Book, book, look & book!

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I am keeping this very brief and oh so simple… if anything here is of further interest please click to look & book! You can find the recipe for the warm apples with maple walnut caramel, seen above, at the bottom of this post. Photo ©HollyDavis

Please join me to celebrate the launch of Jude Blereau’s latest book ‘Wholefood From The Ground Up’ on June 25th Afternoon tea by Jude is well worth getting to, I promise and there will be signed copies available, it’s a seminal work and her best yet look&book

You may have seen my recipe testing images on instagram. All things fermented and oh so many loaves, cakes and cultures fill my home just now. My next book deadline is nigh and so, I have been head down, with very little time for anything much else. I will however, be teaching the classes mentioned below later this month; alongside my dear friend and colleague the wonderful Jude Blereau.

Jude is here from WA to launch Wholefood From The Ground Up and to teach, with me. We bring a vast body of our shared knowledge and experience to classes and aim to provide the nuances of our differing specific interests. Mine for where ferments fit our daily lives and Jude’s in the area of  wholesome sweetness and baking.  We are teaching three classes together, in Leichhardt at Wild Kombucha by Ballsey’s fabulous Collabratory Kitchen, Thursday 23rd has sold out but there are spaces in Wednesday  22nd’s ‘Meals for everyday and surviving the busy days’ evening class and in our ‘Low slow and at a simmer’ class on Sunday 26th which explores easy ways to slow cook delicious meals to suit the colder weather finally upon us look&book 

This warm and wintery recipe for the ‘apples with maple walnut caramel’ can be found here , it would make a lovely addition to a long weekend; in celebration of the queen’s birthday.


Jude Blereau is coming to Sydney, to teach with me this November

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Author, wholefood educator, wise woman and dear friend Jude Blereau, of Wholefood Cooking and I share a long wholefood history in Australia. Jude lives and works in Perth WA and whilst, I am often in Perth to teach public classes and The Chefs Training program we run there, Jude is rarely available to come to teach in Sydney. I am thrilled to say though, that in early November we are joining forces here. We are offering a range of delicious, informative, wholesome wholefood classes and what we intend to be, an empowering seminar; to assist you in creating your every day wholefood home. We will be teaching all these ‘know how’ classes and the seminar together. While Jude offers the more nitty gritty details and nutritional science, I aim to connect you with your ‘I can do that’ intuition. We cross over in most areas but have differing passions in the kitchen. Whilst we can both answer your questions, you might go to Jude for all questions sweet and how to cater for intolerances and come to me, with your questions about lacto fermentation, sourdough, meat and fish queries.

Our aim in this program is to share with you our combined experience and nourishing wisdoms, gained over our thirty years pioneering the wholefood industry in Australia. We would like you to leave these events inspired with information and practical tools that will enable you to carve a clear and achievable wholefood path, amidst the current plethora of confusing food and dietary information. Jude and I have walked different paths to arrive at a very similar place, which, we hope gives you the opportunity to get a broader perspective on the topics we have chosen.

We share a vision, to effect change in how we as a society grow, produce, prepare and eat food. As part of this vision we run the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program, a 3 month in depth program that covers, the fundamentals of nourishment, healthy and wholesome eating; including how we grow food and prepare it. The next program will be August 2016. For further details or a prospectus for this exciting program click here.

 


2015 wholefood cooking classes in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane and a catch up

 

Last year was extremely full. The images in this post depict happy moments, spent here in Australia, in the UK, on my first trip to Italy and a speedy visit to Chicago. Above see, ‘Campo Di Fiori’, one of Rome’s fabulous markets which offered an abundance of screamingly fresh produce such as these zucchini flowers, while the real ‘fresh food people’ called loudly; with well earned pride. The Italian Muma on view is in fact me, shot by my sister whilst wandering cobbled paths on a medieval hillside village in Tuscany. The eggs were gathered in Ilford NSW on easter Sunday and the Western Australian sardines express the full force of their proximate sacrifice.

