Sunday, April 25, 2010

Custard Apple

Native to South America and the West Indies, Custard Apple was developed in Hawaii in the early 1900s before findings its way to many Far North Queensland backyards.

This round to oval fruit has a scaly-like yellowish-green or tan skin with creamy white flesh that has a sweet and juicy aromatic flavour that lingers.

Choose a fruit without dark blemishes. Unripe fruit should be kept at room temperature until

ripe. Custard Apples can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Fruit should be eaten fresh. Simply chill then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, removing the inedible seeds. For a treat, add a dollop of fresh cream. It can be used in jellies and sorbets and mixed with water for a refreshing drink. It also makes an excellent fruit sauce when mixed with banana and cream.

The Chains of the Rotiserie

Last week I was invited to taste some 18 meals as one of the judges of the exclusive La Chaine De Rotisseurs Great Barrier Reef Bailliage 'Jeune Commis' Competition held at TAFE. Six local chefs where placed under the eagle eye of six professional kitchen judges to cook a three course meal for four persons within four hours using a mystery box of limited ingredient.

The competitors were given 1/2 hour to see the ingredients and then write a work plan and menu they would prepare in the allotted time before presenting their dishes to twelve tasting judges.

In the kitchen they were judged on their professionalism, hygiene practice, culinary skills, product utilization, organizational skills, and cooking techniques and were deducted points for every minute late. The tasting judges had to judge the final plates, as if they were a restaurant customer, on taste, presentation and originality.

The six chefs competing were from restaurants and hotels around Cairns but also included an entry from Weipa. However there was only one winner and Kyle Must of the Rydges Esplanade Resort was presented with the Bronze Medal to go onto represent the Cairns Region in the National Competition in Brisbane in July for a silver medal. Whoever wins silver in Brisbane competes in September in Helsinki, Finland for the Gold Medal.

Congratulations to all the competitors who did a fine job and completed the tasks assigned. It was an excellent experience for them to better themselves and improve their professionalism.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Steamed Coral Trout with a pickled watermelon, cucumber and Asian herb salad

serves 4

Recipe by 2 Fish Seafood Restaurant Wharf Street, Port Douglas


4 x 180 g Coral trout fillets

½ small seedless watermelon

100ml white vinegar

100ml water

1tbsp coriander seeds

50g sugar

2 medium carrots

1 bunch shallots

1 continental cucumber

½ bunch coriander

½ bunch thai basil

½ bunch Vietnamese mint


Peel and dice the watermelon into 2 cm cubes.
Place the vinegar, water, sugar and coriander seeds in a pot and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and allow cooling slightly then pouring over the watermelon and stand aside to cool.
Julienne the carrots and peel, deseed and thinly slice the cucumber.
Thinly slice the shallots on an angle.
Tear the herbs being careful not to bruise them and then combine them with the prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
Bring water in a large wok or large pot to the boil.
Place the coral trout fillet into a steamer and season with salt and pepper and place over the steaming water (Chef Tip - it helps to place the fish fillets on a small piece of grease proof paper so its easy to get out of the steamer after cooking).
Steam the fillets for 8-10 minutes; The fish fillets should be firm to the touch when done.
Strain the watermelon and add to the vegetable and herb salad in the mixing bowl. Lightly toss with a small amount of the pickling liquid and place a nice pile in the center of a bowl.
Place the steamed fish fillet on top of the salad.
Garnish with a sprinkle of fried shallots or if you like it a little spicier with chilli flakes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rainforest Cooking School

When Dr Geraldine McGuire is not working on high calibre projects to balance sustainable economic, environmental and social solutions in Australia, Indonesia, PNG and Laos, she is busy cooking up indigenous rainforest fruit condiments under the Rainforest Bounty brand.

But later this month, Geraldine will commence the first of a series of Cooking Classes at her magical property nestled into the rainforest on the Tablelands, and overlooking Bartle Frere.

A finalist in the recent RIRDC Rural Womens Awards, Geraldine is a local woman who has a passion for sustainable development, native foods and fusion cooking. Rainforest Bounty consists of three partners who also grow native rainforest fruits using sustainable farming practices on the Atherton Tableland. Eleven products are currently produced by Rainforest Bounty. The most popular are the spicy condiments with an Asian flare such as the Rainforest Spicy Plum Sauce, Rainforest Lemon and Lime Pickle and Rainforest Fruits Chutney.

