Lucy Tweed is a saucy lass. Last time we spoke we were talking about three-ways. This time, Wednesday is literally saucy and wet. Has anyone ever made feeding a family this much fun by being so inappropriate?
A food and event stylist, cook, wife, mother, social media genie - she once worked with Donna Hay - Tweed turned the idea of dinnertime on its head with, firstly, her Instagram account @everynightoftheweek, then her debut cookbook - Every Night Of The Week: Sanity solutions for the daily dinner grind - in 2021.
Now she's back with a vegetarian cookbook, Every Night Of The Week: Veg. Except it's not really your usual standard vegetarian fare.
"I use a shitload of cheese, plus a ton of eggs, and butter and carbs in all their glory, it's probably more appropriate to call it meat-free," she says.
"After the first book, my publisher Jane Morrow posed a clever question, not merely asking if I would do a vegetarian cookbook, but if I could do one.
"This intriguing challenge sparked my curiosity and opened up a whole new world of culinary exploration that I have been eager to delve into for quite some time."
Driven in some part by the rising cost of meat and environmental concerns, Tweed was keen to see how she could sell vegetables to her meat-and-veg husband and her three children.
"Lifting veg from token to hero in a 'you won't notice it's meat-free' way is easy when you're pumped up about it. The upsells - or perhaps side-sell - comes naturally.
"But there's a potential spanner in the (dinner) works: family. We must feed and nourish them while respecting their immature, undistinguished, sometimes revolting desires."
Here, vegetables are the starting point for delicious dinners, a zucchini carbonara resplendent with leek; a roast dinner without protein but plenty of gravy; salads that take centre stage.
And saucy, wet Wednesdays, hump day full of soup and slurpy noodles.
"Don't even get me started on soup," says Tweed. "This country has a long way to go before it fully appreciates the true value of all-season soup.
"Whether it's summer, spring, autumn, or winter, there's a liquidy delight for every single one of these days.
"And if you don't get it, well, I really need you to hop on board, flick through this chapter, and try any one of these flavourful concoctions."
But Wednesday is not her favourite night of the week to cook.
"I have to admit, now that we are so sorted with our particular agendas for every night, Thursday really delivers!
"I mean, carbs stuffed with all the things? How could you not love this concept?"
She's confident your family won't even notice there's no meat.
"And if in doubt, just crumb it and add tomato sauce. Most kids will eat a small section of cow dung if served that way."
And, rest easy, she hasn't actually tested that on her own family.
Ultra. Ratta. Tarte. Tatin. Sounds exactly like an '80s frat or sorority house. Although there is no hazing on this guy, the beauty of the layering is that you don't need to stress about the size of the veg all matching so you can create that perfect layered effect of overlapping circles.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced. Grease a 28cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil.
2. Layer the zucchini in the pan first, then the onion, eggplant and tomatoes - seasoning each layer with S+P as you go.
3. Drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add two tablespoons water, then return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the pan, around 10 minutes.
5. Increase the oven temperature to 250C fan-forced.
6. Combine the ricotta, cheddar, lemon zest, garlic and pesto in a medium bowl.
7. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the tomatoes, leaving a 2cm bare edge around the circumference to tuck the pastry into.
8. Place both the pastry sheets on top of the cheese and tuck in at the sides. This will give you an extra crispy layered puff. If you can get your hands on some home-made or really thick puff, then you'll only need one layer.
9. Pop the pan back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, watching carefully for puffy perfect crispness. Rotate the pan if there is a hotspot and any areas are getting too dark.
10. This next step is pretty daring: let the pan cool slightly to avoid anything too hot and too dangerous, then flip the pan straight onto your serving plate.
11. You can decorate with a few flicky little basil leaves.
12. Cut into wedges to serve.
Start strong with the power of a jacket potato wrapped in foil, but with all the peace and love of a hippy child. Disco jewels made with Greek salad ingredients straight from the Mediterranean blue zone confirm that this dish will help you live forever - I recommend fact-checking this, but it feels right to promote this recipe as the fountain of youth.
1. Preheat the oven to 230C fan-forced.
2. Wash and scrub the potatoes and pat dry. Wrap each spud in foil and place them on a baking tray. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, using hand-held electric beaters, beat the goat's curd and sour cream on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, around two minutes. Add the chives, dill, lemon zest and garlic powder and beat on high for two minutes. This dressing can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for two days in an airtight container.
