Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

Nigel Slater's Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

A couple of months ago I was looking for a cake to serve for Persian New Year that would have a slight Middle Eastern feel to it and came across this recipe from Nigel Slater which fit the bill perfectly. This is an amazing cake, moist and so flavourful with just a hint of the exotic from the subtle fragrance of the rosewater.  The simple icing with its slight lemon tang is the perfect counterpart for the cake. Whilst the cake is quite dense, as it’s heavy on pistachios and almonds, it’s not overly sweet and can stand on its own as both a coffee cake or a dessert.

Ingredients  Adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

250g butter
250g sugar
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachio nuts
100g ground almonds/almond flour
1 orange, zest and juice
1 teaspoon rosewater (I used 1 tablespoon as I wanted the rosewater to be a bit more prominent)
60g plain flour
Chopped shelled pistachio nuts to decorate – optional

For the icing:
100g icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 22cm or 23cm round cake tin. Place the pistachios in a mini food processor and blitz until finely ground.

Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand mixer or electric mixer until light and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the almonds and ground pistachios. Beat in the orange juice and zest and the rosewater, mixing only enough to combine. Fold in the flour using a metal spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 50 minutes to an hour. Cover the top of the cake with foil after 40 minutes. The cake is ready when a metal skewer inserted into the centre come out mostly clean, with no big clumps of cake clinging to it.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the icing, whisk together the lemon juice and icing sugar to form a paste. Pour this over the cooled cake and top with the some roughly chopped pistachios (if using) then wait for at least 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing and serving.

Nigel Slater's Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

Tyler Florence Lime Red Curry Wings

These scrummy chicken wings are similar to Buffalo wings but with a South-East Asian twist. As with buffalo wings the cooked chicken wings, which are baked here instead of deep-fried, are coated in a butter sauce that is enriched with lime juice and Thai red curry paste. They’re sticky, spicy and very addictive. These wings make a great appetiser for an Asian themed dinner or finger food for any occasion. You can prep the butter sauce ahead of time but the wings need to be baked and coated in the sauce just before serving. I like to buy organic chicken wing drummettes, which basically look like little mini drumsticks, but if you can’t find them buy normal wings and cut them into thirds, discarding the wing tips. You’ll want to make more of these wings than you think you need as they disappear fast.

 Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from Tyler Florence

2kg chicken wings – free range or organic if possible. I like to use wing drummettes but otherwise cut the wing into thirds and discard the wing tips.
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 big, fat rounded tablespoon Thai red curry paste
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lime, halved
Coriander leaves, for garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C. Bring the chicken wings to room temperature and place them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with the seasoning. Then spread the wings out on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender.

Baked Chicken Wings
Tyler Florence's Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

While you wait, put the butter, red curry paste, honey and soy sauce into a blender or small food processor. Season with salt and puree. Scrape into a big bowl. When the wings come out of the oven add them to the bowl with the curry butter. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the wings and toss the hot wings well in the butter sauce, making sure every wing is well coated. To serve place the wings on a platter and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.

Crispy Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

Gina De Palma’s Amazing Hubba Hubba Apple Cake

Best Ever Apple Cake

Gina De Palma is the ex pastry chef of iconic New York restaurant Babbo and the author of a fabulous blog. Gina says this apple cake is one of her all time favourites, hence the name, and that’s high praise from someone whose profession is all things sugary. Apparently the recipe is one that Gina’s mother found many years ago in a magazine and it instantly became a family favourite. This cake not only looks impressive with its tall sides and caramelised apple topping but it can feed a very large group of people. We served this at Easter for morning tea and after serving up 10 slices there was still half a cake leftover – yay! This is not an overly sweet cake which makes it a good choice for morning or afternoon tea, but it would also be fabulous for dessert with maybe the addition of a warm caramel sauce or a creme anglaise. Best thing of all is how easy this cake is to pull together – just one bowl and no heavy machinery in the form of mixers required. I would note though that you really do need to use an angel cake tin for this recipe, you need something with very tall sides (there’s a lot of batter) and for the caramelised apples to be visible on top of the cake which can’t be achieved with a bundt tin or any other tin that requires the cake to be inverted. Happy baking!

Ingredients – Serves at least 12 people generously (leftovers keep well)  Adapted from Gina De Palma

5 large or 8 small apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
2¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C (I used fan-force and would recommend you increase the temperature to 170C if you are not). Peel and slice apples and put them in a large bowl. Combine ¼ cup of the sugar with the cinnamon and stir well. Toss the apples with 3 tablespoons of this cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat them well, and set aside both the apples and the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.

