As the cold days make way for some warmth, enhance the robust flavours of winter with a dash of springtime vibrancy.

Right now is the time to revel in the fresh flavours of spring, with all the new season produce filling the shelves of our shops. Check out the Lady William apples, avocados, the wonderful asparagus, navel oranges and leeks – all produce I get excited about!

On a recent trip to Broome, the pearling and tourist town found some 2200km north of Perth, I was excited to be handed a beautiful threadfin salmon. This is a northern Australian fish found in waters from WA to Qld. They are an excellent table fish, with tender white flesh and low in oil. They are also known as king salmon and giant threadfin.

I wanted to produce a true taste of the tropics with this amazing fish and so I poached it in a mixture of Matso’s Ginger Beer and a combination of aromatics.

The result was stunning! Sweet, hot and quite delicious, especially when partnered with a warm tomato and olive salad and served on a delicate fennel purée. Matso’s brewery is a true Broome treasure and well worth searching out.

A great starter is my beetroot Carpaccio with fresh goat’s curd, rocket and walnuts. Prepare the beetroot for cooking by trimming the leaves and stalk, but leaving about 4cm of stem. Also leave the thin root intact and do not peel the beets, as this causes them to bleed. Choose evenly-sized beets and boil in salted water until quite tender. Remove and cool, then remove the skins using gloved fingers.

Fresh tuna is special any time and the golden rule when cooking tuna is to serve the centre of the flesh rare. Just season and sear the outside quickly, which will lock in all the moisture. In this recipe, I wrap the tuna portions in basil leaves and steam them for two minutes. Circle with a delicate salad and finish with a light Asian dressing.

Who could resist a bowl of light, delicate Japanese soba noodles, especially when teamed with grilled pork fillets and a spicy garlic sauce? Or for something a little more serious, try the slow braised beef cheeks. Slowly braise them for at least four hours and you’ll be rewarded with one of life’s simple pleasures.

It’s also pineapple season and we should all eat more fruit, so for a tangy, sweet and rich course, combine crêpes with the grilled pineapple, a little caramel sauce and crisp, sweet potato crisps. I use a vegetable peeler on the sweet potato to make thin slices, and then bake them slowly until golden and crisp. Simply finish with a dusting of icing sugar and present on a portion of cream.

Matso’s Ginger Beer poached threadfin salmon

A true taste of the tropics with a little sweetness, hot with ginger and delicious. Ensure when poaching that the poaching liquid does not boil, so look for a ‘gentle’ movement of the liquid.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 4 x 160g threadfin salmon portions (skinned)
  • Poaching liquid (Court Bouillon)
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup sliced onions
  • 1 clove of garlic, flattened
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 stems parsley
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • ½ tsp salt flakes
  • 300ml Matso’s Ginger Beer
  • 300ml water

Combine all the above ingredients in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.

Warm tomato and olive salad

  • 30ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red capsicum, roasted, seeded and peeled
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata and split green olives
  • 1 cup basil and parsley leaves, torn
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a heated saucepan, add the olive oil and crushed garlic. Cook for 20 seconds then add the onions. Cook for several minutes until just turning brown, then add the vinegar. Stir for one minute, then toss in the capsicum slices, roughly chopped tomatoes and olives. Cook gently for five minutes, season, then add the basil and parsley at the last minute.

Fennel purée

  • 50ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, washed and sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the fennel. Sweat the fennel until soft but do not allow it to colour. Add the wine, boil and reduce until half the wine has evaporated. Add the cream and reduce the same way.

Remove the fennel and place in a blender, purée to a smooth paste. Keep the poaching liquid that’s in the saucepan.

Place the poaching liquid into a suitably-sized pan and bring to a simmer. Add the fish portions and poach until just done. Present on a warm plate with the fennel purée and some of the warm tomato and olive salad.

 

Beetroot Carpaccio with goat’s curd, rocket and walnuts

This is a great way to start a meal with bold flavours and a range of contrasting textures. For the freshest flavours, buy walnuts whole in the shell and crack them open yourself.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 3 beetroots (passionfruit size)
  • ½ red apple, diced
  • ½ small orange, sliced into segments
  • 1 cup rocket
  • 4 whole fresh walnuts, cleaned and broken
  • 1 small lemon, juice only
  • 2 tsps sesame oil
  • 4 tblsps Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 tsps fresh goat’s curd
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash beetroots, trim the stalks leaving 1cm of stem and leave root as is. Place the beetroots in cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer until the beetroots are cooked – this takes between 45 minutes and an hour.

Remove beetroots from heat and cool in cold water. Refrigerate until required.

Peel beetroots and carefully slice very thinly. Use a V-slicer or a mandolin. Arrange beetroot slices attractively on a plate, overlapping the slices in a fan shape.

Gently toss together the orange segments, diced apple, rocket and chopped walnuts. Combine together the lemon juice, olive oil, sesame oil and the seasoning. Fold through the rocket mix and place neatly onto the centre of the beetroot slices.

