Monday, August 25, 2014

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Beetroot Stacks with Spicy, Caramelised Walnuts

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Beetroot Stack 2

Where did the last month go?  If your life is anything like mine, it's vanished in a heart beat.  During that month in my part of the world daffodils have burst into life, blossom is appearing on the trees, and spring lambs are bounding around countrywide.  My overcoat wearing has almost become a thing of the past, and I'm guessing that it will only be another couple of weeks before I can say goodbye to winter boots for another 8 months.  Yes, spring is definitely on the way.

In an entirely different part of the world, the owner and writer of the Enriching Your Kid blog has been completely oblivious to the fact that I've spent quite a bit of time poking around through her recipes in this last month.  You see, it's Secret Recipe Club time of the month and this was the blog assigned to me.  It was my mission to choose a recipe, make it in secret and post it along with everyone else in the Club on one glorious reveal day.

As its title might suggest, this blog is all about producing recipes which will fortify your kids with dishes that will strengthen their immune systems and stimulate growth.  As such, you will find plenty of recipes here for interesting baby foods and school lunches.

Of course, there's plenty of other good, nutritious stuff, but since I don't have children, I thought I might have a bit of trouble finding a dish here that I would want to make.  Wrong ... in fact I found almost immediately the dish I wanted to make - Beetroot Cutlets.

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Beetroot Stack 1

Now, if you live in my part of the world, when you hear the term beetroot cutlets, you might by thinking "what the heck"?  You see, down here, a cutlet is usually a piece of meat attached to a long bone - such as a lamb chop.

But I knew immediately what the nature of this was going to be.  When I was a kid, one of my favourite dinners was my grandmother's "potato cutlets".  These were spicy, minced meat (usually left over curried lamb), encased in mashed potato, and then crumbed and fried until crispy.  So I knew that here a cutlet was going to be some kind of rissole or croquette.

These beetroot cutlets are "spiced" up with a bit of ginger, garlic and curry powder (the original recipe called for garam masala, but I was all out of it), and I coated them with some panko breadcrumbs for a bit of crunch.

To finish things off, I served them on top of a spinach, lentil and goat cheese salad, with some spicy, caramelised walnuts, and topped them off with a dollop of raita (a combination of cucumber, yoghurt and mint).

This made a wonderful vegetarian meal.  The cutlets had a great combination of taste and texture and the salad was the perfect accompaniment, the earthiness of the spinach and lentils with the tangy, salty goat cheese providing a great contrast to the sweetness of the beetroot.  The crowning glory is easily the spicy, caramelised walnuts.

I know when you look at this recipe you might think there's a lot of ingredients and steps.  But, honestly, most of these ingredients are things you will likely have on hand already, and most of the steps involved here can be done well in advance - even the day before if you wanted.  This is a great dish for turning very simple, humble ingredients into a meal that looks and tastes really special.  Even the meat-eater around here declared that he'd pay good money for this dish in a restaurant.  I hope you'll give it a try.

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Beetroot Stack 3

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Beetroot Stacks with Spicy, Caramelised Walnuts Recipe
Inspired by recipe from Enriching Your Kid
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

For beetroot cutlets:
2x medium sized beetroot, peeled and grated
1x small leek, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1x clove garlic, minced
2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2x medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
freshly ground black pepper
flaky sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
generous handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying

For spinach, lentil & goat cheese salad:
1 cup brown lentils
4x generous handfuls of spinach, or mesclun salad leaves
150g goat cheese crumbled
juice of 1/2 lemon
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

For spicy, caramelised walnuts:
1x generous handful of walnuts
1 teaspoon curry powder
5 teaspoons sugar

For raita:
1/2 telegraph cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and finely diced
flaky sea salt
3/4 cup Greek style natural yoghurt
dried mint to taste

Begin by making the cutlets.  Heat a small amount of sunflower oil in a shallow pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced leek to the pan, along with a generous sprinkling of sea salt.  Saute for a couple of minutes before adding the ginger and garlic.  As soon as the leek is softened (but not browned) and everything is fragrant, remove from heat.  Tip into a medium sized bowl.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.  Drain and cool slightly before mashing.

Add the mashed potato to the leeks, along with the grated beetroot, curry powder, lemon juice and coriander.  Taste and add flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to your liking.

