MasterChef Asia and MasterChef Singapore Judge AUDRA MORRICE COOK & FEAST

 

Sharing food is the greatest act of community and connection. Breaking bread. Sharing a table. Feasts are a gathering of family and friends. People and culture. Creating connections. Food is a conduit. Food, however simple or extravagant, has the immense power of bringing people together. Thus, eating with family and friends old and new, is something we should strive to do frequently. This sense of food as conduit is at the essence of Audra Morrice’s food philosophy, and the thematic thread that seasons her second book of food, Cook & Feast.*

Audra gave up a successful twenty-year career in communications to reknit the threads that were unraveling inside her to work with food, applied for MasterChef, and became a finalist (Season 4). The show became a conduit of sorts that (re)connected Audra to food.

Fast-forward six years, and it’s this connection to food and cultural practice that has informed Cook & Feast. Audra was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother of Hock Chew descent, and to an Indian father, thus Cook & Feast is the product of someone growing up in a family of such cultural mix, an intersectional multicultural melting pot. Food has always been a big part of Audra’s life. This book therefore is a representation of the author herself.

Growing up, Audra’s family cooked every meal like a celebration. Feasts. Generous abundance. Plentiful and full of heart. Generational recipes passed down and preserved. Diversity, heritage, and culture, key ingredients on display on every plate of food, every plate a link back to lineage, history and past. Through food, we learn about culture, through culture we broaden our palettes and our minds. To cook and to feast is always an act cultural celebration. Community and connection.

The wonderfully eclectic recipes in this book, from Asian to Western, and those inspired by the other, are easy to follow yet produce exciting, striking, sumptuous and enticing dishes, suitable for daily meals and parties, big and small. Audra provides simple, practical principles in the organising and preparation of ingredients through to the cooking of dishes to make the processes in the kitchen stress free and enjoyable.

Lovingly compiled, Cook & Feast is a conduit to your feasts and your celebrations. Happy cooking and connecting with great food! 

 

 

Buddha’s Delight Salad

Serves 4

 

The original version of this divine vegetarian dish, traditionally enjoyed by Buddhists, is served by custom in Chinese homes on the first day of the Lunar New Year. I’ve created a fresh salad version for what is normally stir fried or braised.  

 

100 g (3.5 oz) fresh shiitake

mushrooms, sliced to ½-cm

(0.2-in) thickness

100 g (3.5 oz) fresh woodear

fungus, torn into bite-size

pieces

250 g (8.8 oz) small tofu puffs,

cut into half on the diagonal

2 Lebanese or ½ a telegraph

cucumber, halved, then sliced

on the diagonal

4 red radish, sliced thinly on a

mandolin

1 cup snow peas, stems and

stringy bits removed, blanched

for about 40 seconds in boiling

water

2 large red chillies, sliced thinly

on the diagonal

2 stalks spring onions, sliced

thinly on the diagonal

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

2 teaspoons white sesame seeds,

toasted

2 tablespoons crispy shallots

 

sesame soy dressing

8 teaspoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

8 teaspoons vegetable, rice bran

or grapeseed oil

3 teaspoons raw sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely-grated ginger

 

 

Make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in an empty jar. Tighten the lid and shake till well combined. I always make extra dressing to keep in the fridge. Simply double the recipe.  

 

Place the mushrooms, tofu puffs, cucumber, radish, snow peas, chillies, spring onions, fresh coriander and sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Top with crispy shallots. Serve immediately.

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