If you haven't managed to wrangle an invitation to the money-can't-buy Birdcage this Melbourne Cup Carnival, but you still want a taste of what's served, fill the fridge with Champagne, rock your coolest frock (or at least socks), and get ready to seriously raise your canape game. From Dan Hong's sophisticated mini duck rillette banh mi to Peter Rowland's super simple jamon melon, there's something for all skill levels and tastebuds.
Vietnamese steak tartare on prawn crackers from Merivale at Bumble. Photo: Supplied
Steak tartare and a pink cocktail by the Merivale team for Bumble
This year Bumble has teamed up with Merivale to create a menu to wow its guests. Snacks include savoury canapes such as fresh king prawns in pink marie rose sauce, glitter strawberries, Est restaurant corn tart with harissa and almond, as well as these elegant Vietnamese steak tartare prawn crackers and pink cocktails, which are achievable to recreate in your home kitchen.
Vietnamese steak tartare on prawn cracker
400g beef tenderloin, diced
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
24 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 punnet micro coriander, leaves picked
prawn cracker pellets for frying (or you can buy pre-fried prawn crackers)
For the tartare dressing
70ml fish sauce
1 tbsp castor sugar
30ml lime juice
20ml rice vinegar
10ml grapeseed oil
1. If frying your own crackers, preheat 1cm-depth vegetable oil in a medium saucepan.
2. When the oil has reached 170 degrees, add cracker pellets, a few at a time.
3. Fry until they have opened up completely (about 2-3 mins). Remove and drain on paper towel.
4. Mix all ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
5. Combine diced beef, chives and mint. Toss together with the dressing, using just enough to cover all the meat.
6. Break or cut prawn crackers to a mouthful-size.
7. Put a small amount of Kewpie mayonnaise on each cracker.
8. Add a spoonful of tartare mix on top of mayonnaise.
9. Top with micro coriander.
Pink cocktails as served in the Bumble marquee in the Birdcage. Photo: Supplied
A sessionable spring/summer drink that should put some love in the air in Bumble's 2019 Birdcage marquee – or in your living room.
30ml Beefeater gin
45ml pink grapefruit juice
1 lemon wheel
1. Add gin and grapefruit juice to a wine glass.
2. Add ice and stir.
3. Slowly pour in the prosecco.
4. Add the lemon wheel against the glass to garnish.
Compressed melon wrapped in jamon, served with goat's curd and sorrel. Photo: Supplied
Jamon and melon and THOSE chicken sandwiches by Peter Rowland Catering
Peter Rowland Catering will be serving up this sweet, salty canape infused with gin for extra schwing. They're easy to make for your own soiree. And then there's the infamous chicken sandwich – voted best dressed (sandwich) year in, year out by the Good Food team, and turning 50 this year with no signs of ageing.
Jamon, compressed melon, goat's curd and sorrel
½ honeydew melon
15 slices jamon
450g goat's curd
1 punnet baby sorrel
1. Cut the melon into 4cm x 1.5cm x 1.5cm rectangles.
2. Discard melon rind, but keep the scraps of melon flesh. Puree the scraps into a juice and chill.
3. Place the melon rectangles in a flat, single layer inside a vacuum bag (or use a plastic ziplock bag).
4. Add 2 tablespoons of the pureed melon juice and the gin to the bag.
5. Seal the bag in a vacuum sealer to 100 per cent.
6. Leave in bag for about 2 hours.
7. Cut open bag. Pat dry with kitchen paper.
8. Cut the jamon in half length-ways, and wrap a piece around each melon rectangles.
9. Pipe the goat's cheese on top of the canape and finish with a sprig of baby sorrel leaf.
THOSE chicken sandwiches. Photo: Supplied
Peter Rowland's famous chicken sandwiches
Shredded rocket leaves or watercress make a good peppery addition to these sandwiches. A pinch of hot paprika or cayenne will also add a little spice. The mayonnaise recipe makes twice as much as you need but keeps well in the fridge. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature when you start.
½ chicken breast (about 300g), poached and diced
125ml (½ cup) home-made mayonnaise
3 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tsp finely chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste
12 slices white toast bread
For the mayonnaise
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
2 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
250ml (1 cup) olive oil (or blend of olive and vegetable oils)
salt and pepper
1. To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice or vinegar, 1 teaspoon of the mustard and a pinch of salt in a blender and blend for a few seconds. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil and when it has all been incorporated, add 1 tablespoon of hot water and remaining lemon juice or wine vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add more mustard or lemon juice according to taste.
