Nordic Food Lab

8.28.2012


The Nordic Food Lab can be found (eventually) in a small grey houseboat moored opposite Noma. It was set up by Rene Redzepi and his business partner Claus Meyer and is, according to head chef Ben Reade, ‘a not for profit organisation dedicated to the creative and scientific exploration of deliciousness’. I popped in yesterday and the kitchen was going full steam in preparation for an upcoming gastronomic science conference. Mackerel was being marinated in samphire powder (above) and sealed in bags to be cooked 12 hours later at 50 degrees for just five minutes. Ben was finishing the marinating process and just about to move on to a huge vat of mackeral guts which he was planning to turn into fish sauce. German and Italian ‘stagieres’ (interns) were preparing more fillets and watching over a lamb neck stock. This place is an international kitchen and very much an open book. As Ben says, “our first job is to explore and then to disseminate knowledge.” Chefs from around the world are constantly visiting, emailing and tweeting them questions, and every one receives an answer. At the moment the lab is researching indigenous micro-organisms and how they can influence food fermenation and maybe even develop whole new flavours. Ben is preparing sterile soy sauce pots to place up trees, on beaches and in forests which will be studied for  natural fermentation, development of sugars, acidity and so on.



This place really is a curious chef’s playground and I can imagine it would be an incredible place to work. But....it's all way way beyond my food terms of reference so I eventually left them to it and went off to explore my own version of deliciousness at a much less cerebral but still very cool little kitchen just around the corner from the lab. Sweet Treat serves the best hot chocolate imaginable, plays old vinyl records all day, and serves only cakes, chocolate and coffee. My kind of cafe. Then it was back over the bridge to beautiful Nyhavn, one last little piece of smushi (cross between sushi and smørrebrød) at the Royal Cafe and to the hotel to pack for home. Copenhagen really is one cool city and I am so very grateful to Visit Denmark for inviting me to come and enjoy the very best of it. I'll certainly be back (one day) and hopefully next time with Tim and the kids.



Copenhagen Cooking - Part 2

8.26.2012


Hello again from Copenhagen! This is my last day, so just before I head out to meet my Danish cousin Katrine for lunch, I thought I'd post some pictures from the past weekend. We kicked off on Saturday morning with a look around Copenhagen's new food market, Torvehallerne. Quite different to our farmer or 'growers' markets back home, it doesn't open until 10am (hah - so soft!) and is mostly a curated collection of Copenhagen's coolest cafes, bakeries, fishmongers, chocolatiers, bars and butchers all under two architecturally perfect roofs. I would have quite liked to collect some top notch smørrebrød (open sandwich) supplies, a coffee from The Coffee Collective, some wine and a box of Summerbird chocolates before finding closest palace garden (they are everywhere here) for a picnic. 


A short walk from Torvehallerne is the old city centre and King Christian IV's Round Tower. And at its base is Den Økologiske Pølsemand (the organic hotdog man), a funny little food truck which was recently voted the top place to eat in Copenhagen by readers of Danish newspaper Politiken. After testing the theory myself I'm totally behind that call. Døp's excellent free-range pork sausages are tucked into linseed sourdough rolls, topped with remoulade, pickles and mustard, and they really are that good. Just ask Carl.


To follow some classic Danish street food we went straight to the classic Danish beverage, or rather its source. The Carlsberg Brewery was home base for Copenhagen Cooking all weekend. Saturday it hosted Nordic Taste, a mini food festival with a presence from most of the city's top restaurants plus a selection from Sweden too. Noma's Nordic Food Lab was running porridge making classes and the Swedish bakery Soderberg & Sara were selling incredible bread, pastries and preserves, plus the first issue of the almost painfully cool international food and design magazine; Fool.


Yesterday the very lovely Heather Nissen took me for a Sunday drive north of Copenhagen. We stopped to enjoy the fleeting sun on the coast near Klampenborg and walked past the Charlottenlund Sobad swimming club (below), which asks its members to swim naked all year round, even in the middle of winter when they must break the ice before jumping in to do their laps. Oh my god. Then we drove a little further north for lunch at Restaurant Sletten, a flash seaside restaurant in a pretty little fishermans' village. Sitting in their beautiful dining room just by the marina, we watched weather change a good three times and felt a bit bad for the army of blond children in sailing school, battling sheets of rain only to dry off two minutes later in warm sunshine before being blasted along again by more strong wind.

After lunch we drove a little further north to the Louisiana Museum of Modern art, described my many as the most beautiful gallery in the world. The New Nordic exhibition on culture and architecture across Scandinavia was terrific and of course the cafe right on the peninsula, design shop and sculpture gardens all very impressive. I could have happily stayed here all day but Heather whizzed me off again to finish the afternoon with a private tour of Frederiksborg Castle's rooms and galleries. My highlight was the portait collection spanning from 1500-2012 and a stunner of ‘our Mary’.


To finish the day Heather and I had an early dinner at Søllerød Kro, a very elegant, 15th century country inn turned Michelin-starred restaurant. We started with little pots of Jerusalem Artichoke panna cotta, shredded crab meat and then caviar and champagne. It was all very fancy.

And I think it's safe to say I won't be eating and drinking like that again for a long time. Tomorrow it's back home to early dinners with the kids, scrambled eggs all over the floor and packing school lunches. And actually I can't wait. It's been an incredible few days but being so far away from the kids and Tim is beginning to feel a bit strange. For now though, I'll dig deep...pull out my rented bike one last time and head out to meet Katrine for a day in her trendy neighbourhood, Nørrebro.

Copenhagen Cooking - part 1

8.25.2012


Hello from Copenhagen! Three days in to my brief visit here and I am blown away by this place. Honestly it's the city of beautiful people, all so well-dressed and whizzing around on cool bikes. And then there's the incredible architecture, royal palaces, canals and landmark sights such as the pretty Little Mermaid. On arrival I was met by the lovely Heather Nissen from Visit Denmark and the editor of Russia's edition of Jamie Magazine for a 'Segway' tour of the city. These funny little contraptions are half bike half scooter and loads of fun. Then for dinner we were taken to Grønbech & Churchill. Recently awarded its first Michelin star (and deservedly so), it's a beautiful and very minimalist restaurant. We started with a brioche-style bread glazed with liquorice and then the menu proceeded through six courses of very 'new-Nordic' dishes, including this amazing roasted lamb (below), with a dark cherry jus, black olives & liquorice (lots of liquorice over here). The restaurant also happened to be right opposite St Albans (below), Copenhagen's English church where my grandparents were married in 1939.


Yesterday was the launch of Copenhagen Cooking 2012. I met up with the rest of our press group, which includes food writers from the States, Norway, Holland, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom and we were all taken to the Royal Library for the official opening of by HRH Princess Marie and Rene Redzepi. After about an hour of speeches (in Danish) there was the most wonderful 'Nordic Tasting'. 


The above little jars contained roe with lemon aioli and rye 'sticks' then there were plenty of local Løgismose oysters with a sauce of white wine vinegar and very finely diced apple and cucumber (...aw shucks). We drank 'Salty Ocean Weed' beer specially brewed by local outfit Mikkeller and sparkling wine from the island of Lilleø. It was made by Anders Selmer (below) who also owns the very cool Copenhagen restaurant Fiskebar (Fishbar). The tasting finished up with smoked salmon and crushed hazlenuts then a riesling 'foam' with raspberries that had been frozen with nitrogen to give them lots of 'pop'.


After the tasting we were all set loose to explore the town centre on our own. Somehow I found myself on Strøget the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. The shopping here is incredible (not that I'd know from experience Tim...window shopping only I promise). And last night we were spoilt with dinner at Louise Nimb. Another Michelin-starred restaurant but this one is actually inside Tivoli. More on that later but right now I am late for breakfast and our next 'outing' so will sign off here but be back with more news from this AMAZING city. 

Country chef and producer Anna Wong

8.24.2012

Here's my One Farm day interview with Anna Wong of the much-awarded Cowra restaurant Neila. And my apologies for not posting a Friday List today, am travelling at the moment but things will be back to normal next week.

Park cake and a trip

8.22.2012



Just a little post today as I'm currently in transit over to my favourite country in the world (aside from Australia of course!). I'm on my way to Denmark as a guest of Visit Copenhagen and Emirates for Cooking Copenhagen 2012 and feeling very lucky and beyond excited.

I'll be posting lots of photos and stories from Copenhagen but in the meantime here's a recipe for our 'park cake' posted today on my Wednesday home, JustB.

