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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mornington Peninsula: T’Gallant – mushroom foraging

Mushroom foraging

I’m not a big fan of autumn, winter, grey skies, and rain. Every year, I eagerly wait for summer to arrive. But even I must admit that there are some positives to the cold, wet weather – one of them being wild mushrooms.

A couple of weeks ago, the Boys and I headed down to T'Gallant for a mushroom hunt. It had been raining heavily the night before and we showed up to find that almost everyone else had gumboots on. Uh oh! Were we going to be under prepared? Trust me, if we had owned a pair of gumboots, I would have brought them, but we live in Melbourne.... where it rarely rains for more than 30 minutes. So gumboots have always seemed like a stupid thing to buy. But maybe that’s just envy talking because everyone else was so prepared!

Mushroom foraging

For the first part of the day, we spent an hour looking for mushrooms – specifically pine mushrooms / saffron milk-caps and slippery jacks. Our guide took us out of the winery, talking us through the characteristics of saffron milk-caps and slippery jacks. We walked up the road for about ten minutes, and then entered private property (under prior arrangement with the land owner). Fortunately, while there was a fair bit of mud, gumboots weren’t actually required – just careful footing so we didn’t go arse over t.... :)

Saffron milkcap

Saffron milkcap

Saffron milk-caps grow under pine trees, with which they have a mycorrhizal (symbiotic) association. They have a firm carrot orange cap, which is convex to vase shaped, a hollow stem, and when cut or bruised, they bleed a red-orange milk.

Slippery jack

Slippery jacks have a slimy brown cap, with the underside being light-yellow and spongey. This particular one had deteriorated from age and insects - we found much better looking ones later on.

Poisonous ones! Poisonous ones!

There were tons of mushrooms at this property – the autumn rains had obviously created the right conditions for the mushrooms to flourish. There were also plenty of toadstools too – poisonous unfortunately, but very pretty.

Mushroom foraging Mushroom foraging

Obviously, you need to know what you’re doing when picking wild mushrooms. While I feel the session gave me an idea of what to look for regarding saffron milk caps and slippery jacks, I certainly wouldn’t go foraging for them myself without an educated guide or having an expert look over them. So – warning! At T’Gallant there were posters on the wall with pictures and descriptions of edible and poisonous fungi around the world. I was particularly intrigued by one mushroom that is very poisonous – but the symptoms of poisoning only show up 3-4 weeks after ingestion. And some toxic mushrooms can cause organ failure. Shudder!

Mushroom foraging

When we had picked a basket’s worth of mushrooms, we headed back to the winery. Back at T-Gallant, we tasted some wines, and then sat down to a cooking demonstration and lunch, accompanied by two glasses of wine. (The price for the mushroom forage plus food and wine was $75pp.)

Mushroom foraging

During our wine tasting, we had a little snack of mushroom pate on toasts with parmesan and balsamic vinegar. We were starving by this stage, so the little snack was very welcome!

Mushroom foraging

After we had tasted the wines, we headed into the demonstration kitchen and were served a fantastic mushroom soup. It was a shame it was served in a paper cup because this was a soup to be savoured. It was thick and hearty, and packed with an intense mushroom flavour, probably helped by the fact that it was made with a generous amount of dried forest mushrooms as well as fresh mushrooms.

Mushroom foraging

Mushroom foraging

The mushrooms that had been picked in the morning were cleaned and then barbequed. I found them quite fleshy and meaty, with the Slippery Jacks having an interesting spongey texture.

Mushroom foraging

After the soup, out came a mushroom and onion pizza. The mushrooms and onions had been sliced thinly and baked on top of a thin, crispy base.

Mushroom foraging

This was a very simple salad topped with parmesan. It had a tangy, rather addictive dressing.

Mushroom foraging

We had a mushroom tarte tartin, made from a mixture of different mushrooms - button, small swiss brown and oyster, and puff pastry.

Mushroom foraging

Mushroom foraging

And our last savoury dish was a mushroom rigatoni with pine nuts and mascarpone. This was a simple dish cooked well. The pasta had a good meaty mushroom flavour, and the pine nuts gave a bit of crunchy and nuttiness.

