Following sleepless nights and a lot of stress I pretended didn’t bother me, Friday morning and the Goldcrest blogger cook-off finally arrived. I was nervous enough just driving on the horror that is Witkoppen to get to my destination, but once I met my three fellow-contestants for the first cook-off that morning, and we saw our work stations, I was close to full panic. This was not lessened by being mic-ed up and having various cameras trained on us, everything displayed on a large screen behind us.
My companions for the morning were Kate Els (you can find her blog here), Leila Saffarian (whose delicious food blog is over here), and Lauren van Zyl (no relation, who writes for Crush Online and Chef Magazine) – who is awesome, and not only because we share a surname 🙂
Harry Sidiropoulos was the MC and did a great job of putting us at ease (or it might have been the wine – Harry was fantastic regardless!). Yes, I said wine – they saw we needed something to calm our nerves, and I will confess that the first sip took care of the shakes.
We were given an hour to source anything and everything we liked from the community table of mostly Goldcrest products (it was a relief to get a mail to inform us we won’t be going in blind like previously reported), and create one dish and one drink in keeping with our theme (mine was Packed! All about pack lunches).
As a singleton, I don’t bother with cooking too much. I do it once every two or three days, and then make enough for at least 3 meals: a dinner and two lunches; I hardly ever eat on the night I cook – dunno why. So I will cook on night 1, have lunch and dinner for day 2, lunch for day 3 and on night 3 do it all over again. Sort of. So my main meal is lunch. Now, if I told you I considered myself to be the Queen of Moerbei Cuisine, you might think I’m a healthy, fruit an berry kind of girl. Let me help you out. My dishes are best prepared and served from a single pot, so I will check what I have in the cupboard and then, if you will excuse my French-Afrikaans, moer it into the pot. I also tend to call all these creations “Tuna-and-banana Suprise” – the surprise being that more often than not it contains neither tuna or banana. And that is exactly what I did on Friday, although I eventually relented and called it Cheat’s Risotto.
I realised this morning while going through the process, etc. that I didn’t add enough water to the rice, but that it all turned out okay in the end. Like Harry said, often with risotto the rice is either mushy or just not quite cooked enough, and I seemed to have managed a sweet spot. So, a cup of rice, a cup of water and some salt, simmer. When most of the salt is cooked off, add a tablespoon of butter, and then you start the, er, adding process. And this is such a versatile way of cooking (in my opinion) that everything can be substituted with something else, e.g. swap the shrimps for fried bits of bacon. What I added were the following:
1 tin Goldcrest coconut milk
1 tin Goldcrest tomato-and-onion mix
1 tin Goldcrest shrimps (drained)
1 tin Goldcrest mushroom pieces and stems (drained)
1 tin Goldcrest artichoke hearts (drained, some chopped roughly, some kept whole for more texture)
1/2 jar Goldcrest black olives, pitted and sliced (drained)
Simmer all of these until it’s heated through and you have the consistency you want. Add some freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Season with chopped nuts of choice (not your significant others’, please) – I didn’t have a big knife to chop, so I grated a few pecans and added a few whole on top – and garnish with fresh parsley (a hugely underrated herb in my humble opinion).
For my drink, a cocktail I call “The Bee’s Knees”, I drizzled Goldcrest honey at about the halfway mark around the inside of the glasses, popped in a few ice cubes, and blended 180 ml white rum, 60 ml fresh cream, 120 ml fresh full cream milk, 60 ml honey, and poured over the ice. And because no cocktail of my making will be complete without it, I added a couple of Goldcrest maraschino cherries
Finally it was time to sit down with judge Jodi-Ann Pearton, one contestant at a time, and discuss our meals, while Harry and our spectators got to taste a serving at the stand. I only got to taste a bit of Kate’s delicious dessert, and the next team of bloggers were already getting set up soon after. I did a quick tour of the rest of the show before I had to leave for another appointment, and didn’t get to see who won the blogger cook-off, for a chance to join the Young Chef (also hosted by Goldcrest) on a trip to Singapore. I was absolutely delighted to find out that the lovely Lauren won!
I want to extend a BIG thank you to the Goldcrest and the team from Brand Spanking Marketing for the opportunity to participate – I really had so much fun, and it was absolute great to meet these ladies (who were nice enough not to laugh at my non-foodie-ness). Have a blast in Singapore, Lauren, congratulations again!