Paddock to Plate!

Part of what I am about is using local and home grown produce as much as I can, so recently I purchased another side of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb, and while you can select the cuts that you would like, I prefer to dress the lamb myself. You see I was raised on a sheep and grain farm about 500 km from where we now live, so am quite familiar with the various cuts of lamb, having observed and helped my mother and father dress many during my childhood and teenage years. One thing that I learnt was that there was very little waste. My mother was meticulous ensuring that all the meat was saved and frozen, even the tiniest of skerricks! Fat was rendered down and the fresh dripping was used to fry the BEST fish and chips – usually redfin fish that dad had caught, the bones were used to make stock for soups, the little bits were used to make pies, and so on.   So with that memory, I set to work.

Firstly I set up my kitchen – bowls each for meat to mince, casserole meat and sausage meat set up close to where I would be dressing the meat; a baking dish for the bones; a bag for the fat (I think we’re probably a little more wary of animal fat nowadays, so mainly use olive oil and peanut oil for frying) were close by; my stand mixer was set up and the mincing attachment placed in the fridge; knives steel, hacksaw and chopping boards were layed out; an area with my vacuum seal machine was set up with various sized bags at the ready; and, finally a pile of tea towels were stacked up. Then I set to work….

So this is what happened

  • The loin was boned out and tied at one inch intervals, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then popped in the fridge for a while, before being cut into little noisettes.
  • Little cutlets were cut, their long rib bones were boned from the flap before being trimmed, and all of the excess fat was removed.

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  • The flap takes time as there is quite a bit of fat to be removed, and invariably you will end up with the odd hole here and there, but they are easily filled with some offcuts. When it was done, it was laid out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap and then rolled up ready for packaging and freezing. The flap is delicious filled with lamb sausage mince, rolled and wrapped in prosciutto and then cooked at low temperature for a while . It makes for a delicious hot meal with veg, but alternatively makes an amazing sliced cold meat for sandwiches or salad.
  • The shank was removed from the shoulder and Frenched.
  • The shoulder was partially boned out.
  • The neck takes quite a bit of work, removing the ribs and cutting the meat away from the vertebrae. But it is well worth the effort with the finished product rolled and slow cooked for a delicious warming meal.
  • The hind shank was removed from the leg and Frenched.
  • The hind leg was totally boned out and butterflied in readiness for summer family gatherings. It will be cooked on the BBQ.

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  • The chump was boned out.
  • Larger off-cuts were set aside for casserole and stir-fry
  • Smaller off-cuts were minced
  • Fattier off-cuts were minced together with seasonings to become sausage mince.
  • Finally the bones were roasted and then placed into a large stock pot with water, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and peppercorns and left to simmer away for a few hours. After being strained and allowed to set in the fridge, the fat was removed and the stock was pressure canned in Mason jars for use at a later date.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I can’t lie, it is! But I have a beautiful product to work with and the most amazing childhood memories to guide me along the way. I hope that my efforts have ensured that the lamb I cook has been treated with the utmost respect – from paddock to plate!

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Now with all this beautiful Forge Creek Lamb in the freezer, I have the delightful task of coming up with the best way to prepare and serve it. The first meal that I prepared with it used the little lamb noisettes. I simply pan fried them to pink and placed them on a small disk of fried potato.

To accompany these little noisettes we had steamed peas, baby broad beans and asparagus topped with roasted baby rainbow carrots. On the side I put a little roasted beetroot and goats cheese, and to finish it off, I prepared and a delicious sauce with the lamb stock, white wine and aromats. I was so happy with this plate of food, inspired by the lamb and a trip to the local farmer’s market where I purchased all the vegetables to accompany it.

Of course we had to have dessert – Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – a berry and cream pie with the first strawberries from our garden.

The work still continues on the corner patch, it is now fenced and has a gate. We’re still waiting for the timber to box the beds, but hopefully it will be ready next week! I have managed to get a few things planted though, including a Boysenberry.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – Berry & Cream Pie

Slow Cooked Lamb Chump

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Glossary

Corner Patch

Forge Creek Lamb

 

The Humble Hock

It has been a really busy week in the garden, so not to much time in the kitchen. Gary has been working tirelessly to get the trellising done for our fruit trees in the corner patch, and I have been helping him when needed, but also getting on with other jobs in between.

The two blueberries and the mulberry have been planted,

and the bed around the magnolia

has been weeded and mulched. Seedlings for the vegie patch are being nurtured in readiness for their new home too. There have also been trips to the timber yard to collect more posts, and order the timber to edge the garden beds with, and a few to the local hardware as well.

With this all going on we still need to eat, but it needs to be quick and simple., so some of the pre-cooked meals from the freezer have come in handy. However, I have still managed to cook up a few things too. One morning, before breakfast , I quickly made a batch of mini banana & walnut muffins (gluten free) – they have been a welcome sweet treat.

