Winter Warmer Recipes with Dani Venn
Delicious, simple and budget-friendly recipes the whole family will love!
Published 02 June

You may know her as The Wholehearted Cook or a familiar face from the kitchens of MasterChef Australia, but for the winter weeks ahead Dani has teamed up with Grand Central to become our resident foodie queen! 

Sharing her whole food recipes that not only warm the soul but keep healthy, fresh and whole food ingredients at its core - a curated series of easy-to-follow and budget-friendly recipes are coming straight to your kitchen.

Every three weeks, a new step-by-step videos will be released, so mark your calendar and get your best apron ready for some MasterChef-quality cooking in your own kitchen this winter! 

Dani shows us how to make;

  • Salted Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Brownies
  • Carbonara Risotto
  • Sweet Potato & Chickpea Dahl 
  • Curried Vegetable Pasties 
  • Pumpkin & Bacon Mac N Cheese, and
  • Japanese Pancake (Okonomayaki) 

Get all the ingredients to make these great recipes from The Market Room, located on Level 1. 

 

Salted Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Brownies

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time.

Serves: 12


Ingredients

130g natural peanut butter

200g good quality dark chocolate

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

150g plain flour

100g dark chocolate buttons 

1 teaspoon salt flakes


Method

For this recipe you will need a 20 x 20 cake pan. Line the cake pan with baking paper and pour in the peanut butter, spreading it evenly across the base of the pan. Place baking pan in the freezer and freeze butter for at least 4 – 8 hours, or until completely frozen.

Preheat fan-forced oven to 150 degrees.

Create a double boiler by placing a saucepan filled with a few cups of water over low – medium heat and place a stainless steel or glass bowl on top of the saucepan.

Add chocolate and butter into the bowl of the double boiler. Gently stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate melt and are glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla essence.

Whisk in eggs one at a time into the brownie mixture so that the mix comes together and is smooth. Sieve the plain flour into the mixture, gently fold in the mixture and stir in the dark chocolate buttons. Do not overwork the mixture.

Place half the amount of brownie mix into the same sized cake pan as the frozen peanut butter, smooth out the batter so its evenly spread. Top with a layer of frozen peanut butter and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Pour in the remaining brownie mixture and evenly spread.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes so that the sides are cooked through and almost cake like but the centre is still a little soft and fudgy. Remove from oven and allow brownie to cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes then remove from cake pan and allow to cool completely on a wire cake rake.

Slice to serve.

 

Carbonara Risotto

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 – 3

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil 

½ brown onion 

2 rashes long bacon, rind removed, finely diced 

1 ½ cups risotto rice (Aroborio, Carnaroli

1/3 cup dry white wine 

1 – 1.5 litres of good quality chicken stock, ensure stock is hot

1 egg yolk 

1/3 cup pure cream 

½ cup grated parmesan cheese 

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper 

1 teaspoon salt flakes

20g chilled unsalted butter, cubed 

Shaved parmesan, to serve 

 

Method

Place a medium sized frypan over low – medium heat, add olive oil when hot, add onion and sauté for about five minutes until onion is translucent. Add diced bacon and cook for a further few minutes so that the bacon fat has rendered and the pan is nice and oily. 

Add a layer of risotto rice into the pan and stir well to coat the rice in the oil. Cook the rice for about three minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is semi translucent. Increase the heat of the pan to medium – high heat, when hot, add the white wine. The pan should sizzle. 

Stir well, then add a few ladleful of hot stock to the pan and swirl the pan, return the pan to medium – low heat. When rice has absorbed the stock, add a few more ladelfuls of stock occasionally swirling or stirring the pan. Repeat this process until the rice appears creamy and cooked through, it should retain some of the rice’s “bite” and not be too soft. This process should take about 25 – 30 minutes. 

When the risotto is almost ready, combine egg yolk, cream and grated parmesan cheese into a bowl, crack in black pepper and stir in some salt. Whisk together with a fork then pour into the risotto mixture. 

To finish off the dish, add in some chilled butter, stir well to combine. If risotto is looking too dry, add in a little hot stock to loosen. Serve immediately and garnish with a few shavings of parmesan and extra black pepper and sprinkle of salt. 

 

Sweet Potato & Chickpea Dahl

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes  

Cook Time: 40 minutes 

Serves: 6 

 
Ingredients  
 
2 tablespoons full flavoured coconut oil  

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger  

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic  

1 tablespoon Indian style curry powder  

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed  

1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (optional)  

½ teaspoon ground turmeric  

1 ½ cups red lentils 

400ml can coconut cream or milk  

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced  

1 can chickpeas, drained  

2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves (optional)  

Salt flakes, to season  

½ bunch of coriander, to serve

 
Method  
 
Place large saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil, when melted and hot add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes then add curry powder, cumin seed and chilli flakes if using. Stir well to ensure even cooking and cook for a further few minutes.  
 
Add red lentils to the saucepan, stir well to coat the spices, add about 1 litre of water and coconut cream. Bring dahl mix up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add diced sweet potato and allow to cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes or until cooked through and the lentils are nice and creamy or the dahl is starting to catch at the base of the pan. Remove from heat.  
 
To finish the dahl, add chickpeas and stir through spinach leaves and season with salt. Serve warm with flatbread or steamed rice and fresh coriander. 

 

Italian Sausage & Broccoli Cavatelli Pasta  

  

Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 30 minutes resting  
Cook Time: 15 minutes  
Serves: 2 – 3  
 
Ingredients  
Pasta Dough  
1 cup semolina flour  
1 cup “00” plain flour  
¾ cup lukewarm water  
Pinch of salt 
 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  
2 good quality Italian sausages  
2 cups broccoli florets  
2 cloves garlic, diced  
1 long red chilli, finely diced  
 
Salt flakes, to season  
A few handfuls of grated or shaved parmesan to serve.  
 
Method  
Combine semolina flour, “00” flour and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl or bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine by drizzling in the water to the flour and mix with your hands to combine or mix on low speed if using an electric mixer.  
 
Once dough comes together, lightly flour your bench and knead dough using the palm of  your hands for about 5 – 10 minutes or until dough springs back on itself if pressed down with your finger. When smooth, form into a ball and press down to form a flat circle.  Wrap in cling wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  
 
To make the pasta sauce, place a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, when hot add your garlic and chilli and sauté for a minute or so, then add in your broccoli and squeeze the meat out of the sausage casing straight into the pan to create little meatballs. Stir well when cooking to ensure everything is evenly cooked. Add a splash more olive oil if required.  
 
To make your cavatelli, take a small piece of dough approx. ¼ of the amount of the dough or less and roll out into a thin sausage shape onto a lightly floured bench. Cut approx. 1 cm rounds or less if the thickness of your dough is wide. Then using your thumb press down on one piece of dough to form a circle then roll the circle onto itself to create a cavatelli shape. Repeat with remaining dough.  
 
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add rolled cavatelli pasta, cook for approx. 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and add immediately to the pasta sauce. Stir well and heat over low heat if needed. Drizzle over extra olive oil if needed. Season with salt flakes and grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.  
 
Tips
Italian style sausages are usually made with pork and fennel, so you could look for this flavour combination too.  
You can add extra flavour to this dish by adding some chopped fresh herbs like basil or parsley too.  

 

Curried Vegetable Pasties  
 

Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus resting for 30 minutes 
Cook Time: 45 minutes 
Serves: 3 
 
Ingredients 
Shortcrust Lard Pastry 
2 cups plain flour 
50g chilled unsalted butter, cubed 
50g chilled lard, cubed 
 
Curried Vegetable Filling 
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil 
1 clove garlic, diced 
½ small onion, diced 
1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds 
2 springs curry leaves 
1 teaspoon Indian curry powder 
½ cauliflower, chopped into small florets 
½ cup frozen peas, blanched 
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed 
1 teaspoon salt flakes, to season 
 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
 
 
Method 
To make the shortcrust pastry, ensure that all equipment and ingredients are cold and room is not too hot. Wash hands under running cold water if hands are warm. 
Place flour into a mixing bowl, add butter and lard and cut the pastry using a butter knife until its crumbly and then use the tips of your fingers to rub the pastry together until it resembles breadcrumbs. If there are some small chunks of butter or lard in the pastry that’s OK. Don’t overwork the pastry too much.

Add a few tablespoons of chilled water into the pastry at a time and use the butter knife to bring the pastry dough together. Once the dough has come together, remove from the bowl onto a clean work surface and lightly press dough just to bring together. Place onto a sheet of cling wrap, wrap tightly and place in the fridge and leave to rest for about 30 minutes, or you can leave for a few hours too. If leaving in the fridge longer you may need to let the dough soften a little at room temp before rolling out. 

To make the curried vegetable filling, place a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil and when hot add onion, garlic, mustard seed, curry leave and curry powder and sauté for five minutes, add cauliflower, peas, potatoes and a few tablespoons of water and cook until mixture is slightly softened for around 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool in fridge before using as the pasty filling. 

