Friday, August 06, 2010


“MasterChef” kitchen doors are bolted. The curtains are drawn. Its blinds are shuttered for another year. The freezers have defrosted; its refrigerators de-chilled. Overworked gas ranges are switched off; cluttered stainless steel benches bare and cleaned to glistening new again; the oil and food-splattered floor, swept and mopped. The pantry, finally devoid of stock, takes a breather before the next influx of contenders.

Matt dispatched his cravats to the dry cleaner, and, in the meantime, has joined Jenny Craig. Gary and George were last seen riding off on the red scooter to “The Press Club” for dinner! Elvis has left the building - and we’re left with a gap in our television viewing!

Like millions of others, once again I became engrossed in the show. Night after night I experienced jaw-dropping moments and edge-of-the-seat panic as the clock mercilessly ticked away, considering no one. I growled in frustration when Callum let the custard boil over and burn; couldn’t believe my eyes and cringed at Aaron’s scone-making efforts; laughed along with Alvin’s humorous comments (he’d make a fortunate marketing his white-rimmed glasses); empathised with the tears and disappointments; shook my head at the “accident-waiting-to-happen” Jake. He shouldn’t be allowed near a knife - ever! I shuddered every time I saw him pick up a knife or tried to shuck an oyster! And he wants to open a seafood stall (or has done so, I read somewhere)! That's a worry!

I felt the pride of achievement and the thrill of the challenge. A lot of what this year’s contestants had to produce the majority of us wouldn’t even dream of attempting in our home kitchens, me included! However, it was interesting to learn about molecular gastronomy. I felt it an honour to watch one of the geniuses of that method, Heston Blumenthal, the self-taught chef and owner of “The Fat Duck”. I can imagine how the contestants felt being in his presence. Jonathan’s reaction with a smile as wide as the Great Australian Bight said it all! “The Fat Duck” is a three-Michelin star restaurant in Berkshire. It was voted the Best Restaurant in the World in 2005, followed by the Best Restaurant in the UK in 2007 and 2009 – not bad for a cook! Many of the best cooks aren’t chefs! Two excellent examples are the iconic Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander!

Scotch Eggs with Hot Relish: Relish: Heat 1tbl olive oil in saucepan; add ½ red capsicum, finely chopped, 1 finely chopped small onion and garlic; cook until soft, not brown; add 400g diced canned tomatoes, 1tbl Worcestershire sauce, 1tbl tomato sauce, splash of Tabasco, 1/2tsp marjoram, 1tbl wholegrain mustard, 2tsp brown sugar; season; bring to boil; reduce heat; simmer 30mins or until thick. Scotch Eggs: To 650g minced pork or chicken, add 1tbl each chopped parsley and sage, 2tsp tomato paste, salt and pepper. Divide mixture into 6; dry 6 hard-boiled eggs with paper towels; roll in a little flour; with floured hands, flatten sausage meat into a round; place an egg in centre of each round; wrap meat around it; shape neatly. Lightly coat eggs with flour; dip into beaten eggs; roll in Panko breadcrumbs. Heat oil in deep pan; fry eggs, 10-15mins; drain well; cut in half; serve with relish. Egg Curry: Heat 3tbs oil; fry 1tbl grated ginger, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 chopped onions and 3 chopped tomatoes, 10mins; add 1tsp chilli, 1/2tsp turmeric; season; fry 5mins. Add 1c beaten yoghurt; bring to boil; reduce heat. Add 6 boiled eggs and 1tsp Garam Masala: cook until thick. Snow Eggs: Bring 2-1/2c milk to boil with 1 vanilla bean plus seeds and 6 ground green cardamom pods; stop heat; cover; infuse 30mins; filter; discard pods and vanilla bean; reheat to simmer. Separate 4 eggs; beat whites with a pinch of salt until almost firm; add 2tbls fine light brown sugar; beat 1min; drop large spoonfuls into simmering milk. Poach on each side 1min; remove; place on paper towel; set aside. Beat yolks with 1/2c light brown sugar until light and white in colour. Slowly pour in the warm milk, stirring; transfer to pot again; heat on med-low heat; stir constantly with wooden spoon until thick; don’t boil. Pour into serving goblets; cool; refrigerate; serve snow eggs on top; sprinkle with chopped, unsalted pistachios; top with spun sugar (if you want to fiddle about making it)! Lee George