Assiette de Hannah

With MasterChef Australia now going to air, the third of my related posts gets to see the light of day [here are the first and second posts]. Perth hasn’t yet featured in the series, but I realised that Day 1 of auditions is not getting a look-in, hence I thought I would feature my Day 1 dish now. It’s fairly resource-intensive. I hope you like it and try at least part of it!

H 🙂

MasterChef Australia auditions. My Day 1 dish: Assiette de Hannah. Our challenge for the first day of auditions was to bring together one dish that could be plated on-site with minimal time and fuss. We were told there were no heating sources and limited refrigeration, which meant it really had to be a cold dish. I chose a tasting plate, in an attempt to showcase some of the techniques that I am used to working with. The smoked salmon canapes, in particular, went down really well with the other contestants in my group.

Naming my dish Assiette de Hannah [assiette=”plate”] may seem a little like I love myself. It is, in fact, exactly what it purports to be – a plate of me.

Here are two iPhone photos of the dish that saw my way into Day 2:

the presentation plate - clockwise, from far left: (1) crispy salami with salsa verde; (2) fennel and mint salad; (3) ravioli filled with chicken liver and green peppercorn paté, with sage cream; (4) smoked salmon canape to finish
...and this is the plate that I put together for the judges to taste

Recipe #34: Crispy salami with salsa verde. Makes 30.

crispy salami with salsa verde You will need:
• 30 thin slices of hot salami [or you can go for mild, if you like]
• 1 portion of salsa verde – Recipe #9 on my post of 2 February 2009

Arrange the salami on a non-stick baking tray and place in an oven pre-heated to 150°C. I fold mine so that they make smaller circles on the tray; they crisp up with cooking and retain their shape. Cook the salami until it is dark and bubbling (10-15 minutes). Remove the tray from the oven and mop the salami slices carefully with paper towel, then place the slices on fresh paper towel to cool completely.

Your now-crispy salami shells are ready for the salsa verde. Spoon around ½ tsp of salsa verde onto each salami shell, and they are ready to serve.

You may have leftover salsa verde at the end. This is great! It can be used as a side for fish, to spread over meat, as a base for crostini, etc. It also freezes really well.

Recipe #35: Fennel and mint salad. Makes ~12 mini portions. Could also be a refreshing side to a main meal for 4 people.

fennel and mint salad You will need:
• 1 large bulb or 2 small bulbs of fennel [go for the roundish bulbs – apparently they are female and sweeter; smaller bulbs are also sweeter]
• 1 small handful of mint leaves
• white wine vinegar
• good extra virgin olive oil
• salt & pepper to taste

To prepare the fennel, remove the green stalks and leaves. Discard the stalks or save for a stock; put the leaves to one side for later [some for this dish; some to top the smoked salmon canapes in case you run out of dill]. Remove the core of the bulb by slicing around it on an angle. Finely slice the fennel bulb. It doesn’t matter which direction you slice; I find it easiest to cut the bulb in half, then slice as you would an onion.

To make the salad, chop the mint leaves very finely and add to the fennel. Pour over a good swirl (~2 tbsp) of white wine vinegar and the same of olive oil, add a good pinch of salt and a decent grinding of pepper, then mix the salad together with your very clean hands. Taste a little of the fennel and season with additional salt, pepper, oil or vinegar as needed.

[I designed this part of the dish to be a palate cleanser. I have also made this salad without the mint and with finely sliced celeriac, and it is so delicious. The crisp texture and fresh flavour of this healthy salad make it a favourite of mine when celeriac is in season.]

Garnish with fennel leaves.

Healthy facts about fennel
Fennel, which is related to anise, has some great associated health benefits. It is known as a metabolism booster (as is celeriac), a remedy for digestive, respiratory and eye disorders, and a treatment for anemia and menstrual problems. It is also a source of iron, vitamin C, calcium, carotene and folic acid.

Recipe #36: Ravioli filled with chicken liver and green peppercorn paté. Sage cream sauce.

ravioli filled with chicken liver and green peppercorn paté, with sage cream You will need:
• a half portion of egg pasta – Recipe #19 on my post of 26 February 2009
• one portion of chicken liver and green peppercorn paté – see recipe below
• 30g unsalted butter
• 200mL double cream
• 1 handful of fresh sage leaves
• salt & pepper to taste

Make the paté and set it to one side.

To make the sage cream, firstly oven-dry the sage leaves by spreading them over a baking tray in a single layer, cracking over some salt & pepper, then baking for 10-15 minutes on 150°C. When they come out of the oven, they should be dehydrated but still retain their green colour. Heat the cream over the stove with a the butter and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Crush in a small handful of sage leaves, then turn off the heat. Leave the cream to infuse.

To make the ravioli, roll the pasta into very thin sheets. Take one sheet, flour it lightly, then fold it in half so that it creases (but don’t press down!). Unfold the sheet. Brush water on one half of the sheet, up to the crease you just made, then spoon ½ tsp mounds of paté onto the pasta sheet, leaving 2-3 cm in between. Carefully fold over the other half of the pasta sheet and press down in between the paté lumps, being careful to seal without trapping any air. Cut around each lump, leaving a little pasta around the edge of the paté. Cook in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until the ravioli are floating to the top of the pot.
>For a better example on how to do this, watch this video.

Serve the ravioli with half a teaspoonful of sage cream and a sprinkling of pepper.

To make the paté…

Recipe #37: Chicken liver and green peppercorn paté.