Preheat fan-forced oven to 180 degrees. 

To make the pasties, lightly flour a clean bench space as well as a rolling pin, cut a piece of dough roughly third of the size, roll out dough so it’s about 3mm thick and a circular shape. Place filling in the centre of the dough, leaving a two centre metre border around the edge. Roll the pasty onto its self to create a half moon shape, then press the sides down with your thumbs and crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining mixture. Place pasties on baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with a little beaten egg wash. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and crispy. Serve warm or store in fridge or reheat to serve.  

 

Pumpkin & Bacon Mac N Cheese  

  

Prep Time: 20 minutes  
Cook Time: 30 minutes  
Serves: 4  
 
Ingredients  
500g macaroni or elbow pasta 
80g unsalted butter  
1/4 cup plain flour  
1 litre of full cream milk  
1 – 2 cups pumpkin puree (see tips) 
½ teaspoon ground smoked paprika  
250g tasty or cheddar cheese, grated 
Salt flakes, to season  
Cracked black pepper, to season  
 
1 tablespoon olive oil  
2 long rashes of bacon, rind removed, diced  
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs  
 
Method 
Preheat fan-forced oven to 150 degrees on grill setting.  
 
Place large pot of salted boiling water over high heat, when boiling add pasta and cook for about 2 minutes less than packet instructions suggests as pasta will cook further when placed in the oven.  
 
Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add butter and allow butter to melt and bubble a little before adding flour, whisk together and cook flour for about two minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add milk a little at a time and whisk together until smooth. Cook for a further minutes until thickened. Season with salt, cracked black pepper and stir through pumpkin puree and cheese until smooth, reserve a little of the cheese to sprinkle over the top before baking.  
 
Pour pasta into cheese sauce and stir through, place into oven proof baking dish.  
 
To make your crunchy topping, place medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, when hot add bacon and cook for a minute or so then add panko breadcrumbs and cook through for a few minutes until coated in oil and slightly golden. 
 
Sprinkle bacon topping on top of pasta, add a little more grated cheese and place in the oven to bake for about  15 minutes until topping is golden and crunchy. Remove from oven and serve warm.  
 
Tip  
To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten free pasta and add cornflour instead but add about ½ cup of water to corn flour before adding to pan and don’t cook for as long before adding the milk.  
To make pumpkin puree, remove skin from pumpkin and dice into chunks. Steam pumpkin until softened then blitz in a blender until smooth or press through a sieve.  
You can add in extra veg like steamed cauliflower, blanched frozen peas, steamed carrot or sweet potato.  

 

Japanese Pancake (Okonomayaki) 


Prep Time: 15 minutes  
Cook Time: 10 minutes per pancake 
Serves: 2  
 
Ingredients  
2 cups thinly sliced white cabbage  
½ carrot, thinly sliced or grated  
2 spring onions, finely sliced  
1 tablespoon grated ginger  
 
1 cup plain flour  
¾ cup water  
2 eggs  
1 sachet instant dashi stock powder  
 
2 teaspoons sunflower or neutral flavoured oil  
 
½ cup tomato sauce  
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce  
2 teaspoons light soy sauce  
 
Kewpie mayonnaise, to serve  
Extra chopped spring onions, to serve  
 
Method 
Place cabbage, carrot, spring onion and grated ginger into a bowl, add a teaspoon of salt and mix well with your hands to season the vegetables.  
 
Place flour and water in a separate mixing bowl and stir gently to combine, crack in your eggs and whisk to combine until its smooth, stir in instant dashi powder (or stock powder). Add batter into the vegetables and stir well with a large mixing spoon.  
 
Place frypan over low – medium heat, add a teaspoon of sunflower oil, allow to heat then add a cup or so of pancake batter to the pan to form a circle. Cook for about five minutes before flipping the pancake, then flip pancake, put a saucepan lid over the pancake for about three minutes to steam a little. Remove lid and ensure both sides are nice and golden before serving.  
 
To serve, place tomato, Worcestershire and light soy sauce in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place in squeezy bottle. Drizzle over a few teaspoons on the cooked pancake followed by a good squeeze of kewpie mayonnaise. Sprinkle with spring onions to serve.  
 
Note: I prefer to use an MSG free dashi stock, like the Spiral Foods dashi that is available in Asian grocers and some green grocers. Alternatively you could use some chicken or vegetable stock powder.  
 
Tip: You can adapt the ingredients in the pancake to what you might have available in your fridge at home, mushrooms, bacon, leftover cooked chicken works well too.  
 

 

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