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.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - RECIPES DAR­REN ROBERT­SON AND MARK LABROOY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY WIL­LIAM MEPPEM STYLING EMMA KNOWLES

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.

PICK­LED CHILLI

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.

PICK­LED BEET­ROOT

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.

Kohlrabi, wa­ter­cress, ap­ple & mus­tard salad

Jicama, pick­led chilli, radish & shiso salad

This is an edited ex­tract from The Blue Ducks in the Coun­try by Dar­ren Robert­son and Mark Labrooy (Plum, $39.99).

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