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fruit + veg

milestones

So there's big news at Food is Love. We've finished writing up all our grandmothers' personal histories! From now on, it's mostly their recipes, going through final testing. 

If you want to send in any recipes from your own grandmother, now is the time! If you do, we'll make and test them too.

Fruit + veg

It’s a mix of savoury and sweet this week, and with cauliflowers and apples, a vegetarian's delight.

  Iranian Cauliflower frittata called Kuku

Iranian Cauliflower frittata called Kuku

The savoury dish is a continuation of our Central Asian theme, since the Lentil and Pomegranate Soup from last time was such a hit. We’re hopping across the border to Iran for a wonderful vegetarian dish, an Iranian version of frittata called Kuku – dairy and gluten free, it’s a spicy combination of cauliflower, eggs, turmeric and dill, fried or baked till it sets.

Plus a European apple dessert, which comes from a Food is Love grandmother in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, where I usually live. Baking it in Sydney, makes me feel like I've brought a little piece of Jerusalem with me all the way home.

  Nina's Apple and Berry Bake with semolina. lemon and spices.  

Nina's Apple and Berry Bake with semolina. lemon and spices. 

sydney

It’s great to be home, in a slightly oppressive grey summer, cooking this week’s recipes for friends and family, and getting away from the City of Too Much News. (Or has that baton passed to Washington these days?) To help with the relaxation, I’ve found the most amazing yoga studio around the corner from my mum’s – is that Botany or Bali?

  The view from my yoga mat. Things are looking up in Botany Bay, Captain Cook!

The view from my yoga mat. Things are looking up in Botany Bay, Captain Cook!

australia day

How do you know you’re home? By spending Australia Day at Killcare, on the NSW Central coast. The day began with the annual 8.00 am flag-raising service, followed lunch at my friends Karen and Andrew’s holiday house (an old friend itself).

It is wonderful to return to a familiar location, to all the beloved walks, and to the local kookaburras. I’m sure they remember us, and they were remarkably tame especially when Karen brought them left-over roast lamb :-)

  Kookas return.   Wonder if they missed us as much as we missed them?

Kookas return. Wonder if they missed us as much as we missed them?

But they didn’t take any chances. The older one manfully whacked each sliver of lamb to kill it before eating it. (Plus he made sure the baby – female? – didn’t get any, even after he was full!)

  Kookaburra taking no chances - he whacks the lamb against the fence to kill it before swallowing it! Wonder if they missed us as much as we missed them?

Kookaburra taking no chances - he whacks the lamb against the fence to kill it before swallowing it! Wonder if they missed us as much as we missed them?

At Karen’s gorgeous lunch, the first dish was our cauliflower and turmeric Kuku -recipe below - on the menu along with that other old Food is Love Favourite, the Turkish Tomato and Pomegranate salad.

turmeric

Raw turmeric is my ingredient of the moment.

I was very excited to find these knobbly little roots, brown on the outside, yellow/orange inside, in the markets in Jerusalem this year, and then here in Sydney as well. Turmeric's tasty, and it also has legendary healthy properties –– anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-Alzheimer (especially if you cook it with chilli or pepper as Indians traditionally do; there are lower rates of Alzheimer's in Asia and diet is one factor they are looking at.)

  Turmeric roots

Turmeric roots

Despite these benefits, I never much liked it in its powdered form, which tastes to me like yellow dust. And I do mean yellow, since everything it touches is ochre within seconds, and takes a lot of scrubbing to remove.  But the fresh root is very different – you still scrub out the colour from your knife, chopping board and fingers, but it’s worth it for the taste. It’s a different creature!

It’s as different as fresh ginger is from the icky, soapy powdered stuff, as fresh garlic is from garlic granules, or even cumin seeds from powdered cumin.

It seems that back to basics applies to everything – including spices. 

GROW YOUR OWN

  At harvest time, friends are roped in to pick Dave's fruit trees

At harvest time, friends are roped in to pick Dave's fruit trees

Have been thrilled to find that Food is Love photographer Dave Mane grows turmeric in his garden!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised as he has transformed a suburban Sydney backyard into a wild organic paradise, a magic garden complete with bees, chickens, fruit and vegetable trees and all kind of herbs including turmeric.  

