Delia Smith’s Asparagus with Quick Hollandaise

Serves: 4

Nat’s parents come over every few weeks for a meal (and several bottles of wine) and it is something I always look forward to.

I am always told by Nat’s mother – Deb – to keep it simple.

Which this easy little starter I served at our most recent meal, certainly is.

It is really elegant, super classic and foolproof if you pressed for time.

Which means more time for drinking champagne and catching up.

Ingredients

2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 bunch rocket

Hollandaise Sauce

1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp cornflour
2 egg yolks
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
40gm unsalted butter, softened

Method

  1. For the Hollandaise Sauce, place the creme fraiche, cornflour, egg yolks, white wine vinegar and lemon juice in a saucepan over a low heat. Cook, whisking gently for 1 – 2 minutes until thickened and combined.
  2. Remove from the heat and set aside. Whisk in the butter until combined, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Steam the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes until tender.
  4. Divide the asparagus and rocket among serving plates, then drizzle with Hollandaise Sauce and serve.

Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce

Serves: 4 – 6

Nat found this recipe and it is exceptional.

The flavours, the warmth, the whole thing is blow-away madness for a weekday meal… just ensure you marinate the chicken the night before, ditto the sauce the night before.

Just the chicken marinade alone makes the chicken taste like… anything but chicken.

Though it is the green sauce that takes the cake and brings the whole production home. It matches the big flavours of the chicken with even more big flavours.

Add to that the hot chicken contrasting with the cold sauce and you’ve smashed it on all levels.

(It sort of reminds me of the joke the boys tell me about a Coca Cola truck and a Menthos van crashing into each other.)

Anyway, well done Nat. I was a bit, ‘here is another chicken breast recipe’ though this is not another chicken breast recipe.

It is the chicken breast recipe.

More Peruvian cooking we will be doing!

Ingredients – Chicken

6 skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness

Marinade/basting sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh Jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Ingredients – Green Sauce

3 medium Jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed
1 tbsp Aji Amarillo paste (optional)*
1 1/4 cups tightly packed fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves
3 tbsp Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp, canola oil
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste

Method

Chicken

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside 1/4 cup to use as a marinade when cooking
  2. Place the flattened chicken into a large zip lock bag and pour in all the marinade except the reserved marinade for when grilling. Seal the bag and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Heat your grill high. Grill the chicken until cooked on both sides, basting with the reserved marinade. Once cooked, rest for 5 minutes.

Green Sauce

  1. Combine the ingredients except the mayonnaise in a food processor on high until smooth.
  2. Add the mayonnaise and blend until completely incorporated. Season with the freshly ground pepper and salt.
  3. Transfer to a jar or sealed container and refrigerate for a week.

Serving

  1. Thickly slice the cooked chicken breasts. Drizzle with the green sauce.
  2. Serve with… we didn’t continue with the Peruvian theme here with air fried Brussel Sprouts and hand-cut potato wedges cooked with chilli flakes, though anything will go. The chicken and the Green Sauce are your hero.

* Apparently you can find this sauce online and apparently it does add an extra level of oomph. We loved it without – as many others have commented – though if you can get, you’re all the better for it we are told.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri is one of our favourite sauces for beef – or chicken or pork – and this classic recipe is right down the line.

As well as serving as a side, there is something quite wonderful about marinating a piece of rump steak in this before you grill.

With more Chimichurri by the side of course.

If you haven’t made/had this before, read the ingredients and please consider!

Ingredients

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1 red jalapeño finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients.
  2. If marinating meat, marinate over night.

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger

Makes: 4 big`burgers

A while back, we passed the all important step of understanding that for any burger to be amazing, it has to start with amazing, fresh mince.

Not the variety you get from the supermarket and certainly not the lean stuff you might otherwise use in a mince.

Instead, you need a quality cut of steak (chuck or similar), you need to see it minced in front of you on a coarse grain and you need to cook it within 24-hour.

This and this alone will set you on the path to a superb burger.

There are then plenty of directions and approaches you can obviously take and a fried green chilli burger we cooked last weekend only scratches at the surface of where you can go.

For me however, nailing the quintessential, classic burger was a bit of a must before venturing off in these many possible directions: nailing a burger with ketchup, American mustard and good egg mayo.

I previously typed up Neil Perry’s classic burger as simply that: a classic. And it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

This Insanity Burger then is like taking what is already a classic sportscar and really seeing what you can do with it. Pushing the outer limits of the handling, engine and design.

