This page is a gallery of some of the What's Cookin' nights, celebrating the people, the food and the wine that make them such great fun.

2006 scenes Archives: 2005 What's Cookin' Gallery

November 2006

The last few months....

Clearly I have been slack about updating the What's Cookin' Gallery, mainly because things have been exceptionally busy.

The intervening What's Cookin' events have been riotous, as perhaps may be imagined from the picture at right of Maharishi Wishiwashit who, under the red tangle, bears a striking resemblance to our incomparable compere Lee Williams.

That was the night we discovered a previously unheard of volume of Beatles recipes.

Maharishi Wishiwashi
Lee Williams

Not widely known for their cooking skills, the Beatles nevertheless toiled away in the kitchen.

To them we are indebted for such pearls as: All You Need Is Grub, Peas Peas Me, Love Me Stew and Can't Buy Me Lunch.

Lee threw in a couple of George Harrison numbers from his Indian period: Here Comes The Bun and While My Pulau Gently Steeps. This was matched by that fine Scottish song of Paul McCartney's: Mullet Kintyre.

The prize of the night went to the originator of Sargent Pepper's Lovely Tarts and Flans.

In the meantime...

We've had Mal Newley, a local Stanthorpe butcher who, as well as being Queensland's Sausage King, is also a damn fine all around good bloke. As you can imagine, the menu was meaty that night - some wonderful Rib Fillet Steak and some of Mal's finest sausages!

We've also had Francis McLaughlin from the Top of the Town Caravan Park, who presented barramundi with bananas and a white wine sauce. Wasn't that a treat for those suffering through the great banana drought of 2006!

Rae Brown, who has left for Scotland to study, put on a brilliant medieval feast and we saw her off in fine style.

Margie Davies from the local Print 'n Copy shop gave us a great night of Thai curries. That's her mob in the photo below left.

But undoubtedly the wackiest and most wonderful time was when Stanthorpe's own camel kissing Deborah McNeill (below right) brought her belly-dancing troupe to the Gully.

Mal Newley
Margie's mob

Deborah McNeill

What, we wondered, could possibly induce anyone to kiss a camel?

Tell the truth we never really got a convincing answer. "It's a cameleer thing," Deborah told us.


But what a night it was. Fabulous costumes, wonderful Middle Eastern food and some brand new converts to belly dancing!

Deborah's dancers

Never before had so many danced in so small a space. Maria Mastro (below right), as glidingly graceful as ever, took out the belly dancing competition. By the way Maria, one of Australia's leading historical costumiers, recently made us some wonderful medieval banners, one of which is pictured bottom left.

Our new banners fly proudly in the restaurant.




Thanks everyone for your support. The nights were brilliant.

One of our great supporters and a celebrity chef was Andrea Nightingale (pictured below) who sadly passed away recently. We loved her and we miss her very much. Sweet dreams, babe.

Maria Mastro

July 14 2006

Andrea Nightingale, Nectaria

Andrea Nightingale is fairly new to Stanthorpe and has recently opened Nectaria, a healthy food bar that specialises in freshly squeezed juices.

Andrea's What's Cookin' night attracted a good crowd and we dined on:

Cauliflower soup with spelt bread
Roast quail with parsnip puree
Morello cherry cakes with Greek yoghurt and cherry coulis

All were excellent dishes. The cauliflower soup was made from good local caulis simmered in water with grated cheddar cheese added at the end and lightly creamed. The spelt bread - a sourdough - was made locally at Dalveen. Excellent.

The main was very simple - two quail per person, roasted until tender, served on a bed of parsnip mash with a jus made from a turkey stock and the pan juices. Yummy. We served green and orange veg on the side.

Andrea Nightingale
Morello cherry cakes

Morello cakes with cherry coulis

Pictured at right, these are made from preserved morello cherries.

For cakes
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 milk
drained morello cherries

For coulis
syrup from cherries
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Whisk eggs whites and half a cup of sugar until smooth and full. Mix olive oil, milk and eggs yolks then fold gently into meringue mixture. Spoon into small individual muffin moulds and put three or four cherries on top. Bake in a 180 C over for 20 minutes.

For coulis heat syrup in a heavy bottommed pan and pour in sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil and reduce by about half to preferred consistency. Serve with Greek yoghurt.

