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.
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…
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 ….