A Taste of Harmony

Recently I was asked at work to help out with our Taste of Harmony day by organising and championing a farmers/growers market where our employees could showcase their passions from home. With everything else on at the moment I was a bit hesitant but after asking a couple of my colleagues and getting very enthusiastic reactions I decided I was in!

I was so very lucky to have so many people jump in and bring things on the day. Jams, honeys, vegetables, cupcakes, cheese, butter, nuts, you name it! Why is this worth a post? Two reasons. First, I think it's a great opportunity for people to do this at their workplaces. It gets people together and champions some great causes like sustainability, grow local, and recycling. We had a fashion show and clothes swap as well but I was most impressed with the market!

The second reason that this is worth is a post is because I asked a couple of my contacts on Twitter to join in and they were more than happy to! They came, showcased, and talked all about their products and really threw passion into the day. Pepe Saya came and showed everyone his passion - butter! You can see that I'm at awe at the size of the 6kg butter wheel!

In addition, the team from Brasserie Bread chipped in five beautiful sourdough loaves, Orangville Pastoral brought top quality meat and donated a meat box for a charity raffle, and The Wheen Bee Foundation brought honey to tell us all about how important bees are to food sustainability. Best of all, we raised $3400 on the day for charity! And our work teams loved it. Why not do one at your workplace this autumn?

Peel A Whole Head Of Garlic In Ten Seconds? (or the day I stabbed myself with garlic)

Recently I discovered a post on Saveur about how you can peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds. Ten seconds! That's how long it takes for a single clove with the old flat-knife method. Could it be true? And if so, could I pull it off? I just had to give it a try.

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The technique is incredibly simple. Smash the head of garlic by hitting it firmly with your hand on a sturdy counter. Word of warning here, though: hit the garlic at an angle because if you hit it straight down you may end up with an injury that no one will believe (or stop laughing about if they saw it first hand).

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Next, sweep all the garlic and skins into a large bowl and cover the bowl with another one of the same size upside down. Shake vigorously for ten seconds and voila, you have an entire head of garlic, peeled to perfection. Nice!

Sartago's Paella - Guest Post

Every now and then we've had the privilege of having top chefs from around the world share their favourite recipes on Gourmet Male. We've had Australian, Italian, English, and American chefs talk about what they love to cook. Today is no difference as Chef Riccardo Messora of Sartago Tapas Wine Bar in Richmond, VIC has chipped in with his Uncle's favourite paella recipe. And if you're a regular visitor of Gourmet Male you'll know we not only love our Spanish food, we absolutely adore paella. Enjoy! 

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My uncle's Paella “alla Valenciana”

Ingredients for 12 people:

  • 4lt        Chicken or veg Stock
  • 500 gm    Pork short ribs
  • 500 gm    Chicken thighs boned and diced
  • 1 kg        Paella rice (Calasparra, Bomba, or alternatively Arborio)
  • 2 doz        Tiger prawns cleaned (tail on)
  • 2 ½ doz    Mussels
  • 2 ½ doz    Clams        
  • 4 ea        Red capsicums (peeled from raw and sliced in ½ cm strips by 5 cm)
  • 1 ea        Onion finely chopped
  • 4 ea        Garlic cloves minced
  • 7 gm        Saffron threads
  • 1 tbs        Tumeric ground
  • 2 tbs        Paprika mild
  • 500 ml    White wine
  • 500 gm    Tin diced tomatoes
  • 500 gm    Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 150 gm    Chopped parsley

 

Method:

1- Gather, prep and have ready all ingredients before start cooking

Note: This recipe is quite a large amount, so it is important to have a large enough pan. The ingredients don't have to be too much on top of each other, and the burner should cover almost all of the bottom of the pan. As this is a summery dish, this recipe can also be cooked on top of a BBQ outside, as long as there is an even heat all round. Paella burners, which are designed especially for this dish, and are also quite easy to purchase online or in cooking shops. No lid is required while cooking a paella.

2- Heat some olive oil in the paella pan or a shallow & wide frying pan, and brown ribs and chicken.

3- Add the capsicums, onion and garlic. Fry for 5 minutes

4- Mix all the spices together and dust them all round, fry for 5 minutes then deglaze with white wine

5- Add the rice, stir a little, spread even and pour in half of the hot stock.

6- When the stock has been absorbed, add the tin tomatoes and the rest of the stock.

