Raise your glasses – the real “Thunder from Down Under” is on it’s way! The magnificent Australian Winter Black Truffles (yes, Melanosporum, or Perigord), will start to appear in the US in June, ready for bringing a heightened delight to all that gorgeous summer produce!
Think peas, corn, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, sun-kissed strawberries, Pacific Salmon and winter black truffles. This is the truest and most delicious sense of South Meets North there could be.
Farmed mainly in West Australia at Manjimup, near the wine-healthy Margaret River, by the Wine and Truffle Company and also Tasmania, Australian truffles are earning their place on the best tables in the world, French Laundry and Per Se included. And, with over 8 years under its belt coming to the US, the truffle is now also sneaking into a greater diversity of restaurants, where some chefs will simply add it shaved onto any dish the diner delights.
Even French chefs are being quoted as saying the Australian truffle is just as good as, and more consistent than the French product, and the joy of being able to have fresh winter truffles all year round is an exciting prospect for many chefs, who usually rely on frozen, preserved or artificial products during summer months. Take a look at what some chefs have been coming up with. And if you are fortunate enough to find some to prepare at home, I’ve added 2 of my own ideas, recipes below.
Chef Cal Staminov and Pastry Chef Ben Spungin, from Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley each had their own interpretation – a Salmon with Sweet Peas and Truffles, and from Ben, Black truffle ice-cream with Pistachio Sponge Cake, fraises du Boise, Raspberry Meringue, Apricot.
Hiro Sone, Owner and Chef of Terra in St Helena, took the meat route with Fricassee of Sweetbreads with Braised Veal Breast, Summer Garden Vegetables and Australian Winter Truffle, and Justin Everett of Cavallo Point Lodge, the Lodge at Golden Gate, took the simply pure direction with a silky Sweet Corn Vicchysiosse.
Suzette Grisham, Chef and Co-owner of Acquerello in San Francisco stuck to her Italian passion with a Veal and truffled mortadella tortellini Bolognesi with shaved Australian black truffles.
Regardless, all were exquisite, made only more so, by the addition of the black gold from Down Under. Here’s my simple addition.
Pikelets with Cured Salmon and Truffles
Makes about 24 of each.
For the pikelets (like blini or mini pancakes), sift 1 cup self-raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda into a bowl. Combine 1 egg, ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar and 2 teaspoons olive oil and pour into center of flour. Beat to a thick pouring consistency. Heat more oil or butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat, add tablespoons of mix, separated by 1 inch, and cook until golden and bubbles appear on top, flip and cook a minute further, then transfer to paper towel lined tray
Crème Fraiche mixed with truffle mustard, cured or smoked salmon, black Australian truffles.
Crème Fraiche, Heirloom Tomato and Truffle Concasse
Pea and Sweet Corn Soup Shooters with Truffles
1 tablespoon Truffle Mustard mixed with 3 tablespoons Crème Fraiche or sour cream
Shaved Australian black truffles
For the Corn Shooter:
Fresh kernels from 6 ears corn
2 tablespoons Brookfarm Premium Macadamia oil
2 green onions, white part only, chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part finely chopped
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup buttermilk or cream
white pepper, sea salt and lemon juice to taste
Place kernels from about 1 ear corn in a blender with 2-3 tablespoons of water (enough to make a soup consistency) and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and lemongrass and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the remaining corn and cook, stirring for 1- 2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer 4-5 minutes. Using an immersion blender or blender, process the mixture until as smooth as desired. Return to the pan, add corn “juice” and buttermilk, reheat and season to taste.
For the Pea Shooter
1/2 cup chicken broth or salted water
2 cups fresh peas
2 sprigs mint
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon medium dry sherry, optional
Murrumbooee Bush Pepper and Salt Blend
Bring the broth to the boil in a saucepan and add the peas with one mint sprig. Simmer for 1 minute or until just tender but still bright green. Drain, reserving the liquid, and transfer to a blender. Add the milk, vinegar, sherry and a couple of fresh mint leaves to the peas and puree, adding a little of the reserved liquid if necessary to bring to a desired consistency. Return to saucepan, season to taste and reheat.