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Category Archives: Vegetarian

New Year’s Resolution Pancakes

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This recipe is named for those good intentions we have at the start of the New Year to eat more healthily. The recipe comes from Weight Watchers, a terrific organisation to help us get back to the straight and narrow after the excesses of the festive season!

It’s also called Two Ingredient Pancakes, as the basic pancake has only two ingredients, banana and eggs. To serve, I added fresh fruit and no-fat yoghurt, which still make it a low calorie brekkie! For a little bit of pizazz, serve the pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.

Ingredients 

1 medium banana

2 free-range egg whites

1 medium free-range egg

To serve, pineapple, raspberries, no-fat yoghurt and maple syrup or honey.

Method

Combine the banana,  egg whites and whole egg in a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. You don’t need cooking oil spray, but  spraying a little in the pan won’t hurt if you’re worried about the pancakes sticking. Drop a tablespoonful of the batter into the frying pan. Cook for 20 seconds on one side or until golden brown, then flip the pancake and cook for a further 20 seconds. You need to be careful cooking the pancakes as they brown very quickly. Repeat with the rest of the batter – you will probably get at least 4 medium pancakes.

Serve the pancakes topped with the no-fat yogurt, a pile of pineapple chunks*, fresh raspberries and a little maple syrup if you dare!

* A great idea to make the pineapple super sweet, is to dry fry the chunks in a frying pan over medium to high heat, for a minute or two – cooking carmelises the sugar – they taste fantastic!

Greenwich Bread

Here’s a quick recipe for bread that doesn’t require kneading. You can mix this bread up quickly, but it does require a long slow prove.

I’m travelling at the moment and currently in London, staying with friends. I haven’t made bread, let alone cooked, for two weeks! So I decided I’d whip up a quick loaf.

I used whatever ingredients were on hand – plain flour, rolled oats, yeast, salt and water, and sunflower and sesame seeds. All good for a rustic loaf!

It’s a heavy loaf, because of the rolled oats, which also made it difficult to get a good rise. But that’s part of baking a rustic loaf. You are not going dainty here!

I made this bread by hand, proved it in a makeshift tea towel and bowl prover, and baked it straight on a baking sheet.

The bread is named for Greenwich in London, and is pictured with the Thames in the background.

And if you’re interested in the famous original “no knead” bread recipe, my version is posted here.

Ingredients

325g flour

75g rolled oats

10g salt

10g dried yeast

325g water

20g mixed seeds for the topping – I used sunflower and sesame seeds

Method

In a large bowl, mix the flour and oats. Put the salt on side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Pour in the water and roughly mix until combined.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for half an hour. Without actually kneading, stretch and fold the dough over on itself three or four times. Cover the dough again with the tea towel, or with cling wrap or my favourite a plastic shower cap. Leave for 12 hours at room temperature.

The bread may not rise very much – I found the oats were a little heavy. This is no big deal. Now turn the bread out onto your work surface and roughly shape into a ball. Put into a bowl lined with a tea towel that has been liberally sprinkled with flour.

Cover again. Leave at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight – good to do if you’re making bread in the morning. If your bread did miraculously rise a lot on the first prove, put it in the fridge for this second prove. My bread didn’t rise significantly, so I left it at room temperature.

Half an hour before you went to bake, preheat your oven to 210 degrees C. Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.

After the second prove, turn the bread out of its bowl onto the baking tray. Sprinkle some flour on the top, then the mixed seeds, pressing them lightly into the dough. Lastly cut a cross in the top of the bread.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the bread is brown on top. The bread needs to be quite brown as an indication that it’s properly cooked inside.

Remove from the oven and let it cook for half an hour before tucking in! Great with loads of butter and raspberry jam…

Caramelised Onion Traybake

This is an easy and tasty dish perfect for lunch or my favourite, a simple supper.

It’s more of traybake than a tart, as it’s baked in a cake tin or pan. But there’s nothing to stop you from baking it in a traditional tart or pie dish, or even a normal baking dish.

The recipe came about because I had loads of beautiful red onions, plus a few brown ones on hand. I had just been to the Spring Harvest Festival at Vaucluse House run by Sydney Living Museums where I came away with a big tub of Vanella Cheese ricotta.

So caramelised onions on creamy ricotta on puff pastry was the go! Baked as a traybake made it easy to cut into slices for serving.

Not too tricky, give it a go!

Ingredients

3 large brown onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 red onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

300g ricotta

3 free-range eggs

Salt and black pepper

1 sheet of puff pastry (approximately 180g, if you’re using block puff pastry)

Method

Cut all the onions into rings. No need to be too precise – they can be quite chunky. Reserve the rings from two of the red onions.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the stovetop. Add the olive oil. Put in all the onion slices except the reserved red onion slices. Add the salt and brown sugar.

Cook for several minutes until the onions are soft and caramelised, turning occasionally. Now add in the reserved onions and cook for a further couple of minutes, until the onions have only just started to soften. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Grease your cake tin/pan or tart dish or baking dish.

Mix the ricotta, free range eggs, salt and black pepper with a spoon or fork. No need to blend or process.

Place the sheet of puff pastry snugly inside the tin/pan/dish, cutting it or stretching it to fit your dish. If using block pastry, roll out 180g into a shape to fit the size of the dish.

Soon the ricotta mixture over the puff pastry. Layer the onions on top, making sure the red onions you cooked last sit on the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden round the wedges and the ricotta is set.

Serve warm or cold, with a green salad and crusty bread. You can freezer left over slices too.

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/

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