Nat and Rob’s Long Lunch

Serves: 30

Last Saturday, Nat and I finally did it.

We got married! In Palm Beach. In front of our family and very closest friends.

It was a close to eloping as Nat’s mother would allow.

Here we are:

And our three monkeys, Oliver, TT. And Max:

Rather than a traditional wedding – which neither of us wanted – we based the whole thing around a long lunch (with a very short wedding to begin). Because long lunches we do, weddings much less so.

Six courses. And plenty of champagne and wine.

My mother Ellen was a genius planning the menu, a process that took weeks and weeks to refine, test, refine and debate. We really would not have gotten there without her, especially the part where she cooked 20 duck confit two nights beforehand.

Hats off to Nat too: she sliced 16 kilos of onion, made 4 litres of corn stock, cubed 5 kilos of snapper, cured a salmon and reduced 10 litres of cream and fish stock two, one and zero days to the d-day. (These are qualities anyone should look for in a wife!)

And so it’s on the record, firstly, thanks to everyone that helped on the day…

Ellen: the menu, cooking half the food, looking a million bucks on the day:

Court: planning, support and advice for the day as well as cooking a cookie for the cookie course… and setting up and cleaning up after:

Bec, Woodles and Lob: for their amazing contribution to the cookie course.

(And Woodles again for her beautiful, off-the-cuff speech that could have dissected me, though instead just reinforced what a beautiful person Nat is…)

Sare Bear: for her incredibly generous contribution of the flowers and photography. We owe you big time.

Rob A, Greg and Sean: for being the logistics backbone of the day: hauling up wine and champagne, setting up in the rain, cleaning up in the pouring rain the next day.

Rob A (again) and Deb: for running around for weeks beforehand helping organise things and always asking what more they could do… the best parents-in-law anyone could ask for:

(And thanks for the cracker speech Rob. Unusually light on me! And Deb’s toast: Mazzeltov!)

Bill: for his really moving speech… it is clear how much he loves Nat and there wasn’t anyone that wasn’t really touched by the end of it:

Giles: my best mate and someone who can be relied upon to have a brilliantly funny speech up his sleeve for any occasion, even if I still can’t understand a word!

Oliver and Tom: these young men delivered two wonderful speeches that were as touching as they were funny. The entire house was in tears:

Brooke: for the beautiful bouquet:

Christian (The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay), Laura (Palisade) and Vincenzo (Appetito, Rockpool in Perth): the best trio of cooking and waiting we could have ever asked for. Serious professionals:

Daniella: our always dependable friend who can help out with our kids on a Saturday night, plate 31 snapper pies, speak Italian and flip our AirBNB whilst we are in the Maldives.

Secondly, for everyone that asked, here are the dishes we served on the day:

#1 Soup and Sandwich

#2 Cheese and Salad

#3 Duck and Cherries

#4 Snapper Pie

#5 Mexican Wall

#6 Cookies and Cream (a shot of Baileys):

– Cookie 1 – Lobba’s Choc Chip
– Cookie 2 – Court’s Peanut Butter-Stuffed Cookies
– Cookie 3 – Woodle’s Butter Cookies
– Cookie 4 – Bec’s Hazelnut Cookies

Thirdly, here is the shortlist of photos from the day.

And the photos from our guests.

And finally… thank you to my gorgeous wife and best friend. Thank you for agreeing to marry this old dog.

I promise I’ll make it worth your while NB:

Bec’s Hazelnut Cookie

Makes: 10

I didn’t manage to get a photo of these cookies. Photos of crumbs sure, just not the whole deal.

Which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

The fourth and final cookie as part of course #6 of our long lunch, our sister-in-law was the first to put her hand up to bake. (My brother James volunteered course #7, the amazing ham roll course, designed to provide people balance as it got dark… Thanks mate!)

These Italian cookies appear simple at first glance, though read through the method and there is plenty of technique required. Suffice to say, everyone could taste the effort on the big day and they added a real sophistication to our last course.

Beautiful.

The perfect ending to our long lunch.

Thanks Sister. Babysitter for Max and Lachyroo and a Peter Pans dinner is on us!

