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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black Garlic - the new wonder!

Black garlic is a new and exciting product that has finally found its way around the world. Once only used in high-end cuisine it is now readily available if you know where to find it. I bought mine on the web through in Melbourne but there are plenty of stockists, worldwide.  Sometimes referred to as fermented garlic it has a taste reminiscent of sweet balsamic vinegar and tamarind. Uniquely individual and setting itself apart but nothing at all like the garlic we all know and love. It has a multitude of uses and would no doubt be a very lucrative thing to produce if you are a garlic grower with plenty of time on your hands! Growers should read this link to ehow  if they are interested in fermenting their own ‘Black Gold’.
For me it is very exciting as I love to make terrines and I love truffles but rarely get my hands on one. In a funny way sort of way, it is almost a substitute (for me) - imagine black garlic running through a pink salmon terrine, It would look stunning. I have my one and only remaining bulb under lock and key but had great fun trying the first one with scrambled eggs and fresh salmon as you can see in the two photographs. The recipe I used for the salmon came from the  blackgarlic web site - check it out!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

kingfish sashimi with honey & lime vinaigrette

This is an elegant first course to serve on Christmas day. Not only beautiful to look at but light enough not to spoil the large main course to follow.  


Serves: 4

400gm sashimi grade kingfish
100ml grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper
Microherbs or shiso leaves, chopped chives and ground black pepper to garnish


Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and shake well. Slice the kingfish into long thin pieces with a very sharp knife and lay them side by side on each plate. Spoon a little dressing over the top and scatter the plates with herbs and a few grindings of cracked pepper.

Kingfish Sashimi printable recipe, click here:

Friday, December 17, 2010


There are many meanings for the word ‘cartouche’ but in cooking terms it describes a round piece of paper, usually greaseproof (baking paper), waxed or parchment used to cover the surface of a pot.

The placement of a cartouche on the surface of food, under a saucepan lid, keeps the components submerged, reduces evaporation during the cooking process and is vital in the prevention of a skin forming on top of a sauce.


  1. Tear off a large piece of paper from a carton, twice the surface of your pot
  2. With the short end facing you, fold it in half (bottom to top)
  3. Fold in half again, right to left
  4. Fold in half again, right to left
  5. There is now a sharp point at one end
  6. Place the pointed end in the centre of your pan to measure the distance from the centre to the edge and tear or cut off any paper that extends over the edge of the pan.
  7. Unravel and place the circle of paper over the surface of the pan

If the purpose of your cartouche is to keep a skin from forming on top of a sauce, wet the cartouche with water before placing it on the surface of the sauce.

I use foil from time to time too, as illustrated above, but it is not so effective. Paper absorbs water (moisture from the pan) thereby creating a suction giving a better result.

The great juggling act of the year comes into its own at Christmas when practically every saucepan in the kitchen comes into play at the same time. The use of a simple cartouche over a pre-prepared sauce can be a real lifesaver and you’ll be amazed what it does for chicken, stews, casseroles and the like!

Cartouche making - printable version, click here:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

borlotti beans (fagioli scritti)

Critical point time is the choice of saucepan when cooking borlotti beans, this way. Make sure the saucepan is not too big and the beans come half way up the sides – they must be a tight, snug fit. The red stripes on fresh borlotti disappear during the cooking process, sadly. Their beautiful uncooked look is NOT the cooked look!

Oven: 180C
2 kg fresh borlotti beans or 4oogm dried, soaked overnight in cold water
2-3 whole tomatoes
1 whole head of garlic split in half
1 handful each fresh sage and parsley leaves
12oml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper – add before seasoning

Place the beans in a saucepan and add all the ingredients except the seasoning and oil. Cover with enough cold water to ensure the level is 1cm over the top of the beans. Slowly pour on the olive oil to form a slick on top of the water. Seal the pan with a piece of foil, pierce a hole in the top of it and bake for one hour.
Remove when creamy, soft and cooked. Season generously and add a little extra olive oil to serve.
Serves: 6
Do not put salt in the water during the cooking process, this will toughen the beans – best to season them just before serving. This is adapted from a River Café recipe.

Borlotti Beans printable recipe, click here: