This is such a satisfying dish and so easy to prepare I won't insult you with a recipe. Let just say that you need to feed the frying pan - another Australian invention, I have been told - in the right order: olive oil (bien sûr...) oignons, then carrots, then pumpkin, then potatoes and last the lamb which needs 20mns per half a kilo to cook. Use salt and pepper generously, add garlic to the lamb if you wish and thyme, although in that particular instance, i didn't. I usually slice the meat 5 mms from serving, so I can judge the "cuisson" and put it back for a few minutes if it is still too rare. Et voilà!
Being away in Palm Beach on market day, I didn't buy cheese this week (!) so I decided to use some "pain rassis" and apples to do a children treat: plat de pommes. This is a dessert I can manage btw...
Here are a few photos that should be enough for you to duplicate this simple guest pleaser of all ages!
If not, then you can ask via the "comments" and I will be prompt to oblige with an answer!
Less than an hour drive North of Sydney lies one of my favourite spot in the World, Palm Beach. It should be called "Palm Beaches" as there are at least three main beaches in the area, two on the ocean side and one on the Pittwater. On the Pittwater side, you can catch a seaplane back to Sydney, rent a boat to explore the various spots on the other side of that bay, or you can have a lazy lunch at The Boathouse! And although you might have to queue for a good 45mns on a busy day, it is still worth waiting for a real Aussie experience of beach meets good simple fare and great eye candy!
The menu is quite short but to the point with mostly fish based dishes but also the inevitable burger! It is all very nicely prepared from good ingredients and this time being with my wife and daughter, we decided to share the seafood platter! What a treat! My daughter concentrated on the prawns, my wife went totally Scottish with the fish and chips, both of extraordinary quality, and I had the grilled fish on barley and the inevitable kale, a trout cooked to perfection. We still had oysters, raw tuna on a cracker with japaleno chillies, coriander and olives with a drop of anchovy mayo - amazing - oysters that i didn't have to share, and a smoked trout terrine that was so good we took it back home as we were full by the time we took to it! And obviously, there is the view if you manage to find a table on the water!
There is only about 40 days until my next - and significant - birthday, hence my visit to The Essential Ingredient in search of gift inspiration for my family and friends (or even you, my faithful readers...)
A La Mère de Famille is a book dedicated to one of the most ancient "chocolatier" and "confiseur" in continuous operation in Paris since 1761. It is full of chocolate recipes and sugary things (which I am not a great fan of, but plenty people are...) It is all printed on recycled paper (à la Movida, which I was gifted by my sister-in-law)
From chocolate eggs, to meringues and through cookies, lollipops and nougat, the book explores all the products and recipes which makes this boutique a Parisian institution. A must to visit when in Paris!
Manu Fieldel - French for Everyone - This is it, what you see is what you get!
After a recent trip back to his homeland, Manu became reinspired by the beauty of the French country and the French way of life. In French for Everyone Manu celebrates the simplicity and style of everyday French cooking, showing how easy and enjoyable it is to recreate the meals of his childhood back here in Australia using local produce.
You can forget the lengthy ingredients lists and complicated instructions that French cookbooks often include – in French for Everyone, Manu shares everyday French recipes that can be made at home such as Ham and Mushroom Vol Au Vents, Silver Dory Brioche Sliders (a great way to encourage kids to eat more fish), Breakfast Cassoulet (Manu’s great recipe for a hangover!), Braised Short Ribs of Beef in Red Wine (perfect for dunking bread in as Manu does) and Manu’s favourite dessert recipe – Crèpes with Bananas, Chocolate Sauce and Chantilly Cream.
It is good timing for Manu, as he is selling his Sydney restaurant L'Etoile and moving to Melbourne where he has just opened Le Grand Cirque. We went to L'Etoile for my daughter's 18th birthday and it was really good and very appropriate for such an occasion. His new Melbourne venture, Le Grand Cirque has opened at the end of March, so, if you are in Melbourne, you can go and try it. The menu is very much inspired by the book, or is it the other way around? You have to try the Cassoulet!
Le Livre Blanc - Anne Sophie Pic - Valence. I had lunch there a couple of times when her father was in charge on my way to visit my grand-parents and then my parents who first introduced me to it.Anne-Sophie Pic is the daughter of chef Jacques Pic, and grew up at her family's restaurant, Maison Pic in Valence, south of Lyon. Her grandfather, Andre Pic, was also a chef, who was particularly known for a crayfish gratin dish, and who first gained the restaurant three Michelin stars in 1934. However she initially decided not to follow in their footsteps, and instead travelled overseas to train in management. She worked in Japan and the United States as an intern for various companies, including Cartier and Moët & Chandon but found herself drawn back to the restaurant for her "passion".
