Rainbow Chard and Quinoa Fritters with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing

Rainbow Chard and Quinoa PancakesI am a procrastinator, without a doubt. I’m not going to share the things I’ve put off, it’s just too embarrassing. Things that really should have been dealt with, and in a few instances could have lead to some serious health issues. I couldn’t bear hearing your sighs.

Fortunately I have some good friends who push me when necessary and a father who likes to nag about the ‘dad things’. You know what I mean, “you need to wash your car more regularly”, “what are you going to do with all the stuff in your grandfather’s garage that have been there for 10 years?” Yeah, yeah, yeah…ahem.

So when you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because I’m procrastinating.

I made this a few weeks ago when my little brother made an impromptu visit to do his washing after his machine broke. It was a week of warm weather, about what it’s like now, and I felt like spring was on it’s way.

The yoghurt dressing is one I use and adapt quite often.  I know I stole it from someone but I can’t remember who exactly. I’ve got a feeling it was Jamie Oliver, so sorry Jamie if it’s you but I know your the sharing type anyway.

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IMG_1433IMG_1427rainbow chard and quinoa pancakes

Rainbow Chard and Quinoa Fritters with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing

small bunch rainbow chard

1 egg

2 heaped tablespoons buckwheat flour

2 heaped tablespoons plain unbleached flour

1 teaspoon aluminium-free baking powder

1/3 cup whole milk

3 spring onions, finely chopped (I just used the mid portion)

1 cup cooked quinoa

a good pinch of ground pepperberries

sea salt

Tahini yoghurt dressing

3 heaped tablespoons natural or greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon tahini

juice 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Chop the rainbow chard, I didn’t use the stalks but you want to just make sure you chop them finely. Wilt the chard how ever you like, in a pan with a little water, or steam them, it will only take a minute or so. Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Meanwhile in a medium bowl whisk the egg with the flour, baking powder and milk until combined. Fold through the spring onions, quinoa, pepperberries, and a good pinch of salt. Then squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the chard and chop again. Add to the mix and combine.

To make the dressing just combine all the ingredients. It’s important to taste your dressing and adjust. You might need more lemon or vinegar just make it to taste and a bit picant.

Heat a pan over medium high heat, when hot add a little rice bran oil and big heaped tablespoons of the mixture. After a few minutes, or if you can see bubbles on top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook for a minute or so on the other side.

Serve with smoked trout and the tahini dressing.

Serves 2.

Substitutions

Lots of greens can be used instead of the rainbow chard, equally as good would be english spinach, swiss chard, or kale. Instead of the quinoa, I think millet or maybe buckwheat would work too. If you don’t have ground pepperberry ( I got mine from Herbie’s Spices) sumac would be an excellent substitution, otherwise just leave out. I have also made the dressing using dijon mustard instead of the tahini and it worked well. Instead of rice bran oil you could use sunflower or vegetable oil, something with a high smoking point.

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Roast Pumpkin, Red Rice, Cavolo Nero and Haloumi

Pumpkin, red rice, calvalo nero, haloumiMy favourite standby dishes come and go quite quickly. I guess this is due to mainly what is in season, in the fridge and how bothered I am to make an effort. Fatigue can set in early once I arrive home from work and find a glass of wine in my hand. This is recipe is easy, trust me.

I try to think of ways to add pickled red onion to everything at the moment. I pretty much love pickled anything, full stop. I can’t stand harsh raw onion in salads especially the continued after taste. Once you lightly pickle them they become softer, sweeter and brighter.  It’s my substitute for a dressing, it’s like my winter vinaigrette.

You could easily make substitutions for the other ingredients. Sweet potato instead of pumpkin, pearl barley would work well instead of the red rice and of course there are many substitutes for the cavolo nero. Mix it up with strong winter greens, like kale, or swiss chard. The haloumi is kind of a must for me although a persian feta could also do the trick I guess.Pumpkin, red rice and cavalo nero

Roast Pumpkin, Red Rice, Cavalo Nero and Haloumi 

3 wedges of pumpkin ( not a dry pumpkin, I like jap or butternut) leave the skin on, you can eat it.

125g of haloumi, sliced

4-5 leaves of cavolo nero or kale, washed stalks removed and roughly chopped

35g Thai red rice

60mls red wine vinegar

3/4  teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 small red onion

Set oven to 175°C. Stand the pumpkin up in a shallow tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven for 45 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how thick you cut the wedges.

Combine the red wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Warm on a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add onion. Leave to cool. You will only need a small amount of this. Keep remainder in the fridge for a week to use on other salads.

