Cooking With Sian Redgrave
Tell us about your journey into cooking and baking. Did it change over time from a hobby to a career?
I was raised by a very health conscious and holistic mother, who values health and food beyond anything. Learning to cook and enjoying food has always been a an integral part of my life and continued to evolve as I grew older. I studied design at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and along side my interest of food was always my hunger for creativity and the arts. Soon after I went into fashion, although the industry never felt as though it was my calling. I auditioned for The Great Australian Bake off in 2015 and ended up winning which completely changed my life. After that experience I moved to Sydney and turned my hobby of cooking into my full time career. I now work as a chef and food stylist, combining all the things I love aesthetically into the culinary world!
What does an average day look like for you?
I'm most definitely one of those irritating early morning people. I like to get up around six, make myself a fresh juice and then do exercise of some form. Then its straight into work. Im freelance which can be a curse at times as I have to keep myself accountable and productive and procrastination is always appealing. So I'm either working on a shoot, writing recipes, sourcing new props (ceramics etc) or in the kitchen experimenting. In the evenings I love having friends over for dinner and unwinding with wine and music. Nothing beats sitting around with the people I love and am inspired by.
If you could eat only one entree, one main and one desert for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Italian food completely reigns supreme for me so all three dishes would be Italiano...for entree, fresh figs, burrata and prosciutto. Main, spaghetti Putanesca, with tomato, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives and topped with lots of parmesan cheese. For dessert it's hard to go past tiramisu. Coffee, mascarpone and chocolate is unbeatable. Obviously negronis, red wine and Montenegro to accompany all courses!
What are your top 5 favourite red-hued foods?
Pomegranate- super exotic and beautiful, I love pomegranate for its versatility in sweet and savoury dishes. It adds vibrant colour and sweetness to salads, looks great on top of hummus and is a nice change for the topping of a pavlova at Christmas!
Tomato- the humble tomato. Incredible in summer when they are fresh but also wonderful in winter from a can or a bottle of passata. I particularly love cherry tomatoes for their sweetness and lower acidity and they make the best pasta sauce alongside garlic, herbs, chilli and ricotta.
Sumac- A deep, dark red spice that I think is totally underestimated in western cooking. It has a beautiful tangy lemon flavour and works perfectly as a rub or marinade for meat, fish and vegetables. My favourite way to use it is on top of guacamole or sprinkles on oven roasted polenta chips.
Blood Orange- The holy Italian ingredient. Blood orange have a very short season, so while they are around I love to make the most of them. Juiced with Campari for a cocktail, made into amazing curd for a tart filling or cut into segments in a salad. The colour and aroma of these is so striking and makes me feel like i'm back in Italy immediately!
Rhubarb- It might be my British blood, but I adore rhubarb. Such a comforting flavour that makes me feel nostalgic and cosy. I like to roast it or stew it to top porridge with in winter. Also delicious with custard or for the ultimate winter dessert, alongside apple in a crumble, topped with vanilla ice cream.
What are your creative projects or hobbies outside of cooking?
Music would have to be my greatest passion in life, even beyond cooking. I think the power of music is beyond any other force, having the ability to connect people and elevate human emotion so drastically. I’m really into deep house and dance music, along with rap, jazz, disco, hip hop, rock and soul...and much more. I played instruments in school and DJ’d a bit so that love will never die. I’m also pretty obsessed with architecture and furniture design. Mid century and minimalism completely appeal to my aesthetic. I hope to turn that obsession into a career someday too. Oh and fashion....the shopping problem is real.
Do you have a favourite occasion or type of event to cook for?
My favourite occasion is honestly a small, intimate dinner party at home with a few close friends. Sharing easy food and wine and having the night to lounge around. I’m always bring new recipes and it’s great having friends feedback on the food I’ve been cooking. I also love making wedding cakes. I design something different for every couple I meet so there is always a wonderful opportunity for me to be creative and conjure up a cake that is unique and memorable for the day.
What exciting things do you have coming up?
In the last couple of years I have immersed myself in the craft of cooking, so this year I really feel ready to share that knowledge with people and get others excited about food and discovering their own creativity in the kitchen. I’m currently working on my first cookbook as well as some video content to share with everyone later in the year! I just hope to continue to evolve as a cook and collaborate with people in all areas of the arts to combine our worlds or food, fashion, music and design.
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
70g good quality black olives, pitted
1/2 cup capers, rinsed
1 x 250g crushed tomatoes
Freshly chopped parsley
Parmesan to serve
1. Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil. When bubbling, add the pasta, stir, and cook for 8-10 minutes according to packet instructions, until very slightly underdone.
2. Meanwhile, you want the sauce cooking at the same time. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Cook the garlic very gently until just beginning to colour, then add the anchovies and stir to dissolve. Stir in the chilli flakes, then the olives and capers, and turn up the heat slightly until you can hear them sizzling.
3. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir really well to combine. Allow to simmer for a few minutes while the pasta finishes cooking. Add a good amount of pepper and a little salt.
4. Add the spaghetti to the pan ( Don’t drain it, just use tongs to place in the pan, the water from the pasta helps to make the sauce beautiful and silky). Toss really well in the sauce, adding a little more of the pasta water if the sauce needs thinning.
5. To serve add freshly chopped parsley and top with plenty of parmesan.
Orange, vanilla and strawberry jam layer cake
For the cake:
(2x recipe, each recipe the mix is divided between 2 baking tins)
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
250g butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Zest of one orange
For the orange buttercream:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
Zest of 4 oranges
900g icing sugar, sifted
370g jar good quality strawberry jam
Fresh berries (I used strawberries and raspberries)
Fresh figs and grapes
1 cup caramel sauce if desired
For the cakes:
- To make the cakes, preheat your oven to 160C. Take two 8inch round cake tins and grease and line with baking paper, set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix together until smooth and combined ( I find a whisk works best for this). Divide evenly between the two tins and then knock to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes. Allow to cool on a cake rack and then repeat the process with the second round of cakes (you will have 4 in the end).
To make the. Buttercream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attached, place the butter and orange zest. Beat for 2 minutes until soft and the orange is really fragrant and combined.
- Add the icing sugar and on a low speed incorporate. Once mixed in, increase the speed for 2 minutes.
- Add the milk and beat again on a high speed until the buttercream is silky, light and fluffy
- Take the cooled cakes and trim off the tops with a sharp serrated knife so that they are flat and all even in width.
- Take half of the buttercream and place into a piping bag with a medium round nozzle attached.
- On a serving plate, place the first layer of cake. Take the piping bag and squeeze two even rings of butter cream around the edge of the cake (you want to create a rim around the outside so the jam can go in the middle and not ooze out). Speed a third of the jar of jam into the well in the middle. Pop on the next layer of cake and repeat with the remaining layers. Once you have finished, place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
- Once the cake has chilled, spread the remaining buttercream around the outside of the cake so that its lovely and smooth (using a hot knife helps immensely). Chill again for 30 minutes.
- When you are ready to serve, drizzle caramel over the edges and then arrange fruit and berries on top.
Tomato, Burrata and prosciutto salad
1 punnet mixed cherry tomatoes
2 large heirloom tomatoes or 6 truss tomatoes
10 slices prosciutto
1 fresh burrata
2 tablespoons olive oil
Handful fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Halve some of the tomatoes and leave some whole and then arrange on a serving platter. Gently lay over slices of the prosciutto and then top with torn pieces of burrata. Drizzle over olive oil and vinegar and season well. Finish with fresh basil.