When it comes to evolving a good nickname, my mate Ades (short for Adrianâ€¦not so creative there but then you can hardly come up with a nickname for yourself) is a bit of a master. One of my all time favourites is the one he came up with for our Swedish friend, Malin.
When we were first getting to know the gorgeous blonde girlfriend of our other mate Robbie, Ades thought he was ohh so funny in insisting on calling her Marlin as in the fish rather than her real name but to be honest I thought it was a little lame. But over time Marlin morphed into Blue as in that tasty tasty fish the blue fin tuna and this in turn evolved to Bluey and it seems to have stuck so much so that Malin even signs her emails love Bluey x. So cute.
A couple of months back Bluey and Robbie were lucky enough to welcome a lovely baby boy into the world and a week or two later moved into their newly purchased house. So with lots to celebrate I offered to cook us dinner in their flashy new kitchen (complete with a separate steam oven and plate warmer).
It wasn’t hard to come up with a theme for the menu. For as long as I’ve known her, Bluey has been a big fan of insalata caprese and buffalo mozzarella in particular so something with fresh cheese was definitely on the cards. I also remember her looking longingly at the tuna carpaccio I had ordered the last time we dined together while she was still pregnant, and her telling me that she was struggling with missing sushi and soft cheeses far more than missing wine. Say no more.
And so it cameÂ together. A vaguely Middle Eastern take on raw fish in the form of salmon kibbeh, a slightly bastardized beef carpaccio with spices, roast beets and of course soft cheese in the form of goats curd. The appearance of buffalo mozerella courtesy of The Travelers Lunchbox, served for a change with broccolini and toasted pine nuts. Apparently the Swedish are big fans of the humble spud, just like the Irish so some crispy roasted spuds just had to be included, all finished off with decadent hot chocolate puddings with marscaponeâ€¦happy Blueyâ€¦ all good things
a bluey baby celebration dinner
salmon kibbeh with olive oil bread
seared spiced beef ‘carpaccio’ with roasted beets & goat’s curd
broccolini with buffalo mozerella & pinenuts
spiced roast spuds
hot chocolate puddings with marscapone
salmon kibbeh with olive oil bread
serves 6 as a starter
Inspired by Karen Martini in her latest treasure.
Kibbeh is a middle eastern dish something like a spiced lamb version of steak tartare. It’s one of my absolute favourite things. I love Karen’s idea of translating it into salmon which makes it more approachable for most people given that with the popularity of sushi they are more open to the idea of eating raw fish.
200mL warm water
400g sashimi grade salmon
3 large red chillies, deseeded and very finely chopped
3t sumac, or zest 1 lemon extra
3 pinches ground allspice
juice & zest of Â½ to 1 lemon
5T best quality extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked
additional olive oil, to serve
lemon cheeks, to serve
olive oil, Turkish or lebanese bread, to serve
Place burghul and water in a small bowl and allow to infuse for 15mins. Dice salmon then pulse in a food processor until it is coarsely minced. Drain burghul and squeeze dry. Stir through salmon, chilli, spices, juice and zest of Â½ lemon and olive oil. Taste and season adding additional lemon juice & zest if you think it needs it.
Press salmon mixture onto a serving platter. Finely slice mint and toss with a little extra oil. Drizzle over the salmon and arrange lemon cheeks on the side. Serve immediately in the middle of the table with warm bread passed separately.
seared spiced beef ‘carpaccio’ with roasted beets & goats curd
This is a great way to introduce raw beef to those that have yet to venture beyond sushi. Searing briefly to get a lovely spiced crust on the outside just adds to the textural and flavoural experience. But by all means if you feel like going totally raw be my guest and skip the cooking stage and cut back on the spicing.
This dish is really relying on your beef to be the star so be sure and get the freshest most tender beef fillet you can. It’s a good idea to mention to your butcher that you’re planning on serving it as carpaccio so they can steer you in the right direction.
Fresh horseradish with any beef is a match made in heaven but even more so when the beef is raw and melt-in-the-mouth tender. If you can’t get hold of fresh horseradish you could substitute in commercial creamed horseradish. Just stir it through the goats curd or some crÃ¨me fraiche until it tastes punchy & sharp.
2 bunches small beets
2T balsamic vinegar
2T olive oil
600g eye fillet of beef
2T secret spice blend*
3T extra virgin olive oil
200g goats curd or crÃ¨me fraiche
Preheat oven to 200C. Scrub and trim beets and cut into bight size wedges or chunks. Place on a sheet of foil and drizzle with balsamic and oil and season. Wrap foil to form a parcel and seal. Bake for 45mins to an hour or until beets are tender. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Combine spices and oil to form a paste and season liberally. Rub paste over the beef and allow to marinate for a few minutes. Heat a BBQ or frying pan to hot and sear beef on all sides until you have a nice crust on the outside but the center is mostly still raw. Allow to rest for a few minutes then slice as finely as you can.Â
Divide beef slices between 6 flat dinner plates, pressing it out so it is nice and fine. Season generously then scatter beets over and dot with dollops of goats curd. Grate over fresh horseradish to taste and finsh with a sprinkle of fresh chives. Serve immediately.
*note: For uncovering the mysteries of the secret spice blend click HERE. or you could just substitute in 1T ground cumin and another of smoky paprika.