Congratulations to Billie MCkay winner of Masterchef Australia 2015.
The MasterChef Australia kitchen might be a long way from milking cows, but it’s where Billie McKay knows she should be.
Growing up on a dairy farm in the peaceful, lush surrounds of New South Wales’ mid-north coast, Billie knows about hard graft. As one of five siblings, everybody was expected to pitch in with farming chores.
Billie would often cook dinner for the family, as well as preparing her famous chocolate slice, which she had memorised by age eight and taught her younger brother how to make.
While she looks up to chefs such as Maggie Beer, Heston Blumenthal, Adriano Zumbo and Stephanie Alexander, Billie counts her “superwoman” mum Alison as her main kitchen idol. Not only did Alison raise five young kids, work on the farm and serve beautiful family meals, she also taught her children to cook.
Billie is supported in pursuing her future in food by partner Haydn and aspires to be running her own restaurant by age 25.
Currently working as a restaurant manager in Ballina NSW, Billie says: “I love food and good service and I believe there is so much more to offer in the food industry. I’m constantly questioning the chefs in the kitchen, eager to learn more and more about food and cooking. I have so many ideas and know that my food knowledge can only grow from here.”
Billie says her own dream venue will serve “fresh, simple and local food that is respectfully prepared”.
One of my favourite Christmas moments is walking past St Paul’s Cathedral as the smell of toasted chestnuts entices you onto the Millennium Bridge. One little punnet of chestnuts is only £1 or so, and we cup them in our hands to warm up as we take in the view.
Who doesn’t love a little munch on a good walnut or Brazil nut at Christmas with a glass of Prosecco? Or delving into a bowl of mixed unshelled walnuts and brazil nuts in the early evening, cracking them with the old-school nutcracker and combining with a strong Stilton, crunchy celery stick or sweet grape?
This year, instead of buying a whole load of expensive packets of roasted spiced nuts or honey-roasted ones, make your own! I love this recipe – it is so much more satisfying to serve up nuts that you have roasted yourself, but it’s also super simple. You can even keep them in an airtight jar for a week, so make them ahead or give them to someone as a little gift.
Festive honey-roasted nuts
Makes 1kg (2 large jars, 4 medium jars or 6 mini ones)
50g of unsalted butter
2 tbsp of runny honey
2 tsps of sweet smoked paprika
1kg mixed unsalted nuts (cashews, pecans, peanuts, macadamia almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts)
2 tsps quality sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Place a medium pan on a medium heat, add the butter and honey and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the butter has melted.
If using Brazil nuts, roughly chop some of them up into halves and quarters to make them more bite size. Place all the nuts onto two large roasting trays, then carefully divide the melted butter and honey mix between the two, then scatter over the paprika. Toss to coat all the nuts, then cook for 20-30 minutes, or until golden all over, carefully shaking the tray every 10-15 minutes to make sure they cook evenly.
Season with a little salt and leave to cool. Serve up in a big jar for people to get stuck into, or decant into bowls and serve alongside a glass (or two) of Prosecco.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina Mackenzie is a stylist in Jamie’s food team. She loves a good crumble, which she only makes in double batches, and is the go-to girl in the team for gluten and dairy-free recipes. As a stylist she’s obsessed with charity shops, and spends her weekends finding cute cafes and restaurants in Hackney, East London. Follow her on Instagram at @christinamackenzie.
Peel off any tough outer skins of the mushroom caps and throw them away, then slice the mushrooms finely. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the onion, celery, garlic, parsley stalks, thyme leaves and mushrooms, place a lid on top and sweat gently until softened.
Spoon 4 tablespoons of mushrooms out of the pan and put to one side. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then whiz with a hand-held blender until smooth. Pour in the cream, bring just back to the boil, then turn off the heat.
Toast the slices of ciabatta in a hot griddle pan, then top with most of the reserved mushrooms and drizzle with olive oil. Spoon the soup into deep, individual bowls, garnish with the chopped parsley and remaining mushrooms, and serve with the ciabatta crostini.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that (Un po’ di questo, un po’ di quello) è il libro appena sfornato da Isabella e Sofia Bliss. Isabella è la vincitrice di Junior Masterchef Australia, 1° edizione, Sofia sorella gemella di Isabella è arrivata anche lei in finale al concorso televisivo di cucina.Il libro è una tradizione culinaria di famiglia, che passa di generazione in generazione, portando sulla tavola piatti tipici siciliani ispirati dalla madre Sylvana e dalla nonna Rosa e piatti australiani della famiglia del padre.
Tra le ricette tradizionali all’interno del libro si possono trovare i maccheroni alla siciliana, la famiglia si ritrova a preparare questa ricetta in occasione del Natale, la salsa al pomodoro e la crema pasticcera con i biscotti di nonna Rosa.
Il libro è in vendita online presso i bookstore australiani.
Un saluto agli australiani e agli italiani che vivono in Australia
Articolo di Isabella Bianchini
A little bit of this a little bit of that is the new Isabella and Sofia Bliss book. Isabella is Junior masterchef Australia 1° edition winner, Sofia, Isabella’s twin sister was a 2010 Junior masterchef top 4 finalist. The book is a culinary tradition which has been passed down from mother to daughter for generation. This is a book of easy sicilian recipes inspired by their mother Sylvana and their “nonna” Rosa and Australian dishes from their father side.
The receipes include traditional maccaruni pasta, the family have fun cooking this recipe at Christmas time, tomato salsa and nonna’s custard with biscotti.