Shannon Martinez’s One-Pot Burrito Rice Recipe

The Melbourne-based chef, who is about to open her new vegan hub in Collingwood, shares the recipe for one of her most popular dishes.

Article by Lucy E Cousins

This recipe is one of the most popular from Shannon Martinez's book one of the most popular dishes to make from my Vegan with Bite. Photography courtesy of Shannon Martinez.

If you ask Shannon Martinez what the hardest part of enduring breast cancer treatment was, she doesn’t hesitate. “Definitely losing my tastebuds,” the chef says, “and although they are back now, there was a long period last year where I couldn’t taste anything. It was definitely a low point and very scary; my taste is the one thing I base my entire existence on.” The food she missed the most? Chilli. “I love chilli, but my tolerance is only slowly coming back. I’ve had to train myself again!”

During treatment, the founder of popular Melbourne vegan restaurants Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli, decided to throw herself into an exciting new project; the result is the relaunch of her much-loved business and a move into a spacious new venue in Collingwood. “Thinking about the new venue was escapism from my cancer life. Starting a new project was a way to get motivated again. It had to work and that’s a driving force,” she says.

It was lucky then that this new venue took an immense amount of planning and organisation, not least because there’s an 80-seat restaurant, boutique supermarket and a large cafeteria-style area, all offering up freshly prepared vegan food. And while all of that kept the self-taught chef busy, it was the planning of the numerous vegan offerings that was the real challenge. “I had to write the menus without tastebuds, and although there is, of course, muscle memory from years of cooking, it still made me doubt myself,” she remembers. “I was grateful to have the chefs I have been working with for years, who knew my palette and could support me.”

With her new venue – which will be one of the world’s largest vegan hubs – on the precipice of opening this month, the Melbourne-based chef spoke to T Australia about her love of food, the biggest myth about cooking vegan meals and what she hopes her customers feel when they visit her new venue.

Chef Shannon Martinez will open her new venue this month. Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen.

Why is being vegan important to you?

“Firstly, food is my everything. it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, it’s my work, and it’s the first thing I do when I get home after working a double shift; it’s my life. When I first started specialising in vegan food in 2005, there was nothing out there, no books and very limited produce. To me, that challenge was exciting. [Veganism] ticks all the boxes, its heathy and I’m super aware of animal welfare. We have such a massive impact as chefs and the hospitality industry as a whole on the way people eat, I want to create food that people love and makes them feel good.”

When you were planning this new venue, you were also having treatment for breast cancer. How did that affect what you wanted to create?

“Not being able to leave my house because I was too sick gave me a lot of time to think about what was (and wasn’t) working with my business model and how I could fix it. The main thing we needed was just more space. As much as I love that the current Smith & Daughters is in a heritage-listed building, because of that we could never extend the kitchen or offer lunch as it was too in demand.”

What will excite people the most about this new vegan hub?

“Well, I’m most excited about how it will look. Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli have always been and always will be independent; we’ve never had financial investment. But I see my businesses as my children, and now ‘my girls’ are growing from their grungy teens into a Vivienne Westwood, European glamour fantasy.  This time around I can finally show people the restaurant that has always been in my mind. It will be very reflective of my personality, style and food. It’s 100% me.”

What do you want people to feel when they make your recipes or eat your food?

“Love and confidence. I really have a simple approach to cooking, as I’m mostly self-taught, my food is all from the heart. I want to create food that is cosy, my ideal place for eating my food would be on the couch where you feel at home and relaxed. I also feel really lucky that I can bring back foods to people that may be taken for granted if they eat vegan. Food brings back so many memories to everyone. I always remember my grandmother’s house had such an amazing smell from her meals, and even now that she is gone, I can still remember that smell. When you become vegan that can sometimes be taken away from you, maybe you can’t eat that family recipe you once loved. I get to bring those memories back to people and that is a superpower I love.”

What is a misconception about vegan food that frustrates you?

“That it’s hard to make! People just need to convert recipes they have been doing their whole lives. There’s a replacement for everything, it can be easy.”

