Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My ultimate four cheese macaroni

Comfort food, is comfort food, is comfort food. I can’t say I ever really liked macaroni cheese – until I played around and made an indulgent one. I love using different cheeses and the combination of ricotta, sharp cheddar, gruyere and parmesan is a firm favourite. While the success of this recipe depends on the choice of cheeses, feel free to mix it up. Next I’m going to try a mild blue cheese with mozzarella and ricotta.

The other reason I love this recipe is that you don’t need to make a béchamel or white sauce; ricotta is an ideal replacement to bind everything together in combination with a beaten egg. In this version I’ve also used a sharp, mature cheddar for flavour and bite, parmesan for a salty punch and a gruyere style (Australian is available) for delightful melting qualities and rich, nutty flavour.

One of the other delights is the crunchy topping – a combination of prosciutto, more (!) cheese and fresh breadcrumbs baked until golden – the perfect cover for the creamy cheese lurking below.

Here is a link to the recipe on my main site.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Brilliant Cut Knife makes easy work of chicken larb on Kerrie-Ann

This morning I appeared on Kerrie-Ann (Nine Network – weekdays from 9am) as I usually do on a Thursday morning, and cooked one of my favourite fast and fabulous recipes, Chicken larb with rice noodles.

Using my Brilliant Cut Knife makes this recipe extra speedy! The fine blade (a unique alloy of diamonds, silver, ceramic and titanium) makes easy work of the fine chopping involved – garlic, ginger, chilli and kaffir lime leaves – all done in a flash!

Larb is a Laotian dish that found its way to northern Thailand and is now loved across Thailand and, in fact Australia. It is a salad of finely chopped or minced meat or fish cooked gently with aromatics and mixed with a fragrant dressing. While the dressing has lots of variations, the core ingredients are fish sauce, lime juice and lots of fresh herbs such as coriander and mint. I like to include basil too, and slicing basil leaves into a chiffonnade couldn’t be easier with the Brilliant Cut Knife plus the leaves won’t oxidise and discolour because the blade doesn’t contain steel.

Larb can be served a number of ways. I like to place a spoonful in a lettuce cup (baby cos are good), roll up and eat with my fingers. Another way to serve it is over rice or rice noodles. Both are good. 

On Kerrie-Ann today I served it over rice noodles
  I think Kerrie-Ann and Jamie liked it!

Here is a link to the recipe on my main site.
Here is some more information about my Brilliant Cut Knife

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Regional food stars at Sydney Good Food & Wine Show

For the third year running I’ve been asked to host the Lyndey Milan Regional Producers’ Market at the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show.

Here is a list of the fabulous artisan and boutique producers exhibiting in Sydney:

Otway Estate Winery & Brewery is near Colac, two hours from Melbourne. They produce wine, beer, cider and cordials from natural local products – grapes, local fruit and berries and pure Otway rainwater. On site there is a restaurant/café with lots of space for big events such as weddings, concerts and Oktoberfest, a cellar door that stocks regional and home-made produce as well as a few self-contained cottages that can be rented. The winemaker Matthew DiScascio produces premium wines including a range of sparkling wines available exclusively at the cellar door. Head Brewer Luke Scott is responsible for the medal winning Prickly Moses beers, ales and stouts. Finally, the organic cider is made from locally grown Gellibrand apples.

Beechworth Honey has been operating since the 1880s and is a fourth generation family business with a strong ethical and community focus. The product range includes honey (including blackbox, blackberry, blue gum, clover, orange blossom and hill gum), beauty products (lotions, balms and soaps), gourmet items (sparkling honey, creamy honey and lollies) and candles.

Located in the Barossa Valley, Careme Pastry is owned and operated by William and Claire Wood, who, coming from a restaurant background we were always disappointed with the quality of commercially available ready-made pastry. Careme only use natural ingredients, free from additives, preservatives and colours to produce their hand-crafted pastry products. Their product range includes ready to use pastry dough: all butter puff, sour cream shortcrust, vanilla bean sweet shortcrust and dark chocolate shortcrust as well as a range of tarts, pies, savoury galettes and sweet tarts and croissants and pastries.

