It’s been nearly two years since my sister and her partner, blog chef Scott, moved to Melbourne. The July school holidays gave us the perfect excuse to finally get strapped into our car and do the road trip to visit them. Typically, a road trip with four kids in tow is largely filled with “I’m bored” complaints punctuated by the occasional vomit or other minor disaster. “He spilt his water bottle all over me.” “When is it my turn for the iPad?” “I feel sick.” “He kicked me.” “Goddamit, how many times have I told you not to handcuff your brother to the carseat?”
It sounds terrible when it’s all written in one bunch, but stretched over 1,000km, and two days, it wasn’t so bad. And only one kid lost their travel journal. He found it under his seat as we unpacked when we got home, and immediately drew car pictures all through it.
For the most part, we enjoyed the journey, and I will be writing up the fabulous breakfast we had in Albury, as well as all the eating we did in Melbourne. Later. First things first. Between all the eating and adventuring, we did more eating. We took the time to put together a few canapes and cocktails to share with our readers as we enjoyed a mid-winter dinner party.
What 3 ingredients constitute the perfect dinner party?
Good company, good food, good wine. Pretty simple.
Booze, food and people. Without any one of these ingredients, your night will be shit.
Dead or alive, who would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Conversation makes a party, so you need at least one person who can talk without boring everyone. A bore ruins a party by dominating the discussion and making it all about them. On that note, I’m going to take a risk and invite Oscar Wilde. Although he made that famous quote about always taking his journal with him, so he had something interesting to read; I think he represents an interesting cultural time for England and would hopefully be able to talk about more than just himself. I would also invite my favourite scientist, Richard Feynman, who worked on the Manhattan Project, and was a fascinating character. As for someone alive, I would invite the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Can you imagine the discussion between her and Wilde? There have been some monumental changes to the globe between now and when he was the editor of London magazine Lady’s World in 1885; and yet Malala’s story shows how little has changed in some parts of the world.
Frank Zappa. The sort of guy who could discuss anything, music, art, politics. What would it be like to be alive in history’s greatest music period. And let’s face it, he would be fucken hilarious! I definitely wouldn’t invite any chef’s ‘cause I would be so nervous about cooking for them I wouldn’t enjoy my evening at all, but if I had to I’d invite Alex Atala. He looks like he can handle his liquor, he likes good music, but most of all I’d sit him down and pick his brains about the secrets of the deep jungle. Plus I reckon him and Frank would get on like a house on fire because they are both slightly odd.
Three tips for hosting a winter dinner party everyone should know.
Ensure that the space you use is warm. There is nothing worse than going to a winter dinner party and being cold. Have somewhere to hang your guest’s coats and put their shoes. As with any party, over catering is better than under catering. You can always eat leftover party food/drink the next day.
Do your prep. Make sure everything is done well in advance of your guests arrival, because racing around and finishing things while everyone is having fun is a fucken nightmare. The more streamlined the better, so you can get on the sauce and not make a mess of things. Make sure the music is right for the vibe. And make sure everybody has plenty to eat. This stops everybody from getting too pissed, makes you seem like a generous host, and ensures everybody pisses off at a reasonable hour. If you time it right, you may even be able to get a good nights sleep.
Renee G's Kangaroo Sausage Rolls
- 500g kangaroo mince
- 200g breadcrumbs
- 2 pieces garlic
- 1 onion
- 3 sheets of puff pastry
- Cumin seeds
- Sesame oil
Finely chop the garlic, onion. Smash the cumin seeds and pepper in the mortar and pestle. Combine spices with mince, breadcrumbs, and add a splash of sesame oil. Kangaroo tends to be quite lean, so the oil keeps it from drying out. Mix it all together. Cut the pastry sheets in half, so you have six long strips. This is where your playdough skills come into play. Take some of the kangaroo mix and roll into long sausages. Place these on the pastry sheets and roll into sausage roll shapes. Cut the long lengths into smaller rolls. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes at 180°C until the pastry has puffed up and the mince is cooked.
Makes 12-18 depending on how short you cut them.
Chef Scotty B's Smoked Eel Hush Puppies
- 2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 150g smoked eel
- 100g shallot brinoise
- 1 clove garlic brinoise
- 15g parsley chopped
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Blend the egg, milk, garlic, parsley, eel and onion, then add to dry ingredients just until combined.
In a deep-fat fryer or electric skillet, heat oil to 365°C. Drop a table spoon of batter into oil. Fry 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.
