A dish specially dedicated to B., who passionately loves quinoa. (not). Much for his despair, quinoa invaded the summer salad world and then slowly start to creep up into brunch domains and now makes an appearance in pudding-land. Actually, this is a sort of upside down deconstructed crumble (minus butter) also ideal for a brunch menu… It is very tasty, filling and it can even be considered * gasp * super healthy.
Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake (adapted from a recipe found in fitsugar.com)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 apples, peeled, diced
- 1/4 cup (app 50g)raisins
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (500mL) milk with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
- 1/4 (50mL) cup maple syrup
- 1/3 (app 75g) cup almonds, chopped
Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lightly grease a baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into the greased dish. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.
In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.
Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.
Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.
Veni, vidi, vici: saw it on the Guardian on saturday, bought the ingredients on sunday and served it for Easter brunch on Monday. It was a spot on dish, very much in the spirit of the season. In case you wonder, it is an Yotam Ottolengi’s take on an Italian dish with lots of modifications to adapt it to what was left on the supermarket. I was getting a bit apprehensive as I kept replacing ingredients by similar thing, but, it all worked very well together… It was a process to do it, but it is a lovely dish, worthwhile the calories and the effort.
Torta pasqualina (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 500g Swiss chard, stalks removed and roughly chopped, leaves cut into 1cm slices
- 600g spinach leaves
- 6 sticks celery, trimmed and finely sliced
- 20g Bärlauch (wild garlic)
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 250g ricotta
- 100g grated Emmentaler and Gruyère cheese mix
- 9 eggs
- Salt and black pepper
- 500g all-butter puff pastry
- Plain flour, for dustin
Heat the oven to 180C.
Put a large sauté pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and starting to colour. Add the chard stalks and celery, cover and cook for five minutes. Stir in the chard leaves and spinach. Cook for five minutes more, until the leaves have wilted and the stalks and celery have softened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel or muslin and pour in the contents of the pan. Draw the sides of the towel around the filling and squeeze out the juice: you want the mixture to be as dry as possible. Transfer the contents of the towel to a bowl and add the herbs, spices, cheeses, three eggs, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well and set aside.
In case you don’t have a prepared pastry, roll half of it out pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a 30cm square that’s 2.5mm thick. Transfer to a 20cm-wide spring-form cake tin with 7cm high sides. Press the pastry into the edges of the tin and trim off most of the overhang. Roll the remaining pastry into a 25cm square lid and set aside.
Tip the cheese and greens mixture into the cake tin and use a spoon to create five egg-sized holes. Break an egg into each hole, then lay the lid on top. Trim the edges, then pinch the lid and base together to make sure it’s secure.
Whisk the remaining egg, brush it over the lid, then prick a few times with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked and golden brown. Leave to cool for half an hour, and serve warm or at room temperature.
In North Africa, it is called shakshuka – which literally mean mixture in Arabic. Basically, it is eggs poached in a mildly spicy sauce made from slow-cooked leek, bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes, spiced up with saffron, cumin and cayenne. It is a bit laborious, but you can prepare it well in advance and keep it in the fridge until the mobile calorie intake unit friends show up for duty. In any case, it is the perfect dish for a brunch, packed with flavours, sweet and savoury at the same time… Just serve with bread.
Note: the onions were replaced for leeks, as one of the mobile calorie intake unit is allergic to onions.
Poached eggs with pepper, tomato and saffron (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Olive oil to taste
- 2 large leeks
- 2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cut into 2cm strips
- 20g of unrefined sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
- 30 mls chopped parsley
- 30 mls chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
- 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- a few thread of saffron
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
- up to 250ml water
- 8 free-range eggs
- salt and black pepper
In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Remember to taste and adjust the seasoning as you go.
Remove from the heat, remove the bay leafs and transfer to a a large bowl. Set aside. The vegetabe mix can be prepared well in advance, and kept in the fridge.
When you are ready to serve, put the pepper mix in a a frying pan large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place it on a medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with a lids. Cook on a very gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve
You cannot go wrong with an über buttery sweet dessert. Adding fruit makes it vaguely healthy, even…
Apple and walnut crumble (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
For the filling
- 100g roasted walnuts
- 1.25kg apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
- 50-100g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
For the crumble
- 225g plain flour
- A pinch of sea salt
- 200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 150g caster, granulated or soft brown sugar
- 75g medium oatmeal
- 100g grounded almonds (optional)
Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in an oven preheated to 180C for about 5-7 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through, until just beginning to colour and develop aroma. Leave to cool, then chop very roughly.
To prepare the crumble, you can your own hands or use a food processor, at it fits better. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers (or pulse briefly in the processor) until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
Stir in the sugar, oatmeal and ground almonds, if using. If you prefer to have a chunky crumble, squeeze a few handfuls in your fist to make lumps
Put the apples in a large bowl, sprinkle over the sugar, to taste. Add the walnuts and the cinnamon, if using, and mix roughly. Spread in a pie dish or other ovenproof dish, getting the fruit as compact as you can.
Scatter the crumble over the apples in a fairly even layer and bake for 40-45 minutes, until browned on top.
Serve hot, with cream, custard or ice cream; or, once it is cold, serve it with a thick, rich yoghurt.
Sweet and rich: the perfect drink to start off a brunch. And dead easy to do… Choose thinnish full fat natural yoghurt for best results.
Mango lassi (adapted from The Food Network)
- 500g of full fat plain yoghurt
- 500 mL milk
- 1 ripe mango.
