Wholemeal Pumpkin Scones with Maple Pecan Butter

sconesls

I was given a pumpkin last week. An organic, home grown butternut, with white sap still oozing from its freshly cut stem. Now, in regular circumstances, gift acceptance isn’t permitted in my line of work. However, at the tail-end of a poignant home visit in the late afternoon, I’m less likely to object. Particularly if the said gift is from the garden.

pumpkinraw2

This particular pumpkin was grown by the husband of a woman with whom I’ve been working for over six months. He passed away last week, completely unexpectedly. He was his wife’s main carer; a strong, coarse man of eighty three who spent his career working as a truck driver. In his later years, he developed a passion for home-grown produce, cooking and preserving; in part, to nourish the health of his languishing wife.

Now she is here, and he is not. All that remains is a pile of matter, an empty ache, memories and a nourished garden. His name was John.

pumpkinroasted

roastedscoope

On Wednesday afternoon, I arrived home with John’s pumpkin in my worn leather handbag. I felt a certain amount of responsibility to do it ‘justice’, seeing as it was the last of his beloved crop. I ran my hands over the smooth exterior, removing clumps of dirt with sentimental fingers before placing it in my vegetable box. There it stayed for my remaining day of work before the long weekend.

On Good Friday morning, I woke early. I poured a bowl of oats and sat, notepad in hand, as the sun illuminated the plant pots on our balcony. I chewed reflectively, jotting down baking ideas, herb combinations and general recipe thoughts. Upon emptying my bowl, I felt settled on a combination of mashed pumpkin, coconut sugar, pecans and maple, tumbled in a bowl of wholemeal flour. Scones it would be.

flour

bussoeggs2The following recipe was created according to my personal preference for nourishing, whole wheat baked goods* that can later be slathered in smooth nut butter. The extra pinch of baking powder ensures a sufficient, gentle rise and a fluffy, moist crumb.

If you prefer the more traditional flavour of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s pumpkin scones (for those overseas, Lady Flo was the wife of a Queensland parliamentarian who was famous for her home baking), exchange the wholemeal flour for refined white self-raising and substitute the coconut sugar for white sugar. Those with a sweet tooth might also appreciate a drizzle of raw honey upon the subtly sweet, nutty maple pecan butter.

sconescu

It’s the kind of deliciousness that takes me back to my childhood days in the sunshine. I like to think that John would have approved.

*I probably would have used spelt flour if I had it, so feel free to exchange quantities if you have some residing in your cupboard (150g spelt flour is equivalent to 1 cup wheat flour; add 2 tsp baking powder per 150g).

tray

Wholemeal Pumpkin Scones

Makes approximately 18 round 6-cm diameter scones

  • 2 1/2 + 1 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin (preferably roasted rather than boiled, cool before using)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • good pinch of baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, soy or dairy all work well)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Lightly dust two flat baking trays with plain flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg, milk and mashed pumpkin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, spices (if using) and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add your liquid ingredients.

milkflour

Mix together with your hands, adding a little more flour if required (from the extra cup listed in the ingredients) until you have a soft but workable dough.

dough

Turn out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth. Flour your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a 2cm thickness. Cut into squares or rounds (I used a 6-cm diameter glass), re-rolling your dough as required.

cutting

Place the scones onto your prepared baking trays, 1cm apart. Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and slightly golden. Serve hot with a generous slather of maple pecan butter (recipe to follow).

pecans

butter

Maple Pecan Butter

I personally use 2-3 tsp maple syrup in my maple pecan butter for a gentle hint of sweetness, however during taste tests several commented that they’d like it a bit sweeter. Taste, contemplate and add a little more maple syrup if it’s your preference.

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 tsp pure maple syrup (to taste)
  • 1 cup toasted organic pecans
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional

Blend 3/4 cup pecans into a fine ground using a food processor. Add the butter, blend again until smooth and fragrant. Add the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon to taste (start with 2 tsp maple syrup, taste and work your way up – I was happy with 2 tsp but most thought otherwise!). Crush the remaining pecan nuts in a mortar and pestle into a coarse ground, add to the butter mixture.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to using. Wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for a month.

sconesaerial2 bite

Bib & Tucker, North Fremantle

boardwalkI love breakfast. It’s probably my favourite meal of the day, to the point where I often lie awake at night thinking about what I’ll eat in the morning. Steel cut oats, seeded toast with lemon-drenched avocado, crunchy macadamia muesli, fresh crumpets with Lescure butter and raw organic honey… I love it all. I’m one of those people who could very easy eat brinner every night of the week. But then again, where would that leave tacos and braised pork belly? Oh, the dilemmas!

