Macaroni cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but I’m never in the right frame of mind to make it. This unconventional method is the answer – the pasta cooks in the milk, eliminating time and dirty pots. What’s not to love about that?
Once you’ve tried this method, you won’t look back. It’s best made with blue top or whole milk; but if you want to use trim, use 3 ½ cups of milk and omit the water. If you don’t drink cow’s milk, try this with goat milk. If you’re in Wellington, look out for Brooklyn Creamery goat milk, which comes from a farm up behind the wind turbine (I know, who knew?) It’s gorgeous milk, hyper-local and very fresh.
2 ½ cups milk
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
220g dried small pasta (like elbows, macaroni or small penne)
A good grating of fresh nutmeg
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
3 packed cups baby spinach
1 ½ packed cups grated tasty cheese
2 slices stale bread, crumbled or grated
Set the grill to medium-high and grease an ovenproof gratin dish (about 20 cm x 30 cm).
Put the milk, water, bay leaf, pasta and nutmeg in a large pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes until the pasta is al dente. It will seem at the start that the sauce will never thicken, but keep stirring, I promise it will happen all of a sudden.
Remove from the heat and add the mustard, baby spinach and most of the grated cheese. Stir well to combine and tip into the prepared dish. Scatter the grated bread and the rest of the cheese over the top.
Put the dish under the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.
The judges said: ‘Homecooked is more than just a cookbook; it’s an artwork, a treasure, and a gift to yourself, or for someone you love. The presentation is stunning; from the bright, sculptural, cover, to the mouth-watering butter-yellow end-plates. The design is both contemporary and nostalgic.
‘But even a handsome hardback cookbook has to be more than just delicious to look at. Lucy Corry’s recipes, which are arranged seasonally, make heroes of everyday ingredients that are easy to find in Aotearoa. Homecooked celebrates the joy of cooking, with simple but delicious recipes that will revive your taste-buds. And as we find greater solace in our homes, and the joys of home-cooking, we are also reminded that fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are not only better for you, but also better for the planet.’
I’m so thrilled about this, not just for my own greedy self but for everyone who worked on the book with me. Homecooked would be nothing without the styling and photography of Carolyn Robertson, who sourced all the props, let me take over her kitchen and dining room on a daily basis for months and made sure the images told the story of unfussy seasonal eating. Huge thanks too to Evie Kemp for the glorious cover and illustrations, and to everyone at Penguin Books NZ for making it all happen. It felt like Homecooked was a passion project for all of us and having it recognised in this way means a lot (thank you NZ Booklovers team!).
Last but by no means least, thank you to everyone who’s bought or borrowed a copy. It brings me much joy whenever people get in touch to say they’re making (and enjoying!) recipes from the book. In these unsettling and fractured times, a homecooked meal is very comforting.
In these trying times, it helps to have a reassuring snack at hand. If you want something to briefly take your mind off the woes of the world, I have the snack for you: Nuts & Bolts.
For the uninitiated, Nuts & Bolts are a highly addictive snack with just-about zero nutritional benefits. For me, they’re an important link to my childhood, when my great-aunt Makiri would make them as a special cocktail hour or holiday snack. Nostalgia is a great flavour enhancer, don’t you think?
Makiri was an amazing cook and I always imagined that she’d made up the recipe herself, but recent research has proved otherwise. Nuts & Bolts appear to have originated in the US in the 1930s and 40s, after a cereal company included a recipe for them on the back of the box. This sly content marketing has been used by brands for decades, but few recipes are as out-there as the re-purposing of breakfast cereal as a legitimate snack (rather than just eating them out of the box when no one’s looking).
Makiri’s Nuts & Bolts were intensely savoury, slightly spicy and impossible to stop eating. After much consultation with my cousin Dominic and a lot of trial and error, I’ve recreated a 2022 version of her recipe below. Nutri-Grain and Burger Rings appeared in the OG version, but I’ve also added chilli peas and spicy broad beans for extra kick (I like to think Makiri would approve).
Nuts & Bolts
Warning: once you start eating these it’s VERY hard to stop. This makes about six cups – I wouldn’t make more unless you’re serving snacks to a big crowd or you have impeccable self-control. If, like me, you haven’t eaten Burger Rings for 30 years or so, you’ll notice that they don’t taste like they used to. They’re included here for texture and nostalgia, more than anything else. Nutri-Grain (the brick-like cereal that has multi-sport athletes on the box) has actually changed for the better in the last decade, nutritionally speaking. Even so, please note that eating Nuts & Bolts is unlikely to improve your performance at your next sporting event.
