Do you have a repertoire of ‘go-to’ recipes? The cake that you can make for any occasion; the comfort food that you turn to when you need a hug in a bowl; that thing you make that EVERYONE loves?
Everyone’s list of kitchen heroes is different, so we make no claims that this is the be-all and end-all … but from crunchy-but-fluffy spuds to ‘the cake that cures everything’, here are a bunch of hero dishes that have saved the day many times over.
Get a pizza the action
If you’ve never made your own pizza dough, we urge you to give Mauro’s perfect pizza dough a go. It was our second-most popular recipe last year (scroll on down to the end to find out what number one was… though if you’re an SBS Food regular, you can probably guess!), and for good reason. It’s so rewarding to mix and knead a dough, top it exactly as YOU like it, then draw a hot, delicious disc from the oven. Mauro Gulli, who was once a pizzaiolo in Italy, shared his recipe and tips with Poh Ling Yeow in Poh & Co, and it really does make a great pizza.
If you want some ideas for what to put on your pizza, check out our pizza recipe collection. It’s got something for everyone, including a vegan pizza topped with home-made melty mozzy, grandma pizza (an easy, tray-bake style pizza), a stove-top skillet pizza and gluten-free cauliflower or sweet potato pizza base options. Plus cherry and chocolate dessert pizza!
Chicken soup is the answer to everything
There is no way to choose just ONE recipe from the many chicken soups in our archives. We love a Jewish matzo ball soup just as much as we enjoy digging into this hearty chicken and roast parsnip soup, which is a great way to make two meals from one recipe. Noodle soup lovers can tuck into Bosnian pileca supica sa gris knedli (chicken & semolina dumpling noodle soup) or a Thai khao soi (coconut curry noodle soup). Avgolemono (Greek lemon chicken soup) is a classic and this sopa de lima is a refreshing, citrusy soup.
And if you’re feeding a crowd, Novi Candra’s soto ayam (Indonesian chicken noodle soup) is a sure-fire winner. “Rich and fragrant, this … is a much-loved classic. It's a recipe that brings people together. Place the broth in the middle of the table surrounded by the condiments and let your guests serve their soup to suit their own tastes,” Candra says.
…tho pho and laksa are super-soups too!
We can’t talk kitchen hero recipes without including these two Asian soups. We’ve got heaps of variations on both, all good in different ways (dive into our soup recipe collection to find more) but the two super-slurpers that won their way into our top 20 recipes last year were this Vietnamese pho recipe with chicken and beef …
… and this ‘cheat’s’ laksa (it’s a speedier version, as it uses a purchased laksa paste).
We're full of praise for the pasta bake
Whether it's a Greek pastitsio or an Italian gnocchi bake, there's no denying the appeal of a hearty pasta bake - ideally with cheese on top. We're especially fond of mac 'n' cheese, as evidenced by the many variations we've published, from mac 'n' cheese Mexicano (yep, with chillies) and Donna Hay's cauliflower mac and cheese.
There are even mac 'n' cheese 'cupcakes'!
A tender pot of slow-cooked stew
The rewards of time are in every bite of a meltingly tender stew or casserole. Let's start with the French classic: beef bourguignon. Tender beef, with a hint of smokiness from speck:
Really, you could travel the world in your stew pot. A few to get you started: How about a Pakistani slow-cooked lamb and lentil stew (haleem); all manner of meat or vegetable curries (more than 250 to choose from right here); or this Peruvian potato and pork stew with peanut sauce (carapulcra):
The best-ever crunchy roast potato
How much crunch is just right? It’s a bit like Goldilocks and porridge, but here are two faves: Kenji López-Alt’s roasted potatoes recipe (pictured below) not only delivers outstanding spuds but for those who like the ‘why and how’, comes with a truckload of extra notes on the secrets to achieving to your crunchy spud goals; and Heston Blumenthal’s roast spuds (SO crunchy – or as Heston says “This recipe makes roast potatoes just the way I like them – with a crisp, glass-like crust and a fluffy interior”).