A few months ago, a friend of mine mentioned a little cafe in North Fremantle called Bib & Tucker. Described as the ‘next best thing in breakfast’, I naturally wanted to visit… mostly as a comparison to my favourite breakfast destination of the moment, Harvest Espresso in Victoria Park (a place that actually solves my pork belly dilemma. They serve it for breakfast. Really).

signage

We arrived mid-morning last Saturday. The sky was pale blue, slightly overcast, with thick clouds wafting like a scattered blanket. By the time we pried open the front doors, sweat started to bead on our foreheads in a sticky sheen.

Luckily, we were ushered to an outside table where the reliable Fremantle Doctor was blowing. Cool, salty air gently lapped at our skin as we perused the breakfast menu.

menu

There’s something beautifully balanced about Bib & Tucker. Old favourites such as pancakes, eggs and crispy bacon sit snugly alongside redemptive kale, green lentils, chia seeds and almond milk. If would be fair to say that as a patron, you can be as virtuous or indulgent as you want to be. My favourite kind of place.

coffeebandt hatAfter ordering our coffees, we selected three dishes from the breakfast menu: fig chia pudding ($15), smashed avocado on cornbread ($19) and house-smoked ocean trout tartare ($24). Despite various criticisms on Urbanspoon about the ‘terrible service’ at Bib & Tucker, we met a wonderful brunette waitress who delivered our food within 15 short minutes. Nothing wrong with that.

As for the food? Well, it’s safe to say that we were three happy campers on this Saturday morning. Everything that arrived was fresh, generous, beautifully presented and suitably nourishing. My selection was (typically) chunky seasoned avocado atop thick, toasted cornbread with fresh greens, quinoa and vibrant chive oil. Aaron chose (typically) the smoked ocean trout, which was deliciously salty, soft and delicate against robust fried capers, fresh asparagus, croutons and lemon mascarpone.

oceantrout2 chiaavo

My lovely mother (atypically) selected the chia pudding, mostly out of ‘curiosity’. The dish arrived in a mason jar crowned with fresh wedges of fragrant fig, pomegranate arils and toasted almonds.

For a woman who habitually chooses ‘eggs any way with toast’ (a.k.a poached eggs with wholemeal bread), she enjoyed the breakfast variation. The chia seeds carried a slight creaminess from the organic almond milk, beautifully complimented by the sweet figs, acidic pomegranate and toasted nuts.

chiabandt insideoutside

From scanning the crowd, it would be fair to say that Bib & Tucker is a beautiful embodiment of the Fremantle subculture: eclectic, relaxed, slightly hippy (as opposed to hipster; these guys were growing kale in loamy soil far before the first hipster discovered plaid) artistic and entirely wonderful. As an ‘artsy’ type myself, I felt right at home.

It’s a place to contemplate, breathe and feel nourished within 100 metres of the Indian Ocean. A place I definitely want to revisit. Soon.

beach docks

Bib & Tucker

18 Leighton Beach Blvd, North Fremantle WA 6159

(08) 9433 2147

Coffee: Tues – Sun, 6am – 4pm

Breakfast: Tues – Sun, 7am – 11am

Lunch: Tues – Sun, 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: Wed – Sun, 6pm – 9pm

Marinated Bell Peppers with Herbs and Goats Cheese

peppersBy now, you’ve probably already read my epic Spanish Table post that was generated after last weekend’s festivities with Inspired Food and Feed Your Soul, Perth. Here’s the final recipe for bell peppers marinated in fragrant herbs, lemon zest, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Pile onto some fresh bread for a wonderful entree, lunch or tapas dish.

Marinated Peppers with Herbs and Goats Cheese

Serves 6 as part of a tapas meal, 2 as an entree

  • 200g mixed baby peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs (I used dill, mint, parsley and coriander)
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 60g soft mild goats cheese or Persian feta
  • fresh bread, to serve

Preheat a char grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the whole baby peppers to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until blistered and blackened.

peppersbowl

Whilst still hot, place into a plastic bag or bowl covered in plastic wrap and allow to steam (this allows the skins to loosen from the flesh). Set aside.

herbmont

Place the chopped herbs, lemon zest, crushed garlic and olive oil into a medium bowl. Mix well and season to taste. Set aside.

herboil

When the peppers are cool, peel off the blackened skins and scrape out the seeds and membranes. Cut or tear into thick slices, then add to the bowl of herb oil. Mix well and allow to marinate for one hour.

