Posts Tagged 'garlic'

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.


braised greens

also known as “the green thing”. having been given unutterable amounts of homework, and having been under the misapprehension that there was no such thing in this degree (it most certainly wasnt what it looked like in the brochure), and having then been exposed to a lively debate between americans in paris about why the gravel in the gardens of the tuileries is dusty, i decided i needed to move away from the books and return to the kitchen. this recipe was something i found in gourmet traveller and it was one of those things which seemed to elicit expressions of interest from ordinarily disinterested parties. dinners proper hasnt been done for so long that there was a lot of debate, hesitation, fear, uncertainty, hurdles, obstacle, and even some unpleasantness along the way. but its easy and delicious and though it was suggested that the cos lettuce could be substituted with a more elegant green vegetable, i am quite sure that its perfect how it is. thats pretty much all i have to say about this but the problem is, when this post is up, its back to the books. so ill tell you a quick story – a new bakery opened up around the corner from me. its done everything right, it drew me into its buttery web with its french name, its promise of pastries baked twice a day, its baker rolling out his dough at the front counter for my viewing pleasure, its staff crouching in the back alley with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of tea (in a glass) in the other in the early hours of the cold winter morning, evoking images and dreams of all i hope to be. but, and theres no gentle way of putting this, they are shit. from the outside their pastries look exquisite, layers of golden brown flaky pastry wrapped around a still warm, and so melting stick of chocolate. almond croissants with the perfect crisp looking almondy top. but bite into it and its doughy. there, i said it. doughy and uncooked. their bread stinks. and they are a sham. but why? why why why? how is it that they have so much right and yet underneath the surface its so wrong? dont they care? dont they love their pastries? arent they artisan? dont they realise the world shattering disappointment they have caused. and because of their appearance, they have me returning regularly because surely the last croissant, and the one before and the one before that were aberrations. each time i leave with what should be a little brown paper bag of heaven in my cold, frail hands, the promise of perfection is cruelly and unusually shattered, replaced only by a doughy aftertaste and a profound sadness for all that could be and all that never was. i cry out (internally, not yet audibly), i wish i knew how to quit you, but there is no response. only silence. the silence of baker that just doenst care.

unhappiness aside…here is the recipe for something that made things feel somewhat better and to some extent was able to fill the void between dreams and reality.


2tbsp olive oil

375ml stock (chicken, or vegetable…as you wish)

40g butter

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 cos lettuces quartered

400g peas (baby, and probably frozen)

250g sugar snap peas (snow peas will do if your supermarket is crap – but at least it doesnt claim to be anything other than what it is) halved lengthways

first, in a fry the garlic in the olive oil. the recipe also fried off a shallot but i didnt want the onion taste to interfere with what i was trying to do. once soft, not burnt, add in the butter and cook til foaming. then add the stock and cook for about 5 minutes until it has reduced by half. if you subscribe to the school of ‘peas and mint’, add a sprig of mint here and even some lemon rind. then add the lettuce and cook until it has just wilted (about 3-4 mintues). then add the peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes until they are just soft. season. remove from heat and eat while its hot.

pizza bianca

pizza thinner. people happier. rosemary garlic and olive oil as a base is a very good place to start anything you do in your day. and this, the macbook of pizzas, is sexy and lovely and cant ever be wrong. sure there were a few bumps in the road, photographical ones mainly, but in the immortal words of churchill… keep buggering on. so here it is…better than the last, pizza bianca.


1 pizza base

garlic, olive oil, pinch of sea salt, sprig of rosemary (this bashed in a mortar and pestle will be spread on the base of your pizza. call it a flavoured oil if you must.)

