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Truffle Series: Butter poached crayfish with seafood linguine

What did I do with the other half of that Pemberton truffle I posted about with my pie recipe?

Two words: Crayfish. Pasta.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure this dish would work – I’m so used to eating and cooking with black truffle in heartier dishes and ingredients with deeper flavours. But I had done red meat – beef cheek, lamb – and I had done mushrooms to death, I had done simple things like a cheesy gratin or soup or even scrambled eggs and toasties that really let the truffle shine. What I hadn’t used truffle with was seafood. For some reason (*ahem* Masterchef Australia, I’m looking at you) I was suddenly really desperate to make a crustacean stock and also had a craving for some succulent, sweet, fresh crayfish. Plus, I had all that truffle butter that I had made, and I thought that I must be able to build a dish around all of these semi-disjointed ideas.


In the end, I made a very rich and flavoursome crustacean stock and worked it into a decadently creamy, buttery pasta sauce, truffled some scallops and butter-poached a crayfish tail. I was pretty happy with the outcome, though I wish I had used better linguine (you can!) because that almost ruined it.

Truffle butter poached crayfish with seafood linguine

Truffle Butter

For the truffle butter, I just sliced a block of good cooking butter into 5 pieces and stuck very thin fresh truffle shavings in between them, and put them back together into one block. I surrounded the block with more truffle shavings, and wrapped everything in up in cling wrap, put it back in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I took out the butter and let it soften at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Then I put it into a metal bowl and used a spoon to work and mix it until the truffle was distributed pretty evenly throughout the butter.

The Main Event

6 scallops
6 king prawns
1 crayfish tail
1 large shallot (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
300mL (approx) vegetable or mild chicken stock
200mL (approx) dry white wine
150mL (approx) heavy cream
tarragon (chopped finely)
parsley (chopped finely)
fresh black truffle shavings (approx maybe 20)
1 red chilli (optional)
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 servings of linguine (dried or fresh)
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. The night before cooking, wrap scallops individually in cling wrap with thin slices of truffle on either side
  2. Peel and de-vein the prawns, set shells aside. Remove the crayfish tail from its shell, set the shell aside. Remove the membranous bits of the underside of the crayfish as best you can.
  3. Break apart and smash the crustacean shells from above. Place shells in a tall saucepan/pot, add half the vege stock and all of the wine, and a couple of pinches of salt
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until visibly reduced
  5. While that’s happening, in a separate pan, melt a tablespoon of truffle butter from above, then saute garlic and shallots (and a little bit of chilli if you like) until the shallots are translucent. Set aside.
  6. Remove crayfish and prawn shells from stock; strain the stock through muslin or a very fine sieve, then return to saucepan
  7. Turn heat to low and add about 100g (yes, that much!) of butter to the stock, in 6-8 separate chunks. After adding each chunk, stir slowly until fully mix, before adding the next chunk. Do not let the stock boil or the butter will separate from the stock.
  8. Add some tarragon and parsley to the stock, and a little more salt to taste. If there’s more than 5cm of liquid at the bottom of your saucepan, remove some of the stock mixture and set aside.
  9. Quickly sear the crayfish tail (about 45 secs each side on high heat if small, 1 minute each if a bit larger). Then add the crayfish to the buttery stock that’s left in the saucepan.
  10. Poach crayfish on a very gentle simmer for about 7-8 minutes (turning halfway through) – but check it this as it will depend on the size of the crayfish, the liquid level in your saucepan. Remove when just cooked and very tender. (If you removed any stock before, now re-add the the stock you removed to the saucepan.)
  11. Add the garlic and shallots sauteed before. Add in the rest of the original vege/chicken stock. Bring back to a gentle simmer
  12. Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Add plenty of salt, olive oil, and cook the linguine until al dente. Set aside with some olive oil mixed through to prevent sticking.
  13. Stir in the cream very slowly in 2-3 batches.
  14. Pan-fry the prawns and scallops in truffle butter until the scallops are golden brown, then set aside.
  15. Mix the corn flour with 2/3 tablespoon of cold water until mixed fully, then add to the saucepan. Stir in and simmer gently until the sauce thickens a little, simmer for two more minutes, then turn off the heat.
  16. Either slice the crayfish tail in half down the middle, OR, you can slice it into 3 cm pieces. I like biting into a nice, juicy crayfish chunk so I choose the first option.
  17. In two pasta dishes or shallow bowls, place one serving of the linguine in each. Spoon a small ladle of the sauce onto the pasta and mix gently until it coats the linguine.
  18. Distribute half the crayfish pieces, three scallops and three prawns into each dish on top of the linguine. Ladle more sauce on top of the pasta and seafood until attractively covered.
  19. Top dish with finely shaved or sliced truffle, chopped chervil and one sprig of chervil.


