Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls – My First Culinary Adventure of 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve spent today getting reacquainted with my baking spirits, which is always a worthwhile activity, even when it is stinking hot. And even when it’s not always appreciated by others.

And it was important that it happen today. You see, I am starting a new tradition. Okay, more like ‘borrowing’ and running with someone else’s tradition.

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

As some of you know, I bought Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries III when it first came out – no way was I risking that one on the Christmas list… what if no one bought it for me??? I would be bereft of Nigel…

So I had already read his entry for New Year’s Day, which he called Rising. In it, Nigel talks about how the new year comes to his kitchen quietly, with a pot of soup and freshly baked bread. He writes:

‘I like the notion of yeast rising, of new life in the kitchen on the first day of the New Year. Eccentric, daft even, but to me it just feels right.’

Is that not a glorious notion?

And I think that those with bakers’ souls will feel a certain affinity with this notion…

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 2

 

Yeast rising in the kitchen on the first day of the new year can become a quite a compelling metaphor for an unbelievable number of different things, for an unbelievable number of different people. So don’t forget to make 2016 the best year you can for yourself.

And you can start by joining the fiesta party! Our hostess with the mostess, Angie @The Novice Gardener, and her lovely co-hosts – Judi @Cooking with Aunt JujuMolly @Frugal HausfrauSteffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen – are extending the party over the festive season, so come along and share your first dishes of 2016.

 

Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls

  • Servings: makes 6 rolls
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Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

Ingredients

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 7g sachets instant dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 350ml water
  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 100g goat’s cheese (cut into small chunks)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add almost all the water and mix to a sticky dough.
  2. Continue to mix for a further minute or so – the dough will gradually become less sticky. Add a touch more flour or water until you are left with a dough that is soft and springy, yet slightly sticky to the touch.
  3. Flour a large work surface and gently knead the dough for 10 minutes without treating it aggressively. It should feel soft, smooth, light and springy.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to prove for an hour in a warm place.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto a floured surface. Knead it again for 30 seconds.
  6. Work the rosemary and cheese into the dough so that they are evenly distributed.
  7. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into small rolls.
  8. Lay the rolls on a floured baking tray, leaving a good amount of space between them.
  9. Decorate each roll with a few rosemary needles on top.
  10. Leave to rise in a warm place under a tea towel for 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  12. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  13. Great as a burger bun. Fantastic eaten warm and slathered in butter.

 

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on BBC website.

 

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Grilled  Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

I’ve had a bit of a surreal week; it’s been insanely busy at work, but the evenings are dragging a little… there’s still so much to do, so much to put away and organise, still so many boxes to get through from our recent move.

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

Apparently, things don’t magically find a home when you move… you have to wait for other things to happen first, have to wait for things to go up, to be built, to be put in place. And if anything goes wrong, or not to plan, well, the you have to wait even longer.

I’d like for it to all be over and settled now, please. I’d like be able to read a few chapter on the weekend and not feel guilty; I’d like to be able to spend some time on cleaning up this blog without boxes staring at me, judging me; I’d like to be able to bake in the almost warm spring breeze without having to hunt for a kitchen tool.

We’re still so busy, there hasn’t really been time for long and leisurely brunches on the weekends. So when I saw a really fresh bunch of thin asparagus, I knew we were going to have breakfast for dinner, and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

I’m hoping this week’s Fiesta Friday co-hosts do, so that way we can have breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some drinks thrown in for good measure, with Angie @The Novice Gardener,  Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

  • Servings: serves 2 for breakfast
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Grilled Asparagus with Sauce Vierge

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches thin asparagus (trimmed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 to 4 slices of grain bread (toasted)

Sauce Vierge

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 golden shallot (finely diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 100g cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chervil sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chives (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon basil (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Preheat the grill or broiler. Place the trimmed asparagus on an oven tray in a single layer, drizzle with one tablespoon of oil, scatter with lemon rind, season to taste and grill until tender, turning once or twice for about 8 to 10 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, for the sauce vierge, heat the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot, garlic and coriander seeds and stir occasionally until fragrant and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and vinegar, season to taste and keep warm. Just before serving, stir in herbs.
  3. Poach the eggs in just simmering water until cooked to your liking, 3 minutes for soft yolks, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
  4. Arrange the toast and asparagus on serving plates, top each with a poached egg, spoon the sauce vierge over the top and serve warm

Recipe by Emma Knowles and Alice Storey as found on Gourmet Traveller website.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters and a Tribute to Selma

It seems that every other person has a blog nowadays.