Use your hands to shape the mixture into patties, approximately 2cm (3/4 inch) thick.  Coat them in panko breadcrumbs, and refrigerate for at least half an hour to firm up.  You could even do this the day before if desired.

To make the raita, place diced cucumber in a small bowl, and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt.  Set aside for an hour or so, then drain off the liquid that has been drawn out of the cucumber.  Add yoghurt, mix well, and add dried mint (or fresh if you are lucky enough to have it in season) to taste.

To make the salad, cook the lentils, place them in a medium sized pot, with plenty of cold water.  Place over high heat and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender.  Drain and place in a medium sized bowl.  While lentils are still hot, add lemon juice, a generous drizzle of olive oil and season to taste with flaky sea salt and black pepper.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.  This is another stage that can be completed well in advance.  Once cooled, toss with spinach or salad leaves and crumbled goat cheese.

For spicy, caramelised walnuts, drizzle a small amount of sunflower oil into a shallow pan over medium heat.  Add the walnuts to the pan, and add the curry powder.  Toss the nuts until they are well coated and allow them to toast for a moment or two.  Add the sugar to the pan, and stir constantly until the sugar is bubbling and the nuts are thoroughly coated in the spicy, sugary mixture.  Remove and allow to cool.  Again this could be done in advance.

Pour a generous amount of sunflower oil into a shallow pan over medium heat.  Add beetroot cutlets to the pan, and fry until crispy and golden all over.

To serve, place a generous amount of salad on a plate, and sprinkle a few of the spicy, caramelised walnuts around.  Stack the beetroot cutlets on top, and drizzle over a little of the raita.

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mocha, Date & Meringue Ice Cream

Mocha, Date & Meringue Ice Cream 2

Pot Luck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is always one of my favourite weeks, because it means that we get to cook with any one of our ten IHCC chefs.  For me that usually means the irresistible opportunity to catch up once again with my favourite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi.

This is timely, because this month at Tasting Jerusalem** we are exploring cooking with date syrup, through the lens of Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem.  I've use date syrup a few times before in dishes such as this Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread, which is finished off with a drizzle of date syrup.

Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread 2

Date syrup has a consistency similar to maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup or runny honey, and makes a great substitute anywhere you would use any of those ingredients, but the flavour is so much more, for want of a better word, "exotic" and complex than any of them.  The sticky sweetness of dates, combined with the intense flavour and aroma of rosewater, makes for an ingredient that will transport you to places far flung.

I've also used date syrup in these Pumpkin, Date & Chocolate Scones ...

Pumpkin, Date & Chocolate Scones 4

... but today I wanted to come up with something that was altogether more indulgent and which really played to the exotic nature of this ingredient.

Doing a little research, I found my inspiration in Ottolenghi's recipe for Chocolate, Rose & Walnut Ice Cream.  This seemed like a good starting point, and I thought I could come up with my own version.

To start with, I simplified the whole process by using a combination of coconut cream, condensed milk, and melted dark chocolate, instead of the typical custard base used in the original recipe.  Since I had decided I was going to work date syrup into the recipe, I didn't need rose water, as that flavour is already sufficiently pronounced in the syrup.  I also wanted actual dates in the ice cream, as well as the syrup, so I soaked them in some freshly brewed espresso to soften them, before swirling into the ice cream.  And for that all important crunch, I replaced the walnuts and digestive biscuits Ottolenghi used, with some crumbled meringues.  I love the way they hold their texture, and keep that little bit of "chewiness" even once frozen.  I did think about also including some cacao nibs, but I think it would have been an ingredient too far, and the depth of chocolate flavour here is more than sufficient without it.

Ottolenghi served his ice cream with chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, which seemed a bit unnecessary in the circumstances, and some little cubes of Turkish delight sprinkled over the top.  I think this would have been delightful, but I didn't have any on hand.  He also finished with a little sprinkling of dried rose petals - another delightful touch, which I did have and would have added, but the ice cream was melting and for the life of me I couldn't find them in the cupboard (note to self:  time to give the cupboard a clean out!)

