Whole baked snapper with a lemon butter sauce

Ok, so this was dinner tonight to celebrate my Mum’s birthday and can I just say, despite Jasper’s meltdown and Grover copying whatever Jasper was doing, it was a sensation. What made it? Apart from spectacularly fresh fish? The.most.delectable.lemon butter sauce and barely cooked freshest of fresh spring vegetables. Heaven.

Whole baked snapper

  • 1kg snapper, scaled and gutted (this was just right for feeding two (female) adults and a couple of kids)
  • lemon, cut into thick slices
  • salt
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Liberally rub salt over the inside of the fish then rinse and pat dry
  3. Season fish with salt all over, inside and out and lay the slices of lemon in the cavity of the fish
  4. Drizzle over some oil and rub into the skin
  5. Slash the fish to ensure even cooking
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven and your preference for how well you like your fish cooked.
Lemon Butter Sauce
  • 1 tbsp very finely diced or sliced shallots (I used a third of a brown onion very finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 peppercorns, coarsely crushed (I didn’t do this as Mum hates anything peppery)
  • 100g unsalted butter, cut into 6 chunks
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Simmer shallots, wine and crushed peppercorns in a small heavy-based saucepan until there is no obvious liquid left and shallots look mushy
  2. Over a moderate heat start whisking in the butter, a chunk at a time, adding the next chunk just as the previous one has been incorporated.
  3. When all the butter is in the sauce, remove pan from the heat, still whisking, and add the lemon juice and the salt and pepper.
  4. Strain into a warm bowl and hold over warm water (not hot) until ready to serve (this takes minutes not hours). I didn’t do this at all as it was ready as the fish was ready and I just plated it up
Serve with barely cooked butter beans, sugar snaps, snow peas and broccolini tossed in a little salt and butter.

Oysters with soy, cucumber, chives and lime dressing

One of the other dishes on offer at our dinner for the Ds were freshly shucked oysters. Chef came home with a bag of FIVE dozen unopened oysters and a shucking knife. I had seen this recipe in the December/January08 edition of Vogue Entertaining and it really appealed. It was indeed a taste sensation – salty, sweet, bitter and cooling all at once with the exquisite freshness of Sydney Rock Oysters shucked only moments before.

as before re the photos, this time you can see the various components at the back of the shot, near me and my mammaries…

Oysters with soy, cucumber, chives and lime dressing
Adapted from Vogue Entertaining, December/January08

  • 2 tbsp soy
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice (sushi) vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 small Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, seeded, very finely diced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1-2 limes, segmented, finely chopped
  1. Combine the soy, vinegar and ginger in a small bowl
  2. Combine the cucumber with the chives in another bowl
  3. Peel the lime and cut into segments so you don’t get any of the pith and finely chop
  4. Shuck the oysters and spoon a little soy over them, top with some of the cucumber and a piece of lime
  5. SLURP.

Fish with broccolini, olives and tomatoes

So the other week we had some friends over for dinner. Initially I was given the impression it was just the adults coming so I started planning a fancy-pants three course evening of taste sensations.

But then I remembered who we were asking – the same couple who piked on my birthday dinner because they forgot to organise a babysitter until the day of the gathering, despite a month’s notice of said event – and sent a text to confirm if we were feeding two grown-ups or two grown-ups and three kids. It was the whole crew coming.

Don’t get me wrong – one of the reasons we love these people as much as we do is because they are so like us and their kids love our kids and visa versa and indeed, we love their kids as they love ours. Oscar actively looks forward to seeing B as much as B’s kids. It’s an ugly realisation when you finally admit to loving your friends but not their kids.

So the menu didn’t change so much as the timing of it all did – the pasta, the fish and the oysters would all be served at the same time as more of a banquet than series of courses.

I got very frazzled as just as dinner was all coming together Jasper started to lose it and Grover just lost it. So as everyone sat down to eat I was closeted away in a bedroom trying to settle Grover and soaking in my own bain marie of simmering resentment. BUT I try to pull it together as everyone was saying how delicious everything was and everyone else seemed pretty fine with the turn of events.

And as it was, everything was delicious. There are, however, few photos to show as Chef was in charge of pictures due to the issues of children as outlined above. And in doing so, he managed to capture some lovely shots, all with me and my breasts hanging out feeding Grover in the background. Nice. This one I’m feeding but the mammaries and blessedly discreet. (the broccolini mix is in the white bowl in the front of the picture)

Fish with broccolini, olives and tomatoes
Based on recipe by Andy Bunn, Vogue Entertaining, December/January 2008

  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
  • 70g Ligurian olives, pitted (they’re the little black olives and 70g is about two good handfuls)
  • 4 fish fillets
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Halve the tomatoes and place in a dish
  2. Cook the broccolini is a saucepan of salted boiling water for three minutes, then refresh in a bowl of iced water (or do as I did and just run under cold water), drain well, chop roughly and add to the tomatoes
  3. Add the olives to the bowl
  4. Season the fillets with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  5. Heat some of the oil in a pan and cook the fish over a medium-high heat for about two minutes each side, depending on the thickness of the fillets (the original recipe called for barramundi, we used Blue Eye)
  6. Whisk the oil and lemon juice together and toss through the broccolini mixture
  7. Plate the fish and spoon some of the broccolini mix over the top.

Ode to Nigella 30 – Salmon with ginger, soy and rice vinegar

Well, here we are. My thirty day nod to Nigella has come to an end. Granted it was a stupid idea in light of Project Boombalardy, but my goodness it’s been fun. I’ve come to realise that yes, the woman is partial to saturated fats and chocolate but she is so much more than that. Her dinner ideas and recipes are indeed quick, nutritious and varied. She loves a chook though, which is fine by me. My favourite discovery is the chocolate gingerbread hands down. It won by more than a clear majority. I dream about it. I daydream about it. But the chicken cacciatoro will come into high circulation in this house as will the sake beef (or lamb) and indeed, so will this.

Salmon* with ginger, soy and rice vinegar
Adapted from Nigella Lawson, How To Be a Domestic Goddess

  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 60ml rice vinegar
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1tblsp toasted sesame oil
  • 750g salmon, preferably organic and sliced as thinly as smoked salmon
  • 2-4 spring onions, finely sliced
  1. Mix the soy, vinegar, ginger and oil together
  2. Arrange the salmon any old how on a platter and drizzle over the dressing and scatter over the spring onions.

Now I didn’t really make this as such. I had some blue-eye cod fillets. So I marinated them in the dressing mix for about 10 minutes, then cooked the fish in a frypan for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then I put them aside and covered with foil, poured the dressing/marinade into the pan and cooked for a few minutes for it to reduce down and then served w/ boiled rice, the fish and the reduced marinade poured over the top w/ the spring onions and some coriander scattered over the top. Magnificent.

Ode to Nigella 15 – prawn and mango red curry

So my friend Bec dropped in the other day and brought with her a UK Good Housekeeping magazine with Nigella on the cover (Oct07). She doesn’t know I blog or that I was in the midst of my ode to Nigella. Cool, huh. Many of you are aware of my absolute refusal to do the whole fruit with savoury deal. Don’t do it. Like you don’t cook avocado. So this was really pushing the envelope and I probably would never ever have cooked it were it not for my month long Nod to Nige. Verdict? It was bloody delicious. And EASY. And QUICK. She says in the intro to it that its one of the easiest suppers and one that never ceases to amaze her how comforting this dish is. Indeed. I doubled the recipe below for me, Chef and three boys. It was way too much. I think if I’d made the recipe as is we would have just have had enough.

Red Prawn and Mango Curry

  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 11/2tbsp red Thai curry paste (or according to taste)
  • 1/2x400ml can coconut milk
  • 250ml chicken stock made from concentrate
  • 2tsp fish sauce
  • 350g sweet potato, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 200g frozen king prawns
  • 1tsp lime juice
  • 150g fresh mange, diced (1 small)
  • 3-4tbsp fresh coriander
  1. Heat the oil and fry the spring onion for 1 minute, then add the curry paste
  2. Mix in the coconut milk, stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil
  3. Add the sweet potato and cook until tender, about 15 minutes
  4. Drain the prawns under running water to remove excess ice and add to the pan (Nigella tumbles them into the pan) and let the sauce come back to the boil
  5. Add the lime juice and mango and cook until prawns are cooked through
  6. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with boiled rice or wide rice noodles.
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