Paul’s Caul – Bexhill catch-ups and a cracking roasted cauliflower, chorizo and black pudding salad

cauliflower, chickpea, chorizo salad
Bexhill catch-ups 2016

For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for over 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. Paul – Paul’s Caul

Nothing much excites me as much as a good old fashioned cook up, add to this equation one of my best mates and his awesome family a location in the majestic hinterlands of NSW, and what you have is a formula for some effing good times. So with many weeks of anticipation building and dreams of roasting pork on an open fire pit whilst laughing so hard your cheeks hurt (not in a keep dropping the soap kinda way). The day finally arrived for Lauren and I to visit the Stockdale’s in Bexhill and we were rife with excitement. What’s more we weren’t alone in this feeling, word had gotten to me via many forms of modern tech that the Stockdale’s had some come down with a bad case of happiness anticipation, only known cure was a full dose of us.

We arrived at ‘Bangalow Bowlo’, home of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ thanks to lift from Lauren’s brother in law Marty, and after a awkward start of me introducing myself to a complete stranger thinking he was someone of importance in the Bowlo (he was literally a nobody) I spotted a large bearded man discussing a large hole that had just been dug. Now the scene did make me think of numerous gangster movies where all we needed was some lime and a few dead bodies, but with that aside I realised said bearded man was in fact my dear friend ‘G-bags Mcfilthy Mouth’ and the hole was soon to be a new fire pit with spit. It goes without saying that the following embrace and greetings all round were nothing short of magical. Graeme gave a brief tour of his kitchen and we headed off to see his beautiful wife Jen, she was playing soccer so we picked up his boys Seba and obi, before heading back to their home to kick off festivities.

Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea... especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim
Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea… especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim

Let me clarify exactly what festivities means on this particular occasion, for us it always seems to start by hitting up the bottle shop, Graeme’s drink of choice was a carton of Coopers ale and for us it was a bottle of gin. Next it doesn’t matter what you have planned as all that will ever happen is we get really drunk, laugh heaps, eat heaps and somehow (and we literally have no idea how this happens) cook dinner. The day panned out exactly like that finishing with a mouth watering piece of Pork belly accompanied by green papaya salad and some BBQ’ed prawns for good measure.

What makes meals at Casa Stockdale always exponentially better than your average cook up is the wealth of produce produced right there, whether it be from their papaya tree or herbs from garden or pig meat from their local farmer. It truly is a chef’s playground and boy do I like to play in this place, Graeme seems to always bring out the best in me, we wax lyrically about food and before you know it we are conjuring ideas in our heads that excites the bejusus out of us. We scurry off to the shops to source what’s needed in said creations, whilst never loosing sight of the alcohol that is required in such a process.

Nam jim cam
Nam jim cam

Day two kicks off with breakfast out at a new fancy Eco resort in Byron Bay, and quite frankly it was exactly like any other breakfast in fancy Eco resort (or as I like to say Ego resort) anywhere in the world, but the company was banging and the coffee was good so never a bad start to a day. Whilst driving home doughnuts some how appeared in a bag in our hands, then as quickly as they appeared they mysteriously vanished, leaving nothing but a cheeky smile on Laurens face as evidence that this did just happen. It was most likely the guilt of this occurrence that spurred on the idea of going for a quick run before the day once again got away from us. Unfortunately this run did nothing other than turn my ankle into an orb so large it had its own gravity, so all of a sudden I was out of action and had to call upon my sous chef extraordinaire… Lauren ’got mad prep skills’ Alley.

With a vantage point on the veranda and well lubricated by alcohol mixed with painkillers I instructed my sous chef step by step how to create a salad worthy of the Stockdale’s table. This couldn’t be any normal salad I felt it needed balls. If in fact it were a human it wouldn’t just have balls it would most likely have a big fuck moustache and cut wood down with its bare hands all whilst smelling like oak and freshly cut grass. Layers is what we needed, components and layers, flavour building bricks so impressive it would house all three little pigs and that hungry wolf would have to find another avenue to appease his swine cravings.