marinated

To serve, gently add in the crumbled goats cheese and turn into a serving bowl. Garnish with a bit of extra herbage if desired. Serve the peppers piled onto fresh bread or as a tasty addition to a wrap or sandwich. Make sure you drizzle over a bit of the delicious oil, too.

breadcaps

The Spanish Table

tabledec2

Last weekend, I traveled to the coast of Andalucia. Well, at least in a culinary sense. The air was crisp and cool, the table strewn with colourful plates, glasses and embroidered fabric. I feasted on unctuous pork belly, spicy chorizo, smoky chicken wings, crisp broad beans and fried potatoes in spicy tomato sauce… tapas plates, all in aid of the second installment of what’s becoming a bi-monthly ‘feast’ tradition between myself, Jemima (Feed Your Soul, Perth) and Matt (Inspired Food).

chorizp chorizoolives

If you missed the first installment of the series, take a look at our Moroccan Table feast here. It was a night of giant proportions; incredible food, delicate cocktails, compulsive photo taking and great conversation. We had so much fun that we and our significant others (Aaron, Jemima’s sister Lexi and Matt’s girlfriend Alyssa) decided that we just had to do it all again. So last Saturday, we arrived at the same venue, readily equipped for a second round of cooking and feasting. That brings me back to my introductory point, tapas plates.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, tapas is the Spanish term for small, snack-style grazing plates that are served alongside beverages with ample conversation. I can’t quite remember how we decided on the the tapas theme. It was most likely the joint realization of three ambitious cooks who had just produced enough food to feed an army.

tabledec

Back to last Saturday afternoon. We arrived at Jemima and Lexi’s house in the late afternoon with ingredients, enthusiasm and multiple glazed dishes (presentation is everything, right?). We started eating at around 4.30pm and finished up about five hours later. Yes, five hours of eating. But to be fair, there was a lot of cooking, drinking and conversation in-between.

mattalyssa lexcroquettes fysp

Here’s the menu:

Chorizo and olives in cider sauce
Marinated peppers with fresh herbs and goats cheese

Spiced cauliflower with chilli yoghurt dressing
Patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce)
Broad beans with chorizo and lemon
Paprika chicken wings
Cider braised pork belly with apple and fennel puree
Cheese and chorizo croquettes
Churros with warm chocolate sauce
Snickers brownie with chilli chocolate sauce
Dulce de leche ice cream

Yes, there were only six of us, and by the end of the night we were in literal food comas. That brought on a fair whack of delirium… and the byproduct, a mini-series pitch for ‘The Adventures of Gherkin Girl’. By the end of the night, we had decided on 1) Aaron as lead animator and 2) Mr Suave Potato Head as a love interest. Both neither agreed nor disagreed. Watch this space.

potatohead

Anyway, we’ve decided that the second and third installments of our ‘feast’ series will be Indian and Mexican respectively, so get ready for more epic posts over the next few months. But in the meantime, please scroll down for three of my four recipes from our Spanish Table. The fourth recipe, marinated bell peppers with herbs and goats cheese, is available here (for reasons which may become obvious as you keep scrolling).

bravas2bravas4

Patatas Bravas

Adapted from this recipe by Mary Cadogan, BBC Good Food

Serves 8 as a tapas dish

For the spiced tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red (Spanish) onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you’d like less heat)
  • 1 pinch raw sugar
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh Italian parsley and finely grated lemon zest, to serve
  • Manchego Viejo (aged Spanish sheep milk cheese), to serve (optional; substitute Parmesan)

For the potatoes:

  • 900g blue or red potatoes (I used Royal Blue)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed slightly (leave skins on)
  • fresh herbs (optional as this is non-traditional, I used sage, rosemary and thyme)
  • smoked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for frying

For the spiced tomato sauce: Heat the oil in a large pan or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add in the garlic and chopped chilli, fry for another minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, smoked paprika, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until reduced and fragrant. Season to taste. Set aside for up to 24 hours for the flavours to develop.

For the potatoes: Fill a large saucepan with water, then place over high heat. Cut the potatoes into 2x2cm cubes, add to the water with a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Drain well in a colander for 10-15 minutes (or until still warm but dry on the outside).
Heat the 2 tbsp of oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium-high heat with the garlic and herbs. When sizzling, toss in the potatoes and sprinkle with smoked sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Fry, turning regularly until the potatoes are crisp and golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels before tipping the potatoes into a serving dish.