These Australian rainforest fruit flavours are intense and unique, unlike any other fruits you may have tasted and with their truly stunning colour and flavour; they provide a unique and very pleasurable north Australian bush food experience.

When Geraldine and her husband launch the Rainforest Bounty Slow Food Experience at the end of April, the day will begin with a gentle stroll through their luxuriant native fruit orchards of Davidson Plum, Lemon Aspen, Finger lime, Native Tamarind, Atherton nut, Water Cherry and other Lillipillies. Next stop, the kitchen gardens to harvest seasonal ingredients for the hands-on cooking class that shows you how to bring out the unique flavours of Australian rainforest fruits. It’s a very social event and the day culminating in a sumptuous lunch to share the results of your endeavours.

For more information:

Feast of Easter

3rd April, 2010

Determined by the lunar calendar, Easter was originally an early spring feast day of pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth. The word Easter is believed to have evolved from Eastre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and springtime. The Greeks and Egyptians ate small cakes or buns in honour of the respective goddesses that they worshipped. Buns marked with a cross were eaten by the Saxons to honour their goddess Eastre - it is thought the bun represented the moon and the cross the moon's quarters. To Christians, the cross symbolises the crucifixion.

However Easter was originally called Pascha a Hebrew word for Passover, a Jewish festival that happens at this time of year. When Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. So for the duration of Passover, Jewish people do not eat leavened bread, and celebrate with “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread". A meal of lamb symbolises the lamb sacrificed before the commencement of Jewish Passover.

The 40 days before Easter is the period of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday. For many Christians, this is a period of fasting and repentance in preparation for Easter, culminating in a feast of seasonal and symbolic foods. In the late 17th century, a rich fruit cake called simnel cake was baked for the fourth Sunday of Lent. The cake was decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Christ.

Eggs have been a symbol of fertility and new beginnings since ancient times, but were adopted by Christians to represent Christ’s resurrection. The Easter bunny is derived from another traditional symbol as rabbit is also known for its fertility, it symbolises new life.

Limes (Tahitian, West Indian, Kaffir)

Native to a region somewhere between India and Malaysia; West Indian lime has a goldish yellow skin with small seeds and extremely sharp lime flavour. The Tahitian lime is green skinned with no seeds and has a milder flavour and Kaffir Lime has a distinctive wrinkled skin.

Choose a firm fruit with thin, shinny skin and one that is heavy for its size. (Sign of good juice content). Avoid any fruit which seems light for its size, shrivelled, soft or significantly discoloured. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Kaffir Lime is grown for the leaves which are particularly used in Thai cuisine. The fruits, especially the fruit skin, may also be used. Kaffir lime has a very strong, characteristic fragrance. Dried leaves lose their flavour within a year and are better kept frozen.

Use lime juice for cleaning the inside of coffee pots. Diluted lime juice will dissolve calcium deposits in tea kettles overnight. Grind a whole lime in the electric garbage-disposal to eliminate unpleasant odour. The leaves or an infusion of the crushed leaves may be applied to relieve headache.

Organic Boom

20th March 2010

Are you one of the six people out of ten who bought some organic product last year? Then a great number of you are more than likely to be mothers who want to make sure you are providing the very best start in life for your children. You have considered the diseases of your parent’s generation, the rise in allergies, diabetes and other ailments and are showing a stronger interest in pure food for your family.

Perhaps you are baby boomer who was part of the first generation to ingest food subjected to chemicals, hormones and genetic modification? Then you are particularly interested in organics in a quest to detox and enjoy the rest of your life relatively free from disease.

Otherwise, you buy organic food because you have a social conscious and are concerned about the environment and have a comfortable knowledge of the benefits of organic farming to the earth and climate change.

More and more, organic food is becoming mainstream as consumers are interested to know about foods they eat, where it comes from, how it’s grown, the nutritional value, and how to prepare and cook it to its definitive excellence.

Although the higher prices can still be a barrier to some, consumers are now not so concerned about the appearance being perfect.

At a recent Organics Forum on the Tablelands, the diversity of products represented that were organic, bio-dynamic or farmed under permaculture or other environmentally friendly methods was staggering. We have a healthy organics industry here in tropical North Queensland; and its growing fast.

An Ultra Tropic Feast of the Senses

20th March, 2010

The Feast of the Senses event at Innisfail started its life about ten years ago as a part of Primary Industries week, initiated by the state government department of primary industries and fisheries. People like Pedro O’Connor and Yan Diczbalis from the tropical research station at South Johnstone were among the main organisers of a number of activities to showcase tropical exotic fruits throughout the week.