Lauren's mis en place was more like mis en place plus
Lauren’s mis en place was more like mis en place plus

Lauren’s prepping over the next few hours was nothing short of impeccable, never missed a beat and when I saw how neat her prep station was at the end I nearly cried. Everything cauliflower floret perfectly cut and cooked, black pudding blended and fried until it looked like crispy black gold dust, ginger yoghurt seasoned with a chef’s touch and all this whilst making me Gin and tonics every 40 minutes. If I hadn’t already proposed to this amazing lady, this day was enough to get me over the edge, in fact I should of proposed by asking her to be my sous chef in life, but alas I missed out on perhaps the corniest thing I could possibly of said. But lets face it we all know there will be many more ridiculous things I will say to this very special lady, so no point worrying about lost moments in time, back to layering of metaphorical flavour bricks.

This particular salad was a great example of my theory of what makes a good dish, basically because every one of the numerous ingredients was treated differently. If you were to grab all of the ingredients and toss in some oil, season and roast then whack in a bowl with some yoghurt and ginger, I’m sure it would of tasted nice… Nice! Who the fuck is happy with nice? Not me that’s for sure and certainly not while cooking at Casa Stockdale… nice is a jumper you get for Christmas, nice is someone letting in a lane whilst driving, nice is having enough water left in a kettle to make a cuppa… I hope with all of my heart that nice is not a word used to describe my food.

Black pudding getting the love it deserves
Black pudding getting the love it deserves

So when trying to achieve food better than nice a little respect for the produce is all that’s needed, I want you to think about exciting the produce, making it happy to give its life for a cause of such magnitude that they literally jump into the pot kamikaze style. Ask your Spanish onion out on a date and whilst you gaze into his eyes chop him up and whack him in a pickling liquid and don’t just use vinegar and sugar like some sort of pickling gypsy with the imagination of a blind mole with no legs. Fill the pickling liquid with many flavours as only remnants of this flavour every make it to people mouths, the love you put in is for the onion (or whatever you are pickling) if the onion is happy, this happiness will rub off on other ingredients and people can taste happiness… this is a fact!

Food is a lot like people, if you treat everyone the same and never see people for what they are and what they are best for, then you will not get the best from people. Same with food, yes I want to roast both cauliflower and chickpeas but they will not roast together evenly and I reckon the cauliflower will pick on the chickpeas not allowing them crisp to their full potential. So I separate them like naughty school kids and low and behold they behave. Then I come to wanting to add some sausage to this many-layered beast, and I look at the chorizo and black pudding that I have plucked from the depths of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ cool room and I think to my self I want your flavour but don’t really want massive chunks of sausage kicking back in the salad. As the black pudding had already been smoked in ‘Thomas the meat engine” I decided to blend it up into a chunky crumb and fry it until crispy, and the chorizo was raw so we removed the skin and rolled into small meatballs and fried also… this is a huge part of my dish creation process, changing produces size and shape changes its flavour and ways you can incorporate it into dishes.

So we have now wined and dined our produce and basically showed them all a great time on their last day on this sweet earth, so its now time for them to shine in the final hoorah… Lauren now only had to build the beast and with 10 plus delicious ingredients this was extremely easy, like everything she touched this day it turned to gold and her job had come to an end. Graeme in the meantime had been busy roasting ribs on the fire pit along with potatoes, carrots and onions… but don’t for a second think you can even imagine how good these vegetables tasted after being roasted in foil on the ashes, they rose like the proverbial phoenix onto the table freshly drizzled with olive oil, salt and many herbs.

Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times
Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times

So the table was set, by whom I have no idea as by now I was completely off my tits, thanks to my consumption of many different painkilling remedies. By now our good friend and word witch Gitana had joined the festivities, so we sat and gazed at the wonders that lay before us and regaled each other with the highs and lows of the day just gone. I couldn’t help but think how god damn lucky we are to be able to share the love of food with people that mean so much to us. Supposedly that beautiful notion was all in my head, as I was so far gone I just sat there and spoke gibberish whilst swearing heaps in front of the kids. But I like to think that it’s all about what you recall the next day more than what actually happens that counts.

Day three was the day Lauren and I got to finally eat at ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ and my god was it worth the wait. Not one thing we tried was anything but amazing, flavours that pack a punch and combinations chefs can only dream of creating. Graeme’s love for food has been an incredible journey that I have had the privilege of watching happen, but sitting in his and Jen’s restaurant that night made me as happy as I can remember being. Thank you brother for your continued inspiration and friendship.

Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash
Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash

CAULIFLOWER, CHORIZO & BLACK PUDDING SALAD

I’ve explained this salad in the many layers used to build it… nothing is hard to do so I’ve left the explanation simple ☺

Basically get all of this ready and build in the order below.

• Ginger yoghurt- grated a little ginger into yoghurt and season

• Rocket

• Beetroot dressed with pickled onions (explanation underneath)

• Black pudding, crumbled and fried

• Chorizo balled and fried

• Brussel leaves blanched and refreshed ice-cold water.

• Cauliflower florets, olive oil, salt, baked in the oven until crispy

• Chickpeas drained, washed with oil, salt, curry powder, Gary my sailor, baked for longer until crispy

• Shaved fennel, half lemon and generous pinch salt

• Spring onion & coriander fresh & chopped.

*Pickled onions – apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, love, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried chilli or flakes. Few hours.

*Beetroots – Rosemary, garlic, orange simmer until tender. Skinned. Cut into halves & 4-6 wedges each half.

*ADD PICKLED ONION TO BEETS TO DRESS BEFORE ADDING TO FINAL SALAD.

This is Jelly the dog
This is Jelly the dog

The Black Sheep Espresso Baa, Cooly… not just a bunch of random words

black sheep espresso baa
The Black Sheep Espresso Baa…

This place is a little hole-in-the-wall type set up, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little hobbit nook, sans Saruman, Lord of Isengard, which works for me as I am not eating breakfast in the company of that nasty prick, no thank you.

My kids in the shoe box
My kids in the shoe box

You walk into this little shoe box café expecting to see myriad of little elves working away, toiling over a hot grill to get you your meal, and some how negotiating their way around a coffee machine with some kind of little step ladder arrangement so they can reach the knobs and things so you may have some coffee, too. But then when you do actually wander up to the counter there are full sized, human type characters. There was actually 5 or 6 of them, all working away in a kitchen the size of a small garden shed, or possibly a large TV cabinet and I kid you not, they were all really happy about it too. Staff were singing and being nice and just showing many tell-tale signs of being really happy about their situation.

One of those happy people took our order and then another one of them made us some coffee and I’m pretty sure another one or two of them cooked our breakfast but I didn’t really notice, all the while I was sitting down and using every ounce of my energy trying not to obviously stare in absolute awe of how acceptable it seems to be to wear budgie smugglers into and around the Coolangattata café strip…

Tasty things
Tasty things

We ordered some more coffee. They were doing a good thing with their Toby’s Estate coffee so it seemed like the common sense thing to do.

The kids AKA the pack of ravenous lions, decided they would like to share the “Board for 2” ($39) which stated in its menu description that the staff cannot tell you what exactly is on it because they don’t have that sort of time to spare.

This is the menu pic
This is the menu pic

So the “Board for 2” came out carried only by one person which came as quite the surprise as I was expecting 4 large, scantily clad men in sandles… or a goat cart at the very least. Preconceptions can truly be a bitch, right? Anyway, this thing did have everything. It was like Christmas lunch at Gina Rinehart’s pad… minus the private doctors to keep an eye out for heart attack. It was off the fricking hook displayed in wooden board form; eggs, bacon, house made sausages, lamb bacon, spicy beefy beans, corn fritters, mushrooms, roast tomato, pumpkin and beetroot, condiments and toast. It was impressive… like, Andre the Giant impressive.
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom

I had the “Sir-Tory” ($16.5) for myself. The quirky little name they had conjured up for this dish, as with most of the other quirky little monikers they had come up with for their menu items, meant absolutely nothing to me. But that was A-OK because I love it when peeps can have a bit of a chuckle at themselves and what they’re doing… AS LONG AS THEY CAN STILL COME THROUGH WITH THE PRODUCT… which these folks truly did. Slow cooked beef cheek in beer and tomato sauce mixed with grumble beans (once again, no idea what they were on about but I was more than happy to eat them) and then served with poached eggs and chilli jam.

“My kind of breakfast” should be enough information to some that one up. The addition of “very effing happy” should leave no doubt in the minds of the more simple folk amongst us.

