Iced Melon Moroccan Mint Tea

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 individual green tea bags
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups diced honeydew melon
  • 1-1/2 cups ice cubes
  • Additional ice cubes

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from the heat; add mint and tea bags. Cover and steep for 3-5 minutes. Discard mint and tea bags. Stir in the sugar.
  2. In a blender, process honeydew until blended. Add 1-1/2 cups ice and tea; process until blended. Serve over additional ice.

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Ingredients

  • Dark chocolate 225g, chopped
  • Unsalted butter 125g, softened
  • Soft light brown sugar 200g
  • Eggs 2, beaten
  • Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • Plain flour 150g
  • Baking powder 2 tsp
  • Dessicated coconut 100g
  • Natural coloured glacé cherries 150g, dried and chopped
  • Whole milk 2 tbsp
  • Icing sugar 6 tbsp

Directions

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over simmering water or in the microwave.
  2. Cream the butter and soft light brown sugar until pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and then add the vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt over the mixture. Add the coconut, cherries and milk then combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours or until firm.
  3. Heat the oven to 180c/fan160c/gas4. Cover two solid baking sheets with baking paper and tip the icing sugar into a bowl. Scoop a heaped tsp of the cookie dough into the palm of your hand and roll into a smooth ball roughly the size of a small walnut. Roll the cookie in the icing sugar to coat thickly and put on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough, keeping the cookies spaced well apart. Bake in batches on the middle shelf of the oven for about 12 minutes until the top is firm but not crisp. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets.

Rice Paper Fake Bacon

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 sheets rice paper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Whisk sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, miso, liquid smoke, paprika, and black pepper together in a shallow bowl.
  3. Stack 2 pieces of rice paper and soak them in a bowl of cold water until slightly soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Cut the hydrated rice paper into strips using a pizza cutter. Dip each strip in the soy mixture and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully lay the parchment paper directly on the oven rack.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until strips are dry, 6 to 8 minutes.

The rise of DIY cuisine: has ‘deconstructed’ food gone too far?

Diners are reportedly up in arms about the trend for “deconstructed food”, whereby you’re presented with a set of ingredients – say an avocado, some bread, a toaster and – who knows? – an actual chicken, and told to sort out your own brunch.

In Melbourne, coffee drinkers are urged to construct their own flat whites from black coffee, water and steamed milk, which provoked outrage in some quarters. Andrea Hadfield ordered an orange juice in August and received two halved oranges, a small packet of sugar and a squeezer.

Coming on the heels of the post-plates revolution (involving travesties such as chips served in tiny shopping trolleys, bread in flat caps and a dearth of plates) which regrettably shows no sign of waning, it does seem to merit a certain gnashing of teeth. Just what is it we pay these bozoes for, people are asking, not without reason.

As with most trends, and more particularly with most reactions against particularly trendy trends, there’s a lot of codified stuff going on behind all the appeals to fair play and common sense, bubbling away like the lab beaker full of frothy milk served, alongside one of coffee and one of hot water, to one appalled Melbourne cafe-goer in lieu of the fully realised beverage she’d assumed she was getting.

People don’t like feeling that they are being trolled: the suspicion that metropolitan would-be sophisticates aren’t just doing silly things for the sake of it, but precisely in order to sort out the sheep from the goats – to make those outside the magic circle feel like rubes or hicks.

There may be some of that going on. But the origins of the trend aren’t unwholesome, or devoid of interest. For one thing, there’s a desire for transparency about ingredients, a sense that diners want to know what they’re eating and where it comes from. This is served effectively, if a tad over-literally, by laying the constituent parts of a dish before their eyes.

For another, there’s been a growing informality about presentation, itself a reaction to the tweezered fastidiousness of the Michelin style – whether in the strewings and scatterings of the modern British and New Nordic schools, or the artier approach of Italian superchef Massimo Bottura, whose signature dessert “Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart” celebrates the role of accident in the creative process, much as Marcel Duchamp did when he pronounced his “Large Glass” finished only once someone had cracked it.

Bottura’s tart is “deconstructed” in the strict sense, of course, rather than “not constructed at all” – but it speaks of dining as an event, a gesture.

The same can be said of countless dishes which are completed at one’s table, where a glug of buttermilk makes a cube of dry ice fume like the late Fenella Fielding, say, or – in a restaurant I reviewed nearly a year ago the “fish” and “soup” elements of a fish soup arrived separately. From here we’re well advanced along the primrose path to the present pick-your-own-full-English fiasco.

Even if we filter out its more complex subcurrents, it can’t be denied that there are valid objections to be raised against this rampant outbreak of DIY cuisine. If you’ve got places to be, factoring in the additional time required to assemble your own pulled pork bun or spaghetti bolognese may be challenging. Assembling a dish from its ingredients is what we do at home – why would we want to go out and do it? But the real killer is this.

If certain restaurants do take us for a bunch of idiots, and they’re willing to trust that bunch of idiots to assemble their food, eat it, post it on social media for other potential customers the world over to see – just what does that say about them?

Baked Lobster Fideo Pasta

Ingredients

  • lobster 1 live, around 800g (see notes below)
  • fideo pasta or angel hair pasta 260g, broken into 3cm
  • chives a few, snipped
STOCK
  • olive oil
  • carrot 1, finely diced
  • celery 2 sticks, finely diced
  • onion 1, finely diced
  • fennel 1/2 bulb, finely diced
  • garlic 1/2 head
  • thyme a few sprigs
  • bay leaves 2
  • star anise 1/2
  • coriander seeds 5, crushed
  • saffron a small pinch
  • tomato purée 1 tbsp
  • brandy 2 tbsp
  • Pernod 2 tsp
  • chicken stock 700ml
  • tomatoes 2 ripe, chopped
AÏOLI
  • egg yolk 1
  • saffron a pinch
  • lemon juice a squeeze
  • garlic 1/2 clove, crushed
  • light olive oil 150ml