Famiglia – La Casa del Formaggio

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Disclaimer – I was sent a review copy of the book Famiglia: Recipes made with Love and Tradition

When we first returned to South Australia I saw lots of La Casa del Formaggio cheeses in the supermarkets but it took me a very long time to figure out that it was actually a South Australian company. I may be the last person in South Australia to realise this but it is – and there is even a factory shop that you can visit in Glynde. I haven’t yet done this but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Because – cheese.

So when I received an invitation to the book launch of the Casa del Formaggio cookbook I was disappointed not to be able to go, but happily I was sent a review copy! Review copies are an excellent way of getting around the supposed household ban on purchasing cookbooks and while we both love cheese, Andy can be a little bit hoo-hum when it comes to Italian food, so Italian cookbooks are especially good because they’re an excuse to cook Italian.

The book is divided into primi, secondi and dolce and while I haven’t cooked any of the dessert recipes yet – they look amazing. Obviously there are recipes for tiramisu and cannoli but how good does rhubarb semifreddo amaretti sandwiches sound? Or four layer chocolate mascarpone cake?

I ended up trying out the pizza recipe. We almost tried the potato, bocconcini and prosciutto cake – until I saw it contained 2kg of potatoes. Our family of three would have been eating it for a week! In fact, a lot of the recipes are geared for massive families. This makes them perfect for entertaining (or if you do indeed have a massive family) but if you have a small family be prepared to do some sums!

In the interest of thoroughness, I even followed the pizza dough recipe. The main difference between this recipe and our usual one is that it includes olive oil along with the water. The resultant dough was very soft and a bit tricky to handle but made a great pizza base. Andy thought that the dough would be really well suited to making a thicker crust pizza – you can see from the photo how much crust we had. I liked it – and thought it looked fab – but the fact that the dough was harder to handle means I’ll probably revert to using my usual recipe next time (after all – I don’t need to look anything up!).

The topping was Italian sausage, bocconcini, thyme and rocket. Proper Italian pizzas are a GREAT reminder NOT to load up on toppings. Keep it simple. The real revelation here was using bocconcini in lieu of your standard big ball of mozzarella. It was soooooo creamy and delicious. OK – you don’t get those big long stretchy strings of cheese but the creamy flavour and texture was something else. From now on, our pizzas will be topped with torn bocconcini.

Rather than tomato paste, the recipe calls for passata (we just happened to have some open). Although it’s a lot looser than tomato paste, I thought that because of the relatively simple topping it worked well. Tomato paste would have dominated the flavours and made everything taste too sweet.

We both really enjoyed the pizza (and – more importantly for a cookbook review – it worked!) and it was lovely to make the bocconcini discovery.

The is available from the factory shop for $15. Throughout June you might find your local independent supermarket offering it as a gift with purchase in-store promotion.

Italian Sausage, Bocconcini, Thyme and Rocket Pizza

Serving Size: 1 30cm thin crust pizza

Ingredients

    Dough
  • scant 200mL warm water
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 250g strong plain flour
  • salt
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • Topping
  • Bocconcini - at least 3
  • 2 Italian sausages - cooked and then crumbled
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • fresh thyme
  • rocket

Instructions

  1. Please water, yeast and a sprinkle of flour in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Allow the yeast to activate and add the remainder of the flour, the salt and the olive oil and form a soft dough. Allow to prove until double in size.
  2. Preheat oven to 250C (fan) - or as hot as your oven will go.
  3. Knock back the dough, give it a light knead and then line a 30cm lightly oiled pizza tray.
  4. Spread the passata over the base and scatter over the crumbled sausage and the torn bocconcini.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Scatter hot pizza with thyme leaves and then top with rocket.
http://eatingadelaide.com/famiglia-la-casa-del-formaggio/

Book Review: Shane Delia’s Maha and Turkish Dumplings

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I have had this book from the library for what feels like forever. It’s alright – of course I’ve renewed it and clearly no one else has it reserved. And that’s a shame because this is a lovely book. A book where you want to cook and eat most of the recipes.

For those who don’t know, Shane Delia is an Australian chef based in Melbourne where he runs a restaurant called Maha. He makes appearances on various Australian cooking shows and the focus of his food is best described as broadly Middle Eastern. His own background is Maltese and this book covers everything from Malta to Morocco. The recipes are divided into plate sizes and there is a section for desserts and, really helpfully, basic recipes.

While the recipes themselves mostly don’t appear overly complicated, you are going to need a meanly stocked pantry. Aleppo pepper is actually a capsicum, not a black pepper kind of pepper and you may find it a bit tricky to come by unless you live near a well stocked market or middle eastern shop. In Adelaide I’ve been told that Jaggers at the market will help me out but on my most recent visit (on a Monday) they were shut.

My inability to source aleppo pepper in a timely fashion and warmish weather limited my choice of recipe somewhat but I kfinally settled on making the manti – Turkish dumplings. After spending a lot of time hand crafting the little terrors, I was concerned that this was going to be one rather stodgy and plain dinner … but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The manti are served on a bed of garlicky yoghurt and topped with a chilli oil.

For the filling, I created my own (Delia suggests using left overs from another dish in the book, but really you can use pretty much anything you fancy) and, the brilliant thing about this recipe is that you can use all manner of short cuts if you are so inclined.

The first short cut (and the one I’ll be employing next time) is to use a pasta maker to roll out the dough. The dough is incredibly forgiving but rolling it out was easily the hardest part of this recipe. I ended up using Asian chilli oil in lieu of Delia’s butter based chilli dressing (no time, no fresh chilli) – a slight sesame character but perfectly serviceable. And if you have no time to make the garlic yoghurt yourself then perhaps you could substitute something like tzatziki. Andy also suggested that, rather than making your own dough (I don’t know – you’re in a real hurry perhaps?) you could use jiaozi skins.

