Garlic, butter, cheese and white wine. These are four ingredients Recipetin Eats creator Nagi Maehashi considers essential ingredients. “If you have these four things, you can always make something amazing,” she tells Broadsheet.
For instance, white wine and butter can always be used to instantly create a sauce for meat, or butter on its own can be used to create an emulsion. “With white wine and any protein, you can make an instant sauce because once you cook the protein, you put a splash of white wine in, swirl some butter in, and you’ve got an instant white wine butter sauce using the pan juice,” she says.
And it doesn’t have to be fancy white wine either. Her top pick is a chardonnay from the bargain bin. “Go to the discount basket [of your local bottle shop] and look for a $20 bottle that has been discounted to $5. It doesn’t matter what brand it is – if it’s a chardy and at least 75 per cent off, I approve.”
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The Sydney-based Maehashi recently claimed the title of Australia’s highest-selling author of a debut cookbook for her Recipetin Eats: Dinner. Like her website Recipetin Eats – which she started in 2014 and gets more than 15 million visitors each week – the book is full of simple recipes for the time-poor. The ex-finance executive does it all – photography, film and recipe writing. Her dog Dozer, who is often by her side, is almost as famous as her.
When it comes to the type of cheese she likes to have on hand, Maehashi says colby (a semi-hard orange cheese made from cow's milk) is an excellent all-rounder for eating and cooking.
“It’s very versatile. Colby is that really good balance of being an excellent meltable cheese, [is] full-flavoured enough so you can use it to add to cheese pasta, has got a little bit of stretch, is not too oily and it doesn’t form a crust,” she tells Broadsheet.
“It’s far better than tasty [cheese], which I find is quite greasy and can split. Cheddar varies in quality and, as much as I love it, it doesn’t have as much flavour, so you’re a little bit restricted. Parmesan has a lot of flavour, but it doesn’t melt.”
More importantly, Maehashi believes it’s all about having fun in the kitchen and the only way to achieve that is to stay as zen as possible. “You’ll enjoy the process more if you relax,” she reckons. “Rather than getting really worried or stressed about what you're going to make – just think more about how delicious the end result is going to be and the fact your reward after you finish cooking it is to eat it.”
Her tip on how to achieve total relaxation is not to worry about following a recipe to a tee, rather, be open to substituting ingredients and tweaking the flavours to suit your palate. “[Whether] you’re an inexperienced cook or a very capable cook, when you relax and have fun in the kitchen, you’ll find yourself just naturally thinking, ‘Oh, that looks tasty’, so you’ll have a quick taste and by doing that, you’ll know if it needs a bit more salt, or a bit more lemon, or a bit more oregano.”
Recipetin Eats: Dinner by Nagi Maehashi is published by Macmillan Australia, $44.99. Buy it here.
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