Paddock to Plate
A man's tart, well sort of ... This is an upside down lemon tart but if it's not masculine enough you can pour whisky over it. Photo: David Reist
It is a good idea to take stock each year around Father's Day on how the whole man thing is going. As far as annualised celebratory events go, this one is pretty good. It doesn't carry the weight of being a year older, even though technically you are, it doesn't cost you much unlike Christmas, and it's not pointless like Valentine's Day (you are married, isn't that enough?) or wedding anniversaries (ditto).
Father's Day is just about you, as a dad, and no one else gets a look-in. I always head into it with a wish-list, and top of the list this year was a Pacojet, which is a six-and-a-half grand way of making ice-cream. My kitchen isn't complete without this device. Sure it works out to be - say you lease it at 10 per cent and make ice-cream once a week - $10 a serve. But I'm sure there are other uses.
I'm quite taken with all this stuff targeted to the man's man. We've come so very far from aftershave and fragrances produced by ex-soccer players. I keep coming across male-oriented cookbooks such as Richard Blais's Try This at Home, or Manly Food by Simon Cave. And whole new industries are devoted to men's needs - like the much lauded Tap King, your own beer keg in the fridge. Brilliant people designed this.
Whisk ... with whisky perhaps? Photo: David Reist
But what do you need to create a manly ambience while you enjoy your keg-poured beer? How about a man candle? A candle that smells of leather and cigar boxes. Or freshly cut grass and a new baseball glove for the outdoorsy types. Or that cordite smell of a just-fired bullet and deer hide for the hunter in us all. Car repair shop and ute tray for the auto enthusiast.
I'm just guessing here, but I'm sure there's no end to waxy smells Mandle Co can create: Grilled beef and chips, La-Z-Boy and wet labrador, ugg boot and pipe. So much more appealing than magnolia, lavender and rose petal.
But I'm more impressed still by something you would think could never be made interesting to the modern man's man. Have a guess.
Anything to do with Shades of Grey? Yep, make no mistake, no man has ever read this book, nor would they go and see, heaven forbid, this as a movie. A Prius? Sure, you're doing the right thing, but there is no swagger you can affect here that is going to change the impression that you're in your wife's car.
How about a macaron? So colourful, sweet and pointless, like a mini pavlova.
Well, here's where you are wrong. The visionaries behind Dream Cuisine have brought out an entire range of manly macaroons that will appeal to the darker sex, the man who has a ute, a keg of beer in his fridge and spent cartridges in his pocket.
You can - or could, I'm not sure whether this was an offer just for Father's Day - have a plateful of pastries flavoured with beer, whisky and bourbon.
How good does that sound, I ask you? I have a vision, a bunch of blokes around a card table, a pile of chips in the middle, empty beer bottles and half-filled glasses, a moose head on the wall, a distinct smell from the candle. What is that? Whisky barrel and jerky?
And into this arrives a plate of malty beer-flavoured macarons. I am impressed beyond words at the enterprise of some people.
Clearly, I have no time to make these colourful little macarons. But I can share a lemon curd meringue cake. It's sort of like an upside down lemon tart but is gluten-free, light as a feather and pretty neat. Sure, it lacks a masculine tone, but you can dump a shot of whisky over it, if that helps.
Getting back to Father's Day, what was my haul this year? Well, the Breaking Bad series, which I haven't seen, but just about everyone who has seen it seems to have taken on a marketing role and thoroughly recommends it.
My son gave me a handmade bookmark, very cute with the little backward letters and wobbly writing, which was also interesting. I read from a Kindle and he is 14. Next year, maybe I'll score a mandle or a beer-flavoured cake.
>> Bryan Martin is winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla, bryanmartin.com.au
Lemon curd hazelnut cake
4 egg whites (use the yolks for the curd)
pinch of salt or cream of tartar
225g castor sugar
1 cup hazelnuts, roasted, skins rubbed off, nuts finely ground (set aside a few tbsp to garnish)
4 egg yolks
2-3 lemons, juice and finely grated rind
250g butter, diced and at room temperature
300ml whipping cream
To make the meringue, have the egg whites at room temperature and set the oven to 120C (use a thermometer to check the accuracy if you have one).
All the equipment you are using needs to be very clean and free or oil and detergent. In your chosen weapon - mixmaster with balloon whisk, hand whisk, Thermomix with paddle, or large bowl with a wire whisk and heaps of muscle (respect) - whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add the sugar slowly and evenly while beating, letting it dissolve between each addition. Once all the sugar is incorporated, beat for two to four minutes until the mix is very glossy and thick. You should be able to upend the bowl and nothing comes out. Fold the hazelnuts in gently.
Pour into a 20-centimetre springform cake tin lined with baking paper. Make a depression in the middle to hold the custard. Bake for 60 to 90 minutes, turning the temperature down to 100C after the first five minutes.
The meringue is ready when it sounds hollow. Turn off the oven and let the meringue dry in the oven if you like a fully dried cake base, or take it out to cool if you don't mind it a little chewy. Once cool, keep in a sealed container until ready to assemble.
To make the lemon curd, mix together well the eggs, lemon juice and rind, and sugar. Set over a pot of simmering water and cook, stirring, until the mixture reaches 72C. Off the heat, stir in the butter a piece at a time until absorbed - don't dally, this should be done fairly quickly.
Whip the cream until light and fluffy, and fold about half the lemon curd through - use more if you like, and keep the rest as lemon butter.
To assemble the cake, pour the lemon curd over the cooled meringue base. Garnish with the extra ground hazelnuts. You can use fruit, too, if you like, to garnish.