Thursday, 17 August 2017


This space is mostly about food and I guess, a little about me. Today, it's all about me. Because... I'M GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW! Ahhhhhh!! And I'm filled with butterflies of excitement mixed with a couple of nerves but mostly just crazy excitement! I'm going to have a husband (still sounds weird) and I'm going to be a wife (even weirder). I can't wait to marry him. It was 10 years ago, this February that he asked me to be his girlfriend back when he was 17. Mad how time fly's when your with the one you love!!

I remember when my sister, who is nine and a half years older than me got married (11 years ago) I felt like she was so grown up and adult-y. I do not feel grown up or adult-y. But then I never asked if she actually felt grown up or adult-y when she got married or if it was just me being a little sister looking up (as always) to my big sister. Do you ever actually feel adult-y? 

To be honest, this year hasn't been the smoothest of years behind the scenes but tomorrow will be fun. I thought it a bit silly, a big celebration in the midst of crappy life stuff but I think it will be a chance for everyone to just let loose for a night and maybe slightly dramatic but to quote Albus Dumbledore - Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Tomorrow will be filled with lights.


Sooooo... I'll see you suckers in 4 weeks when I'm back from my honeymoon where we'll be driving our way around Tasmania, love-drunk. Searching for southern lights, consuming copious amounts of local wine and cheese, snuggling up with a log fire while it snows outside (fingers crossed for snow), finding that outdoor bath that has swarmed instagram and me learning to drive a manual so Tris can drink copious amount of whisky. I'll be posting on Instagram so stay tuned and catch us there!

Until then - I love you and leave you.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Balsamic Onion Soda Bread aka your next cheese platter staple.

I've been really enjoying making bread lately and I've been trying my hand at sourdough which you might have seen over on instagram. My sourdough baking is VERY hit and miss but I might be my harshest critic as Tris is very complimentary of my bread and often tells me to shut-up when I start criticising my latest loaf. Which I'm sorry to say, this post is not about sourdough as I am in no way ready to share a sourdough recipe (yet) as I don't think I've found one that gives me consistent results or (which is most likely the answer) I'm not ready to even start to tell you what to do. I am newbie at it so feels a little cocky to start preaching to you what to do. But what I have made lately is a different kind of bread which I am comfortable to tell you about. Soda Bread. Balsamic Onion Soda Bread to be precise.

Balsamic Onion Soda Bread | Gathering Flora Shedden | salt sugar and i

Balsamic Onion Soda Bread | Gathering Flora Shedden | salt sugar and i

Soda Bread is kind of like a fancy Australian Damper cross with an Australian/UK Scone. I keep writing 'Australian' because a scone here (and in the UK) is not the same thing as what a scone is in the US. This kind of quick rise bread isn't the same as a kneaded yeast risen loaf, it gets it's lift from the acid in the buttermilk or yoghurt reacting with bicarb soda creating air and small bubbles - hence the name, Soda Bread. This fancied up Soda Bread has balsamic caramelised onions strewn throughout and like a match made in heaven, pairs perfectly with some strong vintage cheddar or a sharp blue as it has a sweetness to it that complements savoury things... like a good in-built quince or fig paste. Mmmm my mouth is watering as I write this.

Balsamic Onion Soda Bread | Gathering Flora Shedden | salt sugar and i

My photography doesn't look much cop and  agree with you if you're thinking right now 'why on earth is she going on about this rock-like-thing-on-a-baking-tray?!?' but trust me. This will be one of the easiest breads you'll probably ever make and be one of the most perfect additions to your next cheese platter cut into wedges, just waiting to be topped with a hefty chunk of cheese or a olive oil soaked sun-dried tomato.

If you're not a fan of the idea of sweet onions in your bread you could swap them for chopped marinated olives or diced semi-sundried tomatoes or even some garlic and herbs? It's a very versatile bread so really this recipe is your soda-oyster... er.. doesn't quite work hey?... ah well you get what I mean. I'll be making the a garlic & herb version this weekend to go with Sundays bolognese cook up and who's maybe I'll mast that pesky sourdough this weekend too.

Balsamic Onion Soda Bread

recipe slightly adapted from Gatherings by Flora Shedden

2 large white onions or 3 banana shallots, finely sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
20g raw caster sugar
450g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250ml milk
100g greek yogurt

Start by preheating your oven to 180C/350F and line a tray with baking paper.

Place the sliced onions into a deep saucepan, add the vinegar and raw caster sugar and over low to medium heat, cook for about 15 minutes. You want the onions to soften first and then almost caramelise so cook until all the liquid in the pan is gone.

Once the onions are caramelised, allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the self-raising flour, bicarb, milk and yogurt into a large bowl.

Gently stir the bread mixture together until just combined, then stir through the (slightly cooled) onions. Try not overmix this – you just need to make sure the onions are evenly dispersed throughout and there are not chunks of flour/wet spots.

Next, dust your prepared tray with flour, then tip the dough on out ontop. To shape your bread, dust your hands with more flour to avoid sticking and gently shape into a round loaf-like shape. To help the bread open out, using a very sharp knife, score the round into quarters.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes (depending on your oven). Your bread should be golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the underside.

Allow to cool completely for neat slices or as Flora Sheddan says: if you are feeling greedy, tuck in straight away, slathering the bread with good salted butter.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

An unnamed somebody told me the other day I don't use my kitchen-aid much... well humpf... I made these cookies and you (the accuser) ate them. Ha. Chew on them Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies why don't you!? - I say this in jest and lots of love :)

To be honest with you readers, I've missed baking. To say it hasn't been on the top of my list this year is an understatement and among other things I've been 'attempting' to plan a wedding (Oh gawd! less than 2 months!!). Planning is very hard when you're a non-planner. I am a non-planner.

But cookies.. I can make cookies.

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies recipe | salt sugar and i

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies to be exact. I baked and it was fun. I have been craving a chunky, chewy, full, oaty cookie thats got substance to it for some weeks now. Actually since I saw Amelia and Teddy make oatmeal cookies on youtube. My only issue with most oatmeal cookie recipes is that I'm not a huge fan of (soggy) dried fruit and lets face it, most recipes are packed full with the stuff. Maybe I'm just fussy. I like dried fruit in hot cross buns (toasted and drowned in butter), in christmas pudding (must be swimming in ice-cream/custard) and I like dried cranberries, currants and cherries but any other dried fruit thats not in the above items, no thanks. You can keep them.  I like the really dried, chewy stuff, none of this soggy, squishy variety. Yeh yeh, I could substitute the dried fruit I don't like with the stuff I do like - simple. Only thing was on the Sunday when I had a spare 2 hours to bake something (anything!), I only had all the dried fruit I didn't like left over from Christmas (yes - I do realise it's over 6 months later) and all the recipes I could find in my cookbooks at home either required dried fruit or weren't chunky enough/looked liked the cookie monster had sat on them they were so flat. I felt a little like Goldilocks...

Tartine - too flat.

Bourke Street Bakery - too barberry-like.

Alice Merich - in the chewy section.

Anna Jones - Coconut oil... in a cookie... you crazy cat you.

The Wednesday Chef - mmm just right.

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies recipe | salt sugar and i

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies recipe | salt sugar and i

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies recipe | salt sugar and i
The recipe that stole my stomach and ticked every box for the cookie I wanted. Chunky Chocolatey Oaty. Perfect. Bonus! There was a photo that reassured me they'd be somewhat chunky and not like anyone has sat on them AND they didn't include any nasty bits of dried fruit. A match made in cookie-heaven.

They were full of good quality chunks of dark chocolate, desiccated coconut, brown sugar, raw sugar, butter, oats and to be slightly 'healthier' (ha! who am I kidding?!) I swapped the plain flour for wholemeal flour. I also reduced the sugar slightly from the original recipe in Gourmet but not as much as Luisa did when she made them as I was worried my swap of wholemeal flour would be too earthy. Anyway - they turned out pretty damn good using the measurements in the recipe below.

I brought them along for dessert ft a pizza and wine night and while they didn't go quite well with rosé, I was told they went great with a glass of red.

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

recipe adapted from The Wednesday Chef (originally from Gourmet)
Makes lots of cookies

225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons raw/white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup wholemeal all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
2 cups good quality dark chocolate (340g), roughly chopped
3/4 cup almonds with skins (110g), toasted, cooled, and chopped

Preheat your oven to 375F/190C (lower if fan forced) and line 2 trays with baking paper.

Start by beating together butter and both sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until just blended, then add in the vanilla, baking soda, and salt.

Next, add wholemeal flour and mix on low speed until just blended. Either on a low speed or by hand, stir in the rolled oats, desiccated coconut, chocolate chunks, and chopped almonds.

To start shaping the cookies, you'll use a 1/4-cup measuring cup and place mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on the baking trays. Bake until golden, rotating halfway through, 15 minutes total.

Cool the cookies on the trays for about 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough until all cookies are baked.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Fress - to eat copious and without restraint.

Fress - to eat copious and without restraint.

What a great word! and a pretty cool name for a cookbook if you ask me.

Fress by Emma Spitzer, the cookbook with the very cool name arrived in my letter box a good few weeks ago and I've been meaning to write this up for a little while now. It's is a cookbook that's full of traditions and family recipes. I have always felt a pull to find out my family tree and where everyone came from but to be honest, I just want to know what they ate. I want to know what traditions were kept, if something was made on a weekly basis? or for Easter or every birthday? I want to know what they kept on cooking and eating even when life got...well life. I'm nosey. And well because, everyone has to eat no matter whats going on in their life or how shitty their day was. We still have to eat.

The recipes in this cookbook are from a Jewish kitchen and with Emma's family tree stretching off in which way and that, all over the world, it means that the recipes in this book also do. With it's Middle-Eastern and Eastern European flavours there is such a variety when it comes to the recipes, you couldn't pinpoint one place and I love it. Although each recipe has a place in her kitchen and she shares a little bit about each one. I love a recipe with background.

I found I kept flicking back to the challah recipe, spaetzle with oxtail stew and the moroccan stuffed sweet potato with braised fennel and tahini. But I couldn't turn away from the schupfnudeln with creamy mushroom sauce and both Tris and I haven't stopped talking about since we made it together last week. What are schupfnudeln you ask? well, they are hand made German potato noodles, kind of like gnocchi but better... fried in butter. By no means is this dinner going to win and 'whole-foods' award but it is one seriously delicious dinner, great for a chilly autumn evening. And yes you read it right before. This was joint cooking session. Turns out Tris is a natural and schupfnudeln roller. Who knew!?!

While my week had been long and hunger pains imminently stabbing, I looked at what seemed like a mound of schupfnudeln dough in front of me left to roll and sighed. He then came up behind me and so kindly says - move over. Not quite trusting him (I have control issues in the kitchen) I shuffled to the left and let him stand next to me ready to take back the schupfnudeln rolling after the first one or two attempts but out of no where he started pumping these little noodles out like he'd been doing it all his life. 'Efficiency' he says cooly when I asked how on earth did he know how to do that without even looking at the instructions in the cookbook. 'And you were too slow' he finishes with a smile. I moved right out of the way and let my natural schupfnudeln rolling fiancé do his thing. Maybe I need to get him to help me with the Emiko Davies' strazzopretti next time?

The creamy mushroom sauce was simple, rich and bowl licking good. A nice piece of crusty bread to wipe your bowl with after would have been perfect, mopping up all the juices. The sauce would be great on regular pasta or store bought gnocchi (fried of course), or even a baked potato in it's jacket. So if you don't have time, patience or a schupfnudeln rolling fiancé don't stress, you can still make the sauce and wow yourself and anyone at your dinner table with this. Also if you aren't kosher (because this is a Jewish cookbook) bacon or sliced veal would be great in the sauce - I thought it was delicious without it but if you have a meat loving partner then yes I agree with Tris, the addition of bacon or veal would work well and also keep the meat eaters happy.

Now I don't think my photo's do this justice at all because how on earth do you photograph brown/beige food without it looking... well.... plain and brown? But please trust me when I say, these photo's do not do it justice. Just make it and let me know how right I am.

schupfnudeln with creamy mushroom sauce

serves 4
recipe by Emma Spitzer from her cookbook Fress (ever-so slightly adapted)

for the schupfnudeln-
1kg flowery potatoes
1 egg yoke
table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g potato flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
25g butter

for the creamy mushroom sauce-
1 tablespoon olive oil
25g butter
1 small brown onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced (I used button)
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, very finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
100ml madeira wine (I used dry white)
250ml vegetable stock (made using 1 teaspoon bouillon powder)
300ml pure cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
a few twists of black pepper

Start by making the schupfnudeln. Cook the unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20-25 minutes until very tender. Drain and leave to cool in a colander.

Peel then mash potatoes really well so there are no lumps; a potato ricer is great for this!

In a medium sized bowl add the cooled mash, egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of table salt, whit pepper and nutmeg and mix together. Gently add in the flours, taking care not to over-mix it at this stage.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a long sausage shape, about 2cm thick. Cut into 1cm-thick pieces and then roll each piece into a little pencil shaped noodle. Continue until all the dough is rolled.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil and add the noodles in batched. As soon as they float to the surface, after around a minute, remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl of iced water. Continue until all noodles cooked.

For the sauce, heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Fry over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, stirring frequently until everything has softened. Add the thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn the heat up, add the wine and let the mixture bubble away for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms have started to turn golden around the edges.

Add the stock and cream and bring to a boil, turn the heat down and continue to cook the sauce over a medium to low heat until reduced and thickened. Season with salt and black pepper, cover and keep warm.

To fry the schupfnudeln, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add a small piece of butter. Fry the noodles in batched over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking them around the pan until they turn golden brown on all sides. Remove each batch of noodles with a slotted spoon and add a dot more butter to the pan before adding the next lot of noodles to fry. Continue until all noodles are golden and fried.

To serve, divide the noodles between 4 shallow bowls, spoon over the mushroom sauce and garnish with remaining herbs. Enjoy!

Monday, 1 May 2017

autumn doings.

I can't believe we're over half way through Autumn already.

Here's what I've been up to...


Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl by Kay Plunkett-Hogge | What a different life. No wonder she ended up working in food after growing up in Bangkok and being open to such a variety of flavours growing up. I'd love to step in her shoes for a day and see what it was like at the wonderful parties she attended or lunches she caters. What an adventure!

Acquacotto by Emiko Davies | I have made the strazzopretti with 'fake' sauce which is a wonderful bowl of thick hand rolled noodles with a simple tomato sauce. I definitely didn't make the hand rolled pasta right but it still tasted amazing with freshly grated parmesan and cracked black pepper on top. I'm going to master the pasta and get back to you on this one.

Tartine Bread by Chad Roberston | This book is permanently on my night stand at the moment and being read almost every day. I've got a slight obsession and am trying to master his famous country loaf. My red cast iron pot is looking a little worse for wear since my sourdough days started but it's just well loved, right?

The Bread Exchange by Malin Elmlid | Again a sourdough but this book is a little different. Malin trades her sourdough for anything except money and it's about her journey around the world with her travelling starter. How she makes the bread, the people she meets and what she eats with them. She;s trading recipes that are in the book for her sourdough loaves. Another extraordinary life I'd love to live a day of.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon | See below.


Divide by Ed Sheeran | On repeat. All day. Total fangirl.

