Nachos Extraordinaire

October 3rd, 2015


Some say love is in the air (how many times have I heard that?) but I say spring is in the air. Only by a bit, but the sun does seem a little warmer and that icy wind now has some dulcet tones which encourages one to clean up the backyard and get the barbie ready for party central.

Okay, so you may still be wearing a light vest whilst out the back but I am sure your thoughts, like mine, are turning to slightly lighter styles of beer after winter’s reign of stouts and porters. Food-wise it is a little too early for seafood salad, jelly shots and pilsner — it’s more like good old pale ale or perhaps an amber or hefeweizen and something hearty but with a lighter side.

That said, dammit! Go for a pils, celebrate the arrival of spring and with it I say have some nacho. Not just any nachos though, you deserve my Nachos Extraodinaire for a perfect early Spring afternoon lunch.

Back in the old days when I was a student at the Australian Ballet School I used to work at the local Mexican fast-food restaurant and the trick to good nachos, I discovered, was to set the corn chips in the beans so they stood up like cathedrals, allowing the toppings to fall in between and give you a lovely taste surprise with each mouthful.

…read the rest, plus the recipe, at Australian Brews News.

Todays Recipe

April 4th, 2015



350g pitted kalamata olives

3 – 4 anchovies – chopped (start with 3 and add another if you feel it needs it)

3 medium sized cloves of garlic – crushed

2 tablespoons of salted capers – rinsed and dried

1 tablespoon of lemon thyme

2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons of olive oil


Put everything into a food processor and blitz until it is a paste.


Makes approx 2 cups

Have on biscuits or toast with a cold ale!


Keep in an air tight jar in the fridge for about 7 or so days.

Here is a sneak peek at my new cook book cover!

March 25th, 2015

Kitchen Mojo Cover (2)

Last two weeks I have developed four new recipes! Here is one I wrote and cooked yesterday for a cooking demo I was supposed to do on the weekend but has been cancelled so I figured some one here can give it a go.

March 25th, 2015

Smoked Tomato Soup



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon (25g) butter

1 leek – white part

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

350g bacon bones

4 cups of chicken stock

3 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon paprika powder

1 teaspoon of chipotle flakes

1 tablespoon Pernod

Salt and black pepper

1.2 kilos ripe tomatoes

1/3 cup of rice

1/3 cup of raw sugar

1/3 cup of black tea leaves

¼ cup of cream – optional


In a Casserole pot over medium high heat add the olive oil and butter and allow to combine. Top and tail the leek and discard the ends. Cut leek in half lengthways then thinly slice and add to the pot and give it a stir. When it starts to sizzle turn the heat to low and cook for eight or so minutes stirring every so often being careful not to brown or burn the leek. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 or so minutes stirring often. Add in the bacon bones and bay leaves cook for a further 3 – 5 minutes stirring. Turn the heat to medium high and add the chicken stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.


Prepare the tomatoes by using a sharp knife to cut the eye or core out of them then cut an x in the bottom of each. Place in a large pot and pour boiling water over them so they are covered and let them sit for 3 – 5 minutes. Drain in a colander then refresh with cold water. Peel the skins away and discard then set the tomatoes aside whilst you prepare the wok.


Line your wok with three sheets of al foil then tip in the 1/3 cups of rice, sugar and tea and mix well. Place wok on the stove then place a wire cake rack into so that it fits snugly above the tea mix. Give the tomatoes a little pat with some paper towels to remove excess moisture then place them on the rack. Turn the heat to high and place lid on wok. I tear some large lengths of al foil which I gently scrunch then run them around the rim of my wok lid loosely so when I put the lid on to the wok it scrunches up more and creates a sort of seal. When you start to see smoke seeping out turn the heat to medium and smoke the tomatoes for between 12 to 15 minutes but no longer. Turn the heat to the wok off, remove the wok lid and using tongs pick up the tomatoes and put them in to the stock mix. Please note: allow the smoking mixture to cool completely before discarding into your rubbish bin or else you could start a fire in you bin!


