Category Archives: Australian Native Food

Saltbush – vegetable or seasoning?

Travellers into our dry inland can either see 360 degrees of flat featureless plain or look closer and discover the pale green sprawling long lived grey-blue shrub growing up to 3 metres high and sometimes spreads to 5 metres wide known as Old Man Saltbush.

Many farmers favour the saltbush paddocks for their lambs in their final 3 months where grazing on the shrub produces a tender, low fat meat.

In old times indigenous Australians mostly collected the minute Saltbush seeds to grind and roast for damper. The dried Saltbush flakes are a wonderful addition to meat rubs, bread, grills, pasta and dukkah.

Fresh leaves are superb in a stir fry.

KYLIE KWONG’S STIR FRIED NATIVE LEAVES

3 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp salt flakes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
200g fresh salt bush leaves
2 tbsp organic tamari
3 tbsp stock
1/2 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat the peanut oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.

Add the salt and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add the salt bush leaves and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add the tamari and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add the stock and stir-fry further 1 minute, then add the sesame oil.

Serve immediately as part of a banquet.

Oven baked Corn & Saltbush Chipssaltbush-corn-chips

Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan forced oven).

Combine a cup of polenta, 2/3 cup plain flour, 1 tbspn dried saltbush flakes and 1 teaspn baking powder in a bowl and add 1/4 cup macadamia oil and 1/2 cup of cold water. Mix well.

Divide the mixture in half and roll each half out separately between two sheets of baking paper until very thin (1mm).

Cut into triangles. Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp.

Peppermint Gum goes well with Lemon Myrtle & Sandalwood

Peppermint Gum, was initially found around the Blue Mountains and then west through the Great Dividing Range and south along the range into Victoria, as far as Ballarat.

Its minty overtones are excellent in tea, desserts, cakes & savoury dishes. As well as into sauces, pie crusts & stuffings for meat dishes.

A favourite for brewing Australian billy tea over a campfire, a handful of peppermint gum leaves were added to the pot.

Lemon Myrtle Cheesecake on a base of Peppermint Gum and Native Nuts

For the base, combine 1 cup butternut snap biscuits crushed, 1/2 cup macadamias ground, 1/2 cup roasted sandalwood nuts ground, 1 tspn peppermint gum powder, 125 g butter melted and then press into a dish to form a base.  Refrigerate.

Dissolve 2 tspns gelatine powder in 60 mls hot water and allow to cool

For the filling, blend 125 gm soft butter, 250 gm cream cheese softened, 1 cup caster sugar, 2 tspns vanilla essence, 2 Tbspns ground lemon myrtle, until creamy.

Gradually add gelatine to the filling mix.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Pour over the biscuit base and place in the fridge overnight.

Peppermint Gum Tea

Makes 2 cups
1. Heat 3 cups of good quality water to boiling.
2. 1 rounded teaspoon of Peppermint Gum flakes into the infuser or strainer.
3. Pour about 2 cups of boiling water over the infuser and into the pot. Let the Peppermint filled infuser steep for 2-3 minutes. Close your eyes and inhale the delicious aroma . . . by the time your tea is ready, you’ll feel relaxed and energized, even before you drink it!

Variation: Pour it over ice in a tall glass, and sip slowly. Iced Peppermint tea is a great summer beverage.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:peppermint gum truffles
50gm butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
180gm chocolate
1 desertspoon Peppermint Gum
150gm Macadamia Nuts
2 Tablespoons Cream

Place first 5 ingredients into a bowl and melt over a saucepan of hot water. Then add the nuts and cream. Mix well. Drop spoonfuls into paper patty pans. Refrigerate to set.

 

PEPPERMINT GUM POWDER AND TEA FLAKES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE TASTE AUSTRALIA BUSH FOOD SHOP>>

Gloriously aromatic Native Thyme

This strongly aromatic bush is a native to south east New South Wales, eastern Victoria and Tasmania.

Native Thyme was used by indigenous Australians for its medicinal properties.

Use as you would Mediterranean Thyme.  It is particularly good when mixed with Artesian Salt, Minced Garlic, Macadamia Nut Oil and Breadcrumbs as a crusting.

Unlike traditional thyme, this ingredient has a complex flavour based on mint. Try it as a baked potato spice, a red meat rub or BBQ marinade.  Or add  1/4 tspn dried Native Thyme to Lemon Curd!

