We had the below menu (and please forgive my shocking hand-writing, I'd forgotten to do the blackboards and had to scribble them in a hurry as the first guests began to arrive) and our neighbours and friends Justin and Pip Jarrett came over for lunch too with some of their new See Saw Wines to share (their Pinot is my favourite, really delicious and a great price). Thanks as always to my clever friend Pip for coming along to help me cook on the day. We couldn't do it without you or your kitchen chat Pip. Thanks also to my mother-in-law Judith Hansen for letting me raid her amazing garden for foliage to decorate the tables.
Tim took everyone on a bit of a farm tour and then we sat down to a rather long lunch, some not rising from the table again until well into the evening, but that's another story.
And true to form, after the lunch kicked off, I was too busy plating up, clearing etc to take many photos. None were captured of the entree and just a handful thereafter! I did grab one of the main course though, it was a colourful, crunchy Autumnal affair and we were really happy with how it worked out. Recipe follows...
Chargrilled venison with Autumn slaw, quince chutney, spuds and elephant garlic aioli
For the slawThis is a really beautiful Autumn side-dish and it's also great with slow-cooked pork or lamb and full of flavour and crunch. I use a mandolin to shave the cabbage, apples and fennel nice and finely but a sharp knife would also do the trick. This recipe serves 8 people. The quince chutney recipe can be found here.
1/2 red cabbage, finely shaved
1/2 white cabbage, finely shaved
3 Granny Smith apples, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced (keep the fronds and toss into the salad too)
2 cups rocket
1 bunch mint, leaves picked from stems
1 cup walnut kernels, roasted and roughly chopped
For the dressing; 1/2 cup buttermilk, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, Juice of one lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Whisk the dressing ingredients together then work through the salad with your fingers. I find this is a pretty 'thirsty' salad so you may need to add more buttermilk.
To cook the venison;As always we believe that simpler is better with our tender meat, particularly with a prime cut like backstrap. So all we do is rub it with olive oil and season then cook for four minutes on each side on a hot barbecue before resting for 10 minutes under foil and slicing across the grain.
For the spudsThis was my friend and invaluable helper Pip's domain, she scrubbed and washed a mixture of Kipflers, Dutch creams and Kestrel potatoes then par-boiled them before tossing with rosemary and olive oil and roasting at 200 for an hour. Our spuds came freshly dug from Dougal Munro's farm.
For the elephant garlic aioliElephant garlic is a fairly new discovery for me and I thank Dougal Munro for the introduction. Dougal grows this variety and much more at his Springside farm and I'm currently working on a post about him which I hope will be ready to go next week. In the meantime, if you can get your hands on elephant garlic for this, please do! The bulbs are huge, as the name suggests and have a gorgeous, mellow flavour that is perfect here. Of course, any smaller (Australian-grown) garlic would be great here too. Makes 1 cup.
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head elephant garlic
Preheat oven to 180C. Rub the garlic with a little olive oil, wrap in foil then place in the oven for one hour. Meanwhile, lay a tea towel on a work surface and place a bowl on top (this will help stop it slipping around while you whisk). Place the yolks, salt and mustard in the bowl and whisk until well combined. Now add the oil in a steady stream, whisking all the time so the mixture thickens up as you go. If it splits, just stop adding oil and give it a really good whisk, things should come back together after a bit. Your arm might be sore but the results will be worth it!
Keep whisking until all the oil is incorporated then transfer to a jar and place this in the fridge while the garlic cooks. After an hour, slice the top off the bulb and squeeze the soft, almost caramelised garlic 'pulp' into a bowl. Let cool then mix into the mayonnaise base, season to taste and return to the fridge until needed.
The highlight of the day for me, apart of course, from our beautiful venison, was the below fig and ricotta tart. I get disproportionately excited when a new recipe works out exactly as I'd hoped and this was one of those times.
Basically a pretty simple affair; a sweet shortcrust pastry shell blind baked then filled with home-made ricotta and topped with white and black figs then baked again (but not too much, I wanted the ricotta to still be slightly wobbly and silky soft). The result was a perfect combination of flavour and texture (if I don't say so myself). Here's the recipe, below, and please note, you could swap the figs with any fresh or poached fruit you think might work.
We served these tarts with a dollop of Little Big Dairy cream (incredible stuff) and a sprinkling of sweet dukkah.
Fig and ricotta tarts
Makes 2 tarts
1 quantity shortcrust pastry (here's my recipe)
2 cups homemade ricotta (of course you can use store bought ricotta and it will still be a beautiful tart, I just find the homemade version to be looser and more delicious, and truly it's easy to make).
3 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
3 tbsp caster sugar
Green and black figs, thinly sliced
Roll out half of the pastry until about 4mm thick then drape over a loose-bottomed tart shell or pie tin. Press into the base and edges and trim. Repeat with the other half of the pastry then place the shells in the fridge to rest for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Prick the base of each tart shell with a fork then line with baking paper and fill with baking weights, rice, lentils or similar. Bake for 10 minutes then remove paper and weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is turning a light golden colour and looking nice and dry.
Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta, eggs, vanilla and sugar together until well combined - do this by hand not with an electric mixer as it will make the mixture too dense. Divide among both the blind-baked tart shells then top with sliced figs.
Return tarts to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the ricotta is just beginning to turn golden and feels a little wobbly. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.
If you'd like to join us at our next Farm Kitchen lunch, please jump over here for more information, please note we are in the process of working on some new dates and will update this page with them shortly.