Set an icy-pale and elegantly understated table for a Nordic-inspired winter dinner
Leek & Potato Soup
Baked Goats’ Cheese Salad
Artichoke & Almond Risotto
Roast Rack of Pork with Potato, Parsnip and Apple Mash
Baked Pear & Maple Sponge Puddings
“In the bleak midwinter,
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone”
Leek and Potato Soup
This heart-warming soup is easy and economical to make and has the added benefit of freezing well.
30g (2 tablespoons) butter
2 leeks, washed and sliced (reserve 4-5 strips of green leaves for garnish)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely diced
2 bay leaves
¼ cup white wine
1 litre chicken stock
250ml (1 cup) cream
Oil for frying leek garnish
Heat butter in a large saucepan and sauté leeks and garlic for 4-5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
Add potatoes, bay leaves and wine to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Discard bay leaves and purée soup until smooth. Add cream and season well with pepper and salt to taste. Gently reheat to near boiling before serving.
For garnish, cut green leek strips into fine lengths and quickly fry in a little hot oil until crisp.
Makes about 1.6 litres; serves 6
Baked Goats’ Cheese Salad
Baking the cheese for this simple and impressive starter makes it unctuous and flavoursome. Pink peppercorns have a delicate, fragrant, sweet and spicy flavour without the heat of a regular peppercorn. They are available from delis, either dried or preserved in brine.
3 chèvre logs (about 150g each)
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, coarsely chopped (if in brine) or crushed (if dried)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or to taste
2 handfuls microgreens or small salad greens
Lavash or other wafers or thin crackers to serve
Preheat oven to 175°C. Cut cheese logs in half. Combine peppercorns, thyme and lemon zest in a bowl. Coat cheese pieces with mixture, pressing it onto all sides. Place on a lined baking tray and bake 8-10 minutes until just starting to colour and soften.
Make salad dressing by combining olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, arrange a small pile of greens on each serving plate. Top with cheese and drizzle with dressing. Accompany with wafers. Serves 6
Make ahead: 2-3 days ahead: Cook soup.
A few hours ahead: Prepare vegetables. Ready pork for roasting. Make salad dressing and prepare the cheese logs for baking.
Close to serving: Bake cheese logs and assemble the salad. Make risotto.
Artichoke and Almond Risotto
Risotto is classic comfort food. It is best made just before serving as reheated risotto is never as soft and creamy.
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1½ cups arborio or risotto rice
1 litre chicken stock, heated
2 tablespoons lemon-infusedor plain olive oil
6 preserved artichoke hearts, drained and halved
¼ cup almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Parmesan to serve
Heat butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté over low heat until softened and fragrant. Add rice and stir to coat grains. Add hot stock 1 cup at a time, cooking until it is almost all absorbed before adding another cup, and stirring occasionally. Cook until rice is al dente (add a little hot water if rice is still firm after adding all the stock). Season to taste with pepper and a little salt.
Heat oil in a small, shallow pan. Add artichokes and almonds and cook 4-5 minutes until hot and almonds are toasted. Add thyme.
Spoon risotto into warm serving bowls and arrange 2 artichoke hearts on top of each one. Spoon over the almonds, oil and thyme remaining in pan. Serve with parmesan. Serves 6 (entrée size)
Roast Rack of Pork with Potato, Parsnip and Apple Mash
Rack of pork is a bone-in loin roast with the chine bone (backbone) removed for easy carving and the ribs “Frenched”. It’s full of flavour and looks impressive but because it is a premium cut you may need to order it from your butcher.
1.5kg pork loin rack roast (or 6 good-sized chops), skin scored
1-2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1 cup apple juice (plus extra for sauce if needed)
1 cup water
2 whole star anise
3 apples, cut in half horizontally
¼ cup sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
About ¼ cup milk
Preheat oven to 170°C. Dry pork skin and rub generously with salt (this is the key to good crackling). Push sage leaves into gaps in scored skin.
Place apple juice, water, star anise and apples in a large roasting dish. Sit pork in dish skin side up and roast 60 minutes.
Increase heat to 190°C and roast a further 20 minutes or until juices run clear and skin is crisp. Transfer pork to a plate, cover with foil and set aside to rest. (If skin is still not sufficiently crackled, remove it from loin and place under a grill for 5 minutes.) Take apples from dish and set aside somewhere warm.
Sauce: Pour excess fat off roasting juices and pour remaining liquid into a small pan. Add sweet soy sauce and extra apple juice if needed and simmer until reduced to a light syrup.
Mash: Boil potatoes, parsnip and apple together in salted water until soft. Drain and mash with butter and milk to make a creamy mash. Season to taste.
To serve, arrange sliced pork and mash on warmed plates. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with crackling, sage and apple halves. Serves 6
Baked Pear and Maple Sponge Puddings
Be sure to use ripe pears for these puds, as hard fruit will not soften with baking.
||6 firm ripe pears, eg beurre bosc
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
150g butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1½ cups self-raising flour
1 small teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Peel pears and remove cores from underneath (a melon baller is good for this) then score the flesh from stem to base, making about 6 shallow cuts on each pear. Brush all over with combined maple syrup and lemon juice and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
Sponge: Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease 6 x 1-cup-capacity ovenproof ramekins.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Fold in sifted flour and cinnamon with milk and maple syrup to make a thick, smooth mixture.
Divide mixture between ramekins, spreading it over bases, and place a whole pear in the centre of each dish. Bake 20-25 minutes until sponge is puffed and golden. Serve hot with cream.Serves 6
Spiced Milk with Orange-scented Shortbread
Cookies and warm milk – what could offer more homely comfort on a chilly day?
225g butter, softened
125g icing sugar
1 teaspoon orange essence
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
50g ground almonds
1 litre milk
¼ cup liquid honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Shortbread: Preheat oven to 160°C. Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in orange essence and zest. Add almonds, sifted flour and cornflour and mix to a soft dough. Place bowl in fridge for 30 minutes to allow dough to firm up slightly.
Working with half the mixture at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thickness. Cut into even rectangles, transfer to lined trays and prick with a fork. Bake 15-20 minutes until pale golden. Cool 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Makes about 30 pieces
Spiced milk: Warm milk in a saucepan with honey and spices, adjusting quantities to taste. Serve in heatproof glasses or mugs, accompanied with a plateful of shortbread. Makes 4 cups
Table, chairs and Crown Lynn pottery from Trees Co, (09) 529 9933
White crockery, cutlery, table runner, glass jug, rattan chargers, small white jugs, white platter, chopping board and cream throw from Corso de’ Fiori, (09) 307 9166
Antlers from Mercatini, (09) 529 4200
Other items stylist’s own.
Thank you to our model Maria Kozub
Story: Jo Wilcox
Photographs: Aaron McLean
Stylist: Claudia Kozub