On chilly mornings the humble bowl of porridge is a comforting, nourishing way to start the day. While the go-to oats used for porridge tend to be rolled oats and quick oats, steel cut oats also have a devoted fan base, and if you've tried them you'll understand why.
There are just as many people out there who aren't that familiar with steel cut oats, and we are often asked for advice on how to prepare them.
But first, a brief explanation on the different forms that oats come in.
The least processed are oat groats where the oat grain is left whole. These take the longest cooking time. The next stage in processing is steel cut oats, where the whole oats are cut into smaller fragments with steel blades. After this, they are rolled and flattened to produce rolled oats. And finally, these rolled oats are cut finer again to make quick oats.
Now we'll walk you through the preparation of steel cut oats, with the aim of demystifying it for the novices & hopefully inspiring you to get in the kitchen and pop a pot of steel cut oats on the stove.
If you're looking for a fuss-free meal that makes you feel cosy and snug in a snap, this dish is for you. Buttered pasta is a favourite at our house, and it's one of the first things my children learned to make on their own.
Think of it as the butter version of the Italian Aglio e Olio (spaghetti with olive oil and garlic).
It has just 5 ingredients and minimal prep. While we tend to use spaghetti or linguine for this dish, I wanted to take our new organic penne pasta out for a spin, and it works beautifully!
There are a few good reasons to enjoy making chocolatey treats. The cold weather keeps us indoors. The school holidays are upon us yet again. And, well, chocolate! We thought it might be a nice idea to make a selection of really simple petit four chocolates.
A petit four (French for 'small oven') is a bite-sized confection, cake or appetiser - as with so many things, it sounds better in French! These were made in under an hour, and are decadent, delicious morsels.
No chocolate molds, marble benches or any special equipment are needed for these chocolates. There's no tempering or fancy techniques. You simply melt, mix, dollop & set!
We sell four types of chocolate drops at Village Wholefoods, and we're using three of them for this selection of petit fours: milk, 55% dark and 70% dark. If you'd like some in-depth info on the different types of chocolate, head on over to this week's Product Spotlight, where it's explained in more detail.
Now, to the Chocolate Petit Fours
First up, we have Coconut Rough with Orange Zest, using the 70% dark chocolate drops. Next is Hazelnut & Lavender Clusters, made with the mellower 55% dark chocolate drops. Finally, we will make Salted Almond Clusters, using our milk chocolate.
Whether you make these gorgeous treats for yourself, for visitors or as a gift, we think you'll enjoy the process as much as the result.
The ingredient ratios & methods are basically the same for all 3 variations.
Recipes I find invaluable to have in my repertoire are the simple, speedy ones that I can seemingly pull from thin air with next to no time and effort, yet really deliver big flavour.
This is a simple, lively dish that can be enjoyed as a snack, light supper, brunch or lunch. Slices of salty halloumi are dusted with our own in-house BBQ spice blend, grilled til golden and drizzled with honey spiked with fiery chilli. The result is salty, sweet, smokey and delicious!
I'm sure you've noticed that the Hot Honey trend has really been heating up (I couldn't resist) over the last year or so. Everyone loves a condiment, and boy has this trend of adding chilli to honey exploded! And it's understandable. The combination of spicy chilli and sweet, rich, sticky honey is truly delectable. We love how easy it is to make: literally stir some chilli flakes or powder through honey, and it's ready to be added to chicken wings, pizzas (seriously, try it!), oven-baked brie, roast veg, salad dressings and stir-fries. For a delicious vegan alternative try using maple syrup instead of honey - the chilli pairs with it beautifully.
There's a lot to love about Italian food, and undoubtedly one of those things is their commitment to carbs. It was Italians after all who invented panzanella, i.e. bread salad, and for this I salute them every summer. Many Italian dishes involve a combination of carbs - pizza Bianca with thin slices of potato, or pasta mollicata which is spaghetti with fried breadcrumbs,
Minestrone traditionally involves almost every form of carb imaginable - pasta, beans, potato and bread - and that might be why it's such a crowd pleaser. It's also a dish that's easily tailored to suit individual tastes and needs. It’s simple, for instance to keep it vegetarian or add meat, and you can swap out the macaroni for gluten free fusilli if needed. I omit potato in this recipe, and add a couple of less traditional touches like parmesan rind and herb oil. I’m sure that with some tinkering, you too can personalise it for yourself.
Why use dried beans instead of canned?
If you’re short on time or forget to soak dried beans in advance (see next paragraph about prepping extra!), you can of course use canned beans. You’ll need 2 cans for this recipe. But there are benefits to using dried. Generally, dried beans deliver a better texture and flavour than canned. You can control the seasoning and saltiness as well as making sure they aren’t overcooked and mushy. Also, they’re cheaper, lighter to lug home and take up less pantry space.
Finally, here’s a tip that we’ve talked about in previous recipes: soak and cook double the amount of cannellini beans required, then freeze them in a well-sealed bag or container. I freeze mine in a ziplock bag in a thin brick shape which makes it both easier to fit in the freezer and makes it a cinch to break apart for a speedier defrosting. Having precooked beans in the freezer is the handiest thing, and Future You will be so thankful.
We love this minestrone. I hope you enjoy making it and eating it as much as our family does!