Some start up because they need a creative outlet. Others are looking for notoriety. Still others just want a little piece of space, carved out just for them and their thoughts.

I started my little food blog at a time when they were already a dime a dozen. I had no new idea, not fantastic, paradigm-shifting approach to creating or sharing recipes. I just wanted a little creative outlet and a place to keep track of my efforts, achievements, and which recipes in the mounds and mounds of magazine cutouts, cook books and web links were the ones worth cooking again.

What I never thought I would encounter when I started was a community of like-minded people who were so sweet and nurturing. A group of people that were unbelievably kind and supportive, even to one who mostly just lurked in the shadows and only popped up every now and then to shyly say hi before going into hiding again.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters
Amongst this beautiful community was a lady who I formed a bond with over haloumi, of all things. Selma @Selma’s Table was always there, encouraging all of us with her kind words and sweet nature, and we’re all deeply saddened to hear of her passing. I will miss her wicked sense of humour and her heartfelt advice.

These haloumi fritters are not the ones we first bonded over, but they are the ones I’ve made to honour Selma. A huge thank you (and even bigger hugs) to Angie @Fiesta Friday, Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook, Elaine @Foodbod and Sue @birgerbird for putting together this space for all of us to remember Selma.

Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters with Avocado Salsa

  • Servings: makes 12 to 16 fritters
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Spiced Haloumi and Pea Fritters

Ingredients

  • 250g frozen peas
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g cornflour
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 180g haloumi (half finely grated, half cut into 1cm cubes)
  • 3 scallions (finely sliced)
  • Zest and juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • Vegetable oil (for shallow frying)
  • 1 Avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Boil the peas in salted water for 2 minutes, then drain. Refresh under cold water, then drain again. Roughly mash half of the peas with a fork and then set aside.
  2. In a different bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flours and baking powder until combined and smooth. Fold in the peas, haloumi, scallions, lime zest, coriander and chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoonfuls of the mixture to the pan, pressing down to flatten slightly, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up.
  4. Meanwhile, halve, de-pit and roughly chop the avocado flesh. Mix in the chopped fresh coriander, and then add the lime juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to taste.
  5. Serve the fritters hot or at room temperature with the avocado and coriander salsa.

Recipe adapted from Delicious magazine.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

How do we really feel about imported fruit and vegetables?

Do we really and truly buy fresh produce because we want to support the community and our local growers? Because it is better for us? Because it’s better quality? Because it’s the right thing to do?

Yep, these are all good reasons. Personally, I prefer to buy local produce so that I can cook seasonal meals, from the comfort foods of winter to the beautiful fruit-inspired summer mains and everything in between.

And to be perfectly honest, the wait for seasonal delicacies is part of the appeal.

Baked Nectarine Crostini

I did buy imported nectarines the other day. I saw them and instantly remembered all of the summer dishes that I never got around to making before the stone fruit season had come to an end.

They weren’t great like middle of the season nectarines, but they weren’t bad either. And since I knew I was going to bake them, I only felt the tiniest, teeniest bit guilty for buying imported fruit.

So, moral of the story, it’s pretty much in everyone’s best interest to buy fresh and local produce. But if it’s available, and it’s tasty, and you really, really want to make something, it’s okay to sometimes buy some imported goodies.

I’m sharing these baked nectarine crostinis with the Fiesta Friday #73 gang, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and this week co-hosted by the lovely Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and very sweet Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

  • Servings: makes 8 crostini
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Baked Nectarine Crostini

Ingredients

  • 4 nectarines (stone removed, quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 8 pieces of sourdough bread
  • 2 fresh mozzarella balls (cut into 8 thick slices)
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • Raspberry balsamic vinegar to drizzle (or balsamic vinegar)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the nectarine quarters cut side down in a baking dish, drizzle with maple syrup, and bake for 15 minutes or until just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the slices of sourdough.
  4. Top each piece of sourdough with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf and two pieces of baked nectarines. Drizzle with raspberry balsamic vinegar and serve warm.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

Have you ever thought about how many different kinds of scones there are? There are sweet scones, like white chocolate and strawberry, herb and cheese savoury scones, fruit-filled scones, butter scones, pumpkin scones, lemonade scones, buttermilk scones, lovely sounding crème fraiche scones that Kitsch n flavours just posted… I could continue for days…

Scones have never really liked me. I can make soufflés and bake croissants, but every scone recipe I’ve tried has ended in disaster.

