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.

Prawn & Cannellini Bean Salad

Serves: 4

This is just a great salad.

Like surprisingly great.

Saturday lunch is served!

Ingredients

500gm green prawns peeled
400gm canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
2 inner celery stalks, sliced, leaves torn
20 pitted Ligurian olives
8 basil leaves, torn
Crusty bread, to serve

Red Wine Dressing

100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients

  1. Make Red Wine Dressing: combine oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper in a screw top jar and shake well to emulsify. Pout into a bowl.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with 2 tbsp of salt per litre of water.
  3. Add the prawns to the boiling water and cook for a minute or two. Allow to cool somewhat and then cut into chunks and add to the Red Wine Dressing.
  4. Add beans, celery, celery leaves, olives and basil and toss until well combined.
  5. Serve at room temperature with crusty bread.

Crab and Preserved Lemon Risotto

Serves: 6 as an entree

Just before Sydney’s lockdown, Nat and I did one of the Sydney Seafood School classes: a well received Mother’s Day present.

At their best, these classes are a lot of fun. An hour in the auditorium watching the chef cook and then two hours cooking at a workstation with another couple, knocking over the various dishes.

Then it’s lunch with a glass of wine. (You can even order an additional bottle of wine which of course, I commend firmly.)

The Italian Seafood class we attended did not push us particularly in terms of technique or complexity, though Nat cooked one of her first risottos (I am the resident risotto cooker) and I cleaned a squid for only the second time. And hey, we had fun!

And of course, I only type up recipes that are great and genuinely, this risotto is great.

I overheard someone saying that the preserved lemon was a little overpowering and lemon zest would be better.

Wrong.

It works and if you love crab and/or preserved lemon, this risotto is definitely for you.

Ingredients

300gm raw crabmeat*
1.25 litres quality chicken stock
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
250gm risotto (do not rinse)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 preserved lemon, rinsed and dried, skin only finely diced
50gm salted butter
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbsp snipped chives

Method

  1. Heat stock in a saucepan until simmering, then maintain at that temperature.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, add onion and a good pinch of salt and fry until soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the rice and stir over a high heat until grains are well coated in oil and warmed through.
  4. Add white wine and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, add stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
  6. Continue until rice is tender, with a slight bite, and has a creamy consistency (about 18 minutes): you may not need all of the stock.
  7. Add a final ladle or 2 of stock, preserved lemon, crabmeat, butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until all the butter is incorporated and the grab has broken into thin wisps. The finished risotto should be quite soupy. (The Italians call it all’onde which translates to wave-like.)
  8. Taste, season, stir through chives and serve immediately on a flat plate, tapping the bottom of the plate to spread the risotto out.

* Look, maybe it needs to be said, maybe not. We need to be buying only local, sustainable seafood. Australian for me. The time is up on imported seafood, please.

Chin Chin’s Bo La Lot

Makes: 20

Nat cooked these as part of a Chin Chin-themed afternoon (great Melbourne and Sydney South East Asian noshery) and wow, they’re great. Hot, juicy, absolutely full of flavour, totally fun.

We grilled them and ate them on the spot.

So good!

As part of an afternoon with friends, these would be perfect with cold beers and lots of other hot, Asian nibbles on the grill.

(Fingers crossed Sydney’s lockdown ends by Christmas so we can do just that!)

Ingredients

1 stalk lemongrass (pale part only), chopped
1 large red chilli, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander root, chopped
1 tsp black peppercorns
300gm wagyu beef mince
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 bunch miny leaves, picked, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
20 betel leaves*
1 tbs ground roast rice**
1/2 cup nahm jim jaew
4 lemon cheeks
20 toothpicks, soaked in water

Method

  1. Pound or blitz the lemongrass, chilli, shallot, garlic, coriander root and pepper to make a paste.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients down to and including the caster sugar, before checking the seasoning.
  3. Roll the mixture into 20 balls of equal size.
  4. Roll the balls into individual betal leaves an ‘sew’ each together with a toothpick.
  5. Heat a chargrill pan (or grill) and cook the parcels for about 90 seconds each side.
  6. Garnish with ground roast rice and serve with a dash of nahm jim jaew and some lemon cheeks for squeezing.

* I wandered into our local Thai restauarnt who was happy to sell me a bag. Harris Markets and other fancy fruit and vegetable shops I went to in the Lower North Shore of Sydney came up stumps. Speaks to the size of the Thai community in my part of town I guess.

**Roast rice in a pan until golden. Allow to cool and then blitz in a spice grinder until ground. Store in a dry container.

Gary Rhodes’ Fillet of John Dory and Raisin and Thyme Onions and Bigarade Mashed Potatoes

Serves: 4

This is French bistro at its best.