The Friday list and pies

8.16.2012



  • I discovered Log Cabin Cooking today via Small Measure. It’s everything I love in a food blog; every recipe comes with a story and lots of love and the author is full of personality.  Plus you’ve got to love a woman who argues that all life’s problems can be solved with pies. Her theory that frozen berries make the juciest pies has inspired me to pull our last stash of blackberrries from the back of the freezer and make this recipe (pictured above), which I posted earlier in the year over on JustB.
  • Still on pies, and Herriot Grace’s For the Love of Pie series just keeps getting better.
  • Orange and honey madeleines via Vincent Van Gogh via Feasting on Art. 
  • With the 10cm of snow we are expecting tonight, perhaps we’ll keep warm with a mug or two of this chai concentrate stirred through some warm milk and a splash of whisky.
  • Cheese souffle via a new favourite food blog, Local Milk.
  • Katie Quinn Davies’ weekend salad recipes.
  • We should definitely get this antler stamp for ‘work’ correspondence
  • I’d love to live in a place called Butterland and have a roast like this every Sunday.
  • Honey tea cake? Yes please.
  • I am off to Copenhagen next Wednesday so am reading up on all things Danish, starting with the awesome House that Lars Built.
  • Anyone planning a wedding? This one in Provence might be a bit inspiring.
My writing elsewhere this week
A fresh lemon, feta and lamb salad for JustB
Sausage, fennel and tomato hot pot on Village Voices

One Farm Day - NSW Writer in Residence

8.15.2012


2012 is both Year of the Farmer and National Year of Reading. And to bring them both together, each state has selected a Writer in Residence to put together a series of stories about farming life. I am very honoured to be representing NSW and have just posted my first piece over at our brand new blog, One Farm Day.

It's a story about the very lovely Mitch Kelly, a 28-year-old vineyard foreman from Orange. Please support this great project by popping over here and having a read. One Farm Day will be updated with new stories on a weekly basis so feel free to subscribe by email. Next up is producer and country chef Anna Wong from Neila in Cowra.

Free to weave: a day of basketry, snow and soup

8.12.2012


Artist Harriet Goodall visited us on Friday to teach a workshop in random weaving at the Farm Kitchen. It was snowy and blustery outside but Harriet and her eleven students were so absorbed in their basketry I don't think they'd have noticed if a cyclone had blown past. Harriet is a wonderful artist (see more of her works here) and engaging teacher. While the weavers wove I pottered about in the kitchen making cups of tea, slicing cake, heating soup and being a bit jealous of all this creative industry. Morning tea was a buttermilk and ginger loaf, for lunch we had a chicken and chickpea soup with nice seeded bread and salad and then more tea with oat and cranberry biccies. All the recipes can be found below. We would love to host more workshops here so please get in touch to register your interest.

 

Chicken harira soup


It was difficult to drag all the weavers away from their baskets for lunch but eventually they stopped just long enough for a bowl of this soup. This recipe was inspired by a cooking class I took some time ago with Lesley Russell of the Orange Regional Cooking School. It’s perfect for a cold winters’ day and just delicious with some nice bread and salad.

600g chicken thigh fillets, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 heaped tsp each of ground turmeric, cumin and cinnamon
50g butter
A handful of parlsey and coriander, chopped
2 cups chickpeas (soaked overnight and cooked until tender)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
seasoning to taste

Melt the butter and then cook the onion over medium heat for about five minutes or until soft. Add the spices and cook for a minute or two. Add the chicken and cook until nicely browned, about five minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, herbs and stock and simmer for about 25 minutes. Season to taste and serve.


Muesli and cranberry biscuits

150g butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
finely grated zest of one orange
1 egg
1 2/3 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oats
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugar and orange rind together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Fold in the flour, baking paper and cinnamon and finally fold in the oats and cranberries. Roll into little balls (about a teaspoon-worth) and place on the baking tray a few centimetres apart and squash down lightly with a fork. Cook for ten minutes or until lightly golden and cool on a rack.

Buttermilk and ginger loaf with lemon icing


This cake has a little heat from the fresh ginger and a soft, springy texture thanks to the buttermilk. It keeps really well and is just beautiful with the tangy lemon icing.

150g butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1 tbsp hot water
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp ground ginger
2 1/3 cups plain flour

Line a loaf tin with baking powder and preheat the oven to 160C. Place the butter, syrup and honey in a small saucepan and cook, stirring often until the butter has melted and the mixture resembles a smooth caramel, stir through the ginger. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and hot water together and then stir this through the butter mixture. Add the buttermilk, eggs ground ginger and flour and gently fold. Pour into the loaf tin until it is about 3/4 full (if you have extra mixture pour into muffin tins). Cook for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack and then keep in an airtight container for a good few days.

For the icing, mix together about 1/2 cup of icing sugar, the zest of two lemons and juice of one. Add more juice or sugar until you get a nice and creamy consistency. 

