Food writer Sophie Hansen’s new cookbook What Can I Bring? is like a handbook for the next time someone asks you to bring a plate to a party or dinner. It’s a celebration of community and an acknowledgment that hosting is made all the easier when everyone pitches in. And while these recipes are perfect communal-table fodder, there’s also plenty of family-cooking inspiration and recipes influenced by her neighbours and home outside of Orange in regional NSW.

Expect recipes such as vanilla butterfly cakes (ideal for your next kids’ party), a “really really good” roast chicken, miso mushroom bruschetta and pork belly sisig. Then there’s this wallet-friendly, pantry staple-heavy pilaf.

“We all love a one-tray wonder, especially when it takes just a few pantry staples and turns them into a deeply flavoured dish of contrasting textures and moreish flavours,” writes Hansen. “I make this regularly and year-round, tweaking according to the season and whatever I have in the fridge. This is a pretty basic version, so you can really make it your own. Leave out the chorizo, or serve the pilaf as a side dish (or bed) for slow-cooked lamb, pan-fried fish or barbequed chicken.”

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Hansen also has some handy tips for transporting this one to a dinner party.

“While this is good at room temperature, it’s even better hot. So time things so it comes out of the oven right before heading off then cover tightly with foil, followed by a couple of tea towels. If your cooler is big enough, place some heat packs (or even a hot water bottle) on the bottom, line with newspaper, then pop your wrapped dish on top. That should keep plenty of heat in, for a while at least.”

Rice, potato and chorizo pilaf

Serves 6–8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours

2 cups (400g) brown rice
¼ cup (60g) butter
4 onions, thinly sliced
3 chorizo sausages, sliced into 1cm rounds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt 
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon (retain zest and juice)
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
4 cups (1L) chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup (100g) freshly grated parmesan
Sour cream, to serve

Place the rice in a bowl, fill it with cold water and leave it to soak.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan and add the onion. Cook over medium–low heat, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes or until dark brown and deeply caramelised. Remove three-quarters of the onion and set aside.

Increase the heat under your pan to medium–high, add the chorizo, spices, salt, pepper and lemon zest and juice and stir for a couple of minutes. Drain and rinse the rice under cold water, then add it to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple more minutes until every grain is slick and coated with the spiced oil.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Transfer half of the mixture to an ovenproof dish, then top with half of the potatoes in a layer. Add the remaining rice mixture, then the remaining potato slices. Pour in enough stock to cover everything by about 1cm. Top up with water if you think you need a little more. Cover tightly with foil, then bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the rice and potatoes are tender and cooked through. (Check after 45 minutes and add more water if it is looking at all dry.)

Remove the foil and add the reserved onion and grated parmesan.

Increase the heat to 220°C and cook for a final 20 minutes, or until golden.

Serve hot from the oven or at room temperature with sour cream to dollop on top.

Images and text from What Can I Bring? by Sophie Hansen, photography by Sophie Hansen. Author image by Pip Farquharson – Photography by Pip. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.