Maggie Beer is an Australian culinary icon. From cookbooks to masterclasses, restaurants and her own food range, she’s done it all and still has food insight to share. Maggie is known as a master of rich, seasonal flavours, so we’re craving her delicacies more than ever now that the chilly weather has rolled in.
We caught up with Maggie to find out more about what keeps her cooking and learn the secrets to her favourite apple tart.
RESCU: What was your best food experience ever?
Maggie Beer: This will vary depending on what’s in the peak of season, but a frontrunner, whenever I can find it, is fresh sea urchin, totally unadorned.
RESCU: If you had to eat only one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Maggie Beer: Mediterranean, hands down.
RESCU: What is the one ingredient every foodie should have on hand in the kitchen?
Maggie Beer: I could list so many edible ingredients here, but I’d like to suggest another kind of essential. Aloe vera. Fresh aloe vera growing near the door of your kitchen or on the windowsill is an incredible first aid for burns and it’s the one thing I’m never without whether cooking at home, or in the studio kitchen at the Farm Shop. It has saved me more times than I can remember.
RESCU: How do you take your coffee (or tea)?
Maggie Beer: A ristretto is my first choice for coffee and I’m lucky enough to have access to the very freshest beans locally roasted here in the Valley by Barossa Coffee Roasters.
For tea, I love (another local artisan product) Scullery Made Tea’s Wine & Roses, a beautiful herbal blend of fruit and flowers that has become my afternoon tea tradition.
RESCU: What is your favourite dish to whip up at home?
Maggie Beer: At the moment we have so many wonderful greens growing, and I love silverbeet straight from the garden – just picked, the leaves and snapping stems are full of flavour and vigour. I simply pan fry the roughly chopped leaves with a little nut brown butter and Verjuice and serve them with roasted almonds and a fresh curd cheese. Wonderful.
RESCU: Let’s talk dessert – chocolate or cheese?
Maggie Beer: Cheese, most definitely. I’m not much of a sweet tooth, actually no one in our family is, so dessert is usually passed in for a perfectly ripe whole cheese with an accompanying fruit paste and a crisp pear – my current obsession is an Aged Pyengana Cheddar with our cabernet paste. I always finish with coffee, and in our present weather a little tipple of port or tokay doesn’t go astray either!
RESCU: What inspires you passion for food?
Maggie Beer: The simple fact that I love what I do makes every day a new chance to spread the good food news, and I enjoy that above all else. Helping people to make good food choices on a daily basis is what drives me and I am lucky to have every opportunity to do so.
RESCU: What is the one piece of advice you would give an aspiring cook?
Maggie Beer: When it comes to deciding what to cook, rather than choosing a recipe and then heading off to shop for the listed ingredients, approach it the other way around. Go shopping and let yourself be seduced by whatever is in season, and then find a way to cook the produce that most stands out to you. That way your food will be at the peak of its season, at its most affordable, and most of all, full of flavour.
And I would add… Cooking to opera, at volume, makes any meal taste just that little bit better!
1 tbspn honey
1/3 cup Verjuice
1 tbspn caster sugar
1 free range egg yolk
900g granny smith apples
20g flaked almonds roasted
375g puff pastry
Preheat a fan forced oven to 220C.
Cut a 24cm diameter circle from the piece of puff pastry. Place this onto a lined flat baking tray and place into the fridge.
Place the roasted almond flakes into a food processor and blend into a fine meal.
Peel and core the apples and slice into 2mm thick slices.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and using a fork, prick the pastry 1cm in from the edge.
Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the roasted almonds.
Working quickly, arrange the slices of apple onto the pastry leaving a 1cm space between the edge and the apples, start from the outside over lapping each apple slice by at least 2/3, working your way around the pastry into the centre. The edge between the pastry and the apples will allow the puff pastry to rise around the edge forming a wall.
Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Place into the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the Verjuice and honey into a small pot over a high heat, bring to the boil and reduce to 2 tablespoons, remove from heat and brush over the warm apple tart before returning to the oven.
Then reduce the oven temperature to 190C and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature with Vanilla and Elderflower Ice Cream.
Recipe © Maggie Beer Products 2013.
For more from Maggie Beer and her food range visit the Brands Exclusive Flavours of Winter Sale from June 28th to July 5th.
Brands that will be included: Maggie Beer, Yalumba, Rekorderlig, La Morena Mexican Foods, Lucky Beer, Organic soft drinks.
Maggie’s Absolute Essentials Pack Sale Price $23.99 RRP $38
Maggie’s Complete Paste Pack Sale price $23.99 RRP $38