For the polpette, heat a good splash of oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and starting to caramelize, add the fennel, stir through and take off the heat.
Place all the mince in a food processor and combine, add the eggs, oregano, onion mix and breadcrumbs, season and process again to a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl and knead in the Parmesan and parsley. Shape into footballs about 2 tablespoons in size, add to a hot non-stick pan with oil and brown all over.
For the sauce, in a large wide-based pot add the oil and garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the sugo, sugar and oregano, season and bring to the boil, add the meatballs and cook gently with a lid on for 15 minutes.
Towards the end of the cooking time for the polpette, boil 2 litres of water, crumble in the stock cubes and rain in the polenta while whisking. Simmer for 3 minutes (or according to packet directions) stirring until thickened. Add the butter and Grana, stir through and season. Serve the polenta with the meatballs and sauce spooned over the top.
Escabeche is a classic Mediterranean marinade that is used to lightly pickle meat or fish, whilst infusing it with spice. Typically, freshly cooked fish, chicken or rabbit is doused in the pungent, sweet and sour dressing and will either be served straightaway or left to marinate overnight and served cold. This dish is best served warm or at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced, 200°C conventional.
Cut the unpeeled shallots lengthways and toss into a roasting pan with the whole garlic bulbs. Drizzle with the extra oil and roast for 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Squeeze out the garlic pulp and peel the skins off the shallots. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C.
Boil a pot of water. Score a cross in the base of the large tomatoes and half the cherry tomatoes and drop them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and refresh in cold water. The skins should slip off easily. Chop the large tomatoes, leaving the cherry tomatoes whole.
To make the sauce, in a large wide-based pot over medium heat add the 100ml of oil, the chopped tomatoes, the peeled and unpeeled cherry tomatoes, the shallots and garlic paste and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the saffron, spices and bay leaf, season with a little salt and stir for another minute. Add the sherry vinegar and brown sugar and cook for another 5 minutes. Don’t over-reduce, the sauce should be quite loose and the cherry tomatoes should be still holding their shape. Take off the heat but keep warm.
Place a large frying pan over high heat. Season the birds with salt and pepper and lightly oil. Sear the flattened poussin, skin side down for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a roasting tray and roast for 10-15 mins. When the birds are nearly cooked, gently warm the sauce, add the picked tarragon and check the seasoning.
Remove the birds from the oven and lay on a serving platter with any roasting juices, immediately pour over the warm dressing and rest for five to ten minutes before serving.
They are also perfect when people drop around. Serve with a little grilled bread rubbed with garlic and dressed with oil, a chunk of Manchego, some almonds and olives and you’ll always look well prepared.
Preheat the oven to 120°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. In batches blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds to 1 minute (or until the skin starts to separate from the flesh) then plunge into cold water. Slip the skins off, slice in half and squeeze out and discard about half of the seeds.
In a large bowl mix the remaining ingredients well, add the tomatoes and toss to coat. Place tomatoes cut side down on baking trays and roast for 4 hours. Allow to cool fully on the baking tray to help preserve the shape.
You can layer the tomatoes in a wide mouthed jar, pour over a little olive oil blended with vegetable oil (about half/half, which stops the oil solidifying) and pop into the fridge. They will keep for about three weeks.
This braised octopus can be eaten cold, warm or hot, and it’s fine to make it a few days before it’s served. Lay it on a platter, and put it on the table with a bottle of white wine, plenty of crusty bread, olives and cheese, or eat it on its own with fetta and crunchy bread.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch the octopus for 1 minute, then drain and set aside.
To remove the skins from the cherry tomatoes, bring another pot of water to the boil. Blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute. Drain, peel the skins and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and chilli. Cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft and caramelised, stirring often.
Add the wine, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, coriander seeds, water and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, then add the octopus and braise for 30 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and vinegar into the pot and cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir the sugar through and check seasoning.
Serve straight away or allow to cool to room temperature. If making ahead of time, place in a jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
(This recipe was featured at Better Homes and Gardens LIVE, Melbourne, 2012) BHG
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add penne and cook according to packet instructions until al dente.
