Persian-ish French toast

When I made my first sourdough last week, I made a fruit loaf and two cob loaves. Thing is though, we’re kind of out of the habit of eating bread. So today I still have one of those loaves left (it was also a somewhat exceptional weekend which involved zero cooking). I thought, therefore, to see whether slightly stale sourdough bread would make good French toast. Or at least edible French toast.

IMG_1073.JPGI found a recipe in Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco for brioche doughnut French toast, inspired by everyone’s favourite Nigella. It involves vanilla and orange zest in the egg mixture, and then sugar and ground cardamom (guilty: I used pre-ground instead of grinding my own). And it was delicious. The bread was just slightly on the chewy side, but I actually didn’t mind that; it wasn’t as thickly cut as you would use brioche, which helped. The orange and cardamom were excellent.

I served myself some Greek yoghurt as well, and it was excellent.

Of course, I’ve now reminded myself how easy French toast is, so that may have Ramifications…

Sirocco

As I mentioned in this post about a Sirocco feast, I was pretty excited to be sent the book by the publisher – especially as I had no idea it even existed. I’m planning on cooking more from it this week, but I thought I would make some observations about how things are going so far…

UnknownSalads and vegetables:

Carrot, tahini and hazelnuts salad: made for Spit Roast #2; I subbed in almonds and pine nuts. I think next time I might steam the carrots, just a bit – having them raw was a bit surprising and I think it detracted from the flavours.

Prawn, broccoli, feta and almond salad: I accidentally put the dressing ingredients on the prawns – not THAT different from the marinade, I just had to add harissa, but it’s rather a measure of how my brain was going. I’ve also just realised I forgot the dill, so I’m feeling a bit annoyed. Nonetheless it was fine; prawns and broccolini was a bit odd, but not terrible.

Turmeric and spice-marinated cauliflower: it seemed to have heaps of spices on the cauliflower (turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika)… and then to have a tomato sauce with it. I didn’t feel like you could taste the spices through the tomato, which made me sad. I liked frying the cauli though.

Crushed new potatoes: also made for Spit Roast #2. I blanched the spring onions too hard (shouldn’t have put the lid on for any of the two minutes), but overall this was excellent – roasted taters, spring onion, peas and and dill.

Mains:

Chickpea, butternut, preserved lemon and harissa tagine: delish. Even if I did have a cold when I was making it so I may have over-compensated on the harissa, since I couldn’t actually smell it…. I also didn’t add nearly as many dried apricots because my beloved is not a huge fan.

Aubergine, pepper and tomato stew (aka eggplant, capsicum and tomato): whoa this was awesome. Really easy – it’s basically like ratatouille – and it really does get better over time. So easy. So easy to eat for a few days in a row.

Georgian chicken stew: I’ve already made this twice. Chicken thighs are a miracle meat with the way they react to cooking for two hours. Chicken, onion, garlic, tomato and some spices – cover with water, simmer for two hours. Ta dah.

 

This book is definitely staying with me and being used over and over. Ghayour says she hopes the book “will get covered in oil splatter and food stains and remain close to hand” – I mean I TRY to avoid the splatter, but sometimes it’s just not possible… .

Spit Roast Experiment #2

Spit Roast Experiment #1 was in aid of Spit Roast Experiment #2, because we’d invited people over for #2 on the basis that we’d get all our issues sorted out from one test run.

Right?

Aim: Produce a good outstanding (let’s be honest) meal for friends using the spit roast.

Equipment:

  1. Spit roast
  2. Nino’s and Joe’s honeymoon roast – lamb with N&J’s homemade pork sausage stuffing (this could be apparently be construed as A Bit Rude but I don’t know what you’re talking about because MY MIND DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT)
  3. Salads from Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco
  4. Tart from Andrew
  5. Friends

IMG_3767.JPGMethod:

  1. Learn from previous attempt and start the chiminea fire a bit earlier.
  2. Attempt to put the roast over the fire tray… have a bit of an accident and destroy the fire tray, so use the fire pit instead.
  3. Occasionally move more coals from the chiminea over to the fire pit.
  4. Admire the roast. And the fire.
  5. Construct two salads:
    • Potato, pea and spring onion: roast the baby potatoes and then smash them a bit; add dill, blanched then grilled spring onions, and peas. (I over-blanched the spring IMG_3769.JPGonions which was a bit sad, but it was ok nonetheless.)
    • Carrots and tahini: carrot, red onion, mint and meant-to-be-hazelnuts (I used pine nuts and almonds, because I forgot) with a dressing of tahini, lemon and oil.
  6. Serve with two bottles of 2006 shiraz.
  7. Have excellent conversation.
  8. When everyone’s done with main, serve a tart made by Andrew – a variation on a frangipane with alternating pear and raspberry on top.
  9. Bask in the glow of having accomplished your Aim.

Results:

IMG_3773.JPGYep; hotter and longer is the key to spit roast. Good to know. Also this was an excellent piece of meat to do in this way and we could definitely fit two onto the spit. Also very good to know. The meat cooked for about 3.5 hours; J thought this was too long, I thought it was fine, he’ll do it a bit shorter next time anyway.

A Sirocco Feast

Unknown.jpegWhen I got a copy of Sirocco from the publisher, I was incredibly excited. I adore Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour’s first cookbook, rather a lot: it’s like Jerusalem but slightly more work-a-day… and I think it’s a prettier book too, overall. I had no idea there was another one in the works, and there it suddenly was, on my doorstep!

I’ve cooked from it for the last week or so, but this weekend we had a friend coming over so I thought I’d go full Sirocco.

Main: roast chicken with vegetables.

The chicken has orange and lemon zest and za’atar slathered all over it. I just used the zester on the citrus; next time I would chop it a little finer, because it didn’t stay on the chicken quite as well as I’d hoped. But it was delicious, and I’ll be doing it like this from now on. I also put the zested lemon into the chicken cavity, as Nigella insists.

Souk-spiced root vegetables: turns out I had no cumin seed (?!), but in looking I discovered a jar of Moroccan souk spices that I’d forgotten which was basically what the recipe required. I used parsnip, potato, carrot and celeriac; it was my first time ever cooking (and, I think, eating) the last. Would do so again.

Beans: fried with mustard seeds, preserved lemon, garlic and some other spices. Was meant to have pickled chillies, too, but I couldn’t find what I thought were the right things.

Asparagus: just sat in boiling water for five minutes, then tossed with more preserved lemon, mint, and oil. Also meant to have preserved chillies. I didn’t use anywhere near the amount of preserved lemon suggested, and it was quite lemony enough; needed more mint but it was dark and cold when I went out foraging in the garden.

I think that this dinner will be made again.

Dessert: lime and basil cream

Not enough basil, sadly, but very tangy with the lime – zest and juice of two limes to 600mL of cream (2/3 of recipe). Was meant to be topped with a persimmon compote, but I didn’t realise it was persimmon season, so when I went to the shops and saw them I couldn’t recall how many I needed. Also, persimmons scary. So I did a little not-quite-compote with apples, lime and vanilla. It was very, very tasty; served in jars from Kate’s jams they looked amusingly bohemian. Because I didn’t think our martini glasses were big enough.

IMG_0967.JPG

An average picture but a tasty meal.

It’s available from Fishpond.