Adam Liaw's chicken roast dinner and custard dessert

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2010 MasterChef winner and TV presenter

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Everything around food is changing but there's nothing wrong with cooking variations on the dishes we know and love, says Adam Liaw.

Adam Liaw recipe: Sunday Roast Salad.

Adam Liaw recipe: Sunday Roast Salad. Photo: William Meppem. Food preparation: Breesa Swann. Styling: Hannah Meppem

How many dishes that you cook could you honestly say are actually new?

Sure, we have more recipes than ever before - in cookbooks, magazines and any of thousands of recipe sites online - but almost all of them are variations on the things we already cook. That's not a criticism; I think exploring new flavours within our existing styles is fundamentally important. But the fact remains that even with all the whiz-bang new technology at our fingertips, we still love to cook what we know.

You could bemoan our lack of imagination in food, but I look at it differently. Everything we know about food is changing - where we buy it, what we can buy, what we consider healthy, how we eat, where we eat, how much it costs - butin our own kitchens we can make food that is just for us.

Adam Liaw recipe: Marmalade Custard Cake.

Adam Liaw recipe: Marmalade Custard Cake. Photo: William Meppem

In our own kitchens we get to look at everyone out there telling us what's good or bad for us, what we should be eating, doing or thinking, and hold a finger to our lips and say: "Shhh. I got his."

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Sunday roast salad

Serves 4

This salad couldn't be easier. Roast a few ingredients together, then toss them with some leaves and a dressing. That's it.

• 6 chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat

• 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

• 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets

• 1 small red capsicum, deseeded and cut into strips

• 1 small eggplant, cut into 1cm cubes

• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

• 3 anchovies, very finely chopped

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

• 1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced

• 8 cups mixed baby salad leaves

• black pepper, to serve

Light vinaigrette

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

• 1 tsp Dijon mustard

• 1 tbsp lemon juice

• a pinch of salt

Heat your oven to 210ºC. Combine the chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and anchovies in a bowl, add the oil and stir to coat. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a lined baking sheet large enough to fit everything in a single layer with a bit of space between the vegetables. You can use two baking sheets if you prefer. Season well with salt. Roast the chicken and vegetables for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are starting to char around the edges.

Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Thickly slice the chicken thighs and toss everything together - the chicken, roast vegetables, raw onion, salad leaves and vinaigrette - so that the salad leaves slightly wilt under the hot vegetables. Grind over plenty of black pepper and serve.

Marmalade custard cake

Serves 4

This magical cake separates during the cooking process to a thick custard layer that sits below a spongy cake layer.

• 1/2 cup orange marmalade

• 125g butter, plus extra for greasing

• 4 eggs, separated

• 1/2 cup caster sugar

• 1 cup plain flour

• 500ml milk

• 1 tsp white vinegar

• ¼ cup icing sugar

Heat your oven to 160ºC and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Combine the marmalade and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg yolks and sugar, beating until pale and fluffy. Add a tablespoon of cold water and the melted butter and marmalade mixture and whisk to combine. Add the flour with the mixer set to a slow speed, and when it is incorporated add the milk a little a time until the mixture is smooth.

Separately whip the egg whites to firm peaks and add the vinegar, whisking to combine. Fold half the egg whites into the batter mixture until combined, then fold in the remaining egg white. Transfer to the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the top is brown and the edges are well set. The cake should still be very wobbly in the centre. Cool to room temperature in the tin, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Remove, slice and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Adam's tip

Even if you don't like anchovies, it's worth including them in this salad. They're finely chopped and will disappear during the roasting process, but will leave a rich flavour on the chicken and vegetables. If you must avoid them, add some porcini powder to the vegetable mix, or even gravy powder to increase the umami.