Tag Archives: MasterChef

How do you make macarons (and what does this have to do with John Cleese)?

23 Feb

I live about an hour from my nearest capital city, so whenever the big name acts come to town – invariably on a weeknight – I find myself doing a mad dash after work to see them. And so it was this week when John Cleese’s tour arrived..

Now, he wasn’t on until 8pm, but I was blessed with the gene that spawns pathological lateness, so didn’t even arrive at the venue until 10 to. Which left me no time to get dinner, or even a snack.

Needless to say I was ready to eat my own arm – or that of the coughing machine sitting beside me – when the interval arrived. So I headed to the cafeteria with a determined look in my eyes.

Keen to ensure I ordered my essential daily intake of chocolate healthy and nutritious food, I carefully studied the display cabinet row by row, until suddenly, my eyes struck gold.

Macarons. Those tasty treats so popularised on MasterChef and so often eaten by me before I even get back to my car after grocery shopping.

Very unpredictably, good intentions won out, and I had something else. But I decided they would be a good thing to learn to bake so I could casually whip them out next time if ever I host a dinner party. But where to go for a recipe?

Well the MasterChef website naturally (ps, this is not a paid plug). Where I found a delicious looking pistachio and chocolate variety. In fairness, I should point out it is a Western Star recipe rather than an official one from the show.

But seriously, who cares? As long as they taste good. So here goes …

Pistachio and chocolate macarons
Makes 12 macarons

* 125g Western Star unsalted butter, chopped
* 100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
* 125g pistachio nuts
* 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
* 1/3 cup egg whites
* Pinch salt
* 1/4 cup caster sugar

To make chocolate ganache, combine butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until firm. Process nuts and icing sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in caster sugar, beating well between each addition, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in pistachio mixture in two batches with a metal spoon until incorporated. Pipe 24 x 5cm diameter rounds of mixture on to paper-lined baking trays. Stand for 1 hour before baking, so macarons can form a ‘skin’. Bake at 170C for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using a spatula to carefully remove from trays. To assemble macarons, sandwich two cool biscuits together with chocolate ganache.

So there you have it. Now wish me luck as I have a go. I personally suspect the whole thing will end in tears. But at least I can cheer myself up with this Monty Python clip featuring the Black Night. Remember, it’s just a flesh wound!

Who coined the phrase ’15 minutes of fame’?

8 Jan

Back when Big Brother first began in Australia, I was hooked.

I absolutely loved Sara-Marie Fedele – her bunny ears, her infectious laugh and, most of all, what seemed to be her burgeoning romance with fellow inmate housemate Blair McDonough, who went on to star in Neighbours.

Sadly, none of the following seasons could quite hold my interest in the same way, but they did herald the arrival of a genre I’ve come to love and loathe in equal parts – reality TV.

At it’s best, this sort of programing is part instructional and part entertaining. Think Project Runway, The Biggest Loser, MasterChef, Survivor, The Block or even Go Back To Where You Came From.

At middling it can be a bit over the top and/or cheesy, but reasonably inoffensive. See Dog the Bounty Hunter or Farmer Wants A Wife

But at it’s worst it’s an absolute waste of space, with the mental nourishment of a soft cheese that’s been left in the sun for a day. Think Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex, Girls of the Playboy Mansion, Rock of Love, Paris Hilton’s My New BFF etc etc.

Now in these latter cases, the ONLY reason for such shows to exist is to prove that any halfwit/bogan/skank/racial stereotype can be famous for 15 minutes. I mean good on Snooki for extracting every last dollar from her profile through avenues such as animal print and self tanners. But when you hang out with someone who calls himself The Situation with no sense of irony, we’re not exactly looking at the next generation of Nobel prize winners, are we?

And truthfully, that’s not the point or plan. It’s all about cashing in on those 15 minutes of fame before the spotlight invariably (and thankfully) fades. Which prompted me to wonder exactly who coined the phrase.

I had heard vague rumours the concept originated with Andy Warhol. And this turned out to be true, although it’s actually a paraphrase of his words. The original line – featured in a catalogue for an exhibition in Stockholm in 1968 – proclaimed that “In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

The way things are going he will turn out to be right. Although please god, in the case of anyone who lists ‘Real Housewife’ as their occupation or classifies all critics as ‘haters’, let it come down to 10.

At the very least, let the TV powers-that-be pick up on my reality show, Hasbeen Hideaway. This involves sending former reality TV ‘stars’ (air quotes intended) to an island where they must forage for themselves and complete set challenges. Each week one of them gets voted out by the public, except in my version they don’t just get banished, they get summarily executed.

 Who’s with me?