Lauren Allen’s Homemade Eggnog

Serves: 6

I found this recipe on the blog of Lauren Allen – Tastes Better from Scratch – and it is as good as it is dense in calories.

Eggnog being a family tradition for both Christmas and Christmas in July, eggnog isn’t a thing in Australian supermarkets in July. (I’m sure many would argue that eggnog is not a thing full stop in Australia, though I conceded a long-time ago and we now celebrate Halloween.)

Availability not withstanding, store-bought eggnog is also pretty average, no matter how much Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and nutmeg you add.

And so enter stage left Lauren Allen with this 307 calorie-per-serve cream bomb (and that’s before rum!). (I have slightly adjusted the method of the recipe.)

Firstly, it is amazing. It’s like comparing proper Italian pizza to Dominos.

Which means the calories are worth it.

Especially as it is only once (or maybe twice) a year.

I am mainly putting this recipe here as a reference for myself, though you could do a whole lot worse than to add it to your annual repertoire.

It is after all, the best day of the year and this is celebrating!

Ingredients

6 large egg yolks
1/2 c caster sugar
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 c milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon, for topping
Enough spiced rum to take of the edge of Christmas morning!

Method

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
  2. In a saucepan over a medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until mixture reaches a bare minimum.
  3. Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding a big spoonful at a time, to temper the eggs.
  4. Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove.
  5. Whisk constantly for just a few minutes, until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches 70c). It will thicken more as it cools.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and rum. Pour the eggnog through a fine mesh strainer into a jug and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate until chilled. It will will thicken as it cools. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg. (Will last a week in the fridge, though trust me, it wont last until Boxing Day.)

Florence Fabricant’s Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 4 – 6

Florence Fabricant is a NY Times food writer.

I subscribe to the NY Times Food app (a very worthy $50/annum) and the pro trick is to navigate primarily to those recipes that have hundreds, often thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings.

This is one of them.

Rustic. Easy to prepare. Absolutely moorish, especially as the sriracha mayonnaise breaks up in the juices.

This is definitely the way to kick off the week. Rude not to have a glass of white alongside.

Nat reckons her cheats Bouillabaisse is better. I’m on the fence.

You could cook this for me every week and I’d never be bored of it.

Yum.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes, or to taste
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cored and chopped with their juices
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 cup dry white wine (or whatever it is you have opened to have whilst you cook!)
500gm potatoes, peeled and diced*
Ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1kg bass fillets or similar, cut into 12 pieces
6 basil leaves torn
1 c mayonnaise seasoned with 1 1/2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add fennel and cook a few minutes, until softened. Stir in chilli flakes. Add tomatoes and salt, cover and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the wine and 2 1/2 c water, bring to a simmer, add the potatoes and cook for another 6 minutes or so, or until potatoes are tender. Season and add the lemon juice.
  3. Season the fish pieces with salt and pepper, place them in the stew and simmer on low, covered, until the fish is just cooked through; about 5 minutes. Warm 6 generous soup plates.
  4. When the fish is done, remove to your it to the warm soup plates. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it. Divide soup among the 6 plates and serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise.

* The recipe asks for Yukon Gold potatoes of which I don’t know if I have seen in Australia. For me, there are white and red potatoes and then there are kipflers.

It seems the recipe is asking for the white or red varieties, though I did kipflers. Always so good.

I can see either working and for different reasons.

Enough potato talk.

Gordon Ramsay’s Home-made Gnocchi with Peas

Serves: 4

Nat cooked this one for a simple lunch a little while back and the gnocchi is probably the best I have had.

Entirely incomparable to something you would get in a pack, dry or otherwise. We have previously used Anne Burrell’s gnocchi recipe as our go to, though the addition of ricotta here means that when pan fried, the creaminess against the golden, crunchy exterior is just melt-good mad.

The pea sauce is subtle and just a lovely pairing.

A few years ago, this is the sort of thing a hatted restaurant might put up. A real nod to simplicity.

Open a bottle of white, serve with a salad (we served it with this Gordon Ramsay salad) and you have a home lunch you’ll be grinning at.

Ingredients

2 large floury potatoes
50gm ricotta cheese
90gm plain flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

For the sauce

Olive oil, for frying
Freshly ground black pepper
150gm peas, podded if fresh, defrosted if frozen
Butter
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
Zest of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Bake the potatoes in their skins for 1 – 1 1/4 hours until tender the whole way through. Remove the flesh from the skins (while still warm) and mash until spoon – use a potato ricer if you can. Mix in the ricotta, a pinch of salt and white pepper and the flour. Make a well in the middle, add the beaten egg and begin to combine the mixture with floured hands. Work in the thyme leaves and continue until a smooth dough has formed. (Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will end up too dense and won’t expand when it goes into the water.)
  2. Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a long cigar shape about 1.5cm thick. Using the back of a floured table knife, cut each length into 2cm pieces to make ‘pillows’ of individual gnocchi. Gently press each one in the centre using your floured finger. The dent will hold more sauce and allow the gnocchi to take on more flavour.
  3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the gnocchi, tilting the pan from side to side briefly to stop them sticking together, then simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes until they start to float. Drain the gnocchi and leave them to steam-dry for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, start to make the sauce. Heat a frying over a medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the gnocchi to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and black pepper and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes on each side until nicely coloured.
  5. Add the peas to the pan with a knob of butter and the thyme leaves. Toss to heat through, then add the lemon zest. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Ocean Trout with Harissa & Yoghurt

Serves: 6

I absolutely love harissa and together with salmon or ocean trout, you’ve got me.

