Category Archives: Recipes

bone marrow

Roast Bone Marrow with Smoked Eggplant – Recipe

By | Recipes | 6 Comments

In keeping with yesterday’s theme, here’s another great ingredient, full of fat’s goodness: bone marrow. I saw a documentary a few days ago which showed that eating bone marrow was one of those factors that guarded man’s ancestors from extinction. You see, when food was scarce, and when fierce predators would get all the meat around, our ancestors had an advantage. The lion would go home and leave nothing but bone. Our ancestors were unique among mammals in that they knew how to smash a rock against those bones and extract the nutritious bone marrow. Smashing rocks, a unique evolutionary trait…

As you have probably guessed from the photo, I didn’t smash a rock against the bones. Mine were cut in half by my butcher’s vertical saw. A much more elegant, though less stress-relieving approach, wouldn’t you agree?

The following recipe is my creation. I smoked some eggplants under the grill, mixed in some butter, walnuts, cumin, salt and lemon juice. I topped that with roasted bone marrow, more lemon juice and some olive oil infused with garlic and rosemary. The dish came together beautifully, mostly soft, but with the occasional crunch from the walnuts and fried garlic. I’ll be cooking more bone marrow and trying a few different recipes with it. How about you? Do you eat much bone marrow? What do you think of it?

Roast Bone Marrow with Smoked Eggplants Recipe

For the Garlic and Rosemary Oil: Add 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary (de-stemmed) into a pan and heat until it sizzles nicely. Remove from heat and leave aside. The garlic should be come golden and crunchy

For the Eggplants: cut 1 large eggplant in half and roast for half an hour under a hot grill. Make sure it blisters, but doesn’t burn. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp butter and salt and lemon juice to taste. Add a handful or two of chopped walnuts. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm.

For the Bone Marrow: preheat the oven to 170c and roast the bone marrow for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove marrow from bone and keep warm. You can use the bones in stock.

Putting it All Together: In a bowl, spoon some eggplant, top with some bone marrow, squeeze a bit of lemon and add some of the olive oil you prepared earlier, along with some garlic flakes and rosemary sprigs. Enjoy.


Cream Cheese Sorbet Recipe

By | ice cream, Recipes | 6 Comments

Those of us who take ice cream seriously know the delicate balance of ingredients required. Do it right, and you end up with ice cream, luscious and velvety. Do it wrong and you end up with ice (sans cream). You know what I mean, just a frozen bit of flavoured stuff that you need an icepick to even chip away at the surface.

Ice crystals – that’s what you need to manage in order to avoid having a piece of Antarctica sitting in your freezer. Ice crystals form when you freeze a liquid. The larger the ice crystals, the icier the ice cream. The smaller the ice crystals, the better. The size of ice crystals can be influnced by churning – the quicker a liquid freezes, the smaller the ice crystals – so an ice cream machine is great help. Another piece of the puzzle is the ratio of solids to liquids in your ice cream mixture. Water is the liquid, fat and sugar are the solids. The more solids you have, the softer the ice cream. Try to be healthy and reduce the amount of sugar you have in a recipe and you will attract the wrath of the gods. Of course, there is a whole arsenal of tricks to manage the texture (alcohol and salt lower the freezing point; pectin, salep, cornstarch and gums like xanthan and guar gum can all be used as thickeners), but it feels a bit like cheating.

I no longer use sugar in anything, including my ice creams and go for xylitol instead (which, despite the chemical-sounding name, is a great natural alternative to sugar with a very low glycemic index). Xylitol, however, doesn’t have all the properties of sugar (it doesn’t caramelise, for instance). Since it’s also a bit sweeter, less of it is required when making ice cream, which means ice crystals are larger. The end result just isn’t as satisfying as normal ice cream.

When I saw a recipe for cream cheese sorbet on the Saveur website, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. It was obvious that the huge amount of fat from the cream cheese would certainly result in a sorbet with good texture, with or without sugar. I tried it with xylitol, and, yes, it’s awesome and tastes like a frozen New York cheesecake. If you want to use sugar, go for the recipe on the Saveur website. My adaptation is for a xylitol sweetened sorbet. I buy my xylitol here.

