DOWN TO EARTH
THREE BLUE DUCKS’ DARREN ROBERTSON AND MARK LABROOY SHARE RECIPES AND ADVENTURES FROM BAY THEIR THEIR TIME AT THE FARM BYRON BAY.
Three Blue Ducks’ Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy share recipes that are perfect for spring.
ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO, chefs Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy realised a dream when they flew north to open Three Blue Ducks in Byron Bay — a restaurant on a 36-hectare farm at Ewingsdale in northern NSW. The pair have always been passionate about sustainability, so they jumped at the chance to be involved in The Farm, an enterprise that grows much of the produce used in the Blue Ducks’ kitchen and strives to educate visitors about food production. Being involved in The Farm has been a learning curve for Darren and Mark, and it’s changed their approach to cooking. “I think [my food] has become a little less complicated,” says Darren. “I want to use every single thing that’s grown on the farm — it’s seriously amazing produce.” Their experiences on the land inspired a new cookbook, The Blue Ducks in the Country, which includes recipes for simple, nourishing and tasty food. Many of the recipes were created to make the most of produce harvested on The Farm and, in the first chapter, they encourage you to ‘grow your own salad’. “It’s easier than you think,” says Darren. “It’ll probably taste better than most of the stuff that’s been sat on [supermarket] shelves for days, sometimes weeks. You won’t waste a single leaf of anything you grow yourself.” Along with plenty of salad and vegetable dishes, the chefs share their love of barbecuing and pickling, and there’s a chapter dedicated to wholesome food for ‘ducklings’. Darren has already introduced his own duckling, 22-month-old Archie, to cooking. “I don’t care if my son becomes a chef, but he has to learn to cook. It’s one of the most important life skills a father can pass on... well, that and surfing!” Three Blue Ducks in Byron is at The Farm, 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale, NSW. (02) 6684 7795; threeblueducks.com or thefarmbyronbay.com.au
KOHLRABI, WATERCRESS, APPLE & MUSTARD SALAD
Serves 4–6 200g kohlrabi, topped and tailed, julienned using a mandoline* 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, julienned using a mandoline 2 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts finely sliced 2 handfuls of picked watercress sprigs 1 small handful of mint leaves, torn 1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Tip salad into a good-sized bowl and serve. * Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family, and the taste and texture is a cross between sweet young cabbage and broccoli stalks. >
JICAMA, PICKLED CHILLI, RADISH & SHISO SALAD
Serves 4–6 1 small jicama, peeled, finely sliced* ½ small red cabbage, core removed, finely shredded 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, julienned using a mandoline 4 baby red radishes, cut into 8 wedges 2 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts finely sliced 4 shiso leaves, shredded 1 handful of mint leaves, torn 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tablespoon pickled chilli (recipe follows) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 lime, juiced 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon honey
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, and toss until well combined. Check it’s not too sweet or acidic, adjusting with lime juice or honey as needed. Serve straightaway. * Jicama, a Central American root vegetable, tastes like a mixture of nashi, apple and water chestnuts. Available at farmers’ markets and some greengrocers or substitute nashi or kohlrabi.
Makes 4 cups 6 long red chillies, sliced PICKLING LIQUID 200ml white wine vinegar 100g caster sugar 1 cinnamon stick 1 whole star anise 2 cloves
Place all pickling liquid ingredients and 200ml water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over a medium-high heat. Set aside to cool completely. Place chilli in a sterilised 4-cup capacity jar. Pour over pickling liquid and seal. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours to develop flavours. Pickled chilli will keep for 2–3 months in refrigerator.
