Ellen Degeneres is all about sharing the love. A message she wanted to be loud and clear through her collaboration with Royal Doulton and one of the main reasons I signed on to partner with the brand for the launch of their ED x Royal Doulton collection. My mother is always trying to cook for the kids and I. "You must be hungry, sit down. Lets eat!" she says. It's her way of caring for us, to share her love with us.
There is nothing more giving and more nourishing for the soul than sitting down to share a meal with those you love. Around the table relationships are found and cultures shared. We take the time to connect, to be present and to enjoy food that we are so fortunate to have. So, inspired by ED x Royal Doulton and the message of sharing, I knew this was the perfect timing to prepare a feast for our good friends Kim, Steven and their three boys Noa, Hunter and Arlo who we are so grateful for having in our lives.
Together we set up under the paper bark trees at their Ranch, River Hawk up in Byron Bay. Nestled on the bank of the Brunswick River we foraged for treasures from the field for the table, laid out my favourite rustic stoneware pieces from Royal Doulton, poured a beautiful glass of red and grabbed our Pampa ponchos for when the sun went down. Sam had outdone himself this time cooking everything from scratch with fresh produce from both the local Farmers market and Kim's garden. Below are the recipes from our family feast which I hope you might also get to share with those you love.
Tomato + Capsicum Soup
In a large pot, add two tablespoons of butter, drizzle of olive oil, add a sliced whole onion and pinch of salt. Steam until soft and smelling amazing. Meanwhile, wash and core your tomatoes, we used ten from the garden.
Add two or three cloves of garlic, chopped up how you like, to the pot of onions and cook for two minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, another pinch of salt, a bay leaf and sprigs of fresh herbs to the pot, thyme and basil are our faves. Add in a tablespoon of uncooked white rice and a teaspoon of garam masala.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until your tomatoes are well-cooked rice is tender. Add in one cup of water, another tablespoon of butter and a third pinch of salt and cook until butter melts. Then remove it from the heat, and take out bay leaf and herb sprigs.
If you want it to be smooth, puree the soup to your liking and strain to remove the seeds. If you like a chunkier soup, toast some crusty bread and dig in!
Shepards Pie + Roasted Baby Carrots
(Recipe via Three Blue Ducks)
Grab a large lamb shoulder, bone in, from your local butcher. Bring it home and season it well with salt and pepper, heat the oven to 105c. Add two tablespoons of oil to a large, heavy frying pan and sear all sides of the lamb on a high heat to get lots of colour and dark caramel tones. Put the lamb in a large baking dish. Roughly chop up a bulb of garlic, two brown onions and one or two red chillies, chuck them all in a frying pan with some more vegetable oil and give them some colour. Throw in half a bunch each of rosemary and thyme, roughly chopped, as well as two tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Pour in one litre of beef stock, bring it all to the boil and pour the whole thing over the lamb.
Cover with a with a lid or foil and cook in the oven for a minimum of 12 hours – we usually try to cook it overnight. Remove lamb from the oven, skim the fat off the top and keep it to roast some carrots later on.
Fill a large pot with hot water, add salt and bring to the boil. Peel about a kilo of potatoes, chop into chunks add them to the pot. Cook until soft. In a medium saucepan, bring 150g of butter and 200ml cream to a simmer and set aside. When potatoes are cooked, drain and return to the heat, stirring constantly for a few minutes to get rid of any excess water. Remove from heat, mash well with a masher, add the warm cream and butter and season to taste.
While the potatoes are cooking, pull all the meat off the bone, mix about 400g of frozen peas and and half a bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped, and season to taste. Put the lamb mix in a baking dish or pie dish and pile the mash on top.
Cut the tops off a bunch of dutch baby carrots, put them on a baking tray and drizzle with the leftover lamb fat. Bake the pie and carrots at 200C for 10-15 minutes or until the mash browns. They should be ready at the same time.
Cut a bowl of sprouts in half and blanch them in salted boiling water. Then strain the water off, throw them in a hot pan with coconut oil and salt and pepper. Fry them up for a few minutes, add a handful of pine nuts (or two) and keep it cooking until browned on the outside.
Place the whole cauliflower head in a cast iron pot, or anything large that has a lid. Add a little water to the bottom, pop the lid on and cook in the oven for 10 minutes (or until steamed through). Take out the pot, off the lid and drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Then liberally sprinkle pinches or nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and salt. Now it goes back in the oven, without the lid this time, to brown. Should only take a few minutes. Serve the cauliflower whole.