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Masterchef shows how important influences are

Wednesday, 6th December, 2017 5:54pm

So last week, Brian asked me if I watched ‘Australian Masterchef’ as he believed the standard to be much better than the British version. That got me thinking – I don’t watch the US or Australian version much to be honest as the dramatisation can be annoying but there is really no denying that the standard is indeed outstanding.

Why is that you may ask? First off, tradition is one – Europe has a more traditional cuisine, a lot of times still including meat and two veg meals.

The other is influence. Australia is a melting pot of different nationalities for longer than we are, especially from the Asian continent.

This has led to so-called fusion cuisine where western and eastern influences are combined.

And last but not least, ingredients are different.

Some of the ingredients used on the Australian show have never been heard of here in our small country or are not widely available unless you are visiting a top restaurant.

I think we keep forgetting that ‘Masterchef’ is a show for amateur chefs trying to achieve amazing dishes and their knowledge is limited by what they can get their hands on in their private lives.

Have you ever heard of pipi juice? I am asking all the amateurs, not professional chefs.

I guess not – at least I haven’t.

Pipis are clams (not razor clams) native to Australia and the juice is made by cooking the pipis in water with several herbs etc.

Or have you ever seen finger grapes or edible tulip bulbs? Not in an Irish shop anyway.

The question is though, could any of these talented amateur cooks prepare a good Irish stew, comforting boxty or awesome soda bread?

I doubt it. But let’s face it, ‘Masterchef Australia’ is a great show.

And talking about cooking shows, Christmas cooking is on almost every channel now and the celebrity chefs make it seem so easy.

This year, I won’t be cooking turkey.

Since last year, it is just Mr T and myself, so we are very relaxed and take it easy.

Last year I cooked a pheasant – not sure what I am going to cook this year. Something I can’t do without is the roasties, Yorkshire puddings, red cabbage and proper gravy – the meat (at least for me) plays a secondary role.

If you like something different this year, why not toss your carrots in orange butter enriched with a bit of cumin or add a bit of mint sauce to your peas.

In case you are having green beans, I love to fry some fresh breadcrumbs in butter with a bit of garlic and thyme and sprinkle over the beans when serving.

And if you are in team Brussels haters, try shredding the little beasts and fry with a bit of bacon and chestnuts. It tastes so much better than the soggy ones I have been served over the years before I decided to cook Christmas dinner myself.

What is your must-have at Christmas dinner?

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