RECIPES INSPIRED BY THE VENETIAN GHETTO
Below you will find six recipes:
Coorong Mullet with green olive and caper relish, Zucchini and Mint, Romesco Challah, Rustic Amaretti and Apricot Tart, Sicilian Cuccidati, Pugliese Cartellate.
Perhaps I have taken liberties with Jewish recipes, but these are the recipes of my youth which have clear links to the Italy's Jewish heritage.
COORONG MULLOWAY WITH GREEN OLIVE AND CAPER RI
Coorong Mulloway with green olive and caper relish on zucchini ‘noodles’
500 g fillets coorong mulloway, mullet, snook or gummy shark
Kolophon caper seasoning (Riverland Farmers Market)
SA extra virgin olive oil
16 green olives (stones removed)
12 stems parsley (leaves only)
2-4 anchovies (optional)
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
zest and juice 1 small lemon
1 stem caperleaves, removed from stem
12 capers, rinsed
6 caperberries, rinsed
1-2 stems caper leaves
3 zucchini, sliced into thin strips using a mandolin
12 extra capers, fried in olive oil until crisp
Make three or four slashes in the skin of the fish. Sprinkle well with caper seasoning and drizzle with olive oil. Heat a small amount of oil in a frypan and cook the fish, skin side down, until it is crisp and brown. Reduce the heat and turn the fish over. Cook to your liking. Keep warm.
GREEN OLIVE AND CAPER RELISH
In a food processor, combine the stoned green olives, parsley, anchovies if using, garlic, half the zest and juice, caper leaves and capers. Pulse until chunky, not smooth, using just enough extra virgin olive oil to moisten.
Blanch the zucchini strips for 30 seconds or so just to soften them, then plunge into ice cold water. Drain thoroughly.
Toss with a sprinkling of caper seasoning and 1 tablespoon mint oil.
4 packed cups mint leaves
2 cups olive oil
Puree the mint and olive oil in a blender until smooth. Then simmer the puree over medium heat for 45 seconds. Pour the heated mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the mint. Let the mixture sit for a few hours or overnight. Pour the oil into an airtight jar. (don't include the dark liquid at the bottom of the bowl, which is water mixed with finely ground mint.)
To serve: make a bed of seasoned zucchini ‘noodles’ and pop the fish on top. Garnish each fillet with a tablespoon or two of relish, decorate with fried capers, caper berry, caper leaves and lemon zest.
Pour over a drizzle of mint oil and serve with a wedge of lemon.
ZUCCHINI WITH MINT AND GARLIC
4 zucchini, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, in large slices
2 stems mint, leaves only
1 clove garlic, chopped very finely,
haloumi, cut into slices
Firstly, set all the zucchini slices on a rack. Sprinkle lightly with salt and put out in the sun for an hour or so. Turn over and allow to dry on the other side. Pat dry with a paper towel, if necessary.
Heat the oil in a frypan and very lightly saute the garlic slices to flavour the oil. Remove and discard the garlic. Fry the zucchini slices until golden. Add half the mint leaves, cut roughly. Add the chopped garlic and fry very briefly.
Off the heat, splash with vinegar, add the rest of the mint and taste for salt and pepper. This will keep for several days and, indeed, improve in flavour. When ready to serve. Fry some slices of haloumi in a little olive oil and serve with the zucchini.
Inspired by Ottolenghi's chocolate challah, I decided to make a savoury version.
BASIC CHALLAH DOUGH Makes 1 small plait
1 tsp dried yeast
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp extra
1 large egg
250 ml lukewarm warm
350 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
Stir the yeast, sugar, olive oil and beaten egg in the warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
Measure the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix into the flour using a wooden spoon or your hand. When amalgamated, tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead quickly until the dough is perfectly smooth and springy. Pour the extra oil into a clean bowl and put in the dough, brush a little of the oil onto the top of the dough to prevent drying. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set aside for an hour to double in size.
Meanwhile, make the ROMESCO PASTE (Makes about 1 cup which will keep, well covered, in the fridge for about 5 days. This is a useful recipe – it is a delicious dip, or with a little more water it becomes a great sauce for chicken or fish.
