Thomas Keller’s “Yabba Dabba Do”

Serves: 2 – 3

Yabba Dabba Do: Roasted Rib Steak with Golden Chanterelles, Pommes Anna and Bordelaise Sauce

For me at least, nothing beats a beautiful piece of standing rib steak and some amazing potatoes.

It’s almost a primal thing.

This Thomas Keller dish – one I have cooked a few times – is just wonderful and turns any Saturday or Sunday lunch into a long afternoon of wine, laughter and smiles. You just know something magic is going to happen when someone serves you an enormous standing rib!

A few points before you start:

  • The recipe asks for veal stock. I know I should invest the time and make a veal stock, though I so rarely use it. You will struggle to find veal stock so try and find veal glaze or veal jus and add a little bit and then water until you get the flavour of stock.
  • The recipe asks for Yukon Gold potatoes. A fruit-and-veg friend of Nat’s (I am serious) told her that this variety of potato is uncommon in Australia and to substitute… white potatoes.
  • The recipe asks for Chanterelle Mushrooms. Not only are these apparently the most expensive mushroom you can buy (not withstanding truffles), you can’t buy them. Well, you can’t buy them easily in Australia. We used portobellos and they were fine. It is after all the beef, potatoes and the sauce you came for.


Cote de Boeuf (Beef Rib)

1 double-cut rib steak (about 1kg or so)
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Canola oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Bordelaise Sauce

1 cup red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon
1/3 cup sliced shallots (French onions)
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
10 sprigs Italian parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp sliced garlic
6 black peppercorns
1 cup Veal Stock

Pommes Anna

10 pitted prunes
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 tbsp minced shallots (French onions)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 kg Yukon Gold potatoes
6 tablespoons Clarified Butter (we used ghee)

Chanterelle Mushrooms

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 generous cup chanterelle mushrooms, washed, stems peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Thyme sprigs
A green vegetable: we did broccolini sautéed with garlic


  1. Sprinkle all sides of the beef liberally with salt and pepper. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 1 day to allow the flavours to develop.
  2. One hour before cooking, remove the beef from the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature.

For the Bordelaise Sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the wine, vegetables, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and garlic to a simmer and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the peppercorns and veal stock and simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the stock is reduced to a sauce consistency (abut 1/2 cup).
  2. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan.

For the Pommes Anna

  1. Place the prunes and chicken stock in a small saucepan; the prunes should just be covered with liquid.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the prunes are very soft. Remove the prunes to a chopping board and finely chop them. Add the shallots and salt to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  4. Peel the potatoes and trim into cylinders that are 5cm in diameter. Using a mandoline, cut the potatoes into 1mm slices and place the slices in a bowl of cold water for a minute to remove some of the starch. Drain and dry on paper towel.
  5. Put 2 tbsp of the clarified butter in a 20cm ovenproof non-stick skillet. Place a slice of potato in the center of the pan; lay more potato slices around the edge of the pan, overlapping them by half, until you have completely circled the pan. Continue with another overlapping circle inside the first. When the entire pan is circled by potato, season and repeat again with another layer of circled potato.
  6. Spread half the prune mixture over the potatoes leaving a 2cm border at the edges. Make 2 more circled layers of potato, spread the remaining prune mixture and then 2 more circled layers of potato.
  7. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup clarified butter over the potatoes and place the skillet over a medium-low heat.
  8. Once the butter begins to bubble, cook for 3 – 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure the potatoes are not sticking.
  9. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until the potatoes are well browned and crisp.
  10. When ready to serve, invert the pan onto a board and cut into wedges.

For the steak

  1. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, pat the steak dry and wrap the bones in aluminium foil to prevent from burning.
  2. Heat the 3 tbsp of the canola oil in a heavy ovenproof pan over a high heat. Add the steak and sear it for 4 to 5 minutes to until it is dark brown and crusty on the bottom. Flip the steak and brown the second side for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Pour off most of the oil and add the butter to the pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 5 minutes. Baste the meat with the butter and pan juices, turn the steak over, sprinkle with salt and continue to cook, basting every 5 minutes for about 20 – 25 minute or until a thermometer reads 40c.
  4. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest in the pan for 10 minutes.

For the Chanterelle Mushrooms

  1. Heat the butter in a skillet over a medium heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms, season and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and any liquid has evaporated.

