Vegetarian

Curtis Stone’s Corn and Bacon Muffins (with Herb Butter)

Makes: 12

I am a sucker for savoury muffins though apart from my popular Spinach and Feta Muffins, it would seem the house has a sweet tooth.

Therefore your decision to cook this particular muffin recipe really will come down to whether you like savoury muffins or are all-in the sweet camp.

If you are like me – and Curtis Stone – you should pass GO, collect $200 and have these baking tonight.

Because if you’re like me, you’ll agree they are really great, savoury muffins.

(Like muffins should be.)

Ingredients

350gm smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
2 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh yellow corn kernels (cut from a cob)
⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives

For the herb butter
115gm softened unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. In a large pan, cook the bacon over a medium heat for about 8 minutes until brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels and reserve the bacon drippings.
  3. Grease 12 muffin cups/tins with some of the reserved bacon drippings.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cayenne pepper to blend. In a separate large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs and the remainder of the bacon drippings to blend; stir in the bacon, 1 ½ cups of the cheese (leaving ½ cup), the corn kernels and the chives. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese.
  6. Bake for about 18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
  7. For the herb butter: combine the butter ingredients. Use immediately on the muffins or form into a log on some baking paper, roll and twist and refrigerate.
Standard
Dessert, Kids, Vegetarian

Banana Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

Makes: 12

I made these muffins a while ago and they prove once again that a good muffin – like these – are a no brainer when it comes to little boys and their lunchboxes.

Tom of course ate three off the bat and by the next day, they were all gone; only two making it to school.

No doubt there is a revolution in muffin technology I am missing out on because they are pretty simple.

Keep it to the basics however and you’ll have a hit on your hands.

Ingredients

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1 cup self raising flour
3 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp bicarb soda
3 apples, peeled and grated
1 banana
¼ cup honey (or brown sugar)
2 tbs maple syrup
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
Extra apple slices to top

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c and grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
  2. Sift flours, cinnamon and bicarb soda into a bowl. Stir in the grated apple, banana and honey.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla essence. Add into the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon into the muffin pan, top with apple slices and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
Standard
Salad, Vegetarian

Parmesan Dressing

Serves: 4

Salad is one of our favourite fall-back meals.

And the boys love nothing more than homemade sausages, some chargrilled eye fillet and a green salad… with one of the rotating salad dressings we like to make.

The rotation gets a little bigger with this one from Curtis Stone and its simplicity – and the parmesan – are what make it such a no-brainer for a throw-together grilled chicken salad.

I recommend adding this little number to your repertoire.

Ingredients

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 eschalot, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Season and drizzled over your next salad.
Standard
French, Side, Vegetarian

Braised Peas with Cos Lettuce and Mint

Serves: 4 – 6

This classic French dish is from Karen Martini and swaps out iceberg lettuce for cos.

It makes the lettuce a bit more a feature and the result is just awesome.

It is rich and warm and a wonderful accompaniment: roast chicken or lamb or some chargrilled steaks we served with a herb butter and a onion rings.

It just shows how well peas and lettuce and work.

If you can make the effort, make the effort. It will dial up any meal into a memorable one.

Ingredients

80gm unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove< sliced
2 ½ cups frozen peas
2 baby cos lettuces, trimmed and cut into 1cm pieces
5 sprigs mint, leaves torn
1 tbsp sea salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp castor sugar

Method

  1. Melt half the butter in a very large frying pan over and medium heat and cook the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the peas, lettuce and ¼ cup hot water, simmer and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mint, salt, sugar and remaining butter and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is glossy and syrupy.
Standard
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.
Standard
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.
Standard
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.
Standard