If a world-famous chef like Bill Granger is telling you exactly what you should cook your date, you’d be crazy not to listen. The Australian guru is known for creating the most delicious (and nutritious) food and is the king of simplicity – in the best way possible. Far too many gentlemen whine about cooking taking too long or recipes being to complicated, which is exactly why we’ve asked Bill Granger to give you the perfect excuse to get cooking. Trust us; the ladies love it when a gent cooks.
PARMESAN RISOTTE WITH PORCINI
Risotto is particularly good for a first date if you haven’t got a lot of time to pre-prepare. It’s something a restaurant really rarely can do justice, and it gives you stirring to keep you “relaxed” while you chat and sip champagne together. Cooking the rice and porcini separately is the secret to my mushroom risotto. It keeps the flavours fresh and vibrant and gives variation while you eat – one moment you’re biting into meaty sautéed porcini, the next creamy parmesan risotto.
1.5 litre good quality chicken stock
25g butter, plus a large knob
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
400g risotto rice
100g parmesan, finely grated plus extra to serve for the porcini:
Knob of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g small porcini, cleaned with a soft brush and thickly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
good quality olive oil, to serve
METHOD – Serves 4
To make the risotto, bring the stock to the simmer in a pan. Heat a large, high sided frying pan on a medium heat. Add the butter and oil and once the butter starts to foam add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Tip in the risotto rice and stir well to coat. When you hear the rice crackle add the vermouth and stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed. At this point, start adding the stock one ladleful at a time, stirring continuously and not adding the next ladle, until the previous one has been absorbed. Continue until the rice is al dente. You might not need all of the stock to get to this point, but if you prefer your risotto more cooked, keep going with the stock. Vigorously stir in the additional knob of butter and the parmesan, then cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Put the butter and oil for the mushrooms in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, toss in the porcini, garlic and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the porcini are tender and taking on some colour. Stir through the parsley.
Ladle the risotto into serving bowls and spoon the porcini over. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a glug of good olive oil.
BANANA AND SALTED TOFFEE PUDDING
This is a variation on one of my most popular recipes and I think people love it so much because it’s impossible to ruin, no matter what you do. You can overcook it or undercook it and still it will taste delicious. Don’t let the bizarre method alarm you, all that caramel-y topping you pour over batter will make it beautifully moist and create an irresistible toffee sauce. Your date will be most impressed!
125 g plain flour
120 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 banana, mashed
100ml whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
85 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing vanilla icecream, to serve
For the topping:
140g soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml boiling water
METHOD – Serves 6
Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the mashed banana, milk, egg, vanilla and butter and whisk well. Pour into a greased 2.5 litre oven-proof dish.
To make the topping, place the sugar, golden syrup, salt and water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Carefully pour over the pudding and bake for 30-35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Serve immediately with vanilla ice-cream.
TOMATO AND TAMARIND FISH CURRY
Curries are often rich and decadent, but when you use fish it just lightens things up, as does the tamarind. I serve this with steamed brown basmati – not because I’m trying to be worthy, I actually love the nuttiness of it. This is a dish to show your date you know the health is king and you’re on trend!
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste 3 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons light flavoured oil
2 onions, sliced
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
8 curry leaves
3 potatoes, quartered
4 tomatoes, quartered
300ml good fish stock
200ml coconut cream
600g firm white fish fillet, such as cod, haddock or monk fish, cut into chunks coriander, to serve
steamed brown rice, to serve
toasted desiccated coconut, to serve
METHOD – Serves 4
Dry fry the coriander and cumin seeds over a medium heat for a few minutes, or until fragrant. Blitz the toasted seeds, chilli flakes, turmeric, tamarind, garlic and ginger with a drop of oil to a paste. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, add the onion, mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry for about 8 minutes, or until the onion is golden, tip in the curry paste and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, fish stock and coconut cream to the pan and bubble until the potatoes are cooked through and sauce thickened slightly. Nestle in the fish, spoon over a little sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until just cooked Remove from the heat, scatter with coriander leaves and serve with toasted desiccated coconut and brown rice.
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