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.

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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.

The Bourke Street Bakery Pork and Fennel Sausage Roll – An adaptation

Makes: 24 half sausage rolls

For a family picnic today, I was assigned sausage rolls.

I know it’s easy to love sausage rolls, though is it in reality?

It’s so hit and miss.

The ones from petrol stations are terrible.

And patisseries can sometimes nail their brief, though so often they’re over the top. Too clever by half, too complicated, too much to process.

Sausage rolls are about comfort and flaky, oily pastry. Not something excessively gourmet and challenging: I have a hangover, I just want a coffee and sausage roll amazing-ness.

Bourke Street Bakery – a bit of a Sydney institution – is famous for its pies and sausage rolls. Their pork and fennel sausage roll is pretty amazing.

Though it is on the gourmet end of sausage rolls. The beef bourguignon end of pies if you know what I mean.

Which is why this adaptation of their sausage roll is genius!

It just rolls. It nails true brief.

It is what every patisserie should have on offer from 8am on Sunday morning.

I’d order 6. And several coffees.

I really wanted to cook something special when given the sausage roll brief for today’s picnic.

Why?

My sister in law Court (Coco, CD) and her husband Greg (Gweggy) pulled the broader family together for a post-Christmas BBQ; and a casual gender reveal.

Yep, they’re having baby #1.

And it’s a girl!

Nat and I love these guys.

They make us so happy. Long lunches, late autumn nights by the fire, plenty of wines, too much laughing. (Dancing with Court last year at my 40th, I was pushed fell down and limped for a week: didn’t even blame her!)

We are so proud of you guys. We are so happy for you. You have babysitters for life.

As I’ve previously said, these guys love their food though assume that during the first few weeks of babydom these sausage rolls will make an appearance at their doorstep. Plus curries, pastas and even a pork shoulder.

Go nail this Team K!

We love you.

Ingredients

1tsp fennel seeds, plus extra to sprinkle
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium brown onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 sprigs sage, picked and finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
20gm unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 cm
1.5kg pork mince
100gm breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
Puff pastry
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Toast the fennel seeds in a large frying pan over a low heat for 2 minutes until fragrant. Crush lightly in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  1. Using the same pan, heat the vegetable oil over a low heat. Sweat the onion and garlic until lightly caramelised. Take as long as you can. This is where the flavour is! Add the toasted fennel seeds, sage, rosemary and thyme and set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium-high heat: add the apples and toss gently in the butter for a few minutes until softening. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is lightly caramelised. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan and set aside.
  3. Combine the mince, breadcrumbs, apples and onion mixture. Season well and mix through with your hands until well combined.
  4. Thaw your puff pastry from the freezer. You’ll need around 7 – 8 sheets based on the quantity of pork mixture. Divide the pork mixture evening and roll your sausage rolls, with the mixture being a cylinder about 1/3 of the way down each sheet. Ensure that the seam sits under the meat.
  5. Make a few fork punctures at the top of each sausage roll. Cut the the sausage roll in half or quarters depending on what you are catering.
  6. Beat your egg and egg wash all over the pastry. Sprinkle with fennel seeds.
  7. Bake on baking trays lined with baking paper at 180c for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

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Merry Salmon Christmas!

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

Serves: 4

We did a seafood themed-dinner the evening of Christmas Eve and one of the dishes we prepared was this number from Jamie Oliver.

It is something I have wanted to try for a while and with a beautiful side of salmon right from the fish markets (we doubled the recipe) it was a real hit: the sauce, the pastry, the thick, flaking salmon and the wonderful watercress and spinach filling.

Complete with Christmas pastry-work by Nat, it looked and tasted just like Christmas and it was just as good as a cold snack on Boxing Day.

