Grilled seafood with garlicky butter sauce while the kids are away

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A simple, three-step recipe for a damn fine night with your one and only while the children are absent on school camp.

1. Ship the children off to school camp. It is important to remember that this involves more than just sending your offspring to their place of learning (yes, that’s questionable but we’ll get back to that gripping social commentary at a later date) and leaving them with a packed bag and no intention of returning to pick them up. In fact, you can get into a lot of trouble for that type of behavior. You will need the school that your children are attending to host a student camp and take those little cherubs off of your hands, and you need them to be gone for a few nights at the very least.

2. Once the children have stepped out of the car and the doors have been closed behind them it is time to head straight down to your local purveyors of home entertainment goods, quality seafood and booze and, in that order, get yourself a new home entertainment system – something big… and in colour… and with wireless remote control. Yeah, we’re going all out on this one (or maybe you already have one of these and this step can be omitted), get a pile of fresh seafood – we chose prawns (shrimp), scallops, ocean trout and oysters, and defo get some quality booze of some kind – some ingredients for a mojito plus a decent bubbly for later was a pretty good call methinks.

3. Drink some booze and cook that seafood and serve it with garlicky butter as per following recipe. Pretty simple huh…

Outstanding prep to flavour ratio right there

Get it going on

Seafood, butter sauce and booze. That is a good time


GARLICKY BUTTER DIPPY SAUCE FOR SEAFOOD

(serves 2-4, depending on how buttery you like it)

250g unsalted butter
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, we used Lanes Q-Nami to absolutely outstanding effect
1 handful parsley, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
A little extra salt and pepper if needed
A decent pile of fresh seafood, straight off the coals
Bread to mop up any extra buttery goodness

Sauté the garlic with one tablespoon of butter to get the show on the road. Once garlic has softened, add remaining butter and seafood seasoning and cook out over medium heat until butter start to foam.
Pour lemon juice into butter and remove from heat.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Get it onto the table with a pile of seafood.
Use bread to mop up any extra puddles of that liquid gold and, if the mood encourages it, maybe even save a little butter sauce for garlic butter boobies later on.
Hey, I don’t know what you freaking pervs get up to when the kids are away…

Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen

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Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…


NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

BBQ sausage burgers from that book, “Pitmaster”

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Tonights dinspiration* was taken from the book “Pitmaster”, by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart.

The book looks almost exactly like this… except maybe a little more 3D


I would just like to add; although Father’s Day was a few days ago, this would have certainly been a damn fine burger to make your father on said day, if smoky deliciousness is your father’s thing. A time machine modulus ala Napoleon Dynamite could transport you back if you’d like to appear that you love your dad more than someone who might measure the love they have for this pillar of a man using the currency of a shitty pair of socks.

Yeah we ate it with crisps and pickles


So, basically, I made the burger from the book.

This method of recipe writing is a heap easier than the method I would normally employ, I don’t mind telling you.

That’s the recipe… you might need to zoom in a little


Being a week-night dinner for the family (or myself and my two boys), there was no way this thing was going to hit the table without some side of roughage factor to it. Yes, we can all heartily argue that a pickle is a vegetable or that the burger mix has a little capsicum (pepper) in it, but there is no way on gods good earth that this would fly in our house hold. Long story short; there was a big fat tomato that came from Jennee’s garden staring me down, so, not to be labeled weak by a fricking tomato, I sliced that bastard up and that went onto the burger along with the king of burger lettuce – the iceberg. And it was damn well delicious.

I had a really good feeling about this…


Smoky, sausage-y, deliciousness.

A really fricking good burger.

Dear good lord yes


*Dinspiration. Inspiration for dinner. A term that will shortly (if it hasn’t been already) be coined by a TV celebrity chef who is speaking heartfelt words on behalf of a major restaurant chain on the subject of healthy, quick and affordable eating and how achievable these goals can be if you simply follow his/her recipes and shop and save at rah-di-rah supermarket. I think I just threw up a little…

Smoky grilled chicken

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I really do like a good yard bird.

This is a good yardbird type experience.

