It's really nice when people put a lot of thought into pressies, Isn't it?! C's Mum aka Penguin (don't ask why she is called Penguin- long story) is always super thoughtful and as a result, for C's last birthday, he scored a really great gift. This really great gift also happened to benefit me too, which was even more lovely. He was given a night's accommodation and cooking classes for two at Mango Hill Farm near Peachester in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Mango Hill Farm is a quaint little organic mango farm that also grows other organic vegies as well as ginger and tumeric. There is a commercial kitchen for cooking classes, which are taken by Chef Oskar (not sure of Oskar's last name) who has a European background and now makes Peachester his home.
Even though C's birthday is in February, we only managed to get around to going to Mango Hill Farm last weekend. We wanted to use the cooking school and accommodation at the same time and the cooking school only runs once a month.
The cooking school started at 9:30 a.m. and ran through to about 2:45 p.m. although the official finishing time is 2:00 p.m. The school costs $125 (thanks Penguin and Spencer) and features a 5 course menu as well as wine. With only 9 or 10 people in the whole class, the lesson is very hands on. Oskar tries to source local ingredients and the herb and vegie garden is really inspiring.
The coolest thing I got to do was to fillet a whole massive salmon and help to smoke it. I was totally excited by the prospect although some of the other members of the cooking class (particularly the vegetarian) looked a little green at the thought. After cooking all the courses, the class sits down to a five course meal that was so large, I literally could not eat almost half of. Don't worry, I saved it and put it in the fridge in the cottage we were staying at so I could eat the rest at dinner time!
I'm going to give you the recipe for the hot smoked salmon because it was totally easy and was really, really good. The whole smoking process seemed too much trouble for me to bother about, but now after seeing how easy it actually was, I'm going to get myself a little smoker and put it on the gas attachment on our BBQ. Apparently you can buy the smoker pot (kind of like a big saucepan with a few extra attachments) for less than $40 from camping stores. The salmon does take a while to marinate so take that into consideration before making.
This recipe comes from Chef Oskar.
Salad Folle with smoked salmon
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs salt
4 tbs soy sauce
paperbark (available online)
600 g mesclun
24 cherry tomatoes
24 x 2mm slices of cucumber
1 small bunch chives
2 very finely diced golden shallots
200 ml walnut oil
100 ml raspberry vinegar
1 tbs mustard.
1) Marinate salmon fillet with sugar, salt and soy sauce. Wrap in foil and let marinate (minimum 1 hour).
2) Remove from foil, put salmon fillet in a smoker and smoke for approximately 20 minutes over low heat.
3) Mix golden shallots with mustard in a bowl, add walnut oil and stir in raspberry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Add the lettuce and toss carefully.
5) Arrange lettuce on a plate, garnish with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and chives.
6) Cut smoked salmon in thin slices and arrange on top of salad.
7) Serve immediately.
If your salmon is sashimi grade (ours was) use some of the raw salmon for an amuse bouche as we did - finely chop the salmon, red onion, chives and mix in a bowl. Put in a good slosh of Extra virgin olive oil, season and then serve on thinly cut bread. This was seriously so fresh and beautiful.
Mango Hill Farm was a great place to go to the cooking school and stay, but I have some hints for you if it appeals.
1. Try to book the cottage- it is gorgeous and far superior to the other accommodation.
2. Make sure you take whatever you need for dinner/breakfast or to drink. The cottage has a kitchen and the commercial kitchen is available if you want to use that after the class. We weren't aware that there was nowhere to buy food and were lucky that we had some really nice, well prepared people in our class who were also staying at the farm and hosted us for the evening.
3. Take some time to check out the gardens- they are great.
4. Don't drink as much wine as I did, you will end up with a headache from hell the next day.Mango Hill Farm
159 Commissioners Flat Road
Peachester QLD 4519
T: (+61) 7 5494 9329
F: (+61) 7 5494 9341