14 August 2011


This months challenge was quite unlike any other before it - it got the thinking caps on and creative juices flowing! To create a dish that basically looked like something else entirely - could have gone SO wrong - but with experience and determination, I am pleased to say we all got it so RIGHT! One could have quite easily gotten carried away with all the visual trickery and forgotten about what really matters in the end-taste. See what you think.

CookA's "Ginger Bell"
I'll bet you've never had a cocktail like this one. Its a Ginger Bell, and the ingredients include ginger vodka, fresh OJ, ginger ale and..wait for it - honey lemon and capsicum syrup! Yes-Capsicum! Absolutely refreshing and delicious, none of us knew what the secret ingredient was before tasting it and we all agreed it was definitely one to whip out for those hot, lazy days by the pool!

CookEs's "Licorice Allsort and Raspberry Pastille"
Mostly an invention test, this dish came together rather quickly and was surprisingly simple to construct. The "Licorice Allsort" component is basically, layers of : squid ink pasta, dill and orange cured salmon, dill and cucumber jelly and lemon spiked creme fraiche. The pasta was made using sachets of ink purchased from the local deli incorporated into a standard pasta recipe (flour/egg ratio of 100gms:1 egg). Easy. Super fresh, skinless fillets of salmon were cured in a mix of sugar, salt, orange and lemon zest, and dill. The curing process only takes a total of 6 hours. The dill and cucumber jelly was made using the juice of 1 cucumber and a bunch of dill, with gelatine to set. It looks much like a terrine, and sliced quite easily.
The "raspberry pastille" was actually a firmer set jelly of unsweetened fresh beetroot and orange juice. It all came together rather nicely! Happy Days!

CookB's Mint & Rocket Gelee Shooters
These peppy, zingy, refreshing shooters were the perfect palate cleansers. It was vibrant and provided a natural bridge to what was to follow.

CookV's "Cupcake"
Here we have a pretty-as-a-picture cupcake, good enough to grace the finest high tea-tray, what with its baby pink 'icing, raspberry coulis and double cream"! What we actually got, was a meltingly tender fillet of white miso marinated beef topped with a beetroot-stained potato mash as its icing! The 'cream' was actually a horseradish creme fraiche, and the 'coulis' was in fact a thick beetroot borscht! How very clever, and delicious!

CookB's "Milo Milk & Key Lime Pie"
Yet another clever creation by CookB, the "milo milk' was, in fact, a cauliflower and parmesan soup, topped with a chestnut pangrattato! The pangrattato, made with fresh chestnuts procured from the local farmer's markets was a nutty, smoky and sweet foil to the soup's velvety smoothness. The gorgeous little 'key lime pie' was in fact a crisp shortcrust shell filled with a pea and lettuce custard. Sub-lime (sorry!) !

CookEl's "Pizza Margherita"
I am confident to say that if you put this in front of someone, they would probably have been completely convinced it was a margherita. Simple, but beautifully executed and absolutely in keeping with the brief of this month's theme, it was a dessert pizza with a soft, chewy crust. The 'sugo' was in fact, a raspberry puree and was topped with large, fresh mint leaves and and almond crumble that looked exactly like grated parmesan! Served with a honey marscapone, it was a fitting and scrumptious finale!
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