Posts Tagged 'basil'

strawberry, halloumi and basil salad

3 punnets of strawberries for 6 dollars. i had no choice. and besides a girl should always have a punnet or 3 of strawberries up her sleeve. but upon my arrival home i realised something would have to be done with them. they’re not so good. as two fat ladies once said they breed the flavour out of strawberries these days. apparently its the fault of the dutch…they breed flavour out of everything. and so to get them to delicious state, something had to be done. i saw jamie do this once with his strawberries and if nothing else, and for no other reason, the colours look pretty. strawberries apparently dont always need to be sweet. im not going to lie, sprinkling on the salt and pepper felt wrong and i had to close my eyes to eat one. but they were good. better than they were in their original form. and anything with halloumi will work – because as snow once said you cant really go wrong with fried cheese. so here it is. pretty as a picture.


350g strawberries chopped (little bite-sized choppings)

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

salt and pepper

handful of basil

250g halloumi

mixed salad leaves. the pretty ones.

first mix the strawberries in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. stir and let mascerate for a while while you do your other jobs.

cut up halloumi – into 6-8 thin slices. press a basil leaf onto each slice of halloumi.

put pan on heat with a few drops of olive oil and put halloumi in, with the basil facing down. cook for about a minute on either side. remove and put aside on a plate til you ready to go. keep away from any nearby halloumi loving mentalists.

finally toss the salad leaves into the bowl with strawberries and mix to combine. then assembly. halloumi onto plate like so:

leaves ontop

and strawberries to fin… with a final drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar because obviously.


tomato and twice cheese tart

well i never did done make a savoury tart. never wanted to. except that bits a lie. i did make one once before. and it was the same tart. different recipe. it was unpleasant from start to the very bitter, messy end. i followed a recipe about which i had serious doubts. it was a pastry that was neither chilled nor blind baked – and into this inevitable disastrous pastry i was told to place a lot of tomatoes. tomatoes. the most soggifying food stuff i ever known. the entire time i muttered under my breath that this is not going to work. that it simply coudnt work. i had no faith whatsoever that this pastry wouldnt be a soggy mess. being the indefatigable empiricist i am however, i continued on. and being the self-congratulatory pedant i am, i was proven right. this time, rather than wading through the miasmic marsh of food blogs – i decided to make it up myself. i used my usual shortcrust pasty but omitted the sugar. i added a lot of salt, pepper and some oregano. and it worked like a dream. thank you to the good people of the river cafe. i chilled it. i blind baked it. and then i even brushed the base with some egg and put it back into the oven for 1 minute to seal it…so burned i was by my previous experience. it was good and tasted like summer in the dead of winter. it made me happy and self-satisfied.


1 quatity shortcrust pastry (leave out the sugar and add 2tsp oregano, good pinch or two of salt, and pepper)

10 tomatoes – whatever you can get. i like them on the vine. and i like ones i can truss to be good. sigh.

2-3 garlic cloves finely sliced

bunch of basil

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1tsp dried oregano

pinch salt and pepper

250g mozzarella and goats cheese respectively (or whatever cheese you want. haloumi could be very interesting)

i also threw in a handful of sundried tomatoes. im not scared of hepatitis and i like them.

slice tomatoes into rounds. put into a bowl. add sundried tomatoes if you are using them. add the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano. tear in some basil. i also put about a quarter of the cheese in too – to let it marinade for a while in the juices and i think i did a good thing. add olive oil and stir to combine. i let this sit while i did my pastry so it could get better and better and then better again.

then i pulled out my chilling pastry – which looked like it was going to be a bit of a disaster. i blind baked it. at the last minute i took it out of the oven, brushed it with some egg wash and put it back in the oven for a minute. its meant to seal it so things dont leak out and get soggy. didnt really work but i tried…and thats all anyone can ask of me.

then i put the first tomato on.

and then some. dotted with cheese.

into oven. 200 degrees. 20 minutes. pizza pie tart. tots delicious.


my photographer was eaten by a giant pizza. now there are some extremely serious problems, including but not exclusive to: does anyone know how to turn this thing on? to name a few others, white balance, zoom, digital zoom (never to be used or touched), focus, manual focus, autofocus, i cant focus, i hate this thing, why is it flashing, who cares about a light source, and i just want to make my art. sadly the camera self destruct button turned out to be a jammie dodger biscuit and though delicious, solved none of the aforementioned problems. to make matters worse there was this little conceptual nugget i had to grapple with: how do i pour water into a well of flour at the same time as taking an in-focus shot of proceedings with a highly caffeinated, shaky hand? well the results are apparent here. apologies in advance for the quality of the images but im just one man, one man with a remarkable inability to use a camera. given that this troubled mind found itself cooking in troubled circumstances the results were not all i had dreamt them to be. yes, what you see here is a base that is simply too fat. there i said it. i fucked up. and im sorry. better pizza, better photos and better quality control coming soon…so please hang about.


