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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Leek and Spinach Galette

Ingredients

450g good store bought shortcrust pastry, or you could make your own.

2 leeks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

50g baby spinach leaves

140g light sour cream or creme fraiche

2 free range eggs

1 teaspoon mustard

Salt and ground black pepper

50g cheddar cheese

Egg wash – 1 free-range egg mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water.

Method

Roll out the pastry to a rough circle. About 20-25cm or 9-10 inches in diameter is good. This is a rustic galette and is very forgiving. Put the circle of pastry onto a baking sheet on your chosen baking surface. A cast iron pan is ideal (that’s what I used), but a baking tray works just as well.

Score another circle with a knife inside the pastry base, 2-3 cms smaller. Carefully turn up the outer circle to make a rough side for the galette.

Chop the leeks into rounds. Put the olive oil and butter into a large frying pan. When the butter is melted, add the chopped garlic and leeks. Add the salt and simmer the mixture on a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the leeks are soft. Add the the baby spinach leaves and stir through. Turn off the heat and cover the frying pan. Leave for 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Put the sour cream or creme fraiche into a bowl and stir to loosen. Add the eggs, and beat well to fully mix. Add the mustard and salt and pepper and mix.

Scatter the cheddar cheese over the pastry circle, and then scatter the leeks/garlic/spinach on top. Pour the sour cream/egg mixture very carefully over the filling inside the galette. If you have too much liquid, don’t use it all in case it spills.

Brush the pastry edge with egg wash.

Place the galette into the pre-heated oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the custard is set and slightly puffy. The pastry should be golden brown, too.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a green salad. You could throw in a few baby spinach leaves and some fried leek rounds for decoration too!

Moroccan Winter Soup

This is a hearty warming winter soup that is redolent with fragrant Moroccan spices. The base is root vegetables, and their robust flavours work well with the spice mix.

It’s pretty easy – bake the veggies with the spices, then transfer to a saucepan to cook a little more, then blend to soup consistency.

The root vegetables can be varied, but you definitely need some “orange” vegetables like pumpkin or carrots.

A note on the spices. As well as that beautiful spice sumac, I included ras al hanout or baharat. These are Middle Eastern spice mixes. Either mix is good – use whatever you can get your hands on.

Ingredients

500g pumpkin

500g carrots

250g sweet potatoes

250g swede

2 onions cut into chunks

4 -5 garlic cloves

2 teaspoon of ras al hanout or baharat

1 teaspoon sumac

Sea salt and ground black pepper

30mls olive oil

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C fan forced.

Peel the vegetables and chop into rough chunks.

Put all the vegetables into a large baking tray, sprinkle over the spices and salt and pepper. Pour over the olive oil. Mix well, making sure everything is coated with oil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot or saucepan. Place on the stovetop. Add the stock, and bring to a medium boil.

Cook for 5 minutes to amalgamate the veggies and stock. Using a stick blender, blitz in the saucepan until you have a good soup consistency, still a bit chunky. Or you could put the soup in a blender and process.

Serve with crusty bread, preferably sourdough. You could add a dash of yoghurt and a sprinkle of thyme or coriander for added zhush!

The soup freezes and reheats well.

Mary Berry’s Caponata

I recently acquired Mary Berry’s Love to Cook – a beautiful book, with delicious and no nonsense recipes written with Mary’s trademark common sense.

I also recommend from this book Mary’s Victoria Sponge Sandwich – it is gorgeous and a doddle to make!

But this post is all about Caponata, a Sicilian vegetable dish based on eggplant – well that’s what we call them in Australia – Mary of course refers to them as aubergines.

A simple dish that takes about half an hour to make on the stove top.

I wouldn’t presume to alter Mary’s recipe, so here it is. However I did make a half size version in the photos, as I was cooking for one – me! But this size would do two easily.

I also used green olives rather than black, as I prefer them.

Quantities below are for the full size recipe.

Ingredients

8 tablespoons olive oil

2 aubergines (eggplants) cut into 2cm cubes,

2 onions, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1 cm cubes

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

500g passata

100g pitted black (or green) olives

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons capers

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1½ tablespoons caster sugar

Method

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add half of the aubergine cubes and fry until browned. Remove the aubergine from the pan and set aside. Heat another 3 tablespoons of the oil and fry the remaining aubergine. Set aside with the rest.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the onions, celery and pepper and fry over a high heat for 3–4 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Return the aubergine to the pan, add the passata, olives, vinegar, capers and sugar. Season with salt and black pepper, cover with a lid and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and the vegetables are soft but not mushy.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with crusty bread, couscous or as a vegetable side dish.

Dukkah Crusted Salmon with Asparagus and Vine Ripened Tomatoes

This dish is an easy one to make for a light lunch or dinner. While there are a few steps, there is nothing really challenging, and it’s definitely not time consuming!

And you can always buy dukkah from a health food store or specialty grocer, rather than make your own.

Ingredients

Dukkah

30g skinned hazelnuts

6 cardamom pods, seeds removed

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

The dish

1 bunch asparagus, about 6-8 spears

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 spring onions, tops trimmed

2 salmon fillets, skin on

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4-8 cherry tomatoes on the vine if possible

Method

To make the dukkah, put the hazelnuts in a heavy bottomed frying pan and lightly toast for a couple of minutes.

Add the spices and toast for a further 2 minutes.

Put this mixture plus the salt into a food processor and blitz. Don’t overdo it- you don’t want a powder, you want small chunks of nuts.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees fan-forced.

Cook the asparagus in the microwave for about 2 minutes just until slightly softened.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a baking dish. Lay the spring onions on the bottom. Place the salmon fillets, skin side up, on the spring onions. Scatter over some salt and ground black pepper. Place the asparagus spears and the cherry tomatoes around the salmon in the dish.

Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, and carefully peel the skin from each fillet. Scatter the dukkah over the fillets, put back in the oven and cook for 3 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven. You can serve as is, but I like to arrange the asparagus on top of the salmon. Sometimes I serve the tomatoes separately too.

Great with crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of wine!

Molasses Soda Bread

Want bread in a hurry? Can’t be bothered making sourdough or even a standard yeast loaf?

Then soda bread, specifically Irish soda bread, is for you! I make a lot of sourdough, and I love it – both the bread to eat and the whole lengthy process of making that delicious crusty loaf.

But we all need a quick fix and soda bread is just the thing when you want to make a loaf from start to finish in under an hour.

Delicious fresh from the oven, slathered in melting butter, or eaten with cheese and quince paste, and finally, toasted the next day with luscious jam.

My version of soda bread includes a tablespoon of molasses. While I include the molasses to give the bread a slightly caramel flavour, it also produces a nice brown colour.

Here’s the recipe, it’s super easy.

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
290mls buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk and molasses, mixing quickly to form a soft dough.

Once the buttermilk and molasses have been incorporated, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

Form into a round then place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm, fresh or toasted!

Walnut and Sour Cherry Sourdough

I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.

However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.

Ingredients

425g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

300g water

10g salt

75g walnuts

75g sour cherries

50g raisins or golden raisins

Method

Mix
Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.

Autolyse
Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.

Knead and Prove
Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.

Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.

Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.

Pre-shape
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shape
It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.

Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.

Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.

Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

Second Prove
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.

Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.

Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.

Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.

Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.

Crumpets!

I have been making crumpets this week. They are such a great breakfast staple and a lovely afternoon tea treat.

I used my buttermilk crumpets recipe as I had some beautiful buttermilk from Pepe Saya, the Australian experts on all things dairy cultured! The link to their website is here.

So I thought I would revisit that recipe as well as my sourdough crumpets recipe. The buttermilk recipe is very easy to do as it uses commercial yeast. The sourdough recipe is fantastic, but you do need a sourdough starter on hand.

So here are the links to both recipes.

Buttermilk crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2018/11/17/buttermilk-crumpets-for-breakfast/

Sourdough crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/01/16/sourdough-starter-crumpets/

Very Cherry Tomato Quiche

Sydneysiders are really looking forward to next week when we are allowed to meet friends outside for a picnic – a little easing of our long winter lockdown.

So picnics are the go! And what better for a picnic than a portable tasty treat like a quiche.

Quiche – that versatile combination of short crust pastry, savoury custard and tasty fillings. Great for lunch, dinner or indeed a picnic.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I used Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

Cheat’s Gozleme

So this is a great hack if you want a tasty treat based on Turkish gozleme, that staple of food markets and festivals!

I have adapted a recipe for Green Pockets from “Use it All” by the brilliant Cornersmith people, simplifying it a little for a quick make.

You can make the dough a couple of hours ahead of time and get the filling ready just prior to cooking. Or make dough and filling at the same time.

I threw this together – literally – not being that particular with my chopping and filling skills!

Great for a quick lunch or snack, or even a savoury breakfast!

Ingredients

Cheat’s Dough

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

125g Greek yoghurt

190g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Filling

1 1/2 cups of greens eg spinach, rocket, silver beet

1 handful soft herbs eg basil or mint

2 spring onions, white and green parts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

A grind of black pepper

150g crumbled cheese eg feta, ricotta, mozzarella (I definitely recommend feta!)

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

Method

To make dough, mix all the wet ingredients together. Stir in the flour and bicarb with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 4 balls.

You can use the dough now or put in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave for an hour.

You could even stick in the fridge for a few hours.

To make the filling, chop all the greens, herbs, spring onions and garlic finely. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper.

Chop whatever cheeses you are using into small pieces.

When ready to make your cheat’s gozleme, take a ball and roll out into circles as thin as you can.

Spread equal amounts of cheese onto half of each circle. Then cover the half circles with all the green ingredients.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi circle kind of pastie shape, pinching edges together.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Cook each cheat’s gozleme for about 3 minutes on each side or until brown and speckled. Pressing down the gozleme once you’ve turned them over helps to amalgamate and cook the filling inside.

Remove from the pan and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Strawberry and Lemon Pudding

This is so easy! A strawberry and lemon pudding, a lovely hot “saucy” pudding for a cold night. It’s another version of my Peach Pudding I posted last year.

And you can make the pudding with lots of different fruit – apples and pears, with blueberries or raspberries.

Just a note – you don’t need to use lemon juice. Any fruit juice will do for the liquid.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

125g strawberries
100g self raising flour
50g butter cut into small pieces
100g caster sugar
200-250ml* lemon juice, 3-4 lemon slices

* The lemon juice quantity doesn’t have to be too accurate – more juice and the pudding might take a bit longer to cook.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the strawberries in halves. Lay them into a cast iron pan or baking dish.

Tip the self raising flour, butter pieces and caster sugar into a bowl and rub together into a breadcrumb consistency, a bit like making pastry.

Add the lemon juice and roughly mix together.

The mixture should look curdled, but that’s fine as you’re not looking for a cake mixture consistency. Pour the mixture over the strawberries.

If using, place a few thin lemon slices on top. Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pudding is brown on top.

Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

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