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

A Cracking Winter Barbecue and My Nana Rose’s Potato Salad

Cook some sausages on the BBQ and while your at it, get a nice pot of pulled pork on there too
Cook some sausages on the BBQ and while your at it, get a nice pot of pulled pork on there too

I have been on a brief hiatus, much like the syphilis in the old sea farer’s knickers after a quick shot of penicillin (pun well and truly intended), but never fear, I will always return to these pages just like the venereal disease will return to the knickers of the wayward sailor. It’s just that, much like the wayward sailor with the laden purse, I have found a new mistress who promises me pleasures of the flesh… or at least a new job. That’s right, I have a new job. And just like a new mistress that new job will take up a lot of my time. But unlike a new mistress, it will reward me with the a fist full of the queen’s good dollars so I may ensure the bank does not for-close on our mortgage, rendering us of no home and obligated to join the queue of haggard, potato sack wearing folks with clear birth defects, begging the carnie folk to employ our feeble services.

To top off the new job business, Jennee and I have decided to start a new little business venture all of our own. Now, don’t start letting your mind wonder about the you tube clips we may or may not be offering the world in the not to distant future because the little undertaking we are embarking on is totally legit! We, my friends, are starting a catering business.

Oh yes the things we shall do.

So that, in a nut shell (not an actually nut shell, of course. That would make me some kind of squirrel or that weird little creature off “Ice Age” the picture film) is why I have had neither the time nor… well… just the time really, to visit my friends in Blogland.

But here I am with some pretty pictures of another cracking winter barbecue we sorted out recently and, just for your face’s pleasure at your next winter (or summer) barbecue, I shall revisit the recipe for my Nana Rose’s potato salad. This salad is pretty flexible when it comes to the use of smoked pork product and herbs. Smoked Polish sausage is what Nana would use but bacon, speck, ham or any smoked pork product are all very feasible alternatives. Also, I often use dill instead of parsley (of even both if you want to be total rock star), but any herb would work.

It’s great to be back, thanks for having me and you’re very welcome.

Get it on the table so people can eat it
Get it on the table so people can eat it

Give them forks. We are not animals
Give them forks. We are not animals
Plenty to go round
Plenty to go round
Don't be afraid to chuck some flowers on your salad as it tends to impress the shit out of your friends. Just make sure they're edible as poisoning your friends equals no friends for you
Don’t be afraid to chuck some flowers on your salad as it tends to impress the shit out of your friends. Just make sure they’re edible as poisoning your friends equals no friends for you
Smoked sausage, sauerkraut, caramelised onion, mustard, tomato relish, jalapeño relish and gruyere cheese, in a roll and about to make it's way into my belly
Smoked sausage, sauerkraut, caramelised onion, mustard, tomato relish, jalapeño relish and gruyere cheese, in a roll and about to make it’s way into my belly
That potato salad
That potato salad

MY NANA ROSE’S POTATO SALAD

1kg baby potatoes, boiled in their skin, whole, until tender (the potato should slide off easily when you insert a knife. Kind of like a stripper sliding down a pole. Are those things lubed up or what? Wait up. I think I just got it) and cut into bite sized pieces
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
4-5 polski ogorki (dill pickles), diced
1 cup of diced smoked sausage
4 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
A bunch of parsley, chopped
1-2 tablespoons white wine or apple cider vinegar, or the liquid from the pickles
A splash of oil (not engine oil. Vegetable or light olive oil should do the trick)
Salt and a good hit of white pepper

• The main requirement for making this is that it is mixed while the potatoes are still warm so all of the ingredients can have a little party and their flavours can really get to know each other, just like when you’re at and orgy and you can taste a little bit of everyone on each and every person. This salad is good porn.

Doesn’t look like much but that’s childhood memories in a bowl right there.

Make it today, or go to an orgy. Up to you…

Spanakopita by Jennee

Recipe from the depths of Jennee’s mind, photos from the camera, additional writing by me, Grazza McFilthy Mouth…

Spanakopita!
Spanakopita!

Spanakopita is some kind of Greek pie. It is rolled in filo pastry with a spinach-y cheesey filling. Basically it is kick-ass. A pie that has kept many a 70-something-year-old Greek man boned up and ready to go (and yes, that means what you think it means). I’m pretty sure my friend Helen over at Pantry Obsession will be commenting with a few actual facts about this magical pie so for now I think it is pretty safe for me to report what I think I know (aka. The facts). This stuff smells really good in the oven… heaps better then it would sitting in a carnies loot bag for three days in sideshow alley. The smells made me hungry. I was just glad it was the job of my children to continuously ask the fine woman who carried them in her womb and eventually pushed them into this world in one final… I’ll do you a favour and leave that one out for now. Needless to say, the boys were annoying the hell out of Jennee by continuously posing the question as to when dinner would be ready. Eventually the dinner was ready and we filled our bellies with this cracking spanakopita.

Out of the oven, into our bellies
Out of the oven, into our bellies
A close up with a blurry salad in the background
A close up with a blurry salad in the background
The blurry salad
The blurry salad
I told you to get in my belly
I told you to get in my belly

SPANAKOPITA

1 bunch of  perfectly ripe silverbeet (as oppose to overripe which would make it flaccid. Te he he), chopped into 1cm strips

2 cups ricotta, crumbled like the spirit of a first year apprentice chef

1 cup feta, grated or crumbled using only your teeth

½ cup grated pecorino, not pet a rhino – pecorino

2 eggs (not human eggs – I think they lack the “sticking” quality of chook eggs)

Grated nutmeg to your liking, ie. if it’s Christmas time add more for a nod to the festive season

Many sheets of filo pastry

Dried oregano to sprinkle over the top

  • Mix all ingredients except the filo, that would make it mushy… and crap
  • Roll out the filo sheets, one at a time, double them over and then place some mix along one side like you are making sausage rolls
  • Roll up like a sausage
  • Repeat until all the mix is gone
  • Layer the sausages in a cake tin lined with baking paper and brush each sausage with olive oil lightly before you place the next sausage in
  • You can do 3-4 layers or just 1
  • Sprinkle dried oregano over the top like it was fairy dust
  • Bake in oven at 180 degrees until golden brown
  • Enjoy with friends, or in a dark corner of the house with only your tears for company
  • We had ours with rocket and tomato pesto and a salad we made with things from the garden

 

Balsamic beetroot salad with fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs

SAMSUNG CSC

I sit back today, slowly winding down and reflecting on my week so far… and by that I mean I am in bed, sick, sore and whining like the small child who needs his mothers boobie. Dammit, I do need my mother’s boobie… Actually that would be a little sick, but probably encouraged in many hippy circles around these parts. I think what I meant to say was; I need the boobie of the mother of my children… Shit, that is still waaaaay too weird.

As I lay here, one thing I did actually think about was the beetroot salad we had for dinner earlier this week. I’m sure it didn’t make me sick…

It is true that it has been many times said in the kitchen that “you can beat an egg, but you can’t beat a root”. It is also true that you cannot beat Usain Bolt in a running race because he is really fast and he is also not you.

But the beetroot salad; We picked a lovely pile of beetroot from the garden this week, and it fell prey to a cracking salad of balsamic beetroot, fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs… I’m sure it could’ve been a slightly longer title if I had have thought about it some more… dot dot dot

...and the beetroot
…and the beetroot

SAMSUNG CSC

This was a rally good salad. Like, really good. It ticked all five of my salad requirements at the moment;

  1. Beetroot, fresh from the garden so it came with a certain amount of pride
  2. Quinoa, I can not say enough (well, I probably could but I guarantee you wouldn’t sit through it) about this grain
  3. Cherry tomatoes straight from the garden
  4. Herbs straight from the garden
  5. Other stuff
  6. Personality
  7. It taught me how to count

As you can well gather from this dodgy assed explanation of my salad-y faves at the moment, I got nothing. Nothing except this salad that is. Well, nothing except this salad, a panpipe and a pair of novelty trousers that resemble goat’s legs with little hooves attached. Looks like I’m heading back to Narnia again… damn that fucking wardrobe.

Balsamic Beetroot and quinoa salad (the short version of the title) for 4

10 medium beetroot with leaves, unless they are not very fresh, in which case use the leaves from something else. Probably not from your teenage son’s “South American tomato plant” in the backyard though

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup soft feta. I like Bulgarian sheeps feta

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved… or not

½ red onion, bruniose

1 cup each picked parsley and mint

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, plus a little extra

2 tablespoons castor sugar

Extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning

  • Trim the leaves from the beetroot and set aside. Cook the beetroot in boiling water until tender, about 20-30 minute depending on size. You can check them by inserting the tip of a knife and if it is soft inside it’s done
  • Drain beetroot and cut into 6 pieces. I don’t bother about peeling them if they’re this fresh
  • Sauté beetroot in a little olive oil for ten minutes, then add ¼ cup of balsamic and the castor sugar. Reduce for 5 or so minutes, until balsamic is thick and coats the beetroots. Season and set aside
  • In another pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add beetroot leaves. Fry on high heat for a few minutes until they start to crisp up a little. That’s crisp up, not burn
  • Now layer that salad up like the cover of a Women’s Weekly magazine circa 1981. Quinoa, beetroot, onion, leaves, feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs. Then hit it with a splash of balsamic, olive oil and seasoning
  • Magic

 

