Sometimes you just want to indulge.
Each week SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role
Maggie Beer, founder of Maggie Beer Products
What do you get up to on a day-to-day basis?
Everything in my life has been an ‘organic’ process that has developed rather than necessarily been planned… that’s not to say it has always been easy but more so that I have learnt to ‘go with the flow’. So when it came to a career involving food it really just evolved. There was no grand plan – but moving to the Barossa when I married Colin and being surrounded by such wonderful, seasonal produce certainly sparked my existing interest in food to be taken to the next level.
There isn’t really too much that’s ‘regular’ on a day-to-day basis! Every day is different for me, I might be filming and cooking in an aged care facility to promote my latest project, the Maggie Beer Foundation, teaming up with my favourite side kick from our TV days, Simon Bryant to cook on stage to a live performance by the WASO, taste testing and fine tuning my latest ice cream flavours with my product development team, cooking for a photo shoot for a magazine or my website, or picking produce from my garden to cook for dinner – always a common theme of food, food, food.
How/when did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?
I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was growing up, so when I left school I carried out a career ‘degustation’ of sorts – from a lift driver in a New Zealand department store to the assistant to the senior geophysicist for British Petroleum in Libya and in the fields of light aircraft to being a citizenship law clerk for the American Embassy and undertaking house management at the Women’s College of Sydney University. So when it came to a career involving food, it really just evolved.
Where do you think your passion for food developed from?
This is a tough one. In many ways it was my parents; my father, particularly, was a great cook and was obsessive about freshness and quality. As a child I learnt so much without realising it. Even when financially there were really tough times in our family, quality of food never suffered. Then the luck of coming to live in the Barossa continued my journey. This is where I really learnt about seasonality, simply because we lived it and it framed my whole philosophy on food. We were so busy surviving in the days of the Pheasant Farm Restaurant that we could not afford to eat out or travel for years. But that very thing allowed me to develop my own style by simply being a produce-driven cook. I loved the writings of Elizabeth David. She had abundant ideas and suggestions that spoke to me as I’ve never had the patience to follow recipes. Then later, I was influenced through my friendship with Stephanie Alexander, whose knowledge and writing adds so much to so many Australians.
What drove you to first create the Farm Shop/Barossa Pheasant Farm Restaurant?
I guess the path chose me in that it was a necessity that turned into serendipity. When we first started breeding pheasants we could sell them just for novelty value but no one knew how to cook them. Any written recipes that people might have tried were pretty horrific and would have resulted in dry, overcooked birds – so no wonder they didn’t come back a second time. Cooking came naturally to me so that’s what I started to do – cook our pheasants, our quail, pickle our quail eggs, make our pate and utilise every bit of the birds. We started the farm shop and sold fresh birds with instructions on how I cooked them and offered roasted pheasant and stuffed quails as picnic food on the side of the dam. Still I wonder how I had the audacity, with no experience or training, to start a restaurant (the acclaimed Pheasant Farm Restaurant which closed in 1993) but I’m so happy I did. And today we’re a farm shop again, serving picnic fare, so we’ve truly come full circle.
What were the initial stumbling blocks, getting started and since then?
My original food philosophy from all those years ago still stands today; to always cook from the heart, with ingredients at hand, never letting anything go to waste. This is the basis that underpins all that we did in the Farm Shop’s starting years, and all that I still hold dear now. Of course things have developed quite a bit since those early days of peaches arriving by the ute-full at the Farm Shop, and the pate being made in 10kg batches. Those first days of pate production, using a domestic food processor, didn’t even muster enough profit to cover our costs but it started something I could never have envisaged. Our first dedicated pate kitchen was the incubator shed rebuilt after a fire. That lasted for 10 years until we were bursting at the seams. In November 1996 we built our state-of-the-art Export Kitchen where even though our pate is now made in the thousands we still make it with as much care and attention to detail as we did in those first production days of only 4 to 5 blocks a week.
As an indication of terrific growth, the Pheasant Farm Pate is currently available in just under 2000 retail outlets across Australia, but it certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing. When you rely on produce sourced in season you are completely dependant on the weather and its lack of predictability; fire, flood, pestilence, we’ve had it all. Even though it’s been tough at times, I love it. I have never been someone who is governed by convention, so I am always looking for another way of doing things.
