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Best of British July 3, 2014

Posted by andrewescott in Dinners.
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Monday June 9th was the Queens Birthday holiday in Melbourne, so it was appropriate that the theme for the dinner that night was Best of British. Kerri hosted and provided the savoury course while Franca served us the dessert.


British Theme - Kerri's Main (1 of 4) British Theme - Kerri's Main (4 of 4) British Theme - Kerri's Main (2 of 4) British Theme - Kerri's Main (3 of 4)

Kerri made us Jamie Oliver’s empire roast chicken with bombay-style potatoes.


British Theme - Franca's Dessert (1 of 3) British Theme - Franca's Dessert (2 of 3) British Theme - Franca's Dessert (3 of 3)

Franca served Delia Smith Eccles cakes together with cheese and currants, and Queen of Puddings.

Winning Food May 19, 2014

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For the dinner on Monday 5th May, we settled on the theme of “Winning Food” – those dishes that were shortlisted-for or had won a competition. Andrew hosted and provided the savoury course while Pam created the sweet one.


Winning Theme - Andrew's Main (1 of 2) Winning Theme - Andrew's Main (2 of 2)

Andrew served up almond-encrusted chicken with red pepper-pecan sauce (winner of the Diamond Foods Spring 2009 Recipe Challenge) and garlic-stuffed field mushrooms (which took the grand prize at the Gilroy Garlic Festival).


Winning Theme - Pam's Dessert

Pam produced an olive oil cake stack (based on the famous Harry Baker chiffon cake) topped with fennel, honey and salted ice-cream and candied fennel (short-listed in SAVEUR 2014 blog awards).

Coconut Risotto with Lemon and Parsley (Coconut) May 10, 2014

Posted by cint77 in Recipes.
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Coconut Theme - Jacinta's Main

This was the main course of the coconut-themed dinner.

Unlike my entree, I used a lot of recipes and didn’t follow any of them very closely.

The flavours came from this baked risotto. The quantities of rice/stock/coconut milk from this coconut and asparagus risotto (which sounds delicious) although I did 1.5x the quantities for 6 servings. The method came from this slightly pretentious article. The idea to cook the risotto to about 75% beforehand and then ‘finish’ it later came from this site (as did the warnings against doing so).


  • 2 and 1/4 cups carnaroli rice (this is a type of risotto rice – arborio is the most common but bizarrely my local coles only had carnaroli)
  • 3 litres stock (I was too tired to make my own – I used the pre-made Massel brand chicken stock)
  • 2 small brown onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 3 tbsps lemon juice
  • 2 tsps lemon zest
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut


  1. In a heavy based pan sweat the onions in the vegetable oil – this should be done on a low heat and it should take about 10 mins for the onions to become translucent. You don’t want the onions to brown so keep them moving – the risotto stirring starts now!
  2. Put about half your stock in a saucepan until it starts simmering – keep it on a low heat.
  3. Turn the heat up and add the rice, stir to cover in onion and oil and to start toasting the grains – apparently this is the key to reducing the risotto cooking time – I don’t think I cooked the rice for long enough here because I was worried about burning it.
  4. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  5. Now the risotto making begins in earnest. Add a ladle of warm stock to the rice. Keep stirring until all the stock is absorbed. Resist the urge to add more stock until the previous ladle is completely absorbed. Keep adding stock, keep stirring. Every so often top up the stock in the saucepan, keeping it at a simmer.
  6. I kept this up until I’d used about 1.8 litres of stock.
  7. I then turned it off and quickly ladled it out and spread it on about 8 or 9 plates to cool for about 10 minutes and then put it in the fridge.
  8. When I got to Laura’s I tipped the risotto back into my heavy based pot. It still looked pretty good. Nice and glossy and starchy and creamy. It quickly absorbed quite a lot of stock (approx 600 ml), however I knew I still had 1.5 cups of coconut milk to add and I felt like it was starting to overcook.
  9. I then added the coconut milk (straight from the tin) and my beautiful creamy risotto turned to thick porridge! After all that stirring!
  10. Anyway – I kept stirring but it didn’t look like it was going to reduce so I added the lemon juice, zest and parmesan.
  11. I gave it a fairly vigorous stir and then served it topped with the chopped parsley and coconut flakes.

