Some dishes I chose because they read well and/or have a good combination of flavours. Others, because the story they have attached to it. This is one I picked after reading Yotam’s editorial. It just explained so well what brunch should be about: “It’s a long meal that takes up a large chunk of the middle of the day, a proper celebration of food, but without the fanfare and worries that come with a full-blown dinner party“. Never better said… Every now and again, we get together for brunch, who tends to end up into a several hours long marathons, usually ending when the host runs out of bubbly. Or coffee. Or both…. Happy memories – and hopefully many more to come.
As usual, it was a super dish. A bit laborious, but nevertheless worthwhile the effort. This was served with (fried/baked) eggs to order. Still feel a bit insecure to venture into poached eggs, as the original recipe called for.
Aubergine, potato, tomato (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)
- 4 medium tomatoes cut into 1cm dices
- 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
- 1½ tbsp hot savoury chilli sauce (Yotam recommends Sriracha, I used piri piri)
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
- 250ml olive oil
- About 300ml sunflower oil
- 600g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices
- 80g tahini paste
- 2½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
(1 onion was omitted for humanitarian reasons. A. is extremely allergic to them)
Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a medium bowl and add vinegar, parsley, hot sauce and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside.
Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and pat dry.
In a 26cm sauté pan, put 200mL of olive oil and as much sunflower oil as you need to bring it 1cm up the sides of the pan. Place on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the aubergine in batches and fry for three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergine. Remove the left over oil and wipe down the pan.
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for three minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry. Add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil to the skillet and place on a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Put the tahini, 60mL of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency. Spoon half the sauce over the potatoes and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle with sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice. Bring to the table in the pan.
Definitely, not my Mother’s pasteis de bacalhau [codfish pastries]… Still, a very good effort for half the calories and (almost) all the flavour.
On a side note – and because I don’t see myself doing codfish pastries Portuguese style anytime soon, I better say it now before I forget it for ever. My Mother and I have kept having a surrealistic conversation every time I went back to visit my family. “So, is there anything special you want me to cook for you?”, she would ask. “Not really… unless maybe pasteis de bacalhau”, I would say. “No, no, no…. anything but that.. it is such a hassle”, would invariably be her reply, in a tone which didn’t allow any further witty remarks. If I remember well, the only time she has cooked them herself it was when I admitted I went for dinner with a friend whose Mother had graced with a batch of homemade pastries. “What!”, she said. “No no need to go out to have pastries!!! I’ll cook them for you tomorrow!!!!!!”. And she did, much to everybody’ surprise and delight. I almost feel tempted to send her this pic in case she decides to prove me wrong and cook this once again. I should probably by a roll-eyes moment, followed by some scorn over using paprika and forgetting the parsley.
Fish cakes (adapted from a Hairy Dieters’ recipe found on the GoodFoodChannel)
- 275 g potatoes peeled and cut into rough 3cm chunks
- 300 g cod, unskinned
- 100 g smoked haddock, skin removed
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ lemons, finely zested
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- Enough olive oil for spraying
- 1 large egg
- 50 g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.
Drain the potatoes well in a colander, tip them back into the pan and mash them until smooth. Put the mash in a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper.
In the meanwhile, put the cod fish fillets in a large saucepan, placing the thicker fillets on the bottom. Cover with cold water and add the bay leaf. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately take the pan off the heat and leave the fish to stand for 5 minutes. Once the fish is poached, drain the fish really well in a colander and break it into large chunks. Be careful to discard the skin and any bones as you go.
Put the all the fish – cod and haddock – in the same bowl as the mashed potato. Stir in the lemon zest and spring onions with a large wooden spoon, trying not to break up the fish too much.
Divide the mixture into 4 balls and flatten each ball to about 3cm thick. If the mixture is too soft to shape into balls, cover and leave it to cool for a while.
Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika in a large bowl. Dip a fishcake into the egg, coating it on all sides. Allow any excess egg to drip off the fishcake and then place it in the breadcrumbs, turning it and pressing firmly to get an even coating of crumbs on all sides. Prepare the remaining cakes in the same way. Leave them to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Use them within 24 hours, though.
To cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 220C. Cover a baking tray with parchment and slightly grease it with olive oil Place the fish cakes on it and brush (or spray) them with the olive oil. Bake them for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve with vegetables or a lightly dressed salad and some lemon wedges for squeezing
Perfect for a winter meal or a Sunday roast….
- 500g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 500g parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 100ml milk
- 50g butter
- bay leaf
- nutmeg to taste
- salt & pepper
Put the carrots and parsnips together in a pan with salted cold water and bring to boil. Cook until tender.
Put the potatoes in another pan with salted water, bring to boil and cook until tender.
Drain the vegetables leave to steam off for a couple of minutes.
Put the carrots and the parsnips on a food processor with half the butter and blend to a creamy purée. Alternatively, you can use a hand held mixer.
In the same pan you used to cook the potatoes, warm the milk and what is left of the butter. Then add the potatoes and mash until they are smooth.
Combine both mashed vegetables adding plenty of seasoning and the nutmerg. Mix until you have a creamy golden mash.
Blitz the carrots & parsnips in a food processor with a knob of butter and enough milk to give a smooth finish.
Warm the milk and remaining butter in a large saucepan and mash the potatoes using a mouli or potato ricer into the pan. Stir the potatoes into the milky butter and add the carrot and parsnip puree, season well with salt and pepper and mix well to incorporate.