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What’s inside the box?

During my time on Masterchef, I have to say that Mystery Box challenge was definitely my favourite challenge of them all. I think it is the only challenge that I can actually show my creativity and flexibility by coming up a dish right on the spot with the only ingredients and time frame given. So I was actually quite excited when David Jones wanted to send me a hamper and asked me to come up with a recipe by using the items inside the hamper, I suddenly felt like I was being thrown back at the Masterchef kitchen once again.

This year David Jones’ hamper range is bigger and better, I was amazed by how fancy some of the hampers are. In fact, some of them don’t even look like hampers anymore! There are hampers come in picnic baskets with full cutlery set and picnic rug, then there is a champagne ice bucket filled with goodies, one comes with a full BBQ tool set, but most fancy of them all, has to be this treasure chest.

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It is sexy no? I would be so stoked to receive a hamper like this one. I just love hamper that doesn’t use the woven basket wrapped in cellophane anymore, because at least this treasure chest is useful in many ways. There are two hampers that comes with this beautiful treasure chest, one is the Treasured Delights (RRP $299.00) and the other one is the most extravagant hamper of them all – Opulence (RRP $1000.00), it is full of luxury indulgence inside from Moet Chandon, Absolut Vodka, Chivas Regal Scotch Whiskey, chocolate, cocktail set and a whole lot more. It will be the ultimate gift for that special person in your life.

When I was asked to choose a hamper that I would like to work with for the challenge, I was tossing between the BBQ tool set which is a no brainer as it is full of herbs and spices inside which will be perfect for cooking, and the Treasured Delights which has a few goodies that I can work with. I like a good challenge so I chose the latter one.

 

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Let’s have a look what is inside the box.

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The Treasured Delights hamper includes:

  • Tempus Two cabernet merlot
  • Trentham Tucker christmas pudding
  • Byron Bay triple choc fudge cookies
  • Bonne Maman strawberry jam
  • Walkers shortbread fingers
  • Trentham Tucker almond bread
  • Maille French traditional mustard
  • Bahlsen Waffeletten biscuit
  • Davies of Sydney dark chocolate mints
  • Trentham Tucker italian fruit and nut cake
  • Valley produce company fig & olive crisps
  • Valley produce company bagel toast garlic & herb
  • Chocolatier chocolates
  • Bun coffee
  • Tuckers spiced cherry fruit paste
  • Spiral organic olive oil
  • Twinings english breakfast tea bags
  • Mamma Marilena deluxe nibble mix

So, I am pretty happy with the items that come with the hamper. Some items are just too good to be used in cooking, but I managed to use almost half of the items in the treasure chest to come up with three recipes.

 

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I came up with two appetisers, first one is simply a crowd pleaser – smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagel toasts. I make these Hors d’oeuvre for parties all the time, super easy to prepare and is nice to go with a glass of bubbly, or two.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on Bagel Toasts

  • 1 packet (100g) smoked salmon
  • 150g spreadable cream cheese
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a handful of chives or dill or coriander roots, finely diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet Valley produce company bagel toast garlic & herb (from the hamper)
  • a handful of capers
  • wedge of lemon, for dressing

Method

1. Mix cream cheese, lemon juice and chives together in a mixing bowl, stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Fill a piping bag with the mixture.

2. Lay the bagel toasts out on a plate. Cut the tip of piping bag off and squeeze a dollop of the cream cheese on top of each toast.

3. Cut smoked salmon into thin strips about 2cm wide. Gently roll it up then press down onto the cream cheese. Stud each salmon roll with a caper.

4. Squeeze of lemon over the salmon before serving.

 

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Less is more, when the products in the hamper are already so good, I tried to keep it as simple as possible and let the quality of the products do the talking. I saw the olive and fig crisps and the tub of spiced cherry fruit paste, I know exactly what I need to get to pair with them – some sexy prosciutto. Fig and prosciutto is a classic combo, and you can add some blue cheese like gorgonzola to make it thrice as good.

Prosciutto with spiced cherry paste on fig crisps

  • 1 packet (200g) prosciutto
  • 1 packet Valley produce company fig & olive crisps (from the hamper)
  • 1 tub Tuckers spiced cherry fruit paste (from the hamper)

Method

Spread cherry fruit paste on the crisps. Tear each slice of prosciutto in half and put the slices on top of the crisps.

Alternatively – Wrap a piece of gorgonzola cheese inside the prosciutto before place it on top of the crisp.

 

Behold ladies and gentlemen! Here I present to you the final recipe, the piece de resistance that you can’t resist – Christmas Pavlova!

