Back-to-school, back to home cooking

The chaos of the past summer has made many of us turn to a classic comfort: Food.

Food has been a grounding force for those who find comfort in baking a sweet-smelling cake in the oven, chopping fruit in the kitchen, and kneading a dough to make bread. These simple moments allow us to tap into our senses, into our roots, into who we are. The physicality and mindfulness involved in the cooking process, the memories it channels of your grandmother’s kitchen, the creative outlet it provides, and the joy in devouring the meal with friends and family at the dining table are all quite therapeutic. When my grandfather used to say “We are what we eat,” I would add, “We are what we cook.”

With that being said, here are some of my personal favourites recipes to try out during the online semester. 

For a ready-made breakfast – Overnight Oats

Mix two parts rolled oats with one part plain Greek yogurt, one part milk or nut milk, and nut butter and cinnamon to taste in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight. Enjoy it as-is in the morning or add whatever your heart desires—be it fruit, granola, nuts, honey, or a beautiful layer of crushed raspberries!

For a magnificent meal- Yotam Ottolenghi’s (adapted) caramelized garlic tart 

375 g all-butter puff pastry

3 separated and peeled heads of garlic cloves 

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 cup water

¾ tbsp castor sugar

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp chopped thyme plus a few whole sprigs 

120 g creamy goat’s cheese

120 g hard mature goat’s cheese 

2 eggs

6 1/2 tbsp double cream

6 1/2 tbsp crème fraîche

salt and black pepper

Recipe:

Prepare the baking tin:

  1. Roll out the puff pastry into a shallow, loose bottomed, 28 cm fluted tart pan. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with pie weights. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Blind bake the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake the tart pan for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake for a further 5-10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

Prepare the caramelized garlic cloves:

  1. While the crust is baking, put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for three minutes, then drain well.
  2. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add two tablespoons of oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for two minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and quarter teaspoon salt. Continue simmering for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark syrup. Set aside.

Assemble the garlic tart:

  1. Break goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon over the caramelized garlic cloves and syrup. In a jug, whisk together the eggs, cream, half teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps.
  2. Reduce the oven to 170°C and place the tart inside. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Serve warm with a few sprigs of thyme on top.

For your sweet tooth – The Ultimate Chocolate Mousse

250 grams dark chocolate

1/2 stick salted butter

2 tbsp vanilla extract

6 eggs

Orange zest to taste

Recipe:

Separate egg whites from yolk into two large bowls. Add vanilla to the yolk. Melt chocolate and butter in medium saucepan on low heat. Once chocolate is 75 per cent melted, take it off heat and keep stirring until smooth. Gently add chocolate mixture to the yolk and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk egg whites into stiff peaks (if you flip the bowl, no mousse should fall out). Gently fold in egg whites to the chocolate mixture with spatula. Divide mixture into six mini-bowls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let sit for two hours minimum to overnight and enjoy. Serves six.

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