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Welcome to Jacican

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I love to cook, I've always loved to cook.

As a young girl, my time was spent reading the cookbooks that mum kept in the bottom kitchen drawer. Always looking for a new recipe to try, a new food idea. Many weekends were spent making rainbow cakes with as many colours as possible – have you seen my Instagram, not much has changed, and looking for recipes that I could cook using what was available in the cupboard or from the vegetable garden.

At the aged of about 16, I remember stating that I wanted to leave the farm and travel the world. This would be followed by retiring by about 30 and moving back to South Gippsland to grow vegetables and cook. From 16 fast forward 20 years and I returned, starting Jacican Food Studio in Mirboo North, Gippsland where I grow vegetables and cook. This blog is where I share my food adventure.

Jaci

gnocchi

Gnocchi is easier than you think to make. Best of all, it can be made ahead of when you would like to eat it. I like to eat my gnocchi triple cooked – blanched in boiling water to cook through, pan-fried in butter, then finished off under the grill. For this recipe, I picked up a box of Marguerite potatoes of Stu the farmer, Jennings farms - Thorpdale.

Ingredients

1-kilogram Marguerite potatoes - cleaned

1 egg

250 grams plain flour

1 pinch of salt

Method

1. Place potatoes in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until cooked.

2. Strain the potatoes. You could peel when still hot but move straight onto step 3.

3. Place the potatoes in a mouli and process the potatoes straight onto the bench into a mound. You may need to do this in steps, as the weight of one kilo of cooked potatoes, may be too heavy to hold.

4. Make a well in the centre of your mound and shift over the flour. Add the egg and a pinch of salt to taste.

5. Using your hands, gently bring the dough together until just combined and the dough is slightly springy. Divide the dough into 6.

6. Roll each piece of dough into a long cigar shape. Cut into 3 cm lengths, using a pastry scraper or knife. Roll each piece on a gnocchi pad or press with a fork to create sauce groves in your gnocchi.

7. Line an oven tray with a clean tea towel. Put this aside until you cook your gnocchi.

8. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and return to the boil. The gnocchi will be cooked when it floats to the top of the water.

9. Remove the gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon and place on your clean tea towel lined tray.

At this point, you can add your cooked gnocchi to your chosen sauce. I like my gnocchi finished in butter, top with an aged sheep’s milk cheese.

To finish

Cooked gnocchi

Unsalted butter

Kongwak sheep’s milk cheese – Shaved

Method

1. Heat butter in a frypan, until foaming. Add gnocchi and pan fry until gnocchi has started to colour. Place the gnocchi is the heatproof dish. Top with shaved Semi-hard cheese.

2. Place the heatproof dish of gnocchi, under the grill. Allow the cheese, on top of the gnocchi to brown to golden. Serve.

gnocchi 2

chip 2

One of the things I remember from chef school was the chips you get from your local Fish n Chips shop should be triple cooked.

Frozen chips are normally pre-cooked before they are snapped frozen – the first cook. The second cook is to blanch the chips in the deep fryer set at a temperature of 150C. The third cook is to deep fry the chips until golden brown and very crispy at 190C. At home, this may take you up to three days to create the best triple cooked extra crispy chips possible.

For this recipe, I used Cream Royal potatoes from Cummaudo farms.

1-kilogram potatoes.

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Salt

Method

  1. Peel your potatoes and wash very well. And I mean very well, as mine come with a little of the famous red Thorpdale dirt still on them.
  2. Cut your potatoes into large chips, by hand. Place your cut potatoes chips in a large saucepan of cold water with a little cooking salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer, until your potatoes and cooked through and very soft.
  3. Drain your potatoes very gently, as they will be so soft that they will want to fall apart. Line a tray with a clean tea towel and place the potato chips on the tray, not touching each other. Place your tray of potatoes chips in the freezer overnight.
  4. The next day, heat the oil in your deep fryer to 150C. Slowly and carefully place the chips in the deep fryer and fry until a light golden colour and cooked through. Drain your potatoes well and once cool enough to handle, place back on the tea towel lined tray, not touching and return to the freezer. They will need to be in the freezer for at least two hours, but overnight would be ideal.
  5. On day three, heat the oil in your deep fryer to 190C. Slowly and carefully place the chips in the deep fryer and fry until deep golden-brown colour and the chip are extra crispy. Drain well and season with salt.

