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Pumpkins

Pumpkins – One of My Favourite Ingredients

Pumpkins would have to be one of my favourite ingredients: their magical and enchanting connotations, their golden, almost jewel sparkle when cut and their sweet clean flavour.

The versatility of the pumpkin is not to be sneezed at either, taking it from savoury to sweet in any nationality of cuisine.

The history of the pumpkin dates back over 7000 years ago with its origin coming from the squash family and a relative of the cucumber. Known all over the world, Antarctica is the only continent where the pumpkin is not grown.

The pumpkin and its many varieties Queensland Blue, butternut, Jarrahdale, Jap, Golden nugget, are widely used as ravioli fillings, soups, gnocchi, scones, pies, stews, curries and really just about anything as its delicate flavour lends itself to all manner of dishes, cooking methods, flavour combinations, and additional spices.

Rich in beta-carotene, high in fiber and potassium the pumpkin, like all other orange-coloured fruit and vegetables, is a great antioxidant. So versatile is it that even the shells of the pumpkin have been used and woven into mats.

The flowers like those of the zucchini are also edible. When cooking, steaming or roasting is preferred to boiling which makes them rather wet and not so appealing.

For intense flavour, pan-frying, roasting or chargrilling over moderate to high heat is best as it caramelises the natural sugars. You can now purchase pumpkin seed meal, oil and pestos that are ideal for salads, dressings and baking.

How to cook pumpkin

Tip for a nutritious snack:

Dry pumpkin seeds on paper towel and then toss with a little oil and sea salt or tamari or soy sauce and roast in a moderate oven of 150 c until dry to touch ( about 40 minutes).

Tip for a perfect side dish:

Zucca Fritta Con Cannella Ed Aglio
Fried Pumpkin with Cinnamon and Garlic

Serves 4

Ingredients:
• 125 ml olive oil
• 700 g kent (jap) pumpkin (peeled, seeded and cut into 5 ml thick slices)
• 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 ½ tbsps. White-wine vinegar
• 3 tsp. White sugar
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steps:
1. Heat a small amount of the olive oil in a shallow frying pan over medium heat and cook the pumpkin in batches for 30 seconds on each side of until golden brown. You may need to add a little more olive oil to the pan. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pumpkin to a serving dish.
2. Keeping about ¼ cup (60 ml) of oil in the pan, gently fry the garlic over low heat for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn it. Remove the pan from the heat and from yourself as it may splutter when you add the vinegar. Add the vinegar, sugar and cinnamon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 30 seconds, and then pour the mixture over the pumpkin.
3. Set the pumpkin aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse. Serve at room temperature.

This how-to cook pumpkin recipe is taken from “My Taste of Sicily” cookbook.

Try some of my other pumpkin recipes like  Salmon and Fennel Risotto with Carrot and Pumpkin 

or   Coconut Poached Wild Caught Barramundi with Chili spiced Pumpkin Salad   

Roast Pumpkin and Basil Almond Pesto

Brisket Your Way – 6 Hot Beef Dishes To Die For

 Move over mince Bolognese,

Brisket Your Way – 6 Hot Beef Dishes To Die For,

is coming to town.

Brisket Your Way - 6 Hot Beef Dishes To Die For - Italian slow braised beef brisket Chef Dominique Rizzo

I am a huge fan of anything that involves one pot cooking and I am especially happy when I can cook one recipe and then use it for so many other dishes. Any way you eat it you will love its full flavoured sauce and it is an absolute winner when served at parties.

6 Hot Beef Dishes

Brisket  

Sliders   

Pasta Sauce  

Lasagna

Rissoto

Pizza topping

Brisket Your Way Recipes

Italian Style Slow Braised Beef Brisket Recipe 

Preparation time 15 minutes / Cooking Time 5 hours / Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3kg Beef Brisket

2 onions, finely diced

2 stalks celery with diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 cloves peeled garlic crushed

4 anchovies

2 bay leaves, 2 branches of rosemary, 3 stems of fresh thyme ( tied together)

6 fresh basil leaves

500ml bottle red wine

1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 litres Beef stock – enough to cover the brisket

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Option 1 in the oven

Preheat the oven to 120°C. Heat the oil in a large, deep heatproof casserole and brown the brisket all over. Remove and set it aside. Into the same dish add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, anchovies, herbs and basil and fry briskly until everything is well browned. Add the wine and let it bubble for 20 seconds then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and vinegar.

Mix to dissolve the tomato paste then place the brisket on top, cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven for 6-7 hours until the meat is tender. This may take a little more given the size.

