'I made 4 dishes from MasterChef this week. Here's exactly how they turned out.'

It's that time of year again. The time of year when I can be found traipsing the aisles of the supermarket in need of marjoram and micro herbs. Because it's MasterChef okay, and I am inspired.

This is usually met with a mixed response from my family who have to endure a rogue menu that ranges from sea urchin to orange cake. And, of course, on the nights when I can't bring myself to pull out the stand mixer with the pasta attachment, the best I can offer is toast.

Week one of MasterChef has been different this year. We are coming to terms with losing host Jock Zonfrillo and for many fans, it's too hard to watch.

Over the years I have attempted to cook dozens of MasterChef recipes and the show has influenced me to purchase far too many Kitchen Aid products. In short: I'm committed.

This year is no different - a fresh batch of amateur cooks are in the kitchen, learning, failing and crying over spinach and mushrooms. So let's get into it.

First up, Borscht and Ukrainian Pampushky. This was made by contestant Larissa Sewell and was the favourite dish in episode one. Beef stew with some beetroot. What could go wrong?

Looks good, right?



I have a pretty infuriating habit of gathering all ingredients as per the recipe and then failing to follow the method. This is why I have a difficult relationship with baking as I tend to improvise.

Step one was to "Start the night before," which I didn't do. Closely followed by "remove the meat from the short ribs, trim away any sinew and excess fat." Which I did, but not very well.

The stock called for "one bulb of garlic" and suddenly my brain couldn't work out if a single clove was called a bulb or if I was going to put the whole bulb in. And was I going to peel it? Or throw it in whole? Chopped?

I decided the best course of action was to peel every clove from the bulb and throw in, and we were away.

Ingredients for the Borscht and my poor attempt at removing fat/sinew from beef spare ribs.


Now to make some bread rolls.

This was the easiest bread roll recipe I have ever made. Actually foolproof and very satisfying.

Buoyed by the success of the bread rolls, I start to improvise and failed to follow recipe instructions five through 10 and it's here things start to get messy.  

Dough rising, little balls in a skillet because I didn't have the right gear and the bread rolls resting. 



The recipe calls for a pressure cooker, which I don't own, so I decide to make this as a one-pot meal resting some of the cooked elements and using the stock in a way that was absolutely not recommended. 

This decision, resulted in the Borscht being a two-pot-and-two-saucepan kind of meal because I didn't fry off the onions and carrot for the all-important caramelisation and then scrambled to evaporate excess liquid to make it work.

The panic setting in. 


But somehow it worked. Remember the part at the beginning where I was meant to trim the bones, this probably would have saved me scooping fat off the top at the end, but the Borscht came together and it tasted delicious. Even had the stamp of approval from my toddler.

Toddler tick of approval. 


Next up: Chachapas from Antonio Cruz Vaamonde. Jamie Oliver was delighted with this corn pancake stuffed with haloumi, mozzarella and feta cheese so I had to give it a go. 

Antonio's Chachapas. Drooooool. 


Antonio cooked this dish in a 15-minute challenge and I have to say, I wasn't too far off that time. It's simple and very tasty.

Ingredients for the Chachapas and the first attempt.


Chachapas is similar to a pancake mix pumped up with corn and creamed corn, then folded over melted halloumi, feta and mozzarella. So yeah, they are good and surprisingly achievable.

Very happy with my final plate. Thoughts Jamie?

 My next challenge: Jamie Oliver's Mushroom and Spinach Rotolo. 

In the show, four contestants cooked along with Jamie Oliver IRL as he made his famous rotolo. 

It's an important dish for Jamie, the one that launched his career.

I have been cooking along with Jamie Oliver since he first stuck a lemon up a chicken's bum in his Naked Chef days. I even cooked his entire Christmas menu one year, so a cook-a-long with Jamie seemed achievable for week one.

Things that went wrong: Everything.

Safe to say I was behind within 40 seconds. As Jamie was talking about what he has learned from Nonnas in a tiny town in Italy, I wasn't sure if we were using three eggs or nine.

This does not look right. 

I tried kneading at the pace he did, but failing to keep up I decided to enlist the help of my stand mixer. I didn't have the dried chilli the recipe called for, so decided to use a habanero chilli off the neighbours' bush. Turns out these are hot. Too hot.

Would you believe, I don't own a strainer?! So could not separate the milk solids for my clarified butter. 

I don't really know what happened between steps two and 24, but my mushrooms were too chunky, I made a rogue decision to put the spinach in a saucepan instead of a pot of boiling water and then THIS happened. 

Jamie pops his rotolo in some kind of rectangular, speciality looking pot. I bought a lot of kitchen items in lockdown, but this is unheard of.


In what fresh hell...


Desperate, I decide to use a wok. The wok was a bad choice. 

Jamie then wraps his rotolo in a white tea towel to immerse in the boiling pot of water to cook. The only tea towel I have fit for the job is blue with red polkadots so, in a scene reminiscent of Bridget Jones' Diary, I am awaiting my dinner to turn blue.

Once the rotolo is tied up and cooking in the wok, the sauce comes together nicely. But it's almost been three hours so perhaps my judgement for what is a good or bad effort is weakened.

I'm basically a chef...


 Against all odds, my rotolo came out without a single tinge of blue. And, it tasted delicious. I am chuffed. It took me at least 2 hours longer than everyone on the show, but I did it.




 Next I tried my hand at a dessert with Malissa Fedele's Fig and Date Cake with Ginger Caramel.

Malissa Fedele's Fig and Date Cake with Ginger Caramel.

My five-year-old offered to help and she tipped the thickened cream down her apron in the first 20-seconds, so off to a good start.

I had all of the ingredients for this recipe at home, well almost. I used white sugar instead of the required caster sugar, which caused some panic moments at the caramel stage as I was convinced it was never going to melt.

I know, I know the MKR aprons are jarring, but this isn't #sponcon (enquiries welcome on our sales page...)

The cake mix is light and delicious and I am lucky to get any into the loaf tin due to aforementioned five-year-old.

But stop because I need to talk about caramel. Left alone, I could have just chugged this.

I had a mild panic at the beginning when I used the wrong sugar and it went clumpy, but eventually melted and was velvety and delicious. 

The caramel panic


Very happy with this one, I think it will be my new staple for "bring a plate" parties. 



The caramel though...


There were some close calls but I am chalking these four recipes up as a win. I'm excited/terrified to see what culinary delights we face next week.

Have you cooked any recipes from MasterChef? Tell us in the comments below.

The first elimination episode of MasterChef Australia airs tonight on Channel 10. 


Feature Image: Supplied. 

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