Saturday 23 February 2013

TOMATOES - Make mine a bloody Mary... and double the dirty. Sunday is the perfect day for you to try the food dept's dirty bloody Mary with green olive grissini, it's one of many ways to use your tomatoes.

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Tomato and rosemary focaccia with basil oil
The vibrant colours in this focaccia are so Italian, bellissimo!
Make 1 x 32cm focaccia.

500g bread flour
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt flakes
300ml warm water
olive oil spray, for greasing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
400g medley mix tomatoes
extra, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
extra, sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
Basil oil, for serving

1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Using a dough hook turn the mixer onto low and combine the ingredients.
2. Gradually pour in the combined water and oil while the mixer is still running. Increase to a medium speed and ‘knead’ the dough for 5 minutes.
3. Turn the dough onto the bench and lightly oil the mixing bowl with spray, return the dough to the oiled bowl and roll the dough around so that it is coated in oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. A warm windowsill or over a sink of hot water works well if it’s a cool day.
4. Once the dough has doubled in size turn onto the bench and knead for a few minutes until the dough is back to its original size.
5. Pour half of the extra oil into a 32cm ovenproof frying pan. Roll out the dough to the approximate size of the frying pan and lift into the pan. Cover again with a clean tea towel and place back in a warm spot for another 30 minutes until it has again doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Using your fingers push indents into the dough, covering the surface. Push the tomatoes into the indents, evenly spaced. Brush liberally with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and extra salt flakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
Serve warm with Basil oil.

Basil oil
Makes 1 cup.
2 cups basil leaves, approximately 1 large bunch
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. To blanch the basil, place the basil leaves into a heat resistant bowl, pour over boiling water and stand for 10 seconds. Drain immediately and plunge into a bowl or iced water, allow to stand for a few minutes until cold.
2. Drain the basil leaves and thoroughly squeeze out the water, combine with the oil, salt and pepper in a small processor and blend until the basil is pureed.
3. Strain using a fine sieve and store in a clean jar, in the refrigerator for up to a month. Return to room temperature before serving.

food dept. fact: For a more rustic basil oil, leave the oil unstrained.

TFD’s dirty bloody Mary mix 
Makes 4½ cups (6 drinks).

1 litre tomato juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons salt flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ - 1 teaspoon tobacco sauce, or to taste
1/3 cup brine from green olives

1. Combine all ingredients in a large jug and whisk to combine.
2. Store in the refrigerator until required, for up to 1 week.

TFD’s dirty bloody Mary
Makes 1 drink.

• 2 lemon wedges
celery salt, for glassses
3/4 cup TFD’s dirty bloody mary mix
2 tablespoons vodka
1 stalk cucumber
1. Using one of the lemon wedges, wipe the rim of a glass and dip into celery salt, set aside.
2. Pour the Bloody Mary mix into the prepared glass and top with vodka, garnish with cucumber and remaining lemon wedge. 
Serve with Green olive grissini.

Green olive grissini
Makes 25 sticks.

350g jar green olives, drain and reserve the juice for the TFDs's dirty bloody mary mix
2 tablespoons baby capers in brine, drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Combine the olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small food processor and process to form a paste.
2. Lay the sheet of puff pastry on its plastic liner onto a chopping board. Using a ruler to guide you and a pizza wheel, cut 1cm strips of the pastry, trying to keep the strips together.
3. Spread 2 tablespoons of the green olive paste onto the sheet of strips. Take each strip and give it 2-3 twists and then place onto a lined oven tray.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray. Store in an airtight container.

food dept. fact: Store left over green olive paste in a jar in refrigerator for up to 1 month, use on bruschetta, pizzas or through pasta.

THANK YOU! We would like to thank the generous people at Moratis for supplying us with the fresh, juicy, plump tomatoes for this story.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

VALENTINE'S DAY - Apple martinis with oysters, a perfect match.


Oysters with lemon and black pepper granita
This zesty, zingy and fresh granita makes enough for several dozen oysters. So you can use as much or as little depending on how many you are catering for and keep the rest in the freezer for up to 3 months.

• 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, approximately 4 lemons
• 2 tablespoons water 
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
2 teaspoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
rock salt, for serving 
small jar salmon roe, for serving

1. Combine the lemon juice, water, vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Pour into a shallow dish and cover, freeze for 1 hour until slushy. Stir with a fork to break up the ice crystals and then return to the freezer for another hour or until frozen.
3. Scrap the granita again just before serving.
4. Place the oysters on a bed of rock salt and top each oyster with ½ teaspoon of granita and a few pearls of salmon roe.