You are much more than a humble cook, now a successful author, television presenter and businesswomen. What caused you to create and grow? Did you ever think your work would be such a hit?
Moving to the Valley and being surrounded by ever changing seasonal produce has always been my greatest inspiration, and that in turn has allowed me to learn my craft by trial and error and I’ve gone along from one idea to the next.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Superior seasonal produce is key to everything I create. Living in the Valley has certainly taught me a great deal about the rhythm of the seasons, how to delight in fruit and vegetables picked ripe and at their best, and how to maximise the potential of not only what can be grown here, but what is available in the wild too. There is nothing more engaging for a cook than to work closely with the freshest of fresh produce. It continues to be my inspiration and starting point for any new product that comes into the range.p
What are your goals for the future?
Given that I love what I do and have more ideas than I have time in life to fulfil them, my quest is simply for a bit more time for myself and my family and friends.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
Be tenacious, have a point of difference, think laterally and be prepared to work like the blazes!
Do you steer clear of roasting certain types of meat out of fear your roast will be dry and inedible? Well, fear not! Regardless of what type of meat you’re roasting these simple tips will have your entire crew salivating at the mere mention of a roast dinner.
Once you’ve perfected the humble roast, it really is incredible just how many extra mouths find their way to your table. Luckily, some roasts are big enough to feed a small army and the same principles apply regardless of the size of the meat you’re roasting.
The secrets to cooking a superb tender roast depend largely on the oven temperature, roasting time, whether to cover it or not and the amount of moisture you add to the dish while cooking. Also, while lamb, beef, chicken and turkey are all roasted in a similar fashion, you will need to adjust the way you cook pork. I’ll provide specific guidelines especially for pork at the end if you want to produce a killer crackling.
So let’s talk temperature. If you roast meat at a higher temperature you’re far more likely to produce a tough, dry roast. That’s not exactly appetising and this is primarily why many people avoid roasting meats like turkey or beef. The secret is to cook the meat at a lower temperature when it first goes in the oven. By low I mean around 150-160 degrees Celsius.
Roast the meat at this temperature for the primary cooking period – so about three quarters of the time. Towards the end you can raise the temperature to over 200 degrees Celsius. This will enable the meat to brown or crisp any skin.
Now, let me just say that you CAN’T overcook a roast in the right conditions. In fact, the longer you cook the meat the more tender and delicious it will become. So if you do have a few hours up your sleeve, put your roast on early.
Obviously, smaller roasts will cook quicker than larger ones. So if you have a large roast for multiple guests (say 3 plus kilos), don’t be afraid to put your roast on for around 5 hours. Trust me, this will make it super tender and the meat will literally fall off the bone.
Covering the roast
There’s been times when I’ve roasted meat which has been too large to cover and have had similar results to roasts that I have covered. The primary difference is how brown and crispy the skin has become. The meat still remains tender once you bypass the outer layer. So ideally, if you want a crispy skinned chicken, it’s probably better to cook it uncovered. If you want a nice tender piece of beef, then try covering it.
Some people can produce amazing roasts using oven bags, but you don’t really need one. What they do is trap the meat’s juices in a small area around the roast and make it tender by producing steam. However, if you add at least a cup of water per kilo of meat to the bottom of the roasting dish, this will have the same effect.
If you find the water evaporates during cooking, don’t be afraid to add more. This will depend largely on whether the meat is covered or not, but the key thing to remember is that it’s far better to add too much water than not enough.
Ideally, you want to provide the perfect conditions for the meat to roast. This is done by combining ample moisture with a low temperature over a long cooking time. This will produce meat that is succulent and tender regardless of the type of meat you roast.
The perfect pork
With pork, it’s best cooked uncovered and the temperature should be adjusted like the other meats. This is done a little differently, however. The initial and final cooking periods should be done on high (over 200 degrees Celsius). This enables the crackling to cook to perfection. The remainder of the cooking time should be done on low (150-160 degrees Celsius).
Additionally, you need to concentrate on providing enough moisture. Don’t be afraid to give the pork plenty of water inside the base of the dish. Avoid tipping it over the cracking as it’s preferable to keep this dry. You shouldn’t need to add oil, but a decent amount of salt will help to perfect it.
