I received a PR invite a couple of weeks ago to Bloomie’s kitchen.The event was a cooking demo and a book signing by none other than the Australian chef ,restaurateur and television personality best known as the judge on the cooking competition, Masterchef Australia,George Calombaris.”Kindly RSVP at the earliest”,said the email.Now having watched him a million times over on TV ,judging young kids on Junior Masterchef,it was an opportunity that I certainly didn’t want to miss.Well,”Most certainly yes”, was my response back to the PR invite.I would be delighted to watch this maestro in action.While I was excited that he would be cooking up a storm ,it was also my opportunity to pick up his cook book Georgie Porgie and of course get photographed with him.Call it my fan-girl moment if you wish!
The stage was set amidst the wonderful kitchen arena of Bloomingdale’s at the Dubai mall, hosted by Bloomie’s kitchen.I arrived early and got browsing around the store. I personally love shopping for my kitchen stuff here. I’ve been eyeing the Le Creuset cookware range for quite some time now and perhaps my Kitchen aid too which has been on the wish list for over a year.Well I did receive a surprise voucher from the wonderful hosts at Bloomingdales, which I used to buy my copy of the book.
The bonus of arriving early is that I managed to grab a seat right up at the front,I for one wanted to watch him up close and personal.It’s 11am and he arrives on the dot.I’m excited to see him in person.He begins by talking about the show,his Greek origins and about his various restaurants like The Press club.He was greeted with a huge round of applause from the all those who had taken time off to see him in person.My first reaction was that he seemed to have lost a staggering amount of weight, and looking quite suave in his new look.Good on you Georgie!
He’s fabulous already.Quite charming,funny and a dynamic personality in person as much as his screen presence commands.
George then commences the cooking demonstration for the guests that are waiting quite patiently for his magic touch.He started the cook off with a wonderful and simple Watermelon and Feta salad,which seemed easy tp put together,with an amazing twist.This salad had an addition of the watermelon rind which was cooked in balsamic vinegar and added to the salad.We sampled this and it was just very refreshing in flavor.This was served with lamb lady fingers that he effortlessly made.Both these recipes are as follows.
I was impressed with George’s presence and they way he interacted with the audience.It was a very interactive session where the audience was encouraged to throw in questions while the Chef and his team cooked up a storm.
He then went on to show us Ravioli making from scratch with a delightful filling made up of Ricotta date and mint .The Ravioli was plated on a bed of Pumpkin Puree and drizzled with Olive oil.This was a winning recipe.The demo finished off with a wonderful Spiced Milk fizz with smoked strawberries.
A wonderful couple of hours watching George cook and sampling some wonderful dishes, was a indeed a morning well spent.And now the moment I’ve been waiting for.The book signing and a photo opportunity with him.I excitedly had over my phone to the wonderful staff at Bloomingdale’s asking them to take a couple at least.The moment arrives and I thank his for an exciting morning and go on to tell him about my own experience of teaching and inspiring young kids to cook. He affectionately puts his arms around me and that is one Kodak moment for me!Quite thrilled with the series of events that morning,my book autographed by him,I leave in awe of this very impressionable personality.
Watermelon Salad with Lamb Lady Fingers:(Serves 8)
- 600g seedless watermelon cut into cubes
- 100g watermelon rind(green and skin removed)
- 100g Balsamic Vinegar
- 100g Crumbled feta
- 1/4 bunch mint
- 40g Olive Oil
- Place the watermelon rind and the vinegar in a pot and simmer.
- Simmer until the vinegar becomes a glaze and then place it in the fridge.
- Mix the reduced vinegar with oilve oil and reserve.
- Slice the rind in thin slices and set aside.
- To finish place 3 pieces of fresh watermelon into a serving bowl.
- Place the rind over the top of the watermelon then crumble some feta.
- Place a hot lamb lady finger next to it and drizzle with olive oil.
Lamb lady fingers:
- 5 Filo sheets
- 200g melted butter
- cooked lamb shoulder
- 40g icing sugar
- Cut the filo into 15cmX25cm strips and cover with a damp towel.
- Lay one sheet of filo out and brush with some melted butter.
- Place 15g of cooked lamb mix at one end of the filo.
- Roll the filo folding the ends in as you start to roll.
- you should end up in a cigar sized roll.
- Once rolled brush with some butter and place on a lined baking tray.
- Bake ina hot oven at 180C for about 10 minutes or till brown.
- Dust with Icing sugar and serve with the salad.The next was a Ricotta date and mint Ravioli.He demonstated the fine technique of making the Ravioli dough using a special Tipo 00 flour.The kitchen aid has a fabulous atatchemnet for pasta making which is just fantastic.Note to myself: Must buy that Pasta maker soon.The Ravioli was served to us on a bed of pureed pumpkin and drizzled with olive oil.This was just sublime and quite a creation! I have this recipe on my must do list.
Ricotta Date and Mint Ravioli,Salt Bush Brown Butter:
For the Pasta:(Makes 16 Ravioli)
- 100g’00’ Flour
- 100g Semolina
- 1 Egg whole
- 55g egg yolks
- 5g Olive oil
- 1 egg whole 9for brushing pasta)
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and bled on high until the mixture resembles bread crumba.
- Put into a bowl and knead for atleast 2 minutes to form a smooth ball.
- Wrap in cling film and set aside for an hour.
- Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
- With the pasta machine roll the dough to the 2nd thinnest setting.
- Dust with semolina between each sheet and place on a damp towel over the pasta sheets.
- To make the ravioli lay 2 of the sheets of pasta on a bench dusted with a little semolina.
- Place 8x3o gof ricotta filling on each pasta sheet.
- With the other 2 sheets lay them out and cut 16 round pieces with an 8 inch cookie cutter.
- Brush the pastaaround filling with egg wash and place the cut out disk over the top of the filling.Cut out with 6cm cutter.
- Seal the edges of the pasta well by crimping with your fingers,repeat until all the filling has been covered.
- Place the cut out pasta on a tray dusted with semolina flour.
Ricotta Filling:(16 Ravioli)
- 1 white onion peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/4 bunch mint
- 50g butter
- 50g Olive oil
- 100g dates
- 300g Ricotta cheese
- 60g Bread crumbs
- 2 egg Yolk
- 3g Mechlebe
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a medium sized saucepan on medium heat and melt the butter.
- Add the olive oil and saute the onions,garlic dates and breadcrumbs.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature,then mix in the Ricotta ,mint,egg yolks and season with mechlebe,salt and pepper.
- Once at room temperature divide into 30-35g balls.
The above recipes have been provided by Bloomie’s Kitchen as a part of the demonstration by George Calombaris.