Ricky’s Herb Vinaigrette

Serves: 4

A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend in Noosa – sans kids – and it was just marvellous.

Day after day of late lunches, lying on the beach, reading, walking it off. Some very memorable dinners too.

When in Noosa, the beach is a must… before lunch. (And a diet after all these lunches!)
Nat. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

A good mate recommended Rickys which really was a highlight.

If in Noosa, Rickys is a must.

It is a beautiful restaurant on the river. A modern, relaxed interior of wood and glass, opening onto the water.

Friendly, incredibly professional service. A wonderful wine list. The ferry pulling alongside every half hour or so.

It was just a great lunch, though perhaps ironically, it was the greens and herby salad that stood out for me.

And thankyou to the kind chef who jotted down the recipe for me, which I have adapted below:

Because we have recently been chasing the best vinaigrettes to serve with leaves: convinced that after a beautiful piece of steak, pork, chicken or fish, a wonderfully simple salad of greens just mops it up.

This is one of the best, for three reasons: it is so simple, it hero’s herbs, a key signature of Neil Perry’s brilliant vinaigrette and finally, it isn’t sweet.

Not that there is anything wrong with a sweet vinaigrette, though the muted flavour of the canola oil and white balsamic (substitute white wine vinegar) really does blunt the whole thing down to almost the best, simplest paring you could ask.

Safely back in Sydney, we did a wonderfully simple seafood lunch, accompanied by this excellent Iceberg’s pea and farro salad as well as the Ricky’s salad:

How good is a seared tuna. And only a seared tuna.

It had 1-hat genius written all over it.

Try this vinaigrette. It is the best of all the vinaigrette worlds we have been trying.

Ingredients

100ml canola oil
50ml white balsamic (or white wine vinegar)
A handful of basil leaves
A handful of tarragon leaves
A handful of Italian parsley leaves
Salt
Green leaves

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the green leaves in a blender until well emulsified.
  2. Stir well through the greens and serve immediately.

Kathryne Taylor’s Cheater’s Aioli

Yields: 1/2 cup

Sure, nothing beats an original mayonnaise (and therefore, aioli).

Though surely, nothing beats avoiding egg yolks and salt and garlic and two oils and food processors (or god forbid, whisks) and sometimes, a null result.

This cheater’s aioli is the real deal.

Just make sure you have a great egg mayonnaise to start.

Ingredients

5 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
Sprinkle of sea salt
1/2 c good quality mayonnaise
Optional: 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. In a small, non-reactive bowl, combined minced garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Place a fine mesh strainer over another bowl. Using a spatula, strain the garlic mixture to get as much of the juice as possible. Discard the garlic.
  3. Stir the garlic juice into the mayonnaise, adding the Dijon optionally. Add a little more lemon juice to taste.

Mint Sauce

Serves: 1 cup+

There is more to mint sauce than mint.

Ingredients

1 c full fat yoghurt
1/4 c coriander leaves
1/4 c mint leaves
1 green chilli
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chilli in a blender and process until smooth, adding 1 – 2 tbsp water to bring it together.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, spoon in the yoghurt.
  3. Now add the green herbs mixture, salt, sugar, cumin, garam masala and lemon juice to the yoghurt. Whisk together until well combined, cover and chill until needed.

Matt Preston’s Pineapple Ketchup

Makes: 300ml

Oliver Dog (14) made this sauce for a Matt Preston burger and its a very good sauce.

I reckon with a toasted cheese, it would be amazing.

Definitely give it a go. When I say it’s not going to win awards, it actually probably could.

Ingredients

50gm sultanas
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/3 c tomato paste
3/4 c cider vinegar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
8 canned pineapple rings
2 tsp ground coffee (or a shot of espresso)
2 whole cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 c honey

Method

  1. Blitz the sultanas, onion, garlic and tomato paste in a food processor until smooth. Scrape into a large heavy-based saucepan and stir in 3/4 c water along with the vinegar, brown sugar, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  2. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 1 hour, uncovered, stirring regularly.
  3. Purée the pineapple rings in the food processor. Add to the pan along with the coffee, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. When the ketchup is thick, sieve and return to a thick pan. Bring to a simmer, season, adjust cider and honey and reduce until thickened.

Neil Perry’s Barbecued Coral Trout with Sauce Vierge

Serves: 4

Neil credits this recipe to Roger Vergé, one of the greatest chefs of all time; the recipe first appeared in Roger Vergé’s first cookbook, Cuisine of the Sun (1979). (This Roger Vergé recipe is one of the greatest beef recipes I have had and after you have had this dish for lunch, line this beef up for dinner.)

Paired with coral trout – my absolute favourite fish – this is a sublime dish. The texture is just wonderful.

You could be in the South of France.

Do yourself a favour and whilst the sun is still out, do this as part of a lazy lunch.

Ingredients

4 x 180gm coral trout fillets
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

For the sauce vierge (makes 500ml)

3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peels, deseeded and cut into a 2cm dice.
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and halved
2 tbsp chopped chervil
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
8 coriander seeds, crushed
250ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt an freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Mix the diced tomatoes with all the other ingredients in a bowl, then set aside for 1 – 2 hours to mature.
  2. Preheat the barbecue to hot an make sure the grill bars are clean. Liberally sprinkle the fillets with sea salt an brush with the oil. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Rest in a warm place for 3 minutes.
  3. Plate, spooning over the sauce, twist of pepper and serve.

Blender Bearnaise

Serves: 10

Last weekend, I cooked a tomahawk over charcoal and it was tremendous.

