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Time flies, it’s almost March already! Things around me are also starting to pick up, lots of projects, lots of travels and lots and lots of food are on the horizon, is going to be very busy few months, and definitely not going to help with my recent healthy regime. Speaking of change, this blog is also going through a revamp and a new direction, all soon will be revealed in no time, I am actually quite excited about it!

Anyhow, I had the opportunity to host a cooking masterclass with Ocean Spray at Black Pearl Epicure last weekend in Brisbane. It was an intimate group of just 7 of us where we whisked up a 3-course meal then enjoyed the lunch together. I do like a good challenge when comes to recipe development, and to come up with three dishes by using cranberries for Ocean Spray’s masterclass was definitely up a fun one to do.

I’ve designed a lunch menu of entree, main and dessert where each couple will prepare one dish. I revised my recipe of sweet caramlised onion and feta tart from my cookbook by incorporating the sweet cranberries to balance out the saltiness of the feta. For main, we served seared duck breast with cranberries and pear compote, it was a pairing made in heaven. Lastly the dessert, you simply can’t beat the classic brown sugar pavlova with grapefruit and pistachio, sweet, sour, tangy, is simply irresistible.

Only if alcohol was allowed at the cooking class, I probably would have thrown in a concoction of cranberry and vodka cocktail to conclude the class!


Sweet caramelised onion, feta and cranberry tart
(Make 8)

1 packet puff pastry (careme brand preferred)
80g butter
6 large brown onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoon white wine
3 sprig thyme, leaves picked
200g feta cheese
handful of dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup whole cranberry sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of rockets
1 bunch of watercress
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place pastry on a floured surface and roll out to 3mm thickness. Use a 11cm round pastry cutter to cute the dough into discs, then line 8 individual tart tins. Transfer the tins to refrigerator and let it set for 20 minutes.

2. To caramelise the onions, melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions, sugar and salt, sauté for about 35-40 minutes, or until the onions are softened and golden brown. Stir frequently so the onions don’t catch on the pan and burn. When the onions are soft, deglaze the pan with wine, add thyme leaves and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

3. In the mean time, reheat whole cranberry sauce with 2 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Reduce the sauce by half, strain then set aside to cool.

4. Heat oven to 200C, fill tart case with onions, top with feta. Sprinkle with walnuts and cranberries, bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly golden on the top.

5. To plate up, drizzle cranberry sauce on plate, then place the tart on top. Garnish with rocket and watercress salad, and drizzle with olive oil.
Seared duck breasts, sweet potato & burnt butter puree, roast butternut squash & pistachio, sweet potato crisps, cranberry and pear compote
(Serves 6)

6 duck breasts
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
50g butter
1 butternut squash, dice into 2cm cubes
¼ cup pistachio, toasted then finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Canberry and pear compote
1 cup (125g) dried canberries
1 pear, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup cranberry juice
¼ cup cranberry sauce
juice of half a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
2 star anise

1. To make compote, put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to boil on medim-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the sauce has thicken, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally. Once ready, pick out the cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise then set aside to cool.

2. Heat oven to 200C. Place diced butternut squash on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and mix well, roast in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle pistachio all over and give it a quick toss then set aside.

3. To make sweet potato crisps, peel one of the sweet potatoes into thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Pour the vegetable oil into a medium saucepan about half full, and heat the oil to 180C over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the sweet potato strips until crispy, the crisps will stop sizzling rapidly once they are ready. Remove and drain on paper towel.

4. Cut the other two sweet potatoes into big cubes, put into a large saucepan and fill with water until just enough to cover all the potatoes. Bring to boil on high heat, then lower to medium-high and let it boil until all potatoes are soften, about 15-20minutes. Drain then transfer potatoes into a food blender. Heat butter in a fry pan, when the butter starts to froth and turns a nutty brown, remove it from the heat and quickly pour the burnt butter into the food blender together with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, blitz the potatoes into puree.

5. Turn the oven to 160C. Place a room temperature roasting pan (or frying pan) on low heat, immediately place duck breasts on the pan skin side down. Cook the duck for 6-8 minutes, tip the fat out occasionally and save it for other dish. Turn the duck breasts over, place the pan in oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer breasts to a plate to rest.

6. To plate up, smear a big dollop of sweet potato mash on plate, add roasted squash; cut the duck breasts thinly then place on top, add a handful of potato crisps on top, then finally add cranberry compote on the side.
Brown sugar meringue with grapefruit and pistachio
(Serves 6)

Brown sugar meringue
4 egg whites
175g (1 cup) light-brown sugar 

pinch of salt

grapefruit syrup
250ml grapefruit juice
juice of 1 lemon
150g caster sugar
¼ cup pomegranate craisin
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom, crushed
4 cloves

2 grapefruit, peeled and cut into slices, save the peel.
1 cup caster sugar
250ml (9fl oz) double cream 

2 tbsp caster or icing sugar (or to taste) 

25g toasted then roughly chopped pistachios

1. Whisk egg white in a bowl of food mixer until soft peaks form, add brown sugar a tablespoon at a time and keep whisking until stiff and glossy, about 15 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 120C, line baking tray with baking paper, separate the meringue into 6 portions and slowly swirl them into a disk. Bake meringue in oven for 1 hr,  turn oven off and with the door ajar, let the meringue cool completely.

3. To make syrup, add all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and reduce the mixture by half. Once the mixture has thicken and syrupy, remove from heat and let cool. Add grapefruit slices into the syrup and leave it until is needed.

4. To make candied grapefruit peel, remove the pith if there’s any, then slice thinly. Put skin in saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil, repeat the process for three times. For the third time, add 1 cup of sugar and let it simmer until it becomes sticky. Remove the skin and let dry on a rolling pin wrapped with aluminium foil until the skins are harden.

5. Add cream and sugar in a mixing bowl and whip until is stiff. Place a big dollop of cream on each meringue, top with grapefruit segment, drizzle with the syrup, sprinkle with candied peels and pistachio crumbs.