Zucchini frittata

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Lois’ zucchini frittata is the perfect thing to take on a summer picnic; it’s pretty good for midweek ‘picnics’ at your desk, too. Frittata is best eaten at room temperature or cold, with a dollop of good chutney on the side.

Zucchini frittata (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 14)

2 medium onions, sliced

4 zucchini

4 tablespoons oil and/or butter

6 free-range eggs

50g freshly grated parmesan

handful of parsley or basil, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice the onions thinly and cook in 2 tablespoons of oil until golden in a large frying pan with a heatproof handle. Meanwhile top and tail and zucchini and slice into thin rounds. Add the zucchini to the pan and stir to coat in oil. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and take off the heat.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Add the parmesan, herbs and zucchini mixture and stir. Preheat the grill of your oven. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil/butter in the frying pan and pour in the frittata mixture and give the pan a shake to evenly distribute the contents. Cook over a low heat for about 5-10 minutes until you can see the sides of the frittata beginning to set. Place under a hot grill until the top is golden brown.

 

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Good bacon & egg pie

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‘Good bacon & egg pie’ is Lois’ own title for this recipe. Less shameless self-promotion and more helpful categorisation on Lois’ part; no one should waste their time making or eating a bad bacon & egg pie.

This recipe was printed in one of Lois’ Listener columns in which she advises that if you are investing in an encyclopedic food bible cookbook (of the Stephanie Alexander The Cook’s Companion ilk), that a good way to decide whether the cook has your own food style at heart is to look at the bacon & egg pie recipe.

I made this pie for a Labour weekend picnic with lovely friends in the Wairarapa. Perfect for a picnic, this pie can be made the day before and is easy to transport and eat without cutlery. Lois is right: it’s good.

Good bacon & egg pie (Lois Daish, Listener, 28 October, 2006, p. 60-61)

Pastry:

300g plain flour

150g butter, cold from the fridge

1 free-range egg, whisked and halved

3 tablespoons ice-cold water

Filling:

180g streaky bacon

6 free-range eggs

cut chives or finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup cream

salt, pepper and a grinding of nutmeg

1 cup baby peas, cooked and drained (optional)

To make the pastry:

Put the flour into a food processor bowl and add the diced cold butter. Process until the butter is finely chopped into the flour/ Put half the whisked egg into a small bowl and add the ice-cold water. Stir and add to the flour mixture through the food processor feed tube while pulsing the mixture. Tip into a bowl and use your hands to form into a smooth ball. Add a few more drops of water if the mixture refuses to come together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

To assemble and bake the pie:

Divide the pastry in half. Sprinkle a little flour on a bench a roll out one half to line a loose-bottomed 23cm pie or cake tin. Roll out the other half to a similar size to make a lid. Prick the lid lightly with a fork.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the bacon into a heavy frying pan and cook until brown, then lift out and place on a paper towel to drain. Cut into 2cm lengths. Scatter the bacon pieces over the pastry base and sprinkle over the peas (if using). Carefully crack the eggs over the bacon, trying not to break the yolks. Sprinkle the herbs over the eggs and season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

Brush a little of the egg glaze around the edge of the base base and lower the top on. Use a knife or scissors to cut away any excess pastry, then use your fingers to crimp the edges of the two layers of pastry together. Brush the top of the pie lightly with the egg glaze and place into the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.

Nikau’s scrambled eggs

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Lois’ recipe for scrambled eggs comes from Kelda Hains, co-owner of Nikau Cafe and conjurer of the best eggs in town. As you may already know, Kelda had her start in the world of food via Lois Daish’s Brooklyn Cafe & Grill.

Kelda recalls that when hopefuls came to the BCG to be interviewed by Lois they would be asked to undergo the ‘egg test’. Lois believed that the best indication of whether someone really understood food was to watch them cook an egg.

The eggs could be cooked in any way: scrambled, poached, fried, turned into an omelette. It wasn’t about creating the most creative or elaborate dish but, rather, a chance for Lois to observe the care and attention that the cook gave to the egg. When even the most simple and everyday of ingredients are accorded with respect and care it results in food that that is more than a sum of its parts. Lois’ approach to food in an eggshell.

Here’s Kelda’s recipe for scrambled eggs for you to try making at home, or go and enjoy them in their most perfected form at Wellington’s Nikau Cafe.

Nikau’s scrambled eggs (Lois Daish, A Good Year, p. 111)

6 free-range eggs

1/2 cup cream

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream, salt, and pepper and whisk until the whites and yolks are completely combined. Pour the mixture directly into a cold pan, either a small frying pan or a pot. Put over a moderately high heat and use a wooden spoon to stir constantly until the mixture is hot, but not setting. If you dip your finger into the mixture it should feel hot, rather than warm. Turn the element off (or turn the gas flame as low as it will go), stop stirring and leave the eggs to coddle for a few minutes with the lid on. Use the wooden spoon to push the barely set curds onto a warmed plate and serve with toasted crusty bread. Makes enough for two or three.

Roasted pumpkin & feta frittata

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I have a friend who refuses to eat pumpkin, still scarred from his cafe experiences of the early 2000s when all manner of savoury counter food contained roasted pumpkin. When Lois published a recipe for roasted pumpkin and feta frittata in her Listener column in October 2001, she may well have been ahead of ‘peak pumpkin’.

I’ve always loved pumpkin and have no qualms about eating it at home or in a cafe, however I will never order pre-made frittata in a cafe. Frittata can be delightful but it needs to be made with care and I’d prefer to make it myself. This is a particularly lovely version; the coriander stalks add freshness and the sweet pumpkin and salty feta may well be a cliché, but what a delicious one.

Roasted pumpkin & feta frittata (Ray McVinnie & Lois Daish, October 13, 2001)

Roasted pumpkin:

500g seeded and peeled pumpkin

3 tablespoons oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Frittata:

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped coriander stalks, finely chopped

6 tablespoons oil

200g feta

6 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the oil into a baking dish and place in the oven to warm up. Cut the pumpkin into 3cm chunks. Remove baking dish from oven and add the pumpkin, place back into the oven and roast until well-cooked and browned; about 30 – 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over a moderate heat until they have ‘popped’. Gently sauté the onion, garlic and coriander stalks in 3 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan you’ll use to cook the frittata (ensure the pan has an oven proof handle). Remove the onion mixture from the pan, give the pan a quick wipe and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and put back on the heat. Once the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the pumpkin, onion mixture and feta over top of the eggs and give the pan a shake. Place the entire frying pan into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the frittata has set and is golden brown and puffed up at the edges.