(Serves 6)



June 30 2006

Tere Bonner, Aloomba Lavender

Tere Bonner's family have been pastoralists in the Liston area for 130 years. Five years ago, Tere thought it was time they had a retail outlet so she started a lavender farm and gift shop.

We had a lovely meal of:

Onion soup made the French way
Tournados steak with egg, olives and finger limes

We were very slack and didn't get any photographs of the evening - too busy! Anyway, it was a good crowd and everyone had a great time.

Tere Bonner

Tere Bonner at home on her lavender farm. She is one of Australia's biggest growers and makes a variety of oils and lavender products.


April 7 2006

Ben Weiss' Dinner

This was a very special dinner presented by champion Brisbane apprentice Ben Weiss, who turned on a magnificent degustation-style meal.

Check the menu below, matched to our best wines.

Ben was a great chef and a really top bloke too. He brought his German girlfriend, Denise, and his parents also attended. What a meal!

Right: Ben in the Whiskey Gully Wines' kitchen

Ben Weiss in the WGW kitchen





Prawn sushi

2005 Whiskey Gully Wines Frosty’s Rose


Pan-seared scallops with Jerusalem artichoke purée, comfit shallot, basil chips and oxtail jus.

2004 Whiskey Gully Wines Opera House Chardonnay
2004 Whiskey Gully Wines Zing white wine


Raspberry sorbet


Chicken, comfit tomato and balsamic mushroom terrine with marinated feta cheese and salad greens

2002 Whiskey Gully Wines Reserve Chardonnay


Lemon myrtle shooter


Rabbit galantine with pomme purée, crispy trompettes, mushroom broth and cappuccino froth

2002 Whiskey Gully Wines Black Rod Shiraz
2002 Whiskey Gully Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Dessert Café

Granite Belt choc berry parfait and berry compote

2005 Whiskey Gully Wines Nectar late harvest French Colombard

Coffee   Old Caves Armchair Port

Seared scallops with jerusalem artichokes

Ben's seared scallops were superb: served on pureed jerusalem artichoke with a slice of swiss brown mushroom, a beautifully sweet baked shallot and bright green basil chip, the result was stunning.

What really made the dish was a strong and quite sweet oxtail sauce. Fabulous.

Left: the seared scallops waiting to be served

Rabbit gallantine

This is a difficult but brilliant dish. Each rabbit must be carefully boned out. You need to be a perfectionist to attempt boning out rabbits. The bones are small and numerous and the belly section, where the meat is really thin, is fiddly.

For those who brave it, the results are rewarding. Ben made a force meat using some of the rabbit flesh, trompet mushrooms and a little chicken meat. He placed the force meat inside the boned out carcass lengthwise along where the backbone used to be and rolled the meat (also lengthwise so you end up with a roll about 15 inches long and four inches wide), then secured it with plastic food wrap. He poached the gallantines gently until just cooked through (about 10 - 15 minutes).

After they rested and cooled, using a sharp knife he divided the gallantine into four or five serves, wrapped each in a section of crepinette (the flare fat that lines a pig's stomach, sometimes called caul) and stood them on end on a baking tray. Before serving they were placed in a moderate to high oven for 10 minutes to brown.

The picture on the right shows that they were served on a bed of pomme puree with a thick, rich mushroom broth and crisped trompette mushrooms (the black bits). Ben garnished the gallantine with finely sliced onions, deep fried. Fantastic.

Rabbit Gallantine

lots of people came

Lots of people came, all enjoyed


Granite Belt choc berry parfait and berry compote

The dessert was stunning. Ben (Denise actually) made chocolate cones by painting chocolate into a conical mould and allowing it to set. These were filled with a raspberry and egg whites parfait filling and set alongside a rich berry compote.

It was a great way to highlight the region's wonderful berry fruits and the dish went extremely well with the 2005 Whiskey Gully Wines Nectar dessert wine.

It was a fabulous night. We thank Ben very much and wish him well for the future. A couple of days after the dinner Ben won a gold and several silver medals at a major culinary competition. Well done, Ben.



February 24

The Renaissance Feast

Now wasn't this a great idea. Maria Mastro, a talented artist and costumier, came up with a medieval feast using some of her costumes and some great stuff from her friend Tanya's Yestergear Antiques to dress up the people and the place.