Vanilla Scones

I have a friend who can speedily and effortlessly whip up a batch of scones without thought. Whilst also cooking lunch. And bread. And happily chatting and drinking wine. She is very skilled at multitasking…

She’s even walked me through her recipe and watched me make it and still has no idea how I messed them up time and time again.

They tasted fine, but boy did they look awful.

Recently, I had to take a morning tea/afternoon tea type treat to an event, and I figured it was the perfect time to try making scones again, and shock horror, they actually turned out pretty well! They tasted great and rose beautifully and evenly, and because these particular scones contain no butter or milk, they were still great the next day.

So seeing as how I am now free from the scone curse, I’m off to experiment with other types of scones and offer these ones up to the Fiesta Friday #70 party. Angie @The Novice Gardener, Dini @Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau are your co-hosts this week so it should be a great get-together.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

  • Servings: makes 20 to 24 scones
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Vanilla Scones

Ingredients for Vanilla Scones

  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence)
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar (to serve)

Ingredients for Strawberry Cream

  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 1 ½ cups whipped cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries (roughly chopped)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Create a well in the centre and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cream, milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a flat-bladed knife to combine.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth.
  5. Pat the dough out to a 2.5cm-thick round. Using a 5cm scone cutter, cut 12 scones from the dough. Gently press the remaining dough together and repeat.
  6. Place the scones on the prepared tray, allowing a little room for spreading. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some milk on the tops and sides of the scones and then bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove the scones from the oven, cover with a clean tea towel and stand scones on tray for 10 minutes.
  8. To make the strawberry cream, stir the jam in a bowl until slightly softened. Add the cream and half the strawberries and gently fold through until just combined.
  9. Split scones in half. Top the bases with a dollop of strawberry cream, the remaining strawberries and the scone tops. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Recipe by Julie Jansen from taste.com.

Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

Happy Mardi Gras Day!

Happy Carnival!

Happy International Pancake Day!

For 2015, I’m celebrating International Pancake Day; mostly because I love pancakes, and maybe a little because I ran out of time and didn’t make king cake or crostoli. Soon…

Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

I’ve always loved pancakes, and I would have them quite regularly if those I lived with liked them more. How can people not be fans of pancakes??? Although, even they have to admit that they did like the cinnamon apple pancakes that I made recently. And they loved the hazelnut and banana dutch baby pancake I made to celebrate the most important pancake day of the year.

Dutch baby pancakes, also known as a German pancake or a puffed pancake, are a larger, sweet and tasty breakfast version of popovers or Yorkshire puddings that have the consistency of a think pancake. Don’t be put off by the description… they have been around since the early half of the 1900s and they are a lovely and theatrical morning treat in the way that they rise and puff up in the frying pan.

Today may be International Pancake Day, but this whole week is Pancake Week, so make sure you get your fair share of pancakes, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

  • Servings: 2 large to 4 small serves
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Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

Ingredients

  • 20g butter (coarsely chopped)
  • 3 eggs
  • 185ml milk
  • 90g plain flour
  • 20g hazelnut meal
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

For Dusting

  • Icing sugar

To Serve

  • 1 banana (thickly sliced)
  • 2 scoops honey-malt, caramel, toffee or vanilla ice cream
  • Honey or maple syrup to taste (optional)
  • Coarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place butter in a 22cm-diameter ovenproof frying pan and place in oven until butter melts and pan is very hot, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix eggs, milk, flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, nutmeg and lemon rind with a whisk, immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth and combined.
  3. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan and immediately return the pan to the oven. Bake until puffed and golden, around 20 to 25 minutes. The pancake is ready when the sides have risen and the centre is firm but springy to the touch.
  4. Serve hot, dusted with icing sugar and topped with banana, honey-malt, caramel, toffee or vanilla ice-cream, and honey if using, and then scatter with roasted hazelnuts.

Recipe from the Australian Gourmet Traveller website.

Homemade Croissants

It’s croissant day, everyone!

I finally tackled croissants. They have been on my baking bucket list for a while now.

A long, long while.

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I have always loved croissants. I remember my family trying to entice me to try other bakery goodies when I was a kid, but I was always happiest biting into a crunchy croissant. Ecstatic even when there was time or the ability to toast them. Other than a bowl of mac and cheese on a stormy day, nothing is more comforting than a toasted cheese and tomato croissant…

Well, nothing was.

Biting into a homemade, fresh-from-the-oven croissant, where the outer crunch gives way to a still-warm, fluffy centre was quite a profound experience.

I recommend that every croissant lover makes them at least once in their lives.