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Mini Banana & Walnut Muffins (Gluten Free)

Then yesterday I just couldn’t get my head around what to have for dinner. I had put one of the smoked ham hocks, that I had brined and smoked a couple of week’s ago, into a pot with some water and aromats to simmer away, thinking that I would just can the stock and freeze the meat because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it – it wasn’t exactly pea and ham soup weather, and I wasn’t so sure about making choucroute.

I finally decided that we’d have a mushroom risotto, easy to make, and delicious… However, while working outside, I started to play with the idea of making a risotto with the meat from the hock that was gently simmering away on the stove inside. Then it came to me – use similar ingredients to the traditional pea and ham soup, but freshen it up using some frozen peas and lovely fresh mint from the garden – so that’s what I did . I made Pea and Ham Risotto with Mint, it worked and it was delicious, and it gave me another way to use the meat from the humble hock.

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After another hectic week at Tranquility…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Smoked Ham Hocks

Pea and Ham Risotto with Mint

Mini Banana & Walnut Muffins – Gluten Free

The Corner Patch

Magnolia Bed

Glossary

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Scotch

Just over a week ago I took delivery of a couple of kilograms of pork Scotch fillet from Coltish Pork. Unfortunately I neglected to say that I wanted my Scotch in the piece, and so received it in steak form. They offered to take it back, but no, I wanted the challenge, so what to do. Again it took a little while, but given the fun I had doing the “Herbs & Spices” cooking class recently, plus my wonderful husband had added a coffee/spice grinder to my cupboard of appliances, I just had to make an Indian Curry.

I dragged out all my Asian/Indian cookbooks and started pouring over them for the right recipe, and this is what I decided on – Mangalorean Pork Bafath from The Food of India – a journey for food lovers. This recipe is from the South of India and uses Kashmiri Chillies of which I had none! So I re-jigged the recipe for our taste, without 20 Kashmiri Chillies and 6 green chillies that their recipe called for !!!! It still has a bit of a kick to it allowing us to enjoy the beautiful blend of spices together with the delicious pork. While curry is normally served with rice, I chose to serve it with smoked sweet potato, a simple yoghurt and mint raita and oven baked tiny tomatoes – surprisingly the flavours went really well together.

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There was plenty of the curry left over, so portioned it out into vac bags, sealed them and we now have curry in the freezer for when we are going to be very busy on other jobs and there is no time to cook.

With the preparation for the curry, I decided to keep the pork in largish pieces as the steaks weren’t very thick, but I did trim most of the fat off (probably a little too much in hindsight). Not wanting to waste the trimmings, I cut them up into small morcels and dragged out my weary old Kenwood Chef – still going, just, after more than 31 years! I have a mincing attachment for it, so the lean off-cuts were put through the course cutter, vac sealed and frozen for another day. The fattier off-cuts were mixed with sage, garlic, cracked pepper, salt and red wine and minced twice, first through the course cutter, then most of it was put back through the finer cutter. Both grades of sausage went into the bowl of the Kenwood, and with the K beater in place, was mixed for a few minutes until it was well combined. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this sausage mince – Scotch Quail Eggs.

I like my finished Scotch Eggs to be the size of a normal hen’s egg, so use either quail eggs or small pullets eggs, when I can get them, and while I used my own sausage mince, you could use some of your favourite sausages and just remove the casings – pure pork or pork, sage and onion would be delicious, but there is no reason why you couldn’t use beef or chicken either.

Wanting a different way to serve my Scotch Eggs, I hit the net – how boring. I know they are quintessentially picnic food, and that was pretty much all that I saw – tomato, lettuce, cucumber! So this is what I did…

Scotch Quail Eggs served on a bed of pureed pumpkin with beetroot two ways (pureed and thinly sliced), parsnip chips and a little carrot top pesto to finish it off.

Yes, I also made more than needed, so have three waiting in the fridge for a light lunch or picnic this week.

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Now for outside… Great excitement! Finally, the posts have arrived for the espaliering, so poor Gary is hard at work measuring, sawing, leveling, etc.

Soon we will be able to train all the fruit trees accordingly and big foot – AKA Duchess, will not be running all over my carefully prepared garden beds. The frames are also going up for all things climbing! I even picked our first three strawberries yesterday – and we have another resident in the garden!

Oh and guess who’s finally showing us her true colour… dsc06255-r

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Scotch Quail Eggs – Gluten Free

Mangalorean Pork Bafath

Glossary

Coltish Pork

The Corner Patch

The Grand Old Dame

In Bloom

 

 

 

Bacon & Eggs

I know, it’s just bacon and eggs. But last night, it wasn’t just any bacon with eggs, it was my, SBA’s, bacon with eggs and tomato – now do you understand…

While I’ve always wanted to try to make my own bacon, I was a little wary and thought it would be terribly difficult! That was until I come across the post of fellow blogger “The Old Fat Guy” from the Canadian Rockies… He showed the way to curing and smoking your own bacon, and I couldn’t wait. While I was unable to procure a piece of pork loin from my favourite supplier, Coltish Pork, I managed to get a nice piece from a butcher that I know provides good quality meat.

