In America, the names Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, and Rocco Despirto immediately conger images of high-energy celebrity chefs cooking up their succulent and satisfying signature dishes. In Australia, celebrity chef Benjamin Christie is as renowned, even considered an ambassador of Australian cuisine. Here are three of Chef Christie's mouthwatering dishes, including information on Australian ingredients that make these dishes so delicious and unique.
Truly Authentic Australian Dishes
Chef Christie not only cooks up enthralling recipes from Down Under, he wants you to become more familiar and rapt with native Australian ingredients, as well. If you are unfamiliar with Australian cuisine, Chef Benjamin Christie invites you to visit his newly launched user-friendly website BenjaminChristie.com. Chef Christie's delicious site will educate you on unparalleled Australian ingredients and tantalize you with his signature recipes as well as provide you with informative articles, helpful cooking videos, product reviews, wine suggestions, and chef-savvy cooking tips. The following recipes include substitutions for the Australian ingredients you may not have on hand. However, if you want truly authentic Aussie food, visit Vic Cherikoff's Dining Down Under online store and have a little bit of Australia delivered to your door.
Recipes from Down Under
Smoky Marinated Feta Cheese
Makes about 2 cups Chef Christie finds that most commercially-produced marinated feta all taste the same. He says, "I much prefer to marinate the feta cheese with my own flavors and create something new. Often I'll do flavor combinations like alpine pepper or lemon myrtle with macadamia nut oil." Another one of his favorites is feta in a mint marinade. Ingredients:
2 cups cubed feta cheese
2 teaspoons lemon myrtle (or minced lemon zest)
2 teaspoons alpine pepper (or black pepper to taste)
Minced fresh herbs
3 cups vegetable or olive oil
3 teaspoons paperbark smoke oil (or liquid smoke to taste) Directions:
1. Place feta cubes in a large bowl or large jar, adding the lemon and pepper as the pieces are layered in. Once in the jar finish with a generous sprinkle of herbs. 2. In a saucepan, gently warm oil until swirl patterns start to form in the oil. The temperature should just be just warm and not hot, or you will melt the feta. Allow oil to cool if necessary. Pour enough warm oil over feta to coat. Add the paperbark smoke oil or liquid smoke and cover bowl or jar. Let stand stand at room temperature for a couple of hours. 3. Store in the refrigerator for up to six months. Feta can be used as an antipasto, in salads, melted with any dish as an accompaniment or used to stuff meats and vegetables. The oil can be used in hollandaise, mayonnaise or salad dressings as well as drizzled over eggs, meats, marinated vegetables and stir-fries.
Plank Grilled Salmon
Serves 1 to 2 Grill plank cooking was a traditional American Indian method using cedar slabs placed directly on hot coals to cook freshly caught salmon to perfection. Throughout America, most BBQ stores stock cedar planks, as well as applewood, walnut, maple and other softwoods. Though partial to Tasmanian salmon, Chef Christie says, "My plank grilled salmon literally takes no more than ten minutes to cook and is seriously the best salmon you'll ever taste. You can use any type of salmon for this recipe." Ingredients:
1 (7-ounce) salmon fillet
1 cedar plank or similar (soaked in water for 2 hours)
1 teaspoon Red Dessert Dust (or Cajun seasoning or curry powder)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon macadamia nut oil (or olive oil)
Half a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon myrtle mayonnaise (or a mix of mayonnaise and minced lemon zest) Directions:
Heat the grill to medium heat. Rub the salmon fillet with oil and place on the plank. Season with the Red Dessert Dust and a little salt. You can even prepare these ahead of time and refrigerate them. 2. Place the plank and salmon directly onto the grill and cover for 10 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through. Remove the salmon and plank from the grill and serve with a wedge of lemon and sprig of cilantro. Spoon a tablespoon of the mayonnaise over one end of the salmon and serve with your favorite salad. Note: Lemon myrtle is a fragrant, sweet lemon, lime and lemongrass flavored herb from Australia that can be used in recipes calling for lemon zest or other citrus ingredient. Lemon myrtle's flavor comes from its citrusy essential oils similar to the citrusy essential oils in lemon or lime zest.
Australian Chocolate Mousse with Berry Sauce
Serves 6 to 8 Chocolate mousse is one of those recipes that everyone loves and the secret to an exquisite chocolate mousse is highly dependent on the quality of chocolate you use. Opt for a quality coverture chocolate or a dark bittersweet chocolate. Chef Christie uses riberries in this recipe (see note) but you can use your favorite fresh berry sauce, instead. Ingredients:
10-1/2 ounces quality coverture chocolate or dark chocolate
1-1/2 ounces unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
6 teaspoons riberry confit (or fresh berry sauce)
2 ounces shaved white chocolate Directions:
1. Chop the chocolate in small pieces and place in a glass or stainless steel bowl or in the top part of a double boiler. Add the butter and half of the cream. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (or bottom part of double boiler) to melt the chocolate. Make sure that the bowl doesn't touch the simmering water. Stir the chocolate frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 2. Separate the eggs. Place egg yolks and sugar in a standup mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high speed until the yolks have thickened and doubled in size. Stir egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Be sure that the temperature of the chocolate is not too hot, otherwise you will cook the yolks. 3. In a clean, dry bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside and clean the beaters. In a second bowl, whip the remaining cream until firm peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped egg whites and cream together with the chocolate mixture. Be sure to mix gently or you will knock the air out of the egg whites and cream. 4. Transfer chocolate mousse to serving glasses or a large bowl. Wine glasses present very elegantly but any dessert dish will work. Chill for 3 hours. To serve, garnish with riberry confit or berry sauce and shaved white chocolate on top. Note: The riberry confit makes this mousse an Australian original. Riberries are a small red Australian rainforest fruit grown on small shrubs and larger trees. Most riberry fruit are seedless and have an amazingly aromatic, cinnamon, cranberry and clove flavor with the texture similar to that of a granny smith apple. The riberry plant is a common garden ornamental but riberry fruits are used to make jams, sauces and syrups.
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