Giulio’s Crab Tofu

Giulio gathering blog resize b&wGiulio gathering snowpeas in the Lyttelton Community Garden – photographer Sabin Holloway

Now I know what you’re thinking.  This recipe seems fiddly and rather complicated and whilst I admit it’s not a dish you’d whip up for a midweek lunch or dinner, I think part of its pleasure lies in its unhurried preparation.  Oh and planning an occasion to test it out.

A Gathering perhaps with friends in the garden at the weekend.  Once I’m back in my kitchen and not cooking over a one-burner stove camping style (earthquake repairs continue) I’m definitely going to try this out.

Giulio Sturla, the Lyttelton chef / owner of Roots has kindly given us this recipe to try.  He is a true gatherer in every sense and not only of the culinary kind.  Anyone wandering into his restaurant will see materials he has gathered or uncovered being used or displayed in innovative and resourceful ways.

Ingredients for Tofu:
170g soy beans (NZ grown)
Water for soaking
1 litre water
1.5 tsp calcium sulphate

Soak the soy beans overnight.  Strain the water the next day and put the beans in a blender with 500 ml of water.  Blend until you have an homogeneous paste.  Add 250 ml of water to a big pot.  Bring the water to the boil then add the soy bean puree. With the remaining 250 ml of water wash up the blender and mix that it all into the pot so you get every last bit.

Simmer this mixture for about 5 minutes.  Keep stirring to avoid burning the paste,  then strain the mixture through a muslin cloth.  Let the milk go through, pressing the muslin to extract most of it (be careful with your hands, it could be hot). Heat this milk again to cook for another 5 min to make the protein of the soy beans more digestible. Now you have soy milk ready to drink or to make silken tofu.

When the milk cools down, measure 700 – 750g for the tofu. Dissolve the calcium sulphate with 2 tsp of water then add the soy milk and mix thoroughly. Prepare containers to make the tofu.  You can make single portions in ramekins or in a tray  with 3 cm depth.

You will need to prepare a bain-marie container big enough to sit the ramekins in.  Place these ramekins with the milk into the simmering bain-marie water and cover with a lid  but allow for the steam to escape to avoid dripping into the containers. After 5 min the milk starts to solidify, and it is now ready. Remove the ramekins from the bain-marie and let them cool down.  Now they are ready to eat.

Crab salad

100g fresh crab meat
Honey vinaigrette (1 part honey, 1 part olive oil, 1 part apple vinegar, salt to taste)
Young broad beans
Coriander leaves and flowers
Sorrel leaves
Borage flowers

Mix all the ingredients and arrange them over the cool silken tofu, decorate with leaves and flowers. Enjoy!

Crab Tofu

Wild Parsley Pesto & Crispy Baked Crackers

Rachel gathering wild parsley resizeI am curious about the growing conditions that wild parsley seems to favour.  Not my shady garden alas, but as I wander along sun-exposed sandy coastal tracks I see flat-leafed parsley growing profusely, as high as a foot in some places.

Rachel has given me this recipe for pesto that she loves,  so next time I’m out walking I’ll gather a bunch and try it out.  She says it’s easy – just mix all the ingredients together and keep in the fridge once you’ve made it.  Really healthy spread to serve with freshly baked bread, or as a sauce for pasta.

1 cup finely chopped flat-leafed parsley
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & ground black pepper
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Thin with olive oil

099Photographer Peter Bay

Rachel’s parsley pesto would taste amazing spread on these baked crackers too – which keep fresh for ages stored in an airtight container.  Thank you Andrea for sharing this recipe with me.

150g flour any kind (buckwheat is wonderful)
150g rolled oats  100g sunflower seeds  50g linseed seeds  50g sesame seeds

2tblsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
500ml water

Mix all the ingredients together to make a wettish dough.  Spread mixture between 3 baking trays, each lined with baking paper. Bake at 170 degrees for 35 minutes.  10 minutes into the cooking time, cut into slices with a sharp knife (if you want neat crackers), otherwise just break into pieces after they are cooked and cooled.

Hanging artwork for the kitchen

Rhubarb Sour Cocktail illustration resize

Whilst packing up my office in preparation for earthquake repairs,  I discovered this monochromatic recipe illustration that Rachel designed for the cook book. Imagine how wonderful it would look screen printed onto a linen tea towel and hung as kitchen art.  Great stocking filler for Christmas. Must get some printed in time for  Culverden.