P.S. I am advised that it is best you grease the baking paper before cooking the cookies!

Ingredients

1 egg white
A pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup + 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2/3 cup hazelnuts

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180c. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking tray and toast until the skins are mostly split and then nuts are golden brown and fragrant: around 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts until the loose skins come off. Let them cool completely and pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  3. Lower the oven to 150c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lightly grease the baking paper.
  4. Beat the egg white and salt in a bowl with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the sugar and nuts.
  5. Spoon the batter on the baking tray with a tablespoon, about 4cm apart.
  6. Bake until golden brown: around 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

Woodle’s Butter Cookies

Makes: 40

Course #6 at our Long Lunch/Wedding was called ‘Cookies and Cream’.

Plates of assorted cookies served with a shot of Baileys. A really nice, comfortable way to end a long lunch.

This particular cookie – expertly baked by Nat’s best friend Woodles – was the perfect pair to the cream; think shortbread with even more butter.

And Baileys.

Boom!

Woodles (and Billy) mean a lot to us and we’ve had some pretty crazy times together. Baiting Woodles is one of my favourite pastimes, especially when it comes to food.

What I wont disagree with was how wonderful these cookies were, nor how important it was that we had Woodles and Billy at our long lunch.

Here’s to our next meal guys!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk for brushing
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whist together the flour and salt.
  3. In another medium bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy: 4 – 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Divide. The dough in half.
  4. In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with two teaspoons of water. On a floured surface, roll each dough out evenly to a bit over half a centimetre thick.
  5. Punch out round with a 5cm cookie cutter, placing them about 3cm apart of the prepared baking trays.
  6. Use the tines of a fork to create a “+” pattern on the cookies, then brush tops of cookies with egg wash.
  7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are beginning to turn golden. Cool completely before serving.
  8. Eat with Baileys.

Court’s Peanut Butter-Stuffed Cookies

Makes: 12

My sister-in-law Court is a foodie like we are.

She and her husband Greg both are:

They cook great food. We share recipes. We promise to try restaurants.

They have Margarita Saturday’s. So do we.

I love my sister and brother in law on many levels, though let’s start with food. (Because this is a food blog.)

Which means these cookies Court made for our wedding – course #6/#6 – are predictably amazing. The sort of cookies you know not to eat except for special occasions like a wedding.

Firstly, there is something quite sophisticated about them. They look the part.

Secondly, technique is clearly involved in their manufacture. In the same way none of us know how chocolate-covered ice creams are made, how does one get the peanut butter mixture inside the cookie? (I believe it has something to do with freezing the peanut butter mixture prior to baking so that the peanut butter doesn’t melt…)

Thirdly, is the taste. Substantial to hold – sort of like a dessert itself – this cookie is awesome. Think Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups meet cookie!

I ate three and I would have eaten more if I could have found them.

Ingredients

For the filling

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup icing sugar

For the cookies

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  1. Make the filling: in a medium bowl, combine peanut butter and icing sugar and mix until smooth. Scoop into small balls (about 3.5cm) and freeze until ready to use.
  1. Make the cookies: in a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter and sugars and beat with a hand mixer on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined, then add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.
  1. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the cookie dough and flatten into a pancake-like circle. Place the frozen peanut butter ball on top. Bring the edges of the dough around the peanut butter ball and pinch the edge together to seal, adding more dough if necessary to cover the frozen peanut butter completely.
  2. Roll stuffed cookie dough ball in sugar and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used, spacing the cookies about 5cm apart.
  3. Bake until the cookies are golden on the bottom; 12 – 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lobba’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

Makes: 24 cookies

My sister-in-law Lauren (“Lob”, “Lobba”, “LOK”, “LD”, “La La”) is the most generous, thoughtful sister-in-law you could ever ask for. Here she is with Max, a few days old in one of my favourite photos of all time:

Our youngest monkey – Max – was born at the same time that Lauren’s own monkey – Chloe – was born and the bond between us all could not be stronger. These are the spoilt monkeys 20 months on:

Lauren would be the first person I would call if I needed help and she would be the first person to volunteer that help.

So when it came to course #6 of #6 at our wedding – ‘Cookies and Cream’ – Lauren was the first person we thought of.

