Restaurant News

Chefs at home

What does Australia’s finest cooking talent whip up come time to clock off? Here are 72 great quick dishes and not a soufflé or tian in sight.

By Pat Nourse

Online video exclusive
Watch chef Justin North cook a quick Catalan summer fish stew and GT food director Emma Knowles prepare the perfect prawn salad.

Andrew McConnell, Cumulus Inc/Three, One, Two*, Melbourne
1 Pour a 300ml bottle of Bundaberg ginger beer and the juice of a lime into a shallow plastic tray and freeze overnight. The next day, peel and seed a bunch of lychees, pop them into a fancy glass goblet and top them with a scoop of quality vanilla ice-cream. Scrape fine shards of ice from the frozen block of ginger beer with a fork. This will give you a good amount of ginger granita for four people - pile the granita on the ice-cream and devour quickly.

Nick Holloway, Nu Nu, Palm Cove
2 Barbecue asparagus then tumble while hot with some Persian-style feta in oil (local buffalo is my favourite) and toasted almonds: excellent! Truth be told, it's awesome with just about any sturdy greens.

3 Steam big chunks of eggplant until they're submissive, douse liberally with lemon juice, light soy sauce and sesame oil, and serve at room temperature with just about anything.

4 Drench hanger steak in fish sauce, grill, slice and serve with cucumber, chilli and lime.

5 Ortiz anchovies on toast: no fake bread.

6 A healthy, detox-friendly snack: canned tuna (in brine, not oil), grated carrot, celery, yoghurt and a generous amount of chopped parsley.

7 Vodka, chilled in the freezer, served with homemade citrus-juice ice cubes.

Geoff Lindsay, Pearl, Melbourne
8 One of my favourite things to cook when I'm in a hurry is spaghetti al limone. Mix the juice and zest of a lemon with a dash of olive oil and a good grate of parmesan in a bowl,  toss in hot al dente spaghetti, add some torn basil and salt and pepper, then serve.

Sean Connolly, Sean's Kitchen and Astral, Sydney
9 I am a big fan of cooked Yamba king prawns (though not the super-large ones - the meat's not as sweet as the medium size). I take some homemade mayo, add a teaspoon of tomato purée to give it a pink blush, then a splash of Tabasco and a drop of Noilly Prat dry vermouth and a squeeze of half a lemon, then sprinkle cayenne pepper on top. I peel the prawns as I go and dip them in the beautiful pink sea of Marie-Rose, all washed down with a bottle of vintage Moët rosé.

James Hird and Todd Garratt, Buzo, Sydney
10 Shuck oyster, squeeze lemon, open mouth.

11 Char-grill asparagus, dress well with extra-virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon.

12 Beard mussels, steam with generous amounts of white wine, garlic, parsley and olive oil, then serve in the pot with toasted bread.

13 Sear beef fillet on all sides, arrange thinly sliced rare beef on plate and dress with crushed fresh oregano, olive oil and lemon for carpaccio with salmoriglio.

14 Char-grill the fleshy side of halved white peaches, dress with dessert wine, and serve warm with mascarpone or gelato.  

15 Place blue-eye fillet in centre of piece of foil, top with shaved fennel and sliced lemon, drizzle with white wine and olive oil, fold in sides, seal edges and bake until done.

Chui Lee Luk, Claude's, Sydney
16 Steam fresh rice noodles, then mix them with sliced green onion and chilli, dress with sesame oil, black vinegar and light soy sauce, and top with crisp pancetta as a fine substitute for yum cha gratification.

Tony Bilson, Bilson's, Sydney
17 I like to dress grilled fish with a simple vinaigrette beefed up with the addition of some veal or chicken glaze and a splash of herb olive oil made by blending a grassy extra-virgin with basil and parsley.

18 Use the herb oil (above) with a splash of good-quality aged balsamic vinegar on fresh berries and white peaches for dessert.

Ben Shewry, Attica, Melbourne
19 Toss leftover shredded slow-roasted pork with some cabbage and seeded mustard for a real man's salad.

20 Place slices of a raw pork and fennel sausage on a pizza base, top with chopped tomatoes and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and bake.

21 Blend blanched fresh peas with fromage blanc and mint for a cool summer soup.

22 Club sandwiches are my speciality. In a former life, I made thousands of them (I don't like to skite but I've even made them for the Queen of England). Anyway, leftover roast chicken (with the stuffing), bacon and cranberry jelly make for a great club; don't forget to insulate the layers with a little butter.