Reheat your tomato sauce if necessary. Serve, either atop the potatoes or in a separate serving dish, sprinkled with the parsley, cheese (if using) and lemon rind.

bravas

beans

Broad Beans with Chorizo and Lemon

Serves 8 as a tapas dish
  • 250g frozen or fresh double podded broad beans
  • 1 chorizo sausage, skinned and roughly chopped (I like to crumble mine into rough chunks by hand)
  • 1/2 long red chilli, finely sliced (remove seeds if you wish)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • a dash of sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • handful of fresh parsley, washed, leaves picked
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil starts to separate and the meat starts to crisp up. Add in the crushed garlic, chilli and broad beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broad beans are slightly golden and crisp.

Pour over a little sherry vinegar and sprinkle over the parsley leaves and lemon zest. Mix well and season to taste.

Transfer into a serving dish and top with the lemon wedges. I like to eat these broad beans with a squeeze of lemon juice to cut through the rich oil of the chorizo.

beans3

icecream

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Adapted from this recipe by Mariana Crespo, Epicurious

Makes 1.5 litres

  • 2 cups full-cream milk
  • 1 cup pure cream (not whipping cream)
  • 350g dulce de leche (Argentinean caramel, I used El Asador brand)
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract

Add the milk and cream to a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Allow to boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Add the dulce de leche and whisk continuously until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla. Taste and add a little salt if desired. Transfer into a bowl or airtight container, then refrigerate for 3 hours or preferably overnight.

When completely chilled, pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. Transfer into an airtight container and place in the freezer until ready to serve.

We served this ice cream alongside warm churros, brownies, plentiful chocolate sauce and peanut praline. Absolute bliss.

brownies dipThanks again to Jemima, Lexi, Matt, Alyssa and Aaron for being wonderful cooking, drinking, cleaning, inventing and dancing buddies over the past two feast nights. It’s been grand.

Check out Matt’s photos from the feast night and his and Alyssa’s recipes for chorizo and olives in cider, paprika chicken wings and churros with chocolate sauce here.

Follow this link to see Jemima’s post and her and Lexi’s recipes for spiced cauliflower, cider-braised pork belly, croquettes and snickers brownies with chilli chocolate sauce.

porkbelly pbdone2cookingpbgiving

Garlic Kale with Mushrooms, Chorizo and a Sunny Egg

plate

I arrived home from work today carting some free range eggs, rolled oats and a giant bunch of kale from Gingin Organics. After greeting my husband, I wearily peered into the fridge for dinner inspiration.

“I feel like eating something virtuous tonight” I stated, retrieving a brown paper bag full of garlic from the vegetable drawer. Aaron looked at me pitifully, “…does that mean we’re not eating meat?”. I grinned, gesturing to the carton of free range eggs on the counter. “I’m poaching eggs. There will definitely be protein”.

His sad eyes drifted to a plastic wrapped chorizo sausage in the refrigerator, then back to me. “Uh… and sausage?”. “Okay”, I relented. He beamed, retreating from the room in satisfaction.

kalebowl

Ah, men and their meat consumption. As for me, I was just excited about eating a bucket load of sauteed kale. Green, salubrious, leafy goodness with fragrant garlic, sauteed mushrooms and a runny poached egg. The chorizo definitely added a beautiful savoury punch to the dish, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have missed it. The mushrooms, chilli flakes and walnuts created a beautiful ‘meatiness’ of their own that required no further embellishment.

This dish warmly embraces adaptation. For a vegan version, just omit the chorizo and poached eggs (I would add some finely grated lemon zest for an extra dimension of flavour). If you’re extra hungry, toss some cooked puy lentils into the pan whilst frying your chorizo, mushrooms and walnuts. Want extra chilli? Sriracha. That is all.

platebowl

Garlic Kale with Mushrooms, Chorizo and a Sunny Egg

Serves 2

  • 2 generous handfuls of washed organic kale leaves, centre stem and vein removed, finely shredded
  • 4 field mushrooms, brushed and sliced
  • 1/2 chorizo sausage, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • white vinegar, for poaching the eggs

Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Toss in 2/3 of the crushed garlic and cook until fragrant (do not allow garlic to brown). Add in the chopped kale leaves and stir gently. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until kale is tender (the residual moisture on the washed kale leaves will help to steam them). Season to taste, then set aside.

Add a small splash of olive oil to another pan over medium-high heat. Add in the diced chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo starts to release its fragrant oil. Add in the mushrooms, walnuts, chilli flakes and remaining crushed garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender, the chorizo is crisp and the walnuts have toasted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Fill a medium pan half-full with fresh water. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and then splash in a little white vinegar. Crack an egg into a ramekin. Carefully slide the egg into the water, then repeat with the remaining egg. Poach for 2-3 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon. Allow to drain on a paper towel whilst you assemble the rest of the dish.

