Archive for July, 2011

Good Weekend Recipe, 16th July 2011

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Dave

Lemon Chicken

Serves 4 as part of a shared banquet


300g chicken thigh fillets, skin on, trimmed, cut into 1cm slices
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp cornflour
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
2 lemons
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar
Sichuan Pepper
2 green (spring) onions, sliced


Place the chicken, egg and sea salt in a bowl, toss together and leave for 20 minutes.

 Remove the chicken, allowing the excess egg to drip away, and toss in the cornflour until evenly coated.

 Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer until just smoking (180°C) and deep-fry the chicken pieces until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towel. Set aside on a warm serving plate.

Finely grate the zest from half a lemon, then juice the whole lemon. Peel and segment the remaining lemon. Place the sugar, vinegar, lemon segments, zest and juice and 3tbsp water in a small pot over a low heat, and cook stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the sauce to the boil and remove from the heat.

To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with a pinch of Sichuan pepper and green onions.

This recipe appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend, 9th July 2011

Squid Ink Paella

Friday, July 15th, 2011 by Dave

This has to be one of my favourite shots from The Food I Love. Why? I guess it allows me to imagine that I’ve just enjoyed a great meal with friends - a plate of deliciously rich paella with super garlicky aioli, washed down with a nice glass or two of red.. Isn’t that the true test of a great photo – the ability to transport you right into a moment?

Credit to Sue Fairlie-Cuninghame’s amazing styling and direction and photography from the master, Earl Carter.

Squid Ink Paella

I include this recipe because it really is very simple, but the taste and texture could only be described as divine. So, for divine, it is well worth lining up some ingredients, chucking them in a pan and letting them simmer away to find that 20 minutes later you have a slice of heaven. Don’t worry about the squid overcooking; because you braise it, it comes out really tender.

Serves 4


450g paella rice
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt
8 small squid tubes, cleaned and cut into 5mm thick slices
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoky hot paprika
2 tablespoons squid ink
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1.75L chicken stock
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Aioli, to serve


Heat a paella pan or a heavy-based frying pan with a good dash of extra virgin olive oil added. Add the onion and garlic and a little sea salt and gently cook for a couple of minutes. Add the squid and stir through for 3-4 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, paprika, squid ink and tomato paste, stir through, then add the rice and chicken stock at the same time. Stir through and bring to a simmer, then leave to cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a tea towel to keep warm and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the parsley, if using, and give a good grind of pepper. Now, everyone will want a bit of the crust, so divide the paella into quarters, scoop out the rice and place on a plate. This should be done at the table by the host, which is you. Pass each of your guests a plate and serve with a big dollop of super garlicky aioli – this is no time to hold back. Crusty bread, a killer green salad and a glass of red and your friends will think you’re a magician.

From ‘The Food I Love’ by Neil Perry, Murdoch Books.

Qantas Menu Photo Shoot – so this is how the pros do it, eh?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 by Dave

I managed to sneak into the Qantas photo shoot last week here at Rockpool and grab a few photos of the action. And there was action a-plenty - with 30+ dishes to shoot in only 5 hours (just to put this into perspective, on the last book shoot we did, we took an average of 6-8 shots per 10 hour day!). Once again photographer Ted Sealey was called up to do the honours. Ted has done plenty of fantastic work for Qantas and also for us recently at here at Rockpool, and besides being a good bloke is handy with the DSLR as well.

Kate, menu planner for Rockpool Consulting, slaved all day in the test kitchen to get the food looking amazing. Rae was on hand to assist where she could and Terry helped Ted with direction. Me? I was just on hand to taste everything, you know, quality control and all..

Ted getting the shot lined up.. Economy food really never looked better, on damask linen surrounded by Riedel glassware..

The shoot involved taking shots of dishes from economy, business, first and the premium lounges…

Ted’s camera is juuuust a little bit fancier than ours… but only a bit..

Terry providing a bit of artistic direction.. I have to say, full respect goes to food bloggers who can produce great quality photos without the need for lighting, tripod etc. Especially when they’re shooting in the dark, like at Spice Temple - see Helen’s Spice Temple review on the excellent Grab Your Fork blog to see the standard!

