Vanilla Beans and how to use them!

Vanilla Beans are one of those commodities that so many nervous cooks decide to leave sitting on the shelf because they are mindful of the cost of these little gems. When the cost compared to that burst of fresh, subtle Vanilla actually is experienced in your new award winning family classic- there will be no going back to Vanilla Essence and you may settle for the second best, being Vanilla Extract.

So how do you truly harness the flavour of a Vanilla Pod?

Lay the Pod onto a chopping board and lightly press with your hand to flatten out slightly, then take your knife and from the top, cut through the pod leaving it attached by about 1cm. Then open the cut and with the blade of the knife, remove what seems like a million little black seeds. These little speckle along with the actual pod are what impart the flavour and provide the proof in the pudding that you have used the genuine deal in your recipe.

Once you have used the pod in your dish- DONT throw it out though. If you gently pat it dry and then i like to add the pod to a glass jar and cover in either caster sugar or white sugar and allow to sit for at least a week if possible and you will note that the scent has also been imparted to your now Vanilla Sugar.

Vanilla Beans- use them in your favourite shortbread recipe, how about in your Creme Caramel, Vanilla Custard or get cracking with home made ice-cream!

Local Zucchinis

If you head to the big supermarkets and check out the prices of Zucchinis you soon appreciate that the prices are not overly special, in fact the Brisbane Markets are currently experiencing a shortness of supply.

However, as always, if you look around locally at the high quality green grocers you soon discover that if your not too concerned about a few blemishes; you can often get 1kg for as little as a few dollars and the shelf life has been over a week.

Zucchinis can be a hero in any dish as the flavour is quite neutral, the colour is simply brilliant and they can be cut in numerous ways.

Certainly one of my favourites is using Zucchinis in a Ratatouille, shaved Zucchini through a home made tagliatelle or served as a side with pan-fried speck.

Bundaberg Local Zucchinis- affordable, adaptable and colourful!

Bundaberg Culinary Tourism

We are very fortunate to be living in a region surrounded by local produce and being spoilt for great weather. It has been discussed for many moons that our region should be looking at ways to increase our exposure to the tourist market as there is an abundance of “foodies” that travel to food locations for their family holidays.
So what could we do in the Bundaberg Region with food?
We can already take the tour through the Bundaberg Rum factory, head to Maminos Ice-cream, pick your own strawberries when in season, dine at Grunskes by the river and the list goes on.
So why not add into the tour book- cooking classes, local produce tours, interactive shopping trips and the list goes on.
The good news with alot of these concepts is that Bundy Pride, a local branding initiative will be able to implement alot of these big ticket ideas and bring them to the forefront of our tourist market.
More news to follow……

Comfort eating- do you do it?

I bet you read the heading and started thinking about your personal trainer and the constant barking- sorry positive affirmations that you keep hearing when being advised to lose weight.
What are your thoughts on this?
I believe that everything in moderation still allows you to enjoy the fine things in life, without adding to the spare tyre around your belly or on your bum.
Think back to the really olden days and you will start to realise that there wernt alot of obese people, though was that because they couldn’t afford excessive luxuries or was it that they also wernt eating processed foods.
And there lies the secret!!
Modify your diet to minimize excessive processed foods and eat balanced whole foods along the way and not only will you feel better, but you will be looking forward to those special moments of culinary pleasures.

Kids Class – 6th September

I must say how fantastic it was and how talented our first class of budding master chefs were this afternoon.
After a brief intro, our students (and their parents) came in and got settled in the kitchen, we started our vegetable preparation and then headed to the Gardens for some herb introductions and picking to complete our dish.
With careful assembly and alot of very good detail, our lil students pulled off some vegetarian rice paper rolls and made a tasty dipping sauce to enjoy with them.
On behalf of Food For Fork, we Congratulate you all and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with dipping Sauce

Number of portions:          Serves 6


1 Packet Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls, 1 Cucumber, 1 Carrot, 1 Red Capsicum, Bean Sprouts, 1 Red Chilli, 1 bunch Mint, 1 bunch Basil, 1 Packet Vermicelli Noodles, Hoisin sauce, fish sauce, kecap manus, 200g Cooked Chicken- sliced




  • Place the noodles into a bowl and cover with boiling water, set aside until clear and cooked and then drain off extra water and set aside.
  • Depending on your knife skills, either go through and chop all the vegetables into fine strips (Julienne) or use a grater, set aside.
  • Then, take the rice paper, one at a time and place them into a bowl of warm water for approx 30 seconds. You will see that they start to go soft and limp, though be careful not to tear them at this stage.
  • Lay the rice paper out onto a tray and start building your creation (layering at one end only)with the noodles, raw grated vegetables, cooked chicken and herbs & chilli.
  • It’s important to not over fill these rolls as they will tear. Take the two sides and lay those into the middle and then simply start to roll the mix in towards the other end and you will end up with cigar like rolls that seal themselves at the end. Job done, repeat the process and set aside.
  • The Sauce: Very simply add the hoisin, fish sauce and kecap manus into a serving bowl and thoroughly mix together and serve.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Rolling Time: 20 minutes

It’s time to harvest your herbs!!

With the current weather we have been experiencing, you will see an increase in fresh herb quality. Whether you are growing your own or even store bought, consider the idea of blending them with your favourite nut, some fresh Parmesan, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and very basically you now have a vibrant pesto for use with pasta, crudity platters and so much more.
Rocket and macadamia pesto, Sweet basil and almond pesto and the list grows with your creation.
Ideal storage is approx 4-6weeks, though remember to store in the fridge and most importantly, keep the pesto mix covered with a fine skim coat of oil so the herbs don’t oxidize.