Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma with Spinach Hummus

A flavour party in your mouth.

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Hello and welcome to the first recipe of 2018! Having survived my first year of college without a kitchen, I felt like I needed to take baby steps in the kitchen. You’d be surprised by how unsteady your hands can be when you haven’t handled a knife in ages.

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So here we are: right back at the basics. There’s nothing complicated here: just chopping some vegetables, making a marinade and handling a blender, surely I could get that right? If you want to go a step further, then you can make your own naan bread (which is precisely what I did) using this recipe.

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Quick rundown: you’ve got your brown sugar carrots, your curry roasted cauliflower and the creamy spinach hummus that ties it all together. This is a really weekday lunch idea, if you want you can roast some extra broccoli and have different variations of vegetables throughout the week! I can also see this as a post-workout meal, you’ve got to load up on all those healthy vegetables!

Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma

Ingredients:

For the shawarma:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • 250g cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • 4 pieces of naan bread or 4 pita pockets

For the spinach hummus: 

  • 1×400g can of tinned chickpeas
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, torn

Method:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. In a small bowl, toss together the olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon. Chop the carrots into sticks that are about an inch long. Toss the carrots and brown sugar mixture together, ensuring that the carrots are completely coated in the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, throw together the vegetable oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper and stir to combine. Toss the cauliflower with this curry mixture and make sure that the cauliflower is completely coated in the mixture.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lay the brown sugar carrots, curry cauliflower and sliced red onions in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Place the lemon halves on opposite ends of the sheetpan. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and top with a crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Whilst the veg are in the oven, combine all the ingredients for the spinach hummus in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes. The texture should be smooth but slightly runny, closer to ricotta cheese.
  5. To assemble, spread the spinach hummus on the naan/pita and top with an assortment of the roasted vegetables. Squeeze some of the roasted lemon over the shawarma. Enjoy!

 

 

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Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Ciabbata Sandwich

Well that recipe title is a mouthful, but not as delicious as the mouthfuls of hot cheese sandwiched between some incredible toppings.


To the person who decided to marinate cheese- THANK YOU. I first came across the concept on The Kitchn and stopped in my tracks to try it. The only cheese I had in the fridge at the time was halloumi, and you can see for yourself how much I’ve enjoyed using halloumi. I marinated it in a tandoor paste to make these killer skewers a couple of months ago- seriously so good!


Whilst in Europe, I fell in love with sandwiches. I know, so terribly common of me. There was one particular sandwich that sealed the deal and it was this caprese sandwich. Made by an Australian man in Interlaken, Switzerland, I had this sandwich alongside a blood orange cocktail; incredibly incongruous but in that moment, I didn’t feel lonely. At that point, I had been without family for 3 weeks and I was feeling that ache in my chest commonly known as homesickness.


There’s a reason why a large portion of Zimbabweans choose to migrate to Australia. Their culture is very similar to ours, our weather patterns are almost identical and our accents are indistinguishable to the average European/American. Seriously, I have been asked way too many times if I’m from Australia or New Zealand. For this one plucky restaurant owner, his friendliness and sage in helping me choose a meal I’ll never forget uplifted my spirits after a long day of hiking.


Upon my return to Zimbabwe, I spent my time in the kitchen trying to recreate the magical sandwich. To some extent, my circumstances created some of the magic around the sandwich; I had been travelling alone for a week and I hadn’t had anything to eat that day since descending the mountain. The prospect of a new friend and a killer cocktail made me enjoy the meal so much more. Cheers to familiar faces in strange places!

Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Ciabbata Grilled Sandwich

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 250 g mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup spinach pesto, homemade or storebought
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally then cut into sections.
  • Optional for serving: balsamic reduction, just boil 1 cup of balsamic vinegar until thick and reduced by half.

Method

  1. Combine the olive oil, garlic cloves, honey, lemon zest, black pepper and chilli flakes in a large airtight glass jar. Seal tightly and shake the jar to combine everything. Normally I would microwave the jar for 30 seconds to infuse the olive oil with the spices but this isn’t necessary.
  2. Throw the mozzarella and tomatoes into the olive oil mixture, seal the jar and shake to soak the tomatoes and cheese in the oil. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour but for best results, leave overnight. Meanwhile, make the balsamic reduction if using.
  3. Heat your grill/broiler. Spread both halves of the ciabatta bread with the spinach pesto. Layer one half of the sandwiches with the tomatoes followed by the marinated cheese. Add both halves of the sandwiches to a baking tray, with the empty half pesto-side up.
  4. Grill the sandwich until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. If desired, you can leave it until the cheese is starting to turn golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Serve hot whilst the cheese is still gooey with the balsamic reduction!

Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

I’ve been dreaming about the veggie burgers I had in Europe ever since I got back.


Black bean burgers, soy burgers, cauliflower burgers-ugh it’s like a vegan’s playground! Vegetarianism is pretty uncommon in Zimbabwe, so it’s incredibly difficult for me to find something to eat whenever we go out to dinner. So you can imagine my delight at finding that most European food establishments in fact have a separate menu for vegetarians/vegans. Even McDonald’s had a vegan menu. You heard me, MCFREAKINDONALDS STOCKED VEGGIE BIG MACS + VEGGIE MCNUGGETS. Absolute insanity.