1 large tomato
1 large red capsicum, cut in half and cleaned
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp roasted almonds
1 thick slice stale white bread, broken up into small pieces
1 large garlic clove sliced
chilli flakes to taste
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 210C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Brush the tomato and the two halves of capsicum with a little of the oil. Allow to roast until the tomato is tender and the skin peels off easily and the skin of the capsicum blisters and blackens a little. Remove and allow to cool, then peel the tomato and the capsicum. Meanwhile, heat up half the remaining oil in a frypan and toast the almonds, bread pieces and garlic and allow to become golden. Process the bread and almond mixture in a food processor until chunky. Add the tomato and peeled capsicum, flavour with chilli. Loosen the mixture with vinegar and a little water, but keep the mixture quite dry. Season with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge.
To make your plait:
Heat the oven to 200C. Punch down the dough and divide it into three even parts on a very well floured surface. Take one piece and roll it out to a strip approx. 10cm x 35cm. Spread about 2 tablespoons of Romesco paste down the centre and roll in the sides and ends to make a tight rope. Repeat with the remaining two pieces. Put the three ropes close together and plait loosely. Brush with an extra beaten egg and ease the plait onto a lined tray. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes or until the plait is golden brown on the underside. Allow to cool before eating.
RUSTIC AMARETTI AND APRICOT TART with PASTRY CREAM
FOR THE PASTRY
150 g sugar
120 g mild flavoured olive oil
500 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
PASTRY CREAM for the custard:
500 ml of fresh whole milk
75 g flour
150 g of sugar
4 egg yolks
finely chopped zest of one lemon
8-10 apricots in syrup, or fresh in season (use plums, nectarines, small peaches)
8-10 amaretti biscuits
Make the pastry first: whisk together the eggs, sugar and olive oil, then gradually add the flour and baking powder mixing together well. Tip the dough onto a floured bench and knead well. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the pastry cream : In a saucepan place the milk on the fire with half the sugar to heat. In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar with a spoon add the lemon zest and also the flour together. As soon as the milk is hot, pour a portion on the eggs, to blend the mixture, then add all of the milk and, stirring constantly with a whisk, put the pan on the fire. When the cream starts to thicken switch to a wooden spoon . Decant the cream into a glass container and cover with plastic in direct contact with the cream. Cool immediately.
Now that the dough has rested, cut it in half and roll out one half to line the base and sides of a 20 cm round cake tin. Put in the pastry cream and smooth it out. Put an amaretto biscuit into the hollow of each apricot and place all of them in circles on top of the cream. Now, roll out the second half and loosely drape over the top of the fruit. Very gently define the shapes with your fingers. Crimp the edges of the pastry and cut off the excess.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes or until the top is nicely golden. When cool, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve at room temperature.
3/4 cup pitted dates
1 cup raisins
zest and juice 2 small navel oranges
1 cup dried figs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup sweet white wine
½ teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups icing sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon or orange juice
Place the filling ingredients in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla. By hand, add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Divide dough into four portions; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll each into a 40 x 15 cm rectangle. (If dough is difficult to manage, roll between two sheets of baking paper.)
Spread ¼ of filling lengthwise down the centre of each rectangle. Fold dough over to encase the filling. Cut each rectangle diagonally into 3 cms. Place seam side down on paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake at 170° for 10-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool completely. Combine sugar and enough juice to achieve icing consistency. Drizzle over the slices. Store in an airtight container.
PUGLIESE CARTELLATE. Honey swirls for Christmas
(Makes about 3 dozen)
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
¾ cup sweet white wine
mild olive oil for frying
1 cup honey
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oil, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add the water and wine, and beat until a dough forms. Add more water if necessary. Knead for about 5-8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
Wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, dust with flour. Pass it through a pasta machine at the widest setting. Nor pass through each of the settings in turn until thin.
Place each dough sheet on a lightly floured surface. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut the dough into strips 25 x 4 cm. Fold each strip in half, lengthways, and pinch the strip together every 5 cm or so to create little segments all along the strip. With the curly edges up, wind the strips into loose spirals about 6 cm wide. Pinch the edges to seal. Place on an oiled baking tray. Let the spirals dry at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil. Carefully add a few cartellate at a time. They will only take about 1 minute to become golden. Drain on paper-towels.
Heat honey in a small saucepan. Arrange the cartellate on a serving tray. Pour over the warm honey. These are nicest on the same day. Decorate with silver or multicoloured sprinkles.