Cooking with the seasons

OVER four chapters spanning the seasons, acclaimed Australian chef Mike McEnearney harnesses the best produce available to create more than 100 fresh, wholesome recipes.

Ranging from breakfast ideas to salad, more substantial dishes, sweet things and even drinks, many of these recipes are simple and take only minutes to prepare; others are broken up into stages to fit in with our busy lives.

At the back of the book is the Larder section, to inspire you to make the most of what's plentiful each season - and give you a headstart in the kitchen.

The ultimate aim of Real Food by Mike is to assist you in maintaining good health while enjoying real food that will enhance your life.

Mike says, "My interest in health is neither Western nor Eastern. I simply believe in a balanced diet, eating whole foods and all things in moderation.

"I believe that food - and by food I mean all edible flora and fauna in its purest form - is nature's medicine.”

Mike provides notes for each recipe, listing the benefits of quality wholefoods and medicinal benefits of the ingredients used.

Recipes include roast chicken with verjuice, white grapes and tarragon; pineapple, mint and kombucha ice-blocks; green pistachio jelly with persimmons in rose syrup; chilled avocado, turmeric and cashew nut soup; stuffed spring cabbage with pork and chestnuts; baked scallops with watermelon and hazelnut curry; and even a recipe for ginger beer.

Yabbies poached in chicken stock with broad beans and basil

Yabbies are freshwater crayfish found in many dams in Australia and are often thought of as pests. However, once you taste them you realise they are the most luxurious pest on the planet! They taste like a very sweet prawn and have the texture of lobster.

SERVES: 4

Ingredients

1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock

1 kg yabbies

250g baby (Dutch) carrots, peeled

250g baby turnips, peeled

150g fresh peas, blanched

150g broad beans, shelled

1⁄2 bunch basil, leaves picked

YABBY BUTTER:

Shells from 1 kg yabbies

60 ml (1⁄4 cup) olive oil

1⁄2 lemon, juiced

250g unsalted butter

Sea salt

Method

To make the yabby butter, sauté the yabby shells in the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon juice and allow to cool thoroughly.

Pour into a blender and process to a paste. Once the shells are broken down, pulse the butter through and season with sea salt.

Pass the butter mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Roll the butter into a cylinder in plastic wrap, label well and store in the freezer.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to the boil, then poach the yabbies for 2 minutes and remove with tongs or a spoon. Peel the yabbies, reserving the shells to make the yabby butter.

Bring the chicken stock back up to a slow simmer and poach the vegetables for 3 minutes or until just tender. Taste the stock and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add half the yabby butter to enrich the stock. Simmer for 2 minutes then add the yabby and basil leaves and remove from the heat immediately. Spoon into bowls and serve with the remaining yabby butter on the side to add more if you wish.

This is an edited extract from Real Food By Mike by Mike McEnearney, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45 and is available in stores nationally. Photographer: ©Alan Benson.



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