Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sarah Cooks is on Facebook

Hi y'all!  Just a quick post today, to let you know I've (finally) made a Facebook page for my blog!  The link is here.

It's still quite new, but the general idea is:

  • to create a bigger discussion space than blog comments will allow;
  • to post up photos and fun foodie things that will only appear on my Facebook page;
  • to connect with my readers who primarily use Facebook; and
  • to inform y'all of any blog news or when I've published a new post!

I'm sure I'll think of more things as we go along, but for now, if you do like my blog, then may I suggest you head on over to the Facebook page and click "Like"!

The first couple of little things I've put up on the Facebook page are a couple of little breakfasty things I baked over the weekend.  I'll put the pics here too for this introductory post, but from now on my Facebook content will be updated independently of my blog, with additional and different content.

White loaf (Nigella Lawson recipe, from Feast)

Chocolate Peanut Granola (Nigella Lawson recipe, Feast)

Full descriptions (in my fabulous prose - haha!) are over on the page itself.  Enjoy!  Thanks guys!

xox Sarah

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Barossa's Table: Vintners Bar and Grill

Vintners Bar and Grill
Nuriootpa Road
PO Box 10
Angaston SA 5353
(08) 8564-2488

For my second night in the Barossa, Jaci from Tourism Barossa took me to Vintners Bar and Grill, a lovely little restaurant on the outskirts of Angaston.  (Located in the same spot as the Barossa Farmers Market!) It was rather quiet, being a Monday night, with only 3 tables occupied, including ours.  However, the wooden floors and exposed beams gave the space a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

VBG Dukkah, Dom's Olives and Olive Oil - $8
Interestingly, even though Vintners is a "bar and grill", the menu had a strong Asian influence, with items like Thai style crab salad, green mango, chilli, mint & betel leaves ($20); house smoked salmon, soba noodles, wakame & salmon caviar ($20); and Masterstock fried quail, bean shoot & celery salad ($16/$32).  Jaci suggested this may have been in response to the new restaurant fermentAsian in Tanunda, which serves modern Southeast Asian cuisine and has been incredibly popular!  (Unfortunately there was no time on my trip to try fermentAsian, so I will have to save that for another trip).

I have to say, I am generally a little wary of non-Asian restaurants attempting pan-Asian cuisine, but I was pleasantly surprised and rather impressed by the dishes at Vintners!
Steamed pork & ginger dumplings, chilli soy dipping sauce - $16

The steamed pork and ginger dumplings were well-made and tasty.  A little pricey at $16 for five (!), but understandable considering that there aren't heaps of Asian restaurants in the Barossa.

Sautéed scallops, dried shrimp & pork relish, steamed broccolini - $20
I ordered the scallops because I was very interested to try the shrimp and pork relish.  (I think it must be a pretty popular ingredient, as it was on the menu at 1918 too.)  The relish itself was like a mild, slightly-sweet sambal. Underneath the plump scallops was some lightly steamed broccolini - a great way to get some greens into a canapé-style dish!  

Jaci ordered the scallops for her main (and got 10 on her plate), whereas I decided to go for something a little more traditional, and ordered the chicken.

Local chicken, slow roasted heirloom tomato, vincotto & avocado puree - $32
Despite being breast meat, the chicken was tender and juicy.  The avocado and tomatoes provided a nice contrast of creamy richness and sharp acidity. 

Feeling quite full from the meal, (not to mention the day's activities), Jaci and I decided to share a stone fruit tart for dessert.  After our arvo at Gully Gardens, we were definitely in the mood for peaches!
Stone fruit tart, vanilla custard, whipped cream & raspberry juice - $14
The tart was beautifully presented, and contained a lovely smooth vanilla custard, but when we tasted the peaches, we couldn't help but think they were tinned.  If that were the case, it seems a bit of a shame, when the local fruit was so wonderful and abundant.

However, apart from that, I very much enjoyed the food, and had a great evening at Vintners.  I'd definitely recommend it for a pleasant meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

Vintners Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Sarah dined at Vintners Bar and Grill as a guest of Tourism Barossa, as part of the prize for winning the Barossa's Table competition.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Barossa's Table: Pizza-Making with Damon Deruiter

That, my friends, is "The Smokey".  Created by chef Damon Deruiter of the Roaring 40's Cafe, and winner of the best pizza in Australia, The Smokey is a decadent pizza topped with tomato sauce, cheese, mettwurst, lachsschinken, shallots, Schulz Butcher’s mallee gum smoked pork belly and smoked chicken. Wowza!

After my buttery morning with Carême Pastry, I was whisked away to Angaston for a pizza-making workshop with Damon.  (And now I guess you're all starting to appreciate why I gained 2.8kg in one week!) We met Damon at the Roaring 40's Cafe, and buzzed around town to get the ingredients, before returning for some pizza making and eating!

There are loads of photos in this post, so I'll try and keep it light on text.  First stop was the Barossa Valley Cheese Company.

The Barossa Valley Cheese Company
67b Murray Street
Angaston South, SA 5353
(08) 8564-3636

Established by Victoria McClurg in 2003, Barossa Valley Cheese Co. is a small, artisan producer who sources milk from local dairies.  We stopped by her shop to pick up some fresh tomatoes from the idyllic veggie garden... check out the production area (it's really small, literally out the back of the shop!)...

... and, of course, to pick up some cheese for our pizzas!

I love the pretty packaging for the Petite Prince (washed rind) and Petite Princess (goat camembert) cheeses!

Couldn't leave without a taste test!

Next stop was the famous Shulz butchers, renowned for their smoked meat products. (Swoon!)

Schulz Butchers Angaston
42 Murray Street
Angaston SA 5353
(08) 8564-2145

Schulz does sell all your standard meat products (chops, sausages, steak etc.), but I was immediately drawn to the smallgoods section.

Picture Source: Tourism Barossa's Barossa's Table Competition - Winner's Journey! Facebook Album

Oh yum!

Jaegerbraten, Lachsschinken, Bacon
We then went out the back to look at their smokehouse, although you definitely smell it before you see it!

The thick black layer covering the inside of the door is the result of years and years of smoking. 

On the day we visited, there was only one rack in the smoker, but at peak periods the entire smoker is filled with rows and rows of hanging meat.

Gully Gardens

We then headed off to Gully Gardens to pick up some fresh peaches for a sweet pizza.  Gully Gardens grows and dries a wide range of fruit, including peaches, plums, pears and apples.  They sell their dried fruit wholesale, and at their "cellar door".

The fruits are still all prepared by hand.

I went on a ride on a two-wheeler around the farm as well, to look around and grab some fresh peaches straight from the tree.

No farm in the Barossa is complete without a vineyard!

The pear trees were incredibly abundant this year; on some trees the branches could barely support the weight of the fruit!

Some "Million dollar" peaches, a variety named for its beauty and size.  How beautiful!  

We picked a good dozen of these to take for pizza (and general snacking).

And, loaded down with goodies, it was to head back to the cafe for pizza making!

Roaring 40's Cafe
30 Murray Street
Angaston SA 5353
Ph: (08) 8564 2901

Damon made two pizzas.  The first was an improvised combo of goat's curd, lemon zest and thyme, topped with tomato slices.

And the second one was the famous Smokey!  One of the secrets is this imported Italian tomato sauce.

Damon made the Smokey in the fridge itself.  Due to the size of the kitchen, and the volume of customers, the pizzas are usually made in the fridge, and all the ingredients were already prepped and ready in there.

The recipe is here if you'd like to give it a go at home!  (Although the recipe doesn't state it, I'm pretty sure I saw some smoked feta sprinkled on as well!) 

And in total contrast to the meat-filled intensity of the Smokey, the goat's cheese/tomato pizza was topped with a refreshing rocket and red onion salad.