Potluck Staples 4: Smoky Vegan Gumbo

Do you like dishes that are spicy and packed with flavour? If you said “yes”, you might really like this gumbo. If you said “no” to the spice bit – don’t worry, you can always adjust the chilli levels in this recipe!

Some of you who don’t hail from North America may also be wondering what the hell “gumbo” actually is. Gumbo is a stew that originated in Louisiana in the 18th century. It’s thick and hearty and flavoursome after simmering for ages in a big pot of awesomeness – and it’s actually the perfect kind of dish for a large gathering. You can throw almost any ingredients in a gumbo, and there are different traditional types (Cajun vs Creole) — or, you can be a bit non-traditional, like this one. I’ll leave you to research more of the cultural and culinary history of gumbo if you want, but I really just want to help you make and eat it.

Like my last “potluck staples” series recipe for mushroom pho, this one is vegan. You may wonder why I have so many vegan sharing-friendly dishes up my sleeve. In 2014, right after my April Veg Challenge month, I decided to organise a multi-course vegan dinner for friends and acquaintances, for several reasons – to showcase how delicious food with no animal products in it can be, to raise some money for a deserving animal welfare organisation, and, you know, to just have a fun night filled with food, drink and laughter.

Everyone had such a good time, we decided we had to do it all again (and again, and again); but since just three of us made all four courses for over 20 people, and it was exhausting, we thought it might be a lot better to turn it into an everyone bring-a-plate affair for future events. It would mean moooore food, more variety, and everyone would get to share their favourite dishes! (And we still gave some people the option to not bring anything and just donating more to our chosen charity instead, as cooking’s not everyone’s cup of tea).

A couple more dinners later, with friends-of-friends joining in, we’re pretty much an established club now – in fact, we actually have a Facebook group! And we’d love to grow even more – so join us, if you’re interested? You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian – everyone is more than welcome, you just have to like food and not be a horrible person. The next event is on Saturday, August 29th, 2015. If you want to come feast with us, book here and join the Facebook event!

/shamelesspromotion *ahem*

Right. Gumbo.

Smoky Vegan Gumbo

Serves: A lot of people
Prep and cooking time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Note: Gumbo is usually served with rice. The recipe below is only for the stew itself, so just cook rice as you normally would! In the photo above, I’ve served the gumbo with wild purple rice, and it worked a treat!

The Shopping List

½ cup plain white flour
½ cup canola oil
1 large or 1 ½ medium onion
7 cloves of garlic
2 stalks of celery
mixed chillies (habanero, poblano, jalapenos etc – quantity depending on your preferred spice level)
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 zucchinis (ie. courgettes)
8 cherry tomatoes
10 okra
1 litre vegetable stock
200mL craft beer (preferably dark ale)
2 cups tomato passata
1 tub tomato paste
chipotle sauce
Mexican-style chilli sauces – eg. habanero, jalapeno
liquid smoke (optional – available from gourmet food stores, eg. The Essential Ingredient in Prahran Market, Melbourne)
1 medium pack of medium-firm tofu
200g vegan sausage (optional)
1 bunch fresh thyme

dried spices
smoked paprika (good quality)
ground cumin
dried oregano flakes

Make the thing

  1. Make a roux with a 1:1 ratio of the flour and canola oil.
  2. When roux turns beige or very light brown,
  3. Add:
    onions (diced)
    garlic (minced)
    celery (chopped to 1cm sections)
    finely chopped chillies
    1 litre vege stock
    ^ Stir constantly, cooking for 5 minutes

