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real fast food

If you love having people over but are time poor (aren’t we all) you need a few standby recipes that literally take minutes to prepare. Often they are more ideas than recipes, or recipes that made once are never glanced at again. What most of my fast food shares in common is the need for three or four quality ingredients and the ability to think laterally. Some of the best real fast food comes from opening the fridge and using whatever you have and it doesn’t usually involve running for a cookbook. The ability to ’throw food on the table’, feed whoever turns up has become something of a lost art and people are reluctant to drop in close to meal times for fear of the pressure it brings, yet it is often those spontaneous stress free meals that are the best.
For example there is nothing more delicious that fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and yet it is badly done in most restaurants because it is served fridge cold and they rarely seek out the best available quality. Bufala herds in Australia remain unique with only three main herds, and traditional Mozzarella is expensive and in very short supply. The Victorian Montefiore Cheese company specialises in Italian style cheeses and their Fiordilatte, whilst not totally traditional because it is a cows’ milk and not bufala cheese is delicious and a very good substitute. It is important to understand this is a fresh cheese with a short shelf life; if you don’t use all you buy, don’t leave it in the water until it goes smelly, by then its off and nothing can save it. Rather use what you want and immediately bury any left over in your best EV olive oil and refrigerate. You can add some organic garlic and pepper and sea salt, and whilst a lot of people do add herbs we prefer not to mar the delicate flavour of the cheese or determine its future use by the marinating herbs.

Fresh Mozzarella with tomato and basil
Allow about 120–150g, fresh, room temperature Mozzarella and one medium ripe tomato per person. We buy really tasty tomatoes from the Lebanese Bakery, but if you don’t have access to good tomatoes and are left with the nasty thick–skinned hydroponic variety we advise peeling them with a tomato peeler. This simple course is so delicious and popular we always make it very generous because diners can eat a good deal more than you might expect. You can serve it with just baked Italian ciabatta style bread and have the pleasure of watching your guests chase the last drops of oil and salt and pepper from the serving dish.
Slice the Mozzarella about 3mm thick and lay it in a single layer on a serving platter. Slice the tomato and lay on top and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Carefully pluck the basil leaves and scatter them on top. Just before serving, splash very generously with your best EV olive oil.

tip — if you don’t have any Mozzarella, make some crunchy bread croutons and add a little finely sliced red onion. If you’ve got any left over (you’ll be lucky), pick off the basil and discard it, and drain in a sieve. Will keep for a couple of days and can also be moved onto pizza topping.

Since having a home vac there is always some readily available pasta dough in the fridge and it’s a matter of minutes to make enough pappardelli or tagliatelle for a few people. Add a toss of wild and cultivated mushrooms and a leaf salad and you might have spent a total of 15 minutes in the kitchen. There is always the temptation to laugh out loud when I watch chefs struggle with a pasta machine moving around the bench with the stupid clamps that come with them. It’s so bloody obvious! Immediately throw the clamp the machine comes with in the bin and head for your workshop or nearest hardware and buy yourself a decent clamp!

Toss of wild and cultivated mushrooms
serves 4

100g shallots, peeled and sliced
4 cloves organic garlic macerated with sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
100g unsalted butter
splash EV olive oil
600g mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms, sliced or torn according to variety and size

Sauté the shallot in half of the butter with the garlic and seasoning until it is just starting to colour. Add the olive oil, turn the heat up and add the mushrooms, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Turn the heat down and add the remaining butter. Stir through cooked, drained pasta and serve.

Apple and passionfruit jelly with fresh pineapple and passionfruit
serves 4

600g cold Preshafruit apple and passionfruit juice – see below
12g leaf gelatine (Gold) – if making the day before shave 1g gelatine
almond or apricot oil for oiling the moulds

1 small sugar pineapple, trimmed into 4 lengthwise slices, rest cut into small cubes
2 passionfruit, pulp

4 x 150ml darioles, oiled with the sweet oil

Measure about 150g of the juice into a small saucepan and place it on high heat. As soon as it comes to the boil turn the heat off, soften the gelatine in cold water, squeeze it out and stir into the hot juice. Continue to stir until completely dissolved, then stir into the cold fruit juice, thoroughly combine and divide between the prepared darioles. Stand on a small tray or plate cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

to serve
Place a slice of pineapple in the centres of four plates. Unmould a jelly onto each slice. Mix the pineapple dice and passionfruit together, divide between the jellies and serve.

tip — try adding 20g Vine Valley white wine vinegar and a pinch of sea salt to 580g of Preshafruit Granny Smith and proceed in the same manner. Mould in a single mould (an old jelly mould) if you are lucky enough to have one. Serve it with the classic Granny Smith, shallot, celery and roasted walnuts, dressed with a tarragon mayonnaise… …it’s really fast and fabulous!

We are not in the habit or recommending products that make it into mainstream supermarkets, however Preshafruit so revolutionises the fruit juice industry we have quickly taken it into our cooking. Extracted under high–pressure pasteurisation is not required, salmonella and other bacteria are killed under pressure, no discolouration, basically distilled flavour and real flavour at that. Interested in the science of this new method read the Galaxy Guides newsletter sixteen October 2009 and scroll to the bottom.
visit their web site

tomato peelers can be purchased from most cook shops. Don’t lose the guard the fine serrated teeth are easily damaged in a knife case or drawer.

pasta dough recipe – click here

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.