Bellissimo Coffee is located in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. They are a new boutique coffee roaster that use the highest quality coffees that are organic, satisfy fair trade arrangements and are rainforest friendly. As a first time exhibitor, Bellissimo won a Gold Medal and Class Champion (overall winner) Espresso at 2010 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show awards for their premium blend Bellissimo Emporio. They were also the first Queensland company to win a Gold Medal for the Espresso Class and to be awarded Class Champion status. Their range includes: Blends – Emporio, Optimo, Italian dark roast, Aspromonte and Mocha Java as well as decaffeinated and single origin coffee. As well as coffee, they also sell a section of tea, chocolate, nut and other gourmet products and commercial and home coffee machines. Other services include servicing coffee machines and grinders as well as barista training.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend

I am very excited to announce that my Brilliant Cut Knife has arrived!

This is the first time in my 25 year career in the food industry that I’ve put my name to a product. However after testing this knife and working with the Forever Knives’ developers and designers for over 12 months, I couldn’t say no. I love it.

First of all, it hardly ever needs sharpening. According to world leading testing organisation CATRA (UK) the blade will hold its cutting edge up to 45 times longer than steel. Impressive. The more so because so many of us just don’t know how to sharpen knives properly. My pet hate is trying to work in someone else’s kitchen without a decent sharp knife. This one is so versatile, it can suit all your needs.

Back to the cutting edge, the blade is made of a unique alloy – also a world-first – that combines diamonds, silver, ceramic and titanium:

DIAMONDS a world-first for incredible performance and durability
SILVER with unique anti-bacterial properties for good health
CERAMIC for sharpness and holding the cutting edge for a very long time
TITANIUM is corrosion resistant, flexible and lightweight to reduce fatigue

The other things I love include:
 it is lightweight and perfectly balanced, hence comfortable for long periods in the kitchen or for those who find chefs’ knives too heavy
 it is dishwasher safe
 the blade is sharp, durable and flexible and can tackle all kitchen jobs such as slicing, chopping, shredding and dicing with ease and precision – this means no “crying” when cutting onions
 because there is no steel and no oxidation, you can cut lettuce and basil and there is no discolouration!

The Brilliant Cut Knife will be making its debut at the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show, 16-18 July, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour. I’ll be demonstrating the knife at the Forever Knives stand (i40) on the hour, each hour. The show times are:

Friday 16 July 10am-6pm
Saturday 17 July 10am-6pm
Sunday 18 July 10am-5pm

The knife will retail at the show at the introductory price of $199 (though the RRP is $249.00) inc GST including a special sharpener for fool-proof sharpening when it does finally need it.

**As a special limited offer Sydney Good Food & Wine Show purchasers will receive a FREE 52 minute DVD featuring five of my favourite fast and fabulous recipes with step-by-step instructions plus lots of handy knife tips and tricks, normally valued at $29.95.**

Click here for more information about the Brilliant Cut Knife
Click here for online sales at Forever Knives

Friday, July 2, 2010

Six Champions, one medal

The 2010 President’s Medal is shaping up as a great event and a unique celebration of Sydney Royal champions and gold medal winners from the recent Sydney Royal Wine, Cheese & Dairy and Fine Food shows.

As Chair of the Fine Food Show, I’ve been heavily involved in the planning of the event - including testing the menu and the wines! I’m delighted that one of my favourite people, Justin North (Owner and Executive Chef of Becasse and Etch restaurants) has co-designed the menu, featuring the six finalists:

Bulla Dairy Foods
Australian family company, Bulla Dairy Foods are a second time finalist. Bulla has been making quality dairy products in country Victoria since 1910. The commitment of Bulla's traditional values is built into both their products and their dealings with customers and suppliers. Bulla Dairy Foods was awarded Champion Cream or Dairy Dessert for their Light Sour Cream at the 2010 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show.

Holy Goat Cheese
Committed to sustainable farming, Holy Goat Cheese is about honouring the soil, pasture and a beautiful goat herd that produces high quality 100% certified organic cheeses that reflect the Sutton Grange region in Victoria. Holy Goat Cheese La Luna Goat Cheese was awarded Champion Sheep, Goat and Buffalo Milk Product at the 2010 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show.

Yalumba Wine Company
Established in 1849, Yalumba Wine Company is Australia's oldest family-owned wine company. With more than 160 years of winemaking experience Yalumba has remained independent and progressive across six generations of the Hill Smith family. Yalumba was awarded the The Rudy Komon Memorial Perpetual trophy for best Shiraz Viognier for their 2008 Yalumba Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier and The Jones, Steains and Waller Perpetual Trophy for highest number of points in the Varietal Wine Classes at the 2010 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show.

