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Sunday, June 26, 2011

MasterChef: Now it's masterfully irritating

Regular readers might remember that about a month and a half ago, I suggested that Channel 10's seemingly unbeatable reality cooking behemoth MasterChef might be starting to get a bit past its use by date.

Well allow me to clear my throat and give a hearty “NYA NYA, TOLD YOU SO”.
According to a report in last week's Advertiser MasterChef is starting to shed viewers nationally, losing audience share to shows like Australia's Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars, both on Seven.

It seems viewers are more interested in watching people salsa than actually MAKE salsa.

If you believe the media analyst quoted in the article, Peter Cox, that's because this series of MasterChef doesn't have any interesting contestants – apart from “a few whingy women”. Hmph. Well, YOU try cooking after your lucky cock has broken and see how pleasant YOU are, Peter.
Nevertheless I understand the switch-off. (Well of course I do, I predicted this all in May, remember?)

MasterChef has gotten tired. We're now all so familiar with the format there is little opportunity to create suspense – you can see the “cliffhanger” adbreaks coming a mile away. If you can call them that – I mean, how much suspense can you wring out of seeing whether an egg is runny or hard when cut into? Are we all so sad and dull that watching a fat man cut into an egg is worthy of a nailbiting cutaway?

Speaking of eggs, most of the contestants this year seem like they could barely boil one. Where are the Pohs? The Adams? The Callums? This time in season one Poh was doing incredible things with weird ingredients like century eggs and pandan leaf – this lot can't even cook porridge without burning it. And I feel that if you can't cook porridge, you probably shouldn't be anywhere near a TV show with the words “master” and “chef” in the title.

Perhaps it's the lack of talent, perhaps it's the lack of suspense, perhaps it's the fact that it's on 17 times a week – I think the real reason people are turning off MasterChef is simple. IT'S ANNOYING.

I don't know if Channel 10 thinks its suddenly catering to a legion of blind people, but there is so much unnecessary commentary in MasterChef you could watch it with your eyes closed.

Not 30 seconds goes by without the action being annoyingly interrupted by some contestant telling you what you've literally JUST SEEN on screen. And sometimes it's not even the person actually cooking telling you what's happening, but someone completely unrelated.

“Ellie knows she's got to add the eggs to the mixture, so she gets them out of the fridge and starts cracking them.”

*Footage of Ellie cracking eggs.*

“Peter's straining his puree, but it's too thick, so he has to add some liquid to thin it out.”

*Footage of Peter adding liquid to puree.*

“It's time for the judges to taste, so Mat takes his dish to the front of the room.”

*Footage of Mat taking his dish to the judges.*


Bloody nora, they might as well broadcast it on radio.

Dear Channel 10 – perhaps you've forgotten, but television is a visual medium. I'm sure there is a way you can edit the thousands of hours of footage you no doubt have to SHOW us what is happening, as opposed to constantly TELLING us, like we're three years old. IT'S IRRITATING.

“Petra is getting really irritated with MasterChef, so she thinks it might be time to switch it off.”

*Footage of Petra reaching for her remote...*

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on June 26, 2011.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beatrix Potted-Pie recipe - the pie to end all pies

Firstly - I have somehow posted 333 entries on this blog since I started it in 2004. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion with a beer:


BA BA BA!


Secondly, I made THIS the other night:


RABBIT PIE!


And everyone who saw it wanted the recipe. So bunny boilers unite! Death to thumper! Pies rule the world! And so on, and so on. Here you go:

RABBIT PIE RECIPE

1 pack frozen puff pastry (or go on, make your own, Martha Stewart, whatever)
250g bacon, chopped rough
1 rabbit, jointed (or about 1kg rabbit meat)
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
a good whack of mushrooms, sliced rough
some butter
some olive oil
1 egg (for glazing)
fresh parsley
fresh thyme, sage and rosemary
salt & pepper

Fry bacon in its own fat, then put into a lidded casserole dish or pot.

Coat rabbit pieces in some flour, then fry in oil/butter mixture until golden brown on all sides. Put meat into casserole dish.

Add remaining flour to oil in pan and fry off until golden brown. Add stock and bring to boil, stirring continuously. WARNING: Do not stop stirring or the world as you know it will end.

When the sauce is nice and thick, add to the casserole dish. Throw in some chopped sage, rosemary and thyme. Cover and cook in 160C oven for about 1.5 hours, or until rabbit meat is tender and easy to pry away from the bone. If your sauce at this stage looks too thin, extract a little, mix with a bit of flour in a cup until thick, then add back into the casserole dish and stir around. Keep doing this until your sauce looks the right "pie-gravy" consistency.

Leave meat mix cool. While cooling, grease your pie dish and line with puff pastry sheets. (If you want to be a tad healthier, skip this step and opt for just a puff pastry lid on your pie instead)

Sautee your mushrooms in butter/oil with some fresh parsley.

When your meat mix is cool, tear the rabbit meat off the bone into chunks and throw in your prepared pie dish. Discard bones.

Layer mushrooms over the top of the rabbit in the pie dish.

Pour over bacon meat sauce.

Cover with a pastry lid, and brush with beaten egg. Cook pie in oven according to pastry directions - mine was about 220C for half an hour.

Voila!


"Now children, if you see a lady carrying frozen pastry and a cleaver, run the other way!"