A smoking hot bronzed bird splayed out in front of you… so moist and ready for the taking… it’s good times.

Euphemisms aside, if they should really ever be put aside, this is some damn tasty bird.

If you can split a whole bird down the backbone you can win this one, because the rest of it is keeping a few coals glowing and you can do that, right? Right?

This isn’t even so much a recipe as it is a little anecdote about what I made for dinner. I feel the time I am spending typing right now would be better spent explaining to you how to butterfly (spatchcock) a bird or even how to make a good chicken stock for the chicken gravy… but you know what? Yeah you know what. You know I am not going to do that because quite frankly, that is just not my style. No, I’m more of a don’t-really-care-about-what-you-reckon, unkept face hair and trucker cap kinda of guy, with maybe a bit of an air of a slight acquired brain injury from one too many stacks on my skateboard when I was younger… or was it from when attempted to form myself into a human snowball while snowboarding last month? Who knows, maybe I’m one of the lucky ones and I scored myself two ABIs… Lucky guy indeed.

Season the bird, inside and out, with your favourite bird seasoning type BBQ rub. I mix a few things together and call it “Big Red Rub”. There is a recipe for it right here. It works for me.

Let the bird hang out in the seasoning for half an hour or so while you get your BBQ fired up.

Get some coals going in your BBQ (pro Q or Weber are the sort of thing you’ll need for this job, or a grill plate over a fire with an old wok over the chicken to keep a little heat in will even do the job. I’m not even joking) exactly like you would normally get some coals going in your BBQ, and get it up to 150C (300F) ish.

Place the chicken skin side up over indirect heat and cover for 1 hour. The chicken should be looking pretty good at this stage… hopefully… I don’t know how I’m going to help you if it isn’t…

Brush the skin of the chicken with a little melted butter or olive oil and then, using two sets of tongs, carefully turn the chicken over, your goal now being to crisp up the skin a little.

The chicken can handle a little direct heat now, but it may need some turning so it doesn’t get “extra crispy” (AKA burnt), so get your comfy chair out, crack another tinny and keep a closer eye on it from here on in. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until chicken is sexy as and juices from the leg run clear.

Carve it up and drizzle (yes, I know I would normally punch myself in the face for using the word “drizzle”, but I feel it has a place here) with smoked honey to gild the lily. Gilding the lily. Heck yeah, kid!

We served it with roasted carrot and sweet potato, braised kale, cornbread and homemade chicken gravy and I must say, it was damn well delicious.

Pretty easy, using up those Sunday BBQ leftovers, cassoulet.

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Today I realised I have not made cassoulet for quite some time. Sure, I’ve made pit beans and I’ve made cowboy beans, but I haven’t made a classic French cassoulet. And today I shan’t be making cassoulet either. Instead I shall be doing that bastardising thing I love to do so much and use a little smoked meat I have left over from the weekends cook to create my own little smoky assed, junk yard dog, mongrel cassoulet. And just like that junk yard dog, this dish is literally begging for you to give it more meat… give it all of the meat.

If I may digress just a little…

The cassoulet is basically a brothel. It has a big illuminated sign above it’s front door inviting more meat to the party. It does not care of the origin of the meat. It’s a “the more meat the better” type situation for the cassoulet… much like the brothel.

But as I said earlier, this is a mongrel version of said cassoulet so don’t go reporting me to the Traditional Cookery Police (TCP) because as we all know; dobbers wear nappies.

If you would like to make a bang up, bona fide, old school, full of fat and confit duck, Frenchy cassoulet, you can find a recipe by a great chef by the name of Guillaume Brahimi, right here.

I have also used tinned cannellini beans to keep it quick and easy. Tinned legumes defo have a place in my cupboard.