My Open Kitchen podcast | I love the interviews and all the tips Sophie and Skye share. I am also insanely jealous of the e-course happening. I missed registration but I'm signed up for updates for the next one.
(This post is inspired by Sophie's Autumn List on her blog, Local is Lovely)

Happy Love Songs play list on Spotify | Wedding song search. So far most wedding playlists make me want to hurl, hence the 'happy' part. I'm trying a different approach. Anyone got any tips?

cooking | cooked | to-be cooked

Sourdough sourdough sourdough | I've made one from, Malin's from The Bread Exchange and also Chad's Tartine recipe (three times now). Some have been an epic fail but then that's because I went off on my own little tangent and thought I new better than the recipe (I don't) and some have been so successful I feel all warm and proud. I've given my starter a name and she had a baby starter which I gifted to a fellow sourdough newbie.

sourdough | salt sugar and i

Peasant bread | Yep I'm having a bread obsession. This recipe is so so easy and quick. Quite the opposite to a sourdough loaf that take time, this one is more of a quick bread but still tastes delicious with it's buttery curst. I want to try the quinoa and flax seed one this week.

Sardine Pasta | Sardines are a funny fish. Kind of like anchovies. You either like them or HATE them. If they are nice sardines (who likes bad ones?) I like them, especially in a tomato or chilli oil but if they are the cheap nasty ones we used to feed our old cat... no thanks.

Spanish Tortilla | I think Tristan will love this. Eggs and Potatoes. His two favourite things.

Roasted Quinces | It's autumn and getting chillier so I think it's only seasonal (and also lovely) to roast some until they are a deep burnished ruby colour and serve them warm with vanilla ice cream.

Swiss Zopf from Classic German Baking | I recently found out that my Grosi (Swiss Grandma) used to make this every Sunday. My mum casually mentioned it in passing at the grocery store. She mentioned it like it was nothing. Like she was buying a banana. Meanwhile, I felt like she just dropped a little bomb of family traditions I've been craving for years. I have so many questions to bombard her with when she gets back from holidays.

watching | watched

Amelia and Teddy in the Kitchen | I've been a fan from episode one, actually Bon Appetempt days. It just looks like fun and also delicious. What a combo.

Outlander season two | Oh Jamie you red-headed, kilt wearing, hunk-a-spunk. I demolished this season in about a week and am still trying to get rid of the black circles under my eyes due to of lack sleep. I've read the first and second book in the Outlander series so I knew what was going to happen but now that I've finished watching it I want more so have just picked up the third book, Voyager. I'm hooked again.

Riverdale | Three words. Teenage Murder Mystery.

My Life in Sourdough | This Vimeo series is peculiar, funny and ever-so slightly relatable. As a sourdough starter owner/maker/mother ... it kind of takes over.

& dreaming

Sourdough | As in, I am having actual dreams about it. I can't escape.

Camping in one of these | how cool??! I want.

Cold nights snugged by an open fire with wine, cheese and a good book (Ahem...Voyager) | Need to find a home with an open fire I can sneak in to.

 - - - - - -

What have you been up to this Autumn?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Zuppa Di Funghi - Wild Mushroom Soup from Emiko Davies' Acquacotta

Sometimes it's the small things that make you feel better, more yourself again. Sometimes it's as simple as a bowl of soup on a chilly night, curled up on the couch.

A furry friend keeping your toes warm doesn't hurt either.

The past few weeks have been so up and down I don't really know where I am half the time but more on that another day. I've been cooking here and there but mostly not for myself, I've been in a different kitchen that has a dishwasher and oh how much more enjoyable cooking is when you can load the dishwasher and not have a giant sink full of dishes to tackle at the end. I've also learnt a snippet of my family's history that has me so curious about what my grosi and great grosi (swiss grandma) might have cooked for the ones they loved. I suppose I could ask my Uncle or cousins but I have so many questions I think I'll overwhelm them or they'll think I'm crazy! It's easy for my mind to go off on little tangents now and then. Thinking a lot family lately and what it'd be like to have everyone in the one room for a day. The thought makes me smile, we'd talk and talk and talk until the lot of us had no voices left. It would be wonderful.

