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Singing cook launches new recipe book at Fringe

The Forager

After performing in Edinburgh and at a top restaurant in Copenhagen, singer and foodie Michelle Pearson has returned to the Adelaide Fringe with fresh material and a new cookbook inspired by her popular Comfort Food Cabaret show.

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“I wanted to create a little bit more of a legacy from the show, something that people could take with them,” Pearson tells The Forager, reflecting on the launch of her cookbook – also called Comfort Food Cabaret.

“People will often contact me on my Facebook page or via email asking me, ‘Can you tell me how many cups of sugar I put in that?’ or, ‘How many teaspoons do I add to this?’ and I just thought maybe it would be nice to have a cookbook to have that information, but also to reiterate some of the stories behind the recipes.”

Since debuting her Comfort Food Cabaret show at the Adelaide Fringe in 2017, Pearson has gained a reputation for blending her talent for singing with her love of sharing food.

During the shows, the performer and foodie serenades audiences and shares cooking tips, all while serving a three-course dinner inspired by her personal experiences of love, loss and family.

The Comfort Food Cabaret cookbook includes a selection of 21 entrée, main course and dessert recipes that feature in Pearson’s shows.

“Some of them are different family recipes, there are vegetarian recipes and of course comfort food recipes as well,” she says.

“I would say there is probably a strong Mediterranean influence in the book just because we all gravitate to pasta and arancini and rice, but it also has a little bit of Lebanese food in there from my own family heritage, some Mexican and some classic English desserts like sticky date pudding.”

The recipe book also reflects on Pearson’s recent trip to Europe, where she performed Comfort Food Cabaret in Copenhagen and at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“We had a lady come to our original season in 2017 and she loved it so much,” Pearson says. “It turns out she was one of the wealthiest people in Denmark and owned all these restaurants.

“She actually flew us over to Copenhagen last year for us to perform Comfort Good Cabaret in a three-star Michelin restaurant called Geranium, which was crazy; we had no idea how we even got there. She just told the chefs that they had to cook our menu.”

For the first time this year, Pearson is presenting two shows at the Adelaide Fringe – a reworked version of Comfort Food Cabaret and Just Desserts, an adults-only show inspired by her trip to Edinburgh.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve had a little bit more to say about certain issues – equality and female empowerment and even social pressures like body image – and I’ve never felt like I’ve been able to weave that into Comfort Food Cabaret, which has built a bit of a brand as being quite wholesome and fun and light.

“I wanted to do something a little bit more bold after Edinburgh and so I created this separate show.

Just Desserts is a play on the whole idea of revenge, saying, ‘You’ll get your Just Desserts’.” 

Below, Pearson shares a recipe for Caprese Salad, which is featured in the Comfort Food Cabaret cookbook.

Caprese Salad

“This is a fantastic dish to serve as an entrée to an Italian meat main course or even as a share dish at your next BBQ.”

Ingredients

4 vine-ripened tomatoes
4 bocconcini, sliced
¼ cup torn basil leaves
4 slices of thin pancetta (optional)
Salt and cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil to serve
Balsamic vingar to serve

Method

Places the slices of pancetta on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Grill the slices in a hot oven (200 degrees) or griller for seven minutes until pancetta is crisp and cooked. Allow the pancetta to cool.

Slice each tomato from top to bottom into 1cm slices. Place on a serving plate and top with the bocconcini and basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Crumble the pancetta by hand – if the pancetta is cooked it should easily crumble.

Drizzle the salad with oil and vinegar just before serving.

The Comfort Food Cabaret cookbook is for sale for $30 at the Comfort Food Cabaret and Just Desserts shows throughout the Adelaide Fringe. The book will also be available for purchase on the Comfort Food Cabaret website and at select South Australian retailers from June this year. 

Pearson is presenting Comfort Food Cabaret at the Adelaide Central Market until February 24 and Just Desserts at the Treasury 1860 courtyard from February 28 to March 9.

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