Pea & Zucchini Tart with a Cauliflower & Parmesan Crust.

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Remember this one time that I made a cauliflower and parmesan tart crust and filled it with smashed peas, a grilled zucchini lattice and topped it with marinated goats cheese, a fennel, lemon and dill salad, and toasted pine nuts?

It may sound complex just from the name alone – but I promise you, this recipe just consists of a few small (and very quick and simple) recipes. The hardest part would probably just be squeezing the excess liquid out of the cooked cauliflower to make the crust!

Plus, you could easily use leftover smashed peas or grilled zucchini in another recipe – perhaps on slices of sourdough toast for breakfast or lunch? Or you eat the fennel, lemon and dill salad as is (p.s. the fennel salad goes smashingly with salmon – it’s all in the deliciously herbaceous dill)! So you see, it’s a very versatile dish in its entirety.

Anyhow, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make this tart or its capacity to make your friends go “oooh” and “ahhh”.


The attention of many a curious person this dish will catch!

On this occasion, I made this in large tart dish. Firstly, because my individual, small tart tins were ancient and so rusty that they had to be put out of their misery. Secondly, because there is some theatric effect in a large, singular piece of work – or so I’d like to believe! Anyway, my point is that you could also be cute and make it in four to six individual-sized tarts instead of just one large tart.

It also keeps well in the fridge for about 4-5 days. From there, you can either reheat it in the oven or if you’re only after a slice or two, you could just place it on a pan or a sandwich press to heat up. No microwaves though, it will make the crust all soggy and fall apart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pea & Zucchini Tart

with a Cauliflower & Parmesan Crust

Makes a 24cm-diameter tart

Ingredients

CRUST

See here

FILLING

1.5 cups of frozen peas, cooked

2 medium zucchinis, sliced thinly lengthways using a vegetable slicer

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced as thinly as possible

Juice of 1/2 a medium lemon

2-3 stalks of dill, approx. 1/4 cup

Salt

Extra virgin olive oil

Optional: 2 tbsp pine nuts (toasted)

Steps

Crust. Prepare the crust using this recipe.

Pea smash. Smash the cooked peas well with the back of a fork or in a food processor. You can make this as smooth or as chunky as you like. Set aside.

Grilled zucchinis. Brush the zucchini slices with a little oil, season with a little salt and cook in the oven until lightly browned. You can do this on a pan but you’ll have to be very careful to not tear the cooked slices!

Fennel, lemon & dill salad. Combine the thinly sliced fennel with the lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt to the salad and toss it all together. Now, hand-tear the dill and add it to the salad, save a few sprigs for garnishing. Toss to combine again and taste for salt and lemon juice, adding more if needed.

To assemble. Starting with the pea smash, spread this over the cauliflower crust, followed by the zucchini – if you’d like to get fancy, you can cross the slices over each other in a lattice pattern. Next, spread over the fennel salad, shaking off the excess dressing before placing it down on the zucchini. Top with the toasted pine nuts and extra sprigs of dill.

Cauliflower & Parmesan Crust (For Pizzas & Tarts)

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“Why are you making a cauliflower crust?.. Do you, like, not eat carbs or something?”

Oh, honey…No, that is most definitely not why I make cauliflower crusts. I am -how do I put it this lightly- one of the biggest fans of noodles and bread you will ever meet (oh, good god, I do love my bread). However, I admire the intrinsic creativity of using ingredients in non-traditional ways, and cauliflower and parmesan crusts just so happens to fit the bill!

Look, it’s never going to take the place of a traditional crust made out of pastry but it isn’t trying to. It is something entirely different, yet entirely wonderful, on its own.

Plus, I get to sneak in another serve or two of vegetables into my day, in the form of a delicious, slightly salty, full-bodied crust. Can we say “#winning“?

Oh, yes – definitely winning.

This time, I made my crust in a ceramic tart dish and filled it with smashed peas, a grilled zucchini lattice and topped it with marinated goats cheese, a fennel, lemon and dill salad, and toasted pine nuts.

Ground breaking.

Layer after layer of wonderful flavours that just mesh on a level that only soulmates do. And yes, I just said that.

However, I have it in my mind to make a deep dish pizza using this crust soon. This is all happening very fast and no doubt I will post about this experiment on the blog soon so that you guys can get to either marvel at its genius or laugh at how big a failure it is! You guys, this is happening.

Here is the recipe for the Cauliflower & Parmesan crust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cauliflower & Parmesan Crust

Makes a large tart (24cm in diameter)

Ingredients

700-720g cauliflower (just the florets)

35g parmesan cheese, grated

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

Pinch of black pepper

Steps

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Next, line the bottom of a 24cm-diameter tart tin/dish with greaseproof paper. Lightly grease the sides of the dish with a little olive oil. Set this aside.

Now, roughly chop your cauliflower, put it into a food processor and pulse it until it resembles a fine rice. Then place your blitzed cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl and cook it in the microwave on high for approximately 5 minutes. Leave it to cool to at least room temperature before putting it into fine sieve or cheesecloth to press/squeeze out as much water from it as you can! This process will take at least 5 minutes because mind you, the drier you get the cauliflower, the better it will be. Overly wet cauliflower will result in a soggy crust – which we do not want!

Put your squeezed-out cauliflower into a dry bowl, add in the eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix up well before pressing this mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of your tart dish/pan. Don’t worry if the crust looks thick, this adds to the sturdiness of it! Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned all over. At any time you notice the middle of the tart rising, just stab it lightly with a fork and that should do the trick. Let cool slightly before filling.

Chocolate Slice (Peanut Butter Optional. Vegan. No Bake)

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Fact. It’s hard to find people who actually dislike chocolate, but once upon a time that person was me.

So, I didn’t always like chocolate. Well, I did…up until I didn’t…but of course, now I do.

Let me explain.


Chocolate was a cruel boyfriend. I loved him oh-so-much but all he ever did was make me fat.
#TrueStory

 

 

 

 

 

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As a twelve year old, I used to eat milk chocolate-covered almonds and macadamias by the handful (or was it two or three handfuls?). Either way, there was no doubting that I was hooked on the stuff. Let’s just say that if chocolate eating was a sport, I would’ve been the MVP. Just a little scrawny and then not-so-scrawny preteen with zero self control and a giant tub of Cadbury-coated nuts (and the full box set of One Tree Hill).

Of course, that’s was a far cry from the Roxanne you know today, and those of you who know me well in the current day are probably reeling with doubt… but yes, that was me.

Cue the next chapter of my life.

I guess Chocolate and I just both grew up because this time when we met, it was magical. Of course by now, I was a full-grown adult with indefinitely more sensibility. Not at all am I saying that I can stop at just one square of dark chocolate (because let’s be honest, that’s a lot to ask of a girl) but I can finally enjoy it with as much moderation as the next person ;)


Moral of the story? Bring on the chocolate desserts.

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Chocolate Slice (Peanut Butter Optional)

VEGAN. NO BAKE. EASY.
Makes 16 rectangular pieces. Time: 1hr + set overnight.

Ingredients

BASE

Using the base from this recipe

CHOCOLATE LAYERS

3 cups soaked cashews (at least 5 hours or overnight)

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1 cup maple syrup*

(Or 3/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey- Not vegan)

1 tsp + 5-7 tsp cacao powder

1 tbsp coconut sugar*

(You may omit the coconut sugar altogether or substitute it for 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, if needed)

DECORATIONS

16 walnuts pieces/halves

Cacao powder or crushed walnuts

Additional Peanut butter

A few chunks of chocolate

Note: For a subtle chocolate & peanut butter vibe, add 1 tbsp of smooth peanut butter at step (2) and blend with cacao and the rest of the filling.

 

Steps

Make the base.

Making the chocolate layers. (1) Add your cashews, non-dairy milk and maple syrup to a high-speed blender. Blend until very, very smooth. Divide this mixture into two, roughly equal portions.

(2) To one half of the mixture, add 1 tsp of cacao powder and blend until smooth. Pour this over the base and set in the freezer for 5-10mins.

(3) To the remaining half of the cashew mixture, add the coconut sugar and 5 tsp of cacao powder. Blend until smooth, taste and add more cacao if you like it darker! Pour this darker mixture over the first layer you have prepared. Set in the freezer overnight before cutting it into 16 rectangular pieces with a clean knife. Wipe the knife clean in between slices to keep the sides of your cake clean and crisp.

(4) Decorate each slice by inserting a walnut halve, on an angle, into each slice. Sprinkle a little cacao or crushed walnuts on the same side and then top with a little peanut butter and a few chunks of chocolate, unevenly placed on the slice.

(5) Store in the freezer, thaw for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving (or you may also eat it straight from frozen).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Best Zucchini & Parmesan Fritters (Seriously though)

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Dear Fritters – I love you.

My love for zucchini fritters is no secret but here’s the deal: Parmesan in zucchini fritters – classic…but what if we take it up a notch or two?

Take the ordinary zucchini fritter and factor in the sweetness of sautéed onions, the herbaceous, wispy, aromatic properties of dill, throw in a little parsley too (for good measure) and you’ll get why I’m so very in love with these fritters. Salty, rich, subtle, sweet, herbaceous, fragrant… just so, so delicious. And surprisingly hearty for such a dainty dish, if I may add.

Texturally, these make tender rounds that hold shape well (provided you squeeze as much water out of your grated zucchini as you can – more on this later). Press down lightly on a fritter with just the side of a fork and you’ll cut through it effortlessly – like a hot knife gliding through butter.