 

I spent spring and summer in the UK and was very fortunate to attend a short course ‘Exploring the Microcosmos’ at Schumacher College; part of The Dartington Hall Estate in the Transition Town of Totnes  in Devon. The course was led by ecologists and scientists Dr’s Stephen Harding and Phillip Frances with Eva Bakkeslett and Sandor Katz providing the artistic and practical components of the week exploring all aspects of fermentation. After over 30 years of my own exploration of lacto fermentation, I deepened my love and understanding of beneficial bacterium and was invigorated by the many collaborations. Eva utilises fermentation through her art works and installations and encouraged us all to do the same. I ‘painted’ using an alive sourdough starter! Schumacher college is unlike anywhere I have been, it runs as a cooperative with everyone contributing to all facets of the colleges day to day running. After a few simple rituals and a thorough induction, I found myself a part of a very beautiful and harmonious whole. Everything got done, fun was had, friends were made and I felt reluctant to leave. The kitchen produces fabulous vegetarian meals to look forward to and recreate. We ere formed into small teams, with names reflecting the course topic, this was charming and very amusing when the team ‘E coli’ was put in charge of the clean up! After attending a short course, anyone is eligible to apply as a longer term volunteer; something I would leap at on my next trip to the UK. There were 1000 origami birds hanging in the great hall where everyone on campus gathers each morning, these were an installation as part of someones thesis. Some of us took the opportunity to go to one of the very few remaining authentic cider houses, where you will not find beer. “Ye Old Cider House” is in  Newton Abbott in South Devon and well worth travelling to; to sample a wide range of naturally fermented ciders and fortified wines. This was somewhat of a highlight and though I drank in sips alone, my voice was raised and my legs were as jelly upon leaving.

Jude Blereau’s Whole and Natural Foods Chefs Training Program runs yearly in Perth WA. Details and applications for 2015 are available through Jude’s site, in the link above. This is a selection of images taken during our visit to Balingup last year; where we take students to meet biodynamic and organic producers on working farms. We are hosted by Katrina Lane from Taste of Balingup. The 2014 students were incredibly fortunate to participate in an event Katrina organised with Simon Bryant and Sam Ward. Both chefs generously imparted their expertise and provided extraordinary feedback to and about these women.

I continue to teach the lacto fermentation, sourdough baking, meat, fish and poultry sections of the program. I am extremely grateful to Jude for the continued opportunity to work with her in co creating a program to inspire and educate the next generation of wholefood chefs and related entrepreneurs.

The 2014 cohort were a very special group of women, committed, cohesive and hungry for everything they could learn, they will go far, look out for them. An internship is part of the WNFCTP, Buena Vista Farm in the Southern Highlands took another of our students, one is soon to spend four weeks at Matt Wilkinson’s restaurant ‘Pope Joan’ in Melbourne and a student who came to the course a primary school teacher, after her internship, is employed at The Mary Street Bakery in Highgate Perth, learning the art of commercial sourdough baking.

 

I will be back in Perth and in Balingup next month and I return to Mondo Organics in Brisbane, to teach two weekend workshops in May. You will find the details and booking information on my class program here.  

If you or someone you know, is interested in hosting a wholefood cooking class or course at home, please check the information here

 

 


Spring and early summer teaching, in Perth WA

Sprouted Walnut and Citrus Rye Berry Salad

I am about to head off to Perth, where I will be rejoining Jude Blereau and Jean Martinez for this years Whole and Natural Foods Chefs Training Program (WNFCTP) hosted by Jude and her company Wholefood Cooking. Whilst I am there, I will also be teaching a variety of Wholefood Cooking Classes beginning with a three day course Wholefoods Everyday of Your Busy Life, this course provides a solid foundation for living a wholefood life this Spring and Summer in Perth. The image above ©Sam Mackie, is a sprouted walnut and citrus rye berry salad, which featured as part of a long table lunch in Sydney, it may well make a reappearance in Perth, using Peach and Co’s wonderful sprouted grains. There are places in several of my classes, if you or someone you know in Perth might be interested, please direct them here to download a pdf of the full class program, there are also a few public events where our WNFCTP students showcase their skills and provide you a delicious wholefood breakfast or dinner.

