Breakfast Hash

I am determined to represent Australia in the One Pan Cooking Olympics and when I do, this ‘Breakfast of Champions’ may well be my secret to winning gold – it’s certainly a winner in this household. It’s a winning combination of golden potatoes, flecks of bacon and gooey fried eggs with the subtle perfume of fresh herbs, best enjoyed with a fine blend of tea while watching the rain fall outside from your bedroom window. This is the ultimate one pan lazy weekend breakfast in bed food, so I beg you all to make this and Instagram your foodporn photos with hashtags like #neverleavingthisbedexcepttomakemorehash – and of course tagging @aldo_cucina!

I don’t have too much more to say about this except for the fact that you probably already have the ingredients in your fridge, pantry and garden, and that you can cut down the cooking time by half if you use a pan that you can cover with a lid. If you don’t have a lid for your pan, try covering it with some aluminium foil. I recently bought a new Tefal 30cm hard anodised non stick sautee pan on sale at Harris Scarfe for half-off which is perfect for this recipe.

Also, fresh herbs are necessary, so if you don’t at least have rosemary growing in your garden, get some. It is unkillable and will add a subtle woodiness to recipes like this. I have made this with dried herbs before and I find the flavour too intense and almost soapy.

Don’t fear middle rashes of bacon as the fat will render and give even more salty caramelisation to the potatoes; having said this, short cut bacon works just fine, and the ultimate indulgence is to substitute the bacon with chunks of chorizo which will pepper the hash with its fiery juices. Go on, I dare you!

Right, that’s it. Best get cracking!

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Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium potatoes good for frying (like Royal Blue or Red Delight), peeled and cut into roughly 1.5cm cubes
  • 150g bacon, chopped roughly into 1 – 1.5cm pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 1/4 cup pecorino, finely grated
  • pinch of kosher sea salt flakes
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan, preferably one with a lid, over medium heat.
  2. Tumble in the potatoes and add a pinch of salt. Mix to cover evenly in the oil. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent burning, or until the potatoes are evenly golden and tender. (You can cook the potatoes for longer – they will take about 30 minutes, so cover with foil if you your pan does not have a lid)
  3. Remove the lid an add the bacon pieces and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the bacon is evenly coloured and cooked to your liking.
  4. Add the fresh herbs and toss through the potatoes and bacon.
  5. Use your mixing spoon to create four wells in the potato mixture, evenly spaced. Crack an egg into each well and cover the eggs and potatoes with a good sprinkling of grated pecorino. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the whites are firm and the yolks still soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and season with cracked black pepper and some extra fresh rosemary, thyme and pecorino.
  7. Lift the eggs and potato and bacon hash out of the pan with an egg slide. Serve immediately.

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Pumpkin, Strawberry and Gorgonzola ‘Traybake’ Salad

Okay, so I love a traybake. I love the simplicity, the lack of washing up, and the lack of plating up. But to be fair, this is more of a traybake-salad hybrid. In the spirit of the one-pan dinner (my preferred way to cook) you can literally take this one straight from the oven to the table with just a little artless assembly (my preferred way to assemble) along the way.

Half of the inspiration for this has been brewing in my mind for a few weeks now. My sister-in-law, Lilli, was going to be in town and asked if I’d like to meet for lunch after I finished up at work. We decided to meet at Old Friend bistro and bar on Pirie Street where I had caught up with, aptly, an old friend for lunch a few weeks before. By happy circumstance, my husband’s office was a street away and he was free for lunch, and our nephew, Christopher, and his girlfriend, Alice, were also around and free for lunch! Our lunch for two became an impromptu family catchup for six. The fabulous yet concise menu at Old Friend provides something to please everyone, yet it was Alice’s vegan roast pumpkin salad that was the table showstopper and the source of lots of plate envy: think thick wedges of roasted pumpkin with salad leaves, grilled stone fruit and accessorised with ruby red pomegranate jewels. It looked so beautiful on the plate that it has stuck in my mind as something I might one day try to replicate.

The other half of the inspiration for this recipe was a salad I made for a Christmas brunch a few years ago which consisted of baby spinach leaves, pecans, gorgonzola and strawberries. Blue cheese isn’t to everyone’s liking, and even if it isn’t your fromage du jour, I urge you to be open-minded: the sharp saltiness of the cheese is the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of fruit, and this salad is a perfect example of how to make these flavours work in perfect harmony.

