Chicken florentine pasta bake

A good pasta bake is a tried and true family crowd pleaser. This chicken florentine pasta is a creamy sauce of chicken and spinach topped with bechamel and cheese and baked to a delicious golden crust.


4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces

1 large bunch English spinach, roughly chopped

½ cup white wine

1 tsp chicken stock powder (optional)

300 ml thickened cream

500 g San Remo Curls

2 cups shredded cheese, for topping

Bechamel topping

½ cup flour

75 g butter

1 litre milk

½ tsp salt


  1. Start with the bechamel topping. Combine the flour and butter in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring for about 2 minutes until the mixture is combined into a roux. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring between each addition to remove any lumps, to create a smooth sauce. Stir in the salt and set aside.
  2. Heat a 30 x 20cm roasting tray over medium heat. If your roasting tray cannot be placed directly over heat you can do the next step in a separate frying pan. Cook the pasta according to the packet directions, testing for the pasta to be al dente about 2 minutes before the printed time on the packet.
  3. Heat your oven to 180C. Add the oil, onion and garlic to the roasting tray and fry for about 6 minutes until the onion starts to brown. Add the chicken and fry until lightly browned. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer, stirring up any brown bits form the base of the roasting tray. Add the spinach and stir to wilt, then add the pasta, about ½ a cup of pasta water, the thickened cream and chicken stock powder (if using) and mix well to combine. Flatten the top and pour over the bechamel. Smooth the bechamel and scatter with the cheese.
  4. Place the roasting tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch to grill and grill for about 10 more minutes until the cheese is golden. Remove from the oven and stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Pulled chicken pizza

Pulled chicken pizza. Free range chicken breasts are braised in tomato and barbecue sauce and shredded to make a saucy pizza topping. It’s perfect on a pizza, but is equally wonderful in sandwiches or even on top of nachos.


4 prepared pizza bases

6 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1 green capsicum, thinly sliced

1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings

sprigs of coriander, to serve

olive oil, to serve

Pulled free range chicken (makes extra)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 kg Lilydale free range chicken breasts

2 red onions, thickly sliced

700 ml tomato passata

¾ cup barbecue sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp salt


  1. Heat your oven to 150C (fan). Heat a lidded casserole dish over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the chicken breasts until lightly browned, then add the onions and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the remining ingredient for the pulled chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 3 hours. You should be able to break the chicken into shreds with a wooden spoon. Stir the shreds of chicken in with the sauce and set aside.
  2. Increase the oven to as hot as it will go. Take your prepared pizza base and spread generously with the pulled chicken mixture. Scatter with enough mozzarella to cover and add slices of capsicum and red onion. Bake for 5-10 minutes (or as specified by your pizza base) until the cheese is browned and bubbling and the base is cooked through. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with coriander to serve.
Whisky trail mix

If you’re ever stuck on what to serve with an after-dinner whisky, I’ve developed this whisky trail mix as the perfect accompaniment, picking up the notes of a good whisky. Butterscotch walnuts, smoked salt, dates, apricot, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and cashews.


1 cup salted cashews

½ cup dark chocolate pieces,

½ cup dates, roughly chopped

½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Toffee walnuts

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp smoked salt

200 g natural walnuts


  1. Heat your oven to 120C fan. Combine the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the bicarbonate of soda and allow to foam. Stir through the walnuts and season with salt. Spread onto a line baking tray and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. Combine the cooled walnuts with the remaining ingredients and serve your whisky mix with Singleton whisky on ice.
Tamarind chicken

Here’s a bit of a different spin on sweet and sour chicken. Tamarind provides sourness but also the delicious aroma of dried fruit, while the tender free range chicken is contained in a crisp, double-fried alkaline batter.


600g Lilydale free range chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp fish sauce

¼ tsp baking soda

2 egg whites

½ cup corn starch

salt, to season

750 ml vegetable oil for deep-frying

Tamarind sauce

2 tbsp tamarind puree

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp corn starch mixed with ½ cup water

To serve:

1 thick spring onion, thinly sliced

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

1 tomato, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced


  1. Thinly slice the Lilydale free range thigh fillets into long strips about 1 cm wide. Combine with the fish sauce, baking soda, egg whites, corn starch, a good pinch of salt and about ¼ cup of water and mix to a thin batter. Set aside to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 170C. Fry the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes each until lightly golden and just cooked. Set aside to drain on a wire rack while you fry the remaining batches. Allow the chicken to rest and cool for about 15 minutes while you make the tamarind sauce.
  3. For the tamarind sauce, combine the tamarind puree, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce together in a wok with ½ a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a minute to dissolve the sugar, then drizzle in enough of the corn starch mixture to create a sauce thick enough to coat the chicken.
  4. Return the oil to the heat and heat to 200C. Fry the chicken again for a minute or two until golden and crisp. Toss through the sauce and transfer to a serving plate and serve with the
Christmas chicken with buttery sage stuffing and pickled cherries

