Lamb kofta, spiced roasted chickpeas, tahini yoghurt

What is it about food you have to use your hands for? Food that involves you putting it together, starting with a carb like wraps, tortillas, rice paper, pita or naan, then building a vessel of goodness.

My kids can’t get enough of it. I think it makes them feel some control over what they’re eating, even if I’ve made it.

I’ve had this hankering for weeks for middle eastern flavours – tahini, spices, pita – I think the need for freshness after weeks of alcohol, cream and ham.

There are components to this. I’m not sure it warrants a weeknight dinner option, except if you have willing kitchenhands, as I now do, someone can be making the yoghurt, someone the tomato and cucumber salad and someone prepping the chickpeas while you make the meatballs.

Many hands, light work, you know the drill.

I’ve given you the full gamut of spices I used tonight, but really, you could easily just run with cumin and coriander if your spice cupboard is not prolific.

The yoghurt tahini number was a complete revelation – straight from Smitten Kitchen I wouldn’t change a thing.

The chickpeas were inspired by her as well, but I ended up cooking them a little differently. When it came to putting them in the oven, I dumped them in the baking tray I’d cooked the lamb in, so it had meaty residue and juices. Not great if you’re a veggo but delicious otherwise and also – less washing up.

I served it all with a simple tomato and cucumber salad – diced quite small with a little red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lamb kofta
 
Middle Eastern flavours with lamb, spices, tahini, yoghurt, tomato and cucumber.
Author:
Serves: 40
Ingredients
Lamb kofta
  • 1kg lamb mince
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground allspice
  • ½tsp ground coriander
  • ¼tsp coarse cracked pepper
  • ¼tsp ground cumin
  • ¼tsp cayenne
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together thoroughly
  2. Roll into smallish balls, or really whatever size you want. I made them roughly walnut size and got 40 meatballs.
  3. Cook them however you want - on the bbq for about 8 minutes, in the oven at 200C for about 10-15mins (although i did this and they kinda went watering and weird not crispy and golden as I'd hoped), or in a frypan, which probably would have been the correct option for the result I wanted.

 
Yoghurt tahini dressing
 
Delicious dressing/dip for any savoury adventure really.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6tbsp tahini
  • 4tbsp water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together until nice and smooth.

 
Spiced roasted chickpeas
 
Basically crack for those who like pulses and beans
Author:
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 4 cans of chickpeas (I did two chickpeas and two butter beans because that's what I had), liquid kept from one tin, the rest drained
  • (I don't add any salt because of the salt in the water from the tin, but feel free)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Saute the onions in the oil until softened
  3. Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes
  4. Add the spices and zest and cook for another minute
  5. Add the chickpeas and liquid from one of the tins
  6. Pour it into a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes, giving it a stir/toss every so often (you really could forget about it and it would be fine)

 

Onward!

Zucchini fritters

A fantastic vegetarian dinner option, zucchini and haloumi fritters with mint and dill.

Remember the time-consuming but delicious zucchini gratin? Jasper has been requesting it with increasing desperation over the last few weeks but I just didn’t have the emotional fortitude or stamina to go there. I’m blaming the relentless heat and humidity over these past months.

So when I saw a Neil Perry recipe for zucchini fritters on the SMH website I hoped I’d struck a middle ground. I’ve added some mint to my recipe and would encourage you to do the same.

These were an absolute sensation, heading straight to the pool room of family dinner winners. You could even make smaller ones as a finger food option. Don’t think the yoghurt sauce is optional – as is always the case when there’s a sauce on the side it lifts the meal from yum to YUM!

zucchini fritter mixture

Zucchini fritters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A fantastic vegetarian dinner option
Author:
Serves: 18+ fritters
Ingredients
  • 1 kg zucchini, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200 g haloumi cheese, grated
  • 100 g stale white breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
For the yoghurt sauce
  • 1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
  • Grated zest from half a lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
For the fritters
  1. Using a food processor grate the zucchinis then toss with the salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for an hour.
  2. Use the same grater blade to grate the haloumi which you're going to then tip into a mixing bowl
  3. Change the attachment and blitz your stale bread into fine breadcrumbs
  4. Mix the haloumi, breadcrumbs and herbs together while you wait for the zucchini
  5. In the meantime, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing the four ingredients together
  6. After an hour or so, squeeze as much liquid out of the zucchini as you can. When you think you've squeezed it all out go in for another round
  7. Mix the zucchini and the eggs in with the other ingredients
  8. You want to work quickly now
  9. Heat some oil in a pan, you want to shallow fry them, then shape the mixture into patties a bit bigger than a golf ball. You can really make them as big or as small as you like
  10. Cook for about two minutes on either side or until golden brown
  11. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

 

 

 

Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad

A salad of spiced roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and honey roasted walnuts

So it turns out you can makes friends with salad.

Sorry Homer.

This comes from Hetty McKinnon‘s book Community: salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen which I cannot recommend highly enough. It was the second one I cooked and there’s about ten others I’ve tagged. (Sidenote: she is now based in Brooklyn, NYC. Blackbird, get onto it.)

They are all designed as meals which I strongly endorse. That said, I have made them also cooked a protein on the side as while the boys are now pretty good (read: great) at eating/trying everything it’s quite confronting for them to think the salad is “it”.

My main tip for this recipe is don’t think the honey-roasted walnuts are optional. They lift the salad from salad to SALAD!. BUT – when cooking them watch them like a hawk, as in every 2 minutes, tossing them every time so the ones cooking more quickly on the edge get rotated with the ones in the middle. They will burn in an instant so be vigilant. BUT – totally worth it. I also followed Hettie’s suggestion to make double so you have leftovers to snack on. A brilliant idea indeed.

