Friday 23 November 2012

fennel, radish & apple salad

Yesterday was one huge Thanksgiving dinner, cooked by moi.

My sister Shamu and her man, Tombolina, came over and I spent the entire day preparing for the feast.

It was one of those cooking days where everything just fell into place. I cooked recipes simultaneously based on time and need, and managed to balance pie pastry with turkey brining, yam basting with dressing prep, cocktail making with vegetable slicing.

I even managed to completely clean the kitchen before Jonas got home and my guests arrived (Jonas was particularly pleased he dodged that bullet).

To be honest, it was the first time in my life when I managed to be so zen and organised when cooking a huge meal. I was very, very proud of myself.

Gold star please!

A “Spiced Scrumpy” cocktail kicked the evening off, then the menu combined Americana favourites, modern twists and some Thanksgiving classics:

Pear & Scallop Squash Soup
Texan BBQ Turkey Shanks
Sausage & Sage Dressing
Fennel, Apple & Radish Salad
Maple, Bourbon & Sesame Candied Yams
Greens Simmered in Chicken Stock w Onions & Garlic
Chocolate Pecan Pie & Vanilla Ice Cream

Every recipe was new – untried, untested – and every single one was a great success. I was so pleased with the way the food turned out.

Today I’m going to share with you one of the recipes: this autumnal salad of pretty pinkish hues and fresh, tangy flavours.

The original recipe used Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes), but I was unable to source them in the Sydney spring weather. Nonetheless, the salad added a perfect refreshing balance to some of the other heavier dishes.

Fennel, Radish & Apple Salad

Based on a recipe from The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley. Serves 4-6 as part of a buffet.

4 radishes, trimmed
2 gala apples, peeled and cored
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fennel fronds
Salt and pepper to taste


1. In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and lemon juice to make a smooth vinaigrette. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

2. With a super sharp peeler or mandolin, shave radishes, apples and fennel into wafer thin slices.

3. Toss vegetables in vinaigrette then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day, to allow the flavours to come together.

4. Just before serving, add in chives and fennel fronds. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as required.

Saturday 3 November 2012

oktapodi toursi (greek-style pickled octopus)

I adore pickles, and pickled seafood is high on my list. I like the sweet Lithuanian-style pickled fish but I adore boquerones (white anchovies) and any kind of pickled octopus.

When I think of octopus, I do think of Greek cuisine. They have a lot of interesting and flavoursome octopus recipes, whether it’s braised in red wine or barbecued after hours of marinating in lemon juice and garlic.

When I decided to make pickled octopus, I took the Greek herbs and spices for inspiration and flavoured my pickling liquor with oregano, bay and chilli.

The results are divine: soft, sour tentacles that satisfy my current cravings.

Oktapodi Toursi (Greek-Style Pickled Octopus)

Anna’s very own recipe. Makes one mezze to serve 2.


500g cleaned baby octopus
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon fresh parsley, very finely chopped
1 cup (250ml) white wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil, to finish
600ml sterilised preserve jar

1. In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup (125ml) cold water and the baby octopus to the boil. Reduce to simmer and braise for 20 minutes or until octopus is tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. When cool, arrange octopus in the preserving jar. It’s easier to fit it all in if you place the tentacles against the glass with the heads gathered together in the centre of the jar. Sprinkle in fresh parsley.

3. In another saucepan, bring all other ingredients (peppercorns, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, dried oregano, sliced garlic cloves, dried bay leaves and white wine vinegar) to the boil.

4. Pour boiling vinegar over octopus then immediately top with olive oil to ensure no octopus parts stick out above the liquid.

5. Seal jar immediately, cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 1 week before eating.

6. Bring to room temperature again before opening jar and serving.

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