Food and drink: My darling lemon thyme

Capsicums stuffed with quinoa.
Capsicums stuffed with quinoa.
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Emma Galloway learned to love fresh, healthy food growing up in an idyllic coastal town in New Zealand.

Living off the land, drinking collected rainwater and eating according to the seasons, she has carried these habits into her roles as a chef, mother and successful food writer.

My Darling Lemon Thyme reflects Emma’s philosophy that natural, whole food should also be flavoursome, fun and easy to prepare.

Flourless dark chocolate cardamom cake

SERVES 10–12

Ingredients

250g dark chocolate, chopped roughly

125g butter, cubed

50ml orange juice (or super-strong espresso coffee)

4 large free-range eggs,separated

120g firmly packed blended unrefined raw sugar

2 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted

Seeds from 12 cardamom pods, finely ground

Whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, to serve

Fresh berries, to serve, optional

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base and side of a 21cm springform cake tin. Place chocolate, butter and orange juice (or espresso) in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until melted and smooth.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Beat yolks and half the sugar with electric beaters or a balloon whisk for 3-4 minutes until thick and pale. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture, cocoa powder and ground cardamom. Whisk egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick and glossy meringue mix. Fold one-third of the meringue into the chocolate batter to loosen it.

Add the remaining meringue mixture in one go and gently fold in with a spatula or large metal spoon in a cutting motion, turning the bowl around as you bring your spatula around the edge of the bowl and into the centre. Stop folding the second you no longer see any white lumps of meringue and carefully transfer the batter to the tin, trying hard not to knock out any more air. Bake for 35 minutes – it will be looking glorious and towering high above the tin, but will still jiggle slightly in the centre.

Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes, watching the life deflate out of it as it cools. Loosen the side of the tin and leave to cool completely. Serve at room temperature dusted with extra cocoa, or chill in the fridge for a few hours for a more fudge-like consistency. Serve with whipped cream or coconut cream and fresh berries, if you like.

Eggy baked tortilla cups

MAKES 6

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced into 1cm rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 white corn tortillas

8 large free-range eggs, beaten well

2 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander plus extra leaves, to serve

tomato chutney, to serve, optional

Method

Preheat oven to 180C . Grease six 250ml ovenproof bowls or large muffin tins and place a small round of baking paper into the base of each. If using bowls, place on an oven tray. Pop potato slices into a saucepan, add a good pinch of salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain well. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes or until very soft. Add paprika and cook for 30 seconds before adding red wine vinegar and cooking until evaporated. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lay tortillas onto two oven trays and heat in the oven for 45-60 seconds or until just softened. Working quickly, gently press a tortilla into each bowl or muffin tin. You will need to overlap it a little and try not to press down too hard on the base or you will tear it. If you feel more comfortable, just heat and line one bowl at a time. Place alternating layers of potato and onion mixture into each tortilla cup.

Season well and pour into each cup, trying your best to keep the mixture in without too much of it running down the side of the tortilla. Sprinkle with coriander and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy on the outside and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cup to loosen and then gently tip out each one. Serve immediately or at room temperature, scattered with some extra coriander leaves and tomato chutney on the side.

Capsicums stuffed with quinoa, spinach & feta

SERVES 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 big handfuls of spinach leaves

1½ cups cooked quinoa

Small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped

55g crumbled feta cheese

1 large free-range egg lightly beaten

8 large banana capsicums or 4 small capsicums halved

For the sauce

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1–2 teaspoons unrefined raw sugar

Small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped

Method

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes until tender. Add garlic and oregano and cook for a further minute until fragrant. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from the heat, stir in quinoa, basil and feta and season to taste with plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the beaten egg.

Lay capsicums on the bench. Decide which way they all like to sit and then, using a sharp knife, make a slit through the top of each one lengthways, taking care not to cut through to the bottom. Gently open up the capsicums just enough to scoop out the seeds with your fingers, then flush them out with cold running water.

Preheat oven to 180C. To make sauce, heat oil in a large ovenproof frying pan that’s big enough to fit all the capsicums snugly. Add garlic and cook gently over medium heat until fragrant but not coloured. Add tinned tomatoes, sugar and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Bring sauce up to the boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in basil leaves. Meanwhile, stuff capsicums with about ¼ cup of filling each. Do your best to stuff it right down into very tip of each one. Arrange them on top of the sauce and bake for 40-45 minutes or until capsicums are tender and filling cooked through. Serve with a scoop of that lovely sauce and side salad.

My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway is published February 12 by HarperCollins.