In a couple of weeks, courgettes’s season will be almost over. But, for the time being, we still can find them at the supermarket screaming to be cooked with loads flavors to soak up. For example – garlic, thyme and mint, as in this crushed courgettes dish Yotam Ottolenghi created for The New Vegetarian.
To go with the courgettes, nothing better than a roasted chicken. For this one, I used a very basic recipe I saw on Masterchef Australia (with a couple of tweaks).
- 3 large courgettes (750g), cut in half lengthways and then into 6cm pieces
- 1 whole garlic bulb, separated into unpeeled cloves
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1½ tsp coarse sea salt
- Black pepper
- 70ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1½ tbsp chopped dill
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the courgettes and garlic cloves in a bowl and add the dried mint, thyme, salt, some black pepper and the oil. Mix everything together and transfer to a medium baking dish – make sure the courgette pieces overlap a little, cut side up, and form a single layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the courgettes have softened and taken on some colour.
Transfer everything to a colander, pressing the courgettes so they start to release some of their liquid, and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the colander to a mixing bowl, and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins (discard the skins). Mash everything together with a fork (if the courgettes’ skin is on the tough side, you may have to chop them with a knife). Stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside for an hour before serving.
- 1 chicken, broken down into legs & breasts still on the bone
- 8 sprigs of rosemary
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven at 220oC
Cover the bottom of a roasting tray with olive oil. Put the chicken into the tray skin, with the side up in one evenly spread layer.
Pat the chicken skin with a paper towel until it is dry. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put the rosemary on top of the chicken pieces.
Put the tray into the oven, and cook the chicken for about 35min.
You don’t like tomato sauce on your pizza? Don’t worry, we have have something for you: a pizza bianca, courtesy of Gary Mehigan and Masterchef Australia This elegant combination of flavours and textures is so good, you will have you wish you had made two pizzas. The Classic Pizza Margherita is good, but this one is something else…
Pizza Bianca with Potato and Anchovies
- semolina and plain flour, for dusting
- 1 x 120g dough portion (I used already made pizza dough)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (I replaced it with granna padano)
- ½ cup aged provolone, coarsely grated (I replaced it with Gruyere)
- 1 waxy potato, such as Desiree, very thinly sliced
- ¼ cup wild rocket leaves, washed, drained (I replaced it with baby spinach)
- 60g buffalo mozzarella, torn
- 6 anchovy fillets (optional) (only had anchovy filled with cappers, so used it instead).
Place an unglazed terracotta tile into an oven and heat to 250°C. Sprinkle a clean work surface with semolina and flour and use your fingers or rolling pin to stretch out the dough until about 25cm in diameter or to desired thickness. Dust a wooden paddle or sheet of baking paper with semolina and flour and place dough on top.
Step 2: In a small bowl add garlic, 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt. Brush the dough with the oil.
Step 3: Combine cheeses and scatter over dough, leaving a 1cm border around the edge. Strip leaves from remaining rosemary and sprinkle over dough.
Step 4: Lay the potato slices evenly over the dough. Brush with oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
Step 5: Slide pizza onto hot terracotta tile and bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove pizza from oven. Brush the crust with olive oil.
Step 6: Mix rocket with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Scatter mozzarella, anchovies, and rocket over pizza. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Pizza – enough said. For a quick meal and trying to keep the 11-year-old happy, I gave a go to the pizza Margherita recipe George Calombaris demonstrated during a Masterchef Australia’s Masterclass. A classic combination, which was as named after the Italian queen who first tried (and loved) the tomato, mozzarella and basil in a pizza bread.
To cook this pizza, I took a short cut that is generally a no-no for a high-class number, and used already-made dough. But, if you feel you have bake your own pizza dough, here is an recipe, also from Masterchef Australia. Also, instead of sticking to pizza sauce, I just took a jar of tomatada [Portuguese style tomato sauce] I had sitting in the fridge and put it to good use.
George and Gary (Mehigan) have another trick to bake a crispy dough for the perfect pizza. To distribute the heat evenly across the pizza base and to extract the moisture, place an unglazed terracotta tile into an oven and heat to 250°C. (I didn’t – if only I knew where to find terracota tiles in Zurich which doesn’t cost the equivalent of a 100g of white truffle).
