denmark | winter twenty-fourteen

::  Last month, Mr Pitt and I escaped the city to spend a long weekend in one of my favourite holiday spots.

I’ve previously shared photos and anecdotes from my getaways to Denmark, which is nestled in an idyllic location between the coast, karri forest and vineyards at the bottom of Western Australia.

A trip down to Denmark is inevitably means indulging in the fantastic local produce on offer in the area – wines, cider and ports from the many vineyards; bounties of cheese from many dairy producers; and fresh-from-the-farm fruit and vegies.

One of the prerequisites for choosing our accommodation was a log-fire to curl up in front during the cool winter nights and after careful consideration of several options, we chose a lovely, cosy chalet about 10 minutes from the town centre with a fantastic view of Denmark’s valleys and coast beyond.

Our little patch of holiday bliss also ended up being next door to the renowned restaurant where I’d booked lunch on our second day.

Forest Hill Winery is home to Pepper and Salt Restaurant, the superb establishment run by Chef Silas Masih and his wife Angela.  The menu is a fusion of locally sourced produce combined with Silas’ love of spices and his Fijian-Indian heritage. It is quite honestly one of the most memorable fine-dining experiences I’ve ever had – and I’ve eaten a lot in my time.

Pair that with a stunning view and you’ve got a match made in heaven.  Next year my best friends S and V are getting married at Forest Hill, with the reception at Pepper and Salt – which is why I was so eager to visit and see what was in store for us.  Needless to say, I have no doubt it will be a truly wonderful and unforgettable event…

 

a denmark tradition | breakfast at the bibbulmun café

fruit & nut breakfast bread, bibbulmun cafe, denmark WA | table twenty eight

bacon & egg sandwich, bibbulmun cafe, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 
our accommodation | karma chalets

karma chalets, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 
views of singlefile winery

singlefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eightsinglefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

singlefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eightsinglefile winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 
driving on denmark’s rally-worthy roads

country road, denmark WA | table twenty eight


views of rickety gate winery

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight

rickety gate vineyard, denmark WA | table twenty eight


pepper & salt restaurant | the view of karma chalets from the restaurant balcony

karma chalets, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 
views of forest hill winery

denmark weekend, june 022forest fungi, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight

forest hill winery, denmark WA | table twenty eight


pepper & salt restaurant | soft shell crab with lemon myrtle salt & ginger tamarind sauce

soft shell crab with lemon myrtle salt & ginger tamarind sauce at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 
pepper & salt restaurant | plantagenet beef eye-fillet with beetroot chutney & sticky pan jus

plantagenet beef eye-fillet with beetroot chutney & sticky pan jus at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight


pepper & salt restaurant | poached quince, rhubarb & bircher muesli crumble with chilli orange ice cream

poached quince, rhubarb & bircher muesli crumble with chilli orange ice cream at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight


pepper & salt restaurant | kaffir lime & cardamom arancini with passionfruit curd & lychee sorbet

kaffir lime & cardamom arancini with passionfruit curd & lychee sorbet at pepper & salt restaurant, denmark WA | table twenty eight

 


jerusalem artichoke soup with olive oil crackers

jerusalem artichokes with olive oil crackers | table twenty eigh

:: My favourite vegetable is unfortunately only available for a couple of months of the year.

Most people have never heard of them before and it doesn’t help that they have a rather misleading name.

Jerusalem artichokes aren’t actually related to globe artichokes and really – from an appearance point of view – that fact is rather obvious (it’s like saying kittens and ponies are related because they’re both cute and have four legs).

Apparently the misnomer is due to a bungled historic translation of Italian and with their knobbly, tuber-like exterior you’d even be forgiven for thinking they’re related to ginger.

jeruselum artichoke soup with olive oil crackers | table twenty eight

They have a rich, nutty and garlicky flavor, with a texture similar to potatoes.

And like potatoes, they’re wonderful roasted in the oven with garlic cloves and sage, or simply steamed and served with butter.

But to my great disappointment, Jerusalem artichokes are only available for a couple of months during the winter period and consequently, I tend each as much as I can get my hands on.

This is the first time I’ve made soup with them and the flavour that develops from the medley of sweet caramelised leeks, garlic and artichokes is divine.

