Chili Cheese Fries!


As anyone who lives here knows, Sydney is currently awash with American food fever, with every suburban burger shop and second-rate pub serving up the likes of pulled pork sliders, chipotle fried chicken and the ubiquitous cheeseburger (invariably, ‘wagyu’) on a brioche bun, all served by a moustachioed hipster in a bow tie.
Frankly, I’m all for it (except perhaps for the hipsters), though I personally haven’t ventured far into the realm of this sort of food, with my plans for The Best Burger Ever still on the drawing board. I decided that I wanted to cook something on these lines and fell upon an item that I will always order if it happens to be on a menu – chili cheese fries


  • A couple of starchy potatoes, peeled
  • Oil

Slice the potatoes in a mandoline on the widest setting, then slice into fries. Heat the oil to about 150 degrees and cook the fries for 5 minutes or so, then remove from the oil, drain and put on a tray in the fridge for an hour or so, then fry at 200 degrees until golden and delicious. Remove from the oil, drain and toss with salt.



This one was very straightforward – beef, onion, garlic, some of my roasted chilli oill, tomatoes and chicken stock

This was probably my favourite part of the dish – a splash of beer, a pinch of sodium citrate and handfuls of grated cheddar. Dead simple and wonderful – the sodium citrate essentially works to reduce the cheese’s acidity, making the proteins more soluble (thanks google!) and prevents the sauce from separating, ensuring it will remain a smooth and creamy texture.


Bowl, fries, cheese sauce, chili, cheese sauce , chives – awesome.



Smoked Brisket

and this

I’ve spent the last few weeks smoking like a madman;  not marijuana or cane toads, but something much more fun – chicken, brisket, ribs and fish. I have a Bradley smoker set up in my kitchen, the only problem being that my apartment is reasonably ill-ventilated and my extractor fan does a pretty abysmal job of filtering all the smoke out of my apartment. Consequently, long smokes inevitably result in my entire apartment (and me, for that matter) taking on a note of smoked hickory. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, after a recent trip to Vic’s Meat at the Sydney fish markets for a smoked brisket roll (highly recommended btw), I decided to post up my own recipe for brisket

Basic BBQ Rub:

Paprika (I used sweet paprika

Black pepper


Caster sugar


Cayenne Pepper

Brown sugar

I wish I could give specific measurements for each of the spices, but to be frank, I just eyeballed it. It’s a dry rub, so it’s not super-important that everything be in perfect proportion anyway – as a rough guide, maybe try to use equal amounts of everything, though with probably a bit more paprika than the other spices, and a bit less cayenne, depending on how hot you want it to be. Anyway, mix everything in a bowl and then rub it all over the brisket. Put in the smoker, set the timer and drink a beer. Seriously, it’s critical to the outcome.

I smoked the brisket at 150 degrees for about 4 hours, and it was pretty great – juicy and smoky. Perfect with a drink and a good bbq sauce. In the last 12 months or so I’ve noticed Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce in a lot of different places – notably Thomas Dux; it’s pretty great for a convenient, out-of-the-bottle sauce option.

Sorry vegetarians..

Sorry, vegetarians..


Beef in Fire Water

I love sichuan cooking. It’s oily, hot, mouth-numbing deliciousness. After trying a dish called ‘beef in fire water’ at Neil Perry’s restaurant, I wanted to try to recreate this dish, but put my own take on it. In this recipe, the beef sits in a really lovely fragrant broth, with a spicy chilli and sichuan peppercorn oil on top. Each piece of beef is coated with the oil in transit to your mouth, giving it a wonderfully hot but not brain-melting kick, and with very little oilyness. It’s easy to put in the centre of a table and have everyone help themselves, and I think it looks pretty cool; I think this dish would be amazing to serve as part of a chinese banquet.








1 kg beef bones

3L cold water

1 carrot, chopped roughly

1 onion, halved

5 garlic cloves

Handful of dried chillies

5cm piece of ginger, chopped roughly

1 tbsp sugar

30mls light soy sauce

50mls shaoxing cooking wine

Roast the bones in a hot oven or in a saucepan until nice and browned. Add the water, the onion, carrot, dried chillies and garlic and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of hours, skimming occasionally, until reduced in volume by about a half. Once the stock has been strained, return to a saucepan and add the ginger, sugar, wine and soy and simmer for another 30 mins or so. Strain and reserve.


1L grapseed oil

500g dried chillies, ground

150g sichuan peppercorns

1 bulb of garlic

1 stick cinnamon

2 star anise

5cm piece of ginger, sliced

Add the oil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and star anise in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Gently simmer for about 2 hours, then set aside and leave to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, mix the chillies and peppercorns with a pinch of salt. Strain the oil into the bowl, mix everything together and pour into jars. In the fridge, the chilli oil should keep for ages.


