Pasta, Vegetarian

Basic baked Mac and Cheese with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Serves: 6

We had dinner at a great friend’s place a few week’s back, both as a long overdue catch-up and as a test of his new kitchen.

Matt undersells himself in the kitchen though I secretly think he knows he is pretty good. And he is.

Which is all sort of funny.

He is the most true-blue Aussie I know, being a member of the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, able to crush tinnies on his head and definitely driving a bogan, 1999 Commodore. Not much to see there and definitely not what should be a food guy.

On the other hand, he owns and lives in an extraordinary mansion in Newtown, his beautiful wife Hannah is super beautiful, sophisticated and cosmopolitan and Matt loves his food and fine wine. Cooking, eating and drinking it.

This is a wine tour guy if ever you met one.

Genuinely, there are few people I enjoy a meal more than with Matt and a highlight was when Nat and I had lunch with Matt and Hannah (and her parents) at the Ledbury in London a few years back, one of the world’s best restaurants.

So, here we are for dinner and Matt – as usual – delivers.

Though it wasn’t the chicken-pot-pies (with homemade pastry) that blew our socks off.

It was this Mac and Cheese.

Ask anyone that knows me and Mac and Cheese would be my last meal.

And it could seriously be this one.

Lordy.

We love you Matt and Hannah. You guys are brilliant and this Mac and Cheese keeps me smiling.

This is his recipe and you should cook it.

Ingredients

3 cups whole milk
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
250gm dried elbow pasta
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup panko

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water.
  3. Heat the milk over a medium heat until it starts to bubble but not boiling for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Heat the butter over a medium heat in a separate pot. When the butter has melted add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown; around 3 minutes. Remove from the the heat.
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk – about 1 cup at a time – into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk and get thinner as you add milk.)
  6. Once all the milk has been added, set the pot over a medium-high heat and continue to whisk for 2 – 3 minutes until the sauce becomes silky and thick. (If the sauce sticks to the back of the spoon, you’re done.) Add the salt.
  7. Add the sauce and both the cheeses to a pan and cook over a medium heat until the cheese is barely melted; around 3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and continue cooking whilst stirring continuously until the pasta is hot and steaming; another 5 minutes.
  8. Place the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 minutes or until they are lightly brown, toasted colour.
  9. Fill your baking dish or ramekins with pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Standard
Healthy, Mince, Poultry

Kourtney Kardashian’s ‘Don-approved’ Guilt-free Chilli

 

kourtney-kardashian

A Google search says this is her.

Kourtney Kardashian’s ‘Don-approved’ Guilt-free Chilli

 

Serves: 6

I don’t really know much about Kourtney Kardashian – in fact, I know pretty much nothing – though I suspect that her figure is important to her.

She is on a TV show I think.

This is Kourtney’s (famous) chilli that Nat found in the sort of magazine Kourtney Kardashian is featured in and the chilli isn’t bad at all.

In fact, it is a pretty good, spicy chilli.

I added sliced carrots, 2 red chillis and capsicum to it and dialed down her 3 tablespoons of chilli powder to 1 ½ tablespoons. Of course, if you want your heart to explode through your chest, go with her suggestion, though for the rest of us with only 10 minutes to eat lunch, stay with the dialed down version I have written up below.

Not sure of what the old Kourtney has given us food-wise otherwise, though thank you for the mince.

She is a good, simple, healthy mince.

(And double it of course as with all minces and freeze.)

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
500gm ground turkey
1 ½ tbsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
1 x 800gm can diced tomatoes
2 x 400gm can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Avocado and coriander to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil over a low heat in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion (and fresh chilli if using) and saute until golden.
  2. Add the mince, using a spoon to break it down. Cook until all of the liquid as evaporated.
  3. Stir in the chilli powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Add the tomato, kidney beans and other vegetables you might want to add.
  4. Bring to the boil and then cook for 45 mins to an hour or until thickened. Season.
Standard
Healthy, Poultry, Stew

Spiced chicken, spinach and sweet potato stew

Serves: 4

So, between the time of writing this and next Friday (4 days away), Maxy Ashes Beerworth will be born.

A little man destined to make – and break – our lives, at least in the short-term. (The making will be a much longer-term affair though the immediate focus is on the cannonball that will interrupt any concept of sleep, dancing with tequila in the kitchen late at night or eating out on a whim.)

But kids are a long-term game and I am so bloody excited, words do not describe.

But back to the short-term play.

We will need food and at a time when the sous vide and micro herbs probably won’t play a part.

Herein starts a short series of posts dedicated to Maxy, our sanity and eating well.

