Friday, December 17, 2010

Turkey or not Turkey

As a Brit in Australia, when it comes to Christmas there is always the pull between traditional roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, crispy roast potatoes all covered with piping hot gravy washed down with a full bodied red wine, and the more climate appropriate and equally delicious cold meat, prawn, oysters and crispy salad, with a refreshing glass of Semillon.

I like to have my cake and eat it too, so last week, to help sort the dilemma of mine and my friend from Northern Ireland having her first Aussie Christmas experience, we had a more familiar Christmas feast. Of course, i picked the hottest and most humid evening of the summer so far to roast individual stuffed spatchcocks for my hubbie and I our 7 guests. the end result was delicious, and impressive! We all enjoyed a tasty Pepper Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, and still had room for a mini Christmas pudding with brandy butter and cream. All we needed for it to be an authentic Christmas dinner would have been the Queens speech and a few snowflakes!

Now I've had our fix, bring on the seafood I say!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Masterchef Live: a Foodie’s Heaven

If I had been asked what would make a fantastic food festival, I would not have thought it could be as great as the Masterchef Live experience. It really was a foodie heaven for all of the family, with kids activities and cooking opportunities, the culinary heroes showcasing their skills, and a smattering of Masterchef celebs to top it all off! The stage show was an impressive recreation of the Masterchef kitchen. As I watched Gary and George cook on the big screen that magnified them and allowed us to get a close up of what was in the pan, it really felt like I was watching an episode of Masterclass, yet they were up there in the flesh in front of us!
Adriano Zumbo demonstrating his infamous beetroot macaroons was a definite highlight as he piped a tray of beautifully shaped circles with only an electric plug in stove and an antique mixer as his utensils.
Frank Zamora was another mouth watering experience as he recreated 3 tapas dishes served at Movida: bacalao (salted cod – which up to now I did not know how to prepare), pulpo gallego (octopus and kifler potatoes) and the Movida signature dish, Smoked Tomato Sorbet with Anchovies. The simple food was placed on the dish looking quite normal, but the effect of the garnish in all 3 cased brought the dish to life – an important lesson for me who can lose energy after preparing and move straight to eating!
Aside from the show, the demonstrations and the celebrity chef appearances, there were stalls with lots of tasty Australian produce to wander through, and grab a taste, and some fancy new gadgets that will make an appearance on my Christmas list!
I won’t ever go on Masterchef, but I felt like I got a taste of the action at Masterchef Live and my only regret is that I wasn’t there for many hours longer – if not the full 3 days!

The Proof is in the Pudding

We are hosting Christmas for the first time this year, and with that comes the chance to set new “family” traditions and Christmas dinner favourites. I thought this year would be a great time to make my first Christmas pudding. Despite my Mum’s love of cooking and the fabulous Christmas feasts we gorged on as children, I don’t remember that we had the home made pud (Mum made up for it with the brandy butter!) so this was a real first for me. I followed the recipe closely and crossed my fingers hoping that the 6 hours steaming on the stove would be worth it, and I was delighted that it slid out of the pudding basin successfully! It was actually one of the easiest things I’ve baked so I am excited to start my Christmas traditions with the “Tropical Christmas Pudding” from the December 05 edition of Delicious magazine (p 118) and hope it looks as good plated on the table on Christmas day (after a few dousings of brandy) as it did fresh out of the mould!

Give thanks for what we are about to receive

We don’t typically say grace in our home, but occasionally we do feel the need to attribute the maker for helping to create the dishes that find their way on to the table. Last night was one of those times! Thank you Jamie!! My husband’s birthday present to me (as well as a wonderful time in Italy) was Jamie Oliver’s latest 30 Minute Meals. It is a fabulous concept, directing us to multi-task in the kitchen by stepping through various components of the different dishes so the whole meal is ready simultaneously (haven’t quite cracked the 30 mins, but it’s not far off – and does Jamie’s other half insist that he washes up as he goes along??)
Last night’s feast was a flavoursome Indian marinated rump steak with curry sauce and a Spinach and Paneer Salad with mint yoghurt dressing served with naan bread (p 218 of his book!) A great combination and a delicious dish to share with friends!

Christmas come early!

Today is perhaps one of the culinary highlights of my year: the day the Christmas addition of Delicious comes out! I fuelled my addiction today by bounding in to the first Newsagents I saw to buy my annual bible! Now the fun begins – we can plan our Christmas dinner! Whenever we are planning our Christmas feast I pour over the magazines of years gone by and pick a selection of dishes to present. Last year we had quite an array of delicious favourites: poached turkey and prawn salad, whole BBQ’d salmon, cheese and capsicum roulade, cous cous stuffed tomatoes and for dessert mangomisu! This year, watch this space….

Strawberry Sorbet

Last week my ice cream machine broke – right in the middle of preparing “Strawberries 3 ways” – Strawberry ice cream, strawberry sorbet and fresh strawberries – for a dinner party for 12. I was gutted!
In a last minute panic, an hour before guest arrived, I decided that an ice cream maker is something a gadget lover like me could just not live without – with summer coming up and all – and I rushed out to by a new one! The world was back in order! My ice cream and sorbets worked a treat and my guests loved them. Churning and freezing in the machine for super fresh, delicious frozen desserts! YUM! I knew it was a good investment the moment the first spoon of strawberry sorbet fizzed on my tongue!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I love, or rather, am addicted to cookbooks, recipes, magazines, MasterChef! I can ‘t help myself! Inspired by my good friend, I am putting pen to paper about what happens in my kitchen!
Here I will share my experiences with kitchen appliances, successes (and failures) with recipes, my new shiny cookbooks and the culinary mischief that I create in my kitchen!
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