By the time we were leaving the happy that was oozing from this place had well an truly infected us so off we went to skip with unicorns and smile at rainbows and shit.

You can find the Black Sheep Espresso Baa here.
black sheep espresso baa

Some places to eat tasty food between Tweed Heads and the Goldcoast

Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put's a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time
Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put’s a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time

Last trip I made to Tweed Heads I pulled into the hospital and left the following day sans tonsils, appetite and with not so much as a good-bye peck on the cheek…

Bitch hospital and it’s quackish, prudish medicine men.

This trip was reserved for venturing up and down the coast between the Goldy (Goldcoast) and Tweed Heads with the sole purpose of eating all of the food with my diary totally clear of visits to the witch doctor and nary a throat sawing quack in sight.

Although a very beautiful piece of coastline it is (getting my Yoda on here) someone back in the day made a pretty big fuck up when they decided that they would slap the NSW/Queensland boarder smack bang in the middle of the place. Like Tweed Heads is here (literally here) and Coolangatta is there (once again literally). That is how far the two cities are apart. Yes it is a city and state boarder.
“That shouldn’t be an issue Graz”, I hear you say. “You’re really starting to get a bit whingy as you get older, mate.”
“Yeah and a little smellier, too.”
“Yeah and I don’t think he’s got much of a grip anymore.”
“I’ll tell you what he does have a good grip on though, his fricking c… o…”

Back to that pretty big fuck up; NSW and Queensland are on two different time zones for the 6 months of the year that daylight savings is in effect. Starting to get my gist yet? Picking up what I’m putting down, homeboy? In Tweed it’s 4:19pm and two steps away in Coolangatta it’s 3:19pm… it’s a fricking head-fuck I call tell you… trying to work out which state you’re in… I have enough trouble just trying to stay sober.

Now, we do have a few favourites up this way but this trip we made a conscious effort to stay far from our comfort zone, remove ourselves from the warm bosom of our mothers and basically just get the fuck into someone else’s place for a change of scene. The Byron-esque nature of the come-and-go restaurant scene and the ever-ready construction teams of city expansion and glorification up here truly lend themselves to a fresh experience and the customer having the opportunity to sample something new on a regular basis.

Dick yes. This was our jam!

But, first up it was time for a haircut and a beard trim – my first for the year… or maybe a year. Normally my shaggy dog looking head is something I really care very little about (FYI, one doesn’t win three “best in show ribbons” in the shaggy dog division by trimming ones shaggy dog look) but all of the hair dressers in this place, I swear to god, and they were moving in on our hotel under the cover of darkness. It was a pincer movement and a damn fine pincer movement at that. I was starting to feel more than just a little self-conscious.

In scenes not dis-similar to the shaving of Brendan Frazer in “Encino Man” or Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, or any other wookie-gets-shaved type scene from an outdated movie, suddenly I was cleansed… I was one of them… I would be pulled close to the bare, lactating breast of society once again… and fuck me I would breast-feed in public!

*How is it that, through the wonder that is the interweb super highway, I could tell millions of people about how we could make the world a better place, or share a beautiful poem or send random messages of kindness and love but instead I’m here telling fourteen people and a small dachshund about the day I got a haircut. Dear good lord*

Our regular couple o’ favourites are (in no particular order except JRs Smokehouse Barbecue is at the top because it’s my favourite);
JRs Smokehouse Barbecue
Lester and Earl
The Blacksheep Esspresso Baa
And we’ll always try in vain for a decent meal a few of the cut -from-the-same-mould, predictably shit-can restaurants from the Shit Restaurant Co. (producers of many quality dodgy restaurant strips and concepts in many popular tourist destinations. I think you would have come across their work some where on your travels)

But, as I mentioned earlier, we were on the search for something new and more importantly, quality. Here’s what we found/were pointed in the direction of by local intel;

Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder

Griffith Street Larder
• Great coffee, check
• Perfectly poached eggs, check
• Kickass sandwiches and salad bowls available at breakfast, check

Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Jamin' a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Jamin’ a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice... just like I imagined it would taste
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice… just like I imagined it would taste

Jamroc
• Boondocks shopping center car park setting, check
• Moist and delicious grilled chicken and goat curry, check
• Heaps of hot sauce for the table, check
• Feed the family for a 50 bag of the finest Jamaican “green backs”, check

Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices

Poboy Cajun and Creole
• Cheap Creole and Cajun cooking, check
• Massive serves, check
• And insight as to why America is on the obesity-diabetic radar, check

Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty's Burgers
Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty’s Burgers
Simple and delicious
Simple and delicious

Betty’s Burgers
• Tasty burgers and sides that don’t cost your left arm, check
• Fast service, check
• A recipe that many other gourmet burger bars could learn a thing or two from, check

A pretty little sign and shit
A pretty little sign and shit
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best

Paddock Bakery
• Massive wood fired oven and baking area enclosed with glass so it kinda like Seaworld and you can watch all of the orcas err, bakers and chefs at play… or work, check
• Great breads, pastries and breakfast in general, check
• Awesome little mythical country setting that quite probably actually has a waterfall that flows sweet, sweet lemonade, one street back from Goldcoast Highway, check

Burgster
• Closed Monday, check
• Sad face, check
• I will be back, check (Burgster was very high on my list, so you can imagine if you dare my disappointment when I was sussing their Facey page only to realise it had those dreaded words “closed today’. I almost had a tear but held it back enough for me to put it down to a high pollen count and me being a weak breed in general. It’s Monday – I know heaps of places do it (heck, I own a restaurant and even that bad boy is closed Monday), I do not hold that against anyone I was just real keen to give it a bash… next time for sure.)

• Weird checking of ones self, check

Go to these places and let your face enjoy the good times!

Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy

IMG_5888
This was one of those dinners I set out to cook with a recipe. Yes that is correct, a recipe. Yes, even chefs use recipes believe me, but read on and you will see, as is often place in my kitchen, the whole thing can stray quickly and massively off course.

So one ingredient that was definitely happening tonight was chicken… and Jennee was really keen on cauli-cous (the blitzed faux rice or cous-cous substitute for peeps who don’t like the grain, and maybe for those amongst us who love the cauli)… and this was leading me very quickly to cooking a recipe of Middle Eastern origins.

I flicked through a few books by Greg Malouf, Yotam Ottolenghi and some other inspiring dojos of Middle Eastern cookery and found a chicken tagine recipe that was going to sort me out. I had the chicken and a few other ingredients in front of me and then bam, that’s where shit went pear shaped. One second I’m making a chicken tagine with really herby and lemony cauli-cous, next second it is chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and lemon and orange gravy.

No explanation – just happened. And let me tell you it’s happened before and I dare say it will happen again… damn aliens and their anal probes… um… I mean damn mind and it’s lack of ability to cognitively convey to me what the fuck it is doing.

Anyway, this is what I cooked. I’m going to call it Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy.

Hell of a story, I know.

I call this one "the indecision of a child of the modern world"
I call this one “the indecision of a child of the modern world”

Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub... chicken loves a good spicy rub
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub… chicken loves a good spicy rub
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter

Someone fill that glass would they
Someone fill that glass would they

MIDDLE EASTERN INSPIRED CHICKEN WITH GARLIC & SPICES, & CITRUS GRAVY (serves 4)

The citrus gravy was the winner on this day. It may strike you as being a little weird but heck, I think you’re a little weird and I don’t go on about it all day so maybe you should just give the citrus gravy a try.

1 whole chook (1.6-1.8kg), quartered, or 4 chicken marylands. Make it free-range ay
8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon each black peppercorns and sea salt
5 bay leaves
1 long red or green chilli, sliced
2 lemons, juiced
1 orange, juiced
Kipfler potatoes roasted with olives and tomato, and herby lemony cauli-cous (recipe below) to serve

• Smash garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper and a splash of oil together with a mortar and pestle to form a rough paste. A really rough paste. A paste that is as rough as the 42 year old “lady” at the club who is still trawling the floor when the lights come on at 3am
• Place the chicken pieces into a baking dish and rub with garlic mix. Add the bay leaves to the tray
• Place into a pre heated 180-190C oven and cook for 20 minutes
• Baste with citrus juice and add chilli. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked – you can pretty easily check by cutting into a piece of chicken at the joint. Do it on the under side to keep it discreet
• Pour the juice into a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat until slightly thickened and sexy looking. Check seasoning
• Serve chicken with cauli-cous, potatoes and citrus gravy, garnished with reserved herbs and you know what? Scatter a few edible flowers around the plate too, if you have some. Half a flower garden as a garnish seems to be the trend these days… and maybe a small outdoor setting and a fishpond with a few gold fish just to complete the picture…

