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Recipes Section

Bruschetta

This is for those impossible moments when you have a crowd to feed, no five loaves and no two fishes. Bruschetta is a quick, filling, healthy Italian snack food that you can rustle up quickly for a surprise crowd, hungry kids or just that meal you have to have, when you don't want to cook a meal.

At the Olive Press - an engraving

At the Olive Press

Origins of Bruschetta

Traditionally in Italy the olives are taken to the local mill for pressing in November and December. This is a whole day job and the growers bring dry stale coase bread with them for their midday meal. There is usually a small fireplace in the corner of the pressing room, and they toast their bread over this. When the virgin olive oil emerges from the press, the grower dips the bread into a sample of the new season's olive oil. The next step is rubbing the toasted bread with garlic. Then, it is finished off with small, diced onions. In this typical Italian olive farming tradition the new seasons oil is sampled, stale bread is put to good use and the grower has a tasty lunch.

Italian families coming to Australia, after the war were used to harsh conditions and frugal living. They adapted this tradition to create a unique fare that became popular as a low cost finger food at social gatherings. It is usually used as as appetiser here, particularly at parties where alcohol is consumed but a meal is not being served, to make sure no-one is drinking on an empty stomach

Over time there have been many variations and new toppings have been added. As the children of these immigrant Italians grew up their traditions passed into what has become today's "Aussie culture". Today bruschetta has evolved from a cheap subsistence farmer's lunch into a gourmet entree. In many restaurants they use bruschetta as an entree and when you see how cheap it is to make, you can understand why!

Mimenta's Povobruschetta - the base

To cut the costs we'll use normal bread rather than chiabata. I prefer using one of those long French stick loaves.

  • Cut the loaf into thick slices. You'll need two thick slices per person for a filling snack or four for a lunch.

  • Virgin Olive Oil - Must be olive oil - no substitutes taste the same.

  • Garlic - 1 clove per person. Adjust amount if using Pearl or Russian giant garlic, (see the Garlic page ). Garlic paste, preserved garlic and garlic salt come out with a burned rubber after taste. If you don't have real garlic, then leave it out completely.

  • Salt and Black pepper to taste.

  • Toast your bread lightly golden brown on both sides in the oven, on a griller tray.

  • In a small bowl, crush the garlic to a paste and add some of the virgin olive oil and mix thoroughly. Only make enough of this for half the bread.

  • Virgin Olive Oil

    Virgin Olive Oil is a greenish yellow colour and contains many beneficial antioxidants

  • Divide your bread into two batches. Brush (or spoon and spread) the garlic and oil mixture onto one side of the bread.

  • Coat the rest of the bread with plain olive oil on one side only.

  • Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

You are now ready for the topping. For contrast and variety, do not do all the bases with the same topping. Divde the bases into two lots again and do one topping on one half and a second topping on the other half. All the toppings rely on a cheese to melt over the top of the topping. Once you have added the topping grill until the cheese is molten.

Toppings

  1. Roasted Garlic - see the roasted garlic recipe section. Simply break apart the roasted garlic into cloves. Squeeze out the roasted clove and spread with a knife. Cover with a piece of thinly sliced fresh tomato and capsicum. Top with fetta and a sprinkling of mild (sweet) paprika to add some colour.

  2. Asparagus and Capsicum - This is great accompaniment for the other half of the bases without the roasted garlic topping because it makes a nice colour contrast. Either steam some fresh asparagus until it is soft or use the tinned variety. Either way it's cheap because you use so little. Finely dice an onion and sprinkle over your base. Mash the asparagus onto the base. Dice some red capsicum over the top and cover with some fetta cheese.

  3. Olives and sundried tomato - a definite Mediterranean flavour that goes well with wine. This is best when strong flavoured olives are used. I suggest Kalamata pitted black olives. (Note - olives must be pitted. You don't want your parties remembered for cracked teeth!) Cut the olives in half and cut the dried tomato to approximately the same size peices. Dice a small onion and add some basil (either dried or chopped fresh leaves). Mix the lot in a bowl with some virgin olive oil. Place on base and cover with fetta cheese

  4. Olive branch with brown olives

    Kalamata olives - big brown and tasty.

  5. Anchovy (or Oysters) and Spring onions - Anchovies are too strongly fishy for most people and very expensive but we only use a few and this one makes so much topping, you'll think your performing the 5 loaves and 2 fishes miracle! This works for oysters as well - use about 6 oysters to replace the anchovies. Put two heaped desert spoons of flour in a small saucepan. Add a desert spoon sized knob of butter and heat. Stir continuously until the flour has turned a light biscuit colour. Cut up about six anchovies into tiny pieces and put in the small saucepan with the flour mix. Add milk to make a very thick sauce. Add some Oyster sauce for colour. (if you want it really fishy, add some Asian fish sauce. . . very sparingly!) Chop up some spring onions and add to the sauce as it cools. Spoon a teaspoon of this onto each slice of your base and top with a peice of mild cheese.

  6. Oysters Kilpatrick - Use the above recipe but add Worcester sauce instead of the Asian fish sauce and leave out the spring onions. Chop up some bacon very fine and sprinkle on top of the mild cheese.

Screaming zombie

Zombie Food

The flesh of the deadly toxic puffer fish is served in paper thin slices as "fugu" in Japan and a few diners die every year as a result. The toxin in small doses induces a perminent trance like state, similar to sleep walking and is thought to be the source of voodoo zombie legends.

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Bar - Gold bar with Granny Smith Apple

Vietnamese Fish topping - being ex-pat New Zealanders, we are pretty discerning when it comes to our fish. Sometimes the stuff we buy from the market is tasteless (probably old and been re-washed in fresh water). Here's the perfect solution for tastless (or mushy) fish. This one needs to be made Asian style - have everything ready to go before you start cooking. The thin slice of mild cheese is only to seal in the moisture and flavour during the grilling process so don't use a fetta cheese that will impart a sour flavour.

  • Remove any skin and cut fish into cubes. Take out any bones.
  • Fry diced onions in butter in a pan until browned.
  • Add cubed fish and stir
  • Add approximately a desertspoon of chopped up fresh coriander leaves (don't be too fussy on measurements).
  • Sprinkle a heaped teaspoon of flour over the fish and sautee it so the flour coats enerything in the pan.
  • Add a teaspoon of asian fish sauce.
  • Add a good sized glass of white wine and keep stirring so it makes a rich sauce.
  • Add a large teaspoon of honey and immediately remove from the heat as you stir this in
  • If too thick, add milk to thin the mixture.
  • Spread on your base and cover with a thin slice of mild cheese.

Serving Suggestions

Serve while hot from the oven. Because of the molten cheese and soft tops, bruschetta do not stack on top of each other.

Povobruschetta

A plate of povobruschetta

Bar - Gold bar with Granny Smith Apple


Basket of Fresh herbs

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