Saltimbocca-style pork cutlets with potato and onion gratin. Photo: William Meppem
We all have flavours we love, and that can be a very comforting thing. They might involve particular combinations like chocolate and coconut, beef and onion, or soft cheese and strawberries. They might also be individual flavours, like the succulent savouriness of a well-browned roast chicken, or the briny slipperiness of an oyster.
The point is, the flavours we love always come from somewhere. They might be from a dish we grew up with, so every time we try something similar we're reminded of a less complicated time. Or it might be an unforgettable experience that we get to relive through food - a classic dish at a little Italian trattoria we stumbled across, or a fragrant punch from a friend's birthday party.
Whatever our food preferences, our favourite flavours are built upon a lifetime of memorable breakfasts, lunches and dinners. These aren't just meals that we eat to get us through the day, they are an inseparable part of who we are.
Citrus punch jellies. Photo: William Meppem
Saltimbocca-style pork with potato and onion gratin
It's not going to win you any points with your doctor or personal trainer, but once in a while an indulgent dish like this is good for the soul.
• 4 x 3cm thick pork cutlets, skin removed
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• salt and pepper, to season
• 10 sage leaves
• 4 slices prosciutto
• 4 cups mixed salad leaves, to serve
• 4 lemon wedges, to serve
Potato and onion gratin
• 750g sebago potatoes, peeled
• 2 medium brown onions
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 medium brown onions
• 50g butter
• 300ml pouring cream
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan
Heat your oven to 180°C. Finely slice the potatoes (preferably with a mandoline) to around 2mm thick. Slice the onions into rings the same thickness. Slice the garlic as finely as possible. Rub the inside of a 20cm x 30cm baking dish all over with butter. In a separate bowl, mix together half the potato, onion and garlic with half the cream, milk and salt. Pour the mixture into the base of the baking dish and press to remove any air pockets. Layer the remaining potato, onion and garlic on top, season with salt and pour over the remaining cream, salt and milk mixture.
Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 45 minutes until lightly browned. Scatter with the parmesan cheese and bake for a further 20 minutes until well browned. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large, ovenproof frying pan until very hot and add the olive oil. Season the pork cutlets well and fry them, two at a time, until well browned on all sides. Return all the cutlets to the pan and scatter with the sage leaves, draping a piece of prosciutto over each cutlet (you don't need to wrap them). Transfer the prosciutto-draped cutlets to the oven (they can go in with the gratin) and bake for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with undressed salad leaves and wedges of lemon.
Citrus punch jellies
Since I was a kid, I've loved jelly the way my mum used to make it - with a dash of condensed milk on top. Even a grown-up jelly will benefit from its savoury creaminess.
• ¾ cup caster sugar
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• juice of 1 lemon
• juice of 1 lime
• juice of 2 oranges
• 18g powdered gelatine
• 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
• 200ml evaporated milk, to serve
• lime zest, to serve
Bring sugar, wine, citrus juices and three cups (750ml) of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, add the gelatine and continue to heat until it is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Place the grated ginger in a small square of muslin and squeeze the juice into the punch mixture. Stir well and divide between 4-6 glasses, filling them to around three-quarters full. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours until well set and serve topped with a little evaporated milk and lime zest.
Place the empty glasses on a tray in the fridge and then fill them with the jelly mixture which has been transferred to a pouring jug. Pour it into the glasses and try not to move them. This helps to set the jelly cleanly in the glasses.