Food has always been the perfect vehicle for creating rituals that form in our memories, and it has even been proven that these rituals associated with eating make us perceive it as tasting better. Coming together to share food and conversations around the table (or elsewhere) is a social institution that is universally enjoyed as a time to connect with others, where we create a sanctuary to engage our senses in taste, smell and flavour.
In the The Joy of Food, the trusted team from the Australian Women's Weekly offer up joyful recipes that invite you to reconnect with your food, to relive past food experiences or create new bonds and rituals between taste and memory.
Here are a few ideas for a warming winter brunch.
- The Joy of Food: Simple food that brings us together, by The Australian Women's Weekly. Are Media. $49.99.
Skillet hot cake with tahini maple pears
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup tahini
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 medium firm beurre bosc pears, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges
2 tbsp lemon juice
toasted sesame seeds, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Place a 26cm (top measurement) ovenproof skillet in the oven to preheat.
2. Place flour, bicarb and one teaspoon of the cinnamon in a large bowl. Add two tablespoons each of the tahini and maple syrup, then the egg and buttermilk; whisk until combined.
3. Heat 30g of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add pears; cook, turning occasionally, for eight minutes or until browned and almost tender. Add the remaining cinnamon, tahini and maple syrup then the lemon juice; stir gently until combined. Cook, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until pears are tender and sauce is thickened. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, carefully but quickly remove the hot skillet from the oven; add the remaining butter, swirl to coat. Pour in the pancake mixture; smooth the surface. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5. To serve, top hot cake with tahini maple pears and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Tip: Roasted pears and maple syrup make this recipe the perfect autumnal brunch dish. You could also make individual pancakes with this mixture if you prefer.
Cauliflower and chickpea masala with poached eggs
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 long red chilli, sliced finely, plus extra to serve
1/3 cup fresh curry leaves, plus 3 extra sprigs
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander roots and stems (see note)
2 tsp ground turmeric
500g small cauliflower florets
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
chargrilled wholemeal chapatis, to serve
1. Lightly crush cumin, coriander and mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle.
2. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for five minutes or until softened. Add garlic, ginger, sliced chilli, curry leaves, chopped coriander roots and stems, and turmeric; cook, stirring, for five minutes or until soft and fragrant.
3. Add cauliflower, stock and chickpeas; season, bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally to coat cauliflower in spice mixture, for eight minutes or until cauliflower is just tender. Reserve eight cauliflower florets for serving; cover to keep warm. Coarsely crush mixture in the pan with a potato masher to thicken it slightly.
4. Using the back of a wooden spoon, make four indents in the crushed cauliflower mixture in the pan. Carefully crack an egg into each indent. Cover and cook for eight minutes or until whites are set and yolks are runny.
5. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Fry the extra sprigs of fresh curry leaves, turning, for 30 seconds or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
6. Top cauliflower mixture with reserved cauliflower florets, fried curry leaves and extra sliced chilli.
7. Serve with chapatis.
Make ahead: You can make this recipe up to the end of step two the day before serving; store, covered, in the fridge. Gently reheat the next day then continue from step three.
Tip: You will need to buy one bunch of coriander that includes the roots. Remove the leaves for another use, then wash the roots and stems well before chopping.
White bean smash with eggs, kale and brown butter
1 large lemon
2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated finely
2 tsp paprika
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup seed mix (pepitas and sunflower seeds)
2 tbsp white vinegar
60g baby tuscan kale leaves (see note)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
chargrilled sourdough, to serve
1. Finely grate rind from the lemon; you need one teaspoon. Juice the lemon.
2. Place beans, green onion, garlic, half the lemon juice and one teaspoon of the paprika in a food processor. Pulse until roughly smashed; season.
3. Melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat.
4. Add walnuts and seed mix; cook, stirring, for four minutes or until golden. Add remaining paprika; cook, stirring, for a further one minute or until nuts, seeds and butter are browned. Stir in lemon rind and remaining juice. Season. Set aside.
5. To poach eggs, half-fill a wide saucepan or medium frying pan with water. Add vinegar; bring to the boil. Break one egg into a cup. Using a wooden spoon, make a whirlpool in water; slide egg into whirlpool. Repeat with remaining eggs. Allow water to return to a simmer. Cover pan, remove from heat; stand, covered, for two minutes or until soft poached. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a plate lined with a paper towel.
6. Toss kale leaves and oil in a small bowl.
7. To serve, place buttered chargrilled sourdough on serving plates. Top with smashed bean mixture, kale leaves and eggs; drizzle with brown butter mixture.
Tip: If you can't buy baby kale leaves, use regular kale instead. Tear the leaves into pieces then massage the leaves with the oil to soften them.
Brioche french toast sandwiches with verjuice apricots
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup verjuice
1 medium lemon
1 cup caster sugar
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
250g firm fresh ricotta
500g day-old brioche loaf
1/3 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Place apricots and verjuice in a small saucepan; bring to the boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat. Stand, covered, for 20 minutes or until apricots are plump.
2. Using a zesting tool, remove rind from lemon in long thin strips; you need one tablespoon zested rind. Juice the lemon. Add zested rind, juice, sugar, lemon thyme, a vanilla bean half and half the seeds to apricots in pan. Bring to the boil, stirring, over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer for five minutes or until thickened and syrupy.
3. Combine ricotta and remaining vanilla seeds in a small bowl. Cut eight 1.5cm thick slices from brioche. Place brioche slices on a clean work surface. Spread four slices with jam. Spread remaining slices with ricotta mixture. Join slices together to make four sandwiches.
4. Whisk eggs and milk in a large bowl. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Soak one sandwich in egg mixture for 30-60 seconds on each side. Place in heated pan, reduce heat to low; cook for two and a half minutes each side or until well browned and heated through. Transfer to a plate; keep warm. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
5. Serve french toast sandwiches topped with apricots and syrup.
Tips: Cooking the sandwiches over low heat ensures the outside doesn't over brown before the inside is cooked.
When making French toast the amount of time you need to soak the bread in the egg mixture will depend on how stale (or fresh) the bread is. We used brioche that was a day old.