Thursday, April 23, 2009

Becasse it tastes so much better

Isn't civilisation a fickle thing?
Remember when it use to be the height of style and sophistication to eat a frozen dinner in front of the telly in one of those plastic compartmentalised trays? I shudder at the memory.
Now the trend is to ditch processed foods and embrace natural ones. From farmgate to the fork. No middlemen. Hallelujah!

This is the philosophy of Justin North owner-chef of Sydney's award-winning Becasse restaurant.
He is a passionate champion of organic, free-range, and therefore happy meat and vegetables.
Yesterday Justin hosted an Autumn Producer's Forum at Becasse to give diners a chance to meet his dedicated producers, share their passions and sample their wares in a lunch specially designed to showcase the season's freshest produce.
Here's what we were served...

Entree: Seared local marlin with steamed courgette flower, scallop mousseline and pea tendrils

Mixed bread rolls - pumpkin bread, potato bread and sourdough

Main: Three different cuts of Roast Cornish black pork with butternut squash fondant, buttered cabbage, ginger jus and crackling

Cheese course: Tasting of Capparis Goat's Cheese

Dessert: Goat's cheesecake, rhubarb, burnt rosemary butter crumble and Lord Nelson Admiral ice cream.
And how much did I enjoy it?
This much!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Earlwood Dinner Party Gurus

There can be no greater pleasure than enjoying a home-cooked meal someone else has prepared for you.
Knowing the care and time - not too mention the expense - they have taken, only heightens the enjoyment and specialness of the experience. The way to my heart is definitely through my stomach!
With our busy lives, disconnection from our families, community fragmentation and loss of basic cooking skills, home-cooked meals are rarer than an ABC news bulletin without a technical error.
Fortunately I have, in my circle of dear friends, a dinner party duo who, despite a recent relocation to the outskirts of known civilisation (Earlwood, Sydney), have continued their tradition of throwing on the best grub this side of the Equator.
Here is what they served up for a select gathering of eight last Saturday.
George and Derek I salute you!
Entree: Beetroot and goats cheese stack with a wedge of iceberg lettuce, walnuts and a beetroot vinaigrette. Main: 7 hour slow-baked lamb with baked onions and carrots. Accompaniments: sweet potato mash and green beans with toasted almonds.

Cheese: French brie with fruit bread and figs and sheep's milk, blue-veined taleggio with pear.

Dessert: Spicy poached pears with a white wine sabayon and fresh raspberries
(photos courtesy of George)

Dinner conversation snippets from the night :
"Why is cranberry jelly replacing the far superior red-current jelly on supermarkets shelves?"
"Should we start a DVD club since I don't read books."
" 'Flee the Cheese' would be a great name for a band."
"What's the best way of getting home from here?"
" I'm finding this conversation really boring."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What do you serve at a Star Trek Premiere?

Actor Eric Bana signs autographs at Star Trek Premiere, Sydney Opera House
(photo: courtesy Sydney Morning Herald)

Trekkies have finally got the Star Trek movie they've always wanted. I make a bold prediction that JJ Abrams' take on the the 40 year old sci-fi franchise will boldly take the cult series to new audiences and new generations. From the opening scene to the closing credits the young cast, and seriously impressive CGI and sound editing, breathe life back into what was becoming a tired format. Eric Bana has proven yet again that he has the baddie genre all sewn up. And can I just add that Bones is hot!

So, what do you serve VIPs gathered at the Opera House for a WORLD PREMIERE? We were greeted with red, green and blue vodka and bailey shots in test tubes, veal pies topped with a swirl of potato mash and pea puree, duck pancakes, tuna and swordfish sashimi, and tasting plates of wild mushroom, asparagus and orecchiette pasta, and beef mussaman curry served with jasmine rice and pappadams. Much better than your usual space rations.The pies were undeniably the big hit. Rove and I caught each other out scoffing them down as we rushed into the screening.

The only downer of the night was the compulsory confiscation of my phone for the duration of the movie - along with 300 others. Paramount Pictures are paranoid that since the premiere was a few weeks before the film's official release on May 7, illegal images and video grabs may find their way onto the net. Believe me, my 2 pixel phone camera was never going to derail the huge success of this juggernaut!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Anzac Biscuits - the original recipe

Its grey and overcast in Sydney. Perfect weather for baking. And with Anzac Day approaching why not make a few batches of Anzac biscuits ?
I have been using this delicious Anzac biscuit recipe since I was 13 years old. It comes from my tattered home economics school cookbook circa 1980 "Cookery the Australian Way'. I still remember Mrs Thorne's verdict on my first batch, "Never mind Indira - baking's not for everyone".

Ingredients: Remove Formatting from selection

2 cups (180g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (110g) 1A sugar
3/4 cup (100g) plain flour
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup (125g) butter, melted

Set oven at 160 degrees. Mix oats ,sugar and flour. Mix golden syrup, soda and boiling water. While frothing add melted butter and pour into dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Drop in spoonfuls on to a tray allowing room for mixture to spread. Bake at 160 dgrees 18-20 minutes. Cool on cake cooler.