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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  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.)

Ingredients

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

Method

  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.

Red Thai Salmon Curry

Serves: 4

This is a doozy of a recipe and one that could easily become a weekday staple.

Just make sure you visit your local Asian grocer for a quality, Thai red curry paste.

I added the vermicelli noodles though you could just as easily serve it on rice.

Seriously, as simple as it is, this is one moorish dish.

Don’t delay.

Ingredients

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 onion, sliced
250ml reduced-fat coconut milk
500gm skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3cm pieces
200gm pack trimmed green bean
Half a pack of vermicelli noodles, cooked
Coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the curry paste. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  2. Add the onion and cook gently until softened; 5 – 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add the salmon and beans.
  3. Add the vermicelli noodles (if using) and let simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and the beans are tender.
  4. Serve with coriander.

Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.

Seafood Sausage with Lemon Herb Sauce

Serves: 4

This is a restaurant quality dish and one that made us so happy preparing and cooking it.

The subtlety of the sausages which we did in the sous vide for an hour before lightly grilling, the sauce, the mash and the asparagus made for seriously a memorable meal.

A really warm, unique, “we just cooked a 1-hat dinner meal”.

If you could do these with a thicker sausage casing than we used, I think they would be even more impactful and explosive; dramatic and clearly prepared with talent. Something your guests would have to admire and talk about on the way home.

If you are looking for an impressive Saturday night dish for guests, you could do a whole lot worse than this recipe.

Note that this recipe assumes you have a sausage stuffer though if you don’t have one, maybe try them as slow-cooked skewers: form them like sausages, wrap them tightly in cling wrap and gently fry in a pan.

Either way, you can’t go wrong.

(This recipe is written assuming you have a mincer and a sausage stuffer. If you do not, process the sausage in a food processor, tightly wrap into sausage-like logs with cling wrap and refrigerate; when ready to cook, wrap tightly with foil and poach for 10 – 15 minutes in boiling water. Slice away.)

Ingredients

Sausage

250gm cod fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
250gm raw prawns, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
250gm salmon fillets, skinned, cut into 3cm pieces
2 large eggs
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper

Sauce

¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp minced scallion
1 tsp fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp fresh, snipped dill
Cayenne to taste

Paris mash to serve
Steamed asparagus

Method

  1. For the sausage: Combine, mince and process the sausage ingredients. Stuff your sausages. Chill.
  2. For the sauce: In a small heavy saucepan, boil the wine, lemon juice and vinegar until reduced by half. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter bit by bit, waiting for each piece to melt before adding the next. Whisk in the lemon rind, scallion,  parsley, dill, cayenne and salt to taste. Season.
  3. Cook your sausages: poach them or sous vide them (1 hour) and then grill them in a pan with a little olive oil to give them colour.
  4. Prepare your Paris Mash and steam your asparagus.
  5. A good dollop of mash on each plate, two sausages on-top, a drizzle of sauce and a side of asparagus.

The Boathouse Snapper Pie

Makes: 5

Pre-Preamble: we served this pie as course #4 of #6 at our long lunch/wedding. It is one of our favourite dishes and the restaurant – The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay – is where I asked Nat to marry me.

(She gave me a tentative yes though told me to ask a year later for the full affirmative, something I duly did.)

Anyway, so as not to cause confusion, when we first typed this recipe up, we did it as a tribute to our wonderful friends Leesh and Josh for their wedding. Here is the handsome couple at our long lunch/wedding (which was also coincidentally Leesh’s birthday):

The preamble below is what we originally wrote to them and obviously we can’t remove it!

Preamble: We are typing up this recipe as part of a tribute to our awesome friends Leesh and Josh who are getting married – at last – this weekend. Being awesome means they are awesome on the food front: cooking, eating, discussing and pairing wines with.

Here is to many meals in the future guys. We are proud to be your friends.

Enjoy the copper and cooking this pie one rainy Saturday. Keep the champagne near.

