Croque Monsieur

Serves: 4

The Croque Monsieur is is just one of the most classic sandwiches.

Though I had never had it with a glass of wine and a green leaf salad.

Turns out I’ve been doing wrong all these years.

Sitting in the sun with a wonderful Riesling, Nat and I toasted that this is what life was all about. A brilliant sandwich with the bubbling, golden gruyere, the ham, the sourdough and the bechamel.

One of the best Australian Rieslings.

I have a feeling we will pull this combination out many more times.

Life’s good.


8 slices of day-old sourdough bread
3 cups loosely packed (300gm) grated gruyere
8 slices of smoked ham

For the Bechamel Sauce

3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp plain flour
3 c milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serve with a simple salad of greens: cos, radicchio, watercress and rocket and just some extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, well seasoned.


  1. Start with the Bechamel: melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil and finally thickens. Take off the heat, season and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Cool sufficiently that it is firm enough to spread.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200c. Place the 8 sourdough slices on a chopping board. Layer the Bechamel on each slice, spreading evenly edge-to-edge. Sprinkle the cheese equally over each, edge-to-edge.
  3. On 4 of the slices, layer 2 slices of ham and then place the remaining 4 slices on top, cheese-side up. Transfer to a baking tray and cook for 12 minutes or until golden: use the grill at the end if necessary.
Ham sandwiched between the two layers.

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!)


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


  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.

Matt Preston’s Toasted Cheese Sandwich with ‘Quickled’ Onions

Matt Preston’s Toasted Cheese Sandwich with ‘Quickled’ Onions

Serves: 1 – 2

It is the night of New Year’s Day and that pretty much means toasties in a fry-pan.

It’s hot, you’re exhausted, you’ve had your wine and BBQ quota for the year and all you want is to curl up on the couch – with a beer – and watch Seinfeld.

The boys got their usual, plain-Jane toastie and loved it, though we had been saving this Matt Preston toastie for just a night like tonight.

And it killed it.

It is really special. It is simple to prepare assuming you have the right cheeses – which you really do need on account of their ideal melting points. The cheese melts like in a pizza ad.

And the ‘quickled’ onions leave a wonderful aftertaste.

Wow. What a way to start the new year!


1 leek, dark outer leaves removed
½ garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
½ cup grated Gruyere
½ buffalo mozzarella ball, torn
25gm soften unsalted butter
2cm-thick slices white bread
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

‘Quickled’ onions

1 red onion, thinly sliced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbs red wine vinegar


For the quickled onions

  1. Toss onion, salt and sugar in a bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes to pickle slightly. Stir through vinegar and set aside for 2 minutes or until needed.

For the toastie

  1. Clean and trim the leek. Place in a microwave-safe container and microwave uncovered on a high-heat for 4-minutes or until the leek is just tender. Split lengthways, remove the soft inner layers (discarding the outer layers) and chop.
  2. Stir through the garlic and cheeses and season well.
  3. Preheat a frypan over a medium heat. Line with a piece of baking paper.
  4. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 1 slice (per toastie) on the baking paper.
  5. Spread dijon over the slice and make a slight indent in the slice and fill with the cheese mixture. Place the other slice of bread on top, adding more dijon if you can juggle and ensuring the buttered side is facing outwards. (I know that you know how to make a toastie; I am writing this for our young boys so that when they start properly cooking, they have a few recipes and instructions to fall back on).
  6. Cook for 2 minutes each side until melted or until golden and the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve toastie with the quickled onions.

Pommes Dauphinoise (French Potatoes with Nutmeg and Gruyere)

Serves 6 – 8

There are hundreds of interpretations of this dish.

This one is a Orlando Murrin recipe from Delicious magazine. Dauphinoise translates to a “style of cooking” and doesn’t necessarily reflect any one ingredient.

I love cooking rich, baked French potatoes – stock, onions, butter, cream, milk and cheese – and serving them with roasts and casseroles, and this recipe is certainly one of my favourites.

Life is short, eat potatoes.


1 large garlic clove
500ml milk (or half milk, half cream)
Good pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne
900g potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible (I used my brand new mandolin)
175g grated Cantal, Comte (Gruyere) or cheddar


  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Cut the garlic in half and in a baking dish (2Lt approx), rub the exposed garlic all over. After a few minutes, butter the dish well.
  3. Crush the garlic and add all the ingredients (except the cheese) to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir continuously to prevent potatoes sticking, simmer for a minute or two until the liquid thickens perceptibly, and then remove from the heat.
  4. Stir in the cheese, reserving a handful.
  5. Pile into the baking dish pushing the potatoes into the liquid so that they do not stick out. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
  6. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes until the top is dark and golden and the potatoes tender.


Tartiflette (French Cheese and Potato Bake)

Serves: 4 – 8 as a side

There is a time and a place for dishes like this.

Not every night and perhaps not even every Saturday, but if you are going to cook something as utterly incredible as Orlando Murrin’s Roast Fillet of Veal in Parmesean Crust, well there sir, you have the time and place for a dish like this.

I mean, you can always go for a 15km walk in the morning right?

(If you don’t have pancetta, keep looking. You can substitute but seriously…)


1kg potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped thyme
200g Speck or Pancetta
1/2 cup white wine
200ml thickened cream
250g raclette or reblochon cheese grated (substitute, gruyere)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  2. Boil the potatoes for 3 or so minutes; they should be started to soften though not fully softened.
  3. Melt the butter over a medium-low heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the garlic, thyme and Speck (or pancetta) and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the white wine, cream, most of the cheese and the potato and stir to combine. Season.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  7. Cover with a sheet of baking paper (to prevent sticking) and then foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the baking paper/foil and continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden.