Paul Bocuse’ Chicken Salad

Serves: 3

This Paul Bocuse salad is just excellent.

(Not that one would be surprised coming from one of the greatest chefs of all time!)

Such a wonderful, sophisticated flavour. Everything balances, everything is just right.

Definitely a Saturday lunch winner.

(The recipe calls for white baby onions. These ARE NOT those appalling things you can find pickling in jars. You’ll have to shop around – Harris Farm or a nice IGA – though they are out there. If you use those onions in a jar, a curse will come over your kitchen!)

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
Cos lettuce, sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 white baby onions, sliced finely
100 gm Gruyère cheese, diced
100 gm black olives, pitted and torn
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
100gm walnut pieces
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Method

  1. Poach the chicken in water together with some celery leaves and peppercorns and then cool and slice into strips.
  2. Place the chicken, celery onion, cheese, olives, tomatoes and walnuts in a large bowl and chill.
  3. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.

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.

Neil Perry’s Beef Chuck and Pea Pies

Serves: 4

Some nights simply call for a pie.

A few months back on a freezing Saturday, we agreed that we were heading for one of those nights.

And given that the finest pairing to a pie are peas, it was going to be hard to look past this pie from Neil Perry.

It is a pretty down-the-line pie recipe though that is kind of the point for “must have pie” nights. Beef that is falling apart, a cracking gravy and then those peas.

(Plus a proper mash where we diced in a raw eschallot – trust me, it’s brilliant.)

Open a bottle of red, put on a movie and boom, there’s pie night done!

Ingredients

1.25kg beef chuck, diced and cut into 3cm cubes, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp plain flour
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
200ml red wine
200ml veal or chicken stock
150gm frozen green baby peas, defrosted
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 – 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Toss the seasoned beef with the flour until evenly coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over a high heat. Add beef in batches and cook for about five minutes per batch until well browned, then remove. Add more oil to the pan if it dries out.
  3. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Add the tomato paste and 1 tbsp flour and cook for a minute or so. Add the red wine and stock and stir until the mixture boils.
  5. Return the beef to the pan, cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for at least two hours or until tender. Stir through the peas and mint. Allow to cool, then chill in the fridge until cold. (“Warm filling will ruin the pastry.”)
  6. When the beef filling is ready, heat the oven to 180c. Divide the pie filling among pie dishes and top each with a piece of pastry large enough to hand over the edge of each dish.
  7. Press the pastry down firmly around the edges of the dish and brush evenly with the egg yolk. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu

Serves: 4

We were in Queenstown, NZ this year for my birthday.

(If you haven’t visited Queenstown, it really does need to be on your bucketlist: some of the best restaurants we have eaten at, great bars, amazing vineyards, incredible drives and apparently skiing if you are so inclined.)

One of the most memorable meals was at a restaurant called Rata by Josh Emmet. A beautiful, contemporary restaurant, engaged service, incredibly good food and $45 (!!) for three courses. We simply couldn’t believe it.

Not complete with running an amazing restaurant or having three Michelin Stars to his name, Josh Emmet is also an accomplished cookbook writer and his book ‘The Recipe.’ would have to be one of the best cookbooks I have ever purchased.

The book is a collection of the world’s classic recipes as cooked by the “world’s best chefs”: Gordon Ramsay, Neil Perry, Ken Hom, Christine Manfield, you name it.

It is one of those cookbooks with such beautiful photography where you can happily spend the afternoon with a bottle of wine with your partner, earmarking all the dishes you’re going to cook and dreaming of the wonderful meals coming up.

(If it wasn’t clear, buy this book!)

So… dish #1 – cooked by my very culinarily-capable wife – was Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu.

And it was spectacular. Old school, new school spectacular.

Old school in that ham and cheese in a crumbed chicken breast is a bit our parent’s generation of Saturday night cooking. But wow, it was so good.

New school in that our parent’s didn’t cook it: they cooked it from frozen. Or if they did cook it (which they didn’t), they didn’t cook it like this.

This is honest, wonderful, cooking. On all levels.

Cheese oozing. Ham and mustard. A contemporary breadcrumb.

Make it one of those Sunday nights where you make an outrageous potato gratin. Open a Pinot. Put the kids to bed.

And don’t think of Monday.

Ingredients

A little butter, for greasing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp chopped fresh chives
4 very thin slices lean cooked leg ham
4 very thin slices Swiss cheese (or grated Gruyère)
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp all-purpose plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c. Grease a baking dish with butter.

Split the chicken breasts horizontally to give two flatter pieces. Place each between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten each chicken breast to a thickness of 5mm.

Spread each chicken breast with 1/2 tsp mustard and sprinkle each with 1 tsp chives. Cut ham and cheese slices to fit the chicken and top each chicken breast with ham and a cheese slice. Roll up, tucking the ends inside.

Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine the egg and milk, beating slightly.

Place breadcrumbs in another shallow dish. Coat chicken rolls in turn with flour, then egg mixture, then roll in crumbs. Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Chicken and Lime Salad

Serves: 2

At a certain point over the Christmas/New Year break, all of us yearn for a culinary breather.