And this bloody marvelous stew is a great way to kick it off.

It takes a while and I have adjusted the recipe to add a touch more spice – of which you could certainly add more – and I recommend it it without hesitation if your little Maxy is about to enter the world.

Or you just want an awesome, super-healthy stew for lunch.

Seriously, she is good.

Ingredients

Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, cubed
200gm baby spinach, fresh
8 chicken thighs, chopped
500ml chicken stock

Spice mix

2 red onions, chopped
2 red chillis, chopped with seeds
1 tsp paprika
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
400gm can tomatoes
2 preserved lemons, deseeded and chopped

To serve

Coriander
Pumpkin seeds, toasted

3 preserved lemons, deseeded and chopped
Warmed naan bread

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend all of the spice mix ingredients until very finely chopped.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the spice mix for around 5 minutes until thickened.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Add the stock and reduce over a medium heat until thick; an hour at least, likely two. You want a thick stew and the chicken breaking apart.
  5. Meanwhile, boil the sweet potato for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  6. Season the chicken with pepper, add the sweet potato and spinach. Combine for a minute or two.
  7. Serve with coriander, pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of chopped, preserved lemon.
Standard
French, Seafood

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.
Standard
BBQ, Beef, Mince, Sauces

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger

Makes: 4 big`burgers

A while back, we passed the all important step of understanding that for any burger to be amazing, it has to start with amazing, fresh mince.

Not the variety you get from the supermarket and certainly not the lean stuff you might otherwise use in a mince.

Instead, you need a quality cut of steak (chuck or similar), you need to see it minced in front of you on a coarse grain and you need to cook it within 24-hour.

This and this alone will set you on the path to a superb burger.

There are then plenty of directions and approaches you can obviously take and a fried green chilli burger we cooked last weekend only scratches at the surface of where you can go.

For me however, nailing the quintessential, classic burger was a bit of a must before venturing off in these many possible directions: nailing a burger with ketchup, American mustard and good egg mayo.

I previously typed up Neil Perry’s classic burger as simply that: a classic. And it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

This Insanity Burger then is like taking what is already a classic sportscar and really seeing what you can do with it. Pushing the outer limits of the handling, engine and design.

Hand on heart, it deserves the name Insanity Burger.

Nail this burger and you will have successfully passed Level 1 of the burger game; free to play the next level and start down whatever direction you choose.

Just make sure you get your mince right.

Ingredients

800gm freshly mince chuck steak
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
White wine vinegar
2 large gherkins, sliced
4 brioche burger buns, halved
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
4 tsp American mustard
Tabasco Chipotle sauce (Woolworths and Coles have it)
4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese (ditto)
4 tsp tomato ketchup

For the burger sauce

¼ of an iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp egg mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brandy or bourbon

Method

  1. Divide the mince into four and roll into thick, patties, 2cm wider than your buns.
  2. In a bowl, dress the onion with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. For the burger sauce, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. In a pan over a low heat, cook your bacon to the point of crispiness.
  5. Heat your grill as high as possible, rub your burgers with a bit of oil and grill; after 1 minute flip and brush each cooked side with ½ tsp of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After 1 minute more, flip and repeat.
  6. Cook for another minute or two and then place two pieces of crispy bacon on top and then the cheese. Grill until the cheese melts; grill the buns at the same time.
  7. To build the burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, add the cheesy burger, a quarter of the onions and the gherkins. Add 1 tsp of ketchup on top and close.
  8. You passed!
Standard
French, Poultry

Christine Manfield’s Five-spice Duck and Shiitake Mushroom Pie

Serves: 8

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

Christine Manfield is unquestionably one of Australia’s most talented chefs that you’ve never heard of… unless you’re a foodie.

Her Paramount restaurant was arguably Australia’s best restaurant for many years and the breadth of her capabilities is stunning. One downside is the complexity of much of her work where a sauce is reduced and added to another sauce which is then reduced and worked into another sauce.

Tuesday night cooking it is not.

Conversely, every recipe I have cooked from her beautiful Indian cookbook Tasting India has been so unique, so wonderful that the decision to invest the time is simply one about what sphere of eating you want for that night.

Her food is not incrementally good. It is revolutionary good.

From Indian to this recipe is a jump, though you’ll understand my point about the range of her abilities. It is one of the finest bits of food I have cooked.

