Brunch

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]

chocolate breakfast cereal
Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Sweet

Chocolate Breakfast Cereal

Todays story is about a chocolate laden, seed, coconut and nut filled – not so sweet –  breakfast cereal. This same cereal might just as easily be an afternoon snack or a sprinkle for ice-cream.  Sometimes in the depth of winter (and possibly even on a bright summer morning) we need the comfort of something that seems richer, brighter and a little naughtier. it maybe brings reminders of childhood coco pops, but just as importantly, something that will sustain us through the morning.  Knowing we all start the day with different food needs and rituals, in recent times I have become a fan of something with loads of seeds and nuts (aka My Daily Bread). This cereal offers a chance for me to change it up but still enjoy that nutty goodness. In the process of experimenting with this, I was excited to finally tried and have success with the crazy concoction called aquafaba.  This is chickpea water beaten to form a foam similar to that of beaten egg whites.  I have seen it using canned chickpeas but as I love to cook my own chickpeas I hadn’t been sure if the technique would transfer, happily it did. My method, as always, was to soak my chickpeas overnight and rinse and drain them. I then cooked the chickpeas in lightly salted water – making sure that by the end of the cooking they were just covered in water.  I drained the chickpeas and cooled the liquid before beating.  I managed to get […]

okonomiyaki
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable

Okonomiyaki

My *”Oh-My-Goshi “pancakes today are based on the traditional Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage based pancakes.  The name comes from Okonomi meaning “how you like it” or “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”.  Served most often with a variety of umami laden condiments,  most photos will show them presented with sweet Kewpi mayonnaise, brown Okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes. This is my version of these pancakes loaded up with lots of vegetables and then loaded again with tasty condiments. Sometimes I choose to add prawns to these for their delicious seafood crunch, complimenting the seafood flavours from the bonito flakes and seaweed, but they are equally delicious without.  Although its very hard not to love the Kewpi mayonnaise and brown sauce, it is fun to play around with other possibly healthier, probably heretic, options such as a cashew or avocado cream and kimchi.  For the rest, the toppings add to the fun and complexity – they can be as simple as a few ingredients sprinkled over top, or built up like a salad on top of the Okonomiyaki.  Try some baby greens, finely chopped spring onion, shredded nori, bonito flakes, seaweed seasonings such as this Citrus Furikae and maybe some Togarashi the Japanese seven spice mix to fire it up a bit, some avocado would be great to when in season. The most important thing to remember when cooking these dense pancakes is to allow time for them to to cook slowly so that the batter is cooked through.  Doughy pancakes […]

pumpkin feta fritters
Autumn, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Winter

Spicy Pumpkin and Possibly Feta, Fritters

The chill in the south continues to deepen and with the forecast temperature at -7’c this morning, the kitchen is a great place to be. That chill coupled with an amazing vege lettuce burger I had a couple of months ago has certainly encouraged my quest to create a simple and tasty winter vegetable fritter at home.  Having now settled on my favourite version, I think their uses are far from limited to burgers. Stacked up for breakfast or brunch with an egg, some spicy tomato salsa and greek yogurt or as an alternative to fritters make the mix as one or two whole rosti style pancakes and serve with some hot or cold smoked salmon, sour cream capers and lemon…….. With all these options I am still excited about the lettuce burger today.  Not a new idea at all but still a really good one – put together one, two or three Iceburg lettuce leaves to make a great vessel for your favourite burger, refreshing, crunchy and amazingly sturdy. Couple this with a tasty vege fritter, simple salad or slaw, a spicy salsa or some kimchi, maybe a little creamy dressing or yogurt and possibly a few potato crisps or tortilla chips inserted at the last moment for extra crunch. Delicious! I am making these today and plan to put them in the refrigerator ready for “tired and can’t be bothered” night, because on those nights I can’t be bothered to go out and get food either. SPICY PUMPKIN […]

tomato,pumpkin,basilandlentilsalad
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

End of Summer Tomato Pumpkin Basil and Lentil Salad

This delicious salad marks an end to the summer days in my world, but, it could just as easily be a welcome to spring salad for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  It makes the most of this transition period for vegetables in my garden, when the tomatoes and basil  are coming to an end, and the pumpkins are just coming into their prime season.  For those of you heading into spring, the opposite will be happening in the vegetable markets and gardens. The temperatures plummeted here this week, which left me looking urgently for the comfort of warmer, more substantial food, while still wanting to finish the last of my summer harvest.  This salad bought these needs together perfectly. With events not being quite as I anticipated, and with over ambitious ideas of how much three people really want to eat for lunch – I found myself home alone this week with a lot of left over salad!  Four dinners later, I can tell you that as well as being delicious this is a very versatile salad! Starting with enthusiasm – I mean who doesn’t like to think they haven’t already got a delicious dinner already made just waiting for the finishing touches – dinner number one was enjoyed with a piece of white fish, pan fried and placed on top of my lightly warmed salad.  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to eat, photography was not the priority it should have been.  I can only say that it really did […]

