Neil Perry’s Roast Whole Snapper with Fennel and Olives

Serves: 4

This is a smashing Neil Perry dish, delivered by Nat as a late, slow lunch this past week between Christmas and NYE.

Served alongside with an amazing avocado salsa (I know!), potatoes with salsa verde, broccolini sautéed with garlic and chilli and a bottle of Champagne, this was a post Christmas super-treat.

So fresh, so aromatic, so Mediterranean.

I have a particular affection for people that cook and serve whole fish.

It says a lot about them.

And it dials up any meal. It makes for a special meal.

(Explains my affection for Nat.)

Dive into this one Sunday lunch and you’ll have smiles all around.

Dedication

We’re dedicating this recipe to our great friends Josh and Leesh and especially their new son. Congratulations on your new, little man Charlie:

Josh is the avid fisherman and Leesh is a kitchen wizard.

No couple would seem to catch or cook so many whole fish as these two. Looking forward to a long lunch – and whole fish – once Charlie’s a little bit older.

We’ll bring some solid whites!

Ingredients

4 small whole snapper (400 – 500gms) or 1 large (1.5kg – 2kg)
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 tbsp oregano, chopped
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
1 green capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and quartered
2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed and drained
6 anchovies
150gm Ligurian olives (Nat used green olives)
Sea salt
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Neil’s Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, ripe though not mushy
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
2 spring onions, cut into rings
1 red capsicum, cut in half, core removed and finely diced
2 tbsp finely shredded flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 drops Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Take a roasting tin and check that it fits your fish. (Use two tins if necessary.) Scatter the onion, fennel, oregano and thyme over the bottom of the tin and drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Put the fish on top and cover with the capsicum, tomato, capers, anchovies and olives. Salt liberally and pour the rest of the oil and wine over. Cook smaller fish for 25 minutes or until cooked, basting every 5 minutes or a larger fish for 1 hour.
  3. Place the fish on individual plates or a platter. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over and add the parsley and pepper.
  4. Serve with a big dollop of the salsa. (Plus potatoes of some variety, a green of some variety, Champagne, white wine and plenty of cold beer!)

Avocado Salsa

  1. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and cut the flesh into a fine dice; put in a stainless steel bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir together, check the seasoning and enjoy.

Brendan Pang’s Special Crab Fried Rice

Serves: 4

We both agreed, this is a next notch up Fried Rice.

1-hat, super-subtle Chinese cooking.

A definite addition to a home-cooked Chinese banquette.

Clearly not your local Chinese take away fried rice.

The key is the Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce. Poured on top just prior to serving, it adds a cracking zing on top of the crab and egg.

Wonderful.

Well done Brendan Pang!

Ingredients

Chilli and Garlic dipping sauce

1/4 cup white vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
2 Birdseye chillies, finely chopped (including seeds)
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped

Fried Rice

4 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, chopped and divided
4 cups cold, cooked short-grain rice
Pinch of ground white pepper
Pinch of superfine sugar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
Salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved mustard greens (I substituted baby spinach)
1 cup cooked crabmeat
Handful of chopped fresh coriander, plus more for serving

Method

  1. Make the dipping sauce: in a small bowl, stir together all the sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Make the fried rice: in a wok, heat the oil over a medium-high heat,. Add the ginger and cook, stirring for 30 seconds, followed by the garlic and one of the green onions. Stir-fry for an additional 30 seconds or until aromatic.
  3. Add the rice, increase the heat to high and toss with a spatula to combine. Use the spatula to flatten the rice and break up any clumps. Add the white pepper, sugar and light soy sauce. Toss and season with salt to taste.
  4. Using your spatula, spread out the rice into an even layer along the surface of the wok. Pour the beaten egg evenly over the rice and stir until all the egg is cooked and broken into pieces. (Nat reckons cooking the egg separately should be the way to go and I don’t necessary disagree with this.)
  5. Add the preserved mustard greens and crab and toss until combined and the crab is warmed. Add the remaining green onion and coriander and toss until well combined. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce and additional coriander.

