Rockpool, Sydney

Sydney – February 24, 2015
One of the best things about cruising is meeting so many different people from all over the world, and all walks of life. Encounters have occurred at the beach when playing with the kids, in chandlery shops while looking for boat parts, and naturally in yacht club bars swapping fishing/boating stories. Friendships have been formed sometimes instantly, mostly facilitated by having children as a common denominator. Other times, the “bonding” process was more gradual, like when you realise that you have been sharing the same anchorages with the same boats, and after waving at the crew while passing with the dinghy, one day you decide to stop by and have a chat.
Then you have special circumstances, like the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) , which we joined over 3 years ago and suddenly provides you with over 1000 potential new friends! We met a few crew, ending up befriending about a dozen people (actually double that if you count all the kids involved!). All of us crossed the Atlantic Ocean together and met again at the other end, in St Lucia. Some kept us company in the French Caribbeans for a whole season while others with a cruising schedule tighter than ours continued on.

It was the case of David and Magali, a couple on their 48ft catamaran ENSEMBLE, who we met briefly during the ARC, shared a couple of dinners onboard and parted ways too soon: they to Panama, us to the Bahamas. Still, we managed to strike enough of a friendship to keep in touch via email and Facebook (don’t you love technology!). Magali and I are quite different physically: she is as tall and diaphanous as I am short and dark. However, we have quite a bit in common. First, we’re both Europeans (she’s Belgian, I am French) who moved to Australia after falling for our Aussie husbands. Second, we both love cooking and eating, and (unbeknownst to each other) started our food blogs at the same time ( check out Magali’s nautical themed site Gourmet on Board). This couple travels as much as we do, if not more, and came back to Australia recently for a holiday. Magali and I were so excited to finally catch up after 3 years apart, the first thing we discussed was where to meet for lunch. We wanted something special: she suggested Guillaume, who doesn’t do lunch on weekdays. I proposed Rockpool, which had been on my wish list for ages, as one of the best fine dining venue in Sydney (if not Australia). It also happened to be David’s favourite. So the booking was made and what ensued was a whole week of anticipating.

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Why I am telling you all this, instead of getting on with the restaurant review? Well, I just want to put it all in perspective: while I had all intentions to photograph and dissect every single dish, study every details of the interior, the excitement of seeing our friends got the better of me and as we merrily chatted, food took a backstep. I know, it’s sacrilege, right? Believe me, I am currently sitting and feeling bad that I can’t describe this culinary journey with the reverence it deserves, and you will have to put up with my fairly amateurish pictures. Then again, we all had a fantastic time: great food, great company, lots to drink…the making of a fine lunch. Now on to the review.

Rockpool is located at 11 Bridge Street, in the heritage listed Burns Philp building, smack bang in the middle of the Sydney CBD. A simple gold plate on the façade indicates the restaurant, a few steps leading up to a space swathed in heavy drapes, with dark wood and mute painted walls.

The Burn Philp building in Bridge Street. Photo courtesy of Hospitalitymagazine.com.au

Rockpool interior

Photo courtesy of Rockpool

A black-vested waiter greeted us and took us to our table, where our friends were already seated. First impressions: it is blissfully quiet and Terry is looking forward to be able to converse without shouting or struggling to hear (too many venues with bad acoustics nowadays!) Magali and I can’t help comment on the waitress’s classy black dress (it’s her uniform, she says), the dainty crystal water glasses, the starched tablecloths, …we’re in for a treat. The lunch menu is quite extensive, and unlike dinner which is a “journey” of nine courses or more, there is a choice of a-la-carte dishes as well as a two-course Prix Fixe menu, for the ones who can’t decide what they want. Designed by the chef for the month, it offers Queensland spanner crab linguine as a starter, followed by Confit of duck leg for main. Everything looks yummy, it would take at least 20 minutes to decide so 3 of us opt for the prix fixe menu option, because it is easy and we can keep talking. Except that Terry elects to be different and orders a-la-carte, so the knowledgeable waitress explains every dish, patiently listening to our comments, dutifully checking with the chef on behalf of the allergy prone diner amongst us, and probably wishing we’d stop talking for a second and focus on the food. The drinks order takes just as long, with a wine list 43-pages thick, David knew better and already ordered a G&T. Beer-drinking Terry was happy to try new brews and fell in love with locally brewed Lord Nelson Pale Ale, ordering 2 at a time, thirsty man! Poor Magali was left with the job of selecting the wine for us girls, and after a few minutes of page turning and advice from the sommelier, she came up with the most refreshing and light pinot grigio (Lost Turtle ?)

Then the food arrives. A freshly baked honey spelt loaf accompanied by house made butter and fresh ricotta is the perfect “bar food” to nibble on while waiting for our entrees. Great with beer, Terry reckons.

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The spanner crab linguine is delicious and creamy with a nice crunch courtesy of the fried breadcrumbs on top. I certainly enjoyed every bit of the 4 mouthfuls plated in the bowl. Yes, the servings are small for the prix fixe menu, more like snack sized.

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In comparison, Terry’s entrée of grilled Squid with stir fried shitake, miso and chili dressing is more substantial (say 6-7 mouthfuls?) but granted, the a-la-carte menu is more expensive. His dish was a complex mix of flavours: shitake mushrooms, miso, squids…all very rich and spicy.

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Neil Perry’s cuisine is famous for classic dishes tweaked with Asian influence. The main courses were a revelation for me. I love duck, and have had plenty of Confit of duck leg in my life, but this one was nothing like I’ve had before: the meat was superbly tender and moist, without the stringiness you sometimes find in duck confit, the skin slightly crispy and sweet from the hoisin glaze. The fried rice was something else too: black rice encased in omelette, nothing really fried, but oh so delicious! Such a clever twist on traditional dishes. The only complaint I would have is that there was not enough of it. You see, Terry and I are the kind of people who like to share plates in restaurants. We always order different meals, working on our respective first and second choice, and swap plates after eating half. It sometimes drive other diners crazy, and can be embarrassing when waiters think we are done and come to take the plates away, only to have me holding on to it explaining “no, no! We’re swapping!”

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It took all of my resolve to stop eating this duck and handing the plate over to my husband, who had dutifully set aside my share of his Trevalla with coconut rice, chicken skin and turmeric pickle. The serving was bigger so there was more to taste. The coconut rice was beautiful, the fish cooked to perfection, the turmeric pickle too discreet for me to notice…on the other hand, the chicken skin had me intrigued: a small piece of skin, rolled flat and (I am guessing) rendered until as crispy as a chip. Now that’s different! A very subtle dish, I wish I tried it before my main however, as it tasted mild after the bolder flavours of the duck.

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For sides, we ordered shaved brussel sprouts with bacon, almonds and pomegranate. A cold dish, it is more like a salad and complemented the duck well. Terry’s eyes lingered on the Potato dauphines on the menu, but didn’t order them for fear of looking greedy!
By then, we are on another bottle of wine, a Grosset “Rockpool” chardonnay, hand picked by David. Unlike a lot of Chardonnays which I find too oaky, this one is wonderfully rich yet fresh, if that makes any sense. A perfect drop to accompany desserts, which Magali and I still had room for (that is no doubt the reason for the small servings…) Her ricotta parfait, almond and white peach, strawberry, spiced lemon sorbet looked completely ethereal on the plate, I didn’t taste it but Magali said it was heavenly.

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I can’t go past a chocolate dessert and ordered the Vahlrona chocolate and macadamia, coffee prunes, banana and liquorice ice cream not sure how all these flavours would go together. Well it worked very well: who would have thought that banana and liquorice were a match made in heaven? Combined with the prunes, the macadamia, peanuts and of course the chocolate it made for a surprisingly rich yet light dessert (a bit like the wine!). Two weeks on and I am salivating at the memory of it, that’s how good it is!

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We were reasonably full at the end of the meal, and happy to finish the wine, chat and laugh for a little longer. A quick look around the room revealed that we were the only table left, the suits on a power lunch long gone back to the office…At that point I must mention the Rockpool service: from the greeting staff to the kitchen crew, and all waiters, the service was exemplary: friendly, knowledgeable, attentive ( Terry thought it may have been oversolicitous once, but to the waitress’ defense, she was explaining all the components of the dish we were being served, well appreciated if like me, you can’t remember exactly what you ordered!) and very accommodating. As we lingered on, long after the wine was gone, our drink waiter kept topping up our crystal water glasses without any mention of passing shifts or overdue closing time. We were well looked after from start to finish ( It was way past 4pm when we finally left!)

Rockpool is the best meal we have had in Sydney since our return last year. Which is just as well, since it is expensive, but the standard of the food, execution, and service is well worth it. The $49 2-course Prix Fixe menu (lunch only) is unbeatable value for money in my book, in spite of the small portions. Adding dessert rounded up the meal nicely, leaving me satiated enough. Terry felt a little underfed, so maybe we should order some of these delicious side dishes for him next time. For, there will be a next time…we just need another special occasion.

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Rockpool
11 Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9252 1888

http://www.rockpool.com/sydney/

Lunch Monday to Friday
Dinner Monday to Saturday

Monday morning 6.30 am. Rush hour on board, it has been a busy weekend entertaining with friends and my usually organised self is all over the place today : I am wrapping lunches, kids are getting ready for school looking for clean uniforms and matching socks, their father keeping an eye on the watch…” we leave in 20 minutes!”

Me: “ Hurry up and have breakfast”

Son: “ We’re out of milk, can’t have cereals!”

Daughter: “Can I have the last toasts?”

Son: “ What else is there?” (Note to myself: nearly 17 years old, about time he learns to fend for himself)

Me: “ Look in the fridge, I am sure we have left overs of something”

Son: “ All I can see is some mooshy nectarines and just enough yogurt for one person”

Me: “Perfect. Who wants nectarine thick shake?”

So, that was breakfast, an express version of our beloved smoothie.

Nectarine Thickshake

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Only 3 ingredients: nectarines (2 very ripe, seeded and quartered), yoghurt (2 tablespoons), and some almond meal left over from a frangipane tart I made a while ago ( 1 tablespoon). Blend for 10 seconds. Serve in a bowl with a sprinkling of granola for crunch ( to your liking). Enough for one.
Had I been more organised I would have added some orange juice, a handful of mint leaves, maybe some honey and even ice cubes… But that’s the deluxe version, I save it for days when I don’t need to have everybody out the door in 15 minutes!

 

 

Ham and Cabbage soup

ham and cabbage soup
The last couple of weeks have seen us shifting gears, while making the most of the rest of the summer holidays, also preparing for the return to school (for the kids anyway!). So our days were a mixture of morning surfing and afternoon shopping for school supplies. The kids hung out with their friends (as opposed to attend organised camps), for some precious “chilling” time, we squeezed some serious dining out, enjoying our last days of “not having to get up at dawn tomorrow”…which meant that cooking was minimal and on the easy side.

Then came the day when I decided to survey the contents of the fridge, intending to get rid of the old and make room for the new. Obviously some of it needed to go (out of date eggs and mouldy cheese), but a lot was still in pretty good condition and since I hate wasting food, I had a ball coming up with ways to accommodate the leftovers. Starting with a big chunk of Ham, that had been given to us for New Year’s Eve and I had kept in the fridge (wrapped in a pillow case to maintain freshness). It had already been sliced to the bone, made into sandwiches, quiche fillings, pasta bakes, fried rice garnish…but still had a fair amount of meat on it, not mentioning the smoky rind, so the only logical thing to do with it was a soup. Add the cabbage, carrots, onions and celery in the vegetable tray, and the obvious choice was: cabbage soup.

This soup is an earnest soup, not the diet-kind you read about in the Cabbage Soup diet. It has chicken stock and chunks of ham (including the rind) for flavour, vegetables galore for goodness, and vinegar for extra zing! The kids initially turned their nose up at the mere mention of cabbage soup, but were won over by the smell and the smoky bits of ham floating around…Verdict? Empty bowls. Marc : “Job well done, Mum”. Anne: “Is there more?” This will definitely reappear on the winter menu.

 

Ham and Cabbage Soup

Serves 6-8 as entrée (or 4 as a single course)

Ingredients:

1.5 litres chicken stock
500g ham on the bone (bigger is fine, it will tastes more “bacony”)
4 cups water
3 tsp allspice
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp marjoram
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and minced
3 celery stalks, trimed and minced
1 onion, peeled and minced
2 cups white cabbage, shredded

  1. Place the ham bone, chicken stock, water, allspice, bay leaves and marjoram in a stockpot (I use my Le Creuset dutch oven). Bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours. Remove the ham bone and set aside to cool. Skim some of the fat from the stock (leave some though, it adds flavour!)
  2. Add vinegar and sweet potato to stock, simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and cabbage and simmer for another 20 mintes. In the meantime, pick out the meat from the ham bone, peel the rind and chop roughly. Keep aside. Add the reserved meat and rind to the pot, and simmer for a final 10 minutes. Season to taste.
  3. Serve warm with fresh bread. Enjoy!

An Aussie Christmas

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We are well into 2015 and I realise that it is probably too late to wish all of you, readers, a Happy New Year. Too late because the festivities ended nearly 3 weeks ago. Too late because the tragic events in Paris 2 weeks ago sent shock waves around the world and cast dark shadows of sorrow and anger.  Like most people, I have struggled to reconcile my deep concerns over what the future holds in the divided society we live in, and the hope that the people as a whole would rise to the challenge of learning to live peacefully with one another, no matter how different we all are. Needless to say that, like most food bloggers, I have found it impossible to write for a few days. Somehow raving about our Christmas feast and my favourite cookie recipe seemed…wrong. As I watched the events unfold and the outpouring of grief in the aftermath, I lost all interest in food. Bombarded with relentless news (both on Australian and French channels), I cooked on autopilot, more worried about world peace than kitchen wizardry.

Then gradually, life returned to normal (for us anyway) and being summer holidays in Australia, days have been spent dragged by my kids either at the beach for a surf, in the city for various camps, or at the mall for some sort of retail therapy (not quite working, I must be getting old). We have had a few get together with family and friends both on the boat and ashore, and as laughter and fun dominated, wine and conversations flowed. Hope and optimism came back too, and in these times of turmoil, this is what I wish the most for the New Year. For all of us.

My teenage son, has been reading over my shoulder and is telling me to stop being so dramatic, so I will now end the deep and meaningful part of the post and focus on the original story I had in mind: our Christmas feast and my favourite summer recipes (so far).

As some of you may know, we finally made landfall in Australia in November last year and have been settling back in Sydney, just in time for Christmas. After 3 years away, this was a much anticipated celebration which lasted 3 days! As per the French tradition, Christmas Eve dinner has always been the most important for us. For over 25 years, I have hosted the feast (except for these times when we were at my parents’ house in Paris, then Mum would be in charge) and served the traditional French fare. However, this time, the prospect of having 20 people on the boat (including 7 kids ranging from babies to 7 years old) for a sit down dinner AND a present opening session made me nervous. Thankfully, my husband’s son, Malcolm and his family offered to entertain at their house where the young ones could roam free and splash in the pool all afternoon while the adults got the meal ready. Just like in France, the whole family gathered around the big table: Terry and all his children, their partners, the grandchildren and that’s not counting some of the partners’ family who dropped in for a festive drink…A tribe, my mother would say. Just like in France, Christmas food is very serious business and the menu was devised weeks ago, with many emails exchanged discussing who would be cooking what. For, unlike in France, this was more of a potluck dinner where rather than one individual basking in the spotlight, everyone was asked to bring their signature dish. Think of it as celebrating our differences in a culinary way.

So the menu went like this:

Entrees/snacks: smoked salmon by Malcolm and Danielle, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and Guacamole by Craig and Kathy, curry puffs by Shelley and Tania, prawns with dill sauce by me

 

 

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Mains: roast pork by Malcolm and Danielle, BBQ duck breasts (magrets) and nectarines by me

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Salads: Caesar salad by Tania, rocket and strawberry salad by Craig

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Desserts: Buche de Noel au Chocolat (Chocolate Log) by me, chocolate tarts and custard cake by Danielle…

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Not mentioning the various treats thru the afternoon (jellies, cookies, etc…).

 

 

 

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Had we been in France, we would have waited until midnight to open presents. But as much as our Australian family now enjoys December 24 as part of Christmas, they still don’t think of it as the real thing. They will eat and drink, open presents and try to go home early, anytime between 6pm and midnight, depending on how busy the next day will be. For Christmas Day is THE day for nearly every Aussie and where some families will be lucky enough to enjoy a quiet day at home (like us!), a lot race around trying to please as many relatives as possible. With so many blended families, I am always amazed to watch people travel miles in one day for family visits. Terry’s family is no different: there was early morning breakfast somewhere, brunch or lunch at someone else’s, followed by dinner for some…Throw in a couple of birthdays on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then you end up with the ultimate party day . In our case, December 25 was a very subdued day, with our kids playing with their new toys, Terry reading his new book, and me…cooking again.

This time we were invited to friends’ house, along with Terry’s daughters, his ex-wife Maliney and her husband John. As I said before, ours is a very blended family, with ex-spouses, half-siblings, step-siblings, grand-children, new partners,… some would say it is a miracle we all get along, I like to think that a single common thread brought us together: my husband, who has always tried to bring the best out of everyone (the fact that everyone is very nice and kind by nature also helps, Terry has had his work cut out for him!) So, off we went to Peppy and Denzel’s place, whom we’ve known for over 20 years and celebrated a few Christmas in the past while staying at Maliney’s. The Christmases at Maliney’s were the stuff of legend, with close friends and families all gathered around the dinner table and this year’s, while hosted by Peppy, nothing had changed apart from the kids all grown up. As in the past, everyone was assigned a particular dish. I contributed my chicken liver mousse; another guest, Vida, made a spicy fish dip, more curry puffs from Shelley and Tania, followed by 2 roast turkeys (one prepared by Peppy, the other by Maliney), John’s Christmas ham and all the trimmings, then Maliney’s Christmas pudding (her signature dessert) AND Tania’s peanut butter cheesecake, which while not a Christmas dessert, was made especially for Shelley’s birthday. As for the drinks, you can’t start a party without John’s frozen strawberry daiquiri, which recipe he keeps a secret. Let’s just say one is deliciously refreshing, two is pleasantly intoxicating, and three is…at your own peril.

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More than the great food, I really enjoyed watching the interaction between all of us, young and (not so) old, aussie blokes, exotic wives (Vida is Thai, Peppy is Malaysian, Maliney is Singaporean, and yours truly from Paris!), gorgeous kids of mixed heritage and their partners (from India, Norway…)…Not a sign of discord, the older kids (now young adults) treated the younger ones as equal (that would be my 16 and 11 year olds), newcomers were welcomed with open arms (boy, did I recognise myself in the freshly arrived 21- year old Norwegian girl!) and old jokes circulated around as they did 4 years ago. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit or the daiquiris, but though we only see each other every few years nowadays, I felt really blessed to have such great people in our lives.

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Our friends from Cairns, David and Denise, flew in to visit us the next day. Boxing Day is always a quiet day, Terry never misses the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race (on TV that is, we’ve taken our boat in the harbour a couple of times before, and could not face the mayhem now), others watch the cricket or go to the movies. While Terry and David watched the boat race, I took Denise to Peppy’s, only to find the gang celebrating still, though this time the kids were gone and it was pure adult fun. Left over ham and cakes were served, washed down by copious amounts of wine and champagne. Denise blended in effortlessly, joining in the laughs…as we drove home, she commented on how friendly and accepting everyone had been. That is exactly how I felt.

All this talk of feasts brings me to the point I meant to make from the start. Christmas in Australia means summer, sunshine and balmy nights. As far as food goes, I can’t think of anything better than grilled meat and fresh seasonal fruits, and my favourite summer meal so far has been this Duck breasts (magrets) served with nectarines sautéed in duck fat. More than chicken or beef, duck is my favourite meat and while in France, where it is plentiful, we would have it at least weekly. In Australia, it is considered a treat and priced accordingly. I serve it on special occasions, savouring every part of it: the crispy skin, the rendered fat and the sweet juicy meat. The following dish was inspired by a recipe I found in my new favourite cookbook A Kitchen in France, where the author Mimi precooks the duck breasts and renders the fat. No different to how I do it, but she finishes them by grilling them over grapevines for a special taste of the vines. While I don’t have grapevines, I still like to flash them on the BBQ for a few minutes, to add a bit of smokiness. I have always reserved the rendered fat to cook potatoes with (they end up so crispy and infused with a unique flavour), but this time I used it to sauté nectarines instead. What a revelation! You should try it, it is a match made in heaven. After such a delicious main, there is no need for very rich desserts (except on Christmas Eve of course), simple coconut macaroons and a coffee round up the meal perfectly.

Grilled Duck Breasts

 

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Serves 4, as a main

Ingredients:

4 duck breasts (magrets), about 200g each (Australian cuts are much smaller than in France!)

Coarse salt and ground black pepper

4-6 nectarines, pitted and quartered

  1. Place the duck breasts on a board, skin side up and score the fat with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern. Season the duck on both sides with the salt and pepper, rubbing the salt inside the cuts.
  2. Put the meat in a large sauté pan, turning the heat to medium low and start pre-cooking the duck breasts. Do not add any extra fat (butter or oil), as the duck fat will render as it cooks and you will end up with a nice pool of it. Cook for 5 minutes, skin side down, pouring off the fat in a bowl gradually (reserve it for later use), then turning the meat over and cook for another 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and keep aside. At that stage, the breasts can be kept for a few hours, until ready to finish on the grill.
  3. Light up a grill or BBQ. When hot enough, transfer the duck breasts over and grill uncovered for 5 minutes or so on each side (until medium rare). Let them rest on a cutting board for a few minutes.
  4. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat in a large sauté pan over medium heat (or in my case, on the flat plate of a BBQ). Cook the nectarines for about 5 minutes, until golden on all sides.
  5. Serve the duck breasts with the nectarines. Enjoy!

Coconut Macaroons

The credit for the recipe goes to Ferran Adria, owner and head chef of the legendary elBulli restaurant in northern Spain. Hailed as the father of molecular gastronomy, he was voted the best chef in the world and his restaurant the best in the world many times. El Bulli closed in 2011, but Ferran Adria has not stopped cooking and indeed he has opened new establishments such as tapas joints Tickets in Barcelona. I came across one of his books The Family Meal last year while in Mexico, and immediately fell in love with the collection of home cooking recipes for the dishes eaten every day by the staff at El Bulli. I never got to eat there (in its heyday, the restaurant received up to 1,000,000 reservation requests and only accommodated 8,000!), but at least I can pretend I eat the same as the world’s best chef!

 

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Serve 6 – makes 30

Ingredients:

200g unsweetened desiccated coconut

200g caster sugar

2 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Mix the coconut and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Stir the eggs into the coconut and sugar mixture. Mix with your hands until combined evenly.
  3. Using your hands or 2 teaspoons, shape the mix into walnut size balls. Place on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Bake for 13 minutes or until lightly golden (watch them, they can burn quickly!!! See the photo). Leave to cool before serving.
  4. Serve for a light dessert or a special treat with coffee. Enjoy!

Pasta with lamb

I like recipes. I like to read and discover new ones, follow them as you would carry out a science experiment, and more importantly be inspired by them. Occasionally I would even create some, when I can’t find anything in my dozens of books on board and saved webpages in my computers. How does the saying go? Necessity is the mother of invention.
This came true a few weeks ago ( yes, it has taken me that long to sift thru my notes and find the recipe I had scribbled at the back of a book…). The kids wanted spaghetti bolognaise, Terry wanted a curry and I had a nice bottle of red Bordeaux wine to pair with something worthy. The main ingredient was diced lamb. I cooked it with tomatoes and Italian style herbs, added mint and cayenne pepper for a spicy note, served with spaghetti and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese…it made such a good substitute everyone asked for seconds. And it was a perfect match for my bottle of 2005 bottle of Listrac Medoc!

Pasta with Lamb

spaghetti with lamb sauce

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

250g spaghetti
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
½ cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ bunch of mint, leaves washed, dried and chopped
500g diced lamb (from the shoulder or the leg)
1 can (400g) of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs ( thyme, basil, oregano…)
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Heat a small pan over medium heat and roast the pine nuts without adding any fat, until golden ( this will only take a few minutes, keep shaking the pan to prevent the nuts from burning and watch them!)
2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and brown the onion then the lamb for a few minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, dried herbs, bay leaf, pine nuts, cayenne pepper and stock. Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until meat is tender. The sauce should be a little thin, if you like it thicker, continue simmering uncovered until reduced to the desired consistency. At the end of cooking time, add the mint.
3. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti as per packet instruction and keep aside.
4. To serve: scoop the meat sauce over the spaghetti, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Accompany with steamed broccoli (or any other green vegetable of your choice) and don’t forget a nice red wine! Enjoy!

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