He's been called the 'avocado king' and the 'egg master'. But there's no doubting that Bill Granger is the boss of brunch.
When Bill Granger published Sydney Food around the time of "the best Games ever", most of my lunches involved a meat pie, sauce and a quick game of footy. Avocado toast was yet to hit the school canteen.
At weekends, however, cooking from Granger's first recipe book was my favourite thing to do. Growing up in Newcastle's grey-on-brown suburbs, Sydney Food was an escape to the harbour city I longed for. A lemon-scented place where you could scooter to the market for sardines and pick up fresh ricotta on the way. Somewhere with broad beans, homemade crumpets and something called taleggio. Later I would realise that Sydney smells more like salt water and car exhaust than big bowls of citrus, but the rest holds true.
Australian Food takes everything sunny and brilliant about that 20-year-old cookbook and updates it to reflect the way we eat now: creatively, cross-culturally and ever-curious. A tablespoon of yuzu kosho here, a splash of XO there. No shortage of harissa and miso.
The avocado toast recipe rides again, updated with green chilli and the option to have your avo smashed or sliced. Bircher is topped with plum and pomegranate compote rather than standard-issue stone fruit. Healthy-eating bowls get their own chapter.
I plan to have a cracking time cooking from Australian Food as spring gets brighter and warmer. There isn't a meat pie recipe, but there is chicken schnitzel, if I really want to relive my (occasional) salad days. Callan Boys.
Long before I was the "avocado king", I was apparently the "egg master". Early on, The New York Times described the eggs at bills as "the best scrambled eggs in the world". We were blown away by such an incredibly great review, but at the time I didn't realise the impact those eggs would have on my life, especially when we were opening in Japan.
Can I speak Japanese? No, but I can make scrambled eggs in Japanese on Japanese TV. The texture of food is all-important in Japan – and these have a soft, gentle mouthfeel that the TV presenters enthusiastically relished. My dishes are often about the big, fresh, in-your-face flavours Australians love – I like to think the eggs show my gentler, introspective side.
- 8 eggs
- 300ml whipping cream
- 40g butter, plus extra for toast
- 4 slices sourdough toast
- baby spinach leaves, to serve
- Place the eggs, whipping cream and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the eggs and leave to cook for 20 seconds, or until gently set around the edge. Gently bring this cooked egg mixture into the centre of the pan; the uncooked egg will naturally flow to the edge of the pan. Continue to gently fold the just-set egg into the centre.
- When all the eggs are just set, spoon onto buttered toast and serve with a few spinach leaves.
Chocolate banana bread
Banana bread (often a little slice, wrapped in clingfilm) is the quintessential Australian "pastry" – our home-grown version of the rather-more-sophisticated croissant. This is an update of the recipe published all those years ago in bills food, included because, in the early years of the internet when I was excited to Google myself (don't ever do that!), this is the recipe that always appeared.
Palates and tastes change – I've more than halved the sugar and I recommend breaking up a block of good dark chocolate instead of using chocolate chips, which can be overly sweet. If chocolate's not for you in the morning, throw in chopped dates, pecans, walnuts or sultanas instead.
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g caster sugar
- 4 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 350g)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150g dark chocolate, chopped
- Grease the sides and line the base of a 21 x 10cm loaf tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional). Beat together the butter, sugar, banana, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder and chocolate in a bowl. Gradually stir in the banana mixture, stirring until no flecks of flour are visible.
- Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve in thick slices spread with butter.
Makes 8-10 slices
Chickpea pancakes with spiced roast cauliflower & carrots
Chickpea flour is fantastic to have in your cupboard at all times – it needs no egg to hold it together in a batter, so is handy in vegan cooking. This pancake batter can last a couple of days in the fridge. Why has it taken us until now to fall in love with roast cauliflower? Why did the poor cauliflower have to endure decades of being boiled to mush, with the smell of its torment filling every kitchen? Let us all enjoy its reign as a current superfood.
Spiced roast cauliflower & carrots
- 1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
- 3 large carrots, cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 150g chickpea flour (gram or besan)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 1 handful coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp light-flavoured oil, for frying
- Greek yoghurt
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 green chilli, finely sliced
- 1 handful coriander leaves
- For the spiced roast vegetables, preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). Place the cauliflower and carrots on a large baking tray where they fit in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes, or until beginning to char. Reduce the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional), stir in the spices and chilli flakes and roast for a further 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the pancakes, mix the flour, salt and cumin together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in 250ml water, stirring to make a smooth batter. Add the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Ladle a quarter of the batter into the pan and tilt to spread evenly. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook for 2 minutes until golden. Cook the remaining batter to make four pancakes.
- Spoon the roasted vegetables over the pancakes. Top with yoghurt, red onion, chilli and coriander to serve.
Grilled cheese and kimchi open sandwich
What a perfect mix of Eastern and Western flavours: bubbling cheese on toast with kimchi is a delicious update of my favourite cheddar and pickle sandwich. The Sydney Morning Herald has dubbed this the "new avocado on toast" and I've noticed it popping up on a few menus in London recently, so it feels like a new classic in the making. Bloody brilliant with a bloody mary for brunch.
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- 4 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 200g kimchi
- 120g cheddar, grated
- 120g comte cheese, grated
- 80g mozzarella, grated
- 1 large handful coriander leaves
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced
- Heat the grill to medium-high. Lightly toast the sourdough on one side until golden.
- Mix the mayonnaise with the garlic. Spread on the untoasted side of the bread, and then top with the kimchi. Mix the cheeses together and sprinkle over the bread, pressing down gently. Grill for 2-3 minutes until melted and golden.
- Serve immediately, sprinkled with coriander, spring onion and red chilli.
Images and text from Australian Food by Bill Granger, photography by Mikkel Vang. Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99, buy now