Archive for October, 2013

Mussels with Fennel Leek and Dark Ale

Monday, October 21st, 2013

1 tablespoon of butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small red chilli – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

1 leek – sliced in half lengthways then sliced

1 fennel bulb cleaned peeled and sliced thin – approx 2/3 cup

1 kilo of large mussels

1 bottle of Dark Beer ale or lager – Dogbolter, German Dunkel, Red Hill Scotch ale, Mornington Brown Ale, Mountain Goat Stout you get the idea.

1 can of chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons of Fennel fronds – chopped reserved from the fennel bulb


Clean and scrub mussels making sure to remove beards. Or buy some Boston Bay Mussels from South Australia (also go by the name Spencer Gulf) they come pre packed, cleaned, scrubbed, de-bearded and alive!


Add 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. When butter has melted add half the garlic and the chilli and fry gently for several minutes then add the leeks and fennel, gently sweeting for about 5 minutes or until translucent then remove from pan and set aside. Add the rest of the olive oil to the same pot you cooked the fennel in and when hot add the rest of the chilli and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes then tip in the mussels and about a third of the bottle of beer put lid on and turn heat to high. Bring beer to a boil and boil/steam the mussels shaking the pot to get the liquid swirling around the mussels. When all the mussels have opened remove from the heat and pour the mussels into a colander that is sitting in a large mixing bowl so as to capture all of the cooking liquor. Put the pot back on the heat and add the fennel and leek mixture back into the pot, the canned tomatoes and another third of the bottle of beer stir and bring to the boil. Remove the colander with the mussels from the large mixing bowl and set aside. Strain the cooking liquor from the mussels through a fine sieve to remove any dirt, grit or bits of shell and then add the liquor back into the pot bring it to the boil and then turn it down a little so that it can simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the mussels back into the pot and stir through so they get the hot liquor into them, simmer for two minutes then add fennel fronds stirring through.


Serve in big bowls with fresh crusty bread and a spoon to slurp up the fantastic juice.


Serves 2

Ps don’t forget to finish the remaining third of beer!


Note: do not salt this soup as the mussels, if really fresh, will be full of sea water which will be quite salty but equally delicious.


Really Important note: If some mussels do not open get a knife pry them open and EAT them. It is a false hood that they should not be eaten!! They are perfectly safe and delicious. Before cooking if you notice a smelly mussel ditch it or a mussel that has a cracked or broken shell – it will be dead so ditch that one also. If you get good mussels that are alive then they are fine and safe to eat even if they do not open.

Fresh Idea? I think not!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I only just heard Jamie Oliver is the new face of Woolworths! He is a good guy, talented, passionate, successful, a moral food crusader etc He is going to tell Australian how to eat healthier – all good things. He is going to help change the way you and I shop and eat – good for him and Woolies.


I am just a little tired, frustrated and annoyed that Australian companies keep using overseas celebrities to promote Australia???? Coles has signed Heston, target Gok, Big W has Eric Stonestreet, you got Jerri and Dawn and so on and so forth……the list will continue to get longer.


Yes I am envious too because I think – I know I could do a good job of it also. Don’t get me wrong I am not putting myself anywhere near the same step as Jamie or Heston or Curtis….but I have been championing Australian fresh food, produce and producers for the last 7 years.


I have also had extensive discussions with Woolworths to try and get support for my show Mercurio’s Menu so we could continue to tell the stories of the Australian fresh food growers, suppliers, producers, supporters and customers but to no avail. So it does irk me to know that Woolies will more than likely pay Jamie the equivalent (or more) of what I needed to shoot two more 13 part series of Mercuio’s Menu – and that is probably only for the first year and doesn’t include production costs for any of the adds they will shoot with him.


Oh well, that’s the biz! Good luck to them.

Recipe from the cooking demo I did yesterday and also today at the Feast and Family Field Day At Morning Star Estate.

Sunday, October 6th, 2013
Mussels in Coconut and Beer
25g of unsalted butter
25 mils of olive oil
1 long green chili – thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 Lebanese eggplants
2.5 cm piece of ginger – peeled
½ cup of peas 1 stick of lemon grass –
4 Kaffir lime leaves – remove middle stalk and thinly sliced
1 ½ kilo’s of fresh mussels
1 330mil bottle of Hoegaarden Wit Beer
1 27o mil can of coconut milk
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 bunch of fresh Coriander to finish
Clean and de-beard the mussels discarding any with broken shells, set the rest aside in a colander. Place a pot large enough to hold all the mussels on the stove over a medium high heat. Add in some olive oil and when hot add in some chopped garlic and chilli and cook stirring for a minute or so being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the mussels to pot and about ¼ cup of the beer, put lid on and turn heat to high. Bring beer to a boil and boil/steam the mussels shaking pot to get the liquid swirling around the mussels. When all the mussels have opened remove from the heat and put mussels into a colander making sure to reserve the cooking liquid.
On the stove melt the butter and oil in the same pot. When butter is foaming add the garlic and chili and stir. With the flat of your kitchen knife or palm of your hand smash the peeled ginger so that it is squashed and falls into chunks add this to the pan. Cut the green chilli in half lengthways and add to the pot. Peel away the tough outer layers of the Lemon grass stalk to reveal the pale lower section of the stem. Use a sharp knife to trim the base. Cut the stalk into 4 pieces and then smash the stem with the flat side of a knife to bruise and release the flavour add to the pot. Cut the Lebanese eggplant in half lengthways and then cut again lengthways so you end up with four pieces from each eggplant. Now chop them into pieces about 5 mm thick and add to pan along with the peas and the Kaffir lime leaves. Give it all a stir and cook until the eggplant has softened – about five minutes.
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve to remove dirt and shell and then return to the pot then add the rest of the beer and the coconut milk and give it all a good stir, bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer add the fish sauce stir through and allow to cook for ten minutes. Add the chopped coriander and the cooked mussels and stir so the soup gets into the mussels drenching them well in the sauce. Taste the sauce for seasoning – if the mussels are really fresh they may release a lot of fresh salty sea water into the sauce in which case you will not need to add any salt. Add some freshly cracked black pepper simmer for a couple more minutes.
Divide the mussels and sauce equally into to two large bowls and garnish with a little more freshly chopped coriander.
Serve with some toasted crusty sourdough.
Serves: 2 as a main 4 as an entrée.