Purple sprouting broccoli for breakfast

A few months ago, just when the season was right for it,  a dear friend brought me some purple sprouting broccoli fresh from her garden. It just also happened to be the weekend  and I was missing my Melbournian weekend brunches, as I often do in this small English town.

To pay for breakfast or brunch here is folly as the food is disappointing 9.5 times out of 10. So, I decided to make some myself using this lovely sprouting broccoli. A bit of google-ing and I settled on grilled purple sprouting broccoli and hollandaise sauce on a bed of sourdough and poached eggs.

Why do I post it now ? I was doing an audit of my food pictures folder and realised that I have so many things I need to write about and today, I just felt like writing about this one as it was so delicious. I’m sorry, I don’t have too many pictures of the process and next time I make this dish, I’ll be sure to take some.

Purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise sauce over poached eggs and sourdough

Purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise sauce over poached eggs and sourdough

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Mangoes, ricotta and toast – a simple pleasure

I was born in the country that gave common mangoes their scientific name – Mangifera indica. Come the Indian summer (April-June), dad would ride off on his LML Vespa to the local mango market and come back with bags and bags of golden, juicy, sweet deliciousness. He would bring us many varieties and always experimenting with new ones. Of them all, my favourite was “Banginapalle” (pronounced: Bung-in-a-pulse-lee) – thin skinned, juicy and sweet as nectar.

My years in New Zealand exposed me to nothing but disappointment in the form of green, peppery tasting (and smelling) Peruvian mangoes. However, when I moved to the more tropically inclined Australia, my longing for real mangoes was finally satisfied. I discovered the local varietal “Kensington Pride” which reminded me of my childhood favourite and boy did I gorge myself on them. Sticky mango fingers with pulp stains on one’s tee-shirt and chin may not be a very attractive look but the happiness on such a person’s face is priceless !

On our Christmas vacation in Australia, we once again got to indulge our mango cravings and I chose to do it in a simple yet highly satisfying way. The pepper on honey trick is one I learnt from a French colleague of mine. I thought it was weird until I tried it.

Finally, this recipe captures the very first images of food that I took with my DSLR. I will be eternally proud of them.

Do give this recipe a go – especially if you have fresh mangoes and fresh ricotta available. It is definitely healthier than an English breakfast!

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Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi and inspired dinner

I have recently become addicted to three cookbooks I acquired from Amazon and our local library. They are, in order of favouritism,

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

2. Moro by Samuel and Samantha Clark

3. Ottolenghi also by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why the addiction – well these books respect vegetables like I have been taught to respect them as a life time vegetarian. Growing up in a South Indian household, my mother and grandma had endless ways of making vegetables exciting and I try and continue this tradition till today. However, I’m also a little more adventurous that mum and grandma and I cannot eat the same/similar things day in and day out. This is something I did quite gladly did when I was still dependent on my parents, but ever since I’ve moved out on my own, my kitchen has been a bit of a playground, as is this blog I host.

Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi, while laden with meat-based recipes are also quite generous with their coverage of vegetable/vegetarian dishes from Eastern Mediterranean regions, Israel, Palestine with influences from Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Overall, these vegetables are prepared quite differently (most of the time) to how I’d prepare them as a person of South Indian upbringing and I find that really really exciting. Sometimes, I find some similarities and start thinking about the origins of certain food and how recipes might have travelled from one region to another in ancient time.

To summarize it is food, vegetarian food, exciting vegetarian food and I love it! Food to me is most satisfying when I’ve made it and others are enjoying it 🙂 An opportunity presented itself when we decided to host a dinner and board games evening at our place. While I usually cook Indian food, I decided that I’d try recipes from my recently acquired books instead. There was a deathly silence as everyone sat eating until one of our friends spoke up and said , “You know the food is good when everyone is too busy eating and cannot stop to speak”. I’m going to call it a successful experiment based on this !

My menu and links to the recipes are presented below. I managed to take a lot of pictures for the first few dishes and then ran out of time and my guests arrived so I couldn’t keep clicking any more. Hope you try some of the recipes and like them !

Menu for board games night

Menu for board games night

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Carrot souffle with apple and rocket salad

It just so happened that I over-ordered carrots in our last Tesco delivery. While the temptation was great to whip up a carrot cake (mmm…), I have been warned by my partner to stop making delicious, sweet things and trying to fatten us both up for the wicked witch to consume. So, I sought out something different and savoury. I can’t say that it is the healthiest of recipes but the portions definitely were of a healthy size and the salad added a nice touch to the dish – I thought !

As usual, I shopped around for some recipes and used Ecualombian and my old favourite Amanda Laird  from the Christmas souffle recipe. The end result was delicious. We had 1 each for lunch and one spare for a “leftovers” lunch on the weekend. Just beware that it isn’t a quick dinner option but is worth the time and effort. Also, this one isn’t for those trying to watch their calorie intake. Hope you try it and like it!

Carrot souffle on apple and rocket salad with balsamic vinegar

Carrot souffle on apple and rocket salad with balsamic vinegar

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2. Main: Twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with a creamy tomato sauce and apple, walnut, rocket salad

There are 3 parts to this recipe (a) the souffle (b) tomato sauce (c) salad

(a) The soufflé 

Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10556367

Changes:

1. I left out the parsley and I forgot to add salt and pepper but that’s OK, the cheese has enough flavour to make up for this.

2. I used thyme and sage as herbs to flavour the soufflé. To incorporate them, I heated the milk on the lowest setting with sage and thyme for 15-20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse. It was this milk that I then used to make the white sauce.

3. I have included images of the process of soufflé making in the collage below. When I added the milk to the butter-flour mixture it went really thick and I panicked as I’d never made soufflé before. It got worse when I added the cheese and then the egg yolks (Pictures 5,6,7). However, the addition of soft peaked egg whites fixes it all up (Picture 9). Yay! Trust me when I say it tasted amazing – a very forgiving recipe I concluded!

4. Once the soufflés have cooled, they deflate (Picture 13). At this point, ease them out of their ramekins and place them in a larger baking dish upturned (Picture 14)

5. The recipe makes exactly enough batter for 2 soufflés so follow it to a tee if that’ s all you want. Most other recipes I found seemed to be for 6-8 servings which I wasn’t interested in.

(b) The tomato sauce

Source : Inspired by http://www.addictedtoveggies.com/2012/09/cherry-tomato-cream-sauce-nut-free.html

My partner and I are both not huge fans of cream and I thought I’d give the creamy sauce a bit more flavour before baking the soufflé for the second time. I got the idea from the recipe link above but my recipe was as follows.

Changes:

Ingredients:

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic with skin

100 ml cream

2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 level tsp of salt

1 level tsp of sugar

Method:

1. Roast the tomatoes and garlic at 180ºC until the skins of the tomatoes crack and they start oozing out juices. Discard the garlic.

2. In a small saucepan, add the tomatoes, cream and spices and cook until the tomatoes go mushy and the flavours blend into the sauce. You want it to taste a bit sweet as the soufflé will be on the salty side.

3. Sprinkle freshly grated parmesan over the upturned and cooled soufflés and bake for 15-20 minutes at 150ºC until the tops are golden brown.

4. Serve with the apple and walnut salad (Pictures 15 & 16).

5. It is a rich and decadent main so take your time…..

 

(c) Apple, walnut and rocket salad

Source :  

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10784/twicebaked-goats-cheese-souffls-with-apple-and-wal

Changes:

1. I used rocket leaves only

2. I used a golden delicious apple instead of a red apple

3. I toasted the walnuts slightly in a pan on dry heat

4. I tossed the apples in a bit of melted Manuka honey to give them a bit of flavour and to ensure that they didn’t turn brown.

5. I left out the chives.

6. I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.

 

Blue cheese soufflé method

Blue cheese soufflé method

Summer holiday series: 6. Quiche roquefort et poire (Pear and roquefort quiche)

On the fourth evening, I ventured out of the Donna Hay zone and into one called “New Bistro” by Fran Warde (http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Bistro-Fran-Warde/dp/1845333306). We had some pears in the fruit bowl and I knew the local supermarket had some roquefort so I thought – why not. The recipe was simple except for the making of the pastry that held the quiche (quiche shell). This was made even more difficult by the fact that the place we were staying in didn’t have a pie/tart dish. So I improvised with a frying pan and it worked out to my amazement.

The pear and roquefort  quiche had a crispy crust despite me overfilling it. The inside was soft, light, salty because of the cheese and sweet because of the pear. It might sound weird when described, but it was a taste sensation worth experiencing. I thought so despite not being a huge fan of blue-vein cheese. Do try it and tell me what you think!

To finish this meal off, we had some chocolate orange mousse which I will describe in my next recipe.

Pear roquefort tart with some local walnut bread

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Summer holiday series: 3. Summer spaghetti with zucchini and cherry tomatoes

Having polished off the Red Capsicum-Tomato dip and walnut bread very quickly, we got to work on the main and dessert. This recipe for summer spaghetti is one I made up as I went. My partner and his mum physically put this together so I won’t take credit for it. My contributions were the the roasting of the vegetables and calling out the ingredients off the top of my head while beating egg whites for dessert. It was a lot of fun working together in the lovely kitchen and the end result was yummy!

While one would typically grate/shave parmesan over spaghetti, we thought we’d use the local cheeses Cabecou and Rocamadour instead.They are little, round, lovely sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Easy to digest and very very tasty – better still, we bought it straight from the “Fermier” or farmer at the local market. You can have it on your sandwich, in an omlette, over pasta or just on its own. I’ll have to go on a hunt for some in England – Maybe Ocado will have it !

I’ll stop my banter now and give you the recipe. Hope you try it and if you like it, do let me know at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com 🙂

Summer spaghetti…

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