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Cold enough for you?

Written by : Posted on May 23, 2016 : No Comments

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Our first ‘real’ black truffle cook book

Written by : Posted on May 14, 2016 : Comments Off on Our first ‘real’ black truffle cook book

There have been a number of attempts at an Australian truffle cookbook. I’ve got some of them, photocopied stapled sheets with recipes that assume you’ll have some Tuber magnatum in the fridge. So it’s with real pleasure that we welcome this hardbound ‘real’ cookbook to show how the public can use our growers produce. It wouldn’t serve much to carp about it’s inadequacies (the photographs are all of the ‘minimal background, big plates with small serves’ style and some have a feeling that the schedule for the shoot day(s) left them go cold) but with this volume in one hand and a similarly priced truffle in the other, you’re ready to start a wonderful time together.

If we all go out and buy it, maybe the next edition can correct a few things, mostly misconceptions, and add some menu suggestions for some of our other varieties as they become wider available.

I asked my wife Jan O’Connell if we can re-post her review from her Australian Food Timeline website. There’s a link at the bottom of this page that will take you to Booktopia for an advance purchase that is the first of our affiliate links with them. The Association gets a small cut and it costs you no more. Of course you’ll see it in the bookshops soon and the usual Amazon and Book Depository sites.
Fred Harden


The Truffle Cookbook by Rodney Dunn - cover“Cooking with truffles doesn’t have to be complicated. My favourite truffle dish is scrambled eggs. The way we make it requires a bit of forethought, as the eggs need to be stored for a day or two in a sealed container with a truffle. The truffle aroma penetrates the eggshells and is absorbed by the yolks.  You don’t even need to add truffle to the dish – the flavour is already there.

In The Truffle Cookbook Rodney Dunn agrees. He makes his scrambled eggs with truffle butter and it’s just one of a number of easy dishes designed to introduce you to the extraordinary flavour of this extraordinary black fungus. “When using truffle for the first time, I advise you to keep it simple,” Rodney says.  So, truffle toast, truffled mashed potato, truffled mac and cheese.

But he goes way beyond simple. The Truffled Coulibiac, which he describes as a “very grand fish pie of Russian origin”, is a complicated assembly of puff pastry, crepes, mushrooms, rice, eggs and salmon fillet. And truffles, of course. Dunn will also have you making your own truffled sausages, your own pasta, and your own brioche doughnuts (to be accompanied by truffled custard and poached quince).

So, yes, there are dishes here that will satisfy accomplished cooks and sophisticated palates – chicken broth with marrow and truffle dumplings, for example, or crumbed sweetbreads with truffle mayonnaise. It’s restaurant-quality food adapted for the home kitchen. Many dishes are quite labour-intensive – there’s a lot of sieving, pasta-rolling, and a polenta recipe that asks you to stir for an hour. (Obviously instant polenta is considered cheating.)

Each recipe has a chatty introduction, with comments on the key ingredients or suggesting variations. The step-by-step instructions are also conversational and clear, although it might have been helpful to include an indication of prep time and cooking time for each one. And most of these are not one-pot dishes; there’s a lot of “meanwhile….”, so you’ll often have several pots on the go.

The book starts with a quick education in truffles – what they are, how they’re grown and harvested and how to buy them. Dunn has consulted a number of truffle growers to inform this section and drops a few names that people in the industry will recognise.

Unfortunately, despite this, some errors have slipped through. Those who know their truffles will sneer when they read that, in the case of black truffle (tuber melanosporum), “the truffle should be jet-black with white mycelium”.  Rodney, the mycelium is the truffle’s underground network of fine white filaments called hyphae that reach out into the soil. You don’t find them inside the part we eat, which is the fruiting body of the fungus, those are white sterile veins”.

The “cooking with truffles” section also omits a few important bits of information. For example, while “heat and acid” may release the truffle flavour, too much of either will destroy it. You should generally be thinking warmth rather than heat, which is why in many dishes truffle is added at the end of the process. Don’t try frying a truffle, OK?

The other thing you need to know is how much truffle to use. Truffles are expensive, so it’s tempting to skimp. Ultimately, though, this is wasteful – if you don’t use enough for the taste to come through you might as well leave it out altogether. Generally it’s recommended that you allow three to five grams per person for an entrée dish and closer to ten grams per person for a main course. Perhaps this isn’t an issue if you’re simply following Dunn’s recipes, but it’s handy information if you’re going to start improvising.

The recipes in The Truffle Cookbook have been photographed by a chef-turned-photographer, Luke Burgess, who cooked with the author at Tetsuya’s back in the day. It’s Australia’s first proper truffle cookbook and is a worthy addition to the shelf, whether you’re a truffle newbie or looking for more exotic ways to enjoy this mysterious and magical treat. It’s due for release on 30 May 2016 – you can order from Booktopia (and save $15 or so on the recommended retail price).”

The Truffle Cookbook is published under Penguin’s Lantern imprint – Hardbound 176 pages, RRP $59.99

Successful truffle growing in Spain (Video)

Written by : Posted on April 28, 2016 : Comments Off on Successful truffle growing in Spain (Video)

This video is part of a series that is available in the Members area of this site. It was part of the Barcelona Truffle Tour that Jan O’Connell and I took with some other Australian growers in January this year. We were taken to visit two very successful growers in Teruel in Spain. There is some reinforcement of concepts that are presented in the lecture videos but I felt it was of wider interest to all growers and prospective growers so Marcos has allowed us to include the video here.
Emilio Peréz showed us around the truffiére, which is now managed by his son Miguel. There are some gaps and off camera moments in audio but I didn’t want to add a ‘travelogue’ music track. Marcos Morcillo has a lot of experience he offers in this video, and he generously shares his information with the world on his English language blog. We announced his latest book here.

Fred Harden <thinktag>

First truffles but late season start?

Written by : Posted on April 17, 2016 : Comments Off on First truffles but late season start?

ATGA committee member Stuart Dunbar from Yarra Valley Truffles commented in an email this week.

“The Victorian season is looking to be later than normal.
We don’t have much data to track it on, but I think I track it closer than most.  Real ripening indications won’t be known until June, with the most likely criteria being how much cold weather we get. Although last year’s substantially early cold didn’t alter things much.  The fireplace was running hot this time last year and I was drying Birch Boletes, it currently remains unlit.

Truffle surface signs ran 2-3weeks late compared with previous years data on truffle eruption dates.

Currently rampant, and still catching up protecting end of Feb flush six weeks later, full time, so Great Season… but.
The grape vine’s over the creek were done and dusted several weeks earlier than normal.  I believe the European adage is good for truffles, bad for grapes and vice versa.
I can also state outright, warm winter weather kills truffles.

Pray to truffle dog’s for cold weather.”