Sunday Lunch - Hot Smoked Salmon with Beetroot + Roast Rack of Venison + Poached Tamarillo

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Moving out of winter, it's refreshing to be able to prepare for the spring weather and a lovely Sunday lunch taking advantage of the seasonal produce. This salad using my freshly harvested beetroot has become a firm favourite among family and friends for sunday lunch as either an entree or main course. In this case it will be our entree followed by roast rack of venison from Mandagery Creek which we purchased recently at the monthly North Sydney markets.

It's so inspiring to meet and buy direct from the farmers and growers who themselves are so passionate and caring about their produce.  It was a highlight of the morning to meet Sophie Hansen from Mandagery Creek who is a successful food writer and editor for many things including her beautiful blog Local is Lovely.

Years ago in the Autumn you would go hunting for venison, these days it is farmed and far less gamy than you would expect and pleasingly full flavoured. It's nice to find farmers who are working tirelessly to make this fine produce available.  

Hot smoked salmon and beetroot salad

4 small beetroot cooked and peeled
2 small oranges peeled sliced into segments
2 fennel bulbs washed trimmed sliced finely
400g wild smoked salmon
1 teaspoon of horseradish

For the dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
squeeze half a small orange

For the garnish

fennel sprigs

I prefer to bring the beetroot to the boil in a large saucepan then turn it down and let it simmer for about an hour or until tender. Drain and let it cool slightly then the skin comes off easily just with your hands, you can use gloves if you wish or just wash your hands thoroughly immediately after.  I sometimes cook them the day before leaving them overnight in the fridge.

Slice the beetroot into rounds to desired thickness if the rounds are too large cut in half and set aside.  Peel the oranges and slice into segments, set aside.  Trim the fennel bulb setting aside some sprigs to garnish then finely slice.  Select a serving platter and start to assemble the salad first start with the beetroot then the oranges followed by the fennel.  Break salmon into flakes and scatter over the top.  The beetroot will stain the other ingredients so I prefer not to toss.

We typically enjoy this entree with a glass of dry champagne however a favourite dry white wine is going to work just as well.

Rack of Venison with Red Wine sauce

1 rack of venison (1 cutlet per person)
salt and peppers
olive oil

Always allow your meat to come to room temperature before cooking.  This takes longer than you might think.  I take it out of the refrigerator in the morning and set it aside once I have removed it from its packaging and use paper towels to pat the meat dry.

Preheat your oven to 200C, then rub a little olive oil into the meat together with a generous amount of salt and pepper while the oven is getting to temperature.  You will then need to heat a little oil in an ovenproof frying pan, searing the meat on all sides for five to eight minutes before placing in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes.  Remember to rest your meat on a cutting board under baking paper and foil for about 10 minutes before you carve and serve.

Red Wine Sauce

6 brown shallots  
2 cups of good red wine
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken or beef stock
2 bay leaves

Melting the butter in a frying pan, carefully sauté the finely chopped shallots until caramelised.  Add the thyme and bay leaves and begin slowly pouring in the red wine and the vinegar to the pan.  I used a cabernet blend on this occasion.  Allow the alcohol to evaporate, reduce the heat for about 5 minutes then add a good quality chicken or beef stock to the mix slowly stirring until it reduces to the consistency that you desire then stir in a little butter and the cooked meat juices just before serving.

A pinot would go quite nicely with this.

If celeriac is still in season serve the venison with celeriac puree if not creamy mashed potatoes.  As for a green vegetable try brussels spouts peeled cut in half and sautéed in butter seasened with salt and pepper.

Tamarillos remind me of time spent in New Zealand where most people had a tree growing in their garden.  They have a unique flavour which I love so I choose not to add any spices or sweeteners which is often added when poaching.  You will notice in all my recipes the absence of sweeteners however feel free to add them yourself.

Poached Tamarillos

3 halves per person

Wash thoroughly before cutting in half length ways leaving the stem in place.  Place in an ovenproof dish and add a cup of water and any sweetener that you desire.  Place in a preheated oven 200C for 20-30 mins until caramelised, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly before serving with cream.

Hope you enjoy your Sunday Lunch.

Breakfast of Baked Rhubarb + Orange served with vintage collectables

Monday, August 19, 2013

Something I love to make at this time of the year using my freshly harvested Rhubarb is Baked Rhubarb + Orange.  It's nice for breakfast with cream, coconut kefir or yoghurt.  I love the fresh tangy flavour of this combination and use oranges instead of sugar, but feel free to add whatever sweetener you prefer.

Baked rhubarb with oranges and vanilla

2 bunches rhubarb
4 oranges
1 vanilla bean

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.  Wash and remove leaves from the rhubarb as they are poisonous and trim the ends.  Cut the rhubarb into 6cm lengths place in an ovenproof baking dish.  Peel oranges and cut into slices to the desired thickness then place in the same baking dish as the rhubarb.  Squeeze 2 oranges and pour the juice over the rhubarb and oranges.  Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds adding the seeds and the bean to the baking dish.  Cover with paper and foil then bake for half an hour or until tender and holding their shape.

Serve hot or cold with cream, yoghurt or coconut kefir.

growing vegetables with native wildlife

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Each year, I plant my garlic on the shortest day of the year, this being the ideal time to do so and an easy time to remember. A good friend gave me some young garlic plants which should give me a good crop to harvest on the longest day, equally as easy to remember. I'm hoping this means the wildlife will leave the kitchen garden alone as they say garlic is an easy crop to grow, nothing will eat it except me of course.  Just what I want to hear.

For years now I have been battling the wildlife in my garden especially in my kitchen garden. They seem to enjoy my herbs and vegetables as much as I do, sometimes more because they eat the lot and I get nothing.

I have tried everything.  If they are not digging them up they are eating them from the top.  I have stopped growing Italian parsley as it was a magnet for the possums.  Then I discovered the possums and the bandicoots don't like the smell of thyme, rosemary and sage.  Needless to say I set about planting a lot along the garden paths and borders of my vegetable patch hopeful that it will work. I also found that mint and basil helped when in season. The possums have also taken a liking to the sorrel.  All I can say is they have great taste, I just wish they would leave some for me.

I have tried covering the garden with chicken wire, shade cloth and netting, all it seems to achieve is to make it hard for me to attend to the plants as they are still able to get in.  One season I planted a crop of beetroot, I love beetroot and was so looking forward to the lovely purple round roots being ready to turn into a tasty dish.  Every morning while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea I would peer out the kitchen window and check out the bandicoot damage in the beetroot patch.  Sometimes I would think I had been passed over that night but once the sun reached the garden the little plants would start to wilt because they were out of soil  I would race out to replant and water them and hope they would recover. I think this went on for a least three weeks.  It was a matter of who was going to give up first. I persevered and they finally stopped, allowing the beets to develop into mature well formed beetroot which I harvested and enjoyed thoroughly.

I had a similar experience with rhubarb.  I thought it was not going to be touched as the leaves are poisonous for humans to eat.  Unfortunately possums aren't aware of this and don't seem to mind  them at all.  So it was a repeat of the beets, they ate the leaves and the bandicoots dug up the roots. I have to say they won this time, but I had the last say.  In a fit of frustration which most gardeners can relate to, I decided if I couldn't get to enjoy them why should they.  So I pulled all the plants out, what was left of them anyway, and that was that.

I am happy to report that so far the garlic has indeed been left alone and is developing nicely.  I'm looking forward to some freshly harvested garlic on the longest day of the year in summer.

Please pop in again soon, for my two recipes I've prepared for you using these two wonderful ingredients Beetroot and Rhubarb. 
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