Sunday, July 4, 2010

John’s Wetls - banana skin vinegar

Watawieh yorlyi.

It has been a busy week on Norfolk with the freight ship unloading, and Getaway, the TV travel show, filming here.

Fortunately we had brilliant winter weather for the week with plenty of sunshine so the ship unloaded on time and Dermott and the Getaway crew were blown away by the scenery and beauty of the island.

I was fortunate to be selected to have the 4WD tour filmed so keep your eye out for the show sometime in the next six months to see some great footage of our beautiful home.

Last week I did an article on marinated wild mushrooms with Annette’s Banana vinegar and Mike emailed asking if I could do the recipe for the vinegar and how to identify the right mushrooms.

So for this week here is the Banana skin vinegar recipe. Next week I will do an article on mushrooms.

Vinegars have been used by humans for thousands of years and these days some varieties such as aged balsamic vinegars sell for hundreds of dollars.

But making vinegar is actually very easy and the earliest vinegars were accidentally discovered when fruit juices or wines were not sealed probably and fermented in to vinegars. So I thinks it’s a great idea to make my own instead of buying it and many thanks again to Annette for telling me all about it and giving me a couple of bottles to try.

Now, although this recipe is for banana skin you can make it with the skin of any fruit. Just ensure that the skins have been well washed to remove any sprays.

Ingredients: A glass jar (don’t use a metal container); a piece of cheesecloth or muslin big enough to go over the mouth of the jar; six to eight banana skins or another fruit, or even carrot peels; distilled water in the cities, or good Norfolk water here.
Sterilise the jar by standing it for five minutes in boiling water.

Pour out the water.  Add the peels. Fill with water leaving room at the top so it won’t touch the cloth. Cover with cloth and tie on with string or rubber band. Make sure that it is secure so bugs or dirt can’t get in.

Store in a warm dark place like your pantry and leave it to start fermenting.

The cloth will allow wild yeasts to pass in to the jar, which will ferment the vinegar.

Stir once a day and after a few weeks you will start to smell a vinegary odour. Allow this to continue until you have the concentration and taste you’re after.

You will notice it starting to look cloudy and a skin will form on top. This is known as the mother or vinegar starter and can be used to start you next batch and will make the process faster.

When the vinegar is ready, strain through a clean cloth in to a sterilised bottle and store in a cool dark place. You can also add various herbs at this stage to add other flavours - thyme, sage, rosemary etc.

Darset. John

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

John's Wetls - marinated mushrooms

After a couple of days of rain we have had some beautiful sunny days, which makes for great mushroom weather.
However I was still a bit surprised to find a nice stand of field mushrooms under the Norfolk pines at Emily Bay when I had finished doing the glass bottom boat. Certainly after spending an hour looking at fish and coral I didn’t expect to find a feed of mushrooms but I wasn’t slow swooping down on them.

So heading home I walked into find that the cousin of Gaelene’s dad, Annette, had left a couple of bottles of homemade vinegar on the kitchen table.

You’ve got to love Norfolk the way people just wander in and leave things for you.

Annette had been telling me the other night about how she makes her own vinegar from banana skins. I was keen to try it so you can imagine how pleased I was to find the two bottles on the table. Many thanks Annette.

Now back to mushrooms and the vinegar; what could be better then fresh marinated field mushrooms marinated in homemade banana vinegar, on toast.

So here is my recipe for what turned out to be a great lunch on a beautiful winters day with fresh produce from friends and nature.

Marinated mushrooms on toasted bread. (serves 4)

500 grams mushroom either field or button; ¼ cup fresh thyme; ¼ cup chopped parsley; ½ cup olive oil; three tablespoon banana vinegar or cider vinegar; squeeze of lemon juice; one clove of garlic; dash of salt; ground black pepper.

Blanch the chopped mushrooms in boiling water for one minute, drain well.

Mix remaining ingredients and add mushrooms. Sit to one side for 20 minutes.

Grab a French stick and cut across at a diagonal into eight pieces, toast, then brush with olive oil and rub with a clove of garlic.

Place two slices on a plate and top with mushrooms then sit back with good friends, and a cold light lager like a corona and enjoy.

Hope you like it. A remember life is about the simple things – a stand of mushrooms under the pines, a gift of vinegar from a friend – and one’s life is instantly richer.

See yorlyi morla. John.

Friday, June 18, 2010

John’s Wetls - creamy bacon and potato chowder

Last week we had Naomi Hallett’s 70th birthday bash. Her brother Don and his wife Maree and the rest of the family organised a great week of celebrations around Bounty Day. Cumulating in a big get-together in Don and Maree’s Tampalii culture shed.

As usual on Norfolk we all pitched in to help for the wetl’s (food). I was asked to bring soup to warm everyone on a cool winters night.

I thought a nice thick creamy bacon and potato chowder would be just the thing.

Anyway we had a great night and the soup proved to be very popular with a number of people asking for the recipe.

So here is myse recipe for John’s creamy bacon and potato chowder that serves six to eight salan (people).

Ingredients: Eight to 10 potatoes medium size peeled; two onions diced finely; two rashers bacon finely chopped; one tablespoon chicken stock powder; two tablespoon flour; six cups hot water; two cups cream; a tablespoon butter; a tablespoon oil; juice of one orange.

Cut your potatoes into small cubes – the only complaint I would make about the soup the other night was that the cubes were a bit big, so you want cubes about a centimetre in size.

Sauté onions and bacon in the butter and oil until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown. Add flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for four to five minutes and then slowly add half the hot water bit by bit, stirring constantly.

Mix in the potatoes, chicken stock, stir, then add remaining water and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper if needed. Squeeze in orange juice.