Sure, you’ll be rolling and folding, and rolling and folding, and rolling and folding dough for a quite a while, maybe even days, but it’s worth the effort and the waiting.

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For my first foray into the world of croissants, I chose to go with David Lebovitz’s Whole Wheat Croissants recipe, mainly because you could not have a better teacher when it comes to pastry techniques, and partly because the recipe make 6 croissants, which is plenty for just me. However, I didn’t want my first croissant baking experience to be whole wheat, and since David’s notes mentioned that the recipe would work using all white flour, that is the only time I deviated from the recipe. Croissants are not difficult to make, they are just time consuming, and David has some beautiful instructional photos on his website of the rolling and folding steps.

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With the weekend fast approaching, why not extend croissant day and bake some fresh this weekend?

And we all know that croissants can be turned into delectable desserts, yes? We’re all nodding? If you need proof, just take a look at the caramel croissant pudding that’s up over at the New Recipe Night blog… You’re all in furious agreement now, aren’t you? Yes? I thought so…

So I humbly present these dessert-in-the-making offerings to Angie at The Novice Gardener and to all her co-hosts who help put together our Fiesta Friday parties.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Happy Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 everyone!

 

Homemade Croissants

  • Servings: makes 6 pastries
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David says: ‘Making croissants isn’t hard; one just needs to follow the steps, which are 1) Make the yeasted dough day in advance and let it sit overnight, 2) The next day, make 3 “turns” of the pastry at various intervals, then 3) Shape, proof, and bake the croissants. The most important thing is not to let the butter get too soft. So when rolling and folding the dough, work quickly to get it back in the refrigerator’.

Ingredients

  • 280g white bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 160ml whole or low-fat milk, very slightly warmed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 160g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Method

Day 1

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or stir it together in a large bowl. Stir in about one-third of the flour mixture and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not over-knead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)

Day 2

  1. Put the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until there are no lumps in the butter, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, whack the butter with a rolling pin, turning it a few times, until it’s a cold paste.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 10 by 8cm rectangle. Chill the butter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop, so it forms a diamond shape with four flaps – two on top, two on the bottom, leaving the dough raised a bit in the centre.
  3. Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the centre. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and whack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 30 by 22cm rectangle.
  4. Lift up one-third of the left side of the dough and fold it over the centre. Then lift the right side of the dough over the centre, to create a rectangle. Take the rolling pin and press down on the dough two times, making an X across it. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one ‘turn’, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 to 60 minutes.

(The resting period between steps #4 and #5 can be longer in case you have other things to do. Feel free to let it rest a couple of hours between each turn. It’ll be fine.)

  1. Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
  2. To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 30 by 22cm rectangle. Trim the edges off with a sharp chef’s knife and cut the dough into 3 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles. Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 28cm long. Starting at the wide end, roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set it point-side-up on the baking sheet and roll the rest of the croissants the same way.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.

Recipe very, very slightly altered from David Lebovitz’s blog.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Have you noticed that there is a negative side to food trends? Where the oh so last year dish that was raved about and declared divine is discarded for the new trend, fad, ingredient or flavour?

I recently overheard someone in a café complaining how smashed avocado is so passé, and yes, they used the word passé. Okay, so you can pretty much get a version of smashed avocado from any café these days, but so what? If it tastes good and you like it, why can’t you order it? Whatever happened to each to their own? Maybe loudly opinionated food snob whingers should become passé…

Smashed Avocados

And just the other day I read an article that argued that sourdough is so overused, and that our obsession with it is a fad that’s going to pass when ‘foodies’ decided it’s time to worship a new type of bread. There was no sense that the author had done any research on sourdough in the midst of the sweeping generalisations, otherwise they may have noticed that sourdough can be traced back to the California gold rush of 1849, if not back even further… 165 years is hardly ‘temporary’…

But how are bloggers different to hoity-toity café goers and reporters who tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Isn’t one of the main ‘reasons’ for blogging to get your opinions out there?

Sure.

But as a general rule, food bloggers offer their opinions in quite an unassuming way, and usually by sharing their stories. They very rarely annoyingly parade their opinions about, loudly shoving them in your face and belittling you if you don’t automatically bow down and agree…

So, if there are past food trends that you still eat, even though they seem to have fallen out of favour, then more power to you and your culinary tastes!

Now onto more important things… like smashed avocado… This recipe is the basic starting block. Get the base mix to your liking and you can build the toppings from there, from a simple garnish of fresh herbs, chilli or dukkah, to basil and lemon juice-topped cherry tomatoes, to fried or poached eggs, with or without smoked salmon.