If you’re wanting to avoid a mountain of leftover turkey and ham this Christmas, give this delicious roast chicken a try. It’s stuffed with a delicious Christmassy sage stuffing, basted with brown butter and honey and served with delicious pickled December cherries. It will serve between 4 and 6, but will serve even more if you have a few extra side dishes.  


1 whole Lilydale free range chicken, around 1.8kg

1 tsp dark soy sauce

salt and pepper, to season

120 g baby rocket

olive oil, to drizzle

2 cups cherries, halved and pitted

¼ cup red wine vinegar


5 slices wholemeal bread

1 large onion, finely diced

50 g butter

4 sage leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

½ cup chicken stock, or water

1 tsp salt

black pepper, to serve


50 g butter

6 sage leaves

1 tsp honey

1 tsp soy sauce


  1. Start with the stuffing. In a blender or food processor process the bread to coarse breadcrumbs. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and onion. Fry the onion for about 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs, sage, cranberries, stock, salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Heat your oven to 120C (fan). Stuff the stuffing into the cavity of the chicken. You don’t need to close it. Brush the chicken with the dark soy sauce and season the skin well with salt and pepper. Place a piece of baking paper in the base of a small oven dish (or ovenproof frying pan) and place the chicken on top. Roast for 90 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is roasting, season the cherries with salt and pepper and stir through the red wine vinegar. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. For the glaze, heat the butter in a small saucepan until it turns golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir through the sage leaves, honey and soy sauce.
  5. When the chicken has finished it’s 90 minutes of roasting, increase the oven to 220C. Brush the chicken with the glaze and roast for a further 15 minutes, brushing with the glaze every few minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and rest for 15 minutes. Reserve any juices in the base of the roasting dish to serve with the chicken.
  6. To serve, place the chicken on a serving plate. Toss the rocket with a little olive oil and arrange around the chicken like a Christmas wreath. Spoon the cherries over the rocket and serve with the roasting juices.
Basic all-in pavlova

I don’t want to oversell this too much but this recipe changes the pavlova game, and it does so only by making one very simple change – it uses icing sugar mixture instead of caster sugar.

Sugar stablises meringues, and the biggest problem with most pavlovas is that people don’t beat them long enough to dissolve the sugar (so therefore their meringue is not stable). This begs the question: why not just use a sugar like icing sugar that dissolves more easily?

I assumed that a solution so simple would have to have something wrong with it. But after a lot of research there seemed to be no reason at all why people haven’t been using icing sugar instead of caster sugar to make pavlovas other than just “it’s always been done that way”. And this is a common problem with classic recipes in that we often don’t want to break with tradition, even if it might make our lives that much easier.

For this pavlova you just dump the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it at high speed for 8 minutes. It’s that easy.

Try it. I don’t reckon you’ll be going back to using caster sugar anytime soon. I certainly won’t be.


4 egg whites

300g icing sugar mixture

1 tsp cornflour

1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1 tsp white vinegar)

a pinch of salt 

To Serve

300ml thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

fruits, to decorate


  1. Heat your oven to 110˚C conventional. Add the egg whites, icing sugar, cornflour, cream of tartar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed to a glossy stiff meringue. This will take about 8 minutes.
  2. Lay a piece of baking paper onto a baking sheet or pizza tray and dump the meringue onto the baking paper, spread slightly on top to form a 20cm circle with a slightly flat top. Bake the pavlova for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven, wedging the door open very slightly with a chopstick and allowing the pavlova to cool in the oven for a further 90 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool further.
  3. While the pavlova is baking, whisk the cream together with vanilla in a stand mixer to soft peaks. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.
  4. To transfer the pavlova to a serving plate place a light plate on top and flip the pavlova over onto the plate. Then peel off the baking paper and place your serving plate on the base of the pavlova, flipping it again. A dollop of cream on the base of the pavlova before you place the serving plate on it will keep the pavlova from sliding on the plate.
  5. Top the pavlova with the cream and decorate with your preferred fruits.