Peter Lehmann Wines
During the 1970s Peter Lehmann refused his employer’s instruction to renege on his customary handshake agreement with independent grape growers when there was an over-supply of fruit. Starting his own business and offering to pay after the wine was made, he saved then from ffinancial ruin. Now as an unlisted public company, loyalty, hard work, talent, patience, teamwork and recognition of other people's talents are the values which permeate their workforce. Peter Lehmann Wines was awarded the Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy for best riesling for their 2006 Wigan Eden Valley Riesling at the 2010 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show.

Huon Aquaculture
Founded in 1988 at Hideaway Bay in Tasmania, Huon Aquaculture began as a diversification to the family cattle and sheep business and soon grew into a highly successful business. Preserving and protecting the marine environment, Huon follows world's best environmental management practices. Huon Aquaculture was awarded Champion Salmon Product for their Banquet Slice Tasmanian Smoked Salmon at the 2010 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.

T&R Pastoral
T&R Pastoral of South Australia has grown to become Australia's largest small stock processor. Recently acquiring plants in Queensland and New South Wales they now supply three states and export to over 80 countries. T&R Pastoral was awarded the Grand Champion Lamb Exhibit for their Murraylands Premium Lamb at the 2010 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.

The President’s Medal
Awarded by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW to promote and reward profitable and sustainable Australian primary industries, it is the only award where Champion producers from the wine, dairy and fine food industries are judged on a multifaceted basis. Simon Marnie of 702 ABC Local Radio and Scott Davenport of Industry & Investment NSW judge in the field on environmental, economic and social sustainability. Then the products are assessed by Annette Karantoni from Woolworths and Justin North on marketability.

The event
Always a fun night, with videos made by the finalists and the one and only HG Nelson as Roving Reporter, The President’s Medal will be awarded at a celebratory dinner on and with extraordinary food and wine it is a dinner not to be missed. The menu will feature the six finalists’ products plus other Sydney Royal medal winners. As mentioned above, the menu was designed by consulting chef Justin North in conjunction with our own very talented executive chef from Sydney Showground, Tim Browne and the banqueting team at Four Seasons Sydney.

More information and ticket bookings
Click here or email Mahalia Hicks, RAS Wine, Dairy & Fine Food Co-ordinator.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Insider chat with … Victor Pisapia, chef and founder of VictorsFood

I’ve known Victor for about 20 years. He was the co-owner and chef at Rattlesnake Grill in Neutral Bay in Sydney and not only was his food fabulous, they used to have these amazing Gospel Brunches where we got to sing! I used to take my parents there and even had my son’s 18th birthday there. It was one fun place!

Victor’s mother was Italian so he grew up with a love of sharing food around a table. Prior to arriving in Australia in 1994, Victor ran restaurants and nightclubs in his native America. His first, Back Porch in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is still open today. Victor became known for his ‘New American Cuisine’, a trend that he brought to Australia when he opened the hugely popular Rattlesnake Grill. Now Victor combines his love of teaching, food and cooking at VictorsFood.

VictorsFood is a food experience company that offers group cooking events for team building, food tours, cooking classes and culinary journeys to South America. Having owned seven restaurants in the past has made Victor’s food journey quite varied and brought a depth of knowledge and experience to VictorsFood.

Over to Victor

Briefly describe a typical day: A typical day is working with clients to produce a great team building event, buying fresh local ingredients to cook with and making sure the event space is set up for an interactive cooking activity.

Tell me something that is not generally known about your industry: Most people love cooking for an event and men seem to love it the most.

The best and worst things about your job are: The worst thing is packing and unpacking equipment for jobs that are off premise. The best thing is to be kissed and hugged by the organiser from each event after the event is finished.

What did you eat today: Fresh Snapper Fish Tacos with fresh guacamole, fire roasted salsa then chicken mole with coriander pepita seed rice, sautéed bananas and pears with cajeta sauce – yes I had a dinner party!

What do you never eat: Fast food or frozen dinners

What is your signature dish: Chocolate Chilli Truffles

What are your ten favourite ingredients: chipotle chilli, garlic, fresh coriander, corn, quinoa, any fresh fish, fresh basil, tomatoes, white anchovies and tamales

If the world ends tomorrow, what will you be eating and drinking today: My Italian mother’s homemade ravioli, a robust Italian red wine, olive and rosemary foccacio and her strawberry shortcake. This memory of my childhood is one I will remember forever.

Thanks Victor