Brookfield’s new bistro Wild Canary combines garden centre greens with freshly-picked produce, bringing chef Glenn Barratt’s two loves together.

Located next to the Brookfield Garden Centre, Wild Canary is an inspiration not only to dedicated gardeners but also to cooks who like to grow what they eat, just as head chef Glenn Barratt.

Glenn has plenty of kitchen experience including time at Restaurant II, but with a kitchen and dining room just metres from where some of the bistro’s produce is grown, he is understandably excited by the prospect of each day’s menu.

Chef Glenn Barratt takes five with Tasty Bites and shares his recipe for Eggplant and Sweet Potato Curry:

What excites you about Wild Canary?

The on-site kitchen garden has allowed me to join two of my great passions, cooking and my love for the garden and nature. It’s a source of daily inspiration. We plant in collaboration with our local producers giving us a true indication of when crops will be at their peak. It also shows what you can plant and use in your own garden in south east Queensland. Picking herbs and vegetables from the garden and the greenhouse, where the micro herbs and vegetables grow, then using them, sometimes within minutes of harvesting, is also special. Even when we are under the pump, looking out into the garden and seeing people touching and smelling the herbs is rewarding.

How is your veggie garden going and who looks after it?

When we first started all the beds were planted out at the same time resulting in a flush of produce. Now the initial plantings have been used or plants are maturing, we are practising successive planting. Plants are planted over a period of time extending the harvest period and availability. We place plants that mature quickly with plants that take more time to develop in the same area to use available space more efficiently. We are lucky to have Alex Robinson from the Brookfield Garden Centre, a qualified horticulturalist of 20 years, tending to the garden on a regular basis. We liaise on a daily basis and talk about anything from what we would like to see planted and what is being heavily used through to fertilising and pest problem management plans. As well as frequently venturing out to get produce as needed for recipes, the kitchen brigade is also rostered on at least once a week to do planting, propagating and general maintenance of the garden.

What dish is your favourite on the menu?

All the dishes but the Thai beef salad is special with its gorgeous beef, marinate, hot and sour sauce and all the herbs and green papaya are from the kitchen garden. I love the specials as well. Daily inspired, down to the weather,  they are the things we love to eat and cook plus market finds and always get a good response which is gratifying.

Winter is upon us, do you have some winter warmers planned?

Warwick osso bucco on the Lunch on Q menu at the moment is going down well. Soups, tagines, pies, pulled buns and generous burgers are well-received as well.

What do you usually cook at home?

I love cooking simple and tasty food but also meals that involve interaction. Soft and hard tacos are always a favourite. Cooking mince in large quantities on the BBQ outside reduces cleaning but setting meals up for days to come also works well. Home-grown produce inspires the meals at home with salad with steaks, pasta dishes, sushi, and assemble your own burgers a popular choice.

Thanks Glenn – now to we can try cooking your delicious vegetable curry!

Eggplant and Sweet Potato Curry

Serves 2-4

1 large eggplant cut into wedges
1 small sweet potato cut into thin rounds
1 large Spanish onion cut into wedge
4 tablespoons oil or ghee
1 inch piece ginger cut into matchstick batons
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 large red chilli deseeded and sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon black pepper crushed
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups cherry or teardrop tomatoes
400 ml coconut cream
1 cup chickpeas cooked
12 curry leaves
2 cups picked basil, Italian parsley and coriander leaves
Salt to season

Saffron Naan
1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch saffron

110 ml warm water
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoon natural yoghurt

275 gm plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
oil


Method

Eggplant and Sweet Potato Curry

Heat oil in a karahi or large pot, add eggplant, sweet potato and onion, cook until golden. Add ginger, garlic and chilli cooking until they begin to colour. Add spices, tomato paste and cherry tomatoes quickly stirring through being careful not to burn spices. Add coconut cream, chickpeas and curry leaves. Bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, cook until sauce coats eggplant. Season with salt, stir through fresh herbs keeping some aside to garnish.

To serve garnish with herbs, place alongside naan.

Saffron Naan
Mix yeast, sugar, saffron and water together and leave 5 minutes or until frothy. Add yeast liquid, oil and yoghurt to dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Knead for about 5 minutes or until soft and smooth. Cover in bowl and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Split into 4 balls and roll out into ovals on lightly floured bench. Lightly brush with oil, allow to prove a little then grill oil side down on moderate open grill. Turn once 90 degrees and cook until grill marked and toasted. Lightly oil and flip repeating process until cooked.