Using your tongs, or a potato masher, break up the tomatoes in the stock and then turn the heat to medium high so that it simmers a bit harder than previously. Add in the remaining sugar, paprika, chipotle, Pernod and season generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes so that all the flavours combine well. Remove the bacon bones and discard (I eat the meat off the bones first!!) then use a stick blender to blend the tomatoes and soup until it is lovely and smooth. I also blend the bay leaves as they add flavour however if you want you can discard them before blending. Return the blended soup to the heat and bring back to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. You can add cream at this point if you want to use it or not sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t!


Serve in four bowls and enjoy.


You could also make lovely toasted croutons with cheese melted on the top to float in the soup for an added depth of flavour and eating pleasure.


Make around 2 litres of soup.




Salami 101

March 17th, 2015

For the couple I bumped into today buying some South Melbourne dim sims – how good are they!!! – here is the link to my salami 101.


The thread is very long and is full of lots and lots of info on salami making so it is well worth a read. Read the first three or four pages and you will get the low down and basics about making salami at home. The one secret I have learnt after doing this for 10 years is to mix the meat really really really well before stuffing it into casings!


Enjoy. Any questions leave them in comments and I will answer them.



Life takes Time.

March 4th, 2015


December 31st, 2014

Just wanted to post a Happy New Year to you all post!

Don’t know who will read it as I haven’t actually been on here much of late – of late meaning the last two years!

2014 was an interesting year with many many lessons, challenges and some rewards. I’m not so sure how I feel about it at the moment nor am I too sure on how I feel about 2015 although when I think about it I feel positive about this new year, excited about the new challenges and new discoveries, ready for it – in fact I am going to go get it started!


oh and may you have a happy, prosperous 2015 full of love laughter and light

Wellington Has Things! And a little Paul.

June 18th, 2014

This very silly Wellington promo has a cute cameo from Paul at about 2:35.

“Australian TV personality Paul Mercurio is an added bonus. He makes a guest cameo role and a rep for Positively Wellington says it was pure luck getting the two together.

“The Australian High Commissioner alerted us to the fact Paul was in town looking at craft beers for his food show and we thought, how can we incorporate him too?”

Young Dancers Audition with Paul

June 2nd, 2014
2014-06-02 geelongadvert

TWEEN song and dance sensations were put through their paces on Sunday under the expert eye of Strictly Ballroom star Paul Mercurio.

About 150 children turned out for the Geelong audition of the film, Chickabees.

The film is based on the much-loved Margaret Clark children’s book of the same name.

Clark lives in Geelong.

Mercurio, who is also a judge on Dancing With the Stars, led the children through dance steps.

Mercurio will star in the film as well as choreograph the dancing.

To be filmed in Geelong, Chickabees tells the story of a group of 12-year-old dancers trying to be famous.

Mercurio said Geelong’s best young dancers, singers and actors were asked to learn and perform dance sequences as well as perform a song of their choice.

Chickabees is scheduled for release in Australian cinemas in Easter 2015.

Via The Geelong Advertiser

Ham – a timely subject and a vexing question…

December 22nd, 2013

At this time of year I am sure I am not the only person that goes out and buys a whole leg ham on the bone for the Xrissy table – I do a turkey in the weber also but more on that in another thread.

I picked up my ham today from my local butcher whose ham I will buy sliced every now and then and it is pretty good. I normally buy my Xmas ham from a small smoking company which unfortunately sold up around October this year – his hams were awesome!

So I got my ham home and just chanced to look on the label – I am a label reader – and found that my ham was in fact only 78% pork the other 22% was made up of water, salt, nitrites, acid regulator, sugar and other stuff etc etc In my label reading travels regarding ham I have found ham in the supermarket with as much as 95% pork and as low as 55% pork.

Now the thing is I like Kevin’s ham but I am not sure I want to be eating only 78% pork? My expectations on a gourmet ham would be that it be in the 90% pork range. Am I wrong; is the quality of a ham dependant on the amount of pork in the ham? Or is the quality all about the quality of the meat and the quality of the brine and smoking i.e. in the magic of Butchers like Kevin and how they ply their craft?

Obviously a ham with a higher pork content will be a drier ham, a more meatier texture, flavour and mouth feel – something I like in a whole leg ham. A ham with a lower pork content is going to be a little more wet, a softer texture and possibly a little more salty.

Where do you guys and girls sit in regards to your xmas ham? I know there are a couple of butchers lurking here what say you about pork content levels in ham?