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The River Cottage Australia Cookbook

by Paul West

Why we love it!

For passionate cooks and gardeners, or anyone interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle, The River Cottage Australia Cookbook is a must-have addition to your kitchen shelves.

Straightforward and friendly, this cookbook sets out some delicious new recipes that are not too hard to make, yet bursting with flavour. The emphasis is on quality and seasonal ingredients, and will really appeal to those interested in a holistic approach to food.

When famed chef turned sustainability adventurer, Huge Fearnley-Whittingstall, sought to bring his popular British TV show, River Cottage, to Australian shores, a new presenter was needed and Paul West was his man.

With a foreword from Hugh and an interesting introduction from Paul about how he came to be cast for Australia’s version of the lovable River Cottage, the book is packed with gorgeous recipes from the first three series of River Cottage Australia, many of them created by Paul on the farm.

We can vouch for the simplicity and flavour of the recipes, having already tried a few them at home. There’s a mouth-watering section on some different but easy-to-put-together salads using super-healthy seasonal greens, such as the delectable Wombok Slaw, an interesting twist on the Aussie BBQ classic.

With River Cottage Australia near the sea on the pristine NSW South Coast, there is of course a beautiful seafood section, including the lovely and easy Panfried Bream with Lemon Capers.

In the meat chapter, kids love the Beer-Marinated Chicken Wings and there’s a lovely bread chapter, featuring non-scary ways to get going on your own sourdough starter.

You don’t have to have seen the shows to love this cookbook. With more than 120 recipes accompanied by beautiful photography at the farm, it’s a book for passionate food lovers and it’s a great gift for the home cook.

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From the yummy ‘Sweet Things’  chapter of this book, here’s the recipe for Paul’s awesomely delicious (and wheat-free) Hazelnut Syrup Cake. Why not have a go at whipping this up at home?

Hazelnut Syrup Cake

The polar opposite of an airy sponge, this dense, nutty cake is kept moist and given a lift by the addition of the orange syrup. A great cake recipe to have up your sleeve for those among us who avoid the wheatier things in life.

 

SERVES 12

6 free-range eggs, separated

150g caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 2 oranges

340g hazelnuts, ground to a fine meal

Candied peel, to serve (optional)

 

ORANGE SYRUP

150g caster sugar

200ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 4 oranges

 

Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease and line a 25cm cake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until they are creamy and pale yellow.

In a separate bowl, mix together the baking powder, orange zest and hazelnut meal, then add to the egg yolks and sugar and thoroughly beat them together.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add one-third of the whisked whites to the yolk mixture and combine to help lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites until the mixture has a smooth, even consistency. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about an hour or until the cake springs back lightly when touched and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool.

When the cake is cooked, remove from the tin and while it is still hot, prick it all over with a skewer and then spoon half of the syrup on top, allowing it to soak in. leave to cool a little.

To serve, dress with more syrup and some candied peel, if you like.

Hazelnut Syrup Cake

 

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Classic Jersey Beef Burgers

Portable, delicious and filling, a good burger is the ultimate two-handed hunger buster. Steer clear of lean mince for your burger making; instead favour mince from cuts like the chuck, brisket and short rib – the fat helps provide moisture and flavour. In my experience, cattle breeds with high levels of marbling, like Jersey and Wagyu beef, make the juiciest burgers.

 

SERVES 4

1 brown onion, finely diced

Oil, for frying

1kg minced Jersey or Wagyu veal (though any high-quality, non-lean beef mince will suffice)

1 free-range egg

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Cheddar cheese (optional)

4 milk buns (see page 224) or soft burger buns

Homemade mayonnaise (see page 38) or some store-bought mayo

2 leaves of mustard greens, roughly chopped (or you could use any non-bitter lettuce leaf)

1 baby cos lettuce

Tomato relish

 

Put the onions and a little oil in a frypan on a medium heat and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes until they are soft and golden. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine the mince, egg and Dijon mustard, and season generously with salt and pepper. Once the onion has cooled, add it to the mince mixture and give the whole thing a good mix with your hands.

Heat a frypan, add a little oil and test the seasoning of the burger mixture by making a tiny pattie and cooking it. If everything is to your liking then proceed to shape up four burgers.

Using the same frypan, cook the burgers over a medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes per side until they are well browned and a little pink in the middle (if you like them medium rare).

