When Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant opened the doors to Cornersmith, their neighbourhood cafe on an unassuming street corner in Sydney’s inner west, they wanted the food to represent the sustainable ethos they held to when cooking at home: making everything from scratch using local, in-season produce; avoiding processed foods; and pickling and preserving to reduce waste. But most importantly, they wanted to serve great-tasting, good-for-you food that everyone would love.
Mulberry Yoghurt Iceblocks
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes, plus overnight freezing
MAKES: 12 ice blocks
This is an easy recipe for the warmer months. We made these a lot for our kids when they were little, and now they make them on their own. You can do this with any kind of fruit compote, such as apricot and cardamom on page 118.
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) mulberry compote (see above)
520 g (1 lb 21⁄2 oz/2 cups) natural yoghurt
honey, to taste – optional
Stir the mulberry compote into the yoghurt. Taste and add honey if you think it needs it – the mulberry compote already has honey in it, remember. Pour into ice-block moulds, then add paddle-pop sticks and freeze overnight.
Bittersweet Tabouleh with Radicchio and Pomegranate
Cornersmith chef Sabine Spindler’s autumn adaptation of the classic Middle Eastern dish, using buckwheat for a gluten-free tabouleh. The bitterness of the radicchio beautifully balances the acidity of the tomatoes and pomegranate and the sweetness of the pomegranate syrup. Add a dollop of yoghurt just before serving, if you like.
PREPARATION TIME: 25 minutes
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
100 g (31⁄2 oz) buckwheat
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, finely diced
2 ox-heart tomatoes, finely chopped
1⁄2 small radicchio, finely shredded
seeds from 1 smallish pomegranate
finely grated zest and juice of 1–2 lemons
2 handfuls roughly chopped or torn mixed herbs, such as parsley, mint and dill
80 ml (21⁄2 fl oz/¹⁄³ cup) olive oil
2–3 pinches sumac
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup (see page 142) or pomegranate molasses
Put the buckwheat into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. As soon as the water comes back up to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6–8 minutes. When the buckwheat is done, the grains should still have a slight bite to them. Drain and leave to cool.
Mix the buckwheat, cucumber, tomatoes, radicchio and pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, three-quarters of the herbs and season with salt and pepper, then gently toss everything together.
To serve, place the tabouleh in a large bowl, then pour over the olive oil. Scatter over the sumac and the rest of the herbs and drizzle over the pomegranate syrup.
COOKING TIME: 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes heat-processing – optional
STORAGE:1 month, or up to 12 months if heat-processed
MAKES: about 4 x 300 ml (101⁄2 fl oz) jars
The corn season spans the end of summer and the start of autumn, and we often bottle this towards the end of the season. It complements any Mexican-style meal, but is also good with scrambled, poached or fried eggs, or on a chicken or ham sandwich. Try mixing some corn salsa through a bread dough for a simple corn bread, or stir a couple of spoonfuls into a firm pancake batter to make quick corn fritters.
11⁄2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
2 small red capsicums (peppers), diced
5 small corn cobs, kernels cut from cobs
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄4 teaspoon ground celery seed
pinch of cayenne
5 green chillies, sliced
finely grated zest and juice of 1⁄2 lime
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
11⁄2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion with the salt until soft. Add the capsicum and sauté for a few minutes until starting to soften, then add the corn and sauté for another minute. Mix in the coriander, celery seed and cayenne, then take off the heat and stir through the green chillies, lime zest and juice.
For the salsa base, combine the vinegar with 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water in a non-reactive saucepan. Put the cornflour and turmeric into a heatproof bowl, then stir in 2–3 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture to make a smooth paste. Add the sugar to the vinegar mixture, then place over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. When the mixture reaches simmering point, transfer it to a jug, then slowly pour into the cornflour paste, whisking as you go until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Leave to cool.
Pour the cooled salsa base over the vegetables and stir to coat evenly. The salsa can be served straightaway or kept in the fridge for up to a month. If you want to bottle the salsa to store for use later in the year, or to give as a gift, pack it into sterilised jars (see page 250) and heat-process (see page 255) for 10 minutes. Unopened jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months; once opened, refrigerate and use within a couple of months.
Zucchini & Farro Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
Farro is a spelt-like grain with a nutty flavour and chewy texture. Using it in a salad like this one makes for a great vegetarian summertime meal. Make sure you get the pearled sort: this has been de-hulled and undergone a process that makes it easier to cook and digest – it doesn’t need soaking, you just boil it for 8–10 minutes. We like to cook grains al dente, so they retain their shape and nutrients. If you can’t find farro, pearled barley is a good substitute.
While we love this as a main, it is also a great accompaniment to meats and fish. If you don’t have hazelnuts on hand, almonds or toasted seeds will work just as well.
200 g (7 oz/1 cup) farro (pearled spelt), rinsed and drained
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced lengthways using a mandoline or very sharp knife
1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 prunes, pitted and finely chopped
50 ml (13⁄4 fl oz) apple balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon dijon mustard
60 ml (2 fl oz/1⁄4 cup) vegetable oil
60 ml (2 fl oz/1⁄4 cup) olive oil
large handful (3⁄4 cup) mixed herb sprigs, such as mint, parsley and dill
50 g (13⁄4 oz/¹⁄³ cup) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Put the farro into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. When the water comes back to the boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until the farro is cooked but still has a bite to it. Drain.
Meanwhile, combine the zucchini, onion and prunes in a bowl and add a pinch of salt to soften the raw zucchini.
To make a dressing for the salad, combine the vinegar, mustard and both the oils in a screw-top jar and season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake well to emulsify.
Add the cooked farro to the zucchini, onion and prunes. Tear the herbs into smaller pieces, then add them to the salad along with the dressing, and toss gently to combine. Place the salad in a serving bowl or on plates and scatter over the hazelnuts.