peter gilmore’s ‘quay’ cookbook (+ slow-braised pig cheeks with mushrooms and celeriac cream)
Quay is the Sydney restaurant (ranked 27th in the world by S.Pellegrino) where chef Peter Gilmore rules the roost, and aptly is also the name of his gorgeous new cookbook. His famed nature-based cuisine is reflected in the chapters titled ‘The Garden’, ‘The Sea’, ‘The Land’ and ‘Heaven’, and the heavy Japanese influences in his cuisine is apparent in both the book’s design and the actual dishes gracing the glossy pages.
It’s a stunning volume and clearly no expense has been spared in its production with its washi paper, pearlised parchment separated pages and breathtaking photography. Possibly the most beautiful cookbook I’ve set eyes on this year and flipping through it makes me want to take the next flight to Australia. Aesthetics aside, the dishes themselves also look and sound amazing and I was keen to see how easily replicated they were in the humble home kitchen.
As I delved deeper into the recipes it became evident that this, like many top-restaurant cookbooks, was destined to spend most of its time on my coffee table and not my kitchen. With numerous specialist ingredients and more than a fair few native to Australasia and unobtainable here, it’s almost impossible to re-create one of the dishes in its entirety. Several also call for sous-viding and other cheffy techniques although to be fair the recipes aren’t quite as taxing as those found in The Fat Duck or Alinea tomes.
Intimidated by this, I first attempted one of the simpler sashimi starters of Toro with Radish, Pearls, Caviar and Wasabi Flowers. The sashimi cylinders clumsily rolled by my unskilled fingers were vastly disimilar to the neat elegant caviar-topped scroll depicted in the book. Worse still were my dashi pearls which failed to set properly and were more like nondescript blobs than dainty glistening orbs. And without the violets, chive buds, wasabi flowers and silver leaf for decoration, my dish was definitely the ugly step-sister to Gilmore’s pretty plate.
The eight-texture chocolate cake looked sensational but with its many processes seemed beyond my cooking expertise. Instead I took a stab at the White Nectarines, Raspberries and Cherries set in their juices with Vanilla Panna Cotta, omitting the decorative gold leaf and substituting white cherries and white raspberries (both not in season) with blackberries. The jelly was outrageously sweet and the panna cotta a little claggy but I did enjoy the flavour profiles so made it again for a dinner party the week after, but with a third of the sugar (the recipe calls for 1.3kg!) and using another recipe for the panna cotta. With all those tweaks the dessert came out great the second time.
Perhaps the recipe that turned out the best with minimal adjustment was the Slow-Braised Pig Cheeks with Mushrooms and Celeriac Cream. We used veal cheeks in place of the pig cheeks and substituted reduced beef stock for the veal stock glaze. Although the cheeks were lovely, they weren’t too disimilar from braised cheeks that B usually makes and it was the luxurious creamed celeriac that stood out for me. We would certainly make it again as a sophisticated alternative to mash alongside other slow-cooked cuts or even roast duck and game.
Slow-Braised Pig Cheeks with Mushrooms and Celeriac Cream
8 x 200g (7oz) pig cheeks
1L (4 cups) chicken stock
710ml (3 cups) veal glaze (recipe below)
250g (9 oz) shitake mushrooms
250g (9 oz) enoki mushrooms
250g (9 oz) nameko mushrooms
200ml (7 fl oz) dry vermouth
100ml (3.5 fl oz) grapeseed oil
fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 100°C (200°F).
Trim the pig cheeks, leaving a 3cm circumference of fat and skin around the meat. Blanch cheeks in boiling water for a minute then refresh in ice water and drain well. Pat dry with kitchen towels.
Place the chicken stock and 310ml of veal glaze in a heavy-based casserole dish with the cheeks and braise in the preheated oven for 6 hours. Add more stock and glaze if the cheeks aren’t submerged. When cooked allow cheeks to cool completely and refrigerate until required.
In the meantime prepare the celeriac cream (recipe below) and prep the mushrooms.
Remove all stalks from the mushrooms and set aside. Reduce the vermouth in a small saucepan to 30ml then add the remaining veal glaze.
When ready to serve trim the fat off the cheeks so that only 1cm is let over the top of the meat. Season with then in an ovenproof pan sauté the cheeks, fat side down in half the grapeseed oil until golden.
Remove the cheeks from the pan and pour off the oil. Return the cheeks to the same pan with 300ml of the vermouth-enriched glaze. Place it the oven for 10 minutes to warm through.
Saute the mushrooms in the remaining grapeseed oil until browned then add the remaining vermouth-enriched veal glaze and reduce on a medium-low heat until the mushrooms are well-glazed. Season with salt to taste.
Remove the cheeks from the oven and finish reducing the glaze on the stovetop. Spooning it over the cheeks as you go so that they are well-glazed.
To serve place a spoonful of celeriac cream in the centre of each plate and top with a glazed cheek and spoonful of mushrooms to the side.
1 celeriac, peeled and diced
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 inner celery stalks, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g (7oz) unsalted butter
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
150ml (5 fl oz) double cream
fine sea salt
Sweat the shallots, celery and garlic with half the butter in a pan on a medium heat, taking care not to add colour to the vegetables.
Add the celeriac to the pan and pour over the chicken stock. Simmer gently until almost all the stock has evaporated and the celeriac is tender.
Place all the contents if the pan into a blender and blend on high for a minute. Add the remaining butter and blend for a further minute. Pass the purée through a drum sieve and season to taste.
To finish the celeriac cream, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Reheat the celeriac purée then fold through the whipped cream.
makes approx 800ml (28 fl oz)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
50ml (1.75 fl oz) grapeseed oil
500g (1lb 2oz) veal or beef trimmings
4 garlic cloves, bruised with back of knife
500ml (2 cups) red wine
8L (270 fl oz) veal stock
6 ripe tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme
In a large stockpot, sauté the onion and carrots in the grapeseed oil until lightly coloured. Add the garlic and red wine then reduce until only 100ml (3.5 fl oz) of liquid is left.
Add the stock, tomatoes and thyme. Reduce the stock on a medium simmer until halved in quantity then strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin.
To make a glaze, return the demi-glaze to a clean pot and reduce on a high heat until highly viscous – you should be left with just under 800ml (28 fl oz) of glaze.