Chiswick’s Spicy Passionfruit Margarita

Makes: 2

When shopping for Agave Nectar last week – a key ingredient for this cocktail – I remarked to the lady at Dan Murphy’s (a big chain of liquor outlets in Australia) that we had reached the stage of lockdown where we were now investing in more complex cocktails.

“You’re pretty late to it” she said, walking me over to a part of the shop which really showed how late to the party we were. Lordy.

Empty shelves.

Nat made this cocktail and it is bloody wonderful. Seconds were definitely a requirement.

It isn’t exactly the cocktail from Chiswick though we are claiming it. It’s damn close.

And as I said. It is bloody wonderful.

Ingredients

90ml Patron Silver Blanco Tequila
30ml Cointreau
30ml fresh lime juice
30ml Agave Nectar
4 fresh passion fruits
4 slices red chilli
Ice
Mint sprigs to serve
Shave of orange peel to serve

Equipment

Shaker
Muddler
Strainer
Fine sieve
Jigger

Method

  1. Scoop the passion fruit into your shaker.
  2. Add the chilli slices and muddle.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except those to serve.
  4. Add ice and shake.
  5. Double strain into two glasses over ice.
  6. Garnish with orange and fresh mint.8

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.

Neil Perry’s Bar Rock Cod Tagine

Serves: 6

I’m putting it out there.

This is the best tagine I have had. Nat also thinks so. Ditto her sister Court to whom we dropped a meal pack during the intersection of Sydney’s lockdown and the birth of her first child, Ella.

Ella, I am the uncle you come to first.
Not socially distanced, though I am a carer, fully vaccinated, in a park and with one other person from another household. Also, I don’t care. This is my new niece.

Hello there Ella. You’re beautiful and as lucky as your parents are.

Anyway, back to this tagine.

It starts with a classic Neil Perry Chermoula that I have used so many times for his beef tagine and chicken tagine.

What makes it just that more interesting is firstly the fish which is so much nuanced than beef: and then the wonderful baby vegetables including the kipfler potatoes which are a totally new tagine element for me.

It does colour concerningly red fairly early on thanks to the baby beetroots, though hold the course.

Served with a couscous tossed with chicken stock, currents and flaked almonds, this tagine just hits you. (Or try this amazing couscous.)

It will be the dish of your week.

Ingredients

1kg bar rock cod, skinned, pin-boned and cut into 3-4cm cubes
6 baby beetroots, trimmed
3 bulbs baby fennel, trimmed and quartered
12 baby carrots, trimmed
12 small kipfler potatoes
1 1/2 cups Chermoula*
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
60gm blanched almonds
80gm green olives
1 preserved lemon, rind rinsed and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, strained
Couscous to serve

Chermoula

1 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout
185ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, strained

Method

  1. To make the Chermoula: place the onion, garlic, coriander, parsley, salt, ground cumin and coriander, chilli, turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout in a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil to form a thick paste. Stir through the lemon juice.
  2. Combine the beetroot, fennel, carrot, potato, 1ltr of water, 1 1/2 c Chermoula, honey, salt, almonds and olives in a tagine or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour, covered, until the vegetables are well cooked.
  3. Stir the fish and preserved lemons through the vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes, until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very gently from time to time. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
  4. Divide among bowls and serve with the couscous.

* You will have leftover Chermoula. We marinated and grilled chicken breasts with the leftover Chermoula and you should too.

Antonio Carluccio’s Gnocchetti Sardi Con Broccoli (Sardinian Gnocchi with Broccoli)

Serves: 4

The first post I did for robbydogcooks.com was an Antonio Carluccio dish.

His pastas are always unique, always simple and always 1-hat. We can never fault them, especially the fact that you can start cooking at midday and serve lunch at one.

This pasta is wonderful.

And absurdly simple to make.

With a green salad and a glass of cold vino, it really doesn’t get better.

I have slightly adapted this recipe.

Ingredients

500gm broccoli florets
60gm smoked, streaky bacon, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
200ml heated milk
400gm Sardinian gnocchetti (I used Casarecce which seemed close)
A little hot water from cooking the pasta (this is important)
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the broccoli, drain and process in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, start to fry the bacon in the olive oil. Once it begins to brown, add the slices of garlic, which should not be allowed to colour. Add the broccoli and the milk and cook for 10 – 15 minutes over a medium heat, stirring every now and then. At the end of this time, the broccoli should be reduced to a creamy texture.
  3. Cook the gnocchetti until al denote, drain (reserving some of the water), then our the pasta into the pan with the broccoli mixture, adding the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add a spoonful or two of cooking water so the mixture is creamy rather than stiff. Stir well over a moderate flame for a few minutes or so and serve.