Hand on heart, it deserves the name Insanity Burger.

Nail this burger and you will have successfully passed Level 1 of the burger game; free to play the next level and start down whatever direction you choose.

Just make sure you get your mince right.

Ingredients

800gm freshly mince chuck steak
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
White wine vinegar
2 large gherkins, sliced
4 brioche burger buns, halved
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
4 tsp American mustard
Tabasco Chipotle sauce (Woolworths and Coles have it)
4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese (ditto)
4 tsp tomato ketchup

For the burger sauce

¼ of an iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp egg mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brandy or bourbon

Method

  1. Divide the mince into four and roll into thick, patties, 2cm wider than your buns.
  2. In a bowl, dress the onion with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. For the burger sauce, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. In a pan over a low heat, cook your bacon to the point of crispiness.
  5. Heat your grill as high as possible, rub your burgers with a bit of oil and grill; after 1 minute flip and brush each cooked side with ½ tsp of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After 1 minute more, flip and repeat.
  6. Cook for another minute or two and then place two pieces of crispy bacon on top and then the cheese. Grill until the cheese melts; grill the buns at the same time.
  7. To build the burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, add the cheesy burger, a quarter of the onions and the gherkins. Add 1 tsp of ketchup on top and close.
  8. You passed!

Coconut chutney

Serves: A dinner of dosai, as a side

Dosais are not the least expensive things on your Southern Indian restaurant menu and even then, I doubt they make much money from them.

There are plenty of ingredients that go into the whole show, they take time and technique and importantly, a truly wonderful chutney like this lasts… 24 hours. Time and economies of scale are not on your side.

The silver lining of course is that a good dosai is to die for and this chutney is simply part of the story. It is amazing.

The extra touch that turns the dial from 11 to 12. The addition that completes the meal, taking you into fine Indian cooking territory. The secret weapon in your cook-off that nobody saw coming.

Sure, you have 24-hours to get from bench to plate, though in-between making your dosai batter, your filling and a wonderful side of lentils, you’re signed up to the task right?

And the fact is, you cannot lose any cook-off – or dinner – if you pull the whole thing off.

Tie maybe, but who the hell are you cooking against?!

Ingredients

Half a coconut, grated
2 fresh green chillis
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp fresh ginger
Salt to taste

Tempering

10ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ asafoetida powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method

  1. Grind the coconut, chillis, coriander leaves, ginger and salt in a blender, adding a little water if required.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves and temper the chutney by pouring the mixture on top.
  3. Serve as an accompaniment to dosai.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

Burger in a Bowl

Serves: 4

This is a crazy recipe and on so many fronts.

It is so cheezly good that if you got it in some chain restaurant in the States, you’d go back once a week just to have it for lunch.

Essentially a burger without the bun, it is so whacking with flavour, so filling and so relatively healthy, words don’t describe. And where I say it is a burger without a bun, it is literally an American chain burger without a bun.

Or cheese or grease.

The ‘SW Super Sauce’ is the hero here and we didn’t change a thing except substitute firm, fat-free yogurt for the fromage frais… and nobody would notice.

We dialed up the beef by adding ground coriander, cumin, smoked paprika and chilli powder and I would suggest you do the same.

To say that this is a must-try, out-of-the-ordinary, you-will-love-it meal is an understatement.

Go with the terrible iceberg lettuce, use some spiced gherkin and take the night off from anything fancy.

This is a burger… without the bun… in a bowl.

Ingredients

Burger

1 tsp canola oil
500gm extra lean beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Plenty of salt and pepper
Whatever spices you think, though flavour and spice it up

Salad

½ iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
8 gherkins, sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

SW Super Sauce

3 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise
5 tbsp fat free fromage frais
1 tbsp American mustard
2 tbsp tomato puree (passata)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp onion granules
¼ tsp sweet smoked paprika

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan; add the beef, onion and garlic and stir fry for 6 – 7 minutes until the beef is browned and the onion has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, put all the SW Super Sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Mix together the salad ingredients and divide between 4 bowls. Spoon the beef mixture on-top, drizzle over the SW Super Sauce and serve hot.

Dijon Cream

Chicken, seafood or even an eye fillet, Dijon Cream is easy and makes it seem like you have made a bit more effort than just, well, an eye fillet.

Ingredients

2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 – 4 tbsp thickened cream
Salt and pepper

Method

  • Combine.
  • Enjoy.