Hazelnut and Pumpkin Tart

As I write this, I am sitting here grabbing a little slice of Winter sun. Inside, beside a window. It may not be the great outdoors, but it’s something. And sitting in the sun is making me think that a picnic would be a good idea. And whilst there is nothing like a picnic somewhere verdant and lush, either just in the backyard or out somewhere adventuring, on a day like today I think the blanket might just blow away. So let’s have an indoor picnic instead, and dream of a new day in Spring, with some flowers out and some birds singing, and just soak up a little bit more of that sun.

WholePumpkinHazelnutTartNapkinPumpkinFettaSprinklingSlicePumpkinTartPumpkinTart

This tart is earthy and sweet and gluten free. The base is crumbly, but deliciously so. Don’t skimp on the fetta, rocket or the dukkah, together they make for a perfect picnic combination of flavour and texture; smooth and sweet pumpkin alongside creamy, tangy fetta, a little spice from the dukkah and freshness from the rocket. Best enjoyed with friends.

Hazelnut and Pumpkin Tart

20cm loose bottomed tart tin, greased with butter

For the filling:

  • 600g pumpkin, sliced into wedges and roasted until tender
  • 3 tablespoons of dukkah for sprinkling
  • 150g ricotta
  • 4 beautiful, organic, free range eggs

For the hazelnut crust:

  • 75g butter, cold and cubed
  • 65g brown rice flour
  • 45g hazelnut meal
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour or cornflour
  • a sprinkling of cold water
  • a pinch of good quality salt

Combine the rice flour, salt and hazelnut meal in a bowl. Add your butter, and use your hands to crumble it all together, until things are looking a little lumpy and pretty well mixed. Sprinkle in some cold water, and give a light knead until a dough forms. You should need around 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins to firm up a bit.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

Once the dough has had a rest, use your hands to press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a well greased tart tin. Yes, no rolling pins required!

In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta and eggs until smooth, along with a good pinch of salt and a crack of pepper.

Pour the ricotta, egg mixture into the tart shell, then place the roasted pumpkin pieces on top. Sprinke with the dukkah, then place in the oven to bake for around 35-40 minutes. It will be ready when the sides of the tart will have puffed and it is slightly golden all over.

This tart is delicious hot out of the oven or at room temperature. Bring it to the table or the picnic rug and top with a handful of wild rocket and a crumbling of goat’s fetta. The base will be delicious and a bit crisp and crumbly, just mop it all up with your fingers and enjoy.

Photos by the amazing Sarah of Love Katie and Sarah

Advertisements

Hummus. Yes.

Hummus

So, it’s really, really freezing. Melbourne has just decided to blast Winter right up in your face and not let you escape, nowhere, no how. Many cups of tea are needed, and make it spicy. After an Autumn where I craved Japanese non-stop and made Nasu Dengaku pretty much every week, I am now turning to warmth and comfort from the warming spices of the Middle East. I can’t get enough of cumin, paprika, coriander seed, a little chilli… I’m sprinkling dukkah on pretty much everything. Add in some lemon and some chickpeas and you will make me a happy woman.

Hummus has made a big comeback for lunchtimes, alongside a little of last night’s leftovers and a crispy fried egg, sprinkled with dukkah of course and some wilted greens with lemon. I am having desert dreaming, I need warming from the inside out.

So because all things Middle Eastern are floating my boat right now I am turning to my main man for delicious Middle Eastern inspiration – Yotam.

I have a food crush on Yotam Ottolenghi. There, I’ve said it. It’s not like I have met him, it’s just that every thing he makes I want to eat.

There are some people whose cookbooks I would buy without even opening the cover, just because I know how good they are going to be. People who just get it. Yotam is one of these people. His collection of books hold an important space on my bookshelf. My bookshelf has two layers of books now but Yotam’s books always stay in the front. The flavour just flies off the page. The way he talks about food, the way he plates it, they way it is all just make some deliciousness and stick it on a big platter for all your friends to devour. I just like it.

A few weeks ago, the kids were in bed and I flicked on the television and chanced upon Yotam visiting his home town of Jerusalem. He journeyed and remembered delicious food memories and made some new food discoveries, and he just made me want to eat every single thing. I may not be able to go to Jerusalem but from his cookbooks I can share in some of that magic and majesty and dream a little in my own kitchen.

Pomegranate

So here is one of our staples at the moment… Yotam’s Hummus. Add some pops of pomegranate from your neighbour’s yard (no really, she insisted I take them 😉 and you have yourself some comforting deliciousness.

HummusHalfway

Basic Hummus from Yotam and Sami’s Jerusalem

  • 250g dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 270g light tahini paste
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 100ml ice cold water
  • salt

A day before you want to eat your hummus, rinse your chickpeas and pop them into a large bowl. Cover with double their volume of cold water and leave to soak overnight.

The following day, drain the chickpeas and place them into a medium saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda and place on a high heat, stirring and cooking for about 3 minutes. Add 1.5 litres of fresh water, and bring to the boil. Allow them to cook until they become soft (this can take somewhere between 20 and 40mins, you want them very tender, so you can crush them easily with your finger and thumb), skimming any foam that floats to the surface whilst cooking.

Drain the cooked chickpeas, and pop them into a food processor. Blitz those chickies until they become a thick paste, then whilst the machine is still running add in the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and a decent pinch of salt. Whiz whiz. Then trickle in the cold water and keep whizzing until your hummus is super smooth (about 5 minutes). Taste it and adjust the flavourings if you so desire.

Yotam and Sami recommend you let it rest for 30 minutes before eating, although I find this part tricky. And serve it at room temperature with something good and crunchy.

