All about Show cooking

Brookfield Show 2014

The 2014 Brookfield Show is just around the corner, with entries for the Cookery closing this Sunday 11 May, and entries due at the Showground by Thursday 15 May 9.30 am at the latest.

We are expecting a large number of entries this year, after substantial early interest. Last year we had a record 650 entries, and this year could see even more!

Go to http://www.brookfieldshowground.com.au/show-competitions/cookery/ for more information, and for the link to enter the Cookery online.

Even if you can’t enter this year, please drop up and say hello at the Show, and of course we always welcome new volunteer Stewards to help out.

Don’t forget to check out the Show Cooking Tips on this blog (click on the heading to the right of the page), and there are also a lot of great recipes here for entering the Show.

Keep up to date with the latest information by subscribing to the blog, and the twitter feed, and keep checking back here for new posts closer to the Show.

See you at the Brookfield Show!

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Vale Daphne Dowdle

Daphne 96th Birthday 2013

Daphne 96th Birthday 2013

It is with great sadness that we advise friends of the Brookfield Show Cookery Section that Daphne Dowdle passed away peacefully on 20 October 2013, after a brief illness, at the age of 96.

Daphne was the long serving Chief Steward of the Cookery Pavilion at the Brookfield Show, and served in that capacity for 40 years. Her last year was 1998, and after that she continued as a Steward until two years ago, when her advancing years made it difficult to participate. Even so, she listened keenly to tales of the Show, and wanted full details of what had happened, and who had asked after her. A natural leader, she capably ran a large Show section with everything written by hand, and kept careful records and formidable standards. Despite this, she had a heart of gold, and loved seeing a lot of entries, and every year in recent times her first question about the Show to me was “but were the shelves in the Pavilion filled with exhibits?”

She was very ably succeeded in the role by Yanina Hughes, who had also worked closely with Daphne in the last few years of her role as Chief Steward. Daphne loved working with her large group of faithful Stewards, including old friends and what she called the “young ones”, who have now taken over running the Cookery Section. Under Daphne’s watchful eye, we dared not change much, as we knew that Daphne would sniff it out, and when change did come it was gradual, but her firm standards have been maintained and always will be.

Daphne’s particular love was the children who entered year after year, and she was so thrilled when they grew up, and their own children entered. Not having children of her own, she worked tirelessly for the community, through the Show Society, the Brookfield CWA and the Kenmore Uniting Church, ensuring that it was a better place for every one else’s children, and has left an enduring legacy which will never be surpassed.

On a personal note, Daphne was a much loved friend to us all, and we will all miss her very much. Daphne taught me everything I know about Show cooking, and like countless others, I was blessed to have her in my life, and that of my family. At 96, she bridged with ease the post-war era of austerity through to the present time, and never tired of passing on her many years of accumulated wisdom to anyone who asked. We are much the poorer for her passing.

Vale Daphne.

Geraldine Mackenzie
Chief Steward

Pumpkin and Chorizo Frittata

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This is a great breakfast dish made from organic free range eggs, chorizo and vegetables bought at the Moggill Markets at Brookfield. The Moggill Markets in Brisbane happen twice a month at the Brookfield Showgrounds, and the quality and variety always inspire fresh ideas. This recipe serves two, but can easily be adapted to serve three to four by adding more eggs and other ingredients. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 small leek chopped (or use sliced red onions or spring onions)
3 large eggs, preferably organic and free range
Half a small chorizo sausage (I bought mine from the Moggill Markets where there is amazingly good salami available) – chopped bacon or any leftover meat would also be good
Quantity of pumpkin (cooked) – mine was left over from roast vegetables the night before – you can also use potato or sweet potato
Small handful chopped sundried tomato
Handful baby spinach (optional)
Small handful pinenuts (optional)

Method

Heat oven or grill on moderate heat (180 degrees or a little less). Gently whisk the eggs in a bowl and put aside. Sauté the leek in a little butter and olive oil in an oven proof frying pan.* Add the chopped cooked pumpkin and allow to gently colour. Add the chorizo and cook a little longer, than scatter over the pinenuts to brown slightly, and add the chopped sundried tomato to heat through. Lastly add the baby spinach leaves and cook very briefly until wilted. Pour over the eggs and allow the bottom to set, then put the pan in the oven or under the grill for a few minutes to set the top. Check constantly that it doesn’t overcook, as you only want to gently set the egg, not burn the spinach or other vegetables.

Serve immediately!

The whole dish takes around 10 minutes to prepare, and is a great way to use up leftovers.

* If you don’t have a heat proof frying pan (eg Scan Pan), you can easily finish it off on the stovetop by covering the pan with a lid or some foil. As with the oven, check frequently and don’t over-cook.