Tell us about this one-pot burrito rice recipe, why do you love it? Do you have any tips for making it?

“This is one of the most popular dishes to make from my Vegan with Bite book, people love a one-pot wonder! Vegan with Bite is all about debunking the idea that vegan cooking is hard; this dish is 30 minutes start to finish and not expensive to make at home. It’s garnished with corn chips (who doesn’t love that) and it makes heaps, so you can roll it into a burrito for the next day or even make it into a dip. It’s really delicious.”

"I really have a simple approach to cooking, as I’m mostly self-taught, my food is all from the heart," says Shannon Martinez. Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen.

Shannon Martinez’s One-Pot Burrito Rice

Serves 4–6

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
½ red capsicum, seeded and diced
½ green capsicum, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
450g veggie mince or soaked textured vegetable protein
1 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 × 400g tin diced tomatoes
300g (1½ cups) long-grain rice
150g (1 cup) frozen corn kernels
1 × 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
625ml (2½ cups) beef or vegetable stock
3 spring onions (scallions), sliced, plus extra to serve
250g shredded vegan cheese
Sliced avocado
Chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and lime wedges, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a wide shallow saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, capsicums and a big pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mince or textured vegetable protein and fry, breaking it up into small bits if using veggie mince. Add the ground spices and oregano and cook for 30 seconds, then stir through the diced tomatoes and cook over a medium–low heat for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat in the spiced tomato mixture, then add the corn and black beans.

2. Pour over the stock and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook, covered, for 20–25 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

3. Remove the lid and stir through the spring onion and half the cheese. Shake the pan to even out the rice, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Cover with the lid once again and leave for 1 minute to melt the cheese.

4. Finish with the avocado, coriander and extra spring onion and serve with lime wedges. If you really want to go all out, add some corn chips and a drizzle of hot sauce.

Rick Stein’s Famous Bannisters Fish Pie Recipe

The honorary Australian chef on the importance of seafood sustainability, why his fish pie is so popular and how best to prepare it at home.

Article by Rachael Fleury

This fish pie is among one of the best-selling dishes at Bannisters, says Rick Stein. Photography by James Murphy.

Rick Stein began to consider sustainability in seafood in the 1970s. He had just opened his first harbour-side bistro, “The Seafood Restaurant”, in Cornwall, UK, and the effects of the growing popularity of seafood were starting to show. “After a couple of years or so, I noticed that the size and quantity of wild salmon coming in through the kitchen door from local fishermen was starting to decrease, the same with spiny lobsters,” says Stein. “Even then, I began to realise that certain species were being overfished.”

At the time, the fishing industry was just starting to expand its aquaculture and fish farming practices to fulfil demand. Since then, the global appetite for seafood has ensured that fish farming has overtaken wild catch to the extent that global aquaculture now produces 100 million tonnes of farmed seafood. (By comparison, in 1990 that figure was 17 million). Concurrently, of course, there has also been a strain on wild catch with an estimated 80% of global marine fish stocks fully exploited or overfished.

For Stein, this change in industry practice over the past few decades has meant he and his chefs (he runs 10 restaurants in England and two in Australia) have focused on building solid relationships with local producers, who operate sustainable practices. And that’s key, he says, for ensuring the best ingredients. “The onus isn’t on you [as a restaurant owner] to know it all but if you don’t know, you need to trust someone who does,” he explains. “Now, I’m very lucky in that I know many of the people that directly supply me with what they’ve caught or harvested.”

T Australia spoke to Rick Stein about sustainability in seafood, why Australians love fish pie and which wine to air with his famous recipe.

What’s your advice to restaurant owners who want to make sure there are serving sustainable food?

Have a good relationship with your suppliers and inform. yourself with education. I am very happy to tell you how the produce came to me and who it was caught by because I believe in the product, and if I don’t know then I will ask someone who does. A fabulous book to add to your shelves is “Australian Fish & Seafood Cookbook” (Murdoch Books, $79.99) by John Susman, Anthony Huckstep, Sarah Swan, Stephen Hodges. Not only a great cookbook but a resource in seasonality, catching methods, identifiable features and sustainability.”

How does this translate to eating seafood in restaurants – what questions should we ask before ordering?

“It’s similar. [As a patron] you need to know where your seafood was caught and by what method. If you’re not sure on the sustainability of the product you need to ask if the restaurant is aware. Importantly, if you are not comfortable with their responses then be happy with the choice to not eat it.”

Your fish pie is famous in Australia, why do we love a fish pie, do you think?

“It’s a one-dish wonder! I think when you come to the restaurant you want the opportunity to try as much of the great seafood we have on offer and with the pie, it ticks all the boxes! Local fish, scallops, mussels, and prawns. What more could you want? This pie is always among one of the best-selling dishes in the restaurant, you can bet on that.”

What are your tips for making your fish pie recipe at home?

“Take your time and enjoy the process. I never want to rush a velouté because you will get out all the flavour and silkiness with the time you put in. And a hot pan to sear some nice flavour onto the fish, prawns and scallops is essential. Hot, fast and don’t cook it all the way through; leave it to the final bake in the oven to do the rest. I would pair this pie with a really nice, buttery chardonnay. Something that will stand up to the richness of the sauce.”

Rick Stein (right) with Bannisters Head Chef, Mitchell Turner. Photography by James Murphy.

Rick Stein’s Famous Fish Pie

200g finely chopped onion
60g butter
1 quantity velouté made with 2 bay leaves, 1 crushed clove, 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg (see below for recipe)
30g parmesan cheese, grated
50ml double cream
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt
500g mixed seafood: aim for ¾ fish fillet and ¼ shellfish or crustaceans, such as salmon, blue eye, snapper, prawns, scallops and mussels.
50g flour
30ml vegetable oil
10g butter
100g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1tsp French mustard
1tsp truffle oil

For the crust
50g Japanese panko breadcrumbs or fresh breadcrumbs dried out for 10 minutes in a hot oven
30g melted butter

For the velouté
600ml fish stock
300ml milk
50g butter
50g flour

1. To make the velouté: Boil the stock and milk together. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes without colouring, stirring constantly. When it starts to smell nutty, add a third of the stock and milk texture, and keep stirring until it thickens and is completely smooth. Add another third and stir as before, then add the final third and when smooth, leave to simmer gently for about half an hour. If not using immediately, transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate when cool. You can keep it indefinitely in the fridge if you re-boil it every five days. It doesn’t freeze well.

2. To make the pie: Preheat the oven to 180’C/gas. Slow-cook the onion in the butter in a saucepan for 10 minutes.

3. Make the velouté, adding the bay leaves, clove, and nutmeg. Pour the velouté through a sieve into the sauteed onions and add the parmesan cheese, double cream, and lemon juice, add a little salt if necessary.

4. Cut the fish fillet into bite-size pieces, 3-4 cm long. Season with a little salt and turn over in the flour. Fry for 2-3 minutes in a frying pan over medium heat using the vegetable oil and butter.

5. Remove the fish to your pie dish. Fry the mushrooms in the same pan adding a little salt; stir in the mustard and add to the pie dish. Now add the shellfish or crustaceans to the pie dish. They can be raw or cooked, but if raw scallops or prawns are large, slice them in half. Drizzle the truffle oil over.

6. Pour the sauce over the fish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter, spread over the top. Bake for 10 minutes.

 

This recipe can also be found in “Fish and Shellfish” by Rick Stein (BBC Books, $49.99). Photography by James Murphy.

An Eggplant And Mushroom Cottage Pie Meat-Lovers Will Crave

Australian chef and author Justine Schofield recreates a classic meaty recipe with hearty veggies that will fool even the most traditional of foodies.

Article by Lucy E Cousins

Eggplant and Mushroom Cottage Pie. Photography by Rob Palmer

As a child, chef, author and TV personality Justine Schofield was infatuated with food; an obsession she attributes to her French heritage. “Food is life,” she says, “and it was ingrained in me as a young child that eating well is one life’s great pleasures.”

