Posts Tagged ‘rhubarb’
Posted Wednesday 06 June 2012on:
Our home in Sydney had a small L shaped garden in the courtyard. The previous owners had planted tropical specimens that were coarse and prickly and it took many hours to dig out all the roots. We replaced the grotesque fluorescent plants with evergreen hedges and Japanese maple trees.
We had terracotta pots of herbs and vegetables which yielded produce sporadically. We had a stubborn lettuce that was determined to grow up so all we had were stalks and no leaves. The singular chilli we patiently cultivated was pecked at and spat out by a bird. But we did have an abundance of basil. My only gardening skill is watering. I was excellent at that!
The workshop is the bakery for all the Tom Douglas restaurants. Serious Pie Westlake is on the mezzanine level with a view over the commercial kitchen.
We were greeted with a rhubarb lemonade in a mason jar. Macerated rhubarb was strained and mixed with lemonade, a refreshingly tart beverage.
Our snacks were courtesy of Serious Pie. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil, and Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme pizzas sated our hunger.
A stack of recipe cards were tied in a bow.
A cardboard tray of Prosser Farm vegetables had asparagus, oregano, Chinese cabbage and mustard green seedlings.
We gathered around Dev as he and chatted chatted with us about farming in Prosser.
We tasted a trio of greens. Clockwise from top: baby mustard greens, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. The peppery red mustard greens contrasted with the grassy green variety.
An orange coriander vinaigrette was in a spray bottle. A spritz of the citrusy dressing on the red mustard green leaves alleviated the spiciness.
Dev peeled stalks of rhubarb with a paring knife which he reserved for colouring. The yoghurt and asparagus are from their neighbours. There are no asparagus on Prosser Farm as it requires space and takes three to four years for the crops to develop. The sheep milk yoghurt is from Mercer Sheep.
Thick and creamy, the piquant yoghurt balanced the mellow sweetness of the poached rhubarb. Tossed with crunchy asparagus spears, crisp green leaves and slivered almonds, it was a unique salad.
Dev foraged a handful of devil’s club for us to nibble on. There were murmurs as we considered the flavour. It was herbal, like juniper berries in gin. These can be eaten raw in salads or pickled.
Green garlic is straight and garlic scapes are curved. The former is young garlic and the latter are the stalks of garlic. Both have mild, dulcet notes that differentiate them from the pungency of garlic cloves.
These curious curls are fiddlehead ferns. The fronds have to be carefully cleaned, and can be blanched or seared.
We were surprised with chorizo made by former Harvest Vine chef Joseba Jimenez and they were smoky paprika morsels.
Dev explained that hard boiled just laid eggs are difficult to peel. The egg whites thicken after three days.
Coddled in 145 °F water for 35 minutes, the glossy eggs were gently cracked into individual bowls and briefly warmed.
Dev sautéed kale and green garlic, and spinach was wilted in stock.
The greens were puréed.
And simmered with brown butter, and cooled in an ice bath.
Mushroom slides and A ladle of green garlic broth were topped with a coddled egg. Luscious and healthy, the broth was the definition of spring.
Currently Prosser Farm is supplying 300 pounds of food to the Tom Douglas restaurants per week. It will peak at 1000 pounds in summer. There are quince, fig and peach trees on the property. Last year the restaurants did not have to purchase any tomatoes and only had to supplement lettuces. Next will be eggplant and peppers.
Dev answered all our questions with aplomb and recommended rhubarb leaves as rain shields!
Posted Monday 05 March 2012on:
Presented by Book Larder, the dessert party with Gail Simmons was held at the Palace Ballroom and coincided with the Top Chef season 9 finale on leap day. I love MasterChef Australia but I haven’t watched Top Chef so I was curious about Gail‘s memoir, Talking with My Mouth Full.
Banners of each chapter in cursive font and a symbolic illustration decorated the space.
The dessert menu was three chalkboards tied together with string.
Clockwise from top: schnecken, apple cake, derby tartlet, and chocolate meringue pie. The recipe of Tom Douglas’ grandmother, the schnecken was sticky sweet rolled and glazed pastry sprinkled with chopped nuts. Gail’s plum cake made with apple was scented and light. Chewy and nutty, the derby tartlet was a bite size treat. A pillowy twirl of burnished meringue rested on a chocolate filled crust, the mini pie was the highlight of the dessert party.