That’s it! The secrets to cooking the perfect roast have been revealed. If you follow these simple guidelines you will never cook a tough, dry roast ever again!
Image via lomokev.com
There’s something special about being able to buy homemade sausage rolls, pies and pasties from a bakery. They do taste better than bulk manufactured ones, plus creative cooks can experiment with flavours to come up with something sensational. That’s exactly what this recipe is; a very, cleaver soul has put together this winning combination of flavours to create mouthwatering homemade sausage rolls.
1 packet of puff pastry
1 packet of sausage mince (aka meatloaf sausage mixture)
1 medium sized onion
1 granny smith apple (specifically granny smith)
- Turn on the oven and set it to 180 degrees.
- Place puff pastry sheets on a bench to defrost and slice in half while frozen.
- Peel onion and apple. Dice finely.
- Place onion and apple into large mixing bowl with sausage mince and egg. Mix thoroughly.
- Now the mixture is ready to position onto the pastry. Make thin rows vertically down the centre of the pastry.
- Take one side of the pastry and fold it over the mixture. Press down to reduce air inside. Repeat with the other side.
- Pinch the ends together to secure mixture inside pastry package.
- Slice shallow lines with a knife horizontally along pastry shaft. This should create breathing holes for cooking.
- Place each sausage roll on greased proof paper on a flat baking tray. Cook for approximately 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
Serving tip: Best served with mash potatoes, veggies and gravy for a meal, or chutney/tomato sauce for a snack. Recipe can also be frozen.
Image via redonline.co.uk
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. There are so many breakfast foods that are absolutely delicious and guarantee a good start in the day, one of them being Bircher muesli.
Bircher muesli has become a classic breakfast recipe and a staple in every reputable cafe. It was invented by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner at the start of the 20th century; he wanted to create a healthy breakfast that included fruits for his patients in Zurich.
Throughout the past 100 years, the recipe has been copied, altered, and honed worldwide, but the basic ingredients stay the same: Oats, nuts, apples, and milk or yoghurt. There is no cooking involved and it’s incredibly quick to prepare.
There are many ways to make Bircher muesli and different tastes require different ingredients, but I think the following is a winner:
2 cups rolled oats
25 grams of almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup apple juice
1 big apple, grated
- Mix the rolled oats and almonds with 1 1/2 cups of natural Greek yoghurt and apple juice and let soak overnight. Depending on how mushy you like your muesli to be you can adjust the amount of yoghurt and apple juice you use.
- Add grated apple to mixture and sprinkle with honey for sweetness.
- Add any (dried) fruit or nuts you like. A bit of cinnamon works well, too.
This recipe is so easy to make and the best thing is that you can prepare everything the night before, then in the morning all you have to do is mix it, put it in a jar and it will easily last a few days in the fridge. Your healthy breakfast for this week is sorted! Enjoy hitting the snooze button on your alarm one more time.
image via davidlatta.files.wordpress.com
When it comes to making homemade pizza it’s all about the base. One of my closest friends gave me this recipe and it’s seriously so good that you will never call a home delivered pizza ever again. And the smell… OMG! The smell that will fill your home as it’s cooking will bring even the fussiest eaters to the table. It’s absolutely mouthwatering and has been described as the best pizza my kids have ever eaten. Sorry Domino’s!
Once you’ve got this base down pat, you can then experiment with savoury or sweet flavors. This will turn your pizza into something unique and sensational every time. It’s all about getting creative, mixing flavours, or using whatever you have on hand. It’s cheap, versatile and everyone will love it!
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
150 ml of warm tempered water
1 sachet of dry yeast (Tandaco yeast is recommended)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Topping ingredients of your choice
- Turn on the oven and heat it to 220-240 degrees. You will need to let the yeast rise for a while in the bowl and the warmth generated on the stove top is a perfect place to enable this to happen prior to cooking.
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Inside the well, place the yeast, salt, and sugar and let it sit for about one minute.
- Pour the water in slowly and fold it in with a wooden spoon.
- When the ingredients are roughly mixed together, use your hands to mix it into a pliable consistency.
