Hello Summer Chocolate Sorbet

Hello beautiful Sydney beaches
and sand getting into impossible places
and the impossibility of finding a spot to park your car
before joining the thirty minute queue at the fish and chip shop
for soggy snacks scooped from an overloaded fryer.

Hello crayon yellow peaches, pineapples, blush cherries,
ruby red raspberries, black plums, zebra tomatoes
and those things in Sydney that often look like apricots
but rarely taste like one

and sock tans and brown arms
from running under the sun in your new pair of gym shorts
that replaced the ones with a big rip
right where two cheeks would meet.

Hello mango cheeks, preservative free sausages, watermelon rind pickles,
and 42’C days that make you long for breakfast ice-cream.

Hello Summer
I think I love you sometimes.

Chocolate Sorbet :

300g water
70g sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
60g 70% dark chocolate buttons
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk

In a medium pot, whisk together the cocoa, water, sugar and honey. Bring to boil, cook for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat. Whisk in the chocolate buttons, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Strain. Allow to chill overnight before churning. Eat and make often.

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Whatever ales you..

(Little ale spelt cakes)

It is Day 4 in the world of this happy vacationer. So far, she has made plans to go to the beach, remembered to water the plants (twice), cleared the pantry of all heinously expired bottles and jars, reorganised her sock drawer and at the end of a long satisfying day, cracked open a beer. To bake with.

Three bites of an ale cake later and she’s searching for her phone to tell her best friend how tasty these cakes are; how much she loves her and how sorry she is that they haven’t met up for nearly 6 months. Work, y’know.

How she finally picked up a paperback on Day 1 and felt light headed with the pleasure of reading. Or on Day 2 when she woke up and played Lisa Hannigan loudly while dancing in the kitchen.

And when the ale cakes were gone, she used the leftover beer to make a small amount of sorbet. Bittersweet beer sorbet topped with salted candied peanuts, enjoyed one slow spoonful at a time.

(Beer sorbet with candied peanuts)

Yep, vacation’s going pretty well.

Little ale spelt cakes :
(based on a recipe by Jill Dupleix)

80g butter
300g sultanas
90g brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
130g pale ale, or beer of choice
1 egg
160g spelt flour

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Grease a mini popover or mini muffin pan.

In a pan, add the butter, raisins, brown sugar, spices, bicarbonate of soda and beer. Bring to the boil, stirring, then remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Once cool, whisk in the egg and then mix in the flours with a spatula. Divide the mixture between the muffin or popover holes.

Bake for 14 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool before removing cakes from pan.

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Survival Guide


(Banana, piloncillo and buckwheat cake, coconut lime sorbet)

I have a new little helper at work. She has been struggling a little bit, since she is relatively new to this kind of job. As a consequence, I have been putting in extra hours and trying to be more patient. Over time, I hope the patience pays off and that she is able to step up and exceed expectations. With a team consisting of just two people, there is no where to hide and no one to hide behind.

Since I’ve been observing her for the past couple of weeks, I have started to reminisce about what it was like for me when I started out. It hasn’t been a very long travelled road of manning pots and pans or whipping egg whites, because I started cooking later than most. Armed with just a desire to learn how to cook, and knowing nothing at all about the industry, I remember rocking up to my first kitchen trial without any knives or uniform. Pretty naive of me, now that I think about it.

Shuna of Eggbeater has written more comprehensively about such things before. However, it still got me thinking about the things I had learned/realised (mostly in retrospect) along the way.

First and foremost (and as cliched as it sounds), you have to really want the job. I remember the head chef saying just that to me during the interview for my previous job. I also remember thinking at the time, what a ridiculous statement. Of course I want the job! I’m applying to work with one of the most amazing pastry chefs in the country. What’s not to want?

That last job was one of the hardest and best experiences of my life. Every day for the first month or two, I wanted to give up. I saw more people come and go than I could remember faces and names. Some packed up and disappeared in the middle of a busy service. Others just didn’t turn up one day. A few were courteous enough to give notice.

Once I just faced facts and accepted that it’s going to be hard, I kept my head down and worked as hard as I could. Tears might happen and defeat might appear imminent, but know that it is worth it, if you stick with it. Some of the most talented chefs I know are a little cocky and arrogant. A little self confidence helps when you are captain of a big ship, but when you’re starting out with a new crew, you have to be prepared to swallow your pride a little.

You should be the first one in and the last one out. Do more than is expected of you. Ask questions, but know when the right time is to ask them. Invest as much time in the place as the place is investing in you. If you contribute enough, you will find that people around you are more willing to share their knowledge. In a busy kitchen, no one has time for you unless you are useful to them. In a busy kitchen, you are either going to be chewed up and spat out, or you will gain an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life. The outcome, is up to you.

But, you really have to want it.

(Recipe to follow)

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