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.

 

Summer fish bowl

summer fish bowl

Despite the summery ambition in its title, this is the perfect spring dinner. It’s a wonderful way to use new season potatoes and asparagus. It’s light and fresh-tasting, yet still substantial. I can see this becoming a regular weeknight dinner at my place.

Summer fish bowl (adapted from Lois Daish, A Good Year, p. 31)

2 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3-4cm pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, thinly slicely

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

1/2 cup white wine (dry riesling or sauvignon blanc)

6-8 low acid tomatoes (when tomatoes aren’t in season, substitute a can of tomatoes, drained of juice)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch saffron stamens

pinch cayenne pepper

fresh thyme leaves

1 1/2 cups fish stock, chicken stock or water with a splash of fish sauce

bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and the spears cut into lengths

chopped fresh leafy herbs, such as parsley and oregano

500g fresh fish

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place potato cubes into a pot and over with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot and add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Fry gently for about ten minutes until starting to caramelise, then add the garlic. Fry again briefly and pour on the wine. Allow to bubble up for 1-2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, seasonings and thyme. Cook for a few minutes more, then add the liquid and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is tender. Check to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Add the asparagus spears and continue to simmer gently while you grill the fish.

Preheat your oven grill. Prepare the fish by cutting into large pieces. Place in a rimmed baking dish, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide the fish under the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it is barely opaque right through. Transfer the fish into a shallow heated bowl, add the cooked potatoes, pour over any juices from the pan into the pot of sauce and ladle the sauce over the top.

Grilled fennel

fennel

When seemingly simple recipes require two different methods of cooking I have been known to keep on turning the pages of the recipe book. Despite involving both boiling and grilling, I decided to give Lois’ grilled fennel a try, as I’ve learnt from Lois’ recipes this year is that every one of her instructions is there for a reason. As Ginny Grant wrote to me, with Lois ‘[t]here are no unnecessary embellishments in her cooking, everything that is in a recipe is there because it is needed.’ With this is in mind, I encourage you to give this recipe a go. It’s a lovely side which becomes the focus of the meal when paired with some grilled salmon and some boiled new potatoes; any extra sauce can be poured over top.

Grilled Fennel (Lois Daish, Listener, 19 February, 2000)

2 whole Florence fennel bulbs

olive oil

Dressing:

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoon cream or creme fraiche

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim the tops of the fennel bulbs. Fill a large pot with water, submerge the fennel bulbs and bring to the boil. Simmer until the bulbs are tender all the way through. Drain and cut into thick slices. Preheat your oven using the grill function. Brush the pieces of fennel with olive oil and place on a tray and grill until browned.

Make the dressing by whisking together all of the ingredients in a small bowl or shaking together in a jar. Pour over the grilled fennel and serve.

Italian-style coleslaw

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This is one of the most simple recipes I’ve come across for ‘slaw’ and one of the most tasty. It is comprised simply of green or Savoy cabbage, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar. It’s the perfect thing to accompany a roasted chicken and some roasted pumpkin, or as a palate cleanser after a hearty bowl of pasta.

Italian-style coleslaw (Lois Daish, Listener, May 21, 2005, p. 60-61)

A small green cabbage or half a large Savoy cabbage

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

red wine vinegar

freshly grated parmesan

Here are Lois’ instructions for making the coleslaw:

‘Finely shred the cabbage one small green cabbage or half a large Savoy cabbage. Put in a large bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar at a ratio of three parts oil to one part vinegar. Start to toss the cabbage. Don’t add so much dressing that it becomes wet, it should be just enough to moisten. Toss through as much shaved parmesan as you like. I like a lot. Place on four small plates as a starter, or place on a large platter and serve as a shared starter or salad with the main.’ 

Curry of chickpeas, potatoes & currants

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Detail of a Geoffrey Notman illustration from Lois Daish ‘Dinner at Home’

Lois’ chickpea, potato and currant curry is quick to prepare and makes an excellent weeknight dinner. Serve it with some basmati rice, some buttered spinach and a dollop of yoghurt on top. This recipe makes enough for two, but can be easily doubled.

