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Recipe 9: Fuzzy basil cheese sticks

Posted by Simon Lockrey on

      

Our friend Alice Zaslavsky has a range of new vegetable based recipes that Lloyd has been trying out this spring with the produce from his Glowpear Café Planters. Here's a super simple and yummy way to use up that excess basil from your Glowpear, with a meal great for kids too!

The return-on-investment with this dish is absolutely ridiculous, when you consider that it’s basically just mozzarella on a stick, with a little flaky pastry. However, it’s the basil that makes it. When basil is fried, it takes on a completely different character – like sun-drenched grass on a hot summer’s day. Deep-fry some extra leaves for garnishing, then serve as swiftly as possible… but don’t forget to save a couple by the frying pot for yourself. They’ll go quick!

Ingredients:

  • Rrice bran or sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 250 g (9 oz) scamorza or hard mozzarella
  • 300 g (10½ oz) kataifi pastry (see tip)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (50 g) basil leaves
  • Salt flakes, for sprinkling

Have 12 bamboo skewers at the ready.

Heat 6 cm (2½ inches) of oil in a small saucepan to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 15 seconds.

Meanwhile, cut the cheese into oblongs about 1.5 cm x 4 cm (¬ inch x 1½ inches) in size. Thread them onto the skewers – one or two per skewer.

Pull the pastry apart to the width of the cheese, then cut or tear into 50 cm (20 inch) lengths.

Dip the cheese oblongs in the egg wash, then wrap each one up in the pastry, tucking the pastry end into the top of itself to form a parcel.

Working in batches, deep-fry the parcels in the hot oil for 4 minutes, or until golden. Deep-fry the basil leaves for 1 minute, or until crisp, then briefly drain on paper towel.

Sprinkle the hot cheese sticks with salt flakes and the crispy basil leaves, allow to cool slightly so diners don’t burn their mouths, and serve.

I had a spritzy NZ sauvignon blanc with these cheese stick to refresh my pallet after each one, the citrusy flavours went perfectly with Alice's creations!

AZ Extra Tip: Kataifi pastry is essentially just shredded filo, so any left-over pastry is an excellent substitute in recipes where you need filo pastry. I especially love it in custardy galaktoboureko. You’ll find kataifi at your local Mediterranean delicatessen or specialty grocer.

AZ Also Suggests: Make your own basil oil to drizzle over these fuzzy frivolities. Take the stalks o¬ a bunch of basil, then roughly chop the stalks, place in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Strain right away and place in a blender. Add ½ cup (125 ml) grapeseed oil and ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil and blitz until combined. Leave to infuse for a few hours, then strain through muslin (cheesecloth) into a sterilised jar. Use within 2–3 days, or pour into an ice-cube tray and freeze for tossing into soups and sauces.

For more tasty treats, check out other recipes in this series by Lloyd the Farmer, or check out more of Alice Zaslavsky's creations in her book In Praise of Veg!

 

 

Images and text from In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky, photography by Ben Dearnley. Murdoch Books RRP $59.99


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