To complete

  1. Rewarm the sauce over a low heat.
  2. Remove the string from the steak and cut the meat against the grain into 1 – 2cm slices.
  3. Plate the steak on a plate, arrange the mushrooms over the steak, spoon over some of the sauce and garnish with thyme sprigs and the mushroom at the side.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken Veloute Stew

Serves: 4

I am a big fan of Adam Liaw.

Since Masterchef fame, he has stepped it up big-time.

His Twitter account is very funny, he writes recipes for Fairfax Media and others, he travels extensively to cook and he serves up some really good dishes.

His food is obtainable and he writes ordinarily (in a good way) about it so that mugs like us can really feel his sentiment towards it… and the background to it.

This recipe is a really comfortable one and you only need to glance down the ingredients to know why.

You keep layering the vegetables and in the end, you have a whole dinner, starting with your chicken and ending with your broccoli and beans.

It is a Sunday-night sort of thing and with a bottle of red, some music and the lights down, it really is a great way to end the weekend.

Nat and I speak from experience!

(Note: the original recipe called for chicken wings… we are a breast and thigh family only, so I have updated the instructions below to reflect how we did it. Plus a few small changes to how the vegetables were prepped.)


8 chicken thighs, sliced
100gm butter
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
4 thick rasher bacon, cut into lardons
1 brown onion, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 liters chicken stocks
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 small cabbage, roughly shredded
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 head broccoli, separated into florets
Handful of green beans, tailed
100ml pouring cream


  1. Heat a little of the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-heat. Fry the chicken thighs until well browned though not yet cooked through; set aside. In the same saucepan, fry the mushrooms until well browned and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon and fry until browned, then add the onion and remaining butter and cook until the onions soften.
  3. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until a roux forms. Add the wine and chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly to remove any lumps from the roux until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and (white) pepper. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cabbage and carrots, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced chicken thighs to one section of the pot. Add the mushrooms to another section. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the broccoli and beans in their own sections. Simmer for a further minute and then taste and adjust for seasoning.
  5. Pour the cream over the stew and serve.

Banc’s Sweet Corn and Basil Soup

Serves: 4

This is a truly sublime soup and one I have served plenty of times at the beginning of a dinner party.

It is from the famous Sydney restaurant, Banc.

I have served it both hot and cold and plenty of times, I have been asked for more. Indeed, I had a cook-off with a mate a few years back where we both did three courses each and this soup was a comprehensive point-scorer in my favour.

Prepare it beforehand and chill in the fridge.

And seriously blow them all away.


4 fresh corn cobs
200gm diced onions
50ml cream
50ml diced butter
1 small bunch fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. The stock: Peel and remove all the outer stalks from the cobs. Using a knife, remove all the corn kernels from the cobs and reserve. Cut the cobs in half.
  2. In a heavy-based pan, melt half the butter and add half of the diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing it to colour. Add the cobs and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes without browning.
  3. Add 1.5 litres of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the stock to infuse for a further 30 minutes before passing it through a fine sieve, discarding the cobs and onions
  4. The soup: In a heavy-based pan melt the remaining butter and add the remaining diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing to colour. Add the corn kernels and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add the corn stock and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until the corn kernels are tender. Pour in the cream and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Add roughly chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. Leave the soup for at least an hour – ideally overnight in the fridge – to allow the flavours to infuse, before passing the soup through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the corn to extract as much flavour as possible. Season once more and serve hot or cold.

The French Laundry’s Creamy Lobster Broth

Serves: 4

The French Laundry is one of America’s best and most well-known restaurants.

Driving through the Napa Valley and having lunch at The French Laundry is most definitely on my bucket list.

Thoma Keller, the man behind The French Laundry has another restaurant in New York called Perse and Nat and I agree that it was the finest dining experience either of us had ever had. 11/10.

Thomas Keller is a genius.

We have had The French Laundry cookbook for a number of years though we had only ever cooked one thing in it: Yabba Dabba Doo, an incredible standing rib with Pommes Anna and a Bordelaise Sauce.

Now we have done two… this classic broth which is to die for.

Rather than live lobsters, I purchased tails and set aside the meat for another dish. I then supplemented the lesser lobster shell with the prawn shells from 24 prawns.

It was sublime I know this is something we will do again for our next dinner party.


