A mov­able FEAST

Al­fresco din­ing can be as ex­cit­ing as it is prac­ti­cal. Four favourite food­ies serve up some in­spi­ra­tion

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE -

It’s the time of the year when the din­ing ta­ble just seems wrong … un­less it’s hauled on to the ter­race or into the gar­den un­der the trees. But why not take your food even fur­ther into the great out­doors? The long, lan­guid days of Jan­uary are just made for al­fresco graz­ing on the beach, in the park, at a ca­sual pool party or just hang­ing around your favourite breezy bar.

Not con­tent to sim­ply pack the same old salad sarnies or throw the usual snags on the bar­bie (though, ahem, there’s noth­ing wrong with that), we asked four of our favourite food­ies — ex­perts in the kind of nosh you can hold in one hand — for some tips and in­spi­ra­tion. Et voila: an imag­i­nary fold­ing ta­ble laden with de­lights, from bloody mary oys­ter shoot­ers and pork pies to banh mi and beef tagli­ata.

And please turn the page to read a hand­ful of their favourite recipes. Now get out there … and don’t forget the bot­tle opener!


Co-owner, Piper Street Food Co, Kyne­ton, Vic­to­ria I grew up eat­ing out­doors. My par­ents ran the restau­rant at Wa­ter­fall Gully Na­tional Park in South Aus­tralia, so my sis­ter Bec and I had a lot of free­dom to ex­plore the sur­round­ing park.

Most of our meals were eaten there — whether it was a Sun­ny­boy “bor­rowed” from mum and dad’s kiosk, a fin­ger bun from the Bal­four’s de­liv­ery man or our favourite: one of mum’s tra­di­tional English pork pies.

I still love eat­ing out­doors — in fact the in­spi­ra­tion for Piper St Food Co was an al­fresco lunch in Paris when my wife Bryanna and I trav­elled around Europe in 1999-2000. We lived in the Latin Quar­ter and spent our days wan­der­ing through mar­kets and laneways brim­ming with saucis­son, hares, ter­rines and cheeses. Char­cu­terie is the best pic­nic food. All the hard work has been done for you, it’s eaten cold and it trav­els well.

When I’m pic­nick­ing with my fam­ily (we have five kids aged 13, 11, nine, seven and five) it’s all about lots of shade, a cricket set, plenty of cold wa­ter, pa­per tow­els and a sim­ple menu. Pork pies (recipe Page 4) are ob­vi­ously a fam­ily favourite. We also pack sauce gribiche, ap­ples, ched­dar, pick­les and maybe a bot­tle of ale or a rose. And we make sure we have a bot­tle opener. The Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in Kyne­ton are a favourite pic­nic spot — lots of room for cricket, and the river winds through it. There’s plenty of shade from the an­cient oak trees and it’s close to work if we need more ril­lettes or pate. I still have a soft spot for the Ade­laide Hills: we used to have big fam­ily get-to­geth­ers in the beau­ti­ful Be­lair Na­tional Park.

And this month, when we take the kids for a break closer to home in Bright, I’m plan­ning a pic­nic by the Ovens River.

For a pic­nic Al­ways re­mem­ber to take: • A sharp knife for ap­ples, whit­tling, cheese and ter­rines; and a corkscrew. I like the Opinel — they even make a cheese knife with a corkscrew in the han­dle • Pa­per towel or a tea towel. Good for clean­ing up, wrap­ping knives or glasses, wear­ing as bibs • Plenty of cold wa­ter • A bag to carry all your rub­bish


