Monday, July 20, 2015

Big Green Egg cooking competition at The Food Barn

Wow, how much fun is it being invited to a Masterchef type cook-off using a mystery box of food and using, to us, a completely new piece of equipment, The Big Green Egg which is a mix of a ceramic pizza oven and a kettle braai. Its heat can be controlled if you know how, there is even a temperature gauge on the outside but it was a huge learning experience - and we did get some help on its operation at Bastille Day in Franschhoek the previous weekend. And our judges were Abigail Donnelly of Eat Out Magazine, Chef Ruben Riffel and Chef at the Food Barn Frank Dangereux. What did we cook? How did we do?
The Big Green Eggs, all set up
The table of ingredients we could use
Some more ingredients
Some tools, spices and a pestle and mortar, should we want to make a spice blend
We were allowed to stand around and strategise for a while, but we had no idea what the choice of protein would be until we began
Looking at the table and getting ideas
Chef Franck Dangereux tells us what we need to do
We have half an hour to produce one dish
At last we get to see the proteins and some different mini vegetables. Duck venison, steak, liver, pork prawns and calamari, fish and some tiny nasturtium leaves for decoration
Everyone getting stuck in
We decided to try use the Egg using several different methods of cooking. We roasted an onion, some fennel and a red pepper. We marinated some prawns and baby squid in a Spanish smoked paprika, garlic, white wine, port and garlic basting sauce. We roasted some chorizo and our Spanish theme started to take shape. But using the egg was quite tricky. We had to get help to get it up to a high temperature to char roast the peppers and when it did, it roared into work in 2 minutes, beautifully blackening the pepper but nearly taking our onion and fennel too far
We wished we'd had time to see how the others were coping. John did manage to do the rounds to take photos while Lynne was doing prep
Decorating the plates as time is running out
We finish to applause from the judges. Everyone finished on time
judges were ( R to L) Abigail Donnelly of Eat Out Magazine, Chef Patron at the Food Barn Frank Dangereux and Chef Reuben Riffel
Two different teams did flat breads or pizza topped with seafood
Our dish of Summer in Spain on a Plate. Escalivada roasted vegetables (red onion, red pepper, tomatoes fennel and garlic) with braaied chorizo, squid and Gambas. Our tortilla was not a success and didn’t make it to the plate; we could not locate a potato
Another team did skewers of meat, and vegetables on a bed of stir fried vegetables
The judges line up the dishes for tasting
Lots of discussion and tasting took place
We were offered some wine to taste while we waited for judging to finish and lunch to begin
Some choices were offered
The bit we dreaded. Each team had to present its dish to the judges
Tweeting begins
The photographer, Cornel de Kock, manages to pause for a glass of wine
The lunch menu
This was a treat and went very well with lunch. Boekenhoutskloof 2012 Semillon, dry yet full of golden fruit
The restaurant manager shows us the wines Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2006 and 2012
Hmmmm. We will never know what they thought
Pete, please sign a release form... Pete de Bruin is Franck's partner in the Food Barn
Burnt onion Risotto with Asiago (an Italian cows' milk cheese) was creamy and perfectly cooked with the rice still having that perfect 'bite'. This could be cooked in the Big Green Egg? Perhaps just the onions, you might have got burned using a pot on the fire, as Lynne did when she tried to make an omelette. Served with a 2006 and 2012 Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, wines we have never tasted before, which went so well with the risotto and the truffle jus
Seawise Bass, on fired aubergine and sweet corn on a shisa Nyama (barbeque in isiXhosa) brik (thin crisp Moroccan flat bread) with a smoked garlic crème and flavoured with star anise. The Bass was perfectly cooked, so crisp on the skin but still moist and flavourful with all the fired additions
Reuben looks younger every day
When they finished judging the judges joined us for lunch
And the winners are: Tarryn Oppel and Paigh dos Santos of Elle magazine
Their prize was a MiniMax Green Egg each. Here they pose with their prize
Dessert was a banana roasted in a Big Green Egg, with a green tea matcha Anglaise sauce, a pineapple coulis, a condensed Milk sorbet and a pine front dipped in toffee lolly. Very sweet and very rich
The wines we tasted with lunch. We were all rewarded for our efforts with a huge bag of charcoal and a lovely stainless steel braai tools set from The Big Green Egg company
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015
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