Tuesday 25 February 2014




When I talk about the ‘Southern Trio’ I am referring to the holy trinity of eggplant, zucchini, and tomato. Think Provence or Sicily and how prominently this combination figures into their regional cuisine. In this dish however, the eggplant is definitely the star.

I guarantee that this rustic savoury galette is so delicious and charming, you’d think you were transported to the sunny Mediterranean. The unctuous savouriness of the eggplant combined with the mellow crunch of the zucchini, and the juicy freshness of the tomatoes alongside the flaky buttery pastry makes for a truly heavenly dish.


SHORTCRUST PASTRY: for a simple fail-proof shortcrust pastry recipe go to http://tattyapron.blogspot.ca/2013/05/stinging-nettle-quiche.html 
If making only enough pastry for one galette, simply halve the measurements.


3 Tbs olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
½ large eggplant, diced into small cubes
1 medium zucchini, diced into small cubes
100 ml tomato passata
1 whole tomato, sliced into 1 cm slices
grated Gruyère, or any good quality cheese which melts nicely
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk, whisked

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. In a pan, heat up the olive oil on medium heat, then sauté the eggplant until it begins to become translucent and is just beginning to soften. 
  3. To this, you add your onions, followed by the garlic. Let them cook gently together until they are soft and brown, but not burnt. 
  4. Stir in the tomato passata and let simmer on low heat for about 15- 20 minutes adding a bit of water if you find that the mixture is drying out. 
  5. Towards the end stir in your finely chopped zucchini, season well with salt and pepper, let mingle for a minute then take off the heat. Set aside to cool.
  6. If you kept the pastry in the freezer make sure you have defrosted it overnight in the refrigerator. Roll out your short crust pastry onto a clean and lightly flowered surface into a relatively thin round shape. You can be meticulous and trim the edges to form a perfectly round disc but this is a rustic dish and I personally like the rough uneven edges, c’est très charmant.
  7. Transport the pastry to a large backing tray lined with parchment paper. Using a fork, prick around the base of the pastry. Take your filling and spoon it onto the middle of your pastry, leaving about 3 inches off the edges free. Cover with a shaving of Grueyere cheese and top with the tomato slices. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Now, fold up the uncovered border over the edge of your filling into pleats then brush the egg yolk onto the crust. This will give it an irresistible sheen and will help seal the pleats.
  9. Place in a 400 F oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley or basil.

                    Thursday 20 February 2014


                    CREAMY CELERIAC SOUP

                    You've seen it, that big round knobbly root sitting almost brazenly alongside the parsnips and carrots on the supermarket shelf. It sits there completely unaware of its less than desirable appearance. With a quiet self-assurance it awaits for someone who is already privy to its hidden charms to lob it eagerly into their basket.

                    If you've never used celeriac in your cooking, I strongly advise you to go out and get one at once! You will be wooed by its delicate aromatic scent and its sweet flavour. Most often I use it as part of any soup or stock that I make, however, it is brilliant roasted or grated raw in coleslaw. However, seeing as we are smack-dab in the middle of winter, I thought I would make a simple creamy celeriac soup to warm up my bones.


                    1 Tbs. olive oil
                    1 celeriac root, peeled and chopped into cubes
                    2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes (slightly larger than the celeriac cubes)
                    1 leek, sliced
                    1 onion, chopped
                    1 clove garlic, chopped
                    3 cups of light stock like vegetable or chicken stock
                    salt and pepper
                    2 Tbs. cream

                    1. In a medium pot, sauté leek, onion and garlic until soft and translucent 
                    2. Add the celeriac, sauté for a minute, then add the potatoes and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure the leeks and onions don’t burn and the ingredients are evenly distributed. 
                    3. Pour in the stock – I used my home-made rabbit stock this time but you can use any light stock here – bring to a boil  then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
                    4. Season with salt and pepper
                    5. Purée the soup with a hand blender or food processor 
                    6. Pour in the cream and give it a nice stir until fully incorporated
                    7. Top with home-made croutons or celeriac chips, and a sprinkle of parsley

