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Perfectly paired: Straight from the pantry

Publish Date: 12 Oct 2017

Authored by: Sponsored Content

Stock up on ingredients that are good to have handy for this menu from The Art of the Larder by Claire Thomson, expertly paired with pinot gris and grigio wines.

Halloumi saganaki

Brined cheese, halloumi has a tremendous shelf life and my fridge is rarely without it. Saganaki is a Greek preparation using this well-loved squeaky cheese. Squeeze over lemon and serve with chopped fresh ripe figs, peaches, apricots or some grapes, with good bread to mop up the juices.

a handful of fine semolina, or use plain flour
1 tbsp sesame seeds
250g block of halloumi cheese
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp runny honey
lemon, to squeeze, plus lemon wedges to serve
½ tsp dried oregano
a pinch chilli flakes (optional)
1 spring onion, finely sliced (optional)

Mix the semolina or flour and sesame seeds together.

Cut the halloumi into thick slices. Dip the slices in the beaten egg, then roll in the flour mix.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the cheese on a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Drizzle with the honey and a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle with oregano and chilli flakes and spring onion, if using. Serve with lemon wedges.

Wine match: 2017 Purple Hands Wines Pinot Gris
It has aromas of pear, lemon and apple, plus some spice and floral notes. The textured palate highlights the inherent mouth-filling qualities of pinot gris, and natural acidity adds to the length and balance of the wine. – Craig Stansborough

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Semolina gnocchi

Semolina gnocchi are a better bet than the potentially gluey potato variety. Crucial to the gnocchi holding together when baked is the cooking time on the hob, and beating continuously as the mixture cooks. Serve with brown sage butter or any of the pasta sauces.

1 litre milk
200g fine semolina
100g Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
2 egg yolks
100g butter
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it is just before the boiling point. Turn the heat down to low, and very slowly start pouring in the semolina in a steady stream, beating it constantly with a whisk. Keep beating until it becomes heavy and starts sticking to the whisk, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat.

Stir in two-thirds of the Parmesan, a good pinch of salt, the yolks and half the butter. Stir quickly until all the ingredients are mixed.

Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and dampen it slightly with some cold water. Spread the hot semolina mix out over the paper, smoothing it out to a thickness of roughly 1.5cm. Leave to cool completely for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and butter a large baking dish generously. Use a wet knife to cut the cooled semolina into approximately 8cm squares. Transfer the gnocchi to the dish, overlapping them slightly, then dot with the remaining butter, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and add a grind of pepper. Place in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until a light golden crust has formed and the gnocchi are turning golden brown and are hot through.

Remove from the oven and serve with the sage butter.

Wine match: 2017 Rutherglen Estates Pinot Grigio 
The warm Rutherglen summer gives our pinot grigio delicate, fruity aromatics. The palate offers flavours of ripe pear, almond and a hint of grapefruit, with mineral characters and a softly textural mouthfeel. The acid finish is long and fresh. Made in a similar way to those from Veneto in Italy. – Winemaker Marc Scalzo 

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Tomatoes with lime, ginger and tamarind

I buy tamarind in a block as pulp from my local Indian or Turkish grocery store, chopping off what I need and loosening it to a paste by covering it with a little boiling water, then leaving it to sit for 5 minutes before pushing it through a sieve to strain out the pips. But you can buy the ready-made paste in jars. Used to give acidity to a dish, tamarind has a sour-sweet flavour and works well in many Indian, south-east Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. I also like to top up pulp with sparkling water and serve it over ice as a refreshing, fruity drink. In this recipe, the tamarind, ginger and lime balance beautifully with the sweet ripe tomatoes.

800g mixed size and colour ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp tamarind paste, shop-bought, or use a pulp block and loosen with a little warm water to a similar amount
½ to 1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
1 lime, juiced
brown sugar
fresh ginger, finely grated
coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
50ml water
50ml neutral oil
a small bunch fresh coriander, leaves roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the tomatoes by chopping or slicing them thickly according to shape. Arrange them in a serving dish and season with salt and pepper.