  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 lobster bodies, cut into quarters
  • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 2 cups heavy cream


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sear the lobster parts for a few minutes until they turn red.
  2. Add the tomatoes, carrots, tarragon and cover the lobster parts and vegetables with water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities that float to the top.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
  4. Strain the stock, pushing as much liquid through as possible. Strain the liquid again through a fine strainer and pour the liquid into a clean pan.
  5. Return the strained liquid to the heat and reduce slowly until there is one cup of liquid left. Add the heavy cream and continue to simmer until there is 2 cups left.
  6. Strain once more and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Slowly reheat and serve.

Roast Salmon, Bean and Potato Salad

Serves: 4

Salmon, green beans and potatoes pair beautifully and this classic and particularly simple Jamie Oliver number is yet another great example of why.

And it is even better cold the next day for lunch.

Pencil this in for next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night.

(Note: I have changed the name of the original recipe – it was just a bit too ‘Jamie’ – as well as adapting the ingredients and method slightly.)


4 x 200gm salmon fillets
Extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, juiced and zested
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 clove of garlic, crushed
250ml fat-free natural yoghurt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
450gm baby potatoes, boiled, quartered and let to cool slightly
250gm green beans, cooked and left to cool slightly
1 bunch watercress
1 sprig fresh mint
1 sprig fresh basil


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Rub the salmon pieces with a little oil, lemon juice and zest (saving some for the dressings), salt and pepper. Place them on a piece of baking paper and bake on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the crushed garlic and the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper, a little lemon juice and the cayenne pepper.
  4. Dress the potatoes and green beans in a little salt and pepper, lemon juice and zest and olive oil. Toss together with the watercress and herbs and divide among four bowls.
  5. Break the cooked salmon up and place on the dressed beans and potatoes. Serve with a spoonful of the yoghurt on-top.

Grand Marnier Soufflés

Serves: 6

And now for a little something fancy…

Nat whipped up these delicate, Gabriel Gaté (remember him?) soufflés as part of a dinner party we had a few weeks back and they were a triumph.

It had been a while since I had had a soufflé and they did not disappoint.

Soft, airy, a wonderful flavour served with a dollop of cream.

I guess there are some people that don’t like quiches or avocado. For the rest of us, assume that soufflés are a big wow and two steps up from your usual dinner-party dessert.

Plenty of reason why you should serve these at your next dinner-party.


60ml Grand Marnier
310ml Crème pâtissière, chilled (below)
6 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for preparing moulds
Icing sugar for dusting
Double cream

Crème pâtissière

500ml milk
½ vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 egg yolks
100gm caster sugar
50gm plain flour, sifted


  1. For the Crème pâtissière: place milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and whisk well.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof bowl for 2 minutes. Whisk in sifted flour. Remove vanilla pod from milk and pour hot milk into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking well.
  3. Return to the saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-heat, whisking constantly. When mixture is just boiling and has thickened, transfer to a heatproof bowl. Whisk for a few seconds more and set aside to cool in the refrigerator. Stores up-to 4-days.
  4. For the soufflés: Preheat the oven to 150c. Butter 6 185ml ramekins and dust with caster sugar.
  5. Whisk Grand Marnier into crème pâtissière. Using electric beater, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until almost stiff. Add caster sugar and beat until firm.
  6. Using a spatula, mix a little of the egg white mixture into crème pâtissière; gently fold in the rest. Spon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, making sure it doesn’t touch the rim. Smooth the tops with the spatula.
  7. Back for 5 minutes then increase the temperature to 205c. Bake for a further 5 minutes then increase the temperature to 230c and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, dust with the icing sugar and serve immediately with a dollop of cream (or ice cream).

Braised Peas with Cos Lettuce and Mint

Serves: 4 – 6

This classic French dish is from Karen Martini and swaps out iceberg lettuce for cos.

It makes the lettuce a bit more a feature and the result is just awesome.

It is rich and warm and a wonderful accompaniment: roast chicken or lamb or some chargrilled steaks we served with a herb butter and a onion rings.

It just shows how well peas and lettuce and work.

If you can make the effort, make the effort. It will dial up any meal into a memorable one.


80gm unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove< sliced
2 ½ cups frozen peas
2 baby cos lettuces, trimmed and cut into 1cm pieces
5 sprigs mint, leaves torn
1 tbsp sea salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp castor sugar


  1. Melt half the butter in a very large frying pan over and medium heat and cook the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the peas, lettuce and ¼ cup hot water, simmer and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mint, salt, sugar and remaining butter and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is glossy and syrupy.