Thomas John’s Snapper with Saffron Broth

Serves: 4

This is such a delicate, Spanish, summer-lunch: a recipe my mother shared with me.

Seafood, saffron, fish stock and petite vegetables. How could you go wrong?

Open a white wine. Pour the wine. Tear some crusty bread.

Time is on your side.

Enjoy.

(And pour more wine! It’s summer!)

Ingredients

100ml olive oil
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 small leek (white only), thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
12 black mussels, cleaned
2 1/2 tbsp white wine
2 cup fish stock
1 tsp saffron threads
4 snapper fillets, skin scored
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 potato, peeled, cubed and cooked
20 asparagus spears, blanched
1 bunch English spinach, stalks trimmed
Sea salt and pepper
Parsley sprigs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c.
  2. Cook the celery, leek and shallots in half the olive oil for 1 minute, increase the heat to high, add the mussels and wine and cover for 3 minutes or until the mussels open.
  3. Strain the mixture and return the liquid to the pan and reduce by 1/3.
  4. Add the stock and saffron and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Sauté the fish skin side down in the remaining oil for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for 1 minute and then place in the oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the potato and tomato to the broth and heat through and season.
  7. Add the asparagus, spinach and mussels and simmer until the spinach is just wilted.
  8. Divide the spinach and asparagus among bowls and pour over the broth.
  9. Scatter the mussels, tomato and potato around and then top with the fish and garnish with parsley.

Rick Stein’s Lightly Curried Crab Mayonnaise with Lamb’s Lettuce

Serves: 4

We’ve booked our first holiday since the the government announced we could travel within the state: Rick Stein’s Bannisters at Port Stephens.

And we’re excited for plenty of reasons.

It is out first holiday since February. And we love holidays.

It’s Bannisters. We have loved staying at the two Bannisters at Mollymook and based on recommendations from friends, Port Stephens is just excellent.

We’re leaving the kids in Sydney. Love ya kiddies, though don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

And finally… Rick Stein. Enough said.

Obviously, first thing we did after booking the room was to book the restaurant. Because you just can’t beat Rick Stein at his best: fresh seafood, simplicity, from Indian to French.

So, for lunch today we chose a Rick Stein theme and kicked off with this number.

I was a little suspicious because a quick scan of the ingredients tells you it is possibly a little too simple, though the incredible simplicity is the point.

As we ate it, we couldn’t stop talking about just how wonderful it was. How simple, how French.

You could do a whole lot worse than whipping this up as a quick Saturday lunch. Or as a starter to a longer weekend lunch.

Ingredients

3 – 4 truss tomatoes
5 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
500gm fresh white crabmeat
50gm lamb’s lettuce (I used Cos though much closer substitute is baby spinach)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh wholemeal bread, to serve

Method

  1. Skin the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for 20 seconds. As soon as the skins split, remove and cover with cold water to prevent further cooking. Peel off the skins, slice off the top and bottom and slice thinly.
  1. Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in the curry powder, lemon juice and Tabasco. Fold this mixture lightly through the crab meat and season with a little salt.
  1. Overlap a few slices of tomato into the centre of 4 small plates and season them lightly with salt. Spoon some of the crab mayonnaise on top. Toss the lamb’s lettuce (or substitute) with the olive oil and a small pinch of salt and pile alongside.
  1. A crack of pepper and serve with some wholemeal bread.

Southern Indian Lobster Curry

Serves: 4

This Christmas has been a decidedly Lobster affair.

Lobster Thermidor. Lobster with a basil mayonnaise.

And this wonderful curry from – Gourmet Traveller – where the lobster does all the talking.

It’s a classic, light, seafood curry with the genius of fried mustard seeds and a just a hint of heat.

Add a beer or a cold glass of wine and this is an amazing, post-Christmas dinner where the ham and turkey is a thing of the past.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
3 dried long red chillies
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 onion thinly sliced
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
3 garlic gloves, finely chopped
36 fresh curry leaves
3 tsp ground turmeric
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
375ml coconut cream
50gm tamarind
750gm lobster meat cut into 5cm pieces
Basmati rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a low heat, add the mustard seeds and sauté until they pop (20 – 30 seconds). Add the chillies and fenugreek seeds and sauté until the chillies turn brown (20 – 30 seconds).
  2. Increase the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two until aromatic. Add the curry leaves and turmeric and cook for a further 30 seconds and then add the tomato and cook until soft. Stir in the coconut cream and tamarind and warm, season with salt.
  3. Add the lobster meat and slowly simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Serve with basmati rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges.