  4. Then add:
  5. carrot (chopped chunky)
    zucchini (sliced to 1cm sections approx)
    roasted cherry tomatoes (pre-roast these in the oven until caramelised before adding)
    okra (chopped 1cm sections)
    1-2 cups tomato passata, to your preference
    ^ Stir and cook for 10 minutes

  6. Then add spices:
  7. smoked paprika
    ground cumin
    dried oregano flakes
    thyme (preferably fresh, chopped)

  8. Add sauces:
  9. tomato paste to taste
    chipotle sauce, if you have some, otherwise one of those mexican chilli sauces like habanero, jalapeno etc. Chipotle is the best as it gives off a really smoky flavour
    ^ Stir and cook for 10 minutes

  10. Theeeen add:
  11. More vege stock IF required
    A nice craft beer (optional – but a deep, dark ale will give this an amazing flavour)
    Medium-firm tofu in 2-3cm cubes
    Sliced vegan sausage (optional)
    ^ Stir and cook for 10 mins

  12. Then (last bit) add:
  13. A dozen or so drops of liquid smoke

  14. Keep cooking for another 5 mins or so or until the gumbo has been going for at least 40 minutes in total, excluding the roux-making time at the start.

Truffle Series: Mushroom, leek & cheddar pie

Ah, another truffle season, another visit (or two) to the wonderful Madame Truffles, (now also open at Queen Victoria Market)!

Okay, so I’ve been pretty busy with work and life and what-not, so I’m not going to write a big story or blurb with this one. There’s always time for truffles and cooking with truffles… but superfluous writing to pad out blog posts? Not so much.

My first truffle of 2015 was another from Pemberton, Western Australia – which is apparently becoming one of my favourite truffle growing regions – and with one half of it, I decided to make pies. Buttery, flaky, hearty, cheesy pies – the kind you’d find freshly baked and definitely not reheated at your little local corner bakery in New Zealand… the kind that you can also find (*cough* in an inferior form *cough*) in Australia. My favourite pie growing up was always the classic mince and cheese, with a good gooey gravy. I always try and do something vegetarian with my truffles, though, so I decided to use mushrooms and leek instead, but kept the dark, hearty, rich and flavourful gravy (made even better by having a mushroom base, I have to say).


To ensure I had a strong and solid base yet that all-important fluffy, flaky upper crust, I made the bottom of the pie casing with shortcrust and the top with puff pastry.

Now, it had been a few years since I last made pies and it was the first time I made shortcrust from scratch, so I was pretty happy with the delicious result!

So without further ado:

Mushroom, leek & cheddar pie with black truffle

This recipe is designed to make individual-sized pies in pie tins or ramekins, and it would make about 6 to 8 pies depending on their size.

Truffle Butter

For the truffle butter, I just sliced a block of good cooking butter into 5 pieces and stuck very thin fresh truffle shavings in between them, and put them back together into one block. I surrounded the block with more truffle shavings, and wrapped everything in up in cling wrap, put it back in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I took out the butter and let it soften at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Then I put it into a metal bowl and used a spoon to work and mix it until the truffle was distributed pretty evenly throughout the butter.

Shortcrust Pastry

2 1/4 cups flour
170g butter
80g truffle butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons cold water

  1. Mix the flour, salt and both types of butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk eggs and the cold water until combine.
  3. Pour liquid mixture into the flour mixture, combine evenly, and knead gently until it comes together. Don’t overwork it.
  4. Break dough into 6-8 pieces (depending on how big your pies will be) and roll out into 2-3 mm thick sheets. This will be the pie bottom, so you will want it sturdy and a little thick.
  5. Stack pastry sheets on a plate with baking paper and a tiny bit of flour in between to keep them separated. Refrigerate for 2 or more hours.

