Cafe de Paris butter recipe

This post is a long time coming. A long time. Pregnancy stopped me in my tracks in more ways than simply preventing me from posting here. My main focus was on growing a healthy baby. And that was it. Motivation to achieve much else waned. But then Pat was born and immediately I felt invigorated. Ready to pick up where I left off and reenter life at full throttle. This Cafe de Paris butter recipe is one of the first things that I was inspired to make for the sheer pleasure of it to go with a celebratory meal to mark our new family unit of four.

Let’s be clear. This recipe is not for the fainthearted. It’s butter, flavoured with a myriad of ingredients, to sit atop steak. The method is straightforward enough, but for the mixture a trip to the shops to restock the pantry will be required. The finished product is well worth the effort though and will keep in the freezer for months ready to crown grilled beef and transform it into a glorious meal at a moments notice. Serve aforementioned meat with shoestring fries and it’s one of my favourite dinners.



Enough of dinner though. Pat. Patrick Finch Thompson. My little man. After a rather traumatic pregnancy with more monitoring than I care to ever remember, due to my history with Thea and some abnormal findings, Pat arrived safely into the world at 11.19am on Thursday June 30th 2016 36+6 weeks, all 2.4kg and 45cm of him. I was allowed to hold him skin to skin after his birth and I bawled. Howled. The relief. All the months of heartache worrying how long I’d be able to carry him. If he’d be ok. And he was. He was perfect. Oh and the love. The absolute pure unending love that I’m sure every parent feels as soon as they see their baby. That love is so special.



I don’t feel that I need to say much more here right now. About Pat. Or about this Cafe de Paris butter recipe. Basically this a great compound butter to transform steak and chips from average to wipe-the-plate-clean delicious. And Pat. Well, I’ll definitely be mentioning him again soon.

Cafe de Paris butter recipe

Adapted from a recipe from French by Damien Pignolet

1kg soft unsalted butter
60g tomato sauce
25g Dijon mustard
25g capers, roughly chopped
125g French shallots, finely chopped
50g parsley, finely chopped
5g dried dill
5g dried thyme
10g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tbsp brandy
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp curry powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch of dried rosemary, ground
8 white peppercorns, ground
juice 1 lemon
zest 1/2 lemon
zest 1/4 orange
10-12g sea salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.

In a separate bowl combine all the remaining ingredients and then add them to the butter and mix thoroughly.

Next take a long length of aluminium foil and on top of it place a long length of baking paper. Spread the butter out along it and try to keep it an even width from top to bottom. Now roll the butter into a log, twisting the ends of the foil to tighten it.

To serve, cut discs of the butter and place (once at room temperature) on top of warm steak to melt while the meat is resting.

Peach and burrata salad

I know. I know. I feel a bit sheepish coming back, but I really really would like to explain where I’ve been. And also make my comeback along with a killer summer peach and burrata salad that you are going to want to make. Juicy ripe peaches, soft creamy cheese, crunchy buttered almonds, clean fresh mint and tangy pomegranate molasses to marry the seasonal medley together.  A gorgeous starting point or accompaniment for any seasonal gathering.

Ok. Let’s get to the point. Why was my last post back in November? Um, because I’m making a tiny human and the last 14 or so weeks have been all about sleeping, eating more citrus fruit that is necessary and copious amounts of tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil, and generally just getting through the day. It does seem so unfair that pregnancy make you feel like half the person you once were. Sick, tired, cranky, constantly hungry. But as I write this, a small person is growing inside of me, apparently currently the size of a peach (you see what I did there).

Not only have I been feeling exhausted though. If I’m very honest, which is easy on paper, I’m scared. I am just so scared. I know the absolute joy that comes with bringing a child into the world now, and I also know the anguish that comes with bringing a very tiny premature baby into the world, so I’d just like this time to be a smooth ride. A lazy, uninteresting, routine journey to 40 weeks. With a big party at the 30 week mark as I enter unknown territory.

To instil some positivity, which I know can only come from inside myself, I have made a pregnancy vision board, full of beautiful round bellies and cherub like newborns. I bought some new onesies. Unisex ones. And no we’re not finding out this time around. Every night I now read Thea a book all about how she’s going to become a big sister. And you know, I feel a little more carefree.

So with my new outlook (and hopefully second trimester renewed energy) comes new vigour to return to this space and share some beautiful recipes with you, starting with this rather special peach and burrata salad, as well as share this crazy, miraculous and wonderful journey.

Peach and burrata salad

For 2. 1 ball of burrata will serve 2 people so you can adjust this recipe according to how many people you are feeding

  • 1 ball burrata
  • 2 ripe yellow peaches
  • handful fresh mint leaves, roughly sliced
  • small handful of whole almonds
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • pomegranate molasses

This peach and burrata salad is the kind of dish that needs to be made at the last-minute, but don’t let that deter you as it’s extremely simple and quick to prepare.

Begin by toasting the almonds in a pan with a teaspoonful of butter and then roughly chop them.

Depending on how rustic you’d like the salad to look, tear or cut the peaches into  walnut size chunks. Now take the ball of burrata and gently tear it and scatter it over the peach pieces.

Over the cheese and the fruit, sprinkle the mint leaves, the almonds, a frugal dousing of pomegranate molasses and enjoy.

Enjoy this peach and burrata salad recipe? Then you might like this marinated mozzarella salad

Mozzarella salad with celery and walnuts

Buffalo mozzarella has to be one of my all time favourite things to eat. Fresh, clean, silky and light, sublime in the company of ripe tomatoes and basil leaves. The classic caprese salad (although there’s some clever variations on the caprese here). But what can you pair this beautiful cheese with to make a mozzarella salad in winter, when tomatoes are sad representations of their summer counterparts. Celery, walnuts, garlic and chilli. That’s what. And unlike the caprese, this mozzarella salad can be made ahead of time, which when entertaining can be a very useful thing.

Inviting friends around to share a meal is one of my favourite weekend activities. And recipes that can be prepared in advance are essential on such occasions, allowing for more time to relax and socialise, and less time in the kitchen. That’s why this mozzarella salad is so good. The cheese can bathe in its delicious marinade for a day or so before you plan to serve it, leisurly taking on the flavours of garlic and chilli. Likewise, the walnuts can be toasted and chopped and the celery sliced, hours beforehand, so all that needs to be done prior to sitting down to eat, is to simply assemble the salad.

I realise that cooking in this pre prepared way may not be in alignment with everyone’s personalities and that some people are more inclined to leave things until the last moment. Take my Scottish friend (she knows who she is) for example, who at university would stay up writing until 8am to meet a nine o’ clock assessment deadline. The very thought of this still makes me feel on edge. Last minute is just not something I’m good at. And although in the world of food there are a lot of things that need to be done at the last minute, like dressing delicate salad leaves and serving a soufflé, a great many tasks can be done early on.

Preparing food this way takes the stress out of cooking, yet still allows you to present a beautiful spread. It also leaves room for unforeseen events, like discovering you’ve forgotten to buy a crucial ingredient, that one of your guests hates cheese or that your toddler has just drawn all over the walls with a wax crayon that you missed when packing up her toys.


Mozzarella salad with celery and walnuts

Adapted from a recipe by Carol Field

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 20 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • bunch chives, snipped
  • 200g walnut pieces, toasted and roughly chopped

Begin by placing the sliced garlic and chilli flakes in a small pan with the oil. Heat over a low heat for 10 minutes to allow the oil to take on the flavours of the garlic and chilli.

Cut the balls of mozzarella in half and then slice each half into 4-5 semi circle slices. Put the slices into container that will hold them and the garlic marinade.

When the oil is completely cool, pour it over the mozzarella slices along with the salt and pepper and delicately stir the cheese so that it’s completely coated with all the other ingredients. Leave in the fridge for the flavours to mingle for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight.

About 30 minutes before you want to assemble the mozzarella salad, remove the cheese from the fridge so that it can come to room temperature, then simply drain the mozzarella of its marinade and arrange it on a platter. Scatter first the celery, then chives and then the walnuts over the top and tuck in.

Like preparing things ahead of time? Then you might like this kale salad

A baba ganoush recipe

‘Your eggplants are burning’ observed Mark. I’m sure the eggplants sitting directly over the gas flame on the stove could indeed look like they were scorching. I was making baba ganoush and charring the dark, purple skin of the eggplants to impart an aroma of smoke to the final dish. Baba ganoush is very straightforward to make, with a handful of ingredients and a few key steps to getting it just right. In its finished state it’s rather alluring and seductive. Sharp and zesty it pricks your palate, and with wonderful smoky undertones, it leaves you wanting more.

I was preparing the Middle Eastern side dish to accompany roast lamb. Spiked with lemon and mint, it makes such a great partner for the sweet, earthy meat, cutting through its richness. Baba ganoush also serves well as an appetizer, whizzed in a food processor with a big spoonful of natural yoghurt, so that it’s nice and smooth for scooping up with a triangle of toasted pita bread. Placed atop individual, crisp, rounds of golden, puff pastry with some mild goats cheese, a few wedges of cherry tomato and some rocket, it creates a stunning little entrée. And of course, it plays a wonderful role as part of a meze platter, perhaps sprinkled with a few pomegranate seeds for a bit of glamour.

Smoky and zesty could quite possibly be one of my favourite flavour combinations. Think thinly sliced pieces of smoked salmon and a single Iceberg lettuce leaf, (I think Iceberg for the undenied crispness of it), placed on a slice of hot buttered toast, then doused in lemon juice and black pepper. Rounds of chorizo fried in a pan and eaten smothered in lemony, garlic mayonnaise. Paella, full of chicken, pork and seafood, with a wonderful, almost burnt, base layer, and a wedge of lemon to marry all the flavours together. Steak cooked over a char grill, until the exterior is blackened and caramelised, served with pomme frites and lemon dressed salad leaves. You get the picture I’m sure.

There’s something very reassuring and authentic about cooking over a flame, harking back to culinary institutions of times gone by, before induction stoves and Thermomixes. (Sorry. As good as I’m sure they are, I’m not in the Thermomix camp.) And I like to keep in touch with tradition. So even though you can jazz this recipe up with herbs and seeds and pastry and pita, at its core, it’s insanely simple. Traditional. Time honoured. And with good reason.

Baba ganoush

The one thing that makes this dish really sing is cooking the eggplants over an open flame. Be brave. Embrace your inner pyromaniac and try this method. Simply put a cake cooling rack (an old one as it will discolour) over a gas flame on your stove (or you could use a camping stove) and place one or two eggplants on top of it. Yes the eggplant will burn sitting directly above the burner, but only the outer skin, and as you keep turning the fruit until every side is black, the flesh inside will become soft and take on a smoky aroma.

When the eggplants are nicely charred all over, place them in a bowl to cool. When they have dropped in temperature sufficiently enough to be handled, peel away the skin, place the flesh in a colander sitting in a bowl and let the juices run out. Drain for at least one hour.

To the drained flesh, add finely chopped garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and olive oil. At this point the baba ganoush will benefit from being left to sit for an hour or two, even overnight, to allow the flavours to mingle.

To garnish, just before serving, stir through some finely shredded mint and parsley and sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top.

To recap, for 2 eggplants you will need the following.

  • 2 cloves garlic, either grated with a microplane or very finely chopped
  • the zest of 1 lemon plus 2 tbsp lemon juice, or more to your particular taste
  • 6-8 tbsp olive oil
  • generous pinch sea salt and grinding of black pepper
  • optional small handful of each parsley and mint leaves, finely sliced and a few pomegranate seeds

Did I mention that baba ganoush is great with Roast Lamb?

 

Marinated hanger steak

We were lucky enough to spend the weekend in the city. In a hotel. Crisp, white sheets, a king bed, blackout blinds and the ultimate lie in. No Thea to serve as our early morning alarm clock. Thanks to Ma and Pa she was very well taken care of, trike riding under blue skies, feeding ducks by the lake, exploring cubbies with her cousin and apparently sleeping through the night for them. We on the other hand were indulging in good food, delicious wine and some parental freedom. Inspired by the savoury morsels sampled throughout the day and into the night on Saturday, on Sunday morning after a beautiful breakfast at Kitchen by Mike (I’m a huge fan), we headed to Victor Churchill to continue the feasting at home. The impromptu visit turned into a memorable dinner of marinated hanger steak. A first, but not a last.


Victor Churchill is a pretty darn amazing butcher. The origin of the animal and what it’s been fed are clearly labeled by the way of white handwritten signs studded into the various cuts of meat, which are displayed behind tall glass fridge doors that line one side of the shop. Passionate staff who weave among the customers skillfully assist with purchases, while butchers, behind more glass that lines the opposite side of the store, prepare meat on glorious, oversized, wooden chopping blocks. One such member of staff was on hand to help with our enquiry as to whether there was any hanger steak. We were in luck. There was.

We came to know hanger steak long before Thea. Back in the days when we could drive, on impulse, to a restaurant that I had a hankering to go to. One of those spur of the moment, let’s go out and have dinner journeys, led us to Bird Cow Fish, an amazing restaurant then run by Alex Herbert. We both ordered the hanger steak. I’m not sure why because normally we order different things so that we can try the maximum amount of things on the menu between the two of us. But this night we ordered the same. And I’m glad we did. The standout steak, which was followed by a ridiculously good chocolate tart with light as air pastry and an unctuously rich filling, kept company with a little pot of thick cream, has stuck fast in our minds ever since. So we seized the opportunity to buy hanger steak to see if we could make it taste as good as we remembered.

With strict instructions from the butcher that this was a cut of beef that we really had to cook right and not to undercook the steak or it would be bloody and chewy and not to overcook it, or it would be tough and tasteless, I decided a digital thermometer would result in the best outcome we could hope for. Google, in the car back from the city, told me that the magic number that I should look for was between 51-54 C. I also found out that hanger steak takes well to bathing in some citrus before cooking. With this knowledge, when we got home I laid the steak in a marinade of lemon and lime juice, garlic, oregano and olive oil. It luxuriated there while we caught up with Ma and Pa on Thea’s adventures and shared our own from the previous night.

Our mission for our night in the city had been to have no plan. To simply find a few  bars, have a drink and a plate of food in each before moving on to the next. Among our ramble through Sydney, we found 10 William Street, a seriously cool little wine bar. Loud and dimly lit, with bentwood chairs, round, little marble tables and informative staff, a great selection of drops by the glass and some moorish nibbles to go with them. We stayed in the bustling narrow establishment for two glasses, Iggy’s bread (you have to try it to understand how good this sourdough bread really is), simple but excellent calamari, home made biltong and olives. We also found ourselves back at The Baxter Inn, perched on bar stools, sipping single malt from old fashioned brandy glasses, listening to the likes of Bobby Darin. The whisk(e)ys, it’s predominantly a whisky bar, on offer at Baxters is staggering and with there being so many, I always falter when making my selection, wanting to get the perfect drink. In my mind that’s a smoky, smooth, slightly sweet wee dram.

Weekend stories exchanged, the hanger steak went onto the barbecue. All eyes were on the thermometer, watching the digits steadily rise, as garlic smoked trailed into the night. At 53C, the steaks came off the heat and sat on the kitchen bench while the beans were cooked and the duck fat ‘chips’ (roast potatoes cut into batons, boiled until soft and then roasted in the oven with duck fat) finished crisping. When all the elements were ready for the table, the steak was sliced on the diagonal and heaped onto a communal platter. It’s interior was a surprisingly dark, ruby red colour. It sliced easily and once in the mouth was tender, with a small amount of chew and a deep, zingy flavour. The butcher who served us would be proud.

Marinated hanger steak

Serves 4

Approximately 1kg trimmed hanger steak

For the marinade

  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • handful oregano
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

Simply mix all the marinade ingredients together and then bathe the meat in the mixture for about two hours.

Heat a pan or the barbecue, whatever your preference, until really hot and then cook the steak until it reaches between 51-54C. Ok. That’s the simple version.

With meat, it doesn’t need to be constantly agitated. Once you put it on the heat, leave it. Leave it until a nice crust forms. A beautiful, brown caramelised outside that will impart texture and flavour into the meat. When you feel that the piece of meat that you are cooking has formed said crust on one side, turn it. And once again leave it. If there is another side that still hasn’t seen the heat, if you are cooking a round piece of meat like a fillet for example, turn it once again to sear the final side.

Searing meat is really important and it’s actually really easy. The biggest factor is patience. And a scorchingly hot pan to start with. Anothter pointer. Oil the meat, not the pan. I sometimes use melted butter to add another flavour dimension and because it forms such a beautiful crust. But good old oil will do just fine. Next salt and pepper the meat. By salt, and always when I refer to salt here, I mean sea salt. Large, transluscent flakes, which can be liberally sprinkled all over the cut about to be cooked. Salt is another factor that helps form a crust and again, imparts flavour. I add pepper too. Some say that it’s not necessary at this stage. I disagree. I grind the hell out of my pepper grinder until  my steak is covered in little black flecks of peppery heat.

So. The hanger steak has reached 53C. Whisk it from the heat, place it on a deep plate so that the juices can be contained and leave it to rest. To relax. To metaphorically sit back in a comfortable chair, yawn, stretch and unwind. It will feel so much better in your mouth if this rule is adhered to, the resting rule of thumb being, rest meat for at least half the time it took to  cook. As I’ve written before about roast lamb, meat stays hot. Don’t fret about it getting cold, and if you are worried that is will happen, simply cover the patter with foil and some tea towels.

So, to recap. Patience to sear. Patience to rest. And now time to enjoy. Open a bottle of red. Pour a glass. Slice the hanger steak on the diagonal, which is much more visually pleasing. And eat.

 

An easy barbecued corn salad recipe.

Catering this sumer involved a lot of salads. Kilos of pumpkin and sweet potato, endless bunches of herbs, bags of almonds, pecans and pistachios and lots of corn. For one family in particular, I did a great deal of work. They love seafood and lamb and light, subtly flavoured salads, without too much oil or dairy. There are occasions where I struggle to think of new dishes that meet these requirements, being someone who adores cheese among peppery leaves and lashings of home made whole grain mayonnaise to dress a chive spiked potato salad. This easy barbecued corn salad that I made for them was a firm favourite though. Sweet, fresh and visually appealing, I’m happy to be able to share the recipe with you here.

Being an Ottolenghi recipe, it does involve chopping three bunches of herbs, but its’ a simple task that requires no weighing or mixing and could be considered therapeutic. If you think I’m crazy to suggest such a thing, I won’t tell anyone if you place all the leaves into the bowl of a food processor and let it do all the chopping for you. Just pulse them gently until they are coarsely chopped. Using the food processor could also be a good call, if like me you have a Miss one and a bit who very much likes cuddles and expects you to do all of your kitchen tasks with one arm.

Another salad that the same clients enjoyed again and again is a kale, almond and pecorino salad that I’ve written about before. They shared with me that they enjoy any not eaten for lunch, heated and mixed with rice. A revelation. I tried it this week as I had some left over from an event, not with rice, but some bolognese sauce that was in the freezer. Totally delicious! That’s the wonderful thing about food, its anecdotal quality and how recipes can be tweaked and changed through the casual sharing of information. I would never have thought of heating the kale salad, but the same may be true for you with this easy barbecued corn salad. You may be inspired to change it in some way and make it all your own.


 

Easy barbecued corn salad

Adapted from a recipe by Yottam Ottolenghi

  • 9 corn cobs, de husked
  • 4 green chillis
  • Bunch of spring onions
  • Bunches of mint and parsley, leaves picked
  • Bunch of coriander, roots chopped off

For the dressing

  • A jam jar with lid
  • 1 cup EV olive oil
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Dash of maple syrup
  • Salt – a generous pinch

Grill the corn on the barbecue turning frequently until slightly charred and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Pick the leaves from the mint and parsley and wash. Chop the roots for the coriander and also wash (you can use the stems in the salad). Coarsely chop all the herbs and put into to a large bowl. Chop the spring onions in to small rings and the green chilli in to fine dice. Add both to the bowl.

To make the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a jam jar. This is a great method. Quick, clean and simple.

The corn will probably be cool enough to handle now. To cut the kernels from the cob, stand the cob upright on one end on a chopping board and simply slice the kernels off from top to bottom. Add to the herbs along with the dressing. Combine well and enjoy x

Enjoy this recipe? It would go really well with this Cajun salmon