- Shape it into a ball and leave it in the bowl.
- Cover with a tea-towel and leave it in a warm position (for example on top of the stove) for about an hour. The warmth will activate the yeast and this will allow the mixture to rise.
- After an hour or so, flour a bread board or flat surface. The mixture may need either more water or flour depending on the environment. You need to try to achieve a pliable consistency as you gradually kneed the dough. Don’t over do it however, because this can effect the end result.
- Kneed it into a ball shape and roll it out with a floured rolling pin. If you don’t have one you can place it into a large flour coated pizza tray or a square tray equivalent and spread it out with your palm. Make sure you don’t thin it out too much because it’s best as thick based pizza dough.
- Your home-made pizza base is now ready to be topped with your choice of topping and put into the oven for about 30-45 minutes.
That’s it! Once you get the hang of it the dough will be pretty much perfect every time.
Image via dishmaps.com
Porridge might be one of the most underrated breakfasts ever. Not only is it delicious and filling, but it’s also high in fibre and protein, which makes it ideal for starting the day right.
I have to confess that I usually opt for quick oats prepared in the microwave, but whenever I have a bit more time in the morning, I make sure to prepare the perfect breakfast porridge, which is a million times better than your quick oat sachets. Here’s how it’s done:
The first important thing is to get the right oats. Rolled oats take longer to cook than quick oats as the grains are not as thin, however the texture of your porridge will be much better with rolled oats. If time is an issue for you, simply soak the oats in water overnight. This will make them cook within 5 minutes.
Use 1/2 cup of oats per person and 3 times the amount of water, so for one person, you would need 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring oats and water mixture to a boil in a pan or pot and then turn down to simmer, all while stirring with the “wrong” end of a wooden spoon. Keep stirring for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the creaminess and texture you like.
Now here comes the secret: salt. Add a pinch of salt to your oats and you’ll be surprised how much more flavour you’ll get from whatever you add to your oats. This could be fruits, peanut butter, cinnamon, nuts – the possibilities are endless!
During cooking, you might have to add some more water if your porridge gets too thick. Remember that it will thicken even after you have turned off the stove so if it’s a bit runny while still hot, it should be perfect once cooled down.
Serve in a bowl and add a splash of milk and whatever topping you feel like. Enjoy your perfect breakfast porridge!
image via the-nutritionista.co.uk
The humble kale has experienced a steep rise to fame in the past two years thanks to its versatility. You can eat it raw, cook it, roast it, and even drink it as part of a green juice. The green leafy vegetable is full of goodness like Vitamin C and Calcium and also contains a chemical with anti-cancer properties.
Even though it is very popular at the moment, there are a lot of people who dislike kale because of its slightly bitter taste. However, if you roast kale to make delicious kale chips, most of the bitterness subsides and the kale takes on a very similar taste to potato chips.
With less than half the calories, kale chips are the better, healthier option when feeling peckish. Here’s how to make perfectly crispy kale chips:
- Your oven temperature is very important as kale can burn easily. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius.
- Cut your kale into chip-sized pieces and separate the leaves from any stems that are quite thick as they take much longer to roast.
- Wash and thoroughly dry kale – it won’t get crispy when the leaves are still moist.
- Sprinkle olive oil over the leaves, making sure that each leaf is covered but not drenched.
- Add sea salt and any other spices or herbs you’d like your kale chips to taste like, such as paprika or rosemary.
- Spread in one layer on a baking tray and bake for about 10-20 minutes. The baking time really depends on your oven so make sure you check on your chips after 10 minutes. If the edges of the leaves are starting to turn brown, they’re ready.
Enjoy your guilt-free kale chips!
Image via thevintagemixer.com
Here’s why you should grow herbs in your kitchen: 1. You can easily add amazing flavours to your recipes. 2. It’s cheaper than repeatedly buying bunches of herbs at the supermarket. 3. Herbs in pretty pots are so decorative and will make your kitchen look great!
But before you go on a wild shopping spree and come back with tons of different herbs only to be disappointed that they’re all dead after a week, read through the following tips on how to take care of your kitchen herbs:
Location: Like most plants, herbs such as basil, thyme, mint, and parsley need lots of light and fresh air. The best place to put your pots would therefore be a windowsill, preferably facing south. Make sure that they don’t overheat, though. They should not be in direct sunlight for long, especially during the hot summer months.
