Friday, August 22, 2014

Chorizo Panzanella Salad with Poached Egg and Black Lava Salt

Spring is almost here - you can sense it, despite what the great outdoors are trying to convince us of late. We might not be entering full salad territory, the residual cold begging for something a little more boisterous and filling, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bridge the gap and this salad does just that.
It’s hearty with the poached egg and chorizo elements and boisterous enough to stand alone as a meal from breakfast through to dinner, or equally as a side note to a roast chicken or lamb. Basically, this humble number is the dish that keeps on giving and we can’t ask much more than that from a salad.
 Serves 6
Half a sourdough loaf, roughly torn
160 ml red wine vinegar
160 ml olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
2 large chorizo sausage (spicy), sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large cucumber, roughly chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
350g mixed tomatoes or about 4 medium ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
20 Sicilian (or green) olives
3 tbsp chopped coriander, parsley and basil
3-6 organic, free range eggs (depending on whether or not you want one per serve)
1 generous tbsp fig vincotto
Black lava salt to serve (optional)

Place the bread in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle mixture over the bread. Leave for 10 minutes for the flavours to combine.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the bread. Place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.
Meanwhile place chorizo on an oiled grill plate of a barbecue or frying pan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool slightly and reserve the oil in the pan for serving.
Bring a large shallow saucepan of lightly salted water to just below the boil over high heat, reduce heat to low. Carefully break eggs into saucepan and poach, spooning water over eggs, until cooked to your liking (3 minutes for soft-poached). Gently remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
Mix remaining ingredients, chorizo and bread, in a large bowl and top with the poached eggs. Spoon over a little of the reserved oil and the fig vincotto and a sprinkling of black salt and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cooking the Books: Tasty Express by Sneh Roy

You could say that I have a bit of a foodie crush on Sneh Roy. Much like her, her food is gorgeous, warm and inviting. I don't adore social media except for the opportunities it creates to cross paths with the likes of Sneh. We are twitter friends, if there is such a thing. And I believe I may have met  my match when it comes to obsessing over cookbooks and feeding people from the heart. 
After cooking from her book, Sneh is, as I had always suspected, a bloody genius. Cripes it's tasty. I've had a rough time on the home front of late and wanted simple, soul fortifying fresh and tasty food. Sneh delivered. So I suggest you allow her to do the same for you. But if I can't convince you - the roasted milo granola (yes I did just say milo granola) most certainly will.
Sneh Roy probably needs no introduction here. She is the food blogging force behind Cook Republic - easily one of the most prolific food blogs out there. She also writes for Elle magazine and her work generally seems to pop up all over the place. Normally I have stayed away from bloggers, focusing here on cookbooks from chefs but Sneh really holds her own and this is a book I feel needs to be celebrated. 
Sneh Roy Granola made then photographed by me before it was eaten in five seconds flat
Sneh's Roasted Milo and Choc Chip Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup rice bubbles (I used puffed rice from the local healthfood store)
1/2 cup milo (plus the one or two teaspoons you know you'll eat while preparing it)
1/2 cup raw shelled peanuts (I used raw cashews because that's all I had)
1/4 cup maple syrup
40g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of white, milk and 75% dark)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients except the chocolate chunks in a bowl and toss to combine. Place the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool to just warm. Toss the chocolate through the mixture and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Although it won't last that long I promise.
Epicentres of culinary good taste of course! As always I try to champion the local bookstore or the author direct here or Sneh also lists suppliers for you to go to. So helpful.

Failing that the usual online suppliers will bring the book to your door.
There is a substantial commitment to breakfast and supper. In other words - exactly my kind of book. And the fact that you are here reading I'd safely say its yours too. From smoothies to masala omelette jaffles (seriously spectacular) to the wholemeal japanese pancakes and kachumber pappadums - the list is long and glorious.
Because this is one of those books that you know you'll go back to again and again to cook from. Simple, tasty and different enough to keep you excited, super excited in fact. I tend to find the best cookbooks are those that are lustworthy - that you want to curl up on the couch with while sipping a fantastically oversized glass of red - or totally kitchen stained - go to kind that you leaf through again and again when dinner choices have you beaten. My copy is already stained with the toils of my dinner and the book wears my stains gloriously. Its a perfect gift for the keen cook and time poor alike. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dark chocolate peppermint brownie with chocolate mint

How did that happen. Somehow 3 weeks have passed between the last blog post and today. Sorry. Life intrusively (and inconveniently) got in the way.  But I'm hoping you'll forgive me. I come with gifts, specifically gifts of the brownie variety. Surely, surely that means you'll let it pass this time.

I like to think of this as a safe place. One where I can openly admit to liking peppermint slice, aero or the odd sneaky peppermint cream. There is something intoxicating about mint and chocolate. Add brownie into the mix and well, that seems self-explanatory.

People divide – some like brownie dense and fudge like, some prefer it to be more like cake with a flaky crust. This version seems to sit happily across the two. Its middle gives way while the crust and flaked top gives some resistance. And it’s fresh despite being rich thanks to the addition of a good quality dash of peppermint oil. Make sure you add the oil slowly and it is worth the extra dollar or so to use an oil rather than the peppermint essence which is mouth cloyingly sweet. I like to add it at the very end, depending on the bitterness of the chocolate, it can dull the peppermint so taste, taste, taste. There you go, I just provided the ultimate excuse to eat brownie batter. Enjoy. It’s a party in your mouth. A very minty, chocolatey and amazing party.

Serves 12

280g butter, softened
500g caster sugar
5 eggs
30g dark brown sugar
125g good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
185g dark chocolate, chopped
185g plain flour, sifted
1-2 drops good quality peppermint oil
Icing sugar, sifted to dust
Chocolate mint leaves to serve

Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 30cm x 23cm x 4cm baking tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in the brown sugar. Sift the flour and cocoa together and fold into the mixture. Stir through the chocolate and carefully add the peppermint oil stirring until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin.
To serve cut the brownies into large squares, dust with icing sugar and scatter over the chocolate mint. Best served at room temperature.