  

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a very large bowl, then whisk in the rest of the sugar until all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a stiff whisk, stir the two mixtures together until you have a smooth batter; you’ll find it easier to start with a whisk and end with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed dry ingredients.

Spray an angel food cake (tube) pan very well with non-stick vegetable spray (I also floured the tin). Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to evenly spread it. Distribute half of the apples over the batter evenly, and sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Layer the remaining batter on top of the apples, smoothing it with the spatula, then top with the remaining apples and the last of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

  Best Ever Apple Cake

Bake the cake on the center rack for 1-1½ hours, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted through the cake comes out clean, with no traces of wet batter. As per the comments below some people have noted that it takes longer to bake than 1½ hours and if you do need to cook it for longer keep a close eye on the top apple layer to ensure they don’t burn, if they are darkening too much cover the tin loosely with foil. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan, then slide out the cake with the tube. Let the cake cool completely on a rack for 2 hours. The cake is best served the next day if possible.

Best Ever Apple Cake

Oysters Rockefeller – A Great Introduction to Oysters

Oysters Rockefeller

I know oysters are a food that one either loves or hates but I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve come across recently who don’t like them. I think if more people were introduced to oysters in a baked or cooked form they would find them a lot more palatable. This baked oyster dish, aptly named Rockefeller as it’s so rich, is a great introduction to the glory of oysters. A creamy sauce of shallots, bacon and spinach is spooned over the oysters which are then topped with breadcrumbs and cheese before being baked until golden and hot. My husband declared these his favourite way of eating oysters and I have to agree they are out of this world. These make a great appetiser with drinks or you can plate a few of them individually to serve as a starter, and even  if you think you don’t like oysters I urge you to try these as they may just change your mind.

Ingredients – Makes 12 oysters

12 oysters shucked, for this recipe I prefer larger oysters
25g butter
2 small rashers streaky bacon, very finely diced
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine or vermouth
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 finely chopped anchovy fillet
½ cups cream
200g frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out – you can use fresh spinach but frozen works very well here
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Cut the oyster away from the shell and place them in a bowl and set aside. Clean the shells well and place on a baking sheet. I like to crumple some foil on the tray to nestle the shells on which stops them from tipping over. Heat a medium skillet and when hot add the diced bacon and cook until crispy, remove and set aside leaving as much fat in the pan as possible.

 

In  the same skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, season with salt and cook until tender. Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Add wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add garlic and anchovies, stir to combine. Season with salt. Add heavy cream and  let cook for one minute. Stir in spinach, tarragon and reserved bacon. Cook until mixture thickens. If mixture seems too thick, add a little water or more cream to thin it out a slightly.


Oyster Rockefeller before Baking Oysters Rockefeller

Place the oyster shells in the oven and bake until warm, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together cheese, panko,  breadcrumbs and olive oil until well combined, set aside. Spoon a small amount of the spinach mixture into each of the shells and top each with a whole oyster. Top with a little more of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake until oysters are hot and the bread crumb topping is golden brown. If you like you can finish them off under a hot grill.

Oysters Rockefeller

Jager Schnitzel – Crumbed Veal with Rich Mushroom Gravy

Jaeger Schnitzel - Schnitzel with Rich Mushroom Sauce

The days are getting cooler in Sydney and I’m really enjoying the chill in the air and the fresh nights. The main reason for my love of cooler weather is the food that goes along with it. Warming comfort food that makes you count down the minutes to dinner time. This meal does just that, golden crispy veal schnitzel that’s topped with a rich mushroom sauce – this is not something you want to necessarily be eating in the height of summer, especially when the perfect side dish is a mound of creamy mashed potatoes. The origins of this dish are German but there are similar versions of it throughout Europe, with most of them incorporating cream in the mushroom sauce but I prefer the richness of this wine and stock based German style mushroom gravy. This particular recipe is a real cracker with a nice twist in the additions to the crumbing mixture which make for a very tasty schnitzel. If you wish to replace the veal with another protein, thinly pounded chicken breast or pork loin work well. This is a little more labour intensive than the usual weekday meal but it can be done in stages with the meat sitting happily breaded in the fridge overnight and the mushroom gravy can also be made in advance and then heated just before serving.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from Guy Fieri of Foodnetwork

8 very thinly pounded pieces of veal scallopini, not too large as you are serving 2 pieces per person- you can replace the veal with thinly pounded pork or chicken
1 cup plain flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
250g thinly sliced bacon or pancetta, diced
1 medium size onion, diced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
¼ cup red wine
light olive oil, or vegetable oil for frying
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C. In a shallow medium bowl, mix together ¾ cup flour with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. In another shallow medium bowl, combine egg, milk and mustard. In another medium shallow bowl, combine bread and panko crumbs. Dredge veal slices first in flour, then in egg wash, and finally in crumbs, pressing the crumbs in firmly. Leave to sit for a good 5 minutes on a baking sheet to set. If you wish to make them ahead the veal can be crumbed and left covered in the fridge for a good few hours or overnight.