And as I say with so many of my posts, make it your own:

  • Don’t like rocket, use English spinach.
  • Use herbs you love or mix it up each time to create what feels like a whole new dish.
  • Don’t even be that exacting with the measurements for the spices, just scatter them over and go for it. I’m actually not the hugest fan of cumin (stinky sports socks anyone?) so upped the cinnamon and dialed down the cumin.
  • Don’t have any sweet potato in the house? Potatoes and/or pumpkin would work a treat.
  • This would also be fantastic with some diced streaky bacon or pancetta that you throw in with the roasting sweet potato for the last 10 minutes or so.

Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad
 
Spiced roasted sweet potato tossed with lentils and honey-roasted walnuts with a sweet viniagrette
Author:
Ingredients
For the sweet potatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes (around 2kgs) cut into 2cm cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tins lentils, drained (I used 1 but could easily have used two) (McKinnon uses 250g Puy lentils which she cooks for 20 minutes and then drains)
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (suggestions: mint, parsley, coriander, chives, dill, tarragon)
  • Baby rocket - around 2 cups but just go on sight
  • 50 g shaved parmesan
For the vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
For the honey-roasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups walnuts
Instructions
For the sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine potatoes with spices and olive oil and season well
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes
For the vinaigrette
  1. Combine everything in a jar and give a good shake
For the walnuts
  1. Combine the honey and spices and add some water to make a thick paste (I made this in the height of a Sydney summer so the honey was very runny and I found I didn't really need to add the water.)
  2. Toss the walnuts with the mix then spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper (less mess)
  3. Roast for 15 minutes or until the walnuts are crunchy and almost dry (Keep your eye on them and keep turn them every two minutes or so the ensure they cook evenly and don't burn. I basically work on the principal that once they had good colour they were done.)
To bring together
  1. (Because McKinnon's recipe cooks the lentils (rather than using tinned) I poured lentils, liquid and all into a bowl and cooked for a minute in the microwave to heat them up.) Then:
  2. Combine the vinaigrette with the lentils
  3. Combine the sweet potatoes, lentils (and therefore vinaigrette), half the herbs and rocket
  4. Scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and parmesan

 

Onward!

Corn fritters

What’s your favourite brekkie if you go out? For me it’s corn fritters, ideally with avocado, maybe sour cream and a chilli jam or roasted tomato to round it out. I also prefer the fritter to be more corn than batter and some diced capsicum is a welcome addition, as you can see from the recipe below. You can easily use tinned corn but I prefer fresh because it has that satisfying crunch.

Enjoy.

My #everyfuckingnight - corn fritters with avocado, sour cream and today's chilli jam.
My #everyfuckingnight – corn fritters with avocado, sour cream and today’s chilli jam.

Corn fritters
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (I used 6 smallish cobs for this)
  • ½ cup red capsicum, diced (about ½ a large capsicum)
  • ½ cup sliced spring onions (about 4-5)
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix the eggs with the milk
  2. While whisking scatter in the flour in a steady stream - this stops it getting lumpy
  3. Then gently fold in the baking powder, salt and paprika
  4. Add the corn, capsicum and coriander
  5. Heat a frypan over medium heat and add a little oil
  6. Dollop in heaped tablespoons of the batter and cook for a couple of minutes on either side
  7. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, roasted tomatoes, bacon, chilli jam... you get the idea.

 

It looks like a bucket of sick but it's really tasty (corn fritter batter)
It looks like a bucket of sick but it’s really tasty (corn fritter batter)

Onward!

Sago pudding with mango and lime

We are hurtling officially towards summer down here (ie tomorrow) and to be frank I am not pleased. I do not do hot weather and even moreso, humidity. I was truly born in the wrong country although Tasmania would probably do quite nicely. Beautiful countryside, lower temps, less humidity and a great food culture. Let’s sit with that for a moment shall we?

The only redeeming feature for me in these hotter months, apart from washing drying on the line in an hour rather than a day, is the food. Stone fruits, mangos, papaya, crisp Asian salads loaded with lime, mint, coriander and chilli and cooking outside.

Actually Sydney’s climate means I could/should use the BBQ year round but I always tend to forget it’s there once the heater is in action. The main reason I like cooking outside is I don’t have to clean down the cooktop. Yes, I am that lazy.

This dessert is fairly and squarely placed in my summer repertoire and all the boys love it. Along with the black sticky rice it sits in relatively high rotation, topped with mango or other summer fruits, drizzled with a palm sugar syrup, extra coconut cream and lime to give it zing.

Some people call it sago, some call it tapioca, we call it frogs eggs. There are myriad recipes for its use but this is my go-to.

Frog's eggs with coconut, palm sugar syrup, mango and lime. Giddyup #everyfuckingnight
Frog’s eggs with coconut, palm sugar syrup, mango and lime. Giddyup #everyfuckingnight

Tapioca pudding with mango and lime
 
The perfect summer dessert served with fresh tropical fruit
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sago
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 200 g palm sugar
  • 400 ml water
  • Mango, cut into slices or cubes
  • Lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and stir in the tapioca
  2. Cook for 15 minutes or until the beads are basically see-through, stirring regularly (this is important as they are pesky little things that like sticking to the bottom of the saucepan)
  3. Strain in a fine-holed sieve and rinse well under cold water (you'll still lose some but don't fret)
  4. Place in a bowl and stir through half the coconut cream and half the palm sugar syrup (see below)
  5. Chill for an hour or more
  6. To make the palm sugar syrup combine the palm sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  7. Simmer until it is thick and syrupy
  8. To serve, spoon into a bowl, top with fruit, drizzle over some of the remaining coconut cream and sugar syrup and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
  9. For complete show-pony status you can initially pour them into moulds and then turn out when serving, fancy like.

 

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