Peas with Purslane (or Sorrel) and Mustard

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. It is a Pea dish today.

There is an ode to peas (especially frozen peas) in the Guardian as it introduces this dish from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It goes something like this (with minor alterations):

“Is there a safer bet in the kitchen than that there will be a bag of peas in the freezer? Peas are unlikely to surprise or shock in any way, but they are delightfully reassuring. They will somehow always be there, and always taste as they have and should.

Sure, freshly podded peas have about them a certain romance  – they have, for example, that beautiful texture when thrown raw into a crunchy spring salad. But who has access to fresh peas that haven’t been sitting for far too long on the green grocer’s shelves? No wonder, frozen peas sit comfortably in almost all home freezers.

Peas are incredibly relaxed about whom they sit next to at dinner. Salty and tangy feta or parmesan, creamy yoghurt, nutty potatoes, sweet fresh mint, peppery watercress or bitter leaves: sweet peas will always bring out the best in their companion. Needing little more than a minute’s blanching to cook, followed by a brief drenching in cold water, peas are low-maintenance and offer instant gratification. They are hugely versatile in use, as good at being mashed, pureed, lightly stewed or blitzed as they are left whole and mixed through a salad or pasta, stirred through a risotto, or gently stuffed inside artichoke hearts ready for braising.”

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Pepper, Chilli, Cumin Seed Rasam

I had been making Vada for a snack and wanted a rasam to have with them, so we grabbed Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See to make the next rasam in the Rasam chapter of Vol. 1. The flavouring of this rasam is chilli and pepper (sautéed and ground to powder), with untoasted cumin seeds and fresh curry leaves (also ground to a powder). These spice combinations are combined with a tamarind base.

We are about half way through our project of making all of the classic Rasam recipes from Volume 1 of Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See. We are loving this project, and adore her books. It would be the only book that I have come across that walks you through how the flavour of recipes change with minor adjustments to the ingredients or method. Cooking through a chapter of her books is like receiving personal tuition in the very basics of South Indian (TamBram) food. These books would be my most treasured cookbooks.

This rasam is flavoured with cumin seeds, chilli and pepper. It is made without Rasam Powder, and grinds the spices as you go. But it is easy to make and very very delicious. It is spicy, peppery, hot, tangy, and so very good.

Are you interested in other Rasams? Try Tomato Indian Rasam Style, Kottu Rasam, and Garlic Rasam.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Our simply explore all of our Rasam recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Herb and Garlic Marinated Zucchini Gratin

As I write this we have had a long weekend of record breaking temperatures in the 40C’s, maxing out at 44C. Then this week we are experiencing record breaking low temperatures for January. It’s the weather that demands turning the oven on and baking something.

This year the zucchini crop has done much better, fruiting constantly. How gorgeous they are, direct from the bush – tiny, tender, with flavours of summer. But today, in this cold weather, I am regressing to the 1970’s by marinating the zucchini in herbs and garlic, smothering them with cheese and baking them like a gratin. Perfect for very cool Summer weather.

Similar recipes include Potato Cheese Gratin, Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Marinated Zucchini with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and our Gratin dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice

This rice dish, very delicious I must say, is cooked in the oven. This method is  very handy if you are cooking a large meal and want to leave the stove top for other dishes. The general method can be used without the addition of the aromatics. Ottolenghi has this recipe in his book Plenty More but I have tarted it up just a little. As much as I love Yotham and crew, they need to get a better handle on Indian ingredients (IMO), so I have added or changed out a couple of things in this dish.

Try to get hold of fresh curry leaves on the stem for this dish – they freeze or dry well, so don’t worry if you end up with a big bunch. One of the ways in which curry leaf flavour is layered into a dish is to use them in several different ways in the same dish. Flavour a broth with them, as Ottolenghi does, saute/fry them in ghee or some other oil because the flavour is most easily transported by oils, and add crushed leaves to the final dish. I have used the last two methods in my version of this dish.

Serve the dish with an Indian pickle and a vegetable or lentil curry.

We have several ways of cooking rice, and this oven method is one more. Also try Oven Finished Rice, Buttery Steamed Rice, and The Absorption Method.

Similar recipes include Turmeric Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Indian Recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of the Ottolenghi dishes we have made are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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LATE SPRING Salads, Dips and Spreads for Healthy and Delicious Eating | Seasonal Cooking

We rejoice in the warmer weather – it is almost Summer – and our thoughts turn increasingly to Salads and fresh, light dishes.

Enjoy some Salads, Dips and exciting Dressings just perfect for Late spring weather.

Celebrating Spring

You can also browse other Late Spring recipes:

If you have difficulty with any links, please let us know. We would love to fix them for you.

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Creamy Salad Dressing | Eggless

My Mother would make two salad dressings – one an eggless, mustardy mayonnaise made with condensed milk (its a beauty) and today’s recipe, a creamy salad dressing that is also eggless. It is not that she was against using eggs (we had several dozen chooks),  but she had a number of things influencing her cooking – her experience in the tough times of  World War II as she was growing up, living in an isolated part of South Australia, her Germanic influences from her parents and grandparents, and a preference for things to be easy in the Kitchen as she didn’t really enjoy cooking.

I am glad that these things all came together to produce both of these dressings, because I keep my Kitchen meat-free and egg-free. So these two recipes are heaven-sent, ready to use whenever mayonnaise style dressings are required. The other one that is handy is this lemony yoghurt dressing.

This creamy dressing always appeared on my Mother’s tomato salads, and it well suits both tomatoes and cucumbers. Who thinks of putting mayo or a creamy dressing on tomato salads these days? My mother always did. And they were delicious, our favourite.

But it is also versatile, useful for all sorts of salads. It can be flavoured, eg with mustard or garlic or capers or spring onions, and this is done so easily. Try it on a raw vegetable salad, crunchy shredded root vegetables, a green lettuce based salad, over salad bowls, and with roast vegetable salads.

Similar recipes include Miso Sesame Dressing, Garlic Yoghurt Dressing, and Herby Mustard Dressing.

Browse all of our Dressings and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Kewra Sherbet | Pandan Cooler

Kewra, an essence made from the flower of the Pandanus plant (also called Screwpine) has an unusual but pleasant taste. It is used to flavour rice, drinks, and desserts in Northern India and South East Asia. The floral fragrance gives a calming influence and is said to help in mental relaxation. Kewra also combines well with other flower waters such as rose water and orange blossom water, and they can be combined in any recipe that uses one or the other.

You can read more about Kewra and Pandanus here.

Today we flavour a Summer Cooler with Kewra. Such drinks are common in North India, combining the base flavour with water and lemon juice. We use the Kewra Water, but you can use also use Kewra essence. Just add a 1 or 2 drops per glass.

Similar recipes for cooling drinks include Strawberry Frappe, Roasted Green Mango Drink, and Jal Jeera.

Browse all of our Coolers and Indian Drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Fava | Split Pea Puree

Fava is a puree or spread made from yellow split peas, not Fava Beans (Dried Broad Beans).  The naming of these Mediterranean dishes is a mine field! A puree made from dried Broad Beans is known as koukofava.

There are many versions of Fava, some with cumin and sumac, but this one is made from split peas which are topped with capers and caramelised onion, eaten warm and served as a starter dip. Ottolenghi, whose recipe this is, says the dish is soothing yet exciting. It is indeed. It is a delight to see Ottolenghi use white pepper in several of his recipes – a rare thing these days but an exquisite taste.

You know we love pastes, purees, dips and spreads here and this is a delightful addition to our collection.

Similar recipes include Green Olive Tapenade, Cauliflower and White Bean Puree, and Fava Bean Puree with Dill and Olive Oil.

Browse more of our Purees and Spreads. Our Greek dishes are here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Spiced Burghul Wrapped in Vine Leaves | Yaprak Sarma

Today we have a variety of Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), of which there are many types across the Mediterranean and Middle East. This Turkish recipe uses Burghul, which forms a bright red and a little firey stuffing for the vine leaves. I like to use a type of Burghul available in Middle Eastern grocers, where burghul is mixed with vermicelli. Its a delicious alternative.

Use fresh vine leaves (my preference) or preserved vine leaves, but rinse the preserved ones well to get rid of any saltiness.

The recipe, which I have altered a little, comes via the SBS site which credits the book Istanbul: Recipes From the Heart of Turkey, by Rebecca Seal, for the original. Vine leaves can be stuffed with a number of fillings, but rice and burghul are the most common. The vine leaves are wrapped around the filling, and the little fat cigar-shaped dolmas are simmered in water, olive oil and lemon until the vine leaves are tender. In Turkey they are often served for mezze with yoghurt.

Similar recipes include Vine Leaf Powder, Pecorino in Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Baked in Grape Vine Leaves.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf recipes and all of our Turkish dishes. Our Burghul recipes are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Cumin Seed Rasam

This beautiful but very easy rasam recipe is another from Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See. The flavouring of this one is is definitely cumin seeds, with the cumin being toasted and ground along with with toor dal and curry leaves, before adding to a tamarind and rasam powder base.

Are you interested in other Rasams? Try Pepper, Chilli and Cumin Seed Rasam, Mysore Rasam, Tulsi Rasam, Tomato Lentil Rasam, Garlic Rasam, and Plain Dal Rasam.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Our simply explore all of our Rasam recipes. Our Indian recipes are here. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer recipes.

Continue reading “Cumin Seed Rasam”

Fennel and Lemon Quick Chutney

I am writing this in early December, and I must have the last reasonable fennel bulb before Wintery cold weather comes again. Rather than make a salad from it, we thought that a fennel chutney would be nice. It is a quick chutney, one that you can eat almost immediately and will keep only a week or two in the fridge. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Guardian column.

We always regret not using Fennel enough. It seems to be a summery vegetable with that cooling aniseed taste, but in fact is difficult to find at decent prices once Winter is over – and by the end of Spring good fennel is definitely unavailable.

Similar recipes include Roasted Eggplant Chutney, Onion Jam, and Cumquat Chutney.

Or for Fennel dishes, try Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Orange and Garlic, Fennel and Apple Salad, and Fennel a la Grecque.

Browse all of our Fennel recipes and all of our Chutneys. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Baked Yoghurt Encrusted with Vine Leaves

Ottolenghi believes that Turkish cuisine is one of the most exciting and accomplished in the world. I would argue that Indian is, but the cuisines between Indian and the Mediterranean definitely come close. Ottolenghi’s Book Plenty contains this unusual savoury cake (perhaps a pie) from the Turkish part of Northern Cyprus (where it is called Kibris Böreği).  A version of this dish is also known in Greece, being made in the Drama Region of Greece’s Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, where it’s known as Asmapita. The name comes from the Turkish word Asma, which means grapevine.

Ottolenghi credits a book Classic Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan, so I borrowed the book to browse through. It is a great book if you are looking for Turkish recipes. I recommend it.

The recipe caught our attention because we have a Vine Leaf thing going at the moment, using them in a number of ways. We haven’t made dolmades yet, but they are on the list. Have a look at what we have made so far. There are more to come.

This is a dish where a shallow layer of yoghurt mixed with herbs and thickened with rice flour is baked wrapped in vine leaves! Grape leaves impart their exceptional flavour and aroma to the filling as it bakes. The breadcrumbs and sesame seeds add a crunchy layer to each slice. How very delicious! This recipe comes together in minutes, tastes great, and can be eaten warm or cold. It is an excellent contribution to a table of mezze.

Have I mentioned too, how the grape vine leaves are scented, and the kitchen begins to smell like a grape arbour. As you scald them, they release the fragrance. As I dry them in the sun the outside deck is scented with grape vines. As they bake, they have a lovely woody, grapevine aroma.

Similar recipes include Burghul Dolmas, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, Grilled Pecorino in Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves.

Browse our Turkish dishes and all of our Vine Leaf recipes. All of our Yoghurt dishes are here. Or explore our other Early Summer recipes.

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Waldorf Salad, Sort of

We delve into the Ottolenghi library again for today’s salad, and it is this twist on the Waldorf Salad that takes our fancy. With some red cabbage sitting neglected in the fridge, it is an ideal way to put it to use.

Ottolenghi twists up the classic Waldorf Salad, created by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Waldorf Astoria, and we make some changes too. Our changes are to accommodate readily available ingredients and our preference for eggless mayonnaise. Healthy and tasty, what could be better?

Similar Salads include Fancy Pants Coleslaw, Black Bean and Cabbage Salad with Orange Dressing, Celery Yoghurt Salad, Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Mustardy Yoghurt, and Quick Tomato Salad with Mustardy Mayo.

Browse all of our Salads, and all of our Cabbage dishes. Our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Cucumber, Feta, Mint and Dill Salad

Quick salads, they make my heart beat faster. Quick, tasty salads faster still. Salads with the creamy, beautiful feta from the local Afghan shop, that is almost a heart attack! Here is your 3 minute salad, plus one more minute to slice up the crusty bread or tear the tafftoon or Nan-i Afgani flatbreads into bits and set up your place under the tree outside for a perfect light lunch.

Similar recipes include Parsley and Barley Salad with Marinated Feta, Broad Beans with Feta and Preserved Lemon, and Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Feta dishes and all of our Salads. Our Middle Eastern recipes are here. Or browse our Early Summer dishes.

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Green Olive Tapenade

There are a great number of recipes around for a spread made from green olives, but this is the easiest. Made with ingredients straight from your kitchen, no special purchases required, it is made in seconds, and your family or gang of friends will devour it in minutes.

This tapenade is salty, spicy (from the chilli) and pungent (from the garlic). Just perfect for a cool Early Summer day’ snacks on the verandah with some aniseed tea.

Similar recipes include Fava, Tapenade Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella, Tomato Salad with Green Olives, and Olive and Orange Salad with Mint and Basil.

Browse all of our Olive recipes and all of our Spreads. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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