Dan Toombs’ Pakistani Dry Meat Curry

Serves: 4

This is an incredible curry. Hall of fame sort of stuff.

It’s from Dan Toombs’ latest book – The Curry Guy Bible – recommended to me by my mate Rich and what a great book.

There is literally nothing I don’t want to try and based on this dry meat curry cooked by Nat, I am going to cook it all.

I’ve typed up a few dry curries and they are my favourite. Cooking the sauce down until you really don’t have sauce at all.

For many, I appreciate that this defeats the purpose of a curry, though just trust me.

With this particular curry, once the meat is tender and at the point of starting to breakdown, together with the spices, the fried onions and the reduced marinade, my word. Read through the method and get excited.

Add then add this dry meat curry to your cooking shortlist and prepare to be blown away.

Ingredients

900gm lamb leg meat, cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 c ghee (we used 2 tbsp to be healthy)
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder*
1 tbsp fenugreek leaves**
Salt, to taste
4 tbsp chopped coriander to garnish
3 limes, quartered, to serve

For the marinade

1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp (chickpea) flour
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste***
8 (green) bird’s eye chillies, blended to a paste with a drop of water
2 tbsp mustard oil****

Method

  1. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until creamy smooth. Add the meat and mix well with your hands to ensure it is nicely coated and marinate for 3 hours or overnight – the longer the better.
  2. When ready to start cooking, bring 1 litre of water to the boil and add the lamb chunks with all the marinade and stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the lamb is tender. You want to be left with a cup of cooking stock at the end of the step. Tip the cooked meat and remaining liquid into a bowl.
  3. Now, using the same pan, melt the ghee over a high heat and add the onions. Fry for about 15 minutes or until the onions are a deep brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the onions to a separate bowl.
  4. Reduce the meat to medium high and stir in the garam masala and chilli powder and return the set aside onions to the pan. Now add the meat and remaining broth to the pan and cook until the broth has almost evaporated. Turn up the heat to high and flash fry the meat until it is crispy and the ghee is starting to separate from the other ingredients.
  5. Add the fenugreek leaves by rubbing the leaves between your fingers into the pan and season with salt. When you are testing the meat for seasoning, it is very easy to continue snacking, so try not to do that too much! Garnish with coriander and serve with lime wedges.

* Much more subtle than chilli powder so hunt it out.
** Order from Herbies.
*** Blend equal parts garlic and chilli with a little water.
**** Worth the investment.

Lucas Hollweg’s Spinach Gnudi

Serves: 4 as a starter

Geez I wish I took a photo of this cracker of a starter plated by Nat as part of a long Italian lockdown lunch we felt we needed.

(We needed it.)

There is a little time in it, though it’s worth it.

Ricotta and parmesan, burnt butter and more parmesan?

Yes please!

Reminds me of a very similar dish I had at Otto Restaurant on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf with a cracking bottle of Italian white and the sun dancing on the water.

If only…

Ingredients

250gm ricotta (we used smooth)
Olive oil for frying
200gm baby leaf spinach
1 small garlic clove, crushed
50gm parmesan grated, plus extra to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 nutmeg, freshly grated
250gm fine semolina for dusting
50gm butter to serve

Method

  1. Place the ricotta in a fine plastic sieve over a bowl and let it drain for a few hours.
  2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the spinach and garlic. Stir over the heat until the leaves are completely wilted. Set aside to cool and then squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can with your hands. Very finely chop and then squeeze again.
  3. Put spinach in a bowl with the ricotta and parmesan. Season, add the nutmeg and mix well. Taste and add more seasoning/nutmeg if needed.
  4. Spread half the semolina over a large plate or tray. Shape the the ricotta mixture into 16 – 20 balls, rolling them between damp hands. Place on the semolina and carefully roll until coated on all sides. Cover with the remaining semolina, then chill (don’t cover with anything else) overnight. This creates a semolina ‘skin’ that holds he gnudi together.
  5. To cook, bring a large saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and slightly brown/burn. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Drop the gnudi into the boiling water, turn down the heat and gently cook for 3 minutes or until the gnudi float to the surface. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon, drain off the excess water then toss in the butter.
  7. Divide the gnudi among 4 bowls, drizzle the butter over and shave over plenty of parmesan to serve.

