Rodney Dunn’s Mushroom Cannelloni

Serves: 6 -8

Nat and I did a cooking class with Rodney Dunn a few years ago when we spent a week in Hobart.

It was an awesome afternoon; true paddock to plate stuff, where every ingredient came from his farm. We cooked in his large country kitchen and then ate lunch in a wonderful dining room surrounded by cookbooks and sampling some amazing Tasmanian pinots.

An afternoon that Nat and I still talk about.

Rodney Dunn’s food is about body, flavour and honesty.

This salad of his is a great example.

This mushroom cannelloni is an amazing example.

We’ve slightly adapted the recipe by blitzing the mushrooms and combining them with the ricotta and I think this made a textural improvement on keeping the mushrooms whole.

Though its the flavours that cannot be doubted.

Absoluely beautiful.

The homemade pasta is so good, you’re eating something elevated far above a cannelloni with tubes from the shops.

And the filling and the Béchamel!

This would be a signature dish in a good Italian restaurant.

Hitting a pasta homerun is my favourite thing and hands-down this pasta is a homerun.


580gm ricotta, drained
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100gm Parmesan, finely grated
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 garic cloves, thinly sliced
3 spring onions (white part only), thinly sliced
300gm Swiss brown mushhrooms, coarsely chopped
250gm large flat mushrooms, coarsely chopped
6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 tsp thyme leaves
30gm dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 200ml warm water for 10 minutes, drained and soaking liquid reserved

Pasta dough

1 1/2 c plain flour
1/2 c coarse semolina
2 eggs
For drizzling: olive oil

Béchamel sauce

100gm butter, coarsely chopped
1/3 c plain flour
550ml warm milk
1/4 c finely grated Parmesan
Pinch of finely grated nutmeg, or to taste


  1. For pasta dough, pulse flour and semolina in a food processor until combined. With motor running, add eggs, then gradually add 20ml iced water and process until mixture just comes together. Remove dough, knead until smooth (5 – 7 minutes), wrap in plastic wrap and res at room temperature (1 hour). Divide pasta into four, then using a pasta roller, roll until ou have pasta 2mm in thickness. Cut pasta into ten 12cm x 15cm pieces. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water over high heat until al dente (1 minute), drain and refresh, drizzle with a little oil, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 180c. Press ricotta through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then combine with eggs and 75gm Parmesan, season to taste and set aside.
  3. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add garlic and spring onion, sauté until starting to soften (2 – 3 minutes). Add the mushrooms and herbs and sauté until tender (8 – 10 minutes). Add prorcini and soaking liquid, simmer until liquid has been reduced (7 – 10 minutes), season to taste and set aside to cool. When cool, blitz in a food processor until consistency of mince and stir in with the ricotta mixture.
  4. For béchamel, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming (1-2 minutes), add flour and stir until mixture is light brown in colour (2-3 minutes). Whisk in warm milk, a little at a time, and stir until beginning to bubble (2-3 minutes), remove from heat, add parmesan, season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg, set aside.
  5. Spoon ricotta into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm-plain nozzle, pipe across the middle of each piece of pasta, top with mushrooms and roll to enclose. Arrange cannelloni in a 25cm x 35cm buttered baking dish. Spoon béchamel on top, scatter with remaining parmesan and bake until golden and warmed through (30-40 minutes). 

Antonio Carluccio’s Tuscan Pasta with Pork Sauce

Serves: 6

This was a pretty astonishing pasta we cooked as part of a slow, Saturday-night in Italian date-night.

Astonishing for two reasons.

Firstly, Nat made fresh fettuccini and fresh pasta always gives you a major speed bump. (Note, this recipe calls for pici, a handmade, spaghetti like pasta. The flavours of the pasta call for a thicker pasta like this and so Nat kept our fettuccini thick and it was amazing. The sauce is substantial so you will want a substantial pasta to pair.)

Homemade pasta; an automatic tick.

Secondly, the sauce is so strong, so nuanced, so restrained and subtle, all at the same time. Together with the fresh pasta, this is a dish that says, see what I can do?

We really were lost for words. Whereas the point of a ragu is to overwhelm with flavour, this ragu just swam under the surface is the most wonderful way. It was a bloody triumph.

We’ve fallen into a bit of a Saturday-night pasta habit. It’s not necessarily our evening of peak cooking, though it should be the most enjoyable.