500g ’00’ flour

tsp salt

7g dried yeast

tsp sugar

2tbsp olive oil

325ml luke warm water


whatever you (jam)fancy. one here was made with:

thinly spread tomato sauce

thinly sliced zucchini

thinly sliced chorizo

handful of basil

some mozzarella torn over the top

for those less meat inclined there was also

thin smearing of tomato sauce

sliced cherry tomatoes

handful of basil

torn mozzarella

olive oil

first sieve the flour and salt onto your bench (work bench if you are so lucky). make a well in the centre. then put the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil into a jug and mix to combine. let this sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. then pour the yeast mixture into the centre of the well and slowly, with a fork, bring in the flour until it is all incorporated. knead until the dough is springy and smooth to the touch. then place dough in oiled and floured bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it prove for an hour until it has doubled in sized.

after an hour turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knock it back (bang the air out of it). divide it into 4 little balls and roll out your pizzas. about .5cm thick. place the base on an oiled and floured piece of tin foil (or a pizza stone if you have one) and then put whatever you like on top. give it some salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil over the top. put it into an oven preheated to as hot as it will go and cook for about ten minutes until crispy and golden.

buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil

theres really no point introducting much here. anything ill say will have been said before. but i will just say that this: dinner arose out of a need for beauty. the visual content of my day consisted of this. my gastronomic experience consisted of a bucket of anemic, undercooked and yet overcooked, floury hot chips from a student union employee who was lacking entirely in personality and joie de chip. if thats not enough im parenting a ferment that grows fouler by the day. so there was a sudden and pressing need to redress an imbalance and in a world devoid of beauty, return some small reminder that it still exists.

ingredients (yes its cheese and tomato but it still takes love and thought. any fool can tear some mozzarella and call it ‘sexy’ and slap it on an earthy wooden board and call it ‘rustic’ but heres what makes it taste better than it looks)

250g buffalo mozzarella

2 ripe tomatoes (and i threw in a couple of cherry tomatoes because i could)

marinade ingredients

grated zest of half lemon

15 basil leaves sliced very finely lengthways

2tsp oregano

4tsp good olive oil

1 garlic clove crushed

salt and pepper

put all marinade ingredients together and mix to combine. break up mozzarella, smear the marinade over the top and let it sit for 20 minutes. meanwhile cut tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. serve next to the mozzarella and give final drizzle of olive oil. beauty restored.

sweet potato & goats cheese galette

5 more sheets of puff pastry and 5 hours to kill. it wasnt until very recently that i felt something other than contempt for puff pastry. it was always synonymous with everything i find objectionable and it always produced something substandard. but after having made an exception the other week on account of an unprecedented pastry craving, and left with 7 sheets of the stuff, it was by necessity that i was impelled to delve, albeit tentatively, deeper into this foreign world of magical pastry – pre-made, pre-packaged, and pre-destined to be crap. much to my consternation, i was proven wrong. the uses for puff pastry are as infinite as the misuses of it. yet being a deeply stubborn individual i couldnt shake my 25 year long disdain for these pale, anemic looking frozen sheets of “pastry”. the fact that they were sitting in the freezer was making me irritable and i had a persistent sense that i needed to get rid of them. sooner rather than later. one acceptable use was a tarte tatin – because with that much butter and sugar you cant really go wrong. caramelised pears could be served on a bed of durian fruits and i dont think you could go past them. but 5 stubborn sheets remained and in a manic and inspired moment of revelation i recalled a galette i had read about in ottolenghi. puff pastry yes. but mitigated by sweet potato, goats cheese, chili, garlic and thyme. it seemed to be an extremely apt use of the pastry and my time. and so here it is – the final installment in the puff pastry series entitled “puff pastry and me: a girls photographic odessy from paris to coles” – words on internet, by new moon.


couple of sheets of puff pastry (however many you have remaining or however many you wish to make)

2 sweet potatoes

1 egg lightly beaten

100ml sour cream

100g goats cheese

1 dried chilli

3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic clove crushed

handful of thyme

salt & pepper

i also made a couple with oven roasted tomatoes, basil, mozarella, garlic and pine nuts for which you will need…

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

handful of basil

1 ball mozarella

2 cloves garlic finely sliced

handful of pine nuts

to my befuddlement, after all this, i was still left with some sheets of pastry. so i looked in the fridge to see what was leftover. cauliflower apparently. so if you have some cauliflower left over from the previous post (are you following me this closely?) put some on. give it a bit of salt, pepper, and some chili flakes and tear over some mozarella.

so first, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. cut the cherry tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. put the sweet potatoes (in their skin) and the cherry tomatoes side by side on a baking tray and put into the oven for 50 minutes.

the cherry tomatoes should be shrivelled and the sweet potato should be soft but still slightly raw in the centre. leave potatoes until they are cool enough to touch and then peel and cut them into slices.