Curry of chickpeas, potatoes & currants (Lois Daish, Listener, June 7 2003, p.45)

2 tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle

1 large red-skinned potato, skin scrubbed and diced

1 cup water

2 tablespoon dried currants 

300g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 250g home-cooked chickpeas

large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a lidded frying pan or pot and add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook until the onion starts to colour. Add the curry powder and cumin and cook for a further minute then add the potato, water and currants. Season with a little salt, cover the pan with a lid and cook at a gentle simmer until the potato is tender; this will take about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture from time to time and add more water if is starting to stick and the potato isn’t cooked through yet. Once the potato is tender, add the chickpeas and simmer again for a few minutes. Stir through the coriander and serve.

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.

Beetroot, yoghurt, mint & walnut salad

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I’ve recently been talking to chefs, cooks, and food writers who have been influenced in one way or another by Lois Daish. I’ve been particularly interested in how they characterise Lois’ approach to food and what sets her apart from other cooks and food writers. Ginny Grant sums it up very well:

Lois’s food [has] an honest simplicity where flavour is paramount.  There are no unnecessary embellishments in her cooking, everything that is in a recipe is there because it is needed.

I had this in mind as I made Lois’ beetroot, yoghurt, mint, and walnut salad at the weekend. Less of a recipe and more of a combination of four ingredients that go well together, there was a temptation to add more; black pepper at least, but I also thought about adding feta. Instead I followed Lois’ instructions and ended up with a salad that was perfectly balanced and lovely, just the way Lois intended.

Beetroot, yoghurt, mint & walnut salad (Lois Daish, Listener, January 2 1999)

4 medium beetroot

1/2 cup plain yoghurt

sea salt 

chopped mint leaves

handful freshly cracked walnuts

Scrub the beetroot and boil whole until very tender. Cool, peel, and cut into wedges. Mix with the yoghurt, salt, mint, and walnuts. Serve.

Pumpkin, onion, and lemon kedgeree

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Smoked fish seemed like such an integral ingredient to kedgeree that I really couldn’t imagine it without. Let alone imagine that kedgeree might even be better with pumpkin than smoked fish. At best, I thought, this was a good recipe to have up my sleeve for times when something comforting and substantial is needed for dinner but there isn’t much besides a wedge of pumpkin lurking in the fridge.

When Queen of Kedgeree Kelda Hains (and co-owner of the unsurpassable Nikau Cafe) mentioned pumpkin kedgeree as one of Lois’ recipes that she continues to make, I knew beyond doubt that it was going to be good. But not only is it good, pumpkin kedgeree is delicious. I still love smoked fish kedgeree but there is definitely a place for both.

Pumpkin, onion, and lemon kedgeree (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p. 98)

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

4 tablespoons butter

2 onions, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

750g Crown pumpkin (grey-skinned), deseeded, peeled, and chopped into 1cm pieces

2 tablespoons curry powder

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Accompaniments to serve with the kedgeree (some, or all of the following):

Lemon wedges

Unsweetened yoghurt with some chopped fresh mint and black pepper stirred through

Sliced hard boiled eggs

Finely chopped spring onions

Chutney

A salad of diced tomato, cucumber

To prepare the rice:

Start off by cooking the rice. Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. Put into a medium sized saucepan with a lid and add 3 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down to low. With the lid on the pan continue cooking the rice until most of the water has evaporated and there are little ‘tunnels’ on the surface. Turn off the heat and leave the rice on the element with the lid on. Leave for 15 minutes and then turn out into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Once cool enough use your hands to break up any lumps of rice.

To make the kedgeree:

Melt the butter in a very large frying pan and add the diced onion. Fry gently for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped garlic and fry for a couple more minutes. Add the diced pumpkin and sprinkle over the curry powder and continue to fry for another couple of minutes. Squeeze over the lemon juice, add the water and season well with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

Cook gently until the pumpkin is tender; carefully stir the pumpkin every now and again to ensure it cook evenly. Test a piece of pumpkin to see if it’s ready; it should be soft but still holding its shape. Add the rice to the pan and carefully turn and stir the rice into the curried vegetable mixture until all of the grains are golden. Squeeze over the juice of the remaining lemon, grind over more black pepper and sprinkle with parsley before serving with your chosen condiments.