Do you think that photographers get bad backs??!

And here are just some of Ted’s finished shots… These dishes will end up either in First or Business in-flight or in the lounges.

Chicken, Olive and Preserved Lemon Tagine with Almond Couscous and Harissa

Buckwheat Blinis with Salmon Roe and Crème Fraîche

Potato, Rosemary and Feta Cheese Pizzette

Confit of Duck with Roasted Parsnips, Warm Pear and Endive

Fragrant Green Curry of Snapper with Thai Eggplants and Jasmine Rice

Got any photography tips for us amateurs out there? Let us know in the comments..

Sorrentine Peninsula, Italy

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 by Dave

Over the next three weeks we’ll be sharing some of the great photos taken by Khan and Catherine (RB&G Group Head Chef and Head Pastry Chef respectively) of their recent holiday in Italy..

Part one takes us to the beautiful Sorrentine Peninsula, home of Limoncello and some amazingly fresh seafood…







We’ve come to Italy to eat, walk, rest, drink, and look at broken pottery. We are down on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Massa Lubrense, where the lemons are prized for making Limoncello.

Lemon groves cover the hillsides, battling with the olive trees for space. They are housed under wooden and cloth structures to protect them in the harsher months.

We are heading to Marina del Cantone which sits at the bottom of this hill. Even from up here the water looks crystal clear.

Lo Scoglio da Tommaso - we have been guided here by a line in the River Cafe book about how good the zucchini pasta is.

Tartufo clam and mussel crudo. Can it get any fresher or better?

Marinated anchovies.

The zucchini with spaghetti.

Cicala linguine, the best pasta you could possibly hope for. River Cafe didn’t do this place justice by just mentioning the zucchini pasta.

A very small portion from a very large fish stew.

Fresh, delicious strawberries with orange juice.

The best lemon ice cream that had little chips of white chocolate in it.

Chef having a quiet fish after lunch service!

Ristorante Lo Stuzzichino in Sant’ Agata sui Due Golfi.

We saw fresh sardines at the local fish shop during the day and asked Mimmo if they had any – he was only too happy to lightly fry some for us. A crispy taste of the sea.

Scialatielle is a fresh pasta made with milk, olive oil, pecorino and basil. It has very little egg to flour, and therefore the noodles are soft and tender. It is generally served with a seafood sauce. Here it is with sauteed clams, mussels, squid and some very sweet cherry tomatoes. It was so good we almost forgot to take a picture!

Don Alfonso, also in Sant’ Agata sui Due Golfi.

Pacchiere with pea, broad bean, dried tomaoto, anchovy and grated local cheese.

Raw shrimp at Ristorante La Torre, a family run restaurant in piazzetta Annunziata – vista su Capri.

Maria, mum, is in the kitchen; Alessia and her sister running the floor. Alessia recommended dressing the shrimp with lemon juice, olive oil and cracked pepper. A triumph of simplicity.

Fagotino with smoked provola, artichoke and tomato sauce, a crepe filled and baked.

Fresh anchovies pan fried with garlic, oregano and vinegar.

Grilled squid with mint, oil and lemon.

Good Weekend Recipe, 9th July 2011

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by Dave

Beef and Pea Pie

Serves 4

1.25kg trimmed chuck steak, cut into 2cm dice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp plain flour
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
160ml red wine
160ml veal stock
250g frozen peas, thawed
1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1-2 sheets frozen store-bought puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Season the beef with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tbsp flour until evenly coated.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof heavy-based pan over a high heat. Cook the beef in batches for 1-2 minutes, or until well browned, then set aside.

Add the onion to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato paste and remaining flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and stock and stir until the mixture comes to the boil.

Return the beef to the pan, cover with foil, and cook in the oven for 1 hour or until the beef is tender. Stir through the peas and parsley and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Increase the oven temperature to 200°C. Divide the pie filling among 4 x 300ml ramekins or pie dishes. Top each with a piece of pastry large enough to hang over the edge of the dish. Press the pastry down firmly around the edge and brush evenly with egg yolk.

Bake the pies in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Serve warm with a side salad.

