Archive for December, 2008

The Rockpool Experience

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

Dear Neil,
I am writing to regarding my ‘Rockpool Experience’ yesterday evening. I live quite a distance from the city on acres and fulfill all of the criteria for the statement ‘don’t get out much’. I work full time as a Nurse Unit Manager, I have three children, three horses and a plethora of animals to add to the menagerie and love my V8 Land Cruiser, I wouldn’t swap it for ten Mercedes. R M Williams is my hero and my absolute love is cooking……..usually for lots of people at once. It’s nothing to whip up a meal for fifteen people just because I can and our home is always full of people, my children will tell how much I despise takeaway especially the plastic food from those so called food chains. So when my two best friends commenced a campaign of harassment  to get me out of the house my two stipulations were no shopping (I’m not your typical woman that loves to shop) and dinner at Rockpool because Neil Perry is one of the reasons I have become so dedicated to the culinary experience at home with my family. It has been a very tough year for us and dinner at Rockpool and some time off with my long time best friends was all I wanted to put the smile back so we made the booking.
From the moment I walked into Rockpool I felt like I was home, in fact for some reason I almost cried. It was a big deal for me to leave my family for the weekend being such a home body as I am and then decide to ‘tick off’ one of my ‘ten things I want to do’. I felt humbled to be there which may be hard for you to understand but I am not a city girl in fact my friends instructed me to leave my riding boots in the stables. Your staff were outstanding and I now know what ‘real’ service is supposed to be. The wine that we chose was superb and I can’t wait to buy some for my own collection. Then there was the food. The entree was the seared scallops with southern fried calamari and I have to say I didn’t expect what was put before me……a somewhat blue black dish that I was reticent to delve into but was rewarded one thousand fold by closing my eyes and really tasting the most extraordinary dish I have ever tasted. Just sensational. The main meal came at just the right amount time after the entree and I again thoroughly enjoyed the suckling pig and vegetables that we shared, the flavours … goodness the flavours were something else. I don’t know how you can present pork with so much flavour and tenderness… roast pork here at home will never be the same after last night. My friends were equally impressed with their choices and we left so happy to have been privileged enough to experience your gift of food.
So your new cookbook will be on my Christmas wish list that my husband will dutifully fill (my teenagers will make sure of it). I have learnt so much from watching your programmes on Foxtel and I want to bring my husband in to experience the ‘Oyster Bar’, I so want to share with him what I discovered last night.

You should be a very proud man Neil Perry, you have created an amazing restaurant that has put a smile on my face which I haven’t done much of lately. You also made three forty year olds giggle like teens as they walked through your doors and we had a very special night together. We will be back.

Many Many Thanks

Michelle Fitzgerald

PS….I lost on the no shopping bit they dragged me kicking and screaming I swear around every single market stall and shop in the The Rocks. I guess it wasn’t so bad for a change. :0)

Tea Eggs

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

A simple bowl of tea eggs is a thing of great beauty; the porcelain-like egg white crazed with the pattern of black tea. I love these little snacks, with a bowl of rice, some Sichuan pickled cucumber and soy sauce or chilli oil. They are also a great building block in a sort of Asian antipasto, with master stock chicken or pigeon, the Sichuan pickled cucumber and fried tofu.
These are so easy – if you can boil water, you can make them!

6 free range eggs
3 tbs black tea
2 sticks cassia bark
3 whole star anise
½ tsp salt
5 tbs dark soy sauce

In a small pot, cover the eggs with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and then drain and plunge into iced water. Tap the eggs gently with the back of a spoon to cover all over with small cracks. Return the eggs to the pot and cover with fresh water. Add the tea, cassia bark, star anise, salt and soy. Simmer gently for 1 hour, remove from the heat and leave in the stock until cool.
To serve, take the eggs out of the stock, remove the shells and place in a simple bowl

Prawn and Celeriac Remoulade

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

Serves 4 as an entrée

A traditional remoulade is a classic French sauce made using fresh mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, parsley, capers and celeriac.  Our remoulade is served with a beautiful salad of plump King prawns, watercress leaves and fresh herbs such as chervil, dill and chives with the addition of crisp baby cornichons. Cornichons is the French word for gherkins, they are crisp, tart pickles made from tiny gherkin cucumbers.
Celeriac is a root vegetable, sometimes called ‘knob celery’. It has a delicious white flesh that tastes like a cross between a strong celery and parsley.