2. Combine the chicken, mayonnaise and herbs in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Butter the bread, trim the crusts. Spread the filling over six slices, top each with a buttered slice and cut into quarters.
Makes 6 sandwiches or 24 triangles
A portion of sparkling shiraz-cured trout. Photo: Supplied
Sparkling shiraz cured trout, creme fraiche and roe by The Big Group for the Seppelt marquee
1 side of trout (1-1.5kg)
1kg creme fraiche
125g salmon roe
1 punnet edible flowers
1 piece purple daikon, thinly sliced on a mandolin (optional)
Curing mix for trout
1 bottle of Seppelt's sparkling shiraz
200g grated beetroot
Preserved orange gel
250ml orange juice
250ml mandarin juice
48g gelatine powder
5g citric acid
1. For the cured trout, place the sparkling shiraz in a heavy-based pan and simmer until it is reduced by a third. Allow to cool completely.
2. Add the sugar, salt and grated beetroot.
3. Place the trout in a deep tray and smoother it with the curing mix, making sure all areas are covered. Cover with foil and allow to cure for 24 hours in the fridge.
4. After 24 hours, remove from the fridge and rinse off the cure mix under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Slice thinly with sharp knife.
5. For the preserved orange gel, bring the orange and mandarin juice to a boil.
6. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, mix the gelatine powder and sugar together with a whisk before adding to the juice mix.
7. Add citric acid and continue to whisk for a minute.
8. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a deep tray to allow to cool and set (a lasagne tray is ideal).
9. Once set, transfer the set mass into a jug and blitz with stick blender.
10. To assemble, take slices of the trout and place randomly place on your plate/platter.
11. Place the creme fraiche into a piping bag and pipe dots of the mixture onto the plate/platter near the trout. Ensure that there is a good ratio of trout to creme fraiche.
12. With a teaspoon, sprinkle salmon roe over the trout, then with your hands, proceed to sprinkle the purple daikon (if using) and edible flowers onto the plate/platter.
Serves 25 as a light starter or grazing board.
Potato chip with seared beef, tarragon mayonnaise, salt 'n' vinegar. Photo: Supplied
Steak and fat chip by Food&Desire for Birdcage
500-700g sebago potatoes
vinegar powder (from melbournefooddepot.com)
½ bunch tarragon
125ml kewpie or homemade mayonnaise
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre rice bran oil, for deep-frying
300g steak, such as porterhouse (the more flavour the better), cut 2cm thick
freshly ground black pepper
1. For the potatoes, cut into rectangles 4cm x 2cm x 2cm. Place in a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10min. Strain and let cool. (Keep potato trimmings and fry for later as a snack with skin on!)
2. For the salt 'n' vinegar seasoning, mix salt flakes with vinegar powder to taste.
3. For the mayonnaise mix, pick and chop tarragon, retaining a few leaves for garnish, if desired. Mix chopped tarragon through mayonnaise and season with salt, pepper and the cider vinegar. Put in a piping bag.
4. To cook the steak, heat up a heavy-based frying pan. Trim all fat off the steak porterhouse and season. Sear in pan with a little oil, cooking to your preference, then rest. Trim steak into 4cm rectangles and slice into 0.4cm strips to perfectly fit chips.
5. To cook the chips, heat oil in a large frypan to 180C and fry chips until golden. Drain and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Season with vinegar salt.
6. Pipe mayonnaise on the length of the chips. Place the steak strips on the potato chip. Pipe a little dot of mayonnaise on each piece of beef then place a torn leaf of tarragon, if using, over each and serve.
Merivale chef Dan Hong assembling his duck rilletes-filled buns. Photo: Supplied
"The signature Mumm Champagne goes perfectly with my style of cooking, so I'll be delivering a diverse and vibrant menu that best brings out the bold Mumm flavour," says Hong.
This recipe needs to be started a week in advance, as the daikon radishes and carrots need at least that long to pickle. Aside from that, the rest of the components can be started the day before assembly.
This is the "everything from scratch" version to show what the Merivale kitchen does to make these little bundles of joy, but you can buy your own pâté, or slice up a baguette, to make it a little easier for the home cook.
