Home' InDaily : August 27th 2010 Contents August 27 - September 2, 2010
The Independent Weekly
Ann Oliver email@example.com
Penelope Curtin is a mate of
mine. She s a mad sort of a
person, much like myself, who
loves champagne and thinks still
white wine should be poured down
the sink in preference for a bottle of
great South Australian shiraz.
Penelope is a very fine cook -- one
of those home cooks who really
know too much and pose a challenge
for the professional chef because
they are so widely practised and
She is also a gardener of some
repute, noted for her knowledge
about roses and much more. And
she is an editor of the pernickety
kind ... the type of editor we all
dream of, because they make our
text so much better.
It is impossible for me not to tease
"P" because, to my knowledge,
she is the only person in South
Australia in possession of a black
chicken, so prized in Chinese
It is one of her treasured pets, so
of course she won t allow us to kill
and cook it just to prove the colour
of its skin. As a chef, the notion of
feeding an animal without killing
and eating it is a bit bizarre. Pets
are different and only farmers have
managed to separate the lamb that
wanders in the house from the lamb
that is slaughtered in spring, to the
delight of all who consume it.
It was P s gift of a pumpkin that
triggered this column. When my
friends give me fruit and vegetables
they have grown, they often slyly
suggest: "You could paint them."
Right, I think, in my spare time! It
is flattering to think they love my
art, but I know my friends love my
cooking much, much more.
So I have been looking at
Penelope s perfect Japanese
pumpkin for about a week and since
there is definitely no time to paint
it, my thoughts have been focused
on how to destroy it, commemorat-
ing its beauty it in a different way.
Soup is too easy and boring, and
doesn t appropriately reward the
gorgeousness of the pumpkin.
Pumpkin gnocchi ... perhaps, but
we had potato gnocchi just a week
ago. Pumpkin pie? Probably not,
because in four days I ve woofed
down five cr me caramels left over
from a French dinner. Oh yummy,
piggy heaven. It is my favourite
dessert and the benchmark in
Australia (apart from mine) is
found at Movida Bar de Tapas in
The first time I went to Europe,
I was astonished by the distain in
which pumpkin was held. "F r der
schweinkin" ("for the pigs") was the
attitude, and yet I had an exquisite
potato and salted cucumber salad
dressed with the darkest green,
inky pumpkin seed oil.
South Australian company
Harding s Fine Foods does a good
pumpkin seed oil, but it lacks the
intensity of the southern Austrian
and Yugoslavian version.
If the weather was warmer, the
wonderful herb and pickled lemon-
driven pumpkin and mograbieh
salad would be everyone s favourite.
It is a lot of work but rewards with
the delight it delivers.
Another favourite dish is ravioli
filled with roasted pumpkin, fried
shallot and garlic, loads of nutmeg,
pepper and a little salt, and served
with nothing more than burnt sage
butter. Absolutely no parmesan!
It is one of the simplest and most
exquisite raviolis. The first time I
ate this marvellous dish, the ravioli
was cooked by an Australian --
albeit married to an Italian, Anna
Capoccia -- at that time firmly
ensconced in Amalfi Restaurant.
Anna s family continues its magic
at Nano (no anchovies, no olives),
where it continues to serve great,
simple, cheap Italian food and
Lunch for six
For the fritters
Half a Japanese pumpkin (about 1.3kg, peeled
and seeded weight 900g to 1kg)
50g (peeled weight) shallot, finely chopped
25g ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
5g fennel seeds
15g sea salt
2g (at least) black pepper, freshly ground
20g roasted garlic
1 nutmeg, grated
250g fresh white breadcrumbs (real bread!)
120g plain flour
2 free-range eggs
½ bunch parsley, stalked and roughly chopped
½ bunch of fennel top, stalk and roughly
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
1 medium eggplant (about 500g), peeled and
sliced 3mm thick lengthwise
1 medium caulibroc, cut into flowerettes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch cavolo nero, stemmed
20g organic garlic, chopped very finely
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 large lemon, strained juice (about 75g)
50g Dijon whole-seed mustard
For the fritters:
Grate the pumpkin (Magixmix is fab) and
squeeze the moisture out a bit. There will
be less with butternut or Queensland blue
pumpkins. Fry the shallot with the fennel seeds
and seasonings until it is lightly coloured, then
stir through the roasted garlic. Cook for a couple
of minutes and then tip into the grated pumpkin.
Add the other ingredients and mix well.
Oiled egg rings are great for shaping and you
should get 10 from the mix. Shallow-fry them
on both sides until they are golden and cooked.
Don't worry about whether they are cooked all
the way through unless you are cooking and
serving immediately. One of the great things
about the fritters is that they can be made in
advance -- they re-warm perfectly. The whole
combo of fritters and vegetables make for a
perfect, fuss-less lunch. Carefully remove them
from the rings and sit them on a lipped baking
sheet that has been covered with a silicone mat.
Stand on a rack and, when they are cooled, cover
with plastic food wrap and refrigerate. Reheat
for 20 minutes in a pre-heated 175C oven.
Other: This can be done just before serving or in
advance and reheated. Salt the sliced eggplant
and let it sit for an hour. Rinse under cold
running water and pat dry with paper towel. Fry
in hot extra-virgin olive oil until golden and drain
on paper towels (the oil can be kept for cooking
the cavolo nero).
Mix together a big splash of EV olive oil, the
mustard and lemon juice to make a vinaigrette.
Blanche (not cook) the broccolini in boiling
salted water with a good, splash of EV olive oil,
then drain. Heat the oil again and add the cavolo
nero and garlic; season well. Toss over the
black cabbage until it is wilted and tender, then
tip it into the vinaigrette. Add the caulibroc and
eggplant and very gently combine. Hands in food
service gloves are best.
Non-vegetarian version: Add some anchovies
that have been pounded to a paste in a mortar
and pestle. Serve with a light curry chicken
sauce. Skip the salad components and serve
with bacon and crispy fried eggs. Serve with
crusty ciabatta bread -- Jim Lahey's is perfect.
Pumpkins as versatile
as they are delicious
PUMPKIN FRITTERS (with cavolo nero, eggplant and caulibroc)
Penelope s pumpkin made delicious pumpkin fritters with cavolo nero, eggplant and caulibroc.
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