Mushroom foraging

And dessert was brown sugar meringues with ice cream – that were plated to look like mushrooms! Cute! The meringues had dark sugary notes similar to molasses/treacle, and the ice cream tasted a bit orangey, possibly due to orange blossom water? It was a sweet way of ending the afternoon, and also a creative way of dealing with the mushroom theme!

Winery cat!

On the way out, we spotted the winery cat hanging out on a display shelf. It was a (much) slimmer version of one of our cats – awww.

We had a fun afternoon and I enjoyed both the mushroom hunting and the food back at the winery. Unfortunately we attended the last mushroom session for the year, but I believe they run them every year around May/June. They book out very quickly, so keep an eye out next year if you’re interested.

1385 Mornington-Flinders Road
Main Ridge 3928
Phone: 03 5989 6565

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 32, Potato

Gnocchi with mushrooms

Recipe: Gnocchi
From: Made in Italy

Cookbook Challenge... Week 32... Theme: potato... I made gnocchi.... blah blah blah....

My mind is a bit fried tonight. This morning I got out of bed early, made gnocchi, baked muffins, baked a banana cake, and went out to a 1 year old birthday party, where I drank bubbles, and ate far too much cheese and cake.

The early start, combined with far too much sugar, has left me feeling a frazzled, so I'll keep this post short and sweet.

Gnocchi with mushrooms

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is potato, and when I asked Alastair what I should make, he replied, "Gnocchi!". I made gnocchi for the first time the other month, but since I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to make, gnocchi it was.

This time I followed a recipe from a different cookbook, and it worked out pretty well. I managed to roughly make the gnocchi shape by rolling it over a fork - unlike last time when it was too soft to shape. Oh! And I bought a food mill, so it was much easier this time. Whoo hoo for not having to push potato through a fine sieve!

We had the gnocchi for lunch so I sauteed some mushrooms with garlic and butter to have with it. I have to say, it was pretty good! The gnocchi turned out quite well too, fairly light and fluffy. And if we hadn't eaten such a filling, carbalicious lunch, I'm sure the bubbles, cheese and cake would have put me in a worst state. As it is, I think I'm done for the evening. Thank you and good night!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Gnocchi with mushrooms


From Made in Italy

1kg starchy potatoes
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
about 320g plain flour
pinch of salt

Wash the potatoes, and cover with cold water in a pot. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Let the potatoes cook until they are soft (about 45mins - 1 hr depending on the size). Drain the potatoes - you may want to put them in a hot oven at this stage to dry them out.

While the potatoes are still hot, peel them and put them through a sieve/food mill. (I found it easiest to hold the potato with tongs and peel the skin off with my fingers.) Put them in a bowl or on your work surface and create a well in the centre. Add the egg, pinch of salt, and three quarters of the flour. Mix well and as soon as the dough comes together, stop. Only add the rest of the flour if you think it needs it. Don't overwork the dough.

Dust your work surface with flour and flatten your dough into a rough square about 1.5cm thick.

With a knife, cut the dough into strips about 1.5cm wide. Roll each piece lightly until it is cylindrical.

Lay two or three cylinders next to each other and then cut through them at the same time , cutting them into 1.5cm wide pieces. Repeat with the rest of the cylinders.

Take a fork and push each piece of dough on to the prongs, so that it rolls itself up and is marked with lines. Repeat with all the pieces.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi, stirring until they rise to the surface (a minute or so). Lift them out with a slotted spoon and serve with your choice of sauce.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 31, French


Recipe: Pissaladiere
From: The Australian Women's Weekly "Kitchen"

Dear Cookbook Challengers in Melbourne! See the end of this post for details of a meet up!

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is French, and initially I was stumped. What could I make for French week that would be fairly easy and only involved ingredients already in my pantry?

But after a bit more thinking, I realised there's TONS of things that come from French cooking! I almost made a dessert (it was a toss up between brulee or clafoutis) but, despite all the sweet things on this blog, I don't actually have a huge sweet tooth! (Lots of sweet things make an appearance here because they're easier to photograph.....! Confession time!) So rather than dessert, I made pissaladiere - an onion and anchovy tart.


The recipe I followed for the pissaladiere had a bread type base, although I believe pastry can also be used. The topping is made from a rather large amount of slowly cooked onions, on to which anchovy fillets and olives are placed. Oh. Notice anything missing on mine? I ran out of olives so mine is sans olives!

