Pickled Fish Four Ways

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There’s no recipe here, just some ideas for the endless flavour combinations for pickled fish. So many cultures and countries around the world have their own versions, and it’s so easy to make up your own using your favourite flavour combinations and the accompaniments are also exciting. It’s all about the balance between the acidity of whatever you use to pickle the fish, along with some fresh elements, some sweetness, heat, spice, salt, and a yummy side. I think my favourite is lime, chilli, coriander and coconut with a crunchy plantain chip; but I really just loved all of these combinations that we made last week.

I’ve listed the different combinations here, the best way to get the flavour right is to combine all of the ingredients apart from the fish, taste it, adjust to suit, and then add your fish. If the liquid isn’t completely covering the fish once you add it, you can either add a little more lime juice/lemon juice/vinegar etc, or, just keep stirring the mixture every 20 minutes or so, coating the fish in the acid so that it cooks. If your fish is really fresh, you can eat it straight away, but I prefer to wait a few hours so that it is completely cooked.

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A twist on the Northern Territory’s Nummus

Lime Juice

White vinegar

Sugar

Garlic Chives

Ginger

Coriander

Chilli

Spring onion

Salt and Pepper

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My favourite

Lime juice

Coconut Cream

Chilli

Coriander

Sugar

Salt and Pepper

Salsa- Pineapple/Mango/Avocado, capsicum, red onion, chilli, lime juice, salt and pepper

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Emma’s Favourite

Papaya

Cucumber

Mint

Chilli

Coriander

Red Onion

Salt and Pepper

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Traditional Ecuadorian/Peruvian

Lime Juice

Red Onion

Chilli

Coriander

Tomato

Salt and Pepper

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Banana Flower, Jicama and Coconut Salad with Fish Baked in Banana Leaves

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On the weekend we were invited to a big bush party on a property about an hour out of Darwin. Friends of the people we have been staying with (who have also become our friends), were having a big combined birthday party. As Benny had already made plans for a big fishing trip out to some islands, I headed out on a solo mission.

It ran from Friday to Monday morning for some (myself not included I’m ashamed to admit, even though I was probably one of the youngest there). There was a lot of dancing, long and interesting conversations, awesome sets, wacky costumes (the theme was swamp suave), everyone took amazing dishes to share and the drinks were flowing. Surrounded by bushland, we could have been anywhere.

I was feeling more than worse for ware when I arrived back in Darwin on Sunday, but before going home I dragged myself to the markets to stock up for the week and to also buy some kind of spicy feast to fill my belly. As always, the green papaya salad won out. After eating and swimming all day I started to feel slightly human again and headed back to the house. What a surprise I had waiting for me!

The boys had finally had an amazingly successful fishing trip! Four mud crabs, three huge queen fish and five trevally! Totally amazing! Along with the market goods and the fruit and veg from the garden, we have been eating like Kings and Queens this week!

For this salad, because the banana flower is served raw, it is important that the banana flower is freshly picked. They can become much too bitter to eat when they have been off the plant for more than a day or two.

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Ingredients

1 large fresh banana flower, weighing 800g to 1kg

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 tsp salt

1 jicama, weighing 600-800g

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh coconut flesh, grated

2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves

1 handful each fresh thai basil and mint leaves

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Dressing

2 tbs tamarind puree

Juice of 1-2 limes

2 tbs palm sugar, grated

2 tbs fish sauce

1 long red chilli, finely chopped

1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped

1 tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup coconut cream

Red Spot Emperor Baked in Banana Leaves

1 kg whole Red Spot Emperor, gutted and scaled (you could also use red emperor, rock cod, snapper or trevally)

Banana leaves (or baking paper), for baking

2 cloves garlic

1 birdseye chilli

1 tbs fresh ginger

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp salt

1 tsp palm sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil

Sliced spring onion, sliced chilli, coriander leaves, thai basil leaves and fresh lime wedges, to serve

Steamed rice or asian style rice cakes, to serve

Method

Line a large baking dish with banana leaves, leaving overhang to wrap the fish. Score the fish along both sides, just enough to let some flavour get in, but not down to the bone.