It’s the vivid memories of watching her grandmother and mother navigating the kitchen “so seamlessly” that have propelled Schofield to pursue a life ensconced in creating food. From her early days on the first series of Masterchef, where she made it to fourth place, to the nearly 700 episodes of her Network Ten cooking show, and the four best-selling books she’s produced (including her latest, “The Slow Cook“), Schofield is firmly established as a crowd favourite in the Australian food scene. And so are her easy-to-made and easy-to-consume recipes.

Here she shares her favourite winter comfort food recipe, Eggplant and Mushroom cottage pie; a vegetarian version of the classic meat-lover’s dish. (Challenging non-vegetarians is somewhat of a hobby for her.) “I’ve tested this a few times on my meat-fiend friends, without telling them they were having a vegetarian meal,” she explains. “They were completely blown away by the mushrooms and the eggplant ‘imitating’ meat.”

The secret, shs says, is that eggplant and mushroom are the “meatiest” of all the vegetables, so they effectively emulate meat. “It gives the ragu a lovely rich flavour because eggplant and mushroom are like sponges with the other ingredients, and they also pair nicely with the wine and the spices and herbs.”

Schofield admits that each season encourages her to try new dishes and to react to the way the weather makes her feel. “When the winter weather rolls in, the gears change on my style of cooking,” she says. “From fresh salads to hearty and rich dishes like cottage pies which are usually meat-based. This year, I wanted to take that concept and give classic winter dishes like this a veggie makeover without sacrificing on flavour. The main aim was to get all the meat lovers out there to enjoy this recipe just as much as a traditional cottage pie.”

Justine Schofield. Photography courtesy of www.facebook.com/Justineschofield

Eggplant And Mushroom Cottage Pie

“We usually associate a hearty cottage pie with a meat filling but eggplant and mushroom make a great vegetable substitute,” explains Schofield. “This dish is not only loved by my vegetarian connoisseurs but by my meat-loving family and friends too.”

SERVES 6

  • 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 eggplants (about 800 g), peeled and cut into 3 cm cubes
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 400 g mixed mushrooms (such as button, shiitake, oyster), roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 250 ml (1 cup) red wine (such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon)
  • 400 g can whole peeled tomatoes, juices drained and tomatoes crushed
  • 50 g walnuts, finely chopped 20 g parmesan, finely grated

MASH

  • 6 desiree potatoes (about 1 kg), peeled and quartered
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50 g butter
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk
  1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in 500 ml (2 cups) of hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.
  2. Toss the eggplant and 1 tablespoon of salt together and stand in a colander for 30 minutes to soften and drain slightly. Rinse the salt off the eggplant, then pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Heat a large, heavy-based sauté pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half the eggplant and fry for 5–6 minutes until the eggplant is golden. Set aside on a plate and repeat with more oil and the rest of the eggplant. Add the remaining oil, the onion, carrot, garlic, chilli flakes, cinnamon and chopped rosemary and cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes to soften. Stir in the mixed mushroom and coat in the onion mixture, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes to soften and get some colour on the mushroom. Add the tomato paste and cook for
    2 minutes to darken slightly. Deglaze with the wine and simmer until reduced by at least one-third. Add the crushed tomatoes. Roughly chop the porcini and add along with the soaking liquid, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Stir through.
  4. Return the eggplant to the pan and add a pinch of pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the ragu is thick and rich.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the mash, place the potato in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then cook for 20 minutes until the potato is soft. Drain in a colander and allow the steam to dissipate. Return the potato to the pan and mash, then add the butter and mash through. Pour in the milk and whip with a wooden spoon until a smooth thick mash forms. Check the seasoning and add a pinch of pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Pour the eggplant ragu into a 2 litre capacity casserole dish. Dollop the mash over the top. Sprinkle over the walnuts and parmesan and scatter on the extra rosemary. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden on top.

.

Slow Cooker method:

Follow steps 1, 2 and 3. Pour the mushroom mixture into the slow cooker along with the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7–8 hours, or until the ragu is thick and rich.  Follow steps 5, 6 and 7

This recipe and other tasty recipes can be found in Justine’s latest book, The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, Published by Plum ($39.99), Photography by Rob Palmer.