This recipe appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend, 9th July 2011

The Original Dr Bircher Muesli

Friday, July 8th, 2011 by Dave

By popular demand, we give you Neil’s Bircher Muesli recipe out of his book ‘The Food I Love’.

Bircher Muesli was originally created as part of a therapy by Swiss physician Dr Bircher-Benner way back in 1900.. If only everything good for you tasted this good as well!

Perfect weekend breaky material, we reckon!

The Original Dr Bircher Muesli

A good friend, Greg Fraser, passed this recipe on to me many years ago, and now Sam and I have it almost every day. It is very simple and good for lowering cholesterol levels. You can have any furit you like with it; we tend to have fresh berries in summer, and either poached quinces or pears during the rest of the year. A really good yoghurt, such as a sheep’s milk yoghurt, will make the muesli taste even better, though taste as you go and adjust the lemon juice a little to balance the yoghurt’s sharpness.

Serves 4


200g rolled oats
Juice of 2 lemons
2 sour green apples, such as Granny Smith
500g plain yoghurt
150g honey
Poached fruit, such as poached pears, or fresh fruit, to serve
40g roasted hazelnuts, skinned and crushed, to serve


The night before, mix the oats, lemon juice  and 125ml water together in a bowl. Cover and soak overnight.

In the morning, grate the apples, with their skin on, and add to the bowl of soaked oats. Add the yoghurt and honey and mix together well. Divide the muesli among four bowls, top with your fruit selection and sprinkle with the hazelnuts.

From ‘The Food I Love’ by Neil Perry, Murdoch Books.

Eataly, New York City

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 by Neil

Eataly is the brain child of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich (Mario’s long time business partner), Lidia Bastianich and Oscar Farinetti – clever businessmen and women and dedicated food professionals who have created a little Italian oasis in the middle of Manhattan. Well not so little really – Eataly is located in the site of the old Hasbro toy store on 23rd and 5th. It’s right where the Flatiron Building sits as Broadway crosses 5thand is worth a visit to that area just to see that impressive structure. However it is really worth a visit to this 2o,ooo square foot of everything to do with Italian food and wine.

I love the fact that the whole place is licenced and you can queue for food with a glass of wine in hand or even push your shopping trolley round all the amazing dry and fresh Italian food stuffs… what a way to shop, with a glass of Chianti in hand..

 5th Avenue entrance – Cafe Lavazza, Gelateria…

Bakery with fantastic breads

The Market

Amazing, amazing selection of fresh wild mushrooms. Chantrelles, porcini, morels… if only we could get these in Aus..

Awesome margarita pizza and broccoli oricchette, washed down with a good bottle of young Chianti.


We loved it, the main floor broken into restaurants that do seafood, pizza, pasta, with a mozzarella & salumi bar taking centre stage.

This is a great experience and I recommend you stop and have an espresso on the way out. Mario and co. we salute you!

One of New York’s finest pieces of architecture – the Flatiron Building.

Eataly map – just so you don’t get lost in there!

What Defines a Celebrity Chef?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 by Dave
Neil’s latest piece in the Qantas Magazine – please enjoy!
01 July 2011

Neil Perry

Celebrity cooks may be the new rock stars these days, but what are the qualities that make a great chef really sing?

What Defines a Celebrity Chef?

We are living in the age of the chef. Who would have thought 20 years ago that so many cooking shows would be on commercial television? Even five years ago, food was generally the domain of SBS, ABC and pay-TV lifestyle channels. Today, restaurants are held in high esteem and the chefs behind them are the new superstars. Those people who are passionate and love cooking have become pillars of society. Personally, I am more than happy to have grown up in the golden age of the chef. But how things have changed over the 25 years since I first cooked in an open kitchen. It will be interesting to see how the bright young guns of today’s food industry progress.

With so many distractions, will they stay in the one place long enough to become as good as they could be? And how do we measure that, anyway? Is it by being on lists such as The S Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, organised by the UK’s Restaurant magazine. Take a bow, Tetsuya, at #58. And does the kudos lie in the number of times you have been on the list, or topped it? Would you judge success by how many restaurants you opened – and thus Robuchon, Ducasse or Nobu would be vying for greatness? And what about chefs who have no restaurants at all, but are famous for being famous, driven by the cooking shows that populate the small screen globally? Does any of this really define a chef’s impact on his or her profession?

