Today pasta man and I went for a mini road trip to the Gellibrand market and then on to Cafe Moby at Torquay for lunch (where no 2 son is a pizza chef). Our friends (Judy and Andrew) have an olive oil & related products stall at the market and we had a lovely time catching up with them & strolling around the funky little market. I ended up buying some candied nuts, the brightest pumpkin you have ever seen, some mixed berry jam (to go with the scones I am going to make) and a potato on a stick “curlee” thing. It was a perfect day for drive but I wish the land was a little greener (they haven’t had any rain for over 2 months). We had to have a pizza (wood fired oven) at Moby’s, it was hard to decide which pizza to have but we settled on the mushroom pizza and really enjoyed it.
I’ve been buying my olive oil from Lighthouse Olives for a few years now; what a delight to take my 3 litre flagon to get refilled with the latest batch of oil and be tempted by other goodies they have for sale. Yesterday I bought a bucket of their olives and was very tempted to buy one of the beautiful rolling pins (every time I go there I want to buy one). I am lucky to live in a region with lots of vineyards and olive groves so buying from the producer is just a short drive away, apart from knowing my oil comes from, I can taste it and choose between varieties and it’s not much more expensive than buying oil in the supermarket!
The basil is ready for a heavy picking so pesto is on the menu today; this recipe came from a cooking class I did in Positano Italy (with a few adjustments). The recipe did solve a problem for me though as other recipes ask for a cup or so of basil leaves but it depends on how heavily you pack them in the cup. This recipe suggests a set number of leaves which is much better, so here is my tweaked pesto recipe with one magic ingredient….
- 50 - 60 young basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 30 gm pine nuts
- 100 gm finely grated parmesan cheese
- 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
- salt for seasoning
- 1 small boiled potato
- Gently wash the basil leaves and air dry (be careful not to bruise or crush them)
- Add all the above ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until the sauce is ready
- If storing the pesto for a while, place the sauce in a glass container and cover with a little olive oil and keep in the the fridge (may be stored for a week)
- If using the pesto for a pasta dish, add a little of the pasta water to the pesto before adding the pasta & mix until distributed
- If making a dip add a little creme fraiche to some pesto and mix through
- Or add pesto to mayonnaise
Pasta man and I spent a wonderful 8 days exploring Italy’s Amalfi coast at the end of our european holiday late last year. After the hustle and bustle of London, Amsterdam and Paris it was such a relief to be in a tiny coastal town with amazing views, history/culture and food. It was the end of the tourist season and the weather was just perfect – an Indian summer they called it – we explored Positano by foot (either up hill or down hill) and caught a bus or ferry to the other towns along the 40km coast. We did two incredible walks from villages way up in the clouds (Ravello and Nocelle) back down to the coast walking along ancient paths through olive and lemon groves, past vegetable gardens and houses seemingly hanging from the cliffs. The walks were challenging (hours of steps) but also one of the highlights of the trip. We visited Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, which is renowned for its gardens, art and views – there were photo opportunities everywhere we looked. We had some wonderful meals- antipasto, pasta, fish, salads, pizza and the best fresh mozzarella cheese ever (local). That cheese changed my opinion of mozzarella cheese- it was delightfully light, juicy and the perfect match for pasta, salads or antipasto – I have to find a supplier of it here! Our apartment at the Flavio Goia had a fully equipped kitchen and by this stage we were a little over eating out every night, so we cooked simple pasta dishes (with eggplant, pancetta, tomatoes, mozzarella and herbs) made some luscious salads and ate our meal on the balcony overlooking the mediterranean. We made a habit of wandering down to the gelato bar each evening to sample the goods (not overly sweet and very refreshing), I especially liked hazelnut and pistachio flavours and shared on the beach as the sun went down was a lovely treat to end the day. The Amalfi coast was a perfect end to our european holiday. Pasta man and I share an affinity with the food of Italy more than anywhere else because of the use of fresh local produce and simplicity of the meals that reminded us of home.
A good friend of ours (Davo) is the master of the weber barbecue, he has three different styles – an antique kettle, the baby Q and a larger model and all are used regularly. Davo swears by the Weber’s Big Book of Grilling by J. Purvance and S. McRae, and says that every recipe he has tried worked! He specialises in chicken wings and we were lucky enough to have some for dinner along with chicken sate skewers, a roast vegetable salad and barbecued peaches (marinated in Cointreau). The chicken wings were superb, hot, sticky and perfectly cooked, Dave says the secret is buying plump free range chicken wings of a uniform size. This is Davo’s version of barbecued chicken wings…..thanks Dave
|Hot & sticky barbecued chicken wings|| || |
- ½ cup of spicy tomato sauce (homemade if possible)
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 3 tsp tabasco sauce
- 1 tsp chilli powder (or to you liking)
- 2 tsp smokey paprika
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tsp worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar or verjuice
- 20 plump uniform chicken wings
- olive oil
- Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Place the chicken wings in the marinade and make sure all are coated with the mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours- baste occasionally.
- Drain marinade from wings and spray or brush the wings with olive oil.
- Grill on medium heat turning the wings to get an even charred effect.
- Continue to cook on medium with the lid down until the meat is cooked through (should be moist still but not pink).
Our friend Macca built this funky pizza oven out of recycled materials. It looks good but cooks even better. I put tomato base, mozzarella, spinach, roast pumpkin, smoked salmon and roast capsicum on mine ( we all made our own). The best part was the thin pizza base Nellie made, beautiful!