Fabulous. Emily Arlidge took the role of waitress and model for the evening, wearing some of Maria's magnificent costumes, all of them painstakingly sewn.

Right: Costumier, Maria Mastro with Emily Arlidge, modelling one of her creations, a medieval gown circa 1170AD.

Maria Mastro and Emily Arlidge


Grilled boned quail with sauteed zucchini
Roast sucking pig (pictured) with roast potatos and vegetables
Peach Melba

Food-wise this was a lot of fun. Finger-food, medieval style, is what we came up with. We had some beautiful grilled quail to start with on a bed of sauteed thinly sliced zucchini and rocket with a rich game stock balsamic gravy.

Unfortunately, chef was so busy cooking and serving he forgot to take pictures of the entree.

Suffice to say, cooking a whole sucking pig in the oven took up quite a bit of his time and energy. "It was great fun, though," said chef John. "And I enjoyed dressing up in a frock."

Yes, well.

Maria is wonderfully creative. Her passionate project is to make 35 ladies costumes representing step changes in fashion from 1000 AD to 1901.

She started eight years ago, coming to live at Glen Aplin to get a bit of peace and quiet. She is now half way through the project.

Emily in another early costume
Emily again


Left: Emily wearing an early renaissance gown from the Court Of Burgundy circa. 1460.


Right: French baroque Court gown circa 1750.


Lee Williams, wearing a jester's hat, had a lovely time, as one might expect and his guitar renditions of renaissance music were interesting!

What captured everyone's imagination was the competition, calling on participants to write a poem about their experience. The winning entry belonged to Bill (Geoff McMahon):

Went out tonight at Whiskey Gully
Had a bitch of a day and came home quite sulky
Wanted some fast food
Thought I'd email a medieval quail
It came fast as a snail (with apologies to chef but it rhymes)
I collected my food and went to eat
But alas no knives and forks so I had to eat with my feet
But the medieval girl, the one with the curls,
Had my son's head in a whirl.
On reflection I can firmly establish this:
Thank God I don't make my living
From writing poetry when I am pissed!

Right: Chef John as Renaissance Man, thankfully without the squeaky cod-piece he wore earlier. Way in the background is Lee Williams looking slightly saner, an optical illusion.

A big thanks to Maria for all her efforts, making this one of the best ever What's Cookin' nights. We're going to do this again.

Nearly forgot. Pictured below is the peach melba made from beautiful locally grown peaches and raspberries. Yum. The recipe is on the right.

Rennaisance John
Peach Melba

Peach Melba

The great French chef Auguste Escoffier dreampt this up in honour of Dame Nellie Melba.

- Peeled, sliced fresh peaches (much, much better than tinned)
- Fresh raspberries boiled to a syrup with sugar, half a cinnamon stick and a little Grand Marnier or good brandy
- Pistachio nuts
- Ice cream

In a martini glass or parfait, layer the peaches, vanilla ice cream and pistachios then spoon raspberry sauce on top. Quantities are not important - whatever feels good.

Apparently Escoffier did not use pistachios but we like 'em. The secret is to use fresh, ripe peaches (raspberries too but frozen will pass), which rather limits the dish to a few weeks per year (February/March on the Granite Belt).

Whatever you do, use a really good vanilla ice cream, preferably home made with real vanilla beans.


February 12

Heavenly Chocolate

Alba Conti was our guest chef and she was brilliant, bringing her handcrafted chocolates for afters. She has 35 flavours, including most of those you would expect, like praline, strawberry etc. but some unusual ones like chilli and gumnut. Amazing.

Alba harks from Argentina, so the menu was Argentinian - meat focussed and really good.

Roast rump of beef (cut in big cubes)
Chocolate Mousse
Alba's chocolates and coffee

Alba and partner Robin own and operate Heavenly Chocolates on Pyramids Road at Wyberba - a must visit when you come to the Granite Belt.

Alba Conti and her wonderful chocolates

Alba Conti

Chef was very slack and got no photos during the evening. However, we've kept the winning song lyric from the competition and here it is, by the kids from Diamondvale Cottages:

(to the tune of Don't Cry For Me Argentina)

Don't try to eat Cadbury Chocolate
The tooth-eez will always leave you
All through my child days
My dad's resistance
I broke my molars
I kept my dentist.


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