Miguel’s no-measure shortbread

I love a professional chef that says you don’t always have to measure and agonise over quantities. Touch and taste are your best friends, but I’ll come back to this theory later.

A and I recently attended Miguel Maestre’s Lifestyle Food Chef’s Table cooking demonstration at the 2012 Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show. It was laugh out loud good fun. Miguel clearly loves his life and his profession. This is what he prepared and what we thoroughly enjoyed eating.

Duck Liver Pate paired with Peter Lehmann 2010 Art Series Shiraz Grenache.

Beetroot cured salmon paired with Peter Lehmann 2012 Art Series Rose.

Olive oil shortbread paired with Peter Lehmann 2012 Art Series Moscato.

The pate was silky smooth with a hint of Pedro Ximenez sherry. If you think sherry is out-dated, then I challenge you to buy a bottle of this and enjoy as a pre or after dinner drink. It dances on your palate and is a favourite in our house. I use it in both sweet and savoury dishes.

The salmon served with crème fraiche, and salmon roe was delicate in texture but really packed a punch with flavour. A great dinner party entrée, easily prepared several days in advance.

The olive oil shortbread, buttery and perfect with a glass of Moscato. The joy of this biscuit is all in the preparation. No fuss and no measuring. Just tip your plain flour on a clean bench (roughly three to four cups) sprinkle over some caster sugar (roughly 200 grams), add some cinnamon and drizzle extra virgin olive oil (roughly 400 mls). Start kneading and keep drizzling olive oil until your dough comes together, soft and springy. Roll out to 1 cm thickness and using cookie cutters, cut out your shapes. Line your trays with baking paper. Brush the tops with egg for that beautiful golden colour and sprinkle with extra caster sugar. Bake for 15 minutes in a medium oven or until golden brown. Unfortunately, due to a few glasses of wine, I forgot to take a photo of the finished shortbread biscuits. Crazy stuff I know and I’ll do better next time, but here is a photo of some of the audience members making the dough.

Definitely worth a try in the lead up to Christmas, they’d make a great gift for a foodie friend in a hamper with all the ingredients and a hand-written recipe, courtesy of Miguel, of course!

Miguel was a wealth of information offering lots of cooking tips along the way, my favourite being how to test if eggs are fresh without putting them into a bowl of water.

Take three eggs and hold them with the pointy end of the outer two facing in towards the ends of the middle egg. If the middle egg spins, it’s fresh. This looked like magic when Miguel demonstrated. I’ve tried it at home and it works! Of course, if your eggs aren’t fresh, there will be no spinning egg for you.

The other unexpected treat at the chef’s table was the goodie bag we both received filled with loads of product. The session, at $50 each, was good value for money. Other cooks that had sessions in Brisbane included the lovely Anna Gare and Maggie Beer (I believe these sessions sold out very quickly).

If you have an interest in food, I can highly recommend the Good Food & Wine Show. It’s hours of entertainment, but be careful, you might need to allocate a responsible driver as sampling the many wineries on show, can get dangerous! Oh and bring a trolley or plenty of bags to carry all your purchases 🙂

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