500g cooked King prawns, peeled and de-veined
200g peeled celeriac
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, thoroughly rinsed, roughly chopped
3 no. baby cornichons, thoroughly rinsed, finely sliced
fresh lemon juice, to taste
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh watercress sprigs
2 tablespoons fresh chervil leaves
1/3 bunch fresh chives, cut into 1cm lengths
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh dill leaves
good quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
freshly ground white pepper

Cut prawns into 1cm pieces and set aside.
Cut celeriac into julienne using a mandolin. Celeriac tends to discolour quickly so hold in acidulated water until finished cutting. Blanch celeriac in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Refresh immediately in iced water. Do not allow celeriac to sit in water for too long. Drain thoroughly. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, capers, cornichons and lemon juice in a bowl to create a dressing and season to taste. Gently mix dressing with drained celeriac.
Gently mix watercress and herbs together.

To serve
Place an equal amount of the celeriac mix in the centre of four plates. Gently toss prawns with herb mix and scatter around the celeriac. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and good crack of fresh white pepper. Serve immediately.

Aged Beef Ribs Barbecued with Anchovy Butter

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

At Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne, we have our own meat ageing room. We choose only the finest cattle that have been grass fed and only finished on grain if drought conditions make it necessary. Grass fed beef differs from lot fed beef in that it has a more natural beef flavour and has a much better Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. This makes it better for you, and the cow enjoys a much healthier life. The beef then goes through a dry ageing process on the bone for between 28 and 40 days. This method allows the enzymes in the meat to do their handywork. The beef hangs in a special cool room at close to 0 degrees with very low humidity. In this state, the beef ages perfectly and becomes incredibly tender and much more flavoursome. It is, in reality, the only way to age beef to improve the flavour and it gives an incredibly juicy result. This was once the time honoured way to look after meat. The quick fixes of today, wet ageing in cryovac, have all but seen this superior but more expensive method disappear. In reality, wet ageing is about giving the beef more shelf life, not about improving the flavour or texture of the meat.

Serves 4

I love slow-roasted beef ribs, but they are equally good when charred on the outside on a hot barbecue and melting in the middle. The rib has quite a large amount of connective tissue and fat, which is why it has so much flavour, and is also why I like to eat it more medium rare than rare — all the tough bits will have turned to jelly. The anchovy butter is a classic with any kind of barbecued meat or poultry, so try it on lamb or chicken as well. It is really delicious. You can make the butter the night before cooking and roll it in foil into a log shape. The next day cut neat circles to put on the beef. That is how it would be done in a restaurant, but I like to make it in a mortar and pestle just before cooking the steak and have it at room temperature. I just put a spoonful on top when the steak is served.

4 x 260 g aged beef ribs
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 slices or spoonfuls of anchovy butter
Freshly ground pepper
For the butter:
8 large anchovy fillets
Sea salt
1 lemon, juiced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper

To make the anchovy butter, Prepare the anchovy butter. Place the anchovies and a little salt in a mortar and pound with a pestle until they start to break up. Add the lemon juice and butter then plenty of ground pepper. Mix completely. Put to the side until ready to plate the steaks.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 2 hours before cooking and season with sea salt.  Preheat the barbecue to hot and make sure the grill bars are clean. Drizzle the steaks with a little extra virgin olive oil and shake off any excess. Put the steaks on the grill at a 45 degree angle to the grill bars. When halfway through cooking that side, turn the steaks 45 degrees in the opposite direction. When done, turn them over and cook the other side. Put the steaks on a plate, cover with foil and keep them near the barbecue in a warm spot to rest. You can use a meat thermometer to test for doneness if you like but the residual heat does have quite an impact when cooking small cuts of meat at a high heat, so the other theory and one used by chefs is the touch test. A rare steak will be soft to the touch and will spring back when pressed. As it cooks, the steak will become firmer and firmer to touch. If you see the juices come to the surface as red droplets, your steak will be medium rare, probably heading to medium after resting, and if the juices are pink to clear you have a well done steak.
To serve, place one steak on each of four plates. Pour the juices that collected on the resting plate over the steaks and add a spoonful of the anchovy butter. Add a grind of fresh pepper and serve immediately.