4. To make the salsa, combine the olives, tomato, red onion and cucumber in a small bowl and dress with the olive oil and white vinegar. Season with salt and dried oregano.
5. Once the potatoes are cooked and soft to the squeeze from a pair of tongs, remove the foil and place them on a serving platter.
6. Slice the potatoes lengthways, but not all the way through. Give them a gentle squeeze to push the flesh upwards towards the opening.
7. Top each potato with a big swipe of butter and then a dollop of curd dressing and splash the salsa all about. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve as is.
* Try as I might, I can never smoothly scrape cucumber seeds out of the centre. Maybe I need to get my spoons sharpened. I just cut a 5mm thick slice off one side of the cucumber, lay it flat and do the same on each side, rotating it until the flesh is trimmed and the seeds remain. Throw the seeds into a carafe of water for ultimate hydration - yes, we are now advancing into true health care.
This is the kind of food I need to be eating when my kids are treating me to a rendition of a song they've never learned to sing or playing a tune on an instrument they haven't been taught. The harmonies in the bowl are perfect and the rice al dente. Creamy, fresh, delicious, tangy - al limone/cacio e pepe vibes.
Green goddess sauce:
1. To make the goddess part of this recipe, in a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for five minutes, until it starts to smell wonderful.
2. Add the baby spinach, grated zucchini, basil and oregano and stir until it wilts - this should take a further three minutes. Turn off the heat. The water that comes out of the spinach should be enough to give this mixture a bit of liquid. Allow it to cool slightly, then puree in a small food processor or with a stick blender. Set aside this insanely incredible sauce until ready to use.
3. Now, bring the stock to simmering in a covered saucepan then turn it off. This is the liquid you will add to the risotto by the ladleful.
4. In a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, saute the lemon peel in one tablespoon of olive oil for two minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat in oil, reduce the heat to low and begin adding the hot stock half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition.
5. The constant stirring is essential for creamy risotto. Continue adding stock only as the last amount is absorbed.
6. Before you add the last amount of liquid, stir in two tablespoons of the lemon juice, and the dijon, asparagus and peas, then the butter and the parmesan. The final splash of liquid will help bring everything together.
7. The rice should be al dente and collapse flat in its own wetness. You can add water if it requires a bit more cooking, but it will continue to cook once it's removed from the heat.
8. Serve immediately with a swirl of the green sauce and a slice or two of d'affinois. Add a flourish of fresh baby herbs, a big fat scrunch of pepper and a flick of lemon zest.
9. Any left-over green goddess can be kept in the fridge for a week in an airtight container.
* You can use anything your heart desires here, but I suggest you find a cheese that wants to be both cream and butter. Fancy, but without any willpower.
This is the ultimate weekend away dessert for a dozen (16 actually). It has apres ski vibes, or in my case, avant, durant and apres. You could halve this recipe if you weren't needing as much but let me warn you - it reheats embarrassingly well and is a viable breakfast.
1. Heat the whisky and the dates in a small saucepan with the lid on over medium heat until steaming, then set aside to cool.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the yeast and flour. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the lukewarm milk until it's all combined. Next, add the softened butter a little at a time until incorporated into the dough. Add the sugar, salt, whisky and dates, then the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue to mix on low until the texture is smooth and stretchy, around eight minutes.
3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to rise for two hours in a warm place; it should double in size.
4. Grease a 24 x 38cm oval cake tin, 4cm deep, with butter and dust with some flour, tapping out any excess.
5. Knead the dough again for a few minutes then divide it into 16 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place in the cake tin. Brush each ball generously with melted butter.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for 30 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced.
8. After the dough has risen again, press your fingertips into it to create cavities and allow the melted butter to sink in.
9. Brush the balls of dough with the whisked egg and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the brioche is golden brown.
10. When the brioche is almost cooked, make the butterscotch sauce. Place the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until melted and paste-like. Gradually add the cream, stirring to combine.
11. Bring to the boil and cook for six to eight minutes, or until thickened slightly.
12. While the brioche is still hot, cut it into 16 pieces in the tin.
13. Slowly pour half the hot butterscotch sauce over the brioche, letting it soak into the cuts.
14. Place the remaining sauce in a jug to serve alongside the brioche. Ice cream encouraged.
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