Sunday, November 23, 2008

Basil French Toast

Sunday morning brunch is usually not an event that occurs on a regular basis in this household. Breakfast is normally, whatever you can get yourself, you're more than welcome to have. As the family was musing on what topping to put on their toast, either Vegemite or Peanut Butter, eldest daughter spotted a Donna Hay creation in the Sunday Morning Magazine supplement, that took her fancy.

The basil in the garden is flourishing beautifully, and all of the other ingredients, amazingly were available. So a basil brunch was on the menu. With assistance from the notorious "anonymous" commenter on many of my posts, AKA, Bunny the Boyfriend, a family breakfast was enjoyed by all.

Siri, from Siri's Corner is hosting this next round of Weekend Herb Blogging, and event that highlights the use of herbs and vegetables in every cuisine known, and is now under the wings of Haalo, from Cook Almost Anything at least Once.

Basil French Toast with Bacon and Tomatoes

Serves 4

8 rashers bacon, trimmed

250 gm cherry tomatoes

1 tblsp olive oil

Sea salt, cracked black pepper

4 eggs

¼ cup pouring cream

½ cup finally grated parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped basil

20 gm butter

8 slices sour dough bread

Preheat oven to 220c. Place bacon on a baking tray and cook for 12-15 minutes or until crisp. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 5 minutes or until the skins just split. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the eggs, cream, parmesan, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Heat the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and cook, in batches until golden. Serve with the bacon and tomatoes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sage Potatoes

I've had a bumper crop of sage this year, more than I can possibly dream of using. Sage is a Mediterranean herb with a strong flavour, and although it is predominantly used in stuffing for the Christmas turkey or roast chicken, it is starting to make it's own headlines as a pesto, sage butter, used in dressings and marinades and as an accompaniment to vegetables, especially the humble spud. The ancient Egyptians cited that sage was good for the brain, and boy do I need all the help I can get in that department these days.

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 30g butter, melted
  • 750g desiree potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) double cream
  • 1 tbs finely chopped fresh sage
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh sage leaves, to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Drizzle melted butter evenly among ten 80ml (1/3-cup) capacity muffin pans.
  2. Combine the potato, garlic, cream and sage in a glass bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture among muffin pans. Smooth the surface slightly.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Turn onto a clean chopping board.
  4. Arrange the potato bakes on a serving platter. Sprinkle with sage and serve immediately.

This weeks host for Weekend Herb Blogging, the event now overseen by our very own Australian grown Haalo, who will Cook Almost Anything at least Once, is Dianne from Diary of a Fanatic Foodie. If you only have a small amount of sage to use, this recipe is just right. However, it hasn't alleviated my overabundance of sage problem, so any suggestions would be gladly recieved.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Birthday WHB

Where has this year gone? It seems like just yesterday that Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging celebrated its second birthday, and now birthday number 3 is upon us. This fabulous event attracts so many bloggers each week, I can see it celebrating many more birthdays to come. And now Haalo from Cook Almost Anything (at least once), a notable contributor in her own right, who hasn't missed one week of submitting something yummy to WHB, has taken on the role of overseeing this event. Congratulations to Kalyn, for masterminding this and nurturing it through its infancy. Enjoy your extra time to pursue your many other interests, and congratulations Haalo for taking over the role of ringmaster for the forthcoming year.

As a warmup for this event, Kalyn asked that each day, for three consecutive days, you left a comment on her blog as to what your favourite herb, favourite vegetable and favourite fruit is, to be in the running for some magnificent prizes. I must admit that coriander is my all time favourite herb, but my family is becoming a bit sick of it. If I had my way, I'd use coriander in everything, but they have rebelled. So I chose parsley as my favourite herb, mainly due to it's staying power, it's not overbearing, it's always growing in my garden and there are never any complaints from the inhouse diners.

For my favourite vegetable, I chose the tomato. To a scientist, this is actually a fruit. To a cook, it's a vege. Home grown varieties win hands down in the flavour department, and I'm nurturing my plants daily, eagerly awaiting to pick my first tomato on Christmas day.

Lastly, I chose the olive as my favourite fruit. Strange choice, but I love them with a passion. There are so many olive growers emerging here in Australia, so there is always an abundance of locally grown olives at hand. I have one single olive tree growing in my backyard, and sadly, I'll probably be in a Nursing Home by the time it's bearing buckets full of fruit, but I look forward to the day when I can sun dry my very own olives.

So with that combination I chose a recipe from a 2002 Edition of Gourmet which had all three of these ingredients, plus my favourite Lebanese Mougrabieh couscous.

Mougrabieh with roasted tomatoes and olives

For roasted tomatoes and dressing
  • 2 pints red grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 pound)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For couscous
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Roast tomatoes and make dressing:

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer
in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan.

Add garlic to pan and roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.

Make couscous:

Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and stir in couscous, then simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes.
Spread couscous in 1 layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes.
Transfer couscous to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cooks' note:

·Roasted tomatoes, dressing, and couscous can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.