Puff Pastry

I just use store bought puff pastry as I couldn’t be bothered making two types of pastry this time around. You can do the same, or find a good puff pastry recipe online.


Pie Filling

12 swiss brown mushrooms (sliced)
10 white button mushrooms (sliced)
2/3 leek (chopped roughly, no long pieces)
1/2 large brown onion (diced)
thyme (chopped finely)
parsley (chopped finely)
garlic (minced)
cracked black pepper
120mL dry white wine
300mL cup (approx) vegetable stock
1 1/2 tablespoons Massels Supergravy granules
100mL thickened cream
a little corn flour (see method below)
fresh black truffle shavings
vegetable stock
truffle butter
cheddar cheese (sliced – one slice per pie)
dried beans or pie weights
1 egg
black or white sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Add about a tablespoon of truffle butter to a saucepan. Saute mushrooms, garlic and onion with a pinch or two of salt and pinch of thyme for 5 minutes.
  3. Add white wine to the saucepan and simmer until reduced by about 1/3, then add vegetable stock and continue to simmer until reduced a little more.
  4. Dissolve approximately half of the Supergravy granules in cold water (according to instructions on pack). Add to the saucepan, stir until mixed evenly and the mushroom sauce starts to thicken. Repeat with the other half. Remember, you are adding cream after this, so it’s ok if the gravy is quite thick at this stage.
  5. While that sauce is going, lightly grease your pie tins or ramekins, then line them with the shortcrust pastry you made and refrigerated earlier, making sure the sheets go a little over the lips/edges of the tins. Fill the pastry-lined tins with a layer of dried beans (these act as pie weights, so the pastry doesn’t lift up off the base). Blind bake these pastry bottoms for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are a little golden. Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
  6. Go back to the saucepan; slowly stir in the cream.
  7. Check the consistency of the sauce – it should be a reasonably thick gravy mixture that would hold in a pie but not too gloopy. If it’s too thin, add some corn flour to thicken (after dissolving first in cold water) – start with a third of a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thick, add more vegetable stock.
  8. While mushroom sauce is simmering, in a separate pan, melt half a tablespoon of truffle butter. Saute leek until a little brown, then add into the mushroom sauce.
  9. Add a little more fresh thyme and simmer the sauce for 5 more minutes.
  10. Add a generous amount of cracked black pepper to season, as well as more salt to taste. I used some smoked salt, which is amazing stuff.
  11. Fill the pastry-lined pie tins with the mushroom gravy mix to three quarters full. To each pie, add a few black truffle shavings, then add a slice of cheddar cheese.
  12. Increase the oven temperature to 200C. Cover the top of each pie tin with a sheet of puff pastry (pre-cutting the sheet to shape and size will help), pressing gently and sealing the pie.
  13. Beat the egg lightly until mixed, then brush a thin layer of the mixture to cover the top pastry of the pie. Make 2-3 thin cuts to the pie top, then sprinkle with some sesame seeds.
  14. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops of the pies are golden brown.


Truffle Series: Potato and leek soup with black truffle

One Monday noon at the end of winter, I opened up my tupperware container at work and was greeted by the enticing aroma of truffle. Feeling super smug in the office, I drank in the smell and then savoured every spoonful of the creamy soup. Here was a beautifully “gourmet” version of a frequent weekday lunch staple for me…

As some of you might have seen on Facebook, I’ve had some dramas this week with this blog. First, I wasn’t able to log into my WordPress control panel because it decided I didn’t exist as a user (nor any of the other admin accounts I’d created). Then, when I contacted my web host, even though I told them the most recent working date was last Friday, they decided to restore the database from a backup made more than three weeks ago, hence erasing all the posts and drafts I had worked on since then.

Why, I asked them, would they do something so stupid? Because, they explained, that was the last backup they had of my database as the “daily” backups had been glitching for my account. Thanks for telling me, guys.