Season the beef, vacuum seal and cook at 54 degrees for 70 minutes. Remove and sear in a very hot pan to give it some colour. Slice. Pour some of the warm stock into a bowl. Add the sliced beef, then spoon over a generous amount of the chilli oil.


Apple Tart



220g plain flour

110g butter, chopped into cubes

80g icing sugar

1 egg

Put all the ingredients in a kitchenaid or a food processor, and mix until it’s come together. Tip onto a bench and knead gently until it’s smooth, adding more flour if necessary. Wrap with cling wrap and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 mins or so.

Roll out and set in a tart ring. Place back in the fridge for another 20 mins. Remove and cover with baking paper and some pastry weights and bake at 180 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, take off the baking paper and weights and put back in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.



5 egg yolks

250 mls thickened cream

50g caster sugar

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod


50g sugar

Splash of water

More cream, about 50 mls or so.


1 gold-strength gelatine leaf.

Heat the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan until just before it starts to boil. Set aside for a moment while you whisk the yolks and sugar together in a metal bowl until the mix is thick and pale-yellow. Pour in the cream in increments, while whisking. Once all the ingredients have been combined, place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the custard has thickened.

To make the caramel, melt the sugar and water together in a saucepan and continue to heat without stirring until golden brown (or even darker, depending on personal preference. But not burnt, no one likes that). At this point, add some cream and continue stirring until the mix is smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then add to the custard.

Place the gelatine in a bowl of iced water. After a couple of minutes it should have softened. Squeeze out the excess liquid and chuck it in the custard. Stir it all about and pour into the pastry. Place in the fridge to set.


1 large granny smith apple per tart




Chop the apple in half lengthwise. Slice with a mandolin, cut-side first. Once you have some apple slices, chop them so that you’re only left with the semi-circular apple slices, omitting the core.

Ok…I just re-read that and it looks like the ravings of a madman. Cut the apple slices like this:

like how I made the apple outline green? These are the lengths I go to

like how I made the apple outline green? These are the lengths I go to

Make another caramel by melting the butter and sugar together. When it starts to just turn golden, add the butter and put on a low heat. Add the slices of apple and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

To assemble, remove the tart from the fridge and arrange the apple slices on top, reserving the caramel in the saucepan. Put the tart back in the fridge for a further 15 minutes. Once the tart has cooled, warm the caramel slightly and, using a pastry brush, brush the caramel on top. Done!


Beef, Pork


I’m on a bit of an North American food kick at the moment; I’ve been really into ribs and wings, and have plans to make poutine, chilli cheese fries and a good burger. When brainstorming recipe ideas in lieu of working, one food that struck me as uniquely American, and yet something I’ve never prepared (or eaten, for that matter), is the humble meatloaf. Yep.. meatloaf.

"Yuck, meatloaf, my most hated of all loafs"

“Yuck, meatloaf, my most hated of all loafs”

Honestly though – what’s a more quintessentially small-town American meal for me to take on than a home-cooked meatloaf? Well, maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – and I would do anything for this blog, but I won’t do that. They’re gross.


 200g bacon

500g ground pork

500g ground beef

3 brown onions, sliced

Star anise

2 eggs

2 sliced bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs

150g parmesan, grated

A few good pinches of salt

Apprx 2 tablespoons fresh thyme

A good pinch of ground pepper

Begin by dicing the strips of bacon and sautéing until crisp and delicious. Drain the bacon, add the onion and star anise and cook in the bacon fat until deeply caramelized (about 45 mins or so). In a separate bowl, mix everything together (except for the star anise), making sure to work the mix a little bit, which will help the mix keep its shape once cooked. Chuck the whole thing into a bread tin and bake at 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.

 Once cooked, remove from the pan and smoke for about an hour (if you’re lucky enough to have a smoker that is. If not it’s fine as is). At this point you can serve, but because I was trying to be a bit fancy, I let it chill in the fridge, then sliced it and fried it in some butter and thyme, then heated through in the oven.


3 tomatoes, quartered

1 tsp brown sugar

Splash of red wine vinegar

1 tsp cloves

1 brown onion, diced

4 garlic cloves

Pinch of salt

To begin, toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 180 for about 30 minutes, or until slightly charred. Sautee the onion and garlic until softened, then add the tomatoes, the sugar and vinegar and blend til smooth. Add the salt and the cloves and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain and set aside





It’s not rocket science – cook the peas in boiling salted water then strain and refresh in iced water. Gently heat some cream, add the peas and the salt and blend. Push through a sieve for a super smooth puree.

