Recipes from The Natural Cook

The Natural Cook

by Matt Stone

A new kind of food revolution - kind to the planet, good for your body and for your soul.

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AUNTIE SUSAN'S LEMON MYRTLE CAKE

Natural-Cook-Lemon-Myrtle-Cake

For as long as I can remember, my Auntie Susan has baked the most amazing cakes. For years I tried to get her to give me a book with all her recipes. Though I'm still waiting for that book, she shares my passion for native foods and has developed this recipe for me. It's a super simple cake packed with flavour.

Ingredients
155 g (5½ oz/1 cup) macadamia nuts
180 g (6½ oz) butter
150 g (5½ oz) sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) freshly milled flour
185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) buttermilk
2 teaspoons dried lemon myrtle
edible flowers, to decorate (optional)

Icing
3 egg whites
210 g (7½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
210 g (7½ oz) butter
2 teaspoons dried lemon myrtle

NOTE: Most supermarkets stock lemon myrtle, and it's a cinch to order online. You can also use lemon myrtle teabags - just remove the leaves from the bag and grind them to a fine consistency. This icing can be used for any cake or muffin. Substitute lemon myrtle with any flavour you like.

Method

Preheat the oven to 160˚C (320˚F). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base and side with baking paper.

Spread the macadamia nuts evenly on a baking tray and roast for 12 minutes, or until golden brown, then set aside to cool. Turn the oven up to 170˚C (340˚F).
 
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and cream the two ingredients for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, making sure the previous one is incorporated before adding the next. Beat for a further 5 minutes.
 
In a food processor, blitz the macadamia nuts to form a rough breadcrumb consistency. Add the remaining ingredients, except the edible flowers, and the nuts to the butter mixture and beat until smooth. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40–45 minutes, or until lightly golden. Gently press on the top of the cake – if it bounces back, it’s ready. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool further.
 
To make the icing, fill a medium saucepan one-third full of water and place over medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. Put the egg whites and sugar into a stainless steel bowl. Using a whisk, briefly mix until the sugar has been incorporated. Place the bowl over the simmering water to create a double boiler and, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
 
Using an electric mixer or hand-held electric beaters, whisk the egg mixture at high speed for 10-12 minutes; it will become white, glossy and thick. Keep whisking until the mixture is cool.

Switch to a paddle attachment if you have one, then mix on medium speed, adding the butter in four batches. Beat until thick and creamy, then add the lemon myrtle and stir until combined. Spatula onto the cake with enthusiasm and decorate with edible flowers, if using.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 

GREENHOUSE BREAKFAST MUFFINS

Natural-Cook-Breakfast-muffin

We made this muffin from the day we opened the Greenhouse restaurant until the day I left, and the only complaint we ever got was when they'd sold out. I think I've eaten a few hundred for breakfast in my time.

Makes 4-6

MUFFINS
100 g (3½ oz) mixed nuts
4 eggs
280 g (10 oz) raw (demerara) sugar
200 g (7 oz) carrots, unpeeled and grated
200 g (7 oz) apples, unpeeled and grated
150 ml (5 fl oz) vegetable oil
300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) freshly milled flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
 
TOPPING
50 g (1¾ oz) cold butter
70 g (2½ oz) freshly milled flour
50 g (1¾ oz/½ cup) freshly rolled oats
50 g (1¾ oz) sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 teaspoons honey

NOTE: Any nuts can be used in this muffin - whatever you have in the pantry, really. I like to use walnuts or hazelnuts. You can replace the carrot with more apple if you like and, on top of that, you can also substitute the apple with pear.

Dry-toast the nuts in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and golden, then roughly chop. Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the carrot, apple, oil and toasted nuts. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
 
The mixture can be baked straight away but I suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge so it's not a bad idea to make a double batch and bake every second day so you can have fresh muffins all week with little fuss.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, seeds and oil, mix well, then mix in the honey. You want a crumble-type mixture. If it's too dry, add a splash of water to get it to a lovely, crumbly consistency.
 
Grease a 12-hole standard (60 ml/1⁄3 cup) muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.
 
Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there. The good ol' skewer test is the perfect way to see if they're cooked through (poke a skewer into the middle of a muffin and if it comes out with gloopy mixture attached, keep baking).
 
Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack.
 
They're best eaten the day they're cooked with a nice cup of tea, but will hold for brekkie the next day, too.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 

ROAST CHICKEN 'BO SSAM'

Natural-Cook-Roast-Chook-Bo-Samm

This is the ultimate 'got no time to cook' dinner. This recipe is inspired by the bo ssam, an Asian shared meal. You can use up any pickles or vegetables that are in your fridge. It's basically whatever you like wrapped in a lettuce leaf with sauce and pickles.
 
It's a great dish to use up leftover roast meats and other bits lying around. The notion behind this chicken version is to grab a whole roast chook on your way home and have a fresh, healthy meal ready in 10 minutes.

SERVES 3-4

1 roast chicken
2 small lettuces (I like to use baby cos/romaine but any lettuce will do)
1 avocado, sliced
300 g (10½ oz) Kimchi (see page 63)
200 g (7 oz) pickles
2 handfuls bean sprouts, trimmed
150 g (5½ oz) mixed fresh herbs
Hot Sauce and Mayonnaise, to serve

Pick and shred the flesh from the chook (keep the frame for broth-making purposes). Place the flesh in a serving bowl. Pick and wash the lettuce leaves. Place the lettuce on a platter and top with the chicken, avocado, a pile of kimchi, pickles, bean sprouts, herbs and sauces on the side.
 
This dish looks great as it's full of vibrant colours and the part that took the most effort was probably swinging past the shops to pick up a roast chook.

Hot Sauce
My version of Sriracha sauce only has a few ingredients, but the depth of flavour comes from the fermenting of the chilli. Use it as you would Sriracha - that is on a lot of things and particularly leftover pork-belly sandwiches.

MAKES ABOUT 350 ML (12 FL OZ)

1 cup Fermented Chilli Paste
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons honey
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) vegetable oil

Place the chilli paste, garlic and honey in a jug-style blender. Start the blender and gradually increase the speed. Slowly pour in the oil, season to taste with salt and you're good.

This sauce will keep for weeks in the fridge. If it sits dormant for a while, the ingredients might start to separate a bit - just give it a good shake and it will come back to life.


Mayonnaise
The only thing that beats a good homemade mayo is a sandwich made with homemade mayo. I encourage you to double this recipe - it will easily last in the fridge for a week and it's great to use not only on sandwiches, but in salads and on the side of meat and veg dishes. It can quickly be flavoured with spices or you can add capers, chopped cornichons, herbs and lemon to make a simple tartare sauce.

4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) vegetable oil

NOTE: Turning your homemade mayo into homemade aioli is a cinch. Finely dice the rind from 1 preserved lemon and finely chop 2 garlic cloves, then add to the mayo at the same time as the mustard and vinegar.

Twist up a tea towel (dish towel) and place in a circle on the bench. Place a mixing bowl in the middle of the towel. (The tea towel should help keep the bowl from moving around too much while you whisk away with one hand.)

Put the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar into the bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour the oil into the mixture while whisking as fast as possible (use a jug if you have one - it needs to be a slow stream of oil flowing in, and pouring from a jug is an easy way to control it). If the oil is added too quickly, it won't be incorporated and will split from the eggs. It sounds a bit tricky, but just take your time and everything will be fine.

Once all the oil is whisked in, add some salt to taste. Store in a jar in the fridge. It will last up to 2 weeks.

Spread. Enjoy. Be merry.

Download printable recipe (PDF)