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.