A Food Writer’s Sicilian Pasta Dish and Tips For Sharing It

Skye McAlpine has made a name for herself serving bountiful meals to large groups of friends. During lockdown, she’s discovered the joy of cooking for just one or two.

Article by Isabel Wilkinson

The food writer and chef Skye McAlpine uses a mortar and pestle to grind saffron for her version of the dish pasta chi vruocculi arriminati. (Photography by Skye McAlpine)

Over the last few years, the British food writer and chef Skye McAlpine has built a loyal following with her unfussy dishes, inspired by her upbringing in both England and Italy, which she serves in big, mismatched platters at lively gatherings of friends. Or, as she puts it in her new book, “A Table for Friends,” “The kind of food you can plonk down in the center of the table for everyone to tuck into, towering platefuls of it.”

But then the pandemic hit and McAlpine found herself in quarantine in London with far fewer people to cook for. While she wasn’t entertaining, though, making and presenting food remained a reliable source of solace. “Feeding people is such a great way of showing love and care and putting happy energy out in the world,” says McAlpine, who still had her husband and two young sons for company. “And it’s obviously great to be able to do that for 20, but it’s equally great to do that for supper for two. And, particularly in this period of lockdown, it’s even more important to show love and care for yourself.”

With more time to prepare meals, she tried to give each one a sense of occasion, setting out “proper napkins” (as she describes any made from cloth) and pulling out the eccentric china that she has collected over the years from vintage stores, flea markets and eBay.

McAlpine got the recipe for this pasta dish from a Sicilian friend who had been swearing by it for years. (Photography by Skye McAlpine)

Among the dishes she’s cooked most often is pasta chi vruocculi arriminati, which a Sicilian friend had claimed for years was the “best pasta dish” — but which she had never tried herself until she and her husband made it last year. “We haven’t turned back,” she says with a laugh. “The trick is to use the same pan to cook both your cauliflower and your pasta,” McAlpine says, “that imbues the pasta with extra flavour and also saves on time washing up.”

And while you can make it with romanesco instead of cauliflower or use a different pasta in place of linguine, Skye’s one insistence is that “you not skip the bread crumbs at the end — deliciously crisp, salty and golden, they’re just what the almost-sweet sauce needs.” Below is McAlpine’s version of the recipe, as well as her tips for styling and presenting your food — even if you’re sharing it with friends on Instagram, rather than in real life.

The ingredients for McAlpine’s pasta chi vruocculi arriminati, clockwise from right: olive oil, linguine, anchovy fillets, an onion, pine nuts, saffron strands, raisins, a cauliflower, and some stale bread, to make bread crumbs. (Photography by Skye McAlpine)

Serves 4

  • 1 whole cauliflower (roughly chopped into florets)

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 3/4 cup stale bread

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 8 anchovy fillets

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 teaspoon saffron strands

  • 400g linguine

1. Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the water and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower can easily be cut through with a butter knife.

2. While the cauliflower is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a medium-size frying pan for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, giving the pan an occasional shake, until they are golden brown. Set aside.

3. Tear the bread into chunks and blend in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Using the same pan you cooked the pine nuts in, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the bread crumbs. Fry gently, shaking the pan occasionally, for 4-5 minutes until they turn crisp and golden, then take off the heat and set aside.

4. In a second, large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion becomes soft and translucent. Add the anchovies to the pan, and fry gently until they melt into the onions. Then add the raisins and the toasted pine nuts. Stir and turn the heat to a simmer.

5. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron and a pinch of salt into a fine red powder. Scoop out a splash (roughly 1-2 tablespoons) of the cooking water into a small cup; add the powdered saffron and set to one side to infuse for a few minutes.

6. When the cauliflower is cooked, use a slotted spoon to scoop the florets out of the water and toss them into the pan with the onion mix. Save the cooking water. Pour the saffron-infused liquid over the cauliflower, and stir, breaking up any large pieces of cauliflower with a wooden spoon. Season with salt to taste.