So, I have taken the essence of the strawberry, spinach and gorgonzola salad and coupled it with roasted pumpkin to create something that is sure to prove that you can, very much, make friends with salad!

 

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PUMPKIN, STRAWBERRY AND GORGONZOLA TRAYBAKE SALAD
Serves 4 as a main or 8 as an entree

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 large Jap pumpkin; seeds reserved
  • 100g pecans
  • 1 punnet strawberries; leaves removed, quartered
  • 2 large handfuls (about 120g) beetroot leaves (or rocket or baby spinach)
  • 100g pecan kernels
  • 180g Gorgonzola Dolce cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • A good pinch of salt

METHOD

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Slice the pumpkin into 8 equal sized wedges and reserve the seeds. Separate the seeds and remove the stringy fibres. Arrange the pumpkin pieces on the tray so they are evenly spaced.

Sprinkle the pecans and pumpkin seeds evenly over the tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and a sprinkle of salt.

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Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender and the skin is a little coloured, being careful to roast but not burn the pecans. Do not to overcook or else the pumpkin will not hold its shape.

Meanwhile, in a small jar with a secure lid, add the honey, the remaining oil, and the balsamic vinegar. Shake vigorously to make a dressing making sure the honey is totally combined. Set aside.

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Remove the tray from the oven and distribute the leaves evenly over the pumpkin still in the tray. Then, evenly sprinkle over the quartered strawberries.

With your hands, break up the gorgonzola into small blobs and dot the salad with the cheese, then sprinkle over the sunflower seeds.

Give the jar of dressing a final shake and then drizzle a few tablespoons over the whole salad.

Place the whole tray on the table with a few salad servers and the jar of leftover dressing on the side, and let everyone help themselves.

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Pappardelle with Italian Sausage and Cime di Rapa

I will never forget the day I walked into Tony & Mark’s and saw something I hadn’t seen since I was a kid in my Nonno’s garden: a bunch of unappetising-looking weeds that could be mistaken for something that might have been salvaged from the greens bin. I’m not really selling this, I know, but you must understand how overjoyed I was to see I could purchase such wonderment in Australia! Unsurprisingly, I had quite a hard time convincing Matt that this was not only edible but delicious when he saw me chopping up the deep green stalks and leaves and adding them to the pan; however, despite taking his first bite with caution, he was quickly won over, and the seconds and thirds that were to at least cover us for lunch the next day were soon devoured. In fact, this pasta dish should perhaps be titled ‘The Other Pasta Matt Loves To Eat’; it is certainly a dish that is on rotation in our house when we are lucky enough to find the leafy bitter greens at the greengrocer.

Cime di rapa, or rapini or broccoli rabe, is a cruciferous vegetable that looks something like the lovechild of broccolini, rocket and English spinach. It’s tougher stalks give way to deep green large rough leaves with a sprinkling of broccolini-like florets. It is popular in southern Italian and Roman cuisine, often boiled then sautéed with olive oil, garlic and chilli as a side dish or as an accompaniment to sausage in a panino. The bitterness of the wilted greens seems to be the perfect companion to pork, chilli and garlic, and this recipe makes the most of the fire and caramelised butteriness that occurs when these flavours are allowed to infuse together.

You’ll have noticed by now that when I cook, and when I eat, I want full flavour with minimal effort, hence my preference for more rustic dishes. Also, I’m usually too impatient for finicky food when I’d rather be on the couch with a bowl of something comforting than fussing in the kitchen over something complicated. This is one such dish; the accompaniment is ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. I say ‘accompaniment’ as this is not so much a sauce as it is some spiced sautéed ingredients tossed through some pasta. I specify using Italian pork sausages as opposed to pork mince; the higher fat content of the sausage provides a deeper flavour than pork mince and the texture is squeakier and uneven. Look for pure pork sausages, but if you can only find pork and fennel sausages, you may wish to halve the amount of fennel seeds or omit them altogether.

Rapini can be hard to find, though I have increasingly seen it sold in supermarkets, and tends to be available only seasonally through winter, unless you have access to seeds to grow them yourself or you know a good Italian gardener who will generously give you some. I have grown my own and it is not terribly demanding to harvest your own crop even in containers. Seeds can be purchased online from Franchi Sementi or The Italian Gardener; if you are in Adelaide, I purchased mine from Imma & Mario’s Mercato in Campbelltown. If you crave this pasta and rapini is not easy to acquire, a mixture of silverbeet or English spinach and broccolini make a reasonable substitute.

PAPPARDELLE CON SALSICCE E CIME DI RAPA
Pappardelle with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g Egg Pappardelle
  • 6 Italian pork sausages (approx 450g), casings removed
  • 1 large bunch Cime di Rapa (Broccoli Rabe), roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt flakes
  • Handful of finely grated pecorino + more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water

METHOD

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant.

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Add half the oil, onion and salt and sauté until the onions start to colour.

Add the sausage meat and cook until browned using a fork or wooden spook to break down the clumps.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of water and cook until al dente.

Add the nutmeg and the tougher cime di rapa stalks to the sausage and onion mixture first and cook for a few minutes until the stalks start to soften but still retain a little crunch. Then add the chopped leaves and the garlic and cook, stirring, until wilted.

By this time, the pasta should be cooked to al dente. Use tongs to lift the pasta from the pot and add straight to the pan with the sausage and wilted leaves. Add the remaining all and the grated pecorino as well as half the reserved starchy pasta cooking water. Toss to combine well adding more pasta water if needed to evenly coat the pappardelle and create a sauce.

Serve into bowls sprinkling with more cheese and dried chilli to taste.

Spaghetti A’Matt’riciana – or the Amatriciana Matt Loves To Eat!

There is something that seems so utterly right about eating Italian food which proudly and unapologetically reflects the colours of the Italian flag. When I do so, there’s a part of me that wonders just how patriotic Queen Margherita of Savoy must have felt when presented with a pizza made especially for her upon her visit to Napoli shortly after the unification of Italy; the combination of basil, mozzarella and tomato on a pizza base is famously thought to be named after her following this particular dining out experience.

Italian dishes are often named after the person who made it, where they made it or for whom it was made. Amatriciana receives its name from the town of Amatrice in the Lazio region, a mountainous area in central Italy, and from whence this sauce originates. My recipe for making this sauce, however, gets its name from my husband, Matt, who requests this pasta sauce more than any other – this is the Amatriciana that Matt loves to eat! Typical of the sugo all’Amatriciana are ingredients reflecting the national flag. Fiery dried chilli, blushing ripe tomatoes and rose-coloured guanciale (cured pig cheek, or alternatively pancetta or bacon) make up the brilliant red of the colour palette, while onions, garlic and pecorino provide the white. While not traditional of Amatriciana, I insist on the stalks and leaves from fragrant fresh basil, equal parts for the extra burst of flavour and for making up the full tricolore – why should Queen Margherita have all the fun?

I must insist that you only ever make Amatriciana with ripe fresh tomatoes – no tinned tomatoes or passata – and you will understand why when you make it. This is not a thick ragu-style sauce like it’s distant cousin from Bologna. Rather, the softened tomatoes and their juices coat the pasta thickened by the starchy water in which is was cooked, snagging flecks of tomato flesh and cured meat in the tangled web of the spaghetti. I must also insist that you do not drain your pasta in a colander or rinse it under water. The starchy water is a necessary ingredient to ensure an even thick coating of sauce over your pasta.

Bacon is perfectly suitable for this dish, though guanciale or pancetta are the ultimate indulgence if you can find it. I turn to this recipe so regularly for emergency dinners because there is usually always bacon in the freezer than can be quickly defrosted, tomatoes in the fridge, and onions, garlic and chilli on hand. If using bacon, you must use middle rashers, rind removed, with still some bacon fat evident that will render and infuse your sauce. You can use whatever pasta you want, but to make an authentic A’Matt’riciana, spaghetti or pappardelle should be favoured. However, my university food obsession was Tortellini Amatriciana – my Italian classes were usually later in the evening and a few classmates and I could often be found at Piatto on Rundle Street for a pre-class dinner: so began my 20+ year relationship with this sauce, preferably coating stuffed pasta belly-buttons (true story, this is what inspired the design of tortellini.)

Finally, invest in a good drinking dry white wine – you want about a cup for the pan and you will appreciate a glass or two while eating. Tonight’s choice, an Adelaide Hills Seabrook Pinot Grigio, was on point. There’s something about the way the dry wine counterbalances the acidic tomato and punchy chilli that is most satisfying.

I hope you will love to eat this as much as Matt does.