This recipe from Gourmet Traveller is just weekday genius. Like, excuse to open a bottle of Riesling genuine.

I served it with some sautéed baby potatoes, though for the weekend, it would be mad to skip cous cous.

And of course labne.!

Just genius.

Ingredients

6 ocean trout fillets, skin on
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Juice of 1 lemon, plus extra to serve

Harissa

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
6 dried long red chillies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
8 red birds eye chillies
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Place trout skin-side up on a lightly oiled oven tray. Drizzle with oil and a little lemon juice, then roast until cooked to your liking (5 – 6 minutes for medium rare).
  2. For harissa, dry-roast spices until fragrant then finely crush with a mortar and pestle. Combine chillies and garlic in a jug and blend with a hand blender, until finely chopped. Add spice mixture and a large pinch of salt, then blend, gradually, adding oil, until a coarse purée. Season to taste.
  3. Toss herbs and pea tendrils in a little oil and extra lemon juice. Spread labne on serving plates, top with fish and a spoonful of harissa and serve with the salad.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4

There was furious debate after I served this sauce and pasta in a pasta cook off with Nat.

Nat served the wonderful spinach ravioli and certainly, taking into account effort, presentation and overall yum factors, it nailed the brief and took out the day.

Except that it was a reluctant and technical tie.

Because the absolutely classic Marcella Hazan tomato sauce is simply so simple and classic, it is pretty much impossible not to give it the nod for doing so much more with so much less.

With a sprinkling of Parmesan. What on earth is not to love. It’s just not fair.

P.S. I did give the nod to Nat because hey, it’s 2022 and not 1962. Though Marcela sauce is no lemon at a knife fight.

Ingredients

2 cans of tomatoes and their juices
5 tbsp butter*
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt
Pasta and Parmesan to serve

Method

  1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
  2. Place over the medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.
  3. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with the pasta. Toasts through 500gm of cooked pasta and serve with Parmesan.

* Use a great butter like CopperTree Farms.

Gordon Ramsay’s Roasted Red Onion Vinaigrette with Green Bean Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

This Gordon Ramsay salad is as simple as it is wonderful.

It’s meaty which is at odds with all of the green leaf salads I serve up; making it almost a meal in itself.

Which made sense when paired with a wonderfully delicate gnocchi that Nat served.

The vinaigrette itself would go just wonderfully with green leaves, adding some volume and texture. And of course, the wonderful flavour of the roasted red onions.

I love finding a new vinaigrette and this is the latest. Enjoy.

Ingredients

125gm runner beans
125gm French beans
125gm sugarsnap peas
Roughly chopped mint and parsley

For the Vinaigrette

2 red onions, peeled and halved
150ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for roasting
2 thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50ml sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. First make the vinaigrette. Preheat the oven to 220c. Place the onions in a roasting tray with a little olive oil, the thyme, garlic and a little salt and roast for 25 – 30 minutes until the onions are completely cooked and have a nice roasted flavour.
  2. Remove the onions from the tray and chop into a rough dice (you want the dressing to have a rustic texture). Mix the onions with the 150ml extra virgin olive oil and the sherry vinegar and season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To make the salad, blanch the beans by plunging them in boiling, salted water for 1 1/2 minutes until their rawness has been removed but they are still crunchy. Refresh immediately in cold water, then remove and out onto kitchen paper to absorb the moisture. Cut each bean into bit-sized pieces. *
  4. Put the chopped beans into a large bowl, stir in the red onion dressing and toss with the parsley and mint. Serve immediately in chilled bowls.

* Or microwave in a suitable container with a little water.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s best aubergine (eggplant) side

Serves: 6-8

Prepare yourself for the best eggplant dish you have ever had. A big call but a worthy one.

This is from Yotam’s book “Jerusalem”; it was the Jews who are said to have introduced the humble aubergine to the Arab culture, Europeans were quite suspicious of aubergine were and reluctant to use them thinking they were “mad apples” and helped induce insanity. With that being said – this dish is insane.