For the fish marinade,iIn a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, chilli, ginger, lime juice, salt, sugar, fish sauce and sesame oil. Pour this over the fish, rubbing it into the cuts and a little into the cavity. Wrap the fish, finishing seam side down, and leave in the fridge to marinate for 30mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

To prepare the banana flower, remove the dark outer leaves and discard or keep for decoration. Have a large bowl of water with the lime/lemon juice and salt ready. Start removing all of the leaves of the banana flower, discarding the small flowering stems that gather at the base (these are very bitter), and stack the leaves as you go to make them easy to slice up. Thinly slice the leaves widthways, 0.5cm, placing them in the bowl of water as you go. Leave them in the water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Peel and thinly julienne the jicama (a mandolin is ideal). Strain the banana flower, try and remove as much water as you can. In a large bowl combine the jicama, banana flower, spring onions, coconut, coriander, thai basil, mint, and peanuts (reserving some herbs and peanuts for garnish). For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients and set aside until ready to serve.

Place the fish in the oven and cook for about 40mins. Remove from oven, cut open the banana leaves and place the fish on a serving platter, pour over any cooking juices. Scatter with the spring onion, herbs and chilli and place fresh lime wedges alongside.

Toss the salad dressing through the salad and sprinkle with reserved herbs and peanuts.

Serve with steamed rice or asian rice cakes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Chilli Mud Crab

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Have you ever had one of those days where you want to throw yourself on the floor and have a massive tantrum like a lollipop denied three year old in the grocery store? Well, this is my third day running of one of those kinds of days….and i’m hoping, for the sake of my boyfriend’s ability to stand anymore of my foul mood, that bad things happen in threes. Mind you. These are all very much first world problems, but hey, this is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Aside from visa applications, bank issues, flight issues, and the stress of selling our car with one week to go, all of my problems have mainly been technology based. So much so that I would love to grab one of those crab claws and violently punch it through the screen of my computer, camera, mobile phone and any other device that may get in my way. If there was such a person as ‘Mac’, he would be feeling the wrath of my crab claws (this, of course would be after we had demolished the delicious flesh from them).
OK, rant over.
Let’s talk about something great. This dish. It was my first time trying Mudcrab, a must up here in Darwin. And made all the better by the fact that they were caught by my boyfriend and his mate. I’d heard a lot about Chilli crab, and the many ways in which people up here insist is the best way to prepare it. So, with a few recommendations from friends and some twists of my own, that night we were getting down and dirty with these tasty creatures.
You could use any shellfish in this sauce, just make sure you’ve got lots of crusty white bread to mop up all the juices. Oh, and something to wipe your hands on.

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Recipe

Ingredients
2 mudcrabs (how to prepare your mud crab)
2 tbs peanut oil
8 garlic chives, finely chopped
2 long red chillies and 2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and tied into a knot (to be removed after cooking)
4 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tsp coconut vinegar
1 tbs fish sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
1/2-1 cup water
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs cornfour, mixed with 2 tbs water
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of fresh coriander leaves and 1 handful of thai basil leaves
Crusty white bread or steamed rice to serve
Method
In a large wok, heat the oil over high heat. Add the garlic chives, chillies, ginger, lemongrass and spring onion and cook, stirring for about 2 mins. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the vinegar, fish sauce, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of water, brown sugar, and cornflour mixture, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring for about 5 mins. If sauce seems too thick, add more water. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Add your prepared mud crab and stir to coat in the sauce. Cover and cook, stirring often for about 10-15 minutes, or until flesh is cooked. Stir through most of the coriander and thai basil, reserving some to sprinkle over at the end.
Serve with bread or rice and some cracking tools if you have them.

Banana, Coconut and Date Loaf, Banana, Carob and Walnut Muffins and Banana Jam (All Vegan. Yeah, we had a lot of bananas to use…)

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If you could see where I am sitting whilst writing this, you would surely laugh.

In two weeks time I’ll be swimming in the ocean and drinking ice cold Bintangs in Bali, but in the meantime, I’m sitting here, in my camping chair, in the searing heat, on the side of the free way, with a For Sale sign on the car. This better work….

Once this car is sold, my whole life will be back in my backpack, and man am I looking forward to that feeling! It’s been great having this big car, all equipped to live anywhere on this great brown land, but I’m ready for the backpacker life again! Beaches, jungles, hostels, beers, new friends, old friends, culture, food, art, adventure…the list is long!

Anyway, back to reality for a moment. We found ourselves with a huge bag of bananas last week, all going black very quickly. The chickens don’t seem to be laying as many eggs as they were a few months ago so I decided to try and make some vegan banana treats. They turned out so beautifully, I don’t think I will ever make a banana loaf with eggs again!

