Dessert, Vegetarian

Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Serves: 6 – 8

We are still on the homemade ice cream train and after a very successful strawberry ice cream with a side of balsamic strawberries, we are much closer to a favourite I used to make when I was a kid.

(My parents also had an ice cream machine.)

Maple and walnut.

(I used to make honey and walnut.)

It is a sweet ice cream though that is the point: the boys of course, absolutely love it.

Serve it however and with whatever you want. This is the American dream.

Ingredients

1 ½ cup walnut halves
¾ cup maple syrup
1 ⅓ cup heavy cream
1 ¼ cup whole milk
5 large egg yolks, beaten
¼ salt

Method

  1. Over a medium heat, toast the walnuts in a fry pan, stirring and toasting for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and turning golden. Set aside to cool and chop.
  2. Put the maple syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil and then simmer until reduced to ½ cup: 8 – 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream, milk and salt to the pan and stir.
  4. Drizzle a cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add another cup and then return to the saucepan and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Do not boil.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh into a bowl and cover with glad wrap. Refrigerate until completely cold.
  6. Process the chilled mixture according to your machine’s instructions and add the walnuts during the last minutes of churning.
  7. Enjoy.
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Italian, Pasta, Vegetarian

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushroom (Pink Sauce)

Serves: 4

We live in Cammeray in Sydney and there has been this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint here since I was a kid catching the school-bus past many, many years ago.

Brick facade, large pizza-oven style window out the front, dark inside.

Until we moved to Cammeray, I had never been into the pizza place though I had always wanted to. Old-school pizza places are the best.

Our first meal there was memorable and for all the right reasons.

And it turns out that the place has been there since I was a kid, run by this Italian who cooked pizzas every night for 40 years or something.

Sadly, he passed away a year ago, though he left the restaurant to his nephew, who, when we arrived, was still finding his feet: cash only, several items on the menu not available, the poor guy cooking and serving and cleaning up.

But wow, his pizza and homemade pasta was just awesome.

And $50 with no corkage.

A real win.

Half-a-dozen visits since and he has found his feet, though the important elements remain. A dark, cosy, pizza restaurant with locals handing over cash for excellent pizzas. There is a second guy in the kitchen and a young girl taking orders and delivering the pasta.

We have mixed it up every time we have been there and last time we had a pasta similar to this one; mushroom spaghetti in a pink sauce: essentially half cream, half tomato.

I didn’t ask for the recipe though I found this one online and it is pretty much on the money.

Ensure you cook the alcohol off and you are left with a really wonderful dinner: pretty much what you would expect from a local, 40-year-old pizza joint that only cooks 6 pizzas and a rotation of the same number of pastas.

Do this some Saturday night and put your feet up.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomatoes (400gm)
¾ cup vodka
½ tsp chilli flakes
Handful fresh basil, torn
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cream
¾ tsp salt
500gm penne (we used spaghetti)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then add the onion and garlic and slowly saute until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, vodka, chilli flakes, basil and oregano. Break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  2. Bring the mixture to a medium-heat and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and salt and continue to simmer ensuring that the alcohol is cooked out. Season.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Mix through and season again if necessary.
  5. Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
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Pasta, Vegetarian

Basic baked Mac and Cheese with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Serves: 6

We had dinner at a great friend’s place a few week’s back, both as a long overdue catch-up and as a test of his new kitchen.

Matt undersells himself in the kitchen though I secretly think he knows he is pretty good. And he is.

Which is all sort of funny.

He is the most true-blue Aussie I know, being a member of the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, able to crush tinnies on his head and definitely driving a bogan, 1999 Commodore. Not much to see there and definitely not what should be a food guy.

On the other hand, he owns and lives in an extraordinary mansion in Newtown, his beautiful wife Hannah is super beautiful, sophisticated and cosmopolitan and Matt loves his food and fine wine. Cooking, eating and drinking it.

This is a wine tour guy if ever you met one.

Genuinely, there are few people I enjoy a meal more than with Matt and a highlight was when Nat and I had lunch with Matt and Hannah (and her parents) at the Ledbury in London a few years back, one of the world’s best restaurants.

So, here we are for dinner and Matt – as usual – delivers.

Though it wasn’t the chicken-pot-pies (with homemade pastry) that blew our socks off.

It was this Mac and Cheese.

Ask anyone that knows me and Mac and Cheese would be my last meal.

And it could seriously be this one.

Lordy.

We love you Matt and Hannah. You guys are brilliant and this Mac and Cheese keeps me smiling.

This is his recipe and you should cook it.

Ingredients

3 cups whole milk
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
250gm dried elbow pasta
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup panko

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water.
  3. Heat the milk over a medium heat until it starts to bubble but not boiling for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Heat the butter over a medium heat in a separate pot. When the butter has melted add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown; around 3 minutes. Remove from the the heat.
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk – about 1 cup at a time – into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk and get thinner as you add milk.)
  6. Once all the milk has been added, set the pot over a medium-high heat and continue to whisk for 2 – 3 minutes until the sauce becomes silky and thick. (If the sauce sticks to the back of the spoon, you’re done.) Add the salt.
  7. Add the sauce and both the cheeses to a pan and cook over a medium heat until the cheese is barely melted; around 3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and continue cooking whilst stirring continuously until the pasta is hot and steaming; another 5 minutes.
  8. Place the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 minutes or until they are lightly brown, toasted colour.
  9. Fill your baking dish or ramekins with pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
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Moroccan, Stew, Vegetarian

Moroccan-style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Serves: 6 – 8 lunches

We don’t buy our lunches at work.

Instead, we cook something big on Sunday night – a stew, a mince, a dahl – and that is lunch for the week.

Nat repeatedly makes the point that there is simply no point in wasting calories during the week. Or to the point, wasting calories, at work, at lunch. Better to reserve the pastas and pastry for the weekends when you can have a few wines and mop everything up with bread and more wines.

I don’t disagree.

Thus why you should consider this stew and making it for your next week of lunches.

Working backwards, it is a calorie blackhole. You’ll burn more calories eating it.

Secondly, it tastes just great.

Thirdly, thanks to the chickpeas, it is filling and you won’t be searching around for a Rivita before four.

Save the money, save the calories and save the weekend for the big chicken sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 – 2 tsp chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 dates, pitted and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped into 2 cm pieces
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 x 400gm cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 yellow capsicum (pepper), stemmed and chopped into 2cm pieces
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
Salt and pepper
Couple handfuls of baby spinach
To serve: Greek yoghurt, coriander, lemon zest, brown rice

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat and cook until softened. Add the spices and chilli flakes. Slowly saute until the onions are really soft.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the dates, carrots and sweet potatoes. Season with the salt and pepper and mix. Add the tomatoes, stir and then the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced and thickening.
  3. Add the capsicum and chickpeas; check your seasoning. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the greens and cook for a final minute, adding olive oil, lemon zest and seasoning as need be.
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Dessert, Vegetarian

Apple and Sultana Muffins

Makes: 12

We went on a bit of a muffin crave a few months back.

Every Sunday, we would whip up a batch for lunches and snacks, usually doubling the recipe on account of Tom (6) hoovering six (6) of them as soon as they could be handled.

These muffins are pretty down-the-line muffins though the boys whole-heartedly helped cut and mix all the ingredients. And any recipe that the boys participate in is one to type up; because getting participation and having fun in the process is half the point.

Our craves move on and the muffin ship has sailed for the moment, though if I did a batch of these one night as a treat, I have no doubt the ship would be back in port.

Keep it simple, treat yourself and enjoy.

Ingredients

200gm self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
50gm wholemeal flour
100gm caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml skim milk
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 apples, grated
100gm sultanas

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180c.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.
  3. In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well and then fold in the apple and sultanas.
  4. Divide between 12 greased muffin cases and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and hand them to your Tom.
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Asian, Vegetarian

Kylie Kwong’s Deep-fried Tofu with Sichuan Pepper and Salt and Lemon

Serves: 2 – 4

We cooked Chinese last night and started off with this wonderful tofu dish.

So subtle is it, you could serve it as part of any contemporary dinner and your guests would love you. And it.

Key is to heat the oil and then to quickly dust the tofu with the flour and cook. If you dust and leave the tofu for too long, it will become moist and sticky and you won’t get the same batter effect.

Ingredients

1 x 300gm packet silken tofu
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
⅓ cup plain flour
Handful coriander leaves
1 tsp Sichuan pepper and salt*
1 lemon, halved

Method

  1. Gently remove the tofu from the packet; carefully slice the tofu into six cubes and drain off any excess liquid.
  2. Heat oil in a wok until the surface is shimmering. Lightly dust the tofu pieces in flour and lower into the oil.
  3. Deep-fry the tofu for about 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towel.
  4. Arrange the tofu on a platter, garnish with coriander and serve immediately, sprinkled with Sichuan pepper and salt, coriander leaves and accompanied by lemon halves.
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Asian, Vegetarian

Kylie Kwong’s Egg Fried Rice

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really delicious fried rice and with some sliced chilli, it is a meal in itself.

It is quick on all fronts, it isn’t greasy and it subtlety means it will pair with pretty much anything.

You’ll be asked to cook this again.

Ingredients

6 eggs
⅔ cup finely sliced spring onions
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
4 cups steamed (Jasmine) rice
1 tbsp light soy sauce (extra)
1 ⅓ cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage leaves

Method

  1. Place eggs in a bowl with spring onions, soy sauce and ginger and beat lightly with a fork to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a hot wok until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion and toss for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg mixture and leave to cook for 10 seconds before folding the egg mixture in on itself and lightly scrambling for 1 ½ minutes or until almost cooked through. Add rice and extra soy sauce and stir fry for another 1 ½ minutes, breaking up the egg into smaller pieces.
  3. Toss in the cabbage, stir fry for another 20 seconds, combining well.
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