Chef and cu­ra­tor of Gi­ant Pic­nics at Baranga­roo, Sydney Pic­nic Take a large spread of food to share. Al­ways take a few clean con­tain­ers for the left­overs … and pil­lows • Ter­rine, coun­try style and chunky, with loads of cold but­ter and sour­dough bread • Yo­ghurt and harissa chicken legs, bar­be­cued • Freshly cooked king prawns • Old-fash­ioned potato salad with dill and sour cream • Tomato, oregano and onion salad • Iceberg let­tuces freshly washed and really cold and ready to be sliced on the spot, with salad dress­ing added at the last mo­ment • Warm gar­lic bread in foil • A big cheese like Holy Goat La Luna, and fruit • A mix­ture of cup­cakes: chocolate and car­rot and wal­nut with cream cheese frost­ing

Beach Pre­pare ahead — some­thing that’s all wrapped and ready to go means no sand in the mix. If you can’t do fish and chips I’d go poached flaked salmon and coleslaw in soft but­tered rolls, fresh and cold straight from the Esky in foil pack­ages.

Pool party Canapes are great. Small things you can graze on all af­ter­noon be­tween dips and sips. You don’t want to eat a heavy meal and swim. Try: • Mini soft ta­cos with crab, chilli, co­rian­der, cu­cum­ber and av­o­cado • As­para­gus and cu­cum­ber sand­wiches • Chicken chipo­latas with aioli • Thai be­tel leaves in piles with a bowl of spiced minced pork, shal­lots, mint, co­rian­der and sweet fish sauce. Get peo­ple to help them­selves • Fresh fruit from a big, really big cham­pagne bucket with ice • Mango cheeks and shards of wa­ter­melon, cher­ries


Sydney Seafood School I love eat­ing out­doors. We have a long ta­ble in the gar­den that seats 18 and this is where we do most of our sum­mer en­ter­tain­ing — Christ­mas lunch and

New Year’s Eve din­ner in our gar­den have be­come quite a tra­di­tion.

The trick to keep­ing it as stress-free as pos­si­ble is all in the plan­ning. Well ahead of guests ar­riv­ing, I ar­range stacks of plates, cut­lery, servi­ettes and rows of glasses, stock the sink with ice, beer, wine and soft drinks and line up the Aperol and Cam­pari … then when guests ar­rive we put out a few plat­ters of food, fire up the bar­bie and re­lax.

Pic­nic For tuna (or salmon) tartare on crou­tons: com­bine diced sashimi-grade tuna or salmon with chives, salted ca­pers, black pep­per, grated lemon zest and creme fraiche (this trav­els well in a plas­tic con­tainer in an Esky). Spread on crou­tons made from slices of sour­dough baguette brushed with olive oil and crisped in the oven — also easy to trans­port in a plas­tic con­tainer.

Beach Fin­ger food’s best for the beach and Viet­namese rice pa­per rolls are easy to pre­pare ahead of time and trans­port well, with a small plas­tic tub of dip­ping sauce. And who doesn’t love cold chook?

My steeped chicken with spicy slaw (recipe Page 4) was in­spired by a clas­sic way of poach­ing whole fish — ba­si­cally you pop it in the pot, bring it to the boil, take it off the heat, cover it and walk away un­til it cools down … by which time it’s per­fectly cooked. It gives a more suc­cu­lent re­sult than any other method I know.

As poached chicken can be a lit­tle dull on its own, I added a spicy coleslaw to liven things up. A loaf of crusty bread doesn’t go astray ei­ther. And the left­over stock is the per­fect base for a de­li­cious soup.

Pool party Next time you fire up the bar­bie, think Ital­ian! Beef tagli­ata with salsa verde (recipe Page 4) is quick and ver­sa­tile. And the salsa verde is a great sauce to have in your reper­toire. It’s de­li­cious driz­zled over just about ev­ery­thing — prawns, poul­try and veg­eta­bles as well as steak.

For bloody mary oys­ter shoot­ers, take along a Ther­mos of bloody mary mix­ture (10 parts tomato juice to 1 part — or more — vodka with a splash of worces­ter­shire sauce and lemon juice and a dash of tabasco sauce, salt and pep­per) and con­tainer of freshly shucked oys­ters. On ar­rival, de­cant to a jug and ar­range oys­ters on crushed ice. Pour shots of bloody mary and top each one with an oys­ter.