 

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You can’t have Christmas without a pav here in Australia! It was a fun recipe to make. Whoever made pavlova before would know it does take time (usually overnight) to prepare the meringue. I normally go with the simple meringue recipe by whipping egg white with sugar, but of course you can just use the meringue recipe that you are comfortable with, either basic, Swiss or Italian meringue, is totally up to you. You can also make a big talk meringue or make thinner meringue disks like what I did here and then stack them up. And the rest, is also totally up to your imagination, I used quite a number of items from the hamper to tsjzu up this pavlova. Whatever you put on the pav, make sure all the flavours compliment each other. For e.g., if you are going to use summer fruit like mango, then maybe use white chocolate instead of dark, and pair with pineapple, passionfruit or coconut. In my case, I imagine it will be like a Black Forest cake with the combo of chocolate, cherries, strawberry and I also added crunchy toffee for texture. Either way, no one would say no to a delicious pav.

Christmas Pavlova

Meringue

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Mamma Marilena deluxe nibble mix (from the hamper)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 350ml thickened (heavy or double) cream
  • a punnet of cherries
  • Byron Bay triple choc fudge cookies (from the hamper)
  • Bonne Maman strawberry jam (from the hamper)
  • Bahlsen Waffeletten biscuit (from the hamper)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 150C. Add egg whites into the bowl of a mixer, whisk the egg white on medium speed until soft peak.

2. While the mixer still running, gradually shower sugar into the egg white until all is added. Keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until the meringue has almost double its volume and stiff. Rub a little meringue between two fingers, it should feel smooth and glossy and all sugar has dissolved.

3. Turn the mixer speed down to medium-low, sprinkle cornflour into the meringue then vinegar, beat to mix well. Don’t let it beat too long, else it will deflate your meringue volume.

4. Get two large baking trays with shallow rims, using index finger and smear some meringue at all four corners and centre on the tray, then ‘glue’ baking papers on top of trays.

5. Use a large bowl as a guideline and draw 2 circles on the baking paper. Divide the meringue into 4 equal portions and place them in the middle of the circles. Use a palette knife and spread them out till they form the circles with even thickness all around.

6. Place trays in oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 100C. Bake meringue for 90 minutes and then turn off the heat. Do not open the oven door and leave the meringue to cool inside the oven, takes about 3-4 hours, best overnight.

7. To make the toffee, spread the Mamma Marilena deluxe nibble mix on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Add sugar to a small saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Place saucepan on high heat until sugar starts to melt, gradually turn into golden brown colour. Remove from heat quickly and pour hot sugar toffee over the nuts mixture. Leave the toffee to cool completely then smash them into small shards.

8. Add cream to a large mixing bowl, whisk the cream until it is stiff, do not over whip.

9. place a meringue disk on a plate and spread 1/4 of the cream on top, crush Byron Bay triple choc fudge cookies into crumbs and sprinkle all over, spread some Bonne Maman strawberry jam here and there, then place a few cherries all over. Place another meringue disk on top and repeat the process until the last meringue on top.

10. Spread the last bit of cream over the top. Decorate it with more cherries, toffee shards and Bahlsen Waffeletten biscuits.

 

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WIN – 2 x David Jones Australian Harvest Hamper

Are you hungry yet? Well, then you are in for a treat. 2 of my readers will be the lucky winners to take home this gourmet David Jones Australian Harvest hamper value $99.95. Inside the hamper includes:

  • Valley Produce Company Fig & Almond Pyramid 75g
  • Newmans Turkish Delight Thins 90g
  • Valley Produce Company Bagel Toast Garlic & Herb 120g
  • Valley Produce Company Ploughmans Relish 420g
  • Davies Of Sydney Dark Chocolate Mints 100g
  • Mamma Marilena Deluxe Nibble Mix 50g
  • Beerenberg Strawberry Jam 300g
  • Byron Bay Milk Choc Chunk Cookies 150g
  • Chocolatier Pure Indulgence Twin Pack 30g

To enter the competition, all you have to do is by leaving a comment below and tell us

“What would you make from the products inside David Jones Australian Harvest Hamper?”

Here’s your chance to be a masterchef, I can’t wait to see what you can come up with this mystery box challenge. Good luck!

Prizes:

2 x David Jones Australia Harvest Hamper (RRP $99.95)

 

Terms & conditions:

  • The competition closes on 14 December 2014, 11.59PM AEST.
  • Entry will be judged on creativity and honesty.
  • One entry per entrant ONLY.
  • Entries are opened to Australia Residents only.
  • It is non refundable or in exchange for cash.
  • The decision of the judges are final.
  • The winner will be drawn and announced on Monday, 15 December 2014, 10.00AM AEST.
  • Winner will be notified by email, and the item will be send out once we have your mailing address.
  • If no one claims the prize within 7 days, another winner will be drawn.
  • We do not hold any responsibility if the good is damaged or missing during delivery.
  • Please use contact form if you have any questions.
  • Do no participate if you are not comfortable with the rules and conditions.

 

[This is a sponsored post for David Jones]

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