7- When the tomatoes and rest of the stock starts to absorb, place all the seafood on top in an alternated circular fashion and slowly allow to cook

8- At the same time scatter the peas around the pan

9- When the rice is cooked, the dish is ready

10- Chop the parsley, sprinkle on top and serve

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Thanks, Chef! We love having new gourmet males join us on our culinary journey. I can't wait to visit soon.

Sartago Tapas Wine Bar
Chef Riccardo Messora
460 Church St
Richmond, VIC (Melbourne)


 

The Cheesemaking Workshop

I've mentioned a few times recently that I've really taken an interest in making my own food and learning from local producers. Whether that be butter, meat, bread, vegetables, etc I want to learn to be proficient in making great food products. A few weeks back I thought I'd go online and buy a cheesemaking kit. Little did I expect to find The Cheesemaking Workshop just up the road in Northbridge (NSW) where they have soft and hard cheesmaking classes every few weeks. So after a text to my Gourmet Mate, Rob, we signed up for the soft cheese class. We were a little intimidated that it was scheduled for six hours but we were willing to give it a go.

When you show up the class is all set up for twelve people who will work in groups of three - we were missing two people on the day so we were in a group of four. Funnily enough, the wife of the couple we were paired with was from New York and has been here for 18 years. Luckily enough, she wasn't a Yankees fan. The class could proceed.

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First thing we started to make was our fetta. When we got to eat it a few days later it was simply salty and creamy goodness. It definitely was the simpler of the two soft cheeses (the other was Camembert) but I don't think I would have made it properly if I didn't get a hands-on lesson like this one. Reading from a book and truly understanding the process would have been quite difficult. Below we do one of the first exciting steps, cutting the curd after it's set.

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Interestingly enough, we need to cut the curd horizontally as well as vertically. How do you do that, you ask? Well the folks at the workshop had a clever little solution: use a cake rack!

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After the fetta we tried our hand at Camembert. It's a bit more difficult than fetta as you need to "cook" the curd and this requires some pretty precise temperatures but I think we nailed it and I've had a couple goes at home since the class and have gotten somewhat good at it. As with both cheese types there was three rounds of "turning" the curd - which is really just lifting and draining the curd multiple times to begin to drain the whey out (there's a "whey out there" joke somewhere...).

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After turning the right amount of times and draining the whey you end up with the promise of cheese to come - curds!

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And after the curds are drained in the container they are then lifted and left to drain in hoops for a couple of days. These were ours, ready to head home and mature for a month...

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One of the cooler aspects of the class was that we got to have lunch and use a number of the types of cheeses that we made on the day. But before we could chow down we needed to make a "pullapart" bread. I'd never heard of it but most of the class had. It's simply a good quality bread with olives and herbs with sprinkled fetta on top. Gourmet Mate volunteered to get it ready for baking.

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I have to say, the end product was pretty good...

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But you can't have bread without butter. And you know in a place like this you can't use storebought butter! You have to make it from fresh cream. And just another excuse to get myself a Breville mixer soon...

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Not a bad result for just a few minutes of whipping.

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We also needed to make some ricotta for baked ricottas with tomato, onion, and herbs. So that was the next cheese type on the agenda. So incredibly simple! It only took about 20 minutes to make and our ricotta was ready for shaping and baking.

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And you know we all had to have a quick taste. For quality control, of course.

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There's nothing like a top-notch Greek salad made with fetta from your own hands.

After lunch it was cheesemaking round-robin. All kinds of cool, tasty, and creamy cheeses from such simple ingredients. Seriously, all you need is a yogurt maker, some long-life milk, and a couple cultures to make all these cheeses. We started with quark, which essentially is cream cheese. It was made from the M starter and some long-life milk in a yogurt maker that was hung in muslin. 

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Next was labne, which was literally homemade yogurt hung in muslin. Awesome!

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Lastly was marscapone, which was made just like the quark, but with T starter.

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Well, this was the final result. A cool little Camembert and a tasty little fetta to take home to enjoy. The Camembert needed a bit more work with brining, adding white mould, and then a month of ageing. Mine's not ready yet but it will be soon.

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I've always known my surname, Vachon, is related to cows in French but recently I found out it simply means "cow". Boring. But this poster certainly isn't... must get my hands on one!

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And that's it, folks. Six hours flew by quicker than we realised. But it was such a fun time that we've already booked in to do the hard cheese class in a couple weeks. It's a great way to spend a few hours learning to make such a great product with your own hands. Check them out and book into a class soon! You won't regret it.