Despite the missing olives, the pissaladiere was DELICIOUS. There's something about the combination of the bready base, sweet onions and the salty fishiness of the anchovies that really did it for me. I know lots of people don't like anchovies, but gosh it's worth acquiring the taste for them, just so you can eat pissaladiere!

And now an announcement for all Cookbook Challengers in Melbourne! April and I have been discussing a meet up and we have decided on a date. It'll be a potluck lunch on Sunday 11 July - with the theme being Spanish (which is the theme for the week after - so if you come, you get to tick off your dish for the following week!). Email me or comment on this post if you're interested. And if you're a lapsed Cookbook Challenger, perhaps this could be the motivation to get back into it?! :)

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.



From AWW Kitchen

Serves 6

50g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large onions (600g), peeled and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon baby capers, rinsed
3/4 cup (110g) self-raising flour
3/4 cup (11g) plain flour
30g butter, extra
3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk
20 drained anchovy fillets, halved lengthways
1/2 cup (90g) small seeded black olives

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over low heat and add the onions, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cover the pot and let the mixture cook gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the onions to be soft but not browned.

Let the mixture cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme, and stir in the capers.

Preheat the oven to 220°C and oil an oven tray.

Make the base by sifting the flours into a large bowl. Rub in the extra butter, and then stir in the buttermilk to form a soft dough (mine needed more flour). Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth.

Roll the dough into a rectangular shape that is about 25cm x 35cm. Place on to the tray.

Spread the onion mixture over the dough, up to the edges. Top with the anchovy fillets, placing them in a diamond pattern. Put an olive in the middle of each diamond.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the base is crisp.

International Noodles Incident Party

Hand pulled noodles

International Pizza Pie Incident Party

Following on from the success of the dumpling, pizza pie and gnocchi parties - we're having noodles!

I am a big fan of noodles, most kinds of noodles in fact. See the ramen hunt post as an example of my dedication to noodle goodness. As soon as the theme was announced, I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to make. We had so much fun making soba noodles in Japan, that I really wanted to make my own noodles - and what better noodles to make than hand pulled noodles?

Oodles of noodles

When Alastair and I were in China years ago, one of our most memorable meals was a bowl of noodles at a street stall. We watched the noodles being pulled in front of us, and five minutes later we were tucking in. Amazing.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to come close to replicating that meal. Hand pulling noodles is a skill that takes lots of practice to develop, but hey - I'm always up for a challenge!

I followed the instructions on this website - How to make hand pulled noodles. The dough is easy to put together - it's basically flour, water, salt, a tiny amount of baking soda, and oil. The dough needs to be kneaded for a long time - to "destroy the gluten structure" according to the website, until it gets to a point where it stretches easily without breaking. I let my mixer do the kneading, but even after 25 minutes my dough didn't reach that point and I couldn't do the first pull without it breaking.

Hand pulled noodles
Now panic and freak out!

Finally, I figured out that if I added more water, it made the dough more supple and less prone to breaking. So eventually, after rather a lot more water, YAY NOODLES. I still had a lot of problems with the noodles breaking, and they were all uneven thicknesses, but look!

If you watch the above video, you can see how wet the dough is at the beginning. If I was ever silly enough to want to try pulling noodles again, I would try lots and lots more water. I wish I had started with wetter dough - it probably would've been much easier!

Hand pulled noodles

If you're considering trying this, let me tell you. It is HARD. I now have first hand experience of exactly how hard it is, and goodness gracious do I appreciate the skill that is involved in pulling noodles! It is definitely something that takes a lot of practice.

Hand pulled noodles

It took me so long to make the noodles (we're talking hours...) that I was exhausted afterwards and couldn't be bothered doing much with them. Fortunately, I had a large pot of chicken stock already made, so I boiled up the noodles and served them in the chicken stock with some enoki mushrooms. They tasted okay, but not amazing.... not like I had spent hours making them! But I'm really glad I gave it a shot.