Zuppa Di Fungi | Wild Mushroom Soup | Emiko Davies cookbook Acquacotta | salt sugar and i

Home again last week and in my own (dishwasher-less) kitchen, I craved comfort and feeling unsettled with my un-stocked pantry and fridge I assumed dinner was going to arrive in plastic boxes with wooden chopsticks. Not so comforting about that. This was until I picked up a copy of Emiko Davies new cookbook, Acquacotta that had been sent to me (thankyou thankyou thankyou). My menulog order was out on hold as I came across a recipe for a tomato based wild mushroom soup, Zuppa Di Funghi. Hmmm mushrooms - a little bit sad but yes, onion - yes, garlic - yes, canned tomatoes - yes, dried porcini - YES. DONE. The soup was so robust, comforting and full of flavour ti's going to be a regular dinner on those nights that you need something to warm you through to your toes. Emiko tells us the dried porcini mushrooms are optional but I highly recommend adding them even if it means a little online shop to get them (I get mine from here). It gives it a beautiful flavour that you can't get from other mushrooms. I used fresh button mushrooms and swiss brown mushrooms along side the dried porcini but if I had them I'd have also added other mixed mushrooms like fresh porcini and chanterelles.

To serve, you rub a piece of grilled crusty bread with a raw garlic clove, place it in the bottom of your bowl and pour over the soup. The liquid is soaked up by the punchy garlic bread turning it into a thick stew, like soup. It's filling and rich but not heavy - perfect on a chilly autumn night.

Zuppa Di Fungi | Wild Mushroom Soup | Emiko Davies cookbook Acquacotta | salt sugar and i

This book is more than just a beautiful cookbook. Emiko has captured the life in Costal Southern Tuscany with it's food, cooking and traditions. If reading about a different way of life and the food that surrounds it are comfort for you then this book with warm you and also make you very very hungry. It made me want to escape to Italy and book flights asap. I can't wait to really get stuck in more of the recipes like the wild boar ragu, homemade parpadelle with hare sauce, spaghetti with wedge clams, strozzapreti pasta with 'fake' sauce (yeh I like pasta) and of course the acquacotta's of the book, the dish the book is named after but I'll need to do a little research for some ingredients. Wild hare and boar I have no clue but with the fresh seafood I think I'll take my copy of the book to the fish shop next time and ask for some advice.

I hope everyone had an Easter weekend with time spent with the ones you love, eating, drinking and of course talking too much.

Zuppa Di Funghi - Wild Mushroom Soup

recipe (ever so slightly adapted) from Acquacotta by Emiko Davies
serves 4

1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 1 extra for rubbing on toasted bread
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
20g dried porcini (optional - but highly recommended)
450g mixed mushrooms, inc fresh porcini if possible, roughly chopped
125ml white wine
400g passata (or 1x400g blitzed can of tomatoes)
chilli flakes, chopped red chilli or freshly ground black pepper
1 handful calamint (or marjoram or oregano and mint) - I used parsley
4 slices white crusty bread

In a large pot, cook the onion and garlic over low heat in olive oil for approx. 10 minutes, or until onion softens but doesn't colour.

If using dried porcini, put them in a small bowl and pour just-boiled water over the top to cover (about a cup). Let the mushroom soften in the water for about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms carefully (they will be hot!), straining and reserving the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve lined with a coffee strainer or a couple of sheets of paper towel. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms roughly.

Add the fresh and reconstituted mushrooms to the onion and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and then pour over the white wine. Turn the heat up to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato passata along with 125ml of water and strained mushroom water, season with another pinch of salt and chilli flakes (or cracked black pepper). Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes at a low simmer until the mushrooms are tender and the soup reduces slightly and thickens. Remove from the heat and add the herbs.

Grill or toast the bread slices. Rub the warm toast just once (or twice if like the raw garlic punch) with a peeled, raw clove of garlic for extra flavour. Put the toast in the bottom of four bowls and pour soup over the top.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

sumac roast chicken with carrots and chickpeas from Gatherings by Flora Sheddan

When I first started this blog I went through a faze of making lots of chicken tray bakes and I think two of them were great, some were ok and a few were inedible and never got a mention. They were quick to throw together when I got in late from work and it meant I could jump in the shower, potter around and dinner was done. Very time efficient midweek cooking. But I haven't made a try bake in months (maybe even a year) and to be honest, I have no idea why not. I get home earlier from work but for some reason I post less than I used to and I have more time now than I did before.

Two weeks ago when I had to pack for my mini break to Melbourne I remembered a recipe from the latest cookbook I'd been sent 'Gatherings' by Flora Sheddan. I flicked straight to the recipe for sumac roast chicken with carrots and chickpeas and even though there were a few things I didn't have on hand I knew I could easily substitute sweet potato for the carrots and cut down the recipe for 2 people by using chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. A busy night, perfect for a time efficient chicken tray bake.

The recipe was so easy to adapt for two and although it doesn't look the most appealing dinner having two slightly shrunken chicken breasts sitting on top of an abundance of sweet potatoes, you could use chicken pieces, it sure had flavours that punched. The rub on the chicken was spicy and zesty, matching perfectly with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and cumin. I added some lemon-ey greek yoghurt on the side as I am a bit of a pansy when it comes to spice but can't resist the spicy/cool combo of the two. I had the leftover sweet potatoes in a salad the next day with a vinaigrette and some greens - delish!

The book itself is such a beautiful piece and the photography makes you want to invite friends over to share it all. Throughout the book there are suggested menu's and layouts of feasts using all the recipes in the book. I personally love the sound of Bonfire Night and Wandering Weekend Roast, pictured above. Flora's way of cooking is non-stressful and she welcomes improvisation. I also made the balsamic onion soda bread the other night which was so quick to put together and would pair perfectly with some sharp vintage cheddar or bitey blue cheese.

Next on the list to make is the fig and pumpkin seed granola and as soon as I put my ice cream bowl in the freezer, the earl grey ice cream.

sumac roast chicken with carrots (or sweet potatoes) and chickpeas

recipe adapted from Gatherings by Flora Sheddan
serves 4 (or 2 if using chicken breasts instead*)

400g carrots, chopped into quarters lengthways
(or 400g sweet potatoes, chopped into wedge size pieces)
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons honey
olive oil
1 large free range chicken (or 2 large chicken breasts)
1 garlic bulb, broken up
1/2 lemon, quartered
white wine, as necessary
hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped, to serve (I didn't have any so skipped this one)

sumac paste (half recipe if cooking for 2)
2 tablespoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli
juice of 1/2 lemon (keep rind and chuck in roasting pan with veg)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
salt and pepper

- Preheat oven to 200c/400F.

- Start with the sumac paste. Use either a pestle and mortar or food processor and mix all ingredients together until it becomes a well combined paste. Set aside.

- In a deep roasting tray, toss the carrots and chickpeas with the cumin, honey and a drizzle of olive oil.

- If cooking a whole chicken - place the chicken, breast side up on top of the veg and stuff the lemon quarters and rind inside. Rub the chicken with the sumac paste so it is completely and evenly covered. This can now go into the fridge and marinate for a couple of hours or straight into the preheated oven to roast for 1.5 - 2 hours.

Check the chicken after 1 hour and give the veg a toss/turn if it's catching on the edges. Add a splash of white wine to the tray and continue to cook until done and the juices run clear. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then serve with a sprinkle of the toasted hazelnuts.

- If cooking for two and using 2 breast fillets - mix the lemon quarters, lemon rind and garlic bulbs in with the veg and bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Meanwhile marinate your chicken breasts in the sumac paste. After 40 minutes the veg should be soft but not cooked through. Give it a toss, add a splash of white wine and place the chicken breasts on top, roast for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

Rest for 5 minutes then serve with a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts.

I also served this with some greek yoghurt that had a squeeze of lemon juice in it.

* If cooking for 2 and using just breasts instead of the whole chicken I would recommend to still cook the same quantities of sweet potatoes/carrot like I did. You'll get some great leftover veg that is delicious in a salad the next day with some added greens, avocado and a sharp vinaigrette.