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I write recipes and information for LJHookers sustainability web site Liveability.com.au this month and for the next few posts there are recipes and information about Wholefood Condiments, starting with the basics of Culturing vegetables at home. If your not yet a home fermenter, I suspect, when you see how simple it is, you soon will be? The satisfying flavour of garlic chive with the crisp crunch of lacto fermented celery and beets, seen above, is enough to warrant learning more. Happy reading, making, eating. I’d love to hear how you go and what combinations you come up with…?

 


Catering, collaborations and classes in early 2014

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LOVE and JOY, both  beautifully expressed here.

This is my beautiful goddaughter Tess Angophora Cullity with her new husband Lucas Maddock demonstrating love and joy. Tess’s aunt Dolly baked the most sublime fruit cake and I did it justice by making real vanilla marzipan and golden butter icing. My daughter India made the marzipan couple and we added the blooms together. This was a cake that got eaten and despite the glorious alternative offerings, many returned for more

Tess and Lucas brought their large families and friends together in the Grampian mountains, for a week of celebrations. Words escape me in describing the beauty and depth of honouring of this event. Tess’s relations include two of Sydney’s finest caterers and many fabulous foodies. Together we spent the week eating and drinking marvellously and catering a feast for 150 guests. This was a feast which will be recalled and discussed for decades to come. Joy was alive and well, this event powerfully demonstrated the value of ‘pulling out all the stops’ and going beyond the ordinary.

Apart from icing the cake I was given the supreme honour of marrying Tess and Lucas in sight of their most beloved community; I am not a celebrant, the legals were performed prior. The service was held on a bush property, between large pear trees which rained confetti petals upon us, as we spoke. It was a profound experience I will treasure a lifetime. I am catering another wedding in February in Avalon; I am currently enjoying dreaming up an equally exciting menu for 70. I am so grateful to do the work I do. Thanks to all who value that work and support me in my life’s purpose, to feed people love.

I am available to cater from early January in Sydney and in Northern NSW; which, as soon as I find one, I shall be calling ‘home’. I will continue to teach and cater in Sydney and other places around Australia. I will be back in the UK to spend time with my talented sister Jo, for work and a European Spring.

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Christmas in Australia means cherry season and cherries mean pie and munching fresh, in champagne with a little mango, for drying, juice that stains, making my sourdough Christmas cake and lots and lots of sunshine. I save my cherry eating until just before the celebrations, this increases my delight in them and gets me in the mood. These beauties were purchased last week, presented in dear newspaper baskets at the Mullumbimby farmers market, I love this market, soon to be my local!

I have become a partner of this fantastic resource for living a more sustainable life at home, www.liveability.com has been founded by the LJ Hooker Sustainability team, headed by the visionary Cecille Weldon. Liveability is focused on providing the highest level of information on sustainability. Go to the red Do it yourself tab and recipes to see some more of these cherries and the Christmas cherry cacao truffles I served them with. It’s a fun site with masses of small, doable, practical solutions you can implement now. My ideas for stocking or freshening up your pantry  for the season are on the site too and more to come soon.

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Keep an eye out for these folk, you might find them anywhere in Australia, New Zealand or Canada, perhaps establishing a cutting edge wholefood cafe or restaurant, food writing or barracking politicians about food policy and regulations, biodynamic or organic farming, consulting on nutrition and anywhere else in the Wellbeing industry.

Above are 8 of the 13 graduates of Jude Blereau’s Natural Chefs Training Program. The photo was taken at Jeff Pow’s beautiful property Southampton Homestead near Balingup in Western Australia; during the week we spent there teaching public classes and meeting producers. Jeff is reinventing and rebuilding his biodynamic farm, after a devastating fire early this year. Western Australians can purchase his beautiful multicoloured eggs (each box comes with one of the layers feathers) at Taste of Balingup and other suppliers of local sustainable produce. His ducks should come on line in 2014.

I spent October and November teaching public classes and the sourdough baking, lacto fermentation, poultry, meat and fish units of the Natural Chefs Training Program, which is held at Don Hancey’s fabulously professional Paramount Catering Kitchen, in Perth.

I will be back in Perth from early September 2014 to continue this work. You can find out more and apply for the Natural Chefs Training 2014 prospectus here.  This is an exceptionally good course, not for the squeamish or of faint heart. I am thrilled and honoured to know I am part of a program, which is developing people with a deep grounded and rounded understanding of whole foods and the wholefood industry.  You will find many images of the food the students learned to make and many more; on my instagram account wholefoodee

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I have a few Workshops  and Classes planned for February, March and April, more to be announced soon.

For now you might like to join me and Real Food Projects at Vaucluse House on February 23rd. I will be taking a small group through a 2.5 hour, hands on class of Capturing Cultures, the colonial way, click here for more information and to book. This class includes lunch and tours of the Kitchen and Kitchen garden.

For an all day, more in-depth exploration of Capturing Cultures, including dairy curds and whey and lacto fermented vegetables and fruits join me at The Lost + Found Department on the Northern Beaches March 1st 

There will be two classes, with a delicious lunch at the exquisite long table in the tented barn  in-between . For more information and to book please click here

Holly Davis Nourish Cookbook

When I co founded Iku Wholefood with Willem Venter in 1985, it was to demonstrate how the use of traditional wholefood ingredients could result in inspiring and delicious meals, free from the usual reliance on nightshades, dairy foods and  animal products. 28 years later with a whole lot of very hard work done by current owner Ken Israel and his staff, there are 15 Iku’s in Sydney and it is still a place to find excellent food.

When Iku began our innovative creations attracted people from far and wide. Much of my inspiration came from the months I spent studying Macrobiotic cooking and teaching English in Japan. During the past year I spent 10 months in London and my love of Japanese whole food ingredients was reinvigorated. I have created a new class to show people how many traditional Japanese ingredients can be put to use with ease and fabulous results. My cooking now includes the use of fish and other animal products and this class will include these, dairy is not a tradition Japanese food and as such will not be included. Products will be sourced through suppliers such as Spiral Foods whose integrity and monitoring I have trusted for 30 years. I ran a 3 hour class in Perth and recognised this topic requires a more in depth format. I am delighted to be offering Everyday Japanese Wholefoods this as a 6 hour workshop with lunch at the long table included, this workshop will be held at The Lost + Found Department, on March 2nd  for more information and to book click here.

I have just arranged to teach at the beautiful Mondo Organics Cooking School in Brisbane. I shall be teaching a two day workshop on Lacto fermentation and Sourdough baking, click here to go direct to booking, via Mondo Organics. It seems these are incredibly popular classes. After more than 40 years of capturing cultures it seems the time is now, for sharing. Please let any Brisbane folk, you think might enjoy this weekend know. Many thanks for your continued enthusiasm and support.

If I do not see you at one of these events I do hope I will soon.

My warmest wishes for the festive season when giving to others is perhaps the greatest gift to ourselves.


Christmas catering menu’s to inspire you. Expect a few recipes in my next newsletter, subscribe to receive

Watery images from the great southern land and from the cold north. Winter is represented by the element water.

Sadly, for me there will be no in-house Christmas catering appointments in beautiful Palm Beach downunder. However if you need any ideas or information for your events let me know.

I am still in England, where my mothers health has improved beyond expectation. I like to think that our loving care and my nutrient dense cooking have been the cause. I am certain these have helped but my mother is a woman of great heart and spirit with a fighting passion for life and she is loving having my sister and I ‘at hand’. So here I stay, for now.

In Britain it is the season for hunting, shooting and fishing and game is in plentiful supply. It is also time to get close to a roaring fire and spend time celebrating with friends. There is masses of fantastic produce here, which I can’t wait to utilise in my Christmas events catering.

I have recently had the great pleasure of cooking up some exquisite local produce for the most delightful people. There is nothing more fulfilling than spending the time it takes to produce beautiful food, for people who recognise what that takes and enjoy the results.