Macaroni Cheese

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

Serves 4

400g macaroni
Extra virgin olive oil
75g smoky bacon, diced
500ml single cream
125g cheddar, grated
250g gruyere, grated
100g parmesan, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
Sea salt & freshly ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped chives

Cook the macaroni to al dente in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain well, cover & keep warm.
Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan & cook the bacon on a medium heat until golden & slightly crispy. Drain well on paper towel.
Add the cream to the same pan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cheeses, garlic, mustard & paprika & simmer 5 minutes, stirring, until the cheeses have melted & the sauce is thick. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.
Add the macaroni & bacon to the sauce & stir to heat through.
Stir in the chives.

Classic Fried Rice

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by luane

Fried rice is a great thing to make with left-over rice, so make sure you always cook more rice than you need and keep it in the fridge or freezer. This is so simple but utterly delicious. The key is not to use freshly cooked rice — it sticks together easily and soaks up too much of the flavouring. You can add anything you like, or take stuff away, depending on what suits your mood or what you can get your hands on. I use two types of soy here, as the yellow bean adds another layer of complexity, but just use one type if that‘s easier. I love this as a quick lunch — just a drizzle of chilli sauce and I’m in heaven.

555 g (1 lb 4 oz/3 cups) cooked rice
3 tablespoons peanut oil
4 large green king prawns (shrimp), peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
150 g (5½ oz) Chinese-style barbecue pork, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon yellow bean soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 spring onions (scallions), cut into julienne
a pinch of freshly ground white pepper

Heat a wok until just smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and, when hot, stir-fry the prawns until just cooked, then remove.
Reheat the wok, add the eggs and move them around the wok gently until just set. Turn the egg out onto a plate and roughly chop with your wok spoon.
Wipe the wok clean and reheat with the remaining peanut oil until just smoking. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, then add the pork and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir-fry for another minute, then return the prawns to the wok. Add the soy sauces, sea salt, sugar, oyster sauce and sesame oil, and stir-fry until the rice is coated with sauce. Add the egg and spring onions and toss together. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with ground pepper to serve.

White Forest Cake

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by luane

White forest cake  This is an absolute cracker. Easy to make and it looks fabulous all white. There is something really alluring about fresh cake and cream — it takes me back to my childhood, when the local cake shop made all their cakes that way. Those days have long passed, sadly. Don’t look at this recipe and say ‘This is too long for me’. It involves just making a cake, stewing some fruit and whipping cream. It started out
life as a quick version of Black Forest Cake, but once you have perfection, why add more cherries and lots of chocolate? Good cooking is all about knowing when to stop. You’ll love where we have stopped.

Cherries in brandy
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) fresh cherries, pitted
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) brandy
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
225 g (8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon natural almond extract
9 eggs, separated
250 g (9 oz) dark (semisweet) chocolate, coarsely grated
125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) ground almonds
180 ml (8 fl oz/3/4 cup) kirsch
375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) cream (whipping), whipped to stiff peaks
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) cream (whipping)
125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
Serves 8

To make the cherries in brandy, put the brandy and sugar in a pan over low heat and stir continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Add the cherries, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the cherries are quite tender, but still holding their shape. Remove the cherries from the liquid using a slotted spoon, and set them aside. Increase the heat to medium and simmer the liquid for 5–10 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated and you have a syrup (be sure to watch the syrup towards the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t burn). Toss the syrup with the cherries and set aside to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3). Grease three 23 cm (9 inch) round cake tins, and line the bases and sides with baking paper. Put the butter, 170 g (6 oz/3/4 cup) of the sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg yolks, beating until incorporated. Fold in the combined chocolate, flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds. Beat the egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the remaining sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture in three or four batches. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake tins, and smooth out the surfaces with a spatula.
Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow the cakes to cool briefly, then turn out onto wire racks lined with baking paper. Cool completely.
To assemble, place one cake upside down on a cake plate. Drizzle with one-third of the kirsch, then spread with half the cream and sprinkle with half the cherries. Place another cake on top and repeat the process. Place the last cake on top, and drizzle with the remaining kirsch. For the icing, whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form, then frost the top and sides of the cake. You now have a big beautiful white cake. Yum!

Boiled Egg with Vegetable Salad

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by luane

This is a combination of a few different little vegetable salads that makes a nice starter. At home I like to serve them on one large platter, set in the middle of the table, though individual plates are good too. Any combination of salads can be used, but by all means, just eat the egg with one and it will still taste great. Make the celeriac remoulade once and you’ll make it many times throughout the celeriac season. It is great with fish straight off the barbecue, especially tuna.

6 soft-boiled eggs
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
for the tomato salad
4 small vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a few drops of balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
for the carrot salad
40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) raisins
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) cold Earl Grey tea
2 small carrots, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
11/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
for the celeriac remoulade
1/2 small head of celeriac
60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) mayonnaise (page 351)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely shredded flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 radicchio, leaves pulled apart, washed and torn
To make the tomato salad, put the tomato and onion in a bowl and mix with the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoning. To make the carrot salad, soak the raisins for 20 minutes in the cold Earl Grey tea, then drain. Put the carrot, raisins and parsley in a bowl. Add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and seasoning and mix together. To make the celeriac remoulade, peel the celeriac, cut into very fine strips and immediately blanch in boiling water
to avoid discoloration. Combine the blanched celeriac with the mayonnaise, mustard, parsley and seasoning in a bowl.
Arrange the radicchio leaves on four plates. On each plate, place some of the tomato salad on one-third of the radicchio, the carrot on the second third, and the celeriac on the remaining third. Peel the eggs and cut in half. Carefully put the halves on top of the salads. Finish with freshly shaved Parmesan, a little splash of extra virgin olive oil and some freshly ground pepper. Serves 4

• For a simple salad Niçoise, combine braised or canned tuna, some green beans, potatoes, olives, tomatoes, anchovies and boiled eggs, and dress with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning.
• Chop up some cooked king prawns (shrimp). Add chopped hard-boiled eggs and sliced iceberg lettuce and mix with a little mayonnaise. This makes a great salad or terrific sandwich filling.
• A boiled egg also makes a welcome addition to potato salad.
• Try making your eggs really soft-boiled, then just knocking the top off and scooping out the runny egg onto toast with a good soft blue cheese — a fantastic lunch snack.

Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by luane

Sometime in late February, we will be swinging open the doors to our latest venture, Rockpool Bar & Grill at 66 Hunter Street in Sydney’s CBD. The restaurant has been a long time coming and our designers, Bates Smart, have done a truly incredible job.
With seating for 220 and an array of private dining spaces that hold from 6 to 45, I believe it is truly the steak house Sydney has been waiting for.
The building itself has something of a wonderful history. Built in 1932, it was designed by Emil Sodersten, a pioneering young architect in modern design at the time. Built of a solid steel frame and stone clad – it is 12 storeys high with continuous vertical bands of zig zag metal framed bay windows; and bronze sculptures in the polished stone entrance by Rayner Hoff. . It was also the first fully-ducted air conditioned building in the city and these days is considered the best example of 1930s modern architecture in Sydney.

Just recently, following a story about my 2 new restaurants in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “The (Sydney) Magazine”, I received a wonderful letter for the grandson of one George Crowley, General Manager and Chairman of Directors, City Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited. I had joked with the journalist that I would attach a ponytail to the brass bust that sits proudly above what will be the restaurant – watching over the diners…Mr Crowley wrote “I have instructed my lay-about grandson George, to bring to the attention of Neil Perry Esq. that any attempt to attach a ponytail to my brass bust at his new eatery in the City Mutual Life Building…will be met with the sternest resistance.”
Quite a history to be respected there. My partners and I feel both proud and lucky to be opening within this incredible piece of architecture.  The feel of the design from Bates Smart and the creative from Mahon and Band and Earl Carter is respectful of this very elegant era. In fact – it’s plain amazing. I feel like a kid 2 weeks out from Christmas…the days just can’t move fast enough. I hope George Crowley feels the same way.

Currently, we are a mound of rubble surrounded by some incredible long-standing structure – more so than Spice Temple. Amazing what cathedral-like ceilings and incredible marble columns can do for rubble though, to be fair.
Buildcorp are working at a rate of knots on both ventures but Bar & Grill, for now, still has a fair way to go…

Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne December News

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by luane

All is going very nicely down at Bar & Grill in Melbourne. After a wonderfully busy Spring Racing Carnival, we are now prepped and ready for Christmas and a celebratory swing into the new year. The racing season is always an incredibly busy time for us as well as being plenty of fun with all manner of people walking through the doors – from celebs and VIPs to extremely jolly diners after a long hard day of punting. Who can blame them!