  

In a medium saute pan over medium heat add a little oil and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels. In same pan with the remaining bacon fat, add onions and saute for 3 minutes or until soft, if the pan is too dry add a little more oil. Add mushrooms and continue sauteing for 3 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup flour. Cook flour to make roux until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes, reducing by a third, then add stock. Continue cooking to reduce by a third again. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. The sauce can also be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.

 Mushroom Gravy for Jager Schnitzel Jager Schnitzel

Heat a generous amount of oil in a thick skillet or fry pan, there should be enough oil to cover the whole base of the pan. When the oil is hot add the veal and cook until golden brown on each side. Don’t over crowd the pan, if you need to, cook the veal in batches. Keep an eye on your heat so as the veal doesn’t burn and add more oil as necessary. Remove to platter when done –  you can keep the cooked schnitzel in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving add the butter to the warm sauce, stirring until it has melted. Stir through the chopped bacon and parsley. To serve place the veal on a platter or on individual plates and top with some of the mushroom gravy.

Jager Schnitzel - Schnitzel with Rich Mushroom Gravy

The Village Bakery’s Berry Ricotta Cake

Village Bakery's Berry Ricotta Cake

I’ve never had the opportunity to sample the delights of the Village bakery in LA, which isn’t surprising as I live on the other side of the world, but Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet blog is fortunate enough to have the Village Bakery as his local cafe. He loved their berry ricotta cake so much they agreed to give him the recipe and he in turn was kind enough to share it. This is a lovely  and moist cake with a very interesting crumb due to the inclusion of cornmeal. I substituted with polenta as cornmeal is hard to come by in Australia and from what I can gather they’re pretty much the same thing. I used a course ground polenta which I think is the most similar in texture to cornmeal. At first bite the mouth feel of the cornmeal/polenta takes you by surprise but in a very enjoyable way and the addition of ricotta places this cake somewhere between a cheesecake and a normal yellow cake. This is an easy cake to pull together and would be great as both a dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche or just to go alongside a cup of tea or coffee.

Ingredients  Adapted from the Village Bakery via Amateur Gourmet

150g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup + 1 tablespoon cornmeal – if you can’t get cornmeal substitute with course or medium ground polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup drained ricotta
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or sliced stone fruit – I used raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and flour a 23cm springform cake tin. In a Kitchenaid or stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Whisk together the oil, eggs, vanilla and honey and then add them to the mixer; mixing just until the eggs are well incorporated. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda and add to the mixer. Mix until just combined.

  
Berry Ricotta Cake  Berry Ricotta Cake Berry Ricotta Cake

Lastly, add the ricotta and sour cream and mix until evenly distributed. Be careful not to over beat.  Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake tin. Top with half the berries. Pour the remaining batter over the berries, smooth, and top with the rest of the fruit. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Berry Ricotta Cake

Potato & Mushroom Gratin – The Perfect Side Dish For Your Easter Roast Lamb

Potato & Mushroom Gratin

I love gratins of any sort but the classic potato gratin or pommes Dauphinoise  has to be my favourite. It’s rich and creamy and makes the perfect side dish. Purists say a classic potato gratin should not be made with cream, with some going so far as to say no cheese either. Whilst I agree with the former and use whole milk (not skim) I do love the addition of Gruyère cheese in a potato gratin. I’ve gone one step further in this version and added some sautéed mushrooms which add a lovely earthy note to the gratin. If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh porcini or ceps these would be amazing here. I used  Swiss brown mushrooms which are similar to chestnut mushrooms or baby portobello’s. I’ve noted in the ingredients the optional addition of truffle oil which really takes this to another level.

