Saturday 25 September 2010

noma: time & place in nordic cuisine

Crave Sydney International Food Festival will launch on Friday 1st October, and first up they will be firing the big guns with René Redzepi, Head Chef at Copenhagen restaurant Noma, the recent winner of Restaurant Magazine’s prestigious Restaurant of the Year award.

Redzepi is an international ambassador for Nordic produce and has had a Michelin-starred career working at Pierre André in Denmark, Le Jardin des Sens in France, elBulli in Spain and The French Laundry in California before opening Noma.

From the harbour-side converted warehouse in the bohemian Copenhagen suburb of Christianshavn, Redzepi and the Noma team are pumping out some awe-inspiring dishes with native ingredients and unique presentations.

Having watched Redzepi and Noma’s popularity grow online, he has truly helped revive Nordic ingredients both in their native countries and abroad.

Think birch, wood sorrel, sea buckthorn, horse mussels, musk ox, lichen, curds and cloudberries.

I could go on and on and on. I really could.

The thought of these exciting ingredients conjures up memories of my husband’s Swedish homeland: the crisp air, pure drinking water, green herbs, flavoursome potatoes, powdery snow, rich moose meat, gentle sunlight, sweet crayfish, sparkling harbours, dappled forest light and bountiful tart berries.

Again, I could go on and on and on.

I am remarkably privileged to get a sneak peak into Redzepi’s new cookbook Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine.

The book begins with the evolution of Noma from widely-scorned concept to globally-adored gastro temple as well as an interesting diary excerpt from Redzepi’s produce-sourcing quest across Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Everything I see and read about Noma echoes my own memories and sensations of Sweden.

Reading how the launch of Noma was met with disdain by other Scandinavian chefs (it was nicknamed Blubber Restaurant, Whale Penis and Seal F**ker by non-believers) reminds me that very few Australian chefs take inspiration from local Australian produce.

To date, most native Australian products have been siphoned off as “something for the tourists” and tarnished by the stigma of the crassly named “bush tucker”. It’s almost as if there’s been some sort of shame surrounding native ingredients and no one has dared take up the challenge to produce world-class cuisine that happens to focus around our native produce.

It’s such a shame, because there is a wealth of truly amazing flavour sensations in native Australian spices, fruits, vegetables and meats. My favourites are wattleseed, finger lime, quandong, akudjura and mountain pepperberry, as well as kangaroo meat, Balmain & Moreton Bay bugs (crustaceans), and the luscious native rock oysters.

Just in case you were wondering!

The Noma cookbook is more inspirational than home cooking, although some of the more sophisticated and well-tooled home cooks will no doubt give the recipes a whirl.

There are some truly magical creations such as:
• fried potato crisps frozen in liquid nitrogen then sprayed with a yoghurt and buttermilk glaze;
• fresh radishes planted into cream herb flavoured cheese then topping with “soil” made from dark malted crumbs
• slices of oyster served with wafer-thin pickled apple, cream infused tapioca and malt oil;
• cucumber balls sprinkled with cucumber peel ash and served with raw sea urchin, dill granita and frozen milk foam
• shards of dark birch meringue, pale birch sorbet, mead & honey jelly and fresh chervil
• lingonberry sorbet, hay-flavoured cream and crispy carrot cake crumbs
• a floral dessert of rose hip meringue, elderflower mousse, violet sauce, thyme gel and Icelandic skyr sorbet

Just to list a few!

As Noma has put Nordic cuisine on the “must-taste” list of every foodie around the world, here’s hoping that Australia can learn from Redzepi’s experience and cook up our own inspirational temple of native wonders, with an equally sophisticated and elegant approach that shakes off the “bush tucker” cringe.

Now we just need to get a copy of this cookbook into every Aussie kitchen!

Photo credits:

Saturday 18 September 2010

banana bread

Weekend breakfasts are such a treat because you have the time to invest in making something delicious and soul-satisfying.

