Thursday, 13 December 2012


Due to an incredibly hectic schedule at this point in the year I've found it almost impossible to get in some blog time. I also went through some interesting issues with my laptop, which decided to get amnesia and wipe its own memory clean :( (lucky I'd already backed up my holiday photos) Still, now things have settled a little and I have a somewhat fixed computer, no more excuses! This is a Greek inspired plate which photographed beautifully and tasted even better. In the process I learned to execute a sweet new trick- how to candy (or is it candify?) walnuts.

- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 400g chicken mince
- 2 teaspooons harissa paste (a Middle Eastern chilli/spice blend, available at most gourmet/specialty stores)
- 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
- Melted butter and lemon juice, to baste
- You'll also need some wooden skewers on hand

- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup raw brown sugar
- Baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 chopped red onion
- 1 red capsicum, cut into strips

- 200g natural unflavoured yogurt, mixed with 2 teaspoons of chopped mint

For the koftas (can be prepared early and left in the fridge until you're ready to grill):
First, soak your skewers in water so they won't burn later on. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic together until soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place the chicken mince a large bowl, then add in the garlic/onion mix. Season with salt and pepper, then add the harissa and cumin.
Next, start shaping small handfuls of the mixture into walnut sized balls. It's vital here to err on the side of caution and make them a tad smaller (as opposed to football sized) because you want them to grill nicely all the way through. Thread the balls onto a skewer.
Heat oil in a grill plan until very hot, then cook the skewered koftas for about 10 minutes, turning them over at intervals. Once they're golden brown, baste with the melted butter and lemon juice and continue to grill for another 5 minutes or so.

For the salad:

Candied walnuts are absurdly simple, provided you're confident to work quickly with boiling sugar. First I break the walnuts up into smaller pieces and toast in the oven until done (check every few minutes to ensure they don't burn). The ratio is approximately 1/2 cup nuts to 1/4 cup of sugar, so if you want to make more then just double up the quantities. Pour the sugar into a medium sized saucepan with a thick bottom. Cook sugar on a medium heat, stirring continously until it's melted completely and amber coloured. When it hits this point, add in the toasted nuts. Stir vigorously to coat them, then once they're completely coated, tip the contents of the saucepan onto a pre-prepared tray linked with baking paper. The sugar will start to cool rapidly and harden. The final touch is a sprinkling of sea salt which lends a great salted caramel flavour.

The rest of the salad is very easy. Drizzle olive oil over the capsicum strips and roast in the oven on 180 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until soft. Combine in a large salad bowl with the baby spinach, onion and garnish with the candied walnuts.

Serve up the salad, koftas, with yogurt dressing and cous cous.

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