It is also a good make-ahead dish. Just prepare the rhubarb and keep it on the fridge until you need it.
Rhubarb and orange smoothie (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
- 2–3 rhubarb stalks, about 175g, cut into 2cm lengths
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 3–4 tsp honey
- 3–4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the orange zest and juice, honey and 2 tbsp of water. Stir over a low heat until the honey dissolves.
Cover the pan and stew the rhubarb very gently for about 8 minutes, until it softens. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. Switch off the heat and leave to cool completely. (You can, of course, prepare the rhubarb a day ahead and keep it chilled overnight.)
Put the rhubarb mixture in a blender with the yoghurt and whiz until smooth. Taste and add a little more honey, if you like. Pour into 2 glasses and drink straight away.
Ratatouille is an ideal make-ahead recipe. After all it tastes even better the day after it is cooked. Combined with eggs on toast, it makes for a hearty brunch that could easily work as a light supper. Or, a snack, if you must. If you don’t like the bread option, you can also heat it in a skillet until it is hot and then make wells in the vegetable mixture. Just break one egg into each and cover the pan with the lid until they are set (about 10 minutes). So many possibilities…
Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs (adapted from a recipe by Zoe Nathan found in Food and Wine Magazine)
- 150mL cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (about 3/4 of a cup)
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 2cm dice
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- One 350g eggplant, seeds cut out and flesh cut into 2 cm dice (about 2 cups
- 2 small zucchini, cut into 2cm dice (2 cups)
- 2 large red onions, cut into 2cm dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2cm dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper
- eggs to taste
- Six 2cm-thick slices of rustic bread, toasted
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, 1 garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook the tomatoes over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, (about 5 minutes). Scrape the tomatoes into a medium saucepan and discard the garlic clove. Wipe out the skillet. Repeat with the eggplant, zucchini, onions and red bell pepper, cooking each vegetable separately in 2 tablespoons of oil with 1 garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt until just tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes per vegetable. Add the cooked vegetables to the tomatoes in the saucepan. Add the bay leaf, 1/3 cup of water to the saucepan with the vegetables. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Season the ratatouille with salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Crack how many eggs you want into the skillet and fry until the whites are firm and the yolks are runny, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a plate, season with salt and pepper and keep warm. To serve, spoon the ratatouille onto the toasts and top with the eggs. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper and serve.
The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season. Over and over again… The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015. Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.
Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 red grapefruits
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.
A confession: I have been looking for gluten free recipes as of late. Apparently, i am gluten intolerant according to my doctor. Considering I am also lactose intolerant, this is making my breakfast more and more difficult. Even muesli *may* be an issue – especially if you live in the country who invented the thing and swears by it. But, one manages to find alternatives and eventually find happiness in dishes like this. For sure there is life beyond gluten…
Strawberry, nectarine and walnuts bake (adapted from a recipe found in the Minimalist Baker blog)
- 4 cups strawberries and nectarines, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup (app 85g) oats
- 1/2 cup (app 45g) almond meal
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup (app 50g) of light brown sugar
- pinch sea salt
- 60g of cold butter
- Plain yoghurt to serve
Preheat oven to 180oC (350cF).
Butter and flower a baking dish.
Chop the fruit in big chunks. Reserve.
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them until the butter is well incorporate (probably best done by hand).
Put the fruit in the previously buttered dish, making sure it well spread. On top of it, add a layer of the flour and butter mix
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.
Let it cool. Serve with a dollop of yughurt
Your sunday brunch cannot get much better than this – this is a warm, comforting and tasty dish, which while please the toughest crowds. For extra points, the pepper and tomato sauce can be made in advance. Just a technical tip, though. Do not forget to cover the pan while the eggs are poaching. The steam will set the white on the top of egg leaving the yolk runny and golden, just like you want it.
Gordon Ramsay’s North African eggs (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course) .
- 2 shallots finely diced (replaced by 2 medium likes finely sliced as one of the guests is allergic)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon of flaked piri-piri (or red chilli finely sliced)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 5 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion
Heat the oil in a heavy based pan until is piping hot. Add the chopped shallots, season with salt and pepper and let them sweat for 5 minutes. When the onions are soft, add the sliced peppers and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes more
Add the cumin seeds, garlic and chilli, give it a good stir to coat them in oil. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, and the then add the tomatoes.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of a thick sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make 4 wells in the vegetable mixture and break an egg into each. Cover the pan and poach the eggs until set, about 10 minutes. Scatter the surface with the chopped coriander and a good grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Maybe not the real soda bread, but still a very good version it. Actually, perfect to eat with a bowl of soup or with some salad.
