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Smoked ocean trout with quinoa and tomato salad. Photo: William Meppem

I'm a great fan of quinoa. It's perfect as the base of a roasted or grilled vegetable salad.

SMOKED OCEAN TROUT WITH QUINOA AND TOMATO SALAD

300g cold smoked ocean trout slices

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

Quinoa salad

200g (about 1 cup) white quinoa

pinch of sea salt

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

handful mizuna leaves

Lemon dressing

21/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serves 4


Place the quinoa in about 600ml water in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked (be careful not to overcook). Drain and rinse well.

Meanwhile, for the dressing, whisk the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice together and season with salt and pepper.

Once cooled, place the quinoa, diced onion, Italian parsley, mint and mizuna leaves into a large bowl with half of the dressing. Toss gently to combine.

To serve, arrange the trout slices over 4 serving plates and top with quinoa salad and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve.


BEEF FILLET WITH HORSERADISH BUTTER AND MUSHROOMS

ALT

800g piece beef eye fillet

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

4 large flat mushrooms, stems trimmed

Horseradish butter

1 tbsp fresh horseradish (or good-quality jarred horseradish), finely grated

small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 tsp Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

freshly ground white pepper

250g room-temperature salted butter, chopped

Lemon thyme oil

1/2 bunch lemon thyme leaves, picked,

finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

150ml extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Serves 4


Preheat oven to 200°C.

To make the horseradish butter, use a food processor to mix the horseradish, parsley, mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of white pepper for about 1 minute or until well combined. Add butter, and process a further 30 seconds or until just combined.

Roll butter mixture in sheets of baking paper into a log shape about 4 centimetres in diameter. Refrigerate until firm.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Seal the beef fillet on all sides until browned. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until desired doneness. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes, before slicing.

For the lemon thyme oil, combine all ingredients together in bowl. Season to taste.

In a non-stick pan, heat half of the lemon thyme oil and add the mushrooms, stem side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden. Turn over, and brush the insides of the mushrooms with the remaining lemon thyme oil and cook until the mushrooms are tender.

Serve beef sliced with a disc of the horseradish butter, and a grilled mushroom.

BRAISED FENNEL WITH ORANGE

ALT

4 small fennel bulbs, plus 1 tbsp finely chopped fronds to garnish

100g unsalted butter

1/2 small brown onion, diced

3 oranges

3 tsp Pernod

11/3 cups chicken stock

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4 as a side dish


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters. Remove and discard the root ends. In an ovenproof braising pan, heat half of the butter over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion is softened.

Grate the zest from 1 orange and reserve. Cut all 3 of the oranges in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Add the Pernod, allowing it to ignite to burn off the alcohol. Bring to a brisk simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to de-glaze. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then add the chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining butter. Once incorporated, cover the pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is tender.

Check the seasoning and transfer the fennel to a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved orange zest and fennel fronds.


BAKED ZUCCHINI WITH OLIVES, CAPERS AND GOAT'S CHEESE

ALT

4 medium green zucchinis

olive oil, for brushing

200g quality goat's cheese, crumbled

Breadcrumb filling

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cup sourdough breadcrumbs

1/3 cup pitted large green olives, finely chopped

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp dried currants

1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed well

Rich tomato sauce

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, finely sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1kg drained canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped (plus 200ml reserved liquid)

1 tsp white sugar

2 tbsp finely chopped basil

Serves 4


Trim ends from the zucchinis and cut lengthwise into strips 5-millimetre thick. Brush lightly with olive oil and cook on a hot flat grill or in a hot frying pan until golden but not cooked through. Drain on absorbent paper. Set aside.

For breadcrumb filling, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook over low heat for about 8 minutes or until soft. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until the crumbs begin to brown. Remove from heat, stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside.

For the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the garlic is golden but not browned. Add the chilli and cook for a further 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in the chopped tomatoes, reserved liquid, sugar and basil and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened and rich in colour. Cool.

To assemble, lightly grease four 300ml-capacity ramekin dishes with a little olive oil. Place three slices of zucchini over the base of each ramekin, pushing up the side of dish, if necessary. Scatter with 1 heaped tbsp of breadcrumb mixture and 1 tbsp of crumbled goat's cheese, then top with 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce.

Repeat, layering once more, starting with a layer of zucchini and finishing with a layer of zucchini. Repeat with remaining ramekin dishes and ingredients.

Serve the baked zucchini in the ramekin dishes, topped with a spoonful of extra tomato sauce.

RASPBERRY AND CHAMPAGNE JELLY WITH SPICED COMPOTE

ALT

200g fresh whole raspberries

160g caster sugar

200ml clear apple juice

160ml water

25g gelatine leaves

250ml champagne or sparkling wine

400g frozen raspberries

Spiced berry compote

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 tbsp clear apple juice

1 tbsp water

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1/3 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup fresh blackberries

Serves 6


Combine the raspberries, sugar, apple juice and water in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until raspberries have collapsed and released their juices. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and stand mixture for 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid has dripped through. Do not press down on the raspberries or the jelly will go cloudy. Discard pulp.

Place half of the liquid in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 2 minutes, drain and add leaves to the saucepan and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the remaining raspberry liquid and champagne, then let stand until the bubbles subside.

Divide half the frozen raspberries among 6 martini or highball glasses. Pour over enough of the jelly mixture to just cover the raspberries, and allow the bubbles to subside. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is set.

When the jelly has set, place the remainder of the frozen raspberries on top of the jelly and slowly pour over the remaining raspberry liquid, allowing the bubbles to subside. Refrigerate overnight until firm.

For the compote, combine the sugar, juice, water and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and simmer briefly, until the liquid is of a light syrup consistency but has not reduced too far. Add the berries, simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cool, remove cinnamon and place in a separate glass. To serve, spoon a little compote over jelly.

HOT TIPS

 

• Absolutely anything goes well with horseradish butter. I use it on grilled chicken and salmon as well.

• Use a meat thermometer to cook the beef: for rare, rest it at about 52°C. Make it 55°C for medium rare and 60°C for well done.

• The jelly is great but if you don't feel like the work, serve the compote with a panna cotta or a quality ice-cream. At this time of year, use any fruit in the compote - just skin and dice it if it's stone fruit.


SOMETHING TO DRINK

Cabernet sauvignon
An older bottle would complement the mushrooms, but the beef's horseradish butter may dry out the fruit of a very delicate wine. Oakridge’s elegant 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30), from Victoria’s Yarra Valley, is created using no new wood – enjoy the juicier, more fruit-derived tannins.

 

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.