Green apple and vanilla martini
Makes enough apple and vanilla syrup for 8-10 martinis.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 green apples
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup caster sugar
vodka, chilled in the freezer

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove the peel from 2 apples and add the peel to the sugar syrup with half of the vanilla bean. Place the apples in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from browning and juice later. Simmer the syrup for 5 minutes, remove form the heat and allow to cool. Strain and discard apple peel and vanilla bean. Chill the syrup.
2. Juice the 2 peeled apples and add the lime juice, chill.
3. Scrap the seeds from the remaining half of the vanilla bean and rub the vanilla seeds into the caster sugar, set aside.
4. Chill 2 martini glasses and dip the rim in the vanilla sugar. Pour 1 tablespoon of the apple and vanilla syrup into each glass, add 2 tablespoon of vodka (or more if you like) into each glass and then top with fresh apple and lime juice.
5. Using a mandolin thinly slice the remaining apple; serve a slice in each glass.

A special thanks to for supplying us with Hiwa Kai Black lava salt for this shoot.

Chinese New Year is here, so grab some friends and host a Chinese dinner party. This month the food dept debuts on  SBS Food online, so please take a look. There's a fabulous crispy chicken recipe which you can use in the salad recipe below. 


Our Chinese New Year's recipe is traditionally called Yu Sheng. This salad is a symbol of abundance, prosperity and good fortune. The food dept. recipe uses delicious, shredded ‘white cooked chicken but traditionally it is served with raw fish. This salad is made at the table, each ingredient that symbolizes something for the New Year is added to the salad and then everyone around the table uses their chopsticks to toss the salad while saying an auspicious wish. It is thought that the height of the toss symbolizes the level of the fortune.

Each ingredient symbolizes something for the New Year. Here are a few for good luck.
Carrot – good luck is approaching
Pomelo - good luck and good sailing
Peanuts finely chopped – household filled with gold and silver
Sesame seeds  - prosperity for business

Chinese New Year chicken and pomelo salad with a sweet plum dressing 
This dish is usually served at the beginning of a banquet as an appetizer.

The Chicken in this salad is ‘white cooked chicken’ a wonderful recipe to master. As well as this delicious salad it is the perfect base for the food dept’s Crisp skin chicken with five-spice salt and sweet vinegar dressing. But don’t be afraid to duck into your local Chinese bbq kitchen and pick up a chicken to make things even easier.
Serves 4.

• 1 medium pomelo or ruby grapefruit
½ ‘white cooked’ chicken, meat removed from the bones and shredded
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
3 shallots, julienned
2 cups bean sprouts
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways, seeded and julienned
½ cup coriander leaves
½ cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
8 wonton wrappers, julienned and deep-fried until crisp or any pre-prepared crispy noodle
1 quantity Sweet plum dressing

1. To prepare the pomelo cut off the stem end. Score the skin in segments from the top down to the base and then peel away the skin in these segments. Once all of the skin has been removed place your 2 thumbs into the top of the pomelo and pull it apart as if you are breaking an orange into segments. Pull the segments of pomelo apart and remove any pith and membrane. Break the peeled segments into bite size pieces and put aside for the salad.
2. Arrange the chicken, pomelo and each salad ingredient on a platter in individual piles. Place peanuts, sesame seeds and fried wontons in smaller serving bowls around the platter. Place the dressing in a jug.
3. Give each diner a pair of chopstick and serve the platter at the table. Sprinkle over the peanuts, sesame seeds, fried wontons and drizzle over the Sweet plum dressing. Each person uses his or her chopstick to help toss the salad before serving.

Sweet plum Dressing
Makes ¾ cup.

½ cup Chinese plum sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
juice of 1 lime juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon five spice powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and use as required.


Saturday 9 February 2013

MELT – Get ready for Valentine's day and surprise your other half with these decadent chocolate balls.

Bacci ice cream balls
With one little mouthful you will fall in love with our wonderful bacci ice cream balls. 
Makes 24 balls

• 500g hazelnut gelato
• 24 hazelnuts (approximately 1/3 cup), roasted and skinned 
• 500g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1. Place a lined baking tray into the freezer to chill. Using a small ice cream scoop or a melon baller, scoop approximately 1 tablespoonful of the hazelnut gelato into a ball. Place onto the lined tray and return to the freezer for 30 minute or until firm.
2. Top each ball with a hazelnut and again return to the freezer.
3. Working with half of the chocolate at a time, place it into a heatproof bowl and place over simmering water. Stir until melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Place a hazelnut gelato ball onto a fork and spoon over melted chocolate, shake off excess chocolate and using a palate knife carefully lift onto the freezer tray and return to the freezer to set, repeat with remaining chocolate and gelato balls. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.