I’ve never really followed bands as a teenager, in fact I remember quite distinctly not wishing to cover my school books in a particular band or artist because I was sure it would no longer be my favourite by year’s end. Fickle.
In my early 20s however I did start to develop a teenage-like giddiness for celebrity foodies. It was embarrassing. I didn’t plaster their pictures around my bedroom exactly but there was one occasion where I got especially starry-eyed at a food festival where a small selection of attendees could ask the fabulous Bill Granger something as part of their Q&A.
I’m not normally ‘down’ with audience participation but I was determined to get a question in and ‘make contact’ with Bill. So I whipped my hand into the air before I even thought of what I was going to say. Before I knew it a microphone was thrust in my face and I was invited to ask Bill a question. Out from my surprised and star-struck haze I blurted out, “Do you have any tips for pitting olives?”. Pitting olives. There are no tips for pitting olives. There are no shortcuts and only the gadget obsessed would seek out a tool for this. You put the only on a chopping board, squeeze it with the size of knife and you rip the seed out of the olive. Full stop. What was I thinking?
My idol looked at me blankly. The other attendees looked at me with that ‘who invited the lame girl with the stupid question’ look. Bill politely mumbled something about getting his kids to do it which I barely heard because I was too busy willing the earth to open up and swallow me. Confused and embarrassed at my goofy state I couldn’t even go get my book signed.
Eventually I got over that. I’ve been a fan of Bill’s books for years now from the fabulous Sydney Food to Feed Me Now. I really like the way that there is a consciousness about eating well, eating healthily or light without overburdening the point or making a ‘thing’ about it.
I lean on Bill Granger range of books for jazzing up my everyday eating or when I’m entertaining in that ‘oh this old thing I whipped up’ non-fuss kind of way.
PORK CUTLETS WITH MARJORAM AND TOMATO WITH SAFFRON RISOTTO (Serves 4)
4 cutlets of Pork (or Veal)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 anchovy fillet
Half a glass of white wine
24 cherry tomatoes on stems
1 tbsp marjoram leaves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 knob button
1 brown onion, chopped
3/4 cup arborio rice
pinch of saffron
625ml of chicken stock
1. Risotto: Preheat the oven to 200 C. Add olive oil and butter for risotto into a large pot on medium heat. When heated add the onion and saffron and cook until onion is soft.
2. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute before adding all of the stock allowing to bring to a boil. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes
3. Heat the fry pan until very hot. Coat the cutlets with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Brown cutlets in a hot frypan. Transfer to a plate.
5. Add extra splash of olive oil, garlic slices and anchovy fillet into the frypan and cook briefly. Before the garlic is brown, add the white wine giving the frypan a good scrape to pick up all the flavours from the meat.
6. Once it’s bubbling vigourously add the cherry tomatoes (still on stem) and cook until they start to blister.
7. Return cutlets to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Flip the cutlets and stir in the marjoram. Given another minute then you should be good to serve with the risotto out of the oven.
The test kitchen verdict: I always knew that standing at the stovepot constantly stirring was a crock! This version of risotto that allows you throw the ingredients together then bung in the oven was a massive success. The flavour combination of marjoram, garlic and the cutlet with the bursts of cherry tomato are seriously wonderful. The only watch out areas are getting the meat cooked through so that it is perfectly cooked – not dry, not raw. I also find that working on a jus can be a bit ‘touch and go’ and that it tends to evaporate much quicker then I’m expecting (generally because I’ve got the stove top too high. To have such a flavoursome and elegant looking dish on the table within 45 minutes is what I think makes this really smashing.
Real life rating: 8/10 – This is a rockstar dish for entertaining as well as an everyday meal. The flavour combinations are smashing and if you don’t cook with marjoram very often this is a perfect recipe for it. I’ve used oregano when I didn’t have marjoram and switched out pork vs. veal a number of times. Feed Me Now has a number of very simple but beautifully put together meals that are low risk. Though this dish is an absolute favourite, I’ve had great success with the Blueberry Tea Cake and the Lamb Chops with Sweet Potatoes & Lemons. Though not as well thumbed by me as Sydney Food, Feed Me Now is a beautiful, approachable cookbook. There are some super cinchy recipes like Cream of Tomato Soup for those that need that, as well as dishes like this one that take just a small amount more skill.
View the original recipe in Feed Me Now (2009) available at amazon.com.