I’m big on ‘flavour bombs’. I love having a stash of crunchy, pickled, salty, sweet and tasty things to pull out at lunch or dinner to pep up a plain bowl of brown rice and greens or a boiled egg, or add a bit of punch and colour to a big spicy curry. Here are four current favourites, it will take you about an hour or maybe less to make all of these, and then you’ll have the makings of a tasty little meal in easy reach all week! And I snuck in some focaccia because…focaccia.
These were the recipes I made at a cooking demonstration last Sunday at the wonderful Hamilton Hamper in Victoria. Afterwards I chatted to a few ladies who’d come along and many of them commented how they’d recently lost their cooking mojo. Perhaps because they are now cooking for themselves and just can’t find the joy in that, or perhaps because they are cooking for young children in the throes of busy school terms; you know the those evenings when you get home from school and swimming lessons and everyone’s starving and preparing dinner is far from a calming mindful activity?
It’s more like – quick, get something on the table before everyone loses it.
Anyway, I hope that the idea of arming yourself with even one good jar of pickles, or crunchy dukkah appeals – and that even cheese on toast can be ‘elevated’ as they say to something even more delicious because of them. And that you find joy in that.
Whipped miso butter
Quick chilli and radish pickle
Probably the thing I make and love most; you can find the full recipe here over on this post.
Confit garlic and rosemary focaccia
For the confit; take one head of garlic and carefully peel each clove. Cover these in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. Place over the lowest heat possible and cook for 30 minutes or so. You want the garlic cloves to have turned a light golden colour but not to burn.
Grab a medium-sized jar and pop in a sprig of thyme or rosemary, then pour in the garlic cloves and oil. Seal and store in the fridge.
For the focaccia, follow the recipe here, but around step 7, dot the top of your lovely bubbly dough with about ten cloves of the confit garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Top with a few sprigs of rosemary and bake until golden.
Whipped miso butter
This is incredibly good just with bread but also atop baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, tossed through steamed vegetables, or anywhere else you want butter but to make it fancy. It’s wonderful as a starter, served with crusty bread and a pickle or two.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Prep time 10 mins
250g unsalted butter, room temperature (it needs to be properly soft)
100g miso paste, or to taste (some are stronger than others, so add a little, taste, then add more if you prefer!(I like white miso)
1/3 cup buttermilk
Combine the butter and miso in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
Whisk for five minutes or until the butter and miso have become very pale and fluffy.
Lower the speed a little and drizzle in the buttermilk. Whisk until completely incorporated, stopping every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, increase speed again and whisk for a couple more minutes until it’s light, fluffy and delicious. Serve at room temperature.
I sprinkle this stuff on everything, from porridge to bircher muesli, cheesecakes, poached and fresh fruit and pancakes with natural yogurt. It’s an incredibly useful thing to have in the pantry and can jazz up pretty much anything with flavour and crunch.
Makes about 1 cup
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 10 mins
1/2 cup (65g) hazelnuts or walnuts
1/3 cup (30g) sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2/3 cup raw, unsalted pistachio nuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Spread hazelnuts or walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Add the sesame and poppy seeds, and toast for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Tip the hazelnuts/walnut, sesame, poppy and coriander seeds and pistachios in a food processor or mortar and pestle and blitz or bash until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, brown sugar and salt to the food processor or mortar. Give another quick blitz/bash and taste. Adjust the sugar/salt if you think it needs it. Store in a jar or airtight container.
Quick pickled chilli and radish
A super easy and delicious little pickle, you could swap the radish here and replace it with fennel, carrot, or pretty much any vegetable you fancy.
Makes about 1 big jar
Prep time 10 mins
150mls rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 bunch radishes, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 large red chillies, sliced into thin rounds
Combine the white wine vinegar, half a cup of water, the sugar and salt in a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Pack the radishes and chillies in a medium-sized jar, pour over the pickling liquid and push down so the liquid covers everything. Seal and store in the fridge.
This should be fine to serve after an hour but even better after a day or two. The heat of the chillies will die down a little in time.