CITRUS SALAD WITH WATERCRESS, HERBS, ALMONDS & NAM JIM
Serves 4 1 pomelo, peeled, segmented 2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, cut into 5cm chunks 2 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts finely sliced 1 long red chilli, finely sliced 1 bunch of watercress, sprigs picked 1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked 1 bunch of mint, leaves picked and torn 2 double kar lime leaves, rolled up and sliced as finely as possible* 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted almonds NAM JIM 1 long red chilli, roughly chopped 1 coriander root, scraped and well cleaned, roughly chopped 1 garlic clove, peeled, roughly chopped 2 teaspoons honey 1 tablespoon fish sauce 2½ tablespoons lime juice
To make nam jim, place chilli, coriander root, garlic and a pinch of sea salt flakes in a mortar, and pound with a pestle until a paste forms. Add honey, fish sauce and lime juice and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust flavour balance, if necessary. (A decent nam jim should be sweet, sour, salty and hot.) Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Dress with nam jim and gently toss again. Tip into a serving bowl and serve. * Also known as kaffir lime leaves. Available at supermarkets. >
TOMATO, BOCCONCINI & PICKLED BEET SALAD WITH CRUNCHY BITS
Serves 4–6 (See photograph, page 96) 500g mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size 2 eschalots, peeled, finely sliced 65g pickled beetroot (recipe follows) 1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves 220g bocconcini ½ bunch of basil, leaves picked CRUNCHY BITS 100g torn rye bread 30g finely grated parmesan 1 tablespoon raw buckwheat DRESSING 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar ½ garlic clove, peeled, finely grated
To make crunchy bits, preheat oven to 210°C or 190°C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread torn bread over prepared tray. Sprinkle with parmesan and buckwheat. Season with sea salt flakes. Place a cooling rack on tray to prevent baking paper blowing around in oven. Roast for 5 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool and crisp up. To make dressing, whisk olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a bowl until well combined. Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Combine tomato, eschalot, beetroot and parsley in a large bowl. Tear up bocconcini and basil, then add to bowl. Pour over dressing, and season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine. Tip into a serving bowl and break crunchy bits over top of salad.
Makes 4 cups 6 baby golden beetroot, finely sliced PICKLING LIQUID 200ml apple cider vinegar 100g caster sugar 1 cinnamon stick 1 bay leaf pinch of toasted fennel seeds 1 clove
Place all pickling liquid ingredients and 200ml of water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, then cool completely.
Place beetroot in a sterilised 4-cup capacity jar. Pour over pickling liquid and seal. Refrigerate for 24 hours to develop flavours. Pickled beetroot will keep for 2–3 months in refrigerator.
CHICKEN ON A STRING ROASTED OVER COALS
Serves 4 (See photograph, page 99) You’ll need a tripod (available at camping stores) and 1.5 metres of kitchen string to hang the chicken over the coals. 1 x 1.8kg chicken (preferably corn-fed) lime wedges, to serve CHILLI PASTE 5 fermented or fresh long red chillies 1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled and crushed 2½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Set up tripod and light a small charcoal fire underneath it. To make chilli paste, process all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Thread a trussing needle with kitchen string. Starting inside chicken carcass, thread one-third of string out of left side of lower back. Thread back inside bird on right side of upper back. Pull string out of neck cavity and remove needle. Wrap other end of string twice around left leg. Work your way around left wing, right wing and right leg until all limbs are securely tied to chicken. Rethread needle and push through lower back opposite your first stitch. Cross over first stitch and thread back inside bird on left side of upper back, then pull string out of neck cavity. Knot 2 lengths of string extending from neck cavity. Make sure fire isn’t too hot and wild or chicken will burn. (You want the flames to have died off and for it to be smouldering with elements of smoke.) Generously rub chilli paste all over chicken. Using string extending from neck cavity, tie chicken to apex of tripod. Cook for 2 hours, feeding fire small amounts of charcoal to keep heat consistent (we are talking about a low heat here), or until a meat thermometer inserted into chicken reaches 70°C or over. Cut chicken into portions and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!
STRAWBERRIES WITH YOGHURT & ELDERFLOWER ICE-CREAM
Serves 6 150g caster sugar 2 tablespoons honey 1 thyme sprig 1 handful of elderflowers* 600g natural yoghurt ½ lemon, rind finely grated 250g ripe strawberries, sliced extra elderflowers and finely grated lemon rind, to decorate (optional) FENNEL-MACADAMIA CRUNCH ½ teaspoon fennel seeds 3 tablespoons chopped roasted macadamias 1 teaspoon bee pollen** 1 tablespoon cacao nibs*** Place sugar, honey, thyme, elderflowers and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until sugar dissolves and a light syrup forms. Strain into a heatproof bowl and cool. Combine yoghurt, lemon rind and cooled sugar syrup in a bowl, then churn in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. To make fennel-macadamia crunch, toast fennel seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat for 1 minute or until aromatic. Place in a mortar and pound with a pestle until crushed. Cool. Combine fennel seeds with remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt flakes. Divide strawberries among bowls. Top with scoops of ice-cream. Sprinkle with macadamia crunch. Decorate with extra elderflowers and lemon rind. * Ensure elderflowers have not been treated with sprays. ** Available at health-food stores. *** Available at health-food stores and some supermarkets.
Jicama, pickled chilli, radish & shiso salad
Kohlrabi, watercress, apple & mustard salad
This is an edited extract from The Blue Ducks in the Country by Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy (Plum, $39.99).