Buckwheat cheddar soda bread (adapted from Dan Lepard’s column in the Guardian).
- Makes one large loaf
- 300g buckwheat flour
- 50g potato flour (potato starch; i used potato mash flakes)
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 3 tsp mustard powder or curry powder
- 125g strong cheddar, coarsely grated
- 2 medium eggs
- 50g low-fat yoghurt
- 200ml cold milk
Put the buckwheat and potato flours into a bowl and then rub in the butter. Add the baking powder, mustard powder and cheddar and toss through well.
Beat the eggs, yoghurt and milk together , then pour the mix on the dry ingredients and stir well to a soft dough. Line a baking tray with nonstick paper and spoon the mixture on as one big lump in the middle. Dust the top with buckwheat flour then pat it into a rectangle about 3cm high.
Cover the top with more grated cheese and poppy seeds, cut with a knife into 8-12 pieces, then bake at 220C/200C fan/425F/gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes until the cheese on top begins to brown. Remove from the tray and paper and leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tortilla or frittata? You can go on for hours debating over the correct name for this dish… still, my strong recommendation would be to eat it straight away from the over with a bit of toasted bread and a dollop of yogurt.
Pea Tortilla with Mint and Yogurt (adapted from a recipe by Francis Mallmann found in Food and Wine magazine)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 250g of frozen baby peas—thawed, drained and patted dry
- 1 1/2 cups (=350 mL) plain Greek-style yogurt
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the griller.
In a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the peas and cook over moderate heat until warm, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the yogurt with the eggs, mint, salt and pepper until smooth.
Pour the eggs over the peas and cook over moderately high heat until set on the bottom and around the edges, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil 20cm from the heat for about 3 minutes, until the top of the tortilla is set and lightly golden in spots. Slide the tortilla onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve with the remaining yogurt.
A no brainer for brunches… very easy to do and always a smashing success. Add a little bit of rum for a more festive occasion.
Breakfast pina colada (adapted from a recipe by Allegra McEvedy found in the Guardian)
- 1 400g can of pineapple pieces (no skin or core)
- 6-8 leaves Thai basil
- 400 mL of coconut milk
- 400 mL of coconut water
- Shredded coconut to taste
Put the pineapple and basil in the blender and top up with half coconut milk and half coconut water. Blend to form a liquid.
Taste and adjust the flavours if necessary. Add the shredded coconut.
Garnish with basil and serve
The name reads really well – the sort of high maintenance dish that requires hours of dedicated work in the kitchen. The truth is that it is a lot easier to bake than it sounds… After all, it is a slightly modified pound cake, with 2 very easy elements on the side. The cake itself has a pleasantly crumbly and grainy texture, ideal to combine with the rosemary infused honey. The creamy mascarpone sauce just makes everything come together. Try it with a double expresso for even better results…
Polenta cake with mascarpone and rosemary (adapted from a Eddie Russel recipe found in Food and Wine Magazine)
- 1 3/4 cup (=220g) flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup (=65g) polenta
- Pinch of salt
- 2 sticks (=220g) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (110g) of sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 cup (=225g) mascarpone, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (200mL) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
Preheat the oven to 325°F (= 190°C). Butter and flour a metal loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the polenta and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating the batter at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn the cake onto a rack and let it cool until warm.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the water and rosemary sprigs and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs. While the cake is still warm, lightly brush the top of the cake with the rosemary syrup.
In a medium bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the cream, sugar and vanilla-bean seeds.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into thick slices and transfer to plates. Top each slice with a large dollop of mascarpone, drizzle with the rosemary syrup and serve.
Can gluten free cake be as good as “normal” cake? Well, it depends… in this case, it was. It is also a very long list of ingredients to make it taste like and feel like cake. Worthwhile the effort? Well, yes. It was pretty good cake, with a unusual texture.
The beasts My lovely co-workers had it all in a single meeting… I still have to let them know this was a specially healthy version of what they usually get…
Carrot cake (gluten free; adapted from Dias com Mafalda blog)
- 100g of brown or unrefined sugar
- 100mL of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 3 slightly beaten eggs
- 3 grated carrots
- 1 grated apple
- 100g of crated cocunut
- 100g raisin
- the zest of one orange and 1 tablespoon of orange juice
- 175g gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 of powdered clove.
Grease a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180oC
Combine the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs with wooden spoon. Fold in the grated carrots, apple and coconut together with the raisins, the orange zest and juice. On top of this mix, sift the flour, the spices, baking-powder and baking soda.
Put the batter in the tin and transfer to the oven. Let it bake for about 20min. Test with a knife before taking it out – it should come out dry.
Take it out from the tin while still hot, and let it cool down before serving.