Distribute the sauteed garlic kale between two plates. Spoon over the mushroom and chorizo mixture, then top with a poached egg. Arrange the sliced avocado and coriander around the plate as desired. Season and eat (preferably with a big, virtuous smile on your face).

kale

 

Bill’s Bar and Bites: Long Table Dinner

table

I’ve always held divided opinions about the Leederville Hotel. Built in 1897, the structure has always been an established landmark in the town’s entertainment precinct. However, over the past five years its ‘Seedy Leedy’ reputation had largely eliminated any desire I had to walk through the building’s beautifully molded door frames.

All of this changed last week, when I attended a ‘long table dinner’ within the freshly renovated interior of the Hotel’s new pop-up establishment, Bill’s Bar and Bites. After tentatively stepping over the threshold, I was immediately impressed by the beautifully relaxed aesthetic. Warm exposed brick sat comfortably beside pared-back plaster, greenery and timber furnishings, effortlessly harnessing the charm of old-meets-new.

billsoutside

Venue manager Dwight Alexander is an affable gentleman who immediately makes you feel welcome in what has become his ‘second home’. He describes the menu at Bill’s in three words: ‘perfect for sharing’. Upon tucking into a plate of salumi, jamon serrano, crumbly fourme d’ambert, pickled stone fruit and green olives, I would definitely agree.

board

sangriaAward-Winning Executive Chef Damien Young (previously of The Butterworth Bar and Kitchen) and his tattooed right-hand man, Jeremy, have created a beautiful selection of quality shareable eats that range between $4 and $15.

We started with the above mentioned charceuterie plate and some duck and manchego cigars ($5 each with piquant green tomato chutney), all of which were perfectly accompanied by a dry glass of Fino and plentiful sweet Sangria ($27 for 750ml). These were followed by my favourite dish of the night, pink snapper ceviche. Soft slivers of sweet white snapper were perfectly complimented by creamy avocado, flecks of chilli and soft green herbs in a gentle blanket of acidity. I could’ve eaten an entire serving and left feeling satisfied. It was that good.

table2

But no, I didn’t leave. Instead, I tucked into tender slow-roasted lamb shoulder accompanied by house-pickled vegetables, warm jalapenos, soft goats curd and fresh green herbs. This was followed by slow-roasted, Baharat-spiced chicken with fennel and yoghurt, warm Moreton Bay bugs (accompanied by my favourite green of the moment, salty samphire cooked in burnt butter) and a tumble of roasted radishes with slippery Tuscan kale.

lamb

As I ate, I sipped on a delicious Spanish red, Felix Solis ‘Castillo De Albai’ Tempranillo ($10 glass, $44 bottle). Speaking of beverages, Bill’s prides itself on its $15 house cocktails and an eclectic mix of hops that start at $4.50 for an Emu Export before progressing through to a pleasing range of delicious craft beers.

Emu Export. I haven’t drunk from the red can since my bonfire days as a thirteen year old in the sticks of suburbia. I might have to revisit those days of happy abandon (with a side of Fremantle sardines).

menu

Our meal finished with Bill’s ‘dessert of the day’, sweet poached pears in anise syrup, fresh oozy figs and creamy mascarpone. Whilst slathering the goodness over sweet honey-toasted brioche, discussion naturally progressed towards the future of this beautiful pop-up bar.

cutlery

Hotel general manager Jason Antczak presently states that the Bill’s concept is time-limited to nine months, after which the entire Leederville Hotel site is set to be further developed.

Whilst the creative team behind the present Bill’s incarnation (including Perth creative Cale Mason and interior designers Project BLAK) are sure to come up with something equally impressive, I have to say that I’ve already become slightly attached to the warm, inviting goodness that is Bill’s Bar and Bites. I’m certain that this new addition to the Leederville strip will soon become a favourite of many.

window

Thanks to Georgia Moore, Damien Young, Dwight Alexander and Jason Antczak for your generous hospitality during the long table dinner. *See Bill’s full menu here.

Bill’s Bar and Bites

Open 7 nights, 4pm – late

742 Newcastle St, Leederville WA

(08) 9202 8222

Blackberry Coconut Slice

closeup

There’s something beautifully satisfying about a crumbly slice, particularly one that’s dense with buttery oats and sweet summer berries. They take me back to the hazy days of my childhood, small feet pounding on linoleum as I ran to the kitchen for afternoon tea.

When I was tiny, my mother had a knack for incorporating fruits, vegetables and wholegrains into her baking repertoire. It wasn’t just for ‘concealment’ purposes; rather, she just preferred carrot, lemon or apple spice cake over dense chocolate cake and Victoria sponge. Wise woman.

berriescu

In my own kitchen, I’ve adopted the same principles, partly for health reasons and wholly to please my own taste buds. Crunchy oats, earthy spelt and nut flours, moist fruits and ancient grains… they sing a grand chorus when mixed together into a cake, granola bar, muffin or pie.

