Elise Pascoe is one of Australia's best known and respected food writers, cooking teachers and television food presenters. She has been a culinary professional for 35 years, and has taught cooking for 27 years and many would say Elise was a pioneer in the way Australians approach food, its selection and preparation today.
Her weekly column in The Sydney Morning Herald was inspirational to its readers and her cookbooks have been translated into several languages. She was the first woman president of the Wine Press Club of Victoria and first woman to be elected as a Director of the Wine Society.
Elise has been a guest chef in Canada, the United States, Fiji and New Caledonia. She has held classes in Rome, Venice, London, Kentucky and four New Zealand cities. She has lent her culinary knowledge to airlines and edited food magazines.
It's hardly any wonder that Elise has opted for the more peaceful, but not necessarily less busy, life on her property in the beautiful green hills of Jamberoo Valley, backing onto 10ha of virgin rainforest. Perched on Saddleback Mountain, there is 180° view across the green dairy country and Kiama's rooftops to the Pacific Ocean.
Her International Cooking School is charming, modern and purpose-built. Twenty students can comfortably be in the kitchen together, learning to turn out delicious food from the four oven Aga, a gar-fired, cast-iron, heat storage cooker. There are also Gaggenau electric ovens and gas hobs, a charcoal grill and wok burner. Two of the Gaggenau ovens have terracotta bread-baking bricks for classes in hearth breads such as focaccia and ciabatta.
With her knowledge and such a range of professional equipment, students can learn how to prepare southern and northern Italian cuisine, Moroccan, Vietnamese, noodles, finger food, barbecuing for entertaining and for the festive season. Students choose between observing in demonstration classes, or being fully involved in a hands-on sessions.
Courses vary from one, two or three days, each of six hours, including a three course lunch with wines to match. The day begins with a welcoming morning tea and espresso coffee and cake or biscuits made in the school. People cook in small groups with a break at noon for a flute of sparkling wine. Guests can walk through the rainforest, try an ancient Scottish putting game called clock golf or have a game of bocce, Italian bowls.
If you wish to stay a few days and get to explore this beautiful part of New South Wales, Elise has about seven properties she can recommend, or you can contact the Kiama Visitor's Bureau.
Elise has kindly given us two of her favourite recipes you may like to try!
CIOCCOLANTINI (Flourless Chocolate Cup Cakes
16 patty pan cases
125g unsalted butter, chopped
450g dark chocolate, broken into squares
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Preheat oven to 170°C. Fit regular muffin pans with patty pan cases. Melt butter and chocolate in a 1000 watt microwave oven for 2 minutes. Then stir until combined and smooth. Cool lightly. Beat eggs with sugar until pale and light. Fold butter/chocolate mixture through the egg mixture.
Scrape into a pouring jug. Three-quarters fill muffin pans. Bake 12-15 minutes or until well risen and shiny on top. Cool 5-10 minutes in pans before turning out. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
EGGPLANT AND CAPSICUM SALAD
3 red capsicums
1 kg medium eggplant
80 ml olive oil
50g chopped pistachios
Cut sides off capsicums and discard cores. Arrange flesh skin-side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and grill until blistered all over. Put into a plastic bag for 10 minutes. Skin and set aside.
Halve eggplant lengthwise and then cut each half into four. Cut wedges in half to make short wedges. Heat some of the oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Cook a layer of eggplant wedges at a time until softened – about 10 minutes. Repeat, adding oil as necessary, until all the eggplant is done.
250 mls natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup chopped coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 ½ teaspoons honey
Mix all ingredients, spoon some into a shallow bowl. Stack 1/3 of the eggplant on top, then 1/3 of capsicum, then more dressing. Continue stacking until all vegetables are used. Spoon remaining dressing over and scatter with pistachios.
© Copyright Elise Pascoe 2004