I have tried quite a few different breakfasts over the years, like Rick Stein's potato breakfast curry, Mexicos' hangover cure chilaquiles, a Pennsylvanian apple dutch baby, Syrian fatteh, French flaugnarde of apple, walnut & blue cheese and sweet quinoa porridge.

But baking banana bread on a Sunday morning really ticks that soul-satisfying box, filling the house with scents of homely baked goodness and allowing you to relive your Sunday bliss with a sneaky slice in your Monday lunchbox.

I hope you try this recipe on Sunday.

Banana Bread

Mrs Hockmeyer’s recipe via Elise. Makes 8 thick slices.

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1½ cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
65g melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a loaf pan.

2. Mix butter and mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

3. Mix in the sugar, egg, cinnamon and vanilla.

4. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and combine.

5. Add the flour last, mix well.

6. Pour mixture into the buttered loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake withdraws from loaf edges and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

7. Cool on a rack. Slice to serve.

crave sydney international food festival

Sydney, prepare yourself for a full month of gluttony and sensory overload throughout October!

The Crave Sydney International Food Festival is almost upon us!

Once known as “Good Food Month” the event has relaunched itself into a much more educational experience, without abandoning the old favourites.

Here’s a taste of what’s on offer from the 600+ events:
• presentations and demonstrations by some of the world’s leading chefs
• picnics on harbour islands and on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
• farmers markets across the city and night noodle markets in Hyde Park
• brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert specials at leading dining venues
• classes on cooking, baking and kitchen skills
• special dinners in laneways, progressive dining and fine-dining events
• Talks, tours and photography competitions!

It’s going to be amazing!

Food bloggers will be in frenzied activity, sharing their highs and lows with those keen to know what’s going on.

To make it easy to get the latest new, Morsels & Musings will be hosting a weekly round-up of posts for all Sydney food bloggers writing about CraveSIFF.

To participate simply:
• Write a post on your blog covering a CraveSIFF-related event or activity
• Please include a link back to this post so others can find it and join it
• By Saturday midnight, email the following info to morselsandmusings AT
- Name you want to be listed as
- Blog name
- Blog URL
- Event type
- Event
- Post URL

Weekly round-ups will be posted on:
Sun 10-Oct-2010 (Week 1)
Sun 17-Oct-2010 (Week 2)
Sun 24-Oct-2010 (Week 3)
• Sun 31-Oct-2010

If you miss the deadline, I’ll roll you into the next week.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Sydney’s food bloggers have to say!

Tuesday 14 September 2010

carne vinha d'alhos

This is a strange recipe.

It comes from the slightly strange land of Portugal, consists of pickling then frying pork and comes out looking very unappealing.

Despite this, it tastes pretty lovely.
But maybe that's because I love anything pickled!

Carne Vinha d'Alhos
(Pickled Portuguese Pork w Wine & Garlic)

Recipe from this site. Serves 6-8.

3kg boned pork shoulder/neck with some fat;
3 cups (750ml) dry white wine
2 cups (500ml) brown vinegar
1 cup (250ml) cider vinegar
8-10 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red chillies, sliced
4 bay leaves
½ tsp salt;
½ tsp black pepper;
1 slice day old bread, cut in 4
(sage & thyme optional)


1. Layer pork in a large ceramic container; add the wine, vinegar, bay leaves, chillies, salt and pepper.

2. Cover and marinate for at least 3 days, stirring daily.

3. When ready to cook the pork, transfer to large heavy pot (not iron), add the marinade, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes; remove pork..

4. Whilst pork is cooking, quickly moisten the bread slices by touching each side to the surface of the hot marinade and drain.

5. Raise the heat under the marinade so that it bubbles gently, and boil uncovered to reduce while you proceed with the recipe.

6. In a heavy frypan, brown pork lightly on both sides in olive oil and butter over moderately high heat. Remove to heated plate and keep warm.