The olive oil crackers are worth giving a shot too – they’re so easy to make and provide a crunchy, textural element to the silky soup.  Just make sure to roll them out wafer-thin so that they can crisp up nicely in the oven.

olive oil crackers | table twenty eight

jerusalem artichoke soup
with olive oil crackers

adapted from katie quinn davies‘ recipe, august 2013 issue of delicious. magazine


50g butter

2 leeks, washed and trimmed, white parts reserved and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.2kg jeruselum artichokes, peeled and roughly chopped
small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
(plus extra for serving)
2L (8 cups) vegetable stock
½ cup thickened cream
50g goat’s curd
lemon-infused olive oil, for drizzling

olive oil crackers
1 ⅓ cups plain flour
⅓ cups wholemeal spelt flour
½ cup warm water
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds

 

For the olive oil crackers, combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil and water. Stir to combine, bringing together the wet and dry ingredients with one hand.

Knead lightly to form a smooth dough, pat into a disk and cover in cling wrap. Refrigerate, allowing the dough to rest for approximately one hour.

Meanwhile, combine the cumin and fennel seeds in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 220°C.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to 2mm thick.

Cut the dough into rough squares or triangles and transfer to tray lined with baking paper.

Brush the pieces with olive oil, scatter with the mixed seeds and season to taste.

Bake in batches until the crackers are golden and crisp, about 6 – 7 minutes.

Once cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

jerusalem artichokes with olive oil crackers | table twenty eigh

For the soup, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add the onion, celery and garlic.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 – 15 minutes until softened.

Add the artichokes, parsley and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes until tender.

Remove from the heat and cool before transferring to a blender. Blitz in batches until you have a smooth purée.

Return the soup to a large saucepan over medium heat. Season to taste and warm through.

Just before serving, remove from the heat and stir through the cream.

Divide the soup among serving bowls, top with dollops of goat’s curd, chopped parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve with the olive oil crackers.


flourless tangelo & almond cake

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

::  Over the weekend I had the sudden urge to drop everything and bake.

It was a craving for the methodical mixing of butter, sugar and eggs; the creation of something tangible to sit in warm, syrupy glory on the bench top and waft sweet aromas throughout the apartment.

In times of change or mounting tasks that seem discouragingly far from completion (several loads of laundry requiring washing, drying, ironing and folding; re-potting houseplants who’ve outgrown their homes; getting another set of keys cut; mentally planning the working week ahead; scrubbing the shower; calling my grandmother to ease my guilt of not speaking to her for weeks; arranging an overseas holiday to match the air tickets I purchased months ago)….

…Well, when all this chaos is bouncing at high speed around one’s brain, being able to follow a clear set of instructions and turn out a tiny, hopeful result in the midst of disorder is quite cheering.

Even for an experimental, non-follower-of-instructions cook like me.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

I’d received some wonderfully vibrant tangelos from my good friend M, whose mother owns the beautifully tendered garden that I’ve shared previously (here).

Their tangelo tree is currently laden with fruit, adding a glorious pop of colour to surroundings which are otherwise subdued in the midst of their winter hues.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

After my first successful round of baking (a banana, date and walnut cake which I’m sure will feature here one day), I was feeling more consoled but still in need of the therapeutic benefits of baking.

Inspired by the vivid tangelos sitting on the kitchen table, I used them as a substitute in the classic combination of almond meal and orange.

Tangelos provide a very similar flavour but have a nice, restrained ‘tang’ that distinguishes them from their orange cousins – ideal for balancing sweetness.

The almond meal retains the moisture of the fruit juice, resulting in an almost pudding-like cake. 

You can serve it warm, straight from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone – or let it cool and save slices for a rainy day, when in need of some sunshine and satisfying cheer.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

flourless tangelo & almond cake


120g butter

3 cups almond meal
juice of 2 tangelos
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
4 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

tangelo syrup
juice of 1 tangelo
¼ cup castor sugar


Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a loaf pan with greaseproof paper.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until creamy and light.

Reduce the mixer speed to slow and carefully add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until the mixture is fully incorporated.

 Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the plain yogurt and add to the butter mixture, along with the citrus juices, vanilla extract and scraped vanilla seeds.

Beat on a slow speed to ensure all ingredients are combined.

Finally, using a spatula, gently fold through the almond meal so that you end up with an even, wet batter.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean.

flourless tangelo & almond cake | table twenty eight

Set aside to cool whilst preparing the tangelo syrup.

Place the citrus juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble.

Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the syrup has reduced and become viscous.

Pour the syrup over the cake whilst still warm and allow it to soak into the cake before slicing.


slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde

slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde | table twenty eight

:: If pesto is a indulgent, luxurious Roman aristocrat then salsa verde is its vibrant Mediterranean coastal cousin.