Place the rice in a small saucepan just covered with cold water (about an inch above usually suffices). Bring to the boil and reduce to a low simmer, covered for 12-15 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

When the pumpkin is nearly ready, grill the haloumi in a dry pan on med-high heat until golden brown. When you have turned the haloumi over add the cavolo nero to the other half of the pan to wilt.

Remove pumpkin from the oven and place in serving dish. Spoon over red rice, then the cavolo nero, a small amount of the pickled onion and the haloumi.

Serves one hungry person.

Roast Escarole, Beetroot and Walnut Quinoa

escaroleescaroleThere are some vegetables, actually quite alot, that I find beautiful. I often buy them then wonder what the heck I’m suppose to do with them, like escarole.

Last night I steamed some of the escarole in an attempt to retain it’s colour and make an effort to retain some nutrients. I didn’t like it at all, bitter, bitter, bitter. I don’t know what I expected, it is from the bitter leaf family. Maybe it was the kimchi I put with it, but I don’t think so. Now roasted, it’s a whole different story. It becomes sweeter, like most roasted things, bringing out it’s sugars. I really wasn’t sure it would work but it did.escarole

Quinoa was another little challenge. I have struggled to like this old seed but I think I’m finally there. If you’ve got some sitting in your cupboard or have given up trying to cook it, here are some tips.

Firstly you must to rinse it. This removes the saponins from it’s outer layer. This is their bitter defence mechanism, which (according to Harold McGee) will actually penetrate within the seed if you soak them for too long. The second tip is not to overcook it. It seems like there are a matter of moments between perfectly cooked quinoa and overcooked, irretrievable mush, so be attentive.

Roast escarole and beetroot quinoa

Roast Escarole, Beetroot and Walnut Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa

1 large beetroot

1/4 large head of escarole, roughly chopped and washed

1 medium carrot, sliced

a few radish, thickly sliced

1-2 spring onions finely sliced

handful of walnuts

marinated feta

lemon infused olive oil ( I use Colonna Granverde brand)

Set the oven to 180°C. Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast for about an hour or until cooked. While still warm remove skin and cut into bite size pieces.

Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve. I don’t have one so have to use a muslin lined sieve, which requires you to scrap some bits stuck onto the cloth when you transfer it to the saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Drain and use a fork it to fluff up.

Meanwhile roast the carrot, and radish with a little olive oil for about 35 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Cook the escarole in a baking tray with a little olive oil and salt, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Bake walnuts for 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the carrot, beetroot, radish, spring onion, escarole and quinoa. Add pepper and a swirl of lemon infused olive oil. Divided onto two serving dished and top with roasted chopped walnuts and crumbled feta.

Serves 2.

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Patties

Black bean and sweet potato patties I really have to work hard not to over cater for myself. I just love buying food. I love to have a full store cupboard with things I can have to hand if I want to make something on a whim. For the most part this is ok because these things last but as far as the fridge is concerned it needs some work. At times I open it in shock realisation that I have bought so much it’s chock-a-block full. I justify the over spending by saying to myself “it’s food, I’ll eat it”. Well you can only eat so much before it’s past it’s best.

black bean and sweet potato pattiesI also have ideas of things I want to make. I go out and buy the ingredients, then things happen, I get stuck at work or become too tired to make it. Then I forget what I had in mind to make and it becomes just another thing in the fridge I have to use up. Sound familiar to anyone?

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Patties with Yoghurt Coriander Sauce

1/4 cup unhulled millet

300g cooked black beans or 400g tin black beans drained and rinsed

400g sweet potato, steamed

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon chipotle paste

breadcrumbs

yoghurt

coriander

1/2 lemon

Pop the millet in a saucepan over high heat with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to the boil then simmer,covered, for about 8-10 minutes until cooked. Drain and leave to the side. Into a large food processor add the spring onions, garlic and black beans, whiz to break up the black beans but not too much a little texture is good. Add the sweet potato, chipotle, and millet. Whiz until combined. If you have time, shape into patties, cover with breadcrumbs and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Otherwise it’s fine if you want to continue on. Fry them in a non-stick pan over high-medium heat with a little oil ( I like rice bran oil for this).

To make the sauce just spoon into a bowl as much yoghurt as you think you would like, then add more. Add to it the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper and some chopped fresh coriander. Always taste and adjust.

Makes 8 large patties.