That's it for my contribution to the International Noodle Incident Party. See Addictive and Consuming for the round up or check out the following links:

  • Penny aka Jeroxie - Addictive & ConsumingHomemade ban mian with minced pork and mushrooms

  • Christine – Christine’s RecipesSpicy Pork Mince and Noodles in Crisp Lettuce Cups
  • Mardi – Eat, Live, Travel, WriteGinger scallion & Butter noodles
  • Trix – Tasty TrixSummer ‘Noodles’ with yellow and green zuchinni with cool basil oil tomato sauce
  • Shirley – Enriching your kidVermicilli Biryani with Tahini
  • Natasha – 5 Star FoodieHomemade Soba Noodles

  • Joanne – Second Helping
  • Cherry – Sweet Cherry PieCoconut noodles with honey glazed pork belly
  • Tracey - Tangled Noodle
  • Evelyne - Cheap Ethnic EatzIncidental Noodles
  • Ms Baklover - Footscray Food BlogZha Jiang Mian
  • Casey – Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgari
  • Tamar – Koreanfornian CookingTteokbokki
  • Billy – Half-EatenPumpkin Miso Noodles in Shitake Dashi Broth
  • Nina – Consumed Food LoveVietnamese Noodle Salad
  • Suresh – 3 hungry tummiesTwice cooked pork with rice noodles
  • Anh – A food Lover’s Journey – Taco Soba Noodle

  • Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Cumulus Inc

    Following on from our punny lunch at Cutler & Co, we decided to continue the Andrew O’Connell love and headed to dinner at Cumulus Inc with Maria and Daz from The Gourmet Challenge.

    Since Cumulus Inc only takes bookings for large groups, Alastair, Bro and I showed up early in the evening to secure a table. Good thing we did, because it filled up fairly quickly. Although now I realise that with five people, maybe we could have booked?!

    Cumulus Inc

    Between the five of us, we ordered several dishes to share.

    Cumulus Inc

    We started with a serve of crispy school prawns, sautéed with chilli and garlic ($14), because we can’t seem to resist school prawns whenever they are on the menu - see exhibit A and exhibit B. They were light and crispy with just a tiny hint of heat and garlic.

    Oh and we noticed the table sitting next to us shelling their prawns. Sadness. They missed out on the best part, which also would have happened to be most of the dish!

    Cumulus Inc

    This was a portion of slow cooked octopus with aioli and dehydrated olive ($10). It was teeny, but the octopus was oh so tender and a very nice little mouthful.

    Cumulus Inc

    Next we had the foie gras parfait with toasted brioche ($17). The parfait was very rich and smooth, but umm... there were five of us and only four small pieces of toast! We had to ask for a bread refill to finish up the parfait.

    Cumulus Inc

    Oh, this was gorgeous. So gorgeous. The grass fed steak tartare ($21) was delicious. We mixed in the egg and onions, cornichons etc, and tucked in.

    Cumulus Inc

    It was served with condiments - normal tabasco, jalapeno tabasco and anchovy sauce. The anchovy sauce came with a little dripper - it was very potent! But the steak tartare was so perfectly seasoned that we found it didn't need the condiments.

    Cumulus Inc

    And for mains we had a whole slow roast lamb shoulder ($69). This is really good value for money! It was great too – the meat was so tender and juicy. We shared it between the five of us, and it was the perfect amount of meat. I think it's a main that is best shared between several people, but we saw a couple a few tables over sharing it between the two of them (as well as sides!) They ate quite a lot of it too - I was rather impressed at their lamb eating prowess.

    Cumulus Inc

    The lamb came with lemon and onions, and a big knife to carve it with. Thanks to Maria for carving it up for us!

    Cumulus Inc

    We also had a salad – the cracked wheat and freekah salad with preserved lemon and barberries ($11). Although now that I look at all these pictures, I feel like we should’ve ordered some vegetables or greens.

    And then – dessert!

    Cumulus Inc

    Alastair and I shared the pear sorbet with burnt butter shortbread and almond milk ($16). This is one of the best desserts I have eaten in ages. The sorbet was intensely peary, cold, smooth and slick. I loved the super butteriness of the shortbread and the almond milk was soft, resembling a panna cotta.

    Cumulus Inc

    And Bro had the steamed chocolate pudding with hazelnut toffee and crème fraiche ice cream ($17). He said that it was rich and delicious.

    Cumulus Inc

    For second dessert (as you do) we all had a madeleine filled with lemon curd ($2.50 each). The slightly crisp crust lead into a fluffy, cakey biscuit that was filled with tangy lemon curd... drool. They came to the table still warm, and were gone very quickly. Next time I think I might be tempted to order two per person!

    In case you can’t tell, we loved our meal at Cumulus Inc – actually much more than our lunch at Cutler & Co. It's obvious why Cumulus Inc has so many fans - and you can count me as one of them!

    Read about a previous visit to Cumulus Inc here.

    Cumulus Inc
    45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
    (03) 9650 1445

    Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Cookbook Challenge: Week 30, Baked

    Treacle oatmeal loaf

    Recipe: Molasses oatmeal loaf
    From: Quick Breads

    We're on to week 30 of the Cookbook Challenge, and the theme is "baked". Easy right?! For someone who does a lot of baking, this week's theme was great!

    I was pretty keen to bake bread of some kind, but I ran out of time to do a proper loaf. Instead, I pulled out a book that has recipes for quick breads, and put together this loaf in just over an hour. It should have taken longer, but I didn't let the oats soak for the full 30 minutes - as soon as my oven had preheated I figured it was good enough.

    Treacle oatmeal loaf

    The loaf is made with porridge oats, molasses or treacle (I used treacle), buttermilk and a mixture of wholemeal and white flour. And it is really good! The oats and wholemeal flour give a chewy, nutty, texture and flavour with a crisp crust. Because it has a mix of white and wholemeal flour, it's not too dense or heavy. When it came out of the oven, I couldn't wait for the loaf to cool completely before I cut a slice to taste. Bad, I know, but who can resist bread straight from the oven? Not me! It was great with butter (natch) and a second slice was also really good with honey. The third slice (ha!) saw the return of butter, but I do think a bit of sweetness works really well with this bread.

    I'll definitely make it again. And I'm looking forward to eating the rest for breakfast tomorrow!

    See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

    Update: see the round up for this week at My Food Trail.

    Treacle oatmeal loaf

    Molasses oatmeal loaf

    From Quick Breads

    Makes a medium loaf

    2 tablespoons molasses/black treacle
    300ml buttermilk
    75g porridge oats
    200g plain wholemeal flour
    200g plain white flour
    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    25g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
    1 large egg, beaten

    a 450g loaf tin, well greased

    Mix the molasses/treacle and buttermilk in a bowl and add the oats. Stir, and let it soak for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C.

    In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the butter and rub it in, using the tips of your fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

    Add the beaten egg and the soaked oats and mix well with a wooden spoon. It will be a very thick, heavy dough. Pour it into the greased tin and press it into a loaf shape.

    Bake the loaf for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Bake for a further 35 minutes.

    Turn out on to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Week of Eats: Lunch at Pier 10, Mornington Peninsula


    A while ago now, back when my in-laws Annette and Terry were here, we spent a gorgeous Friday down in the Mornington Peninsula laughing, tasting wines, and enjoying the sunshine.

    Lunch at Pier 10
    Our lunch time view at Pier 10

    After stops at two wineries (T-Gallant and Montalto), our lunch stop was Pier 10. Pier 10 used to be a weekender, and became a vineyard in 1996. It's a very pleasant spot, with the restaurant looking out over the vines and fields. I seem to remember being told that it's called Pier 10 because the structure in the front garden used to be part of a pier.

    Lunch at Pier 10

    After tasting a few wines in the tasting room (where we came across a bucket of seriously gigantic zucchinis that were looking for homes), we headed to the back deck for food.

    Lunch at Pier 10

    For lunch, we had an antipasto platter to share. It was all pretty good - olives, cured meats, some very good crunchy green beans, marinated vegetables and a bit of smooth pate.

    And for the mains, the options were: a wild mushroom risotto, fish and chips, roast chicken breast and pan roasted ocean trout.

    Lunch at Pier 10

    Alastair, Terry and I, ordered the pan roasted ocean trout, with nicoise salad and basil pesto. We were all pleased with our lunch - the trout was perfectly cooked with crispy skin, and the vegetables and salad were crunchy and fresh. Good boiled egg too!

    Lunch at Pier 10

    Annette had the roast chicken breast with mashed potato, green beans, and gravy. This looked great – and it was a massive portion!

    Lunch at Pier 10

    It was a very pleasant lunch – nothing fancy, but the food was well cooked and tasty. And as a bonus, we took a zucchini home for later - I told you they were massive!

    Pier 10
    10 Shoreham Road
    Shoreham 3916
    Phone: 5989 8848

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