7. Cook the pasta in the same water as the cauliflower (top it up with fresh water if needed) until al dente, as per the instructions on the packet.

8. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out half a cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and toss it into the pan with the sauce and the reserved cooking water, and stir together so the pasta is coated in sauce.

9. Spoon the pasta chi vruocculi arriminati onto a large serving dish, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Eat immediately.

McAlpine’s new book about cooking and entertaining, “A Table for Friends,” is out this week. (Photography by Skye McAlpine)

The pandemic has inspired even the most reluctant among us to become home cooks — and document our efforts on Instagram. McAlpine, who photographed all the images in her new book, offers tips to make your food look camera-ready.

Don’t Be Afraid of Portrait Mode

To take a strong food photograph, McAlpine suggests either a colorful tablecloth (like the checked linen canvas style shown above) or a clean wooden or stone surface as a backdrop. “I love to use portrait mode on my iPhone (and ignore it when it says I’m too far or too close to the subject),” she says, which creates a sharper, more professional look. She also advises that you take the photo with your phone held parallel or at a 45-degree angle to the table. And she’s not afraid to stand on a chair to capture a bird’s-eye view.

Go Wild With Plates

“A pretty plate goes a long way toward making even the plainest food look beautiful,” McAlpine says. “Painted, colored, plain, vintage … what works best on the table is really only a matter of taste.” (As if to prove the point, she recently released a collection of tableware with Anthropologie that looks like the kind of well-loved stuff you grandmother might have passed down to you.) Try using platters and serving bowls in mismatched colors and patterns and, if you have one, a cake stand can be surprisingly versatile (use it for sweets but also quiches and tarts). The key, she says, is to “mix heights, shapes and textures wherever you can to create a bustling and abundant table — and have fun with it.”

“The trick is to use the same pan to cook both your cauliflower and your pasta,” McAlpine says. “This imbues the pasta with extra flavor — and also saves on time washing up.” (Photography by Skye McAlpine)

Think of Your Plate as a Canvas

When considering what to serve or photograph, McAlpine always takes the palette of her food into account. “Colour and texture, along with taste, create flavor,” she writes in “A Table for Friends.” “However comforting and brown a meal might be — and brown food tends to be the most comforting of all — it will always taste (and look) best when paired with a pop of something fresh.” She recommends offsetting the warm yellows of pasta chi vruocculi arriminati, for example, with a crisp green salad in the summer or a side of striking purple radicchio in the fall. And she tries to avoid serving similarly coloured dishes together. Roast pork with a red tomato salad, she warns, “feels a bit clashy.”

Find a Window

“Take photos in natural light,” McAlpine advises. “Food just looks better that way. Otherwise it can take on a slightly yellow tinge.” Once you’re near a window or other natural light source, the most important thing is not to overthink it. “Keep things relaxed, simple and genuine,” says McAlpine. “If it’s a beautiful moment in real life, that will shine through on camera, too.”

Heidi Swanson’s Paprika-Spiced Mushroom Stew and Sunset Goji Nectar

For the San Francisco–based author and photographer, the events of last year were a catalyst for spending more time creating and serving up nutritious home-cooked meals.

Article by Joseph Lew

“Hearty and filling, this stew gets its depth from the paprika. I always make this with smoked paprika, but a good sweet paprika is fine too,” says Swanson. Photography courtesy Hardie Grant.

When Heidi Swanson’s mother died unexpectedly midway through the pandemic, she felt completely “upended”. Things only worsened when in that same week, her father suffered a cancer-related fracture, rendering him convalescent for several months. “It was all incredibly terrible, but one silver lining is that we all ended up under one roof for a few months, trying to help my dad recover,” says Swanson. “That meant cooking three meals a day for seven people!”

However, for the award-winning author and photographer that was more of a challenge than a task.  “You have to be able to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures without getting too frustrated,” she says. “Cooking is a realm where you’ll never stop learning. That’s part of its magic.”