remove pastry from the fridge and cut into rectangles about 7-14cm. line a baking tray with baking paper and place the rectangles on the paper – with room between them to grow and do what they do. now lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg. then spread a thin layer of sour cream around the pastries. leave a small border – untouched and unmarred by anything that will go on top. place the slices of potato on the pastry, overlapping slightly. sprinkle with salt, pepper and some dried chilli. then crumble over the goats cheese.

put these into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

while the pastries are cooking – stir together the crushed garlic, with some salt, pepper, thyme and the olive oil. as soon as you get the pastries out of the oven, brush them with the oil. you can also, while these are cooking, make round two. with the prepared pastry rectangles, already brushed with egg, place cherry tomatoes, slices of garlic and torn up mozarella in and around. tear over some basil. and give it a good grating of parmesan if you so desire.

or place anything you like on top – like cauliflower you prepared earlier. bake these for 20-25 minutes again.

when the tomato and cauliflower ones come out – sprinkle with some pine nuts and brush with the garlic oil.

the sweet potato needs nothing – some pine nuts always work but i didnt think necessary here. they are a bit creamy, not unlike the potatoes and cheese so if anything, try another nut maybe – almonds or even pumpkin seeds. brush them with some of the garlic oil and there you have it.

zucchini and basil salad

Sometimes you want something delicate and refined. Like a zucchini and basil salad with shavings of parmesan. But then sometimes, people need a little more substance…and a little less wankery. Sometimes, these needs take place concurrently, running parallel to one another, and only occasionally colliding. so a compromise was found because in the words of a grandmother I know “im not making six different dinners”. It was thus, that this dual salad was created. For those seeking little – stop at the basil and zucchini. For those who seek more, grill some haloumi, some broccolini, make some couscous and don’t write a blog. To each according to his need. So here it is – a theme and variations of dinner proper, entitled ‘refinement…revisited’.


4 zucchinis

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

handful of basil leaves (green and purple – if you can)

handful of parmesan shaved

handful of hazelnuts

4tbsp olive oil

1tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

first cut the zucchini diagonally– about 2cm thick. Put in a bowl with 1tbsp olive oil and the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Put on a crazy hot griddle pan and cook until the black marks appear. Cook it through or not…whatever does it for you. Take off the grill and put into a bowl. Pour over remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Check for seasoning. To serve, scatter the basil leaves onto a plate – add some rocket or spinach if it feels right to do so. Top with the zucchini, then the parmesan shavings and finally scatter some hazelnuts atop.

But it might be arctic out there. The elements, your immune system and the whole world might be against you…and you may need more. The cold can make a beast of a man. If this man is you then after having done your zucchini, chop up some more garlic and one red chilli.

Put some broccolini into boiling salted water for 1 minute. Then put broccolini into a bowl with the garlic, chilli and olive oil and grill until tender (not too soft). While the broccolini is grilling, make some couscous. Then grill some haloumi…its hot right now and from what im reading, it’s the new parmesan. Add broccolini, and haloumi to afore-elaborated salad and combine. Serve with couscous.

pine nut pasta

this is my own theme and variations of a walnut pasta which is essentially the same but i have substituted walnuts for pine nuts and parsley for basil. this, snow, is my hook. and this is what i found:


1 clove or garlic (ie. 2)

1 tsp salt

200g pine nuts (toasted…but only very lightly because inspite of my own fabricated version of common belief, pine nuts very lightly toasted will give off an unprecedented creaminess – one which you just cant get from your pine nuts toasted to golden colour.)

150g sourdough

100 ml mik

1 bunch basil roughly chopped

100ml olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

200 g tagliatelle

100g parmesan

in a mortar and pestle bash up garlic with a pinch of salt to a paste. add the pine nuts and pound until its a rough paste. you could, i realised after accidently sticking my finger in and putting it in my mouth, leave it at this stage and eat straight from the mortar itself. be reasonable they say. but then as mae west said, too much of a good thing can be wonderful. i guess the bottom line is if i were pounding nuts and garlic into some sort of sickeningly sublime paste for my own personal consumption this wouldnt be much of a blog and you wouldnt be reading it. but then according to my stats, you arent. not that i look at that kind of thing. i digress. then transfer into a bowl depending on the size of your mortar and add the bread which has been soaked, along with the remaining milk. mix again, then add the parmesan and the olive oil and finally a squeeze of lemon. (the lemon takes this from creamy, heavy, stodgy and potentially bland to something entirely different…because thats what lemons do.)

Cook the tagliatelle for 3 or so minutes and drain. return pasta to the pot and keep some cooking water back. then pour in your pine nut sauce (pesto/paste/stuff) and mix until all the pasta is coated. sprinkle with parmesan cheese, some torn up basil and some toasted pine nuts (not too many in spite of what the pine nut enamoured voices in your head might say…its just to echo whats happening in the sauce and adds texture for those who like that kind of thing.