I also habitually throw fresh leafy herbs and ground spices into my cake recipes (click here and here for some examples) for added complexity and flavour. The savoury notes both compliment and accentuate the fragrant baked fruits in the most beautiful of ways. Needless to say, it’s a habit that I’m disinclined to break.

board2

teacup

This slice celebrates everything that’s beautiful, sweet and unctuous about summer fruit. Plump, ripe berries picked from the last of the season’s brambles, sandwiched between buttery oats and earthy spelt flour.

As the heat of early March slowly dulls under a blanket of fallen autumn leaves, it’s getting harder to find fresh Australian berries. Admittedly, half of the blackberry fruit in this post was cooked from frozen due to low supplies at my local market. However, when sinking my teeth into a jammy oat slice with crunchy wholegrains and coconut, it no longer mattered. I was grasping summer’s bounty with floured hands and a happy heart.

egg

These bars make a beautifully transportable morning tea when wrapped in foil or brown paper. The fruit, cooked down to a jammy consistency, is slightly sticky but largely protected by the resilient oat crust.

They’re also lovely as a dessert, served slightly warm with a scoop of yoghurt or vanilla ice cream. Blissful, wholesome goodness (of which my mother would definitely approve).

aerial

Blackberry Coconut Slice
Adapted from this recipe by Good Food

Makes 24 squares

  • 240g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 50g wholegrain organic oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 275g organic panela or rapadura sugar (substitute light brown sugar)
  • 200g cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 75g shredded coconut
  • 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
  • 350g fresh or frozen berries (I used blackberries and raspberries)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a 31 x 17cm slice tin.

Place the spelt flour and baking powder into a flour sifter or fine sieve. Sift through twice to evenly distribute the raising agent. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl with the oats, butter and panela sugar.

butter

Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (alternately, you can chuck the dry ingredients and the butter into a food processor and pulse it until it reaches the right consistency).

Stir through the shredded coconut. Measure 1 teacupful of the mixture (about 170g) and set it aside for the crumbly topping. Add the eggs to the remaining bowl of mixture and mix thoroughly.

mix

Spread the mixture evenly over the base of your lined baking tin. Smooth out firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon.

Scatter over the berries, ensuring that they’re evenly distributed across the base. Scatter over the reserved crumble topping.

layer

Transfer the slice to your preheated oven and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only moist crumbs attached.

Leave to cool before slicing into 24 squares.

piece

Slow-Cooked Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle and Gremolata

sideplateLast Saturday morning, I awoke to a forecast of 25 degrees C (77 degrees f). I excitedly hopped out of bed, put on a light long-sleeved jumper (I know that all of you northern hemisphere people will laugh at that, but I’m Australian after all) and headed to Perth City Farm for a long-awaited breakfast catch up with some university friends.

After toast and conversation, we had a wander around the sprawling market. I purchased a bunch of kale, organic shallots and tiny heads of garlic in a crinkled brown paper bag.

onions

After squirreling them home, I decided to make slow-cooked lamb ragu; mostly due to the fact that it was finally cool enough to use the oven without sweating. As Aaron was out for the day (helping some friends renovate their house), I spent six hours kneading, rolling, typing, slow-cooking and photographing to a mixed soundtrack created by the beautiful Ali from Milk & Cereal (thanks Ali!).

It was blissful. Creative culinary solitude. Wonderful in a way that only foodies will understand.

mixtape raw

Later that evening, Aaron arrived home in a tumble of dust and fatigue. Whilst he showered, I boiled the fresh pasta and grated lemon zest into a pile of gremolata.

We sat on the couch, balancing plates of rich lamb whilst watching a re-run of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Two hours later, with full bellies, we fell asleep.

pastamaking

This recipe makes a huge pot of delicious ragu. I estimate that with the pasta accompaniment, it’d serve six to eight reasonably hungry people (even more with a side of garlic bread).

