03 August 2012

July 2012 - Mystery Bag Challenge!

Babies were born, holidays enjoyed and the crazy merry-go-round of life took up much of the past four months for all of us and so, we had to be patient and finally came together this week for our much anticipated feast.

CookV set us the challenge of a "Mystery Bag" cum invention test. In her 'bag' were different ingredients and we each picked two numbers out of a hat, each number corresponding to an ingredient. Our task was to then create a dish for each of our courses. I don't know about the rest of the girls, but I was secretly thankful for the hiatus to come up with some decent ideas!

It would seem though, that the wait was worth it -  generally the standard of the dishes served at each dinner are of a very high standard, sometimes one or two dishes may shine in particular. This time EVERYONE brought their A-game and we spent the night in raptures. 

CookA made us Lychee Mint mocktails (the photographer was too busy enjoying them and forgot to get a snap!) These were fragrant and fruity with a little tang from fresh lemon juice to get the tastebuds going.

Our entree were tender, juicy medallions of chicken filled with a smoky, salty, herby sourdough crumb spiked with tiny flecks of glace ginger for sweetness. The chestnut cream provided a sweet and earthy foil for the crisp lardons of speck, slightly bitter brussel sprout leaves and rich madeira jus.

As we waited for our mains, we were treated to another fresh and zingy cocktail using fresh strawberries, vodka, lemon juice, soda and white balsamic. It had the unusual but sprightly addition of freshly cracked black pepper to balance the sweetness and was a lovely palate cleanser.

The main course was another triumph! 
Succulent fillets or pork had been marinated in pear cider, five spice, soy, garlic and ginger before being pan seared and cooked to perfection. CookV also created a deep, dark, smoky sauce using her other core ingredient of chocolate, to serve alongside. Spiked with a bit of chilli, it gave the sweet pork a wonderful kick.

CookB assembled a winter slaw of sorts, with crunchy shreds of savoy cabbage, bitter radicchio and refreshing fennel adorned with cocoa nibs - which highlighted the chocolate in the sauce - roasted walnuts and crumbs of date and walnut cookies, how clever! It was all enrobed in a silky walnut oil vinaigrette. 

Finally, when we thought things couldn't have gotten much better, CookEl presented us with a heavenly slice of Vino Cotto Pavlova (recipe by Maggie Beer). It was airy, smooth and mousse-like in the middle with a light crust. Served with dried figs that had been poached in a liquor of brown sugar syrup, cinnamon, vanilla bean and port wine and a quenelle of mascarpone, we all sat in silent awe as we devoured it. 

There are not enough words to describe it. "Out-of-body-experience" just about sums it up. 


Roasted Mount Barker Free Range Chicken Marylands 
with a stuffing of pancetta, shallots, sage, glace ginger,  fresh chestnuts served with
Crispy Speck, Brussel Sprout Leaves, Chestnut Cream and Madeira Jus

 Mystery Bag Ingredients: Puree of Chestnuts & Glace Ginger


Strawberry Balsamic Cocktail
Fresh strawberries, White Balsamic Vinegar, Black Pepper, lemon juice, vodka

Mystery Bag Ingredients: White Balsamic & Lychees


Salad of Winter Greens
Savoy Cabbage, Radicchio, Fennel with
roasted walnuts, shaved parmesan, cocoa nibs,
date & walnut cookie crumbs & 
 walnut vinagrette

Mystery Bag Ingredients: Dates & Walnuts

Mystery Bag Ingredients: Pear Cider & Dark Chocolate 

Pan seared Pork Fillet marinated in pear cider, soy sauce, garlic, ginger & five spice with
Spicy Chocolate Barbeque Sauce


Mystery Bag Ingredients: Dried Figs & Cinnamon Quills

Vino Cotto Chocolate Pavlova served with
Figs poached in Port Wine, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean & Brown Sugar

28 April 2012

March 2012 - "3"

Drinks (CookEl): "Italia Libre" - white rum, amaro and lemon juice (with the sugar syrup and soda water not counted as part of the 3!).

Special Guest: Simone

Starters (CookV): Lightly Battered, Pan-Fried Hand Caught (by CookV's able husband, Fletch!) Abalone

Mango Salsa, Homemade Mayonnaise, Caramelised onion

Mains (CookA): Seafood Pie

Sides (CookEs): Pickled Beetroot, Roasted Walnuts, Feta

Balsamic Braised French Shallots

Fennel, Orange and Rocket Salad

Dessert (CookB):  Tres Leches "3 Milks" Cake

In March, we worked to the unusual theme of "3". It was open to interpretation, serving up an ingredient 3 ways, 3 components on a plate etc. It was a winner!

*Special Mention much go to CookV's husband, Fletch who, in true hunter-gatherer style caught the abalone for our dish especially! It was sensational!

February 2012 - Chinese New Year Banquet

Special Guest: Danielle West
Drinks (CookV)

Starter(CookB): Yee Sung by CookB

Sides (CookEl): Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beansprouts

Mains (CookEs): Soy and Garlic and Ginger Braised Belly Pork and Shiitake Mushrooms

Honey King Prawns

Steamed Eggplant Salad 

Stir Fried Gai Lan 

Dessert (CookA): Homemade Fortune Cookies
Glutinous New Year 'Cake" 
Pineapple Pastries
Almond Jelly, Lychees

Good things indeed. 