SPAGHETTI A’MATT’RICIANA (or the AMATRICIANA THAT MATT LOVES TO EAT!)
Serves 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g good quality dried spaghetti
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 400g bacon (middle rashers, rind removed), roughly cut into 1cm pieces; or guanciale or pancetta finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil; stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly shredded
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes, plus extra for sprinking
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of water in which the pasta is cooked
  • grated pecorino cheese, to taste
  • A few tablespoons of fresh ricotta (optional)

METHOD

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.

Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan (one that can be covered securely with a lid), heat the oil over medium high heat. Add  onion, garlic, chilli flakes and basil stalks with a pinch of salt to prevent burning and sautee until softened but not browned.

Add the bacon (or guanciale or pancetta if using) to the pan and sautee until the meat softens and just takes on the slightest hint of colour. You do not want dry or crispy bacon pieces.

Add the tomatoes and combine with the sauteed onions then add the wine. Stir well then reduce the heat to medium, clamp on the lid and allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and starting to form a pulpy sauce. Check occasionally during simmering and help the tomatoes along by pressing them down with your spoon.

While the sauce is simmering, cook your spaghetti in the pot of salted water until al dente.

Once the pasta is cooked and the sauce has come together, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the tomatoes and stir for about a minute or until the starchy water has thickened the sauce.

Use tongs to lift the spaghetti from the water and add it straight to the sauce. Sprinkle over a small handful of grated pecorino and the torn basil leaves and toss the pasta through the sauce to coat evenly. Add a little extra pasta water if needed, and taste to see if you want a little extra cheese.

Serve topped with fresh ricotta and more basil, dried chilli flakes and pecorino.

Crispy Chermoula Salmon and Couscous Salad

Making your own spice mixes and pastes seems overwhelming for midweek cooking, especially when you can save yourself the hassle and just buy something in a jar off the shelf. However, if you’re like me (and if you’re reading a food blog, you probably are) you like to make your own when you can because you know what is going into your food and you know you can’t beat the flavour of something you have made fresh yourself. Truth be told, making your own mixes and pastes is an effortless affair when you have a decent food processor to do the busy work for you. This chermoula paste could not be simpler; you could skip the extra minute it takes to toast the whole spices before adding them to the food processor if you were feeling particularly impatient, but to do so would see you miss out on the smoky warmth that this simple step gives your marinade.

Chermoula is a paste used as a marinade or relish prominent in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine. While it is traditionally used to flavour seafood, it can be used on meats and vegetables, too. The first time I had chermoula it was as a relish pasted onto grilled lamb cutlets after they had been cooked – a herb sauce as opposed to a marinade. While chermoula pastes can vary from region to region, you will find garlic, cumin, coriander and lemon in almost every mixture.

Here, the chermoula is used as a thick textured marinade. You will notice the spices are toasted but not ground and I think it is important to retain the texture of the whole spices in this recipe; the coriander seeds, especially, cling to the salmon flesh and give a burst of spice when you crush them while eating that you don’t get with ground spices. The salmon is grilled in this recipe – not baked, but grilled under the griller element of the oven – which cooks the salmon flesh tenderly in around 7 minutes while producing a satisfyingly crispy bronze skin. Be sure to press as much of the chermoula paste into the salmon flesh sides and base before grilling, but remove excess paste from the skin to prevent burning.

The couscous salad is purposely not complicated with excess flavours from spices or stock as the chermoula marinade of the salmon really carries across the whole dish. Instead, the freshness of the cucumber, fresh herbs and tangy yoghurt cut through the complex spices, not to mention the sweet and sharp bursts of those ruby pomegranate jewels.

After experimenting with grilling salmon for this recipe, I think this is the only way I will cook crispy skinned salmon from this point on. I think you’ll be impressed with how perfectly it cooks through, too.

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CRISPY CHERMOULA SALMON AND COUSCOUS SALAD
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 salmon fillets, equal sized, skin on

For the Chermoula Paste:

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 long green chillis
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (3cm length), peeled
  • 1/2 large bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
  • 1/2 large bunch fresh mint, leaves and stalks
  • 1/2 large bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 big pinch of kosher sea salt flakes (eg Maldon)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Couscous Salad

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 large bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 large bunch fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 large bunch fresh coriander leaves
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 80g pine nuts, toasted
  • seeds from one pomegranate

For the yoghurt dressing

  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt (I like the creamy consistency of Tamar Valley Greek Style)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of salt

METHOD

Prepare the Chermoula Paste and Salmon:

Toast the whole cumin and coriander seeds and the paprika together in a dry pan over high heat until slightly toasted and aromatic.

