Neil Perry’s Classic Prawn Cocktail

Serves: 4

I have plated this dish at least half a dozen times and it is always so well received.

Classic Saturday lunch sort of stuff.

Fresh prawns, iceberg and a wonderful cocktail sauce. Everything you would expect of Neil Perry in his style of cooking.

Of course, it’s nothing new and people have been doing this since the 70s. Though slightly deconstructed like this recipe is, it’s a great return of a classic dish.

Follow it up with a good steak over charcoal and oh man, that is a great Saturday indeed.

Ingredients

150gm iceberg lettuce, outer leaves and core removed, finely shredded (about 1/4 of a whole lettuce)
2 lemon wedges, plus extra to serve
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
16 large cooked king prawns, peeled, tailed instant and intestinal tracts removed

140ml thick good-quality egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish (I use horseradish cream)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. For sauce, combine ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Divide lettuce among 4 plates, squeeze 2 lemon wedges over and drizzle with oil. Season to taste, top with prawns and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Neil Perry’s Chicken and Leek Pie

Serves: 4 – 6

I have written many times about my love of pies.

Though I have never typed up a chicken pie. Not because I haven’t cooked them and don’t necessarily love the very best of them: though I have never cooked one of the very best of them.

Until now.

Weeks into Sydney’s lockdown and it’s Father’s Day and knowing that both my father and my father-in-law love a pie as much as I do, I had to do a compassionate food run.

I needed a down-the-line, bloody good chicken pie.

Something that was honest and simple. To be served with a mash* and peas.

A celebration.

This is just that pie. Thanks Neil Perry as usual.

You can’t go wrong with leek slowly cooked in butter, though it is the thinly sliced chicken breast that wins here.

And smoked bacon.

Line your pie dish with pastry and then cover all with pastry and make it even more svelte.

It’s simple and that’s the point.

Happy Father’s Day.

(I have slightly adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

30gm butter
2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
6 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
3 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips
300ml cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and cook the leeks until very sold and lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until lightly browned, remove and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the leeks, bacon and chicken to the pan. Add the combined cream and yolks, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes and then season with salt and pepper, to taste, Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C. And make a pie. You known how to do this right? Egg wash, prick the pastry to allow the steam to escape and bake for 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown.
  5. Happy Father’s Day ladies. And gents.

* Use a ricer, plenty of butter and milk, well seasoned: and then add a finely chopped golden shallot.

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.

Pan-fried swordfish with celeriac purée by Neil Perry

Serves: 4

We did this dish twice we loved it so much. The brown butter on the swordfish brings out the flavours of the fish and the thyme literally gets chucked in the pan to infuse. The celeriac puree works so well as it lightens the dish against the butter. 

Ingredients

4 x 200g skinless swordfish steaks
sea salt
100ml olive oil
60g butter
½ bunch thyme
lemon wedges, to serve

Celeriac puree

300g celeriac, peeled, roughly chopped
200g pink-eye potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, roughly chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper

Method

  1. To make the celeriac purée, place the celeriac and potatoes in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes. Add the apple and steam for a further 10 minutes. Remove when they are soft. Pass the celeriac, potato and apples through a food mill, or press through a sieve. Place in a bowl and slowly stir in the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  2.  Season the fish to taste. Place a heavy cast-iron pan large enough to fit the 4 steaks on medium heat. Add oil, butter and thyme. As soon as this starts to foam add the swordfish steaks and cook, spooning the foaming butter over the fish from time to time. Cook for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Turn, cooking for a further 4 minutes until golden brown. Cook a little longer if you don’t want the fish medium-rare. 
  3. Spoon the celeriac purée onto four plates, top with swordfish, then spoon the thyme-flavoured burnt butter over the fish and garnish with the thyme sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges.

Neil Perry’s Chocolate Cake

Serves: 10

This is the second time I have had this cake and it is brilliant.

Neil Perry says it is his favourite which is not hard to understand.

It is not only fantastically simple, it is like a soufflé. An incredible chocolate soufflé.

And it will easily last a day so you can cook it the night ahead like Nat did.

A sophisticated dinner party, hard not to go past this.

Ingredients

400gm good quality dark chocolate, broken up
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Cointreau
300ml pure (whipping) cream, plus extra whipped to serve
Icing sugar to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175c. Cut a piece of grease proof paper to fit a 20cm round cake tin, with double layer for the side and a singlet layer for the bottom. Spray the tin with cooking oil and fit the greaseproof paper in snuggle.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water. (Don’t scald the chocolate by allowing the water to boil.) Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to return to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and 2/3 of the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the Cointreau and continue to beat until well combined. Add the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until completely incorporated, then slowly stir in half the cream. Set aside.
  4. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Start whisking the egg whites in a very clean bowl. When soft peaks start to form, slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until very firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Finally, fold in the whipped egg whites.
  5. Pour into the cake tin, put the tin in a bain-marie or on a baking tray and add enough hot water to come about 2.5cm up the outside of the tin. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven down to 150c and bake for another 45 mins. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for another 20 minutes. Cut around the edge of the tin, turn it over onto a plate and the cake should slide out easily.
  7. Cut slices using as knife dipped in hot water and clean the knife after each cut. (Place on white plates.) Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with lightly whipped cream.

Neil Perry’s Roast Whole Snapper with Fennel and Olives

Serves: 4

This is a smashing Neil Perry dish, delivered by Nat as a late, slow lunch this past week between Christmas and NYE.

Served alongside with an amazing avocado salsa (I know!), potatoes with salsa verde, broccolini sautéed with garlic and chilli and a bottle of Champagne, this was a post Christmas super-treat.

So fresh, so aromatic, so Mediterranean.

I have a particular affection for people that cook and serve whole fish.

It says a lot about them.

And it dials up any meal. It makes for a special meal.

(Explains my affection for Nat.)

Dive into this one Sunday lunch and you’ll have smiles all around.

Dedication

We’re dedicating this recipe to our great friends Josh and Leesh and especially their new son. Congratulations on your new, little man Charlie:

Josh is the avid fisherman and Leesh is a kitchen wizard.

No couple would seem to catch or cook so many whole fish as these two. Looking forward to a long lunch – and whole fish – once Charlie’s a little bit older.

We’ll bring some solid whites!

Ingredients

4 small whole snapper (400 – 500gms) or 1 large (1.5kg – 2kg)
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 tbsp oregano, chopped
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
1 green capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and quartered
2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed and drained
6 anchovies
150gm Ligurian olives (Nat used green olives)
Sea salt
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Neil’s Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, ripe though not mushy
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
2 spring onions, cut into rings
1 red capsicum, cut in half, core removed and finely diced
2 tbsp finely shredded flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 drops Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Take a roasting tin and check that it fits your fish. (Use two tins if necessary.) Scatter the onion, fennel, oregano and thyme over the bottom of the tin and drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Put the fish on top and cover with the capsicum, tomato, capers, anchovies and olives. Salt liberally and pour the rest of the oil and wine over. Cook smaller fish for 25 minutes or until cooked, basting every 5 minutes or a larger fish for 1 hour.
  3. Place the fish on individual plates or a platter. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over and add the parsley and pepper.
  4. Serve with a big dollop of the salsa. (Plus potatoes of some variety, a green of some variety, Champagne, white wine and plenty of cold beer!)

Avocado Salsa

  1. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and cut the flesh into a fine dice; put in a stainless steel bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir together, check the seasoning and enjoy.

Neil Perry’s Beef Chuck and Pea Pies

Serves: 4

Some nights simply call for a pie.

A few months back on a freezing Saturday, we agreed that we were heading for one of those nights.

And given that the finest pairing to a pie are peas, it was going to be hard to look past this pie from Neil Perry.

It is a pretty down-the-line pie recipe though that is kind of the point for “must have pie” nights. Beef that is falling apart, a cracking gravy and then those peas.

(Plus a proper mash where we diced in a raw eschallot – trust me, it’s brilliant.)

Open a bottle of red, put on a movie and boom, there’s pie night done!