The turmeric from Dave's garden is pale yellow in colour and has a stronger taste than the store-bought turmeric from Jerusalem or Sydney. If you are cooking with fresh turmeric, check it out first to see how strong it is. The Jerusalem turmeric was quite strong. The one from the Sydney fruit shop was pretty mild.

  One of Dave's kids - we think it's Katy - going to the hives to get honey.

One of Dave's kids - we think it's Katy - going to the hives to get honey.

For this quantity of cauliflower mixture, you’ll need one small root, Jerusalem strength. Two Sydney strength. Have a little nibble to decide how strong the turmeric root you have is. Don’t be afraid of it raw, I chop it into fruit salad!

Did I mention I’m getting addicted?

kuku

Yellow, fragrant, filled with vegetables and herbs, Kuku, which is almost Kooka, when you think about it, is both healthy and delicious. The dill and turmeric give the simple ingredients a sense of purpose, transforming them into an exotic tasting dish.

You can use this quantity for one large frittata, or 2 smaller ones, and you can bake or fry it. The traditional Kuku is fried, then turned over - a plate will help you flip it and then slide it back into the pan for another short burst. That is quite an exciting/stressful option.  if you want a quieter life, you can also broil the top under a grill, no flipping.

Kuku with Turmeric and Dill

Serves 4-6

ingredients 

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 2 medium onions, plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • turmeric: 1-2 fresh turmeric root (see note above) peeled and sliced finely; or 2 teaspooons turmeric powder
  • one bunch parsley or coriander
  • one bunch dill
  • 1 heaped tablespoon flour - to make a gf version, I used chickpea flour and actually preferred it!
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: ½ fresh chilli, chopped

 

METHOD

1 Wash the cauliflower, cut into florets and cook in salted boiling water. Mash and leave to cool in a bowl.

2 While the cauliflower is cooking, chop the onions. Heat fennel seeds and cumin seeds in a little oil. When they pop add fresh turmeric - if using - and onions. Add chilli now, if you are up for it. Fry till golden. If using dried turmeric, stir in when the onions are cooked.  Throw in to the bowl with cauliflower to cool.

3 Wash and chop the parsley and dill. When the ingredients have cooled, mix together the cauliflower, chickpea flour, baking powder, onions and parsley. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4  Beat the eggs until frothy, then stir into the cauliflower mixture. The original recipe calls for frying, which tastes great. Baking is also good – it just depends which you prefer.

5 Frying: Oil the base of a large non-stick frying pan. Heat the oil to medium – no hotter, or you will never get the omelette out of the pan! – pour in the mixture, reduce the heat, cover and cook over a gentle heat for 25 minutes until firm.

6 Make sure it’s freed from the bottom with a spatula, cover the plate with a pan, turn over onto the plate, and then slide back in, uncooked side down. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Or if you are less daring, broil under a grill for 5 minutes or so.

7 Baking: If you're baking, it’s best to line your tin with baking paper, or the mixture will stick. Bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

It will also keep in the fridge for 4 days.

SYDNEY TEST KITCHEN

I’ve made this a few times, with cauliflower and branching out to other vegetables, baking and frying, in Jerusalem, Sydney and Killcare, so I mean it when I say this is a great dish. You will produce a thick, fluffy, healthy ‘omlette’, which is equally delicious warm or at room temperature. 

The chickpea flour really adds something. If you have it I would recommend using it, it’s much better than plain flour (as well as being gf of course!)

When I made 2 kukus from this quantity, frying both, each was thin-ish and had a crunchy top. This was my mother’s favourite. She didn’t like it as much when I baked it into one larger omelette. There’s always a slight taste benefit from frying. It’s just that baking is healthier…

VERDICT: Make this dish! It’s great, as a first course for meat eaters, or a main course for vegetarians.

  You know a vegetarian dish is good when the dog can't stay away!

You know a vegetarian dish is good when the dog can't stay away!