The Friday list and art workshops at the shed

8.09.2012


The postcards above are by my clever Mum, artist Annie Herron. Mum is coming to our Farm Kitchen on September 1st and 2nd to teach a drawing workshop and I just wanted to let you all know that we have five spots left. This will be a wonderful weekend and a great way for both beginners to get started and those with a little more experience to refresh and hone their skills. Mum is an experienced art teacher and runs amazing residential workshops from her studio in Rydal, you can read more about this over here.  She'll be teaching, I'll be cooking morning teas and lunches and it's going to be great. If interested, please email me for more information.

And now, the Friday List


Hello cupcake

8.07.2012


Our Alice turned five last week, and in celebration we had a little cupcake party at the Farm Kitchen. It was another freezing Orange afternoon but the kids had a good time, especially the party girl, despite a minor meltdown when someone beat her in the sack race.

  
The lovely Pip Farquharson came along with her camera and took these photos. Pip is a great photographer and does beautiful family portraits, she can be contacted via this email address. Thanks also to my mother-in-law Judith for being such a big help and to Mum for the cake recipe. This is the one my family usually turn to for birthday cakes and is a real gem. Plus it takes no more than five minutes to make and always works. I doubled the recipe a few times to make the seventy odd cupcakes we decorated on the day, flavouring half with vanilla and the other half with cocoa powder but you can also use spices, lemon zest or coffee. The recipe below makes one 24cm cake or 12 cupcakes. 

Mum's 5-minute birthday cake 


1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
125g butter, softened and cubed
1/2 cup milk
vanilla paste

Preheat oven to 180C and line a 24cm cake tin or place cupcake liners in a 12-hole muffin tin, Combine all ingredients and beat for five minutes. Spoon into prepared cake or muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes if making cupcakes or 30 minutes for the cake (or until golden and a skewer comes out clean).


Cold comfort farm

8.05.2012

Katie and Beau Baddock of the Nashdale Fruit Company are the real deal.

They grow an impressive range of fruit and vegetables and then sell everything at farmers markets across Sydney. Plus, Katie's father John is one of Orange's most experienced orchardists and growers. He even has a section on their website where you can ask questions about what to grow where, when to harvest or where to find certain tree varieties and John will answer online. Nifty.

At this time of year the whole family is busy pruning, sowing spring crops and harvesting winter vegetables, including Jerusalem Artichokes. We recently dropped in for some veggies, and though it was a bitter three degrees and he had long day of work ahead, Beau couldn't have been more friendly or generous with his produce and time. Like Father-in law like son!


Having limited experience with this particular vegetable, I  turned to Maggie Beer's website for advice and this beautiful, slightly nutty soup was the result. In my virtual travels I also discovered that Jerusalem Artichokes are actually part of the sunflower family and not at all related to artichokes, and that they love to be paired with sage, thyme, cream and bacon. Other than soups, they are also great roasted with some thyme and garlic or tossed through a salad like this one by Jamie Oliver.

Jerusalem Artichoke soup with apples and hazlenuts

Serves two as a main or four as a starter
5 large Jerusalem Artichokes, washed and really well scrubbed
40g butter
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 cup hazlenuts (we love the roasted hazlenuts from Fourjay Farms)
1 pink lady apple, sliced into matchsticks

Slice the scrubbed but unpeeled Jerusalem Artichokes into little discs and cook in the melted, frothing butter over medium-high heat for about five minutes or until they are just starting to caramelise. Add the stock, thyme, zest and lemon juice and bring to the bubble. Reduce heat quite low and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the Jerusalem Artichokes are tender. Blitz the whole lot until nice and smooth then stir through the creme fraiche. Pour soup into bowls, top with the apples and hazlenuts and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. 




The Friday List and markets

8.02.2012

 
We are heading off to Sydney today for tomorrow's Pyrmont Growers Market (above). So in our haste to get organised and on the road, here's a somewhat brief Friday List. Have a great weekend and happy cooking.

Honey and lemon marmalade from Food in Jars 

This beautiful cake from Call me Cupcake is getting me excited about cherry time - only 14 weeks go to now! 

The rumshake...brilliant...and I am looking forward to trying this apple and pecan 'quick bread' from the same blog

A root vegetable pizza like this one from Forest Feast would be nice for Saturday dinner.

Can't wait to try this cider caramel apple pie from from my new favourite blog of the week, Honey and Jam

And one last reminder that Orange's winter festival Frost Fest kicks off next week. Our Farm Kitchen is open Saturday and Sunday for a nice little lunch by our open fire for just $15pp. Email me to book.

Me elsewhere this week
Crunchy polenta chips with spicy tomato sauce for Village Voices

We made Olympic medal cookies for Village Voices too


My first food story (below) for Style Magazine is in the Spring issue which went on sale on Monday. Whoot.

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