Cut the top off the garlic so it looks like this

Saute the meat and vegetables

The mongrel cassoulet sharing the table with some more beans. It’s a pretty friendly sort, really


PRETTY EASY MONGREL CASSOULET

500-750g smoky meaty leftovers (depending on how much you consumed or may have left over from that BBQ comp on the week end ) – start with pork neck or ribs and then add sausage, brisket, lamb and/or chicken – all chopped
2 tablespoons drippings from that meaty goodness
1 small onion (or half a large onion as I have used), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 bulb garlic, left whole, top sliced off to reveal a little garlic-y flesh
A few sprigs of parsley and thyme
1 bay leaf
2x 400g tins cannellini beans, strained
500ml chicken stock. Homemade is best but sometimes store bought might be all you have on hand and it will still work, I can guarantee that
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Lube up a casserole dish or cast-iron pot or something that you can put in the oven with the drippings and then sauté meat and vegetables over medium heat until vegetables are starting to soften and brown a little. Alternatively, you can sauté the meat and vegetables in a pan and then transfer them to an oven proof dish.
Add all other ingredients except bread crumbs, stir to combine and season.
Top with bread crumbs and place in oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown and smelling delicious.
Eat it.
Put it in your face with a little green salad, or maybe some green beans with onion vinaigrette if you want to be the same as us.

One last pic of the ingredients…

Braised lamb cutlets with bubble-and-swede… and a couple of things that grow really well on the south island of New Zealand

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Yeah, I know right. Who uses lamb cutlets for braising?

Well, in the south island of New Zealand where the sheep population grossly outweighs that of the humans*, lamb cutlets are cheap as bro, so today I would do whatever the heck I wanted with them.

So many swedes for the sheep


Also, what is this whole bubble-and-swede thing, you ask? A damn clever play on words and a really tasty way to eat the humble swede, that’s what it is.

You see, on an island that seems to have the climate to grow absolutely nothing, the folks down south are pretty effing adept at growing the humble swede. Mostly to feed the ever-growing sheep population it would seem, but occasionally for human consumption also. But probably not very much for human consumption as I would imagine they’d be pretty sick of them by now. Probably the carnie folk would still relish a good swede though, I would imagine…

So much dribble.

Whatever the case, it was not uncommon to see roadside market stalls selling swedes (and swedes alone) the size of the head of the carnie folk they might eventually feed, for a buck a pop.

So, the scenario is this – we drove through the hills (there is always “the hills”) of the sheep growing, swede producing south and I said to myself, “today I shall purchase some sheep and some swedes and I shall cook them for our evening meal”.

“That would be heaps Kiwi-ish”, I agreed.

The camper kitchen

Unbelievably cheap-as lamb, bro

Get a bit o’ colour on those lamb cutlets

Mashy the swede and potato

…and then mix in the sautéed leek…

Truly delicious. Wash it all down with a local alcoholic beverage of some description


LAMB CUTLETS, TAGINE GRAVY, BUBBLE-AND-SWEDE

(serves 4)

8-12 lamb cutlets, depending on size and appetite (NZ origin)
Moroccan seasoning (dubious origin)
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (NZ origin)
1 small knob ginger, grated (origin unknown)
1 teaspoon chilli paste (origin unknown)
A splash of some white wine (NZ origin)
400g tin diced tomatoes (definitely not of NZ origin as we could not afford the barter of 12 gold doubloons and 3 sex slaves that was necessary to obtain said tomatoes)
1 decent sized swede, diced large (NZ origin)
1 leek, sliced (NZ origin)
1 potato, diced large (probably NZ origin)
50-100g butter (we had some NZ stuff earlier in the week, but… hmmm… we don’t have any more)
Salt and pepper to season

Season cutlets with Moroccan seasoning. Brown cutlets in a pan over med-high heat for 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and a little extra Moroccan seasoning to the same pan with all of the lamby flavour, and sauté for a few minutes or until soft.
Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine and add diced tomatoes.
Return lamb chops to pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until lamb is nice and tender.
While that’s going on you’ll need to sort your bubble and swede.
Boil swede and potato until nice and soft. Drain.
Sauté leek with half of the butter until soft and sexy smelling.
Mash swede and potato with remaining butter, mix in sautéed leek and then season well. Taste it and make sure the seasoning is good.
Plate it up however you see fit.
A bit of parsley would be nice but as you can probably see, we didn’t have any of that on hand.
Feeling the NZ vibe? I am.

