When it comes to TV, a person’s viewing preferences seems to say a lot about them. Personally, I always find myself browsing the food channels. My favourite cook to watch? Donna Hay.
With her awesome kitchen wizardry she transforms simple dishes and makes them into meals that would be internet famous on Instagram. And yes, her food photography is drool-worthy.
I can watch her shows for hours, but I’ve never actually had the guts to make any of the recipes. I decided that needed to change. I did what any amateur foodie would do and took a leaf from Julie & Julia.
To celebrate the release of her new cookbook Basics to Brilliance, I put Donna’s wisdom to work in the kitchen and test drove some of the recipes from her cookbook.
Natalia can watch cooking shows for hours on end. Images: iStock.
The premise of the book is simple: take one basic dish - whether that be schnitzel, steak or tempura batter - and vary the recipe to enjoy it three different ways.
Pulled pork suddenly becomes not only an additive to a delicious Mexican taco or an empanada filling, but also a Texan-style pulled pork roll or slider.
The idea is that you can be more adventurous with your dinner staples without any added difficulty, taking your everyday cooking from boring to extraordinary.
Now, my idea of cooking at home is usually some variation of eggs and chicken for two of my three meals every day. So Donna couldn’t have come to my aid at a better time. Oh, and did I mention our oven had stopped working this morning?
But making a feast out of whatever was left in the fridge at the end of a long weekend – using only the stove top, mind you – didn’t prove as difficult as I thought.
The recipes of choice? Donna’s 'cheat’s ricotta gnocchi dough and caramelised fruit'. It became an incredibly delicious fresh herb, ricotta and cherry tomato gnocchi main dish. I paired it with granola fruit cups for dessert.
First up, the gnocchi. I love making fresh pasta, but I’ve always feared cooking potato gnocchi for how time consuming and fiddly it is. When I flicked to the basic recipe for the gnocchi dough, I breathed a sigh of relief; it only consisted of a four ingredients: ricotta, flour, eggs and parmesan. That’s it.
I threw them into a bowl, put in a little salt to taste, and mashed them up with my hands. It was as easy as that.