Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel Seed Scones


 
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.
Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.

 

One of the things that gets super confusing when you move countries is holidays. Christmas and New Year etc are always the same (mind you I got asked the other day if when it's July in America, if it's also July in NZ, so go figure), but things like Father's day etc are often at very different times. This leads to some frantic googling every now and then, just to make sure you haven't missed anything back home. I've found buying my diary from NZ helps with this too, but the internet still catches me out every now and then when I see all the Dad pics and then realise the dates are different. 

Just to make things more confusing, our Mother's day is the same as in the US. So I figured seeing as it's a worldwide celebration of sorts, I will add my contribution of food ideas to the internet. It seems as if 'Mother's day brunch' is a thing over here - for our Mum it was always just a cup of tea in bed with a piece of badly buttered toast, but brunch is always something that I can get behind. My own Mum is actually here in NYC with me right at this very second! She hasn't been here for close to four years, so I am having the best time showing her all of the things that have changed since she was last here. It's the best.

Scones for breakfast are one of my fave things! I grew up in a house where emergency scones were whipped up on the regular - our house was somewhat of a community train station with people popping in to say hi or to have a cup of tea all the time. Savoury scones are so under rated - you can add whatever you like to them, they come together fairly quickly, and are perfect to whip up in the morning for a morning tea or a light lunch. That goes for scones in general, but I do think that Savoury scones need a little more loving. 

I love the combination of Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper and Fennel seed, although it happens less than I would like around here, because I am married to a staunch cheese and bacon dude. However I figured these were too good not to share with you, and so Rich had to suck it up just this one time. The process for making these is very similar to regular scones, except you fry up all the delicious things first, leave them to cool slightly, then incorporate them in just before you add the milk. They are so delicious fresh out of the oven, but will be just as awesome the next day, warmed slightly and served with loads of good quality butter. Happy Scone-ing!

A few wee tips:

  • These are super versatile - feel free to play around with the fillings, but just be aware that you may have to adjust the amount of milk accordingly - for example if you left out the feta, you would need a little more milk to replace the moisture.
  • With that being said - you may need more or less milk depending on the water content of your feta, the size of your red pepper etc. I like to add most of the milk and give it a mix, then see if I need the rest, just to prevent them being too wet.
  • I find that freezing the butter in little cubes works best for me! Make sure that your scone contents are fairly cool before you add them to the flour and butter mixture, in order to reduce the amount of melting that happens. I either cool the mix in the pan, stirring frequently to release heat, or I spread into a shallow dish. 
  • These keep in an airtight container fairly well! They are best eaten fresh, but if you want to have them the next day too, send them for a spin in the microwave first. 
 

 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones

- Makes about 8 large scones -

2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper (capscicum), diced
225g (8oz) feta cheese, crumbled
300g baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to season
4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into small cubes and frozen for 10-15 min
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
Cream to brush

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a non-stick skillet or frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat, moving constantly, until they are lightly toasted and beginning to smell fragrant. Remove and set aside. Return the skillet to the stove, and heat a little olive oil over high heat. 

Add the chopped onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the red pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the spinach, and cook until wilted. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes until cooled, or just warm. Add the crumbled feta and toasted fennel seeds. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips until well combined, with a few lumps remaining. Add the cooled spinach and red pepper mixture, and stir gently to incorporate. Add most of the milk, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remainder if required (This will vary on the size of your pepper etc) - the mixture should be wet enough that it sticks together, but not so wet that it is sticky and gloopy. 

Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface, and pat into a rectangle. Gently fold the top third of the dough down to two thirds of the way down, and then fold the bottom third on top of it - as if you were folding a letter. Pat the dough out into a rectangle again, turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat the letter fold again. Repeat one more time, before patting out into a rectangle approx 2 inches thick.

Cut the dough into 8 even pieces. Lightly dust the bottoms with flour, and space evenly on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with cream or milk. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones have risen, and have turned a light golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

 

Spinach, Feta, Red Pepper, and Fennel Seed Scones. Perfect for a quick morning tea, a savory brunch option, or a light casual lunch.

Spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon


 
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon

I had one of those "Far out, I am SO lucky to be living in NYC" moments this morning. I don't have them all too often, particularly when it's hot and sweaty and smells like 10 million people's rubbish (literally). But this morning Rich and I got up early, and got to the greenmarket just as it was opening. The stalls were stacked to overflowing with fresh vegetables - beautiful carrots and radishes, leafy greens, huge containers of herbs, boxes and boxes of just-picked strawberries and cherries, bread pulled out of the oven only a few hours ago. I love to do a lap of the market before I begin buying things, just to make sure I know exactly what was on offer, and this morning I caught myself in awe of just how beautiful this was - an amazing farmer's market in the middle of this crazy city. We have access to fresh vegetables locally in New Zealand, but nothing on this scale. There's just something about it that blows my mind on the regular. I love heading in just as it's opening, to pick through and see what's on offer. 

Everything seems to have come into season all at once. At first it was rhubarb, then slowly strawberries showed up, and in the last week or two, it's suddenly become summer. And it's the best. Our CSA share is full of amazing vegetables, and coupled with the farmers market, I think we have a summer full of delicious veggie-loaded meals ahead of us. I've also slowly gotten the hang of making homemade sourdough, which has meant loads of toast. 

One of my favourite ways to pack heaps of veggies into a meal is to cook them down, and either toss them with pasta, or crack some eggs on top and throw them the oven. I spied a spinach and chard baked eggs Ottolenghi posted recently, and couldn't stop thinking about them, so when loads of spinach showed up in our CSA share, I knew what had to be done! 

This dish is insanely versatile - a base of garlic and onions is cooked down, then a can of butter beans is tossed in the fragrant mixture, so that they soak up all of the flavour and turn creamy. Then, more spinach than you think will fit into the skillet is added, before eggs are cracked into little wells in the mixture. The whole thing is then baked in the oven until the yolks are just set. It is then finished off with a good dose of feta, and some slivers of preserved lemon. We usually eat dishes like this straight out of the skillet, with a side of crusty bread. It makes a perfect, well rounded meal, regardless what time of the day you are eating it. 

A few wee notes:

  • This is entirely flexible - use the spinach mixture as a base, and add whatever you like to it! We went with preserved lemon and feta (we used a marinated sheep and goats milk one), but also tried it with halloumi and it was just as good.
  • The eggs will continue to cook once you pull them out of the oven, so pull them out when the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. If anything, you can always pop them back in for a minute or so to firm them up a little more
  • Use a skillet or frying pan that can go on the stove and in the oven. Alternatively, fry up the spinach mixture, then transfer to an oven proof dish to bake.
  • This can be easily scaled for more people, or you can also use a different number of eggs if you are catering for different appetites.
 

 

Spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
- Serves 2-3 people -

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to season
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
350g (12oz) spinach, rinsed and chopped roughly (Approx 2 large bunches)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, plus more to taste depending on heat preference
4 eggs
100g (3 1/2 oz) feta, crumbled
1/2 a preserved lemon, sliced into thin strips (optional)
Crusty bread to serve

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. In an ovenproof skillet, or heavy bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Add the beans and cook for a further 2 minutes, tossing inthe pan to stir rather than mixing with a spatula to avoid breaking up the beans

Add the spinach a quarter at a time, adding 2 tbsp water with each batch. Allow the spinach to wilt down, stirring gently, before adding the next batch. Stir in the chilli flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. 

Make four wells in the mixture, and crack an egg into each well. Place into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the egg whites are only just set. Remove from the oven, and stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Crumble over the feta, and add the preserved lemon over the eggs. Serve with crusty bread. 

spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon

Sweet potato rosti with arugula and avocado salad


 

My goodness, all of a sudden it is nearly Thanksgiving! While I am somewhat of a total newbie to the concept of it, I am so excited! Two years ago we were in the cutest house ever in Hudson, holed up in a snowstorm with 10 others, none of us from America, so we made our own Thanksgiving tradition. Then last year we were home getting married, so we missed it! So this year is the year! What are your plans? How do you normally spend it? It's so exciting that theres this pre-christmas holiday thats just THERE and an excuse to eat all of the food! We are heading up to our friend's parents house. She lets us borrow her family in times when ours lives way too far away and its holiday time. I'm always super grateful, plus her family is so much fun to hang out with, and the perfect wee getaway from NYC. And there are Dogs. Can't go wrong really. 