Love

Nat and Rob

The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay is one of our favourite restaurants.

It means a slow and incredibly comfortable afternoon of great food, wine, cheese, conversation, laughter and watching the boats slowly drift by. There really are fewer, better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, anyone in the know about this wonderful institution would know that the signature dish on the menu is the Snapper Pie.

And lordy, what a pie it is.

The richness of the pie. The smell, the warmth. The whole bloody thing.

And the smoky tomato? Yes please.

(Here is how Nat produced the tomatoes for our wedding: baby tomatoes, brined overnight, smoking essence and balsamic, seasoned and roasted:)

Not to speak of the obvious outcome of the Paris mash.

Anyway, we cooked this – for the second time – a few weekends ago and holy smoking duck balls it was fine. Smiles, gasps, awe.

Every hour of sweating onions paid off!

Take off the afternoon and make this.

It is pure joy.

Ingredients

800gm pink snapper fillet, cut into 3cm pieces (you can get from the Fish Markets)
5 dessert spoonfuls of white truffle oil
Puff pastry
1.2kg sliced onions
800mls cream
400mls fish stock
300gm diced onion
Olive oil
Salt
1 egg beaten with a little water
4 tomatoes, peeled, halved and seeded
80gm long grain rice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Paris mash to serve

Method

  1. Sweat the sliced onion is a little olive oil and salt and cook as slowly as you can until the onions are light golden.
  2. Add the fish stock and slowly reduce by half. Add the cream and slowly reduce by half or until you have a thick, creamy consistency and remove from the heat.
  3. In a separate pan, sweat the diced onion with a little olive oil and salt and cook slowly until light golden. Add to the sliced onions and check the seasoning.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250c.
  5. Spoon some of the sauce into 5 deep pie dishes, lay over the fish, cover with the remainder of the sauce and add one dessertspoon of truffle oil to each dish.
  6. Roll out the pastry, lay over the dishes, press down and trim at the edges and egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  7. For the smoked tomatoes, line a wok with foil, place the rice in the base, place a wire rack over and heat the wok until the rice starts to smoke.
  8. Place the tomatoes cut side up on the rack, combine the garlic and balsamic and brush the tomatoes. Cover with foil and cook for 3 minutes until heated through and smoked.
  9. Allow the pie to rest for a few minutes before serving with the tomatoes and the Paris mash.

Meen Molee (Fish curry cooked in coconut)

Meen Molee (Fish curry cooked in coconut)

Serves: 2 – 3

I’ve done a few Molee and this recipe is a wonderful, rustic and rather simple fish version.

It isn’t as complex or subtle as some I have done, though it is the simplicity factor that earns the write-up; and it tastes just awesome too.

Weekday, Saturday lunch, this is a great number.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves
3 green chillies
5cm piece of ginger, peeled
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
6 curry leaves
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk
160ml boiling water
500gm firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Basmati rice and coriander to serve

Method

  1. Place the garlic, chillies and ginger in a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan to a medium-heat and fry the onion with the curry leaves for 4 minutes until softening. Stir in the garlic, chilli and ginger mixture together with the turmeric and salt. Fry for 2 minutes and then add half the coconut milk and the boiling water.
  3. Simmer for 2 minutes and add the fish; gently simmer for 5 – 6 minutes. Add half the tomato and remaining coconut milk and simmer for another 3 – 4 minutes.
  4. Garnish with the remaining tomato and serve on basmati rice with plenty of coriander.

Salmon BLT Stacks with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Salmon BLT Stacks with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Serves: 4

Nat found this simple, relatively healthy number online and it is great.

The whole thing comes together as a really tasty meal, especially with the salmon, bacon and the vinaigrette. As good as any BLT.

And of course, you’ll have the best lunch in the office the next day.

Yum.

