Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly 4

I've told you a bit before about the wonderful Indian family lunches we used to have at my grandparents' home when I was a kid, which may have had you wondering a little, since you can probably tell from my photo that I'm not Indian.  You see, my grandparents (and my mother), although of British descent were all born in India, and like many other Brits living in India at the time they chose to leave at the time of Partition.  Knowing that, when they arrived in New Zealand, they would have no servants here, my grandmother (who most likely had never boiled an egg in her life up to that point) called upon her cook to teach her how to ... well, cook!  Needless to say the cook taught her how to make a variety of Indian dishes which formed the basis of my grandmother's culinary repertoire.  This clearly sparked something in her, for she continued ever after to explore and experiment with different dishes, but in the end not many dishes escaped getting a bit of her "curry" treatment.  I can recall even wiener schnitzels which received a smear of curry paste either side before getting their egg and breadcrumb coating!

My mother, on the other hand, who was also a good cook and could equally whip up a great curry, tended to be a little more "Kiwi-fied" in her general culinary approach.  Like most other Kiwi households in the 60s and 70s, we largely lived on a diet of British classics - meat and three veg most nights of the week, and always dessert to follow.  Steak & kidney pie, fish & chips, scotch eggs, bangers & mash, jam roly poly, scones and trifle (at Christmas) were all regular fare in our household.

So, I certainly felt a flood of nostalgia when faced with our I Heart Cooking Clubs theme this week of "Fit for a Brit".  We continue to cook with Nigel Slater, who has so many interesting takes on classic British dishes that I had a hard time choosing what to make, but after leafing through my copy of Tender Vol. II (in the US this is published as Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard), it was Nigel's "Black jam roly-poly pudding" that rekindled a lot of memories.

Traditionally a roly poly pudding is usually steamed - in fact, it was often steamed in an old shirt sleeve, so that it was also sometimes called "shirt-sleeve pudding" or "dead-man's arm".  You've got to hand it to the Brits, don't you - they really do have great names for some of their dishes.  Care for some "toad in the hole"?  "Spotted dick" anyone?  (Sorry, couldn't resist).  Anyway, back to the roly poly.  As I was saying, it was traditionally steamed, but Nigel says he prefers his baked, and certainly any roly poly I remember from my childhood was baked.  As Nigel says, "Yes, the jam leaks a little ...", and indeed it does, but I kind of like the oozey bit of jam that escapes and creates a bit of stickiness around the edges and on the bottom.  No matter whether this is steamed or baked, however, you want a really good, well flavoured jam here, and a rich, dark coloured one is best.  Nigel suggests damson, blackcurrant, loganberry or elderberry.  I'm pretty sure the roly poly of my childhood would usually have been made with homemade plum jam, or possibly blackcurrant.  On this occasion I used a St Dalfour's black cherry.

While on the subject of tradition, I should also tell you that this dessert is normally made with a suet crust.  Suet is raw beef or mutton fat - usually the hard fat found around the kidneys - which needs to be grated or shredded before use (you can usually get your butcher to do this for you), and which like meat needs to be kept refrigerated and will keep only for a few days.  You can also buy packaged suet (Shreddo in New Zealand), which has been dehydrated and mixed with flour to make it stable at room temperature.  Obviously then you need to take some care if substituting packaged suet for fresh suet, because the fat to flour ratio will be different.  It's not clear from Nigel's recipe whether he uses fresh or packaged suet, but I imagine from the flour to fat ratio of roughly 2:1 that he uses fresh.  Either way, I couldn't find suet at my supermarket (and given the small quantity required, I probably wouldn't have bought it anyway), so I substituted with butter.  I'm not sure in what way a suet crust would have been any different, or maybe better, but I can safely say that a butter crust worked just fine.  You end up with a dough which is something like a soft scone dough, but which crisps up a bit on the outside like a soft cookie when baked.

In one final departure from the original recipe, I added a pile of roughly chopped dark chocolate to the filling because ... well, just because!  And, really, what's not to love about a buttery crust filled with jammy cherries and chunky chocolate.

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly 3

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender Vol. II
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

175g (6 oz) self raising flour
85g (3 oz) very cold butter, grated
1 tablespoon caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
160 ml (5-1/2 fl oz) cold water
70g dark chocolate, roughly chopped or grated
250g (9 oz) dark cherry jam (or other dark red jam)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (430 degrees F).