Bot­toms up! syd­ney­fish­mar­ket.com.au Roberta’s blog: food-wine-travel.com


Co-owner, Blakes Feast Ca­ter­ing, Mel­bourne Any­thing with kids re­quires adapt­abil­ity. Fire up the bar­be­cue and give the kids mini dogs made with qual­ity chipo­latas and per­haps a home­made bar­be­cue sauce. For the adults it has to be banh mi: crusty Viet­namese rolls, pate, grilled pork belly (pre-roasted and crisped on the bar­bie), pick­led slaw, cu­cum­ber, chilli, co­rian­der and hoisin or sriracha. Win­win! Pic­nic I love a long, lazy af­ter­noon spread. Char­cu­terie to start, in­clud­ing duck liver par­fait, chilli-pick­led veg­eta­bles and sour­dough baguettes. Then some king prawns (peeled at home) with wasabi mayo, fol­lowed by shimeji mush­room and ta­leg­gio mini tarts. Go a som tam salad with shred­ded grilled fish and some bar­be­cue lamb cut­lets with tzatziki. A nice oozy French brie and condi­ments is a great fin­ish.

Beach You need some­thing por­ta­ble that avoids a po­ten­tial wind gust/sand dis­as­ter. How about sim­ple or ex­trav­a­gant sal­ads, in­di­vid­u­ally packed in noo­dle boxes or plas­tic con­tain­ers. Think bar­be­cue chicken, Cypriot grain salad or kipfler potato, home-smoked salmon, grilled corn, co­rian­der and chipo­tle. If you do a leaf-based salad, pack the vinai­grette separately for last-minute dress­ing.

Pool party Has to be ribs. Get good meaty baby back ribs (I get mine from Son Butcher in Vic­to­ria Street, Rich­mond) and do them prop­erly.

Re­move the mem­brane and give the ribs a good dry rub. Sit for a couple of hours and then smoke (in­di­rectly if pos­si­ble) over wood or char­coal. Low and slow is the mantra here. The tem­per­a­ture should be some­where be­tween 107C and 120C and should take four to six hours. Brush with a home­made bar­be­cue sauce and caramelise on a bar­be­cue be­fore serv­ing. Th­ese are so worth the trou­ble and will blow any oven-braised or elec­tric smoker ribs out of the wa­ter.

For ev­ery­thing you will ever need to know about ribs and brisket, go to amaz­in­gribs.com.


Roberta Muir In Italy, steak is usu­ally served sliced into strips — bis­tecca tagli­ata (tagli­ata mean­ing “cut”), which I think looks much more ap­peal­ing than a big slab of meat on the plate. It’s of­ten served with a salad of rocket and shaved parme­san but any salad works well. Some recipes mar­i­nate the steak while oth­ers don’t, and any cut can be used. The key tricks are al­low­ing the meat to come to room tem­per­a­ture and get­ting your pan or grill good and hot be­fore cook­ing it, then set­ting it aside to rest af­ter it has been cooked to al­low the fi­bres to re­lax and the juices to spread evenly through­out, en­sur­ing that it’s ten­der and juicy — the rest is up to you. I’ve added one of my favourite condi­ments, salsa verde, but you could just as eas­ily serve it with a good driz­zle of ex­tra vir­gin olive oil and a lemon wedge.

