Mayfield's Reece Hignell is busy filming the 2020 all-star season of MasterChef Australia, which premieres on April 13.
Food & Wine spoke to Hignell this week about his latest television adventure and it sounds like a must-watch for foodies. You can read all about it in Saturday's Newcastle Herald Weekender.
In 2018 Hignell tried his luck in the MasterChef kitchen, finishing an impressive sixth. Inspired, he left his job in recruitment and made cooking a full-time career, teaching classes at inaugural MasterChef Australia winner Julie Goodwin's cooking school and at The Essential Ingredient Newcastle, hosting dinner events and launching his online business, Cakeboi.
You can watch Hignell in action on Network 10 on April 13 at 7.30pm. In the meantime, here is a simple recipe of his you might like to try at home.
Brownie with Caramelised Condensed Milk
200g chocolate (dark)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tin caramelised condensed milk (or dulce de leche)
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Spray a square brownie tray with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate in the microwave in 30-second bursts until melted. Once slightly cooled, whisk in the eggs, sugar and vanilla until evenly mixed through. Finally, mix in the self-raising flour and cocoa powder ensuring there are no remaining lumps. Spoon dollops of caramelised condensed milk around the tray then cover with the brownie batter. Bake in oven for 35 minutes then cool in the fridge until set.
If you cannot locate caramelised condensed milk or dulce de leche you can make it by placing an unopened can of condensed milk in simmering water for three hours. Over the three hours, the condensed milk will slowly caramelise.
The many and varied ways businesses have been responding to the coronavirus restrictions placed upon them has been inspiring. While many have unfortunately had no choice but to close, others are offering takeaway deals and diversifying their business models in ways they would never have thought possible.
Some closed and have since re-opened; many catering businesses now delivering to the public; wholesalers are selling to the public; home delivery has taken off and you can find fresh produce and pantry items in some pubs, of all places.
Many people are asking what's open and who is delivering. The simple answer is: just ask. Give the business a call, or visit their website or social media pages.
Spare a thought, though, for new businesses that have opened up smack bang in the middle of this pandemic, or a week or so prior.
Alessio Maisano, for example,opened Hungry Wolf's Adamstown just last week. His family owns and operates four restaurants on the Central Coast, including a flagship Hungry Wolf's at Terrigal, and his sister Maria opened a Hungry Wolf's at Belmont in March.
Alessio and Maria grew up working at the Terrigal restaurant.
"I have worked alongside my father, Dominic, since I was able to see over the bench, making pizzas, and have been looking to open my own Hungry Wolf's to be able to keep Dad's legacy going," he told Food & Wine.
"Myself, my partner, Carina and our two kids Phoenix and Francesco have been working hard for the past month trying to get this pizzeria up and running. It's finally opened in such an overwhelming time - but we are blessed to be able to do take away and home deliveries."
The popular Francesco special pizza is named after Alessio's son. Keep an eye out for the Hungry Wolf's Adamstown menu in your letterbox. Trading hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm until late. To order phone 4952 5547.
Downtown Beirut has also opened in the past week. You can find them at 25 Beaumont Street, Islington. The menu is Middle Eastern and Lebanese and can be viewed online at downtownbeirut.com.au or on the restaurant's Facebook page. Phone 4031 4731 to place your order. They are open on Good Friday.
King Street Deli & Bar has also opened, offering a full menu as well as take-home meals from Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant at The Junction (who are still open for takeaway and delivery). The delicatessen is located at 181 King Street in Newcastle and serves great coffee, charcuterie, cheeses, antipasto and a selection of wines and craft beers. Also on the menu is a huge panini range, deli items like crispy duck confit and chicken liver pate, quiches, salads and juices. Go to kingstreetdeli.com.
Hunter Espresso Co has also opened and is rapidly adapting to change. You can find them at The Corner, Charlestown Square, serving great coffee and fresh juices as well as a tasty takeaway breakfast and lunch menu. Pop in and say hello.
If you are a business that has opened in the middle of the coronavirus chaos, or know of one who has, please let Food & Wine know.
Most Hunter Valley cellar doors are closed to the public but that doesn't mean they are closed for business. Free delivery is being offered by some, and significant savings by most. Also, Pat Hester from Yellow Billy Restaurant has raided his cellar and is selling a selection of his quality non-Hunter Valley wines. Email contact@yellowbillyrestaurant or visit yellowbillyrestaurant.com to find out more.
Raw Energy Newcastle at Honeysuckle is making Wednesdays a "recharge day" for frontline health and emergency workers by offering free coffee every week until the COVID-19 crisis is over.
"We know a lot of us are feeling a bit helpless and don't know what to do to help. If a free cup of coffee every Wednesday helps ease their stress and makes their week a bit easier then that's a win," owner Greg Fenwick said.
Anyone can get involved - just pay it forward by buying a coffee either in person (adhering to social distancing) or by phoning Raw Energy at 4927 8498. Frontline workers are encouraged to phone ahead on Wednesdays to place their order for pick up. Raw Energy is open from 6am to 4pm weekdays and 7am to 4pm on weekends.
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