Barilla Masterclass with Federico Zanellato from LuMi Bar & Dining | Casa Barilla Cooking School Annandale

Casa Barilla Cooking School as mentioned in one of our earlier posts, is a wonderful place for you to learn and soak up Italian food culture. There is so much to love about Italian food from exploring their heritage and tasting the different pasta and techniques that is unique to individual cities.
If you would like to revisit our hands on Master Class, featuring Egg Tagliatelle with Parma Ham, Asparagus and Roasted Capsicum Sauce and Veal tenderloin with Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction, click here 

We were very fortunate to learn from Federico Zanellato (LuMi Dining) as he uses his knowledge of fresh produce and Japanese culture experience to create specially crafted dishes for this Barilla cooking class. What a treat!

The evening began with Apero, an antipasto and a cheese board to share. We were able to catch up with the lovely Silvia and finally meet Julia from Barilla. It was another enjoyable and educational evening. 

Let's get started

Salt Baked Beetroot
There's five parts to the Salt Baked Beetroot. The salt bake beetroot, the goat cheese sauce and the black sesame sauce, black sesame emulsion and the beetroot juice. It was interesting to taste a dish we would've never thought of making.

While all the focus is centered around the beetroot, the black sesame sauce was the star of this dish. This was a very simple dish in terms of ingredients but the method demonstrates some essential cooking skills. For the salt bake beetroot, the only ingredients you require is salt and egg white. Lightly whisk the egg white and mix the salt until thick. Coat the beetroot completely, ensuring all sides are patted down with no air leaks. Bake for about an hour and 40 mins depending on the size of the beetroot. When ready, let the beetroot rest for an hour before cracking it open. Don't let the beetroot go to waste! You can make an amazing beetroot juice by blending the beetroot trimming with water, hanging it overnight with an oil filter and letting the juice drip slowly. Combine chardonnay vinegar, xantan gum and pectin for a zesty sauce.

The goats cheese sauce requires only cream, water and goat cheese. Combine all ingredients together and whisk. You can make this ahead in time and store it in a container, in the fridge before dishing up. 

The black sesame sauce (which was our favorite part of the dish), requires more ingredients. Combine Mirin, Tamari sauce, Sake, black sesame paste and squid ink paste in a bowl and mix it with a stick blender until fully emulsified. Let the sauce mature in the fridge overnight. 

The black sesame emulsion requires more effort than the prior. Make yourself a black sesame base, with water, egg yolk and grape seed oil. Place these ingredients into a thermomix and start the machine on speed 6. Pour the oil slowly like a mayo and blend everything until fully emulsified. Pour the emulsion into a cream gun and heat up to 60 degrees to serve. 

Chef Federico made sure that all elements to this dish were made with precision. Measurements had to be accurate and the whole process made us appreciate the effort gone into making this dish. When ready to serve, cover the beetroot with the black sesame emulsion and pipe some Barilla basilico sauce on the side. Viola, you have the simple yet tasty, salt baked beetroot dish.

Casareece, Prawns, Cime de Rapa, Bottarga, Orange
The next dish is an extremely complicated dish that required much prep work and time cooking to deliver the end result. You really appreciate the love, effort and time taken to produce something unique. This part will be broken into the pasta, prawns, prawn bisque and cime de rapa.

If you read our previous Casa Barilla Cooking School Master Class, you would know the special technique to perfectly cooked pasta is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Remember, oil is reserved for the pasta and not the after you cook the pasta in. Olive oil is used to mix through your pasta when combined with your pasta sauce. Barilla Casarecce was used for this dish and it was our first time trying the Casarecce pasta which we found interesting enough to stock up on at home. We aren't sure what pasta base would best accompany the Casareece but would love to use it in our cooking adventures.

When cooking prawns, remove from the shell ensuring the vein is removed, then reserve both the head and shell. The prawn meat is then chopped into dices. The prawn bisque consists of a whooping 25 ingredients; onion, carrot, celery, leeks, garlic, cardamom, star anice, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, juniper berries, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, tomato paste, brandy, white wine, prawn heads, school prawns, water, oranges, lemon thyme, basil, majorama, lemon myrtle and lemon verbena. If you are looking to impress with your home style cooking, then this dish will not disappoint.

Now you must be wondering what to do with the ingredients. First. place the prawn head and school prawns on an oven tray and roast for 15 minutes or until deep orange and crisp. Then heat olive oil in a pot and caramelize onion, garlic, carrot, celery and leek for 15 - 20 mins. Toast all the spices in a separate pan and add to the vegetables. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Then crush the prawn head and school prawn together with some tomato paste. Increase the heat and cook for 5 - 6 minutes. Brandy is then introduced to simmer, allowing the alcohol to evaporate. When evaporated, add water to cover the shell. Reduce the heat and simmer until well flavoured for about 40 - 50 mins. Squeeze two whole oranges and add all the fresh herbs. Let it infuse for 10 - 15 mins then strain and cool it down.