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You do need to allow time to make these – not least because folding up the little parcels is time consuming – but you also need to give them some time in the freezer to firm up. The bonus is that you can actually just freeze them uncooked. So make a big stash and keep some in the freezer for when you want a quick dinner.

Don’t be tempted to drown the manti in sauce – it might seem a little light on to serve them with just a garlicky-yoghurty dressing – but trust me – it’s perfect. You just need a light salad on the side.

Manti - Turkish Dumplings

Ingredients

    Filling
  • 500g lamb mince
  • one onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • sumac
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Pastry
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 135 mL water
  • Garlic Yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp toum paste (garlic crushed with salt and olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100g yoghurt

Instructions

  1. To make the filling, heat some oil in a pan and fry off the onion and garlic. Add the lamb mince and cook thoroughly, breaking it up well and ensuring it takes on some colour. Finish with the sumac and seasoning. Allow to cool.
  2. By using 500g of mince you will have plenty of left over filling.
  3. (Really, just use any mince or finely chopped up meat filling you like)
  4. To make the dumplings, mix everything bar the water in a stand mixer and then add the water slowly. You may find you need extra water. When the dough comes together, mix on a low speed for 10 minutes. Divide into 5 balls and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough out to approximately 1mm thick and cut them into 5cm squares (I just did this by eye). Fill with a very scant 1tsp worth of filling and fold up the four corners, sealing with a little water. Ensure you seal them well.
  6. Set the filled manti on a tray lined with baking paper and when you've finished pop them in the freezer.
  7. Make the garlic yoghurt in advance (the more in advance, the milder and less raw the garlic will taste) by mixing everything together. I made my toum paste using a mortar and pestle (crush a clove or two of garlic with salt and then add olive oil) and made just enough to use for the dressing.
  8. When ready to eat, cook the manti in boiling water for 10 minutes and drain well.
  9. Serve on top of the garlic yoghurt, drizzled with chilli oil and sprinkled with extra sumac.
http://eatingadelaide.com/shane-delias-maha-turkish-dumplings/

Book Review: Food of the Southern Forests

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Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of Food of the Southern Forests

So … cookbooks … something I need more of like a hole in the head but also something I can’t resist. Like wine glasses. Only I’m banned from buying wine glasses, whereas with books I feel bad because the shelves are groaning. But a review copy? Why, that’s a different thing altogether!

I did double check before accepting this book, as it is about the food of Western Australia’s Southern Forests and I was concerned that the recipes would require some foraging on the other side of the Nullarbor. Fortunately, that was not the case and this weighty, beautiful book duly arrived on my doorstep.

It turned up just before we went on holiday and so I set to picking a relatively simple recipe (despite desperately wanting to try out the semolina, almond and olive oil cake with lavender and rosemary sugar). Sadly, that diligence hasn’t actually translated into a swift review …

These days it almost goes without saying that a cookbook is beautiful and Food of the Southern Forests does not disappoint on that front. It’s a big book, with a solid cover, lovely thick pages and lots of space. Sophie Zalokar, the book’s author, is a chef based in Pemberton and has translated her passion for the region and its produce into a cookbook that champions local producers. This means that rather than being divided in sections based around courses, the book is divided by ingredients. Each chapter begins with an exploration of one or two producers of the product and I found that I learnt all sorts of interesting snippets. For example, did you know that avocado trees can require up to 150 litres of water per tree per day in summer? I am immensely grateful I decided against planting one in my own garden! The breadth of primary produce grown in the Southern Forests is also impressive. I had no idea we even grew green tea in Australia AND that we export it to Japan.

Of course, each chapter features at least one recipe which showcases the product and the photos are (predictably!) mouthwatering. Aside from the aforementioned cake, I’m also very keen to try the marron and avocado ceviche with fingerlimes and the Swiss Engadine walnut tart – and that’s just for starters …

However, with time very much not on my side I opted for something relatively simple – a cauliflower cheese. However, in Zalokar’s recipe, the cheese sauce is enhanced with caraway seeds (one of my personal favourites) and the cauliflower is cooked whole, rather than broken into florets. Of course, this means you do need to ensure you have an oven proof pot or dish large enough to contain your cauliflower!

As Andy does not like cauliflower I am always on the lookout for recipes to try to convert him. Sadly, this one failed (apparently he doesn’t really like caraway either …) but I enjoyed it. If you like caraway this is a recipe definitely worth giving a go.

The book can be purchased (with free postage) from University of Western Australia Publishing, for $59.99. A little thing called Christmas is just around the corner …

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Cauliflower Cheese with Caraway

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 500mL milk
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Remove the ribs and leaves from the cauliflower and cut out the thickest part of its core, but leave it whole. Steam until a knife can cut into the thickest part of the cauliflower. This may take up to 20 minutes. I did this in the microwave but you may find it easier to do on the stove, perhaps using a bamboo steamer.
  3. Once steamed, place the cauliflower in a baking dish in which it fits reasonably snugly.
  4. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in saucepan, add the caraway seeds and then stir in the flour. Cook the flour out thoroughly - the butter will absorb the flour and the mix will start to appear crumbly.
  5. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring all the time to ensure there are no lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes to thicken. Stir through the cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Adjust the seasoning.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden and bubbling. You may want to finish off under the grill.
  7. Serve piping hot.
http://eatingadelaide.com/book-review-food-southern-forests/