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

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