Serves 4 4 x 250g sir­loin steaks Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, for driz­zling Salt flakes, to taste Salad, for serv­ing Crusty bread, for serv­ing

Salsa verde 2 firmly packed cups pars­ley leaves 4 cloves gar­lic, chopped 2 ta­ble­spoons ca­pers in brine, rinsed 7 an­chovy fil­lets (see notes) 2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice ¾ cup ex­tra vir­gin olive oil Re­move steaks from the fridge 30 min­utes or so be­fore cook­ing, to bring them to room tem­per­a­ture. Mean­while, make salsa verde: com­bine all in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor. Set aside. Heat a bar­be­cue or char­grill pan. Driz­zle steaks well with oil, rub­bing it all over both sides. Sprin­kle both sides gen­er­ously with salt. Cook steaks for about 3 min­utes each side for medi­um­rare, or to your lik­ing. Place steaks on a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 5 min­utes. Cut steaks on the di­ag­o­nal, against the grain, into slices about 1cm thick. Ar­range on plates, driz­zle with a lit­tle salsa verde and serve with salad, bread and ex­tra salsa verde on the side. Notes: A small tin of Or­tiz an­chovy fil­lets (47.5g) is the per­fect quan­tity for the salsa verde recipe. STEEPED CHICKEN WITH SPICY SLAW

Roberta Muir

Serves 4 1 x 1.8kg chicken 1 brown onion, chopped 1 car­rot, chopped 1 stalk cel­ery, chopped Stems from 1 bunch pars­ley (leaves re­served for slaw) 1 fresh bay leaf 1 tea­spoon black pep­per­corns 1 ta­ble­spoon salt flakes

Spicy slaw ¼ savoy cab­bage, dark green outer leaves and thick cen­tral stem dis­carded 8 green onions, finely sliced 1 bunch pars­ley, leaves finely chopped ¼ cup finely chopped dill ¾ cup whole-egg may­on­naise 2½ ta­ble­spoons harissa 2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice Salt flakes, to taste Cut chicken in half, re­move ex­cess fat from neck and rinse cav­ity to re­move any ex­cess blood and re­main­ing of­fal. Place in a large saucepan with onion, car­rot, cel­ery, pars­ley stalks, bay leaf, pep­per­corns and salt. Add enough cold wa­ter to cover, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Skim to re­move any froth that has floated to the top, cover, re­move from heat and set aside for 1½ hours or un­til cool. Mean­while, make spicy slaw: finely shred the cab­bage and place in a large bowl with the green onion, pars­ley and dill. Shake may­on­naise, harissa, lemon juice and salt to­gether in a screw­top jar. Pour may­on­naise mix­ture over the salad and toss well to com­bine. Set aside. Re­move chicken from stock and set aside. Strain stock, dis­card­ing solids, cool and freeze to use as chicken stock for an­other dish. Cut chicken into pieces, spread spicy slaw on a plat­ter, ar­range chicken on top and serve warm or at room tem­per­a­ture. SAUCE GRIBICHE

Damian San­der­cock A Gal­lic sauce made to go with char­cu­terie, par­tic­u­larly cold pressed tongue. But this sauce — made with dill, tarragon, mint and a chopped boiled egg, ca­pers and cor­ni­chons — goes with ev­ery­thing. Try it on green beans or a potato salad. Great with fish and chicken and salad sand­wiches. 185ml canola oil 3 eggs ¼ bunch dill ¼ bunch pars­ley ¼ bunch tarragon ¼ bunch mint 35g ca­pers (salted, soaked, rinsed and drained) 45g cor­ni­chons 1 ½ tea­spoon mus­tard (Di­jon) 30ml vine­gar Boil eggs in the usual man­ner. Once cooked re­fresh un­der plenty of cold wa­ter. Peel and sep­a­rate yolks from whites. Pick herbs into a bowl and steep in wa­ter to re­move any dirt. Strain and spin in a salad spin­ner and lay on tea towel to dry. In the mean­time, with a sharp knife finely chop cor­ni­chons and ca­pers to­gether and place into a bowl big enough to ac­com­mo­date all in­gre­di­ents. Re­peat this process with the whites of the egg and then the yolks, fol­lowed fi­nally by the herbs (which should by now be fairly dry). Place th­ese in the bowl with the ca­pers cor­ni­chons and mus­tard, vine­gar and oil. Stir to com­bine. Taste and add salt and pep­per as re­quired. PORK PIES

