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!
Fig, Almond & Honey Cake
One of the many things I crave is to have a fig tree in my garden. One that bears lots and lots of fruit. You’d likely find me climbing it to reach that perfectly ripe fruit at the top. It’s one of life’s pleasures to be able to pick a ripe fruit, tear it apart and just enjoy it. Then, to be able to cook with it, put it into tarts, cakes, salads, roasts… the list is endless. For this recipe, make sure you pick up lovely ripe and juicy figs!
100 g (3.5 oz) fig jam (optional)
5-6 fresh large ripe figs (about
300 g, 10.5 oz), quartered
2 teaspoons honey
15 g (0.5 oz) almond flakes,
180 g (6.3 oz) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
150 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or
1 plump vanilla bean, seeds
180 g (6.3 oz) almond meal
80 g (2.8 oz) plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
80 g (2.8 oz) natural or Greek
Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Butter and line a 23-cm (9-in) loose-base or spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the eggs while whisking, ensuring each addition is fully combined before the next little drizzle. Add the vanilla and whisk lightly. Fold in the almond meal, flour and salt until just combined. Then lightly fold in the yoghurt.
Roughly spread half the cake mix on the base of the tin. Spoon in the fig jam, if using. Spoon over the remainder of the mixture. Use a knife to make swirls in the cake mix then press in each fig flesh side up randomly over the top. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle over the almond flakes.
Lower the oven temperature to 170°C (338°F) and bake for about 60 minutes or until a skewer pierced into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool completely on a cake rack.
Transfer the cake fig side up onto a cake stand. Sieve over some icing sugar and serve.
Note: If you are including the fig jam, choose one that is less sweet and has chunky bits of fig.