burnt toast

Tag: saffron

Caramelised Fennel with Tomato and Saffron Orzo

This is a wonderful recipe for when you a.) are feeling like pasta but want to make it fancy, b.) are feeling a nostalgic twinge for some umami-packed paella, and / or c.) got a little too enthusiastic at the supermarket and bought too much fennel but cannot muster the enthusiasm to make fennel salad. Again.

Caramelised Fennel with Tomato and Saffron Orzo

Inspired by the wonderful OTK recipe that can be found here.

Serves 4 (with some salad on the side)

For this, you will need a big frying pan and a baking tin. You can absolutely forgo the baking tin and do everything in the frying pan, but you won’t quite get the same caramelized and concentrated effect the oven and the baking tin will give you. You can also replace the fennel with any other veggie – halved caramelized onions or a few wedges of roasted pumpkin would be delish.

The fennel

2 large bulbs of fennel, washed and trimmed, each cut into 6-8 wedges (depending on size) with the core still intact

2 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp butter, cubed

½ tsp salt

ground pepper

100ml water

1 ½ tsp raw sugar

The orzo

200g orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tbsp tomato paste

500ml stock (I like beef, but vegetable is wonderful, too)

100ml white wine (can be replaced with water, if preferred)

1 tsp salt

ground pepper

The saffron water

1 envelope ground saffron

2 Tbsp hot water

2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Preheat your oven to 240°C fan. Combine the fennel and the oil in your baking tin, giving it a good toss. Spread the fennel out evenly and dot over the butter (you can of course, leave this step out, but to me, fennel and butter are SoULmAtEs, so move forward at your own peril) and sprinkle over the salt and some pepper. Gently pour around the 100ml of water and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Briefly remove the baking tin from the oven, give your fennel slices another toss, and sprinkle over the sugar. Roast for another 15 minutes – if it needs a little longer, give it a little longer. Undercooking the fennel is the worst thing you can do here, you hear me? Once the fennel is soft and nicely caramelised, remove it from the oven and set aside.

In the meantime, toast the orzo in your large frying pan over medium-high heat for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has darkened a little in colour. The “grains” won’t all be the same level of toastedness, but that is absolutely fine. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Once the fennel is ready and waiting for you on the sidelines, you can pop your frying pan back on the stove and add the olive oil and garlic. Fry for a few minutes or until starting to go golden around the edges. Add the tomato paste and smoosh It into the garlic, stirring constantly for another minute to get some caramelisation going on that, too. Add the stock, white wine, salt and pepper, and give everything a good stir. Sprinkle in your toasted orzo and arrange the fennel slices over the top. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is done.

In the meantime, combine the saffron and the hot water in a small bowl. When the orzo is ready to serve, drizzle over the saffron water and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve with parmesan on the side.


Saffron and Kale Soup with Chipotle Buttered Toast


Almost four weeks ago, I got on a plane with two very heavy suitcases, two packets of tissues and a heart full of excitement. After six absolutely wonderful  years in Australia, I returned to Switzerland, my other home. It’s great to be back. This time round it’s a little easier getting used to my “new” home, because everything is familiar. Yet there are so many subtle differences I’m having to accustom myself to, such as not adding a “how are you?” after the initial “hello” when speaking to a stranger, having to look up when waiting for a green light when crossing the street because it doesn’t make a clicking noise when it’s okay to go and remembering that most of the shops are definitely not open on Sundays. And at the same time I can’t help but miss the smell of eucalyptus, the friendly cats everywhere, the affordable restaurant food, the lovely friends left behind. Sigh.

Before I get all mopey and nostalgic, let me share with you a recipe I used to make about once a week back in the Melbourne era. It’s not really a recipe per se, more an assembly of ingredients, one I’d fall back onto when my five a day count was near non-existent, when I felt that I needed to give myself and my suffering immune system some pampering. It’s a simple vegetable soup, with the addition of saffron, for a little special hint of sunny warmth. You can add pulses, pasta and any herb you like, but I usually like to keep it simple and stick to the veggies in my fridge. The actual star of this dish is the chipotle butter, which I used to have on toast, now on fresh, crunchy, chewy bread (gasp!). It’s spicy and wonderful and very very morish, so be sure to make more than you think you’ll need.

To cold days, to winter, to warm hugs and memories.


Saffron and Kale Soup with Chipotle Buttered Toast

Serves 4


olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

2 tomatoes, sliced thinly

1/6 celeriac, finely chopped

2 carrots, quartered, finely chopped

3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

4-5 kale leaves, very thinly sliced

1.5 litres of vegetable stock

1 big pinch saffron threads

a dash of soy sauce

a few drops of lemon juice

salt, pepper

In a large saucepan, fry the onion in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic, stir for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the vegetables, the stock and the saffron. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until all vegetables are cooked through. Brighten the soup with the lemon (you don’t need much) juice, add the soy sauce for a boost of umami, and season to taste. Serve with crusty bread or toast and chipotle butter (below).


Chipotle Butter

100g butter, softened

2 tsp chipotle chilli powder


a tiny squeeze of lemon juice

In a bowl, beat the butter with a fork to loosen it up. Add one teaspoon of chipotle and a few pinches of salt, as well as the lemon. Give it a good stir. Have a taste, then add more or the rest of the chipotle. It will seem quite spicy at first, however it will soften as it rests.

If you really don’t like spicy, I suggest you only use ¼ tsp of chipotle and replace the rest with smoked paprika powder.

Saffron, Rosewater and Pistachio Kulfi

pistacio top

They said I had too much wisdom, so they took it all away. Bastards. I mean, what is even the point of having four extra teeth right in the back of your mouth?  It’s a pretty flimsy attempt of interior decoration if anything. Just an added bonus for having successfully survived the crippling years teenage hood and transferred to the next blissful decade of so-called life. You’d think we would’ve evolved past that by now. Have an inbuilt toothbrush instead. Evolution? Whatever.


Other than pain I’ve had some other great things happen to me these last couple of days. Like soup. And cold packs. And delicious pain killers. Before you get all jealous though, let me tell you about ice cream. Because ice cream is delicious. You know those moments when you invite people for dinner and they bring along something that just completely blows your mind? Nah? You’ve got the wrong friends.


I’ve adapted, adopted and tweaked le recipe, and this is what I ended up with. In the past, a very long time ago – the wisdom era I like to call it – I made some cardamom and pistachio kulfi. A deliciously moreish and refreshing milky ice cream enjoyed in India. Well, now it’s time for another one, the rosewater and saffron one. Kittens, it truly is a stunner. And before you point it out, yes, it’s got pistachios as well, but come on, what goes better with saffron, both visually and tastedly?

saffron rosewater kulfi

Saffron, Rosewater and Pistachio Kulfi


400ml mi full cream milk

1 big pinch of salt

1 big pinch saffron threads, or 1 packet ground

1 can/379g condensed milk

1 can/354ml evaporated milk

2 Tbsp rosewater

50g pistachios,  chopped


Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot. Add the salt and the saffron and let it steep for a few minutes until the milk turns golden. If your saucepan is big enough, whisk in the condensed- and evaporated milk, as well as the rosewater. Alternatively, pour everything into a plastic container that will fit into your freezer. To speed everything up, place it into the freezer already. None of that “waiting till it’s room temperature” bullshit. Every half hour or so, whisk the mixture with a fork so as to break up the ice crystals. After about 4 hours or more, depending on how good your freezer is, your mixture will have the consistency of slushy snow. Now stir in the pistachios and fill into whatever mould makes you happy. I usually use small cups or those popsicle trays you can buy. If you’re lucky enough to have 2 of those trays, I reckon you could make 14-16. Now put them back into the freezer to firm up. When ready, hold a knife under a hot tap and slide it around the edge of each popsicle until it comes out.

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