Along with wanting to be a surgeon, another Mozart, and the next Attenborough, there was a brief phase where I desperately dreamt of becoming a dentist. As with most childhood desires, these dreams were fleeting and quickly forgotten when shinier ideas were hatched and the new spells they cast led me down a different path. While I can safely confirm the prospect of looking in mouths doesn’t excite me as much as it did when I was 8, it did impart a very real awareness of sugar and its effects on our teeth and health. I’ve never really been drawn to desserts and would definitely choose the ‘salty’ over the ‘sweet’ but there are exceptions … And this Sticky Lemon Slice is one of them! It’s crumbly and a little tart and it’s gooey and just a little addictive. I ate a couple of slices almost straight out of the oven from the latest batch I made and burnt my tongue, then continued to recklessly eat it until I felt nauseous from a sugar-overload and got a headache. Oh well, there you go … It’s hard to resist so you may as well surrender to it and share it with all those prone to sweet sticky manias. I assure you you’re not alone … or at least you won’t be now – it is seriously that delicious.
25 October 2016 BY Julie Biuso
Is it weird if I make soup for breakfast? London's grey today and I just found a kumara and a butternut pumpkin. Totally gonna do it, and play BOB in my fat jumper and feast while everyone is out hahahahaha. A Noble day indeed.
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 big cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
A decent knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
1.5L (US a good 3 pints/UK2.6 pints) water
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds out and chopped
2 large kumara (sweet potato), peeled and chopped
2 red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 hot red chilli cut in half
A gigantic bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
Salt and pepper to taste
400ml (14 ounce) can of coconut milk
Lots of lime juice for squirting over at the end
Plain unsweetened yoghurt for the top, optional
1 Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onions then lower heat to medium. Cook until tender, stirring often to make sure they don’t catch. If they are starting to char, drop the heat further and add some water.
3 Pour in the water and add the butternut squash, kumara and potatoes along with the chilli and a handful of fresh coriander. It’s probably better at this stage to add most of the stalky bits of the coriander as it all gets whizzed up anyway and the fluffy leaves look nicer as a garnish to plonk on top at the end.
4 Add a generous pinch or three of salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and let the soup bubble away until the veggies are tender. Throw in the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer.
5 Taste the soup and adjust seasoning as necessary. Grab yer blender and whizz until smooth, or leave some bits lumpy for added texture.
6 Serve immediately and top with more coriander and lots of fresh lime juice! And a blob of yoghurt … if you feel so inclined.
(Oh, PS, if you’re a bit spooked about spicy foods, remove the chilli before you whizz up the soup. It will have imparted some flavour and heat during the cooking process so if you prefer things on the mild side, that alone will suffice.)
11 October 2016 BY Ilaria Biuso
These potato gnocchi are light puff balls that substantiate this dish without making it too heavy – they’re crispy on the outside and Mmmmmmeltingly tender on the inside.
500g (bit more than a pound) floury potatoes, peeled and cubed
Big knob of butter
1 large egg
120g (4 ounces) plain flour
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large red peppers (bell peppers/capsicums), core and seeds removed and finely diced
1 medium brown onion, peeled and finely diced
A few generous handfuls of watercress
8 free range eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated parmesan cheese (Use a microplane! They’re amazing!)
Finely grated lemon zest
Ilaria’s Breakfast Eggs with Magic Balls
The inevitable is on our doorstep, breaking through the clouds drop by drop. Yes, October is bringing autumn with it. The colours that line the local canal have transformed from fresh green to hues of burnt orange, contrasting with the black, seemingly bottomless stretch of water.
I needed something light and bright to pick me up, but it had to be comforting and a little bit luxurious. I don’t know about you but for me, a plate of potato-y starchy goodness covered in oozing egg yolks with parmesan fits the bill perfectly. So here’s my decadent Breakfast Eggs with Magic Balls! A bed of cress gives the dish a fiery pepperiness, while softened red peppers (bell peppers/capsicum) and onion give a sweetness that enhances the richness of softly poached yolks and parmesan. The potato gnocchi are light puff balls that substantiate the dish without making it too heavy – they’re crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. While they do demand a bit of attention, and take a few steps to make, they are worth it and really make this dish unique and special. If, however, you don’t have time, you can swap the gnocchi for simple roasted potato chunks – the choice is yours. Happy munching.
