Christine Manfield’s Cauliflower & Potato Curry

Serves: 4

I have definitely subscribed to the view that vegetarian Indian is the best Indian.

This particular curry tells you why.

Just so, so good.

The mustard oil (don’t cut this corner). The fried cauliflower. The curd.

Served along a brilliant Christine Manfield Mughlai Chicken, this absolutely took the night over the line.

(And for breakfast with some rice the next morning: stop it!)

Ingredients

4 tbsp mustard oil
200gm cauliflower florets
2 cloves
3 green cardamom pods, cracked
250gm, diced and parboiled
8 curry leaves
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 small ripe tomatoes, finely diced
150gm curd (drained yoghurt)
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chopped mint leaves
3 tsp chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the cauliflower for 2 minutes until just starting to colour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  2. In the same pan, fry the cloves, cardamom, ginger and curry leaves for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the potato, tossing to combine and coat with the spices. Return the cauliflower to the pan and toss to combine. Stir through the ground spices, salt and sugar.
  3. Add 2 cups of water and bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the tomato and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft.
  4. Add the curd and simmer gently for another 3 minutes. Season with garam masala and garnish with mint and coriander.

Alison Roman’s Caramelised Shallot Pasta

Serves: 4

No question, one of the defining themes of Covid has been food.

Cooking it. Eating it. Enjoying it with half a case of wine.

And repeat.

During lockdown, we had the time on our hands to experiment in ways we had never done. Indeed, given we couldn’t eat out, Nat and I would regularly recreate some of the most wonderful restaurant meals we had previously had.

I remember one meal where Nat recreated the incredible lobster and four-cheese Macaroni and Cheese from the best steakhouse in Honolulu – Mortons – and wow, looking back – at 1,570 calories a serve – Covid really did give us cover to do things culinarily that we wouldn’t otherwise do for a Monday lunch!

Of course, in Australia, we have moved back to relative normality which made it interesting to read the most popular recipes cooked the past year according to the NYTimes: America truly being the the opposite of our normality.

Like so much of our Covid, it kicked off with pasta.

Pasta that takes half an afternoon to cook.

A pasta that can – should – be cooked in pyjamas.

And a pasta that is on a whole other level of amazing.

Two-hat Italian amazing.

Slow-cooked onions always deliver though this is your case-in-point. Do this early afternoon, reheat when friends come around and blow them away.

(Ensuring all the bottles are in the recycling bin and the pyjamas are swapped for something a bit more acceptable.)

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 large shallots, sliced very thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 can anchovy fillets (about 12 anchovies, drained though not rinsed)
170gm tomato paste
1 pack spaghetti

To serve
Good handful of parsley chopped
Grated Parmesan
Flaky salt

Method

  1. Open a good Pinot. It is a must.
  2. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic, season and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become caramelised with golden-brown fried edges. The slower you can cook them, the better, though they will get there.
  3. Cook your pasta, remembering to reserve some pasta water: this is important.
  4. Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies drained straight from the can; there is no need to chop them as they will dissolve when cooked. Stir for two minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and season again. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil, caramelising at the edges and turning from bright red to a deeper, rusty brick colour: 2 or so minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce pot and slowly start to pour some of the pasta water, combining the pasta with the sauce. Add small amounts of water at a time until the pasta is all coated. Add a little more for when the pasta and sauce cool.
  7. Plate your pasta and top with Parmesan, flaky salt and fresh parsley.

Christine Manfield’s Mughlai Chicken

Serves: 4

Christine Manfield‘s Mughlai Chicken is just another brilliant curry from her wonderful book, Tasting India.

It was just luscious, so unique and perfectly executed by Nat. Local Indian restaurant this is not.

Served alongside another wonderful cauliflower and potato curry, we had an old friend over for dinner, decanted a cracking red and had a memorable Saturday night in.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
50gm finely sliced white onion
2 tsp minced ginger
2tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
500gm chicken thigh, cut into 2cm cubes
100gm thick plain yoghurt, whisked
300ml white chicken stock
3 tsp mint chutney
50gm finely chopped spinach leaves
100gm spinach puree
2 tsp salt
20 fried curry leaves, slightly crushed
1 tsp ghee, melted

Mint Chutney

100gm mint leaves
75gm coriander leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 small green chilli, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
5 tbsp thick plain yoghurt
2 red shallots, finely diced
2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chilli powder

Method

Mint chutney

Blend the mint, coriander, lemon juice, chilli and ginger to make a smooth paste. Stir in the yoghurt, shallot, chat masala, salt and chilli powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach puree

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and chop then puree in a food processor.

Fried curry leaves

Heat some vegetable oil to 170c and fry fresh curry leaves in small batches for 20 seconds

The Curry

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli over a high heat until softened. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Fry for a minute and then add the yoghurt.
  2. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the stock. Bring back to the simmer and then stir through the chutney and spinach leaves. Cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender and the gravy reduced.
  3. Add the spinach puree and salt and stir until combined and heated through. Stir in the curry leaves and ghee and serve with steamed rice.

Pork Shoulder cooked in Milk

Serves: 6 – 8

As a teenager, every year for my birthday I would request my mother cook pork shoulder in milk.

It is a classic Italian dish and it cannot be beaten.

The milk keeps the pork incredibly moist and breaks down the meat. As it reduces, you’re left with a wonderful gravy.

It is also so simple to do. One pot, so little prep.

Served with some mash and some steamed beans then sautéed with some butter and toasted, slivered almonds.

Good Lordy.

This version of the classic dish I found online adds slices of lemon and genuinely, it is a world-beater.

Our kids could not believe themselves. They’ve asked several times since if I could cook it again.

It’s summer in Sydney so it might be a few months, though I cannot wait.

The first hint of cold in Autumn and this dish is back.

Ingredients

1kg deboned pork shoulder, rind scored
Extra Virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, split in half horizontally
4 sage leaves
3 sprigs thyme
5 thin slices lemon, seeds removed
4 cups full fat milk
1/2 cup cream

Method

  1. Decant a good bottle of red. You’re going to need it!
  2. Dry the skin of the pork shoulder and dry well. Sprinkle with salt and leave in the fridge uncovered for a day.
  3. Heat the over to 180c. Heat a large, heavy pot/casserole over a medium heat, add some oil and crisp up both the skin of the pork and brown the pork on all sides.
  4. Place the pork skin-side up and add the garlic, sage, thyme, lemon and 3 cups of the milk ensuring that milk does not go on the skin. Roast for 45 minutes, uncovered, until the crackling is golden.
  5. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 2 hours 15 minutes, adding the additional cup of milk halfway through.
  6. When done, stir in the cream and season. Enjoy!

Adam Liaw’s Cauliflower Nachos

Serves: 4

Adam Liam is on a tear and these nachos are no different.

GENIUS.

Lower calorie especially if you use less cheese, guacamole and turkey mince as your protein.

Either way, they are no compromise.

Even better than cauliflower rice – which is in itself not much of a compromise when you take into account you belt size – these nachos have it all.

Do them once, you’ll do them again.

Week time treat.

(Tip: pickle your own jalapeños which we did. Do a bunch of them and refrigerate in a jar. We have them in the fridge and have them with chilli and all sorts of things. A-mazing – look it up, a million recipes!)

I have adjusted this nacho recipe slightly.

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
500gm (turkey) mince
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dry oregano
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 very large head cauliflower (or 2 small)
1 – 2 cups (low fat) grated cheese

Fresh tomato salsa

1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
1/4 tsp sugar
Good pinch of salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp finely shredded coriander
1 tbsp olive oil

To serve

Lime wedges
2 tbsp pickled, sliced jalapeños to serve
2 tbsp sour cream
Guacamole

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 220c. Break the cauliflower into (large-ish) florets and drizzle with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and arrange on a larger baking sheet. Roast for 25 mins until well browned (evening blackening) and tender. Transfer to an oiled baking dish.
  2. At the same time, for the mince, heat a large saucepan over a high-heat and add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add and mince and fry until browned. Add the salt, ketchup, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and 1 cup of hot water and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the water is evaporated but the mince is still moist.
  3. For the salsa, combine all the ingredients and set aside.
  4. Turn your oven to grill and top the cauliflower in the baking dish with the mince and then the cheese. Grill for 5 minutes until the cheese is browned.
  5. Serve with the salsa, Jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream and lime wedges.

Gordon Ramsay 1-million Subscriber Burger

Serves: 4

It is a truism, though an average burger is just that.

A waste of the calories. A waste of the excitement.

You’re in a resort and you order a burger and fries for lunch and the beef is well done and devoid of flavour; there is no love in the bun or the accompaniments.

A wasted meal.

Actually, I take it back.

An average burger is terrible.

It defeats the purpose.

Conversely, a brilliant burger is heaven.

It is the last meal and something you describe for days.

I learnt a while back that it fundamentally comes down to the beef. The quality, the fat, when it is ground and how it is cooked.

And so if if you read no more, based on this burger I am about to go into:

50 – 70% brisket

30 – 50% chuck

100gm butter per 1kg

Grind as thick as you can – the coarsest grain – and cook as soon as you can over a super-high grill.

This is the second time I have cooked this burger by Gordon Ramsay and it is the best burger I have ever had.

Which is not to say it has to be, though his key regarding the beef combination, butter and cooked rare (of course) is central. Any burger would be genius with this alone.

The recipe was released by Gordon after he hit 1-million Instagram subscribers.

He uses smoky bacon though I crisped up streaky bacon.

Otherwise, the rest is in relatively intact though I have rewritten the method.

It kills me when I make burgers for the kids from store-bought mince.

Though no more.

I don’t cut corners on much cooking. Burger meat will be the same going forward.

This is the best burger you will ever have if you follow the steps.

(And then adapt it!)

Ingredients

1kg equal brisket and chuck
100gm frozen butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
4 slices Swiss cheese

4 large portobello mushroom cups, step and gills removed
Garlic powder
4 large eggs
8 slices of streaky bacon, crispy and drained of fat
2 cups rocket
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced

4 brioche buns
Butter for buttering

1/2 cup egg mayonnaise
4 tbsp sriracha sauce
Pinch of sauce

Method

  1. Pre-heat your grill to medium-high.
  1. Get the bottoms of the mushrooms cooking. They will take time to soften and breakdown: at least 30 minutes. Of course, do not let them burn.
  2. Good time to start crisping up the bacon in a pan.
  1. Mince the beef with the frozen butter; otherwise, get your butcher to mince the beef and shave the frozen butter in a combine well. (The sooner to cook time this can happen, the better and if this blog has not sold you on it, supermarket mince is no substitute.)
  2. Form four equal, thick patties and refrigerate to chill. Remember they will shrink. Season well.
  3. Mix together the mayo, sriracha and salt.
  1. Butter the buns and grill them bottom side-down until they are browned.
  2. Turn up the grill, oil the beef patties and pop them on the grill.
  3. Flip the mushroom so that you can sprinkle a good pinch of garlic powder into each and then crack an egg into each.
  4. Flip the burgers after a minute or two. Cook for a minute more and then Swiss cheese on all until it melts.
  5. Take the burgers off and then the mushrooms when the eggs are done.
  6. Assemble: brioche, sriracha mayo, mushroom/egg, beef, tomato, rocket and more sriracha mayo on the top bun.
  7. Open a beer if you have not already done so by now.

Karen Martini’s Cabbage Salad

Serves: 8

You really can’t go wrong with anything Karen Martini.

This salad is no exception.

We served it along-side some wicked BBQ chicken and lordy, this was a good combination.

And healthy too.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

1/2 cabbage, very finely shredded
6 mint sprigs, leaves picked and torn
6 red radishes, very finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds!
1/2 lemon juiced
100 mls olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. Whisk together the caraway, lemon juice, olive and salt and pepper.
  2. Toss the dressing with the cabbage, mint, radish and onion, and stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Thighs – Kamado

Serves: 6

In one of my previous posts I mentioned that during Covid, we invested in a Kamado: a heavy, ceramic BBQ based on the traditional Japanese wood or charcoal stove.

It hasn’t always been the easiest thing to master.

It took trial and error to understand the heat potential and elasticity of charcoal.

Do not cook pizzas over a direct heat.

If you are going to cook naan bread and plug it into the roof of the device – which you can – oil the surface first.

And, do consider the use of a hair dryer in emergencies: it is not something to be ashamed of.

The most interesting approach for me however has been the combined use of charcoal and wood: you get immense heat when you need it, you have staying power thanks to the coal and you get flame when you want it.

I am starting a new category of recipes dedicated to the Kamado.

And this is my first recipe, though I have a few to do.

Combined with a wonderful Karen Martini slaw and corn cooked over the flames of the Kamado, it transported us back to the very best BBQ Nat and I had in Austin a few years ago.

This is BBQ. This… is amazing.

Ingredients

15 chicken thighs (free-range please people)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 – 4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken.
  2. Mix well and add the chicken, ensuring that it is covered in the mixture.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and ideally 24 hours, stirring a couple of times.
  4. Prepare your Kamado for direct cooking: I drifted between 150c and 220c based on the flames.
  5. Char-grill until well cooked through and caramelised and enjoy!

Super low calorie Chocolate Chip Brownies

Makes: 32

During Covid, the decision was made that we should be like the Kardashians and always have a stocked cake stand in our kitchen.

The main beneficiaries have been the three boys who now have a permanent patisserie on hand, especially five minutes before dinner: 6.55pm, grab a piece of fudge or a cupcake or a slice of cheesecake, why not?

The issue is that I certainly don’t need a 24/7 patisserie in our house, let alone anywhere I can walk or drive.

A recent honeycomb lasted an evening. As just one example.

Which is why this brownies are amazing.

Cut into 32, these are 23-calories each. Yep.

23.

And even if they were 33 or 43, it’s a patisserie miracle.

And sure, they’d find it hard to duke it out with something full of walnuts and butter, though on their own, they’re great.

And you won’t have regrets the next morning.

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup stevia
1/4 cup milk of choice
2 tbsp egg whites
1 cup fat-free vanilla yoghurt (we used Greek)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or essence)
2 tbsp chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c. Spray a square baking dish with non-stick spray and line with baking paper.
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix the stevia, milk, egg whites, yoghurt and vanilla.
  1. Pour the wet mixture into the dry. Mix to combine and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with chocolate chips. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. All to cool before slicing into squares.

Burmese Chicken Curry

Serves: 6

This is down the line a wonderful, aromatic and quite light curry.

It’s also moorish.

And it is simple to make.

Process the marinade, cook with the chicken, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stock and reduce.

Simple.

To keep it healthy, substitute some cauliflower rice and you have a cracking weekday dinner.

And what a treat on a Monday night. Something to really look forward to on a cold, rainy Covid Monday which at the time of writing this up, we have plenty more of to go.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg chopped chicken thigh
3 tbsp light soy
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
600ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Process together the soy, turmeric, some salt and pepper, one of the onions, 3 cloves of the garlic, the ginger and the chilli powder. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the remaining onion and garlic until transparent and then add the chicken and dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stir in the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for an hour or until tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce by boiling, uncovered, at the end of the meal.
  6. Cauliflower rice – or the real deal if it’s that sort of night – and a glass of Pinot and you’re in business!