Fish steamed with broccoli

Barbara henderson broccoli

Broccoli illustration by Barbara Henderson, Good Food, p. 132.

One of the first meals I learnt to make was a one pan dinner: an Alison Holst recipe comprising mince, frozen peas, a can of condensed tomato soup and dried pasta. As constantly hungry teenagers, my sister and I made this ‘hearty’ dish repeatedly on our weekly cooking nights until mum could bear it no longer and it was banned from the kitchen. If only I had known about Lois’ own version of a ‘one pan dinner’ to substitute in its place.

Lois’ fish steamed with broccoli is a lovely healthy and fresh-tasting dinner in which everything is cooked together in the same pan. Simple to make, hardly any dishes to do afterwards and, most importantly, it’s really delicious.

Fish steamed with broccoli (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 24-5)

1 tablespoon olive oil

500gm fresh boneless fillets of firm white fish (I used gurnard)

1 cup of water

1 head broccoli, cut into florets 

small bunch of spring onions, sliced

Some, or all of the following ingredients:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 small leek, washed and sliced

2 rashers bacon, finely diced

fresh herbs – parsley, thyme, or oregano

freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based wide saucepan. Add whatever ingredients from the list you have on hand and fry together gently until the mixture softens and takes on a golden tint. Add a cup of cold water and lay the fillets of fish on top. Arrange the broccoli and spring onions over the top, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 5 minutes until the fish is opaque and broccoli is bright green and still crunchy. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes, plain rice or some crusty bread.

Afghan sweet poached pumpkin & simple pilaf

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Barbara Henderson’s wonderful cucurbits illustration from Good Food, p. 66.

After the recent floods in Dunedin, my mum was helping her friend to clear up the ground floor of his water-damaged house and came across a stack of old Cuisine magazines. Sitting on top of a soggy pile of back issues was a completely dry magazine from 2009 with ‘Lois Daish does dinner’ emblazoned across the front cover. Mum excitedly told me about it and posted it up to me; we both know the value of a undiscovered Lois recipe.

In that flood-spared magazine Lois gives recipes for a simple and delicious dinner at home; a snapshot of what she was cooking and eating at that time. Among these recipes was one for Afghan sweet poached pumpkin which Lois recommends serving alongside simple pilaf.

A small list of inexpensive ingredients and simple cooking methods creates two unexpectedly delicious dishes; the flavour of the pumpkin really shines and is lifted by the dollop of garlic-spiked yoghurt on top. The pilaf has a lovely toasted flavour which comes from the frying of the rice before it is cooked in liquid. Served with some wilted spinach, Afghan sweet poached pumpkin and simple pilaf make for a really lovely and comforting dinner.

Afghan sweet poached pumpkin (Lois Daish, ‘Lois Daish does dinner’, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p. 92).

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup water

500g crown pumpkin (grey-skinned) or buttercup, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-3cm chunks

1/2 cup thick plain unsweetened yoghurt (I use The Collective brand)

1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste with salt

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place the butter in a wide saucepan or deep frying pan over a medium heat until melted and then add the onion and fry until just starting to colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the pumpkin, preferably in a single layer. Cover with a lid and simmer gently until the the pumpkin is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. This process will take quite a while, but you can get on with preparing the rice pilaf and green vegetables in the meantime. Combine the yoghurt and garlic. Serve the pumpkin and its sauce in a warmed serving bowl and spoon the yoghurt over the top. Serve the lemon wedges in a small bowl on the side and squeeze over the top of the pumpkin and rice as you eat.

Simple pilaf (Lois Daish, ‘Lois Dais does dinner’, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p.92).

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, finely diced

1 1/2 cups jasmine or basmati rice (I used brown basmati)

3 cups water or chicken stock

1 bay leaf

a few thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt (unless the stock you are using is salty)

Put the oil and butter in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over a gentle heat and add the onion. Fry until the onion is translucent and then add the rice (no need to wash it first). Continue to gently fry for a couple of minutes, stirring it often. Add the water, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Taste the cooking liquid and add some salt if needed.

Simmer uncovered until the liquid is almost absorbed and then cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is almost tender. Turn the heat off and leave the rice in the covered saucepan for another 15 minutes until it is tender and fluffy.