 

Lamb with Native Thyme Desert Lime and Peppermint Gum

  • 1  deboned lamb leg
  • 1 desertspoon dried Native Thyme
  • 1 desertspoon dried Peppermint Gum
  • 6 fresh Desert Limes sliced or juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 tablespoons Macadamia oil
  • Pinch each of Artesian salt and ground Pepperberry

Feta and Watermelon salad

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1 small red onion peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber peeled and roughly cut
  • 2 tablespoons macadamia oil
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint finely sliced
  • 50g feta cheese cubed
  • Artesian salt and ground Pepperberry

Desert Lime Tzatziki

350gm natural no-fat yoghurt

2 Lebanese cucumbers, deseeded, grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tspsn Desert Lime powder

1 Tbspn Lime juice

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Using a small bowl mix the macadamia oil, Native Thyme, Peppermint Gum, Desert Limes, garlic, Artesian salt and Pepperberry. Place the lamb in a ceramic dish and coat thoroughly with the herb mix. Cover and marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Desert Lime Tzatziki – Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until required. Best made ahead of time to allow the flavours to develop

Preheat the oven to 200C or the BBQ to medium high. Place the lamb on either an iron griddle or large oven proof frying pan on a medium hot heat or the grill section of your BBQ. Cook on both sides to seal for about 2 minutes, then either place the pan in the oven or close the BBQ lid for 15-20 minutes (this is for medium rare, cook for longer if you prefer your lamb more done). When the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the heat & allow to rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes.

Feta and Watermelon salad: While the lamb is resting, throw the salad ingredients together in a medium bowl with the oil , lemon juice and salt & pepper mix well then top with the feta and herbs.

Slice lamb and serve with the salad, Native Thyme & Saltbush Breadsticks and Desert Lime Tzatziki .

Serves 4 people

Native Thyme & Saltbush Breadsticks

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough

1 egg white, beaten

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon dried Native thyme

3/4 teaspoon saltbush

Preheat oven to 180C.

Thaw 1 sheet puff pastry dough according to package directions, and place it on a lightly floured work surface.

Brush pastry with beaten egg white, then sprinkle with lemon zest, Native Thyme, and Saltbush.

Cut into 1cm wide strips with a pizza cutter; transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 14-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

The wonderfully versatile Strawberry Gum

Strawberry Gum is a very rare tree originally from a small region of New South Wales. The leaves have an essential oil called Methyl cinnamate, which acts as a flavour enhancer to sweet or savoury dishes.

It will enhance the flavour of berries, tomato based sauces, dairy or coconut milk dishes and  has a great affinity with chocolate.  It makes wonderful truffles, as well as aromatic sauces for poultry, pork, lamb or beef.

Combine with chilli in seafood recipes, or sprinkle over sweet potato before roasting.  It can even be used as a cure for crocodile.

Pair with vanilla bean for a lovely compote of poached fruit.

Add to a cheesecake base, fruit crumble topping, muesli energy bar, herbal tea infusion.

Iced Strawberry Gum tea is a great base for a fruity cocktail (recipe in our December newsletter).

The leaves are high in antioxidants and are anti-fungal and antibiotic, assisting with the microflora balance of the gut.

Strawberry Gum Custard Meringue

Custard:

  1.     8 whole dried Strawberry Gum leaves or 2 tbsp dried crushed leaves
  2.     6 free range egg yolks
  3.     1 cup cream
  4.     1 cup milk
  5.     150gm sugar

Heat milk, cream, sugar and leaves in a saucepan until boiling point. Turn off heat and allow flavours to infuse for minimum of 15 minutes (the longer the better).  Remove the leaves and return flavoured milk to a clean saucepan. Whisk in the eggs and increase heat slowly, whisky constantly until mixture thickens to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Take off heat and cool, refrigerate.

Meringue:

  1. 6 free range egg whites
  2. 300g caster sugar
  3. 1 tsp white vinegar
  4. 3 tsp strawberry gum powder

Cut out a circle (about 20–25cm) of baking paper. Place on a baking tray.
Preheat oven to 100C
Place the egg white into a mixxing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.  Then gradually add the remaining ingredients and combine.
Pile the mixture into the baking paper circle and spread evenly to the edges. (A dip in the middle helps contain the custard filling).
Bake for 90 minutes and then  turn off the oven and let it cool completely in the oven before removing.
Assemble just before serving.  Fill with custard and serve with seasonal fruit (shown here with current season fresh Cherries and Davidsons Plums – the tartiness of the plum cuts through the sweetness)

 

Potassium Rich Bush Tomato

I know that many of you are already fans of the Australian native Bush Tomato.

Bush Tomatoes (Solanum Centrale) are just one of many foods occurring naturally in Australia’s Red Centre. The fruit belongs to the family Solanaceae which includes some of the world’s major food crops: potato, tomato, capsicum, eggplant and chilli. However of the 18 species occurring across central Australia, only half are edible so identification is a must. I love to add a pinch when I’m mashing an avocado for a toast topper.

Harvesting occurs between March and August and whilst most used to be gathered from the wild these days they are being successfully farmed making availability less of an issue than another member of the Solanaceae family, Passionberries (Solanum cleistogamum), that grows on the edge of the desert.

