Books

Lemon Tasting Plate and the MasterChef Cookbook

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

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My family and friends know how much I loved watching MasterChef. Most of my readers have probably also picked up on this from the other recipes I’ve already made from MasterChef:
Strawberries and Cream Dessert
Sticky Date Pudding
Aria Chocolate Tart
Croquembouche
Chocolate Delice
Scones

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So why did I like it so much? While others were interested in watching drama unfold, I was waiting for the food. What will they cook with those secret ingredients, what would I cook? Which celebrity chef will be on? I wonder what they will make? (I really loved seeing the Chefs recipes, who wouldn’t?)

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That’s why I was so excited to be receiving a copy of the MasterChef Cookbook! (Thanks to Random House for sending me the book). I know that many of the recipes can be found on their website, but how can people resist having the recipes in their bookshelf – along with some of the recipes, tips and step-throughs not included on the website. (My love of cookbooks will probably see me getting some new ones as Christmas presents this year 🙂 ).

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One of the recipes I was looking forward to was the ice cream recipe – I remember how much people loved the silky ice cream, and the method seemed easy enough. One recipe most people won’t remember, as it was made very early in the series, was Linda’s blueberry and violet rice pudding. I remember it being presented to the judges when contestants were trying to get past the first round. It’s just so pretty! It’s on my list, and I’m happy to have the recipe.

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The book itself is around 260 pages and covers a lot of the basics for cooking. Some of the tips include how long dry, wet, fresh and frozen goods should be kept, knife skills, sauces and stocks, different types of potatoes and onions and their uses, as well as a few step-by-step instructions, where it’s needed. There are photos of all the contestants, reminding you who made the dish, photos of the action, the judges and the celebrity chefs.

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In front of many of the recipes are contestants views and thoughts of the dish, their inspiration or history behind it or just a reminder of where the recipe fitted into the competition. I love the large photos (almost one opposite each recipe) and I think this helps cooks make a quick decision as to whether they would be interested in making the dish, or at least how the dish should look once finished.

I would have liked to have seen a few other recipes in there, such as the chocolate and jaffa souffle which looked gorgeous, buttermilk hot cakes with candied apples and Julia’s baked ricotta (the recipe that got her through past the first round).

Overall, I think this book is presented in a great way and would appeal to both inexperienced and veteran cooks alike, and to anyone who likes a challenge!

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I decided I would finally have to make the lemon tasting plate seen on one of the Masterclasses on MasterChef. This included Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes, lemon curd, lemon creme fraiche and lemon vanilla syrup. The book has recipes for both the lemon curd and lemon cupcakes, although I just made up my own lemon cream to go with it – the result, a gorgeous blend of lemon flavours. The lemon cupcakes were lovely and light (these would also be great as plain vanilla cupcakes) and worked well with the slight tang of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the lemon cream.

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Lemon Tasting Plate

Edited 18/12/09: Recipes removed due to request

My lemon tasting plate consists of Julie’s Lemon Diva Cupcakes and Lemon Curd from the MasterChef cookbook and my recipe of lemon cream

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Lemon Cream

Recipe by me

250ml thickened cream
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup caster sugar

Beat all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, until cream becomes thick and whipped.

To serve:
Cut a shallow hole out of the top of the cupcakes (cut this piece in half). Place a teaspoon of lemon curd in the bottom of the well and then top with some lemon cream. Place the cut out halves into cream, with the curved sides facing one another to look like butterflies.

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or

Smear some lemon curd onto a plate. Crumble over a lemon cupcake and quenelle the lemon cream and place on top.

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Gordon Ramsay, the MasterChef Judges and The Good Food and Wine Show 3-5 July 2009

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

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Now some would say that counting down the days to buy tickets in the pre-booking period and calling your husband panicking 30 minutes before the lines open 6 months, 6 days and 1 hour before an event might be considered a little…. Let’s say… obsessive…

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I would be one to agree with that view.

But it did not stop me late January making sure I did not miss out – as this is the first famous person I’ve met (that I can remember) and the first Good Food and Wine Show I’ve been to. Last year I was too busy and the year before that was the first time I’d really heard much about the show.

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Gordon Ramsay was very different to how he acts on his shows. He seems to be more like how you see or hear him in interviews. Quite nice, with the occasional rude joke and a little swearing (I don’t even recall him swearing… maybe once or twice – but I missed it, which is not such a bad thing).

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He made (with help from another chef) Cod and Tomato Chowder, Glazed Salmon with Spinach and Radish Salad and for dessert Poached Pears in Mulled Wine – with the most fantastic smelling caramelized figs! Unfortunately I wasn’t picked to go up and taste test the dishes (two females and two males from the audience were chosen).

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After the show, Gordon did a book signing and was absolutely lovely in person. He greeted Nick and I, giving me a kiss on the cheek and having a small conversion about who does the cooking in our house, baking and how it is a science and wishing us well. I was delighted with how it went and look forward to cooking some of the lovely dishes from his new book Healthy Appetite, which we got singed.

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A Photo from Healthy Appetite: Vanilla pannacotta with blueberry sauce:

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In between this show and the next, we went around the Good Food and Wine Show trying out new foods and a lot of wines. The foods on offer ranged from lovely chocolates in a variety of intriguing flavours, nougat, biscuits, cheese, olives, olive oil, cakes, ham and lovely dips.

I was lucky enough to find my way to The Biscuit Tree, where ChocolateSuze was chatting to Lili and was extremely generous is giving us a taste test of some of her lovely biscotti and shortbread. The only problem with this was trying to decide on which to buy. 🙂 We ended up choosing a lovely Cardamon & Pear Pistachio Biscotti. The flavours complement each other really well and don’t compare to anything you can buy in the shops. Nice to meet you finally Suze! 🙂

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The wines on offer took up probably more than half the stalls, I decided to try and find a wine which I liked and since I don’t really like wine, Nick ended up with double the amount of wine he had asked for. I did find a couple which I liked though, so all-in-all with a lot of taste testing done – a few Muscato’s will be remembered and possibly bought in the future.

Moving on to the last show we saw before we left, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris (two of the judges from MasterChef) from the Boathouse and The Press Club respectively, were on stage making a lovely array of dishes including Jam filled Donuts. Matt Preston also made an appearance during their cooking, with Gary and George giving one of his cravats to an audience member. Matt made sure the oven and oil was at the right temperature, as he mentioned the day before it wasn’t checked which made some of the dishes not turn out as they should.

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Gary and George were very entertaining, working very well together, with many good jokes throughout. Some of the contestants from MasterChef came on the stage, with the audience picking Poh to help them with the donuts.

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I had seen George’s book The Press Club a while ago and had put it on my Birthday wish list. Although after hearing George was doing signings, I made sure I bought his book at the show and got it signed, so we’ll have to see if I have to wait till my birthday to get it, or whether it will be a present to myself 🙂 . George seemed surprised by the number of people at their show as it was more packed than the earlier Gordon Ramsay show (perhaps because it cost extra and was quite early in the morning).

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Just looking through the photos in The Press Club is enjoyable, with each dish presented like a piece of art. I look forward to making some of these dishes, especially as I have a big love of Greek food – especially sweets.

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Photo from The Press Club: Island of Chios Mastic Pannacotta, Greek Doughnuts:

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All-in-all, I really enjoyed my first Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney. I would have liked a few more foods available to try and I also found the prices quite high on a lot of the food to eat there. The shows themselves were very enjoyable, more for the celebrities themselves than the actual cooking.

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