The first thing was to trim up the meat, weigh it, calculate the brining period, then weigh out the cure ingredients, massage them in, then pop it all into a snap-lock bag in the fridge for (in this case) 10 days. Each day I turned it and gave it a little massage, just to make sure the cure was getting to each and every little bit of it. Then the big day come, it was removed from the fridge, taken from the bag, washed, given a little soak and then set un-covered in the fridge until the next day. The cold smoker was lit and the meat was set in place to cold smoke for 6 hours before being put back in the fridge. The following day, the hot smoker was set and in went the pork, along with a few other bits and pieces, and all were smoked accordingly.

The, what was now, bacon was covered and placed back in the fridge for another two days, and yesterday was the big day…

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The bacon was sliced and several pieces set aside for our dinner last night – yes, that’s right, dinner, not brekky, dinner, and oh my gosh, it was amazing, delicious, what can I say. The rest of the bacon was vac sealed into small serving sizes and then frozen for another day.

While I have posted the recipe here on my blog, I urge you to go and see The Old Fat Guys’ blog where he provides a lot of insight into the making of bacon with this dry cure and has some fantastic pics of the various stages along the way. He has some amazing posts and recipes too, so you may find me referring you there again in the future. I do find it a little amusing that a Slightly Bent Aunt from Australia is referring you to The Old Fat Guy in Canada, don’t you?

So what else was in the smoker, you ask…

I wanted to make sure I put the space to good use, so had brined three large pork hocks, three potatoes and two sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes will be used later this week for a smokey sweet potato smash, and the ordinary potatoes were turned into a delicious creamy smoked potato soup topped with a little truffle oil, fine shavings of parmesan and just to gild the lily, a few shavings of black truffle – we had that for our “Soup and Sweets” night the sweets (dessert) was my Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta topped with vanilla poached peaches and toasted coconut flakes.

Here ends another frantic but fun few days in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 

The Old Fat Guy

Coltish Pork

Home Cured Bacon

Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta

A Parting Gift

A Parting Gift

Earlier this year, when I finished up my last job, my colleagues showered me with well wishes for our future and some amazing gifts, one of which was a voucher for a cooking class at Culinaire Cooking School in Swan Reach, which is a lovely little town down near Lakes Entrance. Well, what an amazing weekend!

I booked in for the Herbs and Spices class which was to be run over two days. Given that we live just on an hour away, I chose to drive back and forth each day. The first day, on my arrival I was met by a very energetic Christine, and was told that I was to be the only student, how luck was I! Given that we were concentrating on herbs, we headed into her herb garden to gather the majority of the ingredients for the class –

she has so many herbs growing, including lemon verbena, horseradish, tarragon, parsley, sorrel, thyme, marjoram, oregano just to name a few. After a nice cuppa, we got to work, making all manner of goodies including an Asian dressing to be used for our lunch, herb mayonnaises, flavoured oils and vinegars and pestos. I had such an amazing day and went home with a lovely basket of goodies and great enthusiasm about what the next day may bring.

Day two and it was spice day. The morning started with a cup of tea and a chat with Christine and John. Then we started, first up was to identify and group a plethora of spices from all around the world and then we got to use them. Coconut chicken and lemon rice was prepared for our lunch.

We also made a fresh laksa curry paste – so simple, so fresh – nothing like that that comes in jars on the supermarket shelf… Oh and Satay chicken, that you just wouldn’t believe the flavour – again, so simple and fresh. Then there was a mustard, in fact a horseradish mustard. The making of which, was rather funny, given that the day before, when we added horseradish to the mayonnaise, we just couldn’t get the kick that we wanted from it – today it was the opposite. We were using an older piece of horseradish and the more I grated it the more the tears streamed down my face – I said I had horseradish eyes! But boy-oh-boy, the mustard, it is sensational and I think we have used it almost every day since. To finish the day, we prepared a gorgeous sweet spicey wine syrup for fruits.

To my past work colleagues a huge thank you – this was the most amazing gift, I not only gained new knowledge about the use of herbs and spices in cooking, but I feel as if I have a new friend too. Thank you so much Christine, I will be sure to encourage anyone I know, to come and take a course at your cooking school. Oh and I didn’t mention the location, sitting up on a hill overlooking the Tambo river, it is so easy to get distracted by the view from the kitchen through the beautiful garden down to the river.

Feeling inspired, I spent yesterday pickling Asparagus, it is in season and who can resist it at this time of year. The off-cuts have been pressure canned to be used in soups, canapés etc.

And today, a lovely fresh herb sauce (with a little of the special horseradish mustard added) to go with our salmon for dinner.dsc06064-r

While I’ve been having such a wonderful time cooking, Gary has ordered the posts and digging holes for the espaliering of our fruit trees.

Here ends another week in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 Culinaire Cooking School

Pickled Asparagus

Crispy Skinned Salmon with a Creamy Herb Sauce.

Magnolia Bed

Side Rose Garden

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