1 Let’s start off with the gnocchi as we all know the delights of waiting around for potatoes to cook! You can steam them if you prefer, or else, cook them in gently boiling water until tender. Drain well then push them through a large metal sieve with a rubber scraper (don’t process them as the purée can turn gluggy). Mix in the butter and half a teaspoon of salt, and put them aside to cool.
2 Next up, heat the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) and add the red pepper and onion. Cook on a very low heat stirring from time to time to ensure the pieces don’t catch. We want them to be softened to the max, so keep an eye on them to make sure there’s no burn. Once tender, set aside.
3 Bring the gnocchi back to the scene: to the now cooled purée, beat in the egg with a wooden spoon (beat vigorously at this point to draw in air, but don’t beat once the flour is added or the gnocchi will be tough). Sift over the flour and blend in.
4 Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead very briefly to bring the dough together, then slice off a chunk of the mixture. Lightly flour the work surface and roll the potato mixture into a thin sausage shape (about the thickness of the handle of an old wooden jam-making spoon). Cut the roll into little ‘pillows’ with a sharp floured knife (the knife squishes the mixture as it cuts, leaving the pieces looking like elongated pillows). Repeat until all the dough is shaped.
5 Bring 2 medium pots of water to the boil – one for cooking the gnocchi and the other for poaching the eggs. When the gnocchi pot comes to the boil, turn it down to a medium-high heat and salt (you don’t want a roaring boil – the gnocchi are delicate and you don’t want them to disintegrate from giant bubbles!)
6 Drop in the gnocchi one by one, plopping them into the water; work quickly, flicking them in with the handle of a spoon. Cook gently for about 2 minutes, or until the gnocchi bob to the surface and settle. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon, and put them in a bowl.
7 To the other boiling pot of water, add a decent glug of vinegar (I randomly used apple cider vinegar as it was the first type I saw on our shelves!) Crack the first egg into a bowl, grab a big spoon and make a whirlpool in the pot, and plop the egg in. Ideally, all the white should fold over itself and turn opaque as it whirls around and (hopefully) come out a reasonably good looking poached egg. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and drain. Repeat for the other eggs. See information on poaching eggs here Poaching eggs
8 Heat oil in a fry pan and when hot add the cooked gnocchi and fry them until crispy! Done. Time to plate.
9 Put a generous handful of cress on to each of the serving plates, scatter over the red pepper and onion mix and crispy gnocchi, followed by the eggs. Sprinkle over finely grated parmesan and lemon zest, then season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately!
This gnocchi recipe makes heaps as you’ll see, so only cook how many pieces you want to eat now – transfer the rest to trays lined with baking paper (I find this is the best thing to use to prevent sticking). You can cover the pieces loosely with more baking paper, or waxed paper, and leave in a dry place for up to 2 hours before cooking (do not leave them in a steamy atmosphere or they will become sticky), or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Alternatively, freeze any you don’t need on a tray. Once frozen, transfer to a container. Cook from frozen, allowing about 5 minutes’ cooking.
Ilaria here. I knew nothing about beer and barely drank it until I came to London. My go-to was Corona or Hoegaarden and I rarely stepped away from these two.
Then, WELCOME TO LONDON! And everything changed.
I was unaware that there were so many styles of beer for a start, and that there’s a ridiculous array of hops and malts from different sides of the world and the flavours of these are influenced by their geographic locations. Hops grown in England, for example, are bold, earthy, and tea-like. Czech hops on the other hand are crisper and lighter with some pepper notes; these are mainly used in Pilsners and Lagers. Hops grown in Australia and New Zealand are tropical and fruity, similar to those of America that are also fruity but piney and grassy, too. It’s the geographical region that the hops are grown in that gives them their unique flavour profiles. Think of it like wine – hops grown in warmer weather like New Zealand or West Coast America have a more tropical flavour.