As with most events, it struggled initially and I am sure in some years, some thought it would be the last. With very little funds it has sustained and is definitely on an upward trend. Why? There is less government and a more community involvement. It seems that the community has embraced the event that brings awareness and economic benefits to the centre. One person in particular has been the shining light of the Feast throughout the years, as she is for her support and sheer enthusiasm for regional produce. That person is the delightful Ruth Lispcombe.

The Feast starts this weekend with the official opening event on the riverfront for a cheese & wine showcase and a new self-drive Artists Trail held over Saturday and Sunday giving you an opportunity to visit twelve local artists in their home studios. Next Friday is the inaugural Gala Deco Dinner at the newly refurbished Shire Hall and the very popular Market Day Extravaganza on Sunday 28th March in the main street.

At just over an hour drive from Cairns, the Feast makes it a very pleasant day out for the whole family and lends support for an area that has come a long way since Larry.

For a full list of events go to

Harmonious Feast

13th March 2010

Food has historically been the catalyst for celebration; it has always been the time when family and friends come together in peace and harmony; for who would ever bring a foe at their table. Just the thought of sharing a meal with aggression extinguishes the appetite.

A clever and compassionate Mia Northrop from Melbourne was disturbed by the recent attacks around Australia against Indians. So she came up with the ''Vindaloo Against Violence'' day in February and was amazed how people from all over the world gave their support. On this day she enticed people to dine in an Indian Restaurant or make a curry for friends at home and get to know the people better.

Next week is Harmony Day which celebrates the cohesive and inclusive nature of our nation and promotes the benefits of cultural diversity with a message ‘Everyone Belongs’. It's about community participation, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

We often work in a socially diverse environment and can sit in the same lunch room for years without really knowing the people from other countries because they tend to group together. Yet it can be surprising and extremely interesting to find out more about their culture and lives.

Start Harmony this week in your workplace or schools by inviting the people of different culture to prepare an ethnic lunch for a day. Sitting around a table sharing food and conversing is the most convivial way to learn more about people.

Get involved with


Jakfruit originated from India and is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, weighing up to 40kg.

It’s green skin turns yellowish skin when ripe and has a creamy yellowish golden flesh when mature with large white edible seeds. It tastes sweet, juicy and fragrant, with a banana/pineapple flavour when ripe.

When ripe, fruit softens a little and will “give” when pushed. Ripe fruit exudes a musty, sweet aroma for a day or two before it is ready to eat. The flesh can be stored in the refrigerator for five to seven days and can be frozen for more than two months.

Cutting the fruit releases latex which doesn’t dissolve in water and so can’t be washed off hands or implements. One trick is to wipe the hands and implements with cooking oil before cutting; otherwise eucalyptus oil can be used to remove it.

Use a knife to cut the fruit in half length-wise. Wipe off the latex, carve out the core, and then press down along edge to separate the seedy sections. Pull out each section, and then use a knife to cut open the flesh and remove the seeds. Immature fruit can be boiled, roasted, or fried, to be served as a vegetable or in a curry. The seeds can also be eaten if boiled, fried or roasted, similar to chestnuts.



Originated in tropical rainforests of Amazonian Bolivia, South America, now grown in North Queensland. Orange skin which is firm and protective but easy to open with pearly white flesh which separates easily from skin and the one or two seeds, depending on size. Achacha has a subtle delicate sweetness followed by lemony tart flavours.

The Achacha is picked ripe, and doesn’t ripen further on storage. Skin may have slight colour variations and or small bumps which do not affect the taste. Chill in crisper unit or wrap in newspaper and leave it in fridge for a longer period; It should last for many weeks at 12-14°C

With less than half the sugars present in other comparable exotic fruits, it makes a good snack. For more information on Achacha go to

Seared Scallops & Chorizo sausage with sweet Carrot Puree

Recipe by Leon Walker, Chef / Owner - Wink Restaurant in Spence Street and Wink II Restaurant and Wine Bar at Cocoa Amour on the Esplanade; Cairns.

serves 4


8 medium size scallops

2 chorizo sausages


Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 large carrot

100 g white vinegar

50 g caster sugar

salt & pepper for seasoning

mesculin salad for garnish or mix bean spreads

Herb oil for garnish


Slice scallops in half slice chorizo length ways in to 8 long strips

Place scallops on bamboo skewer with chorizo sausage

Heat medium size pan season scallop & chorizo with pepper of pinch of salt.

