Rigatoni with Chicken Ragù and Green Sauce

Serves: 4 – 6

I really didn’t see this one coming, though what a great – and unique – pasta.

This recipe from Gourmet Traveller is excellent and something you’d find in a good Italian restaurant. It has a quality, a richness and yet a dryness: it is hard to put your finger on why it is just so moorish: could be the butter, could be the contrast with the green sauce, could be that you’re eating pasta, something we don’t do as often as we would like.

We are always on the lookout for unusual, restaurant-quality pastas and this one definitely ticks that box.

As Nat put it, served alongside a red pasta, this would make for a really fun lunch.

So much so that Tom (7) asked us to make sure we typed this recipe up so he could have it handy for when he was cooking for his girlfriend in due course.

You should try.

(We upped the mince to 1kg and we’d do it again. And very minor changes to the original recipe which we have reflected below.)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 baby fennel bulb, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600gm coarsely minced chicken
2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
250ml dry white wine
300ml hot chicken stock
20gm butter, diced
20gm Parmesan
400gm dried rigatoni
200gm kale leaves, roughly chopped

Green sauce

1 garlic clove crushed
1 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic and fennel and sauté until starting to soften: 2 – 3 minutes. Add the chicken mince – increasing the temperature to high – and fry until starting to colour: 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rosemary, nutmeg and the wine and bring to a simmer; add the stock, reducing the heat to medium and simmer until slightly reduced: 5 – 7 minutes. You only want a little liquid remaining.
  3. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and season to taste.
  4. For the green sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.
  5. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente; a minute before finishing, add the kale to the pasta and wilt.
  6. Drain and combine the pasta and kale with the sauce.
  7. Serve, topped with the Green sauce and extra Parmesan.

Moscow Mule

Serves: 2

This week’s cocktail… the Moscow Mule, a simple-to-make and really refreshing number, perfect for the remaining sunny weekends of this Autumn.

There is a tradition of serving it in a copper mug, though from what I can gather, this is more about keeping it cold than anything.

Fill a tumbler with shaved ice and that will do the same trick.

Better still, use low calorie Ginger Beer and your Moscow Mule will come in with less calories than a Pure Blonde!

Enjoy this weekend.

Ingredients

60mls vodka
20mls lime juice
Ginger Beer, to top
Ice
Lime wedges to garnish

Method

  1. Add the lime juice and vodka to a copper mug or highball glass and fill with ice. Top with ginger beer, stir and garnish with lime wedges.

Chicken Bouillabaise

Serves: 4

This is a classic, classic French dish and this version is superb.

It is from my mother and it is one I had as a child and have then cooked as an adult.

It is pretty impossible not to love and served with the aioli-buttered toasts and the boiled baby potatoes, this is a warm, rich dinner in.

I sometimes substitute chicken thigh for a jointed chicken, though this isn’t a substitute you should make in this instance. Cutting the chicken off the bone is half the romance of the dish, if that can in anyway be a romantic thing.

If you’re after a French theme, you can do a whole lot worse than a Bouillabaise.

Get jointing.

Ingredients

1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup chopped fennel
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups peeled and finely chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup Pernod (we used Ouzo)
6 sprigs thyme
Sea salt
Good pinch of cayenne
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp saffron threads
Chicken pieces from jointed chicken (including skin)
Olive oil
Baby potatoes, boiled
Toasted baguette slices
Aioli

Method

  1. Bring the stock to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the saffron and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, auté the chicken in a little olive oil over a medium heat until golden all over; remove and set aside.
  3. Pour off the fat, lower the heat and sauté the leeks, fennel and garlic until soft. Add the stock and saffron and deglaze the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, Pernod and thyme, bring to a fast simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan together with any juices and simmer for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Lower the heat, season with salt and cayenne; add a little olive oil.
  7. Serve with the potatoes, baguette slices and aioli.

Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake

Serves: 8

I haven’t watched much Nigella, though the impression I get from the snippets I have seen is that when it comes to desserts, Nigella is all in.

Melted chocolate being poured into more chocolate, whipped cream being folded into egg yolks, zoom in, zoom out, chocolate.

This cake therefore perfectly embodies Nigella and it really couldn’t be any easier a dessert, qualified for a dinner party.

Cook the base in the afternoon, whip the cream and refrigerate and prep just when you’re ready to serve.

Ingredients

250gm dark chocolate
125gm unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
175gm caster sugar
500ml cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and butter and line a 23cm springform pan with paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and stir through the butter until it melts.
  3. Beat the two whole eggs and 4 yolks with 75gm of the caster sugar and then gradually add the chocolate mixture.
  4. Beat the 4 egg whites until foamy and then gradually add the remaining 100gm of sugar and continue beating until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff.
  5. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake has risen and cracked and the top is no longer wobbly.
  6. Beat the cream until soft and then add rather vanilla and continue beating until the cream is firm but not stiff.
  7. Fill the crater of the cake with the cream and then dust the top with cocoa powder.

Pork and Cabbage Gyoza

Makes: 24

This David Herbert gyoza number is right on the money.

It is exactly what you would expect from a Japanese noshery and the gyoza are dead simple to make.

So simple, we made an extra batch, formed the gyoza and froze them as an easy weeknight meal for the boys.

