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									         eat drink
                                                                             Left Buttermilk
                                                                             pancakes with poached
                                                                             Right Andrew Blake
                                                                             Below left Roasted field
                                                                             mushrooms with feta.
                                                                             Bottom Blake’s partner,
                                                                             Jodie Rochetich.
                                                                             Bottom right Smoked
                                                                             salmon and ricotta
                                                                             on toasted briant.

                                              Oyster Bloody Mary
                                              (below left)
                                              8 unopened oysters
                                              400ml tomato juice
                                              100ml vodka
                                              1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
                                              juice of 1 lemon
                                              ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
                                              celery salt
                                              • Remove oysters from
                                              the shells, reserving the
                                              oyster juices. Strain oyster
                                              juice into a small jug and
                                              add the tomato juice, vodka,
                                              Worcestershire sauce,
                                              lemon juice and Tabasco.
                                              Place one oyster in each
                                              shot glass and pour over the
                                              Bloody Mary mix. Sprinkle
                                              with celery salt.

          46      theage(melbourne)magazıne

June_What i cook.indd 46                                                                                12/5/09 4:18:13 PM
         what i
         Words Dani Valent
         Photography Mark Chew

                                                                                                                  Baked pullet eggs, stewed tomatoes              deep orange-red in colour. Remove from
                                                                                                                  and salsiccia (above)                           oven and cool.
                                                                                                                  1 medium brown onion, diced                     • Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and
                                                                                                                  3 cloves garlic, minced                         salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the
                                                                                                                  50ml extra virgin olive oil                     buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. Add wet
                                                                                                                  1kg ripe tomatoes, chopped                      mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir
                                                                                                                  500ml quality tomato passata                    to incorporate. Do not over-mix. Let sit for
                                                                                                                  ½ bunch basil                                   20 minutes before gently stirring to remove
                                                                                                                  salt and pepper to season                       any remaining lumps.
                                                                                                                  400g pork, chilli and fennel sausage            • Cook pancakes in a non-stick pan, top
                                                                                                                  or other spicy, coarse pork sausage             with quince and a dollop of yoghurt.
                                                                                                                  4 pullet eggs or small free-range eggs