Although it is Autumn here I was asked to deliver very light, interesting food with Australian/Asian style and to ensure the diners were sated but in no fear of being overly full. I generally develop menu’s in conjunction with a clients wishes and cost according to the number catered and the menu chosen. The possibilities are endless and with wonderful winter local grass fed meats, game, seafood and produce to use  I am anticipating sumptuous events – now all there is to do is spread the word and bring on the clients!

If you have friends in London please pass this on, so that they might utilise my talents over the festive season and beyond. If I have catered for you and you have appreciated the results, your introductions and recommendations would be most appreciated.

My UK Mobile 07786922248 or holly@foodbyhollydavis.com

Here are two recent menus that may inspire you this season. If you need ideas for substitutions of seasonal produce local to you, drop me an email. All animal produce chosen is organic, free range and grass fed, and fish are line caught or sustainably fished.

Canapes

  • Crisp Kombu bows
  • Daikon and lotus root with ginger arame
  • Kohl rabbi with chilli cured sashimi
  • Seared eye fillet twists with sesame mustard oil and shiso leaves

Main

  • Whole poached hake
  • Short grain brown rice and mixed toasted seeds salad
  • Blanched mixed radish salad with arame, sprouts and a brown rice vinegar dressing
  • Wilted kale and green beans with toasted sesame seeds
  • Crisp bitter greens

Pudding

  • Pears poached in a light ginger, mirin and vanilla syrup
  • Mascarpone cream and maple sugar shards

 or

Canapés

    • Native Oysters – with umeboshi and fresh mint
    • Steamed Orkney hand dived scallop; on the shell, with yuzu and ginger juice – if you haven’t yet, subscribe (on right) to receive my newsletter and this recipe
    • Seared Tuna with shiso and fresh horseradish
    • Hot smoked guinea fowl breast with garlic chives and beets wrapped in pickled red cabbage

Main

    • Barberry duck breast with star anise, mandarin and ginger
    • Sautéed quinoa with puy lentils and tiny cut vegetables
    • Citrus fennel salad with watercress
    • Crisp bok choy with tamari dressing and toasted seeds

Pudding

  • Almond milk jelly in green tea syrup with a crisp hazelnut macaroon – if you haven’t yet, subscribe (on right) to receive my newsletter and these two recipes

Lacto fermented vegetables and a recipe for Red cabbage, lemon and ginger pickles


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please respect Copyright Holly Davis, these notes and recipe are for personal use only

Why might you make and eat lacto fermented foods?

The lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli preserves the vegetables or fruits and increases their digestibility. This also puts beneficial microorganisms in the digestive tract, which promotes the growth of healthy digestive flora throughout the intestine. This aids digestion and the absorption of other nutrients.

The fermentation process can increase the vitamin levels by as much as 100 times!

Useful enzymes are produced in this process.

Antibiotic and anticarcinogen substances may also be created.

Eating a little fermented food with every meal can aid digestion, particularly of fats.

Eating lacto fermented foods can also reduce the desire for refined sugars.

Oh and they taste fabulous and are a great meal enhancer!

Here is the basic recipe to lacto ferment vegetables

There are many variables when making these foods, always begin with the best quality freshest foods and avoid contaminants.

To make a batch of pickles you will need:

A good board and very sharp knife and / or a food processor with vegetable chopping attachments

Sterile glass jars with airtight lids.

Fresh vegetables clean and dry, chop according to your preference. Root vegetables and cabbages are ideal but softer veg can also pickle well.

Celtic Sea salt approximately 1% of total weight of the vegetables. (If you prefer not to use any salt make sure you add the whey or culture. The presence of the salt prevents putrefying bacteria growing while the beneficial bacteria increase their numbers) personally I prefer the flavour with salt.

Lemon zest is a favourite addition of mine, finely sliced

Spices of your choosing (optional) i.e.chilli, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds.

Home made whey, to introduce lacto bacillus more consistently and rapidly.

Or

Plantarum bacteria culture (‘Culture’ is available from Donna Gates Body Ecology Stockists online at www.bodyecology.com )

Or my preferred method : With no addition of a culture, allowing for the capture of organisms present in your kitchen. Often this works well and occasionally you might lose a batch due to having caught some putrefying bacteria. (You will know if this has happened because your pickle will smell awful and possibly also have become slimy, there is no danger you will want to try them!)