I was going to say these are perfect eaten at breakfast or brunch… but as my friends and I gathered around a plate of these at nighttime, getting ready for a party and chatting away in between mouthfuls of fritters (as you do), I realised that these just make for good noms in general – whether or not it’s before midday.


In fact, if these fritters were a human being, I’d probably move in with him. That’s how much I love these fritters.

P.s. It’s also an excellent way to use up any zucchini you have left over from your harvest/trip to the shops.

So, whether you’re planning a family brunch or just having friends over for an afternoon rendezvous – don’t think twice – just make these fritters.

Onwards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A crucial element of making a good fritter is your ability to squeeze the heck out of your grated zucchini. We want to make it as dry as we can get it because if your zucchini has got too much moisture in it, it’ll make the batter too wet and you’ll be left with a soggy fritter that will not hold shape to save it’s life.

We’re talking about a solid 5-7 minutes of arm-working, get your shoulder into it, press like your life depended on it, kind of squeezing. I use a sieve and bowl method (p.s. this is not an actual culinary method), where I put the grated zucchini into the sieve and press a bowl on top of my zucchini. Then with each hand grabbing both the bowl and sieve, I smush the zucchini against the sieve until I can no longer any more liquid out of the zucchini. Of course, you’re going to want to do this over a bowl or the sink – cause it will get messy. Discard the green, zucchini liquid and keep only the now drier, grated zucchini.

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Before you freak out, while it appears that I’m putting in a crap-ton of parmesan into these fritters, rest assured. There’s only 30 grams worth in the whole recipe. Oh, the wonders of what a grater can do when it meets a block of good quality parmesan!

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Finally, I served my fritters with a little Meredith Dairy’s goats cheese (so good) and a few shavings of fennel dressed in a quick lemon and olive oil vinaigrette . Yum!!

 


The Best Zucchini & Parmesan Fritters

Seriously though, these are the best.

Serves 2-4. Makes 8 hand-sized fritters.

Ingredients

350g grated zucchini (250 drained as well as you can get it)

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1/2 onion (~50g), sliced thinly 

30g freshly grated parmesan

1 egg

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely

1/2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of cracked black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Extra dill and/or parsley, to garnish

 

Serving recommendations: Eat as is, or serve with some crumbled goats cheese and poached eggs.

 

 

Steps

1. Add the thinly sliced onion into a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until translucent, fragrant and slightly browned.

2. Meanwhile, use a sieve or cheesecloth to squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can. Take your time here, if you don’t get enough water out of the zucchini, your fritters will be too soft and will not hold shape – so take your time, squeeze hard and throw away the excess liquid! The weight of my grated zucchini after I squeezed it was approximately 230 grams. If you’re using a sieve, use the bottom of a similar sized bowl to press the zucchini harder into the sieve (see pictures above). I found this helped me to get even more liquid out of the zucchini.

2. Put your drained zucchini into a large bowl along with the browned onion, parmesan, egg, parsley, dill, salt, pepper. Stir to combine well before mixing in the self-raising flour. Your batter is now ready for cooking!

3. Heat a nonstick pan over medium- high heat, add a little of the remaining olive oil to grease the pan before dropping in a heaped tablespoon of batter at a time to cook. Let cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until each side is golden brown. Eat as is, or serve warm with crumbled goats cheese and poached eggs for the perfect brunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggplant & Pea Curry

eggplant & pea masala curry


Eggplant and peas together in the one dish?!

Yes!

Look, I will admit that I never expected it myself – not even as I just chucked them both into the pot. I mean, I could fib and say that this marriage of eggplant and pea was a genius, calculated combination on my behalf… but really, it was more like those were the last things I had left in the fridge/freezer because I was running out of supplies and was too lazy to go on a grocery run.

So, as you can probably expect, this one was never destined for a blog post – but when it turned out to be as yummy as it did, let’s just say I was surprised. Pleasantly so – and now I just can’t not share it!

With a masala spice mix already made and ready to go, this one was pretty quick to make. I included instructions in the notes section of the recipe for how to make your own masala spice blend but of course, if you prefer to use a store bought paste, by all means, do that! Although, all it takes is a little dry toasting of spices on a pan and a little blitzing so I highly recommend you give it a go. No endless pounding is involved here, you guys!