During a Home Brew class at CRATE we used Challenger hops. We converted small chilly bins into brewing tanks by adding a small, netted filter at the base. The filter acted as a sieve to catch any malt that would otherwise slip through the tank into our eventual beer. We began by filling the tanks with hot water and pouring in the malt.
We then left the mix to drop down to the right temperature before adding more water to the tank. It’s important when adding more water that you do so delicately so the settling malt is not disturbed. Pouring the water over the back of a spoon usually does the trick!
We have to siphon litres out at a time and pour them back in, repeating this cycle until the liquid eventually runs clear.
The liquid is then poured into a huge barrel and brought to the boil. The tank will be left with a bed of malt – the water we’ve added has absorbed all the flavour and goodness that we need so the spent malt can be thrown out, or feed it to a group of horses that just may happen to be casually loitering by …
The malt has settled! After, we drain the water out of the tank we’re left with with residual malt.
During the boiling, the protein from the malt rises and bubbles to a thick beige froth. We added in our first round of hops at this stage and continued to boil the mixture for 45 minutes.
This first round of hops essentially adds the bitterness to the brew. The longer the hops are exposed to hot water, the more oils are extracted and consequently the bitterer the brew will be. The second round of hops added at the very end gives the beer it’s aroma, and also adds to the flavour. By adding in this second round for just a short flash of 15 minutes or so, the sweetness will seep out of the hops but very little bitterness.
At this point we have to crash cool the brew otherwise the hops will continue to be affected by the hot water. We ran ours through a tiny chiller, straight into our fermenters.
Here we added in the yeast, and then we tucked them away for a few weeks. I added in a whack of white peach purée half way through the fermenting process in the hopes of creating a delightfully fruity pale ale! While I was unsure what to expect, I have to admit the end result was pretty tasty. The beer was sweet and floral, and actually smelt like strawberry yoghurt! For a first time go, I’ve gotta say I was pretty stoked! As I write this it’s a Sunday afternoon and in all honesty I think it’s fair play if I cracked open a couple of these home brew beers. That’s what it’s all about!
Ilaria here. London has been grey and drizzly and we’re over it, but we seemed oblivious to the fact that a long weekend was looming until about three days before Good Friday. EEP! I was getting out of London, no matter what, but last minute plane tickets weren’t an option… However, a spontaneous drive to the continent was!
The idea to drive to north Belgium via Calais and the car train grew pretty organically – the distance was within our radius and with 5 of us squeezed in Tom’s Audi the travel was affordable, leaving more dough for Flemish feasting. And did we feast!
Leaving at 6.30 in the morning, we got down to Folkestone in southern England in time to get the 8.30am train. Half an hour later we’d crossed The Channel and by lunchtime we were in Bruges having our first waffle! I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth but thought I may as well go all out and top mine with Nutella and a dusting of sugar. Whether that’s a traditional combo or not, I’m unsure, but it did the trick and settled the tummy before we took a (very touristy!) boat cruise through the central city canals.
Bruges is a sweet little city steeped in history, and full of ancient architecture.
The city centre bustles with shops and bars, just what you’d expect to see anywhere in Europe, but walking through the back streets was like taking a step back into the past. In an attempt to avoid the cafes and eateries around the main square, we waked for ages, probably in circles, before coming across an underground restaurant, serving up steak, chips, and beer. Everything we needed!
Soon after, we were en route to Ghent, a little larger and a considerably more beautiful city than Bruges. It is laden with cathedrals with one on just about every street corner! It is also home to St Bavo’s Cathedral where the Ghent Altarpiece by the van Eyck brothers is housed. Having made Art History my major at university, it was super-incredible to see this work in the flesh.
By the time evening came about we were ravenous – and we found the perfect spot in the central city, right by the canal. Although it wasn’t overly traditional, I couldn’t resist carpaccio for my entrée and duck with wild rice for the main. The wine match? A New Zealand Cable Bay Syrah.