- ½ cup kewpie japanese mayo
- 3 Tblsp maple syrup
- 1Tblsp soy sauce
Combine All. Transfer to a bottle or piping bag for ease of use.
- 200g apple peeled cored and chopped
- 3kg persimmon peeled cored and chopped
- 200g sugar
- 400g apple cider vinegar
- 160g raisins
- 40g ginger peeled and chopped
- 20g garlic chopped
- 800g onion chopped
- 100g chilli desseded and chopped
- 64g brown mustard seeds toasted and ground
- 10x cardamom pods toasted and ground
- 8g coriander seeds toasted and ground
- 12x cloves toasted and ground
- 1kg water
Sweat off onions with no colour, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add spices and then de-glaze with vinegar. Add the fruit water and then the sugar. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 hours. Blend in a food processor until just a little chunky.
Spread the persimmon chutney on the bottom of a plate and place the hush puppies on top. Next squeeze drops of the maple mayo artfully around the plate and then garnish with fresh herbs.
Renee G's Cream cheese, honey and black pepper bread
- Cream cheese with herbs
- Honey (I used a honey with comb for additional texture, but any honey is fine)
- Cracked pepper
- Sourdough rolls (I used a pumpkin seeded one for added flavour)
If you pretend that each roll is a loaf of bread, slice the roll into thin slices that will form the base of the canape. Spread with some cream cheese, then top each one with a half-teaspoon of honey. Crack pepper over the top. Serve.
Chef Scotty B's Confit Salmon
- 150g salmon
- 20g grape seed oil
- a pinch of salt
- 1 piece of lemon peel
Clean salmon in the usual way. Cut into 3 even chunks. Place into a sous vide bag with all the other ingredients and vacuum seal on moderate pressure. Heat a pot of water to a low simmer and drop your bags of salmon into the water for 3 mins. Check to see if its cooked and give it another minute if necessary.
- 1kg crème fraiche
- 50g wasabi powder
- 15g water
- 100g cream
- 8g salt
- 10g sugar
Mix wasabi powder and water. Combine all the ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste. Put into a piping bag for easier use.
- 200g rice
- 1.5 ltr water
- 20g sesame oil
- 60g soy sauce
Combine all. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer until the rice is very overcooked and sludgy. Blend until smooth. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the rice slurry out thinly and evenly. Place in the oven over night with only the pilot light on and the oven door slightly ajar. Deep fry the next day at 180ºc until golden and crispy.
Using a mandolin (slicer) slice very thin rounds of fresh radish and store in iced water until needed. Take your salmon out of the bags and break into manageable chunks and season with salt. Line up your canape spoons and squeeze a dollop of wasabi cream onto each one. Place about ½ a table spoon of salmon onto each spoon topped with a slice of radish. Next break your rice tuile into small pieces and place artfully on the spoon. Remember with a canape spoon it should comfortably fit in your mouth in one bite.
Renee G's Old Breakfast
- Maple syrup
In a fry pan, cook one piece of bacon per glass until crispy. In each glass, place a teaspoon of maple syrup. Cover with a measure of water, then add a measure of bourbon. If you have ice, you can do this over rocks if you prefer. Decorate with a strip of bacon, which you can use to stir the mixture as you go. Yum!
Chef Scotty B's Hot Buttered Rum
- 3 segments star anise
- 2cm sliver cinnamon
- 1 green cardomon
- 2-3 cloves
- ¼ tsp fresh mandarin zest
- 100g butter
Toast and grind spices to fine powder, sift. Grate in the zest and Add to butter and mix very well until butter is soft and all spices look well dispersed.
Candied Mandarin Peel
- 1:1 sugar:water
- 1 star anise
- 2cm cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 green cardomon pod
- Peel of 1 mandarin
Bring sugar and water to boil. Peel mandarin and carefully shave pith away from skin. Slice into long strips. Add to boiling sugar and simmer for 20-30 min. Pull out peel and dry on damp paper towel. Keep sugar syrup for another cocktail, another day.
- 350mL water
- 45mL mandarin juice (1 mandarin)
- 120mL spiced dark rum (we used Sailor Jerry’s)
- 30g spiced butter
- 4 tsp brown sugar
Squeeze juice of whole mandarin into teapot. Measure rum into teapot and mix with juice. Boil water and sugar together. Once it’s boiling, turn to simmer and whack in butter. Whisk to combined and add to teapot. Stir to combine with booze and serve. Garnish each small teacup/shotglass with a piece of candied peel.