Brisket Your Way - 6 Hot Beef Dishes To Die For - Beef Brisket Chef Dominique Rizzo

Option 2 on the stove top

Heat a large stock pot large enough to fit the whole brisket or you may need to cut it in half. Add the olive oil and brown the brisket all over, remove it and set it aside. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, anchovies, herbs and basil and fry briskly until everything is well browned. Add the wine and let it bubble for 20 seconds then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and vinegar. Place the brisket back into the pot and then cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 6 hours until the meat is very tender and can easily be pulled apart.

Serving Suggestion:  After slicing it into portion sizes, serving the brisket with mash potato, rice or vegetables.

Recipe for brisket sliders: 

Method:

Shred the meat and pile it into crusty bread rolls.

Serve with Gremolata Mayonaise, a traditional type of fresh olive oil based dressing made from parsley and lemon that is often served with slowly braised Osso Bucco.

 

Recipe for brisket pasta, lasagna, risotto sauces:

Method: 

Cut the brisket into small pieces and serve it as a ragu.

Remove the brisket from the pan or pot and break up the brisket by using a fork to tear apart the strands of meat until shredded.

Reduce the sauce by about 1/2 until the sauce is quite thick. Then mix the brisket back into the sauce making sure that the meat is covered with sauce.

You can cook this ahead of time and then easily reheat the brisket in the sauce.

Serve with your favourite Pasta, Lasagne, Risotto, Pizza.

Gremolata Mayonnaise  Recipe

Makes 1 cup

This is perfect to serve with the brisket especially serving it in a crusty roll.  Here I have teamed it with a whole egg mayonnaise to make a zesty accompaniment again you can use this for just about anything.

1 cup real egg no sugar mayonnaise

1 cloves garlic, minced or run through a press

salt and freshly ground black pepper

zest of 1 lemons

juice of 1/2 lemon

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Method:

In a bowl, mix together the mayo, garlic, lemon zest and juice and a salt and pepper to taste.

Brisket Your Way - 6 Hot Beef Dishes To Die For - Chef Dominique Rizzo at The EKKA

If you would like to taste Chef Dominique Rizzo’s to die for brisket, you can simply by joining Dominique at her degustation dinners at The QLD Ekka in 2017.

 

Easy Summer Entertaining with Chef Dominique Rizzo

It’s summer time and Chef Dominique Rizzo is sharing some of her favourite summer recipes with you.  These are fabulous drinks and recipes to prepare for your guests without spending hours in the kitchen.  Easy summer entertaining in a busy schedule makes sense.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Lime and Lychee Wine Spritzer

Easy summer entertaining - Lime and lychee wine spritzer

This fresh wine spritzer is ideal for those summer days or warm nights when the zesty flavours of lime, lemon grass and a bite of chili will liven up the taste buds and with the soft sweet flavours of lychee its ideal to accompany any dish or dessert.

Ingredients:

1  bottle Lindeman’s Crispy Dry White

1 tbsp. Gourmet garden lemon grass 

½ cup lime cordial

2 Kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced

10 lychees – muddled

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced into threads

Juice of 2 limes

1lt soda water

Method: 

  • Combine the wine with the rest of the ingredients leaving the wine to sit in the fridge for at least an hour to infuse with flavours.
  • Serve the wine half-filled in glasses and top with the soda water.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Baked Eggplant, Goats Cheese and Tomato Olive Salad

Easy summer entertaining - Baked eggplant, goats cheese, tomato olive salad

This is a light lunch or entree option full of wonderful colours and textures and a great dish to make ahead of time as all the components can be put together at the last minute.

Ingredients: 
2 medium eggplants sliced into 2cm wide slices

2 tbsp. chopped basil

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

3 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

60g goat’s cheese

60g cream cheese

3 roma tomatoes

40g green olives, pitted and chopped

40g black olives, pitted and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

5 leaves of basil, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

40g baby spinach

12 thin slices focaccia or Turkish bread

Method:

  • Pre heat the oven to 200c.

  • Combine the olive oil with the basil and parsley and season with salt and pepper, using a pastry brush cover both sides of the eggplant slices with the herb oil and season with salt and pepper.

  • Place the slices of eggplant onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, turn the eggplant over and bake for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

  • Blend the goat’s cheese with the cream cheese until smooth. Deseed the tomatoes and dice into 1cm pieces, finely dice the olives and mix in with the tomatoes, add in the garlic, basil and lemon zest, blend with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  • To serve place a round of eggplant onto a plate and spread with a dessert spoon of the cheese mixture, top with some of the spinach leaves and then another eggplant round. Spoon over some of the olive salsa and serve with focaccia or Turkish bread.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Italian Crispelle with Sweet Fresh Pear and Honey Relish

Easy summer entertaining - Italian crispelle, sweet fresh pear, honey relish

This is such a fresh, fast and easy dessert or breakfast recipe and is delicious with ice cream, pouring cream or thickened yoghurt.

