Tag Archives: South Australia

FLAVOURED BUTTER TO DRESS AND ENHANCE TASTE

I hesitate to write recipes that are just so simple, but recently I was reminded how a simple herb butter can enhance simply grilled or steamed fish, meat or vegetables, bread etc. Grilled vegetables seem to be the pick of the month – enhance them with a flavoured butter.

While in South Australia I ate and drank very well in a number of restaurants, most had unusual combinations of excellent South Australian produce, others like Skillogalee Winery Restaurant in the Clare Valley had simple fare, more conventional and perfectly geared to the wide range of people who visit wineries and can enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

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Our group of four sat in the garden and one of the dishes we chose to share was Port Lincoln whole sardines served with lime and parsley butter with bread. We ordered 2 serves of these sardines.

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So modest, but so delicious. Sometimes we forget how something so quickly and simply made can really enhance a dish.

Some of you may remember the craze for the Beurre Maître d’Hôtel, also referred to as Maître d’Hôtel butter or Compound butter – It is simply butter combined with herbs, pepper and lemon juice and typically formed into a cylinder and sliced.  A circular disc of Maître d’Hôtel butter was centrally plonked on top of a grilled steak –  a technique used by many high-end steak houses in the eighties and early nineties…. people in Adelaide may remember The Arkaba Steak Cellar.

With a little imagination, different herbs instead of parsley will impart different flavours and grated lemon or lime peel will boost the citrus taste.

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To make lime and parsley butter sufficient for 4-6 sardines and bread begin with 1 cup unsalted good quality butter at room temperature, 1-2 teaspoons of lime zest, 2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped very finely and a little salt and pepper to taste.

Use a fork to beat the butter in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Mix zest, juice and gradually add parsley salt, and black pepper into the butter until thoroughly combined.

Taste it and if it is necessary to alter it add more of any of the ingredients to make it to your taste. Rest in the fridge to return consistency and enhance the flavour.

If you wish to store it and give it that 1980’s shape, wrap it in foil or in baking paper keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

All grilled fish and not just sardines can be used, as all meat and vegetables.

Instead of parsley, add different herbs – rosemary, thyme, sage, dill, basil, fennel fronds, tarragon, chives, oregano, marjoram, coriander are simple examples.

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Garlic, ginger, horseradish, paprika, pink pepper, spices….need I go on?

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Only to say that I rather like finely chopped anchovy fillets combined in butter – begin with 1 tablespoon of chopped anchovies to 1 cup pf butter and add more if it is not to your taste.

For miso butter – begin with 1 tablespoon of white miso and proceed as above. Red or brown miso can also be used.

Recently I also tried mixing some chopped lavender leaves into butter to present with scones. Not too much lavender  or it could taste medicinal.

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LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING AT MERCATO (Baccalaru ‘o fornu – Sicilian and Baccalà al forno- Italian).

ADELAIDE LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING

After the excitement and satisfaction of the successful launch of my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, in Melbourne on 6 November, and book signing event at Readings Hawthorn on 17 November, I drove to Adelaide, for the launch of my book in South Australia.

The launch was hosted and organized by the team at Il Mercato, the Italian providore in the north-eastern suburb of Campbelltown, which is where my family settled after migrating from Italy. The local member and the State Minister for Education, Grace Portolese, MP introduced the South Australian event on Sunday, 20 November.

I was thrilled and honoured that respected cook and cooking teacher, Rosa Matto, agreed to launch the book in my former hometown. Rosa and I have known each other for over many years and I have always admired her cooking skills, her generosity and her commitment to sharing her knowledge of food through her cooking classes.

The launch at Il Mercato was very well attended. John Caporosa, the owner of the providore, had ordered 100 copies of Sicilian Seafood Cooking and on the day 99 were sold and signed.

Book signing queue at il Mercato

I am immensely grateful to John and his team, especially Cynthia and Lina who helped to make the event a success and prepared a selection of food:  there were white anchovies and arancini and Lina selected and cooked two recipes from Sicilian Seafood Cooking, the Caponata from Catania (pg 362) and the Baked baccalà (pg 193). It was presented on a ceramic spoon – practical and attractive and very suitable for this occasion.

Baccalà is cooked in many ways but this is probably my favourite – It is full of flavours and colours that can only be Sicilian. It can be presented as a main dish or as an antipasto. At Il Mercato it was served on spoons and everyone loved it.

Baccalà. has to soak for a couple of days before it is cooked, so begin preparations beforehand ( min. 24 hours but if  it is extra salty it will need extra time. It can be purchased pre soaked in some stores which sell Italian and Spanish food.

INGREDIENTS

1–1.2 kg (2lb 4oz–2lb
12oz) baccalà, soaked
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup finely cut parsley
500g (17.oz) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
(or canned)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
mixed with ½ cup water
flour for coating
½ cup salted capers, soaked and washed
½ cup sultanas or currants
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup white wine
½ cup black olives, pitted and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD

Cut the baccalà into square portions and leave to dry on a paper towel.
Heat ½ cup of oil in an ovenproof casserole. Add the onion, garlic and
parsley and cook until the onion is pale golden. Add the tomatoes, the tomato
paste and seasoning and cook until thickened.
Lightly coat the baccalà with flour and fry in hot oil.
Arrange the baccalà in the casserole with the capers, sultanas, pine
nuts and ½ cup of wine. Bake in a preheated 180C (350 F) oven for
30–45 minutes. Add the rest of the wine and the olives and bake for another
15–30 minutes until cooked (the fish should flake). During cooking, check to
see if it is dry and either add more wine or water.
Variation
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves or extra pine nuts and serve with chopped chilli and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cook any firm-fleshed fish this way. Large thick pieces are best.

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