Nomad’s Roast Pork Shoulder with Ajo Blanco

Serves: 6 – 8

Goodness gracious, this is an extraordinary pork by Jacque Challinor of Nomad (a great Sydney restaurant) fame.

One of the best porks I have had and even better than the pork shoulder in milk my kids ask me to cook at least once a month.

No question, the brining over night plays a big role here. Ditto the spice rub and Ajo Blanco which just adds another layer of special.

Brining.
And twining.

Though I served it warm on wonderful, light and crunchy bread rolls, French butter, a good dollop of the Ajo Blanco, rocket and a good piece of crackling.

The whole thing is a bit of a labour of love, though everyone at the picnic where I served this up agreed: it was the best they had ever had.

Let’s agree that this is the new gold standard.

Ingredients

375ml sea salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns, toasted
1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 head garlic, halved
1 bunch parsley stalks (reserved from the spice rub)
4 fresh bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1 boneless pork shoulder (about 3.75kg), skin on and scored
250gm flat pancetta, thinly sliced

Ajo Blanco

25gm crustless sourdough bread
90gm blanched almonds
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tsp sherry vinegar

Spice Rub

1 tbsp celery seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
5 black peppercorns
6 garlic cloves
1/2 c (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 c (loosely packed) sage
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

Method

  1. Stir salt in 3.75 litres water oil a large saucepan over a high heat until it dissolves (15 – 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, add the spices, garlic, parsley, bay leaves and thyme, cool and then refrigerate until chilled. Transfer to a large non-reactive container, submerge pork in the brine (keeping the skin above the brine) and refrigerate over night.
  2. For Ajo Blanco, soak bread in 125ml water for 2 – 3 minutes, then squeeze out excess. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, add bread, garlic and oil and blend to a paste. With motor runnings, slowly add 250ml cold water and process until smooth. Add vinegar, season, strain and chill. Make this a day ahead.
  3. For spice rub, dry-roast spices until fragrant. Crush with a mortar and pestle, add garlic and herbs, crush to a paste and stir in the olive oil and lemon rind.
  4. Preheat oven to 180c. Rinse the pork (not the skin) under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Pull out the flesh ready to truss and rub the spice all over. Roll in a cylinder, ready to truss and wrap and flesh in the pancetta. Tie at intervals with kitchen string, place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 3 – 3 1/2 hours.
  5. Increase oven to 225c and roast until skin crackles. Remove from the oven, rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve with the Ajo Blanco.

Almond and Broccolini Salad

Serves: 6

Yum.

Our eldest boys, Oliver and Tom made us dinner the other night.

Meatballs with halloumi and pine nuts… and this dish on the side, found by Oliver after some very diligent online research.

It’s really good and definitely something for a summer BBQ.

Well done boys.

Ingredients

2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
2 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Blanch the broccolini in boiling water until the stems are tender-crisp; 2 minutes or so. Refresh in ice water and set aside.
  2. Transfer broccolini to a serving platter. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice; sprinkle with currants, Parmesan cheese, almonds and lemon zest.

Stephanie Alexander’s Chocolate and Almond Cake

Stephanie Alexander’s Chocolate and Almond Cake

Serves: 6 – 8

You want decadent, you got it!

A favourite of the wonderful Stephanie Alexander, it is simple to prep and even simpler to serve; double cream, some raspberries and a picnic on the grass like we did.

This is a tick tick number and one to definitely try for a casual dinner when you want to really wow the team.

Ingredients

125gm good quality dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp espresso
100gm unsalted butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
¾ cup ground almonds (we blitzed them in the food processor)
3 eggs, separated: lightly beat the yolks, beat the egg whites until firm though not dry
Icing sugar for dusting
Double cream and raspberries or strawberries to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven the 160c. Butter an 18c, round cake tin and line with baking paper: this is a cake that can split and leak easily so the baking paper is best.
  2. Combine chocolate, brandy and espresso in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat without stirring the chocolate until it is melted. Stir and add the butter and sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add ground almonds and stir very well. Remove from the heat. Stir in the beaten egg yolks. Lighten the mixture with a spoonful of the beaten egg whites and then softly fold in the rest.
  4. Spoon the batter into the cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and allow to completely cool in the tin, remembering that the cake is fragile and will plit.
  5. Carefully turn onto a plate, dust with icing sugar and serve with the cream and berries.

