burnt toast

Cheesy Garlicky Flatbread

cheesy garlicky flatbread

You know what’s better than garlic bread? Nothing obviously, I hear you say. You’re wrong my friend. You know all those times you ordered garlic bread to accompany your sinfully satisfying take-away pizza, and almost without a doubt, the first bite into that scalding puff of steamy bread, your inner garlic demon chucks his garlic trident into a corner and turns his back to you. Because all you really have there is (not enough, never enough) molten margarine that was placed in the vicinity of a picture of garlic. WHERE IS THE GARLIC DUDE. But you eat it anyway, because you’re a respectful human being.

Homemade garlic bread is a whole other thing. But then so is cheesy garlicky flatbread. The topping on this beauty makes up for the (never enough) butter that ceases to exist as soon as your crusty garlic baguette is hot enough to remove from the oven. This garlicky cheesy flatbread has cheese and sour cream to accompany that deliciously enticing bite of (the absolute perfect amount of) garlic. And there’s some spring onion for added prettiness.

This is one of the best most possible things you can serve your friends while you figure out what next to turn into food before you pass out from hunger. Its tasty carby goodness hits that spot with a triple hi-five.

You might as well do it this Friday.

 

Cheesy Garlicky Flatbread

This is more an instructions list of how to assemble. Feel free to tweak to satisfy your needs.

As many rounds of flatbread (25-30 cm in diameter) as you think will be needed (2 or more for a group of 4 as an entree)

Per flatbread you will need:

3 heaped Tbsp sour cream (full-fat please)

1/2 tsp vegetable stock granules

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup / 60g grated cheddar cheese, or anything that melts well and isn’t too strong in flavour

1 spring onion, finely sliced

 

Preheat your oven to 220°C. Spread the sour cream evenly over the flatbread. Be sure to be generous, as some of it will be soaked up by the bread as it bakes, but, not too much, or else it’ll slide right off when you go to pick up a slice. Sprinkle the stock granules evenly over the top. You can use whatever type of salty component you like, just make sure you adjust accordingly. Sprinkle the garlic evenly over that, followed by the cheese, and then the spring onion. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 0-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges are taking on colour. Remove from the oven and cut into pieces. Share with friends.

Zucchini and Onion Fritters

zucchini and onion fritters

Yay it’s fritter time! One of my very favourite form of food is finger food. It’s so easy and casual while still being completely alluring – a little nibble here, a crumb there, maybe even with a drizzle of this, or a scoop of that. There are few things more satisfying than sharing a few plates of delightful nibblies with your favourite humans, I think we can agree on that.

This is such an easy little number to whip up. If you have onions, zucchini and chickpea flour, you’re most of the way there. The rest is just improvisation and decoration.

Serve them with both a sweet chutney and a tangy yoghurt sauce for a bit of fun and contrast.

While you’re at it, you might as well make some samosas to accompany them, or maybe even some herby spinach and cheese triangles.

 

Zucchini and Onion Fritters

Inspired by The Tiffin Box

 

2 large firm zucchini (700g)

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1 large red onion, quartered, then finely sliced

½ bunch coriander, leaves picked and reserved for the yoghurt, stems finely chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

½ tsp turmeric

freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ cups chickpea flour

½ cup water

oil for deep/shallow frying

 

Coriander Yoghurt

250ml plain Greek yoghurt

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp water

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

the leftover leaves from the coriander from above, finely chopped

1/3 tsp salt

 

Date chutney, to serve

 

Grate the zucchini on the big holes of a grater. Transfer to a colander, and sprinkle over the salt. Give everything a good squish, then let it sit for 15 minutes or so. You can either wait longer or not at all – the point is, we want to get as much liquid out of the zucchini as possible. Get back to your colander and smoosh the zucchini around, trying to squeeze all that liquid out. When you find there is simply no more liquid left, and you have zucchini shreds of about half the volume you did before, dump them into a large bowl. Add the onion, coriander stems, spices, baking powder, chickpea flour and water, and give it a good stir. Give it a little taste, because it might need more seasoning. If so, add extra salt. The mixture shouldn’t be too wet – it should just hold together nicely.

Preheat your oven to 150°C. While you’re frying your fritters, you can keep the already fried ones warm in the oven, so when you serve them, they’ll all be the same temperature.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and drop in little spoonfuls of mixture. Once they’re golden on one side, flip them over and finish the other side. Let the cooked fritters rest on a bed of kitchen paper while you continue with the rest of the mixture.

For the yoghurt, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve with the fritters and the date chutney.

