Eat the Week recipes, by Anna Barnett

Whole roast cauliflower.
Whole roast cauliflower. Photo: Alan Benson

Buttermilk chicken tacos with onion & radish salsa

Feeds: 4 (or 2 with leftovers)

Imagine moist, succulent chicken in a seriously crispy batter, and that's what you've got with this dish. Get involved. 

450g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-size chunks
300g soy flour or plain flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 soft flour tortillas
½ red cabbage, very finely shredded
½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 red chill, thinly sliced

Sticky toffee creme brulee.
Sticky toffee creme brulee. Photo: Alan Benson

Buttermilk marinade:

150ml buttermilk
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Onion & radish salsa:

Buttermilk chicken tacos.
Buttermilk chicken tacos. Photo: Alan Benson

1 large red onion, very thinly sliced
5 radishes, very thinly sliced
2.5cm knob of ginger, thinly sliced
¼ red chilli, thinly sliced
3 large glugs of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon castor sugar

Paprika mayo:

4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
glug of chilli sauce or Tabasco sauce
squeeze of lemon juice

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Make the marinade by combining the buttermilk with the spices and maple syrup in a glass or ceramic bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add the chicken and mix well. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour or as long as your patience allows – overnight is best for flavour.

To make the onion and radish salsa, combine all the ingredients and set aside in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

For the paprika mayo, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

<i>Eat the Week</i>, by Anna Barnett.
Eat the Week, by Anna Barnett. Photo: Supplied

When you're ready to cook the chicken, combine the flour with the cayenne and lemon zest in a shallow bowl, then season generously with salt and pepper. 

Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan and heat to 190°C (375°F). If you don't have a thermometer, test the temperature by adding a cube of bread: it should sizzle and turn golden brown in 10 seconds. 

Working in small batches, remove the chicken from the marinade, trying to keep as much marinade clinging to the meat as possible, then put it straight into the flour mixture, coating it well on all sides. Carefully add to the hot oil and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towel.

To assemble the tacos, place a mound of shredded red cabbage in the middle of a tortilla, followed by a  generous dollop of paprika mayo and a few pieces of the crispy fried buttermilk chicken. Top with the pickled onion and radish salsa, before garnishing with coriander and chilli.

Tip: If you can't find buttermilk, substitute sour cream with a dash of milk.

Whole roast cauliflower with gorgonzola sauce & garlic dippers

Feed 4-6

Flavour-wise, this is a match made in heaven. Even committed carnivores won't notice the lack of meat here.

1 whole cauliflower, leaves left on
glug of olive oil

Gorgonzola sauce:

20g butter
½ teaspoon English mustard
2 tablespoons plain flour
250ml semi-skimmed milk
125g gorgonzola, crumbled
handful of cashews, half ground, half coarsely crushed

Garlic dippers:

1-2 large cloves garlic, cut in half lengthways
3 slices of wholegrain seeded bread
big glug of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C. Place the whole cauliflower in a baking dish or roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, then roast for 15-20 minutes or until golden and tender. 

Meanwhile, to make the garlic dippers, rub the cut side of a garlic clove over both sides of the bread, then cut the bread into fingers about 1.5 cm wide. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the bread fingers until golden, turning them once. For extra garlic flavour, finely chop another garlic clove and add it to the frying pan 30 seconds prior to serving.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat then whisk in the mustard and flour. Season with salt and pepper, then gradually add the milk, whisking all the time, until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Add three-quarters of the gorgonzola and whisk until it melts into the sauce, then taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Pour the sauce over the roasted cauliflower, then scatter over the remaining gorgonzola and the cashews. Return to the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese and cashews have browned. Serve straightaway, with garlic dippers on hand to mop up all the sauce.

Sticky toffee creme brulee

Feed 6 (with leftovers)

This dessert is a combination of my two all-time favourites. What's great about this recipe is that you can make it well in advance if you're having friends round – and it makes plenty of sticky toffee pudding, so there's always loads left over to get you through the next week! 

Sticky toffee pudding:

100g dark muscovado sugar
165g self-raising flour
125 ml whole milk 
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g unsalted butter, melted
300g dates, roughly chopped

Sticky toffee sauce:

200g dark muscovado sugar
25g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
500ml boiling water

Creme brulee:

900ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
9 egg yolks
45g castor sugar
3 tablespoons demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, combine all the sticky toffee sponge ingredients, then pour into a deep greased or non-stick rectangular baking tin (about 30 x 20 cm). For the sticky toffee sauce, scatter the sugar over the sponge mixture, along with the cubes of butter, then pour over the boiling water.

Cook in the oven for around 40-50 minutes. You'll be left with a gooey, sweet and sticky toffee pudding. Let this cool and it's ready to use as the surprise centre of your creme brulee.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150C and place six small ramekins in a roasting tin. 

For the creme brulee, pour the cream into a small, heavy-based pan and add the vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to the boil over a medium-low heat – as soon as it starts to bubble, take it off the heat and remove the vanilla pod. In a heat-proof bowl or jug, mix the egg yolks and caster sugar until just combined then pour in the cream, stirring well to mix.

Divide the sticky toffee pudding between the ramekins: aim for a generous teaspoonful, along with a bit of the sauce, then pour in the cream and egg yolk mixture until it completely covers the sticky toffee pudding. Place the ramekins in a roasting tin or baking dish tin, then pour in enough cold water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard has set – it should only wobble a little when given a gentle shake. Allow to cool, then chill until ready to eat. 

Before serving, sprinkle the tops of the cold creme brulee with demerara sugar and caramelise the tops with a kitchen blowtorch or under a hot grill.

Eat the Week: every meal, every day, by Anna Barnett. Murdoch Books. $39.99.