Monday, September 20, 2010

What makes the confit duck pies at the Bayside Lounge so delectable?

That’s a good question and one that I hope to discover ...

As you may know I’m the newly appointed Food & Beverage Ambassador for the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, the home of the stylish new Bayside Lounge. As such I get to work with some truly lovely people: Ton van Amerongen, Chief Executive; Simon Lomas, Director of Food & Beverage and the uber talented Uwe Habermehl, Executive Chef.

I’ve long been impressed with the food and service at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, especially at the annual Australia Day lunch. You can read my post about Australia Day this year here.

I’m also very happy to be presenting The Magic of Spices at the Bayside Terrace (the event is part of the Sydney International Food Festival) on 12 October with my Just Add Spice co-author, Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill. For event details click here.

Executive Chef Uew Habermehl feeding (!) me that pie

Now back to that pie … Uwe is keeping his recipe secret … don’t you hate that? I know that the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre promotes Australian produce so we know that it contains good stuff. But what?

If you’ve ever made duck confit (confession: I haven’t for quite a while) you’ll know that it is a bit of a process. Two to three days to be precise. First you have to rub the duck with spices. What spices does Uwe use? My palate detected thyme, garlic and pepper, but what else? Think I need to sample a few more to sure. In the interests of research you understand. Uwe?

Oh, and the duck is lovely and meaty and melts in the mouth. Uwe buys his duck from the Macleay Valley in New South Wales. Gotta love regional New South Wales produce.

Once I’ve figured out the confit flavourings, I’ll begin work on the pastry. Two types I think – one for the base and another for the top. Might need a few more research samples … Uwe?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Diary date: Week of Tastes (14-24 October)

Week of Tastes, a fantastic food related initiative targeted at 8 and 9 year old children, runs from 14-24 October. I’m delighted to be involved this year. It’s always great to go somewhere you have a connection and my great nephews attend the infants department of Willoughby Public School, so that’s where I’m headed to give a lesson.

I have long believed on exposing kids to different flavours and cuisines and engendering a love of new foods. When my kids were at pre-school I went and taught pasta making to 4 year olds – and how positively they responded! Therefore I’m committed to educating everyone, especially children, on making good and informed food choices, the enjoyment of cooking and the hospitality of the table.

A little bit of history … Week of Tastes is based on a French program that has been running across Europe and the US for 20 years. There are two elements: the teacher delivers an introductory lesson covering food appreciation and good health through a series of experiential exercises and cooks or chefs follow up with further, more specific education about the world of taste, food and cooking.

Briefly Week of Tastes aims to:

* Develop children’s relationship with food and address some habits that might contribute to obesity.
* Create positive associations with the process of food creation, taste and the act of making good food choices.

The lesson plan delivered by the teacher contains some lessons for us all:

* An understanding of how the senses affect both taste and appreciation of food
* Expanding your food vocabulary
* Developing positive attitudes towards trying new foods
* The link between food and good health

How are these for comments from children, teachers and chefs:

"I also learned that even though something doesn’t look good, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good. It was an adventure for my taste buds." Zak, grade 4 student, Hunters Hill Primary

"We feel the multi-sensory learning experiences were so successful that we plan to extend the program in 2010." Debbie Campbell, teacher at Redlands College

"The teacher was provided with lesson plans that integrated the health strand of PDHPE with Science and English. A highlight of the week was a visit from a French pastry chef. He talked about different types of pastry and methods of preparation. He also brought samples for the students to try! The children presented an assembly item at the conclusion of this week. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the students, the teacher and the parents. If you have the opportunity to participate in this program I strongly encourage you to do so." Amanda Donlan, principal at Northbridge Primary

"Programs like the Week of Tastes help to instil in growing children the importance of good health and understanding of where our food comes from. I think taste education programs are so important. Food appreciation started young will result in healthy happy kids." Pete Evans, chef, My Kitchen Rules

Look at these pictures from Week of Tastes 2009

Chef Peter Evans at Bondi Primary

Chef Kylie Kwong at St Francis Paddington

If you are a teacher, chef or child and want to be involved visit

Or maybe I’ll see you at Willoughby Primary on Friday 22 October at 10am!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The pasta of spring

How many times can one welcome Spring?  First we had GLAMB and now it’s time for spring pasta or Pasta Primavera - a quick and simple 15 minute bowl of spring freshness and goodness.
I’ve used new season’s asparagus, the smallest zucchinis I could find, crunchy snow peas as well as broad beans. I do love broadbeans: the fresh variety is in season from spring right through to mid-summer but sometimes can be difficult to find. If you are lucky to find them, remember to double peel, ie remove the beans from the long pods, then blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, then run under a cold tap before peeling away the second layer of skin around the bean. Use your fingers to pop the bean out. This is a great job for the kids. If you can’t find fresh broad beans, frozen are just as good. But again, I recommend peeling away (or popping!) the skin surrounding the bean.

The sauce is the perfect foil to the fresh vegetables, based on egg and freshly grated parmesan as in pasta carbonara, with the addition of warm milk (or cream if you are feeling decadent) and freshly grated parmesan. Easy. Dinner in 15 minutes. I couldn’t be happier. And Kerri-Anne really tucked in during the commercial break!

Click here for the recipe on my main site.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spring into lamb with GLAMB

I love love love lamb, especially spring lamb and am delighted to front the food side of MLA’s spring lamb campaign this month.

The Milan Collection is about fashion – but what you eat rather than what you wear! I developed a number of main course and picnic style recipes using cuts such as rump, backstrap, easy carve leg, butterflied shoulder, loin chop, forequarter chop, rack and cutlets for a fabulous booklet attached to October Australian Good Food magazine, called Chop Til You Drop. Nicole Vonwiller and Clementine Whyte from ACP have done a fantastic job and I especially love all the ‘fashion’ references in the booklet including:

Lamb-alicious: the coolest cuts this spring
Lamb is the best dressed meat this season
Lyndey’s latest are a leg ahead

And the booklet was beautifully styled by Margot Braddon and shot by Chris Chen who also shot my latest book Just Add Spice.

To give you a taste, some of the recipes from the Milan Spring Lamb Collection are:

Thai stir-fried lamb rump and glass noodle salad
Poached lamb backstrap with baby spring vegetables and garlic cream
Spanish-style lamb forequarter chops with warm vegetable medley
Slow roasted lamb shoulder with rocket, goat’s cheese and orange salad
Grilled sticky lamb with kecap manis, ginger and lime

I’ll be cooking a selection of these glamorous lamb (also known as GLAMB) recipes on Kerri-Anne in September as part of my regular Thursday cooking segment at around 10:40am.

The official launch was today at Chophouse in the Sydney CBD. I was there with Henry Roth fashion designer extraordinaire and Project Runway Australia mentor talking up GLAMB during the live weather crosses on the Today Show. He was so much fun and as enthusiastic about my lamb as the models. The models looked amazing and the whole thing featured throughout the Today Show!

The Today Show’s weatherman Steve Jacobs with the models dressed as a garlic bulb and a barbeque 

Henry Roth on the catwalk

The models