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Food for Thought - Brenda Sambrook


February 2014

 We are blessed living here on the South Coast and in the wider Shoalhaven, and for those of us able to spend our days here in Kangaroo Valley, surrounded by family and friends, you sometimes need to pinch yourself and wonder if life could be any better.

Although many of us are now back at work or school, long summer days offer an opportunity to make that holiday feeling last just a little longer.

Recipes should be accessible, and by using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients, at the peak of their freshness and vibrancy, it is easy to make a simple supper for family, or cater for guests who drop by, unannounced however welcome just the same.


Luderick Ceviche

Luderick, previously known as blackfish, is one such sustainable choice - found along the east coast of Australia.

Ingredients: luderick (filleted and skin removed); clove garlic; handful fresh coriander; small green (medium heat) chilli; freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Fillet the luderick (removing skin) and thinly slice (approximately half a cm – not as thinly as for sashimi).

Place in a bowl with coriander, garlic and enough lemon juice to cover. Toss and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, mix again and leave further 45 minutes.

To serve, lay the fish on a platter, drained of most most of the lemon juice, and spoon over the macerated coriander and chili.


Watermelon, Black Olive and Feta Salad

Ingredients: 1 small red onion; freshly squeezed lime juice (2-4 limes); approx 1.5kg  ripe (and sweet) watermelon; 250g feta; handful each of  fresh parsley and fresh mint; 3 tbls EVOO*, 180g black (pitted) olives; freshly ground black pepper.

Peel and halve the onion and slice thinly, creating semi-circle shapes – place in a small bowl and add lime juice.

Allow to steep which will result in a gorgeous luminosity and pinkness in the onions.

Remove both rind and seeds from watermelon and cut into bite size chunks. Break the feta (using fingers) into small pieces and place both watermelon and feta in a bowl. Add chopped mint, whole parsley leaves, and onion (with juices). Add olives and EVOO – tossing gently. Arrange on a platter and top with some freshly ground black pepper. (Serves 6-8)


Garlic and Lemon Chicken

Slow roasting allows the flavours in this dish to develop beautifully and results in succulent juicy chicken infused with flavour, and the bonus is you get to eat the garlic and the lemons too.

Ingredients: 2-2.5kg whole chicken (10 pieces); 2 garlic bulbs (separated and left unpeeled); 2 lemons**, cut into 8 wedges; good handful fresh thyme; 3 tbls EVOO*; 150ml white wine; freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 160C.

Place chicken pieces, whole garlic cloves, lemon wedges, just over half the thyme (keep the rest as garnish) and EVOO and mix gently (with your hands – the best tools available!). Spread out all the chicken pieces, skin side up. Drizzle over with white wine and freshly ground black pepper and cover tightly (foil is fine if your roasting dish does not have a lid) for two hours – this is slow cooking at its best.

Remove from oven and remove lid/foil – return to oven, now set at 200C and cook for another 30-40 minutes – skin on chicken should be golden brown and the lemons at the beginning of a caramelisation stage.

Plate chicken, garlic and lemon wedges and sprinkle with remaining fresh thyme.

The lemons can be eaten directly as they are – including flesh, skin and pith – as they will have sweetened considerably during cooking.  (Serves 4-6)


Potato and Pea Frittata

Ingredients: 100g new potatoes; 150g fresh (podded) peas; 3 tbls EVOO*; 1 medium onion, finely diced; 8 large eggs; freshly ground black pepper and sea salt; 125g freshly grated parmesan.

Dice potatoes, place in pot containing salted, cold water and bring to boil, then allow to boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain. Do same with fresh peas.

Turn oven grill to high in preparation.

Heat EVOO in a heavy-based pan (or non-stick) and fry onion until it begins to soften, then add potatoes only. Cook for about 6-7 minutes, but do not allow potatoes to brown too much or burn. Add peas to total cooking time of 10mins. Do not clean frypan.

Transfer cooked onions, potatoes and peas to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add all eggs and mix well, then add parmesan and seasoning.

Return frypan to heat and gently pour in combined mixture – cook over a medium heat for about 8 minutes (until frittata is just slightly set). Remove from stove, place under grill until the top is golden and begins to ever so gently start to “puff”.

To serve, simply invert (run a sharp knife gently around edges and using a large flat plate or board, up end) and cut into portion sized wedges. (Serves 6-8)

Whilst the frittata works well served warm, it is fabulous served cold (which allows you to make earlier).

An old standby, perfect for dessert comes from those wonderful people at Gourmet Traveller. It is refreshing whilst not being over sweet. Having an ice cream machine makes this recipe extremely simple, but freezing the yoghurt using older methods works just as well.


Plum and Strawberry Ripple Frozen Yoghurt

Ingredients: 165g golden caster sugar; 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways; 500g (about 8) plums, halved and stones removed; 250g strawberries (hulled) and halved; 1.2kg thick and creamy sweetened plain yoghurt (a honey or vanilla flavoured yoghurt will also work well).

Combine sugar, vanilla bean and 125ml water in a saucepan, stirring over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes before adding plums – continue simmering for another 6 minutes (or so) until plums tender.

Add strawberries, stir gently and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

Puree one third of the plum/strawberry mixture until smooth.

Freeze yoghurt in an ice-cream machine. Swirl through pureed fruit mixture and freeze again (about 4 hours) until firm. (Makes 2 litres – plenty left over for healthy, late night snacks.)

To serve, divide remaining plum and strawberry mixture amongst bowls and top with a scoop (or two) or frozen yoghurt. (Serves 6).

Each menu item works well on its own, or make the lot and enjoy as a last of summer feast, knowing that you have presented the freshest, most seasonal produce using LOCAL and sustainable produce.

*EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

**Make sure you use unwaxed lemons – pick some up locally at the Kangaroo Valley General Store or Yarrawa Estate.

Brenda Sambrook