Saturday, June 26, 2010

MasterChef, Jamie Oliver and Dressing the board

As many of you are probably aware, I live in Australia and am a big big fan of Australian reality show, MasterChef. Amateur cooks compete in these amazing challenges recreating siganture dishes from some of the world's biggest culinary icons - Matt Moran, Kylie Kwong, Neil Perry - and at the end one is left standing to be named the MasterChef and gets a publishing deal, money and prestige. Anyway if you haven't seen it - you should - the eps are here -

Anyhow, this week, the show's being filmed in London, home to some of the biggest cooking names around - including of course, Jamie Oliver. I've seen his shows, read about his philanthropic work - he was showcased in a cover story I had worked on at my old job. To see this guy doing his thing on ANOTHER show though I one he's not the producer of - was actually quite phenomenal. You can see Jamie is the real deal, passionate - bursting with energy - completely eccentric and running at 50 million miles a minute!

One of the interesting concepts he presented was a new way to cook steak - he called it "dressing the board" - quite a simple concept but really brought out some fresh new flavours. Here's what we tried:


1 thick juicy 200 g sirloin steak
3 tbs mint, finely chopped
2 small chilis finely chopped
1 tsp mince garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Large wood chopping board


Cook the steak in a pan as desired. While the steak is cooking prepare your dressing ingredients and mix the mint and chili well on the board. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and stir through. When the steak is cooked take it straight out the pan, place it on the board with your dressing and coat liberally. As the steak starts to cool and seal off, it'll take on the flavours of the board - so you have a well flavoured piece of gorgeous and juicy steak - without the typical burning of the marinade! Genius!

Disclaimer: blatant self promotion and update. Sorry folks, but I'm using my own blog to my own gain. :) Outsie of cooking - I write kids books, including girls books age 8 and up and my first book is out! I would love if you would take a moment to check it out! Okay - that's it, I promise! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lobster ravioli

After watching so much MasterChef I've come to realise that I am missing a lot of the basics when it comes to my cooking arsenal. I can make rice - and I know how to make pastry - but these guys are doing things like making pasta from scratch, or knowing exactly which herbs and spices are missing in a korma (I don't even think I can name 3 spices that go in a korma - let alone identify the taste of 5 missing ones.) In order to be a good cook, its important to know about the basics - like making pasta or rice.

So here we go - making pasta from scratch. I got some frozen lobster tail from the fish markets for the filling - you can't seem to find fresh live lobster like I can in ny. One of my clearesy early cooking memories is watching my dad chop up live lobster - he's chinese so he doesn't bother with the boiling it alive first. He just hacks it up to pieces and the grey matter inside the bits of shell twitch for awhile long after the thing's dead. Quite fascinating really - but probably not something I could stomach to do on my own - I'll get the frozen bits thank you.


2 cups flour
3 eggs

200 g cooked lobster meat shredded
200 g fresh ricotta
1 cup diced shallots
1 tbs sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

150 g tomato paste
1/2 onion diced
100 mL cream
1 tbs dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste


Put flour and eggs in a food processor and pulse until combined. Scoop out dough and knead on the bench until it forms a tight smooth ball. Cover with glad wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. You can prepare the filling ingredients during this time.

Combine lobster, ricotta, shallots and oil in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside for stuffing the ravioli.

Roll out about 1/2 of your pasta dough to a 1.5 cm thick rectangle. Normally, to get the right thickness and consistency, you would pass this through a pasta maker a few times to flatten the dough. I, of course, do not own a pasta maker to I did my best with a rolling pin. Fold the ends up into the middle, turn 90 degrees and roll flat. Repeat about 6 times.

In the case for ravioli, the rolling pin can work because you can cut the dough into smaller pieces and rollit quite thin, essentially each raviolo piece out one at a time. You would definitely need a proper pasta maker for anything long, such as fettucine, linguine or lasagna sheets. Hang your pasta out to dry over the back of a chair or an aluminium covered clothes drying rack.

Extract the white of 1 egg to close your ravioli. Cut circles out of each piece of pasta and pile lobster filling in the middle. Brush the edges of each ravioli with egg wash and seal with fingers.

Boil a large saucepan of water to cook pasta. While you're waiting you can start making your sauce. Brown onion in a fry pan, add basil, tomato sauce and cream and about 100 mL of water. Let simmer to reduce sauce.

Cook your pasta in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Serve imnmediately with sauce.