1 whole duck, skin and bones removed
3 carrots, julienned
1 daikon, julienned
6 lebanese cucumbers
1 cha luo (Vietnamese pork loaf, available from most Vietnamese grocers or butchers)
small, soft white rolls (or a long baguette sliced into 1cm-thick slices)
1 bunch coriander
1 litre white vinegar
500g castor sugar
375g Japanese mayonnaise (Kenko or Kewpie brand)
65g Sriracha (Huy Fong brand)
1 tbsp Knorr liquid seasoning (vital for your Vietnamese cooking arsenal)
Pork liver pâté (to save time, you can buy a good quality pâté)
800g pork livers, soaked in milk overnight
125ml shao hsing (Chinese cooking wine)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
9 litres water
375ml shao hsing
375ml light soy sauce
125ml dark soy sauce
salt, to taste
125g rock sugar
10 cloves garlic
10cm piece of ginger
1 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
5g licorice root
10 star anise
2 cassia bark
5 clove buds
2 pieces of Chinese cardamom
You will also need a muslin bag or a square of cheesecloth for your spices
To make the master stock and poach the duck
1. In a food processor, roughly chop garlic, shallots and ginger.
2. In a big stock pot over medium heat, sauté the garlic, ginger and shallots until golden.
3. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the shao hsing. Bring to the boil then boil rapidly until the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
4. Add water, dark and light soy sauce, rock sugar and salt to taste.
5. Place the licorice, cassia, star anise, cloves, and Chinese cardamom in a muslin bag, or tie them into a pouch using cheesecloth and butcher's twine. Drop the spice pouch into the pot. Addthe rspring onions.
6. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least half an hour to let the flavours infuse.
7. Carefully lower the whole duck into the master stock, turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. As soon as it's reached a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for one hour until duck is tender.
8. Once cool enough to handle, take meat off the bone and roughly tear meat with fingers and moisten with some of the master stock (discarding all skin and bones).
9. Keep warm until ready to assemble.
To make the pickled carrots and daikon
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine water, sugar, salt, vinegar. Whisk vigorously until the sugar and salt is completely dissolved.
2. Place the julienned carrot and daikon in an airtight container, then cover with pickling liquid.
3. Allow the pickles to sit for about a week before you use them.
To make the pork liver pâté
1. Drain and wash the pork livers thoroughly under running cold water.
2. Carefully trim and discard any veins. Dice the livers into 2cm chunks.
3. Chop the cold butter into small cubes.
4. In a large frypan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, then add the livers, making sure you don't crowd the pan. If necessary, cook them in small batches. Do not stir!
5. After a minute or so, add the garlic. At this stage, the liver should be partially cooked, but not completely. Deglaze the pan with the shao hsing and cook out the alcohol, which should take about 3 minutes.
6. Quickly remove the partially cooked livers, place them in a food processor along with the cold butter cubes and blitz until smooth.
7. Season to taste with fish sauce and white pepper.
8. Place the pâté into an airtight container, and place a piece of baking paper or cling film on the surface of the pâté. Place in the fridge.
9. Once the pâté is cool enough, place the lid on the container and continue chilling in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the Sriracha mayonnaise
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, mayonnaise and Knorr seasoninguntil incorporated.
To make the pickled cucumbers
1. Thinly slice the cucumber on a mandolin (about 3mm thick). Sprinkle generously with salt, then gently work the salt into the cucumber with your fingers. Continue until liquid begins to extract out of the cucumber, then cover.
2. After half an hour, wash the salt off the cucumber under cold running water. Continue rinsing until the cucumber no longer tastes excessively salty.
1. Using a meat slicer, or a very sharp knife, slice the cha luo (pork loaf) as thinly as possible, and set aside for assembly.
2. Separate the torn duck into pieces roughly the same size as the rolls.
3. Preheat a deep-fryer to 175C, drop the torn duck into the deep-fryer until golden and crispy (alternatively, pan-fry the duck in a little oil on medium heat).
4. Cut the white rolls in half. Spread the bottom half generously with the pork liver pâté.
5. Top the pâté with a few thin slices of cha luo.
6. Top the cha luo with the fried duck, followed by some pickled cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, coriander leaves, and finish with a generous dollop of Sriracha mayonnaise.