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.

Meatloaf baked in tomato sauce

 

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As fellow Lois Daish fan Lucy Corry recently pointed out in her excellent ‘Three ways with…’ column in the Dominion Post, meatloaf is well overdue for a comeback “not least because a cold meatloaf and chutney sandwich is one of the world’s greatest culinary pleasures.” The joy of Lois’ baked meatloaf in tomato sauce is that you don’t even need the chutney; place slices of leftover meatloaf along with some of the tomato sauce between slices of fresh bread and you’ve got yourself a top rate sandwich.

As well as providing excellent leftovers, Lois’ meatloaf makes a lovely hearty dinner which could be served with some spinach, wilted in a pan and then tossed with extra virgin olive oil. Seeing as you’ve got the oven on already, you could easily bake a couple of Agria potatoes in their skins (scrubbed thoroughly and pricked with a fork) or roast some yams to go alongside.

Meatloaf baked in tomato sauce (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p. 43)

Meatloaf:

2 free-range eggs

500g beef, lamb or a combination of beef and pork mince

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

2 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoon grated parmesan 

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

Tomato sauce:

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

500gm fresh tomatoes or 2 x cans of tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)

couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (or if making in summer, use a handful of basil leaves)

pinch chilli flakes (optional)

salt and pepper

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. Put the minced meat together with the breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and use your hands to evenly combine. Add the beaten eggs and mix it through. Shape the mixture into four or five small loaves or one large one. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the loaves all over. Carefully lift into a lidded casserole dish.

Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the onion and garlic together until softened. If using fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to blanch the tomatoes in hot water and peel off the skins. If using canned tomatoes, use a potato masher to break them up once you’ve added them to the onions and garlic along with a little sugar. Add the basil or thyme, chilli flakes, a little salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes before pouring the sauce over the meat loaves. Place the lid on the casserole and bake for 40 minutes, removing the lid after 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Baked rice pudding

Detail of illustration by Geoffery Notman, Dinner at Home, 1993, p. 89.

Detail of illustration by Geoffery Notman, Dinner at Home, 1993, p. 89.

There’s an art to making a pudding out of a few simple ingredients. Baked rice pudding is what Lois Daish categorises as a ‘milk pudding’; an endearing term with a cosy nursery supper time feel to it. Other milk puddings include bread and butter pudding, lemon delicious, and rhubarb fool. These old-fashioned style puddings are exactly what I feel like eating in the depths of winter.

The main (but unlisted) ingredient for Lois’ baked rice pudding is time. Preparation takes minutes; the baking takes hours. However these are hours you can spend doing something else, warm in the knowledge that rice pudding is imminent.

Baked rice pudding (Lois Daish, Listener, August 13 2005)

3 cups milk (not trim milk)

3 tablespoons calrose or arborio rice

3 tablespoons caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or half a vanilla pod

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 150°C (not fan bake). Put all ingredients into a deep baking dish with a capacity of one litre and give it a stir. Place in the oven and bake for 2 1/2 hours, stirring the pudding three times during the first hour and then leaving it undisturbed for the remainder of the cooking time. The pudding will develop a golden skin on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before serving. Serves 2-3 generously and any cold leftovers are a thing of joy the next day.

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.

Little River walnut cake

Barbara Henderson, walnut illustration, Good Food, p. 127.

Barbara Henderson, walnut illustration, Good Food, p. 127.

On the day before the shortest day of the year I baked a Little River walnut cake and took it around to Lois’ for afternoon tea. We sat together in her bright warm living room and happily munched on wedges of cake and blue cheese with cups of hot tea.

Walnut cake and blue cheese (Whitestone Windsor Blue) are a very good combination which I highly recommend you try; a little glass of Pedro Ximénez would be entirely appropriate here too. Packed with walnuts and not too sweet, the added treacle and rum impart this cake with a fragrant caramel warmth. A perfect cake to celebrate the middle of winter.

Lois devised this recipe for a relative who had an oversupply of walnuts from her tree. I’m not lucky enough to have a walnut tree (one day, I hope) and I buy my nuts from Moore Wilson’s or The Nut Store to ensure that they are fresh. Rancid walnuts are awful; check that your walnuts are fresh enough to use by trying one before you start baking. I store my walnuts in the freezer, where they can be kept for a month or so.