Classic Pizza Margherita
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
- 2 springs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic gloves minced
- 1 kg very ripped tomatoes, seeded and chopped* (or a couple of canned tomato, preferably san marzano, chopped, juices reserved).
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of double concentrated tomato paste, to taste
- 1 small fresh medium red hot chilli pepper, such as Serrano, stemmed, seeded and chopped (it is optional. Sometimes, I just add a few drops of piri piri sauce).
- Freshly grounded salt and black pepper to taste.
- 1 x 120g pizza dough portion (I use already-made pizza dough)
- Plain flour, for dusting
3 tbs pizza sauceTomato sauce to cover the base
- 1 tbs baby capers, rinsed and drained
- 6-8 large basil leaves
- 9 halved oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 50g buffalo mozzarella, torn
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until it shimmer. Add the onions, parsley and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15min. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more.
Turn the heat to medium low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste and chilli pepper, if using. Bring to a simmer, cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30min
Toss out the parsley and bay lead and season with salt and pepper. If you wish, you can scrape the sauce into a food processor and buzz until smooth. Store the sauce in the fridge in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
On a floured wooden paddle or piece of baking paper, stretch out the dough into a long oval shape about 30cm long and 10-15cm wide, or to desired shape and thickness.
Spread the tomato sauce over the dough, sprinkle with baby capers and scatter over basil leaves. Place cherry tomatoes on top and drizzle with olive oil.
Slide the pizza into the stove and bake for about 5 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Brush the crust with olive oil and scatter mozzarella over pizza.
I cannot make rice pudding the way my Mother does. No matter how many times I have watched her doing it or how scrupulously I follow her instructions, it is not the same thing. It doesn’t taste the same, it doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t do her recipe any justice. It seems just impossible to reproduce her pudding rice. For a while, I tried other recipes, like the one Spanish chef Juan Maria Arzak has in one of his books, to less than optimal results.
A few days ago, while watching season 2 of Masterchef Australia, I saw how Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris did this rice pudding during one of their masterclasses. It looked delicious, packed with different flavors and textures, and they comprehensively explained how to cook it. And, I decided it to give a another go to rice pudding. Anyway, what sort of expectations would you have on an Australian rice pudding recipe? It was worthwhile the effort. In fact, there was a respectful silence around the table while people eat their desserts… Do not feel tempted to remove the tarragon, on the pretenses that no rice pudding has green stuff on it. With the orange, it is a delicious combination.
Rice Pudding with Orange Jewels, Tarragon and Puffed Rice
- 40g caster sugar (or sugar too taste )
- 700ml milk (the real thing, with all its fat)
- 135g Arborio rice, rinsed and drained
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
Candied orange peel
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- the peel of 1 orange, pith removed, julienned in the vertical
- 1 orange, peeled zest, pith removed, julienned
- tarragon leaves,
- 1/4 cup puffed rice, toasted
- 1 orange flesh segmented
- 15g caster sugar
- 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder (do not follow the instructions on the bottle, as they are aimed to get a gelatin consistency. The jewels need to be solid to be cut properly, so it is OK if you add agar agar in excess).
- 190ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained (I used the juice of 2 oranges and topped with water until I had 250mL of liquid)
Step 1: For the candied orange peel, place 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, add orange peel and simmer gently for 45 minutes until syrupy. If you are not using it immediately, it is better to separate the peels and letter then cool).
Step 2: For the orange jelly, line a 500ml plastic container with cling film. Add ¼ cup water, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sprinkle in agar agar and whisk for about 5 minutes until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into the lined container. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes or until set. Invert jelly from container onto a board and cut into 1cm cubes.
Step 3: For the rice pudding, add the milk, rice, vanilla bean and seeds to a non-stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until creamy and the rice is tender, stirring regularly. Add the remaining sugar and stir for about 2 minutes until dissolved (I had to use the whole 1-L of milk, as the rice absorbed the first 700mL of milk).
Step 4: To serve, divide rice pudding between serving bowls. Arrange the jelly jewels on top, along with the orange segments, tarragon leaves, candied orange peel, a spoonful of syrup and some puffed rice. Serve immediately.