Bush Tomato has a strong sun dried tomato, caramel and tamarillo flavour and aroma which is just delicious in recipes with tomato, cheese or eggs. Also goes well with Salmon and stronger flavoured white or game meats. Can be used as a Dukkah or crusting for meats.

Buy Whole and Crushed Bush Tomato >>HERE>>

Bush Tomato infused Vinegar

Use a good quality vinegar. (white wine, balsamic, red wine, rice wine, or apple cider vinegar)
Place 3 tablespoons of whole bush tomato into a clean sterilized jar or bottle
Heat 600ml vinegar to just below boiling,then pour over the bush tomato and cap tightly.
Allow to stand for 3 to 4 weeks for the flavour to develop fully.
Strain the vinegar through a damp cheesecloth or coffee filter one or more times until the vinegar is no longer cloudy.
Discard the bush tomato.
Pour the strained vinegar into a clean sterilized jar.
Seal tightly.
Store in the refrigerator for best flavour retention. Use in cooking in equal amounts where wine, fruit juice, plain vinegar, lemon, or lime juice is called for.

Discover Sandalwood Nuts

Western Australia is a huge state made up mostly of arid outback terrain. The population is concentrated in its fertile south west corner mainly in its capital, Perth. Known for its abundant parkland, beaches and snorkelling sites, Perth is the World’s most isolated capital city.
355 kilometres north of Perth, where the desert meets the south west, is a 686 km² nature region formerly known as White Wells Station which was acquired by the organisation Bush Heritage Australia in 2003 for conservation and renamed Charles Darwin Reserve.

A tree that is common within the Reserve is the grey, gaunt and gnarly West Australian Sandalwood Tree. Like the Quandong Tree, the slow growing Sandalwood is a root parasite, favouring wattles such as Acacia acuminata as a host tree which provides extra water and nutrients.
Sandalwood nuts are highly regarded as Aboriginal ‘bush medicine’ and were quickly adapted by the white settlers. The old timers always carried sandalwood nuts in a tobacco tin for medicinal purposes to quickly cure urinary scalding or “devilled kidneys” which resulted from drinking the highly mineralised waters.

Western Australian Sandalwood Tree has been a source of protein and nutrition since ancient times. European explorers first noted the Western Australian Sandalwood Tree in 1832. The first exports to the Far East for ceremonial purposes commenced in late 1844.

However with the introduction of sheep, goats and rabbits, sandalwood seedlings were decimated. This in turn impacted on the critically endangered native Brush Tailed Bettong who were instrumental in the propagation of the tree as they would scatter and hoard nuts like squirrels, burying them and forgetting about them, so that the seeds germinated and the trees regenerated naturally.

As the wild stands became depleted a concerted effort to cultivate Sandalwood began.
Following initial plantings in 2007, the first sandalwood nuts were harvested in 2011 and the journey to re-establishing them as a nutritional and valuable bush food began.
Western Australia currently has the largest sandalwood plantation resource in the world.

Sandalwood Nut kernels have an unique and delicate flavour with an amazing texture which make it a highly versatile ingredient or stand-alone product. Sandalwood Nuts are packed full of goodness with very impressive nutritional properties. This superb native Australian Bush Food is now being appreciated and embraced by a vast range of consumers, Chefs in fine restaurants and numerous chocolatiers.

Creamy WA Sandalwood nuts are Australia’s second native nut behind the Macadamia nut. Roasted Sandalwood Nuts contain 38% Omega 9 oils, less than 1% carbohydrates, 17% fibre and 17% protein. They can be included in many diets such as gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and paleo.

Lentil Carrot Sandalwood Salad with Tanami Fire, Pepperberry and River Mint
Place 150gm puy lentils into 500ml vegetable stock, bring to boil then reduce to simmer 25 mins. Drain and cool to room temp.sandalwood-carrot-salad
Combine 4 grated carrots, 120gm raisins, 40gm nuts (sandalwood and macadamia roasted and roughly chopped), 2 tspns finely chopped coriander, 1 tspn Tanami Fire Seasoning, 1/4 tspn Ground Pepperberry, 1 tspn dried River Mint, 2 tspns grated ginger, salt to taste. Mix in lentils. Set aside for 20 mins at least.
Mix 2 tspns honey and Tbspn Olive or Macadamia Oil. Pour over lentil mix , stir through. Serve.

Macadamia and Sandalwood Dukkah
Grind 500gm dry roasted macadamia nuts and 250gm roasted sandalwood nuts. Add 30gm crushed Bush Tomato,15gm Desert Lime Powder, 30gm Garlic powder, 40gm Artesian Salt, 20gm saltbush powder 100gm toasted sesame seeds and 15 gram roasted and ground wattleseed.