Incidentally have tried one or two of these very moorish cocktails in the past and can absolutely recommend them.  One jug doesn’t last long, so get organised beforehand if you’re throwing a party and poach plenty of rhubarb.  Note the recipe above is for one thirsty person only.

Reserve a few rhubarb stems with the heart-shaped leaves intact, and pop into a glass vase for an unusual and dramatic arrangement.  Will keep the rhubarb fresh until you get the urge for another cocktail ….

Rhubarb Clafoutis Tart

Looking back at my previous recipe postings, I realise that   I tend to favour dishes that look absolutely beautiful.  Of course they taste great too,  but I am a sucker for anything aesthetically-pleasing.  This recipe is no exception.  Using rhubarb picked from the commuity garden where it was growing almost head height,  I baked this variation of the celebrated french desert clafoutis.

1 sheet of ready-made shortcrust pastry  16 stalks of rhubarb (washed & dried)
Clafoutis batter :
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch ground cinnamon
4 pieces of crystalised ginger (finely grated)
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plain flour with pinch of salt

Grease a 23cm flan dish and dust with flour.  Line the dish with the pastry and prick the base with a fork.  Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans.  Bake blind at 180 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes, remove beans and return to oven to dry out pastry for about 5 minutes.  Cool slightly while making filling. Cut rhubarb into 2.5 cm lengths (or the same depth as your flan dish), dust with icing sugar and then stand pieces upright in the flan dish, arranging in consecutive circles until flan filled.
Make the batter.  Beat eggs and sugar until smooth.  Add cream, vanilla essence, ground cinnamon, ginger and zest of lemon.  Fold in flour and salt.
Pour the batter over the rhubarb and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 175 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



Silverbeet – almost too beautiful to cook

Silverbeet resize & lightenRachel picked silverbeet from her garden and stunned by the beauty of their long brightly coloured roots, was inspired to draw them before they went to seed.

Having accumulated heaps of silverbeet recipes (cookbook concept days) over the past few years,    I took armfuls back home with me on the ferry and got cooking.

Here’s an  incredibly quick and healthy recipe to share.  Everything  is thrown together and ready in about 30 minutes.  You could replace silverbeet with chard, cavolo nero or spinach leaves.

Silverbeet & Chickpea Curry – adapted from Sarah Raven (feeds 4)

1 large onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
Vegetable oil
1 heaped tsp medium curry powder
A knob of fresh ginger (finely grated)
1 red chilli (finely chopped)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
250g button mushrooms (halved)
Juice of 1 lime
2 lemon grass sticks
Large handfuls silverbeet
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tblsp Thai fish sauce
Bunch of coriander (chopped)

Gently fry onion and garlic in a large frying pan until soft.  Add the curry powder, fresh ginger, chilli, salt & pepper and stir.
Add the cooked chickpeas, coconut milk, mushrooms, lime juice and lemon grass sticks and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove any thick stems from the silverbeet, then shred the leaves and add to the chickpea mixture.  Add soy sauce & fish sauce.  Scatter fresh coriander over the top.  Serve with rice.

Still life pumpkins and a recipe to follow

Pumpkin x 6 illustration resizeSo many pumpkin recipes to choose from but in the end I have chosen a type of pangratto that we tested for Gatherings, our cookbook that hasn’t been published yet.  The hill-side garden behind the Carousel studio offers a welcoming home for pumpkins to self-seed and any baby ones that don’t mature and enlarge can be used for home styling.

Good for a vegetarian lunch or to accompany venison sausages.

1kg pumpkin (peeled, seeds removed & cut into large bite-sized pieces)

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
5 tblsp olive oil
1 mild red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tblsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
Zest of 1/2 orange
Handful fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
4 handfuls fresh white breadcrumbs
40g butter
little more olive oil (for drizzling)

Heat oven to 180 degrees.  Steam pumpkin for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Put chopped garlic into a shallow pan with olive oil and fry over a moderate heat.
Add the chilli to the pan with the rosemary and orange zest.  Add in the parsley and breadcrumbs, stirring until they colour a little.
Put the pumpkin into a shallow baking dish, add salt & pepper and small knobs of butter.
Tip the breadcrumb mixture over the top and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for about 35 minutes until deep golden in colour.