Damian San­der­cock A clas­sic north­ern English sta­ple that be­gan life as a miner’s lunch and evolved into a del­i­cacy with a cult fol­low­ing. It’s de­li­cious, it’s eaten cold and it trav­els well, so it’s the per­fect pic­nic pie. Just add ched­dar, a pickle, a bot­tle of ale and a big shady tree. Pork pie fill­ing 1kg of pork shoul­der 250g of finely chopped streaky ba­con 250g of minced pork fat 12 sage leaves 2 large sprigs of thyme 1 tea­spoon of salt 1 tea­spoon of ground white pep­per ½ tea­spoon of ground mace Cut 1kg of pork shoul­der into small cubes, about half a cen­time­tre across, and place it in a large mix­ing bowl. Us­ing a sharp knife here is very im­por­tant; this step can take a while. Add 250g of finely chopped streaky ba­con along with 250g of pork fat. The bal­ance of meats is im­por­tant. The chunky shoul­der adds tex­ture, the ba­con adds flavour and the minced fat keeps the pie moist. Sea­son­ing the fill­ing. Finely chop a dozen sage leaves and the leaves from two large sprigs of thyme and add them to the meat, along with a gen­er­ous tea­spoon of salt, a tea­spoon of ground white pep­per, half a tea­spoon of ground mace. Mix ev­ery­thing to­gether well. Por­tion your fill­ing into 12 balls of equal size. Hot wa­ter pas­try 600g plain flour 270ml wa­ter 210g lard 7g salt 1 level tbsp caster sugar 1 egg Sift the dry in­gre­di­ents into a mix­ing bowl with a pad­dle at­tach­ment. Bring the wa­ter and lard to the boil in a saucepan. Once boiled pour over dry in­gre­di­ents, mix­ing on a slow speed un­til pas­try just comes to­gether. Add beaten egg and in­crease the speed for 60 sec­onds un­til the egg is fully in­cor­po­rated. Re­move the pas­try from the mixer. Flat­ten out to a disk; this will make it eas­ier when rolling out the pas­try later. Cover the pas­try in cling wrap and let it rest for an hour in the fridge. Roll out to the re­quired thick­ness us­ing min­i­mal flour (if you use min­i­mal flour there should be no need for an egg wash). Cut out 24 disks: 12 large for the base and 12 smaller for the lids. Place one of your 12 por­tions of pork pie fill­ing on to the larger disk, mould by hand crimp­ing the pas­try as you go forming the clas­sic pork pie shape. Cook the pies at 210C for 20-25min or un­til it has a deep golden crust. Leave the pies to cool be­fore in­ject­ing the as­pic stock jelly. As­pic jelly This recipe is taken di­rectly from Jane Grig­son’s

Char­cu­terie & French Pork Cook­ery. It is not the recipe we use at Piper St Food Co, how­ever any good gelati­nous stock will work. 1kg pork bones Pig’s trot­ter or veal knuckle Car­rot Onion stuck with 4 cloves Bou­quet garni: bay leaf, thyme and pars­ley tied with a thread Pep­per­corns Lemon This can be made the night be­fore. Place bones and veg­eta­bles into a large pot, cover with wa­ter and bring to the boil. Place lid on pot and leave to gen­tly bub­ble for 3 hours. Do not add salt. Af­ter 3 hours strain liq­uid into a clean pot and boil un­til it re­duces to about 550ml. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, and a lit­tle lemon juice. Leave in a cool place to set. When pie is cool enough to add as­pic, warm the jelly so it be­comes liq­uid again. We use syringes to in­ject as­pic into our pies; how­ever, you can use a small fun­nel.

Snack food from An­drew Blake’s book Blake’s Feast, Life in Food; Roberta Muir, left; An­drew Blake, above;

Alex Her­bert

Damian San­der­cock

Roberta Muir’s beef tagli­ata with salsa verde; be­low, steeped chicken

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