Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aussie Odyssey

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage
Rick Stein is in town on his Australian Tour and invited me (as well as other Aussie Bloggers) to introduce what is the "Ultimate Australian dish" in a Blogger Competition. Describing Australian cuisine is difficult as it can't be summed up in just a few words. For me it's not only the freshness of the dishes, and the fantastic produce available in this country, but also the relaxed atmosphere that goes along with any great Modern Australian feast.

The quintessential Aussie BBQ is one of the most enjoyable occasions with food aplenty, beer and wine flowing, fabulous weather and  great company.

It was at my last BBQ that I prepared a canapé that for me epitomises Aussie tucker. It was a take on Valli Little's breakfast recipe from the December 2009 Edition of Delicious Magazine on p. 88 that I adapted for our late summer barbie. Scallops are such a delicious Aussie seafood and the other components on the dish put a unique, fresh spin on some favourite flavours from other countries. The creaminess of the adapted Mexican guacamole, the crunch of the French baguette and the flavour of the more sophisticated version of  famous American "bacon bit" worked perfectly with the BBQ seared scallops, having our guests come back for more.... and more!

Devoured on a summer evening with a bunch of mates on the balcony, what more could you ask for? The ultimate Aussie experience!

BBQ Scallop Canapé with Bacon Dust and Avocado Salsa

3 rashers of bacon
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
2 birds eye chilli
2 avocados
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves chopped
zest of one lime
1 tbs lime juice
lime wedges to serve
olive oil
20 scallops without roe
1 baguette

Preheat oven to 190°C and line a tray with baking paper. Lay bacon on the tray and bake for 15 mins until crisp and quite dry. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool. Place bacon and coriander seeds in a small processor or pestle and mortar and ground to a fine dust.

Thinly slice 1 chilli and set aside to garnish, then finely chop remaining chilli and place in a bowl with avocado, red onion, tomato, coriander leaves, zest of the lime and lime juice. Mash with a fork until you have a chunky paste. Season to taste.

Thinly slice the baguette and lightly toast on the grill portion of the BBQ.

Heat the plate of the barbeque and brush with oil. Pat scallops dry with paper towel, and season. Cook scallops for 30 seconds on each side, or until just opaque.

Spread avocado mixture on the baguette slices. Top with a scallop, a sprinkle of bacon dust, sliver of chilli and serve on a platter with lime wedges.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Kitchen Rules?

As any foodie TV watching Australian will know, My Kitchen Rules is showing from Monday - Wednesday evenings each week.

People encouraged me or my hubbie to enter MasterChef, and I have always said that I would never want to be on there, the pressure, the thinking on my feet faced with a mystery box of ingredients without my trusty copies of Delicious Magazine, it's just not for me and how I love to cook, but My Kitchen Rules, however, has spiked my interest a couple of times!

Pete Evans & Manu Feildel are the celebrity judges and I think they are great! In the past few weeks I've had a great experience with both of them! I was lucky enough to get up close and personal with Manu at the Sydney Taste Festival where he was showcasing his restaurant, L'Etoile, and his dish Slow Cooked Lamb (although we were wondering "where's the sauce?")! Pete from Hugos showed his generosity as I was campaigning for raffle prizes for an event this weekend I'm helping to organise, Live Love Laugh, (Sun 27th, 6pm at the Red Rattler in Marrickville, NSW - in case you can make it!) to raise money for St. Laurence House, a charity that helps homeless Sydney young people find their way. He donated copies of 4 of his fabulous looking books, signed and dedicated especially for the event! They both have showed me personally that they are great sports and I feel they're very encouraging and fair to the teams which is a great contrast to some other reality TV shows! So, I would love to have them to our home and cook for them.....

Twice now have I set myself a 3 hour timer to see if I could put up a 3 course meal that has enough creativity to delight Pete, and plenty sauce to please Manu, so the pressure wouldn't be an issue! I could even probably have beaten the Tasmanian couple's poor attempt at picnic food! In the end though my husband and I have a great system of not interfering in each other's cooking processes and I just don't think it would work! We might be a great team but not in the kitchen! We might give the competing a miss! That our friends would think to nominate us for either show is enough for us to already feel that our kitchen rules!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Long Necks and Rib Eyes

As we coninued our Summer Ambassadorial duties for Hahn White, they sent us a second case of beer to try with our friends - which this time, arrived well in time for our BBQ. We invited our Belgian friend to try the Belgian Low Carb White beer to give her verdict on authenticity, as well as a group of international beer connoisseurs who have sampled beer from their home countries: Australia, England, South Africa, China, Germany & Colombia (not to mention the places they may have travelled). The beer "long neck" bottles are more like wine bottles, having been designed for the ice bucket rather than the esky, and we also had some beautiful tall glasses to fill.