HummusEaten

Thanks Sarah from Love Katie and Sarah for my lovely photos… you’re a gem!

 

Cherry, rocket and walnut salad

SaladCherryRocket

Believe it or not, it is almost summer down here in Melbourne. How do I know? Certainly not from the weather, but a few days ago and for the first time this season, my organic grocer had cherries! Oh, rejoice! Nothing declares summer to me more than cherries, and as is the tradition in our family I always make a wish when eating the first one of the season.

Cherries often feature on an Australian Christmas table, sometimes atop pavlova or often just piled high in a bowl to be popped one by one as the fancy takes you.

We ate the first of these juicy jewels on their own, with pleasure, but then a whim took me and told me to make a salad. Salads are actually one of my favourite things to eat… and with the addition of cherries even the kids were diving right in.

Light and peppery, crunchy and sweet, this salad is fresh, simple and ticks so many boxes, it’s a world of right.

Cherry, Rocket and Walnut Salad with Goat’s Cheese

serves 2 as a side or 1 for a light meal, perhaps with some bread

rocket

  • 50g walnuts, toasted
  • 100g rocket, rinsed
  • 80g cherries, halved and pitted
  • 50g goats fetta
  • a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar

Toast your walnuts in an 180 degree C oven for 5 mins, or until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool.

Rinse your rocket and cherries; cut the cherries in half and remove their stones.

Grab your favourite salad bowl. Heap in the rocket, and sprinkle with the walnuts and cherries. Using your fingers, tear up the goats fetta. Give it all a good drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. I like my salad dressings on the tangy side so I give two slurps of vinegar for each of olive oil, but you follow your tastebuds.

Using your hands give everything a good toss and tumble, scooping up a few of the walnuts and cherries to adorn the top…

CherryRocketSalad

yum.

how to make a Monday, feel like a Friday

Mondays. I know it’s the start of the week, woo hoo, umm yeah, the start of something great, right?! Let’s be real, sometimes they are just hard work.

Enter: pizza. It’s cool, go with me here.

I have long been a believer in cake, and how it can make almost any moment feel more special (don’t tell me you’ve never had an emergency piece of cake!). Well, my latest idea is pizza, and how it makes any night of the week feel like Friday night.

Go on, give it a go. Shake it up and make pizza on a Monday night; it might just be the start of something great…

pizza with red quinoa salad

Spelt Pizza with Red Quinoa, Fennel and Apple Salad

250g spelt flour

125ml warm water

pinch of salt and sugar

25ml olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons instant dried yeast

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and give a little stir. Combine the warm water and olive oil, and pour into a well in the centre of the flour. Give it a quick mix around with a spoon until it comes together into a ball. Now, do yourself a favour, and give the dough a little knead whilst it’s still in the bowl (mix in all those little bits around the sides). This makes it less sticky when you turn it out, and you will need less flour on your kneading surface (i.e. bench top!).

Turn your dough out onto your nicely floured benchtop and knead that baby until it looks smooth on the outside when you shape it into a ball. Depending on your enthusiasm, this will take around 5 minutes. I like to hold one edge of the dough with my left hand, and push the bulk of the dough away with my right, virtually stretching and smearing the dough across the bench. Give it a try.

When it’s looking all nice and smooth and dough-like, pop it in an oiled bowl, cover it with cling-film and let it rise somewhere nice and cosy for about an hour.

Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius. If you have a fan forced oven, then put on the fan for a crispier base.

One hour later, divide your beautiful dough into two. Give it a workout with a rolling pin and roll it as thin as you dare (the thinner the better in my books). Don’t worry, pizza isn’t supposed to be round, asymmetrical is how the cool kids are doing it, trust me.

Transfer your magnificently shaped pizza base to a tray lined with baking paper, and top it to your liking. Tomato paste or pizza sauce first, then some mozzarella and then – go crazy! I chose salami cause I think it’s hard to beat a classic. If you’ve got some garlic oil hanging around, drizzle it around the edges and your house will smell like a real deal pizza shop.

Pop it into the oven for about 20 mins or until it’s nicely golden. Eat, enjoy, sigh and forget that tomorrow is only Tuesday.

PizzaSlice

And in my house, every good pizza needs a good salad. Give this one a go.

Cook yourself up about a handful of red quinoa. One day I will actually measure how much quinoa and how much water I put in, but sorry, today was not that day. Once it is beautifully cooked (I know you can do it), let it cool. Grab a salad bowl and put in a generous teaspoon of honey, a splash of olive oil and a swig of red wine vinegar (technical measures I know, but it’s hard to go wrong here). Oops! Don’t forget a pinch of salt. Give it a whisk! Pop in your cooled quinoa and let it soak up that dressing goodness. Tear up a few leaves of lettuce (I had cos on hand, but I think wild rocket would be awesome). Pop them in. Slice up half a bulb of fennel, and one small apple. Pop them in too, along with a handful of toasted walnuts. If you’ve got some good goat’s fetta in your fridge, then crumble in a little bit of that too. Salads in my mind are supposed to be freeform, substitution is totally allowed. Give it a toss to dress it all up, and you’re good to go.

Salad

And if you have a bit of salami and some lettuce leftover, why not make yourself a cracking sandwich the following day. Just pop the salami on a tray in a 200 C oven for 5 – 10 mins until crispy and bubbling, then layer it on some good sourdough bread with mayo, tomato, avocado and a leaf or two of lettuce. Hey, this pizza even makes Tuesday lunchtime feel special. Thanks pizza.

SLAT