Serve in bowls with nice crusty bread and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Hope yorlyi enjoy it. And thank you Don and Maree for a fun night and happy birthday Naomi.

See yorlyi morla. John.

Friday, June 11, 2010

John's Wetls - Pan fried fish with a lemon cream sauce

On Norfolk we are so fortunate to have access to some of the best fishing in the world. We get it so fresh and of course good fish is so easy and quick to cook.

My sons went fishing recently with their Uncle Steve and brought home some beautiful nanwi and ofi (trevally). Usually we get our fish filleted and skinless. But this was whole so I filleted the fish leaving the skin on as I love the crispy skin of pan-seared fish.

Out came the heavy iron pan and five minutes later we sat down to a delicious quick dinner of fresh fish caught that day. Hope you enjoy this one - pan fried fish with a lemon cream sauce.

Four boneless pieces of fish with skin on such as trumpeter or snapper; juice of one lemon; one cup of cream; one tablespoon of brown sugar.

Heat a splash of oil and a wedge of butter in a hot pan until butter starts to bubble and spit.

Salt both sides of fish and place skin side down in the pan for two to three minutes until skin is crispy. Turn fish over and cook for another minute then remove.

Turn heat to low and add lemon juice, sugar, pinch of salt and cream. Stir until combined and starting to thicken, then remove from heat.

Plate up fish with a nice crispy salad and pour over sauce and serve.


See yorlyi morla. John

Friday, June 4, 2010

John's Wetls - Mexican breakfast on flat bread

Watawieh yorlyi. We have had quite a lot of wind and rain recently, and it was on one such Saturday that we settled in for a day of movies or jigsaws and watched the glorious rains fall from the skies.

So here I was watching the rain after a leisurely lay-in-bed thinking what to cook for breakfast.

I check the kitchen supplies - no bread, but plenty of ripe avocado, tomatoes, onions, bacon, and eggs, and the brain starts ticking slowly, (it is Saturday morning after all), and Ah Ha! something clicks and I think Mexican. I love Mexican flavours – that fresh crisp salty heat teamed with the creaminess of avocado and eggs.

So hetieh myse (here is my) recipe for John’s Mexican breakfast on flat bread (serves 4).


Flat bread: one teaspoon of dry yeast; one cup warm milk; ½ teaspoon cumin; pinch of salt; one table spoon butter; two cups flour.

Mix yeast with milk and sit for five to 10 minutes. Mix flour, cumin, and salt, add butter and mix through. Pour in yeast, stir with a spatula, add more flour if needed or if a bit dry, and add a little warm water. We are after a soft dough. Knead for five minutes then set to one side in a warm place while you prepare the other parts of the breakfast.

Gaucamole: one medium tomato diced; ½ onion diced; one clove garlic minced; one teaspoon lime juice; ½ teaspoon cumin; ½ teaspoon coriander; one Norfolk cannonball avocado, or a couple of those little haas ones they get overseas; ½ teaspoon chilli sauce.

Mash avocado with cumin, coriander, lime juice, and a good sprinkle of salt flakes. Then mix remainder of ingredients and sit to one side.

Four eggs; four rashers of bacon; a cup of grated cheese.

While the bread is rising make the guacamole, then fry the bacon and eggs. We want the eggs sunny side up and still runny.

Now roll the dough in a sausage and cut in to eight pieces, then flatten out with a rolling pin to 20 cm rounds.

Preheat a flat cast iron pan or grill. You want it nice and hot. Put on the flat breads one by one and watch the bubbles rise then turn over (about a minute to each side).

You will get that nice toast smell that lets you know its cooked. Place on a plate and continue to cook remaining flat breads.

So now assemble the breakfast. Place a flat bread on each plate, then a generous spoonful of guacamole on each bread, top with bacon, then an egg. Sprinkle on cheese and top with a teaspoon chilli sauce.

And serve with a great coffee and relax.

It got the thumbs up from my son Joshua (11 years). I love the fact that the kids scoffed this dish down with the all the onions, tomatoes and avocado.

So give it a go on your next rainy, lazy morning.

Remember life is good. Take the time to watch the rain, its our blessing from the heavens.

Thanks f’ awa. John

Monday, May 24, 2010

John's Wetls - Porpai Icecream

It’s porpai (red cherry Gauva) season on Norfolk so it’s a great time for making porpai pies, or juice or jam, or even icecream.

I had a Bounty dinner (island style food) to cook for BAUNTI EXCURSIONS (a tour company) and their 29 guests recently. Because I love using seasonal produce, I loaded up the kids and their friends and ventured up the mountain to beautiful Palm Glen where plenty of porpai grows.

The kids ended up having a porpai fight and got absolutely covered but we eventually ended up with a bucket or porpai.

Porpai has a flavour of its own. It’s a great fruit for icecream, and is very high in Vitamin C too. If you can’t get porpai you can substitute any other fruit such as strawberrys, cherries etc. Porpai does have a nice tang and really suits this recipe.

I served this icecream with a traditional Norfolk coconut pie and it was a real hit.

So give it ago the kids will love it along with the adults.

Porpai Icecream (makes two litres)

Ingredients: Four egg whites, one litre porpai juice, one litre thick whipping cream, one cup castor sugar.

Whip the egg whites till thick and glossy, add the sugar, blend in, follow with the cream then add juice. Continue blending with a beater until thick and smooth.

Place in container in freezer, after two hours give it a quick whip to keep it nice and light. Repeat twice more after two hours then leave over night.

I ran the porpai through my juicer which gave me a rather thick juice. The amount of sugar to add will vary with the acidity of the fruit you use.

Hope you enjoy.

See yorlyi morla, John