Next stop was Antwerp, a bigger city again, with a mix of old Flemish architecture and new commercial buildings. Just by the main square, we found Bar Gollem, named after the precious Gollum. This bar was a total gem! It had about 30 Belgian beers on tap and about 40 more canned or bottled beers available. The waiter brought us 5 interesting beers none of us had heard of, each different in style, and gave a little run down on them all. But most importantly, Bar Gollem also had Flemish Stew on the menu, and this was an absolute highlight!
While the photo doesn’t do the dish justice, this is probably one of the best stews I’ve had. It was fairly basic and I couldn’t even detect many vegetables or herbs in it. The meat (beef shin) was gloriously tender and succulent with no fatty or gristly bits (they give me the heebie-jeebies) and it paired perfectly with an accompanying dish of red cabbage; it also came with chips – everything seems to come with chips in Belgium! I swear by the time we got back into London I’d probably stretched my stomach to double (potentially triple) its size and maybe felt a bit guilty, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
26 January 2016 BY Ilaria Biuso
Christmas treats, New Year's treats … January is nearly over so it’s sorta time to get things back on track. Welcome salad! But tanked up salad with all the trimmings including fried, salted croutons …
2 red peppers (bell peppers/capsicum)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of about 1 nice squidgy lemon)
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
100g (about 3 ounces) sugar snaps
8 black olives (Crespo olives are a winner here!)
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 big iceberg lettuce leaves
100g (about 4 ounces) baby salad mix
100g (3-4 ounces) canned tuna, drained
1 avocado, sliced and cubed into small chunks
3 medium slices of fresh sourdough or grainy bread
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 We want to char-grill these peppers so have a look HERE to do it. We want them delightfully blackened! Once they’ve cooled, remove skin, core and seeds, and slice into thin strips of tasty goodness.
2 For the croutons, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a medium-low heat in a medium-sized frying pan. Slice the pieces of bread into chunky 2cm (¾“) cubes and add to the pan with a generous sprinkle of salt. Fry the bread for around 3 or 4 minutes, until crispy. These crunchy morsels are addictive so while it’s best not to get involved and snack on them, I also highly advise it… they’re too tempting, and delicious. And life is too short. Fried salted bread. WHY NOT.
3 When bread is adequately crispened, (not sure if that is even a word!), scatter on to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside for later.
4 In the same frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over a low heat and add the lemon zest, crushed garlic, and chopped chilli and gently sizzle for about 20 seconds only! You want to infuse the oil rather than fry the ingredients so keep a watchful eye as the garlic will burn pretty quickly. Turn heat off and transfer to a large bowl and set aside. (The zest, garlic and chilli will continue sizzling in the bowl from the oil’s residual heat so don’t over do it!)
5 If there are any spooky ends on the sugar snaps, chop them off along with any stringy bits. Bring a small pot of water to the boil and plunge sugar snaps into the bubbling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh with cold running water until they feel cool. This stops them cooking further and turning into lifeless floppy blobs and locks in their green colour. Drain again and dry on paper towels.
6 If the olives aren’t already pitted, then pit them, and chop them into little pieces. Add to the large bowl along with the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix it up.
7 Wash and dry iceberg leaves and break into small pieces. Add them, the baby salad mix, tuna, avocado, sugar snaps, and sliced pepper to the large bowl and toss. Check seasoning and serve with the croutons on the side.
8 Feast immediately!
Hi. Ilaria here. It was freakish energetic excitement that helped us get out of bed at a goddam awful time in the morning to catch a cheap flight to Barcelona. But it was all worth it once we touched down about 10am, Spain-time.
This city boasts a curiously beautiful balance of 21st century inevitability and the past; intoxicated souls roam the labyrinths of century old pavements, dancing between the shadows of the Gothic Quarter and the sparkle of Barceloneta beach. This city reminds you the past can be just yesterday if you want, while the future waits for tomorrow – Barcelona is about the now, exploring the moment before you. And with that, we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed straight to Las Ramblas and the Mercat de La Boqueria, the most amazing market in town.
This place is a visual feast in itself. Without tasting a single thing, the sweet smells of serrano ham, the colourful sights of exotic fruits, and the clatter and chatter of plates and people is inspiring enough. However, the tapas bars through La Boqueria’s big iron gates are hard to go by.
We nibbled non-stop for a couple of hours (it’s so easy to do!), one tapa at a time. Charred padron peppers with generous slices of fried chorizo skewered onto pieces of baguette was the standout morsel of the day. Many more bites of potato tortilla and croquetas, both atop slices of baguette (who can refuse a double starch combo!?! Hehe …), were washed down with sneaky cañas (smaller sized beers) and cheeky Rioja sips. Feeling significantly heavier than when we arrived, we plodded up the hills to the top of Park Güell, a Gaudi haven with a beautiful outlook over the city. With the sun on our shoulders we effortlessly watched tiny people hurriedly scurry between streets, moving on through an endless afternoon.
Last Tuesday Nick and I decided to take a wee trip south to stay a few days with family friend Joanne in her traditional English thatched roof cottage. As it turns out, there’s nothing like a little escape from the hustle and bustle of East London to a leafy, lush, foodie hotspot.
What should have been a fairly simple 2½-3 hour drive from London to Dorset turned into an extended mission meandering through traffic, GPS fails, unnecessary roadside café stop-overs, and a few wrong turns, but 5 hours after leaving London we found ourselves in Wareham – a beautiful and Medieval-esque town in the English countryside. It was worth the drive.
On Wednesday morning we woke up early enough to see the cows taking their morning stroll through the village streets on their way to be milked. Following in their footsteps (or hoof steps…Haha!), the three of us walked through the town following Piddle River to its source, Poole harbour.
Destination number two for the day – Pig on the Beach (http://www.thepighotel.com/on-the-beach/explore/) Joanne hadn’t stopped raving about Pig on the Beach flatbreads since we caught up, saying they’re the best she’s ever eaten – a pretty big call from someone who’s travelled as extensively as she has. Without further ado, the three of us tucked into our hired Ford Focus and drove about 45 minutes south to Studland. The weather had been a bit spooky, always threatening to dampen our jackets, but we struck it lucky and the afternoon sun shone. A bottle of rosé. Perfect. A flat bread each. Perfect. A homemade ice cream after and a walk in the vegetable and herb garden – delicious. What a treat, honestly. The photo here shows one of the Pig’s renowned flatbreads. The ingredients are simple, if anything, fairly minimal, but the combination of flavours and produce (all from their garden or else locally sourced) is inspiring. I chose the Pig’s coppa (a cured pork product), rocket, parmesan and nasturtium flatbread. It went down too easily. I could’ve eaten three, or even four … I don’t know, they were all so light! I suppose they’re a lot like pizza but with the thinnest crispiest crust ever. There’s absolutely zero room for doughy, stodgy crusts here. That’s why if left to my own devices I truly could have wolfed down four of them!
Travelling West from Wareham with Stonehenge in mind, we made a brief drive by Durdle Door (reminded me a bit of the Coromandel in New Zealand), Bridport, and Axminster, a small town in Devon. Nick and I shared a few small plates for lunch at the River Cottage Canteen and left bursting! (Although, we still had room for a garlic mushroom and goat’s cheese pie from the markets over the road…). https://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/axminster Maybe it’s the Italian in me, or maybe it’s because a salad this light and fresh is hard to go past on a summer afternoon, but my favourite dish at the Canteen was an Isle of Wight tomato and mozzarella salad with chives and pesto drizzle – the perfect match to the Canteen’s homemade ciabatta and a locally brewed cider. Hehe.
After a few days of non-stop feasting, dinner later that evening was minimal, just a few antipasto bits and bobs we’d picked up along the way to Wiltshire, our home for the evening. The following morning along the M25, we followed the rain back to London, back to Hackney Wick, back to a beer and pizza at the local.
