Curtis Stone bailed out on business school to pursue his love of cooking, and aren’t we glad he did?! Since then, he has gone on to become a chef, author and one of the most sought-after personalities on television. He has appeared on shows such as Oprah, Ellen, Matserchef and many more. And it’s not hard to see why the public love him…
The happily married father of one is all about cooking as Mother Nature intended—buy local, seasonal and organic ingredients, keep recipes simple and allow the food to speak for itself. Inspiring home cooks is Curtis’ vision as he works with grocery stores to help families think seasonally, shaping the nation and their shopping habits.
We are super lucky to sit down with Curtis for this week’s Five Minutes With…
Favourite ‘go-to’ meal at home?
Pasta is my favourite go-to weeknight meal at home, because no matter how busy my day was, how little time I have to make a quick meal, or what I have in the fridge and pantry – cheeses, fresh vegetables, meats, or sauce – I know I can always make a delicious pasta without any pre-planning. It also allows creativity, flexibility, and spontaneous experimentation – three of the aspects about cooking that I really enjoy. The same goes for salad, which I like to make to accompany my pasta.
Favourite ‘cheating in the kitchen tip’?
I love using fresh herbs in nearly every dish I make, because it adds an unbeatable fresh depth of flavor. So when I’m short on time in the kitchen, which is often, I skip the more time-consuming task of removing and chopping the leaves from fresh herb sprigs. Instead, I just toss the entire sprigs – stems and all – into whatever I’m cooking. This works especially great with thyme and when making soups, stews, sauces, and even sautés, since it lends all the flavor without the hassle. Before serving, I remove the stems, leaving behind the leaves that have fallen off. Alternatively, I tie the herbs in a bundle with kitchen twine to make them easier to fish out.
Common mistakes amateur cooks make?
I’ve found that most people don’t take the proper time to rest meat before and after they cook it – especially steaks. Most people only factor in the cooking time, but it’s the resting time both before and after the meat is cooked that is as equally important. Taking the meat out of the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or longer for large roasts, like turkey and prime rib) before cooking it takes the chill off and allows the meat to cook more evenly. And, after the meat is cooked, it needs time to rest before it is sliced, in order for it to retain all its natural juicy goodness.
One ingredient you couldn’t live without and why?
I couldn’t live without olive oil. It gives my food a lighter quality than butter, yet a delicious flavor that you can’t get from other oils, like canola or vegetable oil. Plus, I love it’s purity and health benefits. I use it for everything from my vinaigrettes to sautés, and even use it in one of my favorite cakes – an olive oil cake. I love it so much that I’ve even created a gorgeous oil can that looks stunning on my kitchen counter!
Favourite place to eat out?
My mum’s. She makes the best roast pork dinner ever.
And lastly, a favourite recipe?
I live in Los Angeles, where it can get pretty hot in the summer, so I like to have some cool, refreshing main- course salads in my repertoire. This one uses mai fun, the thin rice noodles that you’ll find in Southeast Asian cuisine. It has all of the flavour attributes that make me love this kind of cooking— sweet, sour, salty, and spicy—and tender and crunchy textures. Just writing about it makes my mouth water.
GRILLED PRAWN AND RICE NOODLE SALAD
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
What you’ll need:
180g rice vermicelli (mai fun noodles) or
angel hair pasta
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
625g extra- large prawns (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, cut into thin matchstick- size strips
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
3 spring onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, plus
1/4 cup small leaves
1 medium red chilli, sliced into thin rounds
(seeded if desired)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
●1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the vermicelli
and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain in a
colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. Drain well and transfer to a
large serving bowl.
●2 In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice, brown sugar, fi sh sauce, and sesame
oil together. Pour about half of this dressing over the vermicelli and toss.
Refrigerate while you grill the prawns. Reserve the remaining dressing.
●3 Heat a large char-grill pan over high heat. In a large bowl, toss the prawns
with the olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the prawns to the
pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until opaque throughout.
Remove from the pan.
●4 Add the carrots, mango, half of the spring onions, the sliced mint, and chilli to
the noodles and toss with the remaining dressing. Top with the prawns.
Sprinkle with the peanuts, mint leaves, and the remaining spring onions and
Want more of Curtis? Don’t worry, you’re only human! You can visit his website here, follow him on Twitter here, see what he’s up to on Facebook here and buy his latest cookbook, ‘What’s for Dinner?’ here