The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it
The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it

Herby, lemony cauli-cous
Herby, lemony cauli-cous

REALLY HERBY & LEMONY CAULI-COUS

3-4 cups cauliflower florets (from ½ large cauliflower)
½ red onion, diced finely
1 lemon, zested
2 big handfuls of mixed herbs (parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, thyme), chopped
½ cup each pistachios and almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Seasoning

• In 2 batches pulse cauliflower florets in food processer. Pulse is the operative word here as you do not want to let the blades of your choppy choppy mixy machine loose on the cauliflower as that is going to end in a cauliflower mush and quite probably tears. Pulse it a few time to achieve a coarse texture and everyone’s going to be happy
• Combine all ingredients except herbs
• Heat a splash of oil in a wok or large pan over a high heat. Add cauliflower mix and toss/stir for a minute or two
• Toss through most of the herbs, reserving a small handful for garnishing purposes, and check seasoning
• Serve with the chicken and potatoes that you just cooked too

Get into it
Get into it

NB that cauli-cous is also cracking with a nice piece of lamb, yoghurt and tahini dressing, and some fresh pomegranate

Chicken and Prawn Pad Thai Noodles for your New Years Resolution

chicken and prawn pad thai noodles
If making Pad Thai was your New Years resolution then this is a story for you… read on my friend, read on.

It’s time to say goodbye to 2015; the old suit, last years fashion and the out of date milk… or maybe just plain old out of date, and hello to 2016; the new puppy dog, the fresh threads, the shiny new car and the virgin princess.

That’s right, the New Year has welcomed it’s own self into our lives like a cheeky little gypsy squatter. Yep, 2016 is here and it is here to stay. Now is probably also a good time to bring to point out that it’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life… or at least the next 365 days…

I know it is customary in these times we live in, to make a resolution of some description. You probably want to better yourself and just make yourself a nicer person to be around and I think that is kinda reasonable because let’s face it, you are a bit of a dick but I’m sure with a good positive attitude and the help of the New Years Resolution Gods you can overcome this little hurdle and push on to become a more bearable human being.

Me on the other hand, I’m not really bothered with that whole resolution thing. Too worried about failing at this shit one more year so just staying well away from the whole thing… Well, maybe that’s a bit of a lie (bare with me here). Not more than two weeks ago my brother Matt did send my a pic of a classic Thai noodle dish called Pad Thai that he had made for his dinner. The pic made me want Pad Thai… I could taste it and I knew that with my self judged pro rank at making this aforementioned dish, it was something that I would need to cook for myself (and possibly 14 other people because, like it’s Italian cousin the pasta, this is one of those dishes that I always cook a heap too much of… the neighbours don’t seem to mind though).

Right there and then I decided that I would make Pad Thai on New Years Day. That was my New Years resolution and I was going to try my darndest to stick to it and it was indeed a resolution that was swiftly and efficiently fulfilled.

New Years Day dinner equaled a big fat wok full of prawn and chicken Pad Thai with chilli jam, some soy and garlic greens and Thai-esque coleslaw. I am fucking ruling at 2016 already. Bring on the rest of the year!

Prawn and chicken-y goodness
Prawn and chicken-y goodness

Those garlic and soy greens
Those garlic and soy greens
That Thai style 'slaw
That Thai style ‘slaw
Those Pad Thai noodles
Those Pad Thai noodles

And a close up of those same noodles
And a close up of those same noodles

PAD THAI (serves at least 6 as part of a banquette)

Some dried flat rice noodles (however many you reckon because let’s face it; it really doesn’t effing matter how much you soak because it’s always going to be enough to feed a medium to large Thai village anyways), soaked in warm water until just cooked but still a little firm in the middle AKA al dente. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh rice noodles with-in your grasp, you go ahead and use them
10 large king prawns or possibly lobster (if the extra cash in your pockets is weighing your pants down and you’re starting to look a little too much like a 90s homeboy) peeled, de-veined and chopped into 2-3 pieces
300-400g chicken thigh (for me) or breast (for other people), chopped into small bite sized pieces. It is also totally feasible to use the left over roast chicken from last night, which is what I did actually do
2 tablespoons each salted radish (chopped) and dried shrimp
4 eggs
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
Bean shoots, coriander, crisp eshallots and roasted peanuts
Lime, fish sauce and chilli jam (a recipe will follow in the coming days/weeks) to serve