One thing that I think is vital for a gratin is for the potatoes to be sliced very thinly on a mandolin. If you haven’t got one then use the finest slicing blade on your food processor. If you haven’t got access to a mandolin or a processor then slice them by hand, take your time and try and cut them as thinly as  you can with a uniform thickness, which is vital if the potatoes are to cook evenly. There are two ways of making a potato gratin, the first is to just layer the potatoes with seasoning etc and then cover with milk and bake in the oven. The alternative method, and the one I prefer, is where the potatoes are first blanched in the milk to start the cooking process and then placed in the gratin dish to bake. I find the texture of the potatoes is better this way and it also cuts down on the baking time. If you’re cooking a roast lamb for Easter Sunday lunch this gratin would be a great accompaniment, and if you’re short on time and oven space it can be prepared in advance and then put in the oven to bake while the lamb is resting.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 kg potatoes – I used Desiree but any all purpose or waxy potato will work
Approx. 21/2 cups whole fat milk (skim doesn’t work here)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
300g mushrooms, sliced
Knob of butter
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white truffle oil – optional, but really good

Method

Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly on a mandolin. You want them to be slightly thicker than a potato chip/crisp but not paper thin. If you don’t have a mandolin use the finest blade setting on a food processor. Place the sliced potatoes in a saucepan that is more wide than it is tall and is large enough for the potatoes have a little bit of room. Pour enough milk to just cover them – the amount of milk you’ll need will depend on the size of the pan, which is why it’s better to go for something wider than taller. Add the garlic, bay leaf, nutmeg, some salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat straight away to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. During this time you’ll need to stir the potatoes gently, scraping from the bottom of the pan to ensure the milk doesn’t get scorched. Once the potatoes are cooked taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.Whilst the potatoes are cooking, heat the butter in a skillet and cook the mushroom until they are golden brown and all the moisture has evaporated from them. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.


Potato & Mushroom Gratin Potato & Mushroom Gratin

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. To assemble the gratin take a shallow oven proof dish and spoon in a layer of the potatoes along with some of the milk. You won’t be able to layer them precisely as the potatoes are hot and wet but just even them up as best you can. Add a sprinkling of Gruyère and some mushrooms. Repeat the process until all the potatoes are used, with the final layer being the remaining Gruyère cheese and the parmesan. If you are using the truffle oil trickle this over just before you add the final layer of cheese. Depending on the size of your dish you should have about 3 or 4 layers. Most of the creamy milk in the saucepan will be used up but if there is any left, drizzle it over the gratin. Bake for about 30 minutes (it’s wise to place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips) until it’s golden and bubbly.

Easter Sunday Lamb Side Dish - Potato & Mushroom Gratin

Kerala Beef Curry – Nadan Beef

Beef Nadan Curry

We recently returned from a wonderful vacation to the Maldives where we had the opportunity to sample some amazing curries. The Maldives are only about 500 miles from the Southern tip of India and it’s normal for many of the resorts to have a variety of Indian inspired dishes on their menus. This is as close as we’ve come to eating what I imagine is very authentic Indian food, and since we’ve returned I’ve been craving a really good curry and especially one from Kerala or Goa which, given their proximity to the Maldives, is the Indian food most represented on the menus. This Kerala beef curry or beef Nadan captures all the wonderful flavours that are characteristic of food from that region. You can make this as spicy or as mild as you like, the version below produces a medium hot curry but if I were serving this to the whole family I would tone down the chilli element. Don’t be put off by what may seem like a long list of ingredients because the actual cooking and preparation are all very simple. A trip to India is on our bucket list but I think it may be a few years away, in the meantime this curry will help keep my cravings at bay.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 and freezes well

I kg beef, cubed – I used chuck
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
2 medium sized onions, sliced
3 long mild long green chillies, cut into large pieces. If you want less heat remove the seeds or even just add one chilli but leave it whole
8 cardamom pods
8 cloves
8 black peppercorns
3 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Leaves from 2 strands of curry leaves
5 good sized cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
100ml ghee or coconut oil or vegetable oil
½ teaspoons chilli powder – use can use less if you prefer a milder curry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method

Place the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and star anise in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat for a few minutes to lightly toast them. Cool slightly then grind them in a coffee/spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle, set aside.

  
Heat the oil in  a heavy based saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, curry leaves and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the ginger and cook for another few minutes. Next add the chilli powder, paprika, coriander, turmeric and a small amount of water (about 3-4 tablespoons) and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and beef. Fry the beef until it changes colour and then add a heaped teaspoon of salt. Add enough boiling water to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 1½ – 2 hours or until the meat is just tender.

