My sister and I sat next to each other at a family barbecue recently in Queensland.

We get on well.

We were eating barbecued beef sirloin, charred on the outside, both medium-rare with horseradish, mustard and salads of vibrant greens; white beans with lemon and parsley, and blistered cherry tomatoes on the side.

We got talking beef and shopping for meat at the butcher shop:

Me: How’s your butcher here?

Sis: Great overall.

Me: what do you mean overall? Is he helpful when you ask questions?

Sis: Well, yes…I ask for a cut of meat and he gives it to me and has given me cooking tips.

I wasn’t sure how much to get for everyone coming tonight and he was helpful. Is that what you mean?

Me: So how about grain and grass fed, how long it’s aged, that kind of thing…I’m curious…

Sis: I never talk to him about things like that.

Me: But you buy meat from him?

Sis: yes, but he just gives me … meat

Me: So, how about if you have a dinner party. Just you and your husband, and two best mates for a special occasion – would you let him give you just what he gives you then?

Sis: Well…I don’t know…I guess so…

Me: A really simple way of looking at it is that grass fed will be more expensive and I think, great for special occasions. So, for your special dinner party ask for grass-fed beef – it’s flavour is spectacular, yep, it’ll cost more but you don’t need that much.

For a night like tonight, with about 15 of us, grain-fed is good. It’s more about texture than flavour. It certainly tastes good but with grain-fed beef you’re going to get a more tender, textural mouthfeel. Grass-fed is robust and earthy

Sis: God you talk alot but I’d never thought of it like that – thanks.

I’m posting this recipe that I spoke about on Radio Marinara on 3RRR yesterday because there have been lots of requests for it – so to save time and to be very un-bloggy – I’m putting up a recipe without pics.

I’ve made this a few times but have  never snapped it – so – use your imagination, follow the steps – it’s easy and delicious and the whole fish looks so bounteous and stunning on the plate, your sense of achievement could well be palpable.

Salt-Baked Blue-eye Trevalla

1.5 – 2kg blue eye trevalla, scaled, cleaned and gutted.

6 cups sea salt plus 1 extra cup

6 egg whites

(Hil’s tip: use the egg yolks to make a mayonnaise to accompany the fish)

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

small sprig of rosemary, just 6 strands of rosemary will do – it can overpower so easily but adds just the right depth if used sparingly

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped.

Heat oven to 200C

Trace a rough outline of the whole fish on a piece of parchment paper, and cut it out.

in a mixing bowl combine 6 cups of salt and the egg whites with a spoon and mix it well. The mixture should feel like wet sand in your hands; heavy and moist.

Place the parsley, rosemary, garlic and lemon in the cavity of the fish. Spread the remaining salt over the base of a baking tray and place the cut-out parchment paper on the salt, then place the fish on top.

Use your hands to cover the whole fish with the salt and egg white mixture pressing down onto the fish to pack it tightly. It’s a large fish and will need most of the mixture but it’s okay if there’s some left over. The key here is to have an even coating over the fish – I find if you work from the head of the fish down towards the tail keeping an eye on consistent thickness of the crust you’ll be fine and so will the final result.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, without turning or touching, until the salt crust is hard and golden brown.

Crack the salt crust w the handle of a knife and peel it away. Use a spoon to break the flesh away along the top side – it will have begun to pull away from the bone.

Serve it with a side of homemade lemon mayonnaise, silverbeet sauteed in garlic, grilled fennel and lots of boiled potato chunks.

I’ll get the pics up next time I make it.


Ever gone to a market that claims to be a real farmers market only to find out later the people selling the produce had nothing to do with its growth and production?

We can now put those days behind us with the introduction of the Victorian Farmers Market Accreditation that was introduced here in May 2010.

It helps on many levels but mostly for all of us as consumers. We  now have  logos that represent the integrity of the industry, guarantee accreditation and  the authenticity of the product and produce we are buying.

Miranda Sharp, VFMA President says, “The Accreditation Program is a huge step for the farmers’ market community. Now the public, media and the rest of the food industry can easily identify farmers’ markets which have proven their authenticity and get behind regional Victoria with confidence. We look forward to many more of Victoria’s wonderful farmers’ markets coming on board.”
Simply, look out for the ticks (click on the link below for more comprehensive explanations of each tick):

Black for farmers

Brown for specialty makers

Red for markets

VFMA Accreditation Program_details

Victorian Farmers Markets accredited so far include:

Bendigo Community Farmers Market

Boroondara Farmers’ Market

Casey-Berwick Farmers’ Market

Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers market

Echuca Farmers’ Market

Gasworks Farmers’ Market (Albert Park)

Hurstbridge Farmers’ Market

Lancefield Farmers’ Market

Kingston Farmers’ Market

Melbourne Showgrounds Farmers’ Market

Mt. Eliza Farmers’ Market

Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market (Abbotsford Convent)

University Hill Farmers’ Market

Veg Out Farmers’ Market (St Kilda )

When a film opens with the line,

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10 000”

You can’t help but sit up and listen.

Food Inc is coming to Australian cinemas on May 20th – I was fortunate to see it tonight.

It’s a factual path that endeavours to explain the absolute power very few hold over so many in the food chain.

People spoken to throughout the film range from the manager  of a meat-processing plant who said he was a mechanic who worked with science and technology, to a heart-broken mother who lost her two-year-old boy to E.coli poisoning, to the dynamic, articulate farmer Joel Salatin.