Hi, Ilaria here. I don’t know about you, but I love bread, especially wholesome grainy bread with seeds. I love seeds! I also love pasta, and rice, and polenta … Basically, a big feast of carby-goodness will always put a smile on my face. I like to justify my appetite for such things by ‘blaming’ it on my Italian heritage – I’ve mentioned before that I can eat my bodyweight in pasta, and it’s the same story for bread; it’s in my blood! There’s just no other way! Bring me bread and oil, and I’m a happy camper. This particular bread recipe that I’m sharing with you holds a very special place in my personal bread history …
It all began in Italy. I traveled there often with my family when I was younger, for a month or so at a time, during summer. As well as spending time in Tuscany and Reggio Emilia, I would stay in Genova with my Auntie (Zia) Margot. Every morning we would go on a quick stroll to the bread shop at the corner of her street to pick up enough bread to last through lunch and dinner. As well as grabbing the standard ciabatta, Zia Margot would always buy me a piece of focaccia bread for breakfast. Honestly, this particular Genovese focaccia is the best I’ve ever tasted. I think what made it so spectacular was the lightness of the dough that still maintained a delicate element of bite and stretch, as well as the rosemary scattered through it, and the generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the sea salt on top. Thinking about it now is literally making my mouth water! If I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with bread, it was right then and there, the first time I tried that focaccia in Genova.
Fast forward to November 2010 and I’m living in the Haute Savoie region in France. I’d just turned 19 when I set off again on an adventure to the other side of the world (from New Zealand), unsure of the general plans except to have a base in Annecy. Haute Savoie is the bread and cheese capital of France! Along with discovering the freshest and mildest goat’s cheese, I also discovered the “Boulangerie” and the “Patisserie”. I gotta say when it comes to bread, the French have it sussed. My usual lunch ritual in Annecy was all about the little bakery at the end of Rue Jean Jaures where I lived. This was a haven full of the most tantalizing loaves and treats you could imagine. There were mini pizzas, palmiers, chocolate brioches, fig tarts, and sandwiches… the most glorious sandwiches I’ve eaten! My regular was the small white loaf smeared with a little garlic, a drizzle of oil, goat’s cheese, jamon serrano, and walnuts. It was perfect and satisfied everything I’d hoped for in a sandwich.
Four years later, and I’m still obsessed with bread. My latest cravings tend to lay alongside Wild Wheat’s Kumara bread, and this easy wholesome loaf called Dianne’s 5 Grain Bread that’s been handed down to me from my mum and to her from her sister, my New Zealand Auntie Dianne. I was feeling a little low the other day, feeling like I needed something warming and comforting. Yep! I ended up baking bread! Just by mixing yeast and water the dough rises and 50 minutes later you have two crusty-topped soft-centred warm loaves ready to be slathered in your favorite topping. I hope that if you’re in need of a little comfort during the cooler afternoons, or if you’re after a substantial and healthy loaf, you’ll give this recipe a go and enjoy it as much as we all do.
9 June 2015 BY Ilaria Biuso
SERVES: Makes 12
These are seriously so good that I swear they’ll beat any kebab and falafel combo that a 1.00am service, or any other time, can offer you.
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 red (bell) pepper, halved, seeds removed and diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Tbsp crushed coriander seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 x 400g (15–ounce) cans chickpeas
1 large (size 7) free-range egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko crumbs
3 Tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
Extra olive oil for frying
Iceberg lettuce leaves, optional
Green chilli yoghurt dressing
1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
Few pinches salt
2 small hot green chillies, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped mint
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 large vine tomato
3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 hot red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 To make the patties, put onion and red pepper in a medium frying pan (skillet) with 2 tablespoons oil over a medium heat. Cook for about 12 minutes, until tender and onion is lightly golden. Add garlic and cook through for 1 minute, then add coriander seeds and cumin and cook for a couple minutes more. Take pan off the heat and let the mix cool for a bit so by the time all the ingredients come together, the egg won’t curdle or cook or whatever it does when around piping-hot ingredients!