Dan Toombs’ Keema Pau Samosa

Serves: 4 as part of a meal

Dan Toombs doesn’t specifically make a Keema Pau Samosa.

Though he does make samosas. And he does make the Keema Pau.

And so I chose to bring them together and I am giving him pretty much all of the credit.

I made these as part of a bigger lunch and the boys – 13 and 10 – literally wolfed them down and asked for more to be made.

They’re not revolutionary. Keema never is.

Though they are as good as I have had.

Note, I skipped making the samosa pastry and went for store-bought shortcrust.

I also baked these samosas rather than (shallow) frying them. Hundreds of videos on how to fold samosas and so I’ll leave that for you.

Ingredients

500gm minced lamb
5 tbsp canola oil
2.5cm cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods, bruised
500gm onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste*
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 very generous tbsp garam masala**
Generous handful of coriander
4 birds eye chillies
1/4 c frozen baby peas
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves***
Salt, to taste
Shortcrust pastry
1 egg
Mint yoghurt to serve

Method

  1. Mix the minced lamb with 2 cups of water and break it up with your hands until the mixture is about the same consistency as porridge. (This will help achieve a smooth keema without any lumps.) Set aside.
  2. In a large pan or wok, heat the oil over a medium-high heat and when visibly hot, stir in the cinnamon and cardamom pods and let the flavours of the spices infuse in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns light brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for an additional 30 seconds and then tip in the meat/water mixture. Cook until the water is evaporated.
  3. Add the turmeric and garam masala and stir well to combine and simmer.
  4. In the meantime, blend the coriander and chillies with 1/4 cup of water until smooth and add to the pan; continue to cook, remembering that this needs to be a dry mixture. Add the peas and cook for a few minutes more.
  5. Finally, add the dried fenugreek leaves, breaking them up as you go. Continue to cook until the oil separates from the meat. Season with salt.
  6. Make an egg wash, heap a tablespoon of the mixture into the pastry and fold the samosas one by one, using the egg wash to seal. (I didn’t egg wash all over though will next time.)
  7. Bake until golden brown.

* Mince equal parts garlic and ginger with a small amount of water.

** I ended up adding at least two tbsp. Taste and go from there.

*** Order from Herbies.

Gordon Ramsay’s Pan-fried Sea Trout, Peas & Chorizo Fricassée

Serves: 2

This is simply a great, 1-hat bistro lunch.

Nat took a day of work – as we all really need to do during this endless Sydney lockdown – and presented this with a glass of Krinklewood Verdelho (if in the Hunter Valley, visit their vineyard: it is wonderful as are the wines) and as we sat in the sun, we agreed that it was moments like these that made the long weeks and routine bearable.

The fricassée gives the dish a rustic, moorish backbone – chorizo, potato, paprika and peas – and the warm caper dressing just finishes it.

We have never cooked a disappointing Gordon Ramsay recipe and this lunch just continued that tradition.

This dish would be perfect for any Saturday lunch though my pro tip: have it on Monday and beat the lockdown!

And vino of course!

Ingredients

2 fillets of sea/ocean trout (or use salmon)
2 tbsp butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

For the fricassée

100gm cured chorizo (1 small chorizo), diced
350gm waxy potatoes (we used kipflers)
Large pinch sweet smoked paprika
125ml fresh chicken stock
150gm cooked peas

For the warm caper dressing

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp small capers, drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Small bunch tarragon, chopped

Method

  1. For the dressing: Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a small saucepan. Add the capers as well as the onion and cook for 3 minutes until softened. Add red wine vinegar and cook down until evaporated. Add in the rest of the oil plus the tarragon and leave to infuse.
  2. For the fricassee: heat the oil in a saute pan, add the chorizo and fry for two minutes until crisp and the red oil has rendered out. Add the potatoes and paprika and cook for 5 minute until the chorizo is starting to get browned edges.
  3. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil; and then simmer for 10 minutes or until the stock has evaporated and the potatoes are tender. Stir in the peas and cook for another two minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. For the fish: Score the skin of the trout and season generously.
  5. Heat the butter inside a non-stick frying pan. When it begins to sizzle. cook the fish skin-side down. Gently fry for 8 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and the fish on its way to being cooked.
  6. Turn the fish and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, basting the fish with all the lemony pan juice for a 1 minute whilst it cooks. Set aside in the pan.
  7. To plate: Spoon a pile of the fricassee into the centre of each plate. Gentley sit the fish on-top, skin side up (if using). Spoon the caper dressing around the outside and serve.