Such a wholesome, satisfying dish: you’ll be grinning at the end of the meal.

With a good bottle of white as we did, hard to fault this.

The potatoes are called bigarade which in French refers to a bitter orange known as the Seville orange. I susbstituted and it worked well: the absolutely subtle citrus flavour adds just another twist and it pairs perfectly.

Bon appetit!

Ingredients

3 onions, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
50gm raisins
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbs olive oil
1 scant tsp thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dusting
4 x John Dory fillets, each approximately 175gm and skinned
2 tbsp canola oil
Large knob of butter

For the potatoes

675gm flourly potatoes, peeled and quartered
50gm butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
150ml crème fraîche
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 (Seville) oranges
1 tsp caster sugar

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water, approximately 20 – 25 minutes, before draining off the water. The potatoes can now be mashed, adding the butter a little at a time, along with the crème fraîche. Season with the salt and white pepper. (Can I make the quick point that if you are not mashing your potatoes with a ricer, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Perfect mash every time!)
  2. Boil together the orange zest and juice, allowing it to reduce by at least three quarters. Add the caster sugar, stirring the juice into the potatoes which can be rewarmed just before serving.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the onions and shallots. Blanch the onion and shallot slices in boiling water for just 15 minutes, then drain in a colander. This softens both, allowing them to be stewed with the olive oil and thyme, rather than fried.
  4. Place the raisins, sherry vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, cover and leave to one side. This opens up the raisins, releasing their quite strong flavour.
  5. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan and add the blanched onions, shallots and thyme leaves. Cook over a low heat for at least 15 – 20 minutes, until completely softened. Add the sherry vinegar and raisins and season. Continue to cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes, until all the flavours have combined.
  6. Lightly flour the fish and season each with a pinch of salt. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Once hot, place the fish in the pans. Season the fish again. Fry for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Add the knob of butter and continue to fry for a further minute, then turn the fish over. Cook for just 1 more minute and then off the heat. The residual heat of the pan will continue to fry the fish for at least 2 – 3 minutes, providing enough time to plate the garnishes.
  7. Present the raising onions and bigarade mashed potatoes side by side on the plates, then place the John Dory fillets on top of the onions. Any remaining butter in the pan is then spooned over the fish.

Chin Chin’s Naum Jim Jaew 2

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

Many years ago – together with my mother – we went on Royal Thai dive, inspired mainly by David Thompson. So much so in fact, we did a the Royal Thai course at our local TAFE!

One of staples of Royal Thai is Naum Jim, a wonderfully hot, salty and sour sauce.

This interpretation from Chin Chin (of Melbourne and now Sydney fame) is on the money and our favourite weekday use of it, is to steam or pan fry some barramundi and then to pour over Nahm Jim. Serve along side some Asian greens tossed with sesame, soy, oyster, Chinese cooking wine and some dark caramel.

Healthy and yum!

Stored in the fridge for a few weeks so well worth the effort.

Ingredients

12 birds-eye chillies, chopped
6 large red chillies, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbs grated palm sugar
1/3 c tamarind water
2/3 cfish sauce
2 tbs ground roast rice*

Method

  1. Blitz the chillies, garlic, shallot and palm sugar. Add the tamarind water, fish sauce and ground roast rice, stir checking for seasoning. Should be hot, salty and sour.

* Roast rice in a pan until golden. Allow to cool and then blitz in a spice grinder until ground. Store in a dry container.

Gary Rhodes’ Puff Pastry Scrambled Eggs and Leeks with Ham Crème Fraîche

Serves: 4

Many years ago – like 25 – my mother and I would watch Gary Rhodes and his British cooking show.

Rhodes, Gary (crop).jpg
A wonderful guy, a brilliant chef.

He was not only an incredibly talented chef, though came across as a lovely, calm and collected guy.

Sadly, he died prematurely in 2019 though I remember the tributes at the time from people such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. One quote from the time from Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge described Rhodes as “one of the greatest British chefs who almost single handedly put British food on the world stage”.

My goodness.

All those years ago, my mother bought his two books and we cooked a number of his dishes. Just wonderful, wonderful French cooking.

Twently years later, I am telling Nat about Mr Rhodes and the wonderful books I used to cook from, long out of print of course.

Unbenowst to me, Nat tracks them down in a second hand book store (this is the sort of person Nat is!) and we are back in business.

Five weeks into lockdown in Sydney, Nat and I agreed we needed a break. Home schooling, work, renovating an apartment for sale, endless activities to entertain the kids, endless loops around the park to keep sane, we needed some time for ourselves.

So we took Wednesday off. I lit the outdoor firepit and put the Champagne on ice.