With an emphasis on natural ingredients and whole foods, Swanson’s cooking (and her new book, Super Natural Simple: Whole-Food, Vegetarian Recipes for Real Life) prove that tasty feasts don’t have to be complicated. Here, she shares her favourite satisfying and simple Paprika-Spiced Mushroom Stew recipe with T Australia, as well as a colourful nutrient-packed Sunset Goji Nectar to accompany it.

Tell us, why do you love these recipes?

“They capture a lot of what I love about good food and eating. The stew is hearty, satisfying, simple and adaptable. For example, if you didn’t have rice on hand, swapping in thick noodles would also be brilliant. If you feel like you haven’t had any greens for the day, add a big handful of chopped kale. The Sunset Goji Nectar delivers high-impact colour, is packed with nutrients, and on the flavour front is very interesting. It rides an unusual line between tart and sweet that I love.”

What do you feel is the key to home cooking?

“You have to have a certain level of enthusiasm and curiosity. You have to want to source quality ingredients (and this doesn’t at all mean expensive). Some of my favourite ingredients to cook with can be found relatively inexpensively in bulk bins – organic grains, legumes, a rainbow of rices… I love to follow recipes, and at the same time I’m constantly experimenting with ideas, ingredients, and techniques.”

You mainly cook with whole foods and natural foods, why is that important to you?

“It’s such a rich realm! And the ingredients haven’t been fussed with too much. Natural foods and whole ingredients are powerful, beautiful, and offer up a wonderful palette of flavour and nutritional benefits. Unlike many processed foods, they haven’t had all the beneficial parts processed and stripped out.  Shopping, sourcing ingredients and cooking with natural foods is an important way to stay connected and maintain an understanding of what you’re eating.”

Over the past 12 months, during the pandemic, did you cook more or less?

“We always cook a lot, but last year was next level. Normally I hit up a farmers’ market a couple times a week, and the grocery store regularly. That schedule immediately went out the window. It quickly turned into a lot of cooking from the pantry, supplemented with produce from our garden.”

Heidi Swanson cooking in her kitchen. Photography courtesy Hardie Grant.
Super Natural Simple Whole-Food, Vegetarian Recipes for Real Life, $39.99, Hardie Grant. Out Now.

Paprika-Spiced Mushroom Stew

SERVES 6

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
450g mushrooms (mix or single type of preference), chopped in 5mm – 1 cm pieces
1 ½ large brown onions, diced
1 ¼ tsps fine- grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tblsp smoked paprika
720ml water
240ml well-mixed, full-fat coconut milk
juice of 1 lemon
740g  cooked brown rice, warm
Plain Greek yoghurt, chopped fresh dill, to serve (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium– high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion and salt and sauté, stirring now and then, until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the paprika and cook for another minute. Add the water and coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and add more salt as needed.

3. Scoop the rice into bowls and ladle the soup over the top. A big dollop of yoghurt, lots of dill and cherry tomatoes to serve are all bonuses.

Variations: Add a few big handfuls of chopped or shredded cabbage to the pot after cooking the mushrooms but before adding the spices and broth. For less fat but the same amount of creamy, replace the coconut milk with cashew milk. To make fresh cashew milk, combine  155g raw cashews with 475ml water in a high-speed blender and purée until silky smooth.

“Puréed dried goji berries make an antioxidant-rich juice that is slightly tart and sweet at the same time. Consider spiking this nectar with tequila or use sparkling wine in place of the coconut water for a boozy brunch,” says Swanson. Photography courtesy Hardie Grant.

Sunset Goji Nectar

SERVES 4

60g goji berries, soaked overnight
475ml unsweetened coconut water
ice cubes, to serve
freshly squeezed orange juice or blood orange juice

1. Drain the goji berries. Transfer them to a high-speed blender, add the coconut water and process until uniform and smooth.

2. Strain and serve over ice with a generous squeeze of citrus juice on top.

Tony Tan’s Chiu Chow Dumpling Recipe

Ahead of opening his new cooking school in regional Victoria, chef and author Tony Tan shares one of his favourite recipes.

Article by David Matthews

Chef Tony Tan has embraced regional living, with a cooking school soon to be open. Photography by David Hyde.