On a brighter note, the supermarkets in Zimbabwe have recently started re-stocking vegan frozen foods, i.e. vegan chicken burgers, vegan nuggets and vegan sausages. These are incredible options for veggies who don’t always have the time to prepare their own burgers from scratch (I know I don’t). If you’re not big on the taste of commercially produced frozen food, then hey, this post is for you! Top tip: prepare these burgers in bulk, shape and freeze them to consume at a later date!


These burgers are packed with intense flavour, and are amped up with the addition of toppings. I’m a huge fan of loading burgers with as many toppings as possible, just look at these loaded burgers I made a couple of months ago. For these particular burgers I spread the toasted buns with some honey mustard sauce, topped with burger, followed by sliced tomato and fresh sprouts! Other alternatives include sliced avo, caramelised onions, crispy onions, an extra burger (cheeky) or even some good old tomato sauce. Make sure not to skip out on the sweet potato fries, they are heavenly! Or crack open a cold one with the boys on a warm summer afternoon with these burgers!


Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1×14 oz tin of canned chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ½ red or white onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup plain flour (or gluten free flour)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or water if you want them oil-free), optional
  • For serving: 4 bread rolls (gluten free if desired), sliced tomato, sliced avocado, fresh sprouts, sweet potato fries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Use a fork to mash them as best you can, it’s okay if some of them are still whole, at least half should be mashed. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and use your hands to mix until the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
  2. Shape into 4 patties. If you’re finding the patties difficult to shape or they keep falling apart then add the olive oil (or water) and try again. You should be able to shape them easily after this.
  3. Lightly grease a rimless baking sheet and gently transfer the patties to the pan. Bake for 15 minutes before gently flipping and baking for another 7 minutes. The burgers should be golden brown and crispy on the outside. Enjoy on top of a freshly baked roll topped with tomato, avocado and sprouts!

 

Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps

I can’t believe that it took me this long to get into halloumi.


I’d never really been big on cheese, unless it was on pizza or in pasta. On the other hand, my mum eats either camembert or brie as a post-dessert palette cleanser. It’s also an excuse for her to drink wine and feel fancy. Sigh, the things that go on in my house.


To be fair, this lunch spread was an excuse for me to feel fancy. In an effort to terrorise my mother, I’ve been using various wooden bowls ,that previously housed ornaments, as crockery for my food shoots. Because aesthetic, obviously.


I’ve also been bullying my brother into posing for me. In case you couldn’t tell, the background of this photo is his penguin onesie, the new love of his life. Last week he got a break when my neighbour volunteered his hand for this vegan pot pie recipe. This week, he wasn’t as lucky.


This was shot on one of those days that I just felt like cooking. I roasted some chopped potatoes with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, mixed herbs and S&P; threw together a quick strawberry basil salad and rolled up these kick-ass wraps to go with them. How’s that for a healthy balanced lunch?


Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps                                            makes 2-4 wraps

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • a pinch salt and black pepper
  • 100g halloumi, sliced into small rectangles

For the wraps:

  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries (optional)
  • 2-4 tortillas

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, chilli powder, garlic powder, oregano, S & P. Add the halloumi and toss until coated. Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, spinach, basil and strawberries in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Divide the veggie mixture between the tortillas, on one side only.
  3. Heat a skillet on high heat and fry the halloumi for 2-3 minutes on each side or until crispy. Top the veggies with the halloumi and roll up to create your wraps. I like to pan fry my wraps for a minute on each side just to warm the filling and create that beautiful grill pattern but this is completely optional. Serve and enjoy!

Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Happy Friday y’all!


Today I bring you your latest obsession: these quesadillas. Being the only vegetarian in my household, cooking plant based meals that people actually enjoy has proven to be my toughest challenge. I’m perfectly happy eating a couscous salad but that wouldn’t please my rugby playing brother. My health conscious mother isn’t very comfortable eating starch-dense potatoes lathered in mountains of cheese and herbs (ugh heaven).


However, these quesadillas have finally cracked the code! The crispy, cheesy quesadillas keep my brother from forgetting that there’s no meat involved, and the cheese-less version kept my mother from complaining about her waistline. It’s a win-win!


These make the perfect chilled Friday dinner, weekend barbecue meal or even as a lunchbox staple. Do yourself a favour and make these this weekend for ultimate #weekendgoals. If you do decide to let quesadillas be a part of your life, make sure to let me know by dropping me an email, or contacting me through my Instagram or Facebook. Happy weekend lovers!


Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Ingredients

For the quesadillas:

  • 1 cup brown dry lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • some salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 cups mozzarella + 2 cups cheddar, mixed in a bowl (omit if vegan, the quesadillas hold together pretty well without cheese)
  • 8× 12 inch tortilla wraps

For the guacamole:

  • 1 very ripe, very soft avocado
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

For the guacamole:

Mash the avocado until soft. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the onion and cilantro are evenly distributed. I wouldn’t advise preparing this more than an hour in advance, but if need be, then lay a piece of cling film directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning and store in the fridge until needed. Will not keep more than 2 days.

