Summer in Sydney is fast approaching, and it’s time to think about some different ways to use the barbecue apart from grilling steaks, chops and the obligatory snags!
Pizza on the barbecue is a great invention. I developed these recipes a while back, and they are so much easier than cooking pizza in a conventional oven. If you haven’t got a pizza oven, wood fired or otherwise, give the barbecue method a go! But you do need a barbecue with a hood, as this method relies on creating a really hot oven environment to cook the pizzas quickly.
Making pizza on the barbecue is really easy as I discovered when I made one for the first time. I make lots of pizzas – home made is always nicest – but I was delighted with how quick and easy grilling the dough on the barbecue is.
You make a normal pizza yeast dough – then grill it for a minute each side on the bars of a very hot barbecue. Then dress the grilled pizza with your toppings of choice, place on a baking tray and heat on the barbecue on medium heat, with the hood down to simulate an oven.
Fresh, hot, grilled pizza made right in front of your friends! You could even do “make your toppings” with everyone customizing their own pizza!
2 ¼ tsp dry yeast 1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C) 2 to 2 ½ cups Tipo 00 flour, plus more for dusting 1 tsp sea salt Extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza
1/4 butternut pumpkin, baked in pieces, skin on 1 avocado, sliced A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved A few sugar snap peas 2 spring onions finely chopped A few slices of taleggio cheese Rosemary sprigs to garnish
Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 2 spring onions finely chopped 1 pear, sliced 2 -3 artichoke hearts, sliced A handful of crumbled blue cheese (to taste) Rosemary sprigs
Method Pizza Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.
Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.
Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.
Heat your barbecue to very high.
Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.
Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:
For the Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza:
Scatter over the roast pumpkin, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spring onion and taleggio.
For the Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza:
Scatter over cheddar cheese, spring onions, sliced pear, sliced artichoke hearts and crumbled blue cheese.
Return the pizzas to the barbecue, turn down the heat to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears/veggies are crisp and a little charred – about 2 or 3 minutes.
Remove the pizzas from the barbecue and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Slice and serve piping hot!
I was looking for a quick dinner involving steak this week. I have a great butcher in Balmain village, with superb free range meat, and their beef is particularly tasty. I had a beautiful piece of sirloin, so how best to cook to showcase it?
Jamie Oliver has a really simple steak sandwich recipe in 5 IngredientsQuick and Easy Food. I’ve made it a couple of times and it’s great!
I made a few tweaks, mentioned in parentheses in the recipe. I made the sandwich with sourdough bread and I charred some spring onions instead of onion, preferring the milder flavour. I prefer Dijon mustard too.
Here’s Jamie’s recipe. Highly recommended for a delicious, quick steak sandwich. Lovely with a little tomato salad.
Ingredients 250g sirloin steak, ideally 1.5cm thick 1 large onion (or 3 or 4 spring onions) 2 teaspoons American mustard (or Dijon) 4 slices of nice bread (I used sourdough) 50g provolone or fontina cheese
Method Pull the fat off the sirloin, finely slice the fat and place it in a large cold nonstick frying pan.
Put on a medium-high heat to render as it heats up, moving it around to coat the pan, while you peel and slice the onion/spring onion into thick rounds. Add them to the pan to char for 10 minutes, turning halfway.
Meanwhile, cut off the sinew, then place the steak between two sheets of greaseproof paper and pound with your fist until just under 1 cm thick. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then brush all over with the mustard and cut into two.
Add a good splash of red wine vinegar to the onion, toss for 1 minute over the heat, then divide between two slices of bread, leaving the pan on the heat.
Sear the steaks in the screaming hot pan for just 40 seconds on each side, then slice and lay over the cheese, cover, turn the heat off and leave to melt for just 40 seconds more.
Lay the steak on top of the onion, pop the other slices of bread on top, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and devour.
I’m always interested in restaurants that stand the test of time. Sydney has a few, but I think the place that has consistently delivered quality food, retaining iconic dishes over the years, while introducing contemporary menu additions, is the famous bills in Darlinghurst.
For me, Bills IS Sydney, as much for the friendly and laid back vibe as for the food that showcases lovely produce and simple, good cooking techniques.
Bill Granger, the man behind the name, is an Australian who has restaurants worldwide, but the original bills, located in Darlinghurst, is my regular, and the one I am reviewing today.
As Bill says: ‘This is where it all began, in 1992. bills Darlinghurst is where I did my growing up. The miniscule kitchen and tiny dining room in one of Darlo’s old backstreet pub buildings set the tone for what we still do today. Local by-laws allowed us only a few seats – hence the now much-copied communal table where everyone ate together, reading the newspaper or striking up a conversation with the person enjoying scrambled eggs next to them. Today, it’s still a simple Sydney corner café, serving a menu of bills classics.’
Bills Darlo reflects his ethos for food and dining. When you walk into bills, the vibe is friendly, warm and generous. The communal table in the centre of the sunny space, allows everyone to share in each others’ dining experiences, while reading the paper, or people watching. This table of plenty has flowers, fruit and plates of cakes and other sweet delicacies. It’s a little bit like being at a family celebration in one’s childhood, with the anticipation of being able to tuck into the goodies so invitingly laid out.
There are some dishes that bills is famous for – creamy scrambled eggs, fluffy ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter and sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon. These two latter dishes are available breakfast through to lunch. Everyone who has gone to bills has eaten these at least once! Bills burgers are pretty good too, the current beef version is a burger with comté, dill pickles, smoked chilli and onion aioli and maple bacon crumb. There’s a really spicy, sweet chicken burger too, with chilli, sesame and peanuts.
Desserts are simple, the offerings on the menu on my visit were cookies, salted caramel peanut brittle, daily baked cakes and white chocolate and pistachio pavlova with rhubarb and yoghurt cream.
This is my favourite! Who doesn’t love an Aussie pavlova, and the Darlo bills version, a little individual pav with its crunch of pistachio, slight tartness of rhubarb and hint of rosewater, is a delight to eat.
The bills concept is now worldwide, with restaurants in the UK, US, Japan and Korea. I’m looking forward to visiting Granger & Co in London for a comparison. And I know that famous pav is on the English menu. Yum – I can’t wait!
If you haven’t been, visit bills in Sydney or in other parts of the world. Consistently good food in a relaxed and friendly space. Highly recommended.