Seasonings Greetings (3 ways with dukkah)

[Recipe 1] PISTACHIO and ALMOND DUKKAH transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LAMB PIZZA (lahm bi ajine)
[Recipe 3] SPICED HONEY DUKKAH POPCORN
[Recipe 4] CHAR-GRILLED DUKKAH LAMB with TRAY-ROASTED VEGGIES

It seriously feels like we packed away the Christmas tree two months ago. I cannot BELIEVE we’re half-way through November. Yikes!
Every Christmas I make a massive batch of something sweet or spicy to pop into jars for teachers, family and friends. Za’atar was popular, and dukkah is equally tasty and a cinch to whip up and package; especially if you employ child labour in your home, as we do.
I buy my fabric pieces at Amitié – they have a huge basket of off-cuts, the perfect size for topping jars. The raw tangerine string is from Araliya. It’s handmade from coconut fibre, and it was a birthday pressie (thanks Chris)!
For a more substantial gift, a small spice bowl could be added – Ingrid Tufts makes beautiful little hand-thrown porcelain condiment bowls.
My dukkah is adapted from Greg Malouf’s recipe in one of my most thumbed-through, dog-eared cookbooks, Arabesque. I made a couple of adjustments, replacing the hazelnuts with toasted pistachios and almonds (I’m far too lazy to skin a bulk load of hazelnuts). I also used less salt, adding a touch of thyme. Dried thyme is great for adding a salt-like kick to spice blends.
Dukkah is a flavour explosion! It can be sprinkled with gay abandon on just about anything; including poached eggs, salad or veggies (eg. my roasted cauliflower and chestnuts with dukkah).
Here are three more great ways to use dukkah. You’ll find the recipes below.
Spiced lamb pizza is a traditional Lebanese treat which usually contains allspice and/or cumin. In my humble opinion dukkah tastes even better.
Spiced honey dukkah popcorn is salty, sweet, spicy and incredibly moreish. We had fun experimenting and taste-testing this recipe – four enormous bowls, now gone!
Char-grilled dukkah lamb is a family favourite, and quick to prepare. Served with tahini sauce and tray-roasted veggies, it makes a super-tasty, healthy meal. Leftover roasted veggies and lamb, if any, can be tossed through a simple rocket, freekeh or couscous salad, and dressed with tahini sauce. We often cook up double the lamb and veggies for this purpose. Enjoy!

Pistachio dukkah. One Equals Two.3 ways with dukkah. By One Equals Two. Home-made pistachio dukkah. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Pistachio and almond dukkah

Ingredients (bulk quantity – makes 23 cups, to fill 25–27 jars)
4½ cups (450g) ground coriander
4 cups (450g) ground cumin
½ cup (40g) dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons (25g) fine white pepper
8 cups (1 kilo) sesame seeds, toasted
4 cups (575g) almonds, toasted (or store-bought unsalted dry roasted)
2½ cups (325g) pistachio kernels, toasted

Place coriander, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper and half the toasted sesame seeds into a large bowl and mix well. Blend almonds, pistachios and the remaining toasted sesame seeds in batches in a food processor, transferring to the bowl of dried spices as you go. Don’t grind them too fine or you’ll end up with a paste! Nuts should be chunky, and just broken.
Divide dukkah into sterilised jars, top the lids with a small square of fabric and seal with string. You can fashion your own funnel from cardboard, to make pouring into the jars easier. Reserve some dukkah for yourself, for the three recipes below!
Very loosely based on Greg Malouf’s recipe in Arabesque.

  • You can toast your own sesame seeds or buy them pre-roasted from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores.
  • Spices can be bought in bulk from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores. Mine were purchased, as always, from Oasis; where you can also find pre-shelled pistachios!
  • Most dukkah recipes call for whole coriander and cumin seeds, crushed in a spice or coffee grinder, or manually with a mortar and pestle. When making dukkah in bulk, pre-ground spices are recommended, as the crushing would take weeks! Incidentally, food processors aren’t great for seed-crushing as the seeds slip past the blades.
  • Dukkah should be stored in a cool dry place, and will keep for 3–6 months.

Spiced lamb pizza with tahini sauce. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Spiced lamb pizza (lahm bi ajine)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing
400g (14 oz) lamb backstraps, leg or fillets
3 teaspoons Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above)
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, finely diced
2 firm Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds and liquid scooped out, diced
To serve:
Tahini sauce
Fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges (these are a must)!
Tomato and cucumber salad

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
Divide wholemeal pizza dough into four. Sprinkle flour on work surface. Roll out each piece of dough into a log shape with your hands. With a rolling pin, roll each log into a large flat oval, approx. 12 x 30cm (5 x 12″). Lift the four bases onto two sheets of baking paper.
Place the chopped lamb, Pistachio and almond dukkah and pomegranate molasses into a food processor and process until minced.
Brush each pizza base lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the prepared lamb, onion and tomato over each base, leaving a 2cm (.8″) border.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–12 minutes. Cook separately if they don’t fit side by side.
Remove from oven. Scatter with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing; and Tomato and cucumber salad.
Recipe very loosely adapted from this one by Greg Malouf.

Honey-spiced dukkah popcorn. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 3] Spiced honey dukkah popcorn

Ingredients (makes 12 cups):
40g (1.5 oz) organic coconut oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter
2 tablespoons honey
♦ 2 tablespoons Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above)
½ teaspoon sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in your largest saucepan, over medium-high heat.
Add the popcorn kernels and cover.
When the kernels begin to pop, gently shake the pan now and again to prevent burning. Once the popping slows down to 2 or 3 seconds between each pop, remove the pan from the heat and tip popcorn into a large bowl.
Melt the butter and honey in a small saucepan. Add Pistachio and almond dukkah and salt and stir to combine.
Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat evenly. Tip into a large bowl and serve.

Dukkah lamb with tray-roasted veggies. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 4] Char-grilled dukkah lamb with tray-roasted veggies

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 x large lamb backstraps (approx. 500g/1.1 lb total)
¼ cup olive oil


⅓ cup Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above), plus extra to serve
Vegetables for roasting:

650g (1.4 lb) kipfler potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, halved

3 smallish sweet potatoes (approx. 500g/1.1 lb), unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into wedges

2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, peeled, quartered

2 medium zucchini, each halved lengthwise and cut into 4

⅓ cup olive oil

Sea salt flakes and freshly-cracked black pepper
To serve:
Tahini sauce
Fresh chopped coriander

Place lamb pieces in a non-metallic dish or bowl.
Combine olive oil and Pistachio and almond dukkah and spread over the lamb pieces. Cover and allow to marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
Place halved potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Place par-boiled potatoes, sweet potato, onions, zucchini and oil into a large bowl. Toss to coat. Place into a large (preferably cast iron) baking pan, scatter with salt and pepper and roast for 45–50 minutes, turning every 10–15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Veggies can be served warm or at room temperature.
When you’re ready to serve, cook the lamb. Preheat a lightly-oiled barbecue or chargrill plate to medium–high heat. Cook lamb for 4 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking. We like ours rare-ish. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Slice lamb thickly across the grain. To serve, pile roasted veggies onto four plates. Top with sliced lamb, drizzle with tahini sauce and scatter with coriander and extra dukkah.

  • Char-grilled dukkah lamb is great for feeding a large crowd. To serve ten people, you’ll need 1.5 kilo (3.3 lb) lamb backstraps, ¾ cup olive oil and 1 cup Pistachio and almond dukkah. Cook the lamb on the BBQ, and serve with double quantity tahini sauce.
  • Veggies are a guide only. Feel free to toss unpeeled pumpkin wedges, carrot slices and/or halved firm Roma tomatoes into the roasting pan.
  • Char-grilled dukkah lamb is also delicious served with Farro salad.
  • Kid tip: Kids will love the char-grilled lamb in a wrap with tahini sauce (or smashed avocado), grated carrot and lettuce. Pluck some roast potato and sweet potato wedges from the roasting pan and call them ‘chips’.

A nice pair of buns

TRANSFORM ONE BATCH OF GREEK EASTER BREAD DOUGH into
[1] CHOCOLATE and RAISIN GREEK EASTER BUNS and
[2] MIXED SEED and FRUIT BUNS


Is there a better school holiday activity than a good session of dough kneading? I think not, especially when said dough encases plump raisins and hidden chunks of couverture chocolate!
With eager helping hands available, it makes perfect sense to double up and make two batches of buns; in this case lovely Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns, best eaten hot, slathered in butter; and tasty little Mixed seed and fruit buns which can be popped in the freezer, ready for lunchboxes.
This recipe is admittedly time-consuming, and a definite weekend or holiday pursuit, but most of that time is in the resting and proving. We managed to squeeze in a movie during the first rising session (Peabody and Mr. Sherman – loved it, even though it was an absolute violation of the original cartoon)!
The dough is sweet and light, similar to brioche or challah; and is tweaked from last year’s Orange and currant Greek Easter bread, a treat we’ll be enjoying for breakfast this Sunday. For those who celebrate it, have a most eggcellent Easter! xx
PS. The little blue Danish apron with removable bunny is from my childhood. I’m so glad my mum is a hoarder like me!
PS2. Leftover couverture chocolate can be used for home-made Easter eggs. We whipped up a batch yesterday, which I posted on the 1=2 Facebook page this morning. I announce new blog posts, and often share extra bits n’ pieces and fun foodie facts on Facebook, so feel to ‘like’ for updates!

2 batches of buns from 1 batch of dough. Via One Equals TwoEaster buns and seeded buns. One Equals TwoGreek Easter buns with hidden couverture chocolate. One Equals TwoOne batch of dough =
[1]
Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns and
[2] Mixed seed and fruit buns

Ingredients (makes 24 buns: 12 Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns and 12 Mixed seed and fruit buns):
250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup (215g) caster sugar
1½ cups (375ml) warmed milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons (3 sachets/21g) dried yeast
1.3 kilos (2.8 lb) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon mixed spice
Olive oil, to grease
For the Chocolate and raisin Greek Easter buns:
125g (4oz) raisins
2 heaped teaspoons finely chopped orange zest
60g (2 oz) milk couverture chocolate, cut into 12 little cubes (or 12 couverture buttons)
For the Mixed seed and fruit buns:
60g (2 oz) raisins
60g (2 oz) dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons mixed seeds for sprinkling (I used poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds/pepitas)
Glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon caster sugar, extra
1 egg yolk

Combine the melted butter, sugar and 1 cup (250 ml) of the warm milk in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the eggs and salt.
Combine yeast and remaining ½ cup warm milk in a bowl, stir to remove lumps, and allow to stand for 8–10 minutes, until frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour, cinnamon and mixed spice. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together.
Dust your work surface with flour, and knead dough for 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
First rising:
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place for 2 hours (or up to 3 hours), until doubled in size.
Punching and resting:
Punch down the dough with your fist, and divide in half, handing one piece to your kitchen assistant! To one portion of dough (for the Easter buns) add the 125g raisins and orange zest; and to the other portion add the 60g raisins, 60g chopped dried apricots and chia seeds. Turn dough pieces onto a lightly floured surface and knead each for 10–15 minutes, until smooth.
Set prepared dough portions aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Lightly pat each dough portion flat, and cut each into 12 even pieces (24 in total). Gently roll each piece into a ball and arrange on prepared baking trays, leaving 2cm (¾”) between each. Push a small cube or button of chocolate into each of the Easter buns (ie. the ones without seeds). Don’t push them all the way down, or they’ll burn on the bottom.
Second rising:
Cover prepared buns with two damp, well squeezed-out tea towels. Set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until almost double in size.
Meanwhile make the glaze by whisking together the milk, extra caster sugar and egg yolk.
Baking and eating:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Lightly brush the tops of the buns with prepared glaze. Sprinkle the mixed seed and fruit buns with poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds. Bake for 15–18 minutes or until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base. You can bake the buns in two batches if your oven can’t accommodate the trays side by side.
Mixed seed and fruit buns can be set aside to cool on trays, then frozen (see tips below).
Serve Easter buns immediately, pulled apart and spread with butter.

