I’ve been out of action in the kitchen for a little while as I’ve been ill, away on vacation and at the moment I’m in recovery mode from abdominal surgery. Yesterday was the first day that I was able to make it in the kitchen and cook, mainly because the husband was eating out and I had to fend for myself. Luckily for me I had a grocery delivery earlier in the day and had all my favourite ingredients to make baked smoked chipotle chilli marinated sheeps milk feta, with peperonata on bruschetta.
This dish is so simple to make and can be eaten at lunch or dinner, warm or cold, alone or in company, its a summery dish with all the right elements: salty, sweet, savoury, tart, creamy, bitter and spicy, I guess thats what’s called umami.
My favourite part of this dish is the feta, but it needs to be a pure sheep milk or a sheep and goats milk mix as I find that it has a sharper cleaner flavour than ones that contain cows milk. The creaminess of the feta next to the warm smokey heat of the chipotle chilli for me is like a marriage made in heaven and the sort of food that I can’t stop going back to and nibbling on while waiting for the rest of the elements of the dish to finish cooking.
To make this dish you will need the following
For the feta
1 x 250g block of sheep milk feta
2 large teaspoon of smoked chipotle chilli paste
For the bruschetta
slices of good quality fresh white bread
1 garlic clove
sprinkle of mixed herbs
For the peperonata
6 Ramiro peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 x large red onion, thinly sliced
2 x plum tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Aged balsamic vinegar for dressing.
Heat the oven to 170c
Place the feta in a heat proof bowl, spread the chipotle chilli paste over the feta, and leave to marinate.
In a roasting tray place all the ingredients for the peperonata, give it a mix to ensure all the ingredients are seasoned and coated in the olive oil. Place in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
When the pepronata has been in the oven for 35 minutes, give it a little stir and place the marinated feta in the oven as well and bake for 25 minutes.
Prepare the bruschetta by rubbing the bread with the garlic clove, place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and mixed herbs, and place in oven for 10 minutes or until golden.
Remove the peperonata, feta and bruschetta from the oven, assemble on the plate, dress with balsamic vinegar and serve.
Upma is a typical South Indian breakfast made from semolina and vegetables. I’ve made this dish many times for Tiffin Brunches and Keralan Kitchen pop ups under Malabar Aaanaa, it’s propabably one of my favourite dishes and is best served with pappad and chutneys, it also goes well with my Kerala Mutta Curry recipe.
Upma , South Indian breakfast recipe
2 cups coarse semolina
1 red onion chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1 small carrot, diced
3 green chillies, de-seeded and thinly sliced
4 stalks curry leaves
1 x 2 inch cassia bark
1tsp cumin seeds
3 cups boiling water
1tsp brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup of cashew nuts
2 dried kashmiri chillies (broken)
salt and peper to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
In a dry frying pan roast the semolina over a medium heat until golden. Once this has been done remove from the pan and put to one side.
In another pan heat the coconut oil over a medium heat, first add the cashew nuts, whole spices and curry leaves and temper until the aroma develops then add the onions, chillies onions, peppers and carrot, fry until soft and golden.
Add the semolina to the onion mixture and combine, add the salt and pepper to taste.
Slowly add half of the boiling water once this has evaporated, add the remaining water and stir using a metal spoon. Try not to stir the mixture too much as the mixture will become stodgy.
Remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff the mixture with a fork to separate the grains and serve with coconut and coriander chutney, and pappad
Here’s a great brunch dish that will add spice to any weekend . I made this for a clients 30th birthday brunch when I was running Malabar Aaanaa, all who attended loved this dish and said that the brunch added to a very special weekend.
Most of the egg curries I’ve had in Kerala have used hard boiled eggs. I feel the curry looses out on the silkiness of a soft yoke and a certain richness when combined with the masala, so with this in mind I cook the egg from the scratch in the masala sauce giving the dish a more enjoyable flavour and texture .
Kerala Mutta Curry – Baked Eggs in a Masala Sauce
6 eggs, organic
For the Masala Sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onion, sliced
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
2 green chilli, deseeded and split lengthwise
1inch ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a heavy pan and temper following spices: cinnamon stick and curry leaves for 2 minutes, then add the sliced onions.
Fry the onions until soft and translucent then add the garlic, ginger and green chilli, cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the spices ( but not the garam masala) and cook until the tomatoes have broken down , add a cup of water gradually to stop the mixture from sticking.
Once the masala sauce has cooked down sprinkle with garam masala and season with salt and mix.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c
Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof dish and crack the eggs into the mixture, I find it handy to make a little well in the sauce to hold the egg.
Place in the oven and cook until the egg white is just set and the yoke is still soft.
Serve with Upma, Paratha and chutneys
Instead of baking the eggs, you can just poach the eggs in the pan on the stove. To poach just cover with a lid until and cook over a medium heat until the egg white is cooked and the yoke is soft.
Sweet Bombay Toast….Sweet Bombay Toast with Banana, Coconut, honey and Tayberries I first discovered this delicious breakfast treat in a very special place in Kerala called Varkala 10 years ago. This dish was expertly prepared for my husband and I by a lovely old guy called Babu, who also made us gallons of Masala chai and who offered to let us stay at his house for 100 rs a night the next time we visited. My husband and I reflect fondly about Babu and how proud he was to show his spices and prepare food for us. I should mention Babu’s version of Bombay Toast was a delicious spiced French toast lightly fried in coconut oil and topped with slice banana, freshly grated coconut and drizzled with honey.
After leaving Varkala we visited Kovallam and to our delight we discovered Bombay Toast was on the menu….. it came …..and what lay before us was an oily soggy pale limp piece of bread…. Oh the disappointment!! On arriving back home I made it my mission to cook this special dish in the style of Babu for my friends and family, who thoroughly enjoyed it and have reproduced the dish for their friends too.
I have returned to Kerala a number of times, but I have yet to return to Varkala to find Babu to ask him if his offer still stands and if he would kindly make us Bombay Toast.
This is my version in honor of Babu
4 thick slices from a stale brioche loaf
4 eggs, free range organic
1/8 cup double cream
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Masala chai spice blend
2 tsp coconut oil
2 large ripe bananas sliced
100gms freshly grated coconut
4 tsp of runny honey, I like to use orange blossom
12 tayberries optional
In a shallow bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and masala chai.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium flame, add the coconut oil.
Dip each slice of the brioche into the egg mixture remove and place in the frying pan.
Cook each slice of brioche until golden on both sides, taking care not to burn.
Place on a serving plate, top with sliced bananas coconut and a drizzle of honey.