With its punchy, acidic flavours of lemon, capers and herbs, it pairs wonderfully with any type of seafood.

But one union I hadn’t previously considered was using it to give some lighter, fresher notes to hearty winter dishes.

slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde | table twenty eight

Slow-cooked casseroles are wonderful in their own right, served with mash potato or pasta or hunks of crusty bread for the ultimate satisfying tummy-filler.

But I highly suggest giving tradition an interesting new twist with a few dollops of this vibrant sauce.

This was the first time I’ve cooked beef cheeks and to be honest, they really aren’t the most attractive cuts of meat. I was rather taken aback at their appearance and how determinedly tough they were to trim.

But pour over some velvety cabernet merlot and leave them for a few hours in the oven – well, let’s just say that magic happens

slow-braised beef cheeks with salsa verde 006

slow-braised beef cheeks
with salsa verde

adapted from ‘delicious. more please’ by valli little


750ml bottle of red wine

6 beef cheeks, trimmed
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1L good quality beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
olive oil

salsa verde
1 thick slice of white bread, crusts removed
½ cup olive oil
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 handful basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed

to serve
creamy mash potato or wet polenta


Preheat your oven to 170°C.

Place the wine in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until reduced by half.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over medium-high heat.

Dust the beef cheeks in the seasoned flour. The easiest way to do this is to place the flour in a plastic bag (first make sure there are no holes in the bottom!), pop in the beef cheeks and give the whole thing a good shake to make sure the meat is evenly coated.

In batches, brown the beef cheeks for a couple of minutes each side on each side until sealed, adding a little more oil in between if necessary. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until soft.

Stir in the garlic and return the browned beef cheeks to the pan.

Add the reduced wine, beef stock and bay leaves. The meat should be completely covered with liquid, so top up with water if necessary.

Cover and cook in the oven for at least two and half hours or until the beef is meltingly tender.

Meanwhile for the salsa verde, break the bread into chunks and drizzle with olive oil.

Mix with your hands so that the oil is absorbed and then place with the remaining olive oil and sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor.

Blend to a paste and taste to check the flavour balance. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with more lemon juice and olive oil.

Set aside until ready to serve.

Once the meat is cooked and completely tender, carefully remove the cheeks and place on a plate, covering with foil to keep them warm.

Place the casserole over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and season if necessary.

Serve the beef cheeks over a bed of mashed potato, ladle generously with the cooking sauce and dollop with salsa verde.


making gnocchi at c restaurant

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

:: Two weeks ago, I was very privileged to be asked into the kitchen of C Restaurant to observe the making of what is arguably their famous dish – gnocchi with napolitana sauce, gorgonzola and spinach cream.

C Restaurant is located on the top floor of St Martin’s Tower in Perth’s CBD and is the city’s singular revolving restaurant, offering a 360° panorama of Perth and the Swan River.

Although challenged to keep up with the dramatic transformation of the city’s dining scene during the past couple of years and compete with the vast number of new bars and eateries popping up, C Restaurant remains a polished venue offering some of the best value fine dining in Perth.

c restaurant, st martin's tower in perth | table twenty eight

Long time followers may remember my efforts to replicate C’s signature dish a couple of years ago; a homage to its gnocchi which is served atop a bed of rich tomato sugo, covered in gorgonzola and spinach cream and a sprinkling of parmesan, then broiled under the grill until golden brown and molten.  Absolutely delicious…

So when Head Chef, Frantisek (Fero) Ilizi, invited me into the restaurant’s kitchen to watch the creation of such a favourite, I was most appreciative and eager to take him up on the offer.

A huge thank you to Fero and the C Restaurant team for such a unique opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes of a commercial kitchen.

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

To make the several kilos of gnocchi required each day, a mountain of potatoes are boiled, peeled whilst still warm and then passed through a moulie.

The finely mashed potato is turned out on a large surface and seasoned with nutmeg, white pepper and parmesan, before the binding agents of flour and egg yolks are added.

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

The dough is brought together with care.  Fero’s key tip here is to do so very gently and avoiding over-kneading the mixture, in order for the consistency remain as light as possible.

The dough is then divided and rolled into logs, before being chopped into the distinctive diamond-shaped gnocchi.

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

The trays of gnocchi are tipped into vats of boiling, salted water and cooked until the individual pieces float to the surface.

