I’ve been quite fortunate to grow up near some of the best beaches in the world. Heading down to the sand as a kid and digging in my feet in the hope to find pipis is a past time that conjures up some really great memories. It’s not something that I’ve really had a chance to do as much of over the last decade. But since a recent holiday to Byron Bay uncovered, I’d realised I hadn’t properly passed on this beautiful seashore foraging skill to my daughter.
I remember early on in my childhood being at Port Stephens with friends and family, making sandcastles, getting in the water for hours or having a dig with my brothers when we had the chance. Our incentive in finding pipis meant that were we successful in striking a payload we knew we were made me proud.
It was a blast getting her out there to find a few handfuls. We collected enough for a feed, and I gotta say, they were pretty fuckin delish-usss! So, with our 30-40 pipi haul, we made our way home to start prepping the little buggers. First things first though: You need to purge them of all the shit and grit inside them.
NB: For the following recipe, put aside a 2/3 Cup of the seawater to cook the Pipis in
PURGING the PIPI’S
Unless you’re Bear Grylls and enjoy eating shit sand, mud, and roadkill, you need to purge (cleanse) the pipis of all the crap inside them. It’s like giving them gastro, without it being contagious to you. I probably should have just said ‘detox them’.
- Make sure the container you are transporting home the pipi’s in, is big enough to hold twice as much seawater to pipis
- quickly clean pipi’s under cold tap water, cleaning any noticeable crap off if necessary
- sieve the saltwater to eliminate any grit and shit
- Place the pipi’s back into the saltwater and leave overnight
- the best place to get the saltwater is right near where you found your pipis
Pipis In Ocean Stock
This is a simple dish that takes advantage of using the ocean water the lived in
2/3 Cup of the seawater filtered through a napkin
Dash of white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1. In a small to medium pot, bring the seawater to the boil
2. Gently place the pipis into the water and cook them for a few minutes,
3. Take out each pipi when their shells open and set them aside. When all pipis are out of pot turn heat
to medium-low and reduce liquid by half
4. You can choose to stop right here and devour the pipis as is on toast…no? ok continue
5. Start off by adding 60g of the butter, 1/2 tsp of the pepper, the dash of vinegar and lemon juice. Make sure
you taste your lemon first to judge its flavour. It may be too sour or bitter, so taste and go easy
6. Have a taste, liquid should be lightly lemony with a hint of vinegar. Should still be able to have the body
of the ocean in the flavour. A little tangy
7. Add sugar if desired
8. Place pipis back in warm broth and gently stir
9. Gently plate up and pour liquor over pipis and finely chopped tarragon
10. Serve with a wedge of lemon and warm crusty bread
If there is a fruit or vegetable that I can grow, it’s chillies! Each year I reap a bumper crop of mixed chillies. Different shapes, sizes, types, heat, colours. Overflowing abundant crops of the most beautiful little morsels of peppery-firey heat. And, like every year it amazes me the shit out of me that I didnt plant any of them!
I don’t know why I have the prowess akin to a Macedonian farmer at growing chillies. I do wish I had the same green-thumb-ness with other produce that I do actually set out to endeavour to bring to life. Like tomatoes, beans, peas, pumpkins, grammars, aubergines, pets from snake bites etc etc. Meticulously, I prep the ground. The soil. Compost. Potting Mix. Horse manure. Chicken shit. Worm juice.
Finally, as if by some fairy garden magic, thousands of little green stalks break through the ground searching for air and sun, like zombie arms cracking the grave mound searching for brains. All’s going great. Nek minut… Dead as fuck. But not like Walking Dead zombies. Just like, zombies that are dead-dead. Everything, fucked! I mean EVERYTHING! WTF happened? I watered everything, looked after each plant as if it was a baby, shook them, gave them all the care and attention they needed.
I still think the dogs pissed on them, little bastards. Its something they’d do to get back at me.
Maybe I shouldn’t give a shit and just go with the flow. Because as the old saying goes ‘When one crop closes another one opens’… Hence why I am the Chilli Master
I think these firey little bastards I pickled in this dish here are affectionately known as the ‘Trinidad Scorpion’. I looked them up on this thing called “Google” and apparently, they’ve rated around 1.2 million to 2 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). Which pretty much means you’ll need a dam of aloe vera to drown the fires Mordor on your ring.