Ingredients

1.25kg beef chuck, diced and cut into 3cm cubes, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp plain flour
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
200ml red wine
200ml veal or chicken stock
150gm frozen green baby peas, defrosted
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 – 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Toss the seasoned beef with the flour until evenly coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over a high heat. Add beef in batches and cook for about five minutes per batch until well browned, then remove. Add more oil to the pan if it dries out.
  3. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Add the tomato paste and 1 tbsp flour and cook for a minute or so. Add the red wine and stock and stir until the mixture boils.
  5. Return the beef to the pan, cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for at least two hours or until tender. Stir through the peas and mint. Allow to cool, then chill in the fridge until cold. (“Warm filling will ruin the pastry.”)
  6. When the beef filling is ready, heat the oven to 180c. Divide the pie filling among pie dishes and top each with a piece of pastry large enough to hand over the edge of each dish.
  7. Press the pastry down firmly around the edges of the dish and brush evenly with the egg yolk. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Neil Perry’s Roast Duck with Cherries

Serves: 4

We don’t cook duck enough. None of us do.

Because every time we cook it. And eat it. We tell each other just how much we love it.

And how far too little we cook it.

We then promise to cook it much more.

And then we don’t.

And the cycle repeats.

In this Neil Perry recipe, I have omitted how to roast the duck; Neil’s recipe asks for two whole ducks, though you can just as easily get duck marylands – even duck confit – from good supermarkets.

The trick is to shred the duck, removing any fat and skin.

This recipe – we called ‘Duck and Cherries’ – was course #3 of #6 we served at our Long Lunch/Short Wedding and many guests said it was the standout:

The cherry sauce can be made beforehand and reheated with the duck. Serve with a salad of baby leaves and a garnish of finely chopped parsley and this would be a wonderful starter or main at any dinner party.

No question, it is a quacker cracker.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
500gm cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen, which we used)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Baby leaves
Continental parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Place a pan over a medium heat and add the oil and butter and cook until foaming; add the cherries, sugar and salt and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant. Remove from the heat and give a really good grind of pepper.
  2. Places heap of the shredded duck meat onto each plate. Spoon over the cherry sauce, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add another grind of pepper. Garnish with the parsley.
  3. Serve with baby leaves at the side.

Penne with meatballs and fresh tomato sauce

Serves: 4

I cooked a great Donna Hay spaghetti and meatball recipe a while ago. 

Though those meatballs didn’t get the tick of approval from the boys (8 and 5) simply because they were gone before the boys could get there hands on them. Given the target market for such a dish, getting such approval could be an important thing for you.

And so here is Neil Perry’s take on a classic. And classic it is.

There is nothing controversial about it and that is why the boys wolfed it down.

It is simply classic spaghetti and meatballs, a version so literally classic, that it’s great.

Sometimes, you don’t need to be fancy to be fancy.

Ingredients

25g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
350g minced pork
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of chopped thyme
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, plus extra
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g penne

Tomato sauce

60ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 anchovies
½ tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and roughly chopped

Method

  1. For the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a heavy pan. Add the garlic anchovies, chilli and a pinch of salt and cook over a low-heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning.
  2. For the meatballs, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until soft and then mash with a fork.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in small saucepan over a low heat. Cook the garlic and onion for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Set aside to cool.
  4. Place the pork, soaked bread, onion mix, parsley, thyme, tomato paste, 1 tbsp grated parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well so the mixture holds together. Form into small balls.
  5. Drizzle some oil in a heavy-based fry pan and cook the meatballs in batches. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce to heat through.
  6. Cook the penne. Add the penne to the tomato sauce and meatballs and toss gently to coat. Divide among bowls and sprinkle with parmesan and a generous grind of pepper.

Italian-style Zucchini and Parmesan Soup

Serves: 4

Wow this is a good soup!

Like, wow.

Neil Perry of course and reasonable quick to whip up, Nat and I cooked this for a Saturday lunch as part of a weekend of cooking and we were blown away.

We used a very good and aged parmesan and shaved it in; not the yellow stuff you get in the supermarket. Some warmed, crusty bread and wow.

We were warm and completely satisfied for the entire afternoon.

You must do this!

Ingredients

750gm green zucchini, cut into 1cm-thick pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch basil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1½ liters chicken stock
125ml pure cream
40gm unsalted butter
40gm parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based sauce pan over a medium heat and add the zucchini, garlic, basil and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the zucchini starts to soften.
  2. Add the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes.
  3. Pour the soup into the blender and pulse until well pureed though still with a bit of texture; not completely smooth.
  4. Return to the saucepan and stir in the cream, butter and the parmesan.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and a good ground of fresh pepper.