Country shows bring together every positive thread of country life. They are an education in agriculture, an exercise in local pride and a chance for every last person in the community a chance to fly their own flag whether in the cookery classes, horse riding, art, wood chopping, cattle showing, camp drafting, sewing or in the Miss Showgirl competition. Or that’s what I think at least.
If you haven’t yet experienced a proper country show, next February you should head to the New England town of Glen Innes and spend a couple of days basking in the glow of their friendly hospitality, genuine sense of fun and pride in their town and rural industries. I’ve just been and it truly was a really unique couple of days.
My friend Holly’s parents are among a team of hard working Glen Innes Show committee members who make this thing happen year after year (and keep the beautiful showgrounds looking so smart). Late last year they called to see if I’d be interested in coming up to do a few cooking demonstrations for the ‘Gourmet Fiesta’ tent they establish within the show program each year, I said I’d be here in a heartbeat. Well not quite. More like in a seven-hour trip. But still.
The New England town of Glen Innes is as pretty as I’d been told it would be and its show smashed all expectations. I especially loved the chance to get to know so many producers in the Gourmet Fiesta tent (below) and of course, cooking with all their produce (that’s my back, also below, cooking and chatting with the fabulous MC Sam Baker). Thank you so much to everyone involved in the show and Gourmet Fiesta, you have created something very special and I loved my time there. Hope to come back again and again!
Below are a few photos from the day, and a recipe for my favourite of the eight recipes I demonstrated while there; yeasted waffles with fresh ricotta, sweet dukkah and fruit.
Overnight Yeasted Waffles
I’ve only just started to love waffles and it’s all due to this yeasted recipe. Begone soggy, insipid waffles of the past – enter these beauties, crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and gorgeously tasty waffles that are super easy to make. This recipe was inspired by this one from Smitten Kitchen and it’s an absolute winner. At the show, I cooked these with poached rhubarb and pears and was all set to recreate the dish faithfully today but of course we’d run out of gas so instead I just sliced up a couple of beautiful juicy blood plums and the result was just as good, if not better.
Makes about 16 standard sized waffles.
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp active-dry yeast
125g melted butter, lukewarm
2 cups whole milk, lukewarm
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine the yeast and the water in a large mixing bowl, whisk then let stand for 10 minutes. Stir to make sure the yeast dissolves into the water. Combine the butter, milk, salt, and sugar then stir this into the yeast mixture. Whisk in the flour until you have a thick dough. Cover with plastic and leave in the fridge overnight. Batter will double in size so use a nice big bowl.
When ready to cook your waffles, beat the eggs and baking soda into the batter then cook according to your waffle-maker’s instructions.
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp poppy seeds
6 cardamom pods, shells removed
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
1/2 cup toasted hazlenuts
Pinch of nutmeg
3 dates, pitted
1 tbsp golden caster sugar or brown sugar
Toast the sesame seeds and poppy seeds in a dry frying pan until they just begin to pop then tip into a bowl. In the same pan, toast the cardamom and coriander seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind down fairly well. Tip this mixture into the bowl with seeds. Now put the pistachios and hazlenuts in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times add the dates and pulse again. Tip mixture into the bowl with seeds and remaining spices, stir through the sugar and add a pinch of salt to taste.
4 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
Pinch of salt
Juice of three lemons
Heat the milk, cream and salt together on medium-high heat until mixture just reaches boiling point. Whip off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice, you’ll see the mixture begin to curdle as soon as the juice hits the milk. Leave for 10 minutes, whisking every now and then.
Line a sieve with muslin and set this over a large bowl. Pour hot milk into the sieve and leave to drain for 40 minutes to an hour. Now you have beautiful fresh ricotta, use straight away or keep in the fridge for up to one week. Makes 1 1/2 cups ricotta.