Sift flour into a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the grated butter and sugar, and add the water to make a soft dough - add more water or flour as necessary to achieve a dough which is not too sticky and can be rolled out without sticking to the rolling pin.

Tip out onto a well floured bench, and roll into a 30cm x 20cm (12" x 8") rectangle.  Spread jam over the dough, leaving approximately 2cm (3/4") clear on one long edge.  Sprinkle chocolate over the top of the jam.

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly 1

Brush the long clean edge of the dough with a little water, then roll up into a long sausage and press the wet edge firmly to seal.

Lift the roll onto a parchment lined baking sheet .  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until golden.  (Note the dough is very soft - don't be alarmed if it splits in places and flattens out - this is part of its rustic charm and, as Nigel says, "it is what it is".)

Chocolate & Dark Cherry Jam Roly Poly 2

Cut into thick slices to serve.  A dollop of good vanilla ice cream is a great accompaniment, as is a generous drizzle of runny cream or custard.

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 will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand.  Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, and hosted this month by Marnelli at Sweets & Brains, 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.

Sweet New Zealand Badge A

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, April 6, 2014

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez Sausage & Black Olives

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez & Black Olives 3

At I Heart Cooking Clubs this week we begin a new culinary journey with British cook, Nigel Slater.  Nigel is determinedly not a chef, rather a self-confessed amateur cook, who prides himself on producing food which is understated, home-style cooking.  We will be spending the next six months cooking his food, according to a different theme each week - an opportunity to explore his food in depth, and get to know the vast repertoire of recipes he offers through his books, television programmes and online sources.

I have a few Nigel Slater books in my collection, which I've used a bit and always enjoyed, but I have to be honest and say that I haven't used them nearly as much as I would like to have, so I'm really welcoming this opportunity.

For this week's dish I turned to Nigel's book Tender (Vol. 1).  In this book he chronicles tales about his vegetable garden. He talks of his dreams of self sufficiency, and describes how he transformed a small city garden into something which now produces the vegetables that have become the mainstay of his daily cooking.  Each chapter is a different vegetable, and offers advice on planting and harvesting, companion flavours and seasonings, and a variety of recipes.

Not only are all the recipes very simple and "do-able" for the average home cook, they are beautifully photographed, and the book is beautifully written.  Nigel's style is very "conversational" - the kind of information he would give you if he was cooking alongside you in the kitchen, and this style extends to the titles of many of the recipes.  Who wouldn't want to try "A quick cabbage supper with duck legs", "A tart of asparagus and tarragon", "Smoky aubergines and a punchy, bright-tasting dressing", or "An extremely moist chocolate beetroot cake with creme fraiche and poppy seeds"?

Leafing through the pages, something from the pumpkin department seemed perfect for an autumn dish, and when I stumbled across Nigel's "Pumpkin pangrattato with rosemary and orange" I knew that I had found my dish.  Of course you know that I can't leave well enough alone, and when I saw pumpkin mash with sausages on the very next page, I was convinced that I somehow had to work sausages into this dish.  My initial thoughts were to use some chorizo, but having picked up some nice, spicy, merguez sausages from my favourite butcher, I thought these would be a great accompaniment to the pumpkin.  I omitted chilli from the recipe, since the merguez is already spicy enough, but of course if you want the added heat, knock yourself out, and of course if you happen to be vegetarian then leave out the sausage and throw in a small, chopped red chilli or sprinkling of chilli flakes for a bit of heat.  I threw a handful of black olives into the mix as well, because I love pumpkin and olives together, and I mixed some little chunks of taleggio cheese into the breadcrumb topping, because after all what's not to love about a crunchy, cheesy topping on anything?!

This turned out to be a great dish with which to welcome Nigel to the IHCC kitchen.  With the addition of the sausage and olives, it made a pretty substantial meal, with a truckload of flavour and texture going on - in my eyes, always the hallmark of a great recipe.  You'll find the spicy nuggets of sausage and briny olives a great foil to the tender, sweet butternut squash;  the crunchy breadcrumb topping is a perfect compliment to the softness of the pumpkin;  and every so often you get little added explosions of flavour from the rosemary and orange.

In all, this is one of the best things I think I've made recently, and I will definitely be making it again.  There's easily enough going on here for this to make a substantial meal on its own, but would also make a great side dish as part of a larger meal if you were feeding a crowd.  Admittedly, this is not quite a throw it together in 5 minutes kind of meal, but neither is it an arduous labour intensive meal either.