Picture Source: Tourism Barossa's Barossa's Table Competition - Winner's Journey! Facebook Album
We enjoyed both pizzas with a nice little riesling, from Damon's own wine label.  

Both pizzas were very different, but both delicious.  I'd love to try and recreate the goat's cheese one at home!  The Smokey looks incredibly rich, but is surprisingly easy to eat - full of crunchy, smoky, salty, porky goodness.

And while we were finishing off our pizzas, Damon whipped up a little sweet pizza: plain dough with roasted peach slices, a swirl of chocolate sauce and tiny boules of raspberry ripple ice-cream.  

On first sight, I thought there might be too much going on, but it was fantastic, with all the flavours complementing each other perfectly.  And unlike some of the OTT heavy dessert pizze/calzone we get here in Melbourne - think, sticky date pizza, nutella calzone etc. - this one was lovely and light.  A great way to finish the meal.  Big thanks to Damon DeRuiter for a fabulous afternoon and some delicious pizza!

40's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sarah visited The Barossa Cheese Co., Schulz Butchers, Gully Gardens and The Roaring 40's Cafe as a guest of Tourism Barossa, as part of the prize for winning the Barossa's Table competition.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Barossa's Table: Carême Pastry Workshop

In the world of quality Australian pastry, there is only one name: Carême. Even Stephanie Alexander said she'd never bother making her own puff pastry again after trying Carême's.  High praise indeed!

Carême was established in the Barossa six years ago by husband-and-wife-team Claire and William Wood, in response to ever-smaller pastry kitchens, and a dearth of commercially available quality puff pastry.  My one attempt at making a mere 6 patons of puff pastry was an incredibly long and labour-intensive process - I can't imagine how difficult it would be to make industrial quantities week after week in a small pastry kitchen!

Claire has a background in wine marketing, and has done an amazing job establishing the Carême brand as the pastry of choice for commercial kitchens and discerning home cooks.  Think about it - when was the last time you saw a pastry-based recipe in a glossy food mag that didn't say: "Use a good quality bought pastry.  (We used Carême)."?

My first morning in the Barossa saw me waking up bright and early for a Carême Pastry workshop.  Given the strength of the brand, I was surprised at how small and unassuming the premises are: just a small building on a quiet, mainly residential, street.

Even though I couldn't spend too much time on the production floor while the guys were making the pastry, I did get a sneaky peak inside.

Picture Source: Tourism Barossa's Barossa's Table Competition - Winner's Journey! Facebook Album
As you can imagine, they go through a lot of butter.

They have quite a few electric mixers, rollers and so on, but the process seems to be primarily done by hand.  

Dough-flattening machine
Claire and I in funky Carême aprons.
Picture Source: Tourism Barossa's Barossa's Table Competition - Winner's Journey! Facebook Album
Claire and I then went into the test kitchen to make some little sausage rolls for a class that she was teaching that night in Adelaide. (Recipe below!)  The recipe came from their head recipe tester/creator, whose full-time job it is to create new recipes using the Carême range.  (So jealous!!)

Claire used some lovely Hutton Vale lamb, mixed with loads of fresh herbs, onion and spices.

She also shared some great tips for working with pastry, including cutting the pastry with a large knife in a single cut (see below), rather than dragging a small knife along the edge, to get nice even layers.   

Carême Sour Cream Shortcrust Pastry
She also told me that you can get a super-shiny finish if you double glaze the pastry before baking - i.e. brushing it with egg wash, chilling for 30 minutes and brushing again before baking.

If you're making little crunchy bases for canapés out of puff pastry, she suggests cutting the pastry into little squares, and weighing them down with a second tray before baking.  (Otherwise you'll get super-tall pastry pieces with zillions of layers, much like when I made mille feuille with Carême puff!) 

Carême All-Butter Puff Pastry
While we were playing with a savoury dish, William was testing out some new techniques for the sweet pastry.  I thought it was really inspiring, that even as an expert, he is still experimenting and trying to improve his pastry knowledge.

