Fried calamari with fennel salt and black aioli.
Fried calamari with fennel salt and black aioli. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Fried calamari with fennel salt and black aioli

Squid ink adds its own distinct savoury, briny flavour, as well as quite a bit of visual drama, to this spicy aioli. You could just use rocket for the salad, but a mix of leaves with peppery and bitter notes adds a nice dimension to the dish.

2 tbsp salt flakes

1 tsp fennel seeds

1.5kg small-medium calamari, cleaned, wings left on

150g plain flour

150g fine semolina

oil for deep frying

a selection of mixed leaves or rocket, to serve

4 lemons, cheeks sliced off, to serve

BLACK AIOLI

3 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, finely grated

½⁄ tsp sweet smoked paprika

4 (4g each) sachets squid ink

2 large egg yolks

150ml rice bran oil or other neutral oil

150ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

green Tabasco sauce

1. For the aioli, put the Dijon, garlic, paprika, squid ink and egg yolks in a food processor or blender and process until combined. Slowly add half the oil while processing. Add the vinegar, half the lemon juice and the remaining oil until you have a thick emulsion. Adjust to taste with the remaining lemon juice. Add a good shake of Tabasco, check the seasoning, and if too thick, mix in a little water.

2. For the fennel salt, finely grind the salt and fennel seeds in a mortar.

3. Slice the calamari hoods into wide tubes. Cut the tentacles in half at the base and trim to manageable lengths.

4. Heat six to seven centimetres of oil in a large pot to 180C (or use a deep fryer).

5. Mix the flour and semolina together, dredge the calamari and shake off excess - only do this immediately before frying.

6. Fry the calamari for about 2½ minutes or until golden and just cooked. Do this in a couple of batches to maintain the oil temperature.

7. Drain briefly on paper towel. Serve immediately on a bed of bitter leaves with a good sprinkling of fennel salt, a dollop of black aioli and a lemon cheek.

Serves: 8

Drink: Vermentino

 

Porchetta

Porchetta with rye sourdough, apple, mustard fruit and sage stuffing

Every festive feast needs a centrepiece, a hero of the dining table. My stuffed porchetta has a sense of occasion about it, trussed and roasted with glassy, mahogany-hued skin and a rich fragrance from the mustard fruit and apple stuffing. It's sure to get the table excited.

4kg boned pork loin with belly attached (one piece)

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

10 medium to large carrots, peeled and split in half lengthways

8-10 whole chantenay carrots, peeled (optional)

2 branches fresh bay leaves

200ml quality chicken stock

400ml verjuice or white wine

STUFFING

½ large rye sourdough loaf (300g), sliced, crusts on

2 garlic cloves

extra virgin olive oil

5 sprigs sage, picked

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in eight

100ml verjuice or white wine

120g mustard fruits, finely chopped with a little syrup to moisten

80ml red wine vinegar

4 tbsp mascarpone

1. For the stuffing, grill or toast the bread until quite dark, cut the garlic cloves lengthwise and rub the cut surface all over the toast and tear into pieces.

2. Heat a wide saute pan over a medium heat, add a good splash of olive oil and heat until quite hot, but not smoking. Add the sage leaves, season and fry until crisp. Add the apples and toss over high heat until starting to brown. Add 100 millilitres of verjuice (or wine) and simmer until the apples are just tender, a few minutes.

3. Place the chopped mustard fruits in a large bowl with vinegar and a splash of olive oil, season and mix. Add the mascarpone and mix. Add the bread and, using your hands, massage well into the dressing. Toss in the apples and mix through.

4. Preheat the oven to 190C fan-forced or 210C conventional.

5. For the porchetta, score the pork skin with a sharp knife, then open the pork out and slash the belly flesh to take up the flavour of the stuffing. Season the flesh generously with salt and pepper and smear with the Dijon mustard. Pack in the stuffing next to the loin, roll up tightly and secure firmly with butcher's string in three centimetre sections.

6. Place the carrots in a large baking tray with the bay leaves, season, dress with oil and toss through. Rub the pork skin with oil and salt and place on top of the carrots. Pour the stock and 400 millilitres of verjuice (or wine) into the tray and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150C and roast for a further two hours. Rest for 25 minutes before slicing thickly and serve with the carrots and pan juices (reduced if you like). You could also serve extra mustard fruits on the side.

Note: Chantenay carrots are available in some supermarkets. If you can't find them, add a few more large carrots instead.

Serves: 8-10

Drink: Chenin blanc

 

mousse

Dark chocolate and gianduja mousse with hazelnut praline

This is somewhere between chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse, with a fudgy texture and hazelnut overtones. You could also set this in a tub and quenelle to use on desserts or with crepes or pancakes, or even deconstruct for a modern restaurant presentation.

150ml pouring cream

150ml milk

3 large egg yolks

50g castor sugar

75g glucose powder

250g dark chocolate (85 per cent cocoa), chopped

150g gianduja chocolate, chopped

350ml cream, whipped

chocolate Easter eggs, to serve

dark cocoa, to dust

HAZELNUT PRALINE

300g hazelnuts

270g castor sugar

1. In a small pot, bring the pouring cream and milk to a simmer. Take off the heat.

2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and glucose together in a large bowl then slowly whisk in the hot milk. Return to a clean pot and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until slightly thickened. Take off the heat and leave to cool for one minute.

3. Tip all the chocolate into the liquid at once and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature then fold through the whipped cream until combined and pour into pots or glasses. Chill until set.

4. Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced or 170C conventional.

5. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and roast until the nuts are lightly golden, about six minutes - the nuts need to be warm when they go into the caramel so do this immediately before adding or roast them ahead and warm them quickly in the oven if they have cooled down.

6. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar with 30 millilitres of water, bring to the boil and cook to a medium to dark caramel.

7. Tip the warm nuts into the caramel, stirring to thoroughly coat. Tip the mix out on to a sheet of baking paper and set aside to cool. Crush the praline in a mortar.

8. When ready to serve, break chocolate eggs into large shards and arrange on top of the set chocolate, dust with dark cocoa and sprinkle with crushed praline. Leftover praline will keep well in an airtight container.

Note: Gianduja chocolate is available from speciality food stores.

Serves: 8

Drink: Pedro Ximenez sherry or a mature Rutherglen muscat