socca crepes
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Snack

Simple Versatile Socca Pancake Mix

I have been listening to people and the media talking about food.  Two phrases that have caught my attention lately are to do with the idea of either – breakfast for dinner and or salad for breakfast.  I love these ideas and their seems to be something comforting about them that implies ease and simplicity.  Even better they can translate to either, family feasts or simple meals for one. To make this idea work today I have been cooking simple but delicious chickpea flour pancakes called Socca or Farinata, a traditional recipe idea originating from Nice and the neighbouring Italian coastline.  These incredibly versatile pancakes can form the base of an array of meals – breakfast, lunch, pre prandial or supper – they can be folded and used as a scoop on the side of your plate, rolled with your favourite mix of fillings traditional pancake/crepe style, cooked with fillings such as teaspoons of pesto and or mozzarella or feta, and basil in the batter before flipping (see the photos at the bottom of this page), or even poured and baked in the oven and used as a simple pizza style base, and if you have some left over, keep turning them in the pan until they dry and crisp, or bake them in the oven as you would for crostini and use like a cracker.  The batter can be used after sitting for half an hour, or, it will be even better for you after soaking overnight and using […]

Japanese inspired seeded salad
Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer

Popped and Toasted Seed and Nut Mix – And Salad Inspiration

Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine.  In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties.  It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons.  It is fun and busy,  and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited. Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of  spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl,  or over your breakfast  shakshuka  –  the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better.  If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble.   This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal.  Of course while […]

beetroot burger patties
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Snack, Spring, Summer

Beautiful Black Bean, Beetroot and Brown Rice Burger Patties

  Explanations to follow, but that said – you really should start making these now! They are so much more than just a vegetarian, dairy and gluten free patty.  To have them made in the refrigerator means you have an easy meal in a multitude of guises ready to go for breakfast lunch or dinner.   I was definitely a reluctant starter but I am now thoroughly in love with these. With winter now officially behind us, I am very excited to start thinking about casual spring and summer eating, barbecues and picnics.  Unfortunately the new seasons vegetables are slow to appear in these southern areas so I am reinventing those same vegetables we have enjoyed over winter in different guises – cutting them differently, cooking them in a lighter style and eating them in fresher simpler ways. With this all said the story for these patties begins with my friend and employer, Angela. Angela had requested a  vegetarian burger patty for work. To be honest I was a little under whelmed by the idea, not something I have ever really considered eating, and because of that I was slow to get going with recipe development.  Moving on though, and not prepared to say no to the challenge, I did get going and have been working on these vege burger patties for a while – there have been quite a number of unfortunate fragile fall apart piles of deliciousness around here! The challenge I made to myself was to make […]

shakshuka
Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Meal, Snack

Zhoug – spicy-green-delicious

Zhoug, shakshuka, labna, all words my computer would rather I changed, but which offer a delicious look into another world of  vibrant and exciting foods and flavours. Today it is all about Zhoug. This spicy middle eastern condiment,originally from Yemen and now a favourite in Israel, had somehow missed my food radar. Happily Lily, an inspiring young work colleague – knowing my love of middle eastern foods –  bought me a small jar of both a red and a green zhoug that her father had made.   I was immediately hooked and needing to be able to make this myself, I turned to my ridiculously large collection of recipe books – (it is always good to have an excuse to justify the purchase of more though!) – and found this sauce in a number of my middle eastern recipe books.  After some further reading and research, (reality says – lying around, thumbing through recipe books and surfing the food files of the internet), I have been happily giving these recipes a try! I am sure the real deal is different in its nuances, but I am so happy with the results that I think you should give it a try too.  It will warm up just about anything you wish to eat and will be something you are happy to find in your refrigerator – my friend Lily said you can even freeze it!  Most importantly, this isn’t all about the chilli, it is a whole palate of flavours giving this […]

lentil and black bean chilli
Brunch, Gluten Free, Meal, Winter

Everyday Lentil and Black Bean Chilli

I read a phrase last week that captured my interest  “cook once eat twice”,  sort of a no-brainer,  but for some reason we have always shunned leftovers.  My cooking is spent avoiding left overs knowing that in most instances they will be abandoned mouldering in the refrigerator and one of my biggest hates is food waste!   So, thinking on this, I decided to consider meals that could be cooked in larger quantities and reinvented to seem new second time around. Where better to start looking than the young people I work with, these are busy people juggling finances, work and fun. From my conversations with these inspirational people came the idea for lentil braises – one was eating a chilli and one a Bolognese, straight away I had my idea to run with.  Thanks ladies! The next issue confronting me, and a surprising number of other people I talk to, is that of including more meat free vegetable rich meals in life that wont leave the meat eaters thinking something was missing.  Once again lentils are a great answer. If you need any further reason to make this, then that reason has to be that it is a real store cupboard / refrigerator meal.  You can change up the ingredients and use those lonely carrots, bag ends of vegetables and pulses and at the end have a delicious meal (and a good conscience for your efforts!) This is a weekend cooking-at-leisure meal that it will be better for time […]