Having said that, I was dubious as to whether they are actually Scorpion peppers as I’ve not had any I would say were that hot. Mainly because I’m a chilli fiend, that suffers from ulcers and tends to take shit too far. I step way over the line and it costs me dearly. We’re talking, fart crimson… B. L. U. D. blood! Having said that, there have been the odd one or two in the pile that made my piles feel like truckloads.
So, let’s get on with it. MY STUFFED PEPPERS!… From the garden
Some glass jars
A clean needle
A large bowl of fresh chillies
2 tbsp salt
5 tbsp Caster Sugar
Black or Green Peppercorns
Light Olive Oil
150g Persian Feta
100g Cream Cheese
good pinch salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Herbs such as:
1. Wash and clean chillies
2. Put about 3 needle pricks in each chilli
Put the Water, vinegar, salt, sugar, peppercorns in a pot and heat until salt and sugar disolve. As soon as
slow boil starts, turn off and transfer to a glass bowl large enough to submerge your chillies.
If there's not enough liquid.. fuckin make more!
3. Soak your chillies in liquid, cover and place in fridge overnight.
4. Chop herbs
5. Place herbs with the rest of the filling ingredients in another glass bowl and combine well. Set aside in
fridge to infuse for a couple of hours.
6. Take the tops off the chillies leaving a hole to pipe the filling into.
7. Take filling from fridge and give a mix
8. Place filling in piping bag and fill each chilli
9. Gently place each filled chilli into a glass jar, or else all your hard work will look like shit.
10. Place a stalk of rosemary or oregano into jar and top up with light olive oil.
NB: For your own well being do not use that canola shit!
No matter what time of the day it is or what meal you’re at, some form of egg on toast dish is welcome to dance on my taste buds. This here is tangy-sweet sauteed silverbeet on sourdough toast topped with a butter-poached egg, some beautiful soft goats cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. That should be enough to get your mouth wetter than ya Granny’s panties at a Tom Jones concert.
There’s something so satisfying breaking into that glistening orange blob on top and watch it ooze like lava over the chard and toast below.
Make sure the eggs are fresh, the bread just been baked and the silverbeet’s just been picked. If not… fuck it, it’ll still taste wicked!
good slice of sourdough
large handful of silverbeet
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
soft goats cheese
150g grass fed butter for poaching
2 tsp brown sugar
Extra 80g butter
salt & pepper
1. On medium to high heat, melt butter in small frying pan or pot
2. In a separate frying pan melt extra butter and a small splash of olive oil
3. When it gets hot, saute garlic, Dont let it burn!
4. Add Silverbeet with brown sugar, a dash of worcestershire sauce and dash of water.
Place on a lid and let cook for 3 minutes
5. Take off lid and season with salt and pepper. Whilst off the heat add the rest of the butter.
Toss to coat. Keep warm, set aside
6..Poach egg/s in butter
7. Toast the Sourdough. When done, place on serving board
8. Top with the silverbeet and the egg/s
9. Drizzle with truffle oil and crumble over goats cheese
10. Season and dig in
From an early age, I knew I wanted to cook. My Nanny used to belt out the most scrumptious delights. The smell of the kitchen with biscuits, cakes, jam doughnuts cooking was euphoric! You could smell it down the road. I loved that street. 89 St Aubins St Scone. Mrs Brennan’s house across the road would be the same. She’d constantly have cakes on the bake. Between Nanny’s and Mrs Brennan’s, you knew something good was happening.
My Mum followed suit. She could rustle up a massive feed every day of the week, even if there appeared to be no food about. She was like David Copperfield the way she made shit appear. I loved eating Mum’s food. Even more so cooking with her.
Dad was a miner and a steak and 3 veg guy. He was a gun at putting down a hangi, whipping up a boil up, but boring as fuck when it came to everyday meals. We all couldn’t wait when he went to work on the afternoon shift. As soon as we saw that car hit the driveway, we’d listen to hear the car hit the main road a kilometre away, and as soon as that happened, boom! it was on. Preheat the oven…
Now that Dad was out of the picture we could experiment. Not that we had a tonne of ingredients, but we somehow found something to make that would taste delightful with a cup of tea or milk. Mum always said to me as we stood looking into the seemingly empty cupboard: “Stibby, while ever we have flour, water and an egg, we won’t starve” … How right she was
Ahhh yes. Lemon biscuits and cakes. Orange biscuits and cakes. Sponges, pound cakes, pancakes, chocky cake. Each sweet creation started out a generic mix and we would work out what ingredients we had available to transform it into something else. Mum and I would sit down at the dining room table near the fireplace and look through our cookbooks and dream about giving some of the recipes a go. We used to also have those trays of recipe cards. Some of the ingredients I’d never heard of at the time, but today they are staples in my larder [love that word].
