Adam Wolfers’ flavoursome food has been variously described as Eastern European, Hungarian Jewish and new-school Jewish. Yet when asked to explain its diverse appeal, the chef points instead to his biggest culinary inspiration: his grandmother. “She was from Vienna and her father was a chef who owned a kosher restaurant serving Ashkenazi Jewish food in the early 1900s,” he says. Her enduring recipes, bequeathed over generations, form the basis of Wolfers’ approach. Working with chefs the stature of Peter Doyle, Mark Best and Brent Savage has helped him to refine them even further. “Using all these influences, techniques and memories, I’ve developed an exciting way of cooking with a focus on my heritage,” he says. His parsnip schnitzel recipe is a delightful twist on the meat dish, while roasted flathead with ‘kosher XO’ nods cleverly to Chinese cuisine. But don’t even think about modifying matzo ball soup. “My grandmother always said it has to be just the soup and the matzo ball, that’s it. Do not fancy it up with anything else. The matzo ball has to be light and fluffy, and the soup has to be full of flavour and clear.” Unsurprisingly given his singular style, Wolfers is an in-demand chef, with a string of pop-up restaurants under the Ètelek banner in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. “Expect to see exciting things on the horizon,” he says.
Meanwhile, for the flatbread, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine sugar, yeast and 320ml warm water, cover and stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy. Add flour and 1 tsp salt flakes, and knead for 10 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Transfer to a tray, cover with a clean tea towel and stand for 30 minutes. On a buttered surface, stretch a piece of dough to form a 26cm x 32cm rectangle. Fold in half lengthways and scrunch long edges together into a strip. Twist into a flat spiral and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough and stand for 30 minutes.
Heat 20g butter in a frypan over medium-low heat. Working with 1 piece at a time, on a buttered surface, press dough into a 22cm round. Using a wide spatula, carefully transfer to pan and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a tray and repeat with remaining dough and butter. Cover to keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line an ovenproof wire rack with baking paper and place over a baking tray. Place flathead on prepared tray, place lemon slices in fish cavity and drizzle with oil. Roast for 17 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat cup (100g) XO, lemon juice, chives and stock in a frypan over high heat and stir until hot.
Transfer flathead to a serving platter, spoon over chive mixture and serve with the flatbreads.
‘TOPFENGOLATSCHE’, CREAM CHEESE, RHUBARB
SERVES 4 Topfengolatsche is an Austrian pastry.
100g cream cheese, softened 1 cup (220g) caster sugar 90g creme fraiche 225g fresh ricotta Finely grated zest of 1/ 2 orange
and 1/ 2 lemon 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/3 cup (80ml) thickened cream, whipped 650g trimmed rhubarb,
cut into 10cm pieces 1 sheet frozen butter puff pastry,
thawed 1 egg, lightly beaten Sifted icing sugar, to serve
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese and 60g sugar until smooth. Stir through creme fraiche, ricotta, zest, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt flakes. Fold cream into cream cheese mixture and chill until needed.
Toss rhubarb, 50ml water and remaining 160g sugar in a roasting tray lined with baking paper and stand for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Roast rhubarb for 25 minutes or until softened. Stand to cool.
Increase oven to 200°C. Grease a large baking tray and line with baking paper.
Place pastry on prepared tray and brush with egg. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Brush with some rhubarb juice, cool, then break into shards.
Divide cream cheese mixture among serving plates, top with rhubarb, then cover with pastry shards. Drizzle with some rhubarb juice and dust with icing sugar to serve.