Posts Tagged 'chilli'

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.

potatoes in whole spices

the potato, aptly described by so many great thinkers as eminently tasteless, has a bad name in this house. and with good reason. it even surprised this author to see it appear in this space. but things were rough, there was sickness, there was cold icy winds and someone spent all the money on vanilla beans. (though its like i always say, better to split and scrape the money than drink it). and i happened upon a nigella lawson recipe for potatoes in whole spices. my brief for this meal was: “hot. fucking hot”. my own financial limitations meant that the vessel for this heat would have to be cheap. and so it was, the potato. if its good enough for nigella its good enough for me. i have only faith in her ability to take a starch and make it deliciously starchier. and i justified the whole exercise in my mind by proclaiming it a celebration of peasants, labourers and democracy. besides which, my eater was sickly and tired of wankery and in the words of diderot, the glorious potato, while “tasteless” and disagreeable, supplies food “sufficiently abundant and sufficiently healthy for men who ask only to sustain themselves.” and isnt that all any of us ask? so in the name of survival, denis diderot, the workers of the world, nigella lawson, and dinner proper, i give to you potatoes. in whole spices. because were not fucking peasants.


1kg potaoes

2tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves finely sliced

1/2tsp tumeric

1/2tsp chili powder

1/2tsp sea salt

1/2tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2tsp nigella sees

1/2tsp black mustard seed

1/2tsp cumin seeds

1/2tsp fennel seeds

cut the potatoes into cubes, or whatever shape you can get. if geometry eludes you just chop merrily and enjoy the simplicity of space which has no properties. put olive oil into a pan over medium heat and throw in your garlic and the potatoes. cover with a lid for about ten minutes until they are soft but still half un-cooked.

remove the lid and first, add in the ground spices. then add in the 5 whole spices and toss until they are all evenly-coated.

cover with the lid once again and let them cook until they are cooked through. remove the lid and let them fry gently for a few minutes to get rid of any excess water. serve however you want. i should add that these should be quite mushy. i however, was unable to find a suitable lid which fit the width of my pan and so they did not have the chance to steam and go to mush. as a result they were more akin to crispy potatoes…but i consider that to be a success rather than a failure. (well yes id have to wouldnt i).

i will leave you with a timely quote from nietzsche who once said that a “diet that consists predominantly of rice leads to the use of opium just as a diet that consists predominantly of potatoes leads to the use of liquor.” maybe so and yet it fulfilled its every function – cheap. hot. photogenic. and bolg-worthy. hurrah for the humble potato. chin chin. or Будем здоровы, as they say in the old country.

cauliflower & cherry tomato gratin with pangrattato

there was a request for cauliflower cheese. but there was also no way that was going to be possible. no sooner had i heard those two words, vivid, painful memories of cauliflower cheese served to me from a bain marie at the surfers paradise rsl during one of the tri-weekly 4:30pm dining experiences came flooding back…like a dream recalled. and there was no way i was prepared to return to that traumascape..not even on a psychological level through food-induced memories. so a compromise had to be made. and it was found in the gratin…with a smattering of parmesan over the top as opposed to cauliflower glued together by cheese which is too yellow for its own good, and some pouring cream as opposed to a flour based white sauce.

the other thing i did to offset the potential flashbacks and visions of a bowling club and a piano man playing show tunes to a crowd of geriatrics who crawled in at 4pm for the early bird special, was to cut and cut and cut right through the stoginess. first with some pangrattato (i adapted this recipe and added some toasted blanched almonds – they give a layer of unprecedented texture. as i kept telling my photographer – i am doing some very important things with this pangrattato and i dont think it would be going too far to say that im staging a small revolution right here and now. it was met with a non-committal nod so i will share this thought with you all, who may be more receptive.) i also tossed through some rocket at the end…which cuts through the clag, but mainly the psychological scars, nicely. the cherry tomatoes have a similar effect here. but as i was wandering the aisles of the supermarket in preparation, i happened upon some pistachios and id like to suggest that some lightly toasted pistachios strewn throughout the finished dish will elevate this from a wonderful tasting dish to a visually appealing one and with the right photographer, you will be able to create something of a chef d’oeuvre merely out of a humble cauliflower.


2 cauliflowers

2 punnets cherry tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

bunch of thyme

cayenne pepper

dried chilli flakes

200ml cream

25g butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt & pepper

couple handfuls parmesan cheese

pangrattato ingredients

2 large handfuls of torn bread (preferably sourdough, preferably stale)

150g blanched almonds

olive oil

3 crushed garlic cloves

1 dried red chilli

couple of sprigs of thyme

preheat the oven to 200 degrees. first blanch cauliflower florets in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. drain and place in a large mixing bowl. toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 garlic cloves crushed, 2 cloves of garlic unpeeled, a tsp of cayenne pepper, pinch of chili flakes, some thyme leaves as well as a couple of sticks of thyme. make sure it is properly coated.

put this into an ovenproof gratin dish and add the cream and grate over some parmesan and dot with a few knobs of butter. cover with foil and put into oven for 45 minutes.

meanwhile make your pangrattato. roughly chop up your almonds, tear up bread into crumbs and crush garlic with a good pinch of salt.

in a fry pan pour a lug of olive oil. then throw in the garlic and the almonds and toast til lightly golden. then add the bread crumbs, thyme and some dried chili.

toss for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

after 45 minutes remove cauliflower from the oven. remove foil and place cherry tomatoes contrived-ly in and around.

give another significant and liberal grating of parmesan over the top. and put back into the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

there are three alternative serving suggestions here. all good…no one better than the other – either with some peppery rocket…or with the pangrattato (you’d probably want to if you made it)…or all three if you are that way inclined.

broccoli, chilli and garlic

spectacular though the last ottolenghi – schlepseleh chef d’oeuvre was, i felt it needed something more. and a spicy tomato sauce was good but not good enough. and long weeks of living life make us all weary…still not quite sure why its all so hard all the time. so a vegetable it had to be…broccoli because its green, chilli because its hot and garlic because as if you wouldnt. it works with all the rice and lentils because it cuts and brightens and texturises and when put together flavours mix in a very desirable way…one might even say its an stroke of inventive smarts to combine the two…not me though, that would just be indulgent self-congratulatory bollocks.


2 heads broccoli

4-6 garlic cloves finely sliced

1-2 red chillies finely sliced

handful of toasted flaked almonds

olive oil

first, par boil the broccoli florets in a pan full of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. remove with a slotted spoon and put into some iced water to refresh. in a bowl mix the broccoli, the garlic and the chilli with a few tbsp’s of olive oil. then either transfer this to very hot griddle pan or throw into a fry pan on the stove. cook until the broccoli is softened but still biteable through. sprinkle over some toasted flaked almonds or chopped whole almonds depending on what you have on hand at the moment of inspiration. serve over the rice and love it.

feelin empty: spiced nuts

Could have been a free form apple and peach tart. but snow was having tea and scones. so i decided to fill the ever expanding void with a version of union square cafe spiced nuts a la nigella lawson. toast nuts in olive oil, sea salt, cumin, hot paprica, maybe a bit of brown sugar and chilli…coat nuts therein thereof until they look like you want one.

Finished product.

Void remains…with occasional stabbing pains in the stomach but mainly thirstiness…All for you ralphie.