Strawberry Jam

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Strawberries are in season August through to November, depending on the season, and are plentiful and cheap at the moment. When fruit is at the height of the season is also the best time to make jam, as the quality of the fruit will be at its peak. Strawberry jam can be difficult to set, and more than once I’ve ended up making strawberry sauce instead of jam, but no matter what happens, it’s great to eat!

Ingredients

Equal amount strawberries to sugar – this batch used 1.25 kg strawberries
1.25 kg sugar
Juice of half a large lemon

Method

Trim the tops of the strawberries and cut in half. Place in pan with the sugar, and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Don’t allow to boil until the sugar is dissolved.

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With a pastry brush, brush away any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with a little water.

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Once the sugar is dissolved, boil rapidly, stirring occasionally.

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Keep boiling rapidly until the setting point is reached (104 degrees) and the jam jells. You can tell when it is set as the bubbles change to more of a rolling boil, and more “spits” are sent up. Either use a candy thermometer, use the “wrinkle” test on a cold plate (the jam will wrinkle and stay apart when you run a finger through a small amount on the plate), or see if it “sheets” off the spoon (see other jam recipes on this website to see how that is done).

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When the jam is jelled, take it off the heat, and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and skim the foam off the top. Pour into heated and sterilised jars using a heated glass jug. Seal immediately. This recipe made four 500g jars of delicious jam.

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Emboldened by my previous experiment with microwave cumquat marmalade (see last post), I decided to take it one step further and make lemon marmalade using the food processor and microwave oven. Definitely look away now if you are a marmalade purist! OK, I confess to being one too, but this was rather fun. Definitely not something you should do for Show marmalade though, as the result wasn’t exactly clear and glistening. But for transforming fruit to marmalade in under an hour, it was pretty good, and the taste certainly was good too.

I used Lemonade fruit, which is a cross between a lemon and a navel orange. Perhaps because it is a hybrid, my Lemonade tree is more susceptible to pests than the other fruit trees, and we haven’t had ideal growing conditions for years, so the tree is stressed, and therefore the fruit isn’t in great shape. However it was fine for this purpose, and I used three for this recipe.

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Ingredients

500g lemonades or lemons (I used three)
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar

Method

Top and tail the fruit, and cut in half vertically. Remove seeds, and soak in a little water (from the allowance). Using the slicing attachment on the food processor, finely slice the fruit. You can of course do this by hand, but in the food processor it takes seconds and the result is excellent. I do however pick through it and take out the ends which slice too thickly.

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Put the fruit together with the water in a microwave dish (mine was around 3 litres), and cook for 10 minutes until the rind is tender.

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Add the sugar, and strained liquid that the seeds were soaking in. Cook until jelled, somewhere between 20-30 minutes; mine was closer to 30. Bottle immediately and lid straight away.

Voilà!

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Warning: For any preserves purists, look away now!

It’s late winter, and we are full on into the citrus season, with lemons falling on the ground, and the Seville oranges ready in a few weeks. Over the past few years we have been cycling through drought and then too much rain which is playing havoc with my fruit trees, but this year there were just enough cumquats to make marmalade, although the quality wasn’t great. I was toying with using them for marmalade, knowing that it wouldn’t work out well due to too much rain (always a killer for jams and marmalades setting), and spotty fruit. Right on cue, my sister rang, excited having tried her first ever batch of jam, which happened to be cumquat, and made in the microwave. Intrigued, I thought it might be worth the experiment, as a small amount of fruit wasn’t going to work out well, together with everything else. Happily, I got a great result, and here is the recipe, adapted from the original Australian Womens Weekly Microwave Cookbook, circa 1986.

The beauty of using the microwave is that no overnight soaking or pre-cooking is required, making the process much quicker and cleaner. Not recommended for show cooking, but if you have a small batch and want to get a quick result, this might just be worth trying!

500g Cumquats, de-seeded and cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar

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Add the water to the cumquats in a microwave proof dish (mine was about 3 litres), and microwave on high for 10 minutes until the cumquats are cooked and the rind tender. Add the sugar and stir well, so that the sugar dissolves before you boil the mix. Microwave on high until the mixture jells, and the marmalade “sheets” off the spoon (see other posts on cooking jams and marmalades to see what this means). This took around 25-30 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then bottle and seal immediately.

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One of the best parts of the Brookfield Show is Sandy’s Fudge, which she has sold at the Show for the past 12 years, and which supports the Cookery Pavilion. It’s a Brookfield Show tradition, and always sells out. Sandy is also a volunteer steward in the Cookery Section, where she has supported us for at least the past 15 years. It is wonderful that local volunteers like Sandy do so much for the Show, and are instrument in its success. Thanks Sandy, and to everyone else, come and buy some fudge!

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