chip

tatin 2

There are many potato farmers surrounding my food studio in Gippsland, so there is not much point growing normal potatoes in my vegetable garden. By normal potatoes, I mean white fleshed, great for frying, gnocchi, and chips. For this dish I use the potatoes I grow in my vegetable garden, a purple variety that has the brightest purple fresh.

You don’t need to use a special potato for this recipe. The golden kipflers would be fantastic to use as well.

Ingredients

500 grams of washed potatoes

Salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and extra for greasing the tin.

2 red onions, peeled and sliced

½ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Fresh oregano

Fresh thyme 

1 sheet puff pastry

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line the bottom of a 20cm loose bottom cake tin with a round of baking paper. Grease the walls of the cake tin with butter. Place the cake tin on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Bring the sheet of aluminum foil up the outside of the cake tin, to enclose the tin. This is to prevent leakage.
  2. Wash your potatoes very well, but do not peel. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water, with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through, but do not fall apart. Drain and put aside to cool.
  3. Heat the first 2 tablespoons of butter in a frypan, until foaming. Add the sliced red onion and reduce the heat. Allow the red onion to cook down and caramelize. This may take half an hour. Once the red onion has caramelized, remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Set aside until needed. Wipe out the frypan, you will need it again.
  4. Return the frypan to the stove and heat the extra two tablespoons of butter, until melted over a medium heat. Add the brown sugar to the pan and continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the brown sugar has melted. De-glaze the brown sugar with the red wine vinegar. Remove from heat. Stir to combine vinegar with brown sugar to make a toffee.
  5. Pour the toffee into the bottom of the lined loose bottom cake tin. Sprinkle fresh oregano and thyme over the toffee.
  6. Slice the potatoes into 2 cm lengths and place potatoes atop of the toffee, cut side down. Cover the bottom of the cake tin with the potatoes. Top the potatoes with the caramelized onion. Let the onion fall between the potatoes.
  7. Cut the corners of the sheet of puff pastry. This is to make it easier to fit in the cake tin. Place the sheet of puff pastry on top of the onions. Place the tart into your pre-heated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  8. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes, before turning out on a plate.

tatin

Late last year, Stu the farmer, just down the roads in Thorpdale nominated me on Facebook as part of AusVeg's Nutrition week. The photo Stu picked, of me holding cucumbers, I'd grown in the garden, with a silly grin on my face, won a prize for the week. In return, I received a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, vegetable cookbook.

Why the menu changes

I'm not one for following chef much these days – too busy in the kitchen, but I do know about Yotam,s work with vegetables. This is my take on his caramelized garlic tart.

To share this recipe with you, I have used store-bought puff pastry, but I normally make a ruff puff pastry from scratch, when I bake the tart in the food studio. In my version, I use Sheep's milk cheese, but you could use goats or cows or yaks or any sort of cheese that you wish.

How much garlic do you need?

The original recipe said '3 medium heads'. Firstly, what's a head of garlic – I thought it was a clove or bulb of garlic*. I used three small hands full of garlic cloves, after I had planted it, waited 5 months, dug it up, dried it out, broke up the cloves and peeled it.

Anyway, I am, serving this tart as one of the many things to sample at my Garlic Dinner, coming up this February, if you would like to come along.

Garlic Tart

garlic tart 02

Ingredients

1 and ½ sheets puff pastry

3 bulbs of garlic – separated into cloves and peeled.

1 Tablespoon butter

2 Tablespoon Sherry (or good quality wine or balsamic) vinegar

200 ml water

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

100 grams sheep's milk feta cheese

100 grams Semi-hard sheep's milk cheese

1 teaspoon chopped Rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme leaves & flowers (if you have any)

2 eggs

200 ml cream

pinch of salt

White pepper

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