Cream Cheese Sorbet with Xylitol Recipe (adapted from Saveur)


  • 2 packets Philadelphia or your favourite cream cheese (500 grams total), softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup xylitol
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice and equivalent lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  • Add the xylitol and 1 cup of water to a pot and heat until the xylitol is dissolved
  • Using a wooden spoon, mix the cream cheese until no lumps appear
  • Bit by bit, add the water and xylitol mix, incorporating slowly with a whisk to ensure there are no lumps
  • Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and vanilla essence
  • Churn in your ice machine and freeze for 3 hours or so before you eat it
  • If you don’t have an ice cream machine, I suspect it will still work really well if you put it in the freezer and churn it by hand every hour or so for around 6 or 7 hours



How I Learned to Love Truffle Oil and Stop Worrying

By | Rants, Recipes | 20 Comments

Truffle oil is one of those ingredients that are so fashionable to hate right now. Vilification and bigotry are so common when it comes to food, and if some big shot decides truffle oil is a crap ingredient, everyone else blindly agrees. You hear it over and over again: “it’s not the real thing” or “it’s a cheap rip off”. It becomes so hard to disagree when everyone make such quick judgement. I happen to like truffle oil. I don’t care if it’s not the same as shaving a hundred dollar piece of fungus on a perfectly cooked egg. In my opinion, truffle oil has its place in the kitchen, just like chili oil or lemon oil. It adds so much flavour to food that it’s a shame not to use it.

What gives truffle oil its bad reputation is a family of oils infused with artificial truffle aromas – some chemical made in a lab and engineered so that it smells like truffle. Completely fake. But there are also great products out there. Real olive oil infused with real truffle. I get mine from Simon Johnson and there’s a small slice of black truffle floating around in the oil. It’s strong and earthy and I use it in small amounts when I roast my mushrooms. Try and get your hands on some good truffle oil. Toss thick slices of mushrooms in some salt, olive oil, chopped garlic and a drizzle of truffle oil. You can also sprinkle a bit of dried thyme on top. Bake in a tray covered with aluminium foil for around 30 minutes at 190c. Take the foil off and bake for a further 30 minutes until the mushroomy liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft and dark. I love making big batches of these mushrooms and I keep them in the fridge for days. They go with anything – eggs, pasta, steak, sandwiches – and the truffle oil only makes them more delicious. A good truffle oil is a beautiful thing.

cumin and thyme-spiced calf's liver

Yaprak Ciger – Cumin and Thyme-Spiced Calf’s Liver Recipe

By | Recipes | 6 Comments

Man it’s good to have my own kitchen once more. I get to cook what I want again! Sometimes, the things I like are not so popular, so I apologise if today’s recipe doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Liver. Offal. Are you into it? I sure am. Apart from being a Lebanese who, like many of my countrymen, eats liver for breakfast, this blogger is, mostly, a low-carber (20kgs lost so far!). I see this photo and I salivate. Maybe my fat-fueled body craves the organ meat or maybe I salivate because because I know how bloody delicious this dish is.

OK. Forget the fact that it’s liver for a second. Look at the remaining ingredients. Butter (from Pepe Saya), cumin, paprika, chili and wild, free-range thyme. Yes, thyme that has freely roamed the hills of Lebanon and has made the long journey to Sydney back with me. Doesn’t it sound awesome? Even Lainy, who usually takes the liver-let-die option, ate and enjoyed it. I first tried this dish at Efendy. In Turkish, it’s called yaprak ciger: leaf liver. I guess it’s so named because the liver is thinly sliced into shapes that resemble leaves. Not sure. Don’t quote me. But does it really matter?

Here’s the recipe, passed down to me by none else but Somer, my main man at Efendy. I’ve changed it a bit but it still works miracles. Buy some fresh calf’s or lamb’s liver. Get your butcher to thinly slice and clean it. Mix a good deal of paprika, pepper, red or black Turkish chili, thyme and cumin together. If you want, dust the liver with flour after washing and drying it, but you don’t have to. Heat up a skillet or a frying pan. Toss in a good deal of quality butter. Add the liver (don’t overload). Add the spice mixture and some salt. Fry the liver, turning occasionally when there’s a bit of colour to it. Don’t fry for more than 3 minutes or so, otherwise it gets too dry. Take off the heat and rest for 3 minutes – if the liver is fresh, it shouldn’t release much liquid. Add some thinly sliced onions and stir around to coat the liver and the onions with the spices. Destroy.


Reclaiming Moussaka

By | lebanese food, Recipes | 13 Comments

Around the year 2000 BC, Cadmus, the young Phoenician prince of Tyre set sail from the shores of Lebanon in search of Greece. His mission was to find and bring back his sister Europa who had been abducted by none else but Zeus, the father of Gods and men. With him, Cadmus took one of Phoenicia’s most brilliant inventions. You see, the Phoenicians were traders and meticulous documenters, and at some point, they grew tired of drawing cats and dogs like the Egyptians did and had long since given up the labourious cuneiform script that was so well-loved by the Sumarians and the Assyrians. They decided enough is enough, and came up with the alphabet, a means to write that allocated each spoken consonant a character. The Phoenician alphabet was revolutionary, a gift that would change the world and that would endure for millennia. But back to Cadmus, the Greeks understood the importance of what he had brought along with him. We all know Greeks are greedy buggers, and instead of apologizing for abducting Europa, they also abducted the Phoenician alphabet.