I’m slightly sad thinking it will be almost a year until I can cook this number again…

Ingredients

Olive oil
2 French shallots
100gm baby spinach
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
200gm baby leaf watercress
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
200gm crème fraîche
500gm thick, skinless salmon fillet, pin-boned
500gm puff pastry sheets
1 large egg, whisked

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and brush it with a little oil.
  2. Peel and finely chop the shallots, roughly chop the spinach, then pick and chop the parsley leaves. Chop half the watercress, leaving the rest whole.
  3. To make the filling, warm the butter and a splash of oil in a pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.
  4. Add the spinach, parsley and chopped watercress to the pan with the zest and juice from the lemon. Season to taste and stir in a good grating of nutmeg.
  5. Cook down the leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, then mix in 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche.
  6. Tip it into a sieve set over a bowl and press to squeeze out the juices. Leave the filling to cool.
  7. To make the sauce, blitz the remaining watercress and crème fraîche in a food processor with juices from the bowl. Season and transfer to a bowl and chill until needed.
  8. Slice the salmon fillet in half sideways, so you can open it like a book.
  9. Spoon the cooled filling down the middle, fold the fish back over to close and set aside.
  10. Prepare enough pastry sheets to fully wrap the salmon: 2, maybe 3.
  11. Place one piece of pastry on the baking tray and lay the salmon on top in the middle. With your finger, dab water around the edge of the pastry, then lay the other piece on top.
  12. Mould the pastry around the fish with your hands, then press the edges with a fork to seal. Score the top with a knife, then beat and brush over the whisked egg.
  13. Bake the salmon in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp.
  14. Serve with the watercress sauce.

Chicken Balti Pies

Serves: 4

An interesting story behind these pies.

They were invented by an English food company, Shire Foods in 1997. Sold at football games, sales of the pies exploded; according to Wikipedia, the pies have a cult status and clubs including Manchester have Shire Foods as their exclusive pie supplier.

Any why not?!

Anyone who brings together a spicy chicken curry and puff pastry is a genius. Genius, just like these pies.

Which of course begs the question, why aren’t all curries covered in pastry?

Start with this pie and you’ll ask the same question.

(The original recipe asked to make individual pies. We made one large pie. Obviously, up to you so have kept the pastry/pie step pretty loose…)

Ingredients

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp garam masala
4 cardamom pods
1kg chicken thigh cut into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 long green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
10 curry leaves
375ml (1 ½ cups) chicken stock
1 tbsp plain flour
6 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp nigella seeds
Buttered peas and ketchup to serve

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add spices and stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken, tomato paste and chilli and cook, stirring to coat in spices for 6 minutes or until the chicken is browned all over.
  2. Add curry leaves and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the stock has almost completely reduced; you are ultimately after a thick pie gravy. Add flour and stir for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line your pie trays or casserole dish with puff pastry; fill with the pie mixture. Complete your pie by covering and sealing with the remaining puff pastry. Brush with the egg wash and scatter with nigella seeds.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  5. BOOM!

Curry Puffs

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Holy crap these are good. The real deal. Add peas if you feel like it.

Serves: 4 – 6 as a side

If your brief is to shut down the local Malaysian Curry Puff business, proceed with this recipe.

Wow, it doesn’t get any more real than this.

They don’t get the heart tick of approval though they get every other tick out there; seriously, they’re perfect. Just like that Malaysian Curry Puff business you’re shutting down.

A few other recipes I read asked for the homemade creation of your own puff pastry, though that is totally non-necessary based on my experience.

I doubled the recipe though for 4 to 6 people, follow the recipe below. Plenty to share!

Ingredients

2 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp finely chopped coriander root
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100gm beef mince
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp water
100gm mashed potato
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
Vetegable oil
Sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method

  1. Stir fry the coriander root, spring onion, garlic and beef until the colour changes.
  2. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and stir-fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the fish sauce and water and simmer until the mixture thickens.
  4. Stir in the mashed potato and cool.
  5. Cut rounds – around 10cm in diameter – from the pastry sheet. Spoon the filling into the centre of each, brush around the edges of the pastry with the egg, fold to enclose and press together with a form to seal.
  6. Deep-fry the curry puff until crisp and lightly browned, drain on paper towels and serve with the sweet chilli sauce.