Seven Weekly Staples

New is addictive. Something shiny, something novel.

But it can also be exhausting.  Sometimes, staples are staples for a reason. They’re comforting. They work (she says after being bitterly disappointed with an experiment in triple coconut cakes yesterday, made with coconut flour and sunny with nuggets of mango. They were supposed to be the post for this week. The photos are lovely, with Sydney’s first proper taste of spring sunshine glinting through. But their texture is off. Coconut flour is a curious beast without cocoa, or almond meal to temper it. They resulting cakes are both arid and flaccid- which we can all agree is not an ideal combination in cake. As my friend Alex sagely pointed out; ‘they’re edible Tor, but they’re not bloggable’.

It’s time to go back to some old faithfuls.

There’s a lovely essay by Amander Hesser (of Food52 fame) in ‘Cooking for Mr Latte‘  about building a core collection; about; ‘distilling the mass of recipes in my head down to a manageable stable of favourites, a repertoire that I could rely on and that friends and family…would look forward to.”

I completely agree with her sentiments that it needs to be ‘recipes that represent who I am, what I find pleasurable, how I live. It should express my true sensibilities as a cook, not my ambition. And all of the dishes should be simple enough that I could make them on a moment’s notice’.

And so, here are some of mine. Here are seven meals of which you can be sure that at least one or two will turn up in our house each week.

1) Monday: No Flour Courgette and Seed ‘Bread’

There is usually a loaf of this in the fridge. It seems to settle into itself even better after a few days. A sturdy mix of seeds, oats, grated courgette and psyllium husk it hold it together, it makes for excellent toast. At least two or three days a week for lunch I’ll top a couple of slices with smashed avocado, feta and a drizzle of hot sauce, or a tuna ‘aioli’- whizzing together a tin of tuna in oil with an egg yolk until you get an easy emulsion. The avocado is pretty non negotiable (it’s an Australian thing). The Hungry One often comes home late on Monday nights, so there’s a good chance my dinner is a slice or two of this and some softly scrambled eggs.

Recipe here

Tuesday: Cevapcici Slow Carb ‘Toad in the Hole’

Since I first started toying with this combination at the beginning of the year, it’s quickly slipped into my list of favourites. On a sentimental level, it’s a perfect marriage of The Hungry One’s family’s Balkan sensibilities and my own English heritage. Plus, there’s the whole slow carb thing at play, substituting the traditional plain flour in the batter with chickpea flour (and what you may miss in pillowing bloom, you make up for in nutty flavour). It is comforting, easy and sustaining. It goes perfectly with a bottle of pinot. And it can be just as happily consumed from bowls on the couch as from the nice plates at the table. You could easily swap in good quality pork sausages and serve it with mustard and creme fraiche- but I love the aromatics in the skinless cevapcici sausages and find a nicely dressed green salad on the side is the perfect accessory.

Recipe here.

Wednesday: Chickpea, Tomato and Spinach Curry (often with prawns or chicken thighs lobbed in)

Sometimes you want to devote hours to slow cook a goat Roghan Josh. And sometimes, you just want curry in a hurry. This is my default. I bend and meld it depending on what’s around. I’ve been known to add in eggplant or sweet potato and cook it until the vegetables relax into the sauce. When I feel like we need a bit more protein I’ll slip in some prawns, or pieces of salmon or chunks of chicken thighs. Though I find with the chickpeas it’s enough of a meal in itself. I’ll  usually serve it with a few pappadums for crunch and raita- though if I need to stretch it for a crowd I’ll knock up some cauliflower rice/cous cous to go underneath.

Recipe here

Thursday: Default Roast Chicken

Everyone needs a go to roast chicken recipe. This is it for me. It’s finished breast side up to ensure a good crisp skin. I take out the wishbone to make it easier to carve. And I roast it on a trivet of onion and lardons, which then get folded through wilted greens and peas for a swift-as side dish. All it needs is dijon mustard to serve.  This also gives me enough left over chicken meat and the bones for stock, which makes the next night’s dinner a breeze (since I invested in a pressure cooker- some of the best $80 I ever spent), I’ve found making stock a great thing to quickly do once a week. I keep bones in a big tupperware in the freezer. I tumble them in from frozen with an onion, some bay leaf, a carrot and any other stray veg (sad looking fennel, celery etc) and cook for 1-2 hours at pressure, then strain)).

Recipe here

Chicken Kale and Quinoa Braise (aka Hipster Stew)

This is slow carb, hipster bowl food at its best. This easy one pot stew of  quinoa, kale, bone broth is also a thrifty use of leftovers. This is a meal that’s so saturated in the current Zeitgeist it’s  almost laughable. Except it’s delicious, easy and an excellent way to clean out the fridge at the close of a week. I made this first in a sleep deprived haze of borderline insanity back in December, when Will was just four months old. It’s one thing from that period that I’m happy to keep hold of.

Recipe here

Steak Tagliata with Lentils

Steak night is a little bit sacred at our place. We fire up the barbecue and open a decent bottle of red. Sometimes it’s chunky rib eyes, served with pureed spinach, grilled mushrooms and a tomato, tarragon and red onion salad.  If there are others coming to play I’ll often make a truffled, no cream cauliflower gratin to go in the centre of the table. Occasionally we’ll add some roasted segments of bone marrow and capers in for joviality. But when we need to make our steak stretch a little further (unexpected tax bill? necessary repairs to the roof? etc), this is what I turn to. The lentils, rocket and mushroom help pad out the meal, yet with the richness of the parmesan and bite of the rocket, nobody feels like they’ve been short changed. Like all the others here; it’s a keeper.

Recipe here

I’d love to hear what makes it into your standard repertoire- and if there’s anything which you think could do with a slow-carb makeover?

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