29 September 2012

Hunter & Gatherer

My title for this blog may be a tad misleading....

I didn't hunt anything, 
except for a few good wines in the
 'Hunter' Valley...

And the gathering was more like a wee 'forage' in 
my sister's and my vegi patch on a quick trip home.

But anyway, let me tell you a little more about these events.

Two of my closest friends tied the knot 
in The Hunter Valley this past weekend....

Grace and Shane, 
the stunning couple in the middle,
 met, would you believe through food....
Very appropriate for this blog :)

Such a lovely day!
And I had the absolute pleasure of making the wedding croquembouche....
Which was quite interesting as I didn't have a cone to 
mould the shape around...
But with some very sound advice from 'Rex'
from Burch and Purchese, 
I made a cardboard one :)

Not just cooking..
Art and craft as well!

And now the finished product....

Toasted coconut profiteroles with spun sugar and chocolate daisies...

(Looks like its hairy ha ha)

First recipe for the blog is my choux....
(yea you lucky ducks you get two this time around!)

1 Cup water
Pinch Salt
100g Butter
3/4 Cup flour
4 Eggs

Heat your oven (fan forced) to 180 degree celcius. Bring the water, salt and butter to the bowl in a pot,turn down the heat then add in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated, keep mixing for another 2 minutes before transferring into a stand up mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment.
Turn the mixer onto a low speed and beat for about two minutes, just to get rid of a bit of the heat from the mix. Then add one egg in at a time, making sure that the egg is fully mixed in before adding the next.
You can pipe these however you like, profiteroles, eclairs or if you down have a piping bag
just use two spoons.

Pop in the oven for about 25-30 mins, if you have an extremely size add on an extra 5 mins.
Make sure you keep the door shut the whole time, as you do not want to release the steam
from the oven while the choux is cooking.

Take out of the oven, leave to cool
Then fill with whatever tickles your fancy!

A great wedding,
And for a little bit of fun-
A photo booth!

And now a few photos of the 
Hunter Valley...

And me frolicking in the vineyards...

We managed to venture to a few wineries..
James Estate was the first...

And we came across their 'Vitai'..
A sweet wine with hints of citrus and a slight fizz,
great for a picnic and for a refreshing beverage on a
warm summers afternoon..

Then Keith Tulloch which has a stunning set up..
And do their own MasterClasses on vino

Something I will definaltly be looking into doing!

And finally Audry Wilkons 
Who produce Moscarto- 
My favourite wine...
and this would have to be one of the best I have tried..

Good wine..
Great company...

Time to head home....

Since Masterchef I have moved to Melbourne to work at Burch and Purchese Sweet studio
with Darren Purchese,
So it is always nice to take a quick trip home to see the family.
(And have mum's lamb roast!)

My sister and I love to cook together quite a bit int the kitchen...
And Just recently She has started up a great vegi patch...

I love it...
Fresh herbs are one of my most favourite things- 
And in her vegi patch the herbs are plentiful!
4 different types of basil, mint ...

The list goes on.....

I cooked up a few things while I was at home...
(Can't help myself!)
A warm beetroot and Jerusalem artichoke salad 
with lots of beautiful things from the garden
And a lemon and rosemary creme brûlée

Lemon & Rosemary Creme Brûlée
300mL Thickened Cream
5 Egg Yolks
90g Sugar
2 Sprigs of rosemary
Zest 1/2 Lemon
Demerara Sugar

Heat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
Whisk the cream, yolks and sugar together, then pop into a pot
along with the zest and rosemary. Heat over a low heat, to a low simmer.
This will infuse the flavours of the lemon and rosemary.

Leave to infuse for 15mins, then turn the heat back on a stir with a 
wooden spoon unit the mixture has thickened.
Strain the mixture into 6 ramekins, and pop into a water bath,
then into the oven for 25mins.

Take out and leave to cool for about 2-3 hours.

To brûlée, sprinkle a generous amout of demerara sugar
over the top of each ramekins, then using a blow touch, 
melt the sugar
(Be careful!)

This goes so well with the James Estate Vitai wine...
So pour yourself a glass and



12 September 2012

Fenix Restaurant

This is an incredible establishment.
Not only is it set in a stunning location on the Yarra River in Richmond with a décor that is comfortable and welcoming, but the food is delicious!

The menu has been designed by Gary Mehigan 
(yes our MasterChef Gary J who is also the proud owner of Fenix) 
and Executive Chef Dan Javier Szwarc...

And for one special night…
I got to cook in the kitchen!

Gary invited me to create a dessert for a special event that Fenix was hosting- what a privilege!

So with the brief to create something ‘Salted Caramel-ee’, and with guidance from the salted caramel master himself, Darren Purchese dessert took the  form of a salted caramel and banana explosion!

But first the savouries….

 Foreground working to the background….
Slow cooked quail eggs, spiced dukkah, organic quinoa & pomegranate
Yellow tail kingfish, crispy rice gomashio mayonnaise, Jelapeno
And crispy sweetbreads, leatherwood honey and pain d’epices

Yumm! A great bunch of canapés- my favourite, the sweet breads. 
Technically they are offal, (offally good!). 
but with the slight sweetness of honey, this dish was just amazing!

Amuse was Pacific oyster custard with seaweed salad, sea urchin and red pepper sauce.
With the theatrics of dry ice!

Some people think that using dry ice is just about the show, but in this case not at all…
The dry ice aided in accentuating the flavours of the dish by bringing out the aromas of sea weed and dashi- like being by the sea!

Next up was the entrees….
Head chef Dan showed us how he wanted the dishes plated up.
 … I loved the visual way of getting the plating across!

For a visual person like myself this was a great way of sharig his vision of how he would like his creations plated up- something I will use in the future!

Tortalenni ( hand made!) with Spanner crab, garlic cream, chestnut puree and chestnut crisps.

I will have to apologise here…
I was enjoying the thrill of service (and the added bonus of sampling the food along the way – chef snacks!!) that I didn’t snap too many photos of the rest of the dishes.. but by the descriptions on the menu and the look of previous dishes you can trust me when I say they where delicious!
Head chef Dan hard at work…

Right – o!

Dessert time!
Salted Caramel & Banana Explosion!!

I could have eaten about 10 of these desserts-
But then again
I suppose I could eat anything with salted caramel in it in excess…

The dish involved caramelized banana cream sphere with a gooey salted caramel center with was then rolled in pop rocks ( the explosion!!) and sprayed in caramelized white. Banana ice cream, and a few hidden treasures hidden underneath a specula crumb.

It was very well received!

In celebration of this salted caramel dessert.... the recipe for this blog is a cracker...

Salted Caramel Ice Cream!
Now I can't take credit for this ice cream recipe, but I have made it heaps of times
And it is amazing!

But i can claim the Salted Caramel Sauce that goes with it!
Salted Caramel Sauce
150g caster sugar
250mL thickened cream
Pinch of Salt

Place the sugar into a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Leave until the majority of the sugar has melted, then stir in the remaining sugar. Cook until the sugar has turned a deep golden brown. Whisk in the cream. If there are any lumps of caramel, whisk the sauce gently over a low heat until they have dissolved. Add salt, and leave to cool slightly before serving .

I would just like to say a huge thank you to Dan and his tea for having me the kitchen...

To Ross (in the middle) and Darren Purchese for all their help!

...And to Gary & Matt for all their support and encouragement!

I am loving working in a kitchen!
There will be some more exciting things to come on the blog...

Stay turned....