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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quail Italian style

My inspiration for this dish came from the Bondi Trattoria at Bondi Beach in Sydney. Their quail, legs and breast, came served on a bed of potatoes, pancetta, olives and celeriac. To this lovely combination, I added preserved lemon, diced courgette and garlic for a bit more pep. I served quail breast only, more for convenience as they come pre-packed and boning is a pain if you are in a hurry. This dish is bursting with flavour, it is a true feast, and is by far my dish of the year. Omit the quail if it is not to your fancy and try something different on top or just serve the vegetables alone.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

10 quail breasts or 2 boned quail cut into four pieces
4 kipfler or waxy potatoes, steamed and diced
½ celeriac, steamed and diced
6 thick slices Pancetta cut into batons
Handful black pitted olives
1 courgette (zucchini), finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cracked black pepper
Parsley, finely chopped


Steam the potatoes and the celeriac. I use a Chinese steamer stack and check their progress regularly making sure not to over steam them. They should be cooked but firm. Remove and cool completely. Dice and set aside.

Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the quail on both sides for only a few minutes and it is still pink in the middle. Transfer to a warm place.

Add the garlic to the pan and gently cook for minute or two. Add the diced courgette, the olives and the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is crispy and courgettes are crunchy. Add the potatoes and the celeriac, gently turn them through the mixture until they warm through, add the lemon and black pepper.

Transfer to a plate, put the quail on top and add a little chopped parsley for extra colour.

Quail Italian style printable recipe, click here:

Monday, October 25, 2010

tamarillos with star anise

There is nobody quite like Peter Gordon, the New Zealand chef, for my money. With restaurants in London and Auckland, he is a class act and it was at his Sugar Club in London I first enjoyed tamarillos in red wine.

The following is an adaptation of his famous recipe. Sadly, the season for this beautiful fruit is short so snap them up when you spot them. The sauce is heavenly and if there is any over, I refer to it as ‘the mother sauce’.  Ready and waiting in the refrigerator, it is divine on ice cream or just poured over anything that needs sweetening up.


6 tamarillos
750ml red wine
200g demerara sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 drops rosewater


Bring the wine, sugar, star anise, rosewater and cinnamon to the boil in a medium saucepan. Lightly cut the pointed end of the tamarillos with a sharp knife to make an X and place them in the boiling liquid. Return to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes – test fruit is cooked with a skewer. Leave to cool in the liquid. Use any way you like – as it, at room temperature of cold from the fridge. Fabulous with vanilla bavarois.

Tamarillos in red wine and star anise printer friendly recipe click this link:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Octopus Oz

While I'm still on my favourite subject, the cooking of octopus, see previous octopus recipes under FISH, I thought I'd see what was available at the Sydney fish markets. They had plenty of octopus of varying size but not the kind we buy in France. In France they sell a completely different variety and it's sold by the kilo. In other words the fishmonger will happily chop a hunk off a very large octopus from where the head has already been removed. Buying large pieces of octopus where the cut pieces are the same size gives easier portion control and greater yield. However, the net result of my shopping trip was pretty much the same as far and taste and texture were concerned.  I chose pre-tenderised medium sized octopus and although the finished dish had many irregularities in size it was just as delicious only it did lack moisture. Overall it was good to know that it is possible to evoke the taste and flavours of Spain here in Australia.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

baked pear and fennel salad

I spotted a variation of this salad in a magazine recently but instead of using peaches as suggested I thought pears would go just as well, if not better, with the other ingredients.

This is a truly mind blowing salad and one you will repeat again and again. It's fresh, crisp and deliciously tasty. The key is the use a mandoline to slice the cheese and fennel - there is simply no other way. Slicing finely with a knife will not do! So with that in mind combine the following ingredients in a large plain white salad bowl and drizzle over the top a little of your best extra virgin olive oil and a scattering of snipped fennels fronds.

Serves: 4

2 large Beurre Bosc pears, baked  at 180c until tender, cored and each sliced into 8 pieces
1 medium fennel sliced on a mandoline
1-2 packets of jamon cru or proscuitto depending on your appetite!
10-12 slices Gruyère cheese cut on a mandoline
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Fennel fronds for garnish

Baked pear and fennel salad printable recipe, click here:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

tuna and mango refresher

This cheerful little starter refreshes the palate and lifts the spirits.

A set of ring moulds is worthwhile investing in especially one that includes a pusher. It is important to compress the stack in a gentle manner otherwise it is likely to topple over and that just will not do. Pretty up the plate with dots and trails of herb oil if you like. A good tip for making dots (see photo) is to buy a medicine measure from the chemist. It can be a risky business putting dots on a plate when all other ingredients are in place so a device that will not let you down is vital. This little measure has a squeeze top allowing greater control when dot size matters.

Serves: 4

1 slightly under ripe mango, peeled and finely diced
2 mini cucumbers, peeled and finely diced
200gm fresh, sashimi quality tuna, finely diced
4 teaspoons lump fish caviar
2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
few chives, finely chopped


Dice the mango, cucumber and tuna. Place in separate bowls. Mix the oil, vinegar and chives together, stir the dressing into the tuna.

Place each ring mould on a plate and spoon in the mango, the cucumber and lastly the tuna. Place teaspoon lumpfish caviar on top of each one and serve. Garnish the plate with a little herb oil.

tuna and mango refresher recipe - printable version, click here: