Budget Friendly

The Easiest Cake Recipe In The World: As Seen on Everyday Gourmet

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8, with Justine Schofield on Channel 10.   Click here to watch the episode!

As seen on Everyday Gourmet Season 8, with Justine Schofield on Channel 10.

Click here to watch the episode!

Everybody needs a simple, please everybody pudding you can quickly throw together when entertaining, or just because. This baked pudding is part cake, part cobbler, with golden, almost crunchy bits on the outside and fabulously crumbly and cakey on the inside. And the best bit is you can use any fresh or tinned fruit you like. You could even swirl a few spoons of your favourite jam in, instead! 

The basic principle is EQUAL WEIGHTS of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Only one egg in the house? Just weigh it and mix it with the same of the other three! Then add your favourite fruit (tinned, fresh, frozen, it doesn’t really matter! You can even add a swirl of your favourite jam, some extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or vanilla…. whatever you like, really!

Batter

125g butter, softened 

125g caster sugar

2 large free range eggs

125g self raising flour 

Pinch of salt 

1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)

Flavouring

Let’s do one with something seasonal: 1-2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered. 

Method 

Preheat oven to 180c. Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar and eggs in a stand mixer and whisk until thick and glossy. Sift in flour gradually and combine thoroughly. Add in the vanilla and salt at the end and quickly combine. 

Place the pear pieces in a buttered and floured cake tin, then carefully pour the batter over the top and shake the pan a little bit so that everything settles evenly. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer when inserted into the centre, comes out clean. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm, with whipped cream, custard or ice cream. 


A Vegan Chinese Hot Pot

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Ok, so by now we all know that even the most dedicated of meat eaters should probably eat a few more vegetables...not only for health, but also for sustainability of agriculture. That aside, they're bloody delicious when treated with a little love. Here's probably the simplest recipe I've ever posted, it's a Chinese-style hot pot that's full of flavour, texture and is super good for you as well, lots of protein, healthy carbohydrates and good fats to keep you full. 

Serves 1 hungry person or 2 as part of a meal

Ingredients

1/2 small brown onion, finely sliced

1/4 large sweet potato, washed and chopped into 1 inch cubes*

1 heaped tablespoon, mushroom XO sauce (from the Asian grocery aisle at most supermarkets)

100g firm tofu, chopped into 1 inch cubes (about a third of a packet, as a guide)

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 handful fresh green or butter beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons pickled mushrooms (optional)

1-2 sprigs green peppercorns (you could use a teaspoon of dried Sichuan peppercorns instead)

Method

Preheat an oven to 200c. In a heavy based frying pan on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil with the onions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Throw in the sweet potato and turn up the heat to lightly brown the edges of the sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Add the XO and turn down the heat, coating everything evenly. Throw in the tofu and gently stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt flakes and the stock and bring the hot pot to a simmer. Add the beans, pickled mushrooms and peppercorns, stir briefly to combine season, to taste.

Pour the hot pot into a small cast iron dish or any heavy casserole pot that 'just' fits the ingredients (you don't want a heap of space, because you want the liquid to bubble, not evaporate completely). If it's looking a little dry, top with more stock but do not cover completely. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden and the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency. Carefully remove and set aside until cool enough to serve. Serve with brown rice, noodles or a super fresh cabbage salad.  

*Basically, you want everything to be roughly the same size so everything cooks evenly. Bite-sized pieces are roughly what you want to go for!

Mama Vincenza's Italian stuffed squid

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On a recent trip to South Australia to visit my in-laws, I managed to consume heroic amounts of food cooked by my incredible Italian mother-in-law, because Italians know no other way than to feed family. Vincenza's family is from Molfetta, part of the region of Puglia (the bit that forms the heel of the boot) in southern Italy and the region is known for its incredible seafood produce. In true Italian home cook style, the recipes she cooked were passed down from her mother, and mostly exist in the heart, instead of on paper. Vincenza's stuffed squid is a dish my husband Joe has drawn inspiration from over the years, and it is truly one of the most simple, delicious things you can learn to cook when it comes to squid. She calls it 'calamari al forno', I call it delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 small bunch of Continental parsley, leaves picked

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup rice crumbs

50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated

The juice of half a lemon (reserve the zest)

4 large eggs

8 medium (or 4 large) squid tubes, cleaned

1 brown onion, finely sliced

1 large jar passata (680g) 

Black pepper and salt, to taste

Method

Preheat an oven to 160c. In a deep baking tray or casserole dish, evenly spread about a third of parsley leaves and garlic slices along with the olive oil in the base of the dish. In a clean mixing bowl, combine the crumbs, cheese, lemon juice, eggs and the rest of the parsley and garlic into a bowl and mix well to combine. The mixture should resemble a soft, pliable dough. Add a little water or more breadcrumbs to achieve the consistency if needed. Season well with salt and pepper. This egg and crumb mixture also works well as a bread dumpling/meat-free alternative to meatballs when cooked in tomato sauce. 

