Friday, 28 October 2011

Entertaining ideas, Good tastes and a Giveaway

I love picking up my copy of Australian Good Taste each month. It has so many features and with over 95 recipes [this month] there is always plenty of fabulous recipes to tempt me and even my fussy eaters. I get inspired to try new dishes all the time.

This month has summer platters & share plates ~ perfect  - I am ready to get set for Christmas and end of year entertaining. 

Plus ...

wait for it - Whoopie Cakes - are you curious ??? and a guide to Christmas puddings.

Though I enjoy cooking I doubt I have what it takes to enter a cooking competition after interviewing  Kirrily Cornwell - the Australian Good Taste's Home Cook of the Year 2011- the cook off wrap up and story features in the November issue. 

Her winning recipe was Pan-seared Salmon accompanied by Parsley White Wine Risoni and Fennel Orange Salad.

It was my privilege to interview Kirrily who is a working mum of two girls aged 11 and 3.She was 1of of 6 finalists [from 5000 entries] selected for a cook off !

Kirsty  : I currently work in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in Suicide Prevention, which is an interesting and rewarding job but sometimes challenging particularly trying to fit everything into the four days at work.  I have one day home a week with my little one.  Singing was my first love (my husband and I are both musicians), and I have done a lot of performing over the years both in musical theatre and in the band my husband and I were in together.  I have been having a brief hiatus from singing, I haven't really had the time I've been cooking so much!

1. How did you first get into cooking?

I learnt basic things at home from my mum like how to make real gravy, a perfect roast, the best apple crumble etc.  The love of cooking has grown over the years through travel and watching one of my sisters cook. 

I buy Australian Good Taste on a regular basis and saw the competition as a personal challenge to see how many dishes I could cook and make the family meal planning a bit of fun.  Plus the issue had so many great recipes.  There was never any thought that I'd make it as far as the semi-finals let alone the finals!

2. What was the highlight of the competition for you

There were a few, I gained a bit more faith in my ability to put to put flavours together and make something people really want to eat.  Eating at Etch, Justin North's restaurant was an awesome experience, the food was amazing (as was the wine!)... not the kind of food you eat everyday, fine dining at it's best! 
I met some really nice people and we were looked after really well by the AGT team.  Meeting Tobie Puttock and Justin North would have to be up there as the highlight... a bit scary but amazing!  When they read out Tobie's comments on my dish I could have just walked away from the comp right then and there and been happy, what a bonus to win as well

3. How many photos did you enter ?
I think in the end I submitted 63 photos - and then the final photo and recipe submitted as part of the semi-finals process.

It was an interesting learning process taking photos of food and working out ways to make it look good (I have a new appreciation for what food stylists do!).  My husband often ate cold food as his was invariably the 'display' plate and would be cold by the time I'd photographed it and brought it to the table

4. How would you describe your cooking style ?
It's definitely home cooking, rustic and a little bit thrown together.  I spend a lot of time with my head in recipe books but usually just end up making things up (except when I'm baking that is a new challenge I'm trying to master).  I'm inspired by people like Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander - real salt of the earth cooks.  I also love Donna Hay because her dishes are so simple and I love her styling as well. 

I love the Italian approach to cooking, it's all seasonal and not wasteful, food of the people, and a way of life.
   I am trying to teach my girls about where their food comes from and part of this is learning how to grow things in our garden.  I can't get my 3 year old to eat vegies on her plate but she will open a pea pod straight from the garden and eat every pea inside!

5.Are you planning to take your cooking career further?

To me there is a fundamental difference between being someone who wants a career in the food industry and someone who just loves cooking.  The food I cook is made to be shared with family and friends, prepared and shared around a big table of food and drink and laughter and fun.  I am also determined that my kids have an appreciation for different types of food and where their food comes from so that is one of my main motivations behind cooking.I can't really see myself as someone working in a professional kitchen, working under pressure and doing it for a living.

So I guess the answer to that is no.  Unless later on in life we end up retiring to the French countryside and decide to run our own bed and breakfast! :-) 

I can't wait to try this recipe Kirrily has shared with us.

Smoked Tuna & Risoni Croquettes with Baby Rocket & Cherry Tomato Salad and a Garlic Aioli

(makes around 12-14)

Punnet Cherry tomatoes 
4 garlic cloves - unpeeled Balsamic vinegar 
1 cup San remo risoni 
4 eggs 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
1 tbsp lemon zest 
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill 
2 tins smoked tuna slices - flaked 
1 cup plain flour 
2 cups breadcrumbs 
Canola oil for deep frying 
3/4 cup whole-egg mayonnaise 
Olive oil to serve 

1. Pre-heat oven to 140deg. Line oven tray with baking paper, place cherry tomatoes & garlic on tray, spray with olive oil & season with salt. Drizzle balsamic over tomatoes & bake for 40mins or until garlic is tender, ensuring tomatoes stay intact. 
2. Meanwhile, cook risoni in salted boiling water until al dente, transfer to a large bowl, add Parmesan & set aside to cool slightly. 
3. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, tuna, dill & lemon zest to risoni mixture & stir to combine. Season to taste & refrigerate until cooled completely. (at this stage if mixture is too moist add some plain flour) 
4. Line tray with baking paper. Place flour, eggs (lightly beaten) & breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Roll 2-3 tablespoons of risoni mixture into a croquette shape, dust lightly with flour shaking off excess, dip into egg then roll in breadcrumbs until coated. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
5. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat (to a depth of around 10cms). Heat to around 180 degrees. Cook croquettes in batches until golden, turning if necessary. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and keep warm. 
6. To make aioli, peel slightly cooled garlic & blend in a food processor with mayonnaise until smooth. Season to taste. 
7. Place baby rocket & tomatoes on a serving plate & drizzle with a little olive oil. Place 3-4 croquettes on plate & serve with aioli.

The November issue is on sale now.

I have 2 x three month subscriptions to Australian Good taste to giveaway - leave a comment and tell me your signature dish.

Entries close November 7th.

Australian Good Taste is on Facebook too

Disclaimer - I received November issue to review and the giveaway only , opinions are my own and no payment was received.
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