I have fond memories of the food that my parents cooked for my siblings and I when we were growing up good and bad!
I was very much a child of the 70s, and because I came from a big family where money was watched closely, I wasn't allowed to be too choosy with my selections. You ate what was given to you, or you simply didn’t eat. My foodie instincts were instilled early, as there was no way I was missing out on a meal so I ate!
In recipes: Curtis Stone's beef burger with lime and red onion relish
My dad was the main cook in our home and was a dab hand at anything "mince". I have written many times about his favourite savoury mince. I suppose it was just quick and easy and easily adaptable, with generally awful results.
I have a dislike of capsicum to this day, thanks to that mince. I remember he also shovelled in heaped tablespoons of gravy mix and peas. This was the standard recipe, but my sister reminded me just last night that pineapple was also a favourite. Pineapple, mince and gravy. Imagine that!
In all of my retro cookbooks, mince plays a starring role. I suppose it was cheap, and a little goes a long way when feeding a large family. Not much has really changed these days, except the quality of meat, which is a lot better.
This is my favourite bolognese recipe that I have adapted to taste over the years, which kids and adults both adore. You can make huge batches of this and freeze it in portions for midweek meals. It also has loads of vegies in it that the kids won't even see, but if they're really against vegetables, you can grate all of them up (the vegies, not the kids).
A tip is to try and get as many organic or free-range ingredients as you can. Tiny amounts of sugar will take the acridness out of the tomatoes, and the addition of milk at the end is truly transforming it just brings everything together. I don't know what the science behind it is it just seems to work! To add the finishing touch, stir in some shredded spinach about ten minutes before serving for extra goodness.
In recipes: Curtis Stone's crispy polenta bolognese
500g of minced beef
500g of minced pork and veal
Two cans of crushed tomatoes
One large onion finely diced
Two garlic cloves, crushed
Two large carrots grated
Two celery stalks, finely diced
250g mushrooms finely sliced
One heaped tablespoon of tomato paste
One teaspoon each of oregano and thyme
Two tablespoons of milk
Half a teaspoon raw organic sugar
In a large saucepan, fry vegetables for about ten minutes until beginning to soften. Add mince and cook until completely browned. Add herbs, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and cook for at least two hours on the lowest heat (longer if possible — which is why this is a good weekend recipe). About ten minutes before serving, stir in milk. Serve on spaghetti cooked to packet directions with slices of garlic parmesan bread. Delicious!
Watch: Curtis Stone cooks parmesan and Dijon crusted chicken with beans and capers