We are having a cracking day in Edinburgh. Actually the past week has been about as perfect as autumn days get around here. Leaves are bursting into crimson, burnt umbre and magenta flames before falling under foot; the sun is beautifully low and soft in the sky, while the breeze is almost non-existent. And of course there is the frost. Not quite nipping at our noses, but necessitating digging out hidden away gloves and scarves. Being from Florida I still get a wee thrill when cool temperatures combine with clear, crisp air. Just now my Miss R (a keen sunset watcher) dragged my away from my computer to stand in awe at yet another heather-pink sunset, all molten and oozing across the horizon. You can take your summer with its ice cream cones and flirty skirts. I’ll happily slip on an over-sized woollen sweater and pad about in my dog-eared moccasins, thank you very much. All the better to indulge in some autumn comfort foods But first, I will share a last salad with you. Not a frilly pants lettucey one, but a hearty, chewy salad featuring cauliflower, kale, runner beans and even some creamy, almost coconutty cobnuts. All mixed with lots of sturdy herbs and one of my all-time favourite seasonings – dukkah.
Probably many of you are familiar with dukkah (or duqqa), but if not, it is definitely worth familiarising yourself with it. Dukkah basically is made up of toasted Middle Eastern spices pounded together with nuts, usually hazelnuts, and is capital D-licious.
Funnily enough, although Egyptian, I just clocked that it pronounces very like the Scottish colloquialism for ‘dunk’ – ‘dook‘. And that is what you do with dukkah: you ‘dook’ a piece of oil-dipped rough bread into this moreish concoction and go ‘ah’. Dukk -ah. Get it? Of course you do.
Although mainly used as a dry dip it is also fantastic in and on many other foods – in hummus, as a seasoning for any fried or grilled meat or fish (both as a coating and as a finishing touch), roasted vegetables, in salad dressings, baked into and on breads – flat or yeasted (try it in this fluffy naan recipe from An Edible Mosaic), in savoury pastries with cheese, on pizza (with lamb – amazing), and in bean-based dips (here’s a fabby one from Yotam Ottolenghi). But my favourite use is still as a dunker. Super fresh chewy bread dipped in my best extra virgin olive oil and then in a pile of dukkah is one of my favourite treats. It is such a favourite I actually already have a recipe from last year that I used on a sweet potato tart. But this one is a bit different.
Speaking of different, how would you like to do something different during the weekend of 19-21 October? Instead of washing the car or raking the leaves, how about going to the BBC Good Food Show Scotland? Courtesy of show sponsors Plenty, I have THREE PAIRS OF TICKETS to give away to my lovely UK readers. On-the-door prices are £18.50, so this is an excellent freebie. You can use the tickets on any of the three days.
All you have to do to have a chance of winning a pair is to leave a comment below, and/or tweet about this giveaway with a link to this blog. If you Facebook it, just let me know and I will have Miss R look out for it (I am a Facebook hold-out). Just so you know, it is at the SECC in Glasgow, and the prize is for tickets only, and there is no cash value. I will be picking the winners randomly this weekend. GOOD LUCK!
For the kale, either keep it raw or slightly sauté the strips in the remaining oil until soft – about five minutes. As for the cobnuts, peel off the husk and then take something hard to crack the shell – I used a wooden garlic smasher. Just whack it lightly to crack the shell and it should be easy to get the nut out: it’s a soft, peelable shell. Or you could use hazels (of which cobnuts are closely related) or almonds.