At a recent trip to Melbourne, I caught up with friends at The Kent Hotel in Carlton. I must say that their menu looked fantastic! After a couple of drinks, somebody ordered some eggplant chips with a chilli salsa – awesome! Then an antipasto platter going past caught my eye. It was piled high of many of my favourite food – and of course I had to order one. It inspired me to create this platter.
The individual ‘dishes’ that make up this platter include:
Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Salt and Pepper Calamari
Grissini wrapped in Prosciutto
Fried Haloumi, and
Chorizo in Apple cider
Added to the platter were shop bought marinated artichokes, fresh cherry tomatoes, and black olives.
I have always liked the way Gordon Ramsay’s version of meatballs.
FOR THE MEATBALLS
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
Handful each of sage and flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely choopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomatoe puree
2x 400g cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper
Firstly, make the sauce.
Heat a pan on medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil.
Start by cooking onions until soft and transluscent (about 6-8 minutes). Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Inrease heat a little.
Add cumin and chilli flakes and saute for a minute.
Add tomatoe puree and saute for a minute.
Deglaze with white wine and reduce volume by about half.
Add diced tomatoes. Season to taste.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes then remove pan from heat.
To make the meatballs, first cook onions and garlic on medium heat until onions are soft and transluscent but not coloured. Set aside to cool.
Add milk to breadcrumbs and set aside for about 10 minutes.
Mix both beef mince and pork mince.
Add onion and garlic, soaked breadcrumbs, parmesan, herbs and lemon zest to mince mix. Season well and mix well with your hands.
With damp hands, shape small amounts of the mixture into balls.
To cook, heat oven to 200C.
Heat some oil in a pan and brown meatballs all over.
Pour the tomato sauce into a baking dish just big enough to accommodate all the meatballs.
Place meatballs on top of the sauce. Loosely cover with foil and bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.
Remove foil and back for a further 10 minutes.
Top with roughly chopped parsley.
Fresh lemon juice
Drain cheese on paper towel.
Slice cheese into wedges about 5mm in thickness.
Fry on medium heat until light golden brown.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of lemon juice.
CHORIZO IN APPLE CIDER
2 Spanish Chorizo, skin removed and sliced to about 1cm in thickness.
Heat a pan on high heat.
Place slices of chorizo on pan and cook until lightly coloured on both sides.
Add apple cider and cook until cider is of syrupy consistence.
SALT AND PEPPER CALAMARI
In this recipe, I used fresh whole squid calamari rather than the big tubes you can buy already cleaned
100 g riceflour
1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
3 whole calamari tubes
Oil for frying
Heat oil in small pan to about 175C.
Clean squid (if unsure, here is a breakdown of how to do it)
Cut squid into small rings no more than 5mm in thickness.
Dry roast salt and peppercorns in a pan over low heat until spices are fragrant
Place salt and peppercorns a mortar and pestle and allow to cool. Once cool, grind to a fine consistency.
Mix salt and peppercorns with the rice flour in a plastic bag.
Add calamari rings into the bag and toss squid around to ensure even coating.
Remove calamari from bag shaking off excess flour.
Cook in small batches until light golden in colour and drain on paper towels.
Serve with lemon wedges.
As for the Grissinni, just make sure you have good quality Proscuitto and simply wrap around one end of each bread stick.
The Arancini recipe you can find here.
Antipasto is such a great way to start a meal, to have with drinks, or instead of having a meal. It is a great way for family and friends to come together. Enjoy!