Bill Granger recipes: Our chef cooks some American diner classics

Our chef has started to steal his daughter’s recipe ideas following her new-found interest in making her own treats

My eldest daughter and her friends have recently started baking and selling the results to each other in an attempt to supplement their allowance. More than showing a precocious entrepreneurial spirit, I think they've realised it's a clever route to sneaking junky food into the house. I pretend not to notice; If it gets them excited about cooking, then I'm happy.

So far, it's been all about brownies, and in a drive to outdo each other, the recipes have been getting more and more creative. Just a plain brownie won't do, of course. It has to be Red Velvet and Oreo Brownie, or my favourite, the marshmallow brownies recreated here. I'm now stealing recipe ideas from my daughters – can you believe it?

To encourage a bit more variety, I've suggested they start cooking whole meals. Good, easy food that's fun for sleepovers and which they can make with minimal supervision. It has all been inspired by American diner fare – so is hopefully still naughty enough to hold their attention, while bringing in a bit of foodie sensibility to challenge their palates. Take the mac & cheese made with crème fraîche, gruyère and Dijon, instead of the usual bland white sauce. With a bit of courgette grated in and a green salad on the side, you could almost call it a balanced meal…

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111,

Mac & Cheese

Serves 4

375g orecchiette
200g baby spinach
300ml crème fraîche
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp cayenne pepper
200g gruyère cheese, grated
100g Parmesan, grated
100g coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the grill. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Stir in the spinach, crème fraîche, garlic, mustard, cayenne, gruyère and half the Parmesan, until well combined.

Spoon into an oven-proof dish. Combine the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and remaining Parmesan. Use to top the pasta. Grill for about 5 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Californian-inspired burger

I've used wholemeal buns here, not because I'm trying to be worthy, but because I love the nuttiness and crunch.

Serves 4

250g pork mince
250g beef mince
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small red onion, grated
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
4 good-quality wholemeal hamburger buns
Mayonnaise, to serve
1 large tomato, sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Butter lettuce or soft round lettuce leaves

For the salad

1 tsp caster sugar
Juice 1 lime
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
Handful coriander leaves

Put the mince, garlic, onion and salt in a bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper and combine well with your hands. Form into four patties, making them slightly larger than the buns, because they will shrink during cooking. Chill. For the salad, combine the sugar and lime, and fold through the fennel, chilli and coriander. Season.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the hamburger patties and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until done to your liking. Remove and keep warm.

While the burgers are cooking, heat a griddle pan over a high heat and use to toast the cut-sides of the buns. Serve the burgers in the toasted buns with mayo, lettuce leaves, tomato, avocado and the fennel-and-coriander salad.

Marshmallow brownie

I'm not usually the biggest fan of marshmallows but I have to admit that they add an extra-outrageous level of gooey deliciousness to these brownies.

Makes 10 brownies

200g butter
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Handful marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line a 22cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and most of the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.

Place the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the eggs and butter-and-chocolate mix and stir until combined. Fold through the remaining chopped chocolate and the marshmallows.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack. When cool, cut into squares to serve.

Salted-caramel milkshake

I'm not sure I came up with this recipe with the kids in mind at all, if I'm being honest… I'm definitely on Team Nigella when it comes to a weakness for salted caramel!

Serves 4

5 tbsp bought thick caramel sauce
6 scoops vanilla ice-cream, slightly softened
375ml milk

Add a good pinch of salt to the caramel sauce and stir well. Put the ice cream and 3 tbsp of the salted caramel in a blender. Whizz until well combined then add the milk. Pulse to combine, adding a little extra milk if the mixture is still too thick.

Spread the remaining caramel sauce on the inside of four tall glasses. Pour in the milkshake and serve immediately.

Food preparation: Marina Filippelli;

Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes

Photographs: Laura Edwards

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