Date Chutney

date chutneyMy last memory of making this chutney was from about 5 years ago, before I decided to pack my bags to whiz around half the globe to go live with wallabies and have tea parties with huntsman spiders. Back then, amidst the alps and the rivers of chocolate, when I was slowly but steadily cooking myself into a frenzy and coming to the realisation that hobbies really couldn’t get much better than this. One of my favourite places to eat, and I know I’m not alone, is a delightful vegetarian restaurant called Tibits, in the heart of Bern, situated enticingly in front of the train station. Possibly to target starved vegetarians on their way to work, on their way back from work, or everyone else who likes delicious food. The food is presented buffet-style (drool), ranging from curries and stir-frys to salads and delicious crusty bread rolls, and a tiny section of chutneys and condiments. I hold my head high without shame when I say that at least 1/5th of my plate would be dedicated to that date chutney they had there. Date chutney rocks. And so naturally I had to have the recipe.

Have you ever heard of Hiltl? It holds a record for being the oldest continuously open veggie restaurant in the world. Where will you find it? In Zürich. It is the mother of Tibits as well as of a few wonderful cookbooks, in which you will find said chutney. If you find yourself in Switzerland at the moment, do yourself a favour and go have some food at one of their establishments. If not, then all I can do is offer you my version of their recipe, which really, is still a pretty good deal.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for using this chutney, let me help. Number one, serve it with zucchini and onion fritters and some coriander yoghurt. That recipe will follow shortly, promise. It’s delicious with pretty much every other Indian dish, especially with dhal and poppadoms, or spread into a toastie with some melty cheese. Get the idea? good.

 

Date Chutney

Adapted from one of the Hiltl cookbooks

Makes about 1 ½ cups

 

1 large onion, finely chopped

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cm fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tsp ground cumin

big pinch chili flakes

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tsp tamarind puree (if you only have concentrate, start with ¼ tsp and adjust to taste)

100g dates, finely chopped

2 Tbsp tomato paste

½ tsp salt

200ml water

 

Fry the onion in the oil until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the ginger, cumin and chili flakes, and stir for about one minute. Add the sugar, tamarind puree, dates, tomato paste and salt, and top up with the water. Give everything a good stir and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, or until the dates have broken down and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a bit, before transferring to a jar.

Will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

 

The Earl of Grey

the earl of grey

Most of us seem to associate a cup of tea with grandparents – a doily or two thrown in there with the shortbread biscuits, the teapot shining with all its glory in the middle of the table, waiting to be poured. Tea is the bomb. I have two wonderful grandmothers, one of them, Grandma, lives about an hour out from where I live in Melbourne. Every one of my weekly visits starts with a cup of tea in the living room – hers very weak with a splash of cold water (I know. But she has many other fabulous assets), mine with milk, sometimes with or without sugar, depending on the biscuit situation. The two of us sip and exchange our news of that past week, before deciding what else we have in mind for the next few hours. I love my Grandma days.

My memory of tea with Omi reaches back a bunch of years, back to Switzerland, to when I was small, but still the tallest of my class, with white-blonde hair and an obsession with dogs. Every once in a while I’d stay the weekend at my grandparents’ place, at their wooden chalet with the red geraniums, nestled at the foot of a forest. Giesenstein is basically a hill with a few farms sprinkled about, an only child’s paradise, where you could pick cherries during your afternoon walks with Omi and Opa in the summer, play with the tadpoles in the pond in their front yard, or watch TV. I may have mentioned before that I was a TV-less child growing up, which was great I might add, but which also made me appreciate TV and its many wondrous animal documentaries all the more. I truly loved breakfast at their place. Omi would already be awake down in the kitchen, singing to herself, setting the table for me. I’d pad down the stairs and sit down in my chair, where I’d select which type of jam I wanted on my slice of freshly buttered bread. In her sweet Austrian accent Omi would then always ask me how I would like my tea, with milk or with lemon, and I’d almost always request lemon. You know why? Because when you poured the lemon juice into the tea, it would change from black to golden caramel. Magic. And which little girl doesn’t like magic? A few lumps of sugar and then we were in business.

This cocktail recipe is inspired by Omi’s breakfast tea. It’s deliciously fresh and a slight bit posh. Earl grey takes the place of black tea and is paired with dash of lemon, accompanied by vanilla vodka and gin, because earl grey and gin are good friends, and a squeeze of orange rind to complement that seductive bergamot flavour.

 

The Earl of Grey

Serves one

 

For the earl grey syrup:

1 tsp earl grey leaves

½ cup / 125ml boiling water

½ cup / 220g white sugar

 

30 ml earl grey syrup

30 ml fresh lemon juice

30 ml vanilla vodka

30 ml gin

ice

a thin sliver of orange peel

 

Get a tea sieve or whatever handy contraption you own, place the tealeaves inside. You could use a teabag here of course, but if you’re going to all this trouble, you might as well go the whole way. Plus tea from tealeaves is a million times better. If you haven’t already, it’s time you converted, trust me. Place the sieve into a small cup, and add the boiling water. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Remove the sieve and pour the tea into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, letting it simmer until thickened slightly. Transfer to a jar and let it cool.

Once you’re ready to cocktail, combine the earl grey syrup, lemon juice, vodka, gin, and a few cubes of ice in a cocktail shaker or a jar and give it a good shake. Find your prettiest teacup, fill it up with ice cubes and pour over your Earl of Grey. To finish off, squeeze the orange rind over the top of the drink before dropping it in and giving it a little swirl.

 

 

Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

sun-dried tomato and mushroom hot dogs

Have you ever felt frustrated by the overpriced mediocreness of those tubes of biodynamic free range soy which, in the occasion of a barbecue, to which you are invited, being the only vegetarian, you are forced to procure, because you do not just want to be limited to boiled sweetcorn and grilled zucchini. You want to feel the fulness that only the combination of protein and carbs can give you. So you buy them anyway, but still feel like you’re not part of the mob, because obviously you’re missing out on what is the whole point of having a fire: Le meat. Do you? Ha I don’t. Not anymore. I suffered for years my friend, so  I do know your pain. However I feel as  soon as I started to finally become cool (e.g. joining the carnivores), cautiously, but evermore enthusiastically exploring what that world of meat had to offer, vegetarianism had started to become the new cool. Such a trendsetter I was, way way ahead of my time. What use was it to me now.

I kid you, it’s super helpful. I still predominantly eat vegetarian food. It’s fun, it’s delicious, it’s easy, but it’s also  a challenge. And I love challenges. We will never have an equal substitute for meat, because that would defy the point of not eating it, and it would be insulting to the deliciousness that meat has to offer.

What I present you is a delicious alternative to the hot dog. It is jam-packed with umami flavours, a beautiful marriage of sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised mushrooms, a hint of smoked paprika, a dash or red wine and a scattering of parmesan. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I sneakily add a handful ground almonds to boost the protein content. These hot dogs aren’t an alternative. They’re their own star. Go forth my vegetarian and non vegetarian friends, and enjoy the tastiness which is the incredible polenta hot dog.

 

Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs

This makes a bit more than a liter of mixture, which will fill one large baking tray, which can be sliced into 18+ rectangle hot dogs.

 

A few tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

a drizzle of golden syrup, honey or a sprinkle of sugar

10 button mushrooms, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp smoked paprika

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp soy sauce

 

100ml red wine

900ml water

vegetable stock powder

1 cup / 160g fine polenta

50g butter, cubed

1 cup / 100g finely grated parmesan cheese

½ cup / 50g ground almonds

10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large fry pan and add the onions. Stir occasionally until starting to turn brown. Add the golden syrup to speed up the caramelisation. Once you’re happy with the colour, add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, paprika and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until it starts to smell delicious and the mushrooms seem cooked through. Add the soy sauce, stir a few more times, then take off the heat.

Heat the wine and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the veggie stock powder (up to you how much – you can always add more right at the end), and stir in the polenta. Keep stirring until it goes thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter, cheese and almonds. Once that’s nicely incorporated, add the sun-dried tomatoes and the mushroom mixture. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture out evenly. Let it cool out completely, either at room temperature or in the fridge to speed things up, and cut into desired length/shape.

At this stage you can pack a few away into a plastic bag and find a nice spot in the freezer for them. Because really, you’re not going to manage to eat all of them in the next few days.

When you’re ready to finish them off, preheat your oven to 200°C and bake them for 20 minutes or so until browned. Same procedure for the frozen ones, although they might need to be in there for a bit longer. I found they hold their shape best with this method. You can also fry them, but make sure you use enough oil, because they tend to stick. Serve with hot dog – friendly condiments.

The Honeybee

the honeybee

I’ve always had a so-so relationship with honey. Oh no, I don’t mind the fact that it’s bee spew. Humans eat far worse things I’d think. It’s more that I felt that it wasn’t being worshipped enough. If we’re going to be so mean and ruin all that hard work by nicking it and stirring it into our tea, there should be a certain level of appreciation had. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Next to being wonderfully flavoursome, it can aid people in getting rid of allergies, while its antibacterial properties can help combat infections and heal wounds and burns. It’s part magic alright?

So what is it I make when I decide to incorporate some magical goodness into my day, you will ask. Oh you know me too well. A cocktail of course. A delicious little combo of honey, lime juice, elderflower cordial, and vanilla vodka, with a sliver of fresh chilli to represent the sting of the bee. Pretty nifty eh?

 

The Honeybee

Serves 1

 

30ml fresh lime juice

30ml honey (if it’s too solid, give it a few seconds in the microwave)

15ml elderflower cordial

60ml vanilla vodka

Ice

1 slice of chilli (optional for those who are weak in the chilli – ingesting department)

 

Combine the lime juice, honey, cordial and vodka in a jar with a few cubes of ice. Give it a mighty good shake, then pour into a pretty glass over some fresh ice or just by itself. Float the chilli on top. Yum.

Zucchini, Thyme and Whipped Feta Quesadillas

zucchini and feta quesadilla

It is slightly disturbing how much I love flour tortillas. I rarely have bread in the house because I’m a snob and see bread as the easy way out, but also because I’m lazy and think that tortillas are a perfectly acceptable substitute. If you have bread, you have a snack. If you don’t have bread, you use flour tortillas because they they require that tiny bit more effort, resulting in you feeling like a sneaky genius because you just made something delicious and impressive looking.

This is possibly my most favourite quesadilla version to date. Zucchini, thyme and garlic is a killer combo in my book, and if you contrast that with  some salty sour whipped feta, topped off with drizzle of sweet chilli, then you are well and truly in the game.

a bite left

 

Zucchini, Thyme and Whipped Feta Quesadillas

Makes 3-4, depending on how generously you fill them

 

100g feta

125g Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature

big glug of olive oil

600g / 4 small zucchini, thinly sliced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

salt

6-8 flour tortillas

sweet chilli sauce, to serve

 

Start with making the whipped feta. Combine the two cheeses in a jug and give them a whizz with a hand held blender until smooth. Alternatively, mash the feta very finely with a fork and then stir into the cream cheese. Either way, make sure it is at room temperature when you use it, or else it’ll be difficult to spread.

Next, heat some olive oil in a pan and chuck in the zucchini. Stir over high heat until they start caramelising in places. Add the thyme and keep cooking until they’ve reduced considerably in volume and are softened right through. Add the garlic and some seasoning and shake through a few times before taking off the heat.

To assemble, spread out a few spoonfuls of feta mixture over a flour tortilla and top with a thin layer of zucchini. Place another tortilla on top, then whack into a big frypan. Toast it on one side until golden (you don’t need any oil for this), flip, and finish toasting it on the other side. Transfer to a cutting board, slice into 8 pieces and drizzle with some sweet chilli. Eat while still warm and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Caramel and Walnut Cookies

caramel and walnut cookie

If I were to ask you what your favourite type of cookie was, would you belong in group a.) Nothing too soft, no oats or other wannabe health food ingredients, no currants, and preferably with Lindt chocolate chunks or toasted walnuts. b.) Aaaaaaaaah anything? or c.) I don’t eat cookies unless they’re made from organic triple-distilled unicorn butter. I’d say I (obviously) belong to the a-team, although I’d admittedly really appreciate you as a human if you were from group c, because you’re funny and probably will never know.

This cookie is the leader of the a-team. The one with the I’m-so-cool-I’m-not-even-trying attitude, which they can totally pull off because they’re friggin awesome to hang out with. Everyone can do with one of those on their team. They’re good value. And might I also say delicious. The brown sugar does a wonderful job at providing a depthy caramel flavour, while the walnuts add a further dynamic with their toasty vibes. These cookies are even better and crunchier the next day, so keep a few to the side.

 

Caramel and Walnut Cookies

Adapted from orangette

Makes around 30

 

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g / 1 ¼ cups brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla essence

250g / 1 ¾ cups plain flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

100g / 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

 

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line two baking trays with baking paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and sugar with a hand-held mixer until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Throw in the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until it all comes together. Finally, add the walnuts. Once they’re more or less evenly distributed, roll heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and flatten them with your fingers to about 1 cm thickness on the baking sheet, making sure they have a 5cm gap between each other. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Carefully transfer them to a wire rack or plate to cool while repeating the same process with the rest of the dough.

Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Hot Buttered Rum

hot buttered rumIt’s time, guys. Spring’s here. Jasmine bushes are exploding all over the place, sunscreen is taking the place of cologne and we can finally leave the house without a scarf. Oh how I love spring. To bid my farewell to winter, and helping you lovelies on the other side of the world ease into the realization the cold is going to come get you, I present to thee: Hot buttered rum.

 

The inspiration for this recipe came from a visit to this charming little bar down the road called Little Mess. If you’re ever in Brunswick, give it a go. They won’t be doing hot buttered rum till winter though. A few months back, when I asked about the ingredients that made up the delicious steaming beverage I was holding between my frozen paws, I was expecting something along the lines of “Ah, sorry. Secret recipe.” Which I did. But my disappointment must have guilt-tripped the friendly barman, so he ended up giving me a tiny insight into a short and incredibly vague list of ingredients make up the magic of which is hot buttered rum. So eagerly I went on home and over the following months taste-tested my own interpretation of it until I was certain that it had well and truly ticked all the boxes. May I present to you, a caramelly, buttery, spiced cup of sweet boozy goodness.

 

Hot Buttered Rum

Serves 1

 

60ml butterscotch sauce (recipe below)

30ml water

1 cardamom pod

1 clove

1 small piece of cinnamon bark

60ml Sailor Jerry’s or other spiced rum

 

Now ideally, try and get this first step done at least 15 minutes before you serve your drink. That way, the spices have a chance to develop and let themselves be noticed. Combine the butterscotch, water and spices in a heatproof mug and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. If you hate microwaves, or just don’t have one, warm the mixture in a small pan until hot, but not boiling. Set aside for 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, add the rum to the cup and heat for a further 30 seconds in the microwave, until nice and hot, but again, not boiling. You, my sweet, are now ready to drink.

 

Butterscotch sauce

Makes enough for at least 5 drinks

 

160ml / 2/3 cup cream

155g / ¾ cup light brown sugar

75g butter, cubed

2 tsp vanilla essence

1/3 tsp salt

 

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stirring, bring to the boil. Let it bubble away for about 5 more minutes until thickened slightly. Take from the heat and let it cool.

Can be sored for at least one week in the fridge.

The most pretentious salad ever

superfood saladSometime this year we all decided to give up and open our arms to the crazy superfood which is known as kale, and chose to love it unconditionally for now and forever. Not only because it’s high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium, no, it also makes us feel like we’re getting closer to nature with all that green grassy fibre it has to offer.

I am not the first to talk about this vegetable, nor will I be the last, so I’ll try and keep it short and sweet, because what you really want is the recipe, and not me talking about my kale-ian preferences. So. Kale chips, great stuff. However, there are only so many kale chips you can make. And they’re really hard to dip into anything, which is a wee bit frustrating, because I love dips and thusly, everything should be dippable. Once my enthusiasm for crisping it dwindled, I moved on to kale salad. I only have one piece of advice for you for crucial kale salad improvement, and that is: Massage it, baby. That way the fibres break down and the grassy rawness turns into soft feathery goodness.

I came up with this recipe as more of a joke than anything else. I set myself the challenge of creating a salad with as many superfood ingredients as I could fit into one bowl, a bowl of pretentiousness, but also as it figured out, of incredible tastiness. I like it best on weekends, as a replenishing recovery after a slightly too merry a night, and also as a packed lunch. Small tip here when we’re talking about portable lunches: Do you also hate the fact that all the crispy ingredients in your lunch turn soft by the time it’s ready to be eaten? And do you keep doing it because you can’t be bothered lugging 3 different containers with you to your place of work? I have a solution for you my friend. Get your take-away container and fill it with your food of choice, making sure you leave at least 1 cm of space between the food and the top of the container. Next, grab a sheet of cling wrap and place it over the top. Now heap on your toasted nuts or croutons and click on the lid. No softened crunchy bits, ever again. You’re welcome.

 

Superfood Salad

Serves 1 really hungry person or 2 average hungry people

 

1/4 cup quinoa

1 pinch cinnamon

1/2 cup water

 

1/4 – 1/2 bunch kale (depending on the size of your bunch of course, but I’d say more is better than less)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

2 Tbsp goji berries

2 tsp chia seeds

 

Combine the quinoa, cinnamon and water in a saucepan and cook till done. I usually add a bit of veggie stock powder to flavour things at this point, but I’ll leave that decision up to you. Once it’s done, set it aside and let it cool down a bit.

Finely chop your kale, then transfer it to a bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil and start scrunching it with your hands until you can feel it soften. This will only take a minute or so. Add the cooled quinoa, the balsamic and soy sauce and toss. Once the dressing is evenly distributed, you can throw in the avocado. You can either pop it back into the fridge now and keep it for later, or heap it onto a plate and top it with the slivered almonds, goji berries and chia seeds. Yum.

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