GARLIC WITH GUNS

Dear Amelia,
Long story short: Nanna was once told by an Italian drug dealer that you should never fry your chopped garlic for longer than 30 seconds.
Just fry it until it’s fragrant, he said. No longer.
And because he had a gun in his bag, Nanna was inclined to believe him.
That was in Manjimup in 1974, when the local pub was like something out of The Wild Bunch and you never knew who you’d meet over a middy (but guess what – it was never William Holden).
For some reason  – possibly because I was terrified – I’ve never forgotten Mr I.D.D.’s garlic-frying rule and to this day I whip the frying pan off the heat the second the smell hits my nostrils.
Then I discovered a dish called Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovies and Chilli and realised that sometimes rules are made to be broken.
This dish is apparently a very old, traditional one and there are dozens of different recipes for it on the Internet.
Your Grandpa and I love it so much, I cook it every couple of weeks.
You need to use proper orecchiette, not the San Remo stuff.
Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian and looks like this.

Proper orecchiette is very easy to get hold of.
Believe me: if you can buy it at Woolies in Albany you’ll be able to get it in Tashkent.
If you hate broccoli, you’ll still love this dish.
If you hate anchovies, you’ll still love this dish.
Trust me. I’m your Nanna.

ORECCHIETTE WITH BROCCOLI, ANCHOVIES AND CHILLI

Serves 3 (or 2 for dinner and enough left over for 2 small lunches – it reheats well the next day in the microwave)

300g orecchiette
1 lge head of broccoli
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
6-8 anchovy fillets, chopped roughly
a splash of olive oil
40g butter
2 big pinches of crushed, dried chilli
one-third of a cup of grated parmesan cheese

Put a big pot of salted water over high heat and bring to the boil.
Add the orecchiette and cook according to packet directions (the Pirro brand you see in the picture takes 18 minutes).
As soon as you’ve put the water on to boil, cut the broccoli into small-ish florets, reserving as much stalk as possible.
Put the florets in a saucepan of water, bring them to the boil, cook for 3 minutes, drain them, then run them under cold water to stop them cooking.
Put to one side.
Cut the broccoli stalks into chunks then put them in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Heat the oil and half the butter in a big frypan over low heat and cook the chopped-up broccoli stalks, garlic, anchovies and dried chilli for 10 minutes, covered, stirring every now and then.
When the orecchiette is cooked, put a ladle of pasta water in the frypan, tip in the drained pasta, the broccoli florets, the remaining butter and half the parmesan cheese and stir until it’s all hot and combined.
Serve it with the remaining parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

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PRAWNS THE SECOND WAY

Dear Amelia,
More prawns! It’s the promised second recipe and it’s called Prawn and Prosciutto Ravioli.
I suppose it’s really a special-occasion dish because even though it’s not difficult, it does involve a bit of faffing around.
It’s also a Nanna creation, in that I combined about four different recipe ideas.
The garlic butter recipe is pinched from a top New Zealand chef called Adam Newell, who has won a Michelin star for his restaurant, Zibibbo.
Like all celebrity chefs worth their salt, Adam has an “absolute passion for food”.
At least that’s what it says on the fly-leaf of his cookbook, A Consuming Passion, which was given to me by your Great Uncle Gerard and his partner, Mignon, and is an excellent read.
In case you’re thinking of being a celebrity chef when you grow up, I should warn you that you will have to have “an absolute passion for food” every minute of every single day.
When you’re a celebrity chef, you’re never allowed to say things like, “I’m really tired and I couldn’t give a shit about the confit.”
Or, “Fuck seasonality. I want to eat strawberries in winter.”
You’re only allowed to say things like that when you’re like me and all you want to do is cook something nice, then eat it, then fall asleep in front of the telly.
A word on pasta machines.
I bought one 10 years ago and have never used it.
So, every time a chef on TV uses one to make pasta, your Grandpa says, “There’s a good idea, Michele. Why don’t you buy one of those?”
He thinks this is funny, but after 10 years it’s wearing a bit thin.
So I’ve decided that when I do use the pasta machine for the first time, I’m going to put your Grandpa’s fingers through the rollers.
In the meantime, I make ravioli with those wonton wrappers you buy in Chinese supermarkets (or, if you live in Albany, at Mariella’s Deli).
For this recipe I use the round gyoza skins so you get a nice half-moon shape, but if you can’t get hold of any, just use the square wonton wrappers and fold them into a triangle.
The ravioli are dead easy to make and just about everything is done in a food processor.
You can also make the garlic butter a day or even a week ahead.

