Elizabeth David’s Onion Tart with Green Pea Sauce

Serves: 6

To mark the first day out of Sydney’s lockdown, we did a lengthy, Provincial French lunch.

Nat’s parents came over armed with Champagne and a cracking French red: and our great mate and builder, a man who finishes off all my half-arsed projects and kindly looks after the dogs when we are away.

(Only costs a case of beer or two for that service!)

There was a lot of talk about how I had butchered our big teak outdoor table with a belt sander, or the time I blew something else up.

Acknowledgement, I am not handy.

So I needed to prove that I had at least one passing skill (with laughter in the background about the time I broke a wheelbarrow or the time I installed a swimming pool upside down).

This tart was a wonderful starter and put the needle back in my court. Subtle, simple, elegant, the onions sweated for hours and hours.

Your guests will know a special afternoon is on the menu.

Maybe the addition of gruyere or bacon lardons would have added to it, though its simplicity is all you need to make the point.

The green pea sauce is a wonderful addition.

Even our mate conceded it made up for the poor table sanding job.

Note: I used store bought shortcrust pastry which worked fine. Also, I softened the onion as slowly as possible – 4+ hours – and I know that this makes such a difference if you have the time.

Ingredients

210gm plain flour
Pinch of salt
125gm unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
60gm butter, plus extra for greasing
1kg onions, thinly sliced
Sat and freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks
300ml cream

Green Pea Sauce

20gm butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
500gm baby (frozen) peas
1 1/2 c chicken stock

Method

  1. To make their pastry, save the flour and salt. Chop the unsalted butter through the flour. Make a well in the centre and add 20 – 30mls of cold water and the egg.
  2. Carefully bring in the flour mixture from the outside until the dough comes roughly together. Push the dough outwards with the palm of your hand too roughly blend the butter – you should be able to see large streaks of butter in the dough. Shape into two discs and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the regular butter over a low heat. Add the onion to the butter. Stir until well combined.
  4. Cover and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes or until soft and golden. (As per the absolutely genius Boathouse Snapper Pie, cooking the onions longer and slower is where the best tastes come from, though leave that to you.) Season and set aside to cool.
  5. Whist the egg yolks and cream in a bowl. Add the cooled onions and stir until combined.
  6. Heat your oven to 200c.
  7. Grease six 12cm fluted tart tins with removable bases or one 24cm flan tin.
  8. Roll the pastry out and line the prepared tins, trimming any excess. Place tins onto a baking tray, line each with baking paper, fill with baking beans all the way to the top and blind bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the baking beans and paper, then return tunas to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the base is golden.
  10. Remove from the oven, turn the oven to 180c, fill the tart shell(s) with the onion mix and return to the oven.
  11. Cook for 25-35 minutes until golden on top and set. Remove from the oven.
  12. Meanwhile, to make the pea sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until soft.
  13. Add the peas and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes or until the peas are just tender. Strain the peas, reserving the liquid.
  14. Put the peas and one cup of the reserved liquid into a food process and process until smooth, adding more liquid if required.

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.

The Boathouse Snapper Pie

Makes: 5

Pre-Preamble: we served this pie as course #4 of #6 at our long lunch/wedding. It is one of our favourite dishes and the restaurant – The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay – is where I asked Nat to marry me.

(She gave me a tentative yes though told me to ask a year later for the full affirmative, something I duly did.)

Anyway, so as not to cause confusion, when we first typed this recipe up, we did it as a tribute to our wonderful friends Leesh and Josh for their wedding. Here is the handsome couple at our long lunch/wedding (which was also coincidentally Leesh’s birthday):

The preamble below is what we originally wrote to them and obviously we can’t remove it!

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.

(Here is how Nat produced the tomatoes for our wedding: baby tomatoes, brined overnight, smoking essence and balsamic, seasoned and roasted:)

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.

Keftedakia (Greek Lamb Sausages)

FullSizeRender (15).jpg
Uncooked!

Makes: 20 sausages

We are on a bit of a sausage thing at the moment with the recent addition of a new meat grinder and sausage stuffer to the kitchen.

Though searching for recipes has been a bit of an underground thing.

For whilst you can find the odd super-gourmet sausage recipe out there, there is a dearth of every-day sausage recipes on the web: until you hit the underground sausage forums.

And this is where it gets serious.

I have a few mates that are into smoking meats and they take it seriously. They swap notes about chips and coals and warm-up times and bastes. It is a passion and Facebook is full of their Saturday morning photos and tips as they fire up.

Sausages it seems are much the same, with the sausage forums full of – generally very positive – banter, advice, recipes and tips.

(I am yet to choose the avatar for ‘robbydogcooks3’ and remain a sausage lurker, though I feel the urge.)

Anyway, on one forum, someone by the name of ‘bradsizzle’ asked for the best Greek sausage recipe ‘in the world’.

And the community answered.

Lamb, pork, beef, the people of Crete (joke), orange peel, aniseed, fennel, more lamb, cumin, explosions, debate, more lamb.

The servers were on fire.

We chose this one to begin and it is one bloody fine sausage.

You’ll need a sausage stuffer of course and sorry if you don’t.

robbydogcooks3 is now part of the club and can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.

Sizzle bradsizzle.

Ingredients

1kg lamb shoulder, 2 cm pieces (or ground)
½ cup breadcrumbs soaked in ½ cup milk for 5 minutes
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp red wine (or ouzo)
4 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (or Kefalotiri cheese)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp whole aniseed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp white flour

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients.
  2. Process through your mincer and stuff your sausages.

Spaghetti with Smothered’ Onions and Parmesan

Serves: 4

This is a fantastic pasta.

I cooked it a few years back for dinner with a friend and despite almost an hour and a half of ribbing that I was cooking a vegetarian dinner – and one primary around onions at that – the ribbing pretty quickly wrapped up after plating.

The flavours are just beautiful. The simplicity, depth, warmth and completeness of it all is just so comforting. The sweetness and texture of the onions after almost one and half hours of cooking. The parmesan. The pasta. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Read those ingredients and then the method and seriously tell me you aren’t thinking how good this dish would be!

(I think I have no choice but to cook this again this weekend!)

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions (700gm in all), using a combination of white and red, very thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
2 rosemary sprigs
⅔ cup (160ml) dry white wine
2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
500gm spaghetti
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan

Method

  1. Place the oil, onion, bay leaves and rosemary in a large frypan. Cover and place over a very low heat. Gently cook, stirring occasionally for at least 45 minutes until the onion is extremely soft.
  2. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for another 20 minutes or until onion is a deep golden colour. Any liquid should have evaporated by now.
  3. Season well with salt and pepper (to balance the sweetness of the onion).
  4. Add the wine, increase the heat to high and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Stir in the parsley, cover and keep warm.
  5. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in salted water according to instructions and al dente. Drain then add to the pan with the onions and toss over medium heat to combine well.
  6. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, top with parmesan then toss thoroughly and serve.