Leave for 1 min on hot pan & turn over for 10 sec

Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon into the pan remove scallop from the pan to rest

Get 1/2 size pan medium heat peel & chop carrot small place into the pan with 3 tbsp white vinegar & 2 tbsp caster sugar cover carrot with water cook 10 min till soft.

Place in blender to puree for 2 min

Then add 2 tbsp of olive extra virgin oil salt & pepper for seasoning

place on the plate with scallops puree & garnish with salad or bean spreads

finish off with herb oil.

Hot smoked red emperor and pink pomelo miang with chilli, green papaya relish and salmon pearls

Recipe by Nick Holloway, NuNu Restaurant, Palm Cove

Serves 4


12 betel leaves (also known as wild pepper leaves)

120gm picked, hot smoked red emperor wings

4Tbsp green papaya, shredded into fine threads

2 small green chillies (scuds), sliced into fine rounds

2 long red chillies, sliced into fine threads

12 tsp pink pomelo flesh

24 coriander leaves

3 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced

2 limes

6 Tbsp miang paste

12 tsp crispy fried shallots

12 slices of crispy fried garlic

1 tsp thai basil flowers

4 tsp yarra valley salmon caviar

Miang paste

200ml water

500gm pale palm sugar

30gm shelled peanuts

10gm galangal, peeled and grated

15gm hot smoked red emperor

60gm dry roasted coconut

3 small green chillies

2 cloves garlic

3-4 Tbsp fish sauce

3-4 Tbsp tamarind water (about ¼ of a packet massaged with the same volume of water and strained)


Slowly melt the palm sugar and water together in a pot with the lid on.

Roast the peanuts, galangal, and red emperor until fragrant at about 160C.

With a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, chillies with a little salt until smooth.

Add the roasted ingredients and continue to pound until a fine paste is achieved.

Introduce this paste to the hot palm sugar with the fish sauce and simmer until rich, thick and highly perfumed.

Once the caramel has a lustrous dark shine to it remove from the heat and stir in the tamarind water. Taste for seasoning.

The miang paste should taste decadent and balanced. Too sweet. Too salty. Too sour. And yet just right. Add more fish sauce, tamarind or sugar as your personal tastes dictate.

In a bow Add the green papaya and chillies and gently toss together.

Add the pomelo, coriander and kaffir lime leaf and massage lightly with your fingertips.

Squeeze in half of the lime juice and taste for seasoning. It should taste spicy, sweet, salty and sour all at once. Add more lime juice or extra chillies if desired.

Spread the betel leaves out across your work surface and top each with an elegant pile of salad. Sprinkle over the crispy fried shallots, caviar, garlic chips and finally the thai basil flowers and serve immediately.

Eat with your hands by wrapping the leaf around the salad and offer finger bowls with a slice of lemon in each to refresh between bites.

Blue Swimmer Crab and Avocado with Sweet corn Gazpacho

Recipe by Lewis Taylor, The Sebel Cairns

Serves 4


Sweetcorn Gazpacho-Corn Kernels (300gm Tin)

2 Yellow Peppers (Roasted, de-seeded & Skinned)

1 Brown Onions (Diced)

100ml Champagne Vinegar

250ml Fish Stock ‘Campbell’s’

2 Garlic Clove Sliced

Crab Mix-Blue Swimmer Crab Meat

200ml Mayonnaise (Thomy)

1pc Lime Juice

1pc Lemon Zest (Grated)

2each Avocado Puree (Seasoned)

1/2 Cucumber (Sliced into Discs/Rounds)

pinch Cayenne Pepper

3 Tbsp Chopped Chives & Coriander

Sweetcorn Gazpacho

Sweat Onions & Garlic in little butter until transparent

De-glaze with Vinegar & reduce till dry

Add Corn Kernels with juice & Yellow Peppers & simmer for 10min’s

Add Fish Stock and reduce by 1/3

Puree in a blender & pass through a fine sieve

Add seasoning, a pinch of Cayenne Pepper & a squeeze of Lemon juice to taste

Chill immediately & keep cold till required

Crab Mix

Squeeze out excess moisture from Blue Swimmer crab meat.

Place Blue Swimmer Crab meat in a cold bowl. Add Cayenne Pepper, Onion chives, Coriander, Salt & Pepper, Lime Juice, Lemon Zest and a spoon of Mayonnaise. Fold to incorporate. Should not be too soggy. Correct Seasoning to taste

To Assemble

Using a round mould/cutter (approx 50mm diameter). Place in centre of service bowl/plate, place a Cucumber disc on bottom & Spoon some Avocado Puree into mould to accommodate approx 1/3 of volume.

