Spinach curry

Spinach (silverbeet) curry

There’s spinach, and then there’s silverbeet, which is also called chard. Our Indian cookbook has this delightfully named dish called saag (spinach) bhaji, which we use alongside our favourite lentils and rice. We use silverbeet instead of spinach, but does it really matter?

Guacamole, served with some extras to make a tasty little appetiser

Guacamole

Avocado is a bit of a luxury here, and guacamole is an absolute delicacy. Because of its specialness, our guacamole is really just mashed avocado with seasonings added: lemon juice, salt and pepper, and sometimes onion. That’s about it. If we have a few people, then it becomes a full-blown appetiser with some celery and tomato to…

Cottage pie

Our old-fashioned cottage pie

Cottage pie, shepherd’s pie … it’s just cooked meat topped with mashed potato, then baked. It sounds plain, and it is, but that’s its attraction. It’s quick and easy to make, never fails, and brings meat and three veggies to everyone in one easy dish.

A jar of chilli beetroot chutney

Chilli beetroot chutney

Chutney is one of life’s little pleasures. This recipe for beetroot and chilli chutney has become a real winner in the chutney-loving side of the extended family. It’s surprisingly not-too-hot given the amount of chilli, and even my chilli-averse sister loves it.

Chicken soup, ready to serve in an hour

Sunday soup: chicken soup in an hour

This light but tasty chicken soup boasts a decent chicken flavour supported by lemon thyme and a touch of chilli. It’s the ideal soup for feeding to your family when they have a bad head cold. It’s also great for those really hot nights: somehow chilli and stifling heat go together, or maybe we’re just a family that loves its chilli.

Macaroni cheese, served with iceberg lettuce

A lighter macaroni cheese

Our family’s version of the centuries-old macaroni cheese comes from the one my mother prepared when we were little. I’ve cut down the amount of cheese, and our white sauce is lighter, but otherwise the dish has changed very little. The big innovation (my mum’s) was to go from making the white sauce the old-fashioned way to something that takes only seconds in a blender.

Tabouleh

Tabouleh

I first met tabouleh when it appeared in a local bistro many years ago. Served as part of a chicken and tabouleh sandwich, it quickly became my favourite bought lunch. I’ve since learned how to make it, and it appears a few times over summer, especially at barbecues and parties.

Our basic minestrone

Sunday soup: Our basic minestrone

Minestrone soup is one of those soups that every student would have learned how to cook. It’s tasty, cheap, and you can make enough to feed a household easily. These same features make it ideal for a family with growing teenagers, or to fuel a committed athlete. My Italian cookbook tells me that minestrone is…

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste

Traffic-lights paneer

Red, amber, green: three different curries to accompany paneer. Served with chapati, they make an exciting first course for young and old alike. It’s a bit fiddly to make the three separate curries, and it takes the best part of an afternoon. But it’s worth it to get “This is the best ever” from little voices, talking about…

A tart of caramelised onions over a bed of gooey blue cheese: delicious!

Onion and blue cheese tart

This has become our picnic tart of choice. The soft onions collapse into the rich, gooey blue cheese to give a wonderful savoury starter. It belongs in that small space between setting up and the entire extended family and friends converging for the main meal.

Baked beet salad

Baked beetroot salad

This baked beetroot salad is uber healthy and filling and tastes great. We usually try to time the baking with something else, like a casserole or a roast, and have it chilled and ready for lunch the next day.