Finding a new and genius pasta each time is hard. My fallback is so often Antonio Carluccio and he never fails.

Make your own pasta. Slow cook that ragu. Plenty of Parmesan. And I promise this will absolutely wow you. 2-hats.

I have slightly adjusted this recipe.


400gm pici or pinci (or the largest spaghetti as possible)
80gm pecorino cheese or Parmesan, freshly grated

Pork ragu

6 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
500gm pork pork mince (not too fatty)
100ml dry red wine
500gm polpa di pomodoro or chunky passata
7 dry bay leaves
Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, celery and carrot and fry gently until soft. Add the meat and cook until the liquid evaporates and then brown the meat slightly.
  2. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Stir in the tomato pulp and add the the bay leaves and some seasoning. Cook very slowly for two hours.
  3. Cook the pasta until al dente and then toss with the the sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

Sam Sifton’s Soft-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy Toast

Serves: As many as you want

Nat is on an absolute bread and pasta tear and so when we nominated this as our starter for a Saturday night Italian meal, she immediately set about on an incredible artisan loaf.

Though hats off to this recipe, the bread was just the start of something really memorable.

This is an absolutely 1-hat starter. Incredible.

The anchovy butter is magic. And then add that soft-poached egg.

I should have sprinkled some chopped parsley or chives, though plenty of time for that. We now have the butter frozen in the freezer for next time.

As long as you have a crusty bread, this is a phenomenal dish. Breakfast, evening starter, it is special either way


1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
Tin of anchovies
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 – 3 pinches of paprika
Juice of half a small lemon
Soft poached eggs to serve
Toasted, crusty slices of artisan bread to serve
Finely sliced chives or parsley to serve


  1. Drain the anchovies, rinse and pound in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Combine the anchovies with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Toast your bread, butter liberally and place a poached egg on top. Sprinkle over chives or parsley and serve warm.

Neil Perry’s Guiness Beef Pie

Serves: 4 – 6

We rarely cook beef and when we do, it needs to be special.

And this pie is definitly that, especially with the homemade shortcrust pastry; pastry packing so much falvour compared to the store-bought variety, unless time was of the essence, not sure how you couldn’t make your own going-forward.

Well done Nat!

A while ago, we cooked the Bourke Street Bakery Humble Beef Pie and it was just the perfect, pie-hop chunky beef pie.

This pie is magnitudes richer. The opposite end of the pie menu to the Humble Beef Pie. A fancy Saturday night pie.

Served with potato puree and braised peas, it was such a treat. Add a glass of red and heaven.

Some Saturday nights in call for a pie. This particular pie gets full marks for meeting the brief.

Another Neil Perry homerun.


1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1.2kg beef brisket or chuck, cut into 2.5cm chunks
2 small brown onions, sliced
1 carrot, diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
750ml Guinness beer
300ml chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ketchup to serve

For the shortcrust pastry

350gm plain flour
180gm cold unsalted butter diced
Pinch of fine salt
4 egg yolks


  1. For the shortcrust pastry, put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and process to a breadcrumb-like texture. Add the egg yolks and, with the machine running, slowly add 1 1/2 tbsp iced water, adding just enough to form a dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured bench and knead gently, just until the pastry comes together, then wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 30 minutes or until needed.
  2. Preheat the oven ton 150c.
  3. Heat half the olive oil in a large, heavy-based ovenproof saucepan or casserole and, working in batches, brown the beef, making sure you get it a good dark brown colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan. Add the onions, carrot, celery, leek and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until softened and caramelised.
  5. Return the meat to the pan, along with the thyme, bay leaf, Guinness, stock and 1 tsp of salt. then bring to a gentle simmer, skimming off any oil or scum that rises to the surface. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 – 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.
  6. Strain the meat and vegetables from the cooking liquid, keeping both in separate bowls.
  7. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is a deep golden brown and toasty smelling. Whisk in the strained cooking liquid and simmer, whisking constantly, until you have a smooth, thick gravy. Pour the gravy into the bowl of meat and vegetables and stir well. Check the seasoning of your pie filling, then leave to cool completely.
  8. When you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 200c and lightly grease your pie tin. On a flour-dusted bench, roll out the shortcrust pastryto a 5mm thickness and then cut out a cirlce 24 – 29cm in diameter. Use to line the base of your pie tim, then spoon in the pie filling.
  9. Lay out the puff pastry and cut out a ircle about 22cm in diameter. Use to top the pie, pressing the edges of the pastry firmly together all the way around. Trim the edges neatly – if you like, you can use the pastry offcuts to make some leaf decorations for the top of the pie.
  10. Brush the pie with beaten egg yolk, then poke a small hole in the centre with the tip of a paring knife to allow steam to escape. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 25 – 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and deep golden. Serve immediately, with tomato sauce on the side.

