Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tomato, butter bean and chorizo salad

When I made this tomato, butter bean and chorizo salad for a family lunch this week, I knew it was about time I shared it. Last December, our lovely neighbours made it as part of dinner and I immediately asked for the recipe. They went one step further and loaned me the recipe book it was taken from - The Edible Balcony by Indira Naidoo. So strong was my love for this salad that I brewed it up numerous times over the festive period. Since the ingredients aren't highly perishable, I found it a good salad to make while travelling around the countryside to family gatherings. In the morning, I'd cook up the chorizo, cut the onion and mix the dressing, then transport them in separate containers to avoid the dreaded salad sludge. Once at the destination, I simply had to chuck them all together with the tomatoes, tinned beans and parsley. Delicioso!

Tomato, butter bean and chorizo salad
adapted from a recipe by Indira Naidoo

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course

400g butter beans, thoroughly washed and drained (original recipe specified 100-150g butter or cannellini beans. I chose to use a whole tin of butter beans as I like them and it makes the salad go a little further)
1 x 250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved (original recipe specified 20 cherry tomatoes which is a similar quantity to one punnet but too specific for a salad if you ask me!)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Olive oil, for pan-frying
250 g mild or spicy chorizo, sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper

Sherry vinegar dressing

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (original recipe says you can also use sherry vinegar)
squeeze of lemon (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (the 1/3 cup specified in the original seemed too oily)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Place the beans, tomatoes, onion and parsley in a bowl.
  • To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and set aside for a minimum of 5-10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil to the pan. Toss in the chorizo and cook for several minutes until crispy.
  • Mix chorizo into salad and serve immediately. 
Buen apetito!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cafe Love - 6 Grams

Driving home from dinner with friends near Highpoint on Sunday night, I noticed a warm glow from a shop. With a quick swirl of the head, I spotted tables and shiny red chairs under a big sign that read '6 Grams'. My heart was already beginning to sing when a quick Google search revealed it was indeed a new cafe about to open on Tuesday.

So it was that I drove excitedly back to check it out yesterday afternoon. Now being that it was their first day of trade, I am not going to critique every detail of the experience, especially given that I was rushing to get elsewhere and forgot to take a photo of my order (poached eggs on sourdough toast. I know, gotta get one of the more adventurous options next time but I can't get enough runny poached eggs since not being able to eat them during pregnancy). 

Five Senses Coffee

In any case, it is the freshly fitted out interior and decor that I find satisfying. Its got that industrial vibe that's so popular now, though I'm still thrilled at spotting all the little touches. I love the huge central table with yellow lettering down the legs that nods to a colourful, albeit very different, past. Old traffic signs, vintage telephones and garden walls keep me enthralled while I wait. Not overdone, just enough to keep it interesting. The aforementioned red chairs play a big role in the overall good cheer of the place, as do the yellow tiles splashed on the huge counter at the front. 

Back dining room with peek holes into the kitchen

But what's a cafe without people - namely the service they provide and, of course, the food they put in front of us? To begin, the people here are warm and friendly, happy to chat and looking for feedback to help them improve whatever they can. Manager Vittorio tells me they'll be introducing specials connected to Africa to retain a little of their heritage. I'm sure he sounds Italian and I must look a little confused because he tells me not many people believe a white man with an Italian accent can be African!

Turns out Vittorio is from Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, a country bordering Sudan, Ethiopia and the Red Sea. Eritrea was an Italian colony for about 50 years up to 1941 so that explains the accent! Vittorio spent six years running The Abyssinian, a restaurant in Racecourse Road serving traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean food. 6 Grams is definitely more a modern cafe with a little nod to Africa. With very few options for a caffeine-fix in Maidstone, Vittorio is keen to fill the gap for those who don't fancy sitting in a shopping centre cafe at nearby Highpoint. I, for one, am keen to return to linger a little longer and try something with an African twist. 

6 Grams menu

6 Grams on Urbanspoon



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