Pepe Saya - Artisanal Aussie Butter

Butter. We've all eaten with it, cooked with it, baked with it. Or have we? Have you ever used and tasted real butter? One that comes from cream produced by grass fed, free range cows, and then hand crafted into a gorgeous and luxurious pat of butter. Or do you drop by the dairy section in Woolies and pick up the $.99 stick on special? Trust me, that isn't butter my friend. This is butter!

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Lately I've been really interested in the origins of our produce and food products and the characters and talents behind them. So one night recently I had a little wine-fuelled courage and pinged the Pepe team on Twitter about coming by for a visit sometime soon. And I was pleasantly surprised when they quickly came back and offered for me to drop in some afternoon to see what their butter was all about. 

When I originally told the Gourmet Female that I was going to see butter made she scoffed. "Can butter be that interesting?", she asked. But she came around at a BBQ when I told my mates I was going and their reaction was, "Wow, that sounds cool! Wish I could go." But I think that there are a number of great food producers out there who are proud of what they make and want people to know that there is definitely a difference between the mass-produced stuff and the products that are made with love and care. 

So after navigating my way from the station to their warehouse, I walked in and was followed closely by a couple - who I would happily find out were part of the team over at Brasserie Bread.  That's now definitely on my list for a visit! In any case, we walked into the office and I met Pepe himself. I have to admit, I wasn't sure if it was just a brand but no, Pepe is a real live, friendly, energetic, and passionate butter maker who is proud of what he and his team make every day. 

Once we donned the obligatory protective gear we spent a bit of time in the cold room, sampling the cream in its various stages, starting with cream, then culminating in creme fraiche. I've always known that as a country we require cream to be pasteurised but it's hard to appreciate the effect of that until you understand that the pasteurisation process kills all the active bacteria in the cream. So Pepe has to use his own to get the process going.

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The creme fraiche is then churned until it splits and you end up with "popcorn butter". The team use various types of churning machines, trying to get the best consistency and process control. 

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What's interesting is that as we watched the team wash the butter balls Pepe mentioned that this is a step that many restaurants miss and this is why their butter goes off after a couple days.

What you end up with is some amazingly tasty butter. Seriously, when you taste this stuff on the tip of a knife you think, "What the HELL have I been eating all these years? That wasn't butter, this is!".  

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Where it gets really interesting is when you begin watching the team mould the butter into the various packages - BY HAND.  It was amazing to watch everyone plow through the butter, shaping them for their restaurant clientele. So precise but so unique - each little packet is different. Pepe mentioned that they tried some industrial packaging techniques but it just didn't have the same result and charm. I almost wanted to give everyone a little hug and say, "Thank you! This is awesome. You're doing God's work."

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We then watched the team put together some big sized slabs of butter for the Brasserie Bread team. I can only imagine what tasty baked treats it'll end up in. Croissants? Sourdough? Damn, I'm hungry...

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In the end, it was only an hour or so but it was one of the more enjoyable food experiences I've had in a while. Pepe had so much passion in his product and it was touching to hear how he tried to explain to his dad that making premium butter was a business risk worth taking. "Artisanal to me means it's something that I can share, something I care about, and something special", he said.

To top things off he shared some of his amazing butter and creme fraiche with me. And then we got on the subject of wings, buttermilk, and buffalo sauce. I think someday I need to make some proper Frank's Buffalo Sauce and drop it by. Made with Pepe Saya butter, of course!

"There are many amazing butters in the world and here's to hoping Pepe Saya will be one of those." It will be mate, it will be. Keep doing what you're doing and they will come to enjoy an amazing handmade product. And thank you for sharing your passion and process with me. Awesomeness.

Welcome Neil Perry! Cooking the Perfect Steak

This week we feature a guest blog by Neil Perry of Rockpool

Some months back now, GourmetMale approached us and asked if Neil Perry would like to write a guest blog for his site, which aims to get men cooking, and cooking well. What a great idea! Neil was keen, of course as he is all for anyone having a go and why do something half hearted, ever? Following is Neil’s blog on cooking the perfect steak, along with a video he made for the superlative Cape Grim...and of course a recipe for you. Enjoy.