Place the toasted herbs into a food processor with all the remaining ingredients for the paste mix except for the oil.

Blitz on high speed while slowly adding the oil to the processor to form a thick paste.

Empty the paste into a large freezer or zip lock bag.

Place the salmon in the bag with the chermoula paste. Close the bag securely and use your hands to smoosh the paste all over the salmon. Set aside to marinade for 30 minutes or longer in the fridge. If marinading in the fridge for longer, be sure to bring the salmon to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

To cook the salmon:

Light the grill on your oven.

Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Place a wire rack over the foil in the tray. Oil the rack with olive oil or cooking spray.

Place the salmon, skin side up, on the wire rack. Use a knife or spoon to remove the excess paste from the skin but try to press as much paste into the sides and base of the fish as you can – you want these flavours and texture!

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Place under the grill for about 6 – 8 minutes or until the skin of the salmon has browned and turned crispy, being careful not to burn it. (Mine was perfect at 7 minutes).

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Remove from the oven and use an egg slide to carefully lift the salmon from the rack. The salmon will be succulent and tender so be careful and gentle when lifting.

Serve atop the couscous salad with a dollop of yoghurt.

To make the salad:

Place the couscous in a large bowl with a tablespoon of butter. Pour over the boiling water. Cover and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Fluff up the cooked couscous with a fork.

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Add the cucumber, chickpeas and chopped leaves.

Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.

To make the yoghurt sauce:

Combine the salt, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Check for flavour and add more salt, juice or garlic if you wish.

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Baklava Gyoza

I spent six months recovering from a life-threatening injury and during this time I think I watched every cooking and lifestyle program on television and the internet. When I was well enough to start doing things again, I found my way back into the kitchen. While I had always loved cooking, for the period of about two years before my injury I felt like I had lost my touch. Furthermore, I just couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. It had become a chore as opposed to its former joy. As it happened, during my recovery time cooking became for me something that it had stopped being for a long time: therapy. And as my health improved, the joy for cooking returned, so much so that I finally started this blog which many have told me is well overdue. This recipe is perhaps an ode to the returned passion for cooking and for creating through experimentation.

One of the shows I must have watched a thousand episodes of during my recovery time is Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield. On one particular episode she used gow gee gyoza wrappers to wrap stewed spiced apples and fresh berries, turning the concept of the Japanese savoury dumpling into a sweet bite-sized pastry. I was reminded of a restaurant I ate at years ago on a work trip to Ballarat where I was served cherry and marscapone spring rolls for dessert. I came home and attempted to create my own with disastrous results: the pastry split and the filling exploded everywhere. I never attempted an asian fusion dessert ever again.

Until now.

A ‘foodspiration’ walk through the Adelaide Central Market had me feeling like Greek food, hence I revisited my ‘Stolen’ Lamb and Potato Packets and was inspired to create my Warm Greek Bean Salad. And I knew my husband, being the sweet-tooth he his, would be wanting ‘a little sweetie’ to round off our night. Baklava is one of those foods I have always loved eating and have always been too scared to make – all that pastry! Then I thought about Schofield’s sweet gyoza and the dessert spring rolls I’d eaten all those years ago (yes, my memory for food and flavours is a well-catalogued library) – I wondered ‘what would happen if you stuffed dumpling pastry with a nutty baklava mixture?’ Well, this happened: Baklava Gyoza.

Using store-bought wrappers makes these dumplings pretty quick to make: blitz nuts with sweeteners and spices, place on wrappers, seal them up, quickly fry and then steam with water under a lid. Gow gee wrappers are commonly available in supermarkets but you’ll certainly find them in asian grocery stores. You want the round gow gee wrappers in order to make the gyoza shape as opposed to square wanton wrappers. You will need a non-stick frypan to cook these, and you will also need a lid big enough to cover the whole pan. You should also wear an apron as the oiled pan gets filled with water, so there will be a little bit of drama with steam and spattering, so go carefully.

