Many of you will remember Jason from his time at Channel Nine's cooking program 'Fresh' which was broadcast to Australia and New Zealand, five days a week for four years! Since then, it appears he has cracked the US market, written a few cookbooks and now has become the brand ambassador to IGA's Food 4 Life program.
At the Sydney Seafood School, a small group of food editors and myself were invited to a demonstration and cook-up, highlighting the key message behind IGA Food 4 Life's program - by pre-planning meals and buying simple and seasonal produce, families can prepare easy and healthy meals, without spending hours in the kitchen and that daily interaction in the kitchen with family is an effective way of bonding with the family.
Jason's personable nature, cheeky smile and dedication to healthy home cooking was truly captivating, particularly as explained the Brain Garden concept. I'm no nutrition-geek but what he said made so much sense! I can go on forever, listing the examples but here are a few which will convince you to eat more vegies:
- A sliced carrot looks like the human eye and greatly enhance the function of the eyes.
- A walnut looks like the brain, with left and right hemispheres, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Its wrinkles and folds even look like the neo-cortex, and scientifically, we know it helps develop neuron-transmitters for brain function.
- Kidney beans do not only look like the human kidney, but they also heal and help maintain kidney function.
- Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb look like bones and they also help with bone strength.
- The tomato's colour and its four chambers looks like the heart. Research has also shown that tomatoes are loaded with lycopine which is pure heart and blood food.
And what did we cook?
Courtesy of Jason Roberts, I am sharing with you these two easy peasy recipes - Salmon in a bag, and a gluten and fat free passionfruit and praline souffle.
Cooking Salmon in a bag
I personally love this recipe, not for the fish, but for the vibrant salad. Who knew that zucchini could be so tasty raw?
SALMON IN A BAG
"This is a delicious way to prepare a single portion of fish with minimal effort and incredible flavor, This method of cooking has been around for a very long time and is definitely a style of cooking that is underused. Once you have mastered this technique there are so many variations to play with." says Jason Roberts
2 x 180gm piece of Salmon
6 small potatoes steamed and skinned removed, and sliced into 1cm rounds
3 tablespoons chopped green shallots
3Tblspn olive oil
1 lemon, cut 2 slices, the remaining used for its juice
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Ground white pepper
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 small yellow and green zucchini finely sliced and lightly salted
½ bunch chives, finely sliced
- Pre heat the oven to 200’C (430’F)
- Make sure the fish is trimmed of fat, pin boned and free of scales
- Take 2 pieces of baking paper about 30cm in length and lay it flat on the bench
- In the center of each piece of paper lay the steamed potato slices along with a sprinkling of the green shallots, season with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then top with a piece of salmon
- Squeeze over a touch of lemon juice along with a little more of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, top with a slice of lemon and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and seal the bag. Take the edge of baking paper close to you as well as the opposite edge, bring together above the fish and fold downwards creating a tight pleat, fold the ends to the left and right back under the fish creating a snug little parcels
- Place fish parcel onto a heatproof tray, and then put into the pre-heated oven, for approximately 8 minutes or until cooked to your liking. The best way to test is to pierce with a sharp skewer; you are looking for almost no resistance.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sliced zucchini along with the mint leaves and a scattering of the chives, season with a pepper, a little oil and another squeeze of lemon juice.
- Once fish is cooked remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for a minute or 2 before opening bag
- To serve, tare the bag open, Dividing the zucchini and mint salad evenly, and place on top of each piece of fish, it is not necessary to remove the fish from the paper bag
Passionfruit and praline souffle, the goodie bag and dining at the revamped Sydney Seafood School
It is hard imagining how a souffle with praline would rise, but this did. Because it is both gluten-free and fat-free, the texture is extremely airy and seriously melts in your mouth. The zing of the passionfruit simply spells out a summer delight.
PASSIONFRUIT AND PRALINE SOUFFLE
Makes 8 x 240 ml soufflé moulds
"This is one of those impressive desserts with wow factor, I love making this because it’s gluten and fat free, well...
Till I add a spoon of freshly whipped cream" says Jason Roberts.
Extra butter to grease the dishes and caster sugar to dust the interiors
160 ml (5.4floz) passion fruit pulp
200 mls (6.8floz) orange juice
25 g (0.9oz) corn starch
120 g (4.2oz) caster sugar
300 ml (10.1floz) egg whites, free of any yolk
Pinch cream of tartar
100 g (3.5oz) caster sugar
75 g (2.6oz) blanched almonds
50 g (1.8oz) toasted, skinned hazelnuts
125 g (4.4oz)sugar
2Tblspns water to melt the sugar
Icing sugar to dust
Whipped cream at your discretion
- Pre heat oven to 175C (380F) for 14 minutes
- Melt the sugar and water over low heat until dissolved thoroughly. Increase the heat and cook to a caramel - 175º C/380’ F on a sugar thermometer. Should be amber in color but not burnt.
- Off the heat, quickly incorporate the nuts using a swirling action rather than a spoon if possible then turn out onto a clean flat baking tray. Spread with a spatula.
- Cool to room temperature then finely chop, set aside.
- In a small saucepan place the orange juice along with the 120gm quantity of castor sugar, set over a medium heat
- Mix well the passion fruit and corn starch to make a slurry, add to the orange juice mixture. With a wooden spoon, beat till thickened and then continue to cook for a further 8-10 minutes over a low heat. After this time place into a sieve and pass removing the seed content, return a few seeds back to passion fruit and cornstarch puree, set aside to cool
- Either by hand or electric mixer you need to beat the whites to semi firm peaks, I find the electric mixer very helpful, but whatever you choose to use, make sure equipment is super clean and free from any fat content.
- Place a kitchen mixer onto a medium speed, add in egg whites along with cream of tartar and continue to mix till well-incorporated and fluffy (approximately 1 minute) increase the speed and slowly start to add the 100gm sugar quantity, a little at a time.
- The egg whites should almost triple in volume and hold semi firm peaks.
Start incorporating the egg white into the passion fruit base; this will need to be done in thirds. The first quantity you can be quite liberal with, mixing well, the second addition of whites needs to be a little gentler, reserving volume
- Before folding in remaining whites, scatter in the praline then the whites and very gently fold till well mixed
- Fill each prepared mould to the top, leveling with a spatula, tapping gently to remove any air bubbles, Using your thumb, run around the outside of the top of each soufflé to create a clear track for soufflé to rise evenly
- At this point you can set aside in the refrigerator till ready to bake and serve, no longer than 6 hours in advance though,
- When ready place into pre heated oven and cook till risen by at least a third of the depth of your soufflé mould, approximately 8-10 minutes
- When cooked remove from oven, dust with icing sugar and serve
Cooking our own lunch inside Sydney Seafood School, Jason Robert's cooking demonstration and me with the man himself, after I won the door prize!
For more of Jason Robert's simple cooking ideas, visit the IGA Food 4 Life website.