Ingredients

Roasted aubergine with fried onion and chopped lemon

2 large aubergines, halved lengthways with the stem on
150ml olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 green chillies
1 1/2tsp ground cumin
1tsp sumac
50g feta, broken into chunks
1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Score the cut side of the aubergines with a criss-cross pattern, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking tray, cut-side up and roast for 45mins, until the flesh is golden brown and completely cooked.
  2. Add remaining oil to a heavy pan and cook the onions with 1/2tsp of salt, stirring often so that parts of the onion get really dark and crisp. About 15mins in total.
  3. De-seed the green chillies, keeping 1/3 of them seperate. Add 2/3 of the chillies, cumin, sumac to the onions and stir for a few mins. Add the feta and cook for a few mins before removing from the heat.
  4. Cut the flesh out of the lemon, ensuring you remove any seeds and chop the lemon flesh roughly. Add any juices, lemon flesh, the remaining green chilli and garlic to a small bowl.
  5. Assemble the dish by transferring the roasted aubergines to a serving dish, spoon over the lemon mixture and top with the warm onion and feta mixture.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Christine Manfield’s (Indian) Mustard Fish

Serves: 4

Occasionally after cooking a dish we are compelled to immediately type it; even at the table whilst we finish a wine.

This is one such dish.

From the book Christine Manfield’s Indian Cooking Class, this is a knockout.

I chose barramundi rather than Murray cod, though any freshwater white fish would do.

Paste away!
And yoghurt both sides!

With some steamed rice and lots of coriander, wow. Subtle, sophisticated, just wonderful weekday cooking.

Ingredients

600gm (4 even fillets) of Murray Cod or similar
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp black mustard seeds, coarsely ground
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard*
2 tsp chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 small green chillies, chopped
1 cup coriander leaves
1 tbsp mustard oil
100gm thick plain yoghurt

Method

  1. Prepare 4 sheets of foil and 4 sheets of baking paper of the same size, ensuring the sheets are big enough to wrap around the fillets. Place the ground spices, 1 tsp salt and wholegrain mustard in a bowl and mix to combine. Rub spice mixture liberally over the fish and set aside.
  2. Place the ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander leaves, remaining 1 tsp salt and the mustard oil in a food processor and blend to make a paste. Place in a bowl with the yoghurt and stir to combine. Spread the yoghurt mixture over both sides of the mixture. **
  3. Preheat oven to 220c. Place one sheet of baking paper on top of each sheet of foil and top with fish fillet and its yoghurt coating. Wrap the fish in the paper to secure before enclosing with the foil. Don’t wrap too tightly, the parcels can be slightly loose, just make sure they’re sealed tightly at both ends.
  4. Place in an oven side-by-side and bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is tender and just cooked. (Test this.) Remove from oven for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Unwrap the fish, discarding foil and paper. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with steamed rice.

* I used straight Dijon. Nat feels I should have mixed in some wholegrain mustard. I disagree though will try next time and be found to be wrong.

** I didn’t blend the paste to make it a bit more rustic.

The most delicious healthy (cheats) seafood bouillabaisse

Serves: 6-8

This recipe is a no-brainer. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t involve making your own fish stock but you wouldn’t even know.

It’s healthy, hearty, warm, and delicious. A provincial stable from humble beginnings; the undisputed king of fish stews just got a whole lot easier.

Ingredients

For the stock

6 c fish stock
1tsp aniseed
2 bay leaves
1tsp saffron threads

For the base

8 tomatoes cut into small cubes
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 onions thinly diced
2 salmon fillets (no skin) cubed
2 white fish fillets (no skin) cubed
handful of raw and peeled prawns
1 large bunch parsley chopped

Method

  1. Add the fish stock ingredients to a pan and bring to a boil.
  2. On medium heat, paint olive oil on the bottom of a heavy-based pot and put in tomatoes, garlic and onions.
  3. Lay the seafood on top of the tomatoes, garlic, and onions and leave for about 3 mins (enough to heat up the pot).
  4. Ladle the boiling fish stock into the pot and cover the seafood.
  5. Sprinkle half the parsley on top and cover. Bring to a soft boil for about 10 mins until seafood is cooked.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top and serve with warm crusty bread.

Our Thali by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 6 – 8

Every time Nat and I jet off on a holiday, I have a tradition of giving her a card and a new cookbook in the lounge.

We were headed to Vanuatu (our favourite place on earth) which oddly has no Indian restaurants of any fame. (Essentially, we have never stepped foot in and trust me, we’ve eaten everywhere in Port Vila.)

So the latest book was Thali by Maunika Gowardhan.

A brilliant, colourful book of dozens and dozens of side, mains and breads to make a Thali: a big plate.

We cooked seven dishes – all vegetarian – and it was a triumph.

Flavours so unique and serious. Each of them complimenting the other. The sum of its parts. So sophisticated.

We didn’t do a sweet, though I really appreciate how you could and probably should.

Start the night before, bring out the tray and your friends will fall off their chairs.

Life’s good.

And the dishes:

Spicy Stir-Fried Garlic Potatoes
Spicy Sweetcorn with Ginger and Green Chilli
Kidney Bean Curry with Cardamom, Ginger and Chilli
Andhra Aubergine, Coconut and Tamarind Curry
Paneer Koftas in a Creamy Spiced Tomato Curry
Wholemeal Flatbreads
Rice to serve