Our Belgian native had never heard of the Carousel Ritual of putting orange slices in the beer, but it tasted refreshing so we went with it anyway and guzzled the Hahn White (giving Oz Clarke style commentary on the coriander and citrus notes), whilst munching on our complementary canapés - crispy prawn and pork wontons and scallops on zesty avocado salsa bites - and enjoying being outside on the balcony for this warm summer evening.

We moved inside for the main course, keeping with the summer BBQ theme we had large juicy rib eyes barbecued to perfection by our chef friends served with chimichurri salsa, cous cous with Mediterranean vegetables, and a warm  potato and baby spinach salad. We had a few toasts to Hahn White as the beer matched all of these so nicely, but there wasn't enough to keep us going all night, so we had to crack open a couple of bottles of Shiraz too!

After a palate cleansing ginger granita prepared by one of our guests (when was the last time you had a granita palate cleanser at a BBQ!) we stuck to the citrus theme, this time showcasing our Italian purchased limoncello, with Gino D'Acampo's delicious crowd pleaser -  Limoncello Trifle. The whole meal was a fabulous combination of fresh flavours! Thanks to Hahn White for sponsoring, Soup Marketing for inviting us to participate and to our good friend's for giving up their entire Saturday evening all in the name of market research!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The steaks are big in Florence

Trattoria Marione, Via della Spada 27, Florence, Italy
In our recent trip to Italy, my husband requested I wasn't an embarrassing tourist every meal, snapping multiple pictures of every morsel that we put into our mouths for the 8 days we were there. However, my biggest regret is that I didn't get a picture of us with our Bistecca Fiorentina!

It was a special birthday dinner and when in Florence, we couldn't miss their steak that takes the name of the historic city! The minimum order of the huge T-bone steak was 700g, and we were surprised at Trattoria Marione to see a couple with one each! We also saw a huge piece of steak on a plate going out to a table, obviously being divided between multiple guests, so didn't feel out of place ordering one to share. They cook it medium rare and serve it seasoned, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a glug of olive oil: Italian simplicity! So simple that Cam was informed in no uncertain terms there was no mustard to accompany it!

It was in Nita Tucker's book, It Happened in Florence (just out highly recommended!) that I learnt a little more about this Tuscan traditional dish, the Italian food culture, and where I should go for my Bistecca Fiorentina photo opportunity next time in Italy!

(A) must-visit food venue can be found halfway between Florence and Siena in the Chianti countryside at Panzano. Martica Marcelleria Cecchini is argued, by many in the know, to be the best butchery in the world, presided over by the larger than life Dario Cecchini. He is a man passionate about all things Tuscan including the cured and fresh meats that he sells in his enchanting shop, along with the likes of his home produced salt and own-recipe mustard, more like a sweet and sour sauce, that tastes scrumptious on anything from cheese to ice cream! A Sunday visit is less grocery shopping, and more a celebration of Tuscan life and history. Enjoy the tastings, flowing wine and occasional snatches of Dante recited by Cechinni as he serves his many customers. The party spills out of the shop and onto the ancient streets of Panzano.

Cechinni is the champion of the famous bistecca fiorentina, a T-bone steak, traditionally cut from the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. The steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire and then seasoned with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. At a party hosted by JK Place (an award-winning boutique hotel), I witnessed the Tuscan butcher make his grand entrance, accompanied by burly bodyguards and holding a violin case handcuffed to his wrist. Opening the case with obvious relish, and to rousing cheers, he revealed the very reason for the party: the return to Florence of the bistecca fiorentina after its years in exile as a result of mad cows’ disease. This drama encapsulated the passion, fun, and complete seriousness, with which the Tuscan’s take their heritage - and food.

Reprinted by kind permission of the authors Nita Tucker and Christa McDermott

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cs of Tranquility

One of the longest lasting and favourite appliances of our kitchen is our juicer. We've been through phases of juicing every day - peeling 8 oranges every evening  for our morning refreshment, to every now and again using our leftover fruit for a strange concoction. Now, I have a new favourite juice thanks to Wellbeing, a sandwich shop I frequent in the City. When you buy one of their healthy, tasty sandwiches you pay a few dollars extra for a fresh juice - made to order. My preferred is Tranquility, a carrot and celery juice with a dash of beetroot. It helps me add a few bonus veggies to my daily serve and it isn't packed with the sweetness of some fruit juices, so hopefully I don't dose up on too much sugar!

Buying a fresh juice becoming somewhat of an addiction, and having my own tools at hand to be able to create my own juices, I bought my carrot, celery and beetroot to try see if I could replicate it in my kitchen.

Of course it was simple to make - just chuck a 5 or 6 carrots, 2 celery sticks and a hint of (1/2 a small) beetroot into the juicer for instant Tranquility in the home! I wish it were that easy to create all the time!
Carrot on FoodistaCarrot
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...