10 February 2012

Christmas 2011 - The A-Team take a break..

L-R: CookB, CookV, CookEs, CookEl, CookA

At the end of the year we give ourselves a break and head out somewhere for a meal, and let someone else break a sweat. It started with cocktails, followed by some Vietnamese. Cheap, cheerful and tasty!

19 January 2012

November 2011 - Indian

Late last year, CookB found herself at a cooking class run by Latasha's in Leederville.
Enthused by what she learnt to make it was only natural that our next meet featured some of the dishes you are about to see here. 

For the uninitiated to the varied and robust cuisine of India, all I can say is, DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND TRY IT! Your life will never be the same. 

I was too busy salivating and filling my plate to take individual photos of the actual curries (sorry, CC girls!)!

CookEl: Marathi Spinach Soup

A Kurma Dasa recipe, this was luxuriously creamy and subtly spiced.

CookA: Cucumber Raita

CookEl: Wholemeal Roti.

Nutty, slightly chewy and downright delicious.

Digging in!

The sum of its parts..

 CookB: Butter Chicken, Pumpkin Tarkari, Lamb Rogan Josh

The Indians do like a tooth-achingly sweet, treat.


And there you have it. Not that this meal was in any way, comprehensively representative of India's diverse cuisine - but its a good start. 

14 October 2011


OK, so we have to wind the clock back a few months to catch up with what our pots have been up to in the Cooking Club kitchens! 

Back in October, we traced our sticky fingers across the globe into Turkey as the theme for our feast. This is what we ended up with. What do you think of our feast?

CookB: Rosewater Sharbat (Sherbet). 

A sweet, sparkling bevy with a hint of cinnamon and rosewater.

CookA: Spinach and Feta Cigars, yogurt and dill. 

Our tastebuds were really tingling now!

CookV: What would any Middle Eastern banquet be without Tabbouleh? 

A simple mix of fresh tomato, cucumber and bulgar wheat livened with handfuls of parsley dressed with lemon juice and olive oil - bursting with goodness and flavour!

CookV: vibrant, verdant, crisp chunks of cucumber under a blanket of dill laced yogurt and fresh walnuts - the perfect foil to the heavier, more robust dishes.

CookV (yep-she was busy this month!) baked us a delicious turkish bread that was crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and studded with nutty sesame and nigella seeds. 

CookEl: Succulent lamb koftas subtly but confidently spiced were moist, tender and finger-lickin' good! 

CookEl: Turkish Pide filled with delicately spiced beef mince. 

CookEs: Turkish Delight Ice Cream, fresh strawberry and watermelon jelly. 

It was a spectacular way to finish!

20 September 2011


This month saw the Cooking Club crew pack our bags and head down to Pinjarra, WA for a much anticipated getaway. Once again we found ourselves at Valley View Cottage, where for a day and a half, we all escaped our busy lives and took the time to  B R E A T H E. Its the sort of place where the only things that feel appropriate to do include having copious cups of tea, reading magazines and napping. Nirvana. 

We arrived to find CookEl had some lovely soups on the stove and a freshly baked loaf of soda bread. It was the perfect way to start our slothful afternoon. 

We took to the task of relaxing immediately, with CookEl finishing off her beautiful Christmas gifts, CookA starting a cute-as-a-button stuffed toy project and CookN plonking herself on the couch in front of the tv for a fix of footy. Can you imagine the pleasure of being able to do all those things with no interruption, or the need to get snacks and wipe bottoms?? 

Later we started assembling the various components of our country style feast. The little kitchen was soon abuzz with activity - rolling, melting, chopping, chilling, baking, sautéing, blending, stirring, slicing, dicing, baking and resting! Follow our journey and share what was a pleasure for all the senses. 

 Starter: Terrine with capers, cornichons and homemade chutney by CookV

Drinks: Mojito's by CookEl

Main Course: Beef Wellington by CookA
Sides: Potatoes Dauphinoise and Sauteed enoki, oyster, portobello and field mushrooms by CookEs

Dessert: Hazelnut Meringue, Strawberries, Pedro Ximinez, Mascarpone, Roasted Hazelnuts, Chocolate Ganache by CookB

 With full bellies and satiated tastebuds, we retired to the lounge room and continued the chatting, reading, sharing and laughing...

Spring-fresh spears of asparagus growing rampant!

The breathtaking view!

Exploring and admiring...

The next morning, we broke our fast with a revitalising breakfast of fresh juice, yogurt, fruit and a scrumptious blend of chopped dates, fresh apple, almonds and coconut. We spent the morning pottering around, stitching, sipping, reading, making, talking, walking, picking, photographing, snacking and finally, packing! Not before elevenses, of course. CookN treated us to perfectly poached eggs atop wilted spinach and blanched asparagus (picked fresh from the garden, no less!) atop buttery toast.
What a way to finish our idyllic escape! 

We would like to extend our special thanks to Mr Rose for sharing with us, his breathtaking piece of paradise.