You will need:
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 30g unsalted butter
• 1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
• 1 small onion, diced
• 2 tbsp green peppercorns, bashed around a bit in a mortar & pestle
• 1 rasher of bacon, diced
• 150g chicken livers
• 30mL brandy [optional]
• 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
• 60mL cream
• salt & pepper to taste

First, place the olive oil, garlic a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper into a saucepan then heat the saucepan to medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the butter; when the butter is melted, add the onion and 1 tsp of the peppercorns. Turn the heat to low and place a lid over the saucepan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the bacon and turn the heat up again. Stir frequently.

Once the bacon starts to colour, add the [brandy and] chicken livers. Turn these after a few minutes; you may need to turn them again. The livers are cooked when they are brown all over but not grainy. Stir through the parsley and cream, cook for a further minute on low heat, then allow to cool.

Blend the mixture until it is a smooth puree, then taste. Add more salt if needed and stir through the 2nd tsp of green peppercorns.

Stylish nibbly bits
The quantities above result in extra paté than you will need for the ravioli. Put this in a little pot and pour over some clarified butter. Allow this to set in the fridge. Serve with naked crostini.To clarify butter: warm a small knob of butter in a saucepan until it is melted. The protein solids should separate from the butter fat; this top layer of fat is called clarified butter. Pour this over the paté, being careful not to pour over the solids, which should be discarded.

To make naked crostini: finely slice a baguette. Lay the slices on a baking tray in a single layer (you may need more than one tray). Swirl over some olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Bake in a 150°C oven for ~15 minutes – removing the tray(s) when the crostini start to curl and before they colour. Allow to cool (pref. in the oven). Store in an airtight container as you would water crackers.

And there you have it: quick and stylish nibbly bits for when you next have unexpected guests.

Recipe #38: Smoked salmon, dill and creme fraiche canapes. Makes 24.

smoked salmon canape to finish You will need:
• 1 portion of shortcrust pastry [Damien Pignolet’s recipe – follow the instructions to the letter and it will work every time]
• a handful of dill, chopped very finely with a pinch of salt and a little olive oil
• 125g creme fraiche
• 300g salmon
• dill or fennel sprigs to garnish
• olive oil
• salt & pepper to taste

Start by making the pastry cases. Lightly grease each dimple of a mini-muffin tin (~5cm diameter per dimple). Roll the pastry until it is an even 3-4mm thick and cut 6cm rounds from it. Re-roll the pastry and repeat. Press the rounds into the dimples, stabbing the base of each with a fork, and refrigerate [yes, this is the second time the pastry has been chilled!] for at least 20 minutes. Bake in a very hot (~220°C) oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry just starts to turn golden. Set pastry cases to one side and allow to cool on a cake rack or paper towel.
>I had several things on the go when I made these. I did blind-bake the first batch (12 cases), but I crossed my fingers and just stabbed the bottoms of the second batch. I actually preferred the second batch: the pastry turns out fluffier if you don’t blind bake. Do not, however, scrimp on refrigeration time – it prevents pastry shrinkage in the oven.

Now to prepare the canapes. For each pastry case, spoon in a little chopped dill, followed by creme fraiche. Fold or roll a small piece of salmon and push this into the creme fraiche a little. Finally, add a sprig of dill/fennel, drizzle over some olive oil and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

I love this recipe so much. It was actually the perfect finish to the course because it has a delicate texture and a little sweetness that lingers on the palate.

To finish it all prettily. Of course, no course would be complete without ambience, for which I provided:

  • wine – a quaffable Italian prosecco; and
  • music – “Jussara” by Zuco 103, a very cool Dutch Brazilectro band. Played on my iPhone.

As far as I am aware, no one else in WA used music and wine in quite the same way. I can’t talk for the rest of Australia, though… I am watching and waiting just like the rest of you!



  1. Great to see you here again, Darya! The other contestants in my group liked this dish – esp the smoked salmon canapes. If you try nothing else, please give these a go.

    You can make the pastry cases in advance (store in an airtight container), then spend 15 minutes topping them while waiting for guests to arrive. Just don’t be tempted to pick at them beforehand – they are very moreish.

    H 🙂


  2. I am hoping to catch a glimse of you on tv tonight and looking forward to the rest of the show.

    Love your blogg – don’t know how you find the time?

    I make something similar to the salmon but with minature savoury pikelets.




  3. I really appreciate your comment and love the alternative idea for the salmon canapes, Mandy. I was thinking that potato & dill cakes would also make a nice variation – served with scrambled eggs for breakfast, perhaps?

    Also glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. Thanks so much for your support!

    H 🙂


  4. Finally going to leave a comment, so here it is,

    I love the diversity, love and attention to detail that goes into your research and execution, if I were a publisher I’d be looking at printing this.

    Thank you for my new online cook book.

    Oh and p.s. Your header text isn’t the same for me as you is it windows native?

    Benjamin Sebastian


  5. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Benjamin! I still have a long way to go before the site looks and feels as I would like. Any shortcuts to knowledge you can pass on?

    Re the PS: I think I chose a non-standard font. Thanks for letting me know it doesn’t work for you. I’ll figure out a better alternative and bring it online soon.

    H 🙂


  6. I agree with Benjamin, you should write a cookbook! I would love one that included nutritional sidebars and recommendations for music and wine. It would be wonderful!



  7. Thanks so much, Wendy – and again to Benjamin – you are too kind!

    I would love to compile all my notes into a cookbook. This is something I will look at seriously once I have built up enough material – which should only be a few more months at the rate I am going :p

    H 🙂


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