Watering: Overwatering is probably the most common mistake when it comes to herbs. Yes, they need a lot of water, but herbs don’t tolerate soggy soil. So rather than soaking the plant twice a week, give it just a small amount of water every day and don’t get the leaves wet as this may lead to fungus.
Harvest: Don’t be overly cautious to actually use your herbs. In order to grow, the need to be pinched regularly. Instead of cutting entire bunches or stems, just take single leaves from every part of the plant to encourage regrowth.
As you can see, it’s quite easy to keep your kitchen herbs fresh and growing. There’s only one more thing to do: Enjoy them in your meals!
Image via peasinablog.com
Luckily, ham is one of the most versatile foods you can have in your fridge. Apart from being able to tuck a slice between a piece of bread or two, there are so many other ways to serve it. You can also substitute it for anything which usually uses bacon, so that opens the possibilities enormously. If you want some inspiring ways to use up the ham lingering in your fridge, you’ve come to the right place.
Peas and ham
Did I just hear someone say yuk? Well, it certainly didn’t come from our household. Peas and ham are a winning combination, it’s packed with fiber, eats like a snack or a meal, it’s super easy, you can freeze it, plus it tastes awesome!
First, chop up the ham to resemble shredded bacon. Cook it on high to medium in a large saucepan or pot with garlic. Add as much or as little garlic as you like. I love it and it’s a great way to load the family up with a good hit, so I throw in a few large freshly chopped cloves but it doesn’t matter if it’s dry. Add a dash of water so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and stir it until you can smell the garlic cooking.
Then open a packet of frozen peas and add them, along with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and pepper to taste and water to cook the peas in. About a 3/4 of a cup for a 500gm packet will suffice. It’s easier to add more water later than try to remove it. Stir it all in, pop the lid on and turn the heat down low. Let it cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can tell when it’s ready when the peas looked cooked, but not mushy.
If you have a bit of water lingering around, cook it for a bit without the lid. The more often you cook it, the easier it gets and you can tweak it anyway you like. Serve it straight away or have it cold. It tastes great either way. It freezes really well and is perfect as a side dish or quick main meal on busy days. It’s even a great lunch box alternative.
Creamy ham sauce
There’s a great little product that has hit the shelves for people suffering lactose intolerance. Don’t let that deter you though. It tastes great, stores in the cupboard, is really low in fat, is perfect for cooking, plus it’s under $2!
Now, trying to source it is like pinching eggs out of a chicken coop, because our local supermarkets can’t seem to stock enough. As soon as it hits the shelf, a day or so later, it’s vanished! It’s usually found in the long life milk section, so if and when you can get a hold of it, grab 2 or 3 to keep in the cupboard for super quick, tasty meals for the whole family.
To make the pasta sauce, chop and cook up the ham and garlic like the previous recipe. Instead of adding peas, add the cream with salt and pepper to taste. Cook it long enough to heat the cream and ham. It’s super yummy over any sort of pasta, baked potatoes and especially over plain steamed veggies. Once again, it freezes really well.
Now, for a little more inspiration, I’ve compiled the following list, with a few extra ideas for you to use your leftover ham.
- Ham morney (substituting tuna)
- Add a handful of chopped ham into a garden salad
- Shredded ham and coleslaw on baked potatoes
- Ham, cheese and pineapple topped pancakes
- Door-stoppers: thick toasted bread with ham, melted cheese and creamed corn
- Ham steaks with egg and baked beans
Ham also goes well with potato, green veggie, beans, cauliflower, asparagus, and apples combinations. Don’t forget you can also use apple or cranberry sauce to switch the flavor yet again.
Image via porkbeinspired.com
If you are a massive fan of the hit series MasterChef, you could take your fandom one step further by purchasing the expansive property where the current contestants lived while shooting the reality series. Located in the Victorian suburb of Brighton, the property is now officially on the market for around $5 million. The place the hopeful chefs in the Channel Ten competition called home is quite the estate. There are six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a home cinema, play room, cellar, swimming pool, spa and gym.
Check out a gallery of the property here.