PRAWN AND PROSCIUTTO RAVIOLI

Makes about 32 (enough for 4-6 people)

For the garlic butter (don’t panic, you won’t use all of this)
100g butter, softened
100ml extra virgin olive oil
handful flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
For the ravioli
Packet of gyoza skins or wonton wrappers
500g raw king prawns, peeled
50g prosciutto (about 4 slices), chopped
1 spring onion
salt and pepper
Other stuff
20 or so grape tomatoes (Nanna grows her own)
Another handful of parsley, chopped finely

To make the garlic butter, put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is chopped.
You won’t use all the garlic butter, so put what’s left in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
It will keep for a couple of weeks and is great for garlic bread or on top of spuds or barbecued steak or fish.
To make the ravioli, wipe out the food processor bowl and drop in the prawn flesh and chopped prosciutto.
Pulse it until it’s all chopped up.
Finely chop the spring onions and mix them into the prawn mixture along with a little salt and pepper.
Fill a big pot with salted water and bring it to the boil while you’re assembling the ravioli.
To do this, first put some water in a small bowl.
Next, lay a gyoza skin on your chopping board and put a heaped teaspoonful of prawn mixture in the middle (see pic at end of recipe).
Dip your finger in the bowl of water, wet around the entire edge of the skin and then fold it over and press the edges together tightly to seal, pressing out any air as you go.
Repeat until all the prawn mixture is used up.
Cook the ravioli in the pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes.
While they’re cooking, fry the tomatoes in a big frypan in a little of the garlic butter.
When the ravioli are cooked, fish them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the frypan with the tomatoes, along with as much of the garlic butter as you think your arteries will stand (basically you need just enough to coat the ravioli).
Heat everything up for a couple of minutes then serve in big bowls sprinkled with the extra chopped parsley.
This is really nice eaten with broccolini.


A TALE OF TWO NOODLES

Dear Amelia,
I’ve been making Duck Noodles forever.
The recipe is adapted from a Women’s Weekly recipe for Duck Kway Teow, where “kway teow” means “rice noodles” (or if it doesn’t, blame Ask.com).
You can make it in a wok or in a big electric frypan, the electric frypan being useful if you ever have to cook in the spare bedroom for two months because your kitchen has been gutted.
(You may have noticed when you visit that the scent of oyster sauce still lingers around the chest of drawers in your room).
Duck Noodles tastes truly spectacular when you make it with half a roast duck from a Chinese bbq shop, which I can’t do any more because Chinese bbq shops are thin on the ground down here (actually, they’re non-existent).
I use the Luv-a-Duck vacuum packs instead and they work really well, plus they keep in the fridge for months.
Your Grandpa loves Duck Noodles so much, we used to do the 106km-round trip to Denmark (the town, not the country, more’s the pity) to buy the Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Half Ducks in the supermarket there.
Bloody ridiculous, even for us.
Luckily, you can now get the Luv-a-Duck duck shanks here in Albany, and they’re fine.
If this hadn’t happened, we would’ve had to investigate the wildlife down at Eyre Park.
Yes! The ones you like to feed.

I’ll soon be using Erawan brand dried rice noodles to make this because I can no longer get Wokka vacuum-packed Cantonese flat noodles, which are really quick to prepare AND they actually separate when you pour over boiling water and stir with two forks.
Unfortunately, in keeping with its policy of giving its customers the shits whenever possible, our local Woolies no longer stocks Wokka flat noodles and I’m down to my last packet.
Two words of warning before you go any further: duck farts.

DUCK NOODLES

Serves 3 adults

½ roast duck from a Chinese bbq shop
or
1 Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Half Duck
or
1 Luv-a-Duck Chinese-style Roast Duck Shanks (2 per pack)
250g dried rice noodles – medium thickness
1 tbsp oil (peanut or vegetable)
1 bunch spring onions
½ bunch English spinach
2 tbsp (40ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp sambal oelek
bunch of chives (optional)

Remove duck meat from bones and slice into smallish bits.
Chop off the top half of the spring onions and put them in the bin. Slice the rest thinly.
Wash the English spinach well and squeeze dry. Bunch the leaves together, roll them up and slice roughly.
Prepare/cook noodles according to packet directions, strain into a colander and rinse under cold running water until cold. Leave them to drain.
Put the soy and oyster sauces, the brown sugar, garlic and sambal oelek into a small bowl and mix well.
Heat the oil in a wok or electric frypan on high heat.
When it’s smoking, add the duck meat and spring onions and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
Next add the spinach and stir-fry until just wilted.
Lower the heat a little and tip in the noodles and the bowlful of sauce ingredients, stirring everything around until it’s combined and nice and hot.
Ladle into bowls and snip chives over the top. Serve immediately.