Curried Lobster Sandwich with Mango Chutney and Potato Chips

Serves: 4

It’s three days after Christmas.

We have lobsters in the fridge.

We are staying in a wonderful AirBNB in Newcastle, sleeping in, swimming at the beach and opening Champagne by 1pm.

And we have a new cookbook: Chefs Eat Toasties Too by Darren Purchase.

All of which means we have nothing to do, no diet to follow, plenty of lobster to get through and a recipe.

A couple of years ago, Nat and I stayed at The Sanderson, one of the hippest hotels in London. And on our first day, we sat at the bar – surrounded by hip people – and had a lobster sandwich and Champagne.

We’ve been chasing the moment for years.

And now… here it is with this sandwich.

Lobster. Kewpie. Curry Powder. Mint, Celery and Cucumber. Mango Chutney. Potato Chips. Toasted Brioche Bun.

(And Champagne.)

Incredible. Just incredibly good.

(I have adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
4 seeded brioche buns (we used a brioche loaf)
500gm cooked lobster meat cut into chunks
Salt flakes
Freshly ground pepper
120gm Kewpie mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into a 1cm dice
1 tbsp finely shredded fresh mint leaves
8 cos lettuce leaves, shredded
4 tbsp mango chutney
Potato chips, to serve

Method

  1. Combine the mayonnaise with the curry powder, celery, cucumber, shredded mint and salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the lobster chunks with a good pinch of salt and pepper until warmed through.
  3. Combine the warmed lobster with the mayonnaise mixture and mix well.
  4. Toast the brioche buns. Stuff with the shredded lettuce and then a dollop (1 tbsp) of mango chutney on each bun. Spoon the lobster filling evenly into the buns and push it in well. Finally, stuff potato chips into the buns and serve.
  5. With Champagne.

Jamie Oliver’s Portuguese Fish Stew

Serves: 4 – 6

We’re all told that the answer to long life is in the Mediterranean diet.

We all also know that being middle-aged means an endless battle with calories: that is, don’t waste your calories during the week. Leave the bread and pasta for Saturday night.

And finally… if you’ve cooked Jamie Oliver’s recipes, you’d be across that pretty much everything he publishes is fun and a cracker.

Back to our diet, we decided to make it interesting by only cooking Jamie’s recipes for the week. At 312 calories a serve, this Portuguese Fish Stew was the first up.

A quick scan through the ingredients and you’ll probably have an idea of how this will taste: simple, clean and amazing for it. Right.

Our go-to, simple weeknight dinners are tray bakes with fish or chicken and lots of vegetables.

This dish goes a level above with the sliced potatoes. Use a mandolin for the slicing of it all if you have one, or pour a glass of wine and get your sharpest knife to work.

Add in a few cloves of fresh garlic like we did and a side of sautéed broccolini and you’ll have yourself have a wonderful weeknight dinner.

Setting you in good stead for when the Spaghetti Carbonara and red wine rolls in on Saturday night!

Ingredients

2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, skin on, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
500gm white fish fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
1/2 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves finely chopped
500gm white fish, cut into 2cm pieces
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
5 fresh bay leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  2. Prepare the vegetables and heat oil over a low heat in a 30cm heavy, oven-proof pan. Add the onions, garlic and a good pinch of salt and slowly fry until light golden. Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water and then drain well.
  3. Remove half the onions from the pan, spreading the remaining onion out into a nice layer. Top with a layer of half the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Next, layer the fish and season.
  4. Sprinkle most of the chopped parsley on top with the chilli flakes. Drizzle with oil and repeat the layering of the vegetables – onion, peppers and tomatoes – finishing with a neat layer of the potatoes.
  5. Poke in the bay leaves, season and drizzle with a bit more oil.
  6. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and place under the grill for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crisping up.
  7. Sprinkle over the remaining parsley and enjoy.

