Posts Tagged ‘masterchef’

James Dickens, my nephew, was born on the 18th of July, 2010 at 4:00 am.   There are really no words to describe how gorgeous this little baby is and how happy we all are to welcome him into the family.

James Dickens

James Dickens

Here’s another shot of the little angel…

James Dickens

James Dickens

Inspired by the macaron tower from Masterchef, I’ve made a baby blue and green macaron tower to celebrate my nephew’s birth.  The recipe for the macarons can be found here. To assemble the tower, simply use toothpicks on a styrofoam cone to hold the macarons in place.

Macaron Tower with Pistachio Buttercream

Macaron Tower with Pistachio Buttercream

Pistachio Buttercream


  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 65 ml water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 125 grams butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio paste, found in healthfood stores or substitute 2 tablespoons ground raw pistachios
  1. Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the water and make sure that all the sugar is dampened. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil (do not stir). Place a sugar thermometer in the boiling syrup. Bring the temperature to 118c or a firm ball stage.
  2. While the sugar is cooking, place the yolks in a bowl of a stand mixer. With a whisk attachment beat at medium speed and then increase to high until pale and foamy.
  3. Stop cooking the syrup once it reaches 118c. Let the bubbling subside for 30 seconds and pour the syrup in a thin and steady stream over the egg yolks while the mixer is running at high speed. When all the syrup has been absorbed, continue to beat until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
  4. At a medium-low speed, add the softened butter, a few cubes at a time, waiting for each addition to be incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, increase the mixed speed to medium, and continue whipping until the buttercream is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the pistachio paste/raw pistachios and mix on high for another 2 minutes until fully incorporated.
  6. Allow to cool a little before using with the macaron shells.
Macaron Tower

Macaron Tower

Macaron Tower

Macaron Tower

Stumble It!

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The Sushi Party!

Jack and Ben getting ready for the Masterchef Challenge... Itadaki-masu

One of my first memories in the Kitchen was watching my Mom cook.  I can recall asking her if I could help her.  Whether it be just to stir a sauce, chop an onion or peel a carrot.  The answer was usually that we should “just watch”.  As you know, “watching” isn’t half as interesting as  “doing” which is why we really didn’t develop that interest in cooking until much later on.

The latest range of Junior MasterChef products is a great way to encourage children to get interested in cooking at an early age.  When Kath from Be.Interactive and Fiona from Mark Communications offered that I test drive one of the kits available, I immediately jumped at the chance and asked for the Rice Kit.  Being Filipino, rice is very much considered a staple in our culture, as well as most Asian cultures.  I am glad that the new range also catered to all those that love rice!!

The Rice Kit contains a microwaveable rice cooker,  rice bowl, serving spoon, chopsticks, measuring cup and recipe cards.  I thought that it would be fun to get my nephew Ben and one of his best friend’s Jack to come over this weekend and road test the rice kit and have a sushi party!  The idea was to make the rice ahead of time and provide the boys with a selection of sushi fillings and get them to make their own rolls.

I was a bit apprehensive to use the microwave to make “sushi” rice but I am happy to report it turned out fine.  The technique I used to microwave the rice can be found here.  The recipe for the sushi dressing for the rice was given to me by Jack’s Mom (who is Japanese) and it was so simple to prepare and came out perfect – just like what I would have in any top Japanese restaurant.

Junior Masterchef Rice Kit


  • 3 1/2 cups short grain rice, washed
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 inch square konbu (optional)

Vinegar Dressing Recipe

  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

When cooking the rice in the microwave, place the konbu on top of the rice.  Prepare the vinegar dressing by dissolving the sugar and salt on the rice vinegar over low heat.  Force cool to room temperature by pouring the hot vinegar mixture over the rice and place this on top of another bowl of water and ice.  Twirl the rice using the serving spoon provided until the rice comes to room temperature.

The fillings we used for the rolls were as follows – seaweed, salmon roe, tuna, king fish, salmon, cucumbers, prawns, tamago yaki (egg) and  crab sticks.

Sushi Roll Fillings

Recipe Tamago Yaki

Tamago Yaki

Put two five year olds in a room with some sushi rice, sushi roll fillings and a little bit of imagination and you get loads of fun !!  I asked Ben what the best part of the sushi party was and he said “putting fillings in the rice and rolling them up!”  Would he want to do it again?  “Yes please!” he said.