One Hundred Almond Curry

One Hundred Almond Curry

Serves: 8

This is an absolute pearler of a curry.

Just wonderful.

Unique, hot, creamy, moorish and all at the same time. That we had it with an indulgent medium-grain rice made it all the better.

From Christine Manfield’s Tasting India, it is one of those curries we have been lucky enough to cook that you will never have at a takeaway or your local Indian restaurant. It is far too good and sophisticated for that.

Not that you would get that from the ingredients at first glance.

It is the almonds that make it so special – something I have written about in the past – and it is their slight crunch, the flavour, the colour and again, the creaminess that makes it work just so damn well.

This recipe from the Himalayas is unquestionably worth doing. Another example of a curry you’d never know existed until you tried it and one you will absolutely love.

Ingredients

2kg lamb leg on bone, cut into pieces
1 tbsp black peppercorns
6 slices ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
3 litres chicken stock
1 ½ cups (240gm) blanched almonds, skins removed
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (essentially, half/half ginger and garlic)
12 dried Kashmiri chillies, broken into small pieces
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp white poppy seeds (we substituted white sesame seeds)
3 tbsp ghee (we substituted canola oil)
300ml coconut milk
70ml Tamarind Liquid
3 tomatoes, quartered, seeled and sliced lengthways

Method

  1. Put the lamb, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and pour in the stock. Bring to boiling point over a medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer for at least an hour until the meat is very tender. This could take up to an extra hour so be prepared.
  2. Remove the lamb from the stock and set aside. Strain the stock, discarding the solids.
  3. Blend the almonds with the onion, ginger garlic paste, chilli and cumin, coriander and poppy seeds to make a fine paste.
  4. Heat the ghee in a large pan and fry the almond paste over a low heat for a few minutes until it starts to colour. Add the coconut milk, tamarind liquid and 2 cups of the strained stock, stirring to combine. Simme for 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Add the lamb and the tomato to the gravy and stir well to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomato breaks down.
  6. Serve with rice.

Fish tagine with saffron & almonds

Serves: 4

Nat cooked this number last week and it was awesome.

Low calorie – 299 per serve to be seriously precise – and packing so much flavour, we had it with cauliflower rice remit with toasted cumin and coriander: some currants mixed through – as Nat pointed out – would have sealed the deal.

To think you can eat dinner like this on the couch mid-week, with a glass of vino and some catch-up TV actually makes the weekday slog OK. These are the moments to look forward to.

There is nothing not to like about this one and plenty to love. Do a kilo of fish like we did and toast the goodness into lunch at work as well.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Good pinch, saffron
500ml hot fish or chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Green chilli, sliced (de-seed if you don’t want it too hot)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato puree (passata)
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp ground almond (almond meal)
Zest of 1 orange, juice of ½
1 tbsp honey
700gm white fish, cut into chunks (make it a kilo and call it lunch)
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Handful flaked almonds, toasted
Couscous and natural yogurt to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan; add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Meanwhile, put the saffron in the hot stock and allow to steep.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for a few minutes more. Add the spices and tomato puree, stir for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, ground almonds, orange zest and juice, honey and saffron-scented stock. Simmer until thickened a little and the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Add the fish to the pan; stir in softly and cover with a lid; simmer for a few minutes until just cooked. Check the seasoning.
  4. Serve scattered with the chilli along with the couscous and a blob of yogurt. Or cauliflower rice if you are a genius like Nat.

Pea, Snowpea, Almond and Feta Salad

Serves: 4

What a great salad!

190 calories a serve, really colourful and bursting with flavour.

This is a real win.

From Toby and Georgia Puttock’s book The Chef gets Healthy, this is a great salad. I mean, who doesn’t love peas – and snowpeas – and with the toasted almonds and some feta?!

Try it and you’ll understand why!

(Slightly adapted to our steam/microwave lives.)

Ingredients

150gm snowpeas, ends trimmed
150gm frozen (baby) peas
½ red onion, thinly sliced
50gm reduced fat feta
30gm flaked almonds, toasted
Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
1 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Handful of rocket or watercress

Method

  1. Blanch – steam, boil, microwave –the snowpeas and peas until bright green and tender crisp; drain and refresh with cold water. Drain again.
  2. Put the snowpeas, peas, onion, feta, almonds, basil, olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl and toss to combine, Season and carefully toss through the rocket or watercress.
  3. Enjoy.