I often ponder the scenario of someone asking me, "if I was to only make one dish from your blog, what should I make?"  I have in my head a shortlist of dishes I would recommend, and this dish definitely makes it onto my list.  All I can say is, "if you keep this up, Nigel, you and I are going to get along famously".  I hope you give it a try.

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez & Black Olives 4

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez Sausage & Black Olives Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender, Vol. 1
Makes 3 substantial servings, or 4 smaller servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

olive oil
4x merguez sausages
1x whole butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, & cut into large bite-sized chunks
generous handful black olives (I used kalamata)
3x cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
grated zest of half an orange
4 generous handfuls fresh white breadcrumbs
(for great texture & crunch, keep breadcrumbs quite coarse)
1 generous handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
50g (1-3/4 oz) taleggio cheese
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Put pieces of butternut into a steamer set over boiling water, and steam until just tender to the point of a knife.  This may take up to 20 minutes, but start testing after 10 minutes, as you really don't want to overcook it at this stage.  Remove steamer from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, remove casing from sausages, and break into bite-sized pieces.

Merguez Sausages

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat (see note below).  Add the chunks of sausage to the pan, and cook until golden brown all over.  Remove the sausage from the pan, and set aside.  Don't discard the fat which has been released from the sausages.   (Note:  if you don't have an ovenproof pan, don't worry, you can use a baking dish later on.)

Return the pan to heat, and reduce the heat to medium.  Depending on how much fat has come out of the sausages, you may need to add a little extra olive oil to the pan - you want about 4-5 tablespoons altogether.  Add the garlic, rosemary and orange zest to the pan.  As soon as the garlic becomes fragrant, add the breadcrumbs and parsley to the pan, and stir until the breadcrumbs are a pale golden colour.  Remove breadcrumbs to a medium sized bowl, but don't clean the pan.  Break cheese into small pieces, add to the breadcrumbs, and toss gently to distribute evenly amongst the crumbs.

Return sausages, butternut chunks and black olives to the pan (or use a shallow baking dish), distributing them evenly.  Season generously with salt and pepper, and dot little knobs of butter over the top.

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez & Black Olives 1

Tip the breadcrumbs over the top of the pumpkin and sausage in an even layer, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until the crumbs are golden and crunchy and the pumpkin is thoroughly tender.

Pumpkin Pangrattato with Merguez & Black Olives 2

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 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, 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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Monday, March 31, 2014

Peach & Blueberry Pancakes

Peach & Blueberry Pancakes 1.jpg

I've been on the waiting list for about a year to join the Secret Recipe Club, a cooking group where each month we are assigned another blog from which we will choose a recipe to make and write a post about.  This is done in secret (hence Secret Recipe Club), so no one knows who is cooking from which blog until everyone puts up their post on reveal day.

Anyway, after a long wait, I was very excited to get an email this month inviting me to participate, and sending me my assigned blog ... Kudos Kitchen by Renee.  This is a fantastic way to discover some new blogs, and more importantly get to know the lovely bloggers themselves.

Renee was definitely a "new-to-me" blogger, and it didn't take me much time browsing around her blog to realise that the hardest part of this challenge was going to be narrowing things down to just one recipe to make.  Renee has a lot of recipes which really took my fancy, and which have now been bookmarked to make in the near future.  But, with the last of the seasons golden queen peaches and blueberries to use up, Renee's Blueberry Peach Pancakes seemed like the perfect dish.

I did make a few minor changes.  I roughly halved the recipe as, unlike Renee, I didn't have a big family of hungry men to feed.  This still made easily enough for two (possibly three) for breakfast/brunch.  In the original recipe, Renee used a combination of plain flour and sprouted wheat flour - in the absence of sprouted wheat flour, I used all plain flour.  I left out ground flax seed and, in the absence of buttermilk, I used a combination of regular milk and yoghurt.  Lastly, I made the most of fresh seasonal fruit in place of frozen fruit.

These pancakes were delicious, so good in fact that I have made them again, and have even managed to freeze some peaches and blueberries so that I can make them again in the winter ahead.

Peach & Blueberry Pancakes 2.jpg

Peach & Blueberry Pancakes Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Makes 2-3 generous servings

1-1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large, free-range egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra for frying
1 cup blueberries, plus extra for serving
1x large peach, cut into smallish dice (about the same size as the blueberries)
maple syrup for serving

Sift together flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a large bowl.  Add the coconut sugar and salt, and mix well to combine.

Whisk the egg lightly in a separate bowl.  Add the vanilla, milk, yoghurt, and melted butter.  Whisk lightly to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.  Add the fruit and fold in gently.

Set a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, and add a tiny knob of butter.

Add spoonfuls of pancake batter to the pan.  Once bubbles start to appear around the edges and on the top side of the pancakes (about 1 minute), flip them over and cook until the underside is golden (approximately another minute).

Remove cooked pancakes to a serving platter and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.

Once all the pancakes are cooked, add another generous knob of butter to the pan, along with the extra blueberries.  Cook over low heat just until the blueberries are warmed through, and starting to soften and release their juices.

To serve, spoon blueberries and their juice over the top of the pancakes, and drizzle liberally with maple syrup.

Hope you enjoy the pancakes 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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Za'atar Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad

Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad 1

If you visit here often, you will know that I like to play along over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where twice a year we choose a chef whose food we explore, according to a variety of weekly themes, over the following six months.  You will also, most likely, know that our chosen chef for the last six months has been the extraordinary Donna Hay.

They say there is a season for everything, and that being the case Donna Hay has definitely been the perfect chef for my "season" of late.  Over the last six months I have been under a lot of pressure, on many fronts, and I have found Donna's simple, yet still packed with flavour, dishes absolutely perfect for those days when I've really been under the hammer.  I'm sure that had we been cooking with a more challenging chef, there would have been many weeks in which I just wouldn't have found the time or the energy to participate.  So thank you, Donna, you've been a lifesaver!

Sadly, though, it's time for us to say "Catch Ya Later Donna Hay", and choosing a dish for that final fling was no easy feat.  However, just as we are saying farewell to the last vestiges of summer in my part of the world, our thoughts are turning to slightly heartier, more warming dishes for our cooler evenings, so something to fit that autumn vibe seemed appropriate.

This Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad, from Donna's book "Fast, Fresh, Simple" is perfect for this time of year.  It's still a salad, which is always a preferred meal option for me, anytime of year, but has warm ingredients and enough body and gusto for an autumn lunch or dinner.  Actually I would even eat this in the middle of winter, and almost certainly will when it rolls around.  As usual I couldn't resist the urge to ring in a few changes.  The preserved lemon in the couscous and the honey-cumin dressing really spoke to me of the Middle Eastern flavours that I love, but I thought there was definitely room to "up the ante" a little.  Before roasting, I brushed the pumpkin with a mixture of olive oil and za'atar (one of my favourite spice blends of thyme, sesame, sumac, salt, coriander and cumin).  I replaced feta with haloumi, mint with parsley, and added in some chopped pistachios for a little extra texture.

This salad was a wonderful combination of tastes and textures - sweetness from the pumpkin and honey, saltiness from the preserved lemon and haloumi, nuttiness of the couscous, crunch of the pistachios, the slight chewiness of the cheese, and the little hits of smoky spice coming through from the za'atar and dressing.  Absolutely delicious - this is definitely a dish I will be making many times over in the months ahead.

Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad 2

Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Makes a substantial meal for 2 people, or would easily serve 3-4 people for a lighter meal or appetiser
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

800g (28 oz) pumpkin, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon za'atar (I used Sami's Kitchen)
1 cup couscous
1-1/4 cups hot vegetable stock
1/2 a preserved lemon, rind thinly sliced, flesh discarded
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
generous handful pistachios, roughly chopped
200g (7 oz) haloumi, fried and sliced

1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).

Place pumpkin pieces, in a single layer, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Mix the olive oil and za'atar together, and liberally brush over the pumpkin pieces.  Bake in the preheated oven until the pumpkin is tender and golden - 20 to 30 minutes depending on your pumpkin.

Meanwhile, put couscous into a medium sized bowl, add the hot vegetable stock, cover with cling film, and leave to stand until the couscous has fluffed up and absorbed all the stock - about 5 minutes.  Stir in the finely sliced preserved lemon rind, chopped parsley and pistachio nuts.

Set a small, very lightly oiled, non-stick pan over medium heat, and fry the haloumi, until golden on both sides and just starting to "ooze".  You can either fry it in one large block, then cut into slices once done, or you can cut it into slices first and then fry the slices individually.  Remove from pan and set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together.

