Ahhh food trends, such simultaneously fickle and spectacular beasts. Whatever your take on them, no one can argue their importance; the way they mark the ebb and flow of the way we live, the things we want to eat and how we want to eat them. Here we have reinterpreted the ingredients and dishes that appeared again and again in this year's Good Food Guide. These are the kind of trends we would like to see on menus and in our home kitchens.
Cacio e pepe gnocchi with cacio e pepe crisps
The parmesan crisps add textural relief to the soft pillows of gnocchi. The quick bake in the oven intensifies the cheese's salty profile, taking this from bowl of Sunday night comfort to "dressed for dinner" and back again, as required. If time-poor, use 500 grams of quality gnocchi from your local deli for a spectacularly quick dinner fix.
good quality parmesan
freshly cracked pepper
700g floury potatoes, peeled and halved (I used nicola)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup water
½ tbsp olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
For the parmesan crisps preheat the oven with top grill function to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Using a Microplane, gently grate parmesan onto the baking paper, and shape into circles about the size of an egg ring. Don't worry about perfectly shaped circles – the cheese should be evenly spread in a thin layer. Season generously with pepper. Place in the oven for five to seven minutes or until crisp and lightly coloured.
Remove from the oven and allow the crisps to cool on the tray completely. Set aside until ready to serve. (Crisps will keep in an airtight container for one to two days but are best eaten the day they are made.)
For the gnocchi, boil potatoes from a cold start in a large saucepan of salted water until you can pierce them with a knife, but they are not so over-boiled that they lose their shape and fall apart. Drain and immediately return them to the saucepan, and then to the heat, to steam off any residual liquid – about another minute.
Pass the potatoes through a mouli or sieve into a bowl. Add the butter and parmesan and stir gently. Add flour, season, then gently bring together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together. Divide dough into four even pieces and lightly roll each piece into a 2cm-thick log. Cut logs into 3cm pieces and place on a lightly floured tray.
Cook gnocchi in batches in a large saucepan of rapidly simmering salted water until they just float to the surface (about four minutes) – don't overcook the gnocchi at this point as it will continue to cook in the next step. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place directly into a large frypan (don't worry about straining thoroughly, you want a little residual liquid) with the water, oil, parmesan and pecorino. Cook over medium heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated, and the cheese has melted – the gnocchi should be just coated, not drowned in sauce. Season very generously with pepper.
Gently spoon onto serving plates and top with parmesan crisps. Season with extra grated parmesan and cracked pepper.
Photo: Katrina Meynink
I like to use fresh egg noodles from my local Asian grocer. Feel free to sub in any Chinese wheat noodle – the thick chewy style is great for this dish.
¼ cup rice bran or sunflower oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
100g 'nduja* (spicy spreadable salami)
400g pork mince
2½ tbsp XO sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soybean paste
1 tsp brown sugar
750g thick noodles (I used boiled noodles)
¾ cup pork floss
4 tbsp chopped spring onions
2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Place a frypan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and once hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for one minute or until the mix starts to soften and becomes fragrant. Add the 'nduja and pork mince and cook for another two to three minutes or until the 'nduja has broken down, is fully incorporated and the mixture is brown. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to low and cook for another five to seven minutes while you prepare the noodles.
Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Strain and transfer to a large serving dish. Top with the mince mixture and sprinkle liberally with pork floss, sliced spring onion and coriander leaves.
Cod roe dip with fresh and charred greens. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Taramasalata with charred spring greens and finger lime
I am the first to admit I don't have a ready access to finger limes; luckily these days you can buy snap-frozen finger lime pearls. If unavailable, a grate of lemon zest and a hearty squeeze of juice will do the trick. I love peas raw but feel free to cook to your liking to serve with this dish.
2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs, crusts removed
50g tarama fish roe paste*
50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ small red onion, very finely chopped
80ml grapeseed oil
quality olive oil
2½ bunches broccolini
1 bunch young asparagus
½ cup freshly podded borlotti beans
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
¼ cup freshly podded peas
½ cup watercress shoots
1 tbsp finger lime pearls
For the taramasalata place the sourdough bread in a bowl, add enough cold water to just cover and set aside until just softened (30 seconds). Drain and squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a food processor with tarama paste, lemon juice, vinegar and onion and process until smooth (one to two minutes). With motor running, add one tablespoon of water, then gradually add oil in a thin steady stream, processing until emulsified (two to three minutes). Season to taste and refrigerate until required.
Bring a char-grill pan or barbecue to high heat. Drizzle broccolini with olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until charred and tender (about six minutes). Add the asparagus spears and char for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and season to taste.
While the vegetables are grilling, blanch the borlotti beans in boiling water until just tender. Refresh in ice-cold water.
To serve, spread about a cup of the taramasalata over a plate. Top with charred greens, blanched borlotti beans, fresh peas and sugar snaps. Scatter over the watercress shoots and finger lime pearls. Serve immediately.
Serves 4-6 as a side
Miso caramel sundaes
From this point on, I won't make caramel any other way.
Miso caramel sauce
¾ cup castor sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup milk
50g white chocolate
2 tbsp white miso
1½-2 cups popcorn
3-4 tbsp miso caramel
150g couverture milk chocolate
1-2 tbsp lightly roasted and salted macadamias
1-2 tbsp miso caramel popcorn (see recipe)
2-3 scoops vanilla bean ice-cream per serve
extra macadamias and miso caramel popcorn
To make the caramel, add the castor sugar and water to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent catching, until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the milk and butter, stirring constantly – be careful as the mixture will bubble and spit. Add the white chocolate and miso and whisk constantly. Return to a low heat and continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Some miso pastes aren't as smooth as others so if you feel your caramel has a grainy/chunky appearance, strain over a bowl to catch any lumps.
Set aside until ready for use (caramel will keep covered in the fridge for two weeks).
Preheat the oven to 170C.
To make the caramel popcorn add the popcorn to a bowl. Pour over three to four tablespoons of the miso caramel, or enough to just coat the popcorn. Spread a single layer onto a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for five to 10 minutes, or until the caramel and popcorn become crisp, tossing two to three times. Remove and allow to cool completely.
To make the chocolate bark melt the chocolate and spread in a thin, even layer on a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle over one to two tablespoons of macadamias and two tablespoons of the miso caramelised popcorn. Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden, then break into shards.
To serve, place one to two tablespoons chopped macadamias and caramel popcorn into serving glasses. Add one to three scoops of vanilla ice-cream per glass and liberally pour over the miso caramel. Top with more popcorn and macadamias before garnishing with one to two broken shards of chocolate bark and a final drizzle of miso caramel. Serve immediately.
Makes about 1½ cups caramel (enough for 4-6 sundaes)
*Tarama fish roe paste and 'nduja are available from delicatessens and specialist food stores