Lucy Corry: The joy of cooking other people’s recipes
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and even master foodie Lucy Corry takes inspiration from her favourites.
As much as I love experimenting with ingredients and coming up with recipes, it’s very comforting to be able to turn to some old friends when inspiration and energy are low. Here’s a by-no-means exhaustive list of some of the recipes by other people that I turn to most often.
1. Sour Cream Sandwich Bread (Dan Lepard)
I reckon I’ve made this loaf at least once a month (and often, once or twice a week), for a decade. It’s one of a gazillion wonderful recipes in Dan Lepard’s 2011 baking book, Short & Sweet. While I mostly make sourdough now (following Nicola Galloway’s advice and master recipe), this high-rise loaf remains a firm family favourite. I’ve probably never made it with the sour cream Dan specifies, instead successfully using yoghurt, ordinary cream or even milk. It’s a winner.
2. Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak (Yotam Ottolenghi)
My copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem naturally falls open in two places: at the lamb shawarma (page 210) and at this one (page 179). It’s so simple — chicken pieces, fennel and clementines (or their Kiwi equivalent, the mandarin) are bathed in citrus juices, olive oil, mustard and ouzo before a quick roast in the oven. Incredibly simple, stress-free, great for entertaining. Plus, how can you not love a recipe that requires the purchase of a bottle of ouzo?
3. Hummus (Ruth Pretty)
Despite owning most of the Ottolenghi books (and many others that claim to contain the definitive hummus recipe), the one I turn to most often is a Ruth Pretty recipe that was published in NZ Life & Leisure in 2019. The trick with this recipe is that it uses the chickpea brine (thus conforming to my wish to use stuff up). It’s light, flavoursome and utterly delicious. I made it for some people we wanted to make friends with in France in 2019 and it did the trick nicely.
4. Bacon, Curried Egg and Ricotta Pie (Dean Brettschneider)
If you want to make friends and impress people — including strangers sitting near you at a sports game — this pie from Dean Brettschneider’s 2012 book, Pie, is the answer. It’s a holy blend of puff pastry (I cheat and use Paneton, even though Dean makes his own), bacon, eggs, curry spices, ricotta, cheddar and cherry tomatoes. The sum is more than equal to the whole of its parts; every mouthful is a joy. This pie elevates any picnic, but it’s also great when you’ve invited people for lunch in the weekend and have absolutely no idea what to serve them.
5. Gingery Beany Beef, Peas and Tubular Pasta (Jennifer Yee Collinson)
Chow Down & Chill Out: Fast Asian recipes for busy people has been part of my cookbook library since it was published in 2003. There’s one recipe that I often turn to in times of trouble or total lack of brain power — Jenny’s inspired blend of pasta and Asian flavours. When our daughter was small this was a lifesaver; now she’s as tall as me I still find myself reaching for the recipe when I’m out of ideas or energy.
6. Nita’s Mackerel Cakes (Lois Daish)
When I was a student, one of the people I cleaned for gave me a copy of Lois’ Dinner At Home as a Christmas present. I carried it from grotty flat to grotty flat, mostly dreaming of the happy day when I could cook from it all the time. This book encapsulates Lois’ relaxed, low-key and practical approach to food. These fish cakes transform cheap mackerel and ordinary old potatoes into something wonderful; I always enjoy making them.
7. Rustic Vegetable Pizza Pie (Nadia Lim)
It’s pizza, mi amore, but not as you know it. This recipe is one of many useful saviours in Nadia’s massively successful 2019 book, Vegful. Her pizza-pie hybrid has a rich base of caramelised onions and tomato, a hefty helping of roasted vegetables, herbs and cheese. This has saved my bacon (or lack thereof) on many occasions as a true crowd-pleaser. It’s a true unicorn; a pizza that counts for your five-plus a day and makes you feel good after eating it.
8. Esther’s Gingerbread (Ruth Pretty)
Is there any other gingerbread than this one, with its heady blend of spices and eye watering quantities of golden syrup? This recipe, which has appeared in several of Ruth’s books and in Al Brown’s Stoked, has earned its legendary status for good reason. The recipe itself came from Esther Woollaston, who once upon a time worked for Ruth Pretty Catering. I made it recently for a friend with a new baby and fell in love with it all over again. Here’s a gluten-free version.