When the Capital Region Farmers Market got in touch, with a challenge to create a scrumptious Christmas meal with products from the markets I jumped at the opportunity. For me, Christmas is all about the food, ok and the presents (I kid!). The thing is if you know me I can’t cook well, nor am I very creative in the kitchen so I enlisted some help from my talented friend Mat Woolfe. Mat is one of those people who will practice a dish until he has it exactly right, his meals are always innovative and whenever I look back on Mat’s meals I remember laughter and warmth. He is one of those people who knows how to create an experience with food. Mat designed a menu that is a unique take on traditional dishes that we can all put to the test this Christmas.
I headed to the market’s bright and early last Saturday morning with a shopping list from Mat and a $100 gift voucher. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and once I had a coffee in hand I was ready to go. Sometimes when I go to the markets I get overwhelmed by the number of stalls (over 100) and the variety of the produce. Going with a list and a vision made it much easier to sail around the stalls and get what I needed – as well as sticking to a budget! Mat had helpfully estimated how much the products on the list would cost.
I took the time to speak to producers and learn about where my food was coming from. Despite being a lot more organised in my shopping I ended up staying at the markets for an hour and a half, chatting to the other bloggers who were part of the challenge and also catching up with some of my favourite stall orders like ‘The Museli Bar’. The more often you go the more you get to build your relationships with stallholders and the more knowledge they will share with you. After my big shopping trip I handed over the ingredients to Mat ready for a delicious Sunday meal.
I asked Mat to think outside the box for this Christmas meal, to twist the traditional and he didn’t disappoint,
The menu was inspired by a lighter look at Christmas dinner. I offset the big, greasy pork sweats with a heap of lovely fresh, punchy vegetables. I like the social side of cooking for people, eating is one of the very few things we actually have to do, so why not get together and make the most of it?
For me the menu was a fresh take on some of our favourite Aussie dishes, the seafood, the summer fruit and the delicious pork. Mat started the night by putting a slice of cucumber and mint in our sparkling wine, this was really refreshing every time you took a sip you got a big whiff of mint that danced deliciously with the wine. The starters were scallops wrapped in cos lettuce with dried prosciutto, pear, basil and radish. This was followed by de-boned chicken wings served on a skewer with cucumber and a smokey paprika mayo sauce.
The piece de resistance of the main course was a delicious pork belly marinated in citrus flavours. This was set off against zesty summer salads that utilised fresh produce from the market. The salads included a strawberry and blueberry salad with fried french camembert (as amazing as it sounds), a zingy rainbow trout salad with broccoli and radish, fresh beans with currents and seeds and finally a stuffed kent pumpkin full of sage cous cous. Mat has generously shared some of his salad recipes below.
- 1 Small kent pupmkin
- Smokey paprika
- Flaked salt
- ⅓ cup israeli couscous
- Handful chopped sage
- Tbsp sunflower seeds
- Tbsp pumpkin seeds
- Tbps dukka
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Wash pumpkin
- Shave base to make sit flat
- Cut out lid on angle
- Remove seeds etc
- Score skin to hold seasoning
- Rub with oil, paprika and salt
- Mix stuffing well and pour into centre
- Pop lid on and cook for 2 hours at 170C
- 1 smoked rainbow trout
- 1 head broccoli (blanched, cooled & grated)
- 3 raddishes (grated)
- 1 red onion (finely diced)
- 1 Handful chopped corriander
- 1 lemon
- 1 handful capers
- flaked salt & freshly ground pepper
- Use food processor with grating attachment to prepare vegetables ensuring broccoli is well drained; combine vegetables, onion, flaked trout meat, corriander, lemon juice and zest; season well with remaining ingredients.
My only contribution to the night (except for my bloody delightful company) was dessert. I made a fail safe peach, blueberry and pecan pie. This pie is ridiculously easy to put together and is generally a hit. The pie wasn’t as sweet as usual but I think that worked well with the sweetness of the ice cream. I had hoped to get Fruji ice cream to compliment the pie but he wasn’t at the markets that day. The recipe is available here.
Not only do I have to thank Mat for cooking but also the cookware used in this post. Mat has been working with my talented industrial designer friend, SamTomkins, to design Woolfeware, innovative and useful cookware. The trays displayed in this post can be used as serving plates, bowls and chopping boards. Sam has also worked with my friend Nellie Peoples, gold and silversmither, to design the silver bowls that can be used for canapés to assist you in drinking and eating at the same time. These are seriously one of those products that are so helpful, one of those ideas that you think why didn’t I think of that?! The bowls are available from Fivefold Studio in Lonsdale Street traders and the trays are available on application.
If you are looking to make Christmas dinner different this year, to try new things and surprise your dinner guests I definitely recommend Mat’s menu. It was fun and playful, light and fresh and completely different to the traditional christmas menu. A big part of what made this meal so yummy and special was the fresh produce, from knowing where our food came, supporting local producers and knowing we were eating things that were in season for an Australian summer Christmas.
* The majority of food for this post was supplied by Capital Region Farmers Market – you can follow them on twitter, facebook and instagram.