Oh, and in case sourdough just doesn’t do it for you, or you can’t get your hands on some, rye bread is a fantastic substitute for smashed avocado toasties.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Smashed Avocados

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 100g Danish fetta
  • 4 slices of sourdough or light rye bread
  • 1 tablespoon of dukkah

Method

  1. Slice and halve the avocados, remove the pits and scoop the avocado flesh out into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, crumble in half of the fetta and mash roughly with a fork until just combined. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown.
  4. When ready, scoop ¼ of the avocado mixture onto each slice of toast. Top with the remaining crumbled fetta and scatter with dukkah. Serve with lemon wedges.

Honey Roasted Fig and Mascarpone-Yogurt Parfait

It’s getting just a little harder to find figs these days, and that’s usually the first sign for me that it’s time for earthier, more comforting flavours to make their way back into my everyday cooking.

Like very many people, I cook seasonally. I look forward to certain months, anxiously awaiting the return of something, usually plums and berries.

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However, I’ve noticed that I do not upload blog posts seasonally. I tend to  post recipes because I’ve cooked the dish again, or I come across the photo, a post-it note. Sometimes I post recipes because there’s a particular national food holiday or event that creates a playful link. Other time, I post recipes because everyone else does, not so much to say, ‘hey, I can do it to’, but more because there’s this urgency sometimes in the food blog community when a trend takes off and you just get caught up and dragged along for the ride.

So, partly because of a seasonal cheese challenge throw down from Fromage Homage, and partly because I will very soon be figless until next season, I will post some of my favourite and newly discovered seasonal dishes for May.

Honey Roasted Figs and Mascarpone-Yogurt Parfait

  • Servings: makes 1 indulgent breakfast parfait
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Roasted Fig Parfait

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh figs*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ vanilla bean (or one teaspoon vanilla essence)
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 4 tablespoons granola (separated)

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 180°C.
  2. Discard the stems and slice each fig in half. Place them in a snug, single layer in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Combine the honey and the vanilla bean seeds or vanilla essence. Drizzle the honey mixture over the figs and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until softened. Allow to cool a little before roughly chopping.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and mascarpone in a bowl and stir until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  5. In a glass (or bowl), begin to layer the ingredients: add two tablespoons of granola, top with half of the yogurt mixture, followed by the chopped figs, layer over the rest of the yogurt, and finally, top with the remaining granola.
  6. Eat immediately!

 

* Mission figs are best for baking, but any fresh figs will work quite nicely.

Homemade Baked Ricotta

Before we start, yes, I use cleaning cloth instead of cheese cloth. It’s not that strange really, some people use hankies in place of cheese cloth, but anyhow… Rest assured that the cleaning cloth has not been used to clean and is thoroughly laundered before it’s put to use straining the curds from the whey. And it works just fine, thank you.

There are those that like their ricotta to have a bit of a tang to it, and there are those that prefer a creamier ricotta. Having made the tangy variety for the Mushroom Pâté, I thought I would sneak in with a creamier homemade ricotta recipe before this month’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Blog Challenge comes to a close.

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And I remembered to take photos this time too!

 

Homemade Ricotta1

Homemade Ricotta 2

 

Baked Ricotta

Homemade ricotta cheese recipe by David Lebovitz, as found on the Simply Recipes website.

Ingredients for Creamy Homemade Ricotta

  • 2 litres whole milk*
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt**
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Baked Ricotta

  • 100g parmesan (finely grated)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely sliced)
  • Handful of pine nuts (lightly toasted)
  • 500g ricotta
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)

Method for Creamy Homemade Ricotta

  1. In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.
  2. Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.
  4. Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired. Makes between 500g to 600g of ricotta.

Method for Baked Ricotta

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Grease four, 1-cup ramekins with butter and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the parmesan, thyme, chilli flakes, salt, sliced garlic and toasted pine nuts. Add the ricotta and stir/mash until it’s completely incorporated with the parmesan. Gently fold in the eggs until combined.
  4. Spoon the ricotta mixture evenly between the ramekins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before running a butter knife around the edge and turning them upside down and shaking gently to remove from the ramekins. Serve as part of an antipasto platter, as a starter with spiced crackers or for breakfast with sage mushrooms and roasted tomatoes.

* If you can get your hands on unhomogenised milk, use that. If not, then supermarket milk is fine, but choose a whole cream, full fat, non-ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurised milk to make ricotta or any cheese product at home.

** For making homemade ricotta, whole-milk yogurt is best, low-fat is okay, non-fat won’t work.

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