Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Caper Gemolata

Serves: 6

Anything that successfully dials up potatoes is a win for me.

Indeed, in our always-dieting house, we need an excuse to be pairing potatoes and this recipe is one such excuse.

It’s luxurious, it’s bursting with flavour from all the vinegar capers, anchovies and herbs.

And it looks wonderful plated.

You can see the effort and the effort is worth it.

Ingredients

1.5kg potatoes
Salt
4 tbsp olive oil plus more for the pan
1/4 c sherry vinegar
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes until tender and drain.
  2. Heat the oven to 240c and arrange the shelves high. Oil a baking sheet on a baking pan and place each potato down, gently pressing until crushed though still intact. Brush the tops of the potato with 1 tbsp and roast for 25 minutes.
  3. Brush the potatoes with 1 tbsp more oil and then grill until golden brown: 4 – 7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. While the potatoes cook, combine in a bowl the vinegar, capers, anchovy paste, garlic and remaining 2 tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt: drizzle over the potatoes and serve immediately.

Lara Dunson’s Burmese Coconut Rice

Serves: 4

Lara Dunston is a Cambodian food and travel writer: she also makes a solid coconut rice, something Nat whipped up to accompany a great Burmese Chicken Curry we had last weekend.

Nothing says you’ve made an effort than a rice that has colour, or additional elements, or both.

This is one such rice, perfect for any Southern Asian curry.

Ingredients

3 c jasmine rice
1 c coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves

Method

  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear then transfer to the rice cooker. (We cooked in the microwave).
  2. Pour coconut milk into the rice cooker and then water until it reaches the 3 cup measure.
  3. Add vegetable oil, shallots, salt, spices and bay leaves and combine well.
  4. Cook until the rice is cooked through and then rest for 10 minutes.

Rockpool’s Salad with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

Serves: 4

Nat and I have both come to understand the importance of a green salad to accompany so many of the mains we plate.

Because a brilliant green salad, clarifies; it mops up and gives you time to talk about the main; it refreshes and brings the end to the savoury part of the meal.‘

It’s the time where the big wines are poured.

This green salad by Neil Perry is probably the best I have had. I genuinely struggle to think of how it could be improved. Sure, Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with Anchovy Cream is absolutely knockout.

And the addition of caramelised pancetta and fennel in this Giant De Laurentiis salad is genius.

Though if its green leaves you need. And the wonderful freshness of herbs. And a vinaigrette.

I commend to you the best.

Ingredients

1 heads of radicchio, leaves separated, washed and dried
2 heads of baby cos lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
2 heads of witlof, leaves separated, washed and dried
8 sprigs of watercress, tough stalks removed
6 chives, cut into 2.5cm lengths
Large handful of coriander leaves
Handful of dill fronds
Handful of tarragon leaves
Handful of chervil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

3 tbsp grated palm sugar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
2 coriander roots
1 garlic clove, peeled
5 tsp red wine vinegar
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. To make the palm sugar vinaigrette, put the palm sugar into a small pan and heat until melted and caramelised. Add the sherry vinegar and let it cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander roots and garlic with 1 tsp of salt until you have a fine paste, then add the cooked sugar mixture. Whisk in the olive oil and coriander.
  3. To serve, put all the leaves and herbs into a large bowl. Pour over the dressing band toss very gently. Season, arrange on four plates and serve immediately.

Hubert’s Kimchi Gratin

Serves: 4

Every Saturday during this endless Sydney lockdown, we treat ourselves to a food kit from a Sydney restaurant.

We keep it local week one to support local business and then dial it up week two to support ourselves.

Restaurant Hubert is a brilliant French, Sydney institution. The chef is Daniel Pepperell.

Last week, we did their food kit and based on eight weeks of lockdown, it was the best we have had. The theatre of adding a link to their playlist, dimming the lights, decantering a cracking wine, putting the kids to bed… and then thoroughly enjoying a two course, absolutely cracking French meal.

Days blur into weeks, wines like these are starting to blur into days…

I could get used to this lockdown. (And I guess I am 😕.)

Anyway, this kimchi gratin was a pearler. We merely heated it, though here is the recipe and as an alternative to a potato gratin, wow it’s great. Sure, there are plenty of cabbage gratins out there, though this is the one I am typing.

Give it a go. Steak, fish, just give it a go.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg onions, thinly sliced
500gm cabbage kimchi, thinly sliced
200ml pouring cream
20gm panko crumbs
100gm finely grated Gruyère cheese
Finely grated Parmesan to serve
15gm butter

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté onions, stirring often, until softened and lightly caramelised: about 25 – 30 minutes.
  2. Add the kimchi and cook, stirring occasionally until warmed through: about 5 minutes. Add the cream and reduce until the mixture thickens slightly: about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Whilst warm but not hot, stir in 3/4 of the Gruyère and transfer to a baking dish or individual shallow gratin dishes.
  3. Heat grill to high. Combine panko crumbs and remaining Gruyère and Parmesan in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over kimchi, dot with butter, then grill until gratin is golden and bubbling: 2 – 4 minutes, Serve hot.

Potato Focaccia

Serves: 6

If there is a gap in my cooking, it is baking.

Especially bread.

Enter Nat.

This focaccia is just a cracker and supplied as a recipe from my mother.

It is just wonderful. Focaccia usually is, though warm and home-cooked?

Call me!

Ingredients

200gm floury potatoes
3 tsp dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
200gm flour
100gm strong flour
Olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes, halves
2 tbsp marinated olives, chopped
2 tbsp chopped rosemary (and/or fresh oregano)
Sea salt

Method

  1. Microwave the potatoes until soft, put through a ricer and allow to cool.
  2. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 125ml water, mix with a fork and allow to froth.
  3. Mix together the flours, add the potatoes, yeast, 50ml olive oil, and enough water to make a dough that isn’t sticky.
  4. Either knead by hand (boring) or use a dough hook to knead for 5 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for an hour of more until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220c and liberally oil a 28cm round pan.
  7. Place the dough in the palm add 1tbsp of olive oil on top and stretch it to fit to fit the bottom.
  8. Press the tomatoes into the surface, scatter over the olives and herbs and sprinkle with salt.
  9. Bake for 25 – 35 mins or until golden.

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Iceberg’s pea salad recipe

Serves: 4

We have had some just excellent, long lunches at Icebergs which at its best, is much more than a must-try Eastern Suburbs joint for the well heeled.

If you have ever been, you will know the famous pea salad. This is legit the recipe.

We didn’t have enough time to drain the ricotta salata so we crumbed it on top; at Icebergs, it is shaved and the effect is just great.

Ingredients

Salad
1 cup farro
1½ cups cooked peas
5 leaves basil, chopped
5 leaves mint, chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
½ Lebanese cucumber, diced
½ stick celery, diced
25ml vinaigrette (see ingredients below)
Salt and pepper to taste

Vinaigrette

25ml lemon juice
35ml sherry vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp salt
200ml extra-virgin olive oil
Ricotta salata (salted ricotta) to serve (this is hard to find. We mixed a tub of ricotta with salt and let it drain over a fine mesh sieve sprinkling with salt. It takes at least 2 days for the liquid to drain away – see here)

Method

  1. Cook the farro in plenty of lightly salted water for 20–30 minutes or as per the packet instructions. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt and lemon juice and then the oil. Do not emulsify.
  3. Combine the herbs, peas, farro, cucumber, celery, shallot seasoning and 25ml vinaigrette. Place the dressed salad in bowl, coat with a fine grating of salted ricotta and serve. Store excess vinaigrette in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Ranch, Iceberg Lettuce Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

As soon as Covid hit Sydney, we purchased a Kamado BBQ.

They’re brilliant and I cannot recommend enough.

An ancient form of cooking in a ceramic egg, the heat retention is extraordinary. A pile of charcoal can last several BBQs.

You can cook at 60c, smoking away for a day or take it up to 450c to blast a tomahawk steak in literally minutes.

We’ve cooked pizzas and slapped naan on the roof. We’ve done amazing skewers of chicken tikka. Slow cooked ribs, slow cooked pork shoulder. Lordy.

It takes practice and I recommend one of the many WiFi/Bluetooth heat thermometers, though the theatre, the fun and of course, the incredible flavours make this a very good – and long-term – investment.

Being us, we have recreated a number of memorable meals we have had out. And being Covid, with so many of our favourite restaurants – and countries – closed, we had no choice.

One of our favourite Sydney restaurants is Gowings in the QT.

It is just a great dining room. Warm, buzzing, swift service, down-the-line great mains and great sides.

Nat served this salad from Gowings on one of our Kamado nights and it won the show.

It looks the part, it pairs perfectly with a steak, grilled chicken or a pork schnitzel: and you can prepare it ahead of time.

A bit of extra effort makes the restaurant. And restaurant-quality this is.

Ingredients

1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp chopped spring onions or chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder (you can grate or chop a stock cube)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
6 rashes streaky bacon, cubed
Iceberg lettuce or 3x cos lettuce

Method

  1. Fry bacon until crispy.
  2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a bowl to combine.
  3. Cut lettuce into 4-6 pieces and lay on a flat plate.
  4. Sprinkle bacon and dressing on top of lettuce.

Crispy Roast Potatoes

Serves: 4

Truth is, I am not that enamoured by roast potatoes.

Which puts me in the minority because so often I hear from people just how much they love roast potatoes: also, that they are a treat?

It could be because I had them so often at boarding school, though what is amazing about a dry piece of roasted potato?

Mash with cream and Parmesan. Of course.

Colcannon. Most definitely.

Hasselbacks. Any day.

So there we are a few months back and Nat proposes a Sunday night roast. With roast potatoes.

“Sounds great” I gulp. “Can’t wait.”

Though Nat being Nat, she does her research. Plain old boarding school roast potatoes these will not be.

If you’re into your cooking, you have possibly come across the website Serious Eats. It’s a great site and a great service, where they take different recipes, pull them apart and rebuild them – using science – to create the very best version of that recipe.

It’s very cool.

And so here is… as they put it… “The Best Crispy Roast Potatoes Ever Recipe”.

And to their credit and Nat’s, these are the best I have ever eaten.

Cook them and tell me they’re not.

(The recipe specifically asks for two types of American potatoes that we cannot get in Australia. Through reading etc, the potatoes to use here in Australia are Dutch Cream, Desiree, Coliban or Sebago.)

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2kg potato (see note above), peeled and cut into large, 5cm chunks
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or duck fat
Small handful picked rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful fresh Italian parsley leaves, minced

Method

  1. Adjust the oven rack to be centred and heat oven to 230c.
  2. Heat 2 litres of water in a large pot over a high heat until boiling. Add 2 tbsp salt, baking soda and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil and then simmer until knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk: about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.
  3. Combine the olive oil (or duck fat) with rosemary, garlic and a few grinds of pepper in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Cook, stirring and shaking pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden: about 3 minutes.
  4. Immediately strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer set in a large bowl. Set garlic/rosemary mixture aside and reserve separately.
  5. When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully and let them rest in the pot for 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer to bowl with infused oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed “potato-like” paste has built up on the chunks.
  6. Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula to release and stuck potatoes, shake pan and turn potatoes.
  7. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking: around 30 – 40 minutes.
  8. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add the garlic/rosemary mixture and minced parsley. Toss to coast and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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.

Almond and Broccolini Salad

Serves: 6

Yum.

Our eldest boys, Oliver and Tom made us dinner the other night.

Meatballs with halloumi and pine nuts… and this dish on the side, found by Oliver after some very diligent online research.

It’s really good and definitely something for a summer BBQ.

Well done boys.

Ingredients

2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
2 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Blanch the broccolini in boiling water until the stems are tender-crisp; 2 minutes or so. Refresh in ice water and set aside.
  2. Transfer broccolini to a serving platter. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice; sprinkle with currants, Parmesan cheese, almonds and lemon zest.