Not so sure about the banana jam though, it tastes a little (lot) like something you might feed your baby. But hey, why would you feed your baby something gross!

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Recipe

Vegan Banana Bread

Ingredients
3-4 over-ripe bananas, plus 1 to decorate
75g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g raw sugar
125g white or wholemeal self-raising flour
100g wholemeal plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
50g shredded coconut
70g dates (or other dried fruit or nuts), chopped

Method
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees, celcius. Grease and line a loaf tin (banana leaves work great!)
In a large bowl, mash the bananas (reserving one to decorate). Add the coconut oil, vanilla and sugar, and mix well to combine.
Sift the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into the bowl with the banana. Add the coconut and dates and mix until all combined.
Pour into prepared loaf tin. Peel and cut the remaining banana in half, lengthways. Place, cut side up, on top of the batter and slightly press into the batter.
Bake for 40-50mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.
Serve warm with banana jam, or topping of choice.
Enjoy!

Variation
Vegan Banana, Carob and Walnut muffins.
Replace 50g of the wholemeal plain flour with 60g of carob powder. Omit the coconut and the dates and add 80g of chopped walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on top. Bake in a muffin tin for about 20mins.

Banana Jam

Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups bananas, diced
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup water

Method
Combine the diced banana in a bowl with the lime juice.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over medium high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to the simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 2mins.
Uncover and add the bananas with the lime. On medium heat, bring to the boil. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, for about 30mins. At this point, if you want a smooth jam, use a stick blender to blend until smooth, otherwise, just keep cooking.
Cook for another 20-30mins or until jam is nice and thick.
Pour hot jam into sterilised jars.
Allow to cool at room temperature, undisturbed for 24hours before using.

Palak Paneer (my version)

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See under the title of my blog it says, ‘food. experiences. experiments. recipes’… this was one of those experiments. So, please excuse this very unattractive curry. It may be the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen but man was it tasty!

The experiment part was the paneer, and although it wasn’t the first time I had made it, it was the first time I had used it in a curry. It is an incredibly easy cheese to make, but so far I had only used it in pies, and crumbled in salads. When I made this curry the paneer had only been setting in the fridge for a few hours, I think it would have had a better chance of staying in solid cubes if I had left it for twenty four hours, so that’s what I’ve suggested in this recipe. Alternatively you could use store bought paneer.

In the end, it was still really delicious, it just wasn’t the same as I’ve had it in Indian restaurants, but, that’s ok! I didn’t use the traditional spices and cream either, and I added chickpeas, so, maybe I shouldn’t really be calling it Palak Paneer, but, in the words of Kylie Kwong, it’s MY version of Palak Paneer. 😉

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Recipe

You will need to start this recipe the day before

Serves 4

Ingredients

Paneer

2L full cream milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Curry

300-350g spinach (I used a mixture of Brazilian and Baby Spinach)
2 long green chillies, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic (1 roughly chopped and 3 finely chopped)
1 Tbs fresh ginger, julienned, plus extra to serve
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 bay leaves
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 heaped tsp garam masala
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
300g Paneer, cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 cup plain yoghurt, plus extra to serve
salt and pepper
Cherry tomato, cucumber and parsley salad, lemon wedges, and brown rice, to serve

Method
To make the paneer, place the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring, until foamy and steaming. Do not bring to the boil.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. You should see the curds separating from the whey almost immediately. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for 15 mins.
Strain the curds and whey through a sieve lined with muslin or a couple of fresh chux cloths. Bring the corners together and twist to push the whey out of the curds. You can also press down on it to really get the liquid out. Unwrap and stir in the salt. Bring together the corners and twist again and press out the last of the whey. Set the sieve in a bowl, place a small plate on top of the paneer, along with a couple of cans of food as weights. The sieve must be clear of the bottom of the bowl to allow any more liquid to drip out from the paneer. Place in the fridge overnight to set.
For the curry, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Place the spinach in the boiling water, press down and cover with a lid. Remove from heat and let sit for 2mins. Strain the spinach and place in the ice water for 5mins.
Place the spinach in a blender, along with the 1 clove of roughly chopped garlic, the green chillies and the ginger. Blend until smooth (add a little water if necessary). Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook, stirring until they begin to splutter, about 3mins.
Add the bay leaves and the onion. Cook until golden, about 5 mins. Add the remaining 3 garlic cloves and the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until tomatoes break down, about 3mins.
Add the turmeric, curry powder, garam masala and chickpeas. Cook, stirring, for about 3mins, or until fragrant.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach mixture. Heat, stirring, until nearly simmering. Add the yoghurt and stir through. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add the paneer and very carefully stir through the sauce, being careful not to break it up too much. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 mins before serving.
Serve with the brown rice, the salad, lemon wedges, extra ginger, extra yoghurt and a nice cold beer.

