Last Sunday morning I found myself slightly hungover (thanks to a few too many Poire Williams* at the newly opened Aperitif in Kings Cross the night before) in the cookbook section of Borders in Bondi Junction. A dangerous combination that was bound to result in a purchase despite my resolve to put a hold on the expansion of my cookbook collection until I had paid off my car.
A shockingly pink volume caught my eye. I took in that the authors were Jane and Jeremy Strode of Bistrode fame and my mind immediately took me back to the delicious meal that I had shared in their fabulous little restaurant a few Saturdays ago. Memories of their delectable maple syrup tart and the creamiest pate filled my head only to be replaced by that unforgettable pigs ear and black pudding salad. And I realised that if these people could make pigs ears an object of my culinary lust, then I just had to explore their book. Sold.
Mysteriously my self-sorry hungover thoughts abated as I flicked through the pages looking for something for dinner that night. After the minor disappointment that the pigs ear salad recipe had not been included….. I decided on a mussel, leek and saffron salad. With the required ingredients hunted and gathered (OK just gathered….who am I kidding???) I hurried home with my stash for an afternoon of exploration.
Now there’s nothing like the acquisition of a new cookbook, particularly one where the authorsâ€™ work is unknown to you. Jeremy Strode is a pom who was trained in the classic French style in some pretty tidy Michelin starred restaurants in England and France. His wife Jane (I wonder if they know the Jetsons??) grew up in WA and was lucky enough to undertake her apprenticeship at Sydney’s famous Rockpool. They met while working at Langtons Wine Bar and Restaurant in Melbourne but are now based in Sydney with their excellent value Surry Hills restaurant, Bistrode. This is their first cookbook and itâ€™s a real gem, divided into Sunday specials, school night meals forÂ two (perfect for a solo household like mineâ€¦one for dinner and leftovers for lunch), Friday nights for four, and finally four menus for a big night in, one for each season. â€¦a well balanced selection of mostly French inspired modern dishes.
Being a bit of a menu planning junkie, I very much enjoyed the final section particularly the notes written as a guide to planning a menu. Nothing ground breaking, common sense really, but good to keep in mind: plan for the seasons (this is as much about using produce in season as it is about cooking things appropriate to the climate), balance flavours and textures, balance and vary ingredients, vary your cooking methods, think about presentation (vary colours, shapes and sizes), and balance your portion sizes.
With dinner for my Mum, sister Sas & herÂ boyfriend Craig on the horizon, I was tempted to choose the autumn menu from my new book but my need to customise over took the planning process and I ended up choosing a menu based on recipes from a variety of sectionsâ€¦..Served with a couple of bottles of the 2002 Domaine Chandon Sparkling…..All good things…..:
A special family dinner for four
bbq quail and lentil salad
bbq crispy skinned ocean trout with eggplant chutney and mixed bean salad
bbq quail and lentil salad
slightly adapted from twoâ€™s cooking by jane & jeremy strode.
serves 4 as a large starter.
This was my first time cooking quail and while they ended up slightly on the underdone side, they sure were moist and tasty and I do love serving a whole baby birds like this on each plate but am not so sure that my guests enjoyed the labour involved in eating them.
4 sprigs thyme
2 rashers bacon cut into matchsticks
1 sprig sage, leaves picked
1T white wine vinegar
1 handful wild baby rocket (arugla or roquette)
1 handful flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
2 sprigs dill, torn
4 sprigs mint, leaves picked
40g Australian French style green lentils, or puy lentils, boiled in salted water until soft (approx 20mins) & drained.
Remove quail necks and cut down each side of the backbone to butterfly and flatten. Place quail on a plate breast side up and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Allow to marinate covered at room temperature for at least 10 mins.
For dressing, heat 3T olive oil in a frying pan and fry bacon until crispy, adding sage leaves for the last 30 seconds of cooking. Remove from the heat, add vinegar and deglaze pan. Stir in lentils and season with s&p.
Barbeque quail on a hot bbq for approx 5 mins each size, until cooked.
Combine rocket and remaining herbs in a bowl and add lentil mixture. Toss to combine and divide salad between four small plates. Top salad with quail and serve.
bbq crispy skinned ocean trout with eggplant chutney
adapted from twoâ€™s cooking by jane & jeremy strode.
serves 4 as a main course.
I used purple Italian eggplant and roasted them first to make them easier to peel and avoid the need for copious amounts of oil. I have also reduced the amount of sugar. This is still very sweet but the vinegar does balance it making a lovely accompaniment to the rich crispy skinned fish. You could also serve this relish with bbq pork sausages or bbq lamb.
4 x 150g fillets ocean trout
4 med eggplant (aubergine), preferably the Italian purple ones
3 brown onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, squashed, peeled & chopped
200mL red wine vinegar
150g brown sugar
Heat oven to 180oC and roast whole eggplant for approx 40mins or until soft. Cool eggplant then peel and roughly chop flesh. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sweat onions with the lid on over a medium heat until soft, being careful not to brown them too much. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar and sugar and season with s&p.
Cook relish uncovered over a low heat for approximately 45mins, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.Â Relish is done when eggplant is totally cooked through and the relish has a nice chunky consistency.
Rub trout skin with olive oil and season with s&p. Cook on a very hot bbq for about 4mins or until skin is crispy. Turn and cook for another 2mins making sure fish is still meltingly pink in the middle. Place a large dollup of chuntey in the middle of each plate and top with seared fish crispy skin side up. Serve with mixed bean salad passed separately.
mixed bean salad
adapted from Twoâ€™s Cooking by Jane & Jeremy Strode
serves 4-6 as a side salad.
Jane and Jeremy recommend this salad with shredded bbq chicken tossed through but it makes a great accompaniment to the ocean trout and sweet relish.Â I am always on the lookout for new and interesting salad dressings and this one is a winner. Although it is a bit time consuming the rich sweet oniony flavours that permeate the dressing make it well worth the while. I used to really hate beans but have discovered them recentlyâ€¦like anything really it can be tasty as long as you are using top quality fresh ingredients and are cooking with careâ€¦. Jane & Jeremy only use 3 different types of beans but I got a bit carried away at Fratelli Fresh so my version ended up a 4 bean mix but itâ€™s really up to you.
100g roman beans
300g fresh borlotti beans
150g green beans
1 x 400g tin canellini beans, drained
Â½ bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
4 sprigs basil, leaves picked
100mL olive oil (not extra virgin)
Â½ medium brown onion, finely chopped
25mL white wine vinegar
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Remove tails from the green beans and blanch for 30seconds in the water, scoop out with a strainer and allow to drain. Remove roman bean tops and cook in the same water for approximately 4minutes until aldente (you want them somewhere between crunchy and soggy). Fish out roman beans, drain then place in a large bowl with the green beans. Pod the borlotti beans and boil until soft, 15-20minutes. When borlotti beans are cooked add tinned beans and then drain. Combine with the two green beans.
For dressing, heat oil in a medium saucepan and add onions. Sweat, covered over a low heat until onions are very very soft. Remove from heat and add vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes for the onions to soak up the vinegar. Season with s&p.
Pour most of the onion dressing over the beans and mix to combine. You can leave them to marinate for a while or serve straight away. Just before serving toss through the herbs.
Jane and Jeremy have a recipe for strawberry granita with vanilla icecream in their book but I decided to take it one step further and go for raspberry gelato.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream (35% milk fat)
4 egg yolks
300g frozen raspberries
Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until thick and pale (or do this by hand). Heat milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling and add to egg yolk mixture while mixing. Return egg yolks and cream to a saucepan and cook over a medium heat stirring continually until custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon, being careful not to overcook. Remove from heat.
Place raspberries in food processor and add half of the custard mixture. Process until well pureed.Â Strain raspberry mix through a fine strainer into a clean jug. Add remaining custard and mix until combined. Refrigerate until well chilled before freezing in an icecream machine according to the manufacturerâ€™s instructions. Serve in chilled glasses with teaspoons.
7 Kellett St
Potts Point 2011Â
(02) 9357 4729
478 Bourke St
(02) 9380 7333
*Poire William is a seductive spirit distilled from pears. It hails from Normandy in the north of France and should be consumed in moderation….or so I’ve heard……