For the dry ingredients:
2 cups Nutri-Grain
2 cups Burger Rings
1 cup roasted nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts are all good here)
1 x 100g packet spicy broad beans (I use the Savour brand)
1 x 100g packet chili peas (I use the Savour brand), optional
For the flavourings:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat the oven to 125℃. Line a large, shallow-sided oven tray with baking paper.
Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Put all the flavourings in a small pot set over medium heat. Stir until melted.
Pour the melted butter and flavourings into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring well to make sure everything is well-coated. Tip the mixture out onto the prepared tray, spreading it out evenly.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving, or wait until completely cold and then transfer to an airtight container.
Nuts & Bolts – Aunty Pat’s version
When I was searching for Makiri’s original recipe my Aunty Pat (maker of Aunty Pat’s infamous Never-Fail Pavlova) shared her version of Nuts & Bolts with me. Aunty Pat reckons her recipe is better – and my in-house taste-testers definitely enjoyed it, but I prefer the baked version because it’s closer to what I remember. Please note the nuts are missing from this image because some naughty taste-tester picked them all out.
350g roasted, unsalted nuts
1 dessertspoon curry powder
1 packet Creme of Chicken Soup
1 packet French Onion Soup
1 cup peanut oil
Put the Nutri-Grain and nuts in a bowl and stir well. Put all the other ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Pour this evenly over the Nutri-Grain and nuts, stirring until evenly mixed. Cover loosely and set aside for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to serve. Makes about 10 cups.
Is there a Nuts & Bolts story in your family recipe archive? I’d love to hear it!
I’m such a fan of tinned Black Doris plums that I devoted a chapter of Homecooked to ways to use them. Lots of people have told me how much they love that section – if you’re one of them, this bonus recipe is for you.
Black Doris Overnight Oats
This serves four people generously, or you can eat it as individual serves over consecutive mornings. Use coconut yoghurt or whipped cream (the decadence!) instead of Greek yoghurt if you like.
1 x 850g tin Black Doris plums
2 cups rolled oats
4 tablespoons ground almonds or LSA
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1 ½ cups Greek yoghurt
6 squares good quality dark chocolate (I use Whittaker’s 72% cacao), finely chopped
Drain the plums, reserving 1 ¼ cups of the syrup. Stone the plums and put into a large bowl with the reserved syrup. Stir in the rolled oats, ground almonds or LSA and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, gently fold through the yoghurt. Sprinkle over the dark chocolate and serve.
Are you still pretending to be in holiday mode? Me too. I like to think it’s an important component of my 2022 ‘intention’ to Do Less (intentions are the new resolutions, in case you’re wondering). As evidence of how I’m going so far, I’m still to send out my Christmas cards. I only just completed the deep-cleaning our house needed before every man and his dog visited us between Christmas and New Year and I still have 300 unread emails in my inbox. Before the holidays, this would have stressed me out. Now, I feel supremely unbothered. I’m taking the same approach to holiday – or at least, summer – eating. Less effort is often more, as they say. If you’re of a similar mindset, here’s a very easy salad to get someone else to make for you.
ROASTED KŪMARA SALAD WITH RED ONION AND DATE SALSA This is great at barbecues (you can make it in advance and store in the fridge for up to a day before serving at room temperature) and any leftovers are excellent for lunch the next day. To up the protein content and make it more of a meal, add up to a cup of roasted nuts or pumpkin seeds when you combine the roasted kūmara and salsa. Serves four.
For the kūmara: 800g peeled and diced kūmara 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp brown sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon Salt and pepper
For the salsa: 1 medium red onion, peeled and diced A generous pinch of salt and sugar 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar Let sit 10 mins 3/4 cup dates, chopped 3cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated Two handfuls fresh parsley, finely chopped 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 190C. Put the kūmara, first measure of olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss to combine. Tip out onto a large baking tray and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through cooking. Set aside to cool.
While the kūmara is cooking, make the salsa. Put the red onion, salt and sugar in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the vinegar. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then add the chopped dates, ginger, parsley and olive oil. Stir to combine.
When the kūmara is cool enough to touch, transfer it to a serving bowl. Toss through the salsa and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.