On Friday I did my second demo at the Natoora shop in Turnham Green. I made loquat chutney, which we served with pappadums and naan bread, and these cheese and chard triangles. They were both very well received; a couple of people even asked if they could buy some, nice!
I deliberated a while over what to call these. In Australia I would have called them ‘pasties’ without a doubt, but in the UK that implies something Cornish and stodgy with a short and lardy pastry. Delicious, but not quite what I mean.
In Australia spinach and cheese pasties are almost as ubiquitous as meat pies. They are usually made with puff pastry and stuffed with spinach and cheddar or ricotta. My cheese and chard triangles are more like Turkish börek, since I use feta, as well as ricotta, and add dill and mint to the mix. I also tend to use filo pastry, though ready-made puff is a great cheat if you are short on time.
Loquats are a new discovery for me. I had heard of them before I started working at Natoora, but I only tried one for the first time last week. So when I was asked to do a cooking demonstration in the shop this Friday I thought I should experiment a bit with this lovely fruit.
Loquats have a texture and flavour akin to apricots, but with a sweet and sour element that lends itself well to Asian cooking. In its initial stages, without the Indian spices, this chutney tasted like a fruity Chinese sauce for duck or pork. Had that been my desired outcome, I would have stopped there, but it tasted a little odd as a chutney.
I added cumin, coriander seeds and cardamom and it was transformed. The result: a sweet and sour and sour Indian chutney with warming spices and a little kick.
“Any dinner that ends with dancing on the tables is a success in my books!” said my sis when we woke up, heads throbbing, after the first London edition of the Paper Plate Dego. Agreed, but there are so many other reasons why this dinner was a success that to solely single out the dancing is to do a massive disservice to the chef.
‘Dego’, for those of you who don’t speak Aussie, is short for degustation. (If you find yourself stuck in the outback, a good rule of thumb for words over 2 syllables is to chop off all but the first and stick an ‘o’ on the end: avo, servo, dego and so forth.)
But why the paper plates? It started out with a lack of crockery and now the name has stuck, so why not? It means less dishes to wash and, in a neat play on words, Chef Sam’s twitter handle can also be read as ‘paper plated ego’.
Happy Easter everyone! For once I am doing absolutely nothing at Easter and I am loving it. Oh the joy of a lack of commitments and plans. But it means I have absolutely no excuse this year not to cook and post something in the spirit of the holiday.
I searched the internet for Easter dishes from around the world. I liked the look of this one most of all, since it contains one of my favourite combos: cheese and chard encased in pastry.
Torta Pasqualina means 'Easter pie' in Italian. This one comes from Liguria. Like most of the Easter recipes I looked at it contains a lot of eggs. Eggs are commonly associated with the Christian Easter tradition, a symbol of life and the resurrection.