Due to a recent obsession with my Marcato pasta machine, I made my own pasta; however for those less motivated (or more time-pressured) good-quality packet pasta is perfectly acceptable.

plateSlow-cooked Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle and Gremolata

Serves 8

  • 6 lamb shanks (roughly 1kg)
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 8 small French shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 slices rindless bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced into 1cm pieces
  • 2 sticks celery, diced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 cup fresh rosemary, thyme and sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) good-quality red wine
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken or beef stock
  • 700ml bottle tomato sugo (substitute passata)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets in oil, minced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved (optional)
  • 1/4 cup double-podded broad beans (optional)
  • 700g fresh pappardelle pasta (or 500g dried)
  • shaved Parmesan, to serve

Gremolata:

  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, washed
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees f). Coat lamb shanks lightly in seasoned flour (pat lightly with your hands to remove excess).

flour

Heat some oil in a large, heavy-based oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the shanks in batches, making sure not to overload the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until browned. Transfer to a plate, then set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then add the onions, garlic, pancetta/bacon, carrot, celery and herbs.  Cook until softened and fragrant, approximately 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugo, wine and anchovies; cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and stir to combine.

cookbetter

Return the lamb to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Cover, switch off the heat and carefully transfer the pan into your preheated oven. Cook, turning the shanks over half-way through cooking, for 3-4 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Place the pan back onto the stove top over medium heat. Remove the lamb shanks and shred or break up the meat as desired. Discard the bones and add the meat back into the sauce with the kalamata olives, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by one third. Stir through the broad beans, remove from heat and cover with lid/foil to keep warm.

pasta

Cook your pasta until al dente (I used fresh Pappardelle that I made whilst the lamb was cooking in the oven). Drain well, then mix with 1/3 of the lamb ragu sauce. Divide between plates and top with another spoonful of sauce, shaved Parmesan cheese and a generous sprinkling of gremolata (directions below).

*To make the gremolata: coarsely chop the parsley and add it to a bowl with the lemon zest and finely chopped garlic. Grind over some black pepper and mix well.

side2 skins

Summer to Autumn

silhouette

It’s late on Thursday evening. Six past eleven, to be exact. The world seems quiet; inky black except for the occasional headlight beam from the highway. The skyline, once illuminated by clouds of rich crimson, has become embedded in a dense cloud of onyx. The air is heavy, thick with the scent of grass and scorched eucalyptus.

Despite being thirteen days into autumn, it was hot today. Yesterday was even hotter, a humid 37 degrees Celsius, or 98 degrees Fahrenheit (if you’re from the northern hemisphere). Even now, I can hear garden cicadas droning a final ode to the sweet heat of Australian summer. They’re working in well with the ice-cube percussion from my depleting water glass.

view

Despite our recent uncharacteristically warm autumn weather, I’ve dedicated this particular post to the ‘official’ last days of summer that occurred two weeks ago. We spent four days at the seaside village of Gracetown (above) enjoying warm sunsets, cooked breakfasts, wine tasting and dips in the pristine blue sea.

If you’re a regular reader of The Mess, you might remember some previous posts about Gracetown, Margaret River and the south west region over the past twelve months. You could say that I’m a little bit in love with the rolling fields, artisan produce, deep red wines and friendly country folk. The rest of this post simply contains photographs and notes from our end-of-summer trip; however, if you’d like a bit more background to the region itself, click on the three links below:

wave2

Any south west adventure always starts with a visit to Yallingup Woodfired Bread, a traditional wood-fired bakery that creates certified biodynamic sourdough, rye and fruit loaves. Owner Gotthard Baue is a truly passionate man who takes pride in his work (take a look at this video for an introduction to Gotthard and the bread process itself).

During this trip, we bought two loaves of sourdough and a dense and sticky rye ‘rock’ loaf that was divine with cheese. Some of the best bread on the planet, I’m certain.

wave1

Upon arriving at our house in Gracetown, we happened upon this little guy:

spidey

He’s an Australian wolf spider. After relocating him from the bathroom wall to the garden, we took some photographs like the one above. I think he’s cute.

Overseas friends: wolf spider bites are non-lethal despite often resulting in a mild case of nausea, headaches and localised pain. Don’t let stories of spiders scare you off visiting Australia and/or the south west region. morries

The restaurant above is Morries Anytime, where we stopped twice for coffee, cake and morning eats.

Manager-cum-barista Alex Brooks makes arguably the best flat white in the Margaret River region whilst head chef Rosie Griffiths serves up nourishing, creative cuisine that showcases the best of the south west’s fresh produce. Love this place.

morries2

Right near Morries is the Margaret River Fudge Factory with its spinning wheel of chocolate goodness. Beware the taste test boxes. You may never leave.

choc

beef

Pictured above is the Margaret River Farmers’ Market, a beautiful one-stop location for fresh, organic local produce, artisan cheeses, biodynamic meats and a range of other wares in the heart of the town centre. Open every Saturday from 8am – 12pm, this market has fast become a fresh produce hub for locals and tourists alike.

dipp dipp2

*For some reason I just had to take a picture of this ink-scrawled face.

face

One of my favourite stalls was that of the Margaret River Bakery. I’m in love with their danish pastries, baguettes and cakes. They also have a fixed location at 89 Bussell Highway where you can sample their wonderful cooked breakfasts, snacks and coffee. Go there. Your stomach will thank you.

bakerystall

It’s tempting to end with a cliché by saying that ‘all good things must come to an end’. But instead, I’ll just finish with a photograph of Gracetown as the sun dipped below the horizon.