And served this decadent dish as the first course.

My lordy it is fine. Absolute dinner party material.

I said to Nat it reminded me of the food I ate in Chartres (France) many years back. Delicate, so tasty, so bloody good.

Update from my mother. This is me on the far right in Chartres. Haven’t changed a bit.

To say that we had the best afternoon since lockdown would be an understatement. And I can assure you that this starter (along with a cold Champagne) was a strong contributing reason for it!

Ingredients

225gm puff pastry
Flour for dusting
50gm butter plus two large knobs for cooking
5 eggs
1 large or 2 small leeks
3 or 4 thick slices of leg ham
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp vegetable stock
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Champagne for serving!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cut 2 10cm x 10cm squares of puff pastry and then cut them diagonally in half to make four triangles. Beat one of the eggs and use to brush the pastries, and bake in the over for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven and set the pastries to one side.
  3. Split the leeks in half lengthways, removing the outer layer. Finely slice the halves, washing off any grit in a colander. Leave the leek slices to drain.
  4. To make the ham crème fraîche, cut the ham into a 5mm dice and set aside. Heat the white wine vinegar in a saucepan. Once almost all evaporated, add the stock and simmer until reduced by a third. Whisk in the crème fraîch, followed by the measured butter. Season.
  5. Cut through the pastries, separated the risen lid from the base. Keep the pastry tops and bases warm.
  6. Melt a knob of butter in a large saucepan and once bubbling, add the leeks. Cook on a medium heat, stirring from time to time to ensure an even cooking, for 5 – 7 minutes, until very tender.
  7. Whilst the leeks are cooking, add the remaining eggs to the one used as an egg wash, beating with a fork to emulsify. In another saucepan, melt the remaining knob of butter and once bubbling, add the eggs. Season. As they cook, turn the eggs with a spoon reasonably vigorously, capturing every corner of the pan. When they have reached a very soft, scrambled consistency, remove the pan from the heat. This leaves you with just a minute to ‘build’ the rest of the dish while the scrambled egg thickens.
  8. Add the ham to the sauce, warming it through. Place the pastry bases on warm plates and spoon the cooked leeks loosely on top of each. Turn the scrambled eggs just once more, then spoon on top of the leeks and drizzle the ham crème fraîche around and over. Finish by placing the pastry lids on top.

Gowing’s Veal Schnitzel with Egg and Mushroom

Serves: 4

Gowings at its best, is a loud, brash and great Friday-afternoon steak joint in the middle of Sydney.

I mean, its food won’t win any awards, though that is sort of the point: t is just a bloody comfortable place to be after a bottle of red!

Nat and I had one memorable lunch where she ordered a veal schnitzel with a mushroom paste and a poached egg on top. My goodness, it was great.

Accompanying it was this cracker of an iceberg salad with ranch dressing.

This veal recipe isn’t their recipe though it is our recreation of it. I promise, it is absolutely on point.

Decant a good bottle of red and enjoy.

(And yes, the recipe does ask for a poached egg and the photo above is of a fried egg, though we were preparing a several courses for a Mexican-themed feast the next day, so mea culpa!)

Ingredients

For the veal

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 veal schnitzels
1 cup panko crumb
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1 tbsp white vinegar
Lemon wedges to serve

For the mushroom paste

3 tbsp butter
750 mixed mushrooms
20gm porcinis
1/2 cup red wine
4 garlic, finely chopped
5 sprigs majoram, leaves finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Commence the mushrooms: put the porcinis in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Draining, reserving the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the mushrooms and pulse in a food processor toegther with the porcinis until well ground.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of butter over a medium heat in a heavy saucepan and add the mushrooms. Sauted for 10 minutes and then add the red wine and reserved porcini liquid.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat 1tbsp of butter over a low heat and then add the garlic. Fry until soft and then add the majoram and cook together until the garlic starts to golden. Add the garlic mixture to the mushrooms and season.
  5. Continue to cook the mushroom mixture, stirring regularly until almost all of the liquid as evaporated and you are left with a think, mushroom paste. Season.
  6. For the veal: Place flour, panko crumb and egg/milk mixture in three separate bowls. Season the panko. Flour the first veal schnitzel, then into the egg/milk wash and then finally into the panko crumb, ensuring that it is well coated. Repeat with the remaining veal schnitzel.
  7. Heat a pot with water until boiling and add the white vinegar: this is for poaching the eggs.
  8. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over a medium-high heat: you want to flash fry the veal rather than cooking it slowly. Commence pacohing the eggs as you cook the veal until golden on both sides.
  9. Plate the veal, pasting a think layer of the mushroom paste on top and finishing with the poached egg.