Next place another Cucumber disc on top of puree & lightly press down to make surface flat. No need to push too hard.

Spoon Crab mixture in next to fill.

Next, sauce with chilled Sweetcorn Gazpacho, garnish with Cucumber ribbons and serve immediately.

Mangrove Jack with Lemon Beurre Blanc

Recipe by 2 Fish Restaurant, Port Douglas


2 x 180 gm Fresh Mangrove Jack

50 gsm Kipfler Potatoes

50 g Snow Peas

50 g Green Beans

50 g Asapargus

1 Portion lemon Beurre Blanc sauce

Salt and Pepper to Taste


Heat a small pan and cook fish finishing in oven. Slice in half and fry off kipfler potatoes in deep fryer until crisp (2-3 mins) Blanche vegetables in hot water, strain and season

Place deep fried Kipflers and Blanced vegetables into centre of plate. Place fish on top and spoon over heated lemon beurre blanc sauce.

Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce


50 ml lemon juice

200 ml white wine

100 ml thickened cream

500 ml butter unsalted

Salt and Pepper to taste


(Used on seafood plate)

Bring white wine, lemon juice & Cream to boil

Reduce by 50% and turn to very low heat

Slowly whisk in diced butter until emulsified

Add salt and pepper to taste

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coconut & kaffir lime panna cotta

Recipe by Kurt Goodban, Executive Chef, Elandra Resort, Mission Beach

Serves 6


2 x kaffir lime leaves

1 tin coconut milk 400ml

350ml milk

125gr sugar white

3 1/2 x gelatin sheets

Pineapple soup

2 pineapples

Star anise x 3

500 ml water

350gr sugar


Put your milk, coconut milk, lime leaves & sugar all together bring to a light simmer. While that’s on put your gelatin sheets in to some ice water just to soften them. Once they are soft squeeze off any extra water then place them in your pot let them dissolve. Remove from the heat and strain it through a fine strainer, once that is done you just pour your mix into 8 x 100ml dariole moulds. Then place in fridge for 5 hrs to set.


Put the whole pineapples in the oven on 170 degrease for about 35 – 45 mins until soft to touch. Then pull them out let cool for 15 mins, peel & cut up pineapple into chunky pieces and put through a juicer .once you have all the juice and little pulp again strain that through a coffee filter so it is nice and clear. This will take about 1.5 – 2.5 hrs to strain.

Sugar syrup

Put sugar, water & star anise in a pot put on the stove bring it to the boil, remove from the heat let cool then add this to your pineapple soup.

To serve

Place panna cotta in a bowl pour chilled soup around it garnish with fresh strawberries or thinly shaved and toasted coconut & mint or a piece of star anise . But star anise not really edible

Garlic fried prawns on table lands golden scallop potato with spring onions, seedless lime dressing and tempura oyster

Recipe by Ajay Zalte Executive Chef Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns

4 Entrée portions


3 Medium sized potatoes

12 Prawns with tail on

40 gm Crushed fresh garlic

1 Bunch Spring onions

1 Large Lime

200ml Canola/vegetable oil

3Tbsp honey

4 Rock oyster

1 Medium size onions

Batter Tempura

75gm Corn flour

75gm Plain flour

Soda water as required to make a dipping tempura batter

Salt as per taste

Pepper as per taste

Oil for deep frying tempura oysters


Peel and slice the potatoes and onion thinly.

Slice spring onions thinly.

Heat 60ml (four tablespoons) oil in a pan. Place potatoes,, onions, add salt, pepper and fry carefully till lightly brown without burning on high heat.

Lower the heat and cover and cook on a low heat till soft and cooked

Add spring onions to the potatoes and mix carefully to avoid breaking of the potatoes. Keep hot

Squeeze the juice of lime in a bowl, add salt, honey and mix thoroughly

Add in 100ml oil slowly, whisking through all the way till a dressing is formed.

Make a tempura batter by mixing through the ingredients listed above for the batter. Dip the oysters in tempura better.

Fry the oysters till crispy. Drain and season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining oil in another pan; add garlic, prawns, salt, pepper and fry till cooked through.

Arrange scallop potatoes in the centre of a plate, place three prawns on top and one oyster on top of the prawn, garnish with spring of coriander or parsley

Drizzle lime dressing around and serve hot.