Even if you’re an avid proponent of takeaway, chances are you’re cooking at home a lot more than usual these days. We can relate. We also know that answering the question “What will I eat today?” three meals a day, seven days a week, gets old real fast. So, some culinary inspiration for you: what the Broadsheet team has been whipping up in our kitchens during lockdown.
Pad see ew
Almost every week, I make these straightforward pad see ew noodles from former Masterchef contestant Marion Grasby. You marinate diced chicken thighs for 10 minutes, briefly fry them in a wok with garlic, then add Chinese broccoli, store-bought noodles (I use these), sugar and soy. That’s it! It’s so simple but so lovely. Make sure your wok gets as hot as possible (the oil should smoke slightly) before you start. That way, the noodles will take on an appealing charry flavour at the end.
– Nick Connellan, publications director
Spice I Am’s green curry
Lockdown is a carb-heavy extravaganza. Pasta, sandwiches, burgers and pizza dominate Sydney’s heat-and-eat and takeaway scene, so I find myself craving spicy, zesty dishes with big, robust flavours. One of my favourite Sydney cookbooks is Sujet Saenkham’s Spice I Am: Homestyle Thai Recipes, a comprehensive guide to the dishes that make the Surry Hills eatery one of the city’s best Thai restaurants. There’s no time for subtlety in a pandemic so I went the big guy: a green curry of eggplant and slow-cooked beef. It’s surprisingly not hard – you just need a lot of chillis, aromatics and ingredients (many of which regular home cooks are likely to have). I went off-piste slightly and added a bunch of vegetables but wowser, it’s a delightfully punchy dish that helps the monotony of home time fade away.
– Sarah Norris, national editor
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Danielle Alvarez’s salted-tahini and chocolate-chip cookies
It’s safe to say I’m not a baker. Last time I tried to bake biscuits I subbed in Cadbury’s drinking chocolate when the recipe called for Dutch-processed cocoa powder and I’m still not sure I know the difference. So, when faced with an empty weekend and a cupboard of half-used baking ingredients, I Googled “easy salty chocolate cookies” and landed on a Danielle Alvarez recipe that didn’t list anything too scary in the ingredients column. I even had the right amount of tahini patiently waiting in the fridge. The Sydney chef suggests making the dough the day before and keeping it in the fridge overnight – something I’d usually have no patience for – but I followed orders and when the solid balls of dough, with huge chunks of dark chocolate, started to spread into palm-sized cookies with caramelised edges and a soft, melted chocolate centre I finally understood that baking is science and it’s never too late to learn. Don’t let the mention of a fancy electric mixer put you off. I don’t have one of those either.
–Emma Joyce, national assistant editor
Bill Granger’s braised-lamb ragu with tagliatelle and pecorino
I’m Italian, which means I’m ethnically unafraid of letting a ragu hit me for six. Post-pasta napping is an art form I’ve perfected. But this Bill Granger recipe, from his newish cookbook Australian Food, removed the necessity. Sure, it has all the ripper, land-of-nod-inducing richness you’d expect of a lamb shoulder simmered for five hours – the bone removable as if from a big fat knob of butter. But, to serve, Granger calls for a pile-on of lemon zest and finely chopped radicchio and parsley. An admittedly super simple but genius freshen-up-erer. Bitter. Zesty. Cuts through the fat. And the only kind of pasta salad I’ll allow.
– Tomas Telegramma, Melbourne editor
Annabel Crabb’s glass potatoes
I could use these potatoes, by journalist Annabel Crabb, as some sort of metaphor for being a couch potato during lockdown. But there’s no time for clever wordplay when I’m near a just-cooked tray of these carby, comforting beauties – I turn into a greed machine and can’t focus on anything beyond how much I want them in my mouth (there’s a reason this is one of the most popular recipes of all time on Broadsheet). Biting into them is like that first snap of an ultra-crispy pork crackling combined with the light brittleness of a potato crisp. Crabb says to load it up with oil and salt – and believe me, this is no time for taking it easy on the salts and fats. While the recipe is perfect as-is, may I suggest adding a sprinkling of a sharp cheese, such as parmesan, towards the end of cooking for an extra hit of umami? Just picture it: you and a bowl of these beauties on the couch. The best type of couch potato.
–Che-Marie Trigg, Sydney editor
Pork and chicken adobo
Filipino adobo (meat braised in a peppercorn-studded soy sauce and vinegar marinade) makes for great leftovers – some say it's better two days later than fresh. I winged it, relying on two decades of eating adobo every single week to help me improvise. But this recipe by ex-Rice Paper Sister head chef Ross Magnaye is a good starting point. Then I turned my leftovers into adobo flakes by shredding the meat and frying it on high heat until stringy, like Chinese pork floss but with crunch. Have it with sinangag (garlic fried rice – also in Ross's recipe) and a fried egg for a hearty breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).
– Chynna Santos, editorial assistant and “Things To Do” editor
Levain Bakery’s chocolate-chip crush cookies
Call me a walking Covid cliche but is there anything better than some gooey choc-chip cookies during the height of the pandy? A recipe from Manhattan institution Levain Bakery certainly lives up to NYC’s OTT food reputation with rich, buttery goodness all wrapped up in a perfect ball – so much so that it warranted a portrait-mode camera setting. The bakery is listed as one of the best in NYC, and this cookie is considered the highlight menu item. No regrets. Hot tip: cake flour wasn’t the easiest thing to find at the local Metro Woolies during lockdown (because the knee-jerk reaction to lockdown is pre-heating the oven to 180 degrees) so I used all-purpose flour and it was still great.
–Wassila Abboud, sales and partnership manager
Sweet tahini rolls (kubez el tahini)
This recipe comes from Falastin, a Palestinian cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. They say the recipes within are an extension of what Tamimi [co-founder of Ottolenghi’s restaurant and deli empire in London] and Yotam Ottolenghi explored in their famed cookbook Jerusalem, and for me this means more of one of my favourite ingredients: tahini. I discovered these sweet little rolls in 2020 and found myself craving them this lockdown. Similar to a cinnamon scroll, they hit the subtle sweet-tooth requirement while adding an extra layer of nuttiness thanks to the sesame. It’s an easy recipe to work on periodically over a few hours – all you need is a little patience to let the dough rise. Warming them up before serving and dipping in my morning filter coffee has made each day in lockdown a little more comforting.
–Emily Barlow, group campaign manager
Porteno’s brussels sprouts
I never liked brussels sprouts much. But then this recipe by Porteno changed my life. Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz deep-fry their sprouts, which I don’t have time for. Instead, I’ll cut the sprouts in twain and chuck them in the oven with a little olive oil for 20 minutes until golden. Once they’re done, I toss them in a bowl with strained red lentils from a can. But the dressing is the key. I keep a jar of hot English mustard and a bottle of vincotto for no other purpose. Sometimes, I’ll just skip the mint and parsley. It’s all about that dressing.
– Dan Cunningham, writer