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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Warm chickpea & rocket salad

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This is a very easy and very tasty lunch for two which, like many of Lois’ recipes, relies upon finding and using good quality ingredients: fresh rocket, good extra virgin olive oil, New Zealand garlic, and chickpeas. Each ingredient is carefully handled to result in an elegant lunch for two to be served with some fresh baguette.

Warm chickpea and rocket salad (Lois Daish, Listener, June 7 2003).

A can of chickpeas or 250g home-cooked chickpeas

Sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 handfuls rocket leaves

extra virgin olive oil to finish

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil and add some salt and a sprig of rosemary. Add the chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes and then drain. Heat the olive oil gently in a frying pan and add the garlic. Stir briefly and then add the chickpeas and continue cooking for a few minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Put the rocket leaves in a bowl and tip over the chickpeas. Drizzle with more olive oil and gently combine the greens and beans. Divide between two bowls and serve with some bread on the side.

Spaghetti with cauliflower, almonds & currants

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This is one Lois recipe that I did end up changing quite a bit. The original recipe calls for pinenuts and raisins which I substituted for almonds and currants. I also added some anchovies and flat leaf parsley and cooked the cauliflower for a shorter period of time, so it retained a slight bit of bite. This recipe really was a combination of Lois and me. Makes enough for a delicious lunch for two or a light supper.

Spaghetti with cauliflower, almonds and currants (adapted slightly from Lois’ recipe published in the NZ Listener, August 9 2003).

Half a small cauliflower

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 medium onion or a couple of shallots, finely diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons currants (or raisins)

small handful of chopped almonds, toasted in a pan with some oil

2-3 anchovies, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

big handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

250g dried spaghetti

extra virgin olive oil

Cut the cauliflower into quarters and cook in a big pot of salted water (the same pot you’ll cook the pasta in). Cook the cauliflower until it is tender and can be pierced with a knife. Lift the cauliflower out of the water and chop into small florets. Scoop out 3/4 cup of the cauliflower cooking water, top up the pot with a bit of more water and bring back to the boil to cook the pasta.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, then add a couple of tablespoons of the cauliflower cooking liquid and continue cooking until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste and another half cup of the cooking liquid, plus the chopped cauliflower, currants, almonds, anchovies and parsley. Grind over lots of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and simmer gently while you cook the pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta, tip into the cauliflower mixture, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and serve it up.

Spinach frittata

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I’ve just arrived back from a lovely visit to Mum’s where we spent some happy hours poring through her folders of collected recipes, many of which are Lois’ old NZ Listener columns. While the appearance of the columns changed every couple of years, the style of the food remained constant: seasonal, fresh, and simple. Recipes from 1996 are as enticing as recipes from 2007.

Lois’ columns are an absorbing read interspersed with personal anecdotes and references to food writers, colleagues or friends from whom she had sourced the recipe or inspiration. Lois often mentions River Cafe (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) whose modern Italian recipes make the best use of seasonal produce cooked in simple ways – much like Lois herself.

Lois gave Listener readers River Cafe’s recipe for spinach frittata back in 2000. We made it for dinner last Friday evening as a light supper (after a not-so light lunch) and it was perfection. I may very well make it again this Friday.

Spinach frittata (Lois Daish, Listener, August 19 2000)

500g fresh spinach, tough stalks removed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

50g butter, cut into small cubes

4 eggs

50g parmesan, freshly grated

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 slices prosciutto (optional)

Preheat your oven grill to its maximum setting. Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling salted water. Drain in a colander and push down with a large spoon or spatula to squeeze out most of the water. Put into a bowl and dot with half of the butter cubes and grind over some salt and pepper. Break the eggs into a medium-sized bowel and beat lightly. Add the spinach and half of the grated parmesan and a bit more salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Take a large 20-30cm fry pan with an ovenproof handle. Add the oil to the fry pan and heat on the stove top over a medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture, using a spatula to spread out the spinach evenly. Give the pan a jiggle and leave to cook for a few minutes. Dot the rest of the butter and parmesan over the top of the frittata and put under the grill for a couple of minutes until the top begins to rise and it turns crispy around the edges. Remove from oven (remembering that the pan handle will be hot!), cut into quarters and serve with prosciutto or, like we did with a salad of chopped tomatoes, torn basil, olive oil and salt and pepper.

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