1 waxy potato sliced as fine as humanly possible

some fresh peccorino (and/or some mozzarella. i went with and)

some rosemary

pinch of salt and pepper

olive oil

first finely slice your potatoes. rinse them in cold water and then pat them dry with some kitchen paper. place in a bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and some rosemary. make sure they are all coated. set aside

in a mortar and pestle bash up one clove of garlic, with some salt, rosemary and 4 tbsp olive oil. set aside. thinly slice (as thin as the potato if possible) some peccorino and tear up your mozzarella if using.

preheat oven to hottest it will go. then smear the pizza base with the garlic oil, then lay out potatoes, then place the peccorino in the gaps and put some mozzarella on top. then give it some rosemary. season with salt and pepper and give it a final drizzle with the garlic oil if you are so incline.

put in the oven for about ten minutes until spectacular.


well thats no way to say goodbye. i dont even like fish. and i dont go fishing. harmonious, still, silent lakes are not place for a child of mtv. gone into hibernation might have been a more appropriate sign off. gone to see about a doctor would have been a more honest representation of reality. and if i were to be completely, boldly, offensively frank, ‘uninspired….gone to watch five series of dr who under a blanket’ would have been the most apt explanation of my absence. but you tugged at my heart strings (smoo, im talking to you) and i couldnt help myself. i realised as i began to re-watch an entire series in the hope of “picking up on things i might have missed the first time round” that there are more important things to be doing and eating. over the past month i was introduced to the world of the chip – hot and cold. and it had such an impact that for a brief moment there, never turning on the oven again became a conceivable possibility. but like all good things, it started to take its toll, first around the hips, then around the heart. besides, chips are very loud. i cant hear the doctor talk with the chip crunching and the bag scrunching and the munching and the bunching and i was missing vital plot developments. so i decided it was time to return because the jagged little chips were tearing a hole in the diaphanous fabric of my reality. and all the while i heard the sweet dulcet tones of the doctor whispering to me “be magnificent”. magnificent was a bit much to ask but i did make some hummus. (yes, into which chips were dipped). i made too much but so it goes. and it was good.


500g chickpeas

250g tahini paste

50ml lemon juice

6 garlic cloves crushed


put chickpeas into a food processor (keeping a few aside for end presentational purposes) and add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and some salt. blend until its completely smooth. it should be very soft and verging on runny. taste and add more salt if you think it deserves it. drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. finally tumble some chickpeas atop. or pine nuts. whatever floats your boat. you can serve it with some of your homemade sourdough (unless you went and got so hibernatory that you killed your starter…in which case, chips will do fine.)

mushroom radicchio & spinach fettuccine

this dinner was an elegant combination of the results of a food-related, dinner based, free association game* and a vision in my minds eye. my cohort had just yelled ‘pine nuts’ and ‘magnesium’. so i had a lot of thinking to do because i was less after dietary requirements and more focused on the aesthetic qualities of the meal. pasta is quick which seems so often to be the only factor under consideration so pasta it was. i had to use radicchio because i had a bee in my bee-ridden bonnet (other bees include banana bread…coming soon to a post near you). the worst supermarket in the world for some reason had a vast selection of wild mushrooms, the likes of which i had never before seen (in this barren culinary landscape) and which, im told are a high source of protein. i dont do science so protein and magnesium sounded the same…in as much as they made equally little sense to me and were of equally little importance to my artistic vision. spinach too was, according to the world wide web, rich in magnesium and green always looks pretty so i was home and hosed with robbie buck. (all for you snow). and so it was, mushroom radicchio and spinach fettuccine. pretty and magnesium heavy.

*game not suitable for children or those lacking intuition where food is concerned. it takes place often unintentionally during negotiations relating to the making and eating of dinner during which seemingly arbitrary food related words get yelled out. (in our case with its strange specificity it often starts with couscous and ends in pine nuts.)

5g dried porcini

few tbsp olive oil

30g butter

3tbsp cream

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

couple spoons of chopped oregano

500g mixed mushrooms

350g fettuccine

half radicchio roughly chopped

couple handfuls spinach

couple handfuls parmigiano-reggiano finely grated

first put porcini in 125ml boiling water and set aside to reconstitute. cook the pasta in a large pan full of boiling water. nigella once said that the water you salt pasta in should be as salty as the mediterranean. thought she didnt say it, the italians did. but its a nice analogy and she delivered it well.

heat oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms. try not to crowd the pan…if its too full it will steam and not fry so if you have, as you always have, gone too far, try doing mushrooms in batches. when the mushrooms start cooking down add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and add the oregano.

add cream and stir. then add the porcini and soaking liquid and simmer so that it reduces by half. add in the spinach and cook til just wilted.

drain pasta and toss through the mushrooms. add the radicchio and parmesan. scatter with pine nuts too if you are so inclined.

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.