With the weather still warm and the sun as high as the punters at Mardi Gras, superchef Toby Puttock goes back to his Italian experience to unleash a can of the good oil in the kitchen. Southern Italian food for our great southern land.
THESE ARE ALL DISHES I LEARNT WHILE LIVING AND COOKING IN ITALY BUT I'VE TWEAKED THEM A LITTLE TOBY-STYLE. THEY'RE ALL SUPER FRESH AND TASTY - PERFECT FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.
Stracci with Porcini, Potato, Pecanno and Thyme for Pasta
160g Tipo '00' pasta flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of maldon sea salt
For the Pasta
Sieve the flour into a bowl, add in the salt, oil, and whisk with a fork. Add the eggs and the dough will to start to take place. Turn this mix onto a floured surface and kneed until the pasta is no longer sticky.
Take a pasta machine, and with your fingers, flatten out the dough so it fits through the widest setting. Repeat until the pasta becomes smooth. Now fold the pasta into three and reduce the setting. Repeat this process until the desired thickness is worked (about 1mm thick). Now cut the pasta into irregular shapes and place to the side.
For the Sauce
20g of dried porcini
150g cubed potato
Pinch of salt
1 clove garlic crushed
Soak the porcini in about one cup of warm water. Once the porcini are soft, remove them and put aside. Place the porcini-coloured water into a pot and bring to the boil with the cubed potatoes inside. When the potatoes are almost cooked, remove the pot from the heat and allow potatoes to cool in the liquid.
Now in a pot melt the butter, add the garlic and onion and stir until transparent. Add in the porcini and potato and a little of the liquid. Reduce a little. Plunge the pasta into boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the beautiful sauce. Place it in a bowl and drizzle some oil over the top. Finally grate some pecorino over the top and get stuck into it.
Wine for the Stracci
Sangiovese, the native red grape variety of Tuscany, is renowned for its compatability with food due to often restrained fruit characters, earthy smells and trademark super-drying tannins. For this dish I've gone with Antinori Santa Christina 1999, a sangiovese/merlot blend that is packed with plum and cherry-like fruit and backed up by some of those serious tannins that help cut through the flavours and textures of the dish.
Oven Baked Tuna with Organic Baby Tomatoes and Fennel
800g tuna fillet
1 punnet yellow organic cherry tomatoes
1 punnet red organic cherry tomatoes
Pinch of fennel seeds
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt and pepper
Handful of coriander
Skin the tuna and rub the nutmeg, fennel, fennel seeds, salt and pepper into the tuna. Now blanch the cherry tomatoes, skin and deseed them, then push them onto the side of the fillet. In a tray, place the sliced fennel with the tuna sitting on top.
Pour some dry vermouth in the bottom of the tray; scatter the coriander around the tray. Cover this all with foil and bake at 250 degrees Celsius for around half an hour. When it's ready, slice the tuna and serve with fennel and baking juices.
Wine for the Tuna
This dish rocks. Simple flavours, clean, refreshing and well balanced. It's super important to use a wine that has similar characteristics in order to complement, rather than dominate, the delicate nature of the dish. Lighter aromatic whites (sauvignon blanc, semillon and blends) will work really well here, but the best match I could find was with Anselmi San Vincenzo Soave 1999, an Italian white wine from the Veneto. Good Soave (made from Garganaga and Trebbiano) is clean and minerally with soft citrusy fruit smells and flavours. Another great food wine.
Siedas of Fig and Mascapone
Pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of white wine
1 tbsp brown sugar
Drizzle of honey
Scoop vanilla ice cream or sorbet
For the pasta follow the same procedure as the stracci. When the pasta sheets are ready, cut into squares around 5cm by 5cm. In the middle of each square place a little diced fig, a teaspoon of marscapone and a pinch of the sugar. Now like ravioli, fold and gently fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Place on absorbent paper and serve immediately with honey drizzled and ice cream.
Wines for Dessert
The most important consideration with this dish is texture. There's heaps going on here with fried pastry, the creamy consistency of marscapone and the delicate flavours of fig and honey. You need a wine that will cut through the pastry without destroying the mouthfeel and flavours of the filling. I've chosen Marcarini Moscato d'Asti 1998, a lightly sparkling, low alcohol dessert wine from the Asti region in Italy. The wine is slightly fizzy with grape juice, pear and apple flavours. Super refreshing.