2 Drain chickpeas, rinse them thoroughly and drain again. Mop dry with paper towels. Put them in a large bowl and partially mash and smash them with a potato masher; don’t go too OTT here as you don’t want to make it into a hummus! Keep it lumpy and textured. Add onion and red pepper, egg, panko crumbs, chopped coriander, lemon zest and salt and mix well.
3 Form into 12 (or there about) patties and put them on a plate. Cover with plastic food wrap and chill for 1 hour to firm. The chilling helps the patties stay together during the frying. Mmmm frying …
4 In the meantime, for the chilli yoghurt dressing, mix yoghurt, salt and chillies. Sprinkle mint and ground cumin on top and swirl through. Easy!
5 To make the vinaigrette, cut the tomato in half, remove the core, then dice flesh finely. Drain in a sieve for 10 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, add drained tomato and set aside until ready to serve.
6 Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry patties until nice and golden, turning them carefully with two spoons. Transfer to a plate as they are done. Assemble bunnuces (Bunnuceae? Bunnuceum? Bunnucezums?? Haha) by putting chickpea patties in lettuce leaves with spoonfuls of tomato dressing and generous dollops of yoghurt sauce. Fold up, try not to dribble juice everywhere, and eat! YUM!
A few tips
Don’t expect these patties to perform like meat ones – they are very soft and delicate in texture, but their deliciousness makes up for any shortcomings in that area. You can make them more than an hour in advance – they’ll even hang in for a day ahead, just keep them covered and refrigerated. And, once they’re cooked, they’re great to take to work for lunch. Yum yum.
The yoghurt dressing is also good for a day or two. Keep it covered and refrigerated. I also love it on barbecued chicken or lamb, or on fried eggplant. The tomato vinaigrette will also keep well for a day, providing the tomatoes are nicely drained before mixing with everything – otherwise, they give out water and dilute the dressing.
Chickpea bunnuce burgers are healthy, substantial, crispy, and for you vegos out there, vegetarian. What’s a bunnuce burger? A burger or patties wrapped in lettuce not in a bun! What’s not to like about them! A few weekends ago I was down in Wellington (check out Shared Kitchen’s Instagram and Facebook page https://facebook.com/sharedkitchenblog) renewing my Italian passport. You have to front up personally at the Embassy and have your fingerprints taken. (Read expensive!) It was around 1am on Saturday night when I had the kebab of my life! Sure, it was post-drinkies so hunger and the usual cravings were at an all-time high, but holy cow. The kebab I had blew my mind! I must admit that kebabs are a weakness that I embrace openly, so I’m not afraid to say that I am a bit of a kebab aficionado. Hehe. Unlike the stock standard chicken doner kebabs you happen across everywhere, this one had an excessively generous drizzle of garlic yoghurt, a thick dolloping of hummus, tender spicy chicken pieces, a tomato salsa, and, lo and behold, a generous side of falafel. It was also massive. I had to force myself to eat it all, but, you guessed it, I managed, just. Success!
The inspiration for these chickpea bunnuces actually stems from this Wellington evening, and my recipe is a personal twist on the flavours and textures I experienced – there’s crispy light patties, a thick creamy sauce with a decent bite, a juicy crunch of lettuce, as well as a fresh sharp tomato salsa. These babies are kebabs’ next level … mainly because they have everything you need in them, but they are healthy with very little fat and salt. This, therefore, means you can eat however many you want, any time you want, without feeling guilty (and greasy) afterwards.
In terms of their creation, I do have my mum Julie to thank a bit here as she truly is the Patty Queen. Haha, it sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it? But her title is well deserved. She advised that an egg added to the mixture would hold all the ingredients together, and to add panko crumbs to make them light. The crumbs make it easier to shape the patties and they help them keep shape while frying. The result is a soft delicate pattie rather than a stodgy mountain of dryness. Anyway, enough babbling from me! Just give these a go – they are seriously so good and I swear that they’ll beat any kebab and falafel combo that a 1am service, or any other time, can offer you.