• Get your wok hot. I mean hot. Like the super model crisping up in the midday sun sans Evian hot. Add a splash of oil and then crack the eggs in and scramble them really fast. Once they are cooked put them on a plate and set aside
• Add a little more oil and let the wok heat up again. Add the prawns, chicken, salted radish and shrimp and fry for 1 minute
• Add the noodles and egg and stir fry for another minute
• Now add most of the Pad Thai sauce (reserve a little to adjust seasoning at the end if necessary), a handful of coriander and bean shoots, and a few garlic chives, crisp eshallots and peanuts. Toss
• It is now one minute later and your Pad Thai is ready
• Check seasoning and adjust with reserved Pad Thai sauce if necessary
• Serve garnished with extra garlic chives, bean shoots, coriander, eshallots, peanuts and heaps of lime for squeezy tang
• Good work

Pad Thai Sauce

¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup tamarind puree
½ cup grated light palm sugar
• Whack it all in a jar and shake it up until the palm sugar is dissolved

That’s it; Pad Thai like a boss. Stay tuned for our foodisthebestshitever Easter food ideas real soon… only three months ahead of time – just like the supermarkets!
chicken and prawn pad thai noodles

Stuffing a bird…

bacon and cranberry christmas stuffing
Are you sorted for Christmas? Or are you one of the peeps who starts their Christmas hustle now? Nothing like a good Christmas Eve scurry to really get those ventricles moving in the morning, eh. You hit the local shopping square (AKA hell) and quickly notice the musty aroma of anxiety and defeat fills the room, illuminated by the deadly fluorescent lights, each one powered by a million trapped Christmas fairies, as you fight for possession of the last toy that wasn’t even cool when it was released 2 years ago. But you gotta go home with something right? Right?

I’m sure it’s not that bad… or maybe it is.

Maybe just grab a bird.

Sometimes, when you bring a bird home, don’t you just want to stuff her juicy crevice and possibly even rub her breasts with oil so they glisten in the kitchen light… yeah I said kitchen light… yeah I’m talking about stuffing your favourite bird this Christmas. What did you think I was talking about? Man, I really don’t get you guys sometimes…

This is a simple stuffing, it’s got like 6 ingredients or something similar, and it is also very tasty too – something I generally consider to be pretty important with food… tastiness and simplicity.

It is a stuffing for your chicken, duck, goose, quail, guinea fowl, emu, snake or heaven forbid, turkey. As I have said previously I am not a fan of turkey. In fact, if turkey was playing a game of sport against my children I feel I may heckle it as it approached the sports field a la one of those over-competitive, angry parents who every one just stares at because they are just being a total dick… that’s what turkey might do to me… like jokes about disabled people or ethnic minorities, I just find them to be totally tasteless. Unlike this stuffing which I find to be full of taste, jam packed with taste if you will and it has a texture that is really different to that of soggy cardboard, so in summary I guess I could simply say that this stuffing is totally different to commercial stuffing packet mixes.

It is good.

Give it a bash.

Make some fresh bread crumbs... it's pretty easy
Make some fresh bread crumbs… it’s pretty easy
Mix it all up
Mix it all up
Stuff it in there. Like, really stuff it in there
Stuff it in there. Like, really stuff it in there
Sexy, juicy, happy times
Sexy, juicy, happy times

CHRISTMAS STUFFING WITH BACON AND CRANBERRIES

2 cups fresh bread crumbs… sour dough or ciabatta is great
2-3 rashers bacon, sliced
½ onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, crushed
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (a good pinch of dried thyme will do the trick, but the fresh stuff works better I reckon)
½ cup dried cranberries
a splash of white wine (just enough to moisten the stuffing)
salt and pepper

• Sauté bacon, onions and garlic until soft
• Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
• Stuff it into something that deserves it
• Have a great Christmas
• Remember we love you x