23 Try crushed strawberries with Cointreau, icing sugar and frozen verjuice for a drink that's also dessert.

Christine Manfield, Universal, Sydney
24 Peel and devein prawns, toss through some chilli jam and a dash of oil. Stir-fry them in a hot wok until pink, add a squirt of fish sauce and lime juice, a handful of coriander or mint leaves, and serve with noodles or steamed rice.

Dietmar Sawyere, Berowra Waters Inn/Forty One, Sydney
25 Boil Israeli couscous in chicken stock for 10 minutes, add grated fontina, chopped parsley and some picked crab meat for a quick 'risotto'.

Cheong Liew, The Grange, Adelaide
26 Fat smoked eel from Ballarat cut into logs - just peel off the skin and add a squeeze of lemon.  

27 Combine cold soba noodles, salmon, avocado and chopped green onion, then toss in sesame oil, light and dark soy sauces and white pepper.

Matt Moran, Aria, Sydney
28 Take some good jamón and slap it on char-grilled sourdough with buffalo mozzarella and vine-ripened tomatoes. Drizzle the lot with extra-virgin olive oil.

Shannon Bennett, Vue de Monde/Bistro Vue, Melbourne
29 Sweat equal parts button mushrooms and soaked porcini, add a Knorr stock cube and a cup of port or sweet wine, then cover with water, cook for 20 minutes, season well and blend. You can use it as a soup, purée or sauce. I like to add a cup of cooked risoni and chopped parsley. It's also great with truffles.                

Neil Perry, Rockpool and Spice Temple, Sydney and Melbourne
30 Toast some sourdough, rub it with garlic, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, cut it up and mix with chopped tomato. Add more oil and a dash of red wine vinegar, then season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with a roast chook.

31 Shred the flesh and skin of a Chinatown duck and add it to some butter lettuce, mango and cucumber dice. Dress it with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

32 Mix canned chickpeas with peeled cooked king prawns, add lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then toss with a crushed garlic clove.

33 Fry some garlic and chilli in olive oil, add a dash of white wine and some clams, cook until just opened, add a can of chickpeas and some parsley, then season with freshly ground pepper.

34 Blitz ripe tomatoes, cucumber, red capsicums, chillies, garlic and red onion with a hand-held blender, dress with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, Tabasco and chilli, and voilà: gazpacho! Add vodka and a good sprig of celery for a Bloody Mary with a difference.

Justin North, Bécasse/Etch, Sydney
35 Try sourdough bread spread with a coronation mix of grated apple, onion, shredded poached chicken, curry powder, lime and coriander.

36 A sandwich made of thick-cut white bread, fried Japanese pork katsu, wasabi mayonnaise, shredded cabbage and sliced cucumber.

37 Chop an iceberg lettuce into quarters, mix with shaved radishes, loads of salt, a very soft-boiled egg, thinly sliced red onion and a good dollop of aïoli - a perfect summer salad.

38 Wrap spanking-fresh leatherjacket, topped with thyme, garlic, a slice of lemon and sea salt, in foil on the barbie. One turn and two Asahis later... it's done.

Peter Gilmore, Quay,  Sydney
39 Grate 20gm of fresh black truffle into 20gm of soft butter, make a slit in the side of a thick slice of sourdough. Stuff with truffle butter, soak in milk and beaten egg and pan-fry in butter for the world's most indulgent French toast.

Greg Doyle, Pier, Sydney
40 Sear tuna steaks on the barbecue until nice and rare and serve with a salad of baby fennel, cucumber, white anchovies, shallots and baby capers. Season and add chopped mint, parsley, chervil and tarragon, lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

James Kidman, Otto, Sydney
41 Toast two slices of Sonoma soy and linseed bread on one side only, add fresh avocado, salt, pepper and a cup of coffee, and breakfast is done.

Martin Benn, Sepia, Sydney
42 Combine cooked tiger prawns with white asparagus that has been poached in butter and cooled at room temperature. Top with wild rocket and dress with whole egg mayonnaise mixed with the zest and juice of lime. Garnish with sprigs of baby coriander.
43 Cook chorizo in a little garlic and olive oil, add thinly sliced squid strips and cook for a minute. Toss the lot through fennel sliced thinly on a mandolin, grate in some lemon zest, add chopped parsley and serve.

44 Roast figs in honey until just soft, remove and add amaretto to the pan, reduce to a caramel. Toast whole blanched almonds, then crush them lightly with a pestle and mortar, add them to whipped mascarpone mixed with a little cream. Coat the figs in the caramel, top the lot with the almond mascarpone and enjoy.

45 Top scallops in the half shell with diced pancetta, shallots, tomato, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Grill them on a hot barbecue for three or four minutes until just done.

46 Poach peaches in sugar, sparkling wine and spices, cool and slip them into store-bought tart cases with pastry cream.

Aaron Carr, Vasse Felix, Margaret River
47 Wrap some figs with pancetta, fill with blue cheese and pop them on the barbecue. Dress them with vincotto and olive oil.

48 Poach chicken breast in coconut milk, shred the meat, then add to a salad of Asian herbs and cucumber, dressed with nahm jim and some fried shallots.

49 Toss linguine with well-pickled octopus, chorizo, olives, olive oil and chopped fresh tomato.

Michael Lambie, Taxi Dining Room, Melbourne
50 Mix a tin of drained Sirena tuna in oil with Persian feta, Spanish onion, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice.

51 Spread grain mustard on toast, then add sliced tomatoes and cheddar. Grill, top with rocket and pepper.

52 Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam. It rocks.

53 Sliced steamed organic chicken breast mixed with mustard mayo, currants, peanuts and alfalfa sprouts.

54 Toss rare beef slices with green onion and sesame seeds, throw in rocket leaves and fresh mint, and finish with lime juice and sesame oil.

55 Combine sliced fennel, cherry tomatoes and capers, toss in marinated trout and serve with frisee lettuce.

David Coomer, Star Anise, Perth
56 Poach a marron, slice and place between sourdough bread, along with crisp pancetta, sliced beef steak tomatoes, cos lettuce and mayo.

57 Roast El Navarrico peaches in a hot oven with some sugar to caramelise. Serve with vanilla ice-cream mixed with chopped nougat and top with raspberry sauce.

Mark McNamara, Appellation, Barossa
58 Mix torn coriander, mint and basil with thinly sliced carrot and cucumber, shredded iceberg, shop-bought roast pork and nuoc cham.

Scott Minervini, Lebrina, Hobart
59 Veal meatloaf at room temperature, served with salsa verde, some butter lettuce and your best olive oil.

60 Grill prime steak over coals to rare, then slice and toss warm with wild rocket, parmesan, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. Season well.

61 Try Tanqueray gin and Chinotto on the rocks with a slice of lemon.

62 Sliced pan-fried duck breast, spring onion, coriander and plum sauce rolled in Chinese pancake wrappers equals ersatz Peking duck.

63 For an elegant and easy dessert, serve biscotti with a Rutherglen muscat.

Matt McConnell, Bar Lourinha, Melbourne
64 Toss a mixture of mint, coriander and dill through some shredded cabbage and dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Top with Persian feta for a new-age summer 'coleslaw'.

65 Fill a wine glass with diced watermelon and ice, half-fill with dry rosé, add a splash of bitters and top with lemonade. Better than sangría.
66 Marinate cubes of watermelon in star anise-flavoured sugar syrup, serve with a scoop of yoghurt sorbet on the side. The perfect finisher on a hot summer's night.

Erkin Esen, Ottoman Cuisine, Canberra
67 Barbecue lamb cutlets seasoned with fresh oregano and sea salt, then serve with a peeled sliced tomato and cucumber layers drizzled with olive oil and sea salt (or yoghurt and tzatiki).

68 Cook Roman beans, sliced onions and peeled diced tomatoes in olive oil, then serve with pide.

Maurice Esposito, Esposito, Melbourne
69 Mo's fillet o' fish sambo: good-quality bread; John Dory coated in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried in olive oil; garlic mayo, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce, salt and pepper.

Jocelyn Riviere, The Courthouse, Melbourne
70 Steam French beans, toss with goat's milk feta and pine nuts. Great on its own as a quick lunch with good bread or to accompany grills.

71 Scrambled duck eggs with smoked ocean trout on English muffins. A delicious breakfast that can be 'luxed up' with truffles.

72 Toss drained canned white beans with anchovies, parsley and cherry tomatoes. Serve with crusty bread for a light snack.

*Three, One, Two has closed and will be reopening as Cutler & Co on Gertrude St, Carlton in early 2009.

  • Author: Pat Nourse