Ajoy Joshi’s Rich Chicken Curry

Serves: 4 – 6

I can’t tell if Ajoy Josh is having a laugh at our expense.

The techniques and ingredients he uses are not only different to other Indian recipes, each of this recipes are different.

The deep goldening of onions and the use of yoghurt marinades being two rare exceptions.

This recipe was true to Ajoy’s trick of throwing curve balls. The ground sesame seeds. The squeeze of lemon at the end.

And yet in true Ajoy style, it is absolutely beautiful.

Total luxury.

If Ajoy Joshi is having a laugh, good for him.

Note: I have slightly adjusted this recipe.


1kg chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces

1/2 c vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
Juice of 1 – 2 lemons

For the marinade

2 c full-fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp crushed fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp crushed green chillies
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tbsp white sesame seeds, ground
50gm cashew nuts, roasted and ground

For the spice mix

1 tsp cassia buds*
2 green cardamom pods
4 cloves
1/2 tsp black cumin seeds


  1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a large shallow dish and mix together. Season with salt. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then cover allow to marinate in the refridgerator for 1 – 2 hours.
  2. To make the spice mix, put all the spices in a spice grinder, small food processor or mortar and pestle and grind together. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over medium heat, add the sliced onions and saute until the onions turn golden brown. Add the marinated chicken and stir well. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the freshly crushed spices and sprinkle over the lemon juice.

* I substituted a cinnamon stick.

Lidia Bastianich’s Tagliatelle with Walnut Pesto

Serves: 6

First, I used rigatoni here and I am really glad I did.

Secondly, I almost did not type it.

Initially at least, as a main, it was a bit overwhelming.

All those walnuts. Lovely, though unusual and together with the ricotta and the Parmesan and the butter, quite something.

Indeed, we both agreed lovely, though maybe as a starter.

The next day though, I took a box to work with some sprinkled Parmesan and wow. What a lunch.

Not a low-cal lunch by any stretch, though what a bloody treat. I couldn’t get enough.

And then Nat messaged me and whilst she had a mush smaller serve, also agreed that it was just bloody wonderful.

So do it with rigatoni. And let it sit in the fridge for a day.

Because as with every Lidia Bastianich recipe, you’re onto a winner. Even if it does take one more day to fully get there.


2 cups walnut halves or pieces, toasted
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 c ricotta
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp grated Parmesan plus extra for serving
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the pasta

1 batch tagliatelle (use 500gm rigatoni)
3 tbsp soft butter


  1. Heat the water to a boil ready for the pasta.
  2. Put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped into very tiny bits, though not a powder. Scrape the nut-garlic mixture into a bowl and stir in the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper, until thoroughly blended.
  3. Cook the pasta and when cooked, working quickly, and add to the walnut pesto. Drop the soft butter into the mixture, stirring to combine.
  4. Serve immediately in warm bowls, with more grated Parmesan at the table.

Courtney Kynoch’s Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Dresses: a large salad

I love a good vinaigrette and I’m pretty well known in the family for them. I have a reasonable repertoire, often asking restaurants to share theirs. (Something that has never been denied.)

I’ve said it before, though salad just completes a meal for me.

It mops up meat. It finishes a great pasta. It says we are done, time to decant another red and starting talk of when to plate dessert.

And so when my sister in-law of cookie fame rocked up with this vinaigrette for an Anzac Day lunch earlier this year, I had to ask the restaurant for the recipe which was duly texted the next day.

The key here is the additional zing you get from the fruit. A wonderful freshness that reaches over the traditional vinaigrette underlying it.

A small, though important addition and one that earns it a solid type-up.

Oh, the kids love so make a triple batch and there is salad all week.


Seeds from half a Pomegranate
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 c olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Squeeze of lime
Salt and pepper


  1. Pulse all of the ingredients in a small food processor or blender until complete smooth, adding a small amount of water if the consistency is too thick.
  2. Serve with green leaves and so forth.