And it wouldn’t be the home of MasterChef without a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, with everything you could ever need to create a restaurant-quality, gourmet feast.
The mansion is located at 323 St Kilda St on a 1883sq m block of land and is just a short walk to Port Phillip Bay beach.
Images via DailyMail
Looking for an Easter treat that will have all of your friends and family praising you for the entire long weekend? This sweet treat from Dairy Australia is a real showstopper. “Cheesecake is always a crowd pleaser,” food director Amanda Menegazzo said. “If you want a break from all the chocolate on Easter Sunday, our Baked Vanilla Spice Cheesecake with Coconut Topping makes an absolutely stunning dessert!”
Makes a 24cm cheesecake
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 70 minutes + cooling time
150g plain sweet biscuits, crushed
100g Australian butter, melted
750g Australian cream cheese, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
300ml carton Australian sour cream
60g Australian butter, extra, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Australian milk
11/2 cups shredded coconut
Assorted Easter eggs and ribbon, to decorate
1. Line the base and sides of a buttered 24cm spring-form pan. Mix together the crumbs and melted butter then press into the base of prepared pan.
2. Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs until just combined, then mix in the vanilla and spices and sour cream. Pour the mixture over the base. Bake the cheesecake at 160⁰C for 50 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, for the topping, combine extra butter, brown sugar, milk and coconut and stand for 10 minutes.
4. After 50 minutes baking time, sprinkle topping over the cheesecake and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in the oven with the door ajar, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
5. To serve, remove the cake to a serving plate, decorate with eggs and wrap with a ribbon if desired.
- Speckled candy coated chocolate eggs are available in most major supermarkets. Alternatively, pile assorted Easter eggs, both wrapped and unwrapped in the centre of the cake.
This versatile spirit can be enjoyed just as much in the kitchen as in the bar! If you enjoy a tipple here or there but also spend your spare time sharpening your knives and citing Jamie and Nigella, vodka could be your new kitchen best friend. And let’s face it, it’s a bit more fun than kale.
Drunken cherry tomatoes
The perfect companion for mature cheddar cheese and crusty bread. Prick the tomatoes all over and place in airtight jar, cover with Vodka O and add peppercorns, salt, chilli, lemon slices and celery, Leave for two to three days and drain before serving. But don’t throw away the drained vodka – you can strain and chill it to make a spicy Bloody Mary!
Make pasta sauce with a kick
The famous Bloody Mary cocktail demonstrates how well vodka goes with tomato juice, so why not add some vodka to your tomato-based pasta sauce to give it a little kick! Cook garlic, shallots, oregano and chilli in oil until golden brown. Remove from heat and add a generous amount of Vodka O (about 1¼ cups), stir and return to heat and add cherry tomatoes and cook until they begin to collapse. Stir sauce into your favourite pasta and enjoy!
Make the perfect, flaky pie crust
Who would have guessed, but vodka is the magical ingredient for a fine and flaky pie pastry! Follow your usual pie dough recipe, substituting half the amount of water required with Vodka O. Too much water can mean tough pastry, so replacing some of the water means your recipe will still be moist enough to roll out, but the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process.
Marinate your favourite roast
You can make a simple marinade for your Sunday roast using Vodka O, garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Marinate for at least eight hours, then add lemon juice and parsley to the roasting pan before placing in the oven.
Frozen vodka watermelon makes a perfect dessert for warm summer nights. Dissolve some sugar in 750ml of Vodka O, cut a hole in the top of a watermelon and slowly pour vodka in until absorbed. Freeze the watermelon for 24 hours, cut into slices and serve.
For more recipes vists facebook.com/vodkao
Filipino cuisine might not be that well known in Australia, but a beautiful new cookbook by Filipino cooking expert Yasmin Newman is hoping to change that. 7000 Islands – A Food Portrait of the Philippines will appeal to both foodies and armchair travellers, and features over 100 authentic Filipino recipes including adobo, lumpia spring rolls, and leche flan. We chat with Yasmin about her favourite dishes, which ingredients she can’t live without for cooking Filipino dishes at home and why she thinks Filipino cuisine is going to be the next big food trend.
What is a classic dish that’s an easy introduction into Filipino cuisine?