Ingredients

1kg salmon, skin off
8 slices, rindless bacon
3 tomatoes, sliced
4 good handfuls, rocket
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp (heaped) capers
1 shallot, minced
¼ tsp salt

Method

  1. For the Lemon Caper Vinaigrette, in a bowl, whisk together the ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c and bake the bacon on a baking tray lined with baking paper, until the bacon is crisp: 10 or so minutes.
  3. Heat a frypan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and cook the salmon on both sides until cooked to your liking.
  4. Arrange the rocket, then the tomato and then the bacon as a stack. Top with te salmon and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Turmeric fish skewers and garlic greens

Turmeric fish skewers and garlic greens

Serves: 4

My respect for Adam Liaw grows with every recipe of his I have cooked.

He is grounded and his recipes have always been excellent including that they are more than achievable on any given, adventurous weekday night.

I have a bunch lined up to cook and I really can’t wait.

This recipe is no different.

It is super healthy, really easy to prepare and really quite exciting for a Monday night when we had it.

Double it and you have a great Tuesday lunch on your hands and a great start to the week.

Ingredients

½ cup (fat-free) Greek yoghurt
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
600g ling fillets, cut into 5cm cubes (or another firm white fish)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 5cm lengths
½ bunch spinach, cut into 5cm lengths
1 small bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
Lemon wedges, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a grill/griddle to very high, or a barbecue until it’s very hot.
  2. Combine the yoghurt, turmeric, coriander, chilli powder, salt and pepper and coat the ling fillets in the mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes then thread the fish onto soaked skewers and cook, turning occasionally, until the fish is cooked through, about five minutes.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add the olive oil, garlic and spring onions, and fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the broccolini and fry for about three minutes, then add the spinach and kale, season with lots of salt and pepper and fry for a further two minutes, stirring well.
  5. Arrange the greens on a platter and top with the fish skewers. Serve with lemon wedges.

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

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Merry Salmon Christmas!

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

Serves: 4

We did a seafood themed-dinner the evening of Christmas Eve and one of the dishes we prepared was this number from Jamie Oliver.

It is something I have wanted to try for a while and with a beautiful side of salmon right from the fish markets (we doubled the recipe) it was a real hit: the sauce, the pastry, the thick, flaking salmon and the wonderful watercress and spinach filling.

Complete with Christmas pastry-work by Nat, it looked and tasted just like Christmas and it was just as good as a cold snack on Boxing Day.

I’m slightly sad thinking it will be almost a year until I can cook this number again…

Ingredients

Olive oil
2 French shallots
100gm baby spinach
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
200gm baby leaf watercress
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
200gm crème fraîche
500gm thick, skinless salmon fillet, pin-boned
500gm puff pastry sheets
1 large egg, whisked

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and brush it with a little oil.
  2. Peel and finely chop the shallots, roughly chop the spinach, then pick and chop the parsley leaves. Chop half the watercress, leaving the rest whole.
  3. To make the filling, warm the butter and a splash of oil in a pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.
  4. Add the spinach, parsley and chopped watercress to the pan with the zest and juice from the lemon. Season to taste and stir in a good grating of nutmeg.
  5. Cook down the leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, then mix in 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche.
  6. Tip it into a sieve set over a bowl and press to squeeze out the juices. Leave the filling to cool.
  7. To make the sauce, blitz the remaining watercress and crème fraîche in a food processor with juices from the bowl. Season and transfer to a bowl and chill until needed.
  8. Slice the salmon fillet in half sideways, so you can open it like a book.
  9. Spoon the cooled filling down the middle, fold the fish back over to close and set aside.
  10. Prepare enough pastry sheets to fully wrap the salmon: 2, maybe 3.
  11. Place one piece of pastry on the baking tray and lay the salmon on top in the middle. With your finger, dab water around the edge of the pastry, then lay the other piece on top.
  12. Mould the pastry around the fish with your hands, then press the edges with a fork to seal. Score the top with a knife, then beat and brush over the whisked egg.
  13. Bake the salmon in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp.
  14. Serve with the watercress sauce.