In Tony Tan’s new home and cooking school in Trentham, Victoria, a marble bench embedded with precision induction burners gives way to steam ovens, three or four fridges and a fully stocked pantry supplemented with homemade additions: mandarin skin dried slowly near the oven; sourdough made from a lively starter. A glance at Tan’s personal library reveals Jane Grigson and Hakka reference books topped by Sally Rooneys latest novel, while outside hens scratch at soaked corn, ice plant and Tuscan kale fight for space in beds, and a quail coop stands ready for when he finds the right Jurassic breed.

The curry tree in his backyard hasn’t taken to regional living, but Tan clearly has. Join him for a walk and he’ll drop local names and gossip, pausing to show off his favourite pub or a hidden Chinese Spring, then raving about Du Fermier, chef Annie Smithers’ farmhouse-style restaurant on Trentham’s main strip.

If the setting is small town, the scope is wide; Tan’s grounding is in the Malaysian food of his birthplace, but the cook and food historian in him is similarly across the cuisines of China and the West and boasts a network that extends far from his country home. Melbourne chefs Phillipe Mouchel (Phillipe) and Dave Verheul (Embla) are already scheduled to teach classes in his cooking school; give it a year or two and guest chef instructors may well be drawn from Copenhagen, London or Madrid.

Tan’s own program, though, stays closer to home. He speaks of plans for a class combining Singaporean and Nonya influences, while his first session, called Hong Kong Food City and Beyond, brings recipes from his book togetherwith choice B-sides: spicy won tons with chile oil, tea-smoked duck, or crystalline Chiu Chow dumplings, stuffed with dried shrimp and pork, and steamed gently until translucent.

“These sensational dumplings are called Chiu Chow fun gor in dim sum restaurants,” says Tan. “Interestingly, because they originate from the Chiu Chow people, they are not often served in Cantonese restaurants. This group speak a dialect similar to Hokkien. The recipe uses preserved salted radish or daikon, called cai pu in Mandarin, which is readily available in Chinese grocers.”

Dumplings underway in Tony Tan's Kitchen. Photography courtesy of Tony Tan.
Perfectly cooked dumplings. Photography courtesy of Tony Tan.

Chiu Chow Dumplings (Makes 25-30)

100g minced pork
50g preserved salted daikon (from Chinese grocers), rinsed and finely chopped
50g dried shrimp, soaked in hot water, rinsed and finely chopped
15g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, squeezed out and diced
2 eschalots, finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp oyster sauce
½ tsp sugar
Dash sesame oil
1 tsp tapioca flour mixed with 3 tbsp water
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
50 g roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Small handful garlic chives, cut into 1 cm lengths
Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar), to serve
Chilli sauce, to serve

Wrappers

125g wheat starch, plus extra for dusting
120g tapioca flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

  1. Fry pork, daikon, dried shrimp, mushrooms and eschalot in 2 tbsp oil until fragrant.
  2. Add soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in tapioca flour mixture.
  3. Stir until filling begins to thicken, then add spring onions, peanuts and garlic chives. Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. For the wrappers, combine wheat starch, tapioca flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add oil to 300ml boiling water, then pour this into dry ingredients all at once, stirring quickly with a pair of chopsticks to incorporate the flour until a ball of dough forms.
  5. Turn the hot dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Cut dough in half, form into two cylinders and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Lightly brush the bench with oil, then cut dough into 2.5cm pieces; you should have about 10-12 pieces. (It’s best to cut about 5 pieces at a time, and keep the rest under a damp tea towel so they remain soft and pliable.)
  7. Working with one piece at a time, roll out dough with a well-oiled cleaver or rolling pin to form 9-10cm discs. Place a wrapper on your palm and spoon 2 tsp cooled filling into the centre. With your fingers, gather the edges of the wrapper to form a half moon, sealing the edges. Cover dumpling with a damp tea towel while you make the rest.
  8. Place dumplings, about 3cm apart, in steamers lined with greaseproof paper and steam them over simmering water in a wok for about 6-8 minutes or until translucent (if you have a small steamer, do them in batches).
  9. Serve with soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar or chilli sauce.