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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 2 April 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 APRIL 2016 13 FOOD fare Herodotus; Plato was a great source, Pythagoras being the original vegan." Moving forth chronologically, he went on to study Alexander the Great, "when the trading routes opened up and ingredients were introduced from the East", and onto the collapse and breakup of the Hellenic Republic, the influence of Greek cooks in the Roman world through to the Middle Ages, the Byzantine empire, and on to the 20th century. "The Ottomans had a major effect and change on Greek cuisine over the 350 or so years and beyond. Then there was the Tselementes effect in the early 20th century and then the traditional cuisine of the Greek diaspora within and outside its natural original borders," he adds. Geared with this historical knowledge, Tsirekas has found himself a teacher that he can continually consult where need be - and the unique formula has proven successful. In his fourth year on the job, the chef received his first hat in 2001, which he held until 2010, all the while receiving multiple awards for Best Greek from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), and was named in the Top Ten restaurants in the Wall Street Journal's Asia edition. In 2011 he embarked on a new venture in Sydney's CBD; a Greek restaurant named Caramel baklava ice cream If you’re looking for the perfect dessert, try Tsirekas’ signature dish since 2001. Thank us later. Note: You’ll need to begin this recipe one day ahead. Standing time 1 hour; chilling time 12 hours; freezing time 7 hours Makes 2 litres Ingredients 1.25 litres (5 cups) thickened cream 2 cinnamon quills 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped 8 egg yolks ½ lemon, juiced 330g (1½ cup) caster sugar 500g baklava, roughly chopped finely chopped pistachios, to serve lamb and around the sides all the ingredients. Pour over any liquid that hasn’t absorbed. 3. Wrap and parcel up tight so there are no holes for any of the liquid or air to escape. Place in centre of baking tray and then pour in rest of sand to completely cover it. 4. Place in oven for 4 hours. Carefully spade aside sand and lift out package. 5. Serve with crusty bread. For caramel sauce (makes 625 ml) 385 g (1¾ cup) raw sugar 100 g unsalted butter 500 ml (2 cups) pouring cream 1 tbsp cornflour Method 1. Place 750ml thickened cream, cinnamon and vanilla bean and seeds in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. 2. Remove from heat and set aside for 1 hour to cool and to allow vanilla bean and cinnamon to infuse. Then strain and set aside. 3. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks, lemon juice and 220g caster sugar on high, until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to very low, then gradually pour in cream mixture and whisk until combined. 4. Return mixture to pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon; do not boil. 5. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 6. Meanwhile, place remaining 500ml thickened cream and 110g caster sugar in a bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Set aside in the fridge. 7. To make caramel sauce, place sugar and butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until melted and combined. 8. Slowly add 250ml pouring cream, stirring constantly with a whisk. 9. As you reach the end of the cream pour it in a little more quickly and continue to stir until it bubbles. Remove from heat and set aside. 10. In another bowl, whisk cornflour into remaining 250ml pouring cream. 11. Return caramel mixture over a medium heat and whisk in cornflour mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chilled. 12. After cream mixture has chilled, fold in the whipped cream. 13. Return half the mixture to the freezer and place remaining half into an ice cream machine (see note) and churn until frozen. 14. Line a 20cm deep square cake pan with foil so both ends overhang the pan. Spoon ice cream into pan and, using the back of a spoon, smooth the surface. Freeze for 3 hours or until set. 15. Spread chopped baklava over frozen ice-cream so it is covered completely, pressing lightly to compact. Spoon over two-thirds of the caramel sauce and return to freezer for 1 hour or until set. 16. Meanwhile, churn remaining ice cream mixture until frozen. Spoon ice cream over caramel and, using the back of a spoon, smooth the surface. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or overnight until set. 17. Turn out onto a work surface, cut icecream into thick slices and serve with remaining caramel sauce and pistachios. Note: If you don’t have an ice cream machine, place mixture in the freezer and stir every 20 minutes to break up ice crystals for about 4 hours or until firm. Xanthi, where Tsirekas once again achieved a hat through the SMH's Good Food Guide. While the chef agrees that Greek cuisine is well represented across Australia, in his experience, it is tradition that has prohibited its evolution. "There is a sense at times that we haven't left the village in how we approach developing our cuisine," he says. For this reason, he chooses to continually challenge himself and think outside the box, inspired by the subjects of his readings, who throughout the ages lived physically, spiritually, scientifically and philosophically "beyond their physical bodies". "The world is a vast journey of learning beyond what we know as tradition," he says, which he translates onto the plate. Drawing from traditional flavours, they are often presented in an unconventional format; and it is in this way that Tsirekas successfully achieves his objective. "My philosophy is that it doesn't have to look or present like we have been used to, but basic techniques and the basic elements and tastes have to be present. "Flavours, textures, smells have to be in the forefront which activate a memory of a meal cooked by a mother, grandmother, aunts, relative, beachside tavern, street side vendor or a moment that relates back to some connection with Greek or Greece and the philotimo that is translated through food," he says. While his signature dish is a mouthwatering caramel baklava ice cream, of late he admits to going "back to basics, no nonsense cooking", relishing in cooking and trying to perfect the lamb on the spit. "As that smell rises and tantalises the gods and the flesh is golden and moist, it's certain to bring happiness to those who consume it!" After a successful three-year run at Xanthi, the business owner decided to shut up shop in 2014. But if you have never had the pleasure of feasting at one of Tsirekas' tables, don't fret; the chef is far from calling it a day. Continuing to draw inspiration from Greece's past, he is now working on a new project with Jim Kospetas of the Universal Hotels Group, named 1821, due to open in May. Meanwhile, if you're wanting to try your hand at some Greek-inspired recipes, look no further than these three recipes supplied by David Tsirekas himself. Καλή όρεξη!
26 March 2016
9 April 2016