Fill each squid tube with the breadcrumb mixture (it will expand when cooked, so take care not to overstuff), then place in the baking tray. Continue until all the squid tubes are stuffed. Scatter the sliced onion and the reserved lemon zest over the top of the squid, then pour the passata over the top of the squid, adding a little water to the mixture if required, to ensure the squid are more or less covered. This will prevent the squid from drying out while cooking, but reduce into a rich sauce by the time it's done. Season with more black pepper and salt. 

Bake in the oven for one hour, then remove and allow to cool and garnish with more parsley and lemon zest before serving. This dish serves as an excellent antipasti, served cold the next day, sliced and dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. 

 

Chicken, Ginger, Sweetcorn & Egg Drop Soup

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield Season 8

As seen on Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield Season 8

There are certain dishes you need to learn when you move out of home and start cooking for yourself. I would highly advise 1. A good hangover cure (mine's a 3 cheese toastie with heaps of black pepper and Dijon mustard), 2. Something to impress any guest (a cracking roast chicken is a solid submission), 3. A mid-week no-brainer (my braised lentils with bacon as seen in Good Food)...and 4. A sick-remedy cure-all. 

While I've painstakingly perfected my Jewish Chicken Soup, I've evolved my mum's chicken and sweetcorn soup over the years for maximum ease (handy when you're the sick patient in question), speed (takes about 15 minutes all up) and deliciousness (even less than that to slurp down). It is, also ideal as a quick and healthy snack even if you're not ailing. 

Watch the how-to below!

Makes 4 serves

Ingredients

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (bonus points if you make it yourself!)

4 chicken thighs, skin off

1 thumb sized knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

1 x 410g tin creamed corn

1 x 125g tin corn kernels

1 egg, lightly whisked

Sea salt flakes

White pepper

1 stalk spring onion (scallion), finely chopped into rounds

Sesame oil

Method

In a large pot, add the stock and ginger, then bring to a boil. Carefully add the chicken thighs and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Carefully remove the thighs and allow to cool slightly before handling, then coarsely chop, or shred the meat. Return the chicken pieces to the stock, then add the creamed corn and corn kernels. Bring the soup back to the boil and when it has reached a rolling boil, slowly pour in the egg mixture a little ribbon at a time, gently stirring through the soup as you go (the egg flowers will form while gently moving around the soup - too slow and you'll have a rubbery clump, too fast and you'll just have a cloudy soup). Continue until all the egg is poured into the soup. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, then remove the soup from heat to cool slightly before serving.

To serve, garnish with more white pepper, a few drops of sesame oil and the chopped spring onions. Feel the life flooding back into your body!

Lentils with Bacon, Chilli Oil and Fried Shallots

As published in Good Food

As published in Good Food

It can be so tempting these days when you're feeling lazy and hungry, to pick up the phone, tap on an app and order delivery. It's not bad, and there are definitely times where the convenience of take out can really save you. There is something to be said though, for developing an arsenal of super fast recipes that you can whip up at a few minute's notice, and let's be frank, are probably a lot healthier and more satisfying than take out. 

Good Food Story September 2017

I was recently asked for Good Food what I'd do with a tin of lentils... so here 'tis! It takes about 10 minutes from go to whoah and is full of protein, fibre and of course, a tonne of flavour. 

Ingredients

1/2 brown onion, peeled and finely diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 rasher bacon, diced

1 tin lentils, drained and washed

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon chilli flakes in oil

Fried shallots for garnish

Coriander leaves for garnish

In a frying pan on medium heat, sweat the onion, bacon and garlic in a little olive oil for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the lentils and stir to combine everything. Pour in the stock, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until the stock has mostly evaporated. Set aside to cool slightly. On a serving plate, spread the yoghurt over the base, the spoon over the lentils. Top with the fried shallots and chilli oil and coriander leaves and serve.

The Cupboard Is Bare Pasta

cupboard is bare pasta

I moved house this week. In the midst of the packing and unpacking chaos, there was a point where the kitchen was bare, save for a few dry store ingredients, and as my fridge hadn't arrived from Sydney, it became an exercise in cooking from shelf stable ingredients only. Hard? Not really, so long as you have a few handy staples with you. So this recipe also doubles as a list of shelf stable foods you should never live without. 

This recipe is kinda-cabonara in style (minus the pork component) and is proof that you can cook something delicious with just a small handful of ingredients, whether you're on a shoestring budget...or the cupboard is just bare!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Good quality dried pasta (I love Martelli)

2 egg yolks (that's right, eggs don't require refrigeration!)

1 tablespoon olive oil

A good few pinches sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon store bought fried shallots (from the Asian grocery aisle in any supermarket)

Method:

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Once cooked, drain MOST of the water (you will need about 1/4 cup of that starchy water to bind the pasta sauce together). Pour the olive oil into the pasta and reserved water and toss to combine. Whisk the egg yolks and pour them into the pot, tossing again to combine everything. Add in a few good pinches of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper and toss everything again. Taste, for seasoning and once happy, divide between two plates or bowls. Garnish with fried shallots and a little more pepper and you're done! 

 

 

Pasta-free Lasagne with XO

Pasta free lasagne

My Italian mother-in-law would probably have a heart attack for calling something 'lasagne' that contains no pasta, but seeing as my husband made this particular recipe with me, we'll let it slide. We decided to replace the pasta sheets with layers of eggplant and zucchini on account of coming home from the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurant Awards in Sydney after an epic 4 days of eating everything in sight (we went to Sokyo, Billy Kwong, Icebergs, The Dolphin, Hubert, Hubert again, Fratelli Paradiso, Automata, Ester and Din Tai Fung, just so you get the picture) and wanted to eat healthier without feeling like we were missing out on life.  Everything else about this dish is legit though, including the very handy Italian mama kitchen tip of using leftover charcuterie bits and pieces to add depth of flavour to sauces and stews (we used njduia). Add to that the not-very-Italian-mama tip of adding a little XO into sauces that aren't necessarily of Asian influence, and you have one rich, complex sauce that works well on pretty much anything. 

Ingredients

Red sauce

1 leek, washed and finely sliced

3 brown onions, peeled and finely sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

50g njduia (or any leftover pieces of salami, pancetta or bacon fat, finely chopped)

1/2 bottle of red wine

2 tins crushed tomatoes

1 strong tablespoon of XO paste

Salt &  pepper.

 

The rest

1 large eggplant, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

2 large zucchinis, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

200g fresh ricotta

1 handful parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, sliced

Sea salt flakes

Freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Method

Preheat an oven to 180c. For the red sauce, heat a large saucepan on a low to medium heat, then add a good slug of olive oil. Add the leeks, onion and garlic and cook until softened but the vegetables haven't taken on any colour. Take this opportunity to season the base. Add in the njduia (or chosen salumi) to the pan, burying it amongst the vegetables. It'll begin to break down and render the fat out. Once this happens, mix everything vigorously to combine. After another 2-3 minutes, add the wine. Cook over medium high heat until reduced by two thirds and the mixture is glossy and thick. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir to combine. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until reduced by about half and starts to take on a thick spoon-coating texture. Season with salt, pepper and XO to taste (this gives the sauce an umami punch and an extra dimension of flavour), then remove from heat and carefully transfer to a heatproof blender. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender on it's highest setting. Blitz the mixture on high into a smooth puree, then set aside to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta filling by combining the ricotta with the chopped parsley in a bowl, mixing well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little olive oil to the mix. Season well with salt and pepper, then set aside. 

Line a baking dish with baking paper. Spread a few spoonfuls of the red sauce into the dish, then top with a layer of eggplant. Top with an even layer of ricotta, then more red sauce, then a layer of zucchini. Continue to alternate layers of eggplant, red sauce, ricotta, and zucchini, finishing with ricotta on top. Lay the fennel slices on top and cover with a layer of baking paper. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking paper, turn the oven up to 200c and continue to cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. 

Remove the lasagne from the oven and allow to cool and set before slicing, otherwise the whole thing will collapse. Serve the lasagne topped with Parmesan or pecorino, microplaned over the top, and a few basil leaves.

Gluten Free Gingernut Biscuit Berry Crumble

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry

As seen on Channel 10's The Cook's Pantry

A lot of the food I cook for myself at home happens to err on the side of 'healthier'... simply because when I eat out, working on food shows or testing recipes, I'm not exactly going to not the pasta special, spit when judging cheese soufflé, or say no to the foie gras parfait.

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This berry crumble recipe came about one recent cold night when I felt like something warm and comforting without wanting to go OTT on the indulgence factor. I like to keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies, and quick snacks because they're a great way to get a sweet hit without reaching for the chocolate every time (not to mention, they're a great antioxidant and vitamin boost).

This recipe happens to be gluten free, but if that doesn't bother you, you can always substitute with your favourite sweet biscuits (milk arrowroot or shortbread would be ACE!). If you're dairy free, feel free to replace the butter with coconut oil, but work quickly with your hands, so it doesn't melt completely.

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Serves 1 sweet fiend or 2 normal people

Ingredients

3-4 gluten free biscuits

2 tbs almond meal

A good knob of butter

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 cup frozen mixed berries

A drizzle of honey

Method

Preheat your oven to 180c. Place the biscuits inside a clean tea towel and using a rolling pin or a heavy saucepan, bash the biscuits up into uneven, crumbly chunks (you could use a food processor, but that'd be far too civilised and quite frankly, you want chunks of biscuit to exist, rather than a fine, uniform crumb). In a bowl, rub together the crushed biscuits, almond meal and butter with your fingers until it comes together as a coarse crumb. Add in the cinnamon and salt and lightly combine. 

Pour the berries into an oven proof ramekin. Drizzle with honey and top with the crumble mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling and juicy around the edges of the ramekin. Serve with Greek or coconut yoghurt...or a little double cream if you're feeling like taking it there.