In the introduction, what struck me more than anything were these lines…

“This isn’t just about what we’re eating,

This is about what we’re allowed to say

and what we’re allowed to know.”

If I have nothing else in my life – I have what I perceive to be my freedom and I don’t want huge faceless companies to take that away.

This is a film worth seeing. The extreme anonymity of these multi-nationals who standardise flavour, texture, history and culture give even more kudos to the Farmers Market culture that is thriving – see you there!

Click here to see the intro


An article I wrote for Epicure The Age about lamb, prawns and garfish for late summer,

early autumn barbecues and grills:

Turning leftovers into a new meal or dish is logical … even thoughtful.

Put simply, leftovers are also Food with Thought!

A rolled pork shoulder from Bronwyn and Michael Cowan at Gypsy Pig in Gippsland, Victoria was a delicious dinner. Roasted with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, we ate it with bowls of salads – tomato with balsamic dressing, spinach leaves with a sprinkling of shaved pecorino cheese and new potatoes, boiled and dolloped with lemon mayonnaise.

With most of the salads eaten, the leftovers were all about the pork. Over the next couple of days, I whipped up a couple of choices that the family (and visitors) continued to enjoy:


The amount of pork you use obviously depends on how much you have leftover. Here, the chopped up pork is the equivalent of two metric cups.

Roughly chop the pork – almost dicing it – into pieces about 2cm in length. Pieces this size give the pork a wonderful texture when biting into it and stand up to the dressing too.

Chilli & Basil Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 small red chillies, finely chopped (more if you like a lot of heat)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 large basil leaves, ripped into little pieces (chopping the leaves on a board leaves alot of the flavour on the board)

crushed sea salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

To Garnish:

Chopped garlic chives and parsley (about 2 tablespoons of each).

Put all the ingredients in a glass jar, close the lid on the jar and shake vigorously. Check for flavour – if it’s a little too oily for your taste, add 1/2 tsp more vinegar. If it’s too sharp on your palate, add a teaspoon more olive oil.

Place the chopped pork in a bowl, sprinkle with the garlic chives and parsley and then follow with the dressing.

Pour a little at a time to get the coating you are looking for and the desired flavour.


If you have any bread leftover from a party or dinner, slice it and rub it with a cut garlic clove.

Pour a little olive oil over the sliced bread and place it under a hot grill until it is slightly tan with

a toasty crisp edge.


Pull the cooked pork meat apart with your hands into shreds OR take a knife and cut along the grain of the meat, slicing it into very fine shreds.

Place this meat in a bowl and mix with some good mayonaisse, lemon juice, 2 finely chopped anchovy fillets, 2 tablespoon of capers, 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed, 1 crushed clove garlic, chopped parsley, salt and black pepper. Taste the mixture and make sure it’s balanced to your taste. A little more lemon juice will liven it up if it’s tasting too creamy and heavy; if it’s all spice and lemon, add a teaspoon more of mayo.

This will combine into a thick unctous mess of sweet meat and creamy textured dressing that will sit neatly in a sliced sourdough roll on top of some rocket leaves.


Thanks to all of you who listened to my chat with Myf Warhurst today on ABC local radio. We talked about leftovers and sustainable fish – it was alot of fun.

I’m here to write down some leftover recipes for ham and turkey, when it comes to waste,the best thing we can do is share ideas on what to do with leftovers to prevent the enormous amount of waste each year that comes along at Christmas time with the presents, the indulgence and the difficult relatives.

If you love leftovers, seek out, this is a wonderful idea and great cause!


 – quesadillas or flat bread filled with thinly sliced ham, jalapeno peppers and Mahon or Manchego cheese and grill or cook in a sandwich toaster.

– heat oven to 180C; dice fontina cheese and mix with diced ham, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.  Spoon onto a square of puff pastry and fold over, brush with melted butter and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

– make a dip of cannellini beans (it’s ok to use tinned) and mixed with lemon zest, garlic, chopped basil and tarragon, salt and pepper and shredded ham. Serve as a dip with toasted pita bread or smear over good quality bread and finish with beetroot, lettuce, tomato and sprouts for a great sandwich.

– baked eggs – heat oven to 180C. Line a ramekin or another small dish with thin slices of ham. Sautee some chopped cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil and put in the ramekin. Crack an egg in and place the filled ramekin in the oven for 8 minutes, cook for longer is you like a hard yolk, just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out too badly – say, no longer than 13 minutes.


– a play on a Waldorf salad. Chop up turkey flesh and mix with finely sliced celery,some pinenuts, chopped green apple, chopped parsley and garlic chives and bind together with mayonnaise( if you can make your own its worth it and a great way of using up leftover eggs). Just before serving squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top of the salad and give it one more stir through. A touch of salt and pepper now will do the trick for seasoning.

– a summer salad of turkey, sliced mango, coriander leaves, red onion, avocado, lime juice, chilli, ginger, sesame oil (just a small touch) and the same of soy sauce.

– a retro quiche – heat oven to 180C  line a greased cake or quiche tin with puff pastry then brush the base of the pastry with leftover cranberry sauce. Combine 6 eggs, salt, pepper, one cup of cream, half a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of grated parmesan with chopped turkey meat, chopped coriander, basil and parsley. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and cook for 40 minutes but give it a check after 25 minutes just to make sure it’s cooking evenly and well.

Let me know if you’d like to read some more leftover recipes – I have plenty!

email me at

I look forward to hearing from you,


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