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Long weekend cooking: comfort food


Spend some time in the kitchen this long weekend, and try your hand at mastering one of our top three comfort food recipes.

Recipes extracted fromThe Shared Table by Clare Scrine, published by Smith Street Books. Photography © Savannah van der Niet.

Roasted pumpkin mac ‘n’ cheese with walnuts and sage

Serves 8

1.5kg butternut pumpkin, cut into 2cm chunks

3 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 large brown onions, sliced

25g butter or margarine

500g macaroni or curly pasta

3 Tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp dried tarragon

375ml (1½ cups) milk (or nut milk)

500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock

60g (½ cup) grated cheddar (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast), plus extra for topping

25g (¼ cup) grated parmesan (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast)

1 handful sage leaves, thinly sliced

60g (½ cup) walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Arrange the pumpkin chunks on a large baking tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20–30 minutes, or until soft to touch and dark brown in colour.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over low heat and slowly caramelise the onions, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until browned. Stir in the butter, cook for a few minutes more, then set aside.

While the onions are slowly caramelising, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water until almost al dente, but drain it 1–2 minutes before you normally would, as it will continue to soften in the oven. Drain the pasta in a colander, run cold water over it and set aside.

Add the flour, nutmeg and tarragon to the caramelised onion mixture and stir well. Pour in the milk and stock, and stir the sauce until it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Add the roasted pumpkin and mix well.

Using a stick blender, whiz the onion and pumpkin mixture until it is completely smooth. Alternatively, you could transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender.

Add the cheddar and parmesan to the sauce and stir until melted. Taste and season to your liking.

Combine the pasta and sauce in a large baking dish. Top with the sage, walnuts and extra cheddar. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheddar is melted and the sage is crispy. Serve garnished with fresh herbs if desired.

Browned butter, double choc chip bikkies

Browned butter, double choc chip bikkies: Image from The Shared Table by Claire Scrine, published by Smith Street Books. Photography © Savannah van der Niet

Makes 15 big bikkies or 24 smaller ones

100g butter

230g (1 cup) brown sugar

2 egg whites, whisked

1 tsp natural vanilla extract

125g (1¼ cups) almond meal

75g (½ cup) self-raising flour (or use gluten-free)

250g (1½ cups) mixed chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is almost coming to the boil, reduce the heat and cook slowly, stirring often, until it is beginning to brown and smells very nutty; this should take about 5 minutes.

Pour the browned butter into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Mix well to combine and let the mixture cool for 5–10 minutes.

Add the whisked egg whites and vanilla and whisk well. Add the almond meal and flour and stir together with a wooden spoon. The mixture might seem slightly wetter than other biscuit doughs you’ve made, but don’t stress.

Add the chocolate and fold until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1–2 hours, or up to 2 days. This ensures the bikkies hold their shape when baked.

Around 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C, and line a large biscuit tray with baking paper.

Roll the dough into 15 balls of equal size and arrange evenly around your baking tray. Press each ball down slightly with your fingers.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until the bikkies are beginning to turn golden. Be careful not to overcook them, unless you like them super crunchy. When the bottoms are golden and the tops are just the slightest shade darker, they’re done. They’ll feel super soft to touch when straight out of the oven, but will harden considerably as they cool.

Best eaten with a glass of milk, many would say.

Lamb martabak

Recipe extract from Lara Lee’s Coconut & Sambal, Bloomsbury, available 2 June.

Lamb martabak: Image and recipe from Lara Lee’s Coconut & Sambal.

Makes 30 pieces

30 spring roll wrappers, 15cm square

1 banana or 1 beaten egg, for sealing

Coconut oil or sunflower oil, for pan-frying

Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the filling

450g lamb mince

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 small banana shallots or 4 Thai shallots, peeled and finely chopped

8cm piece of ginger (about 40g), peeled and finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1⁄2 bunch of chives, finely chopped 1 tsp ground coriander

1⁄2 tsp ground cumin

1⁄2 tsp sea salt

1⁄4 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix well. Heat 1–2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the lamb filling and cook, stirring, until it is cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Line a tray with baking parchment. Place one spring roll wrapper on a chopping board, storing any unused wrappers under a clean tea towel so they do not dry out. Spread 1–2 tablespoons of the filling over one half of the wrapper, leaving a 1cm border. Cut a thick slice of the banana with the skin on and rub the banana flesh over the edges of the wrapper to help seal the skin together (if you prefer, you can brush with beaten egg). Fold the other half of the wrapper over the filling and press all the edges down. Place on the tray. Repeat until all the filling has been used up.

Fill a deep saucepan one-third full with sunflower oil and heat to 160°C. (If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil is at temperature by adding a cube of bread; it should turn golden in 25–30 seconds). Fry the martabak in batches for 2–3 minutes until golden. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Cut the martabak in half so the filling can be seen, then serve.

Variation: Vegan martabak

If you want to make the recipe vegan, replace the lamb with 225g potato and 225g butternut squash. Peel them both, removing the seeds of the butternut squash, and cut into 5mm cubes.

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