In Lobba’s trademark style, she trialed a bunch of cookies prior to the big day:

And in true Lobba style, her greatest triumph was on the final day: the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

About 3 minutes into the course, there were no more chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookies.

As I said, a triumph.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet 50/50 white/chocolate chips
Sea salt

Method

  1. Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  1. Whisk both sugars in a large bowl and make sure to break up any chunks. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until the mixture forms one mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the bow. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  2. Whisk in one egg to the sugar-butter mixture, stirring until it’s fully mixed in. Scrape the sides of the bowl with your spatula. Whisk in the second egg and the vanilla and scrape the sides of the bowl again.
  3. Heat the oven to 180c and line and line a baking tray with sprayed baking paper.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine fully with the spatula. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes and the scoop a heaped tablespoon of the mixture for each cookie onto the lined baking tray, ensuring that there is at least 6cm between each scoop. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cooked and starting to turn golden/brown. Cool on a rack.

Neil Perry’s Roast Duck with Cherries

Serves: 4

We don’t cook duck enough. None of us do.

Because every time we cook it. And eat it. We tell each other just how much we love it.

And how far too little we cook it.

We then promise to cook it much more.

And then we don’t.

And the cycle repeats.

In this Neil Perry recipe, I have omitted how to roast the duck; Neil’s recipe asks for two whole ducks, though you can just as easily get duck marylands – even duck confit – from good supermarkets.

The trick is to shred the duck, removing any fat and skin.

This recipe – we called ‘Duck and Cherries’ – was course #3 of #6 we served at our Long Lunch/Short Wedding and many guests said it was the standout:

The cherry sauce can be made beforehand and reheated with the duck. Serve with a salad of baby leaves and a garnish of finely chopped parsley and this would be a wonderful starter or main at any dinner party.

No question, it is a quacker cracker.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
500gm cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen, which we used)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Baby leaves
Continental parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Place a pan over a medium heat and add the oil and butter and cook until foaming; add the cherries, sugar and salt and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant. Remove from the heat and give a really good grind of pepper.
  2. Places heap of the shredded duck meat onto each plate. Spoon over the cherry sauce, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add another grind of pepper. Garnish with the parsley.
  3. Serve with baby leaves at the side.

Vodka-cured Gravlax Canapés

Yields: 10

Nat and I recently married.

That old thing…

We had a long lunch with our best friends and family. Six courses.

Six courses of incredible food in the tradition of both of us loving long lunches, great food and amazing wine.

The first course was named ‘Soup and Sandwich’.

The soup was the famous Banc Sweet Corn and Basil amuse bouche, served cold in a shot glass. We chose this soup because we have been making it as a starter for years and warm or cold, it is just wonderful.

Sandwiches mean even more to us and at one stage, we really were flirting with opening a gourmet sandwich shop.

We did this vodka-cured gravlax, served on a toasted baguette and it was awesome.

Here is the ‘Soup and Sandwich’ course as a test we did a few weeks before our long lunch; the baguette was a bit big and so we made it smaller for the main event:

As a starter to any dinner party, you could do a lot worse…

Everything can be prepped the night before and the salmon only takes a night to cure.

Slice the salmon, toast the baguette and serve:

People will think you’re a genius. (Especially if it the first of many courses!)

Ingredients

1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp finely ground pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vodka
300gm salmon fillet, skin on
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp baby capers, rinsed
2 tsp lemon juice
1 qtr preserved lemon, finely diced
Chopped chives
1 shallot, minced
Baguette
Olive oil spray

Method

  1. Remove the pin bones from the salmon and place it skin down on plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, sugar and vodka, spread over the fish, wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight, turning from time-to-time.
  3. Remove the skin from the salmon and slice very thinly.
  4. Combine sour cream, capers, lemon juice, preserved lemon, chives and shallots. Set aside.
  5. Heat oven to 180c. Thinly slice the baguette, spray with olive oil spray and toast until lightly golden. Allow to cool.
  6. Spread a small amount of the sour cream mixture on the baguette slices. Arrange salmon on the toasts, top with more. Of the sour cream mixture and a sliver of chives.