*Seriously. I grew up in the south of Western Australia and I thought that place was an oversized sheep property but this place is nek level. The locals around here would be chucking a few sheep in the front yard before they ever contemplated putting in a rose garden or a kids cubby house I can guarantee you. I have respect for that kind of sheep love.

The Fergburger experience, Queenstown, New Zealand

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The Fergburger experience is a real thing.

Previously I had only heard stories about Fergburger and it’s backyard dealings of quality burger product and accompanying side dishes, and how the burger junkies would come from miles around to get their fix.

This story gets damn good when I tell you it was these rumors and an unearthly desire to try the Fergburger for my own self that had brought me to New Zealand from my home in Australia.

The story teeters back to average-at-best when I tell you that is a complete fabrication… but we went to Ferg Burger anyway…

The folks at Fergburger make good burgers – burgers that are good enough to have the fine people of Queenstown lining up out of the little shop front and into the street for their little piece of Fergy love.

Fergburger really does love us


On the day that we passed through that little city, with it’s “experience Queenstown” and “Snow New Zealand” shops literally outnumbering the people in the streets by 2-1, it was experiencing a little of the ol’ wet stuff from the sky coming down (which was a relatively new NZ experience for us as it was all white fluffy stuff from the skies until now). Was this enough to deter the locals and tourists alike from lining said footpath in search of said Fergy goodness? Fuck no it was not. They were there, we were there and there was also a heap of staff there too – some taking orders, some making the orders and one nice young lady was handing out umbrellas to those in the queue who wanted one. We thought that was pretty nice. “Ferg really does love us”, we comment to ourselves.

The menu looks like this


It was time to eat some burgers.

The “Ferg Deluxe” (14.90) was both of the things it said it would be – it was made by the peeps at Fergburger and it was indeed deluxe. A big bun made next door at Fergbaker, big beef pattie, streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish.
The burgers here are not small by any standards (certainly no quarter pounder) and this one, I thought, was even not smaller still… but as everyone around me opened their very own joyous, plump little individually wrapped meaty gifts, I realized that bigger-than-average was just the burger size around here… and I liked it!

The Ferg Deluxe


The “Morning Glory” (10.00), in stark contrast to its aptly name friend the “Ferg Deluxe”, showed none of the characteristics of an actual morning glory, which was a welcome surprise. It did, however, show many of the characteristics of a quality bacon and egg burger and for only 10 bucks it certainly could not be quaffed at.

The “Chief Wiggum” (14.90) was another moniker in a menu full of quirky burger names which, I’ve gotta be honest, I am truly a sucker for. Pork belly, a hash brown, salady things, aioli and apricot seeded mustard all came together in one of those big ol’ Fergbaker buns for the journey to my stomach. To be honest I think it could’ve done without the hash brown, but it was never going to reach Chief Wiggum status with it now, was it…

The “Cockadoodle Oink” (14.90) – see above comment re quirky burger name, and then I will go on to tell you I think a pig and a chicken are damn beautiful bedfellows on any given occasion (except possibly a more biblical bed-sharing of the farmyard), and this liaison certainly didn’t disappoint. Joined with their other friends the avocado, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish, they were dressed up to the nines and ready to hit the town… or my face at the very least. Another winner from the peeps at Fergburger.

Clockwise from left – the Ferg Deluxe, the Cockadoodle Oink, the Cheif Wiggum and the Morning Glory. Not pictured – the rest of the menu except for the squid which is in the top left corner


Washed down with fries, onion rings and crumbed squid – I’m not sure why we got the crumbed squid but we got the crumbed squid – our bellies were full as were our toothy grins of happiness.

As far as burger joints in NZ go, Fergburger lets you know fairly quickly why it’s at the top of its game and still attracting a queue that is long enough to impede businesses 3 or 4 shops up the street* rain, snow or shine, as it has been for the last 15 years.

I tip my hat to you, Fergburger. Very nice indeed.

*Luckily for anyone else who may be unfortunate enough to want to open up next door to Fergburger, the next 2 shops up the street are Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Gelateria (Fergburger’s baking and gelato making arms respectively. Both also well worth a visit too, I might add)

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