The bar has proved incredibly popular throughout 2008, as an elegant space for a pre-dinner drink – or for what has to be one of the best value lunches in town – David Blackmore’s full blood Wagyu hamburger with bacon, gruyere cheese and Zuni pickle for a tidy $18. The punters are absolutely loving every mouthful.

Visit the Bar and Grill Website

Rockpool Bar & Grill’s wine list continues to shine as what we believe to be one of Australia’s best. Sommelier David Lawler has recently spent some time developing our offering of Barolo and Barbaresco (Nebbiolo grape) as “I feel this is a particularly good match with the more robust beef choices”. Through my partner, David Doyle, we have achieved great vintage depth and a selection of producers that are extremely hard to find, & often not available in Australia at all.

The Rockpool Bar & Grill private room is the perfect space for your Christmas functions. The Highland Dining Room, which is named after the gorgeous prize bull who sits on the wall and stares over your shoulder as you eat can sit up to 34 guests in an exclusive space. Alternately, the room can be closed off in part to form a more intimate room for up to 16. Give the Melbourne crew a call for further details on 03 8648 1900 or visit the website to book online.

As with Rockpool in Sydney – Bar & Grill offers gift vouchers – the perfect Christmas, birthday or wedding gift – or just for that random moment of kindness! The forms can be downloaded off the website – too easy.

New Year’s Eve is business as usual at Bar & Grill. Our full menu will be on offer and the restaurant is filling quickly – so don’t miss out. What better excuse than a slide into 2009 to indulge in a little Sevruga caviar and vintage champagne…or perhaps a plate of the divine Joselito Iberico, freshly shucked oysters or an abalone steak. Why hold back….see the old year out on a high and full steam ahead for a great 09!

And if you haven’t done a tasting of our steaks recently- I seriously recommend you order a few to share and enjoy the difference – it’s a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable experience. This is our beef philosophy…enjoy the read.

Our beef is sourced directly from the producers and dry aged on our premises. That means we have total control over the quality of the beef and when our butcher cuts the meat for the chefs to cook over open flame, this is our decision and nobody else’s. This is quite different to the norm here in Australia.
The dry aging process is important as it brings a better flavour to the beef than that of the more common wet aging in cryovac, which in essence is really preserving the beef. This however takes a big commitment as we have up to 5 tonnes of beef aging at any one time.
We believe that the four types of beef we have are representative of the best of their type in Australia and they all fit into the strict Rockpool philosophy of humane treatment to the cattle. There are no growth hormones used and no antibiotic feed supplements. This is a rare thing in Australia today, particularly with the standard lot fed cattle. It is why we feel that Rangers Valley is the only grain fed cattle we could fit within our Rockpool philosophy.
The reason we have the four types of beef – grass fed yearling, grass fed 36 month old, full blood Wagyu and grain fed beef, is simple, they all have different texture and flavour attributes and to my mind, all represent a certain style of beef. It is interesting to see which you like the best, as people do tend to have preferences. I love them all, as I think these 3 brands that represent the four types are the best on offer of their style in the country and have great flavour and integrity.
The grass fed yearling beef tends to have a cleaner, more pure beef flavour; the 36 month has an intense flavour because of it’s age and is more like the older beef that is eaten in Europe; the Wagyu has a rich caramel and popcorn flavour with great tenderness and fine texture; and the grain fed, a wonderful richness with big beef flavour because of its’ extra age and of course the tenderness that grain feeding promotes.
I believe this restaurant offers a great opportunity for you to taste the beef types and different cuts to see which you enjoy most. Perhaps, like me, you will love them all. To do so is easy – share steaks across the table for main course with some side dishes and really taste the difference. This is what I call family style service and it is to my mind the best way to enjoy this restaurant and make a real experience out of it. The staff on the floor and in the kitchen are very familiar with this style of service. So whether you want to look at different cuts or grass versus grain versus Wagyu – here is the best place to do it. This is the way I always eat at Rockpool Bar & Grill.