Lacto fermented vegetables can be kept many months when stored correctly and in a cool dark place.

Red Cabbage lemon and ginger pickles

Copyright Holly Davis

1 large fresh organic red cabbage, sliced finely

1 knob organic ginger, grated

1 organic lemon, zest only

Sea salt (1% of total weight of cabbage)

Chop the vegetables

Add the salt and rub in a loving but vigorous manner; until the cabbage has released plenty of liquid

Mix very well with the other ingredients

Contain completely covered in liquid in sterile glass jars, push vegetables down firmly so they are tightly packed and covered in their own juices

Ensure there is a good 5cms between the top of the vegetables and liquid and the lid of the jar as they expand a little during fermentation.

Lid tightly and leave on the kitchen bench 4-7 days depending on the weather. 18-20˚C is ideal (fermentation takes longer when the weather is cold)

The mix will bubble and if you were to open it, it would smell rather unpleasant for the first few days, don’t open the jars now as the process is anaerobic and oxygen at this stage may cause them to spoil. With red cabbage you will notice it turn from purple to bright pink, this is due to the action of the acid produced by the lacto bacteria.

On about day 5 you can place the pickles in the fridge and store there as you use them. Be sure to use only spotless utensils so you dont contaminate the mix.

The flavours continue to develop over several months but these can be eaten any time after the fermentation process has completed, say around 5 days

Note re something course participants are often confused by: Lacto bacillus are not dairy food; though they grow happily in milk products. Lactose is the sugar in dairy food it is not present in lacto fermented vegetables unless you add a dairy product such as whey.



Coq au vin recipe

Photo © Cloudy Rhodes

A maturing free ranging cockerel offers deeper flavour and a coarser texture than a hen, it makes for a superb flavoursome meal. Cook in plenty of good stock for extra flavour and sound nutrition. The acidity of the wine also helps to soften the meat and sinews while the low temperature and a long time cooking ensure the meat is not too dry or tough. I like to cook this dish in a roomy enamelled casserole pot, it makes the perfect stove to table ‘one pot’ winter meal. A ceramic (lead free) slow cooker is another option.

3 tablespoons ghee or duck fat

1 truly free range cockerel, rinsed and well dried inside and out

12 eschalots, peeled

1 head purple, new seasons garlic, peeled

4 carrots, in bite size wedges

1 fennel cut in wedges

1 cob of corn kernels (optional)

1 large leek, cut in medium dice and then well washed

10 white peppercorns

½ bunch thyme

½ bunch flat leaf parsley

2 bay leaves

1 bottle of biodynamic shiraz

1.5 litres gelatinous chicken stock (check seasoning before adding salts)

Sea salt and or fish sauce, to taste, this dish cooks a long time and the liquids reduce so don’t over season at the start, adjust towards the end

Add lots of freshly chopped thyme and flat leaf parsley at the end of cooking

Heat the cooking pot and add the fat

Sauté  the eshallots until they are starting to brown all over

Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes

Turn these into a bowl and set aside, put the pot back on the stove

Brown and seal the cockerel then sit it breast bone up

Add back the eschallots and garlic and the remaining ingredients

Bring to a gentle simmer

Turn the heat down, place a lid on the pot and simmer very gently for 2-2½ hrs

The meat will be falling from the bones

Remove and discard the cooked herbs and add the fresh

Serve with plenty of the cooking liquor, barely wilted greens and boiled kipfler potatoes,

naturally fermented (cultured) vegetables and a glass of delicious red wine

Give thanks for the bird that feeds you so well


Slowly does it, is so worthwhile

Photo © Cloudy Rhodes

I am moving slowly and it seems that Easter came and went too quickly and so these beautiful eggs hang before me still, to be enjoyed a few more days. I spent lots of easter cooking, not a great surprise to any who know me. I spent time cooking for us and for friends and did a wonderful catering job that challenged my ‘real’ foodiness. The menu included four dozen freshly shucked Pacific oysters, three Eastern rock lobsters; hand picked on Saturday and killed on Sunday, and three rock cod that were speared at Palm Beach in the morning and brought to me to kill. By days end I was done with death and chose to use the experience to take note of and value the life I am surrounded by. Once dispatched the lobsters were halved and cleaned the meat loosened from the tails and tarragon butter poured beneath them before they were placed to grill on the barbeque and served in the shell, there were plenty of happy noises and not a morsel to discard later and so, I think they were appreciated and did not die in vain. At home the fare was simpler cooked at low temperature for longer, which suits this season and the produce on hand.

Photo © Cloudy Rhodes

This slow cooked Potti Morran pumpkin made a memorable and delicious meal. I stuffed it with lamb mince I cooked with quinoa and pomegranate molasses. Antonio, who features in my last post inspired the filling and he and Camilla grew the pumpkin. Look out for small dense fleshed pumpkins to fill with whatever delicious thing you can think of. I have made them with a filling similar to the Millet recipes from a previous post and mushrooms are seasonal and go wonderfully with pumpkin. It works best to rub the outside of the pumpkin with a little duck fat or ghee, cut the base so it will sit flat on a baking tray, cut off a lid and remove all the seeds. Spoon in a fairly wet, pre-cooked meat, vegetable or grain based filling, replace the lid and pour a little stock or water into the baking tray, cover loosely with foil and bake at 140C for an hour or two, depending on size. Remove the foil and continue to bake until a small sharp knife passes easily through the flesh at its thickest point. Rest a few minutes, transfer to a platter remove the lid and sprinkle with freshly shucked pomegranate and lots of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. This is a truly Autumn offering that will help keep out the chill. Then there is the Coq au Vin recipe I promised you…

Photo © Cloudy Rhodes

I turned Camilla’s gift of one of her much loved cockerels into my version of a Coq au Vin. The secret to delectability here is lots of  good organic red wine and thyme and time and looong low slow cooking. A free ranged cockerel whose time has come, is quite a different beast to the young chooks we are used to buying. The meat is stringy and much drier and so the wine provides more than its delicious flavour, it helps to soften the sinews and ensures it does not dry out, adding lots of eshallots and sweet root vegetables also adds great texture and flavour and the addition of a litre or two of gelatinous stock ensures fabulous, easily digested nutrition. You may wonder, why eat a stringy older bird, when sweet juicy hens abound, its all about the amazing flavour and fabulous texture and making the most out of a life well lived scratching in the dirt. Since you may not have a cockerel to use, you can make this with a regular chook, reduce the cooking time to an hour and a half but none the less, keep it low and slow and serve some fresh raw fermented foods and a lightly simmered side dish to ensure there are plenty of live enzymes to aid digestion of the fats and proteins in the dish.

I’ll post a recipe for this dish…soon, in the meantime I am off to spend four days with 11 women at Seal Rocks. There will no doubt be tails to tell.

The photo’s above were taken by my much loved friend Cloudy Rhodes. Cloudy is a well recognised surfing talent and an up and coming young photographer. Clouds has a delicate yet quirky eye and many of her photos express a painterly sensibility I love. Watch her space at http://cloudyrhodes.tumblr.com  We spent a lovely day shooting a range of dishes; the results will be available soon.

Oh and who is coming to class? I have a fabulous sourdough baking class coming up May 22nd in Bondi, see Bondi Programme tab to the right here. Please tell whoever you feel might like to know how to make and active leaven so that this ‘No Knead Fruit loaf’ is at their fingertips and so much more besides, naturally leavened cakes and pastry to eat with divine cultured cream and ….


Free to roam, organic wholefoods grown at home

In my book, growing real organic wholefood and friendship go hand in hand. It takes tenacity and hard work to grow real food but the rewards are many fold. I count my daughter and I incredibly fortunate to have such foodie friends, whom we adore, who are committed to growing free range organic food, at home in the country.  ‘The country’ fits the Sussex like area they live, where hills roll and European trees proliferate, this is not really ‘the bush’. We spent a fabulous wet weekend prior to Easter, at Glenquarry, a magnificent rural haven; not far from Bowral, two and a half hours from home. Antonio Ramos and Camilla Mahony are the proprietors of ‘Olive Green Organics’ their life is about providing Australians with the best packaged organic produce,sourced in Italy and South America. They sell many great products including the best gluten free pasta I have ever tried and traditionally farmed high altitude Quinoa and Amaranth from the Irupana collective in Bolivia. They and their truly divine nippies Paloma and Maximo live on the land in harmony with the elements growing most of their fresh food. This family is committed to developing nourishing soil in and on which to raise nutrient rich produce, to feed themselves and many of their friends. Maximo and Paloma are learning about respect for life and death and real food through their inclusion in everything it takes to grow your own. These are happy free roaming children who are a delight to be with, they are well nourished with love and the best the land can offer. All the animals growing here are destined for the pot, in their right season but while they live, they are much loved and carefully tended.

In the past couple of years we have cooked and feasted on incomparable home grown pig, sheep, duck,cockerel and a wide assortment of vibrant mineral rich vegetables. On this Autumn visit, we came home with large Queensland blue and French heirloom Potti Marron pumpkins, onions, carrots, eggplants, fat bunches of just picked herbs, yacon (a South American tuber to eat raw or cooked) and a Cockerel; not much makes me happier than having fine produce to create with. Antonio and Camilla share the many tasks but it seems to me, he is lord of the four legged beasties, Henry the dog and the soil, while Camilla devotes her time to raising the two legged creatures including the most fabulous collection of heritage breed ducks and poultry, however, the lines of work are fluid. Camilla is breeding poultry with function as her goal, there are 40 or more chooks and we were fortunate to arrive the week 14 young cockerels met their maker and thus the cooking pot, that was a delicious sadness, pics of a most delicious Coq au Vin to come.

Camilla’s free ranged chooks provide eggs in the extraordinary array of colours, seen in the photo below. The grey blue birds are Arucana they lay the light blue egg, this breed, like Antonio, hails from Chile. I am sure Antonio’s heritage is a contributing factor in his magnanimous come one, come all, lets eat together nature. Camilla quietly embraces and engages the many and ensures peace and order have a home too, they are a special family and India and I always leave with full hearts and fuller stomachs. Together we all cook and chat and plant and reap and laugh and walk and bake and cook and eat… This trip we ate hot cross buns from ‘Flour, Water, Salt’ Bowral’s Sourdough bakery, definitely worth a detour to go here where the bread and cakes reflect someones careful attention and passion. We made a range of delicious meals that included one of the Potti Marron pumpkins stuffed with home grown minced pork, garlic, onions and whatever else it was Antonio added to what he called his ‘porkognese’, this dish inspired me to make something similar when I got home but I used lamb and pomegranate in mine, photos will follow. These pumpkins have a dense flesh, they are not very sweet but they are totally delicious and look gorgeous. India and I made a fig and chestnut tart and Camilla wowed us all with her cockerel casserole and roasted rack of home produced lamb. I left them with a monster loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread, which Antonio told me he was still eating a week on. Above are photos of the poultry, the magnificent French ‘Moran’ cockerel is top left, his feather footed missus lays the chocolate brown eggs below, on his right is a Dutch Barnevelder chicken, she lays the medium brown breakky. The ‘Silver Laced Wyandotte’ is an American breed, she lays the cream coloured eggs. The white eggs belong to the large showy five toed, top-knotted French heritage Houdan, she refused a photo; the French once considered Houdan to be the best birds for eating, today they are mostly bred for their looks. It seems then that egg colour has to do with breed, not feed as I had previously thought. These impressive looking eggs are all utterly delicious. I am keen for my own heritage breed chickens but for now I make do with tending my neighbours two free roaming Isa browns, reliable layers who provide us with a delightfully brown egg each, each day they are away. Collecting eggs from free ranging hens is somewhat like finding hidden treasure and is, I believe, a pleasure not to be missed by anyone. That eggs from truly free ranging hens are also a perfectly balanced package of easily digested nutrients makes them a gift of nature not to be taken for granted.