Position three teaspoons of the goat’s curd onto each plate and serve.

 

Basil-wrapped tuna with radish salad and soy dressing

The basil leaves are blanched for only two seconds then chilled immediately. This will give them a beautifully rich green colour and make them easier to work with.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Serves: 2

  • 4 x 60g sashimi quality tuna portions
  • ¼ tsp Sansho pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cups assorted salad leaves
  • 8 radishes, 4 sliced, 4 left whole
  • ½ cup diced cucumber
  • 20ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 20ml light soy
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 5ml sesame oil

Season the tuna all over with the Sansho pepper and salt flakes.

Plunge the larger picked basil leaves into boiling water for two seconds, remove quickly and place into ice water. Drain, dry and carefully wrap around the tuna portions. To do this, place three leaves down on a board, then place three more slightly above it, but overlapping. Add another three and three more. You should now have used 12 leaves.

Cut the tuna to the thickness of two fingers and about the same length. Each should weigh around 75g. Place the tuna down on the basil leaves closest to you and roll up.

Combine together the olive oil, soy, lime juice and sesame oil to make the dressing.

Place the picked lettuce leaves in a neat circle around the plate and scatter with the red sliced radish and diced cucumber.

Steam the wrapped tuna for two minutes only, but do not cook, only heat. Top the salad with two pieces of tuna and finish with the dressing.

 

Slow-braised beef cheeks

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
Serves: 6

  • 6 x 250g trimmed beef cheeks
  • 2 tblsps plain flour
  • 4 tblsps Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup smoked bacon fat, diced
  • 2 medium eschalots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 sprigs thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 tblsps tomato paste
  • 1 can peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp juniper berries, crushed
  • 500ml red wine
  • 1lt veal stock
  • Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper, to taste
Gremolata

Finely chop together two cloves of garlic, one packed cup of parsley and the zest from one lemon.


Set the oven to 150°C. Season and dust the beef cheeks with flour. Place into a preheated pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and brown well on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Heat a heavy braising pan, adding the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic and bacon fat. Stir well and cook for several minutes, then add in the eschalots. Brown slightly, and then add in the thyme leaves, celery, carrots and mushrooms.

When lightly browned, push the mix to the sides and add the tomato paste to the cleared middle of the pan. Stir well and fry for 30 seconds.

Add in the red wine and stir well to loosen all the sediments on the bottom. Combine in the tomatoes, stock and crushed juniper berries.

Place the browned beef cheeks into the sauce, cover and place into the oven. Cook slowly for two-and-a-half hours, or until tender.

Present a beef cheek onto a portion of creamy mashed potato topped with a teaspoon of the gremolata.

 

Cold pork slices with soba noodles and garlic sauce

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 packet Hakubaku organic soba noodles, cooked and cooled
  • 2 small pork fillets, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 1 tblsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tblsps Mirin seasoning (rice wine)
  • 2 tblsps Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tblsps dark soy
  • 1 tblsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • ½ cup coriander sprigs
  • 2 tblsps red, yellow and green capsicums, cut thin

Combine together the raw pork slices, spring onions, ginger, rice wine and olive oil. Pre-heat a grill pan and quickly grill on both sides until just cooked. Keep warm until required.

Combine together the garlic, soy, mirin, sugar and chilli oil. Toss in the noodles, coat well and place neatly onto plates. Top with the pork slices and garnish with the coriander sprigs and capsicum curls.

 

Crêpes with grilled pineapple, caramel sauce and crisp, sweet potato crisps

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Crêpes (this will make 20 crêpes)
  • 2 cups full-cream milk
  • 1 tblsp caster sugar
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 tblsps unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt

Place the milk into a mixing bowl and add the sugar and plain flour. Beat together well and add the melted butter and eggs. Strain and allow to stand for one hour.

Heat a good heavy non-stick pan with a little melted butter. Add a small ladle of the crêpe batter and spread evenly around by tilting the pan. When it turns golden, carefully turn over and cook the other side. Remove and hold until required.

Caramel sauce

  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 300g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine together in a saucepan the cream and butter and bring to a boil. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla extract, then boil again. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pineapple

  • ¼ pineapple, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tblsps butter, melted

Heat a ribbed grill pan and brush with the melted butter. Grill the pineapple on both sides and set aside.

Sweet potato crisps

Peel one small sweet potato, then cut thin slices using the peeler. Place slices onto a baking-paper-lined oven tray, top with another sheet of baking paper and place another tray on top. Bake at 160°C for one hour, and then remove the top tray and paper. Return to the oven and cook until dry and crisp, then remove from oven and cool. Store in an airtight container.

To assemble, place two folded crêpes onto a plate. Drizzle some caramel sauce onto the crêpes and top with the pineapple. Finish with a portion of whipped cream and a sweet potato chip, dusted with a little icing sugar.

 

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