In the end, this ice cream is everything I wanted it to be.  Rich and chocolatey and almost fudgy;  there are delightful little of nuggets of chewy dates and crunchy meringues;  the date and rose flavours really come through without overpowering, and linger long enough on the palate to tantalise the mind with thoughts of far flung places.  I think I should have called this Magic Carpet Ice Cream.

Mocha, Date & Meringue Ice Cream 1

Mocha, Date & Meringue Ice Cream Recipe
Inspired by a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes about 1 litre
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/2 cup finely chopped, dried dates
3 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon date syrup
400ml (13.5 fl oz) coconut milk
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
200g dark chocolate, melted (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
40g (1-1/2 oz) crumbled meringues

Place chopped dates in a small bowl.  Pour over the hot espresso and date syrup.  Stir to combine, and set aside until the dates have softened, and mixture has cooled.

Break chocolate into smallish pieces.  Place in a bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not actually touching the bowl.  Stir from time to time, until the chocolate is melted and glossy.  Set aside and allow to cool completely, but without re-solidifying.

In another bowl, beat together the coconut milk, condensed milk and melted chocolate, until everything is well combined.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Empty ice cream into a freezer safe container.  Stir in the softened dates and crumbled meringues.  Cover the surface of the ice cream with a piece of non-stick baking paper, and put in the freezer to firm up.

Serve generously whenever you have itchy feet.

If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better or any one of our other IHCC chefs, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up for Pot Luck week.

IHCC Ottolenghi Leek Badge resized

** Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ten Speed Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest.

I'll also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollam.


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I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand.  Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, and hosted this month by Michelle at Munch Cooking, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pina Colada Ice Cream

Pina Colada Ice  Cream 2

I don't wish to whine, but it's not been the best of times around here the last couple of weeks.  Long story short, and I'm sure I've mentioned this here before, our house got flooded in a big storm a couple of months ago.  I arrived home from work to find the dining room and kitchen floors resembling a lake and, as water is wont to work its way downwards, the water had filled up the ceilings and floor of the two bedrooms below.  Not a pretty sight.  Anyway, after several weeks of not much happening, the insurance company finally realised that the problem was way more serious than they had originally anticipated, launched themselves into "emergency action" as a result, and sent in a team of people to start ripping the house apart.  Walls and ceilings have been removed downstairs, and big machines brought in to try and dry the place out.  The kitchen and dining room ceiling will have to be removed, likewise the floor, and there is even talk of the possibility of the whole kitchen having to be pulled out.  Needless to say, there is plenty of chaos around here and not too much cooking going on, so please bear with me if I'm not posting as regularly here as I'd like to over the next couple of months.

Still, life isn't all grim ... the magnolias and daffodils are out, and the tui which always comes to our garden at the start of spring, and enchants us throughout the summer, has arrived.  A wonderful reminder that spring is officially only 14 days away.  For those of you who don't know, the tui is a native New Zealand bird, notable for its vibrant green plumage and the two white feathers at its throat.  As a child I was always delighted by this Maori legend as to how the kiwi became a flightless bird and the tui got its white feathers.

Tui Collage

The other great thing about this time of year is the abundance of citrus fruit in season.  I always have huge bowls of lemons, oranges and mandarins on my kitchen bench right now, and it's the time when I launch into production of preserved lemons and lemon curd.  Marmalade making is just around the corner.

The fact, therefore, that this week we are Zesting It Up with Nigel Slater at I Heart Cooking Clubs, really brightened my week, and with days warming up a little it definitely seemed like ice cream was the way to go.  Though, in truth, I eat ice cream all year round - no excuse of warmer days ahead needed.   Trawling around on the internet I came across Nigel's Lime Mascarpone Sorbet.  I really liked the sound of that, and in fact I had a couple of limes in the house.  I didn't, however, have any mascarpone, wasn't feeling inclined to head to the supermarket to buy some, and easy enough though it is to make time wasn't on my side.  Poking around in the pantry, I came across a tin of coconut milk and figured I could do something with that.  I also stumbled across a tin of pineapple chunks that had been sitting in the pantry for goodness knows how long, and for the life of me I can't imagine how I ever came to be in possession of a tin of pineapple in the first place.  Then I remembered half a tin of condensed milk that had been sitting in the fridge for probably at least as long as the pineapple had been around, and thus this ice cream was born.  It's a simple as blitzing up the coconut milk, pineapple chunks, condensed milk, and lime zest in a blender, and then churning in an ice cream maker.

The resulting ice cream is light and refreshing, and a beautiful combination of flavours.  This is definitely one I will be repeating a lot this summer.  Thanks for the inspiration, Nigel.

Pina Colada Ice Cream

Pina Colada Ice Cream Recipe
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1x 400ml (13.5 fl oz) can Trade Aid coconut milk
1x 450g (16 oz) can pineapple chunks in natural juice
1/2 can condensed milk
grated zest of 1x lime

Place all ingredients in blender, and blitz until the pineapple is completely crushed and everything is well combined.

Pour everything into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.

Turn ice cream into freezer proof container, and place a piece of baking paper directly over the surface of the ice cream (helps to stop it turning icy).

Remove from freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving to soften slightly.

If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...


I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand.  Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, and hosted this month by Michelle at Munch Cooking, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats.

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I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Roasted Potato Salad with Black Olive & Roasted Garlic Gremolata

Roasted Potato Salad with Black Olive & Roasted Garlic Gremolata 2

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs we're Serving Up Salads with Nigel Slater.  This is the kind of theme which is right up my alley, given that I like to eat salads pretty much all year round.  This time of year, in the New Zealand winter, my salads take on a more substantial bent and usually comprise some kind of root vegetable, or pulses and grains of some description.

In Tender, Vol. I, I came across Nigel's recipe for Roasted potato salad with garlic and rosemary - new potatoes are roasted with garlic and rosemary then tossed, while still warm, in a mustardy vinaigrette.    It was sounding pretty good to me, but I felt it wanted a little "something else".  And then I remembered this recipe for Herbed Crispy Smashed Taters that I had seen ages ago on my friend Toby's blog, Plate Fodder.  Toby combined smashed potatoes with herbs, garlic, black olives and lemon before roasting them, and this was exactly the inspiration I was looking for.  And, by the by, if you haven't checked out Toby's blog before you are in for a treat - Toby's writing is witty and entertaining, sprinkled from time to time with family stories, and most of all his food is stuff that you totally want to eat.

Roasted Potato Salad with Black Olive & Roasted Garlic Gremolata 1

Roasted Potato Salad with Black Olive & Roasted Garlic Gremolata Recipe
Inspired by recipes from Nigel Slater, Tender Vol. I
and Toby at Plate Fodder
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

8x whole baby potatoes (I used baby Red Jackets), washed & unpeeled
1x medium-sized sweet potato, washed, unpeeled & cut into quarters
1x head of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled
2x stalks of fresh rosemary
olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
8x black Kalamata olives
zest of 1/2 a lemon

for dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F).

Place potatoes and sweet potato into a medium sized pot, cover with cold water, place over high heat and bring to the boil.  Boil steadily for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.  As soon as potatoes are cool enough to handle, place them on the baking sheet and flatten with the heel of your hand.   Pull the leaves off one rosemary stalk, and strew them over the potatoes, along with the garlic clove.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil, and season generously with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the tray of potatoes in the preheated oven, and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove the garlic cloves from the tray and set aside, and turn the potatoes over.  Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the gremolata.  Deseed the olives and chop finely.  Place in a small bowl.  Add the leaves from the remaining stalk of rosemary, and the lemon zest.  Squeeze a couple of now soft garlic cloves into the mixture and stir/mash to combine everything well.

Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a small jar and shaking until well combined.

Remove cooked, golden potatoes from the oven, place in a serving bowl, and drizzle liberally with the dressing - do this while the potatoes are still hot and they will really soak up the dressing.  Sprinkle the gremolata over the top, and set aside to cool slightly - this is best served warm.

Note:  You probably noticed that we cooked a whole head of garlic, but only used a couple of cloves here - the rest were saved to go into the gravy for the roast chicken which was the perfect accompaniment to this hearty salad.

If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...


... or check out Tender, Vol. 1 and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.

I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Chunky Monkey Cookies

Chunky Monkey Cookies 2

I've spent the last month snooping around inside the blog Baking and Creating with Avril, that being my assigned blog for Secret Recipe Club this month.  As the title of her blog might suggest, Avril likes to bake, so there was no shortage of sweet treats here to tempt my taste buds, along with a healthy serving of family friendly savoury dishes as well.  In the end, since I still had some chocolate and (now very ripe) Fair Trade bananas on hand from this hamper I told you about a couple of weeks ago, it was Avril's Chunky Monkey Oatmeal Cookies that won me over.

There are a few things I learned from making these cookies, most of which in fact has nothing to do with cookies.  Firstly, I really should not get out of bed before 10.00 am on a Sunday morning.  Secondly, if I must be so foolish as to rise before midday, I should not operate heavy and potentially dangerous machinery before I've at least had breakfast!!

Long story cut short ... we were headed out for lunch today, so I decided to get up earlier than usual and make these cookies before going out;  I also decided, somewhat foolishly, to skip breakfast.  In the interests of haste, because I am not one of those women who can get dressed and ready and out the door in half an hour flat, I decided to shortcut things a little and use the food processor to cream the butter and sugar for the cookies.  "Nek minnit" as we say in New Zealand, two inch gash across the palm of my hand and me hollering for the medic as if I was a contestant on Masterchef.

Anyway, hoping that I haven't completely skeeved you out by now, back to the cookies.

Chunky Monkey Cookies 1

I made very few changes to Avril's recipe, which she in turn adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe.  When I think Chunky Monkey, I think bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter, so I swapped out pecans for some roasted, unsalted peanuts.  I also cut the oats back a bit - by the time I had mixed the dough together it was feeling as though the full measure of one cup of oats would make it too stiff, so I cut it back to about one-third.  There's still enough oats in here, in my opinion, to kid yourself that this is health food, or excuse yourself for having them from breakfast!

The cookies smelled wonderful as they baked, and they certainly didn't disappoint.  We couldn't wait for them to cool completely, and enjoyed a couple of warm ones for a mid-morning treat before heading out to lunch.  These were everything a good cookie should be - crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and loaded with goodies.

Chunky Monkey Cookies 3

Chunky Monkey Cookies Recipe
Adapted only slightly from recipe from
Baking & Creating with Avril
Made 19 large cookies
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

170g (6 oz) butter
1/2 cup Fair Trade organic cane sugar
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1x free range egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1x medium-sized, All-Good Fair Trade ripe banana, mashed
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
250g (9 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
(I used Whittaker's Fair Trade Creamy Milk Chocolate)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then add the vanilla and mashed banana.  Mix well.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and mix until only just combined.

Add the chocolate, oats and peanuts, and mix to combine.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper, and place spoonfuls of cookie dough on the tray, spacing them 5cm (2 inches) apart.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-13 minutes until golden.  Cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.

Secret Recipe Club

This post will also be shared at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam, and at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Spiced Apple French Toast

Spiced Apple French Toast 2

I love the opportunity to sleep in late and take things slow on a Saturday morning, having a leisurely breakfast so close to lunch time that it's almost too late to even call it brunch.  And if you've seen some of my previous French toast offerings (here, here and here), then you will be in no doubt that French toast is indeed one of my favourite breakfast/brunch treats.

My weekend mornings usually start with getting up around 10.00 am, making a cup of tea, and then taking tea and a stack of cookbooks back to bed (ok, I know that right now every single one of you out there with children is hating me - what can I say?!).  So this morning I was leafing through Nigel Slater's Tender Vol. II, looking for a little inspiration for this weeks blog post.  Our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week is Off The Spice Rack, and I was thinking along the lines of something nice and spicy for dinner.

And then I stumbled across Nigel's recipe for "Early autumn apples on hot toast".  By this stage it was late morning, and with the tummy rumbling a little my thoughts made the leap from hot buttered toast to... you guessed it, French toast.

This could not be simpler for a quick brekkie treat.  Day old brioche is soaked in an eggy bath while sliced apples are sauteed gently in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, until tender and caramelised, then spooned over the French toast.  To be honest, I never would have thought of apples on toast (French or otherwise), but it was a combination that really worked, and the hot, sweet, buttery apples made a great wintery alternative to berries.  Definitely a dish I will be making again.