To serve the dish, arrange the pumpkin, couscous and cheese in layers on plates, and spoon over the dressing.

Before we finally say goodbye to Donna Hay (though in my case it will definitely be "Catch Ya Later" rather than goodbye), I thought I would share a little round-up of a few of my favourite dishes from the last six months.  I loved these dishes and I'm sure you will too.

Green Tea Soba Noodles with Soy-Roasted Salmon and Broad Bean & Radish Salad 2

Pearl Barley Salad with Pistachios, Favas & Pomegranate 2

Prawn & Chilli Pot-Sticker Dumplings 2

Harissa-Marinated Tarakihi with Lemony Couscous & Tzatziki

Roasted Strawberry Custard Tarts 1

Green Olive Tapenade & Mozzarella French Toast Sandwiches 1

Crispy-Skin Miso-Glazed Salmon 2

If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the fabulous dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.  And don't forget to come back next week, as we begin our cooking adventures with our new chef, the incomparable Nigel Slater.

IHCC Donna Hay Badge resized

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

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Falafel with Tahini Flatbreads

Falafel with Tahini Flatbreads 2

It's Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week.  This is always a popular theme, because not only do we get to choose any recipe we like, but we can choose to cook with any one of our nine IHCC chefs - that's a whole lot of choice.

I couldn't resist the temptation to return to my favourite chef - the highly inspirational Yotam Ottolenghi.  I'd been wanting to try the falafel from his fabulous book, Jerusalem: A Cookbook, for months, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a try.

I first developed my love affair with falafel when we used to live in Christchurch and would frequent the fabulous Sami's Cafe (sadly, no longer there).  I'd tried falafel several times before, and always came away feeling horribly disappointed, but Sami's falafel won my heart.  Unlike the horrid, dry, tasteless "bullets" I'd experienced in the past, Sami's falafel were light, crispy and beautifully flavourful.

After Sami had set the bar so high, I was excited to see if Ottolenghi's falafel could live up to my expectations.  I made a couple of minor changes to the recipe.  Instead of using only chickpeas, I replaced half the quantity with some dried fava beans - a little tip I learned from Sami.  I replaced onion with shallots, because I prefer their more delicate flavour.  I replaced some of the spices called for in the original recipe with some Sami's Kitchen Falafel Spice Blend ** (a fragrant and spicy mix of coriander, cumin, pimento, pepper, cinnamon and cloves), and I also increased the ground cardamom in the original recipe, just a little.  Cardamom is our ingredient of the month at Tasting Jerusalem*, and I love the fragrance and slightly sweet flavour that it brings - it can overpower though, so do use it with restraint.  The end result - sensational flavour, great texture, gorgeously crunchy, everything I dreamed they would be.  I will definitely be making these again.


Of course, falafel is not complete without a few trimmings, not least some good pita bread.  I chose to make Donna Hay's Tahini Flatbreads from issue #73 of Donna Hay magazine.  These are so good, that they've become my "go to" flatbreads over the last few months, and are likely to stay that way for a long time.  If you've never tried making your own flatbreads before - seriously, these are the ones to try.

Tahini Flatbreads

Falafel Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
from Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 cup dried fava beans
1x shallot, roughly chopped
1x clove garlic, roughly chopped
generous handful flat-leaf parsley
generous handful coriander
4x teaspoons Sami's Kitchen Falafel Spice Blend **
(available in New Zealand here, or internationally here)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 tablespoons plain flour
generous pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons water
sunflower oil to deep fry
sesame seeds to finish

Place dried chickpeas and fava beans in a large bowl;  fill the bowl with cold water;  and leave to soak overnight, or at least 12 hours.

Drain the chickpeas and beans well and place in the bowl of your food processor.  Add the onion, garlic, parsley and coriander.  Blitz until finely chopped.  It's best to use the pulse function on your food processor so that you don't overdo it.  The final mixture should be very finely chopped and just beginning to clump together, but definitely don't grind it to a paste or let it get mushy.

Remove mixture to a bowl, and add the spices, baking powder, flour, salt and water.  Mix well, using your hands, until everything is well combined.  Cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour before continuing.

Place a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat and fill with oil to a depth of about 7cm (2-1/2 inches).  Heat the oil to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Using wet hands, form the mixture into small patties or ball.  Squeeze them together really well, as you will find the mixture is a little crumbly and delicate.  Sprinkle just a few sesame seeds on the top of each one, and very carefully lower them into the hot oil, cooking them in batches, until deep golden and crispy, and cooked through - about 4 minutes.