We returned to Perth late on Monday evening after a stop-off for dinner with Elissa in Bunbury. A great end to a beautiful weekend.

harborGoodbye, Australian summer. Until we meet again.

Char-grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

plate2

Yesterday morning, Aaron and I woke early to have breakfast with my beautiful mother at Perth City Farm. The day was cool and fresh, slightly overcast; a welcome change from the blistering temperatures of summer.

We chatted and laughed, feasting on free-range eggs, organic sourdough, grilled tomatoes and lemony smashed avocado in the dappled shade. Between sips of coffee, we sampled spinach from the farm’s own garden before discussing family foibles, travel plans and (mostly) the 2014 Western Australian Senate (re)election.

Before leaving the farm, Aaron and my mother perused the Farm’s art exhibition while I chatted to some friendly Armenian growers at the Organic Market. I left with an armload of fresh produce including Armenian cucumbers, fresh zucchini, homegrown kale and tri-colour capsicums from their bio-dynamic garden.

vegetablebox

That afternoon, I snacked on torn bread and babaghanouj (made with their organic aubergines and home-pressed olive oil) whilst making the grilled vegetable salad below. My mother stayed for some quality mother-daughter time; we drank tea, laughed, took photographs and reminisced about old times.

That evening, the sky grew dark and cold. Aaron and I had a picnic in the park with our best friends, sharing stories over paper plates, grilled chicken and homemade empanadas. Whilst chewing a forkful of homegrown zucchini, I felt truly blessed and grateful; for farmers, fresh vegetables, weekends, warm jumpers and quality time with those I love the most.

bowl

Thanks to all who travel through this life with me. In particular, my family, who embrace me despite weaknesses and always love unconditionally.

I’m grateful. I always will be.

platecu2

Char-grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

Adapted from this recipe by the Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a light meal

  • 190g (1 cup) royal quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 small capsicums (bell peppers), preferably mixed colours
  • 200g sweet potatoes
  • 1 zucchini, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 Spanish (red onion) sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 cup washed, picked herbs (I used parsley and mint), coarsely chopped
  • 100g goats feta, crumbled
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roasted and crushed
  • olive oil, to cook

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper

Place the rinsed quinoa into a medium pot with 500ml (2 cups) of water. Bring to the boil, then replace the lid and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is translucent. Place into a large bowl, drizzle over a little olive oil and add in the lemon zest. Mix well, then set aside to cool.

Cut the sweet potatoes into a medium (2x2cm) dice. Steam or boil until just tender. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then set aside.

Preheat a char-grill pan over medium-high heat. Cut the capsicums in half and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Brush the skins with oil, then char-grill them skin side down until the skins blacken and blister. Turn and cook for an extra minute to allow the inside to steam.

cookingcaps

Place into a sealed bag, covered bowl or airtight container and leave at room temperature until cool (the steam will help the skins to loosen, making them easier to peel).

bowlbase

Brush the zucchini and onion with a little olive oil, then add them to the grill pan with the sweet potatoes. Cook until soft and lightly grill-marked. Add the grilled vegetables to the same bowl as the quinoa.

Peel the capsicum halves and slice them into long, thin strips. Add them to the salad bowl with the chopped fresh herbs, walnuts and feta.

capsicumsliced

To make the dressing, place the oil, mustard, sugar, garlic and vinegar into a small bowl. Whisk until well emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

mustard

To serve, pour over the dressing and mix gently with a spoon or salad tongs. Place onto a platter and garnish with more herbs if desired.

This salad is wonderful as an accompaniment to grilled meats or fish. It’s also a nutritious light meal, embellished with some plump black olives and served with some fresh bread and butter.

plate

Project Yum

What's for dinner?

A Cedar Spoon

A busy cook's mix of healthy, seasonal & local flavors

What Jessica Baked Next...

Food & Fun in the Kitchen

italy on my mind

"in food there are memories"

Food, frankly

Food made for me, by me and by others. Follow me @foodfrankly .

TasteFood

a culinary journey beginning and ending at the kitchen table

benjaminbcairns

A fine WordPress.com site

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 621 other followers