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.
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
100g pitted black (or green) olives
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1½ tablespoons caster sugar
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
425g strong flour
150g sourdough starter
75g sour cherries
50g raisins or golden raisins
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
We’re in lockdown in Sydney, so it’s back to isolation cooking!
The weather is chilly, so perfect for some hearty fare. I found 4 dishes that fit that description, all cheerful and easy to make. Chilli beef, Yorkshire pudding, treacle glazed steak and chicken risotto.
Granola Dust is a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy take on food Everyday Super Food. It’s basically a granola mix blitzed in the food processor until the mix becomes pulverized. Great for serving with fresh fruit, or just sprinkling over muesli to add another texture.
Breakfast Trifle is a heathy and easy brekkie idea, using Granola Dust that you’ve already made up and have in the store cupboard.
To make a Breakfast Trifle, start of with a layer of Greek yoghurt, then add any mixed mixed berries you like, scatter some Granola Dust on top and finish with a drizzle of honey. You can make this in a jar or in a bowl. You don’t have to limit yourself to berries – stone fruit in summer, or poached apples or pears in winter would be great!
You can adjust the quantities depending on whether you’re making breakfast trifle for one or a large one for the family! The idea is to have fairly equal layers of Granola Dust, fruit and yoghurt.
The quantities for Granola Dust in the recipe are what Jamie Oliver specifies in his book. I thought that sounded rather a lot, so I made a quarter of the mix – this gave me half a large jar’s worth of Granola Dust.
1kg porridge oats
250g unsalted mixed nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews
100g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy,sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin
250g mixed dried fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries mango, apricots, figs, sultanas
3 tablespoons quality cocoa powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the oats, nuts and seeds in a large baking tray. Toss together and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.
Stir the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee into the mix, finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz in the food processor till the mixture forms a rough powder or dust.