It tasted delicious and the flavours were good but the texture wasn’t quite right for me.
I wonder if heating the coconut milk would have helped and/or making the risotto in one go. Anyway I’d definitely make it again.

Coconut May 10, 2014

Posted by andrewescott in Dinners.
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On Monday 31st March, we had the April dinner (ok, a little early) on the theme of coconut! Laura hosted and provided the sweet dishes, with Jacinta providing the savoury ones.


Coconut Theme - Jacinta's Entree

Jacinta started everyone off with some refreshing coconut and cucumber salad.


Coconut Theme - Jacinta's Main

Jacinta’s main course was coconut risotto with lemon and parsley.


Coconut Theme - Laura's Dessert (1 of 3) Coconut Theme - Laura's Dessert (2 of 3) Coconut Theme - Laura's Dessert (3 of 3)

Laura baked three different coconut treats: a coconut and blueberry slice, a coconut bundt cake, and tembleque puddings.

Bourbon, Vanilla and Fig Bundt cake (Movies) April 2, 2014

Posted by kerribatch in Recipes.
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Movies Theme - Kerri's DessertThis recipe from the Movies dinner was sourced from Betsylife, and was converted to gluten free.

I made the following changes:

  1. Switch 140g GF flour mix for each cup of flour in the original recipe. (I’ve been using a flour mix based on one by Pete and Kelli Bronski – see below. I have two of their GF cookbooks and everything I’ve made from them has been amazingly good. They also have a blog and share recipes at http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com.au )
  2. Add an extra egg
  3. Add 1 tsp baking powder
  4. Add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for every cup of flour
  5. Let the cake batter stand for 10 minutes before adding the figs. This gives the flours time to hydrate so the batter thickens, helping to keep the figs from sinking straight to the bottom.

The gluten free cake conversion tips are from FOOD52 and King Arthur Flour.

Flour mix, approximate weights (from Kelli and Pete Bronski):

  • 160g brown rice flour
  • 90g sorghum flour (I used sweet white sorghum)
  • 90g corn flour
  • 40g potato starch (or tapioca flour)
  • 17g potato flour
  • 1tsp xanthan gum


Food From The Movies March 31, 2014

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On Monday 3rd March, recipe club went to the movies! Well, it was the night of the Oscars, so our theme was food from the movies. Franca hosted, and was joined by Kerri in baking dishes.

Movies Theme - Props


Movies Theme - Franca's Entre

To start things off, Franca made a French dish (inspired by the movie Julie & Julia): asparagus with Hollandaise sauce.


Movies Theme - Franca's Main (1 of 2) Movies Theme - Franca's Main (2 of 2)

Continuing with the same movie-based theme, Franca served us Julia Child’s beef bourguignon with new potatoes in butter.


Movies Theme - Kerri's Dessert

To finish, Kerri was inspired by the bundt cake in My Big Fat Greek Wedding to make a Bourbon, vanilla and fig bundt cake.

Soft Hazelnut Nougat (Corsican) March 24, 2014

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Corsican Theme - Andrew Dessert (2 of 2)This nougat was served as part of the dessert at the Corsican dinner, and was inspired by this Corsican Hazelnut Nucciolina product and based on a torrone recipe by Marianna Di Bartoli. However, it was much softer than expected and certainly not like the original, but still yummy.


