Saturday, 8 May 2010


I love to cook. I love to cook all kinds of things but what I enjoy the most in the planning. I love the anticipation of a dish, of expecting guests and sifting through all the different menu options. I'd love to know more about food matching, about what flavours make a sensation across courses not only in one dish.

Over the Easter weekend had the chance to indulge my menu planning hobby by making a brunch for 8 of my friends. I had a delightful proceeding week leafing through my small but treasured collection of cookbooks until I came up with this menu.

Hot Cross buns
Shaksuka Eggs
Spinach, feta and lamb Gozleme
Haloumi Cheese with lemon and oregano
Chocolate Guinness cake

For blogging purposes I and going to focus on the buns, the eggs and the gozleme. The haloumi cooks itself and the cake is a pure recipe from Nigella so if you want that...get the book :)

The hot cross buns were the inception of my whole plan and they were also the only disaster. I bake bread quite often and I am reasonably good at it although I have managed to kill a sourdough starter twice now by forgetting to feed it. I have been reading a lot about the different products that go into bread and other baked goods and I am trying to move away from using flours that are enhanced with improvers or bleached. I have also been wanting to bake with fresh yeast as opposed to dried (which works perfectly fine). It turns out that it is really hard to find fresh yeast in Sydney (or at least the inner west) that hasn't already been frozen. I finally found it at the wonderful Bourke Street Bakery (Alexandria branch).

The point of all that is that I was armed with my coveted fresh yeast and gagging to make light, delicious hot cross buns. Well folks if this is your aim then don't use Nigella's recipe from Feast. They aren't light and fluffy and they don't rise. There is a slight possibility that the fault lies with me and not Nigella but I do now remember my mother trying to make the same recipe years ago with the same result: Nicely flavoured rock cakes.

The name Shakshuka Eggs comes from a Pete Evans recipe book but this breakfast dish is found all over the world under different names and with slight variations. I first tried this dish at Woodford Folk festival at an Eritrean stall where it was served with couscous. The basis of the dish is tomato baked eggs and the seasoning is what varies across Africa, Italy and the Middle East. For my eggs I choose to make a Moroccan style tomato sauce.

Fresh tomatoes
Tinned tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
cumin (ground in a mortar)
coriander (fresh or ground)
chili flakes

I brown the onion, cumin, garlic, chili and paprika in the bottom of my pan and then add the toms, honey and cinnamon. I let all this cook for as long as possible, a good few hours with plenty of stirring and flavour tweaking then I add the fresh coriander leaves close to the end.

The rest of the recipe is as easy as abc. You pour the sauce into your ramekins or oven dish, make a small indentation with the back of your spoon and break the desired number of eggs in. You then pop them in the over for about 20mins (the eggs take longer than you think to bake) and serve. We ate it with fresh sourdough which was LUSH!

Gozleme is a Turkish savoury dish. It is like a cross between a pizza and a calzone. At almost every Australian market that you go to now days you will see a gozleme stall full of Turkish ladies wearing white head scarfs furiously rolling out the dough for these delicious parcels. I love the flavours in the fillings but I often find the market ones too oily and when you watch the liberal application of oils during the cooking process you know why! I came across a recipe for them again in my Pete Evans book My Table . The book was given to me by my sister and I have used to time and time again and I find it to be full of interesting yet practical recipes. The gozleme are a little time consuming to make but the end result is an absolute winner. the gorgeous combination of mint and feta in the vego ones in luscious and the lamb and cumin mix in the meat filled ones is magic.....yum!

My friend and sous chef Claire Meech rolling out the dough (and my husband washing up...bless)

I pretty much stuck to the Pete Evans recipe with out much alteration of my own. You can basically make these filled with what ever you want though. The dough Pete makes is simple, you mix natural yogurt with self raining flour and a pinch of salt till it is smooth and then you let it sit for half an hour. You then roll little handfuls of the dough into circles, pile some filling on half the circle and fold it over like a calzone.

In regards to the filling, the only limit you have is your imagination. I filled mine with a vego mix of feta, mint and spinach and a meat option of cumin lamb mince (with a touch of tomato juice for moisture) with feta, spinach and mint. I heated a large frying pan sprayed on a touch of olive oil and cooked each side until black spots appeared. Add a squeeze of lemon and YUMO!


  1. Awesome Naomi! I love love love that you have resurrected your blog and have promptly re-added it to my Netvibes (previously deleted).

    Just to confirm- I also once tried Nigella's HCB and they failed, and you know that I do know how to do bread. :) Also two of my friends tried them and they also failed. I'll send you the (different) successful recipe I used for this year so you can use it in 2011. Despite the deficiency of Nigella's technique, I do like her spice mix and I tend to use it only with a different procedure.

    We still love 'Feast' though!!! Only one failure and so many wonderful recipes.

  2. WOW - You're outdoing me now on the food front. Yay - I have competition, the best motivator. I am going to make these eggs. And gozame - it had never even occurred to me...hmmmm Woodford. How about this year with the bubs?