Little River walnut cake (Lois Daish, Listener, June 15 1996, p.56-57)

200g softened butter

150g brown sugar

4 tablespoons treacle

2 free-range eggs

150g flour

pinch baking soda

pinch ground cloves

4 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons dark rum or whisky

340g fresh shelled walnuts, roughly chopped 

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a 21-23cm cake tin with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugar and treacle together until soft and light. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the dry ingredients and beat in to the mixture along with the milk and rum or whisky. Add the walnuts and mix thoroughly. Scoop into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes until the cake is firm in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack. This cake has a lovely crunchy exterior when eaten on the day it is baked but is still delightful to eat a couple of days later.

Sticky date & walnut pudding

sticky date and walnut pudding

My Tuesday afternoon perked up considerably when I realised that if I stopped and bought walnuts on my way home from work, I could make Lois’ sticky date and walnut pudding for dessert. Dates and walnuts are such a great match; as a snack, on a cheeseboard, in a date loaf, but best of all in this perfect winter pudding. Lois’ recipe follows the ‘self-saucing’ pudding formula where you sprinkle sugar on top of the batter and pour boiling water on top. This pudding has a tendency to soak up most of the sauce as it cools, so it’s a good idea to make a little extra to pour over.

Sticky date & walnut pudding (Lois Daish, Listener, May 24, 1997)

3/4 cup dried dates, cut into thirds (this helps to ensure that you’ll discover any bits of the stone that may be left inside the date)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup boiling water

1 free-range egg

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C and butter a small deep baking dish (4 cup capacity). Put the dates, first measurement of boiling water and butter into a small bowl; cover and set aside for five minutes. Add the egg to the dates and whisk with a fork. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, first measurement of brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Pour the date mixture and chopped walnuts into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Pour into the prepared serving dish and sprinkle with the last measurement of brown sugar and then pour over the boiling water. Bake for about 30 minutes until it is just firm; don’t overcook it or all of the sauce will evaporate.

Extra caramel sauce

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

Put the three ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil and simmer until it forms a smooth sauce. Spoon most this sauce over the hot pudding once you have removed it from the oven, leaving a little to drizzle over each serving.

Afghan sweet poached pumpkin & simple pilaf

good food pumpkin illustration

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.

Silverbeet & pearl barley soup

silverbeet soup

I toyed with calling this ‘Swiss chard & pearl barley soup’ in an attempt to up the fashionability of this simple, but incredibly delicious recipe. In the end, I decided to proudly stick with ‘silverbeet’ as this recipe isn’t about trying to be flashy, it’s about carefully cooking simple ingredients to bring out their best flavours; a great example of Lois’ approach to cooking. Slowly cooking quality, locally-grown and seasonal vegetables, adding some beans and cooked barley to create a soup with a lovely background sweetness and interesting textures. Inexpensive and entirely nourishing, I wish more people knew how to make this soup for themselves.

Silverbeet & pearl barley soup (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Listener, April 10, 1999, p. 55)

1/3 cup pearl barley

1.5 litres water

3 tablespoons cooking oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 can peeled tomatoes

1 small bunch silverbeet

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

grated parmesan or grana padana for serving (optional)

Simmer the barley and water in a pot for about 45 minutes until the barley is tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot and cook the onion, carrot and celery together over a medium heat until softened; you don’t want to brown the vegetables. It’s important to allow some time for this ‘soffritto’ stage, as this will give a lovely sweet base to the soup.

To prepare the silverbeet, cut the leaves from the stems and wash both thoroughly. Slice the stems into thirds lengthwise, then slice into thin ribbons across the width. Slice the leaves into ribbons, keeping the stems separate from the leaves. Add the silverbeet stems to the onion mixture as well as the can of tomatoes. Add a sprinkling of salt, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Leave to cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Add the cooked barley along with its cooking water to the soup, and add the beans and silverbeet leaves. Season with more salt and lots of ground black pepper. Place the lid back on and bring to the boil. Serve the soup in warmed bowls, grate over some parmesan if you fancy it, and enjoy with a piece of chewy wholegrain sourdough on the side.

Slow-cooked beef, carrots, garlic & lemon

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Lois’ slow-cooked beef with carrots, garlic and lemon is perfect for a winter weekend. Late afternoon, when the sun is starting to lower, start braising the beef and carrots and gently softening the onions and garlic. From there it’s basically a matter of putting the dish into a low oven for an hour and half, while you read a book or devour another episode of that television series that you can’t stop watching. Back to the kitchen for some final stages and then for dinner that night you’ll be enjoying one of the cosiest winter meals I can imagine.