Spiced Apple French Toast 3

Spiced Apple French Toast Recipe
Adapted only slightly from a recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender Vol. II
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2x slices day-old brioche
(or bread of your choice - a spiced fruit & nut bread would be a good choice)
2x free-range eggs
1/4 cup milk
slosh of vanilla extract
butter for frying

2x apples, cored and thickly sliced
50g (2oz) butter
2x heaped tablespoons soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
generous handful of raisins

In a wide shallow dish, mix together the lightly beaten eggs, milk and vanilla extract.  Add the sliced bread to the "egg bath", and leave to soak while you prepare the apples.  Turn bread over about half way through.

Melt the 50g (2oz) of butter in a shallow frying pan set over medium heat.  As soon as the butter starts to sizzle, add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and allow to bubble away for a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Add the apples, and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring from time to time.  Add the raisins to the pan, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until the apples are tender but not collapsing.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Return pan to the heat, and add another generous knob of butter to the pan.  Once the butter is sizzling, add the bread to the pan.  Cook until richly golden on one side, then flip over and repeat on the other side.

Remove the French toast to a serving platter, and spoon the warm, caramelised apples and raisins over the top.  Serve immediately.  It's not shown in these photos, but a nice dollop of Greek-style yoghurt, with a bit of cinnamon swirled through it made a nice accompaniment.

If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...


... or check out Tender, Vol. II and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.

I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum, and at Cook Your Books hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chorizo & Calamari Salad with Black Olives & Pomegranate

Chorizo & Calamari Salad with Black Olives & Pomegranate 2

On a stormy night a couple of weeks ago a friend and I ventured out to dinner at The Boat Shed, an iconic Nelson restaurant, perched on the edge of the harbour. We decided to Trust The Chef, and as we oooohed and aaaaahed and OMGd our way through the following six or seven dishes, my mind was somewhat relieved from worrying about the rain which was bucketing in through my dining room ceiling back home.  A couple of hours in a "dry place" savouring some heavenly food was just the distraction I needed.

One dish that really delighted us both, and which has been on my mind ever since, was a zingy squid, chorizo and chilli salad.  It reminded me a little of a seafood, fennel and lime salad from Ottolenghi The Cookbook that I'd had bookmarked for ages.

Since it's Pot Luck week this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, it seemed like a good time to spend a little time with Ottolenghi and conjure up my own version of this salad, which is a little bit Ottolenghi and a little bit Boat Shed.

This made a great dish for a light lunch.  It was quick and simple to put together, and is definitely a dish I will be making again.  Had it been a nice sunny day, this would have been lovely to enjoy al fresco, but on a wintery Sunday warmed by the heat pump it still brought back memories of squid salads in the Greek islands.

Chorizo & Calamari Salad with Black Olives & Pomegranate 1

Chorizo & Calamari Salad with Black Olives & Pomegranate Recipe
Inspired by The Boat Shed and Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2 small fennel bulbs
generous handful of coriander
1x mild red chilli, deseeded & finely sliced
handful of black olives
extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
flaky sea salt
1x chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
400g (14 oz) cleaned calamari tubes
pomegranate seeds to finish

Trim the bases and tops off the fennel bulbs, reserving a few of the feathery fronds.  Cut the fennel in half lengthwise, and then slice them as thinly as you can - a mandolin is the ideal tool if you have one - and place in a large bowl.  Finely chop the reserved fennel fronds and add them to the bowl.  Add the roughly chopped coriander, chilli and black olives.  Drizzle over extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to taste, and season with a little flaky sea salt, again to taste.  Set aside.

Heat a little olive oil (you won't need much) in a small pan over medium heat, and saute the chorizo sausage until browned on both sides.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cut the calamari tubes into pieces about 5cm (2 inches) square, and score lightly with a sharp knife.  Toss with a little olive oil and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt.  Heat a chargrill pan over high heat (cast iron is perfect for the job) until smoking.  Grill the calamari in small batches until just done - about 1 minute on each side.  Remove from heat.

Add the calamari and chorizo to the salad.  Toss until well combined and serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better or any one of our other IHCC chefs, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up for Pot Luck week ...

IHCC Ottolenghi Leek Badge resized

... or check out Ottolenghi The Cookbook and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

I'll also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays hosted by my lovely friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollam.


See Ya in The Gumbo Badge      Souper Sundays Badge      Weekend Cooking Badge