Lightening McQueen Cooks… chicken dinner

IMG_1129Lightening McQueen Cooks…

“Another guest blogger on the program and yes, it is more family. I tell you what, it’s like a pack of fricking gypsy circus freaks around here. You let one in and next thing you know they’ve pushed down your front door, lit a camp fire in your lounge room and knocked up your daughter. I’m still the effing ring master though… hmmm. Doesn’t quite sound right does it? Oh well, on with the show”- G

Yes that’s right folks, it’s Lightening McQueen here with the first of many in my new segment, “Lightening McQueen Cooks…”

As I sat in my car drink-eating a slush puppy killing hungry thirsty dead, I thought to myself maybe I should call G and discuss tonight’s meal. This is when Graz had the ingenious idea that I should do a Lightening McQueen segment not too different to the Liz McGuiness segment, but this is more a shorter piece ala “Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals”, which I am a big fan of and one day hope to finish one of his recipes in under 45 minutes.

It’s short because I’m that strapped for time these days with my first spawn being brought into the world and all. That’s right I have a child. Many thought it couldn’t be done, but I proved them wrong didn’t I… Didn’t I!! The other reason being I am not a wordsmith like my esteemed colleagues here at foodisthebestshitever. Or am I? With words like esteemed and colleagues one would think that I am, right? Also my grammar is up to shit so bear with me. Anyway as I sat with my slush puppy, pen and paper at the ready, Graz and I nutted out a few of the worlds more pressing issues before we turned to dinner. I can’t actually tell you what these issues are as they were top secret and I’m new here and I hardly know you. So back on track here dinner was decided and it was to be winner winner chicken dinner, I know funny right that was all the G-man. Roasted chicken Maryland with salad. We had the same idea. That’s why I’m Grazza’s number 2 in the kitchen (Insert a big eff you from my sister Jennee here).

Anyway the recipe

Winner, winner, chicken dinner
3 chicken marylands, or however many you want
• Lick with a bit of oil, (we discussed kiss with oil and decided it was a bit too wanky)
• Season with S&P and a little paprika
• Bake at 200C until golden and then reduce heat to 180. Check every 10 minutes until done. About 40mins.

This is Bonnie aka. the wee bonnie lass, tossing the salad. Never too early to get them started...
This is Bonnie aka. the wee bonnie lass, tossing the salad. Never too early to get them started…

The salad was good, it comprised of (shit. Comprised. There I go again, word smithing the shit out if this blog);

Cucumber
Red onion
Parsley
Mint
Tomato
Olives
Avocado
Feta
• Toss with olive oil, S&P, some sumac and a squeeze of lemon juice

 

This has been lightening McQueen for foodisthebestshitever. You stay classy blog land.

Bayger Burgers, Byron Bay

Bayger burger joint, Byron Bay

Yep. You see what they did there with the name? Very sneaky. Like little white trash kids sneaking into the big top circus when it rolls through town… Very sneaky indeed.

Bayger is another addition to the ever-growing family of new wave eateries modern society calls “the burger bar”. Local free-range meats, locally baked buns, gourmet salad and home made sauces. Effing awesome. I love this shit.

As soon as I looked at the menu though, I discovered a typo. I continued reading and discovered a few more typos. This annoys me on a menu. On a random assed food blog – that’s fine, but on a menu… People got spell check right? A big brother or sister? Something? (Just in case, I will recant my previous paragraph if I am informed that they are crazy hippies and intended to write “we serve our beef burgers with slightly pink center enchanting the flavour”. I didn’t notice the pink center enchanting the flavour while we were there, but that’s not to say it wasn’t going on…)

Buffalo wings came with no blue cheese sauce, which was kinda disappointing since we were gagging for buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce, and got them because the menu read “buffalo wings… with a side of blue cheese dipping sauce”. But our buffalo wings came with no blue cheese dipping sauce. Maybe should of told us at the start instead of shrugging it off with a “no we don’t have any of that”. But they were good fried chicken wings tossed in sweet chilli.

Onion rings were good. Could have had a slightly thicker batter though.

Burgers were great except they were missing the pickle they were cited as having on the menu. But they were great. Cooked medium, juicy, well-seasoned, squishy soft Turkish bun… Fantastic. Really good burgers just let down a little by small inconsistencies. But this is what I’m always talking about. In the hospitality game, no matter how big your restaurant, or how small your wiener penis willy hotdog stand, you need to have consistency. You need to give people the product you are telling them they will get. And do it well… and then, as Jesus said*, life shall be good for all.

It was, like, 34 bucks for two burgers, fries, onion rings, “buffalo wings”, and a house made juice which tasted like fresh lemon, rose water and sugar? Maybe like a middle eastern home made lemonade. Well and truly worth it if they could just iron out a couple of kinks.

*may not be an actual quote from Jesus.