- Sugar to taste
- Groung cardamom to taste
- Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 5 minutes.
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend it for about 5min. Adjust the sugar if necessary. Poor into individual glasses and serve.
I always associated jam making with huge undertakings, which would take days, if not weeks, to complete. Nothing a single girl could make – and eat – on her own. But, slowly by slowly, I start noticing quick jam recipes, with relatively small size. Like this one, which can be done in less than 1 hour, with almost no fuss what so ever. I have to add I am not a great fan of super sugary food, but this is the kind of thing you can add to your yoghurt for a sweet treat… (Not that may) calories definitely worthwhile taking.
Berry Quick Jam (adapted from theKitchn)
- 350g fresh raspberries
- 250g fresh blackberries
- 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
- 200g raw cane sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar, and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit.
Transfer the berries to a heavy pot and bring to boil over a medium heat. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. When almost done, the jam will still be loose, but should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove the jam from the heat and pour into a clean glass jars, cap them and allow it to cool completely.
Perfect brunch dish… can be made in advance, is delicious and has the exact amount of richness for a semi-festive meal. It has nothing but very simple and humble ingredients, which work well together, for a very versatile dish. Leeks are in season, even…
Leek, gruyère and thyme pie (as seen in The Guardian)
- 1 large baking potato, cut into slices
- 3 medium leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
- A knob of butter
- Salt and black pepper
- 20ml cream
- 150g grated gruyère cheese
- 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
- 500g all-butter puff pastry, rolled
- 1 egg, for washing
Heat an oven to 180C. Cook the baking potato in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and set aside.
Cook the leeks over a medium heat in the butter until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the potato flesh with the leeks, cream, gruyère and thyme leaves and season well.
Place one circle of puff pastry on top of a 25cm nonstick pie dish and press into the base – there will be an overhang, which can be trimmed off.
Spoon the leek mixture into the prepared dish and place the other pastry disk on top. Crimp around the sides to seal, then brush the top with egg and make an incision in the middle of the lid to let the steam escape while it’s in the oven.
Cook the pie for 30‑40 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and crisp. Rest for a few minutes before serving.
Truth to be told, this is far cry from the true chouquettes you can buy in Paris. The multicolour beads of sugar are missing, to start with, they are too big, they were not as airy as they should have been. But, also truth to be said, while these chouquetes are a travesty of the real ones, they were still delicious. They came out as small slightly sweet breads, ideal to eat with a little butter and ham or cheese. No complaints heard from the mobile calorie intake units, at least…
- 120mL all fat milk
- 120mL water
- 120g of butter without salt, cut in cubes
- 2 spoons of sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 120g all purpose flower
- 3 tablespoons of coloured sugar beads (or regular sugar)
Pre heat the stove to 220 oC.
Line two baking trays with parchment paper
In a large saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt on a low temperate. Once the it is well mixed, bring to a gently boil and remove immediately from the heat. Add the flour spoon by spoon dstir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan. It should feel like a tight dough, with a texture similar to marzipan.
Quickly add 2 eggs and mix until well incorporated. Add the remaining two eggs and mix until you have a sticky soft mixture.
Using two teaspoons, make small mounds of dough, leaving enough space between them (you can also use a piping bag with a plain tip). Sprinkle with the granulated sugar or the coloured beads.
Put the trays in the stove one at a time and let cook for about 12min at 220oC. Then lower the heat to 200oC and let the chouquettes bake with a the over door slightly open (using a wooden spoon to hold the door will do).
Even food bloggers have really bad kitchen days… Everything seemed going OK until I bumped into the mother of all disaster recipes. Without going into too much detail, the whole thing ended up in the trash bin. Then, I realised I was missing the key ingredient for the next bake. In despair, I turned to google to guide my way out of this mess. “Tea and fruit bread”, said the oracle. “You cannot get this one wrong”. She was right: it is super easy, quick and more importantly, fool-proof. A couple of hours later everything was fine again…
On a side note, this is very close to what my Grandmother used call English cake and insist on buying every Christmas. Us kiddies never thought the point of it – all that crystallised fruit was unappealing. We would patiently wait for it get too dry to eat, so my Mother could convert into a much more appetising bread pudding made with custard.
Tea and fruit bread (adapted from a recipe found in nigella.com)
- 1 cup black tea
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 250g white flour
- 2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 125g of caster sugar
- 1 large beaten egg
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
Grease a loaf tin (about 650g)
Preheat oven to 180oC
Put the fruit in a small bowl, and pour in the tea. Let it soak overnight if possible, or until the fruit is swollen.
In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, egg and marmalade. Then, fold in the fruit and any tea left in the bowl. Mix thoroughly
Put into loaf tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour
Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin
Just to keep up with recently acquired superstitions, the first post of the year is a lentil dish. It may sound a bit too healthy, too sensible and maybe even bland, but it is far from it. The few spices it has, make it fragrant, flavourful and delicious… For bonus points, it has something bright red on it, for an extra bit of good luck.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 200g lentils
- 100g of long grain rice
- 800 mL vegetable stock
- 2 tomatoes quartered
- plain yoghurt mixed with ground cinnamon and cumin
- vegetable sto
- freshly ground salt and black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan until it is pipping hot. Drop in the sliced onions and add salt and pepper. Cook for about 10min, until soft and golden. Add the garlic, the cinnamon and cumin. Cook for another 2min until fragrant.
Add the lentils and the rice. Mix until they are covered with the spices and the onion. Poor in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about 30min until the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
Serve with the quartered tomatoes and a dollop of yoghurt.