Dani Valent’s Cooks and Chefs Series is a new way to enjoy some of Australia’s best-loved recipes at home.
My Cooks and Chefs Series is a new way to connect with outstanding cooks and chefs and experience their cookbooks, recipes and expert insights. It’s also a new, easy, enriching way to get a special dinner on the table. I’ve always enjoyed bringing people together around good food. My Cooks and Chefs Series, powered by Cookaborough, is a fun new way to gather at your table to eat, learn and enjoy.
We launched in August 2020 with the fabulous Julia Busuttil Nishimura, then followed up in September with a second dose of amazing: The Fermentary’s Sharon Flynn and Roger Fowler. We were back with Julia in October to celebrate the launch of her second book, A Year of Simple Family Food. And November is a collab with Hetty McKinnon and her new book To Asia, With Love.
Julia Busuttil Nishimura, A Year of Simple Family Food, October 2020
Our Vegetarian Dinner begins with Julia’s version of ‘bigilla’, a Maltese broad bean dip on crostini. It’s spring in one bite! We continue with rustic malfatti (the name means ‘badly made’). These silverbeet and ricotta dumplings are rolled in a wine glass to shape them and served with brown butter and sage. There’s also pumpkin, rice and raisin pie (we reckon this glowing beauty might become book two’s version of the must-make Greens Pie from Ostro, Julia’s first book). What about sides? We give you lemony roasted potatoes and a fresh, crunchy salad of runner beans and almonds. If you can manage this in one meal, we will be impressed!
The Lovely Lamb Dinner begins with a vibrant lentil and chickpea soup with fried onions, harissa and poached egg. The hero lamb shoulder is spiced with cumin, coriander and zingy sumac and served with Julia’s special tabbouleh with green olives and pomegranate. We’re adding broad bean and pecorino salad too as an extra nod to spring. We believe you can never have too many roasted potatoes so we’re giving you these ones with rosemary, lemon zest and garlic.
The Hunter’s Chicken Dinner is one long flavour hug. We start with buttery leek soup with pancetta and sage and continue with a luxurious chicken casserole. The chicken is golden-seared then braised with white wine and tomato: it’s bright and plump with melded flavours, sparked up by green olives at the end. We keep the love going with silky Paris mash and a bright cavolo nero salad with apple and mint.
Did we mention dessert? We have three!
Spiced Rhubarb Crumble Cake
Rhubarb! This is so good in spring when rhubarb starts running rampant. There are three elements: a nutty brown butter almond pastry, a spiced rhubarb filling and an ever-so-slightly salty oat topping.
Classic Baked Cheesecake
Melbourne has seen a LOT of cheesecake through lockdown. This is Julia’s favourite, a classic baked cheesecake with a biscuit base and a cream cheese filling that’s tarted up with sour cream and spiced with cinnamon.
Chocolate Lemon Brownie
Look, this is from the winter chapter and there’s no great reason to have it in this menu except that it’s SO GOOD. It’s inspired by Sunday Bakeshop in Tokyo and is a terrific.
The Fermentary, September 2020
The Fermentary has done a great job of teaching Australia about the wonders and wherefores of fermented foods, both through the products they sell around town and through Sharon’s game-changing Ferment for Good book. But even if you love kimchi and kraut and kefir, even if you make them yourself, you might not always be sure how to get those flavoursome beauties into your meals.
This Cooks and Chefs event does it for you! We’ve constructed three complete multi-element meals for you to choose from: there’s a Dosa Dinner, Duck and Kimchi Hotpot Banquet and Smoked Seafood Chowder in a Cob Loaf Feast. Buy one, two or all three. We also have fermented desserts. These menus are SO delicious and fun! They also teach you about incorporating fermented goodness into your everyday life.
As well as a lesson in fermento code-cracking, showing you how fermented foods can be part of delicious meals, this meal is a showcase of great Victorian producers, makers and doers including Great Ocean Ducks, Falco, Sailors Grave Brewing, Pastry by Patersons and Burger Shurger.
WELCOME & CHOWDER DEMO
DIY DOSA DEMO
Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Ostro, August 2020
We launched the series with Julia Busittil Nishimura and her beloved Ostro book in August 2020. Julia selected some of her favourite winter recipes from Ostro and oversaw their preparation so every dish sang with flavour and soul. Our cooking collab partner was the delightful and impeccable Cookes Food, plus we had an exclusive focaccia created especially for the occasion by Baker Bleu. Dishes were delivered for people to finish off or heat up at home.