"At Pheasant Farm in the '80s, in fact for the whole of the nearly 15 years of the Pheasant Farm restaurant, I changed the menu so much that we were still writing the menu of the day just as the first guest arrived, much to Colin's frustration," says Maggie Beer. "It was very much a game restaurant, with pheasant the star dish, but there would be hare, rabbit, pigeon, quail, venison or kangaroo at any one time as well, so it was very important to have a vegetable entrée to balance the meal. Spring meant beautiful young sorrel; the really sweet lemon thyme and the flowers were all part of it. We grew our own sorrel, thyme and parsley, of course, and always had duck eggs for the pasta. This is a very simple dish, with the sorrel butter a great counterpoint to the richness of the duck-egg pasta. I love the piquant flavour of sorrel at any time."
- 10 sprigs lemon thyme, flowers and leaves removed from stalks
- 100 gm flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 5 duck egg yolks (see note)
- Good dash of extra-virgin olive oil (about 3 tsp)
- 300 gm "00" flour (2 cups)
- 1 cup (loosely packed) young sorrel leaves
- ½ cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley
- 250 gm unsalted butter, slightly softened
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1For pasta dough, blanch parsley, dipping straight in and out of a saucepan of boiling water, and drain well but don't refresh. Process parsley in a food processor until finely chopped, then, with motor running, add egg yolks immediately so they take up the maximum colour from the parsley. Add oil and a good pinch of fine salt, then add flour and pulse until dough starts to come together. Tip out onto a bench and knead until smooth (10-15 minutes; this can also be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook). Wrap dough in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- 2For sorrel butter, process sorrel and parsley in a food processor to finely chop, then add butter and lemon juice, season with finely ground pepper and pulse until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap, shape into a cylinder and refrigerate until required.
- 3Divide pasta dough into 3 then, working with one piece at a time, roll through a pasta machine starting at widest setting, rolling and folding until smoother, then continue to roll, reducing settings notch by notch, until dough is 5mm thick. Dust pasta sheets with flour, then fold sheets over on themselves a few times and cut with a large sharp knife in a gentle sawing motion into very thin strips. Set aside on a floured tray until required.
- 4Shake excess flour gently from pasta and cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (2-4 minutes). Drain and transfer to a serving bowl, top with slices of sorrel butter and lemon thyme leaves, toss gently to combine and dot with a few lemon thyme flowers and serve.
Duck eggs are available from Asian grocers and David Jones food halls.