7. Quickly brown bread on both sides in the pan drippings, adding more olive oil and butter as needed.

8. To serve, arrange bread on a platter, top with overlapping pork, then spoon some of the reduced marinade on top.

9. Pour remaining marinade into sauce boat and pass separately. Decorate with sliced orange slices.

Friday 10 September 2010

passionfruit marshmallow hearts

I remember the first time I realised marshmallows don’t have to come in a package but could be made, fresh, at home.

And after Jonas and I experienced the most exquisite passionfruit marshmallows at Rockpool, I put it on my to-do list with awe but never dared attempt it myself.

So this year I made it one of my 2010 Food Challenges to make sure I stopped living in fear.
The big day came for my friend’s hens night and I pulled them off.

Soft and pillowy, tangy with tropical passionfruit and then topped with 70% dark chocolate.


Passionfruit Marshmallows

Recipe by Rockpool via Australian Gourmet Traveller. Makes 50 squares.

180ml strained passionfruit juice (about 10 passionfruit)
20g powdered gelatine
500g caster sugar
2 eggwhites
Snow sugar, for dusting


1. Lightly grease and line a 17.5cm x 25cm shallow cake pan and dust base liberally with snow sugar.

2. Combine passionfruit juice and gelatine in a bowl and set aside.

3. Combine caster sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes or until syrup reaches 125’C on a sugar thermometer.

4. Remove from heat, add passionfruit mixture to syrup and stir until gelatine dissolves.

5. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt until frothy.

6. Gradually add passionfruit mixture, whisking continuously on medium speed until mixture has doubled in size, then slowly decrease speed and mix until mixture is warm (about 40’C).

7. Pour into prepared cake pan, and, using a lightly oiled spatula, spread evenly, then dust top liberally with snow sugar. Stand at room temperature for 3 hours or until firm.

8. Using a sharp knife, cut marshmallow into 2.5cm squares and roll in snow sugar to coat. Store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Note: to make heart shapes I used an oiled cookie cutter and all the leftover bits and pieces were turned into rocky road.

I remember the first time I realised marshmallows don’t have to come in a package but could be made, fresh, at home.

I put it on my to-do list with awe but never dared attempt it.

So this year I made it one of my 2010 Food Challenges to make sure I stopped living in fear.

The big day came for my friend’s hens night and I pulled them off. Soft and pillowy, tangy with tropical passionfruit and then topped with 70% dark chocolate.


And if you want to try your own marshmallows, how about some of these:
Orange Blossom
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Root Beer

These marshmallows are my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging with passionfruit as my theme ingredient. If you want to learn more about passionfruits I wrote a post about them back when I blogged this passionfruit curd.

Our host this week is Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs). Be sure to visit for the round-up.

Saturday 4 September 2010

gorgonzola, fresh figs & prosciutto bruschetta

This is a simple dish to make. So simple is doesn't need a recipe.

Just slice a baguette, toast it, rub some garlic on the sides.
Chop the figs, crumble the gorgonzola and curl the prosciutto on top.
Pepper, salt.


These beauties were made lovingly for me by my gorgeous friend Shelle Belle.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

chicken w sumac, za’atar & lemon (m’sakhan)

How does a recipe for Palestinian M’sakhan, a London restaurant, an Aussie blogger, a birthday present and Barcelona all come together into one story?

Because my wonderful pal , Nicki, gave me this cookbook from the London restaurant Ottolenghi for my birthday when we celebrated together in Barcelona!

This birthday I gained an extremely unwanted year, forcibly prodding me into a new decade, something I was not at all pleased about.

Despite this anxiety-ridden turn of events, I managed to celebrate the hideous day with some of my closest friends and my sisters in Barcelona.

Who can complain about that?

Well, I still cried a little but when I blew the candles out.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, right?

But seriously, what are the chances that so many of your peeps can be on the other side of the world at the same time to meet you in one of Europe’s party cities? It was amazing!

And with my June birthday now a distant memory, last weekend I spent my time busily leafing through the Ottolenghi cookbook, marking out the most beautiful recipes.

