MASTERCHEF’S John Torode reckons the best thing about being an Aussie in the UK is experiencing “real seasons”.
And the chef says he is most excited about autumn.
He says: “Autumn is all about the sound of leaves crunching under your feet while walking the dog.”
John adds: “And this time of year is exciting for cooks as there’s a harvest. We’re so fortunate in this country to have so much fresh produce to cook with — from pumpkins to plums.”
And it doesn’t have to be daunting or time consuming — these are simple recipes to keep you warm on the dark nights.
John, who is married to actress and fellow cook Lisa Faulkner adds: “One-pot cooking is brilliant. It saves on time and the washing up and it’s so easy.”
Here he shares his easy-to-master autumn recipes, from brekkie to dinner.
- John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen is on ITV on Saturday at 11.40am.
ONE POT LEG OR LAMB
JOHN says: “For me Sunday roast as a kid was always done in one tray. This lamb dish is a one-pot wonder.
“ You need to score the lamb really well, season it well and put your veg around the outside so it roasts beautifully.
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prep time: 10-15 minutes.
cooking time: approx. 1 hour 30 minutes
- olive oil
- 20 large salad potatoes, peeled and kept whole
- 6 shallots, peeled and halved
- 50g butter
- 1 whole leg of lamb
- 2 stalks of rosemary
- 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 150g large black/green olives, pitted (reserve the brine water)
- Large bunch of watercress
- Salt and pepper
METHOD: Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F/ gas mark 4. Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick sauté / frying pan.
Once hot, add the peeled potatoes and sauté for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently to colour. Add the shallots to the pan and cook for a further few minutes.
Add the butter and season well with salt and pepper. Remove the shallots and potatoes, put onto a plate and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, score the leg of lamb. Return the pan to the heat and once hot, sear the lamb on both sides until it is nicely browned. Place the rosemary sprigs on top of the lamb and add the potatoes and shallots alongside.
Add a splash of red wine vinegar, season with salt and tip in the olive brine from the jar.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for around 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables golden and well coloured.
Remove from the oven and add a handful of olives to the pan. Carve the lamb and serve with the vegetables, juices and watercress alongside.
Top tip: During the last 20 minutes add olives to the pot. The saltiness brings out the flavor of the lamb. delicious.
JOHN says: “Oh to poach an egg. It’s not difficult. With some helpful tricks you’ll have the perfect poached egg without any mucking around.
“Don’t swirl up the water and definitely don’t add salt. You need a little vinegar in boiling water, and break the egg into a cup first and pour it really close to the water so the egg doesn’t break apart.”
Prep and cooking time: 30mins
- 50ml malt vinegar
- 2lts of water
- 4 eggs
- 8 slices streaky bacon
- 2 large, ripe avocados
- half a lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 6 drops of Tabasco
- Salt and pepper
METHOD: In a deep saucepan bring the vinegar and the water to a rolling boil (ie, vigorous and bubbling).
You will have to keep the water moving as you add the eggs so keep turning it up.
Break the eggs in by positioning them at 12 o’clock, then 6 o’clock, then 3 and 9 last. Keep the water on a rolling boil. The eggs float to the top and once they do, cook for a further 2 minutes.
Place the bacon in a cold pan, turn on the heat and cook and turn occasionally until crispy.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, and all the way around the seed. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh. Using a fork, mash the flesh very well and then add the lemon juice and the seasonings – Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco. Mix well.
Serve on sour dough toast.
APPLE TART FINE, BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE, CLOTTED CREAM
JOHN says: “You can also do a lot with a pack of puff pastry and an apple.
“This is a very beautiful dessert, which is a classic around France. It doesn’t have to be that complex. I serve it with butterscotch sauce, and sharp Granny Smith apples work best here, I feel.”
Prep and cooking time: 1 hour
For the tart:
- 4 saucer-size disks of puff pastry, docked
- 2 Granny Smith apples (peeled & sliced)
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1tsp water
- Icing sugar, to serve
- For the butterscotch:
- 300g caster sugar
- 10ml water
- 100g butter, diced
- 200ml double cream
- Add a little salt if you like salted caramel
Tart: Place the puff pastry onto some greaseproof paper and fan the apples on the top so they all look even and pretty, but don’t overcrowd the pastry.
Mix the vanilla sugar and water into a syrup and brush onto the pastry. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Take from the oven and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Butterscotch: For the butterscotch sauce, dissolve sugar and water over a low heat in a large pan. Bring to a boil and cook until golden and caramelised.
Whisk in butter in small batches. Remove from heat and stir through the cream. Set aside to cool.
Serve with clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.
RED CURRY BUTTERNUT CHICKEN
JOHN says: “This is a slightly more complex recipe but when I make this curry at home I usually make a massive batch of it and put some in the fridge for the next day.
“It’s brilliantly reheated and everybody loves a curry. I like making it with really big chunks of chicken so it’s quite meaty, but you can use tofu instead. I love the volcano-like color it goes. Add bean sprouts for crunch. They’re not expensive, but full of protein.”
prep time: 15mins. Cook time: 30mins
For the curry:
- 400ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 sticks of lemon grass, bashed
- 6 lime leaves
- 1in ginger, bashed
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (maybe more)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into chunks
- 100g creamed coconut
- 300-400ml water
- 300g chicken thighs cut into bite-size chunks
- To garnish:
- 100g bean sprouts
- 50g mung bean shoots
- Handful of coriander leaves
- Handful of Thai basil leaves
- Sliced red chilli, to serve
Pour half the coconut milk into a large sauté pan and add the red curry paste. Stir over a low heat for a few minutes then add in the palm sugar, bashed lemon grass, lime leaves, bashed ginger and fish sauce.
Heat for a few minutes until aromatic and fragrant then stir in the butternut squash cubes. Coat in the paste and add the creamed coconut.
Pour in the rest of the coconut milk, along with 300-400ml hot water.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Add the chicken and heat gently for around 15-20 minutes, until the squash is soft. Add a little extra fish sauce if required.
The curry should be sweet and creamy. To serve, drop in the bean sprouts and mung bean shoots and scatter with the picked coriander and Thai basil leaves. Garnish with sliced red chilli to serve.
SALT AND PEPPER TOFU
JOHN says: “This autumn I want people to understand tofu. You can do whatever you want with it. Just think of it like frying up chicken or prawns with vegetables.
“It goes nice and crispy on the outside, and serve it with your favorite chilli sauce.”
prep time: 15mins Cook time: 20mins
- hot fryer
- 20g Maldon salt
- 20g whole white peppercorns
- 90g cornflour
- 30g plain flour
- 10gm chilli powder
- 100gm garlic
- 300g firm tofu, cut into chunks and keep wet
- 50gm coriander (picked)
- For the garnish:
- 20g diced red chilli
- 20g diced red peppers
With a mortar and pestle, crush the white pepper and the salt so the pepper is a little smaller than kibble and not too fine.
Mix the flours with salt, pepper and add the chilli powder. Peel and slice the garlic, keeping husks, then deep fry the garlic and husks until crispy.
Toss the wet tofu into the seasoned flour mix and deep fry in batches until crisp.
Drain and top with some garnish and garlic and coriander. Serve with bok choy and your favorite chilli sauce.