‘The perfect steak’

(courtesy Neil Perry)

(courtesy Neil Perry)

First things first. If we are going to cook the perfect steak, we better start out with the right produce – the best steaks we can find. We use only the finest cattle at Rockpool, a favourite being those that have been grass-fed and only finished on grain if drought conditions make it necessary. Grass-fed beef differs from lot-fed beef in that it has a more natural beef flavour and a much better Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. This makes it better for you, and the cow enjoys a much healthier and happier life. This is really important. Then follow these basic rules

Beef rib barbecued with anchovy butter

I love this dish served with a creamy potato gratin and a green leaf salad. Serves 4

Ingredients
4 x 250g aged beef ribs
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 spoonfuls of anchovy butter
Freshly ground pepper
For the butter
8 large anchovy fillets
Sea salt
1 lemon, juiced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper

Method
To prepare the butter, place the anchovies and a little salt in a mortar and pound with a pestle until they start to break up. Add the lemon juice and butter, then plenty of pepper. Mix completely. Put to one side until ready to plate the steaks.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator two hours before cooking and season with sea salt. Preheat the barbecue to hot and make sure the grill bars are clean. Drizzle the steaks with extra virgin olive oil and shake off any excess. Put the steaks on the grill at a 45-degree angle to the grill bars. When halfway through cooking that side, turn the steaks 45 degrees in the opposite direction. When done, turn them over and cook the other side. Put the steaks on a plate, cover with foil and keep them in a warm spot to rest.

Use the touch test to check for “doneness”. A rare steak will be soft to the touch and will spring back when pressed. As it cooks, the steak will become firmer and firmer to touch. If you see the juices come to the surface as red droplets, your steak will be medium-rare, probably heading to medium after resting; if the juices are pink to clear, you have a well-done steak.

Place one steak on each of four plates. Pour the juices from the resting plate over the steaks and add a spoonful of the anchovy butter. Add a grind of fresh pepper and serve immediately.

Mini Sourdoughs

Recently I was looking through our local homewares shop and found tiny ceramic bread baking pans. That got me thinking back to my attempts at sourdough bread and I thought it would be cool to cook some mini loaves.

Transient

To start, go through the process of creating a sourdough starter. Once it's nice and frothy and doubling in size overnight then you're ready to go.

In addition to the mini bread pans, you'll need:

  • 500g unbleached organic flour
  • 240g tepid water
  • 1 tsp of salt

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add 200g of the starter to the water in a separate bowl and stir. Slowly combine the starter to the dough by stirring and then combining with your hands. If it's quite sticky you might need to add a little flour at a time until it's just soft and doesn't stick easily to your hands.

Place the dough on a floured counter and knead firmly for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Let it rise for 4 - 8 hours (rising time will depend on a number of factors in your kitchen) until it's doubled in size.

Remove from the bowl and knock the air out of the dough. Shape into a ball and divide into 140g balls. Oil the bread pans and add dough to each one and cover with cling film. Let stand for another 2 - 6 hours, until they double in size again. Preheat the oven to 220C.

Once the dough has risen again, cut a slash down the middle of each one, add a little flour to the tops, place in the oven and bake for approximately 35 minutes. Remove and let cool somewhat. Cut and serve - maybe with some Tetsuya's Truffle Butter!

Basic Sourdough Starter

Recently I made some mini sourdough loaves so before I publish that recipe I thought it best to give a rundown of how to make a basic sourdough starter. There seems to be hundreds of ways to create one on the web but I've found this one the easiest and most straightforward.

You need:

  • 1kg unbleached organic flour
  • 1ltr sparkling mineral water (soda water will do as well)
  • 1 canning jar

Sterilise the jar by dropping it fully into some boiling water for a minute. Then add 50g of the flour and 50g of the water and stir. Leave that overnight. Do the same thing for three days in a row.

On the fourth day, remove most of the starter and add 100g of the flour and 100g of the water. Things should start frothing overnight. Repeat this for four days.

On the seventh day your starter should be doubling in size overnight. Once this happens you're ready to go! And remember that the dough should have a distinct sour smell but it should be pleasant. If you have any concerns that it smells off or rotten, throw it out and start again. Trust me, this isn't very hard.