Friday 20 December 2013

CELEBRATE the holidays by the sea with the food dept's long summer menu. PLUS we have reinvented the classic Aussie pavlova... relax and enjoy.

Pimms with Green Peppercorns and Elderflower Cordial
Makes 8.

32 green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed
ice, for serving
8 tablespoons (2/3 cup) Pimms
8 tablespoons (2/3 cup) Elderflower cordial
8 mint sprigs
8 cucumber slices
4 cups soda water, chilled

1. Chill 8 tall glasses. Just before serving, place 4 peppercorns in the base of each glass, gently crush with the back of a spoon.
2. Add a scoop of ice to each glass and top each glass with 1 tablespoon of Pimms and 1 tablespoon Elderflower cordial.
3. Add the mint and cucumber garnish and top with approximately ½ cup of soda water in each glass. Serve.

food dept. fact: If you would like your cocktail a little sweeter or would like to try something different, replace the soda water with lemonade or ginger ale.

Crab, Avocado Salad in Witlof with Salmon Roe
The witlof leaf serves as it's purpose as a mini bowl, leaving your other hand free for a cocktail or glass of bubbles.
Makes approx. 16 leaves.

• 2 green witlof
150g crab meat
½ firm avocado, finely diced
juice 1 lime
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
50g salmon roe
1 tablespoon snipped chives
chive flowers, for garnish
extra, lime wedges, for serving

1. Gently pull apart the leaves from the witlof and trim the ends. Wash and dry them, arrange on a serving platter.
2. Place the crabmeat, avocado, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl, toss gently.
3. Place a heaped teaspoon of the crab mixture in each witlof leaf and top with a little salmon roe, chives and chive flowers. Serve with extra wedges of lime.

Lobster on Baby Brioche Rolls with Lemon Mayonnaise
Makes 16 rolls.

• 1 tablespoon cooking salt
4 large green lobster tails
1 quantity Baby brioche rolls
1 quantity Lemon mayonnaise
1 bunch chervil
lemon wedges, for serving
1. Place a large boiler of water over a high heat and add the salt, bring to the boil.
2. Add the lobster tails and reduce to a simmer. Cook the lobsters for 1 minute per 30 grams, eg 300g tails should be simmered for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool.
3. Once cold, use scissors and snip down the underside of the lobster tail, crack open the tail and remove the meat, cut into medallions and chill until ready to serve.
4. Warm the Baby brioche buns and cut almost all the way through. Top with medallions of lobster, Lemon mayonnaise and chervil sprigs.
5. Serve with wedges of lemon to squeeze over.

food dept. fact: You can also use cooked prawns instead of lobster if you prefer.

Bake it yourself – Baby Brioche Rolls
The sweetness of the brioche rolls balances perfectly against the tang of the lemon mayonaisse, if you are feeleing time poor, order brioche rolls from your local baker.
Makes approximately 16-18 baby rolls.

½ cup milk, warmed
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons dried yeast
500g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt flakes
4 eggs, lightly beaten
175g softened butter, roughly diced
extra, 1 egg and extra, 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing
sesame seeds

1. Combine the milk, sugar and yeast in a jug and stir to combine. Allow to stand in a warm place for 20 minutes to activate the yeast.
2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer, which is fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the yeast mixture and eggs and mix to combine to dough.
3. With the mixer running add the butter a few pieces at a time and mix for 5 minutes to create an elastic and smooth dough. It will be a very soft dough.
4. Cover with a clean towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Preheat oven to 200C. Punch down the dough and pull off 50g pieces of dough. Give it a knead on the bench and shape into a roll. Don’t be tempted to add extra flour even though it is a very soft dough, the amount of butter should stop it from sticking to the bench. Repeat with the remaining dough, you should end up with approximately 16-18 rolls.
6. Brush well with the egg and milk glaze and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minute or until a deep golden colour. 
Lemon mayonnaise
Makes approx. 1 cup.

2 eggs
1 cup light olive oil
rind and juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in the jug of a Kitchen Aid Blender.  Blend on the LIQUEFY mode for 10-15 seconds or until thick and emulsified. Check the seasonings and add a little more lemon juice, salt or pepper as needed. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Use as required.

Hot Smoked Salmon and Watercress Salad with Crispy Potatoes
The smoking of the salmon for this recipe is done using cedar planks over a gas, coal or wood fired BBQ. 
Serves 8.

• 4 cedar planks, for barbecuing
12 baby new potatoes
olive oil
salt flakes
8 salmon tail fillets
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch watercress
1 bunch dill
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
1 quantity Chardonnay and seeded mustard vinaigrette

1. Place the cedar planks in a container of cold water and weigh down to keep the planks under water, soak for a minimum of 2 hours, draining just before use.
2. Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil, once boiling cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft when tested. Drain and allow to cool until cold enough to handle.
3. Preheat the oven to 190C. Cut the potatoes in half crossways and place cut side down on a lined oven tray. Squash the potatoes with the palm of your hand until 1cm thick.
4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt flakes, bake for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
5. Break the watercress in to sprigs and wash, chill until ready to serve.
6. Preheat BBQ to a medium heat. Place the salmon tails onto the cedar planks and rub with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle over dill sprigs.
7. Place over the grill side of the BBQ and cover with the bbq lid or foil, cook for 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the salmon pieces and the temperature of the BBQ.
8. Once the salmon has cooked, chargrill the asparagus spears for 2-3 minutes turning several times.
9. Arrange the watercress, crispy potatoes, asparagus and salmon on a serving platter and drizzle with the dressing.

Chardonnay and Seeded Mustard Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup.

½ cup chardonnay vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 teaspoon raw sugar
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine, use as required.

food dept. fact: You can buy cedar planks designed especially for cooking on the BBQ and imparting a delicious and smoky flavour. Look for them in a good BBQ or kitchenware shop. BBQ over the grill side of a gas BBQ or over a wood or coal BBQ.

Frozen Passionfruit Pavlova Wreath
It is true the food dept. have reinvented the Aussie pav! It's simple, smash up your meringues or a store bought pavlova and mix it up with passionfruit curd and a cream mixture, freeze and 4 hours later you have an adorable Christmas wreath or dessert for New Years eve.
Serves 10-12.

• 8 egg yolks
2/3 cup caster sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
250g mascarpone
600ml thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks and chilled
1 quantity Meringues
1 quantity Passion fruit curd
3 passion fruit and extra 3, for serving
red currants, for serving
1. Combine the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 5-6 minutes, until pale and fluffy and holds a ribbon when you run the beaters over the top.
2. Remove from the heat and continue to beat until cold.
3. Once cold, fold through the mascarpone and then the whipped thickened cream.
4. Take 3 of the meringues and cut into large chunks, approx. 2cm square.  Gently fold through the cream mixture.
5. Take a large ring pan or mold, approximately 2.5 litre capacity and spoon in 1/3 of the cream meringue mixture. Dot approximately 1 tablespoon of the Passion fruit curd and the pulp of 1 fresh passion fruit over the cream meringue. Repeat again twice with the remaining cream mixture, meringues, passiofruit curd and fresh passion fruit pulp to create 3 rough layers.
6. Using a skewer, gently run it through the cream and curd mixture to marble it. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
7. Unmold the semifredo by dipping the tin into warm water for a few seconds and then turn onto a serving platter. Serve with extra crushed meringues, curd and fresh passion fruit. Garnish with red currants.

Makes 6.

4 egg whites
pinch salt
1 ¼ cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons corn flour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 120C. Beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar, a quarter at a time and beat until glossy. Add corn flour, vinegar and vanilla and beat on low until just mixed through. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Using a 1 cup measure, place mixture onto baking trays to form large meringues. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven with the door ajar. They should be crisp on the outside and marshmallowy in the centre.

Easy Passionfruit Curd
Makes 1¼ cups.

• 1/3 cup passion fruit pulp (approx. 4 passion fruit)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
125g unsalted butter, diced at room temperature

1. Combine the passion fruit pulp, eggs and sugar in a saucepan over a medium-low heat.
2. Whisk continuously until the curd thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and immediately add the diced butter and continue to whisk until the butter has melted. Allow to cool.

The Food Dept.'s Berry Cherry Snow Cones
Makes 8 x 1 cup snow cones.

• 3 cups caster sugar
2 cups water
250g punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
2 x 125g punnets raspberries
250g cherries, pitted
juice 1 lemon
8 cup ice cubes

1. To make the cherry berry cordial, combine the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over a medium heat. Once dissolved, bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
2. Combine the berries and cherries in a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice. Using a potato masher, gently squash the fruit to release the juices without completely crushing it.
3. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the crushed fruit and gently mix. Allow to cool and then refrigerate for 48 hours.
4. Strain through muslin and then decant into sterilized bottle, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes approximately 1 litre.
5. To make the snow cones, place 2 cups ice cubes into a Kitchen Aid Blender and crush the ice using the CRUSH ICE mode. Pour the crushed ice into a large plastic container and place in the freezer until ready to use. Repeat with remaining ice cubes.
6. Scoop the crushed ice into paper cones and drizzle with the berry cherry cordial, serve immediately.

food dept. fact: Keep the left over fruit pulp from the cordial to serve over ice cream or top a pavlova. You can also puree the fruit to make a delicious fruit coulis.

WIN a KitchenAid blender in our first ever Christmas comp. All you need to do is be a the food dept subscriber and photograph a recipe which uses a blender then upload your pic onto instagram or our Facebook page using the hashtag #TFDblender. We know you are all super creative, so our favourite pic will win an Artisan Blender in Empire Red from our friends at KitchenAid Australia and New Zealand, KitchenAid Artisan Blender valued at $249! The comp ends on December 24th, so get your entries in. This comp is only open to Australian and New Zealand residents. Good luck!

See how cool the KitchenAid blender is with this little video

Thank you to KitchenAid for supplying us with the blender for our shoot. 

Recipes: Sally Courtney, Art direction: Anne Marie Cummins, Styling: David Morgan

With special thanks to everyone on our summer holiday:
Our lovely photography assistant, Leanna and our new models, Smith, Lily, Eliza, Lachlan and Piper. A big thank you to Fay who looks after her grandkids every time we shoot. And lastly to Howie and Frances for saying yes.


  1. WoW. This is a feast. I'm definitely going to give your frozen passion fruit pavlova wreath a go for our Christmas day celebrations. Thanks for your stunning and inspiring blog, I just love it. Merry Christmas.

  2. How delicious looks everything! and the pictures are amazing, thanks a lot for sharing

  3. This is absolutely beautiful...what a feast for the eyes!

  4. Yummy food, healthy life, and beautiful girl, ah ... what a great life :)