Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day everyone! How lucky are we to live in this glorious country? I can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere else.

Some very Australian icons for this special day...

The coathanger - aka the Sydney Harbour Bridge:

The Sydney Opera House:

The Koala and the Eucalyptus:

With the hot weather we are currently experiencing in Sydney, the last thing I want to do is put the oven on of an evening or stand over the stove, so we have been enjoying lots of salads for dinner. Last night, we also wanted to eat in front of the TV so that we could watch the tennis – Go Jelena!!!

This recipe comes from Karen Martini’s first book – Where The Heart Is. We’ve made it a few times now and I love how beautiful something so simple can taste. It does require very good quality tomatoes though – I wouldn’t even bother if all I could get were those hard orange-y tomatoes that you often see at the supermarket. Vine ripened tomatoes are good and home-grown would be even better if you are lucky enough to have your own garden.

The cheese bathed in yoghurt and oil sounds a little strange – but I promise you, it makes the dish! I have written the recipe below with Ms Martini’s suggested amounts of oil, however we NEVER use the amounts she suggests, always using less. So please adjust the oil to your taste.
Insalata caprese
Serves 4-6

3 long, fat red chillies
8-10 bocconcini, torn into thirds
3 tablespoons good quality natural yoghurt
150ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
4-6 med-large vine ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
½ red onion, finely chopped
20 fresh basil leaves
½ clove garlic
3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
crusty bread to serve

Preheat oven to 150C. Place chillies on a lined baking tray and bake for about 15mins. Place cooked chillies in a plastic bag, tie the bag up and leave to cool – approx 10mins. Peel away the loosened skins and then slice the chillies into strips.

Place torn cheese into a medium size bowl with the yoghurt, 50ml (please adjust to taste) extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Separately, in a mortar and pestle, bruise the 20 basil leaves with the garlic and the 100ml remaining olive oil.

On your serving platter, arrange tomatoes and then top with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the finely chopped onion and the red chilli strips on top. Drizzle with the smashed basil/garlic/oil mix and the balsamic vinegar. Decorate with extra basil leaves.

Serve with crusty bread for a light summer meal.


a good yarn said...

A glistening harbour and plate of good Aussie produce. A glass of good Australian white wine and the day is made. For the most part we enjoy a good life here, that's for sure.

Happy Australia Day...Ann :)

Julie said...

oh mouth watering! thanks for sharing.

Sheryl said...

Great Aussie icons.
I too am a fan of Karen Martini and even though I have that same cookbook I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, now I plan to make this tomato salad it looks so fresh and delish... thanks for the inspiration