An end to the eggnog, ham and Champagne. A meal that isn’t 1,200+ calories (before the wine!).

Which is where – thankfully – this clever salad comes in.

Repent and enjoy.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, poached and thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of two small limes
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp palm sugar
Chopped coriander
Lime wedges

Method

  1. Mix together the lime juice, chilli, fish sauce, oil and palm sugar and correct the flavours.
  2. Mix together the cucumber and tomatoes and arrange on plates. Arrange the sliced chicken over the vegetables.
  3. Spoon over the dressing, garnish with the coriander and serve with the lime wedges.

Bacon, Tomato, Comté, Cheddar, Spring Onion and Pickled Mustard Seeds Toasted Sandwich

Serves: 4

Already two late-night toasties down over the Christmas holidays, we decided to toast a third, closer to the classic “ham, tomato, cheese”.

However this recipe – from the excellent Chefs Eat Toasties Too – completely dials up the classic in a number of important ways.

Firstly, bacon.

🐖

Which, with all due respect to ham, is a clear checkmate move.

Then, there is the Comté (We substituted Gruyère) AND the cheddar.

Another checkmate, especially with the thinly sliced spring onions.

The real cracker however are the pickled mustard seeds which take the sandwich to restaurant-level.

You will forever look down on the ho-hum ham, tomato, cheese after toasting this late-night toastie.

Ingredients

8 slices white sandwich loaf
140gm unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp hot English mustard
12 cold-smoked bacon rashes, cooked
4 small ripe truss tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
160gm Comté (Gruyère), grated
100gm cheddar, grated
2 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced

For the pickled mustard seeds

100gm yellow mustard seeds
50gm caster sugar
2 tsp salt flaked
150ml Chardonnay vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)

Method

For the pickled mustard seeds

  1. Place the mustard seeds in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Drain the seeds and discard the water. Refresh the seeds in cold water and return to the saucepan. Repeat the previous step three times and reserved the blanched seeds in a bowl or jug.
  2. Heat 75ml of water and the sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the salt and stir until dissolved. Stir in the vinegar then strain the pickling liquid over the seeds. Place in the refrigerator, covered, for a minimum of 1 hour.
  3. The seeds will last for 2 months.

For the sandwich

  1. Butter four slices of bread and scrape a thin layer of English mustard on each slice. Place three rashes of bacon on each and add tomato slices on top and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl with the spring onion and evenly distribute this mixture on top of the tomato.
  3. Spread butter on the remaining slices of bread and spread the pickled mustard seeds on the other side. Close the sandwich with the buttered side of the bread on the outer.
  4. Toasted in a sandwich press, buttered sides on the hot grill, until golden brown and crispy.

Spicy Lamb Mince Jaffas with Labne

Serves: 4

Let’s work backwards on this cracker of a toasted, late-night sandwich.

Labne.

Once you make this – and it could not be simpler – you will never do yoghurt again.

Take 500gm of Greek-style yoghurt and mix through a teaspoon of salt flakes. Pour it into a sieve lined with a muslin (or a Chux cloth) and set it over a pot. Leave it to hang over night.

Discard the liquid in the pot and store the thick Labne in a container in the fridge until needed.

Think of it like yoghurt spread.

For curries. For mince. For toast at breakfast.

A-mazing.

This toastie – which is pretty equally a-mazing – is from the cookbook Chefs Eat Toasties Too. (As someone working on a whole new category for this cooking blog titled Saturday Night Drunk, I recommend this cookbook highly. With a bit of afternoon preparation, that 11pm Saturday night “what’s in the fridge” craving will be well catered and everyone will think you are a genius.)

Either way, please give labne a go at a minimum.

It is awesome and so easy to make!

Ingredients

500gm Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp salt flakes
1 brown onion finely diced
1 bird’s eye chilli, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml light olive oil
500hm minced lamb
1 tbsp tomato paste
500ml chicken stock
50gm pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
80gm unsalted butter, softened
8 slices white bread

Method

  1. Make the labne a day ahead. Mix the yoghurt with the salt and pour it into a sieve lined with a muslin (cheesecloth) set over a plastic container. Leave to hang overnight to extract all of the whey. Transfer the thick labne to a plastic container and store in the refrigerator until needed. Discard the whey.
  2. In a large heavy-based saucepan, gently fry the onion, chilli and garlic in the oil for a few minutes over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the lamb; brown it off until all the juices have evaporated. Add the tomato paste and fry for another minute or so. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan; reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the pine nuts, spices, herbs and mix well.
  4. Preheat a jaffle maker. Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. Assemble the sandwiches directly in the jaffle maker. Place a bread slice, butter-side down in the jaffle maker and add 3-4 heaped tablespoons of the lamb mixture. Spread to just inside the edges of the bread and top with a bread slice, butter-side up.
  5. Cook until the sandwiches are golden brown and sealed and serve with the labne as a spread.

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.