  Nadan Beef

Check the seasoning and add more salt if you need to. The second part of the cooking process is to turn up the heat and let the curry cook on a rapid simmer until the liquid is nicely reduced and thickened. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on how much liquid there is but you can roughly count on 20-30 minutes. This stage of the cooking process not only thickens the sauce but also intensifies all the flavours and takes the meat to the fork-tender stage. Make sure you are nearby whilst the curry is reducing and stir it often to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Once the sauce is at the desired consistency add the ground spices and stir them through well. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Beef Nadan

Marinated Eggplant

Ottolenghi's Marinated Eggplan

This is another winner of a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi. If you have a fondness for eggplant you’re going to love this dish. I normally find eggplant that has been baked rather than fried a little on the dry side. It’s great that it’s healthier but it lacks the silky soft quality that eggplant has when it’s been fried. Ottolenghi has found the perfect cure for this by marinading the baked eggplant in a dressing of garlic, herbs, lemon and olive oil which slowly seeps into the eggplant infusing it with wonderful tastes and aromas. I love side dishes that can be prepared in advance and this one not only can be, but has to be. I find the longer it sits the better it tastes and I usually make it in the morning and leave it at room temperature to marinade until dinner time. You could also make it the night before and keep it in the fridge but make sure you let it come fully to room temperature before serving. These marinated eggplants would also be wonderful as an appetiser on top of bruschetta or just served with some warm flat bread.

Ingredients – serves 4  Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

3 medium-sized eggplants
olive oil for brushing
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Marinade:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 mild red chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
1-2 garlic cloves finely diced
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C.  Trim the stalk end off the eggplants, then cut each eggplant in half, widthwise.  Cut the fat lower piece lengthwise in half and then cut each half into 3 wedges.  Do the same with the thinner piece, but cut each half into 2 wedges.  You should end up  with 10 similar size pieces from each eggplant with skin on their curved side. Line a baking sheet with non stick paper and place the eggplant on the tray skin side down. Brush each piece generously with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the top or middle section of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the eggplant are golden and they are soft to the touch.

Ottolenghi Eggplant Ottolenghi's Marinade for Eggplant

Whilst the eggplant are roasting place all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine. As soon as the eggplant are done toss them gently through the dressing until all the slices are well coated but try to ensure you don’t mush up the eggplant or break them as you mix. The eggplant tastes best when they have at least a couple of hours sitting in the dressing. Keep them at room temperature in a cool place for up to a few hours or place in the fridge but make sure that you bring them to room temperature before serving.

Ottolenghi's Marinated Aubergine

Nigel Slater’s Garlic Crumbed Chicken

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

This is one of those very fast and simple mid-week meals that looks and tastes like it took a  lot of time and effort to create. It reminded me somewhat of chicken Kiev, but with a healthier fresher approach. Don’t be too mislead by the title, whilst there is enough garlic in the dish to make a subtle impact it’s by no means overpowering, especially as the garlic-breadcrumb mixture is first pan fried and then baked again on top of the chicken. The chicken can be prepared hours in advance and kept refrigerated and the crumb mixture can also be prepped ahead of time and then added to the chicken just before baking. If you have trouble sourcing taleggio cheese you can substitute with brie or any other soft cheese, although I think goat cheese would be too overpowering. This is total comfort food and is perfect accompanied with mashed potatoes and a salad. A great family meal for busy mid-week that you  can get on the table in less than an hour from start to finish and unlike a lot of “quick” meals this one leaves you with minimal dishes and mess to clean up.

Ingredients – Serves 2  Adapted from Nigel Slater

 2 chicken breasts, skin removed
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
150g taleggio cheese, cut into strips
75g butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped – I used speck
2 large handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Score the chicken breasts 3 – 4 times diagonally across the top to within 1-2cm of the bottom. Finely chop the parsley and cut the taleggio into strips. Roll the taleggio in the parsley and then stuff the cheese into the scored gaps in the chicken breasts. Rub the olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken on a shallow sided baking tray. I like to use a porcelain dish that I can take straight to the table – the chicken oozes out some cheese as it cooks and it’s nice to capture this in the pan it is served in. The chicken can be prepared up to this point in advance and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. You will need to take it out of the fridge an hour beforehand to let it come to room temperature.

 Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed ChickenNigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

To make the crumb mixture, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and bacon to the pan and cook for three minutes, or until the garlic and bacon are starting to brown. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and cook for a further three minutes. Scatter the breadcrumb mix over the chicken breasts, patting them down lightly. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken