Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roast Cauliflower with Yoghurt and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Serves: 4

I start every Ottolenghi recipe with some statement about how they are all consistently great and I’m agraid I am going to have to do it again.

Because this dish – you could call it a salad – is layers upon layers of just incredibly complimentary flavours, with crunch and spice and the cooling yoghurt at the end.

Nat cooked it along side a medium-done, barbequed eye fillet and the pairing was magic.

Indeed, bring this salad to a barbeque and even a medium-rare, chargrilled tomahawk will struggle to knock the cauliflower off first stage.

Yum!

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, trimmed, then cut into wedges (800gm net)
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 onion peeled, halved and cut into 1.2cm-thick slices
1 tbsp coriander seeds lighly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 1/2 tsp sumac
25gm mint leaves roughly chopped, plus 1 handful extra to serve
30gm pine nuts, toasted

For the yoghurt sauce

300gm Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 – 2 lemons)

For the red pepper sauce

70ml olive oil
2 tbsp mild Turkish pepper paste (or tomato paste)
1 tbsp red chilli flakes (or 1 1/2 tbsp if using tomato paste)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tsp of salt, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 22 – 25 minutes, until lightly charred though still with bite. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a medium saute pan on a medium heat, Once hot, add the onion and 1/8 tsp of salt and cook, stirring occassionally, for 15 – 18 minutes, until soft and browned. Tip the onions into the cauliflower bowl and wipe clean the pan.
  3. Put the oil for the pepper sauce in a saute pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the pepper paste and red chilli flakes and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Take off the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper and transfer to a medium heatproof bowl.
  4. For the yoghurt sauce, mix the yoghurt, garlic, a tbsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. Stir the coriander, caraway, sumac, mint, half the pine nuts, the remaining 1 tbsp of lemon juice and a good grind of black pepper into the cauliflower bowl.
  6. To serve, spread the yoghurt sauce over a shallow platter and arrange the cauliflower mixture on top. Spoon over half the red pepper sauce, then top with the extra mint leaves and the remaining pine nuts. Serve with the rest of the pepper sauce in a bowl alongside.

Coco’s Green Smoothie

Serves: 2

My sister in law Court (Coco) shared this awesome breakfast smoothie with us.

Perfect for our new year’s resolution!

Highly commend and can be made the night before ready to be blitzed with ice in the morning.

Ingredients

1 cucumber
1 stick celery
1 banana
Kale (or baby spinach)
Dollop of Greek yoghurt
Minced ginger*
Splash of cold water or almond milk

Method

  1. Blitz together all the ingredients in a blender and serve with ice.

* Pro tip. Cut up your ginger, peel and put in a ziplock bag in the freezer ready for this smoothie, or any meal. Ready to grate when you need it!

Mint Sauce

Serves: 1 cup+

There is more to mint sauce than mint.

Ingredients

1 c full fat yoghurt
1/4 c coriander leaves
1/4 c mint leaves
1 green chilli
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chilli in a blender and process until smooth, adding 1 – 2 tbsp water to bring it together.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, spoon in the yoghurt.
  3. Now add the green herbs mixture, salt, sugar, cumin, garam masala and lemon juice to the yoghurt. Whisk together until well combined, cover and chill until needed.

Anjum Anand’s Best Ever Burger with Spiced Onions

Makes: 5 – 6

Looking back on every recipe I have typed from Anjum Anand’s cookbook I love India, I always start by praising the book and just how great it is: unusual recipes, great food photography, passionate stories, amazing meals.

So let’s not do that, nor dwell on how I start each burger recipe by talking about how much I love burgers and how the best burgers are about simplicity blah blah blah.

Instead, let’s talk about why you must set aside a lunch in the next week to cook this just awesome burger. I’m talking top three for me. 1. being Gordon Ramsay’s 1-Million Subscriber Burger, 2. being Neil Perry’s classic beef burger with cheese and bacon and 3. being this burger.

We didn’t invest as much in the mince as we usually would and second time round with a mixture of freshly ground chuck, brisket and lamb mince, I reckon this burger would nudge 2.

Possibly 1.

Don’t delay.

Ingredients

For the burgers
500gm minced beef or lamb (including some fat)
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 – 6 burger buns
1 large tomato, sliced

For the roasted green chilli yoghurt
3 large green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with the tip of a knife
2 rounded tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp crème fraîche (or mayonnaise)
Good handful of chopped coriander

For the spiced caramelised onions
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp panch phoran (or garam masala)
2 red onions thinly sliced

Method

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the burgers except the tomatoes and the buns, season with 1 1/2 tsp salt and rest for 30 minutes.
  2. On a BBQ or a pan, cook the chillies until charred and blistered on all sides. Once done, wrap in cling wrap.
  3. Heat the oil in a fry pan and when hot, add the panch phoran. Cook for 30 seconds and then add the onions and add a good pinch of salt and cook over a high heat until they have coloured and are well browned on the edges. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.
  4. Mix together the yoghurt, crème fraîche and coriander for the topping, adding a good grinding of black pepper and salt lightly. Once the chillies are cool, peel off their skins, slit lengthways and deseeded, discarding the seeds. Chop the flesh, add to the yoghurt and set aside.
  5. Heat the BBQ/grill to HIGH. Make 5 – 6 large patties out of the minced meat mixture, remembering to make a little flat indent in the centre with your fingers; this will help them cook evenly and not puff up in the middle. (I did not know this, haven’t tried this though good point and will.)
  6. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until charred, flip and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. Split the buns and char on the grill.
  7. Place 1 slice of the tomato on each bun, top with a burger, a generous dollop of the yoghurt and some onions. Place on the lid and eat immediately.

Sticky Rice with Mung Beans (Kichiri Qoroot)

Serves: 4 – 6

Yes I agree, sticky rice with mung beans doesn’t sound amazing.

Though trust me, it is. Just bare with me.

Over the Christmas break, I read an article in the Washington Post of the best cookbooks of 2020.

It featured an Afghani cookbook called Parwana and knowing how much Nat and I love Middle Eastern, it was promptly ordered on Amazon. (Plus the featured photo was amazing!)

What I didn’t realise is that it’s is an Australian cookbook from an Afghani family and restaurant in Adelaide, SA… called Parwana. Reading their backstory made me so happy.

Anyway, this is the first dish we had, wonderfully cooked by Nat.

We went through a bit of a Ethiopian phase a few months back and even did an Ethiopian feast and whilst the spice and flavours are unique, they’re not moorish.

Afghani food is.

It’s more honest, more homely than say Turkish. (Possibly this is a reflection of the home cooking nature of the book.)

And it’s unique in a particularly good way.

According to the book, this is traditionally a winter dish where the qoroot is a tart, reconstituted yoghurt which is something of an acquired taste; thus substituted with plain yoghurt which it is here. (There you go.)

We will cook much more from this book. I suspect many of the recipes will be typed up.

How fun.

Ingredients

4 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 large brown onion, finely diced
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp tomato puree

For the mini kofta

1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 long fresh red chilli, coarsely chopped
Small handful fresh coriander, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
250gm lamb mince
250gm lean beef mince
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the rice

1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 large brown onions, finely diced
1 large ripe tomato
2 cups medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 cup mung beans

For the toppings

3 cups Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Red and green long fresh chilli, thinly sliced, dried mint and mild paprika to garnish

Method

  1. To make the kofta, finely blend the onion, chilli, coriander and garlic in a food processor. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again to form a fine paste. Place the lamb and beef in a large mixing bowl, add the blended paste with the ground coriander, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Mix to combine well with your hands for 5 minutes or until the ingredients are re fully incorporated and the mixture is slightly sticky.
  2. Shape teaspoons of the kofta mixture into balls, place them on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to become slightly firm.
  3. Meanwhile, finely blend the tomato and garlic in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large frypan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the blended tomato and garlic and fry for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the sugar, curry powder, vinegar and 2 tsp salt and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and mix well to co,nine. Add 3 cups of water to the sauce, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to medium.
  5. Add the kofta to the pan, shaking the pan gently to make sure they are al submerged. Increase the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce the temperature to medium. Cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened and is rich in colour. (This too us more than 25 minutes of course.)
  6. While the sauce is cooking, make the rice. Add the oil to a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the tomato has softened. Add the rice and mung beats with 6 cups of water and 3 tsp salt.
  7. Bring to the boil then reduce to low and stir in 1/2 cup more water. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice is cooked, soft and sticky, though not mushy.
  8. To make the toppings, whisk the yoghurt, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl to combine. (This will be poured into the centre of the kichiri qoroot.
  9. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a high heat to 170c. Remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric. Keep the oil hot.
  10. Before serving, ensure the mini kofta and sauce are hot. Spoon the rice out onto a large serving plater, making a well in the centre. Embed the mini kofta into the rice, drizzling some of the sauce over the rice as well. Garnish with chilli slices.
  11. Dot some yoghurt dressing around the kofta and pour it into the well in the centre of the rice. Sprinkle over the dried mint and paprika, then pour the hot turmeric oil over the yoghurt to create a sizzling centre on the plate. Serve immediately.

Christine Manfield’s Mughlai Chicken

Serves: 4

Christine Manfield‘s Mughlai Chicken is just another brilliant curry from her wonderful book, Tasting India.

It was just luscious, so unique and perfectly executed by Nat. Local Indian restaurant this is not.

Served alongside another wonderful cauliflower and potato curry, we had an old friend over for dinner, decanted a cracking red and had a memorable Saturday night in.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
50gm finely sliced white onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
500gm chicken thigh, cut into 2cm cubes
100gm thick plain yoghurt, whisked
300ml white chicken stock
3 tsp mint chutney
50gm finely chopped spinach leaves
100gm spinach puree
2 tsp salt
20 fried curry leaves, slightly crushed
1 tsp ghee, melted

Mint Chutney

100gm mint leaves
75gm coriander leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 small green chilli, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
5 tbsp thick plain yoghurt
2 red shallots, finely diced
2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chilli powder

Method

Mint chutney

Blend the mint, coriander, lemon juice, chilli and ginger to make a smooth paste. Stir in the yoghurt, shallot, chat masala, salt and chilli powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach puree

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and chop then puree in a food processor.

Fried curry leaves

Heat some vegetable oil to 170c and fry fresh curry leaves in small batches for 20 seconds

The Curry

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli over a high heat until softened. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Fry for a minute and then add the yoghurt.
  2. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the stock. Bring back to the simmer and then stir through the chutney and spinach leaves. Cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender and the gravy reduced.
  3. Add the spinach puree and salt and stir until combined and heated through. Stir in the curry leaves and ghee and serve with steamed rice.

Lamb Rump with Almond, Sour Currant and Cauliflower Rice

Serves: 4

After my birthday in June this year, we both agreed that after months and months of fine food and wine – at home and out – the time had come to reverse course.

There were a few strategies that worked.

One of them – calorie counting – was great. It helped eliminate snacking, put an end to my morning cappuccinos and made me make informed (and smarter) decisions about how much olive oil I should be drizzling on salads

(I.E. none at all.)

Another was the world of 300 calorie meals where I learnt of zoodles (zucchini noodles), squash pasta (substituting pasta for pumpkin), cauliflower pizza bases (amazing) and cooking with plenty of prawn and turkey.

Cauliflower rice is something I have previously written about as a genius alternative to rice and during our few months of lean cooking, I really dialled up Cauliflower rice and what we did with it. (After it is cooked, try toasting it in a wok: amazing.)

This dish cooked by Nat last night is excellent on quite a few levels.

Firstly, it is just plain delicious. It’s really tasty, it’s light, it’s aromatic.

Secondly, it’s healthy.

Thanks to the wonderful cauliflower rice.

I’ve learnt a long time ago that healthy eating didn’t mean compromising on flavour. More recently, I learnt that healthy eating didn’t mean smaller portions and being hungry.

Save your carbs and calories for the weekend and give this cracker a go.

Ingredients

1 tbsp garam masala
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lamb rumps (about 200gm): we used lamb backstrap
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Plain yoghurt and vinegar to serve

Cauliflower Rice

600gm cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1cm piece ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp nigella (cumin) seeds
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 cup coriander, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Combine the garam masala, garlic and half the oil in a large bowl, season to taste, add lamb and massage to coat well. Heat the remaining oil up a large frying pan over a high heat, add the lamb and fry until well browned all over. Transfer the lamb to a baking tray and roast for around 10 – 12 minutes for medium-rare. Cover loosely with foil, rest for 10 minutes and then slice.
  2. For the cauliflower rice, bring vinegar to the boil, add the currants and remove from the heat.
  3. Process the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the eschallot, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes until tender. Add the turmeric and nigella seeds, stir until fragrant and then add the cauliflower and stir until tender: 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Strain the currants, add to the pan along with the roasted almonds and coriander and season to taste.
  5. Top cauliflower rice with lamb, scatter with coriander and serve with yoghurt.

Nigella’s Beef and Eggplant Fatteh

Serves: 4

Hats off Nigella, as simple – and predictable – as this recipe seems, when everything comes together; especially cooking everything as slow as you can, it is a wonderful weekend meal.

And it is quite literally is about it al coming together: the toasted pita chips, the mince and dollops of the warm yoghurt/tahini mixture.

Throw on top toasted pine nuts, shredded mint and pomegranate seeds* and you really couldn’t ask for more except for a second glass of wine as you watch Masterchef** on Monday night.

Hats off again. A cracker.

Ingredients

Base

4 pita breads, slit open and cut into nacho-sized triangles.

Topping

500gm Greek yoghurt
75gm tahini
45ml lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste

Eggplant-beef layer

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 eggplant, cut into small cubes
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground paprika
1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste
500gm minced beef

Garnish

125g pomegranate seeds
50gm pine nuts, toasted
1 – 2 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Spread the pita triangles on a large baking tray and toast in the oven until toasted, moving them around regularly to ensure even toasting. Set aside until needed.
  3. Bat the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt together in a heat proof bowl which will later be used to sit over a saucepan. Check the salt levels and adjust as needed.
  4. Warm the oil over a low heat in a wide, heavy frypan. Add the onion and sauté for 10 – 15 minutes until softened and caramel.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium, add the eggplant cubes and stir well to mix with the onion. Cook for 10 minutes or until the eggplant is golden, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in the cumin, coriander and teaspoon of the paprika and a teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to high and add the beef mince, breaking it up. Cook until browned. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Check the seasoning.
  7. Heat a saucepan of water and bring to a slow simmer. Place the bowl of tahini-yoghurt mixture on top, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Beat until the yoghurt is slightly above water temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream.
  8. To assemble, arrange the crisp pita triangle on a large plate. Top with the eggplant-beef mixture, followed by the tahini-yoghurt sauce. Sprinkle with paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and then finish with the shredded mint leaves.

* In a rush, I grabbed a Fuji fruit rather than a pomegranate. Laughs all round.

** Where we saw this recipe.

Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

Ok, so Nat got this Monday-night recipe wrong – originally from the NY Times – and it was so much better for it.

Like, amazingly better.

The yoghurt marinade – especially after grilling – made it creamy and soft: the fresh herbs and garlic added depth and flavour.

Grilled, boring, chicken it was not.

The opposite.

As far as a simple BBQ dinner goes, this could not have met the brief better. Seal and sear the chicken, have a handy salad ready and maybe some potatoes and boom, this is a weekday night super-success with possibly enough left for lunch.

Best mistake ever. And one I am happily typing up.

Ingredients

9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of two lemons
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley, more for serving
2 tbsp minced fresh mint
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced fresh oregano
1 1/2 salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, more for garnish
3/4 tsp sumac, more for garnish
2/3 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Roll the chicken thighs flat.
  2. Combine the remainder of the ingredients and add to the chicken. Marinate for 8 – 24 hours.
  3. Heat a grill over a high-heat and cook the chicken for 4 – 7 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Set aside.
  4. Slice the chicken, sprinkling sumac, sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon top.
  5. Serve with the yoghurt.

Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

Ok, so Nat got this Monday-night recipe wrong – originally from the NY Times – and it was so much better for it.

Like, amazingly better.

The yoghurt marinade – especially after grilling – made it creamy and soft: the fresh herbs and garlic added depth and flavour.

Grilled, boring, chicken it was not.

The opposite.

As far as a simple BBQ dinner goes, this could not have met the brief better. Seal and sear the chicken, have a handy salad ready and maybe some potatoes and boom, this is a weekday night super-success with possibly enough left for lunch.

Best mistake ever. And one I am happily typing up.

Ingredients

9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of two lemons
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley, more for serving
2 tbsp minced fresh mint
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced fresh oregano
1 1/2 salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, more for garnish
3/4 tsp sumac, more for garnish
2/3 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Roll the chicken thighs flat.
  2. Combine the remainder of the ingredients and add to the chicken. Marinate for 8 – 24 hours.
  3. Heat a grill over a high-heat and cook the chicken for 4 – 7 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Set aside.
  4. Slice the chicken, sprinkling sumac, sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon top.