From a super-easy haloumi chicken bake (think crispy, molten, salty haloumi…) to cheat’s ice-cream, whether you love cooking but don’t have much time, or you actually DON’T love cooking but you want tasty food that’s easy to put together, Donna Hay has you covered.
“My ideal scenario is a collection of delicious mid-week meals that use a mix of store-bought and fresh ingredients to create dishes that look and taste good but leave you with more time to do the things you love,” says the food editor, stylist, cookbook author and TV host, when we chat to her ahead of the start of Donna Hay: Fast, Fresh, Simple on Channel 33 (Thursdays 7.30pm from 7 November).
“Food and cooking plays such a pivotal role in our lives – it’s something we all do every day and get such enjoyment out of. But over the years, I’ve realised that there are a lot of people who find the whole thing intimidating so they stick to what they know. The idea for this show was to break down the barriers and show people how easy cooking can be, if you have a repertoire of cheats and shortcuts,” she tells SBS Food.
Hay says the recipes are also perfect for those who are short on time.
“It’s a lovely idea to make everything from scratch but sometimes life gets in the way. I’m a busy working mum so I’m always on the lookout for simple meal ideas that are big on flavour but low on fuss.”
In Donna Hay: Fast, Fresh, Simple, Hay – who also recently published her latest cookbook, WeekLight – shares exactly what the show title promises: food that’s easy and full of flavour, making the most of both fresh ingredients and well-chosen store and pantry favourites (think speedy pork and fennel meatballs or cheat’s caramel ice-cream, plus cakes, muffins and more).
Here are ten of our favourite short-cuts and no-fail recipes from the show.
The one-tray bake: Chicken with haloumi and honey
If you’re short on time, a bake with just a few ingredients makes it super-fast to put together. Throw a few well-matched ingredients in a tray and let the oven do the work while you do other stuff. Case in point, Hay’s chicken with honey and haloumi. “You've got chicken, which is quite mild, with beautiful, salty halloumi which when you roast becomes crispy and molten, and when you combine that with the sharpness of the lemon and then the beautiful sweetness of the honey, those four ingredients together are just magical,” says Hay in episode 1 of Fast, Fresh, Simple. Her roasted chicken and chorizo is another easy tray bake to throw together and packed with flavour from chorizo, olives and cherry tomato.
Standby dinner: Rustic summer crumb pasta
"Everybody needs a couple of recipes in their repertoire that actually use ingredients you might have around in your pantry or in the fridge," says Hay. And if you don't always have mozzarealla in the fridge, this is the perfect excuse! This is also a great way to use up sourdough or other crusty bread.
Roast chook in half the time: Speedy roast chicken and chips
If you thought that juicy roast chook ready in under an hour was impossible, give this easy version a try.
Shortcut soup: Easy vegetable soup
IF you haven’t discovered this great tip already, you’ll love this: Grating veg instead of chopping them for soups, stews and salads.. “There’s almost no chopping in my favourite easy vegetable soup: a grater does it in a quarter of the time. So easy,” Hay says. It’s a trick you’ll find yourself applying to other recipes in your repertoire too.
Smart tart (buy the pastry!): Caramelised onion, potato and feta tart
This is the sort of tart anyone can make: “Just the thought of cooking a tart can send some people into a bit of a tailspin, but I'm going to show you how to make a really simple, super cheats, caramelised onion, potato and feta tart using lots of store-bought ingredients.
“I don't have too many rules in the kitchen, but one of my big ones is that life is too short to make puff pastry so store-bought, good-quality puff pastry - absolutely fine for this recipe!”
Standby staple (keep this one in the freezer!): Bacon and lentil soup
"I always have my bacon and lentil soup in the freezer on standby for those nights when I’ve just run out of time to make dinner,” Hay says.
Dessert in a hurry: Fast raspberry trifles
“I love my version of raspberry trifle because I have no patience at all. I cannot wait for jelly to set. I can't wait for sponge cake to cook, so I've cut all that out and I've cheated. I've got layers of sponge finger biscuits with crushed raspberries and mascarpone. It makes the most glamorous trifle in just minutes,” Hay says.
Super-easy ice-cream 1: Mango and banana yoghurt gelato
“Just by using frozen fruit and some thick, natural yoghurt you can make the most amazing instant ice cream or gelato you've ever seen,” Hay says. “All you have to do is turn on your blender, blend it till it's smooth and you've got instant yoghurt gelato. Magic!” Eat it as is like a soft serve or freeze it for an hour or two for a firmer result.
Super easy ice-cream 2: Cheat’s caramel ice-cream
We couldn't resist putting two ice-creams in the list because ....two ingredients, people, two ingredients! Yep, Hay’s caramel ice-cream is made with just cream and a tin of caramel. And you don't need an ice-cream machine. Winner!
Impressive no-fail choc dessert: Cheat’s chocolate fondant
“I think the traditional recipe for chocolate fondant is actually quite cruel. So I created this recipe which is totally no-fail and it makes you look like a superstar,” Hay says in the show. Cruel? When we chatted to Hay, she explained: “My cheat’s chocolate fondant will be your secret weapon! There’s actually quite a lot of temperature variation from oven to oven, making a traditional chocolate fondant high-risk. Because it’s all down to perfect timing: too long and there’s no molten centre. Not enough time in the oven and the fondant collapses. This recipe has a sneaky little trick that guarantees a perfect result – every time!”
With their crisp golden cases and fluffy centres, these doughnuts are baked not fried and are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—whether your crowd is of 8-year-olds or 88-year-olds. You'll be pleased to hear that not only do these brownies deliver on the rich, chocolatey, and addictive prerequisites of brownies, they are also gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. They're “almost good for you choc-banana brownies". Poaching the cauliflower in milk before baking it is a simple trick that makes this dish extra creamy. This hands-on meal is great for kids, as not do they get to assemble their own nacho bowls—they get to eat the whole thing, bowl and all!
With their crisp golden cases and fluffy centres, these doughnuts are baked not fried and are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—whether your crowd is of 8-year-olds or 88-year-olds.
You'll be pleased to hear that not only do these brownies deliver on the rich, chocolatey, and addictive prerequisites of brownies, they are also gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. They're “almost good for you choc-banana brownies".
Poaching the cauliflower in milk before baking it is a simple trick that makes this dish extra creamy.
This hands-on meal is great for kids, as not do they get to assemble their own nacho bowls—they get to eat the whole thing, bowl and all!