MELBOURNE TEST KITCHEN

In Melbourne Amanda Hampel made this using broccoli and zucchini instead of cauliflower. She left out the onion, which is on her forbidden list, using onion-infused oil instead, and substituted almond meal for the flour. 

Amanda also left out the turmeric (!) using Zaatar to keep it with a "Middle Eastern" flavour. (I would take her on about this, from my current turmeric-obsessed position!!)

Amanda baked her kuku in a cake tin, at 180 C for 55 mins. And even without the turmeric, Amanda and her family loved it!

“Delicious! Served for Shabbat dinner on a hot Melbourne night with a cous cous salad, absolutely perfect. Yumm!”
  Kuku with broccoli and zucchini

Kuku with broccoli and zucchini

SOMETHING SWEET...

If you want a quick, delicious, vaguely healthy desert, you can’t go past Nina’s Apple Bake. The original had sultanas and walnuts, but once when I didn’t have enough apples, I added some frozen berries, and haven’t looked back since.

I had planned to save this recipe for next week, but then I posted a photo on Facebook and the recipe requests flooded in, so here it is.

PLUS: a gluten-free, sugar free version!

Nina's Apple and Berry Bake with Semolina

  Nina's apple bake with youghurt

Nina's apple bake with youghurt

INGREDIENTS

FRUIT

  • 9-10 medium sized green apples – peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon peel
  • ¾ cup raisins or sultans
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 2 handfuls of sour frozen berries which definitely add something
  • 100-125 g butter

 TOPPING

  • 5 tablespoons sugar (you can also use less, if you don't have a sweet tooth)
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ - ¾ c semolina flour ie slightly more than the flour
  • 1 tablespoon spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of cloves or anise, plus a grind of black pepper is a good combination
  • ½ teaspoon salt

GLUTEN AND SUGAR FREE VERSION

If you want to make it gluten free, you can buy a pre-mixed gf flour, or mix your own, in the finest Amanda Hampel tradition, making sure to include some rice flour to give you the slightly gritty quality of semolina.

You can replace the sugar with  dextrose, which is less sweet but is also – on current thinking – meant to be healthier. You can also substitute dates for the sultanas, as they are sweeter, so you need less sugar overall. 

GF INGREDIENTS

  • 6-8 tablespoons dextrose (you can also use less!)
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tablespoon spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of cloves or anise, plus a grind of black pepper is a good combination
  • ½ teaspoon salt

METHOD

1.    Peel and slice the apples, and drizzle with lemon juice to stop them from going brown. Mix the topping mix ingredients together, adding the spices to the flour.

2.    Have all your ingredients ready, since you are just layering them into a baking dish. Generously smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter, then cover with apples, half the walnuts and sultanas, half the peel and all the berries. Sprinkle half the topping mix and dot with half the butter. Now repeat, so you are ending with topping. Make sure the walnuts and sultans aren’t peaking through as they tend to burn, but reserve a few apples for the top, so you have some of them there.

3.    When all your ingredients are used up, dot with remaining butter. If it looks a little dry on top, add a bit more butter.

4.    Bake at 200 degrees for 90 - 120 minutes. This depends on your oven. It is a slow cooking dish! It is best to cover the pan, with a lid or foil, for the first 60 minutes at least and then it may take less time. 

5. Serve hot with yoghurt or icecream.

 sydney test kitchen

I have been making this ever since Nina first made it for me in Ein Kerem, years ago now.  

It is like an American fruit ‘cobbler’ but is not too sweet and has a good balance of fresh and dried fruit. The semolina gives the crumble an extra depth and the spices and lemon rind round everything off.

 Plus it is not hard to make, you don’t have to worry about it rising properly, or anything like that… so it’s easy, pretty healthy – it is mostly fruit – and pretty much irresistible.

I often take this when I’m invited for dinner and there’s never any left, with people fighting over the last serving.

Verdict: This one’s a winner! Defintely make it. It will become one of your regulars.

GF: I used gluten free flour from Coles and found the result a little gluggy. Taste was great, but texture needs work. Back to the drawing board, and mixing my own, I can see...