing in my back yard and it’s one of my favourite trees – it’s often so full of fruit i don’t get to use them all.Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C. A (Not So) Fun FactIn 1795 the British navy began to distribute rations of rum, laced with lime and lemon juice during long sea voyages. That’s where the nickname ‘Limeys’ (meaning British sailors) originated.The Vitamin C in the citrus juice was largely successful in preventing scurvy.It is a little known fact that well-known English Explorer Captain James Cook wrote an ill-informed report to the Admiralty based on experiences from his first and second voyages, that came to delay the introduction of lemon and lime juice rations for twenty years – costing countless lives.Tom Yum Kung (Sour Shrimp Soup)350g raw green prawns, peeled and deveined2 Lt chicken stock3 lemongrass stalks, bruised and finely chopped3 galangal slices3 chilies5 kaffir lime leaves, torn2 tablespoon fish sauce70g straw mushrooms2 spring onions, finely sliced3 tablespoons ime juice (fresh)3 tablespoons coriander leaves, tornIn a saucepan bring the stock, one stalk of lemongrass and the galangal to the boil.Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes.Strain the stock and discard the flavourings.To the stock, add the remaining 2 stalks of lemongrass, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, straw mushrooms and spring onions. Simmer for another couple of minutes.Add the prawns and cook for another couple of minutes until the prawns are firm and pink. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander leaves, then serve.It’s also nice to add spoonfuls of steamed jasmine rice to your bowl of soup as you eat it.

2 min2014 DEC 30
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Episode 43: The Hip Fruit
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