Rick Stein’s Lightly Curried Crab Mayonnaise with Lamb’s Lettuce

Serves: 4

We’ve booked our first holiday since the the government announced we could travel within the state: Rick Stein’s Bannisters at Port Stephens.

And we’re excited for plenty of reasons.

It is out first holiday since February. And we love holidays.

It’s Bannisters. We have loved staying at the two Bannisters at Mollymook and based on recommendations from friends, Port Stephens is just excellent.

We’re leaving the kids in Sydney. Love ya kiddies, though don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

And finally… Rick Stein. Enough said.

Obviously, first thing we did after booking the room was to book the restaurant. Because you just can’t beat Rick Stein at his best: fresh seafood, simplicity, from Indian to French.

So, for lunch today we chose a Rick Stein theme and kicked off with this number.

I was a little suspicious because a quick scan of the ingredients tells you it is possibly a little too simple, though the incredible simplicity is the point.

As we ate it, we couldn’t stop talking about just how wonderful it was. How simple, how French.

You could do a whole lot worse than whipping this up as a quick Saturday lunch. Or as a starter to a longer weekend lunch.

Ingredients

3 – 4 truss tomatoes
5 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
500gm fresh white crabmeat
50gm lamb’s lettuce (I used Cos though much closer substitute is baby spinach)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh wholemeal bread, to serve

Method

  1. Skin the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for 20 seconds. As soon as the skins split, remove and cover with cold water to prevent further cooking. Peel off the skins, slice off the top and bottom and slice thinly.
  1. Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in the curry powder, lemon juice and Tabasco. Fold this mixture lightly through the crab meat and season with a little salt.
  1. Overlap a few slices of tomato into the centre of 4 small plates and season them lightly with salt. Spoon some of the crab mayonnaise on top. Toss the lamb’s lettuce (or substitute) with the olive oil and a small pinch of salt and pile alongside.
  1. A crack of pepper and serve with some wholemeal bread.

Turkish-style eggs with Tomato, Green Chilli and Mince

Serves: 4

Every special occasion in our house calls for a special breakfast.

And that generally means something like this number: a spiced mince cooked with eggs.

This past Mother’s Day, Nat – sensibly – opted to run to the gym before an afternoon of champagne, great food and celebration.

Breakfast was spared.

I proceeded nonetheless.

It wasn’t until Monday that Nat handed in her verdict and it was a 10/10. The breakfast we should have had on Sunday: except that you take every opportunity to get out when you have three boys and limited time on your hands and why wouldn’t you?

It’s Mother’s Day.

Well done Nat. You are the best Mum in the world.

Oh, and enjoy this amazing mince breakfast.

It is awesome.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 onion finely chopped
6 green peppers, deseeded, finely chopped
250gm lamb mince
3 tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 eggs
Sea salt
Toasted, buttered, Turkish Bread to serve

Method

  1. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Stir in the peppers and lamb mince, increasing the temperature, stirring, until the lamb is browned.
  2. Tip in the tomatoes, half a cup of water chilli flakes, pepper and a good pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly and simmer on a low heat for 30 – 60 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Push the back of a spoon into the mixture to make 4 wells and crack the eggs into the wells. Cover the pan and cook for until the eggs are just set.
  4. Serve with the Turkish Bread and ideally Champagne if you have it!

Paprika Chicken with Pico de Gallo

Serves: 4

This Frank Camorra dish is a doozy.

Super simple, super healthy (haloumi aside I guess), super weekday cooking.

It is Monday night in a nutshell when you need a glimmer of hope – and possibly a vino – to know that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are within reach.

Save the calories for Friday night and start the week with a Mexican-style chicken breast.

(We used the leftover Pico de Gallo with some pan-fried tuna the next night, adding olives and chopped preserved lemons… two for one and another weekday win!)

Ingredients

1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts
4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
½ bunch coriander, leaf and stalk chopped
1 Jalapeno chilli, finely diced
2 limes, juiced
400gm haloumi cheese
Salt
Salad greens to serve

Method

  1. Mix the paprika and oil in a bowl; add the chicken and mix well until coated. Cover with clingwrap and leave to marinate for an hour.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, coriander, chilli and lime juice to a bowl and mix well.
  3. Heat the barbeque or grill. When hot, grill the chicken until well coloured on both sides and cooked through.
  4. Cut the haloumi into 4 eve slices and grill for a few minutes on each side. Cut into smaller pieces.
  5. Slice the chicken breasts in half and place on your plates. Place the cut haloumi around the chicken and then spoon the Pico de Gallo liberally over the chicken.
  6. Serve with the salad greens.

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.

Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Serves: 6 – 8 lunches

We don’t buy our lunches at work.

Instead, we cook something big on Sunday night – a stew, a mince, a dahl – and that is lunch for the week.

Nat repeatedly makes the point that there is simply no point in wasting calories during the week. Or to the point, wasting calories, at work, at lunch. Better to reserve the pastas and pastry for the weekends when you can have a few wines and mop everything up with bread and more wines.

I don’t disagree.

Thus why you should consider this stew and making it for your next week of lunches.

Working backwards, it is a calorie blackhole. You’ll burn more calories eating it.

Secondly, it tastes just great.

Thirdly, thanks to the chickpeas, it is filling and you won’t be searching around for a Rivita before four.

Save the money, save the calories and save the weekend for the big chicken sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 – 2 tsp chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 dates, pitted and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped into 2 cm pieces
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 x 400gm cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 yellow capsicum (pepper), stemmed and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
Salt and pepper
Couple handfuls of baby spinach
To serve: Greek yoghurt, coriander, lemon zest, brown rice

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat and cook until softened. Add the spices and chilli flakes. Slowly saute until the onions are really soft.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the dates, carrots and sweet potatoes. Season with the salt and pepper and mix. Add the tomatoes, stir and then the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced and thickening.
  3. Add the capsicum and chickpeas; check your seasoning. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the greens and cook for a final minute, adding olive oil, lemon zest and seasoning as need be.

Beef and eggplant moussaka

Serves: 6

Based on a recent cooking show Nat and I watched, I gather that moussaka is regarded as a bit ho-hum in the UK.

Just like Pad Thai is for us in Australia.

In Australia however, Greek food isn’t a mainstream staple and moussaka isn’t something you pick up from the corner store. Greek food is a treat.

The Ashes family introduced me to moussaka. It is one of their staples and they take it seriously.

To satisfy the breadth of palates in the family, the last time I did this en masse (there were eight of us eating), I did a turkey mince and beef mince number. Genuinely, the turkey mince was the slightly more interesting of the two, though either way, you cannot go wrong.

Live the good life, plan to go for a run tomorrow and find a bottle of red to open.

And cook this.

Ingredients

2 large (1kg) eggplants
Sea salt
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg minced beef
1 x 400gm can tomatoes
½ cup tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp sambal oelek
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
¼  cup grated parmesan cheese

Cheese sauce

100g, butter
½ cup plain flour
3 cups milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Cut eggplants into 5mm slices, place on wire rack, sprinkle with salt, stand 20 minutes. Rinse slices under cold water, drain, pat dry with absorbent paper. Brush slices with oil, add to pan in batches, cook until browned on both sides; drain on paper towel.
  2. Heat extra oil in the same pan, add onion and garlic, cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add beef, cook, stirring, until beef is browned. Stir in undrained crushed tomatoes, paste, wine, herbs, nuts, sambal oelek and spices, simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Cheese sauce: Melt butter in pan, stir in flour, stir over heat until bubbling. Remove from heat, gradually stir in milk, stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cheese; cool 5 minutes.
  4. Place one-third of the eggplant over base of a greased shallow ovenproof dish, top with half the beef mixture. Repeat layering with remaining eggplant and beef mixture, ending with eggplant. Spread cheese sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 180°C for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs

FullSizeRender (13).jpg
Yes… an amazing way to start Sunday.

Serves: 4

We love our weekend breakfasts and this number we whipped up last week was just awesome; so spicy, so rich, so hot.

Add a side of avocado and a good coffee and you’re off to the best Sunday morning of anyone in your street; add a French champagne and you’re talking streets and streets!

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
2 red chillis (de-seeding is optional) and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
Small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves chopped separately
2 x 400gm cans cherry tomatoes
2 chorizo, diced
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp caster sugar
4 eggs
Oiled, grilled Turkish bread sliced to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan that fits a lid; soften the onions, chilli, garlic, chorizo and coriander stalks for 5 or so minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar and then simmer for 10 or more minutes until thick.
  2. Using the back of a large spoon, make four dips in the sauce and then crack and egg into each one. Put a lid on the pan (or cover with foil) and then cook the eggs through over a low heat for 6 – 8 minutes; halfway through, scatter the parmesan cheese.
  3. Serve with the coriander leaves on top.

Burmese Pork and Noodles

Burmese Pork and Noodles

Serves: 4

This has to be your next, healthy, mid-week meal.

It is as if you grabbed takeaway on the way home, achieved with so little prep and 30-minutes of simmering: enough to pour that second glass of wine and squint to the weekend.

We minced a lean pork fillet (using a food processor) and it was awesome. Healthy, great consistency, the whole bit.

Add the noodles, the sauces and plenty of condiments and this is as fun as it is tasty.

Should I stop?

Ingredients

2 tbsp peanut oil
500 pork scotch fillet, minced or finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
1 star anise
4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
125ml chicken stock
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
200gm dried rice noodles
50gm snow pea sprouts
Roasted and salted peanuts, chopped
Red chilli flakes

Method

  1. Heat half the oil in a wok over a high heat. Stir-fry the pork for 5 minutes until golden. Set aside, draining the liquid.
  2. Wipe clean the wok and add the remaining oil, over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry for a few minutes until soft. Add the turmeric and star anise and toss to combine.
  3. Add the pork, tomato and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes until the liquid is largely reduced. Stir through the soy and fish sauces. Season with salt as necessary.
  4. Cook the noodles following the instructions and drain.
  5. Divide the noodles and pork mixture among 4 bowls and top with the sprouts, peanuts and chilli flakes.

Bulgar with Pomegranate Salad

Bulgar with Pomegranate Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a recipe I pulled from the Weekend Australian Magazine by David Herbert and it is really quite good. I’ve been more hit than miss with his stuff in the past, though as far as a clean, healthy, spring salad goes, this is a winner.

If you haven’t cooked with bulgar, it is worth the effort to find it in your local organics shop.

It is less abrasive than quinoa, healthy, packed full of protein and fibre, and filling. Add the fresh herbs and vegetables and you have a salad that looks great, tastes great and is easy to prepare.

Try it with steak or lamb and you’ll be pleased you did.

Ingredients

150gm bulgar
¾ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
200gm cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Seeds 1 pomegranate
3 spring onions, chopped
Juice, 1 lemon
2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Place bulgar in a bowl and cover with 500ml boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes and then drain well, removing all excess water.
  2. Combine cooled bulgar, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, pomegranate, spring onions and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season well with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over olive oil and toss well.

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.