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Tamarind and Lime Pickled Leader Prawns with Green Papaya and Rambutan Salad

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Talk about being pushed out of my comfort zone, this week I spoke on live to air radio about cooking, my blog, local produce, and how I work with it in each place I visit. It all happened within a couple of hours. A phone call from the station, asking me whether I’d like to do it and a few questions about myself and what I’ve been doing, then, to answering a phone call at 3.20pm and waiting for the music to finish and the presenter to introduce me. He was relaxed and friendly, and once my nerves calmed down, it was really fun and an awesome experience. What a funny day that was.
Anyway, the whole reason for the segment was to advertise a competition run by the ABC to find regional recipes from around Australia to include in a Cookbook celebrating Australian cuisine and local produce.
So here is my entry! The tropical produce up here in darwin is so beautiful, I can’t get enough! I’ve used the local Leader prawns from the trawlers down at Francis Bay, green papaya from my friends garden, and the rambutans, onion, ginger, chillies, mint and limes from the Rapid Creek Market. With the rest of the ingredients form the local Asian Grocer, I didn’t even need to visit a large supermarket. Which makes me very happy!
I’ve been wanting to try these local Leader prawns since I first saw them, they are so massive, three of them was more than enough for me. However, they are really delicious, with a beautiful texture, made even more special by pickling them in this delicious marinade. You could use any prawns in this recipe through, and it would also work with fish or squid, just omit the blanching part of the process.
This is my third green papaya salad recipe for the blog, obviously, it’s just too delicious. Along with the sweet rambutans, the crunchy coconut, the tangy prawns and the big beautiful edible rice bowl. This is such an exciting meal, that’s impressive whilst still being really simple and easy. I hope you give it a try!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

500g raw Leader prawns, or other large prawns such as King or Tiger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of 3 limes
3cm piece ginger, chopped into tiny matchsticks
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp tamarind puree
1 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper
1 small papaya, julienned or grated
6 rambutans, peeled, quartered and de-seeded
1 small spanish onion, very finely sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted coconut chips
2 rice cakes with sesame seeds

Method

Peel and de-vien the prawns, leaving the tails on for presentation if desired.
Combine the chilli, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and salt and pepper in a shallow, non-reactive dish.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the prawns and cook for 30secs, no longer. Strain and place in the dish with the marinade. Stir to combine and arrange so that all the prawns are submerged in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 6 hours.
When ready to serve, toss together the papaya, rambutans, onion, and mint.
Cook the rice cakes, one at a time, in the microwave, on high for 1min.
To serve, divide the salad between the rice cakes. Top with the prawns, some of the marinade (this acts as the dressing), and sprinkle with the coconut chips.
Enjoy!

 

Ceviche with Avocado and Mango Salsa and Tortilla Chips (and my entry into a competition to win a foodie adventure to Sri Lanka)

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Since starting this blog a couple of years ago, I’m quite surpised at how far I’ve come, and how much I have learnt, all through the process of trial and error. I always strive for something better, new ideas, and inspiration. I don’t have a studio, or special lights, or a set of props, each place I cook in I use what is available to me, look for the best natural light and battle it out with the flies. Being on the road has been very beneficial, as I am constantly meeting new people, discovering new produce and being introduced to new opportunities. I’ve come to realise that there is no point in planning or worrying too much about what the future holds, or whether I am making the right decisions. Everything folds out the way it is meant to. And luckily enough for me, lately, it’s been folding out pretty nicely.
Opportunities have been popping up left, right and centre, from being part of the upcoming annual Darwin Banana Festival this weekend, where I have been hired as a ‘banana stylist’, to writing recipes and styling shots for a new Australian foodie mag, and, to the point of this blog post; my entry into a competition to win a trip to discover and document, the food, culture and experience of Sri Lanka.
I’m so grateful to all of my supporting friends, who are constantly letting me know of little competitions and advertisements they see on social media, that they think I might be interested in. I would have missed half of them, including this competition, if it wasn’t for them. It’s such a lovely feeling, getting older, and realising how lucky I am to have these beautiful, supportive, creative and genuine people in my life.
Regardless of whether I win a position in the Sri Lanka trip, it’s been a fantastic experience completing the entry. As with each blog post I do, I try to push myself for a new angle, and this one really got me out of my comfort zone. If you told me ten years ago that I would have the confidence to ask a bunch of near strangers (except you Mel), to sit on the beach and share a meal while I take photos of them, I would have said, no way! But, despite the very unfortunately times spurt of rain, everything went perfectly and we had a great time, not to mention the delicious food! It gives me confidence, and makes me excited, to know that, unlike my first trip overseas five years ago (where I was too shy), I will be able to photograph more and speak to the locals more about their traditions, culture, recipes, ingredients, etc.
I’ve included my short essays here that were part of the application. It was so hard to stay within the word limits!
Also, if you have a spare couple of minutes and would like to nominate my blog in the upcoming Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards, it would be hugely appreciated, if you think it deserves a nomination that is! http://www.saveur.com/article/contests/blog-awards-2015-nominate

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Competition entry essays:

The Story Behind the recipe.

After a month in central Columbia, I was full to the brim with carbohydrate laden meals of rice, beans, potatoes, bread and meat. Thank goodness for the obligatory bowl of Aji on every table at even the smallest of roadside eateries, I drenched all my meals in this delicious homemade chilli salsa. I was itching to get to the coast.
So, with one last bowl of steaming, chicken feet soup at the bus station, we were on our way to Quito and then to a tiny coastal town called Canoa. We knew nothing about the place apart from the fact that it was a small surf town, famous for it’s slow paced, relaxed vibe.
After a rough overnight bus trip from Quito, we were finally approaching the coast. Morning rituals were getting underway, people riding to work, roadside stalls selling delicious treats and smiling school kids jumping on and off our bus.
We were exhausted, and starving, by the time we arrived in the main street of Canoa (a dirt road running the length of the beach). The beach was lined with little food shacks, shaded by Coco-Cola and Pilsner tarps. Each had a blackboard touting Ceviche, which we knew very little about. As far as I knew, maybe, it was some form of raw fish dish. But, as we had experienced so far on our trip, anything could be eaten at breakfast time, and we were too hungry to care. So, we picked one shack at random and sat down at the plastic table on the sand. Without having to order anything, we were brought two bowls of ceviche and some fried plantain. With a squeeze of fresh lime, and a tad of hesitation, we dug in. WOW! What a fresh and flavoursome bowl of food we had in front of us. The fish so soft and the lime so tangy, paired with a kick from some chilli sauce and the crunchy plantain chips. What a dish!
After that, we ate it at least twice a day for the week that we were there, but, as hard as we tried, we just couldn’t find that one shack where we had eaten our first. It was like it had disappeared, and no other could match it.

About me and why I should be chosen for the gig.

After years of studying art, architecture and teaching, feeling lost and unfulfilled, I finally saved enough money to travel overseas. I started with the Americas, backpacking and having my mind blown by the amazing traditions, landscapes, and people. It was on this trip, whilst working in a bar on the beach in a small fishing village in Peru (famous for it’s amazing tuna), that I came to the realisation that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was cook. To never stop discovering ingredients, recipes and methods from all over the world, to cook meals that bring people together and make time stand still for a little while, whilst we all enjoy the fruits of the land and the labour of the people who love to cook with them.
Upon returning to Aus I was lucky enough to gain a position in a small cafe, that, over the two years that I helped to run the kitchen, has now turned into one of the most well known cafes in the Hunter.
With only a short stint in Europe in those two years, I decided that it was time to really hit the road. I sold most of what I owned, and have been travelling through Australia in a 4WD ever since, with an overseas ticket booked for April.
My foodblog has been an amazing creative outlet for me also. Something that has been forcing me to learn and discover new things about food and cooking, almost daily. Every meal I create, and every photo shoot I do, creates a new challenge for me. I never do the same thing twice. Discovery is my passion!

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Recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Ceviche
1kg white, firm fleshed fish, I used Robinson Bream
Juice from about 5 limes
1 cup coconut cream
1 tsp caster sugar
1 long red chilli, finley diced
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Salsa
2 ripe but still firm avocados
1 large mango
1 long red chilli
1 spanish onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs olive oil
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Tortilla chips (or plantain chips if you can get them), lime wedges, sliced chilli, chilli sauce, and salad leaves, to serve

Method
Make sure there are no bones in the fish. Slice fish into pieces about 3cm long and 5mm thick and place in a large, non-reactive bowl. In another bowl place the lime juice, coconut cream, caster sugar, chilli, and coriander. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Add to the bowl with the fish and stir well to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but no longer than 10 hours.
When nearly ready to serve dice the avocados and mango into 5mm pieces. Combine in a bowl with the other salsa ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to mash the avocado too much.
Serve ceviche with the salsa, tortilla chips, lime wedges, chilli, chilli sauce and salad leaves.
Enjoy!

Oysters with Pickled Cucumber (and a note on how to make a ‘Japanese Slipper’)

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I understand the appeal of oysters, there is something wild and exciting about eating a creature like this, freshly shucked and still alive, smelling of the ocean as you tip it up to your lips…..

and then…
salty snot.

I’m sorry. I really am. I feel terrible that I can’t fully appreciate them yet. I’m getting there though. A friend recently introduced me to what she called the “Japanese Slipper”, consisting of soy, wasabi, pickled ginger and lime. I loved the flavour at first but it’s that creaminess towards the end that i’m still getting used too. Apparently this is the most sought after part!
So, after having the Japanese Slipper, and not totally hating it, I also tried a bit of a pickled cucumber dressing as well. The dressing is delicious and according to my guests, the oysters were as well.
After all, I love the ocean and appreciate everything that comes from it. I’m sure I will love oysters one day. I will never stop trying that’s for sure!
I haven’t included a recipe here for the Japanese Slipper oysters, but they are really easy, just mix some soy sauce and wasabi together, pour about a teaspoon on each oyster, top with some pickled ginger and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Note; they also pair nicely with an icy cold glass of Frangelico and Lime.

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Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

12 freshly shucked oysters
130g cucumber, de-seeded, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1/4 spanish onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs coconut vinegar
1 tbs caster sugar
Pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the oysters. Stir well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place about a tbs of pickled cucumber dressing on each oyster. Serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin, Kale, Blue Vein and Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

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How awesome are vegetables! They are so versatile, exciting, colourful, textural, interesting, and above all, nourishing. I love treating my vegetables as the main point of a meal, all you need is a bit of love and a few extra touches, and the next thing you know you’ll be turning your humble piece of pumpkin thats been hiding at the bottom of your veggie draw, into a beautiful, shining, and delicious star!

I came across this Naranka Gold Pumpkin at the markets here, I’ve never seen it before, but, as I love to roast pumpkin with its skin on, I thought the look of this pumpkin’s golden skin was very enticing. Roasted to perfection with a hint of sweetness and citrus, it was absolutely delicious. Not to mention the nutty wild rice, the bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate, the earthiness of the kale and the strong scent of the blue vein. It is perfectly satisfying as a main meal but would also be great as part of a feast, along with roasted meats, spreads, other salads and breads. You could also replace the rice with quinoa and the blue vein with goats cheese or feta.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups blended black, red and brown rice

1/2 a small naranka gold pumpkin, about 800g-1kg, cut into thick 5cm wedges, seeds scraped out

1 tbs golden syrup

1 tbs lemon infused olive oil

1/2 cup mixed seeds, such as pepitas, sunflower and pine nuts, toasted

4 large kale leaves, about 120g, stems cut out and leaves finely shredded

Small red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of fresh parsley and mint, roughly chopped

120g blue vein cheese. crumbled

Fruit from 1 fresh pomegranate

2 tbs pomegranate molasses

Splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin with the lemon infused olive oil, maple syrup and some salt and pepper.

Lay the pieces of pumpkin in a single layer on the lined baking tray. Place in the oven and cook for about 45 mins, turning halfway, until golden and tender, crisp edges are good. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Boil the rice until tender. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft, about 5mins. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and kale, and continue to sauté for another 5mins. Add to the bowl with the rice, along with half of the toasted seeds, half of the pomegranate, the fresh herbs, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

Empty the rice mixture out onto a large serving plate. Top with the pumpkin, the rest of the seeds, the rest of the pomegranate, the blue vein, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy!