For Colin Fassnidge food is an ongoing display of love throughout the day. But as a busy father of two he realises that we need every day solutions for feeding our families.
It's all about common sense, he says. It's about slowing down the pace of life and cooking at home with family and friends. It's about cooking the food you love to eat and love to share. It's about mastering the basics and instilling confidence.
He wants the recipes from his latest book The Commonsense Cook to become your family favourites, just as they are his.
"I would like this book to sit on your kitchen bench with pages stained, marked and worn from use," he says.
- The Commonsense Cook: Real family food made easy, by Colin Fassnidge. Plum, $39.99.
Simple sweetcorn and bacon fritters
Breakfast, brunch or lunch; it doesn't really matter what time of day you make these delicious fritters. Served with creme fraiche on the side, it only takes a few minutes to put together restaurant-quality fritters without needing to leave the house.
4 streaky bacon rashers, roughly chopped
50g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125ml full-cream milk
2 large eggs, separated
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 sweetcorn cob, husks and silks removed, kernels stripped
1 bird's eye chilli, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
creme fraiche, to serve
1. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat, add the streaky bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes, until crispy. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine the flour and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attached. Slowly whisk in the milk and egg yolks on low speed until you have a smooth batter. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl.
3. Thoroughly clean and dry the bowl of the stand mixer, then tip in the egg whites and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form.
4. Fold the crispy bacon, spring onion, sweetcorn and chilli through the batter, then gently fold through the beaten egg white until just combined.
5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over low heat. Working in batches, scoop heaped tablespoons of the sweetcorn and bacon mixture into the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer the fritters to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
6. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the fritters and serve warm with creme fraiche on the side for dipping.
Potato, onion and cheddar bake
Potato, onion and cheddar: these are the ingredients I grew up with. Crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle, this is comfort food at its most decadent.
8-10 desiree potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
2 red onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 bunch of thyme, leaves picked
200g grated cheddar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
300ml good-quality chicken stock, heated
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (fan-forced).
2. Layer the potato, onion, garlic, thyme, cheese and a little salt and pepper in a large ovenproof frying pan. Pour in the hot chicken stock and cover with foil.
3. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour, then remove the foil. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.
4. Serve straight away or allow to sit for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and serve as part of a roast dinner or with a green salad for a hearty supper.
This is the most-cooked dish in our house! It's my go-to meal when I want something that's light, but still packed full of flavour. The end result is melt-in-the-mouth chicken that's perfect served with steamed rice. Turn any leftover chicken into a salad the next day with home-made salad cream using the tip below. This recipe also works well with pork fillet. Add the pork as soon as the liquid comes to the boil, then remove from the heat (no need to simmer).
130g ginger, roughly chopped
bunch of coriander, roots scraped clean, leaves picked
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chilli oil, such as chiuchow
80g coconut oil
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, smashed using the side of a knife
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 garlic bulbs, halved horizontally
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
4 makrut lime leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
200ml white wine
200ml light soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 1/2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
50 g dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 x 1.6 kg free-range chicken
steamed white rice, to serve
crispy fried shallots, to serve
1. Place the ginger, coriander root, sesame oil, chilli oil and half the coconut oil in the small bowl of a food processor and blitz to a rough paste.
2. Heat the remaining coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the paste and lemongrass, and cook, stirring, for two minutes or until fragrant. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, lime leaves, cinnamon and star anise and cook, stirring frequently, for four minutes or until the onion and carrot are soft but not turning brown.
3. Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze the pan, then add the soy sauce, fish sauce, Chinese black vinegar and dried shiitake mushrooms, along with two litres of water. Bring to the boil and add the sugar, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken to the pan, making sure it is submerged under the liquid, and bring everything back to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low, add one egg for each guest and simmer for nine minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, then cover and allow the chicken to poach in the liquid for one to one and a half hours, until the chicken is firm and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a knife.
5. To serve, remove the chicken from the liquid and cut into portions. Peel the eggs and slice them in half.
6. Divide steamed white rice among serving bowls and top with the chicken, egg, a handful of crispy shallots and a few coriander leaves. Spoon over a little of the poaching liquid and serve immediately.
Turn leftover chicken into a salad for lunch the next day. Make a simple salad cream by combining 250g mayo, 25ml evaporated milk and 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar. Season with caster sugar and salt and set aside. Shred the leftover chicken into a bowl and add a handful of chopped tarragon, basil and rocket leaves, along with 3 tablespoons chopped capers. Squeeze over 1/2 lemon, season and lightly coat in salad cream. Serve on large lettuce leaves.
A classic French dessert that's incredibly simple to make. Clafoutis is traditionally made with cherries, but any in-season stone fruit works well.
1 tbsp strong flour
100g caster sugar
2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks
250ml pouring cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
100g frozen pitted cherries, thawed
100g peaches, stones removed, cut into wedges
100 g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large
Icing sugar, for dusting
1. Place the almonds, flour and caster sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend for two minutes. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, cream and vanilla seeds and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside in the fridge to rest for at least six hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 190C (fan-forced).
3. Place the fruit in the bottom of a baking dish or cast-iron frying pan. Pour the chilled batter over the fruit and bake for 10 minutes or until the batter is set and golden brown on top.
4. Dust with icing sugar and serve.