Monday, 17 November 2014

I’m here again, and so soon! Please don’t get used to it. But I figured you guys deserved an actual recipe from me, it really has been a while.

My main aim in the kitchen these days is to start putting together a store of recipes that I can fall back on. Simple recipes, recipes that require as little time as possible in the kitchen. I have always approached the kitchen with a desire to stretch myself as a cook, to challenge myself and grow my understanding of food and flavors. My work at the E.C.M. Kitchen has really kept me quite driven in that quest. Out of that work, a growing passion for food has also encouraged me forward. On the upside, in the past, I always had the time to explore, test and experiment in the kitchen. I am a great dawdler in the kitchen, not that I don’t get the job done, but I like to take my time, I like to enjoy the process, to savor watching (and smelling) the dish come together.

This is a luxury I no longer have. Dawdling that is. And with a the added pressure of ongoing morning sickness I feel a need to start adjusting how I cook for our family now, before there is a second baby and the time limit is even smaller. I almost feel an urgency about it.

You see, with all this pushing forward on the quest, I’ve discovered a big gaping hole in my repertoire. Simple recipes that taste good. This is strange because I love simple food. I adore avocado on toast. I think a poached egg is heaven. And don’t even get me started on pesto pasta. But quite honestly, that’s it, those three things are about as big as my simple food recipe pile stands.

There is another side to this. I can’t stand mac and cheese. There are few things on this earth I could pair with the word ‘hate’, but that would be on the top of my list. Most of the simple meals for families being batted around out there just aren’t to a standard of flavor that I am used too now. I can’t do mac and cheese. In fact I am not even a big fan of pasta bake full stop. Or casseroles. Has anyone else noticed that when you make a stew everything tastes the same? The carrots, the meat, the potatoes, they all take on one the flavor and there is no….oomph. Oh help, I just sound like a whiny child now. I just want layers or flavor. Even if it’s just like the slight tart change you get between the flesh of an apple and its skin. Tell me please that someone understands this.

I want simple dishes that still rock in flavor. 

A new quest has begun. 

And with all that out of my system, I give you recipe number one. A twist on Maggie Beer's Pumpkin Bruschetta. 
A very dear friend sent me one of Maggie's books a while ago, signed and addressed appropriately by the dear Maggie herself, but it has since been sitting on the shelf due to my lack of time to give it a proper introduction to the kitchen. Pouring over her starters this week, I pulled out this recipe as it appealed to another problem I have in the kitchen right now. Not being able to cook. Or at least, not being able to stand over cooking food. I can cut pumpkin and bung it in the oven and walk away from it. That, I can still do well. I can see this dish becoming a great fall back dinner for us in the future, and it was actually very good too. Simple of course, but good. And for myself, not being able to eat the goat’s cheese whilst pregnant, the roasted pumpkin smashed onto the toasted ciabatta by itself, was still totally lip smacking. 

Roast Pumpkin on toast
(slightly tweaked from Maggie Beers Roast Pumpkin Bruschetta recipe)

  • Butternut pumpkin (as much as you like)
  • onion (optional) 
  • good quality olive oil
  • fresh rosemary
  • sea salt
  • cracked pepper
  • Verjuice 
  • about 3 garlic cloves (more if you are making a big batch of pumpkin)
  • a loaf of ciabatta bread
  • soft goats cheese
  • a lemon

preheat oven to about 240C

Cut pumpkin into small 1cm-2cm pieces and place on baking tray, throw on some smashed garlic cloves (hold one garlic clove back for the bread), thinly sliced onion, and the fresh rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and season well. Bake till the tips of the pumpkin start to caramelize. 

Take tray out and drizzle over verjuice. Maggie recommends a 1/4 of a cup for only 200g, so I think you can be quite generous with your drizzle :)

Place it back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. 

The ciabatta loaf can be sliced and toasted, grilled or fried in a little oil (as I did), if you grill or toast you can drizzle with a little oil, but when cooked, rub with the set aside garlic clove (cut in half first to get max flavor of garlic on the bread) 

Then place goats cheese onto toast, and serve the hot silky pumpkin on top. I added some more sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to really help make the dish pop.

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