                    Saturday 8 February 2014


                    BACON AND CHIVE 


                    On many weekend mornings I love to potter around the house, taking my sweet time just because I can, but also because I want to savour those languid hours, popping in and out of bed while something warm is baking in the oven. The smells wafting throughout the home hold the promise of a day sauntering onward at its own pace. And on quite a few of those mornings, that distinction belongs to my bacon and chive popovers. They are so light and airy but incredibly flavourful at the same time.  How can that be? you may ask. Let me show you!

                    BACON AND CHIVE POPOVERS


                    250 ml (1 cup) milk
                    3 eggs
                    2 Tbsp butter, melted (plus butter for coating muffin tins)
                    1/2 tsp salt
                    250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
                    1 tsp olive oil
                    1/4 cup of bacon, diced
                    1/3 of medium onion or whole shallot, diced
                    Parsley, chopped
                    Fresh red chilli, chopped (optional)
                    Bunch of chives, chopped

                    1. Preheat oven at 220C/425F
                    2. Coat muffin tins with butter (you can use any size muffin tins) and place in oven to heat
                    3. Meanwhile, fry the bacon and onion in the olive oil until browned, set aside to cool down
                    4. In a food processor, combine milk, eggs, melted butter, flour, and salt. Blend for 10 seconds, scrape down the sides then blend some more, around half a minute
                    5. Fold in bacon and onions into the batter, and then add the chopped chives, chilli, and parsley
                    6. Pour batter into buttered muffin tins and bake for 23-30 min. or until they are golden brown and have literally popped over
                    7. Place on a cooling rack

                    Enjoy warm with some good butter.

                    Sunday 2 February 2014


                    TRADITIONAL GERMAN 

                    EGG NOODLES OR SPÄTZLE

                    I love noodles, all types of noodles; from Japanese ramen to Italian pasta, from Valencian fideuà to Asian rice vermicelli. But there is a lesser known noodle among this international band of brothers, and it’s one of my favourites, the German spätzle. In fact the word noodle comes from the German word nudel! I like it as an accompaniment to schnitzel, served with a meat stew or topped off with a rich mushroom sauce. However, you can always have it on its own as well … maybe with some cheese melted in, mmmm. More than any noodle that I know of, spätzle is best made fresh but not to worry it’s simple and rib-sticking good.


                    Makes 2 large servings

                    1 heaping cup of all-purpose flour
                    ½ tsp. salt
                    pinch of nutmeg (optional)
                    1 egg
                    ½ cup of cool water

                    Crumb mix:
                    1.5 tbsp. butter plus a couple of knobs to finish off (be generous)
                    4 tbsp. breadcrumbs
                    salt and pepper

                    1. In a bowl, combine flour, salt and nutmeg, break in one egg and give it a stir to incorporate the egg into the dry ingredients. Add the water in gradually while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes quite smooth and elastic. This should take about 10 minutes and it’s supposed to give your arm a good workout. Set aside in cool place.
                    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
                    3. In a pan, melt the butter. Add in the breadcrumbs and fry on medium heat until they turn brown and nutty. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
                    4. I use my spätzle press to form the spätzle but you can also use a large-holed colander or slotted spoon. Over the simmering water, push the dough through the holes with a spatula or spoon. This is best done in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pot. Once the little worm-like noodles float to the top they’re done. Spoon them out with a sieve or slotted spoon and place onto a dish dotted with a few knobs of butter. Give the spätzle a gentle toss making sure they are coated in the butter, this will ensure that they don’t dry out but remain luscious and delicious.
                    5. Once your batches of spätzle are done and coated in the butter, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top and gently fold into the spätzle.
                    6. Wash down with a bottle of good beer and toast to the god of Nudel, ja!