Summertime and Strawberries

Gatherings 1 Front Cover orig resizeThis is the front cover design that Rachel created for our cookery book, ‘Gatherings’ – not yet published.  You can also see the New Zealand version featuring fejoia fruit in the place of the strawberries and raspberries in our Illustration gallery.

Have chosen a Strawberry & Chocolate Tart that we tested for our book (not the tarts below – but I couldn’t resist including this delightful image).  We have so many wonderful recipes that friends and families passed onto us for this cookery book concept so keep an eye out each month for a seasonal dish of some sort.

Sweet buttery tart crust (makes 9 inch tart shell)

100g butter   1/4 cup icing sugar  1/4 tsp vanilla essence  1 cup flour

Soften butter and cream together with icing sugar and vanilla essence.  Mix until smooth light consistency.  Add flour and mix well.  If mixture is too crumbly add a little milk and chill until firm.  Roll out and line loose-bottomed tart tin.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line pastry dough in tin with baking paper and fill with baking beans.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove paper and beans.  Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and return to oven for 8-10 minutes longer or until the edges are light brown.

1 1/2 pints strawberries (washed, stemmed and dried)

1/2 cup redcurrant glaze   :  3 tblsp redcurrant jelly   1 tblsp Grand Marnier

Whisk together over a medium heat until smooth.

Chocolate Filling:

150g plain cooking chocolate (broken into pieces)  2 tblsp butter (melted)  3 tblsp Grand Marnier  1/4 cup icing sugar  1 tblsp water

Melt chocolate in a bowl placed over simmering water.  When chocolate has melted add butter and Grand Marnier.  Whisk quickly and thoroughly until smooth.  Add icing sugar and water continuing to whisk until smooth.  Add a little more water until smooth.  While the mixture is still warm pour into tart shell.

Add strawberries and finally glaze.  Ready to go.


rough crop strawberries

Glorious fresh cherry cheesecake

Cherry CheesecakePhotographer Peter Bay

One of the reasons I love cooking seasonally is you get to really appreciate the unavailability of certain ingredients during the calendar year and eagerly await their arrival.  Knowing that I’m going to have to wait another year for the next crop of asparagus for example, (or peonies for that matter), makes them so much more precious than if abundantly available all year round.

Coming from London where supermarkets have most fruits and vegetables flown in from all around the world all year-round, means that you can never really tell what season you’re in and ingredients tend not to be treasured in the same way. And the weather doesn’t give you any clues either!

Fresh cherries are a perfect example of this.  Available only for a short time in the lead up to Christmas.  What perfect timing for such a glorious festive-looking fruit!  For us southern hemisphere folk anyway!

Here’s a German Cheesecake recipe that I’ve altered slightly from Nigel Slater, truly one of my all time favourite chef and food writers.  His descriptive writing brings cooking and food alive and his books have that timeless, classical look to them.  Working with his photographer Jonathan Lovekin, dishes are styled and photographed exquisitely.  I am thinking in particular of his ‘Tender’ series which I refer to all the time.

350g biscuits (ginger, shortbread or digestive)  100g butter 500g ricotta cheese 200g mascarpone cheese 150ml double cream 150g caster sugar 2 lemons (finely grated zest & juice) 4 eggs 1 egg yolk 1tblsp cornflour handfuls of fresh cherries (pitted & halved)

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Grease a 23cm round spring form tin.  Make the base:  Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin in a plastic bag.  Melt butter in pan and mix in the biscuit crumbs.  Put crumbs onto base of tin, patting down with your hands.  Chill base whilst you’re making the topping.

Put the ricotta, mascarpone, cream and sugar into a bowl and beat together a little.  Add zest and juice of the lemons, then the eggs and additional egg yolk.  Mix together.  Add the cornflour to the mixture and stir through.

Pour the topping onto the chilled base and put into the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, making sure the top doesn’t go too brown – use piece of foil if you need to cover it at the end.  Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in to completely cool.

Just before serving, scatter the cherries over the top.  Delicious.

Girl with Cheesecake Illustration