A big bowl of fried rice
You can make this as simple as rice and beans or a homage to the art of combining ingredients. For breakfast, try this ginger & turmeric rice with crispy egg. For a fast dinner, turn to Adam Liaw's kimchi fried rice. As he explains, it's easy and budget-friendly. "If you’re like me and always keep a tub of kimchi in the fridge, this is one of those weeknight dishes that are perfect when there isn’t much else around. You’d be surprised how tasty and satisfying a bowl of this economical fried rice can be."
And of course, there's another that pretty much always appears in any top ten recipe count in our archives, Hainanese chicken rice. "If you are a lover of chicken and comfort food, I doubt you will find another dish that celebrates both quite so thoroughly," says Poh of her version. Another top-rating version is this one, from the early days of Food Safari.
Hummus is how we spread the love
If you don’t love hummus, we’re not sure we can be friends… We love all the incarnations of this simple spread, from Shane Delia’s cauliflower hummus to a chunky hummus balilia, but for a classic creamy spread, it’s hard to go past this recipe from one of Australia’s masters of Middle Eastern food, Greg Malouf.
‘Bang’-on-target comfort food
For many folks, bangers and mash is classic comfort food. And easy, too: buy tasty snags, master a good mash, add a great gravy if that’s part of your B&M love affair. Done.
Give it a go with Donal Skehan’s bangers and mash with roast garlic, which he whips up in Donal’s Kitchen Hero (the show that got us thinking about which recipes were our kitchen heroes!) Soft, caramelised roast garlic goes into the mash to add an extra flavour layer. Simple but tasty - a winner in our book.
Everyone needs chocolate cake
There really is a choc cake for every occasion. We’ve got everything from a one-minute gluten-free choc cake in a cup to a four-layer celebration cake (secret ingredient: beetroot! The roasted baby beets add a dense, fudge-like texture to an already deep, dark chocolate base) in our chocolate cake recipe collection. A few more highlights: a sourdough-leavened hazelnut and maple syrup cake, a so-easy melt-and-mix cake or, for those for whom chocolate and coffee is the ultimate combination, this grillazs torta, a treasured family recipe for a chocolate, coffee and almond cake.
And then there’s the cake that cures everything (how could you resist a recipe with a name like that?), from writer Ruth Reichl, who says “In times of stress, only excess will do: this is an enormous cake. But it keeps very well and there is no such thing as too much chocolate cake”. True.
Pudding is always there for us
When it comes to comfort food, pudding is a gold-medal contender, every single time. Whether it’s Aussie classics such as lemon delicious or chocolate self-saucing pudding, a bowl of Indian rice pudding, a traditional English steamed treacle pud or this Turkish bread and cherry pudding (a great way to use up leftovers), there’s comfort in every spoonful. Find many more pud stars in our pudding recipe collection.
Cakey or fudgey? It's a delicious debate
We did chocolate cake .... but it would be unfair to not also give brownies the credit they are due. A square of dark, rich brownie is almost unbeatable. As to whether squidgy is better than fudgy or cakey, we're choosing the safe side of that debate. The one right off to the side where we say 'all brownies are good'! And yep, we include blondies in that 'We are Switzerland when it comes to brownies' statement. They are ALL good. Dive over here to our brownie recipe collection to find your perfect match (everything on offer from Donna Hay's molten choc-chunk brownies, double-choc stout, macadamia and candied bacon brownies and banana chai blondies to Anneka Manning's cheesecake-meets-brownie creation, black and white brownies).
A bikkie with your cuppa
It is one of life's simple pleasures: a quiet moment with a cup of tea or coffee and a good biscuit. Here are a few of our faves for just that sort of simple moment: Paul Hollywood's recipe for his Mum's ginger biscuit (the perfect crunchy dunker!); a chunky peanut butter cookie (gluten-free, too); Scottish shortbread; a classic melting moment; an icing-sugar dusted German spice biscuit or Greek rozedes; or a new favourites, these Middle Eastern tahini and rose halva cookies.
And finally, the cake that rules them all…
This Jewish orange and almond cake, shared in the early years of Food Safari, is SBS Food’s most-loved dessert, year in, year out. Made by boiling and pureeing whole oranges, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and delicious.
Discover more kitchen heroes - and hero recipes - in Donal's Kitchen Hero, with Ireland's Donal Skehan. Weeknights 5:30pm from March 16 on SBS Food Channel 33, then on SBS On Demand.