Author Of The Shared Table Shares Her Foodie Secrets & The Ultimate Pavlova Recipe

Author Of The Shared Table Shares Her Foodie Secrets & The Ultimate Pavlova Recipe

Food for the soul

By Fiona Williams | 19th November 2019

Take one share house in West End, a passionate cook and five housemates and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for an honest and relatable cookbook. Local Brisbane foodie Clare Scrine is serving up one shared plate at a time and this month she shares her love language with Style.

 

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Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 25 and work as a community organiser and campaigner. I studied Arts and Law at university and am passionate about climate justice and activism. I’ve been a major foodie since I was a little kid and have always adored eating tasty things. I started cooking for my family when I was about 10 or 11 and haven’t really stopped. Cooking for people I love is now such a core part of myself.

What does food mean to you?

Food has always been an important part of my life, and something calming and constant that weaves around an otherwise busy schedule. It has always been a big part of who I am. Cooking food for others is my love language, and an activity that has always brought me joy. It’s meant slightly different things at various points in my life. Sometimes food and cooking is a sanctuary, a solidarity part of me that I escape to. Other times cooking is a hobby, something I obsess over, and spend all my spare time doing.

 

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What gets you excited about cooking?

The creativity and chaos of it all, especially when trying a new thing or cooking up a huge spread. But equally, I love the certainty of the task. Once you’ve perfected a meal, that you know your crowd will love, there’s something so wonderful about getting into it, and knowing that at the end, there’ll be something lovely to share.

What made you decide to write The Shared Table?

I’d spent so many years of my life cooking for others and sharing food, I always knew I wanted that part of me to carry on somehow. I’d always thought about opening up a cafe when I finished studying, but I feel a pull towards doing other things, and writing a book seemed like a logical halfway point!

 

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Your recipes are mainly vegetarian and vegan - do you eat this way yourself?

Yes! I eat vegetarian and try to reduce other animal products too. As I say in the book, I certainly don’t think that individual consumption choices will save us from climate chaos, but the carbon footprint from industrial farming of animal products is a really mind-blowingly huge contribution to the problem.

One of the biggest misconceptions about eating meat-free?

That it’s limiting! I think it’s the complete opposite. Taking away that central protein that an entire meal usually centres around forces you to think more creatively about how you eat and cook.

 

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Favourite recipe in your book and why?

It’d have to be the jalapeño cornbread actually. It was a complete fluke of a creation the first time I made it, but I just adore the flavour and texture and it makes such a special addition to a Mexican inspired meal.

What will you be cooking for Christmas Day?

Something similar to last year; a beautiful fresh pasta salad, some lovely savoury tarts and a Christmas special treat of a whole baked fish we’d caught the day before. My Christmas spread tends to be centred around a few beautiful salads, with a big emphasis on desserts!

 

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QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:

Favourite ingredient right now?
Kaffir lime and chilli infused salt

Sweet or savoury?
Savoury

Biggest kitchen fail?
I have a vivid memory of an avocado pasta I made my family when I was about 12. The looks on their faces when they bit into it is still seared into my memory (not good!)

Your weirdest share house moment has been…
Moving into a share house that we later discovered was filled with fleas.

Our share house tradition is…
It sounds corny, but honestly just shared dinners. That’s what inspired the book, and it’s a tradition that lives on.

Clare also shared her pav recipe, perfect for any occasion!

Stacked Passionfruit And Lemon Pavlova Cake

This crowd-pleaser is a dessert hybrid—somewhere between a cake, a pavlova and a lemon delicious. The combination of a rich, dense, yet simple cake, crackly meringue, cream and super-zingy curd is just heaven.

PS. You can easily use pre-made curd, but Clare’s included her recipe in case you want to go all out and make your own.

Ingredients:
250g butter, softened
285g caster (super fine) sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
4 eggs
150g sour cream
300g self-raising four
1 tsp baking powder
300ml cream, whipped
fresh fruit or edible fowers, to garnish

Curd:
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
170g caster (super fine) sugar
100ml lemon juice nicely grated
zest of 2 lemons
pulp of 2 passionfruits, or 50g tinned passionfruit pulp
150g butter, softened

Meringue:
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
230g caster (super fine) sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Method:
To make the curd, half- fill a small saucepan with water and heat until almost simmering. In a heatproof bowl (one that will fit over the saucepan later on), whisk the eggs, egg yolk and sugar until just combined, then whisk in the lemon juice, lemon zest and passionfruit pulp. Place the bowl over the saucepan, ensuring the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Gently whisk the mixture to stop the curd cooking too quickly around the edge of the bowl; the mixture should froth, thicken, and turn the consistency of custard or thickened cream. Remove the bowl from the heat. Let the curd cool until just warm, then add the butter a little at a time, whisking well between additions. Cover and refrigerate for at least one to two hours, or overnight, to set the curd.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Line two 22cm (9 inch) springform cake tins with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl until incorporated. Don’t stress if the cake batter looks like it is beginning to split; it will come back together in the next step.

Beat the sour cream into the egg mixture until combined. Add the flour and baking powder in two batches, folding between additions. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared tins and set aside for the moment.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites and salt using an electric mixer set to medium speed. After 3–4 minutes, when the mixture forms soft ‘ribbons’, gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking until the meringue is very glossy (another 3–4 minutes). In the final minute, add the vanilla.

Spoon half the meringue evenly over each cake and use the back of the spoon to swirl it to cover almost the whole cake tin, leaving a 1–2cm (1⁄2– inch) border. Bake both cakes for 30–40 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown and the cake batter is set. Allow the cakes to cool completely in their tins.

To assemble, transfer one of the cakes to your serving plate or stand. Spoon a layer of curd evenly over the meringue, spreading it out to about 1cm (1⁄2 inch) from the edge. Spoon on the cream, then spread it over the curd using a spatula.
Gently place the second cake on top. Top with more curd and the remaining cream. Decorate with your favourite fruits or edible flowers.

Note: Save the egg yolks left over from the meringue for making hollandaise sauce or custard, or label and freeze for future baking projects. They’ll thaw perfectly well.

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Article by Fiona Williams

Fiona is a Journalist and Food Writer who grew up in Adelaide. From Sydney to Brisbane to Canberra and now back to Brisbane, she now calls our wonderful city home. She’s a beauty fanatic obsessed with rose hip oil and she’s definitely made up of at least 80% dry shampoo. A lifelong campaigner against the word ‘good’, Fi (as she likes to be called) loves nothing more than using juicy adjectives and putting honey in her tea.