Once removed and drained, they are sautéed in a hot pan until glossy and caramelised at the edges.

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight

Cream and gorgonzola are added to the pan and heated through until foaming, before adding handfuls of fresh spinach.

When ready to serve, a layer of thick napolitana sauce is ladled into the base of a shallow bowl, gnocchi placed on top and the gorgonzola cream poured over.

After a final sprinkling of parmesan, the bowl is placed under a hot grill to develop a lovely cheesy crust and the final touch is a garnish of sundried tomatoes.

making c restaurant's gnocchi | table twenty eight


leek & feta tart

leek & feta tart | table twenty eight

:: Today gave us a perfect, bright winter afternoon – clear and crisp and full of light.

This morning, however, was an entirely different day.

A morning for staying in bed, surrounded by a comforting white fort of duvet and cushions, bedroom curtains open to reveal the grey, rain-drenched world outside, a hot cup of tea steaming on the bedside table and a great novel to while away the hours.

A morning for enjoying all those comforts of winter I hold dear, including those tastiest of morsels borne by my oven.

leek & feta tart | table twenty eight

This lovely savoury tart, though rich and warming in nature, is deceptively light with its crisp, airy layers of golden flaky pastry.

I used goat’s feta, as its distinct acid tang marries so well with the sweet leeks but you could of course use cow’s feta in its place.

leek & feta tart | table twenty eight

leek & feta tart


4 leeks, leaves removed, white and pale green stems reserved

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tsp castor sugar
pinch white pepper
300ml pouring cream
100g goat’s feta (or cow’s feta, if preferred)
3 eggs
6 sheets filo pastry
⅓ cup olive oil, for brushing
sea salt


Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Ensure the leeks are rinsed well to remove any dirt or grit, then halve and thinly slice.

Heat a hearty glug of olive oil in a medium saucepan on low.

Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then add the leek slices and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until beginning to soften.

Add the sugar and a pinch of white pepper, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid, stir well and taste to see if the leeks need any seasoning adjustment. Be careful not to over-salt, as the feta will provide the bulk of salt to the dish.

Simmer for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, until most of the vegetable liquid has evaporated.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

leek & feta tart | table twenty eight

Meanwhile, prepare the filo pastry on a cool, dry surface.

Brush one sheet of filo gently with olive oil and place another sheet on top, continuing to layer the remaining pastry and olive oil.

Line a high-sided tart pan with the filo layers, pushing snugly into the pan grooves and trimming the pastry as needed.

Lightly whisk the eggs and cream together and add to the cooled leeks. Crumble in the goat’s feta and whisk thoroughly to combine all the ingredients.

Pour into the filo pastry case and bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden and the centre cooked but still with a distinct wobble.

Serve hot or cold with a side of greens.


jewish chicken dumplings

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

 :: Most people have a much loved dish that makes an appearance during their birthday celebrations, whether it be homemade from the family kitchen, or a decadent meal served at a favourite restaurant.

When my brother was young, he always used to request Hungry Jacks (the Australian Burger King equivalent) for his birthday dinner.

While this might have been interpreted as an insult to our mother’s cooking repertoire, it was only because the number of times we had take-away each year was so few that greasy fries and burgers were a wildly exciting treat.

Luckily, working at Hungry Jacks for four years during high school brought an end to fast-food drought and now it’s usually Mum’s roast chicken that graces the table for his birthday dinner.

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

As for me, I never had a textbook answer because I find it near on impossible to name a favourite dish. Perhaps if I had a whole week of birthday dinners, it might be slightly easier to decide…

But this year when asked for my birthday dinner request, the first thing I thought of was a bowl of these hearty, wholesome chicken dumplings.

Wonderfully fragrant with notes of cinnamon and white pepper, it’s one of the most comforting meals I know and warming from the inside out.

Certainly a worthy birthday dinner nominee!

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

jewish chicken dumplings


dumplings

4 chicken breasts, minced
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg

sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced and blanched
400g can chopped tomatoes
sea salt
olive oil


Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic over low heat until softened.

Add the celery pieces and continue to fry gently for several minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.

Season with sea salt, cover and let simmer on very low while you prepare the dumplings.

jewish chicken dumplings | table twenty eight

In a large bowl, whisk the egg with white pepper and cinnamon. Add the breadcrumbs and minced chicken, mixing well to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Mould into walnut-sized dumplings and carefully place into the simmering tomato sauce.

Cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked all the way through.

Serve steaming hot, over wholegrain or risotto-style rice.


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