Put a wide pot on a medium heat, add the oil and heat for 2 minutes, add the eggplant and cook for 8 minutes until soft and golden, tossing frequently. Season well.
Add garlic, dried chilli, capers and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine, water and the drained tomatoes. Reduce heat and stew for 5 minutes until the eggplant is very soft.
Add the drained pasta to the eggplant mix. Stir it over a medium heat for a few minutes. Adjust the seasoning, add the balsamic vinegar, spoon onto a serving plate and finish with freshly shaved parmesan.
(This recipe was featured at Better Homes and Gardens LIVE, Melbourne, 2012) BHG
Place chicken pieces in a large plastic zip-lock bag. Roughly crush coriander seeds and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, add the salt, garlic and chilli flakes and roughly crush. Tip the spice mixture into the zip-lock bag, add the olive oil and massage it into the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (overnight, if possible) to allow flavours to infuse.
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Remove chicken pieces from the bag and place them skin-side up in a 40cm x 25 cm ceramic or cast-iron baking dish. Scatter over the thyme sprigs and tomatoes. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.
Remove from oven, drizzle with the vinegar and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve the chicken in the roasting dish with pan juices spooned over it.
Enjoy the dip with flatbread or as an accompaniment to grilled meats.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Rest whole eggplants over naked gas jets to blacken the skin, turning to blacken all over. This will take 3 to 5 minutes. Place blackened eggplants on a tray and roast for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven.
Remove and allow to cool slightly. Cut lengthways and scoop the flesh from the skin. Reserve the flesh and discard skin.
Turn oven down to 150°C.
Remove the tomato cores. Place the tomatoes, oil, garlic and eggplant flesh in a shallow baking dish. Roast for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes. Pull off the tomato skins and discard.
Spoon some of the roasting oil into a fresh pan over medium heat. Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle and add to the pan. Cook for 20 seconds or so, until they become fragrant, then stir in the eggplant and tomatoes, cooking to thicken the sauce. Season with salt, add the harissa, and allow to cool. Add a little more of the roasting oil if a thinner texture is desired. Tip the mixture into a bowl, then season with the lemon juice and stir through the herbs. Serve with warm flatbread.
Be sure to use full-flavoured tomatoes.
Finely grate the zest from one orange, then remove the pith and cut into segments. Peel and segment two other oranges. Peel and cut the remaining orange into rounds (pith on) and then into small triangles.
Place the orange zest, segments and triangles in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste and toss gently.
Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
I love barley for its nuttiness and the slippery, good-for-you texture that works so well with lamb.
If it’s not possible to get lamb shanks cut into three pieces, increase the first hour-long braising period to 90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Put the shank pieces in a baking tray with 2 tablespoons of the oil and the cumin. Season with salt and mix well to coat the lamb. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes until golden.
In a large, heavy-based pot add the rest of the oil, the onion, garlic, chilli, carrot and celery. Cook over a medium-high heat on the stovetop for 20 minutes, stirring often, until golden and caramelised.
Add the cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of pepper and the ground coriander. Stir for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste, crumbled stock cubes, barley, the browned shank pieces and 3 litres of water.
Bring to a simmer, then turn down and cook on low-medium heat for 1 hour. Add the chickpeas and simmer for another 40 minutes until the meat is tender. Season to taste.
Serve in wide, shallow bowls with a dollop of yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of coriander leaves.
My kids love the sauce with macaroni but you can go traditional and use spaghetti or whatever other pasta you like.
This recipe makes a large batch because I’m a firm believer in having some in the freezer for ‘one of those days’!
Remove the sausage meat from the sausage skin and discard the skin.
Using a large, wide pan, heat half the oil and sauté the mince and the sausage meat until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the onion, garlic and oregano. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the celery and carrot. Cook over a medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and golden.
Put the meats back in the pan along with the tomato paste. Season and add the sugar, tomato passata, crushed tomatoes, zucchini and the water.
Bring to a simmer, then cook for 40 minutes over low-medium heat.
Cook your favourite pasta according to packet instructions and stir it through the bolognese sauce. Top it off with grated parmesan cheese.