Oh, and one more thing…

Even though I use a homemade masala spice paste, this recipe is by no means an authentic curry recipe! It’s just a super quick curry that managed to weasel its way onto my heart… ahem I mean blog. Anywho, I loved it and I hope you do too.     :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Eggplant & Pea Curry

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large (or 2 medium) eggplants 

1-2 tbsp salt, to salt the eggplants (this will be rinsed off prior to cooking)

1/2 tbsp oil

1 medium onion, finely sliced

1/4 cup masala spice paste *See Notes

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp tomato paste

3-4 curry leaves (or if your curry leaves are small, use 6-8 leaves)

1 cup frozen peas

A good pinch of salt

Serve with cooked brown rice

 

 

NOTES: To make your own masala spice paste, cook 2 tsp mustard seeds in a frying pan  over medium hear until it starts to pop. Proceed to add in 1 tsp crushed peppercorns, 1.5 tbsp ground coriander, 1.5 tbsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 2 tsp ground turmeric, stir for a minute or so until fragrant and then blend with a pinch of chilli powder, 3 cloves of garlic, a 3 cm piece of ginger and 1 tbsp of oil.

Steps

 1. Slice your eggplant into rounds and lightly salt each round on both sides. Let sit  in the salt for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat your 1/2 tbsp of oil in medium size pan or pot over medium heat. Add in your onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Next, add in the masala spice paste and continue to cook for another few minutes until the spices are fragrant.

2. Proceed to rinse your eggplant well under running water to get rid of the excess salt. Now chop your rinsed eggplant rounds into quarters and add this to the pan. Cook the eggplant or a minute or two by itself before adding in the vegetable stock, tomato paste and curry leaves. Turn up the heat, bringing the liquids to a boil. Turn down the hear, cover and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes or until eggplant is tender but not falling apart. There should not be too much stock left in the pan and what is left should be a relatively thick curry but not dry. If you feel this is too thick, add a little extra water. Now stir in your frozen peas and let come up to temperature. Add a good pinch of salt to the curry and taste, adding more if necessary. Once seasoned to your liking, remove and serve with cooked brown rice.

Pumpkin & Pecan Baked Oatmeal

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If someone asks me what this tastes like, I’ll say:
“It tastes like Autumn.”

No, not in a dry leaves kind of way but in an awe inspiring kind of a way, you know? The way you can’t help but sigh in awe as you’re driving down a long road speckled with the most gorgeous collection of trees painstakingly shedding their chestnut, hickory and auburn coloured leaves.

One word – breathtaking.

Maybe I’m Autumn obsessed (probably not far from the truth)…but I’m starting think that maybe, just maybe, Autumn is obsessed with me?

I mean, it has been perpetually engraining itself into my mind through the hues of food I’ve been craving lately, a stomach-to-brain interaction, if you will. It’s really not my fault, you guys. Blame it on one two many chai lattes and gingerbreads, pecans and cinnamon, caramels and cacaos… all autumnal in colour, and most certainly, delicious. Especially the chai lattes – love, love, love! (Why have I not gotten on the chai train sooner?)

So as you can see, my wonderful readers, clearly Autumn is obsessed with me. In my previous post about the dreamiest of dreamy carrot cakes, I decorated my set with all things Autumn in a bid to declare my love for my favourite season of all time. This time, I put Autumn into the “pie”… the pumpkin and pecan pie baked oatmeal, that is. What a perfect way to use up leftover roast pumpkin.

Now, let us eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Had to eat a couple of mouthfuls off this piece just so I could show you guys the gorgeous texture of this thing. Hmmm, yeah… lets just say that’s the reason why I took a couple of chunks off it.  ;)

P.s. it is also good drizzled with maple syrup – if that’s the way you roll.

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By the way, did I mention how easy this is to make? It’s literally a one-bowl recipe with all three classic steps of any easy bake: Dump, mix and bake. I think it took all 5 minutes to mix up the ingredients and then came the hardest part – waiting for it to cook in the oven. Usually that means cleaning-up time so I did just that, I washed that one bowl… and then twiddled my thumbs in anticipation for the remaining time. Oh, and I also peered into an oven every 10 minutes like a sugar-crazed kid outside a candy shop display window – yup, the same expression and all.

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And there it is, in all it’s post-bake glow, the fragrance from the spices and roasted nuts wafting straight into the air. Ahhhhh, how I love that autumn scent!

Mind you, I hadn’t had baked oatmeal before this and you guys, not even kidding, it had me at hello… and the deal was well and truly sealed with the first bite.

Obsessed.

Get on it guys, baked oatmeal.

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Pumpkin & Pecan Baked Oatmeal

You better believe it tastes like Autumn
Recipe makes 6 portions

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup of pre-roasted pumpkin, smashed with a fork

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 cup water

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 egg, lightly whisked

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Small pinch of salt

1/2 cup of pecans

1/2 cup slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (or a mix of these)*

(*You could just use an additional 1/2 cup of pecans, if you prefer)

 

 

 

 

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.

2. In a large bowl, mix all of your ingredients except for the nuts. Pour this into a baking dish, sprinkle over your pecans and other nuts and seeds, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before cutting into six portions. Serve with an extra dusting of cinnamon and a little more maple syrup, if you like. Enjoy!