Turkish eggs with spinach, chilli and yoghurt cream
Softly oozing eggs combine with spinach and a tangy yoghurt cream to make an unbeatable breakfast dish. It's important not to overcook the eggs, so the baking time will somewhat depend on the idiosyncrasies of your oven.
2 bunches spinach, stalks removed, or 500g frozen spinach, defrosted
50g butter, plus extra to grease
3 large shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Turkish red chilli flakes
4 extra-large eggs
200g Greek-style yoghurt
80ml pure (double or heavy) cream
½ tsp sweet paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Blanch small batches of the spinach leaves in plenty of boiling salted water for 10 seconds. Refresh in cold water and then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Loosen the clumps of spinach and chop it finely.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Add the shallots, garlic and spices and season with salt and pepper. Saute over a medium heat until soft. Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes, or until the spinach is soft.
Generously butter a medium ovenproof dish and spread the spinach mix evenly over the base. Make four little wells in the spinach and crack in the eggs. Bake for 12 minutes then check for doneness. The eggs should be starting to set, but still very runny.
Mix the yoghurt with the cream, paprika, salt and pepper. Spoon over the eggs and return to the oven for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread.
Potato salad with peas and Persian spices
This is not your standard potato salad, drowned in gloopy mayonnaise. In fact it's a salad only inasmuch as we like to serve it at room temperature! But it's one of our very favourite quick-and-easy dishes. It's a treat for the eyes too, with its vibrant greens and yellows, and the palate-jolting flavours really pack a punch. It also makes a great stuffing for sambousik.
500g small new potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 shallot, very finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed with ½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
1 small dried red chilli, crumbled *
½tsp freshly ground black pepper
120g fresh or frozen baby peas
⅓ cup shredded coriander
lime wedges, yoghurt and warm flatbread, to serve
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 18 minutes, or until just tender. Drain in a colander and leave them to dry. When cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skins. Cut the potatoes into 1cm dice.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the mustard seeds over a high heat for a minute or until they start to splutter. Add the shallot and garlic paste, followed by the spices, and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the onion is soft and translucent.
Meanwhile, cook the peas in briskly boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then drain them well. Add the potatoes and peas to the spicy onion mixture and stir everything together gently but thoroughly. Cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.
Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the coriander and serve with lime wedges, yoghurt and plenty of warm flatbread.
*Note: In truth, chillies are used rather sparingly in Persian cooking, and really only feature in the south of the country, where the Indian influence is stronger. Use more, or fewer, depending on your preference.
Negroni sorbet with blood orange and pomegranate
This palate-cleansing and rather adult sorbet is based on Greg's current favourite cocktail, the Negroni, which combines Campari, vermouth and gin. Its slight herbal bitterness somehow blends seamlessly with pomegranate juice and blood orange. We generally use good-quality fresh juice from a carton, instead of squeezing our own fruit, which means we can enjoy this sorbet at all times of the year.
MAKES AROUND 900 ML
250g castor (superfine) sugar
50g liquid glucose
250ml pomegranate juice
150ml blood orange juice
20ml Campari, plus a splash
2 tsp gin
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, swirling the pan from time to time, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to the boil then simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Stir the liquid glucose into the syrup. Add the fruit juices, together with the alcohols and transfer to the fridge to cool.
Tip into an ice-cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Towards the end of the churning, add another splash of Campari - a capful should do it - and churn it in.
Transfer to a plastic container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.
* Note: If you don't have all the components for the Negroni, then just use 50ml of Campari, plus the splash at the end.
Recipes and images from New Feast, Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian, by Greg and Lucy Malouf, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $59.95.