At the age of 23, in 1992 she returned to Maison Pic to train under her father to become a chef. He died three months later, and she moved to working the front of the house. In 1995, the restaurant lost its third Michelin star, for which she felt she had lost "her father's star", and spurred her to return to the kitchen. In 1997, Pic took control of the restaurant. She had no formal training in cooking.
In 2007, she regained Maison Pic's three Michelin stars. This was only the fourth time anywhere that a female chef had achieved three Michelin stars. That same year, Pic was the only woman on French newspaper Le Figaro's list of the top twenty richest chefs in France. I believe this is her first book in English and according to the brief introduction, the whiteness of the book evokes Pic's cooking, chef's whites and "can be read as a manifesto of femininity", as so few of her peers are choosing to produce restaurant books of this quality. In fact, the singularity of the book almost explains the starkness: no room for frivolity here, just serious recipes and serious food porn. The book has both in great quantities
Cumulus Inc - Andrew McConnell - This restaurant is my favourite destination when I am dining alone in Melbourne, as I can sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen and watching the Chefs working!
And I have watched the man himself, Andrew McConnell, a number of times. It is quite a feast to watch the team preparing and endless array of dishes for a very noisy crowd with a never ending appetite!
Whether it is chuckling the oysters, cutting the charcuterie or plating a great variety of food, it makes for amazing theatre and would make you hungry even if you were not. Being in Melbourne, you always end up talking to your neighbours and it generally makes for great conversations and drinking more wine than you probably should (although I stay at a hotel within walking distance...). And you have to leave some space for the madeleines for dessert: they are the best I ever had anywhere in the World!In a few short years, Cumulus Inc. has won a place in many hearts. With its open kitchen, industrial architectural elements and light streaming in through the bank of windows, it is somewhere to gather, talk and eat at any time of day. And the food fits like a glove, starting with the perfect breakfast and ending with a late-night charcuterie plate.
Based around the ebb and flow of a day at Cumulus, Andrew McConnell's first book gathers his recipes for the signature dishes that keep people coming back for more. This is food for the way we eat now.
As I mentioned yesterday in my article on Colin Fassnidge, I was an early adopter of 4 Fourteen - aptly named after their address at 414 Bourke Street in Surry Hills. These photos were taken on the31 May 2012 at lunch time. Being on my own and the place being almost full, I was offered to sit at the bar which overlooks the kitchen. Couldn't have been happier! I don't normally frequent this type of establishment on my own for lunch on a working day, but I was just across the road visiting clients, and it was still in my birthday week, so that was my excuse! I only had a small plate of a ceviche type of fish, some bread, a glass of wine and a coffee, but it was perfectly satisfying and greatly executed in front of my eyes by a young English chef who was delighted to have a conversation with somebody who cares about the whole business of creating a dish in a perfect manner every time!
To quote Dan Stock from the Telegraph: Colin Fassnidge, "the rakishly dishevelled Irishman - whose tongue is as sharp as his knives - loves nose-to-tail eating, hard work and home truths"
Well, this morning performance at the Pyrmont Growers Market had all the ingredients above plus the presence of the real man doing what he does best: cooking, talking and telling stories.
In the process of watching cook his own version of "moules marinières", I picked up a few tricks that would certainly enhance my own cooking and discovered the other end of the parsley, as the leafs are only the tip of this particular iceberg. I think the most interesting bit was the addition of grated apple on top of the mussels to bring the flavour of the cider back from being lost in the stock making process.
I usually put white wine in my mussels - call me old fashioned if you like - so I will have to learn how to grate grapes...just kidding. I will have to be adventurous and try to use cider instead!
Colin was just back from Paris and I had followed his travails there via our Facebook connection. It was interesting to get a hint of his slight discomfort with the idiosyncrasies of the French and the Capital...
For those of you who might not be familiar with Colin, he was born in Dublin four decades ago, trained with Raymond Blanc, worked at the long defunct but memorable Banc in Sydney, had a stint at La Grande Bouffe in Rozelle where he met my friend Karl Geissler of Maitre Karl fame and started Four in Hand in Paddington in 2005 and more recently took over the space of Le Pain Quotidien in Surry Hills to open 4 Fourteen - I was one of their very early customers - which has been a resounding success also.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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