Rather than heating store-bought mini quiches, do these next time people come around for an afternoon beer.

So good.

Ingredients

Gyoza

150gm pork mince
1 cup finely shredded Chinese cabbage (wombok)
2 spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp sake
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Pinch ground white pepper
24 gyoza or gow gee wrappers
Cornflour

Dipping sauce

3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce
1/2 tsp finely chopped chilli
1/3 cup rice vinegar

Method

  1. To prepare the dipping sauce: mix all of the ingredients and set aside.
  2. For the gyoza, combine the all of the ingredients except the gyoza wrappers and cornflour. Mix well.
  3. Place a gyoza wrapper on a clean surface or in the palm of your hand. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of pork mixture onto the centre of the wrapper. Brush the edge with a little water. Fold to enclose filling; lightly press edge together to make a semi-circular parcel. Use fingertips to pleat the edge 4 or 5 times, keeping the filling in the centre. Place on a plate dusted with cornflour and repeat with the remaining pork mixture and gyoza wrappers.
  4. Heat half the peanut oil over a high heat in a large non-stick frying pan that has a lid. Remove from the heat and arrange half the dumplings over base of the pan. Return to the heat and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until the bottom of the dumplings is golden. Sprinkle 1 – 2 tablespoons of water evenly over the gyoza. Place the lid on the pan and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through and the water is evaporated.
  5. Take off the heat, remove the gyoza and set aside whilst you repeat the process with the remaining gyoza.
  6. Serve with the dipping sauce or Japanese soy.

Five-cheese and ham triple-decker toastie

Serves: 2

It’s Easter and we are on holidays on the beautiful South Coast of NSW.

A few unstructured days of walking along the beach, sleeping in and opening a Champagne every afternoon around 2.

(Even Max the 10-month old seems to be getting into it, sleeping in until 7.45 and then going back to bed with a bottle.)

With such a theme of relaxation and “who cares?”, it seemed appropriate to have this toastie one evening for dinner. A extraordinary toastie that on every level, tells you to sit down, shut up and just eat it.

For there are plenty of times for chicken breast and salad and abstaining from wine and life.

But Easter isn’t that time.

Which is why, right now, it’s five-cheese, toastie time and nobody here felt guilt or apologised for it*.

(The recipe is from the always reliable, Gourmet Traveller.)

Ingredients

200gm firm ricotta
75gm cheddar, coarsely grated
75gm provolone, coarsely grated
75gm Parmesan, finely grated
200gm buffalo mozzarella, thickly sliced
6 slices, pane di casa bread**
Dijon mustard
Leg ham slices, off the bone
40gm butter, diced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Stir the ricotta, cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan in a bowl to combine and season to taste. Spread two of the bread slices with the cheese mixture, then top each with another bread slice.
  3. Spread with mustard to taste, top with slices of ham and the mozzarella. Season to taste and sandwich with the remaining 2 slices of bread.
  4. Melt butter in a large, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat, add sandwiches and fry until browned on the base: 1 – 2 minutes. Carefully turn over and brown the other side, then transfer in the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling: 3 – 4 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven and spoon the remaining butter in the pan over the top of the toasties and serve hot.

* Once you have done this sandwich, please try Matt Preston’s amazing toasted sandwich, something we unironically cooked one NYE evening!

** A rustic, thick crust white Italian bread cooked on a stone. Or try sourdough.

Merguez Meatball Flatbreads

Serves: 4

These meatball flatbreads are the bomb.com. We found them on the wonderful Brooklyn Supper blog and only made one or two minor changes.

Every element: meatballs, herby yogurt, the coleslaw and the toasted flatbreads, adds to the whole effect.

It is sort of like that signature sandwich at some new, trendy sandwich bar that has opened in the city. A sandwich that everyone is raving about.

We did this one Saturday evening and it hit every spot. Make sure you have chilled champagne at the side, music playing and the kids in bed and you’re set for the start of a great Saturday night in.

(Better still, send the kids off to grandparents or interstate and have a really great Saturday night in!)

Ingredients

Red cabbage slaw

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp minced parsley

Herbed yogurt

1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use low fat)
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup minced parsley
2 tbsp minced mint leaves
Squeeze lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Merguez Meatballs

1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1kg lamb mince
3 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp harissa (from a tube)
2 tbsp canola oil

Flatbreads
Olive oil
Coriander leaves
Sriracha
Lemon wedges

Method

Red Cabbage Slaw

  1. Combine the garlic, lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside. Add the vegetables and toss with the lemon juice mixture and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for an hour or two. Before serving, add salt to taste and toss with the parsley.

Herbed yogurt

  1. Combine the yogurt, salt, herbs, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and add additional salt and lemon juice as needed. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Merguez Meatballs

  1. Heat a small pan over a medium heat and toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant and popping: 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and grind to a paste.
  2. To make the meatballs, combine the spices, lamb, garlic, paprika and harissa and mix well. Form into golf ball size meatballs and set aside on a clean tray.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, searing the meatballs all over until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, heat another pan over a medium heat and brush one side of the flatbreads with olive oil. Pan fry until crispy and golden and flip and cook the other side.
  5. To assemble, rub the herby yogurt on one side of the toasted flatbread. Add some of the coleslaw and line two or three of the meatballs on top. Drizzle with sriracha and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve with the lemon wedges.