HOW TO SCHNITZEL ANYTHING, AND 6 OTHER THINGS TO LIKE

There are always a few things not to like, sure, but so many more things that make you smile, make you think, make you learn and make you happy, like crumbing everything in sight. Here are a few more.

  1. SCHNITZEL!

Crumbs turn something boring into something crisp, crusty and crunchy. And who knew you could schnitzel just about anything? I’ve been schnitzelling fennel since eating it in Austria many moons ago. Ditto, eggplant. Tasmanian-based chef Analiese Gregory just schnitzelled red cabbage for the Canberra Times. Also good: cauliflower, pork chop, turkey, duck breast.

 Let’s face it, we’ll eat anything as long as it’s crumbed and fried. This here is chicken schnitzel, topped with a soft-boiled egg and anchovy. I’ve sliced it into soldiers just as Josh Niland does with fish in his new book, Take One Fish, because he’s a genius.

HOW TO SCHNITZEL ANYTHING

Tip one: Japanese panko crumb flakes make the best crumb coating.

Tip two: Care only about the presentation side and get it right. Nobody even looks at the underside. Sometimes I don’t even crumb the second side at all.

Tip three: Because your ANYTHING is flattened it will cook quickly – you don’t need to worry that it is under-cooked. Again, just get the crumbs right, and everything will be fine.

Tip four: Need extra oomph? Add grated parmesan to the crumbs, dried oregano, fennel pollen (for fish) or roast chilli. Spread the ANYTHINGS with Dijon mustard before coating in the flour.

Tip five: Do all the crumbing ahead, and store in the fridge. It not only sets the crumb coating, it means you can clean up the dishes and make yourself a drink before you start cooking.

Recipe: Anything Schnitzel

  • 4 ANYTHINGS

  • 100 g plain flour

  • Sea salt and pepper

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 100 g Panko or dried breadcrumbs

  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

SERVES 4

Place each ANYTHING between two lengths of baking paper, and pound with a rolling pin or meat mallet until evenly flattened.

Set out three shallow bowls. Place the flour, sea salt and pepper in one, the beaten eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third.

Take one ANYTHING and coat both sides lightly in flour, then in beaten egg, and finally in the crumbs. Repeat.

Heat the oil in a large frypan. Cook two ANYTHING schnitzels at a time for 3 minutes or until golden brown, then turn and cook to your liking in on the other side. Drain on paper towel. Add a little extra oil and cook remaining schnitzels. Serve with lemon wedges.

  1. NASTURTIUMS!

Mine are going mad at the moment, their little leaves turning perkily to the sun like satellite dishes.

And now that rocket leaves are rarely nice and peppery any more, I have turned to nasturtiums for those pungent mustard compounds I love. Throw into salads, scatter over chicken stew, whiz into salsa verde and green goddess sauces, and stack on toast with charred vegetables, creamy ricotta and anchovies.

  1. 1920’S SLANG!

It’s the bee’s knees. So many beautiful expressions to slip into a sentence, like “foot juice” for cheap wine (think about it), and “Nerts!” for when you’re amazed by something, or “horsefeathers” when you’re not. Legs, in those days, were gams, pins, and best of all “getaway sticks”, and splifficated meant fried, blotto, on a toot, or zozzled. I think you get my drift. For those who need more, check out this on The Atlantic.

  1. EGGS!

I don’t so much love eggs as just feel profoundly grateful for them. A good egg is something to treasure and appreciate.

Besides, you can’t have soft-boiled egg and Vegemite soldiers without one. This is Such A Good Thing that it inspired me to create The World’s First Fried Egg & Vegemite Soldiers. You fry an egg so the white is set but the yolk is gooey/soft, lay it over your buttered and Vegemited toast, and slice it into soldiers. Then when you eat, you get to dip the yolk-less soldiers at either end into the drippy egg yolk in the middle. Nerts!

  1. CANNED SARDINES!

When the work-from-home lunch gets a bit work-from-ho-hum, use those getaway sticks of yours to find a good can of sardines.

Then smash ’em onto buttered toast or Swedish crispbread with lots of red onion and black pepper.

  1. SOCIETY OPENS IN MELBOURNE!

In 2018, Martin Benn and Vicki Wild stunned the food world by announcing the closure of their acclaimed Sydney restaurant, Sepia. They wanted a new adventure, a clean slate, and to have more fun – all worthwhile endeavours. Linking up with Chris Lucas of the Lucas Group, Martin and Vicki moved to Melbourne to build a new type of restaurant together. Then something came up (Covid).

“I had time to look inwards, instead of outwards” says Martin when I spoke with them in June for the AFR Magazine. “I wanted to make things that were new to me.”  The trio open Society on Friday July 30 – just three years later.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, to be honest” says Vicki. “Because of Covid, and two years down the line, and the delays, you do lose a bit of a momentum. But that’s all behind us”.

And wow, it looks good. Society promises a new level of sophistication for the Australian dining scene, with its spacious leather booths, open terrace, twelve-metre high ceilings, and edited menu of haute snacks or knock-yourself-out feasts.

“People want something special, they want to be looked after” says Vicki. “We want Society to transport them to another world for a couple of hours, before going back to reality. We love that about restaurants, and always have.”

  1. CAMPARI!

As The Drinks Business reports today, Italian aperitif and spirits company Campari has reported double-digit growth in the first half of 2021, with strong brand momentum on the back of sustained home consumption. File under #allmyownwork.


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I would like to acknowledge that I live, work and play on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and wish to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I fully support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.