The secret to a perfect poached egg
Poaching eggs is sometimes viewed as a dark art best left to the cafe, but Jill Dupleix shows you how easy it can be.
If you've been living off takeaway pizza and Thai food since moving out of home, it's time to step it up a notch. Here are the dishes you should have a hefty clue about making once you've hit the magic 30. How many of these classics are in your recipe repertoire?
Note: if you can tick these off the list, take it to the next level with our 'level-up' suggestions.
Omelette with salmon, dill and creme fraiche. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Eggs, a knob of butter and a frypan are all you need to whisk up a classic omelette, oh, and a lightness of touch to create the desired fluffy texture. When it comes to folding and sliding the finished omelette, practice makes perfect. Once you've got the knack, you can pimp your omelette with savoury add-ons such as smoked salmon (above) or perhaps Karen Martini's cauliflower, feta and crumbled chorizo number.
Level-up: Poached eggs
Once you've mastered the omelette, poached eggs are a versatile extension. Many dishes are improved with the addition of a poachie. Here are some suggestions to get you started. #putaneggonit
This 'Incredibly Wonderful Chocolate Cake' lives up to its name. Photo: Marina Oliphant
2. Foolproof chocolate cake
Everyone needs a go-to choccy cake. Especially if it's of the flourless variety, which makes it a good'un to have up your sleeve for gluten-free guests. Dress it up with a dollop of double cream, dot a few berries on the plate and dessert's done and dusted (with icing sugar).
Level-up: Chocolate fondant
Sure, you probably grew up helping to make simple self-saucing pudding, but these gooey-centred individual chocolate pots aka lava cakes are guaranteed to elicit 'ooh-la-las' from dinner party guests.
- Recipe: Jill Dupleix's molten chocolate puddings
- Recipe: Adam Liaw's chocolate fondant with a hint of basil
3. Pan-fried fish
See you later, soggy skin. The video above shows how to cook crispy-skinned salmon fillets, like a pro.
Level-up: Fish en papilotte
These paper-wrapped parcels are another deceptively easy dinner party pleaser, think grown-up version of pass the parcel.
Adam Liaw's classic roast chicken with bread and butter stuffing (Recipe here). Photo: Edwina Pickles
4. Roast chicken
Whether you stuff, truss or butterfly the bird, there's no excuse for a dry chook. Here are some foolproof recipes.
- Recipe: Jill Dupleix's great roast chicken
- Recipe: Adam Liaw's roast chicken and vegetables
- Recipe: Nigella Lawson's roast chicken tips
Level-up: Coq au vin; try Neil Perry's take on the rustic French casserole (recipe here).
Duck-fat roast potatoes. Photo: Edwina Pickles
5. Roast potatoes
And you can't have a roast chook without tatties. Who better to consult than the inventor of triple-cooked chips himself – Heston Blumenthal. Here's his masterclass on perfecting roast potatoes.
Level-up: Triple-cooked chips; see our step-by-step guide to making shatteringy crisp hot chips.
Jill Dupleix's risotto with peas and bacon is a good starting point (Recipe here). Photo: Marina Oliphant
Patience, my dear. Risotto may be intimidating but it's surprisingly simple to make, so long as you watch the pot. It's rather relaxing watching and waiting for the stock to absorb, and all that stirring and elbow grease gives a good arm workout. Tip: reserve leftovers for arancini.
Level-up: Paella; the secret is in the sofrito (softened onion and garlic flavour base) and the socarrat (crunchy rice layer) – don't be tempted to stir the pan once you've poured over the stock.
Neil Perry's hearty beef, ale and mushroom stew (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem
7. A simple stew
Stew is the perfect for filling pot-pies (use store-bought puff pastry as a lid, ain't nobody got time for making rough-puff). It's also economical, with cheap cuts best suited to braising. Set aside a wintry afternoon or leave it alone in a slow- or pressure-cooker for a sure-fire winter warmer.
Level-up: Beef bourguignon; try Neil Perry's recipe.
Adam Liaw's carbonara. Photo: William Meppem
8. Proper carbonara
The golden rule: ditch the cream. It's all about allowing the cheese and egg yolks to emulsify into a rich pasta magnet.
Level-up: Make your own pasta; (recipe here).
Neil Perry's buffalo mozzarella lasagne is a reader favourite. Photo: William Meppem
9. Spag bol
We may not all have a nonna who lovingly tends to a pot of ragu on a Sunday afternoon, but we can make a bastardised spaghetti bolognese. The mince-based sauce is hearty and filling and freezes well, and with a few Tex-Mex tweaks can become chilli con carne.
Or put them together and make Adam Liaw's lasagne-meets-bolognese mash-up (recipe here)
Chicken noodle soup is like a hug in a bowl. Photo: Murdoch Books
10. Chicken soup (for the soul)
Many cultures make a variation of chicken soup, from Vietnamese pho to 'Jewish penicillin' bobbing with matzo balls, and it's a common cold and flu remedy.
Level-up: Master stock; this spiced, soy-based stock is a building block of many Chinese dishes. Here's Brigitte Hafner's recipe.
The most Googled recipe term in Australia for 2016, it's time to commit the batter ratio to memory.
Level-up: or rather, batter-up, with beer-battered fish and chips.
See Adam Liaw's simplified version of French bistro favourite, steak frites, in the video above.
Make your own Thai green curry paste (Recipe here). Photo: Murdoch Books
13. A quick coloured curry
Whichever colour of the traffic light trio, everyone should be able to throw together a cheat's curry using a few spoonfuls of store-bought paste. Neil Perry's green curry works well with chicken or fish.
Earl Canteen's signature choc-chip, walnut and sea salt cookies. Photo: Chris Hopkins
14. Choc-chip cookies
Earl Canteen's chocolate chip cookies gets the chewy-crunchy balance just right. The Melbourne 'fancy' sandwich makers share their step-by-step guide here.
- Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar's top 10 cookie tips
15. A signature salad
With the abundance of grain salads and fresh flavour friends (hello watermelon and feta), you don't have an excuse to stick to a boring lettuce and tomato anymore. Choose one in our collection below and make it your go-to for bring-a-plate barbecues.
Pesto: tasty on toast, stirred through pasta or served with a roast; Karen Martini's recipe
Pizza dough: Pita bread makes a fine substitute if you're short on time, but it's satisfying to make a pizza base from scratch. Seek out tipo 00 flour and make extra dough to freeze.