Monday, May 25, 2009

Catering in 24 hours

My first foray into catering took place at a friends exhibition titled The Future is Neon Bright.

Might give myself more than a day to prepare next time.

I could never have pulled it off without the help of MJ, Becki and Linda. Others deserving an appreciative beverage include Jessamy, Jordan and Croz.

Strawberries macerated in mint and lemon juice with a sweet balsamic cream

Persimmon wedge draped in brie and wrapped in prosciutto topped with honeyed crispy sage

Rosemary roasted beetroot skewered with goats chevre resting on crushed walnut lines

Ras el hanout spiced shredded chicken with currants, lemon and toasted almonds served on Turkish bread

Dutch carrots and parsnip spears roasted with maple syrup and served with Nigella-spiced Dukkah

Baby mushrooms filled with a roasted red pepper, white sherry vinegar pesto and thyme

Edible design – a palette of Milawa cheeses on canvas with fruit and nut accompaniments

Coconut lemon cupcakes iced with The Future is Neon Bright

Chocolate brownie cupcakes iced with Black + White

Stay tuned for the launch of a new high end catering operation. Perfect for the recession.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Master Chef Australia - The Poached Egg Guy

Not quite a MasterChef?

I made it through the tastings, the pressure tests, the mystery boxes and the invention tests. But it was the humble egg that got me knocked out. And the ongoing inability to cry on-demand also played against me.

Anyway - I had my time in the sun, chopping more fingers than onions, getting creative under the glare of the cameras with George telling me to 'clean up this mess, yeah?'

My 15 minutes may have passed but the recipe that got me through will live on in kitchens around Australia (unlikely).

Blackened corn topped with shredded chicken and a poached egg.
Chicken breast
Sweet corn
Spices (cumin, paprika cinnamon, salt, pepper)
Herbs (flat-leaf parsley, mint) Olive oil

For the chicken
Bring deep pan of water to a simmer with 3 cloves of garlic, a few stalks of parsley, salt and juice of half a lemon. Submerge chicken and poach for approx 10 minutes. Remove and rest on plate then begin shredding into strips using a fork. Place chicken shreds in a bowl and add lemon zest, handful of hydrated currants (place currants in cup of hot water for 30 min until plump), chopped parsley and mint (more parsley than mint), spices (more cumin than paprika and more paprika than cinnamon - maybe 1-2 tsp of cumin…and enough salt and pepper) and good olive oil - lots of the stuff. Go crazy on it and mix through until the chicken mixture becomes moist.

For the cornRub corn cob with oil and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Place in oven and grill for around 10-15 minutes until corn kernels begin to blacken.

For the poached eggTo poach the perfect egg, crack the egg onto a large spoon, such as a serving spoon, and gently lower into boiling water with a splash of vinegar if available. Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and continue to hold the spoon while using another spoon to gently cover the egg (quinelle style) so the whites begin to whiten. Continue this process until the egg firms up and then allow it to slide off into the water to finish the cooking process - this final stage will only take 10-20 seconds.

To plate the dish
Shave the blackened corn off the cob and top with the shredded chicken. Carefully place the poached egg on top of the shredded chicken, dust with toasted cumin powder and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with shredded mint or parsley if you feel like it. Allow the yolk of the poached egg to 'dress the dish' as described by Matt Preston.

Enjoy with friends who don't wear cravats and forbid the use of the expression 'chop chop' or 'bags of flavor' or 'this is the most important dish of your lives.' Enough, back to my audience of two at home in Melbourne.