Slow-cooked beef, carrots, garlic & lemon (adapted from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p.71)

750g beef blade steak

6 medium carrots

cooking oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic, finely sliced

fresh thyme, leaves pulled from stem

fresh parsley, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef stock

3 medium-large floury potatoes, such as agria

grated zest and juice of two lemons

chopped flat leaf parsley and zest of one lemon to finish

Preheat oven to 140°C. Trim any fat or silverskin from the meat, but leave in place any seams of gristle in the meat, as these will soften during cooking. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and cut into large chunks. Peel the carrots and cut into pieces of a similar size to the meat. Heat enough oil to coat to the bottom of a large frying pan and brown the meat; it’s probably best to do this in two batches so that you don’t crowd the pan). Brown the meat on at least two sides and remove from pan and put on a plate. Add the carrots to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and again.

While the meat and carrots are browning, take a lidded casserole dish that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven and add the oil and butter and heat over a low-medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until the onion is soft. Add thyme, parsley and flour and continue to stir until the flour starts to colour. Pour in the stock and lemon juice and grate in the lemon zest, followed by the carrots and browned meat. Pour a little water into the frying pan and return it to the heat and scrape up any sticky bits left in the pan. Add this to the casserole. The meat and carrots should be almost covered by the stock and pan juices. Place the lid on the dish, bring to the boil and transfer into the pre-heated oven for about one and half hours.

After this time has passed, take the casserole out of the oven and place back onto the stove top. Bring to the boil and lower to a steady simmer to reduce the liquid while stirring regularly. Peel the potatoes, chop into 2cm chunks and place in a medium-sized pot of cold water. Bring to the boil, cook until tender and then drain.

Once the slow-cooked beef liquid has reduced and thickened slightly, add the potatoes and turn off the heat. Allow the slow-cooked beef to sit for about ten minutes; this will give the meat time to relax and soak up some more of the delicious sauce. Meanwhile, sauté some greens (such as cavolo nero with fennel seeds) and warm up some bowls in the oven. Just before serving, sprinkle the slow-cooked beef with the chopped parsley and lemon zest.

 

Potato soup with roasted garlic & silverbeet

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‘While it might take the bluest of moods to make you sit down to a plate of plain mashed potatoes for dinner, a bowl of potato soup tells a more cheerful story.’

Lois Daish, Listener, June 24, 2000, p. 50

The cheerful story is this: from the most simple and inexpensive ingredients a soup can be made that is delicious, good for you, and very good for your state of mind. Lois gives a basic potato soup recipe which can then be added to with roasted garlic, winter greens (cavolo nero, silverbeet), leeks or smoked fish. I chose roasted garlic and silverbeet which I will give the method for below. With enough leftover for a second meal, I turned the remainders into a satisfying dinner for two by flaking over some smoked fish.

This recipe will make enough for three people; Lois gives a helpful guideline of one medium-sized potato per serving of soup and increase the other ingredients correspondingly.

Potato soup with roasted garlic & silverbeet (Lois Daish, Listener, June 24, 2000, p. 50-51)

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

3 medium-sized floury potatoes (I used Agria)

salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper

1 small bayleaf

water or chicken stock

milk or cream

soft green herbs such as parsley, dill, chervil, chives (optional)

The optional extras:

A bunch of silverbeet

2 bulbs garlic

Roasting the garlic:

Put the garlic on to roast before you start the soup. Heat oven to 190°C. Prepare the garlic by slicing off the tip of the bulb to expose the ends of the cloves within. Place inside a piece of tinfoil, sprinkle with a little olive oil and water and seal up the package. Place onto a little oven tray and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the cloves are very tender and your kitchen is filled with the sweet smell of caramelised garlic. Leave the bulbs to cool and then squeeze out the insides of the cloves and set aside.

The soup base:

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook very gently until the onion has softened. While the onions cook, peel the potatoes and slice into thin slices (cut in half, place cut side down and then slice). Add the potato to the pan and cook until they start to stick to the bottom but have not started to colour. Add enough water or stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

The silverbeet:

While the soup is simmering, prepare the silverbeet. Wash the leaves to remove any dirt or wildlife and strip the green leaves away from the stalks. Finely chop the stalks and put into a bowl, then finely slice the leaves and keep them separate from the stalks. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the silverbeet stalks; bring back to the boil and cook for about 3 minutes, then add the silverbeet leaves and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Finishing the soup:

Remove the bayleaf from the pot and add the roasted garlic. Purée the soup using a handheld stick blender or food processor bowl; do this in short bursts as quickly as possible as this will help to prevent a gluey texture caused by over-processing. Add the silverbeet and chopped green herb (if using) to the smooth soup base and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.