  • Chocolate and raisin Easter buns are best eaten immediately, while still warm, with lashings of butter. They can also be re-heated on Easter morning, covered in foil, in a warm oven; or split and toasted. Leftovers can be used for bread n’ butter pudding or French toast!
  • Couverture chocolate is premium quality, containing a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. It’s smooth, creamy and completely delicious. You’ll find it at specialty food stores. In Australia it’s available at Essential Ingredient, Melbourne Food Depot and Belgian Delights.
  • Mixed seed and fruit buns can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature and use in lunchboxes, lightly spread with butter or creamed cheese.

Greek Easter buns and vintage bunny. One Equals TwoVintage Danish apron with removable bunny

 

Just falafs

[Recipe 1] ROAST EGGPLANT, FARRO and CHICKPEA LAYERED SALAD with TAHINI SAUCE transforms into
[Recipe 2] FALAFEL with FARRO and CHICKPEAS

Happy New Year! We’ve popped out the other side of the silly season feeling pretty darn relaxed, having recently returned from a cracker of a holiday in beautiful Apollo Bay with friends.
How’s the weather?! My heart goes out to Northern hemisphere relatives and readers, suffering through their bone-chilling cold snap. Melbourne is facing the opposite extreme, with the mercury hovering around 43°C (109°F) all week. YUK! We’re on school holidays and have been hitting the local beach daily, straight after breakfast, to loll in the water for an hour or two before heading home for crafting, movies and reading with the curtains drawn.
Dinner for us during a heat-wave is a no-brainer – salad! I whipped up this Roast eggplant (aubergine), farro and chickpea layered salad to take to a potluck dinner a while ago. The top layer is the classic Middle Eastern combination of roast eggplant, fresh cherry tomatoes, parsley and creamy tahini sauce; nestled on a bed of chickpeas and nutty faro. Delicious! Loving farro at the moment. We’re bored with quinoa; and have been alternating between farro and freekeh. Both are absolutely bursting with nutrients. Farro (AKA emmer, the Hebrew word for mother) is an ancient variety of wheat, not dissimilar in flavour to barley, with more protein than brown rice. My salad features cracked farro as it’s easier to cook and less chewy than full-grain.
Regular readers will know that this blog is about preparing two meals from one; so half the farro salad (minus the top vegetable layer) is set aside to be put to use in falafel. I’ve always added grain to my falafel, usually burghul (bulger) and most recently freekeh; and farro is equally delicious. By making use of the reserved salad components, the falafel groundwork is done; namely the chickpea and farro preparation, onion slicing and parsley chopping. The mixture is simply tipped into your food processor with 4 extra ingredients, rolled into balls, fried, and voila! Lovely moist falafel with a crispy coating; on your table in no time.
Notes: I bought a falafel scoop recently and was all set to extol the virtues of it in this post, but on my second test and tweak of these recipes I hand-rolled the falafel and have decided I prefer less-uniform, homely little balls, as do my boys.
Pickled turnips are a must with falafel. They cut through the creaminess of the tahini sauce adding a lovely burst of zing. Michelle’s recipe is great (I posted a picture of mine, using Michelle’s recipe, here); but you can buy them at your local Middle Eastern takeaway if you’re pushed for time.
Footnote: So thrilled to have this salad shared on thekitchn as part of their farro feature post! Thanks so much.

Farro, eggplant and chickpea saladFarro and chickpea salad with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Roast eggplant, farro and chickpea layered salad with tahini sauce

Ingredients (serves 8 people for 2 meals; ie salad for 8 plus falafel for 8):
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2½ cups (500g) cracked farro

1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
3 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for scattering
Note: you’ll be reserving half of the above ingredients for the falafel

1 lemon, juiced (approx. ¼ cup juice) 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
2 medium eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
Salt, extra, for sprinkling on eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing on eggplant
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Double quantity tahini sauce (you’ll be reserving a portion to serve with the falafel)

Drain soaked chickpeas, place into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Take care not to overcook them as they should retain a bit of bite. Drain again and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the farro in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again; pushing down with the back of a fork to extract excess water. Spread cooked farro out on a tray to dry for ten minutes. Add to the chickpeas. Allow to cool, then stir through the red onion and parsley.
♦ Reserve ½ of the undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (about 6 cups) for the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.
Place lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle over the remaining chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; add pepper, and toss gently. Arrange on a large platter.
To prepare eggplant, preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Season eggplant slices with the extra salt. Set aside for ten minutes. Rinse slices with water, pat dry with a clean tea towel and brush with olive oil. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 30 minutes. Chop roughly and arrange on top of the dressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; followed by the chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with tahini sauce, and scatter with extra parsley.
♦ Return any unused tahini sauce to the fridge for serving with the the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.

  • Components for salad can be prepared a day ahead. Farro, chickpeas, red onion and parsley can be mixed together (remember to decant half this mixture and set aside for the falafel). Lemon dressing, tahini sauce and roasted eggplants should be stored in separate containers in the fridge. A couple of hours before serving the salad, stir through lemon dressing and arrange eggplant chunks and halved tomatoes on top. Drizzle tahini sauce and scatter extra parsley over the salad at the table.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed.
    Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas.
  • Cracked farro is available in specialty food stores, Mediterranean grocers and health food stores. In Australia, it can be purchased online from Mount Zero and Oasis. If unavailable, replace with pearled farro and increase cooking time to 30 minutes.
  • Reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (for falafel) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Leftover salad is great for lunch!

Falafel with farro and chickpeas

[Recipe 2] Falafel with farro and chickpeas

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
♦ 
6 cups reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup besan flour
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
To serve:
♦ Reserved tahini sauce
Pickled turnip, store-bought (or try Michelle’s easy recipe)
Tomato and cucumber salad
4 pita or lavash breads, store-bought (or try Sawsan’s fabulous pita recipe)

♦ Place reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley into food processor. Add garlic, cumin, salt and flour. Process until mixture starts to round over, forming a ball. Add a little more flour if mixture appears too wet. Take care not to over-mix; a bit of texture is good.
If your processor is too small to handle the full quantity of mixture; process in 2 batches with 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup besan flour in each. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour, then use your hands to roll approximately 48 walnut-sized balls.
Pour oil into a deep-sided frying pan, to a height of about 1cm and heat. Test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few breadcrumbs in the pan. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil. Cook falafel in batches, for 3 minutes each side, until dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Spread each pita or lavash bread with tahini sauce, scatter with pickled turnip and follow with tomato and cucumber salad. Top with 4 or 5 falafel. Roll up and enjoy!

  • Yield: If hand-rolling, you’ll end up with 48 walnut-sized balls. With a falafel scoop, mixture will yield 24 flat falafal. 
  • Fussy kid tip: Children may prefer shredded lettuce, plain Greek yogurt and grated carrot with their falafel. Kid-friendly hummus and Beetroot hummus are also lovely accompaniments.
  • Pickled turnip is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. You may find your local Middle Eastern takeaway will sell you a small container (thanks Manakish)! 
  • Besan flour (or gram flour) is made from ground chickpeas (garbanzos) and is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores, Indian and Pakistani grocers and select health food stores. It can be used in veggie burgers, rice balls and pakoras; is gluten-free, high in protein and much tastier than plain flour.
  • Leftover falafel can be eaten cold the next day, or lightly warmed in a hot oven, covered with foil. Don’t be tempted to microwave them as they’ll very unattractively fall apart!

Get ya freekeh on

[Recipe 1] FREEKEH SALAD with MIXED NUTS and ROASTED TOMATOES
transforms into
[Recipe 2] CHICKEN, FREEKEH, SILVERBEET and LEMON SOUP

I freeking love freekeh! Freekeh (pronounced ‘free-ka’) is dried immature durum wheat. As it’s harvested early, while the grains are still soft and green, it contains more protein, vitamins and minerals than geriatric wheat. It’s also Low GI and packed with fibre. I tried it for the first time at my neighbour’s house a while ago – they whipped up Andrew McConnell’s beautiful cracked wheat and freekah salad with barberry dressing, which is on the menu at Cumulus Inc. I loved it; and have been on a freekeh kick ever since.
After a lot of tweaking and testing I’ve created my own freekeh concoction; Freekeh salad with mixed nuts and roasted tomatoes. I’ve brought it along to two BBQs recently – that’s us below, carting it off to a Día de Muertos party last weekend. Those roasted tomatoes go rather nicely with my dress don’t you think?
As this blog is all about creating two meals from one; I prepared a large quantity of the cooked freekeh, onion and garlic mixture and reserved half to use in a pretty damn delicious Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet (Swiss chard) and lemon soup; which we polished off for dinner with crusty bread. The leftover soup was frozen in lunch-sized portions to take to work. I usually make this soup with leftover cooked brown rice but freekeh was a fab substitute, and not as heavy as brown rice. This recipe is a definite keeper.
PS. If you’re scratching your head in puzzlement about the title of this post, here is the musical inspiration. It’s an excellent, slightly mental, track to cook along to.

Day of the Dead 2013Freekeh salad with roasted tomatoesFreekeh salad with mixed nuts[Recipe 1] Freekeh salad with mixed nuts and roasted tomatoes

Ingredients (serves 8 for 2 meals; ie salad for 8 + 8 serves of soup):
4 large Roma tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g (1 lb) cracked greenwheat freekeh, soaked in 2½ cups water for 15 minutes, drained (note: you’ll be reserving half the cooked freekeh/onion/garlic for the soup)
4 cups water, extra
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup (70g) slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup (70g) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
50g (1¾ oz) baby spinach leaves
½ – 1 cup each roughly chopped mint and parsley
Lemon pomegranate dressing:
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, warmed (replace with honey if unavailable)

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF).
Place halved tomatoes, cut side up, onto a tray lined with baking paper. Brush each with olive oil, and roast for 1 hour. Carefully turn each tomato over and roast for a further 20–25 minutes to allow the juices to drain off. Cut each in half and set aside to drain on kitchen paper until required.
Heat extra oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, until just fragrant (onion needn’t be completely soft).
Add prepared cracked freekeh and mix well. Add water. Bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Spread out on a tray (or 2 large plates) to dry for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil and pomegranate molasses in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Set aside.

♦ Reserve half of the cooked freekeh and onion mixture (4 heaped cups) for the Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup.
Place remaining cooked freekeh and onion mixture in a large bowl. Add prepared dressing and mix well. Add salt, pepper, nuts, spinach and chopped herbs and toss lightly to combine. Arrange roasted tomatoes on top and serve.

  • This recipe uses cracked grain freekeh. If you’re using whole-grain freekeh, simmering time should be increased according to the packet. 
  • Freekeh and pomegranate molasses are available from specialty and health food stores (including my favourite locals, The Essential Ingredient and Aunt Maggies). You can also check this page for Australian and International stockists of freekeh; or buy it online at the Greenwheat Freekeh Australian online shop or Freekehlicious USA. Freekeh is also widely stocked at Middle Eastern Grocers.
  • This salad (and the planned-overs) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Chicken soup with freekeh and lemon

[Recipe 2] Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup

Ingredients (serves 8):
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken legs, skin on
2 large carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves

♦ 4 heaped cups reserved cooked freekeh and onion mixture
8 cups chicken stock, home-made or store-bought (plus extra if required*)
1 bunch silverbeet (Swiss chard), 8–10 stalks, green part only, finely shredded
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Lemon wedges to serve

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry chicken legs over a medium heat, turning, for 10 minutes, until browned.
Add carrot, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, reserved cooked freekeh and onion mixture and stock. Mix well.
*Note: we like our soup thick. Feel free to add more stock as required.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for 40 minutes.
Remove and discard bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Add silverbeet and simmer, covered, for a further 20 minutes.
Using tongs, place chicken legs on a board. With two forks shred the meat from the bones. Discard bones and skin. Return shredded meat to the soup.
Add lemon juice and season to taste (if using store-bought stock, the soup may be salty enough).
Serve, with lemon wedges for squeezing.

  • Chicken, freekeh, silverbeet and lemon soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Fussy kid tip: If lemon and silverbeet are likely to give your child the heebie-jeebies, stir a couple of tablespoons of cooked corn kernels, or even creamed corn, into their soup portion. My 6-year old laps it up with either of these additions.

A fruitful venture

[Recipe 1] KHOSHAF (DRIED FRUIT SALAD) with HONEYED NUTS
transforms into
[Recipe 2] ORANGE, MIXED FRUIT and CHIA MUFFINS

May I suggest an excellent Christmas gift idea, perhaps for your parents or in-laws? A food tour! The CAE has a fab list of culinary walks and tours, and I can’t wait to head off on a mushroom hunting expedition with my mum next year. The husband and I took my mother-in-law on a food tour of Sydney Road 12 years ago. It was surprisingly intriguing playing tourist on one of our favourite streets, and I learned the technique for making khoshaf from our guide.
Khoshaf is a traditional Middle Eastern dried fruit salad; made by soaking, rather than stewing, dried fruit in water overnight with fragrant rosewater and spices. I dished it up to my lovely lady friends for breakfast, on our recent holiday in Trentham. A country vacation is not complete without enamelware, and I was rapt to discover 2 classic enamel picnic plates among the unmatched crockery – see my first photo below.
I’m not a fan of overly sweet fruit for breakfast, so although authentic khoshaf includes sugar, I’ve found using a mixture of water and orange juice adds just enough sweetness. Khoshaf usually includes nuts too, but I omit these and serve the fruit with my honeyed nuts on the side instead. The plump fruit and crunchy nuts go beautifully with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Such a lip-smackingly healthy way to start the day!
I made another batch of khoshaf recently, determined to see if I could transform it into a second meal, and lo and behold it morphed into the most addictive Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins. My boys loved these, and I’m both embarrassed and proud to say we ate the lot in one day. I’ve since made another batch, and placed them directly in the freezer.
I used my own go-to muffin recipe as the base. The 1½ cups of reserved dried fruit salad can be replaced with almost any fruit – see ingredients for my banana, coconut and lime muffins and carrot and sultana spice muffins in the recipe notes. I must say dried fruit salad is one of my most favourite muffin additions to date, and I may go and snaffle one from the freezer right now.

Khoshaf (dried fruit salad)[Recipe 1] Khoshaf (dried fruit salad) with honeyed nuts

Ingredients (makes approximately 4 cups):
150g (5¼ oz) dried apples, halved
200g (7 oz) dried apricots (or dried peaches, halved)
150g (5¼ oz) pitted prunes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1½ cups freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 2 large oranges)
cups water
1½ teaspoons rose water
Honeyed nuts, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve

Place dried fruit, cinnamon and star anise in a bowl. Bring orange juice and water to the boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the dried fruits and spices. Fruit should be well-covered with liquid, so add more boiling water if necessary. Sprinkle with rosewater.
Stir lightly. Steep overnight in the fridge, covered.
Serve with Greek yogurt, scattered with honeyed nuts.

♦ Reserve 1½ cups of the dried fruit salad for the orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins.

  • Dried fruit salad will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Add a little more boiling water if it begins to need more liquid.
  • You can use any dried fruit for this dish; such as figs, medjool dates, pears or large raisins. This recipe is a great way to use up all those bits and pieces languishing in your pantry. You’ll need a total of 500g (approx. 1 lb).
  • If the idea of dried apricots marinating in a pool of sulphites isn’t appealing, you can use organic apricots – the colour won’t be as vivid but the flavour will be just as fabulous.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores, such as Oasis or A1 Bakery. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own. Leftover pure rosewater can be used as a natural face toner!

Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffinsOrange, mixed fruit, chia muffins

[Recipe 2] Orange, mixed fruit and chia muffins

Ingredients (makes 12):
2 cups (300g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
½ cup (50g) oat bran
3 tablespoons chia seeds

½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter, melted, slightly cooled
1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad, drained, roughly chopped
¼ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Combine flour, oat bran, chia seeds and sugar in a large bowl.
Lightly whisk buttermilk, egg and melted butter in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix lightly until just combined.
Add reserved dried fruit salad, orange juice and zest and fold together gently until just combined (a few floury lumps are perfectly fine). Don’t over-mix, or you’ll end up with tough muffins! Divide mixture among 12 lined muffin pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin. Allow to cool in tray for ten minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

  • Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days – they remain surprisingly moist. If you’re frightened you may polish off the lot in one sitting, they can be frozen for up 2 months and thawed overnight in the fridge.
  • This muffin recipe is easy to vary:
    Banana, lime and coconut muffins: Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup mashed banana (you’ll need 2 large very ripe bananas) and ½ cup shredded dried coconut. Replace the orange juice and zest with lime juice and lime zest. Sprinkle with extra shredded coconut.
    Carrot and sultana spice muffins: Add ½ teaspoon mixed spice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Replace the 1½ cups reserved dried fruit salad with 1 cup grated carrot (you’ll need 2 large carrots) and ½ cup sultanas.

Amazeballs!

NUT-FREE RAW CHOCOLATE ENERGY BALLS  
We’re in the middle of the School holidays and have had a blast so far – lots of crafting including tin can telephones and puppet-making, saw Monsters University (loved it, although it wasn’t a patch on Monsters Inc), playdates, a couple of scootering adventures, visited Scienceworks and Collingwood Children’s Farm, and we’re off to the zoo on Friday.
We’ve also been on a ball-making frenzy. Melbourne is awash with energy balls, with almost every cafe and health store around here pimping their own version. Jill Dupleix wrote a great article about them in Epicure recently. Her supplied recipe looks delicious, and was the inspiration for mine; but the biggest problem with all the energy ball recipes I’ve come across is that they contain nuts. My mission was to create some that could be used in the kid’s lunchboxes next week (their school has a nut-free policy).
My Nut-free raw chocolate energy balls are amazeballs! To be honest, like this post, they were part of a failed planned-overs experiment. My intention was to make cookies from a portion of the energy ball mixture but they just bloody well didn’t work! I really wanted to share the balls recipe though, as they’re so good. They come pretty close to truffles in texture, but they’re actually healthy. Lightly sweetened with honey, lots of dried fruit and seeds and, one of my favourite indulgences, pure organic cacao powder. If you’ve not used it before, you can buy it and check out all the health benefits here – you’ll never go back to ordinary cocoa powder again.
Both my boys gave these balls the thumbs up, as did the husband. Enjoy!
Footnote, April 2014: We’ve been experimenting with different ingredients for the past few months. A recent favourite has been ‘bliss logs’; a mixture of medjool dates, dried apricots, currants, coconut oil, good quality cocoa powder, rolled oats and a dash of maple syrup, rolled into coconut-covered logs (you can see them in my facebook post on April 2nd). Delish!

Nut-free chocolate energy ballsNut-free raw chocolate energy balls

Ingredients (makes 15 large energy balls):
100g (3½ oz) sunflower seeds

50g (1¾ oz) fine desiccated coconut
60g (2 oz) raw powdered cacao
60g (2 oz) organic coconut oil, melted
60g (2 oz) organic honey

85g (3 oz) craisins (dried sweetened cranberries)
5 medjool dates (100g/3½ oz), pitted and chopped
100g (3½ oz) pitted prunes, chopped
Approx. ¼ cup fine desiccated coconut, extra, for rolling

Process sunflower seeds until you have a fine meal. Add all other ingredients except the extra coconut and process until completely combined and smooth.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 15 minutes to make it easier to handle. Roll the refrigerated mixture into approx. 15 golf-ball sized balls and roll in the extra coconut. Refrigerate for at least one hour before eating. Yum!
[Recipe loosely adapted from Jill Dupleix]

  • Craisins can be replaced with dried goji berries, soaked for one hour in hot water and very well drained. You can also add chia seeds and/or sesame seeds.
  • Raw powdered cacao can be found at health food stores or online from Loving earth. Replace with good quality cocoa powder if unavailable.
  • Organic coconut oil is available from health food stores. It’s cold-pressed, and well worth the expense, being rich in short-medium chain fatty acids (these are good fatty acids, unlike long chain fatty acids) fibre, vitamins and minerals. You can read more about it here. Copha, the supermarket variety, is hydrogenated, refined and bleached. AWFUL!
  • Coconut oil can be melted by placing the required quantity in a bowl and sitting it in a sink of warm water until liquified.
  • Energy balls can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; or frozen for up to 3 months.

Of rice and men

[Recipe 1] MARION’S BROWN RICE, MIXED NUT and GINGER SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] GOLDEN RICE BALLS with CHUNKY PEANUT and COCONUT SAUCE
……………..
The ‘men’ part of my post title pertains to the husband and his man friends, who are out reclaiming their youth tonight at Iggy and the Stooges, and the Beasts of Bourbon. He’ll no doubt be clunking down our hallway at some revolting hour.
I, on the other hand, am a lady of good health and virtue. I offer you this wholesome brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad. It’s full of flavour and texture, with a good wallop of zing from the ginger; and whenever I bring it to a BBQ, as I did a couple of weeks ago, the recipe is always requested. It’s one of ‘those’ recipes. I’m sure you all have one. It’s my mother-in-law Marion’s specialty and she has been making it for years. It nearly always features on the table at family gatherings (along with Marion’s mysterious ‘24 hour salad’).
The recipe makes enough for 6, plus planned-overs to reserve (undressed, minus the capsicum) for a batch of fantastic, golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce. My 8-year old loves these in wraps with chilli slaw.
Hope you all have a beautiful Easter.

Brown rice, ginger and mixed nut salad[Recipe 1] Marion’s brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, rice balls serve 4):
3 cups (600g) uncooked medium-grain brown rice
6 spring onions (scallions), sliced
150g (5¼ oz) raisins
100g (3½ oz) walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
75g (2½ oz) cashews, roasted and roughly chopped
9 small cloves garlic, very finely chopped
7½ cm (3”) piece ginger, grated and chopped (equivalent to 3 tablespoons)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
1 small yellow capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
Dressing (for salad only):
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free, if required)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place rice in a large saucepan. Add 5–6 litres (5–6 quarts) cold water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35–40 minutes, until cooked and not too chewy.
Remove rice from heat. Rinse, and drain well. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.
Add spring onions, raisins, toasted walnuts, toasted cashews, garlic, ginger and parsley. Season to taste, and mix well.
Reserve ⅓ of the undressed brown rice salad (4 cups) for the Golden rice balls.
Make the dressing by whisking ingredients together. Pour over remaining brown rice salad, add capsicum and toss together. Serve.

  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice yields 9 cups cooked rice.
  • Cooked brown rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Planned-overs (undressed salad) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you can make the rice balls later in the week.
  • If you’d prefer to make the salad alone, you can play around with quantities. It’s hard to go wrong – just give it a taste and adjust the dressing up or down accordingly.
  • Fussy kid tip: reserve a cup of cooked brown rice, a tablespoon of finely chopped roasted nuts and a tiny splash of dressing; add cooked corn kernels and peas, and even a small drained can of tuna, and the kids will be happy. You’ll find kids will hoover the rice balls though, no adjustment necessary!

Brown rice balls with chunky peanut sauce

[Recipe 2] Golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 cups reserved undressed brown rice salad
125g (4½ oz) tofu
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 egg, lightly whisked
½ cup (75g) atta flour
Peanut oil for deep frying
Chunky peanut and coconut sauce, to serve
Chilli slaw with crispy noodles, to serve (optional)

Place reserved undressed brown rice salad in a large bowl.
Add tofu, chilli sauce, egg and flour and mix well with your hands. Form mixture into golfball-sized balls.
Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat the peanut oil in a deep saucepan. Deep-fry the rice balls in two batches at 180°C (350ºF) for approximately 3 minutes, until golden brown. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few pieces of cooked rice in the pot. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil.
Drain rice balls on kitchen paper and serve immediately with chunky peanut and coconut sauce and Chilli slaw with crispy noodles (or a simple green salad).
Makes approx. 20–22 rice balls.

  • These balls are extra crunchy and delicious when deep-fried, but if you have an aversion to deep-frying, they can also be shallow-fried in ¼–½  cup of peanut oil. Roll the balls around in the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs, to ensure they brown evenly.
  • Atta flour is a traditional wholemeal Indian flour made from durum wheat, with visible fine bran particles. It is available from large supermarkets, Indian and Pakistani grocers. In this recipe it can be replaced with dry breadcrumbs if unavailable.
  • If peanut sauce doesn’t float your boat, the rice balls are also lovely served with chilli mayo.

Feeling a bit seedy

AMARANTH, CRANBERRY and MINT SALAD with MACADAMIAS and HALOUMI
This isn’t a planned-overs recipe, but I wanted to share it anyway as I loved it, and the husband gave it a big thumbs up too.
I’ve been trotting out the cranberry, ginger, mint and macadamia combo for years, but have always served it with couscous. Recently I replaced the couscous with amaranth seeds and it was fantastic!
I know – amaranth is the groovy ancient seed du jour, especially in blogland; but it lives up to the hype. It’s similar to quinoa, but not as bitter; and it’s so pretty, like miniature pearls. It’s also FULL of protein and fibre. Served with haloumi, it makes a lovely light dinner; and the leftovers are fab for lunch the next day.

My original intention was to create cookies from a reserved portion of the cooked amaranth and cranberries. I’ll admit it – I was extremely excited as I thought they’d be amazing. I even enlisted my lovely 11-year old gluten-intolerant niece as my kitchen assistant and taste-tester. OMG, those cookies were disgusting! Awful texture, chewy and unpleasant. I did have a nice time cooking and chatting with my niece though.
So, I didn’t want to waste the salad recipe. Do give it a try – it’s honestly scrumptious.
Footnote: Thank you Redbook for featuring this salad in your ’11 Supergrain Spring Salads’ roundup!

Amaranth, cranberry and orange saladAmaranth, cranberry and mint salad with macadamias and haloumi

Ingredients (serves 3–4):
1 heaped cup (250gm/½ lb) whole-grain amaranth (not flakes)

½ cup (75gm/2½ oz) craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
½ cup shredded mint leaves, plus extra to serve
½ red (Spanish/purple) onion, finely sliced
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
½ cup (80g/3 oz) macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted
120g (4 oz) haloumi (Greek frying cheese), cut into 1cm (½ in) slices
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying cheese
Lemon wedges, to serve
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon finely-grated fresh ginger (or more – to taste)

Bring 3 cups of water to the boil in a medium pot. Add the amaranth and craisins and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Drain in a fine mesh sieve. Spread amaranth and craisins out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine. Add to the amaranth and craisins, along with the mint and onion. Toss lightly. Season.
Rinse haloumi with water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and lightly fry the haloumi until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes each side.
Serve the amaranth salad, scattered with toasted macadamia nuts and extra mint.
Lay the haloumi slices on top or serve separately on a platter.

  • This salad is a ripper to take to work for lunch. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Amaranth is a tiny, gluten-free South American seed similar to quinoa. I cook mine for half the time noted on the packet as I like it with a bit of bite and nuttiness. It becomes quite porridge-like the longer you cook it. It is available from health food stores and markets.
  • Haloumi is a non-meltable cheese from Greece, made for pan-frying. It is salty and delicious. My boys love it, and refer to it as ‘squeaky cheese’. It is best eaten immediately as it rubberises upon standing. It is available from large supermarkets, specialty cheese stores and delicatessens.

Hey pesto!

[Recipe 1] SPINACH, WALNUT and ROASTED GARLIC PESTO transforms into
[Recipe 2] TWO DIFFERENT PESTO PIZZAS
……………..
The school holidays have come to an end. Sidney, my scrumptious 5-year old, starts school for the first time tomorrow – his little uniform is sitting on the couch and it makes me well up just looking at it. I’m back at work tomorrow too, so cooking for me at the moment is all about stocking the freezer with easy bits and pieces for quick dinners.
I know there are probably one billion pesto recipes floating around in cyberspace, but mine is pretty ace, even if I do say so myself. The walnuts and roasted garlic make it extra tasty, and it’s full of vitamins as there is a load of spinach mooshed up in it too. Pesto freezes really well, and also keeps excellently in the fridge for up to 1 week. There is no need to add a layer of oil as some recommend. This pesto retains its vibrant green colour due to the splash of lemon juice. I prefer to add the parmesan to the pasta later as pesto keeps better without it.
My boys absolutely love pesto pasta, and it’s easy to add a few vegies to the pasta cooking water, such as peas; or even tiny broccoli florets.
This recipe makes 3 generous serves of pesto, so you can set some aside for two different pesto pizzas later in the week; one for mature tastebuds with roasted cauliflower and chilli; and a kid-friendly version with bocconcini and cherry tomatoes, which we like to call ‘the fancy margherita’. My wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough recipe is here. I make this dough often, and the pizza bases freeze well (see tips in the recipe).
PS. Do you like my ‘tablecloth’? It’s actually wallpaper. I’m extremely excited as I found a huge book of vintage wallpaper swatches in my local oppie last week. Be prepared for some kooky table covers in the coming weeks! 

Spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto[Recipe 1] Spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto

Pesto ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals):
1 cup (100g) walnuts, chopped
3 tightly-packed cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 tightly-packed cups (3 large bunches) basil leaves
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Ingredients for tonight’s pasta:
400g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
1 cup frozen baby peas (or fresh peas)
50g (1¾ oz) parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra (shaved) to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF). Wrap unpeeled garlic cloves in foil and roast for 40 minutes. Set aside.
Whizz the walnuts with a stick blender (in batches) or food processor until finely chopped – take care not to blend them for too long or you’ll end up with a paste. They should retain some texture. Set aside.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins and add to the remaining pesto ingredients. Blend in batches, with a couple of tablespoons oil added each time. Place into a large bowl as you go. Add the crushed walnuts and mix thoroughly.
Divide pesto into 3 portions of approximately 150g (5 oz); or 2 portions of 150g (5 oz) and 2 half portions of 75g (2½ oz). You’ll need 1 full portion of pesto for tonight’s spaghetti. The rest can be frozen – see tips below recipe.
Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Add peas to the same pot for the last 2 minutes cooking time (if using fresh peas, add to the pot for the last 4 minutes). Drain spaghetti and peas,
reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water, and place into a large bowl.
♦ 
Add 1 full portion of spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto, parmesan and reserved cooking water; and toss together. Season to taste. Serve immediately, scattered with extra shaved parmesan.

  • Pesto can be stored in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. When using pesto with pasta, add parmesan just before serving. Pesto keeps better without the parmesan added.
  • Smaller pesto portions (for sandwiches, salad dressings and scrambled eggs) can be frozen in ice cube trays. Transfer the frozen cubes to a plastic container, and pop back in the freezer.
  • Both the garlic cloves for the pesto and the cauliflower for the pizza can be roasted up to 2 days in advance. They can be baked alongside other vegetables and stored in a container in the fridge until required. 
  • The basil and spinach leaves should be very well dried after washing so your pesto isn’t too watery. You can use a salad spinner, or pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Don’t worry about bruising the leaves – you’ll be pulverising them anyway!
  • This recipe can be varied by replacing the walnuts with cashews, pine nuts or pistachio nuts.
  • Baby tip: You can make pesto for older babies at the same time, by blending a handful of spinach leaves (about 60g/2 oz), 1 large basil leaf and a small undrained 95g (3 oz) can of low-salt tuna in springwater (or a small cooked fish fillet and a splash of water). Freeze in ice cube trays and defrost as needed. Serve with couscous (blended if required).

Pesto, cherry tomato and bocconcini pizzaPesto, roast cauliflower and chilli pizza

[Recipe 2] Two different pesto pizzas

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, or 2 large store-bought pizza bases
250g (9 oz) home-made pizza sauce, or tomato passata (puree)
♦ Half portion (75g/2½ oz) reserved spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto

Pizza 1: Bocconcini, pesto and cherry tomato (‘fancy margherita’).
6 cherry bocconcini*, halved

8–10 cherry tomatoes (or mini Roma tomatoes), halved
Fresh basil leaves, chopped, for scattering
Pizza 2: Roast cauliflower, pesto and chilli
¼ cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1 cup florets)
½ tablespoon olive oil, for roasting the cauliflower
6 cherry bocconcini, halved

½–1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
If using home-made wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, sprinkle flour on a sheet of baking paper. Roll out and press each dough ball into a rectangle. Make the dough as thin as you can, as it will puff up a bit in the oven.
Spread each pizza base with home-made pizza sauce, or tomato passata.
♦ Drizzle each with spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto.
For pizza 1: Top prepared pizza base with bocconcini and cherry tomatoes.
For pizza 2: Blanch the cauliflower florets in a pot of boiling water, covered, for 2–3 minutes. Drain. Dry thoroughly in a clean tea towel. Place into a bowl and toss with the olive oil until well-coated. Arrange the florets on a baking tray lined with baking paper (you can use one of the pizza trays). Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Top prepared pizza base with bocconcini halves, followed by roast cauliflower, and chilli flakes.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–12 minutes until bubbling. Cook separately if they don’t fit side by side.
You may need less cooking time if using pre-cooked store-bought pizza bases.
Remove from oven. Scatter pizza 1 with fresh basil. Serve pizzas immediately.

  • Bocconcini are small, white mozzarella cheese balls, packaged in water. Cherry bocconcini are very small, the size of a cherry strangely enough! They’re available at most large supermarkets and delicatessens. Replace with sliced mozzarella if unavailable.
  • Leftover pizza is of course excellent for lunch the next day!

Hot for teacher

[Recipe 1] ZA’ATAR (Middle Eastern spice mix) transforms into
[Recipe 2] MANOUSHE BI ZA’ATAR (Lebanese pizza with za’atar) 
……………..
Our house was like a mini spice market last weekend. We made an absolute mega batch of Za’atar, mainly for my boy’s teachers for Christmas. It was 37 degrees (99°F) outside on Saturday – blech – the perfect weather for indoor action. The boys were on filling and lid-application duty, and we had music blaring in the background. See two songs from our playlist* below.
I’ve based my Za’atar recipe on this one, and added cumin and cinnamon – not really authentic additions, but they make for a smoother tasting za’atar methinks.
Za’atar is my favourite Middle Eastern spice blend – it’s oh so versatile! You can scatter it on roast vegies, use it as a dry rub on meat, sprinkle it over fatoush or fetta salad, or stir it through Greek yogurt as a quick dip. One of my favourite brekkies is scrambled eggs sprinkled with za’atar, served in a wrap with fresh tomato and rocket (arugula). Honestly, when we have a batch in the cupboard, it gets scattered on just about anything!
Recipe 2 is another beautiful, simple way to use Za’atar, Manoushe bi za’atar (Lebanese pizza with za’atar). We buy this regularly from Oasis and A1 Bakery, but when time permits, we love making our own.
If you’re not particularly crafty, or you don’t have the time (understandable at this mental time of year) a jar of Za’atar is an easy, inexpensive home-made gift. I bought all the fabric scraps at the swoon-worthy Amitié Textiles – some were already cut to size! Popped down to Oasis to stock up on bulk spices and numerous other items. I always end up with a bulging basket there. The spice section is mind-boggling, and the baked goods and sweets are impossible to walk past. Well worth the drive. Have a lovely week folks.
*If you need some background music while you’re mixing and measuring, you could listen to the inspiration for my blog post title, the very bad (in a good way) Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher. The drum intro is the perfect accompaniment to frenzied spice pounding. Or… for something more exotic, and because she’s named after the main spice in Za’atar, you could try the absolutely fabulous Yma Sumac (her real name is actually Amy Camus, but she niftily reversed the letters).

Jar of home-made zaatarZaatar label[Recipe 1] Za’atar (Middle Eastern spice mix)

OPTION 1: Bulk quantity (makes 16–17 cups, to fill 16–17 average-sized jars)
3 cups (150g) thyme
3 cups (150g) marjoram
3 cups (150g) oregano
1½ cups (150g) sesame seeds, toasted
5 cups (600g) fine-blend sumac
¼ cup (6 tablespoons) cinnamon
¼ cup (6 tablespoons) cumin
¼ cup (6 tablespoons) fine sea salt

OPTION 2: Small quantity (makes 2½ cups)
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
¼ cup fine-blend sumac
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place thyme, marjoram, oregano and sesame seeds into a large bowl and mix well. Blend in batches in a food processor or with a stick blender. Don’t blend it too fine, just break it up a bit. If you’re making the smaller quantity of Za’atar, you can use a mortar and pestle.
Add sumac, cinnamon, cumin and sea salt and mix well. Divide za’atar into sterilised jars.
♦ Reserve 4 tablespoons za’atar for the Manoushe bi za’tar (Lebanese pizza with za’atar).

  • Sumac is a dark reddish purple Middle Eastern spice, made from the berries of the Sumac shrub. It has a tart, tangy flavour. It’s available in large supermarkets, specialty food stores and Middle Eastern grocers.
  • You can toast your own sesame seeds, or cheat and buy them pre-roasted from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores. 
  • Za’atar should be stored in a cool dry place, and will keep for 3–6 months.
  • Glass jars and lids can be sterilised by running them through your dishwasher on the hottest cycle, on the top shelf.

Zaatar pizza

[Recipe 2] Manoushe bi za’atar (Lebanese pizza with za’atar)

1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, or 2 store-bought pizza bases
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 4 tablespoons reserved za’atar
Tomato, Persian fetta and mint salad, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
If using home-made wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, sprinkle flour on a sheet of baking paper. Roll out each dough ball into a circle, roughly the same size as your baking tray. Make the dough as thin as you can, as it will puff up a bit in the oven.
Brush each pizza base with olive oil.
♦ Liberally sprinkle reserved za’atar over each pizza.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–15 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Don’t overcook the pizza, or you’ll end up with a giant biscuit! Have a peep after 10 minutes, and pop it in for an extra 5 minutes only if absolutely necessary. You’ll need less time overall if using pre-cooked store-bought bases.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately with Tomato, Persian fetta and mint salad.

  • You can make smaller manoushe as hors d’oeuvres. Cut little rounds of pizza dough, about 7cm (2¾”) in diameter. A full quantity of wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough will yield about 40 mini pizzas. Bake at a lower temperature (220°C/425ºF) for 8–10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn! You can see a picture of them here – they’re included in Bento box number 5.

Grain fed

[Recipe 1] SWEET POTATO, QUINOA and EDAMAME SALAD with MISO DRESSING transforms into 
[Recipe 2] SWEET POTATO, QUINOA and SALMON CAKES
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Happy Halloween folks! Are any of you doing anything special on the 31st? My boys are Trick or Treating this year, for the very first time, and they’re SO excited. We also decorated a batch of gumnuts and made little skeleton heads and spooky screaming spiders with pipe-cleaner legs. The elves are for the Christmas tree (love getting in early with Christmas decorating). Their little hats are the pointy bits from inside an egg carton, stuck on with our trusty hot glue gun.
Here’s an orange and black recipe to celebrate Halloween. We’re a bit obsessed with quinoa at the moment (like the rest of the world). My lovely gluten-intolerant brother-in-law looked after our boys one night last week, so I made him (and us!) this Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing. It’s a conglomeration of my Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad and Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad and it’s pretty damn yummy.
The sweet potato, edamame, black sesame seed combo is lovely – I often serve up that combination on sushi rice with grilled fish. We love edamame and they’re such a kid-friendly vegetable, with all that squeezing and popping.
The sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes, made with a planned-over portion of the salad, are devoured by my boys. This recipe is a great way to stretch out a small portion of salmon, which is expensive, and also not a very sustainable fish. I use egg rings to make perfect little circles, but feel free to make them without – they’ll just be more free-form and fritterish. I’ve used both methods, and they work equally well.
Footnote: Thanks EatSmart for featuring these recipes on your blog!

Halloween GumnutsQuinoa, sweet potato and edamame salad[Recipe 1] Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, salmon cakes serve 4):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 orange sweet potatoes (about 750g/1½ lb), peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g (28 oz) frozen unshelled edamame, or 400g (14 oz/2 cups) frozen shelled edamame
2¼ cups (450g) white quinoa
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped, plus extra to serve
¼ cup black sesame seeds (or white, if unavailable), toasted
Miso dressing (for salad only):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste, extra
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Mix 2 heaped tablespoons miso paste and olive oil together to form a paste. Toss with the sweet potato in a large bowl, until well-coated. Place sweet potato onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
If using unshelled edamame, squeeze the beans from their pods. Blanch shelled edamame in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Add edamame to the roasted sweet potato.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the sweet potato and edamame, along with the coriander and sesame seeds.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad (about 4 cups) for the Sweet potato and quinoa fritters.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (1–2 minutes). Set aside to cool. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad, and toss gently. Scatter with extra sesame seeds and extra coriander.

  • Black sesame seeds are simply white sesame seeds, unhulled. They contain about 60% more calcium than hulled sesame seeds, and have a lovely strong, nutty flavour. They’re available at Asian food stores. If you can’t find them, they can be easily replaced with white sesame seeds. You can toast them yourself, or cheat and buy them pre-toasted.
  • White miso paste is available from Asian food stores.
  • Contrary to my heading, quinoa isn’t actually a grain, but a seed. It’s commonly referred to as a grain though – Coles even label their variety as ‘Organic white grain quinoa’. It’s gluten-free and is readily available from health food stores, and from the health section of large supermarkets.
  • Edamame are young soybeans, salted and boiled in their pods. They’re readily available from Asian food stores, and are usually sold frozen. As they’re already cooked, they need only be defrosted or lightly blanched before serving. They’re eaten by squeezing (or popping!) the soy beans out of the pods with your fingers. They’re very popular as bar snacks in Japan. *sigh*
    I always sigh when I mention Japan. *sigh*
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked sweet potato and podded edamame together. Prepare the coriander and assemble the salad close to serving time.
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Quinoa sweet potato cakes[Recipe 2] Sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12–14 cakes):
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

½ teaspoon salt
4 cups reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad
1 large salmon fillet (about 350g/12 oz), skinned and finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives or spring onions (green part only)
4 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Chilli mayo, to serve

Lightly whisk eggs and chilli sauce. Gradually add flour and salt and whisk to combine.
With a potato masher, roughly ‘crush’ the reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad. Break up the sweet potato chunks, as these help to bind the cakes.
Add the egg mixture, chopped salmon and chives (or spring onions), and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until required.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Place four oiled egg rings into the pan and fill each with about ½ cup fritter mixture. Flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry about 3 minutes, carefully remove the egg ring, and turn cakes over to cook the other side. Cakes should be golden and firm to touch.
You can also make free-form cakes without egg rings, by using ½ cup mixture for each fat little cake (approx. 8cm/3″ x 1.5cm/½” high). Don’t make them too thin or they won’t hold together.
Repeat with remaining mixture. Cakes can be served at room temperature or kept warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.
Serve quinoa cakes with a simple green salad and chilli mayo.

A star is corn

[Recipe 1] ROAST CORN, QUINOA and PEA SALAD transforms into 
[Recipe 2] CORN, PEA and QUINOA FRITTERS
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This Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad is an absolute ripper; zingy and zesty and perfect for Spring. I’ve based the recipe on one our friends Eileesh and Michael made for us last Summer. They barbecued their corn, but the weather isn’t quite warm enough for me to lift the BBQ lid yet (or clean the damn thing!), so I’ve roasted my corn in the oven instead. Eileesh and Michael’s salad featured roasted red pepper, which was fantastic; but I’ve swapped it for fresh peas as they looked so pretty at the market AND I reckon corn and peas are the perfect marriage.
You can serve the salad as is, or alongside chargrilled lamb, chicken or fresh tuna. It’s easy to modify for children and even babies – see tips below the recipe.
Reserve a portion of the salad (undressed) and you can make a batch of fabulous Corn, pea and quinoa fritters for dinner the following night. My boys adore these, and so do we! Ciao for now.

Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad[Recipe 1] Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals; ie. salad for 6, fritters for 4):
500g (1 lb) white quinoa, rinsed and drained

6 corn cobs, silk and husks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14 oz) fresh podded peas (start with 1 kilo/2¼ lb unpodded)
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped
3 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped
(Note: you’ll be reserving ⅓ of the above undressed salad ingredients for Recipe 2 below)

Lime chilli dressing:
½ cup lime juice (from 3–4 limes)
3 teaspoons lime zest, chopped

2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey, warmed slightly

½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place corn cobs onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water for 3–4 minutes, drain and add to the corn.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the corn kernels and peas, along with the coriander and parsley.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad (about 6 cups) for the Corn, pea and quinoa fritters (recipe 2).
To make the lime chilli dressing, place dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad and toss gently.
Salad serves 6 (or 8 as a side).

  • Quinoa is a gluten-free South American seed, available from health food stores and from the health section of large supermarkets. It’s very high in protein and has a lovely nutty flavour.
  • You can use 400g (14 oz) frozen peas instead of fresh podded peas. Blanch in boiling water for 1–2 minutes.
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked corn and peas together. Herbs should be prepared and added close to serving time.
  • Leftover salad is fab for lunch!
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Baby tip: Before adding the dressing and herbs, you can puree a portion of corn, peas and quinoa, for babies over 8 months old. 
  • Fussy kid tip: To modify the salad for kids, stir a small can of drained tuna, and 1 tablespoon of egg mayonnaise through 1 or 2 cups of dressed or undressed (as preferred) salad. You can even add a chopped boiled egg. Voila! Healthy, kid-friendly tuna salad. 

Corn, pea and quinoa fritters[Recipe 2] Corn, pea and quinoa fritters

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 16–18 fritters):
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, separated
½ cup (125ml) milk
♦ 6 cups reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad
3 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve green parts for serving)
Olive oil for shallow frying
Sliced avocado or guacamole, to serve

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks and milk in a separate bowl and gradually add to the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
♦ Add the reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad, and the spring onion whites, and stir well.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the fritter mix.
Heat 1–2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Use a heaped ¼ cup of batter per fritter, and flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry 4 fritters at a time for about 2 minutes each side, until golden and firm to touch. If your stovetop is large enough to accommodate them, you can use two frying pans at a time.
Repeat with remaining batter. Fritters can be kept warm in a low oven, lightly covered with foil, until you’re ready to serve.
Serve fritters topped with sliced avocado or guacamole. Scatter with chopped green ends of spring onions.

The bird is the word

[Recipe 1] SPICED ROAST CHICKEN with CHICKPEAS and CAULIFLOWER
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[Recipe 2] CHICKEN, CHICKPEA and SILVERBEET PILAF with PRESERVED LEMON
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First up this week is Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas (garbanzos) and cauliflower. Roast chicken is the ultimate satisfying Winter dinner, don’t you think? We like ours spiced with a cheat’s chermoula – a simple mixture of dried spices and olive oil. The chicken is succulent, golden and crispy; and served on a bed of roasted cauliflower, potatoes, pumpkin and chickpeas.
I love roasting pieces of chicken instead of a whole bird. You can buy individual Maryland pieces if you’re not up to hacking into a raw chicken. With pieces, the baking time is less, and there is no need to turn the chook half-way through cooking. The vegetables and chickpeas soak up some of the juices from the chicken and taste amazing. I often roast this chicken dish on a Sunday, knowing there is a mid-week meal (mostly) taken care of as well.
By reserving half the chickpeas, roast cauliflower and chicken pieces; you can conjure up a fantastic Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet (Swiss chard) pilaf with preserved lemon, later in the week. My neighbour presented us with a jar of beautiful home-made preserved lemons (thanks Tracey), and they were such a fab, zesty addition to the pilaf.
Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for suggestions on how many planned-overs to prepare for the pilaf. I haven’t included Fussy Kid Tips, as both my boys love these meals, even the 5-year old (although he peels off the ‘yukky’ chicken skin – his loss). Enjoy.

Individual roast chicken pieces with cauliflower

[Recipe 1] Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas and cauliflower

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
¼ cup olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
Approx. 350g (12 oz) pumpkin, cut into chunks
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2 whole chickens (about 1¼ kilo/2½ lb each), cut into quarters
Lemon wedges, to serve
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
Spice mix:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sweet dried paprika
Salt
½ cup olive oil, extra

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Wash and dry the chicken pieces.
Drain soaked chickpeas and place into a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Drain again.
Reserve half the cooked chickpeas, about 1½ cups; for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Boil potato wedges for 10 minutes. Drain. Return to the hot saucepan and shake until dry.
Arrange par-boiled potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin over base of large, oiled roasting pan. Toss to coat with the oil. Place chicken pieces on top.
Prepare the spice mix. Mix dry spices, salt and extra olive oil together in a small bowl. Brush over the chicken pieces, and drizzle the remaining spice mix over the vegetables.
Roast for 40 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken pieces and set aside, covered with foil.
Scatter tonight’s chickpeas over the roasted vegetables and gently toss to coat with the pan juices. Return pan to the oven for a further 5–10 minutes.
Reserve 4 roast chicken pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Reserve about 1 cup of roasted cauliflower pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Place remaining chicken and roasted vegetables on serving plates. Serve with lemon wedges on the side, scattered with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked chickpeas, chicken and cauliflower) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. You’ll need 1 can for the roast chicken, and 1 can for the pilaf. 
  • Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas. 

Chicken pilaf

[Recipe 2] Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf with preserved lemon

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1¼ cups (250g) medium grain white rice, rinsed and drained
4 reserved roast chicken pieces, chopped (discard bones and skin) – about 2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup reserved roast cauliflower pieces, chopped
3 cups (100g) silverbeet (Swiss chard) leaves, green parts only, chopped
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
♦ 1½ cups reserved cooked chickpeas (or 1 x 400g/15 oz can, drained)
(65g/2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add rice, chicken, cauliflower pieces, silverbeet and stock. Season. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook, uncovered, for a further 8–10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Add a splash more water or stock if necessary. Stir occasionally.
Serve pilaf scattered with toasted slivered almonds and preserved lemon.

  • For a quick mid-week dinner, you can also make this pilaf with a chopped up store-bought roast chicken. Replace the roasted cauliflower with a couple of grated carrots; and toss in a 400g (15 oz) can of chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of lemons, you can preserve them easily – I love Greg Malouf’s recipe from Arabesque. Preserved lemons are also available from specialist food stores and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakerySimon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery). You can buy Greg Malouf’s amazing preserved lemons with honey online too.

That old chestnut

[Recipe 1] ROASTED CAULIFLOWER and CHESTNUTS with DUKKAH
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[Recipe 2] ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, POTATO and CHESTNUT SOUP
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Happy Queen’s Birthday folks. Gawd, it’s absolutely freezing in Melbourne today. Time for some comfort food methinks.
First up is Roasted cauliflower and chestnuts with dukkah. With chestnut season nearly over, I figured it was time I attempted to roast some myself, and last week I did! Chestnuts are packed with goodness –  fibre, folate, Vitamin C and heaps of minerals including iron and calcium. I’ve never roasted them before and they were scrumptious!
I often prepare roasted cauliflower as a side dish and recently tossed in a handful of roasted chestnuts and a dash of dukkah as an experiment. Mmmmmmmm. You must try it. It went down excellently alongside beef rendang – quite a multicultural mish-mash, but somehow it worked!
In Australia the prime months for fresh chestnuts are mid March, April, May and June. Contrary to my punny post heading, do use the freshest chestnuts you can find, as stale chestnuts are impossible to peel and taste like cardboard – believe me, I made that mistake with the first batch I tried. Blech. They should be hard, heavy and shiny.
By roasting double the cauliflower and chestnuts, you can reserve half and transform them into a creamy Roasted cauliflower, potato and chestnut soup. It is divine (oops, sorry, I think Karen Martini owns that word). So Wintery and delicious, especially when served with crunchy sourdough croutons. Enjoy.

Roasted chestnuts

Roasted cauliflower and chestnuts with dukkah[Recipe 1] Roasted cauliflower and chestnuts with dukkah

Ingredients (serves 4, plus soup which serves 6–8):
1 kilo (2 lb) fresh whole chestnuts
2 large (about 2½kg/5 lb) cauliflower, cut into florets
⅓ cup olive oil
Sea salt
1 tablespoon dukkah, store-bought or home-made
Note: you’ll be reserving half the roasted cauliflower and chestnuts for the soup in Recipe 2.

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Carefully score a cross in the top of each chestnut with a very sharp knife. You may need to gently stab them first to get through the hard skin. Place chestnuts in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20 minutes, until the skins begin to peel back and the nuts are light golden. When chestnuts are cool enough to handle, carefully remove the outer skins, and the dark brown thin inner skins.
Reserve half the peeled, toasted chestnuts, about 350g (¾ lb), for the Cauliflower, potato and chestnut soup.
Chop the remaining chestnuts roughly, and place in a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, blanch the cauliflower florets in a large pan of boiling water, covered, for 2–3 minutes. Remove and drain. Dry thoroughly in a clean tea towel. Place into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil until well-coated.
On a large baking tray (or shallow baking dish) lined with baking paper, arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25–30 minutes, turning once, until lovely and golden.
Reserve half the cauliflower florets, about 4½ cups (600g/1⅓ lb), for the Roasted cauliflower, potato and chestnut soup.
Toss remaining roasted cauliflower and chopped roasted chestnuts together with the dukkah, and serve.

  • As a rough guide, 1 kilo (2 lb) raw, unpeeled chestnuts will yield approximately 700g (1½ lb) shelled chestnuts.
  • 2½ kilos (5 lb) cauliflower when trimmed and chopped yields approximately 1.6 kilos (3½ lb) florets which will give you approximately 1.2 kilos (2½ lb) of cooked (blanched/roasted) cauliflower.
  • Dukkah is available in most large supermarkets, and from Middle Eastern grocers. It’s super easy to make your own though.
  • Reserved toasted chestnuts and roasted cauliflower can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Kid tip: If your child won’t touch cauliflower, make some jacket potatoes instead. Throw a couple of whole, unpeeled potatoes into the oven at the same time as the cauliflower. Serve with sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and grated cheese. Most kids will happily eat the cauliflower chestnut soup though (see below), as it’s lovely and cheesey.

Cauliflower and chestnut soup

[Recipe 2] Roasted cauliflower, potato and chestnut soup

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
350g (¾ lb) reserved roasted chestnuts
4½ cups (600g/1¼ lb) reserved roasted cauliflower florets
3 large potatoes (500g/1 lb), peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made (or vegetable stock)
1 cup (100g) grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Sourdough croutons:
3 slices sourdough bread, crusts trimmed, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the leek and garlic over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until leeks are soft. Stir often.
Add reserved roasted chestnuts and roasted cauliflower.
Stir well, then add potatoes, bay leaf and stock.
Simmer soup for 15–20 minutes, until potato is tender.
Meanwhile, make croutons. Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Toss bread, olive oil and thyme in a medium bowl until bread cubes are evenly coated. Spread bread cubes on baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes until crunchy and golden brown. Set aside.
Remove and discard bay leaf from soup. Season to taste. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup completely smooth. Stir through grated gruyère.
Season to taste.
Ladle soup into deep bowls and serve, scattered with croutons.

  • The Roasted cauliflower, potato and chestnut soup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Gruyère is a beautiful creamy, slightly nutty Swiss cheese. It’s a great melting cheese, perfect for quiches and soups. The aroma always reminds me of cheese fondue, one of my favourite childhood dinners. Gruyère is readily available in large supermarkets and delicatessens.
  • Make double the croutons and store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. The croutons can be roasted at the same time as the cauliflower or chestnuts, and stored until required.

Bam-ba-lamb

[Recipe 1] LAMB and SPINACH PILAF with TOASTED PINE NUTS
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[Recipe 2] LAMB and PINE-NUT SAMBUSEK
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One of my favourite Melbourne restaurants is Abla’s. Abla Amad herself is considered Melbourne’s Queen of Lebanese cooking, and her signature dish is Djaj a riz (chicken and rice cooked with lamb and spices). It’s a taste sensation! I cooked it once and it was divine, but too time-consuming for a midweek family meal.
Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts is my cheat’s version. It’s packed with veggies, and is super quick to throw together. I go through stages of making it once a week, and have been serving it up to my boys since they were toddlers. Mine doesn’t contain chicken so purists should avert their gaze, but leftover chopped roast chook can be stirred through before serving.
By doubling up on the spiced lamb mixture, and reserving half the toasted pine-nuts; you can whip up a batch of excellent Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries) for lunch or a light dinner later in the week. My boys adore these. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much to set aside as planned-overs. Enjoy!

Lamb and spinach pilaf. One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (approx. 20g)
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
750g (1½ lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
(Note: you’ll be reserving half the above ingredients, cooked, for Recipe 2)
1¼ cups (250g) uncooked long grain white rice (or basmati), rinsed and drained
3 small carrots, grated
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup (130g/4½ oz) pine nuts, toasted

Heat oil and butter in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 3–4 minutes, until just soft. Add lamb and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the lumps really well. Carefully drain off any pan juices.
Add spices and stir well. Cover and cook over a very low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until aromatic.
At this stage, scoop out half the spiced lamb mixture, about 1½ cups (250g/8 oz), and reserve for the Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (see recipe 2 below).
To the remaining spiced lamb mixture (in frying pan) add rice, carrot and stock. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 3–5 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, toast your pine nuts
Reserve half (65g/2¼ oz) of the toasted pine nuts for the Lamb and pine nut sambusek.

Serve pilaf with pine nuts scattered on top.

  • To save time, the nuts can be toasted, and the spinach chopped, while the rice is cooking.
  • Half a 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or lentils; drained and rinsed, can be added with the rice for variety. Freeze the extra half can (drained and rinsed) in a small plastic container, for up to 3 months.
  • Leftover chopped roast chicken can be added with the spinach, for the ultimate meat fest!
  • Planned-overs (reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pine nuts) can be stored separately in the fridge for 3 days; or frozen in sealed containers for up to 2 months.
  • If you purchase 1 kilo (2 lb) of minced lamb, you can use the leftover 250g (½ lb) to make mini lamb parmesan burgers for the kid’s lunchboxes. Add 1 small finely grated carrot, ¼ cup (25g) grated parmesan, 1 egg and ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs. Mix well and shape into 6 little burgers. Fry, allow to cool, and freeze until required. Defrost overnight, and serve in dinner rolls with tomato sauce. Kids will happily devour these cold.

Lamb and pinenut sambusek

[Recipe 2] Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries)

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) sambusek dough

1½ cups (250g/8 oz) reserved spiced lamb mixture

65g/2¼ oz) reserved toasted pinenuts, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 large tomato, seeds and liquid scooped out, chopped
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (replace with lemon juice if unavailable)
Vegetable oil for brushing
Tahini sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare wholemeal sambusek dough. While dough is resting, make the filling.
Place reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pinenuts (crushed) into a bowl. Add tomato and pomegranate molasses. Mix well and set aside.
Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Divide the pastry dough into two balls. Roll out one ball of dough (leaving the other in the covered bowl) on a lightly floured surface until quite thin, about 2–3mm (⅛-inch).
Using a 15cm (6-inch) round cutter (or tea-cup plate), cut out 6 circles from the dough.
Moisten dough edges with a little water. Place 1 tablespoon of lamb filling into the centre of each circle. Take two sides of the circle and pinch together to make a triangle. Lift the bottom of the circle towards the centre and pinch all three edges firmly together. Photo instructions below. Gather up scraps of dough and knead together as required.
Transfer sambusek to one baking tray, and brush each lightly with oil.
Repeat process with remaining dough and transfer to the other baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with tahini sauce.

  • Swap trays part-way through cooking if your oven is not wide enough to accommodate the 2 trays next to each other. Or bake one tray of sambusek, while you prepare the other!
  • Cooked sambusek can be frozen, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes.
  • Pomegranate molasses is available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery).

Folding sambousek

A sweet victory

[Recipe 1] POACHED APPLE and FEIJOA with HONEYED NUTS transforms into
[Recipe 2] GLUTEN-FREE UPSIDE-DOWN APPLE and FEIJOA GINGER CAKE
……………..
I was given a bag of feijoas by my mum recently, and at first I had absolutely no idea what to do with them. I’ve seen the lady at our local fruit shop scoffing them raw, skin and all; but after a bit of experimenting, I’ve decided I prefer them stewed. They’re particularly yum poached together with green apples. I’d say feijoas are a cross between pineapple, guava and kiwi; so they lend a lovely exotic flavour to good old stewed apples, and their slightly odd pulpy texture magically disappears when cooked.
Oh, if you can’t find feijoas, or they’re out of season, you can omit them from these recipes and just use apples; or a mixture of apple and pear.
My first recipe is for yum Poached apple and feijoa with honeyed nuts. I’ve been making these nuts for years. We had a weekend away with friends a while ago and the husband and I were on brekkie duty. We plopped some good-quality yoghurt (I’m addicted to Evia) and poached fruit in big serving bowls in the middle of the table, and warmed some nuts on the stove-top with a dash of butter and honey. Pretty damn nice, and so much easier than cooking eggs and bacon for an army.
By reserving two cups of the poached apple and feijoa, you can also whip up a fab Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake. My niece and brother-in-law are gluten-intolerant; and this cake went down a treat with them. It’s dense, moist, and not too sweet. I’ve been trotting it out around town recently; and have tested it on my parents, our workmate and a girlfriend; and also swapped a chunk with my neighbours for some home-made lemon cordial. Thanks for being my guinea pigs folks! The cooking time is a bit annoying, but I found it really needs a long bake on a low temperature to retain its moisture. Enjoy.

Poached feijoia with honeyed nutsPoached apple and feijoia

[Recipe 1] Poached apple and feijoa with honeyed nuts

Ingredients for the poached fruit (makes 8 cups):
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup water
10 large green apples (2 kilos/4 lb), peeled, sliced thickly into 1cm (½“) pieces
25 feijoas (1 kilo/2 lb), peeled, quartered
2 cinnamon sticks
For the honeyed nuts (makes 2 cups):
2 tablespoons honey
2–3 teaspoons butter
A good pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup pinenuts
½ cup walnuts (or raw cashews), roughly chopped
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds (black or white)

Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Add apple slices and cinnamon sticks and simmer, covered, over a low heat until almost tender, and still holding their shape, about 8–10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add feijoas and simmer a further 5 minutes uncovered. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, reserve 2 cups poached apple and feijoa for the Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake.
Meanwhile, make the honeyed nuts. Warm the honey and butter in a small saucepan. Add salt, cinnamon, nuts and seeds and stir over a low heat until well coated and sticky, about 2–3 minutes. Serve sprinkled over poached apple and feijoa, with yogurt if desired.

  • Poached apple and feijoa will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to one week.
  • Store honeyed nuts in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

  • Poached apple and feijoa, pureed smooth, is great for kid’s lunchboxes. Keep it in little containers in the freezer and defrost overnight in the fridge.

Upside-down fejoia apple ginger cake

[Recipe 2] Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake

Ingredients (serves 8-10):
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter, melted
2 cups reserved poached apple and feijoa
180g (6 oz/1½ sticks) softened butter, extra
1¼ cups (200g) firmly-packed brown sugar, extra
4 large eggs
1 cup (360g) golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (7 oz) Greek-style natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger

Preheat oven to 160°C (325ºF). Note: you’ll be covering the cake with foil part-way through cooking (see recipe).
Line a 25cm (10-inch) baking tin with baking paper.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons brown sugar over base. Pour two tablespoons melted butter over brown sugar.
Arrange poached apple and feijoa in a single layer over butter and sugar.
Cream extra softened butter and extra brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add golden syrup and vanilla and beat well.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ginger. Fold this into the cake batter, a little at a time, alternating with the yoghurt.
Spoon cake batter over the apple and fejoa and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Cover cake loosely with foil, return to oven, and bake for a further 30–40* minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
*Check it after 30 minutes, and if it’s still wobbly in the centre, pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
Leave cake to cool in tin for 15 minutes then carefully invert onto a large plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature with cream, yoghurt or ice cream.

  • I’ve used both Core Organic Foods gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, and Orgran. Both contain starch (maize, tapioca), soya and rice flour.
  • My test kitchen (ie. my lovely friend Janet) made this cake with non-gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, and it worked! So you can make it as a standard cake too.
  • The cake keeps well in a covered container for a few days. The flavour actually improves on standing, and it stays nice and moist.

Souper Man

[Recipe 1] MAPLE ROASTED PUMPKIN and CARROT SOUP transforms into
[Recipe 2] CREAMY PUMPKIN TAGLIATELLE with CANDIED CHILLI WALNUTS
……………..
Yeehaw, it’s Pumpkin season, and heck I love a steaming bowl of Maple roasted pumpkin and carrot soup for lunch. Roasting the veggies first brings out their sweetness, and adds a richer flavour.
Reserve some of the soup as planned-overs (look for the orange diamonds) and you can whip up a delectable Creamy pumpkin tagliatelle with candied chilli walnuts. Our youngest son calls this dish ‘cheesey worms’. Little does he know the golden colour is imparted by pumpkin, not cheese.
This is a 10-minute dinner as the sauce is prepared while the pasta is cooking. It’s like a creamy Alfredo (that word casts me straight back to Leos in Fitzroy Street in the early 90s), but with less than half the cream and lots more flavour.
The candied chilli walnuts cut through the creaminess of the pasta sauce and add a beautiful textural topping. I strongly suggest you roast double the amount as you won’t be able to stop yourself gorging on them. Incidentally, they make an excellent beer snack too!

Maple roasted pumpkin soup. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 1] Maple roasted pumpkin and carrot soup

Ingredients (makes 3.25 litres/6.9 pints):
2 kilos (4 lb) peeled chopped butternut pumpkin (you’ll need 2½ kilos whole pumpkin)
250g (½ lb) peeled sliced carrots (you’ll need 3 large carrots, approx. 350g)
3 brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
6 cups (1½ litres) chicken stock, home-made or store-bought, plus extra if required
⅛ teaspoon chilli powder
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Spring onions (scallions), or chives, thinly sliced, to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Place pumpkin, carrots, onions, garlic, oil and maple syrup into a large roasting pan and toss until well-coated. Roast for 1 hour, turning vegetables every 20 minutes.
Blend roasted veggies (and their juices) in batches, adding a little stock each time. Transfer to a large saucepan as you go. Add chilli, salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Add extra stock if you find the soup too thick.
Reserve 1½ cups (375ml) of Maple roasted pumpkin and carrot soup for the creamy pumpkin tagliatelle with candied chilli walnuts.
To serve, gently heat soup and ladle into deep bowls, scatter with spring onions and serve with crusty bread.
Divide the remainder of the soup into plastic containers, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. This recipe makes approximately 3.25 litres (6.9 pints). 4 cups (1 litre) is sufficient for four people.

  • 2¼ kilos (4½ lb) of veggies seems an obscene amount, but if you’re going to the trouble of making a pan of soup, I say why not cook up a huge pot? It freezes excellently and is great for school and work lunches. Simply defrost in the morning and pour into thermoses.

  • You can of course make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable stock.
  • Try any mixture/ratio of orange vegetables (sweet potato is lovely too), as long as the quantity adds up to 2¼ kilos (4½ lb) of prepared veggies in total.
  • We like our soup thick – feel free to add extra stock if you prefer yours thinner.

Tagliatelle with creamy pumpkin sauce and candied walnuts. One Equals Two.Candied chilli walnuts. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Creamy pumpkin tagliatelle with candied chilli walnuts

Ingredients (serves 4):
400g (14 oz) dried tagliatelle
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter
2 eschalots, finely sliced
4 rashers rindless bacon, chopped
♦ 1½ cups (375ml) reserved Maple roasted pumpkin and carrot soup
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
For the candied chilli walnuts:
¾ cup (approx. 75g) walnuts, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon olive oil
½ tablespoon maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon chilli powder (a good pinch)

To prepare the candied chilli walnuts, preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss walnuts, oil, maple syrup and chilli together; and scatter on the tray. Roast for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool, while you prepare the pasta.
Cook tagliatelle in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain. Return to pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the eschalots, stirring, for 2–3 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes.
Place reserved Maple roasted pumpkin and carrot soup in a small saucepan.
Warm gently, then gradually pour in the cream. Stir over a low heat until warmed through.

Toss bacon, onions and creamy pumpkin sauce through pasta.
Divide amongst bowls and serve immediately, scattered with candied chilli walnuts and parsley.

  • If you have some fresh sage, toss a handful of torn leaves into the butter with the bacon. Delish.
  • You can roast the walnuts at the same time as the veggies in recipe 1. They’ll keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Save on the washing up and cook a few corn cobs with the tagliatelle, to serve alongside dinner. Fish them out of the pasta pot before draining the pasta.
  • I always buy 300ml (10 fl oz) tubs of cream, and freeze the leftover 150ml (5 fl oz) cream in its tub. Allow it to defrost in the fridge overnight and use it for this recipe again; or for Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart or Chicken and leek pot pie. 150ml (5 fl oz) cream can also be used for a simple carbonara for 4 people. Fry 4–6 slices chopped thickly-sliced pancetta (or bacon) in 2 tablespoons (30g) butter. Add 150ml (5 fl oz) cream and stir until combined. Whisk 2 eggs. Stir pancetta, cream and eggs through just-cooked fettuccine until combined. Serve, scattered with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper (or dried chilli flakes). Too easy. If you have some baby spinach leaves or peas, toss in the pot with the pasta for the last two minutes cooking time.

Miso hungry

[Recipe 1] ROASTED PUMPKIN and MIXED SEED SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED PUMPKIN and CASHEW PATTIES
……………..
This Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad was inspired by a dish my cousin Katja (hi Kat!) brought over on Christmas Day. Katja’s gorgeous salad was dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar. I’ve made mine a tad Japanese, with a gingery miso dressing.
I love roasted pumpkin salads. They’re great on the day they’re made though, but often a bit mushy the next day, and not so appetising. I transformed this salad into Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties a couple of days later and it took on a whole new life. Look for theorange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much salad you’ll need to reserve for the patties.
Oh, and if you’re hosting a BBQ and need to cater for vegetarians, the salad and patties can be made at once. Lightly fry the patties on the flat section of the BBQ. Cold leftover patties are beautiful served for lunch, in a salad-stuffed roll. Yummmmm.

Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

[Recipe 1] Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals):
2 kilos (4 lb) butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded, cut into
2–3cm thick pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pepitas (hulled pumpkin kernels), toasted
2 tablespoons sunflower kernels, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra for serving
Miso dressing:
¼ cup (60g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons (30g) honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Toss pumpkin and oil in a large bowl, until well-coated.
Place pumpkin on two baking trays lined with baking paper. Season. Roast pumpkin, turning once, for 20–30 minutes or until tender and light golden brown. Swap trays half-way through cooking if using two oven shelves. Set pumpkin aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place miso paste, honey, soy sauce, ginger and water in a small saucepan and warm, over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (about 1–2 minutes). Stir in rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside to cool.
Place roasted pumpkin in a large bowl, add toasted seeds, coriander and dressing and toss gently to coat.
Reserve 3 cups (about 550–600g) roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad for the Spiced pumpkin patties.
Scatter salad with extra with coriander.

  • You can turn this salad into a main meal by serving it with brown rice or fresh tuna (preferably Skipjack tuna, as it’s more sustainable than Yellowfin). You’ll need a 120g (4 oz) tuna fillet per person. Brush the tops of the tuna with some of the miso dressing, and bake in a 200°C (390ºF) oven for about 20 minutes, until just cooked. You can cook these in your already-heated oven while the pumpkin is cooling.
  • Miso paste is found in Asian Grocers and health food shops. Store miso paste in a sealed container in the fridge. It has a very long storage life, but over time the flavour will deteriorate, so use it up within a couple of months. Mix a tablespoon of miso into a cup of hot water and sprinkle with chopped chives for an individual, super-easy, serve of soup.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar is readily available from large Supermarkets and Asian food stores.
  • Fussy kid tip: For children who won’t touch pumpkin, roast some potato chunks and thick carrot slices for them at the same time as the pumpkin. Serve with tuna fillets (see tip above).

Spiced pumpkin, chickpea and cashew patties

[Recipe 2] Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup (75g) unsalted cashews, toasted, and roughly chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), green parts only, chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
1½ cups (185g) dried breadcrumbs, plus extra if required
2 tablespoons (30ml) sweet chilli sauce, plus extra to serve
3 cups (about 550–600g) reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad
2 tablespoons peanut oil
To serve with patties:
Sweet chilli sauce
Asian mixed leaf salad (pictured), or simple green salad

Place chickpeas, cashews, spring onions, egg, breadcrumbs and chilli sauce in a large bowl.
Add reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad.
Mix and mash it all together well with your hands, adding more bread crumbs if the mixture feels too wet.

Shape mixture into twelve patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry Pumpkin and cashew patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties with a simple green salad or Asian mixed leaf salad; and sweet chilli sauce on the side.

  • Leftover ginger can be grated and frozen in 1-tablespoon blobs, wrapped in cling film; ready to use when required.
  • Fussy kid tip: Moosh up 2 or 3 of the patties and add a small 95g (3 oz) can of drained tuna. Mix well and re-shape into patties. Prepare as above. You’ll be surprised how these patties will be inhaled by even the fussiest of children!