  • The acid from the cream of tartar (tartaric acid) also helps stabilise the meringue.
  • I don’t sweeten the cream for pavlova as the meringue itself is very sweet.
  • Some recipes call to cool the pavlova overnight in the oven, but low temperature Maillard reactions will actually brown the meringue, turning it a coffee colour. Cooling for an hour or two is fine to minimise cracking, and removing it from the oven then will keep your pavlova white.
Baked sour cream custard with caramelised figs


1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

2 cups milk

¾ cup sour cream

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

60 g caster sugar

2 figs

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp sherry


  1. Place the milk, sour cream and pod of the vanilla bean into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Stir the eggs, egg yolks and sugar with a whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar. Add the vanilla seeds. Pour the milk mixture into the eggs and stir to combine. Try not to incorporate air into the mixture.
  3. Heat your oven to 140C (fan). Place two Adam Liaw Everyday medium bowls (or 4 small bowls) into a deep baking dish and divide the mixture between the bowls. Pour boiling water around the bowls and bake the custard for 50 minutes until set. Remove from the oven. You can chill these if you like, serve warm or at room temperature.
  4. Heat the butter and caster sugar in a small frying pan and cook for about 5 minutes to a dark caramel. Add the figs cut side down to caramelise on the pan, then add the sherry to form a caramel sauce.
  5. Serve the figs on top of the custard, with a few spoons of the caramel sauce.
Green vegetable colcannon


1.5 kg potatoes, unpeeled

1 cup milk or pouring cream

75 g butter, plus extra to serve

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup brussels sprouts, finely sliced

4 spring onions, sliced

½ bunch cavalo nero, leaves stripped from stalks

½ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Heat your oven to 180C and roast the potatoes for 1 hour until soft.
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, heat a large frying pan and add half the butter. Add the cabbage and brussels sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. Add the spring onions and cavalo nero and stir to wilt. Season well with salt.
  3. Scoop the flesh from the hot potatoes and pass through a potato ricer into a large pot. Add the milk or cream and remaining butter and beat to a smooth mash. Stir through the vegetables and parsley and season well with salt.
  4. Place the colcannon in a serving dish, make a well in the centre and add a little melted butter to serve.
Soy sauce chicken wings with cured eggs


1½ cups soy sauce

1½ cups dark soy sauce

1 brown onion, halved and with the skin on

1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, thickly sliced

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 pieces black cardamom

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 cup caster sugar

8 eggs

2 kg chicken mid-wings

2 thick spring onions

chilli sauce, to serve (optional)


  1. Add all the ingredients except the eggs and chicken to a very large pot together with 1 litre of water. Bring the pot to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove 2 cups of the liquid to a separate bowl and cool to room temperature.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, prick a hole in the base of each egg with a needle and boil the eggs for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Immediately remove to a bowl of iced water and cool completely. Place the eggs into a press-seal bag and pour over the reserved poaching liquid. Seal the bag and refrigerate for up to two days to cure the eggs. If you don’t want to cure the eggs, just soak the eggs in the liquid while you cook the chicken.
  3. Bring the poaching liquid in the pot to a rolling boil and add the chicken wings. Simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid for a further 15 minutes. (If you aren’t planning on eating the chicken straight away, allow it too sit in the poaching liquid for longer as it will take on more flavour.)
  4. Ladle 2-3 cups of the poaching liquid into a separate saucepan and boil uncovered and reduce the volume by half. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Cut the spring onion into 5cm lengths, then cut lengthways into a fine julienne (both white and green parts). Place the spring onion into iced water to curl.
  6. Serve the chicken wings with the halved eggs and drizzle with the reduced poaching liquid. Serve with the spring onions and your preferred chilli sauce.
Mafaldine with peas, parsley and pecorino


¼ cup olive oil, plus extra

2 cloves garlic

½ a brown onion

2 cup frozen green peas

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach

½ cup picked parsley leaves

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup freshly grated pecorino, plus extra to serve

500g dried mafaldine (or other long pasta)


  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, garlic and onion and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion is fragrant and translucent. Add the peas, spinach and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and add the parmesan. Blend to a smooth puree with the parsley leaves. Taste the puree and adjust for seasoning.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it for cooking the pasta. Cook the pasta according to packet directions but start checking it two minutes before the recommended cooking time has finished. When the pasta is al dente, drain it well (reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking water) and return it back to the pot on low heat (or a separate frying pan, if that is easier). Add the puree, reserved cooking water and drizzle in around ¼ cup of extra olive oil, tossing toss to coat. Serve the pasta with extra pecorino.