Confit Duck with Broad Beans, Peas and Pancetta

Sunday lunch in my family has always upheld been as the best meal of the week, mainly due to Mum’s roast I think. A quick Sunday lunch with my brother still needs to be a bit special and the duck recipe in this months Gourmet Traveller fits the bill perfectly.

It was the first time I had made confit duck, so easy peasy. The only thing you have to watch in this recipe is that you cook the duck on the stovetop at the lowest heat possible. I think I panicked and let it get to a low simmer a few times and I thought it ended up a little overcooked. I did a one stop shop for this and they only had pancetta, not speck, so that’s what I used. It’s a acceptable substitute.

Otherwise this is an easy recipe, from Press Food and Wine in Adelaide, that I would make again. You can find the recipe on the Gourmet Traveller website here.

Beetroot-Cured Salmon and Homemade Bagels

Beetroot cured salmon….for such a long time I have wanted to make this. I don’t know why it has taken so many years for me to get around to it, because it’s so simple. I like the idea of curing my own salmon and the dark pink hue of the beetroot looks so beautiful against the coral salmon. Make sure your salmon is fresh. I’m a bit paranoid so I went to the fish markets.

Now the bagels, on the other hand, are part of my monthly Gourmet Traveller Challenge. Never had I made them before but I was so pleased with the results, I went off to work singing (now that’s a first!).

Beetroot-Cured Salmon

300g fresh thick salmon fillet

50g brown sugar

50g sea salt

5-6 black peppercorn seeds, crushed

1 small beetroot, grated

1 small bunch dill

Mix the sugar, salt, crushed peppercorns, beetroot and half the dill finely chopped. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in a non reactive tray (use ceramic, glass or plastic). Make sure all the bones are removed, pack the salmon with the curing mix. Cover with cling film and sit anther tray on top of the salmon, inside the tray and weigh down with two tins of whatever is to hand. Leave refrigerated for 1-3 days. Wash off the curing mix, dry and top with the remaining chopped dill.

To make the bagels I followed the recipe in the September issue of Gourmet Traveller. If you don’t have a copy it’s online here. They are pretty simple to make and very satisfying not to buy the shiny perfectly smooth round supermarket ones. Instead you will have real ones that look homemade, which is much more impressive.

To serve thinly slice the salmon and serve with toasted bagels. Serve with aïoli, crème fraîche with freshly grated horseradish, sour cream or whatever you fancy.

Braised Duck, Beans and Bacon

Ahh The July French Issue Gourmet Traveller Challenge landed on my doorstep halfway through June. Don’t you love it when a new one arrives and I used it well.

At the beginning of July I held a 6 course dinner party at a friend’s house. The story goes like this….

My friend, Louise “Would you like to come over for a dinner party on 7th July?”,  Me “sounds fabulous”

Louise “lets meet to plan the menu”, Me “sure, what did you have in mind to make?”

Louise “well I thought you’d have some ideas, it’s all about you and what you’d like to cook for us”  Oh I get it now, sneaky girl. Louise bought all the ingredients and all I had to do was to come and cook! Such a great deal. Sneaky girl, she knew I’d love it.

We ended up doing the main course together and made duck with puy lentils and prunes from a past Gourmet Traveller issue, the recipe is on the website here. It may have been the fact she bought the duck from Terry Wright Butchers, but it turned out so well, falling off the bone. I will be making this one again.

I didn’t take pictures on the night, I needed to make something else so you knew I completed this months challenge. Seeing the month was flying, as usual, and life was so busy I thought I would do something simple.

I made this fish soup recipe by Colman Andrews, well he describes it as a recipe a friend used to cook for him in his tiny Marais flat. It was awful. Sorry, it was. I’m not even going to put up the picture of it. It was that bad. BUT voilà….

I got there in the end, cooking a braised duck, beans and bacon recipe. I guess it’s a take on cassuolet minus the Toulouse sausage. It’s a simple recipe, found here on the website.

Tips and Tricks

I added a few more ingredients to the recipe. When softening the onions I also added a diced stick of celery and a diced small carrot. It’s a rich dish and I think it benefits from the milder flavour.

There is alot of liquid in this dish, I think I would only add enough water to just cover the duck. I threw in a dash of Noilly Pratt to deglaze the pan after searing the duck. If it wasn’t frozen in the depths of my freezer I would have added a Toulouse sausage as well. And yes I do have them in my freezer, I love them.

Oh yeah, I also added finely chopped parsley to the breadcrumbs, purely to add some colour. Just be careful when you sprinkle them on the top before baking that you concentrate them on top of the duck. If you put them over the liquid and beans they soften into it making bread soup, unless you like that sort of thing of course.