Indeed, this pie is one of her signatures and she says of it:

“This was a constant on my Paramount menus from the very beginning to the restaurant’s final night, selling out on a nightly basis,” says Christine Manfield. “People still stop me and request it. It pays homage to the French Pithiviers, a hand-moulded dome, while its filling is a nod to Chinese flavours. Where the humble meat pie holds special significance for many Australians, this version elevates it to a refined status. Don’t be daunted by the process – the workload can be spread across a couple of days and the result is a triumph, so please persevere.” Manfield suggests making the pastry and balls of duck-mushroom filling the day before, and then rolling out the pastry rounds and assembling the pies on the day of baking.”

All I can say is that after a day in the kitchen, this pie will blow your socks off. You’ll have bonded, you’ll have opened a wine at 5 and you’ll be so pleased with yourself and so you should be.

Do it.

Ingredients

4 Duck Marylands (250gm-300gm each), trimmed of excess fat
½ tsp ground Sichuan pepper
½ tsp Chinese five-spice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2star anise, broken into pieces
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 litres brown chicken stock

Mushroom mixture
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
250 gm shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
250 gm chestnut mushrooms, trimmed (see note)
1 tbsp five-spice salt (see note)
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Crème Fraîche Pastry
2 ⅓ cups) plain flour
250 gm chilled unsalted butter, diced
250 gm crème fraîche
Eggwash, for brushing

Ginger Glaze
1 onion, thinly sliced
1small red chilli, thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger, plus 1 tbsp extra, cut into julienne
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star anise
100 ml Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine
25 ml Shaoxing wine

Method

  1. Prick duck skin with a skewer. Combine Sichuan pepper, five-spice and 2 tsp sea salt in a bowl, then rub into duck.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in deep frying pan large enough to hold duck in a single layer over medium-high heat and fry duck, skin-side down, until browned (2-3 minutes), turn and cook other side for 2 minutes. Set duck aside, tip fat out of pan, add remaining oil and onion and sauté until onion is softened and translucent (4-5 minutes).
  3. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion and fry until softened and just starting to colour (6-8 minutes). Add whole spices and fry for another minute or so until fragrant. Add stock, bring to the boil, add duck in single layer so it’s covered by stock, reduce heat to low and simmer until duck is tender (50 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Remove duck from stock (reserve stock), then, when cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones (discard skin, bones and sinew). Finely chop and set aside.
  5. Strain stock through a fine sieve, cool, then refrigerate until fat sets on the surface (2-3 hours). Skim off fat, discard and refrigerate stock until required.
  6. For mushroom mixture, heat oil in a frying pan and sauté onion, garlic and ginger until fragrant (3-4 minutes). Stir in mushrooms and toss to coat, then sauté until softened (8-10 minutes). Season with five-spice salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, stir to combine and remove from heat.
  7. Stir in the spring onion and parsley, cool slightly, then add to duck meat and mix well with your hands. Roll into 8 balls roughly the size of a tennis ball, place on a tray, cover and refrigerate until cooled and firm (2-3 hours).
  8. For the crème fraîche pastry, process flour, butter and 1 tsp sea salt in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs – don’t overwork. Add crème fraîche and pulse until just incorporated. Tip out onto a bench, form into a disc about 3cm thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest for 2 hours.
  9. Cut pastry into 4 even pieces. Keep remaining pieces refrigerated as you work with each; roll out each and cut out two 11cm-diameter rounds for the 8 lids, place on a lightly floured tray and refrigerate. Re-roll pastry and cut out eight 7cm-diameter rounds for the pie bases, place on a lightly floured tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  10. Working with a pastry base and lid at a time and keeping remaining pastry rounds chilled, lay a small pastry round (base) on a lightly floured surface, brush edges with eggwash and place a ball of duck mixture in the centre. Place a larger pastry round (lid) over the top, gently mould pastry over duck mixture with your hands, press edges with a fork to seal, then trim edges with a paring knife. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate while you assemble the remaining pies. Brush pastry with eggwash and score seven arcs from centre of lid down the dome with a paring knife, then refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.
  11. Meanwhile, for ginger glaze, fry onion, chilli and chopped ginger in oil over medium-high heat until soft and translucent (2-3 minutes). Add spices and fry until fragrant (1 minute). Deglaze pan with ginger wine and Shaoxing wine, and boil until reduced by half (3-4 minutes).
  12. Add 300ml reserved duck stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half (40-45 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve and season with salt to taste. Just before serving, bring to a simmer, adding julienned ginger at the last minute.
  13. Preheat oven to 200C. Bake pies until golden brown (18-20 minutes). Serve with ginger glaze.
Standard
French, Seafood

The Boathouse Snapper Pie

Makes: 5

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.

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.
Standard