It’s that time of the year again, I know because I bead-up with sweat at 6am and need no thermometer to tell me that heavy pasta is on its last days.
Get the Aerogard out or, for some, the neem bush (whatever floats your boat), and join the mozzies and blood-sucking midges for a fiesta of double-dipping with friends gathered on the patio.
I for one have an OCD hobby of olive-oil infusions. It’s a passion of mine.
We are spoilt (I know I overuse this word though it’s my descriptor to reference the incredible choice we have daily in our grocers) here in Australia.
Just the other day I picked up two Italian hitchhikers, Massimo and Juliana. They spent the entire journey telling me how amazing our olive oils are here in Australia and how inexpensive.
So, don’t take my word for it, take it from a duo from the country that knows a thing or two about olive oils.
Personally, I put fresh garlic and whole chilli, dill and capers, lemon zest and cajun spice thoughtfully into my olive oils. I gather up strong-flavoured ingredients to steep in oils in small glass cruets.
They look stunning and make impressive additions to any charcuterie or antipasto platter. Buy a few tiny dishes for individual oil tasters, fleck the oil with some balsamic and crushed sea salt – voila! If you’re lazy or time poor, then our countryside has others making the oils for you.
Summerland Olives produces a smoky olive oil that’s award-winning.
We’re hearing a lot about ‘The Farm’ in Ewingsdale recently. Apart from all the foodie delights coming soon from this new venture, these guys sell oils for dipping and if you’re quick they’re running a school holiday pop-up stall at their site at 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale, for some free trials of cheeses and their other products.
Cobram is another really good Australian producer that has developed a readily available range of oils including a garlic, chilli, onion, and a lemon-infused oil perfect for pan-frying fish or eggplant.
We all know that whipping up a dip can be as easy as Philly cheese and a packet of good ol’ Cup-a-Soup, but I’m not going to let you do that this time.
I’ve gathered in some good and clever folk to share their inspired, if not culturally intact, blend-ups and combines.
Recipe by Dino Georgakopoulos
Meraki is a Greek word that means soul, creativity, passion. It’s the essence one puts into one’s work. ‘We apply this to everything we do from the ingredients we source to the food we prepare and the way we look after our customers at the bistro,’ Dino told me. ‘Simple flavours working in perfect harmony: this is the essence of Greek cooking,’ he added.
45g crustless white bread
60g cod roe paste
1½ tbsp finely chopped onion
30ml lemon juice
330ml mild-tasting olive oil
Salt and pepper – Oso perni (Greek measure meaning as much as you need!)
Immerse white bread in water and allow to soak for five minutes.
Strain bread by firmly squeezing by hand, removing most of the water.
Add bread, together with cod roe paste, onion and lemon juice to blender.
Blend to combine.
Slowly drizzle olive oil in a steady stream while blending until the mixture is smooth and completely combined.
Season to taste and add another squeeze of lemon if you think it needs it!
Dino Georgakopoulos is the owner and head chef of Meraki Bistro, situated inside the Ocean Shores Country Club.
Enquiries on 6680 1809.
Recipe by Tomo san
Tomo san was born in Osaka, Japan. He studied and taught macrobiotic cooking and is eminently skilled in traditional Japanese, Raman, Korean and Chinese cooking.
Japanese or Lebanese eggplants
20ml light soy sauce
5g minced ginger
1 chopped spring onion
Cut 2 or 3 lines into eggplant skin from top to bottom (to make it easy to peel)
Grill eggplants until the skin is burnt and it is soft inside then place into cold water.
Take the skin off the eggplant.
Place everything, except the spring onion, into a blender and blend.
Place in a serving bowl and garnish liberally with spring onion.
Tomo san is the Japanese head chef at Bolo Ma restaurant at Byron Bay Bowling Club on Marvell St.
Sevn Sharman is the live and raw food chef at the Bolo Ma restaurant at Byron Bay Bowling Club on Marvell St.
Recipe by Anthea Amore
Anthea has been a vegan and a passionate gluten-free and vegan cook for the past 26 years. She and her hubby Casper run Byron Bay’s only 100 per cent organic, vegan catering company, Organic Passion Catering.
Here’s her take on a popular staple at gatherings.
Makes about 300g
¾ cup cashews, soaked in ¼ cup of water for 10 minutes
2 medium beetroot, grated (approx 2 cups)
½ bunch fresh mint
¼ cup lime (or lemon) juice
¼ cup olive oil
1½ tsp good salt
3 dsp tamari
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Black or white sesame seeds, to garnish
Freshly cracked pepper, to garnish
Soak the cashews in a blender with the ¼ cup of water. While they are soaking, prepare all the ingredients.
Blend the mint (reserve one sprig to garnish) and cashews together with the soaking water until smooth and creamy. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until really velvety and ‘dippy’.
Pour into your favourite bowl and garnish with a sprig of mint, a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of black or white sesame seeds or cracked pepper.
Serve it with your favourite crackers, crudités or crusty bread. It’s also fantastic on toast.
(FYI they launch their new cookbook in conjunction with Santos Organics this Friday 3 October, on the Mullumbimby Santos Balcony from 6.30pm.)
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