I truly love posting about dessert. I am a huge fan of baking – we have a rich and rightly-celebrated baking culture in our little country and I am happy to leap in, butter, cream and all. It feels particularly necessary right now, as Winter […]
One of the delightful things about days off, along with gleefully sitting around in your pants for as long as you fancy and not removing your slippers EVER, is ample amounts of time to whip up special treats for favourite people. My lovely Mum’s birthday fell during my recent holiday between jobs. I took some time out of my busy slippers-wearing schedule to make a special salad for a shared birthday lunch.
I’ll admit I was slow to the chargrilled vegetable trend. Burnt, I thought. And a lot of fiddling around just to achieve something that’s usually an accident. What’s wrong with a little light steaming or boiling and some butter? Vegetables are getting ahead of themselves.
But then one night I spent a decent amount of time making Ottolenghi’s roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon. And alongside this recipe in his book ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook‘ (a gloriously red, weighty tome) he casually mentions it might go well with some of his chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic. And so I came to be a chargrilled vegetable convert.
Chargrilling veges gets a little smokey sure, but it well makes up for it with the lovely flavour. I am lucky enough to have a huge ridged cast iron pan, a beast of a thing that could no doubt deliver quite the wallop to any burglar, given that I don’t keep any other weaponry to hand, and this is very good for chargrilling the veges. I have used a non-stick pan for chargrilling too however and it works fine, so don’t worry if you don’t have any cast iron to hand.
My humble little salad cannot claim to even touch the sides of the hallowed Ottolenghi, but I do hope you’ll give it a try. The chargrilled broccoli spreads its lovely smokiness throughout, which makes it perfect for Autumn and Winter, and the addition of the butter beans means it’s substantial enough for by itself if you wish. It’s really not hard to do – I promise you’ll have most of the ingredients to hand. We had it for my Mum’s birthday with thick slices of fresh bread and hummus, but it’s equally tasty with a little grilled meat.
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
Olive oil for the pan, plus another 2T
1 tin of butter beans
Juice of half a lemon
Flaky sea salt
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves, for example spinach and rocket
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, broken into pieces
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli and cook for three minutes. Drain thoroughly and allow to dry, using a tea towel to speed things up if necessary. It needs to get nice and dry or it will pop and fizz badly when you chargrill it.
While you wait for the broccoli to dry off, open the tin of butter beans, drain and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
Lightly grease the frypan with a little oil – just a little, mind. Keeping the pan quite dry is what enables the chargrilled effect. Put over a high heat and let it get really hot.
Using tongs, lay out the broccoli (you may need to do this in several batches depending on the size of your fry pan). Use tongs to turn each floret, allowing it to get chargrill marks.
Whisk together the remaining 2T of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and chilli flakes. Add the salad leaves, drained beans, toasted walnut halves and broccoli to your serving bowl. Tip over the dressing and toss to combine.
Now here’s the thing….I am at home recovering from abdominal surgery. It’s good news – I am doing fine and the surgery will improve my quality of life. I have had lots of surgery in my life and have always come through it like a teacher’s pet, best-in-show ribbon kind of goody two shoes, with minimal recovery and a speedy bounce-back. Turns out this surgery was more of a big deal, and it’s taking longer than usual for me to feel like myself. Although my usual eating includes lots of sharp, spicy flavours and a range of textures, right now I just want comfort food that is easy to make and easy to eat. And also to lie around all day in my pyjamas.
I’m lucky to be recuperating in Summer. Long bright days and sunny skies are easier on the mood when you are spending large portions of the day looking out the window, and fresh deliciousness abounds – tomatoes, stone fruit, avocados and all other kinds of goodies are plentiful and at their best.
I am particularly in love with nectarines right now. They are my favourite fruit, so whenever they are in season I gobble them up by the bucket load. Nectarines have an impressive history – most likely first domesticated in China over 4,000 years ago! Perhaps it is not surprising that I am particularly drawn to them while I am recovering, as they are packed with all kinds of good things, including Vitamins A and C.
I would never suggest that you need to do anything with a nectarine to make it more delicious. My favourite way of eating them is straight from the fruit bowl. Grilling them however makes them feel a little more like a special dessert, and I bet it could be dressed up even more with a little ice cream. The addition of basil may seem weird, but do give it a go! It goes nicely with the sweetness.
1 x t honey
A dot of butter
To serve, optional:
Fresh chopped basil
Pour your honey in to a shallow dish or plate. If your honey is the firmer, creamier variety (like mine) then give it a burst of heat in the microwave (about 20 seconds) or on the stove to make it a little runny. Here’s a quick aside about my honey – I brought it via the Common Unity Project Aotearoa. The honey is produced from bees and hives in the Hutt Valley as part of their Beeple Project. They are an awesome bunch, check them out.
Halve the nectarine/s, removed the stones and rub all over in the honey.
Place in a shallow heat-proof dish stone-side up. An oven tray with raised sides would also do.
Dot a little butter on each nectarine half.
Put your oven grill on and grill at high heat until the nectarine halves start to soften and go golden brown on the top.
Serve sprinkled with the basil and some yoghurt on the side.
Hello! Sincere apologies for my absence. I needed to take a break from blogging. The reason? Because I had started heaping pressure on myself, setting expectations about perfect photos, on-trend and original recipes, and copious tweets and followers. This diminished my enjoyment of Lick […]
Pork and porridge. It’s not too often you get these two together, but they are both delicious with a little applesauce, no?
Admittedly, my first thought on arriving at Apple Sauce in the Edmonds Cookbook (apart from no, not more apples) was ho-hum. Apple sauce eh? What can you do with that? It looks a bit like snot, therefore not particularly photogenic. There’s not a lot of excitement in making it either.
This was all a little unfair and some internet browsing has piqued my interest. Preparing apple-based sauces goes back to medieval Europe and many cuisines have their own version. Check out this recipe for Norwegian apple sauce with rye cinnamon crumbs and yoghurt. Oh my, wouldn’t that be a lovely sight to greet you for breakfast! Or, this recipe for Danish applesauce (‘æblegrød’) with cream!
So you can imagine I embarked on my Applesauce with a little more excitement after this. It’s very easy and a very good way to use up any apples that are past their best and loitering in the fruit bowl. I’ve been enjoying it with my morning oats, greek yoghurt and a little dusting of cinnamon, which is a very nice way to start the day indeed.
- 3-4 apples, peeled and cored
- 1 T water
- 1 T butter
- 2 cloves or some lemon juice
Put all ingredients in a pan and simmer over a low heat, until the apples are ‘pulped.’ I have not come across this expression before, so I took it to mean ‘mushy’!
At this point, Edmonds instructs beating it with a fork until smooth. Being a softer City-girl, I used a stick blender rather than a fork and elbow grease, which gave a nice smooth finish.
This keeps well in the fridge for several days, covered with a little cling film.