Sylvia Fountaine’s Lemongrass Chicken

Serves: 4

I don’t cook or eat a lot of stir fries.

In fact, this is the first I have ever typed up.

Which means it must be good, and it is.

It’s also simple. Mid-week dinner simple. Vietnamese hump-day stuff.

Perhaps closer to a larb than a stir fry and maybe that it why it is soo good, though stir fry it is and worth typing up, very much.


1 – 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 fat shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c lemongrass, finely chopped
4 – 5 dried Thai chillies (or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes)
500g chicken mince
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 bell red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 baby boo chop, sliced
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c mint leaves or Thai basil
Lime wedges
Jasmine rice to serve


  1. Cook your rice.
  2. In an extra large skillet, heat oil over a medium-high heat and one hot, add shallots and stir fry until tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic, lemongrass and dried chillies, stir frying until fragrant. Scoop all into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a splash of oil, increase heat to high and add the ground chicken, season with salt and pepper, breaking it apart and browning once all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the five spice, peppers and bok choi, lower heat and stir fry until peppers are just tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and honey alone with the cook shallot mixture, removing the Thai chillies. Taste, adjust and add some fresh herbs to serve.

Lidia Bastianich’s Shepherd’s Rigatoni

Serves: 6

I am now two for two with Lidia’s recipes.

Two pastas down – two incredible pastas down – and both needing to be typed up.

I’m going to put her into the Antonio Carluccio class of chefs where everything will be brilliant.

Indeed, his rustic pasta is yet more proof that the simplest pastas can not only be the best, though can be the most sophisticted. Long Sunday-lunch sort of stuff.

This will most definitely be cooked again.


500gm sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
500gm rigatoni
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c loosly packed basil leaves, shredded


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil to cook the pasta.
  2. For the sauce, crumble the sausage meat in a bowl, breaking into small clumps with your fingers. Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set it over a medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and toast for a few seconds., then scatter the crumbled sausage meat in the pan. Cook the sausage, stirring and breaking up any clumps, for 10 minutes or so, as the meat juices are released and cook away, until it is all well browned and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, while the sausage is cooking, drop the rigatoni into the boiling water, stir and cook to the boil. When the sausage is browned and crisp, laddled about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water into the skillet, and deglaze the pan bottom, scrapping up the browned bits. Season the sausage meat with the salt, and stir with the bit of moisture in the pan.
  4. When the pasta is al dente, lift it from the pot, drain briefly and drop in into the skillet. Toss the rigatoni and sausage together, then turn off the heat and stir in the ricotta and Parmesan. Scatter the basil on top and toss well to dress the pasta evenly. Heap the ragatoni in warm bowls and serve immediately with extra Parmesan.

Sarah Akhurt’s Saffron Salmon Tagine

Serves: 4 – 6

I found this recipe last year in the online Sainbury’s Magazine.

It really is very good and very straightforward to prepare, especially the night before when the parents-in-law are coming for a weeknight dinner and the mother-in-law is essentially a pescatarian.

Reheat and throw in the chunks of salmon and boom, there is dinner served in record time after you get home from work.

We even prepared this amazing couscous, only needing the hot stock added to it; and only 10 minutes to have this great Moroccan orange and tomato salad if you make the vinaigrette the night before.

It isn’t the most sophisticated tagine I’ve cooked, though it’s a cracking weeknight dinner that ticks all the parents-in-law boxes.



Pinch of saffron strands
300ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp rose harissa paste
500gm mixed colour cherry tomatoes, halved
2 preserved lemons, skin only, finely sliced
1 x 400gm tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
50gm pitted green olives
4 large, skinless salmon fillets, chopped into large chunks
Handful of chopped coriander to serve


  1. Add the saffron strands to the hot stock and set aside to infuse. Heat the oil in a tagine (or shallow casserole/heavy saucepan) and fry the onion for about 8 minutes or until very soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further minute, before adding the spices and harissa paste. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.
  2. Add the tomatoes and preserved lemons to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the saffron stock, chickpeas and olives. Continue to simmer uncovered for around 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to break down and the liquid has reduced slightly.
  3. Pause here if cooking the night ahead for the parents-in-law and refrigerate. Pour a glass of wine. You’ve earned it.
  4. With the sauce bubbling, add the salmon chunks to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 7 – 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Season to taste and serve with the coriander.