Remove, drain on a paper towel, and serve immediately.

Falafel with Tahini Flatbreads Collage

Tahini Flatbread Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
from Issue # 73 of Donna Hay Magazine
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1-1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon honey
sunflower oil for frying

Mix water, sugar and yeast together in a small bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside for about 5 minutes until the mixture is all frothy on top.

Meanwhile, mix flour and salt together in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.

Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, and whisk it in lightly.  Then pour all of the liquid into the dry ingredients.  Mix together to form a dough, and knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth - about 5 minutes.

Return the dough to a lightly oiled, clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to stand in a warm place until doubled in volume - about an hour.

Meanwhile, mix the tahini and honey together in a small bowl and set aside.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide into 8 pieces.  Form each piece into a small ball then, working with one piece at a time, roll each ball out to form a circle.  Place a teaspoon of the tahini-honey mixture on each round, and spread it out, leaving a 1cm (1/2 inch) border around the edge.  Fold the dough in half, and then in half again, to form a triangle;  then roll the dough out again to flatten it.

Heat a little sunflower oil in a large cast iron, or other heavy based, pan over high heat, and fry until golden and cooked through - a couple of minutes each side.

Falafel with Tahini Flatbreads 1

Serve the finished falafel, with tahini flatbreads, a generous dollop of hummus, fresh coriander, a simple tomato salad and a drizzle of yoghurt.


If you would like to get to know Donna Hay and Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, and to see what everyone has cooked up for our potluck feast this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...


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


*I am also sharing this post at Tasting Jerusalem, 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, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and liking our Facebook page.

And, because it would be rude not to, I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollam.

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**  Note:  I'm not paid to tell you how good Sami's Kitchen spice blends are.  I'm just telling you because I use them myself a lot and I love them.  If you're able to get them where you live I urge you to try them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Minted Pea, Feta & Quinoa Fritters

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With St Patrick's Day looming large, at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week we are celebrating the Eating of the Green, preparing Donna Hay dishes which are green or feature green-hued ingredients.

To be honest, I've never really been one to enter into the spirit of St Patrick's Day, but eating green food ... now that is something I have no trouble getting excited about.  Many of you, I know, are right now enjoying the first flushes of spring and all things gorgeous and green will be bursting onto the market.  In my part of the world, however, it's autumn and green things are becoming a little more scarce, so I was pretty happy to have one more "green fling" before life becomes all about pumpkins, mushrooms and root vegetables.

These pea and quinoa fritters with a tahini dressing, which appeared in the spring issue of Donna Hay magazine, have become one of my favourite dishes over the last few months.   The great thing about these is that with frozen peas they can really be made any time of year.   As a final nod to the disappearing summer, I added some mint to the mixture (not much of it left in the garden now), and also included some feta (because that always reminds me of holidays in the Greek Islands, and so always seems very summery to me).  As you'd expect, these are delicious, hot and crispy, straight out of the pan, but they are just as good the next day, and delicious at room temperature too. 

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Minted Pea, Feta & Quinoa Fritters Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
from Issue #71 of Donna Hay Magazine
Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as an appetiser
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/3 cup white quinoa
2/3 cup water
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon tahini
small handful mint leaves
small handful flat-leaf parsley
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
100g feta, crumbled
olive oil for frying

Tahini dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
baby spinach leaves
blanched snow peas
extra virgin olive oil

Begin by putting quinoa and water in a small saucepan, and set over high heat until it comes to the boil.  Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove pan from the heat, leave the lid in place, and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Remove quinoa to a medium bowl and set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing by placing all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until smooth.  As you begin to mix the ingredients together it will look a little as though it is "curdled".  Don't be alarmed, just keep whisking and it will come together in a smooth sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Set aside.

Put the peas, tahini, rice flour, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper, and half the quinoa into a food processor and blitz until you have a coarse paste.  Return to the bowl containing the remaining quinoa, add the crumbled feta, and mix until well combined.

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Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan set over medium heat.  With wet hands, shape mixture into small fritters, and cook in the hot pan until golden and crisp on both sides.

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To serve, arrange baby spinach leaves and snow peas on a serving platter.  Arrange fritters over the top and drizzle with the tahini dressing (if dressing has thickened while it has been standing, thin with a little water until you reach the consistency of runny cream).  Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the fabulous dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.

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

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