  • small amount of oil
  • 2 sheets of rice paper
  • 100g hazelnuts (although, really needs 2-3x this amount)
  • 150g honey
  • 300g brown sugar
  • 30mL glucose
  • 60mL water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 30mL Nutella spread


  1. Oil the sides of a 20 cm x 30 cm cake tin, and line with cling wrap, with a few inches of extra cling wrap hanging over the sides. Then oil or butter the cling wrap and place a piece of rice paper in the bottom. Set this aside until later.
  2. Heat an oven to 200 degrees Celcius, and roast the hazelnuts on a baking tray for 5-7 minutes or until they begin to darken.
  3. Allow hazelnuts to cool in a bowl and shell off any husks as well as you can, leaving nicely roasted nuts.
  4. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl in preparation for later.
  5. Place honey in a saucepan and gently heat until it reaches 120 degrees Celcius (you need to have a candy thermometer to hand), then remove from heat.
  6. Place brown sugar, glucose and water in another saucepan, and gently heat and stir until it reaches 127 degrees Celcius (ideally higher, but I couldn’t achieve this), then remove from heat.
  7. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, and while the beaters are still running, gradually pour the honey down the side of the bowl, followed by the sugar syrup. Keep beating for another five minutes, or until the whole thing has seized up.
  8. Remove the beaters and fold the Nutella and nuts through the mixture (it doesn’t matter if the nuts are still warm).
  9. Spoon the mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin, pushing it right to the corners, and ensure even coverage. Place another piece of rice paper on the top and wrap the cling wrap over.
  10. Place another cake tin on top of the nougat mixture, weighted with something heavy, squashing the mixture down. Leave overnight.
  11. Keep in the fridge to firm it up before slicing. Use a clean, sharp knife, and serve immediately.

Corsican March 10, 2014

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On Monday 3rd February, Pam hosted our Corsican dinner, serving up savoury dishes and Andrew providing the desserts. We had started out with a French theme, but decided to narrow it to a single French region to make it a little more interesting.


Corsican Theme - Pam's Entree (1 of 2) Corsican Theme - Pam's Entree (2 of 2)

Pam began the meal by serving us cos lettuce stuffed with brocciu cheese and polenta de farine de châtaigne (a.k.a. chestnut flour polenta).


Corsican Theme - Pam's Main (2 of 2) Corsican Theme - Pam's Main (1 of 2)

The main course, also courtesy of Pam, was a Corsican goat stew and fasgioli incu funghi (white beans and mushroom casserole).


Corsican Theme - Andrew Dessert (1 of 2) Corsican Theme - Andrew Dessert (2 of 2)

For dessert, Andrew served torta pisticcina (chestnut tart) and soft hazlenut nougat. (In all the excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the nougat at the dinner, so this photo was taken later that evening.)

Lemon Icebox Pie (Cold) March 2, 2014

Posted by cint77 in Recipes.
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Cold Theme - Jacinta DessertThis dessert was served at the Cold dinner. It is largely based on the Saveur recipe of the same name.

I modified it slightly and used 1 and 1/2 packets of scotch finger biscuits for the base and 5 egg yolks for the filling. I also omitted the wafers. As one person noted in the comments this makes far too much filling so I cooked and chilled the leftover filling in a Pyrex dish. The mixture does bubble up so make sure you leave at least an inch at the top of the dish and definitely cook on a rimmed baking pan.

I also served it with Chantilly Cream:

  • 300 ml heavy cream,
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Beat together until soft peaks form.

Cold March 2, 2014

Posted by andrewescott in Dinners.
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On Monday 13th January, we started the year with a perfect theme for summer: cold food. Laura hosted and Jacinta joined her to provide absolutely weather appropriate dishes.


Cold Theme - Laura Entree

We began the meal with a mango gazpacho soup from Laura.


Cold Theme - Laura Main (3 of 4) Cold Theme - Laura Main (2 of 4) Cold Theme - Laura Main (1 of 4)

Laura then followed-up with a pork and chicken terrine, a garden salad, and a quinoa, feta and pomegrate salad.


Cold Theme - Jacinta Dessert

To finish, Jacinta served up a very chilled lemon icebox pie with chantilly cream.


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