Ben and Jack with the Junior Masterchef Rice Kit

Clowning around before we got to cooking...

Okay... here we go!

"You mean we can put ANY filling we want? Do you have chocolate??"

"I'll have a prawn..."

"Rolling is fun!"

"This is soooo yummy!"

"Can I have one more?"

"Using chopsticks is easy!"

"We had so much fun!"

The end... Gochiso-sama


The Junior MasterChef kits are available to purchase from here.  They are also available at all the leading retailers such as Myer, K-Mart, Target and Big W. It’s the perfect Christmas present so hurry while stocks last.

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MasterChef Australia has really grown on me. The first few audition episodes were not pleasant to watch, too much drama and too much of me wondering whether Matt Preston wore the handkerchief to cover the double chin or as a fashion statement. But lately… I can’t get enough. It’s really evolved and I think an even better show than the original UK version.

(Matt has got a lot of handkerchiefs….)

I even managed to try one of the Celebrity Chef Challenge recipes which was the Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Duck Liver Ravioli where Chef Peter Evans faced off against Julia and lost! Well, I thought if she can beat him, maybe the recipe would be easy enough to follow… of course I didn’t have a time limit.

Anyway, the first step was to smoke the duck breasts which I had never done before. The process is easy enough and hassle free if you’ve got an indoor stove top smoker, otherwise you can use a wok and there are many sites on the internet that show you how.

The verdict – amazingly easy and good… given that it was a celebrity chef challenge – I thought it would be more difficult to make. But the hardest part was really going to the grocery three times because I never make a list when shopping for ingredients – and tend to forget something… with a shopping list as long as the one above – three trips were eventually necessary!


2 duck breast
50g pâté
25g water chestnuts, diced
25g pear, diced
4 gow gee or wonton wrappers or thin pasta sheets
¼ cup (60ml) blood orange sauce – recipe to follow
3 cups baby spinach
Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons julienned ginger

Tea Smoking Mixture
½ cup oolong tea leaves
½ cup jasmine tea leaves
Zest of 3 oranges
4 pieces of dried orange peel
1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup of brown sugar
5 star anise
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 pieces cassia bark

Orange sauce
60g caster sugar
¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
2 cups (500ml) blood orange juice or orange juice
1 cup (250ml) Peking duck stock or chicken stock
Zest of 1 orange
50g of butter, diced

Serves 2


1. For the orange sauce, place sugar in a cold pan and melt it down slowly (careful not to burn). Then add vinegar and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add orange juice and reduce by half. Then add the stock and reduce by half.

2. Add zest and blend the sauce with the butter and seasoning.

3. For tea smoking mixture, combine ingredients in a bowl.

4. Line a wok with foil then place the smoking mix on top and turn on the heat to medium and wait for it to start to smoke. OR If you are fortunate enough to have an indoor stovetop smoker – place the tea smoking mixture on the bottom of the smoker, cover with the drip tray, top with the rack and place the duck on top of the rack then cover. I used a medium heat for 8 minutes. Came out perfect.

5. To make the ravioli, mix the pâté, water chestnuts and pear together with a touch of salt. Lay 2 gow gee wrappers on the bench and brush with water, place 2 mounds of the pâté mix in the center of the gow gee wrappers and place the top gow gee wrappers over the mound and press down firmly around the edges to seal so you have 2 ravioli.

6. Place the duck skin side down in a frying pan and cook until fat has rendered and skin is crispy and let rest for a few minutes in a warm spot and then slice.

7. Add spinach (Gai Lan would be nice too!) to same pan and cook until just wilted, season with some sea salt and pepper and then drain any excess liquid out of the spinach in a strainer. Then drop the ravioli in a pot of boiling water to cook for 1 minute.

8. Pour vegetable oil into a small frying pan until one quarter full. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Deep-fry ginger for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Set aside.

9. Heat up the orange sauce.

10. To serve, place the spinach on plate, then top with the sliced duck, the ravioli, drizzle a tablespoon of sauce over the ravioli and duck and top with the fried ginger.

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