Now, one of my absolute favourites was the pumpkin scone. When I knew Dad was about to go to work, and Mum had cooked us sausages and vegetables for instance, especially when one of those veges was pumpkin, Id get my brothers to save their piece of pumpkin to go into the scone mix when the old boy was gone and make sure they kept quiet. Or if Dad got an inkling something was happening like that without him, he’d probably just eat all the pumpkin!
An hour later, we’d be tucking into those fluffy orange clouds of dough heaped with butter, golden syrup, vegemite or whatever jam we had which usually comprised of apricot, strawberry, raspberry, or plum jams. Cheese and honey, which was a bonafied favourite of my brother Rossi. If we were really lucky there’d be my favourite.. FIG! Fig jam and cream to this day is still a snack I find hard to turn away from. Funny thing was, even though we made them regularly, I knew no-one else who made them. Until the wife of a Queensland peanut farmer made them famous…
As an aspiring young cook growing up in Australia it was hard to ignore the name of Margret Fulton. She was like bacteria, in everything! With her books, she became a force to be reckoned with and she set the benchmark for so many Chefs past and present, but it was another humble woman who offered the world her pumpkin scones with love that grabbed my attention… I strangely felt I had found part of my tribe, and quite chuffed even to think that it was someone who was hi-profile.
Lady Flo’s famous recipe
I can’t remember the first time I saw Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen with her scones on TV, but I was seriously glued to the screen thinking something like “finally! There are others that exist” Instantly, Lady Flo became a culinary hero of mine. She became famous in her own right not only for her pumpkin scones but also for her take on ‘Classic Country Cooking’ ‘Traditional Australian Fare’ as the title of her book suggests. It was hearty, warm, no fuss, comforting soul food, best enjoyed with family and friends.
Right up until I was 34 years of age, I believed that everyone in Queensland ate pumpkin scones. After 13 years living in Queensland, I have to say I’m a little bewildered that I’ve met ONE person, one. Numero fuckin uno amount of people that have made them. Most had only ever had those shitty supermarket versions.
WHHHHHHAAAAAAAT!!! This couldn’t be… How could this be? Why was this so?
Bit sad really. I kind of felt like I’d waited all my life to get to Disneyland, only to find that when I finally got there it was shut down. Oh well, back to Lady Flo…
Being the wife of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, arguably one of the most prolific and controversial political figures in the 20th century must’ve been an adventure. The Kingaroy peanut farmer born in Dannevirke New Zealand who rose to power as a ruthless, iron-fisted leader that knew how to control the media. Sure he may not have like protestors or union groups. So what if he allegedly had the police in his pocket, one thing stands true about the man, he knew hard work, and he wasn’t scared of it. And whilst you can’t believe everything you read or watch in the media, to me he came across as a family man that had love and respect for his wife, regardless if his staunch exterior didn’t express it. And unlike many politicians of the 21st century, who would sell their grandmothers for a steak sanga without sauce, Sir Joh for mine was kind of like the character ‘Thanos’ from the Marvel Cineverse.
Click of the fingers, the shit disappears. Things gain order. Only the worthy will remain. Not everything may have been done positively, but he believed it was all for the greater good. Underneath the hard exterior, there was a good family man.
Still, as they say, behind every great man is an even greater woman cooking up afternoon tea
And that I imagine was Lady Flo. 1st Lady of Queensland, Queen of the pumpkin scone. A rose amongst many thorns that brought joy and unity through her love of cooking. One of my all-time food heroes and one of the few people I knew of that shared mine and my Mums love for pumpkin scones. I never got the privilege to meet her in person and share a scone with her, but like all great food heroes, I hope to get to know her a little through the recipes in her recipes.
These days if someone asks me “what’s a pumpkin scone?”… I answer them in my best Sir Joh voice
“Don’t you go telling me about pumpkin scones! I know quite well what they are:
DONT YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT!”
The recipe in this blog comes courtesy of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s cookbook
“Classic Country Cooking, Traditional Australian Fare”