Once I’ve turned my burgers I like to lay a couple of thin slices of Cheddar on top of the patties so the heat melts the cheese.

To serve, cut the milk buns in half and lightly toast. Slather both sides with a bit of mayo, then arrange the mustard greens and cos leaves on the bottom halves, place the cooked burger on top, finish with a dollop of tomato relish and enjoy.

Classic Jersey Beef Burgers[1]

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Butterflied Chicken with Harissa

This spicy North African–style marinade adds a chilli kick to grilled chicken, as well as a sweet, smoky flavour. Served with a simple scoop of couscous and a dollop of fire-quelling yoghurt, chicken off the grill never tasted so good. Your local butcher will butterfly the chicken if you ask them nicely.

SERVES 4

Handful of medium-heat red chillies (such as Serrano), tops removed

4 garlic cloves, peeled

3 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika

Handful of cherry tomatoes

60ml (¼ cup) olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt

1 medium free-range, pasture-fed chicken, butterflied

200g couscous

200ml chicken stock (see page 208), boiling hot

Knob of butter

Salt and pepper

200ml natural yoghurt (see page 245)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Small handful each of mint and coriander leaves, roughly torn

Lemon wedges, to serve

 

Put the chillies, garlic, cumin and coriander seeds, paprika and cherry tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse until a paste starts to form. Add the olive oil, half the lemon juice and zest and a generous pinch of salt and pulse again until combined but not completely smooth. If you don’t have a food processor you can smash everything together in a large mortar and pestle.

Lay the chicken out in a deep-sided dish and season with salt. Coat with the harissa marinade and rub it all over. If you have the time, place in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours.

Heat the chargrill plate of the barbecue over a medium–high heat and place the chicken on, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is charred and then turn over and repeat for the other side. If the skin is charring and the flesh still isn’t cooked, move the chicken to a cooler part of the plate and grill for around 15–20 minutes, turning occasionally, until it’s cooked through.

Meanwhile, place the couscous in a heat-proof bowl, pour over the hot chicken stock, cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Then toss in a knob of butter, season with salt and pepper and fluff with a fork.

To make the yoghurt dressing, combine the yoghurt, remaining lemon zest and juice and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl, then stir to combine. Drizzle over a little extra-virgin olive oil and stir through. Scatter with some of the mint leaves.

To serve, place couscous on a large plate and top with the grilled chicken. Scatter over the rest of the mint and the coriander leaves and serve with the yoghurt dressing and lemon wedges on the side.

Butteflied Chicken with Harissa

 


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About Paul West

Paul West was born in 1984 in Murrurundi (pop 900) – a small town in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, know as ‘The Crown of the Upper Hunter’.

Paul’s parents ran several businesses in the town, ranging from selling Harley Davidsons, firearms and farm products to buying and selling fox pellets and feral pig meat. Paul’s is one of three children; his older brother Simon, is an electrician and his younger sister, Nicole, is a hairdresser and beauty therapist. Paul says he’s inspired by his mother. According to him, she embodies the ideals of good, honest hard work, selflessness and community spirit – and says she instilled in him a strong work ethic that has held him in good stead throughout his short career. During his growing years and due to his parents’ ever-changing and intriguing business ventures, Paul came across all kinds of characters – from the shack-dwelling mountain hermits who only ever came to town to sell pelts and buy ammunition, to horse-loving Sheiks from the U.A.E. involved in the region’s thriving thoroughbred breeding industry. Paul trained as a chef, and has worked in all areas of food production from growing fruit and vegetables, as a WWOOFer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) in orchards, to wholesale markets, retail fruiterers and one of the country’s top restaurants. It was at Melbourne’s renowned Vue de Monde, where Paul worked as a bistro chef and met his partner Alicia. In 2012, both thirsty for a change and looking to the future, they made the move to South Arm, a coastal town south-east of Hobart. Their long-term plan is to one day live off the land, and generally lead a more sustainable life. Paul is inspired by the sustainable agriculture gurus Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan, and the people of Bhutan – who have pledged to become the world’s first 100% organic farm nation. Paul was working as a ‘knife for hire’ in various restaurant kitchens near Hobart and as a volunteer with community gardens and permaculture groups. Paul holds a certificate in Permaculture Design. Apart from his dream of running his own self-sufficient farm, Paul and Alicia are also hoping to start a family in the very near future. Until then, Paul’s border collie cross, “Digger”, is the newest edition to the River Cottage Australia family.



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