Aug 7, 2011

The Weekend In Food. Sources Of Food Inspiration.

I must be the only person in Australia who doesn't actually know who the final two contestants in Masterchef are.  I haven't watched a complete episode this season.  I've been getting my fix from the recaps in the Sydney Morning Herald.  I don't know how I managed this either.

Tonight is Masterchef's night of nights though and patriotic Australian that I am, I've come back to the fold just in time.  Apparently there will be 4 million of us glued to Channel 10 at 6.30pm tonight.  I've been getting into the mood by home chef-ing it up this weekend.

What better place to start then with a past contestant of Masterchef?  I made Julie Goodwin's baked tomato and bacon risotto last night.

I like Julie's recipes because they're non fuss with ingredients that are generally pretty easy to source.  The key ingredients for her risotto - chicken stock, some white wine, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, arborio rice and bacon.  I did get my hands on some well priced basil but it was a bit manky.  This is clearly not a good time for sourcing fresh basil unless you have the resources of the Masterchef fresh ingredients sourcing department at your disposal.

There are low fat options in the sundried tomato stakes these days.  I found these 97% fat free ones which don't come soaked in as much oil as the real deal.  There may be a taste and authenticity sacrifice using these but they gave my risotta a lighter feel.

The hardest thing I had to do with this risotto was trying to figure out which ovenproof cast iron cooking vessel would fit the risotto and also into my oven.  This 28cm cherry red french oven was the winning candidate.  I'm glad I picked this because by the time your rice cooks in the oven, the volume of the risotto expands considerably.

There were  a few minutes of browning and stirring, this is a risotto after all.  However, once you've combined everything and added the hot chicken stock, the oven does the rest for you.  Seriously.  Would I lie to you?

After 45 minutes at 180C, out pops this creamy vision of a slacker's risotto.  Having made sacrifices with low fat sundried tomatoes, you can go to town with stirring in the parmesan (half a generous cup, at least) plus the fresh basil.

I don't normally eat much risotto but this was very moreish.  It was tasty and hearty without being too heavy and rich.  Serving size as per the recipe is very generous.  I think I had enough for 6 - 8 adults with this single batch.

Speaking of bacon.  Have you ever tried it crispy with maple syrup and fresh cut red chilli?  I have Jamie Oliver to thank for this morning's fry up with a twist.  I was reading Not Quite Nigella's blog this morning where Lorraine went for brunch and had eggy crumpets with bacon at Clipper Cafe in Glebe.  In the spirit of the Masterchef taste challenges, I found Jamie Oliver's recipe and away we went.

People, this is good stuff.  It may sound wacky but the rich sweetness of the maple syrup really does harmonize with the crispy bacon.  The chilli ads some spice and freshness.  The eggy crumpets?  Cheats French Toast.  I found the crumpets much easier to pan fry than the traditional toast version.

By the time late lunch rolled around, it was time to get sort of healthy but still fully home cooked.  I tried my hand at Donna Hay's Oven Cooked Crispy Fish and Chips with Salsa Verde.  The challenge for me with this dish was correctly identifying fresh sage at the greengrocer.

Baking the chips with sage added quite a unique flavour to them.  Not your average oven baked potato chips.  I made my salsa verde with coriander instead of parsley and it still worked.

It's been a big weekend of food.  I've managed to visit most of my major sources of food inpsiration too.

I'm actually looking forward to my weetbix and grape fruit breakfasts and my tuna salad lunches.  Have a lovely evening and if you're off to watch Masterchef - wait for me!!!


  1. Yaayaayayayaaa I was eating those low fat semi dried tomatoes on ND the other night, SO moreish on Vita Wheats with light philly.


    I'm keen to give those potatoes and sage a whirl, I love sage. Especially with pumpkin.


  2. Hi girl...
    Hope you are having one great weekend.
    Have a nice week:)

    Bye from Oslo

  3. Looks good - I love a risotto and find it terribly useful for using up bits and bobs around the place the day before shopping day! Hope the best chef wins! xxx Oh, PS, (I am such a Veggie evangelist)- try Beetroot - risotto goes most gorgeous Barbie pink - so pretty!

  4. I'm the only other Aussie who doesn't know the names of the two MC finalists (I still don't). Love risottos, one of my favourite 'slap-ups'. x

  5. I was not impressed with Channel 10 splitting MasterChef in half for that hopeless renovators show. We switched over the Grand Designs instead. But it was good, I want to eat a carrot snowman so much now!

    Sage with potato is fantastic. I use it quite a bit as I have a massive bush of sage. The key I find is to let it get nice and crispy, it is then an excellent flavour. It is also great on a really spicy pizza, cuts through the flavour very well.

  6. This risotto sounds delish and the fact that you don't have to stand there and stir for 40 minutes is a bonus!

    I have always loved maple syrup and bacon! Pancakes and bacon for breakfast and run the bacon through the syrup...yum!!


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