Why am I telling you this? Simply, the story above is to show a precedent. Stealing Phoenician princesses and revolutionary alphabets are one thing though, but stealing moussaka – now that can’t but shock you, right? Yes, indeed, one of Greece’s most famous dishes is another missing person case. If you ask a Greek what the word moussaka meant, they’d have no clue. A Lebanese though would immediately tell you that moussaka, or moussaka’a (as we would spell it) means cold or chilled in Arabic and in Lebanese. Moussaka’a is a dish common around Lebanon and the Arab world and usually simply consists of eggplants, olive oil, garlic, onions and tomatoes. The Greek recipe would almost certainly have been identical to the Lebanese one had it not been for Tselementes (who you should really read about), the Greek chef who borrowed influences from the French and smothered the dish with béchamel sauce and meat, in an attempt to make moussaka’a more noble.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Greece’s version of the moussaka’a, but it indeed has strayed far from its origin. Moussaka’a is a humble dish, though one that proves that peasant food is more than the sum of its parts. Good tasting tomatoes are key but what’s brilliant about the Lebanese recipe is the addition of pomegranate molasses. The sweet/sour flavours that it gives are insane with the silky eggplants. No béchamel-laden moussaka can beat that.



2 large eggplants, peeled with just a bit of skin left on, sliced in wedges
4 large onions, sliced
8 cloves of garlic, diced
1 kilo good tomatoes (diced) or ½ kilo tomatoes, ½ kilo passata
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (Cortas is a reasonable brand)
1 tbsp dried mint


Dissolve 2 heaped tbsp of salt in enough water to cover the eggplant slices. Weigh down the eggplants with a plate to make sure they are submerged and soak for anything between half an hour to over night. Remove the eggplants and squeeze them dry with a kitchen towel. Deep or shallow fry in neutral oil until golden and soft. Remove and set aside. In a frying pan, add around ¼ cup neutral oil and fry the onions and garlic until soft, but not golden. They need to become sweet without getting caramelised. Add the tomatoes and passata if using, the dried mint and the pomegranate molasses. Bring to the boil, taste and season with salt to your liking. Here you can also add more pomegranate molasses if necessary. Preheat the oven to 180c. Put the eggplants in a baking tray, top with the tomato mixture and 1 cup of water. Bake in the oven until the sauce has thickened, around 30 minutes. Put in a serving plate and wait until the dish is cold. I also like it to eat it slightly chilled – after all, that’s what the name moussaka’a name begs you to do.

Raw Milk and the Making of Real Butter

By | Recipes | 20 Comments

I get these strange thoughts sometimes. I worry about getting stuck in a time warp, ending up in the days of King Richard the Lion Heart, being faced with the need for penicillin, and then kicking myself for never taking the time to learn how to make my own. There he is, the noble king, lying injured, susceptible to infection. His life is in my hands, but though I am aware of the biotechnology that could save his weakening body, I lack the manufacturing knowhow. Cruel fate, damn you!

Do you get stupid thoughts like these? Probably not, and why should you, but it’s certainly why I’ve always felt like I needed to learn how to make things from scratch. Sufficiency. That’s a state I’d love to achieve. Today, in my quest for this sufficiency, I taught myself how to make my own butter. Feeling pretty good about myself!

It’s been almost a year to the day since we moved to Flemington, and this week we moved out. In preparation for our upcoming trip to Lebanon, we decided to bid Flemington adieu and spend a month with Elaine’s parents in Picton. I love Picton. The green country side, more sunshine than you could ever wish for, acres of space, a star-studded night’s sky and real, raw milk.

The milk comes from cows that belong to a family friend. My mother in law, Pam, brought me 2 liters of super fresh, non-homogenised milk and that got me super excited, as you could imagine. Raw milk is a rare treat in Australia. You can’t get it at the supermarket. I once saw it in a health food shop and it was advertised as a product to be used for a “beauty bath”. That’s because raw milk does not get sold for food in Australia. This one is absolutely beautiful. Look closely and you can see the cream line in the bottle. The milk is super fatty, almost one third cream. I love that! The more fat the better (I’m a low carber these days, so fat is my friend). I used some cream in my morning coffee, to make an omelette, and to make butter. Really great butter.

Making butter turns out to be easy. Put your cream in a jar. Shake the heck out of it. Ten minutes or so, the butter will separate from the butter milk. Strain it, squeeze the excess liquid out, salt the butter and eat it! It doesn’t last long I hear, but it shouldn’t have to last long, right?