Ingredients: 

1 cup plain flour

Salt

2 whole eggs

280ml milk

50g butter

1 tbsp. honey

½ tsp. Gourmet Garden ginger

½ tsp. orange zest

2 tbsp. Lindeman’s Sweet Seasons Blancello

Couple of drops of vanilla or 1/8 tsp. vanilla bean paste

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm pieces

10 leaves of mint, sliced

Method: 

  • For the crispelle, pour the flour into a bowl and add in the salt. Make a well in the centre and in a separate bowl whisk the eggs and the milk together. Gradually whisk the eggs and milk into the flour and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.

  • Melt 20gms butter and pour this into the batter mixing to combine.

  • Heat a non-stick frypan over low-medium heat, add a little butter to coat the base then ladle in enough crepe mixture to coat the base completely, turning gently to ensure an even thickness. Cook 1-2 minutes until light and golden.

  • Turnover and cook for 10-15 seconds. Remove to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat using the remaining crepe batter. To serve, place the folded crepes onto a plate and top with the fresh pear relish. Serve with a scoop of ice cream.

  • To make the fresh pear relish, combine the honey, ginger, zest and the Blancello and whisk until the honey dissolves, add in the diced pears and the chopped mint and toss together, serve this over the crepes.

These recipes by Dominique Rizzo were originally featured at https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/.

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story -Dominique Rizzo

Dominique Rizzo’s Italian Story

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story - Dominique Rizzo

Dominique Rizzo went to Sicilia for the first time at the age of three.  With her Italian father and Australian mother, her older and younger brother, they stayed on the farm of her uncle.  It was here that she first remembers seeing the process of the pigs being butchered and meat prepared.  It was the start point of a lifelong fascination with simple, fresh food, and specifically, a love of Sicilian food which led her to carve out a successful career as a chef.

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story - Rizzo family Sicily 1950s

Dominique’s father, Vincent Rizzo came from a poor family in Palermo.  At the age of ten he left school.  At the age of eleven, he started working as an apprentice carpenter with his older brother Andrea.  His father, a seaman, had travelled all over the world including spending three or four years in Australia.  On his return to Sicilia, he talked of Australia and suggested  Vincent emigrate.  In  March 1961 at the age of 20, he boarded  the ship ‘Aurelia’ for Australia for a thirty-five day journey, before arriving in Melbourne.  It was the last  voyage for this ship, which was dismantled soon after.  The boat was small, quite rocky, and 35 days was a long time to be with with 1200 other migrants leaving from the port of Genova – a variety of nationalities including Spanish, Maltese, Yugoslav and Greek.  There were three people from Palermo on the ship, who he never saw again after disembarkation.  Sponsored by a friend, he found work and a home in Melbourne.

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story -Vincent Rizzo Sicily 1950s

His first job was at the foundry making parts for tractors, working 12 hour days.  He learnt english from other Italian migrants who had been in Australia longer.  Vincent came to Brisbane to be best man at a friend’s wedding and while here he met his future wife at the dance hall, Cloudland.  When they married, he returned to his original trade as a carpenter as they began to build a life and family in Brisbane.  Vincent was the only one of his four siblings to come to Australia.
Dominique regards a trip to Sicilia for a gap year after high school, as the point when she felt a distinctive connection with her Italian roots.  The family had continued to regularly visit Italy during her childhood.  She remembers watching the cutting of pigs for the bleed and then the processing and use of every part of the animal. From the kitchen’s of her Zia’s and Nonna, she picked the vegetables, collected the eggs, rolled the polpette, stirred the pasta, picked the cucuzza and arranged the fruits.  She sat on a rickety stool cleaning garden snails, peeling vegetables, washing wild greens.  The menu could consist of tripe, goats heads, pigs trotters and intestines, rabbits, wild fennel, fresh broad beans, fresh pastas, grains, prickly pears, breads, goats cheeses or sheep infested with maggots being the delicacy.  She recalls the abundance and generosity of the tables, from those with so little, yet willing to share everything.

 

These experiences inevitably contributed to her love affair with Italian food.  Living with family and working in cafe’s during her gap year gave her a longer experience of the rustic land, peasant lifestyle and family filled eating extravaganzas.  She describes the recipes of her Italian family as being some of her most cherished , with the history of flavours from the most simple and freshest of foods.  Dominique continues to share her passion for Sicilia through her cooking and food tours back to her father’s homeland.  She describes the ongoing sense of joy on returning to Italia and the emotion on leaving.  Dominique’s life and work focus centres around her philosophy that ‘through the sharing of food we share life and one is never lonely or hungry.”

 

Elio Marzullo part of Italian Stories at www.ItalianWeek.com.au for 2014 _Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story

 

© Jacqueline Bawtree.  Used with Permission.

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