STOVETOP MAC ‘N’ CHEESE

Sometimes you just feel like the basics or love the idea of a one pot no fuss dish. My ultra-gooey mac ‘n’ cheese is just the answer (you may need more than one pot though). Use flavourful cheese along with good melting cheese to get it gooey. A lot of households have salt and pepper on the table – in our household hot sauce also makes an appearance if my family suspects a dish looks bland and I hate the thought that my food will get doused in hot sauce for extra flavour. For chilli lovers, I have already incorporated hot English mustard and hot sauce into the recipe.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I have made this with both gluten and gluten free (Barilla) pasta and both are delicious. The gluten free packet is 350g and I didn’t alter the proportions.

My recipe has been adapted from Kenji Lopez Alt’s book “The Food Lab”.

INGREDIENTS

400g elbow macaroni

400ml evaporated milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste

1 tablespoon hot English mustard

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GRILLED MISO EGGPLANT

As far as condiments and flavourings go, I love miso. I use it rather unconventionally in salad dressings and also in sauces/ marinades. The savouriness of miso lends well to eggplant. You could use the same technique with zucchini (cut it lengthways).

Grilled Miso Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

2 eggplants, cut into 2cm thick slices

2 -3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (like sunflower)

100g mozzarella, grated

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GRILLED HALLOUMI FLATBREADS

I guess this could easily pass for a Mediterranean version of a taco! You can serve with store bought flat breads or pita breads for convenience but my flat bread recipe is not cumbersome just takes a bit of planning. Don’t be daunted by the different elements – I guarantee this is very easy to make and you can serve this as a starter or on its own for a light lunch.

Grilled Halloumi flatbreads

INGREDIENTS

2 x 250g blocks Halloumi cheese

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons liquid honey

Sumac powder to garnish

For the avocado salsa

2 avocados, peeled, stoned and diced

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STUFFED MINIKIN WITH MINT YOGHURT SAUCE

There are 45 different varieties of pumpkins and while the Jack O Lantern pumpkins are the most recognizable, pumpkins come in different colours, shapes and sizes. Look for the mini ones if you want to stuff and cook them whole.

I have used caramelized onion in this recipe and I recommend doing a batch and keeping in fridge as these are incredibly versatile. You could add to a quiche or pie or sandwiches. To do caramelized onion, slice 2 onions thinly, fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil on low heat for 20 – 25 minutes.

Stuffed minikins with a mint yoghurt sauce

INGREDIENTS

2 small pumpkin or winter squash

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

½ red pepper, finely diced

2 tablespoons of caramelized onion

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup

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ROAST BUTTERNUT & QUINOA SALAD

When I tried quinoa nearly a decade ago, to be perfectly honest I didn’t like it. I felt it was chalky and the appearance wasn’t appetizing. I am now converted – I believe that locally grown organic red quinoa is tasty and yummy. You will love this salad as it is another great one pot dish that has all the nutrients you need.

Roast Butternut and Quinoa Salad

INGREDIENTS

800g butternut, skin on cut into a small 2cm by 1cm pieces

400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 cup organic red quinoa

1 red pepper, cored and finely diced

50g red onion, finely diced

Arals of 1 pomegranate

2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus 1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon sumac

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DIWALI SWEETS – THIYYA GAVALLU

Thiyya Gavallu literally translate to sweet shells. Store bought ones pale in comparison to homemade ones. This is an Andhra sweet and is like a sugar dipped dough nut. My grandmother used to make them and I have her shaping device but if you don’t have any such contraption, you can use the back of a fork.

Thiyya Gavallu

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour or standard flour

2 tablespoons ghee

Oil to fry

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MUSHROOM PIE

Pies (the meat kind I mean) could very easily be the national dish of New Zealand. I don’t know how true this statistic is, but on an average every New Zealander eats 17 pies a year. I don’t know who is eating our family’s share!!! I have never come across a vegetarian pie that looks good enough to make me want to try. So I have been on a quest to develop a vegetarian pie that is bursting with flavour and I think I have just the recipe for you.

This mushroom pie is so delicious and using dried as well as fresh mushrooms makes it yummy and flavourful. This is great as a family meal or you could do individual ones as a first course for a dinner party. I used store bought butter puff pastry (Edmonds) but you could just as easily make your own with a bit of planning.

Mushroom pie

INGREDIENTS

750g butter puff pastry

5-10g dried mushrooms (like porcini)

125ml boiling water

60g butter

1 leek, finely sliced into half moons

1 small carrot, finely diced

1 stick celery, finely diced

1 sprig thyme

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CHEESE & ONION SCONES

If I remember correctly, it was Christmas break 1990– we went to Thames and it rained every day. The most memorable part of that trip was eating cream and jam filled scones straight from the oven with a cup of tea. I know some scones are just so stodgy and tough – this could be because of overmixing. My daughter is somewhat of an expert in scone making and she reckons I taught her but I’ve never made scones until now. In fact, my daughter kind of showed me her technique which I will share with you.

Cheese and onion is a classic combination if you ask me. I always like to add a touch of cayenne to make them extra savoury. Use a sharp tasting cheese like cheddar. You can easily double the recipe if you are making for a crowd.

Cheese & Onion Scone

INGREDIENTS

3 onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons oil, for frying the onions

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups grated cheddar or tasty cheese, plus extra for topping

300ml milk plus extra for brushing on top

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GROWER’S PIE

I’ve made variations of a vegetarian shepherd’s pie for a long time now. The kids loved the idea of a shepherd’s pie albeit vegetarian. I have modified the recipe over the years and this version is filling, satisfying and absolutely scrumptious even though I say so myself. I also stopped calling it shepherd’s pie and started calling it grower’s pie to reflect the meatless nature of this pie.

Grower’s pie

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

400g tin of lentils

400g tin of beluga lentils

400g tin of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and mashed

200g onion, finely chopped

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MATTAR PANEER – PEAS & PANEER IN TOMATO SAUCE

Back in the day, I used to make my own paneer (it kind of resembles and tastes like ricotta) and it used to be quite the ritual of weighing the paneer down overnight with a tower of cans. Now like everyone else, I use store bought paneer.

Paneer is versatile because it absorbs the flavours of whatever sauce you are using. Mattar is peas in Hindi so this dish is peas with paneer in a thick tomato sauce. It is really nice with rotis, puris or any flatbread.

Mattar Paneer

INGREDIENTS

300g paneer

450g peas (frozen is fine)

150g onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons ghee

5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

2-3 plump cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½-1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin seed powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

60ml cream

Salt to taste

For the sauce

100g onion, chopped

100g carrot, peeled and chopped

300g tinned tomatoes

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon oil

METHOD

To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a small saucepan. Fry the onions and carrots for 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and 200ml water. Let it come up to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Once cool enough blitz in a food processor or a stick blender. Set aside.

Heat the ghee in a kadai or sauté pan. Fry the onions on low heat for 12-15 minutes until they are pale brown.

Pound the ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Toss this paste into the onions and continue frying for 2-3 minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, and cumin and coriander powders. Keep frying and when it starts sticking to the bottom of pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Fry the spice off for a couple of minutes.

Tip the sauce into the kadai and season with salt. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cut the paneer block into 16-20 pieces. Soak in warm water.

Soak frozen peas in water and change the water a couple of times. This way when you add to the sauce, they will retain their bright green colour.

At the end of cooking time, add the peas and paneer. Cook for a couple of minutes before stirring in the cream. Continue on the heat for a further minute or so.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. Serves 6.