Four nourishing recipes from wholefoods cafe Egg of the Universe

Great addition to your weekend brunch repertoire: Corn and kale fritters.
Great addition to your weekend brunch repertoire: Corn and kale fritters. Photo: Alan Benson

Over the past decade, Bryony and Harry Lancaster's inner suburban yoga studios and cafes in Sydney have become known for their health-conscious cooking and wholefoods philosophy. 

Sunny breakfasts, veg-laden salads and sugar-free treats are the signature of their community kitchens, and now you can re-create them at home with the release of Egg of the Universe, a collection of more than 100 of the cafes' most popular recipes.

The pair hope their book will encourage home cooks to eat more mindfully and seasonally, and to "reclaim common-sense principles when it comes to growing, preparing and eating of good food". 

Bryony and Harry Lancaster's new book.
Bryony and Harry Lancaster's new book. Photo: Supplied

Here are four nutritious dishes to make at home.

Corn and kale fritters

These fritters are light and easy to digest, and make a great addition to our weekend brunch repertoire. A splash of hot sauce at the end will add a little kick. We normally serve these with classic smashed avocado, tomato salsa, some thinly sliced fresh or pickled jalapeno and a simple green salad.

INGREDIENTS

  • 130g kale, finely shredded
  • 2 small-medium corn cobs, kernels sliced off
  • 6 organic eggs, 2 separated
  • 100g buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil or olive oil, plus extra olive oil for drizzling
  • smashed avocado, sliced jalapenos (optional) and a green salad, to serve

Tomato salsa

  • 2⅓ cups (350g) cherry tomatoes
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 4 coriander sprigs, finely chopped
  • 1 dried smoked chilli (such as ancho), soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then chopped
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METHOD

  1. For salsa, toss ingredients together and season to taste with salt.
  2. Preheat oven to 80C fan-forced (100C conventional). Stir kale, corn, eggs, egg yolks (reserve the egg whites), flour, 100ml water and 1 teaspoon salt together well. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks, then gently fold them through kale and corn batter. They'll deflate a bit, but the whites will help the fritters become nice and fluffy.
  3. Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half the ghee or oil, swirling to coat, then spoon in large dollops of batter. Fry for 2-3 minutes each side until nicely browned, then transfer to oven to keep warm while you cook remaining fritters.
  4. Serve with smashed avocado, tomato salsa and a green salad drizzled with olive oil.

Serves 1

Extract from Egg of the Universe by Bryony and Harry Lancaster, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.
Not-butter chicken with brown basmati pilaf 
Single use only, do not reuse without permission

A lighter, dairy-free version of butter chicken. Photo: Alan Benson

Not-butter chicken with brown basmati pilaf

We created this version of the classic butter chicken as a way of exploring a lighter, dairy-free version. We prefer to make the dish using ghee, but if you need to be strictly dairy-free, use coconut oil instead. Yes, this dish is different to the original but it's still great, and even better after a day or two, so feel free to make it in advance. It also pays to start this recipe a day ahead to soak the cashews and the rice, if you like.

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup (80g) ghee or coconut oil
  • 2kg chicken thighs, bone in and skin on (use other cuts if you wish)
  • 400ml tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • roasted cashews (optional) and coriander leaves, to serve
  • lime wedges, mango chutney and lime pickle, to serve

Spice paste

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ​1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black peppercorns (use Indian long pepper if available)
  • ⅔ cup (100g) raw cashews, soaked for 8 hours
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 5cm piece ginger, minced or finely grated
  • 2cm piece fresh turmeric, minced or finely grated

Pilaf

  • 2¼ cups (450g) brown basmati rice (ideally soaked in water for 4-8 hours)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (75g) small currants, soaked in water until plump, then drained
  • small bunch mint, leaves chopped
  • small bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves chopped

Raita

  • 2 cups (520g) natural yoghurt
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • juice of ½ lemon

METHOD

  1. For spice paste, combine all ground spices in a small frying pan and dry-roast over low heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Drain cashews and place in a food processor with onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, ground spices and 2 teaspoons salt. Blend until you have a smooth paste, adding 50-100ml water to loosen, if necessary.
  2. Melt ghee in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, then add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and fry gently for 5 minutes until golden. Turn and fry for a further 2 minutes to seal, then remove from pan.
  3. Add the spice paste, allowing it to sizzle and bubble for 1-2 minutes but not catch and burn. You want the paste to take on a little depth of colour here. Stir in tomato passata, cardamom pods and coconut milk, then bring back to a simmer.
  4. Return the chicken to pan, submerging it in the sauce. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened and darkened.
  5. Meanwhile, for pilaf, bring a saucepan filled with plenty of water to the boil. Rinse rice well, then stir into water with 1 teaspoon salt. Bring back to a gentle simmer, stir rice to prevent it sticking, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain, return to pan and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  6. While rice is cooking, heat ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelised, about 10-15 minutes. Once the rice is cooked and fluffed, stir onion through rice, along with currants and herbs.
  7. For raita, mix all ingredients well in a bowl and season to taste.
  8. Garnish rice with cashews and coriander and serve with curry, raita and lime wedges. We also like to serve this with mango chutney and lime pickle.

Serves 6

Extract from Egg of the Universe by Bryony and Harry Lancaster, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.
Sprouted buckwheat salad
Single use only, do not reuse without permission

Sprouted buckwheat goes with just about anything. Photo: Alan Benson

Sprouted buckwheat salad

Sprouting buckwheat does take a few days, but what you end up with is a super-nutritious sprouted seed that can be seasoned in many different ways. Seasoned with herbs and kombucha vinaigrette, as it is here, it's a flavourful base that's satisfying and goes with just about anything. If you can't wait for your buckwheat to sprout, you can still activate the seeds by soaking them for 8 hours before cooking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ cups (500g) raw buckwheat
  • 2-3 handfuls chopped soft green herbs (such as parsley, tarragon, basil and thyme)
  • kombucha vinaigrette, to taste

METHOD

  1. Cover buckwheat with filtered water and leave at room temperature for 8 hours (or overnight) to soak.
  2. The next day, strain buckwheat, then run under a cold tap to thoroughly rinse the kernels. It's fully rinsed when the water looks and feels clear, rather than cloudy and sticky.
  3. Tip buckwheat into a bowl, cover, and leave on your kitchen counter overnight. Repeat the rinsing and straining process morning and evening until you see sprouts emerging (a day or so). At this stage you can either keep the buckwheat on the counter until the sprouts are about 2-3 mm long, or keep it in the fridge where it will continue to sprout slowly, cooking it when you like. Otherwise, cook the whole lot and store in the fridge until needed, up to a week.
  4. To cook the sprouted buckwheat, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, tip in buckwheat, then bring back to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until kernels are tender but still have some texture. Drain and cool. Once cooled, season to taste, stir through herbs and dress with kombucha vinaigrette, adjusting to taste. The buckwheat will soak up a lot of flavour so season liberally.

Makes 1 batch

Pea and goat's curd tart

Harry's mum Helen was famous for her pea and goat's cheese tart. This is our gluten-free version with a modification or two, but it still pays homage to her creation. Gluten-free tart bases tend to be difficult to get right, but we found one similar to this in a Lee Holmes book and it's easier than making a traditional base. Much fun and happiness can be found within the casing of a good tart!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2⅔ cups (400g) fresh or frozen peas
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 200ml single (pure) cream
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, plus extra to serve
  • 1¼ cups (150g) soft goat's curd, crumbled

Pastry

  • 3 cups (300g) almond meal
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional). Grease a 26cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
  2. For pastry, place ingredients in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon salt and mix together by hand until a smooth dough forms. Roll out dough, then use it to line tart tin, spreading it over the base and up the sides with your hands. Chill for 30 minutes, then fill tart shell with baking paper and baking weights and blind-bake for 10 minutes. Cool tart shell to room temperature.
  3. To make filling, blanch peas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for about 30 seconds (up to 1 minute if they're frozen). Drain and rinse under cold water. Place eggs, cream and mint in a bowl with a quarter of the peas and half the goat's curd. Blend with a stick blender, adding ½ teaspoon salt. Scatter all but a handful of the remaining peas into the tart base, then pour over egg and cream mixture. Crumble remaining goat's curd over the top and scatter with the last of the peas.
  4. Carefully transfer tart to oven and bake for 30 minutes or until centre is only just set (it will continue to cook out of the oven so don't overdo it). Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before teasing tart from tin. Serve topped with extra mint.

Serves 6-8

This is an edited extract from Egg of the Universe by Bryony and Harry Lancaster, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99. Buy now