I know everyone loves Donna Hay, but I’m not totally convinced.
Her food photography is lavish and the props are always impeccably stylish, but I don’t feel like the recipes are as well thought through as the photographs.
For most food bloggers, all we need is a photo of a gorgeous dish and most of us can take that inspiration and create our own recipe replicating the basic theme. But for people who rely on recipes, I feel that Donna might be letting them down.
Maybe my Donna-doubts stems from my love of strong sensations and most of Donna’s recipes seem to ere on the side of caution when it comes to big flavour hits.
In Donna Hay’s Aug/Sep 07 (Issue 24), I found a recipe which was wonderful, but does need an extra lift if you’re like me and want to be knocked out by flavour.
I bought my veal from AC Butchery and it was exquisite. I hadn’t bought meat from a butcher in a while (lots of vegetables lately) so I decided to get it from a butcher I know and trust. The meat was flavoursome and tender and well worth the price ($31.99 per kilo).
Green Olive Crusted Veal
Recipe from Issue 24 Donna Hay (Aug/Sep 07). Serves 4.
35g (¾ cup) fresh breadcrumbs
50g (1/3 cup) chopped green olives
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
50g unsalted butter, melted
4 x 150g veal cutlets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly milled salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 200’C (390’F).
2. Place breadcrumbs, olives, parsley, butter, salt and pepper into a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Brush the veal cutlets with mustard
4. Press the breadcrumb mixture firmly onto one side of the cutlet.
5. Place on a lightly greased oven tray and bake for 12-15 minutes of until breadcrumbs are golden and meat is cooked through (when pierced with a knife, juices should run clear).
Note: I’d add a little more olives, chopped capers or even some finely grated lemon rind to give it an extra kick.
I served this delicious veal with a yummy feta mash (as suggested in the magazine) and my favourite side dish: Wilted Spinach w Lemon & Olive Oil.
Recipe from Issue 24 Donna Hay (Aug/Sep 07). Serves 4.
1 kg starchy potatoes, peeled and chopped
¾ cup milk
¼ cup olive oil
150g feta cheese
½ cup chopped kalamata olives
1. Place the potatoes in a pot of salted, cold water.
2. Bring to the boil and cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
3. Drain well, return to the pan and mash until smooth.
4. Add the milk and oil and stir to combine.
5. Stir in the feta, olives, salt and pepper then serve.
Olives (Olea europaea) are native to coastal areas in the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea.
Olives are the most cultivated fruit in the world and increasing demands for olive oil have seen the production levels triple over the past 50 years. In 2005, the top olive producing nations were Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Portugal.
Based on evidence from a site in Jordan, it is believed olives were first cultivated in the Chalcolithic Period (Copper Age, before the Bronze Age). They are certainly one of the most citied foods in history, being mentioned by the Greeks, Romans, the Bible and the Qur'an (Koran). Homer had Odysseus crawling under olive shoots, Horace claimed they gave him sustenance and olives were a symbol of the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, Athena.
Back in the 1st century, Pliny the Elder claimed a Greek olive tree was 1,600 years old which isn’t impossible given that ring testing has proven that a tree on the isle of Brijuni (Brioni) in Croatia is 1,600 years old and still bears fruit. Several trees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem are thought to be from the time of Jesus and another on Crete was confirmed to be over 2,000 years old!
Fresh olives have phenolic compounds and oleuropein, making the fruit almost inedible when fresh. They need to be processed in order to leach out the bitterness: soaked in water, slit once, then add to a pickling pot of salt and vinegar, weighed down and left for at least a month. Afterwards they can be flavoured with herbs and spices, or stuffed with pimento, anchovies or cheese.
In 2006, I visited Sol, Italy’s premier olive tradeshow. Knowing Italians are so proud of their olive oil, I was surprised to hear that some of Italy’s boutique oil producers rated Australian olive oil as highly as they rate their own. In fact some Italian companies were in technology and process knowledge sharing agreements with Australian olive oil producers.
Olive farming in Australia dates to the early 1800s, probably in Parramatta in Sydney. The colonies in South Australia and Victoria were planting the largest groves and by the 1830s South Australia was leading the production. Aussie oil won accolades at the London Exhibition of 1851 and by 1911 we were exporting oil to Italy!
There are thousands olive cultivars and it’s said that in Italy alone there at least three hundred!
This is direct from Wikipedia and explains some of the cultivars
Frantoio & Leccino – These cultivars are the principal participants in Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavour while Frantoio is fruity with a stronger aftertaste. Due to their highly valued flavour, these cultivars have been migrated and are now grown in other countries.
Arbequina – A small, brown olive grown in Catalonia, Spain. As well as being used as a table olive, its oil is highly valued.
Empeltre – A medium sized, black olive grown in Spain. They are used both as a table olive and to produce a high quality olive oil.
Kalamata – A large, black olive (named after the city of Kalamata, Greece), used as a table olive. These olives have a smooth and meaty taste.
Koroneiki – Originates from the southern Peloponese, around Kalamata and Mani in Greece. This small olive, though difficult to cultivate, has a high oil yield and produces olive oil of exceptional quality.
Pecholine or picholine – Originated in southern France. It is green, medium size, and elongated. The flavour is mild and nutty.
Lucques – Originated in southern France (Aude département). They are green, of a large size, and elongated. The stone has an arcuated shape. The flavour is mild and nutty.
Souri – Syrian but originated in Lebanon and is widespread in the Levant. It has a high oil yield and exceptionally aromatic flavour.
Nabali – A Palestinian cultivar also known locally as Baladi. Along with Souri and Malissi are considered to produce among the highest quality olive oil in the world.
Barnea – A modern cultivar bred in Israel to be disease resistant and to produce a generous crop. It is used both for oil and for table olives. The oil has a strong flavour with a hint of green leaf. Barnea is widely grown in Israel and in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.
Maalot – Another modern, disease-resistant, Eastern Mediterranean cultivar derived from the North African Chemlali cultivar. The olive is medium sized, round, has a fruity flavour and is used almost exclusively for oil production.
Mission – Originated on the California Missions and is now grown throughout the state. They are black and generally used for table consumption.
Our Weekend Herb Blogging host this week is the herb goddess herself, Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.
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