The Cime Di Rapa will need olive oil, garlic cloves, chilli, anchovies fillet, salt and pepper. Pick all the leaves from the Cime Di Rapa, reserve the stems. Cook the leaves in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Cool down in water and ice. Strain the blanched leaves and squeeze the residual water out. Chop the Cime Di Rapa roughly and heat up oil in a pan with garlic, chilli and anchovies and saute all ingredients together.

And in the end, you are left with a very tasty dish. The amount of flavour put into the bisque was not evident in the pasta unfortunately. What made the dish was the Cima Di Rapa.

Barilla Masterclass always hold a range of exciting cooking schools or demonstrations like to one you see above. The price is reasonable for the experience and the food. We highly recommend visiting a Barilla Masterclass and you can see their upcoming schedule on their website,

Night Noodle Markets 2016 | Hyde Park

It's that time of the year again, a time when all Sydney spiders crawl out of their winter slumber and head to Hyde Park for the 2016 Night Noodle Markets! We have covered this event since it began operating 3 years ago and we still get that's Christmas morning feeling when Good Food month rolls around; and while Hyde Park might not be decorated head to toe with Christmas decorations, it's filled with food stalls and bars showcasing a range of Asian inspired food flavours that you drool in your sleep about. 

We planned our visit to target the opening time (4pm) on their first Saturday of operation. This ensured less crowds and more importantly, sunlight for pictures! 
We had stuck around for a good 2 hours and were surprised that there was hardly any people which meant finding a seat was guaranteed. The great addition to this year would have to be the integration of the "Hey You!" app and a cashless system. This significantly reduced the agonising long lines and in turn heavily reduced the waiting times. 

We tasted a variety of food on the day. We did try to make an effort and be "adventurous" by exploring new food and new market stalls, but at the same time we just couldn't resist revisiting some of our favourites. 

Raindrop cake from Harajuku Gyoza
Harajuku Gyoza recreated the dessert that attracted many attention on social media. They are selling it in three different flavours: Matcha, Black Sugar and Strawberry. We opted for the original black sugar and damn glad we did because it tasted great! We finally got to taste a raindrop cake and it was everything the hype made it out to be. The flavour doesn't actually come from the raindrop cake, but from the black sugar syrup it is cradled in. It has an almost jelly like texture that dissolves as it hits your tongue. It's nothing special though for those who grew up with agar agar dessert (like me) but for others, I would say it's worth the hype.

Chicken Skewers from Hoy Pinoy
We just had to. There was no way that we were going to leave without ordering skewers from Hoy Pinoy. It's probably a fair assumption (given the endless queues) that Hoy Pinoy's skewers are the equivalent of the prettiest girl in school, but in a food metaphor. All the attention is drawn to the stalls by the intense aroma of the chicken and pork skewers cooking, and for good reason too because no amount of writing could ever truly describe these bad boys. You are best to go and try them for yourself and luckily enough they have opened two stalls this year, now located on both sides of the park for ease of access and to help reduce the queues. 

Yakisoba Stir Fried Noodles from Teppanyaki Noodles
This dish was not planned at all. We were hungry for substance and figured we'd give it a try. Taste-wise, all the flavours of a traditional yakisoba are there and the noodles were stir fried nicely. The sweet sauce, topped with mayonnaise and spring onion, yum! The only downside to this dish was the generosity of the sauce. Your first and second bites are enjoyable, but it got real tiring, real quick and there wasn't enough chicken to help break down the sauce.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake Smash from Black Star Pastry X N2 Extreme Gelato
We love the collaboration from these guys as the end results is always something that is a mixture of fun, crazy and and incredibly tasty. Even though both companies have ample right to be represented at this event, we still prefer the cross over! This year they did a mash up of the popular watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry and blended it in with some of N2's gelato. The rosewater petals provided as a significant portion of the flavour, while the addition of a watermelon pipe added a little bit of sweetness. This was our personal favourite on the day!

Rosewater, Belgium White Chocolate Donut from Nutie Donuts – Callebaut
We are still undecided on this donut, mostly because it really isn't a donut. Sure it is round and it has a hole in the middle, but the light, fluffy texture was no where to be seen. Instead it was dense and the white chocolate coating just added to the density. If this was served as a cake, then it would have been different story as our expectations would have changed and we probably would have ordered this earlier in the day, not when we were already full. Overall, it had nice flavours from the white chocolate. but the rosewater wasn't as evident as you would hope.

Korean Chips on a Stick - with all flavouring
We just had to order one for the train ride home. Be warned as they can be quite addictive!

There are also many events that take place throughout the night. If you are lucky you might get a visit from a minion or three, or see the spectacular lion dancing through the park at night. The Night Noodle Markets are only running until the 23rd of October, which by my calendar is the end of this week. Make sure to head down and check it out, otherwise you will have to wait until next year. Entree to the park is free and the markets open after 5pm on weekdays and 4pm on weekends.

Let us know how you found the Night Noodle Markets this year!