There are so many that have caught my eye, but I want to share these particularly exciting options with you:
• Cucumber & Poppy Seed Salad
• Puy Lentils, Sour Cherries, Bacon & Gorgonzola
• Jerusalem Artichoke & Rocket Soup
• Lamb & Beef Meatballs Baked in Tahini
• Roast Pork Belly w Gooseberry, Ginger & Elderflower Relish
• Seared Tuna w Pistachio Crust & Papaya Salsa
• Cheddar & Caraway Cheese Straws
• Lavender & Honey Teacakes
• Plum, Marzipan & Cinnamon Muffins
• Prune & Brandy Truffles

But my cookbook will be used first to make this adaptation of the Palestinian Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar & Lemon (M’sakhan).

As the Ottolenghi crew explain, it’s great served with a garlicky-yoghurt sauce with lemon and warm pita bread. I also made an Ottolenghi salad of Radish, Broad Beans & Green Tahini to go on the side.

The results? DELICIOUS!

Palestinian Roast Chicken w Sumac, Za’atar & Lemon (M’sakhan)

Anna’s adaptation from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Serves 2.

2 chicken marylands
Red onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons sumac
1 lemon
200ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
2 tablespoons za’atar
50g pine nuts
20g butter
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Wash then juice the lemon, then cut the juiced fruit into slices.

2. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, lemon juices and slices, cinnamon, smoky paprika, allspice, sumac, salt and pepper. Marinate overnight or at least a few hours.

3. Preheat oven to 200’C.

4. Put the chicken and all its marinade in a baking dish, ensuring the chicken is flat and not touching each other. Put the chicken skin side up.

5. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions then roast for 30 – 40 minutes until the chicken is coloured and just cooked through.

6. In the meantime, melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the nuts with a pinch of salt until golden, stirring constantly. Drain on kitchen paper.

7. Transfer the hot chicken to serving plates and finish with chopped parsley, toasted nuts and a drizzle of olive oil.

I've blogged about sumac before as a Weekend Herb Blogging ingredient, so I'm going to pinch the content directly from my own post. Apologies to myself.


Sumac is the name of all 250 species of flowering plants from the genus Rhus.

Also known as sumach, sumak, summak, tanner’s sumach, sommacco, zumaque and sammak, in this particular case sumac refers to the spice created from grinding the Rhus coriaria’s dried berries. This produces a tart, sour deep red-purple powder which is extremely popular in Arabic, Levant, Persian and Turkish cuisine.

Sumac berries form tight clusters of red drupes or bobs. They are harvested just before ripeness and sun dried. In growing regions you can buy whole dried berries whereas the rest of us need to make do with sumac powders. The powder keeps in an airtight container for several months.

The Rhus coriaria comes from the Mediterranean but sumac in general grows in subtropical and warm temperate regions throughout the world. It has been used in Mediterranean cooking since Ancient Rome and is a major souring agent in Middle Eastern cooking, replacing lemon juice, tamarind and vinegars.

There are numerous ways to employ sumac in your kitchen:
• on kebabs, fish or chicken before grilling
• popular in salad dressings, marinades, stews and casseroles
• enhances the flavour of fresh tomatoes and avocados
• mixed with yoghurt and fresh herbs as a dip or sauce
• dusted over feta or labneh cheese
• mixed with olive oil as a dip with bread
• common ingredient in za'atar (a spice mix)

North American sumac is also employed for culinary purposes. Native Americans used smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) to make rhus juice, also known as sumac-ade or Indian lemonade. They would soak the sumac berry clusters in water to remove the essence then strain and sweeten the liquid.

Other North American sumac includes Rhus glabra, an excellent leather tanner which produces flexible, light weight and almost white leather products, and Rhus toxicodendron, also known as Poison Ivy.

Sumac is said to have diuretic effects and the assist bowel problems and fever. In the Middle East a sour drink is made from sumac to relieve indigestion.

And one last weird fact: dried sumac wood glows under UV lighting. Who would have thought!

That’s it for WHB for another week. Check out the recap with our host Janet from The Taste Space.

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