To finish, I also pickled some radish and added some crispy potato slices for texture. So how was it? With a recipe like this that relies on so few ingredients though, it’s very important to get the best quality meat and parmesan that you can, and grind it yourself if you have the opportunity. I thought it actually tasted quite great, and was really simple to prepare; Sure, I didn’t think it looked that amazing, but I told myself to not be sad, ‘cos two out of three ain’t bad.



Labne with Carrot, Beetroot and Pumpkin


I’ve been eating a fair bit of natural yoghurt recently, mostly because it’s quite healthy, and I tend not to consume much dairy. I also love it for being incredibly versatile – it works so well with many different flavours and in various preparations. One of these preparations is labne, a type of yoghurt cheese, and after having some at a Mediterranean restaurant recently I decided to make some myself – as it’s dead simple – and create a dish that is built around it. So, after lots of thought and a bit of tweaking, I came up with this, Labne with carrot, beetroot and pumpkin. I was quite pleased with how it turned out actually, lots of complementary flavours, with saltiness, sweetness and sourness all represented, as well as some nice textural elements.

Spiced Carrot Puree:

2 carrots, grated

50g butter

Oliver Oil

100mls heavy cream

Pinch of ras el hanout

For the carrot puree, add the grated carrot to a saucepan with a little bit of oil and the butter and sweat down, on a low heat, until softened. Add the cream and heat for another couple of minutes. Season with salt and the ras el hanout and blend to a smooth consistency.

Beetroot Paper:

2 Beetroot

2 eggs

30g sugar

Pinch of salt

For the beetroot paper, cut the beetroots into quarters and roast in foil in a hot oven for an hour or so, or until tender. Once cooled, blend with the whites of two eggs as well as the sugar and salt, and spread the mix very thinly with a palette knife on some silpat. Place in a dehydrator or an oven on its lowest temp setting (around 50 degrees) for about 2.5 hours, until the beetroot paper is crisp and dried.

Crumbly stuff

1 tbsp pearl barley

1 tbsp hazelnuts

1 tbsp walnuts

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of icing sugar

Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, dry roast the pearl barley and the nuts until browned. Remove.  Chuck it all in a mortar & pestle and pound it a little. Add the cinnamon, sugar and salt and mix everything together.

Charred Pumpkin

Cut the pumpkin. Saute in a saucepan with some butter and oil until caramelized.


Spoon a few hundred grams of natural yoghurt into a sieve lined with muslin. Place over a bowl, place in the fridge and leave the yoghurt to drain for a couple of days. At this point, the yoghurt should be quite a bit firmer and you’ll be able to shape it into balls. In oil the labne will keep for a few weeks at least

Put everything into a bowl and chuck some sorrel leaves around. Done!




Chicken Feet


I still remember the first time I ate chicken feet. It was some years ago, and I was dating a girl of Chinese heritage. One Saturday morning her family invited me out to yum cha and proceeded to order a variety of dishes in Mandarin. Upon the arrival of a particular wooden steamer basket the family became visibly excited, passing it over to me and observing, with obvious enthusiasm, how the Gwai Lo would react. Peering inside, I was greeted not with the usual dumplings or pork buns, but with a pile of dull, flaccid chicken’s feet. Noting the family’s eyes upon me, and not wanting to give them the pleasure of seeing me squirm, I declared: “delicious, my favourite!” and tucked in with glee. The chicken feet were quite good, but seeing their disappointed faces was the sweetest of all. Later that day I convincingly beat my girlfriend’s mahjong-loving grandmother in my first ever game. I don’t think her family liked me very much.

 Anyway, walking through chatswood the other day, I passed a butcher, and saw a big stack of chickens feet lined up, and as is usually the case, I simply couldn’t resist the chance to cook up some random bullshit.

500g chicken feet

Char Siu sauce

5x Star Anise

Light Soy Sauce

300 mls Shao Xing wine

Grated ginger


200g Black bean chilli paste

Reserved cooking liquid

Char siu sauce

1 tsp sugar

Grated ginger

The first step is to marinate the chicken feet overnight in char siu sauce. Chop the claws off the end of each foot, coat with the sauce, and leave overnight. The next day, give them a rinse, pat dry and deep fry in batches until golden brown. Leave to drain on kitchen towel, and when cool submerge in a bowl of iced water for a couple of hours. Apparently this makes the skin ‘puff up’ and is a necessary step.

Next, drain the chicken feet, reserving the cooking liquid, and in a saucepan combine 2 litres of water, the shao xing wine, the star anise, a splash of soy sauce and some ginger. Bring to the boil, add the feet and simmer for 1-2 hours or until tender.  To make the sauce, combine the chilli bean paste with a good splash of the cooking liquid, a couple of teaspoons of char siu sauce, the sugar and ginger and reduce to a nice thick consistency. Add the feet, stir through and serve