Adobo all the way. This vinegar and soy braise is the Philippines’ national dish, so simple to make and adored by everyone who tries it. Its flavours are both quintessentially Filipino and accessible to a non-Filipino palate.
What are your tips for preparing adobo at home?
It’s all about the vinegar, so get your hands on native varieties (sugar cane, nipa palm and coconut) from Filipino food stores or use the best organic or unrefined rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar you can find.
Why do you think Filipino cuisine isn’t more popular in Australia?
There are a number of theories – a largely educated middle class migrant group in Australia; the peoples’ love of home-cooked Filipino food; and Filipinos’ adaptability to new cultures when migrating overseas, to name a few. Sensationalised media reports have affected the Philippines from a tourism point of view, which has also played a part. But things are definitely changing; there are now more and more Filipino food ambassadors and the country’s popularity as a tourist destination is growing exponentially. I think we’re going to be hearing, seeing and tasting a lot more of the Philippines from here on in!
What is your favourite Filipino snack?
Filipino love to snack – they even have a whole category of food called merienda dedicated to the cause! As a result, my list of favourite snacks is long, from sweets of turon (caramelised banana spring rolls) and halo halo (shaved ice dessert) to savoury chicken empanadas and lumpia singkamas (fresh jicama spring rolls).
Which 3 Filipino ingredients can’t you live without?
Kalamansi, green-skinned native Filipino citrus about the size of a 10-cent coin with an irresistible lemon-meets-lime-and-mandarin flavour, suka (native Filipino vinegar – nipa palm is my favourite) and pork – Filipinos have mastered pork in every shape and form, from lechon, whole-roasted suckling pig to crispy pata, deep-fried pork hock.
What are your favourite grocery stores for stocking up on Filipino ingredients in Australia?
Filipino cuisine has strong historical ties with Spain, China, Mexico and the US, meaning many ingredients are already widely available in Australia at supermarkets and greengrocers. Native Filipino ingredients are stocked at dedicated Filipino food stores or pan-Asian food shops. If you live outside of metropolitan areas, they may be a little harder to source, but you’d be surprised how many Filipino food stores exist – there are Filipino communities hidden just about everywhere! I head to Manila Sari Sari Store in Chatswood, Pasalubong in Mascot and V Plus in Erina. I have plans to sell selected Filipino products online in the future, so keep your eyes out!
Can you recommended any Filipino restaurants?
Sadly, there are currently few Filipino restaurants in Australia. In Sydney, where I live, try La Mesa in the CBD, Sizzling Filo in Lidcome or head to Blacktown where there are a number of authentic turo turos (casual eateries).
Make Yasmin’s Lamb Adobo recipe from 7000 Recipes here!
What’s your favourite Filipino recipe?
Well-known celebrity chef, Luke Mangan has put together a gorgeous book filled with simple sumptuous recipes. A great pressie for anyone who loves to cook. Order
Donna Hay has done it again with another one of her fabulous and cookbooks. This time it is called Flavours and is filled with themed sections such as Lime, Garlic and my favourite is Chocolate. Order
- If you have to cook the Christmas cake then make sure you prepare it well in advance and every week tip a bit more brandy or sherry over the cake to improve the flavour. Leave the cake in the tin and cover it with aluminium foil. Even if you buy a good quality cake do the same thing, it will taste delicious.
- Doing the seafood thing? Then purchase prawns, crabs, lobsters etc well in advance. You definitely don’t want to miss out. Make sure you ask your local fishmonger what the best way to store the seafood is.
- You want that spectacular ‘woo’ factor when you light the pudding? Then warm the brandy a little in the microwave or on the cook top before you pour it over the pudding. Turn down the lights, pour over the brandy and light and voila you will be the life of the party.
- Get frozen milk, brown sugar and brandy. Place it in a blender with a little grated nutmeg, process until smooth and you will have a frozen eggnog – without the egg. Great to server before your lunch.
- Don’t have time to make mince pies? Then buy some good quality pies from David Jones or Jones the Grocer and squirt in a little extra brandy before you serve. Just adds that little added zing you may need.
Got Christmas leftovers such as ham? Then grab a fresh baguette, some Dijon mustard and layer on the freshly cooked ham.