Through half a dozen different tricks and some pure luck, I managed to salvage all the posts I had already published, so what you see won’t have changed, but what I did lose was a fully written up yet unpublished post for this recipe. I had this whole intro about how much I love soup – it was a freaking ode to soup, and now it’s gone, and I can’t be bothered.

I think it was something along the lines of how one of my food pet peeves is when people say soup isn’t meal food or isn’t filling. Because it is, ok? If you’ve ever made soup personally, you’ll know that the ingredients were just as solid and real as ever before they transformed into soupy form – it’s not as if they can lose mass through this transformation. Science, people!

Soup is also one of the easiest and quickest ways to have a nutritionally complete meal. On the wintry weekends when I get a chance to, I whip up a big batch that can feed two of us over three weekday lunches or dinners plus fill a couple of freezer zip-lock bags for later.

I don’t often include potato or cream in these batches – I prefer lighter and healthier options to get through my week. However, I couldn’t think of anything better than to pair this more indulgent favourite of mine with the Tasmanian truffle from Madame Truffles I still had left after making lamb ragu.

Normally, I like to have my potato and leek soup with a mild and extra creamy blue cheese, however, in this case I have omitted cheese to allow the taste of the truffle to shine through.

Creamy Potato and Leek soup with Black Truffle

Things to note

Serves: 5 – 6
Time required: An hour or a bit more

What to grab from the shops

60g butter
Fresh truffle (I used Tasmanian black truffle)
White truffle oil

1 ltr vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 tbsp thickened cream (can substitute with vegan alternatives such as unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk)

1 leek – pale green and white parts – (finely chopped)
4 potatoes with sweet flesh – I used decadent ‘dutch creams’ (sliced into wedges or roughly 3cm cubes)
1 small onion, preferably white, or brown (roughly diced)
2 parsnips (in 2-3cm slices)
6 garlic cloves (minced or very finely chopped)
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (roughly chopped)

Sea salt
White pepper

Lets get soupin’

  1. Rinse leeks and use only the white and pale green parts – chop off and discard the roots and dark green tops. Cut leeks lengthways and slice finely across.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into wedges, then cubes of around 3cm. Peel parsnips and cut into 2-3 cm slices.
  3. Heat butter in a large pot until it just starts to foam. Add onion and garlic and fry on medium heat until translucent.

  1. Add leeks and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add potatoes, parsnips and parsley to the pot, then pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

  1. Blend with a hand-held stick blender until smooth. Strain through a large sieve for extra smooth lusciousness!
  2. Add cream and blitz with the blender again.

  1. Add half of the truffle shavings and the truffle oil and mix in thoroughly.

  1. Serve, topped with freshly chopped parsley and the remaining shaved truffle. Optionally, drizzle in a little cream. Stir in before eating.

Truffle Series: Lamb ragu pappardelle, truffle, pecorino

After obtaining two little beautiful treasures from Madame Truffles this year, I don’t think I’ll ever again pass up an opportunity to cook with fresh truffles if I can get my hands on some. I’m already scheming for next season.

Last week, when I posted about South Melbourne, I promised a couple of truffle-based recipes derived from my experiments… so here I am, delivering. This amazingly aromatic, really sort of ugly little fungal delicacy really works great in so many things – I even found myself casually placing a few fresh shavings in my jaffle maker to fancy up a lazy weeknight dinner. I wish I had more recipes to share, but typical of me, I didn’t write anything down most of the time.

This is such an indulgent dish – decadent and very rich, I can’t seem to quite devour it in quite my usual gluttonous homecooking serving sizes, though my palate very much resents the fact.

Lamb ragu pappardelle with shaved black Australian truffle and pecorino

Things to note

Serves: 6

Time needed: About 3 to 3½ hours

What you’ll need

For ragu
1 kg lamb shoulder
1 ltr approx fresh chicken stock
½ ltr vegetable stock
250 mL dry white wine

10g black truffle (with truffle slicer or microplane)
Pecorino cheese
Butter – about a 3cm slice from a standard stick

8 garlic cloves (minced)
1 white onion (sliced into half rings)
2 shallots (diced)
2 carrots (1 diced, 1 roughly sliced)
2 purple carrots (1 diced, 1 roughly sliced)
3 sticks of celery (chopped approx 1 cm pieces)

5 sprigs thyme (1 sprig finely chopped)
⅓ bunch parsley (finely chopped)

Sea salt
Black Pepper (cracked)

Homemade Napoli sauce (see recipe and ingredients below) or fresh, good quality store bought

NB: For even richer and more decadent results, replace butter in this recipe with homemade truffle butter. It’s fairly easy and Google with help with a recipe!


  1. Rub lamb in salt and pepper and cover for 30 min. Sear the lamb in a large lidded casserole dish or dutch oven, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Add butter to casserole dish. Fry onions, shallots and garlic in butter until slightly translucent.
  4. Add sliced carrots (1 purple, 1 orange) and chopped celery and continue to saute for 10 minutes
  5. Add the remaining butter. Place the lamb back in the dish, then pour in the chicken stock and white wine. Add parsley and the whole sprigs of thyme (leaving the chopped thyme for later). Stir a little and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven. Roast for 1 hour.

Beginning the sauce…

  1. While the lamb is roasting, make the Napoli sauce (see recipe)
  2. After the first hour, turn down the oven temperature to 150°C and roast lamb for a further 1 hour 10 min.
  3. Remove casserole dish from oven and take off the lid. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove lamb from dish and place on a large chopping board.
  5. Remove the solid vegetables in the dish (they will be quite mushy – we used them for flavour during cooking) and discard. Strain the cooking juices through a sieve and muslin into a separate bowl or container.
  6. Add the Napoli sauce from earlier into the now empty casserole dish, and bring to a simmer. Add the diced purple and orange carrots.
  7. Add the cooking juices from the lamb reserved just earlier to the casserole with the sauce and carrots. Simmer for 20 mins while completing the next step.

Pulled lamb ragu

  1. Start to pull the lamb meat off the bone with a fork. It should fall off quite easily. Pull meat apart further using forks, as you would for pulled pork, until quite fine.

  1. Add pulled lamb into casserole dish with carrots and Napoli sauce to complete the ragu. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring.
  2. Add chopped thyme. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Finishing touches

  1. Shave some truffle and pecorino using a microplane – the amount is up to you.
  2. Cook pappardelle in a large pot until al dente. Lift the pappardelle out of the pot with pasta server or tongs, while shaking very gently to get rid of excess moisture. It may not be necessary to drain the pot as this way the pasta will remain more starchy and able to hold sauce more easily.
  3. Place pasta in serving dishes and add the ragu. Drizzle with a wee bit of EVO and garnish with truffle shavings and shaved pecorino. (If you like, spoon one tablespoon of the starchy water the pasta has been cooked in into the pasta sauce while it’s still simmering. Otherwise, just add the freshly cooked sauce to the fresh cooked pasta immediately for good results.)

Simple Napoli sauce

What you’ll need

4 vine tomatoes
1 tin diced Italian tomatoes
½ large (or 1 small) brown onion (diced)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp quality tomato paste
½ bunch basil (finely chopped)
5 sprigs oregano (torn/broken)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black Pepper (cracked)

What to do

  1. Blanch the tomatoes and peel. Then dice roughly and place aside.
  2. Heat half of the olive oil in a saucepan on medium. Add onions and garlic and sautee until translucent.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, the rest of the olive oil and the brown sugar. Crush with a wooden spoon as you stir and bring to a light simmer.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, salt and pepper, and bring slowly back to a simmer.
  5. Turn heat down to low. Add half the oregano and half the basil.
  6. Simmer on low heat, partially covered for 1 hour.
  7. Stir in the remaining basil and oregano

^ Back to main dish

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