Tuna with caponata

Serves: 4

We love a piece freshly cooked tuna or swordfish, dressed with diced tomato, olives, some balsamic and olive oil. Super simple, super quick, foolproof.

Which means that caponata and fresh tuna – with, let’s say, three-times the effort of the abovementioned – really is where you need to be for that special, healthy, weeknight dinner.

It’s worth the extra effort.

Add some steam greens or a green salad – and definitely a bottle of white wine – and this is an awesome meal for you and friends.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
4 tuna steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve
Lemon wedges to serve
Steam beans or a green salad to serve

Caponata

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into 2cm pieces
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
200gm grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
12 black olives, pitted and halved
1 1/2 tbsp capers in vinegar, rinsed
1 birdseye chilli, thinly sliced

Method

  1. For the caponata, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add onion and stir until golden and softened (5 minutes). Remove from pan.
  2. Add the eggplant and remaining oil to the pan and stir to coat; add 1/4 cup of water and then cover with a lid and steam until tender (5 minutes). Remove the lid and cook, stirring occasionally until golden (5 minutes).
  3. Return onions to the pan, add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes soften.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season tuna and add to the pan and sear, turning once until cooked medium rare (2-3 minutes each side).
  5. Cut steaks in half and serve with caponata, lemon wedges, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil… steamed beans or a salad and definitely that bottle of white!

Billy Kwong inspired- Steamed snapper, ginger and soy broth

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

This dish ventures quite far from what we typically cook but it is fragrant, elegant and classy. Healthy is an added bonus but its definitely not the point.

1396496921150
What it is supposed to look like. I need to work on my presentation skills. 

Ingredients

2 large knobs ginger, peeled
4 shallots
800ml chicken stock
2 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
5 drops sesame oil
4x 200g snapper fillets (we used ling)
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 bunch choy sum, trimmed and washed

 

Method

  1. Roughly chop one knob of ginger and place in a saucepan with the green ends of the shallots, chicken stock, star anise, pepper, soy, sugar, honey and sesame oil.
  2. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and strain into a clean saucepan.
  3. Place snapper in a steamer. Finely slice remaining ginger and shallots and place on the fish with chilli. Steam until just cooked, about 5 minutes.
  4. Steam choy sum until bright green and tender.
  5. Place in bottom of four bowls and gently place snapper on top. Pour over warm broth.

Calories: 264

 

Spaghetti Machiavelli

Serves: 4 as an entree

Machiavelli’s – a Sydney lunchtime institute for as long as I can remember – is one of our favourite restaurants.

Full of men in suits – with walls covered in photos of famous men in suits – Machiavelli has plenty of appeal to us. It’s underground and a great place to hide; we get to watch bankers and lawyers and important women and men lunch whilst we spend the whole time talking about our kids and planning our next holiday.

The service is on-point. The food is excellent. There is a real excitement about the place.

Being a business restaurant, the food flies out.

We always order the calamari and gamberi fritti to start and I swear it arrives before the waiter has punched in the order.

Then it is on to the signature dish: Spaghetti Machiavelli.

Which is one of my top 5 favourite pastas ever. And the only main I have ever ordered at Machiavelli’s.

Butter. Fish Stock, Prawn. Chilli.

Stop it!

A few weeks back, we had an Italian cook off at my parent’s house. I found the recipe for the Spaghetti Machiavelli at the back of the Internet and boom.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Spaghetti Machiavelli.

And let me leave you with this:

My mother – who is my cooking inspiration – said it was the best pasta she had ever had.

What are you waiting for!

Ingredients

160gm prawn meat, rough chopped
100gm button mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp fresh garlic, crushed
1 tsp Thai red chilli, chopped
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
300gm Spaghetti
300ml fish stock

To Serve

4 tsp butter
2 handfuls of basil leaves0
Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Saute the prawn meat, mushrooms, garlic and chilli in the oil until the prawns are half cooked through.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the prawn mixture.
  3. Add the fish stock and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Toss the butter and basil leaves through, season and serve immediately.