I believe the one thing a chef should be measured by is his or her legacy – by the number of great cooks and restaurant staff you shape and inspire along the way; by creating a structure that turns out chefs who, by being beside you, learning, become not just good cooks, but great ones. People such as the great American chef Thomas Keller, who has not only two amazing three-star restaurants himself, but has trained or inspired so many other chefs, among them Grant Achatz of Alinea, Corey Lee, John Benno and René Redzepi of Noma.

Gastronomic gypsies

Several of Neil Perry’s Rockpool alumni have gone on to become celebrity chefs in their own right.

Michael McEnearney left Rockpool to travel to London to work with the Conran group. He then returned to head up Rockpool for five years. He is currently doing Mike’s Table and working on an exciting new concept.

Kylie Kwong has gone on to have Billy Kwong and also a TV and book career. She has continued the Rockpool work of sourcing quality ingredients and caring about the humane treatment of animals.

Ross Lusted left Rockpool to work at the Park Hyatt and has been the opening chef for Amanresorts for the past 10 years. He recently came back to Sydney and has a new project on the boil in Sydney called the Bridge Room, which is due to open this month.

Amanda Gale left Rockpool to open and run resorts around the world for Christina Ong (Como Hotels & Resorts) in Parrot Cay, Bhutan and Bangkok. She now works in Bali..

Source: Qantas The Australian Way July 2011

We would love to hear your thoughts celebrity chefs.. let us know in the comments below. 

Good Weekend Recipe, 2nd July 2011

Monday, July 4th, 2011 by Dave

Goat and Onion Curry

Serves 4

½ cup fresh coriander leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
6 fresh hot green chillies, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
900g boneless goat shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes
4 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ cup vegetable oil
Steamed rice, to serve

Place the coriander, mint, fresh chilli and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until it’s as smooth as possible. Set aside.

Combine the goat, onion, salt, chilli powder, ginger, garlic, turmeric, vegetable oil and 3 cups water in a heavy-based pan with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a simmer over a high heat. Then cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour. Remove the lid, turn up the heat again and boil gently for 10 minutes or until the sauce is very thick.

When the sauce has reduced, pour in the herb mix, stir and gently simmer for 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

This recipe appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend, 2nd July 2011

Beef, Black Beans and Rice Noodles with Oyster Sauce

Friday, July 1st, 2011 by Dave

This dish is classic Neil – it’s been on and off his menus ever since Wockpool Potts Point was rocking the Sydney dining scene. And for good reason…

I love fresh rice noodles – they have the most amazing silky texture and really lend themselves to stir-frys and soups. We would always add a couple of extra packets onto our order from Uncle Jimmy (Kylie Kwong’s uncle and noodle-master) so we could have them for for our staff dinners. When fresh they are soft and pliable, and can be used for fresh rice noodle rolls and eaten straight away. If stored in the fridge they will set hard and need to be heated to turn them soft again, so hello stir-fry!

This recipe is from Neil’s book ‘Simply Asian’ – an oldie but a goodie…

Beef, Black Beans and Rice Noodles with Oyster Sauce

This is Wockpool Noodle Bar’s most popular dish. The silky noodles go well with the tender beef, crunchy vegetables and salt sweet sauce. I love a little chilli sauce with this.


¼ cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
200g beef fillet, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fermented black beans
6 oyster mushrooms
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed
2 tablespoons shao xing
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
½ cup fresh chicken stock
300g fresh rice noodle sheets, cut into 2cm strips
½ cup Chinese broccoli leaves
2 shallots, cut into 3-cm lengths
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup sweet Thai basil leaves
Pinch ground white pepper


Heat the oil in a wok until just smoking.
Add the ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the beef slices and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the black beans, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, shao xing, palm sugar, soy and oyster sauces and the chicken stock. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the rice noodles, broccoli leaves and shallots and cook for a further minute. Finally, add the sesame oil and remove from the heat.


Spoon into the centre of a large bowl or platter, then sprinkle over the basil leaves and pepper.









From ‘Simply Asian’ by Neil Perry, Penguin Viking Books.