Hopefully by now you have all heard of my other blog ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ which is a collaborative project with 13 other Food and Wine Blogging friends. Every season, we release 2 new menus, giving you recipes, wine pairings, tips for being organised and hopefully a little inspiration to create your own Dinner Parties with friends and family. Continue reading
Yesterday afternoon I spent a very pleasant hour or so sorting (and at long last, filing!) an ever-growing pile of recipes that have been ripped out of cooking magazines over the years. Often there are only a few recipes inside that truly appeal, so with each move we’ve made around the country or world, I’ve found it difficult to justify the continual packing and unpacking of so many magazines… plus I’m loathe to stack them onto our bookshelves, which quite honestly deserve a finer quality of literature. For the most part though they are all recipes that I would still like to try out at some stage in the future and finally having them in some sort of order will make this much more achievable. Continue reading
We’re into the early days of summer here in Australia and the cicadas are now in constant song. Announcing to us that predictable warmth is finally here. Their distinctive sound transports my somewhat musing mind all too readily across to the South of France, where memories of their almost deafening din comes part and parcel with walks amongst idyllic coves filled with water of the most beautiful, crystal clarity to luxuriating au bord de la mer with a bottle of rosé and rustic Meditteranean fare. Unsurprisingly, food and wine are never far from my thoughts… The same goes for France.
With the South of France being unattainable (and in winter) at present, we will settle for dining al fresco on our back deck, with the much loved barbeque doing a fabulous job of cooking our dinner. I can assure you that fresh fish, cooked to perfection, alongside a chilled glass of wine will taste delicious no matter where you are in the world… though if you close your eyes for a moment and let your mind relax, you just might be able to picture the beautiful little boats with Cassis written across their sterns and hear the clank of petanque boules in the park by the water’s edge.
Grilled Fillets of Salmon with Compound Butter
- 2 Large Salmon Fillets (approx 600g in total)
- Good Quality Olive Oil
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- 125g Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
- Handful of Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley (finely chopped)
- Zest and Juice of ½ a Lemon
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
Place the salmon into a baking dish and rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper over each fillet and be sure to check that all bones have been removed (a small set of craft pliers is ideal for this purpose). I usually remove the salmon from the fridge about an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
For the Compound Butter, mix together all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Roll into a log shape and wrap up in some baking paper/parchment. Place in the fridge, until ready to serve. Any left-over butter can be wrapped up in foil and frozen, ready for next time. I often double the quantity to have a good stash of flavoured butter on hand for adding to all manner of grilled meat and vegetables.
Pre-heat the BBQ (or oven) to 200°C.
Cook, skin-side down, for approximately 15-20 minutes (with the BBQ hood down), until cooked to your liking. Allow a resting period of 5-10 minutes before serving.
Perfect served on a bed of rice (see here for a few tips), with seasonal greens, along with a slice of the compound butter to gently melt away over the top of the salmon.
- A range of other herbs, spices and flavourings can be added to the butter to suit the meat or vegetable you plan to use this with.
- I often use Ocean Trout instead of Salmon, depending on which looks best on the day.
- Lovely with a glass of chilled rose wine!
With the slightly warmer weather enticing us to sit outside through to the early evening, it’s time again to bring out the nibbly platters. A little cheese, a few olives, some cured meats… all the things that go perfectly with a chilled glass of white or rosé! My current favourite is to include a fillet of smoked trout or salmon on the platter, from the ‘Eden Smokehouse’ (their beautiful smoked seafood products are available, I believe, throughout most of NSW and the ACT in Australia). Though I’m sure that in your part of the world, there will be something of a similar nature that will work just as well.
The other evening, I discovered that smoked trout also goes brilliantly tossed through with some pasta, and a few other simple ingredients. A quick, stylish dish, that requires minimal time cooking (something that will be much appreciated as it warms up even further throughout the summer months). The toasted almonds added at the very end, add a wonderful taste and texture to the dish, so be sure to have some on hand.
Smoke Trout and Almond Linguine | Gather and Graze
- 400g Linguine (or other long pasta)
- 15g/1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 2 Garlic Cloves (finely sliced)
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 1 Tablespoon Wholegrain Mustard
- 250ml/1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 200g Fillet of Smoked Trout (or Salmon)
- Handful of Chopped Italian Parsley (and/or Chives)
- Large Handful of (Toasted) Slivered Almonds
Place a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
While you’re waiting for the water to come to the boil, place the cream, lemon zest and mustard into a small mixing bowl. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper, stir to combine and then set aside for the moment.
Flake the smoked trout and also set aside.
When the pasta water has come to the boil, stir in some sea salt and add the pasta, cooking until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, place a frypan over low/medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and when the butter has stopped foaming, add the garlic and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Now stir in the cream mixture and allow to simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and the flaked smoked trout and continue to cook for another minute or two, until the trout is warmed through. Check for seasoning and adjust with sea salt, pepper or lemon juice if required.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce, stirring gently to coat each strand.
Place into bowls or a serving dish and top with the fresh, chopped herbs and toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
Perfect with a glass of white wine and a loaf of crusty Italian bread on the side.
With somewhat ulterior motives, I began not so long ago, to trace some of our family history. Knowing that predominantly my ancestry winds it’s way back to English and German origins, I was actually secretly hoping to uncover that gem of a find that I had a drop or two of Italian blood coursing through my veins. Not just because so much of the country is jaw-droppingly picturesque and packed full of history and culture, or that the deliciousness of their food and wine leaves me so constantly in awe… but mostly because I would love dearly to have grown up with an Italian Nonna in my life. Complete with her opinionated wisdom on all facets of life and her deep sense of family and love to knit everyone together. Countless stories she would have told of people and places from her past long ago and while she was telling these stories her hands would be busy kneading dough, rolling pasta, or stirring a pot of the most aromatic ragu ever to grace a cucina. The sights and sounds and smells would have seeped into my very being, guiding me and staying with me right the way through life.
Alas, I found nothing surprising except an English convict or two to colour my family tree, so I’ll leave you with something of an aromatic recipe which unfortunately comes not from my Nonna, but with love and essence of Italy all the same. Salute!
Brodetto | Italian Seafood Soup
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Small Onion (chopped)
- 2 Cloves Garlic (crushed)
- 1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped)
- Pinch of Crushed Dried Red Chillies
- 1 Small Red Capsicum/Sweet Pepper (diced)
- 1 Medium Fresh Fennel Bulb (trimmed and diced)
- 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 1-2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- ½ cup Dry White Wine
- 500mls Fish or Vegetable Stock
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 400g Boneless White Fish Fillets (cut into bite-size chunks)
- 12 Raw Prawns (shelled and deveined)
- 1 Calamari/Squid Hood (cleaned, hard quill removed and thinly sliced into rings)
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Handful of Fresh Basil (or Flat-Leaf Parsley) Leaves (chopped into thin ribbons)
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low/medium heat. Add the onions (with a good pinch of salt) and fry gently for about 8-10 minutes until softened. Next, stir in the garlic, parsley, dried chilli, capsicum and fennel, continuing to fry gently for 5 minutes or so. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and tomato paste and continue to cook another 10 minutes. Pour in both the wine and stock, bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer for another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper while the soup is simmering. Add the fish pieces and partially cover the saucepan with a lid, simmer for about 4-5 minutes, before adding the prawns for a further 3-4 minutes until cooked. The calamari rings should go in for the final minute or so of cooking.
Top with lemon zest and basil and serve immediately. Absolutely perfect with a loaf of fresh, crusty bread on the side.
Notes on Cooking:
- Feel free to use boiling water instead of the wine and stock, though be sure to check the seasoning, as more salt and pepper will most likely be required to balance the dish.
- This soup is beautiful with all manner of seafood added to it – try adding some cleaned mussels, clams or scallops. Be thoughtful of the required cooking times for each…
- My thanks to a dearly-loved friend in New Zealand who first introduced me to this soup – her recipe has been altered somewhat over the years, yet still makes me think of her each time I cook it… xx