The aim of this particular technique was to try and speed up blind-baking for mini-tartlets.  Rather than lining each indent with foil and filling it with baking beans, he simply pressed another tartlet tray on top, and then baked it.

Unfortunately the result wasn't too good - the sides cracked and cooked much faster than the bottom, so I suppose it's regular old blind-baking until they come up with a new technique. I taste-tested one, and I can confirm it still tasted delicious though!

We had to rush off to the next place on the itinerary while the sausage rolls were in the oven, so I didn't get to try any that morning... but Claire packed some away for us to pick up later!

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Sausage Rolls with Carême Sour Cream Shortcrust pastry - Yum yum

Carême also make a range of delicious breads and pastries, available only at the Barossa Farmers Market, or to be collected from the factory itself.  So when we visited the market later that week, I made sure to purchase a treat for breakfast.  (Or alternatively, I guess you could have a go making some of these treats yourself!  There are heaps of recipes on the Carême website).

There were some savoury galettes; croissants; cherry, lemon or chocolate tarts; William's famous bread; and lemon meringue pies. I love the pointy topping on the lemon meringue pies!

As you may have deduced from the intense itinerary, I was a little fooded out by Saturday morning, so I only had a potato, rosemary and lachschinken galette and a croissant.  As an aside, Carême don't make their croissants using their puff pastry, and wouldn't recommend trying.  Whilst croissants and puff pastry are both made of laminated doughs, croissant dough is yeasted and puff pastry isn't, so if you were to use puff for a croissant, the final product wouldn't be as fluffy or delightfully doughy. 

A very buttery breakfast:
Potato, Rosemary & Lachschinken (smoked pork loin) Galette - $4.50
Croissant - $2.50
Even cold, both the croissant and galette were fabulous.  (The recipe for the galette is on the Carême website).  And a lovely accompaniment was the Jersey Fresh milk in the background - so wonderful.  

And as promised, here's the recipe for those lamb sausage rolls.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Sausage Rolls with Minted Yoghurt
Makes 32
Preparation time: 30 minutes + chilling time
Cooking time: 25 minutes

445g pack Carême sour cream shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Sausage Filling
1 red onion, peeled & quartered
1 long red chilli, deseeded & chopped
30g fresh coriander
5g fresh mint
3 teaspoons Herbies Chermoula spice mix or a Ras al Hanout spice mix
550g lean minced lamb
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/3 cup (25g) fresh breadcrumbs

Yogurt & Mint Sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and lightly grease baking trays and line with baking paper
  2. For the sausage filling, place onion, chilli, coriander, mint and chermoula into a food processor, pulsing until finely chopped.  Add the lamb, egg, breadcrumbs and salt & pepper, pulsing until just combined.  Avoid over mixing, if need be transfer to large bowl and finish combining using your hands.
  3. Place pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface, cut into quarters to create four equal sized rectangles.
  4. Evenly divide the sausage filling into four portions, shape like a sausage, placing down the centre of each pastry rectangle; making sure that the pastry is able to encase the mixture.  Firmly bring one long side of the pastry up against the sausage meat and lightly brush what will be the seam with the egg glaze.  Repeat with the other side by firmly bringing the remaining pastry up and over the glazed pastry, creating a seal.  This will be pretty tight and there should ideally be about a 1cm overlap.
  5. Place sausage rolls on prepared baking tray (seam side down) and chill for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  6. Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the yogurt and mint sauce together in a small bowl, stirring until well combined.  Set aside for later.
  7. Cut each large sausage into eight equal portions and snip each top twice with a pair of scissors. Brush the outside pastry with the egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Evenly spread out the sausage rolls onto prepared baking trays.
  8. Place sausage rolls in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until pastry is cooked through and golden.  Allow sausage rolls to cool slightly before serving with the yogurt and mint sauce.

Sarah visited Carême Pastry as part of the prize for winning the Barossa's Table competition, organised by Tourism Barossa.