Aside from that, they are not terribly fiddly to make, and the repetitive nature when making big batches of them is quite therapeutic, to go back to my earlier theme. The satisfaction, however, is all the sweet, citrusy and woody spice of Greek baklava in soft syrup-bathed Japanese-style pastry parcels.

No confusion, this is one sweet fusion!

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BAKLAVA GYOZA
Makes 24

INGREDIENTS

For the gyoza:

  • 24 gow gee gyoza wrappers
  • 100g walnuts
  • 80g flaked almonds
  • 80g pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 slices of lemon rind (roughly 1cm x 4cm)
  • 3/4 cup water

METHOD

Start with the syrup:

Put all the ingredients for the syrup into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously, until the it comes a simmer and the sugar dissolves.

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Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 3 minutes, still stirring, and making sure the liquid does not boil or burn.

Take the syrup off the heat and allow to cool with the whole spices and rind.

Now prepare your gyoza:

Place the nuts, butter, sugar, orange blossom water (if using), cinnamon and honey into a food processor and blitz until the nuts are coarsely ground and the mixture forms a pliable paste. You should be able to take teaspoons of the mixture and roll it into a ball; it should be able to be shaped and hold together.

Lay your wrappers out on your work surface and have a small dish of water close by.

Place teaspoons of the nut mixture in the centre of each wrapper and manipulate the mixture to form that unmistakable quenelle gyoza shape.

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Dip your finger in the water and trace around the outside edge of each wrapper. Bring the edges of the wrappers together to seal in the nut mixture, securing them by pressing together the moistened edges and pinching the pastry to form your gyoza.

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Cooking your gyoza:

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, spray it lightly with with canola oil.

Place 6 gyoza in the hot pan to lightly brown their bases.

When they have started to turn golden on the base, pour 3/4 cup of water into the pan – be careful, water and oil do not play nicely and this will steam and bubble and it may spatter a little. Immediately cover the frying pan with a lid and allow the gyoza to cook for about 5 minutes or until all the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

If you are cooking more than 6 gyoza at a time, you may need to use more water for steaming. You want the gyoza bases to remain crisp on the bottom but the rest of the pastry should be soft, not leathery, so add more water if your gyoza haven’t steamed through when the initial liquid has evaporated.

Use a palette knife to carefully lift the gyoza to serving plate.

Generously drizzle the cooled syrup over the gyoza and serve extra syrup in sauce dishes for dunking.

Serve immediately.

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Warm Greek Bean Salad

This is more Greek inspired than it is a Greek dish. I wanted something to complement my ‘Stolen’ Lamb and Potato Packets and given it was a cold wintery Adelaide Hills night a cold salad was not going to cut it.

The most actual cooking you’re going to do here is boil the kettle and pop a few tomatoes on an oven tray. The rest is just some artless assembly – the salad doesn’t even need tossing.

Here you will find most of the usual suspects in a Greek salad: tomato, crumbly feta, kalamata olives, extra virgin olive oil and oregano, but I’ve replaced lettuce with warmed green beans. You could also top the salad with some fresh chunky-cut Lebanese cucumber if you wanted to cut through the saltiness, particularly if you opt to be heavy handed with the olives and feta. I have a particular preference for the multicoloured cherry tomato medley packs you can buy now but you can really use whatever tomatoes you want. A little Jamie Oliver trick is to salt the tomatoes generously and leave to rest a little before roasting to draw out the juices. The tomatoes taste sweeter when you do this.

WARM GREEK BEAN SALAD

Serves 2 as a generous side

This is salad, not chemistry: adjust measurements as you please. Quantities given below are a guide.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g green stringless beans, trimmed
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 80g kalamata olives
  • 80g Greek style feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • A pinch of salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200C.

Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle over salt, pepper, oregano and drizzle with a tablespoon of oil.

Bake tomatoes for 15 – 20 minutes or until they start to colour but still hold their shape. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. You want them to be warm on your salad.

Boil a kettle of water. While the water is heating up, place the beans in a salad bowl.

Pour enough boiling water to just cover the beans and allow to stand about 2 minutes or until the colour of the beans intensifies. Drain the beans and dry the bowl fore retuning the warmed beans to the salad bowl.

Drizzle another tablespoon of oil and the vinegar over the beans and toss a couple of times to cover. Add the olives and crumble over the feta before topping the whole lot with the warm roasted tomatoes.

Give a last drizzle with the remaining oil and sprinkle with a pinch of extra dried oregano before serving.