         Andrew Blake swaps crash and burn for                                                                    • Heat oven to 180C.
                                                                                                                  • Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                  Smoked salmon with horseradish
                                                                                                                                                                  ricotta on toasted briant
         a quiet brunch with family and friends.                                                                  in a heavy saucepan until translucent. Add      150g fresh ricotta
                                                                                                                  the tomatoes, passata and basil leaves.         2 tsp freshly grated horseradish or 3 tsp
         Andrew Blake has a few hundred thousand regrets, one for every dollar he owed when his                   Cook slowly until the tomato stew thickens      from jar of horseradish
         Southgate restaurant was shut down seven years ago. But he more keenly rues all the meals he             (about 50 minutes). Season to taste.            2 tbs chopped chives
         missed with his two ex-wives and four children over the years. While he worked as a restaurant           • Pan-fry the sausage, cut into 2cm chunks      sea salt and freshly ground pepper
         chef – between 1977 and 2002 – Blake, 50, never cooked for his family. “I was always working,”           and add to the tomato stew. Pour into a         4 thick slices briant (brioche/croissant
         he says. “And, if I did get home, I couldn’t be fagged cooking, it was always takeaway.” Perhaps         26cm earthenware baking dish. Crack the         loaf) or sourdough bread
         that’s why he’s such a solicitous host this bright autumn morning, serving oyster shooters               eggs into the tomato/sausage mixture,           8 slices smoked salmon
         and buttermilk pancakes to his girlfriend, Jodie, his daughter Neredah and old friends.                  cover and bake in oven for about 6 minutes      • Mix the ricotta, horseradish and chives
             For a long time, if you wanted to know where Melbourne dining was at, you looked to                  or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.    in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
         Andrew Blake. His first chef’s job was at Fanny’s in 1980 when it was the city’s leading                                                                 Toast the slices of briant, top each with
         restaurant and he embraced fine dining and hard living in equal part. “We’d go out till 4am, then        Buttermilk pancakes with poached                a dollop of horseradish ricotta and drape
         come back to the restaurant and sleep on the banquettes,” he says. But Blake impressed with              quince and honeyed yoghurt                      2 slices of smoked salmon over each.
         more than stamina, and Fanny’s owner, Gloria Staley, gave him the head chef job at her cutting-          500g sugar
         edge Sydney restaurant Chez Oz; he left after two-and-a-half years for a stint at Arthurs, before        1 litre water                                   Thyme and garlic-roasted field
         retreating to Melbourne. From 1989, he worked at Richmond’s trendy Cafe Kanis, where he                  1 cinnamon quill                                mushrooms with Persian feta
         popularised risotto. His next project was Kanis, Blake and Kanis, a pioneer upscale grocer with          1 lemon, juiced (keep lemon)                    8 field mushrooms, stalks removed
         take-home meals, killed by the Toorak Road clearway and the early ’90s recession.                        1 vanilla bean, split                           2 garlic cloves, poached for 5 minutes
             In 1991, the developers of the Southgate precinct approached Blake to open a restaurant              2 quince                                        and finely sliced
         and found him rich in ideas but poor in pocket. “I had a mattress on the floor of a friend’s             1½ cups plain flour                             1 tsp thyme leaves
         warehouse, was driving an old bomb, my mum lent me money,” he recalls. The developers put                4 tsp baking powder                             40g unsalted butter
         in $500,000 and Blake’s became the city’s “it” restaurant in ’92, introducing 500 diners a day           4 tbs caster sugar                              100g Persian feta
         to new food (smoked-salmon stacks, Thai red curry with kangaroo) and novel dining concepts               large pinch salt                                • Preheat oven to 180C.
         (shareable dishes rather than the three-course catastrophe). “It was a runaway train,” says              2¼ cups buttermilk                              • Spread the mushrooms on an oven tray
         Blake. The money rolled in, but the landlord claimed 15 per cent of turnover as rent – “$25,000          2 eggs                                          and spread over the poached garlic slices
         a month in 1992” – and Blake frittered away much of the rest. “It was a spendy time,” he says,           50g unsalted butter, melted                     and the thyme leaves. Place a nut of
         noting a sudden affinity with upscale furniture, designer clothes and expensive partying.                200ml low-fat Greek-style yoghurt               butter on each mushroom and roast for 20
             Blake’s was leant on to open Stella (the city Mod-Oz darling that plunged in 1997), Stella at        • Preheat oven to 140C.                         minutes or until mushrooms are cooked but
         Heide (good food, bad business), South Yarra bar Tonic (ditto), a warehouse at South Wharf (a            • Place sugar, water, cinnamon, lemon           still firm. Top with crumbled Persian feta.
         function venue with restaurant-quality food) and, eventually, Blake’s Cafeteria in 2001, an all-day      juice, squeezed lemon and vanilla in a
         diner in Greville Street undone by too many cool cats sitting on their lattes and neglecting to eat.     heavy enamel pan. Bring to a boil and then      All recipes serve 4
         Southgate changed the locks on its indebted tenant in 2002; Blake sold his cafeteria in 2004.            simmer for 5 minutes.
         Now he’s employed by ex-wife Jenny to run catering business Blake’s Feast and runs Zirky’s               • Peel, core and quarter quinces and
         restaurant at Mount Hotham in winter. The $300,000 debt is almost wiped but he isn’t planning            place in pan. (Quince quarters should
         on diving back into restaurants. “I want to be the father I wasn’t,” he says. “I used to eat standing    be submerged.) Cover with a lid and place
         up in the restaurant kitchen. Now I enjoy sitting down, savouring, watching other people enjoy           in oven. Cook for 2-3 hours until tender and
         my food. I like that gesture, that giving. There’s plenty of time for me to right lots of wrongs.” (m)

                                                                                                                                                                               theage(melbourne)magazıne       47

June_What i cook.indd 47                                                                                                                                                                                   12/5/09 4:18:17 PM

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