While I'm not overly knowledgeable in traditional thanksgiving meals, I can definitely help out with an easy day after brunch! It is likely that most people will have a few spare sweet potatoes rolling around after thanksgiving, and this here is the perfect way to use them up. Rosti is, in my opinion, the ideal brunch food. It is fried enough to be delicious, but not deep fried and destined to leave you feeling yuck, and it goes perfectly with eggs, whichever way you serve them! We have ours with a poached egg on the top, which Rich calls an "egg hat". Sometimes I wonder. 

Rosti is also super easy and quick to bring together, and very scaleable depending on how many people you are feeding. My general rule of thumb for serving size:

- One medium (approx 350g) sweet potato for every two people
- One egg per sweet potato
- 1/4 cup of flour per sweet potato

So lets say you had four people - you would use two sweet potatoes, two eggs, and half a cup of flour. Depending on the size of the sweet potato, you may need to tweak the flour amount a little, but it is easily adjustable! I normally prepare all of the things for the Rosti, start frying them, and have the oven on to keep the cooked ones warm, then just before I am ready to serve, poach up some eggs so that everything is ready all at the same time. Easy as. 

Our favourite way to have these is with a super simple salad - arugla and avocado, dressed with a little bit of lemon juice. All up it makes for a nice light brunch which people can serve for themselves when they are ready. 

I have also included a recipe here for a rosemary simple syrup which is amazing in soda water, and a great way to use up any herbs you may have left over from Thanksgiving. You could totally sub out whatever herbs you have in the place of rosemary. You could also totally add alcohol, but I will leave that decision to you. No judgement will be passed. 

 

 

Sweet potato rosti with avocado arugula salad, and rosemary soda
- Serves 4 - 

Sweet Potato Rosti
Two medium (approx. 400/14oz each) sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour

Arugula avocado salad
1 bag (approx. 150g/5oz) baby Arugula
1 ripe avocado
2-3 Lemons

Rosemary soda syrup
1 cup (225g) sugar
1 cup (240ml) water
2-3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary

To serve
Poached Eggs ( I know everyone has a different method here, so use your favourite!)

- PROCESS -

ROSEMARY SYRUP

In a medium pot, combine the sugar and water. Heat on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add rosemary sprigs and allow to infuse while it cools. 

Add approximately a tablespoon of syrup to a glass with ice. Top up with soda water or water, and garnish with extra rosemary.

SWEET POTATO ROSTI

If you are making a large batch of rosti, preheat oven to 200f/150c. Place a baking sheet or plate lined with paper towels inside - this will be used to keep the rosti warm.

Add grated sweet potato to a large bowl. Add eggs, and mix well to combine. Add the flour and stir to incorporate. If the mixture is still looking a little wet add more flour a tablespoon at a time - you want the mixture to bind nicely without being gummy. 

Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive or vegetable oil - enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Place small handfuls of the rosti mix into the frying pan and gently press down with a spatula to flatten slightly. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from frying pan and place on paper towel lined plate, either in the oven to stay warm, or on a nearby plate ready for serving. Repeat until mixture is used up.

Serve well seasoned with salt and pepper, and topped with a poached egg if desired.

ARUGULA AVOCADO SALAD

Add the arugula to a large salad bowl. Half the avocado lengthwise, remove the seed, and slice the flesh into cubes or slices in the skin using a butter knife. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of each half and add to the bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over the salad to taste, and toss to combine, adding more lemon juice if necessary.

 

Thank-you so much to Canvas Home for providing all of the plates, serving ware and linen that you see in this post! Canvas Home is a beautiful Home goods store, selling all the pretty plates, tableware and furniture you can think of! I have used their new Salamanca Collection in this post; the Serving Bowl, Dinner Plates, Salad plates and Cereal Bowl are all from this new line. (They also come in black, and white with a black stripe!) The Linen is the Lithuanian Linen Fringe Napkin, and the glassware is the fife lowball