Rhubarb dump with crème Anglaise in a ramekin.
Both ladies listened to each other with intent and were animated in conversation. Gail’s mantra of ‘the harder you work, the luckier with are’ resonated with me.
Gail cited Survivor and Fear Factor as the stigma of the reality television genre when she filmed her first episode of the inaugural season of Top Chef in 2005. Many hours of footage from many cameras were edited for each show. Instead of applying a formula to the judging panel, their styles developed as a team.
Gail’s father was born in South Africa. He moved to Canada in the 60s and met her mother in Montreal on a blind date. Gail’s mother operated a cooking school out of her home kitchen and wrote a regular column for Canada’s national newspaper, The Global and Mail.
Gail graduated with a liberal arts degree with majors in anthropology (she ‘really likes monkeys’!) and Spanish (the language of kitchens). Gail wrote reviews of ‘ghetto’ restaurants for her university newspaper.
Her mother’s best friend, Linda, inspired Gail to enrol in culinary school to learn the science of cooking. Linda encouraged Gail to write down what she loves, and on the piece of paper was ‘eat, write, travel, cook’. Culinary school is a modern construct, and to speak and write ‘with authority’, she needed to know the subject.
In New York Gail worked for the esteemed Vogue food critic, Jeffrey Steingarten. Gail described her former boss as an extraordinary mind, a meticulous researcher and self-deprecating. It was ‘an education’ to be Steingarten’s assistant, a difficult job that has ‘opened doors’.
Gail recalled a dry aged meat experiment for an article where Steingarten left the meat on the counter to rot. Dry aging of meat is a calibrated process in a precise environment and Gail cleaned up the putrid meat with maggots before Steingarten returned from overseas!
Gail noted that physical strength is an attribute required in kitchens, it is gruelling manual labour to ‘execute a chef’s vision’. A key to success to knowing ‘when to keep mouth shut’! Gail emphasised the importance of goals and to be flexible with the path to achieve them.
As a judge she uses descriptive words (‘oozy’!) and assesses each dish objectively. She recommends Stephanie Izard‘s Girl and the Goat in Chicago, Spike Mendelsohn‘s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington DC and Harold Dieterle‘s Perilla in New York of the Top Chef contestants.
An audience question about Gail’s health was controversial. Amy stated that the question would not have been posed to a man. Gail responded that it is an ‘occupational hazard’. She tastes food in two or three bites, is attentive of her diet off camera, is active and while she is not American, she walks like a New Yorker!
Gail was gregarious and energetic, and I intend on reading chapter eight, ‘Alone with rotten meat: the Vogue years’, first!
I have a clear memory of my first spider. No, not an arachnid! The Australian slang term for ice cream float or ice cream soda is spider. I was about six or seven and at a hotel lobby café. My aunt ordered the drink for me and I slurped the sugary, fizzy concoction with delight.
After some errands, I visited the DRY Soda tasting truck to sample some of their flavours. The website has a profile on each of the flavours detailing characteristics, pairing ideas, mixology and nutrition facts, and there are also food and cocktail recipes.
I had a shot each of juniper berry, lemongrass and rhubarb. Unfortunately they were out of blood orange that day. The other flavours are vanilla bean, cucumber and lavender. The carbonated drinks are light and thirst quenching, with the flavours gently infused.
Used in Asian cuisines, lemongrass is common in curries and soups. Bold citrus tones made the lemongrass DRY Soda a highlight.
I returned later for a free ice cream float, a joint event with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. On a dull day, the cherry Lambic sorbet and vanilla bean DRY Soda float was happiness distilled in a cup. A tangy, effervescent mix, it was sweet and tart, and fragrant with vanilla and mint. A refreshing treat, it was the essence of summer!
Jeni Britton Bauer is on a tour to promote her cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I spoke with her briefly and she was charming! We share a love for the now defunct Australian Vogue Entertaining + Travel magazine. I sadly had to recycle my collection when we moved countries but Jeni still has hers.
Jeni kindly signed my purchased copy of her cookbook. I don’t have an ice cream machine (yet!) but I’m enjoying reading Jeni’s ice cream stories, flavour descriptions, and learning about the ingredients and techniques. The recipes are divided into spring, summer, autumn and winter – produce is seasonal, ice cream is not!