This week at Show + Tell we are introducing a new bite to Feel Good Food. We want to share the knowledge (and secrets!) of our countries finest chefs with you – what they really cook when they’re at home on a Monday night, their favourite places to eat out and their best tips and tricks. Each week we will grill a known and loved chef with our top-five culinary questions in the hope you can take away a gem or two!
Who better to kick things off with than the fabulous Dani Venn?! You may remember Dani from MasterChef season 3 and MasterChef all-stars. Dani is now cooking her way around Australia at live food events and festivals, making regular guest apperances on Nova, and hosting private dinner parties for us less culinary-gifted folks.
What is your favourite go-to meal to cook at home?
My go-to mid week meal is Asian Pork Lettuce Cups, they are simple, quick and healthy.
I add sesame oil, fish sauce, white pepper, minced garlic and a little sugar to the pork mince, then add whatever I have in my fridge at the time which might include chilli, ginger, green beans, kaffir lime leaves, rice vermicilli noodles – and stir fry it all up. Then I garnish with peanuts and fresh herbs from my garden and serve in lettuce cups!
Best ‘cheating in the kitchen’ tip?
Use Kewpie mayonnaise, it’s in the Asian section of the supermarket, instead of making your own or buying any other brand, it’s the best!
One ingredient you couldn’t live without?
I love coconuts because they taste unreal, they are healthy, there is a ridiculous amount of things that you can do with them and they suit both sweet and savoury dishes! You can drink coconut water from a young coconut, add it’s flesh to a Thai salad, use coconut milk in a curry sauce, make a pudding from coconut cream, use coconut flour for a gluten-free baked treat, and I hear that coconut shells make a rad bikini.
Favourite place to eat out?
I recently went to Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda ( http://www.newmarketstkilda.com.au/) and was completely blown away by the Latin American / Mexican themed food. The soft shell prawn tacos were the best that I’ve had in Melbourne and the dish that I would go back again and again for is the Tamarind Pork Hock served with green mole and an array of other delights to make your own lettuce cups from. Plus the cocktails were as good as the food! My other tried and tested favourite is Longrain ( http://longrain.com/) Melbourne for Thai.
What is the most common mistake you see us amateur cooks make?
The most important thing when cooking is to taste the food as you’re cooking it and use a recipe as a guide, don’t stick to the exact quantities if you taste it and think that it needs something else. This doesn’t necessarily apply with baking! When baking use a classic recipe like the Australian Women’s Weekly – you can’t beat it!
To get more of Dani visit: www.danivenn.com and follow her on twitter @danivenn