Justin North’s Blue Eye and King Prawn Bourride

Serves: 4

I first tried Justin North’s food at Becasse, a totally insane 25-seat restaurant in the top floor of the new Westfield Sydney.

I recall the first dish I ever tried being something like a parakeet egg with volcanic ash and citric something and from there, the crazy show rolled on. A waiter tapped a triangle as the first dish was presented. (I’m not kidding or more the clearer about what it all meant.)

I only ever ate at Becasse – maybe three times – with a great client and friend Paul and it was the food and theatre plus the sheer over-the-top plating that amused and impressed us so much.

Wine plus this theatre went to much laughter.

North’s food empire – which employed 180 people at its peak – collapsed as sadly they all do, though bloody credit. This man can cook.

Think genius.

My mother shared this recipe with me and it is unquestionably 2-hat.

It is breakthrough stuff like where you’re at a running race with your kids and that freak headed for the Olympics is also in the race. Love ya son, though who the hell is that kid that just clocked in 11 seconds flat?

That’s this dish, out of the blocks – wow.

We had the bourride with a wonderful green salad and thus far in this never ending Sydney lockdown, the bourride wins gold. (And don’t think we’re not trying to give the cooking a nudge!)

Just, bloody wow.

Ingredients

Herb dressing

1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup chervil (or parsley if you absolutely must)
2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt flakes

For the bourride

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 c sliced brown onion
1/2 c sliced fennel
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Pinch of saffron threads
1 c chopped ripe juicy tomatoes
1 strip orange peel
1/2 large chilli
1 c white wine
2 c fish stock
4 x 80gm blue eye fillets (skinned, pinned etc)
12 large king prawns (heads and tails removed)

To finish

1 cup mixed baby herbs such as coriander and basil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Heat the olive oil in a oven proof casserole dish. Add the seeds, garlic, onion, fennel, salt, saffron and cook gently over a medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft, juicy and aromatic.
  2. Add the tomatoes, orange peel, chilli and white wine and continue to cook for a few minutes until pulpy, then add the fish stock, bring to the boil and add the fish fillets and prawns, season with a pinch of salt flakes, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 5 minutes to cook the fish and prawns.
  3. Remove from the over, take the seafood out of the pan and blitz the pulpy sauce for a few seconds to a rustic chunky saucy consistency.
  4. To finish: Spoon the bourride sauce into warm serving bowls, top with the seafood, drizzle over the herb dressing and decorate with the baby herbs and serve.

Sean Connolly’s Crab Linguini

Serves: 4

Nat and I have a great tradition on those public holidays where the gathering of family isn’t a prerequisite: Labour Day, Queens Birthday, Boxing Day etc.

We lock in a babysitter for the kids and we have lunch at The Morrison, a Sydney-city institution by Sean Connolly.

Clean, crisp seafood. Great wine list. Great buzz looking out onto the street at all the trams going backwards and forwards.

The oysters are a must. The prawn cocktail is a must.

Though the biggest must is the Crab Linguini.

We order it every time and I know of at least one other mate that does the same.

And here is the receipe.

Simple as one would expect from a chef that heros simplicity.

To really go the extra mile, Nat made fresh linguini and my word, what an awesome dinner we had:

If you really want to bowl your guests over, this is how you do it!

Paired with Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with an Anchovy Cream and a great bottle of Chardonnay, nobody ate better in our part of that night.

(And when this Sydney lockdown ends, book a table at the Morrison. It really is a fun afternoon.)

Ingredients

500gm thickened cream
300gm fresh crab meat
50gm unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp canola oil
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Handful mint leaves, torn
Handful of Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Heat the cream in a large pan, bring to a simmer and reduced until thickened.
  2. Remove from the head, add the butter and a pinmch of salt, combining vigorously.
  3. Once combined, return to the heat and add the lemon juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Cook the linguini al dente and set aside.
  5. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and once hot, warm through the crab, chilli, and parsley. Add the parsley and then the cream sauce. Season, stir through the parsley and serve.