350c, 6 minutes over direct heat and then 10 minutes over indirect heat. Rested for 25 mins.

Perfect, medium rare. As one person put it online when looking up the cooking technique and target internal temperature: you could cut it with your tongue and indeed, you almost could.

The king of the cuts?
Indirect heat before the grill was on.
Started with lobsters because why not?
My goodness.
Perfect.

Nat wanted a bearnaise at the side: which I agreed with on one hand, though what a pain. Double broiling, frantically whisking eggs, fearful of the sauce splitting.

At the same time of course, when I am walking the tight rope of cooking a tomahawk.

For years my mother has said to use the blender method, though I had only ever done so for hollandaise.

The time had come. (And to cut a long story short, I’m never going back.)

FTW.

Ingredients

1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c white wine
2 tbsp shallots, minced
3 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped and divided
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 large egg yolks
1 c unsalted butter, melted

Method

  1. Combine the vinegar, wine, shallots, 1 tbsp of the tarragon, 1/4 tsp salt and the pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture is reduced to a few tbsp. Cool slightly.
  2. Transfer the cooled mixture, along with the egg yolks and 1 tsp salt into a blender. Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. With the blender running, slowly pour hot butter through opening in the lid. Add remaining 2 tbsp tarragon and blend for a second.

Mignonette (French Shallot) Vinaigrette for Oysters

Serves: 24 oysters (at least!)

Nat and I love oysters and one of our favourite things is to hit a great steak restaurant for lunch and kick it off with a dozen oysters and a bottle of Champagne.

Yum.

Personally, I always prefer a raw oyster and it needs to be small: a Sydney Rock Oyster or something small from Batemans Bay.

(Those Bluff Oysters from NZ are my worst nightmare!)

Sauce wise, I’ve had some compelling granitas and watermelon snows, though geez, you just can’t go past this classic sauce.

Make the sauce a few hours prior to allow the flavours to infuse, and when served, you have gone toe-to-toe with the best steak restaurants out there.

Ingredients

1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Freshly cracked pepper
Fresh raw oysters on the half shell
Champagne

Method

  1. Combine the shallot and red wine vinegar.
  2. Open the Champagne in preparation.
  3. Lightly pepper the oysters and serve each with a good dessertspoon of the sauce.

Chin Chin’s Naum Jim Jaew 2

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

Many years ago – together with my mother – we went on Royal Thai dive, inspired mainly by David Thompson. So much so in fact, we did a the Royal Thai course at our local TAFE!

One of staples of Royal Thai is Naum Jim, a wonderfully hot, salty and sour sauce.

This interpretation from Chin Chin (of Melbourne and now Sydney fame) is on the money and our favourite weekday use of it, is to steam or pan fry some barramundi and then to pour over Nahm Jim. Serve along side some Asian greens tossed with sesame, soy, oyster, Chinese cooking wine and some dark caramel.

Healthy and yum!

Stored in the fridge for a few weeks so well worth the effort.

Ingredients

12 birds-eye chillies, chopped
6 large red chillies, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbs grated palm sugar
1/3 c tamarind water
2/3 cfish sauce
2 tbs ground roast rice*

Method

  1. Blitz the chillies, garlic, shallot and palm sugar. Add the tamarind water, fish sauce and ground roast rice, stir checking for seasoning. Should be hot, salty and sour.

* Roast rice in a pan until golden. Allow to cool and then blitz in a spice grinder until ground. Store in a dry container.

Matt Preston’s Best Ever Tomato Sauce (Ketchup) recipe

Makes: 2x 750ml bottles

There is an argument for not cooking the staples: bread, pasta, ketchup.

Until you do.

Example one? A pita bread Nat cooked a few months back for a Lebanese dinner we cooked. A texture, a taste in superior, pale comparison to the stuff we get in the bread aisle.

Example two? A good friend Kieran, locked down in isolation though with the skills and technology to make crumpets… did so. Not only was it easy he said, though again… the texture and taste where so vastly better than the stuff at Coles that he now refuses to look at them at Coles.

And then there is this example from Nat. Ketchup.

True, we are a family that makes it own sausages and so perhaps it isn’t to much of a jump to make our own ketchup. Except that as per paragraph one of this blog, it wasn’t until we made our own ketchup that we knew why you should.

This ketchup by Matt Preston has a warmth and depth you just cannot find in a store-bought ketchup. With a good sausage (and I am a believer that ketchup should be exclusively used for sausages, hamburgers and meatloaf only and definitely not chips), it is the equal hero with the sausage.

So good, Nat has made three batches which have been delivered in empty gin and vodka bottles to neighbours, parents and sisters. (We have discovered that access to suitable bottling has not been at all an issue in this lockdown!)

Not only because it’s isolation and you’re looking for something to do… make your own ketchup because it’s like the homemade pasta, freshly-baked crumpets of condiments.

Ingredients

2.5kg ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
10 Whole Cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (clear) white malt vinegar

Method

  1. Put the chopped tomato + onion, cloves, berries, paprika, garlic, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring every now and then, until the tomato breaks down and is tender. It takes about 1 hour. 
  2. Add the sugar and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for a further hour and 15 minutes or until mixture reduces, thickens and is of a saucy consistency. Adjust seasoning.
  3. Strain mixture through a coarse sieve into a large bowl, in batches, pressing down strongly to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids or use as a relish. Pour hot mixture into (Vodka, Gin or Tequilla) bottles. Store in the fridge.

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.