Put the tamarind, chilli flakes, lime juice, sugar, ginger, ground coriander, water and oil into a jar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously until the dressing emulsifies. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning if necessary with more salt, pepper and chilli.

Pour the dressing over the salad and add the coriander. Serve immediately.

Wine match: 2017 Thorn-Clarke Sandpiper Pinot Gris 
Vibrant straw-green. On the nose it shows lifted aromas of freshly-cut pear, honeydew melon and citrus. Fruit salad, grapefruit and pear notes follow though to the palate, which is textured with an elegant, balanced finish. – Winemaker Peter Kelly

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Porchetta with dried peach and thyme

Dried fruit works brilliantly in stuffings, and peach and pork is a beautiful combination. Here the dried peach is surrounded by the rolled belly and plumps up in all the juices as the joint cooks. Serve with green vegetables and roast potatoes or soft polenta, as you like.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
50g fresh breadcrumbs
120g dried peaches, finely sliced or chopped
a small sprig fresh thyme, leaves roughly chopped
2.25kg pork belly, boned, skin on
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 220°C.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 8–10 minutes. Tip the cooked onion into a small mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs, peaches and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife or a clean Stanley knife, score the pork belly skin at 2cm intervals in a criss-cross fashion. Rub 1 tablespoon of sea salt over the skin, then turn the belly over and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the stuffing down the centre of the meat lengthways.

Roll the belly tightly, securing the sides neatly together with kitchen string. Put the tied pork belly on a wire rack in a roasting tin.

Roast the pork in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 180°C and continue cooking for 2–2 1/2 hours. If the skin hasn’t crisped enough by then, turn the oven back up to 220°C and crisp the skin for a further 20 minutes, taking care to not burn it.

Remove the meat from the oven and leave the joint to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes or so before carving.

Wine match: 2016 Quealy Tussie Mussie Pinot Gris
Bright green gold, Tussie Mussie Pinot Gris is endowed with the ‘Peninsula paradox’: big, voluptuous pinot gris yet poised and refined. The vineyard bathes in sunlight on chocolate, red loam. The wine has aromas of the orchard, with peach and nectarine plus musky, pink fruits and rose petal. – Winemakers Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy

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Savoy cabbage with preserved lemon, dill and pine nut pesto

Pesto doesn’t always have to be the basil version. Here with preserved lemon and dill, these bold and punchy flavours are terrific with plain boiled Savoy cabbage. Serve as a side dish to some grilled pork or chicken, or piled on to garlic-rubbed toast with some ricotta for a simple lunch. Experiment – use various cooked vegetables or grilled meat with this pesto.

1 large savoy cabbage, outer leaves and hard inner core removed, sliced into approx. 1cm ribbons

For the pesto
½ preserved oranges and lemons, flesh and pith removed and rind finely chopped
a small bunch fresh dill, leaves roughly chopped
a small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
50g pine nuts, toasted in a frying pan over a moderate heat until golden brown
75g olive oil

To make the pesto, put the lemon, dill, parsley and garlic into a food processor and blitz to a rough green paste.

Add the pine nuts and blitz, retaining some texture to the nuts.

Add the oil and blitz briefly. Scrape from the blender into a bowl.

If not using straight away, cover the pesto with extra olive oil, making sure it is completely submerged. It will keep well in the fridge for up to a week.

Boil the prepared cabbage in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, about 3–5 minutes. Drain well, then put the cabbage into a warm serving dish.

Add the pesto to the cooked cabbage and mix well before serving, reserving a final tablespoon of the pesto to slick on top.

Wine match: 2016 The Dagger Pinot Grigio
Bright aromatics of crisp nashi pear, lemon verbena and honeysuckle jump from the glass. Citrus zest and pear dominate the palate. It’s clean, satisfying and mouth-filling, with great acid balance and length leaving you wanting more. – Winemakers Callie Jemmeson and Nina Stocker

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This is an edited extract from The Art of The Larder by Claire Thomson, published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $39.99). Photography © Mike Lusmore. 

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