For the quesadillas: 

  1. Start by cooking the lentils. Add the dry lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with 2 cups of water (or vegetable broth if you wish) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are swollen and soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil in a deep cast iron pan and fry the onions on high until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and toss until the onion is coated in the spices.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and vegetable broth, season liberally with salt and pepper and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the lentils are done.
  4. Chop the spinach into ribbons and throw it in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the spinach and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze the spinach to get rid of all the water (be careful, it may still be searing from the hot water) and set aside.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, add them and the blanched spinach to the tomato mixture and let cook another 5 minutes. Once the spinach has cooked down and softened, remove the pot from heat.
  6. It’s time to assemble the quesadillas! If non-vegan, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the mixed cheeses  evenly on top of one tortilla, leaving about a one centimetre border. Top in a uniform layer with ¼ cup of the lentil spinach mixture, and finally another ¼ cup of cheese.  Lay another tortilla on top and press down on the quesadilla. Repeat until you’ve used up all the tortillas and have 4 whole quesadillas.
  7. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Carefully life one quesadilla and lay it on the hot frying pan. Let cook for 2 minutes before carefully flipping over and cooking on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat for all the quesadillas
  8.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before cutting into quarters and serving hot! Serve with the guacamole and enjoy!

 

Adapted from Pinch Of Yum

Bành Mí Style Vegan Meatball Subs

For the longest time, I’ve been experimenting to formulate a vegetarian meatball recipe that isn’t either mushy, tasteless or falls apart before my fork even touches it. After 2 weeks of failed recipes, I finally managed to get it right. So what did I do with this achievement? I whipped up a quick sweet and sour sauce, bathed the meatballs in the rich flavours and stuffed them in a sandwich. How’s that for a celebration?

I’m not even going to say much today because I want this sandwich to speak for itself. I spoke about the tendency of plant based diets to be deficient in umami flavours when I made these vegan burgers, and I hit the jackpot in that savoury goodness category with these meatballs. The tartness of the pickled carrots helps to compliment the flavours and the jalapeno pepper gives the sandwich that extra boost. And the fact that there’s no meat in them is anything but a disadvantage. What are you waiting for, get in the kitchen and make these!

The pickled red cabbage here isn’t in any of the photos nor is it in the final recipe listing because I had mixed reviews about adding it into the sandwich. It makes them look pretty but the tartness and bitterness overloads all the other flavour when used in excess rather than in small doses with just the carrots.
Bành Mí Style Vegan Meatball Subs 

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 250g white button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1×14 oz can chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa (¼ cup dry quinoa boiled in ½ cup water for 15 mins)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • a thumb of ginger, grated
  • ¾ cup plain flour

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)

For the pickled veggies:

  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 200 ml white vinegar
  • 300ml water
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • ½ a white onion, sliced thinly

For the subs:

  • about 4 tbsp vegannaise or mayonnaise if not vegan
  • 1 tsp of your favourite chilli sauce/Sriracha
  • ½ a cucumber, sliced
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional)
  • 1 fresh baguette

Method

  1. Start by pickling the carrots and onion. In a measuring jug, dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar before making the solution up to the 500ml mark with the water. Dump the carrots and onion in a 500ml glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over the veggies until the jar is full. Refrigerate for at least an hour before use. Will keep up to a month in the fridge.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Throw in the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Pour in the soy sauce and add the chopped garlic and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the mushroom onion mixture, chickpeas, quinoa, parsley and ginger to a food processor and pulse until a thick meal forms, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and use a rubber spatula to incorporate into the meatball mix. Grab a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into a ball. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. I get between 15 and 18 meatballs every time I make this. It’s also easier to shape the meatballs with your hands if you wet them with a bit of cold water first. Refrigerate the meatballs for at least 20 minutes before cooking but you could leave them overnight if desired
  4. Whilst the meatballs are chilling, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and whisk well to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing it to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Cook the meatballs by either frying them in a hot frying pan on all sides until crispy (which will take you about 7 minutes per batch) or baking them in an oven preheated to 180°C for 30 minutes. Once cooked, toss the meatballs with the sauce to coat.
  6. Assemble the subs! Start by cutting the baguette into the desired number of servings (I cut mine into 4 pieces to serve 4 people) and slicing in half. Mix together the vegannaise and the Sriracha in a ramekin and spread over the inside of the baguette. Layer with the sliced cucumber followed by the meatballs (I managed to fit 3 or 4 into mine) and finally top with the pickled carrots and onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Loaded Quinoa Lentil Burgers with all the Fixings 

Today, I’m pulling out all the stops. 


This week, I felt like putting together something big. Enormous. Sensational. Between experimenting with my new camera and trying out recipes from my vegan cookbook, I thought about what to bring you next. Since the recipes I post usually go with what I’m feeling at the time, I opted for these vegan burgers. I cannot tell you how many burgers I’ve made in the past month. 


I’ve been craving umami a lot since I stopped eating meat. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, umami refers to one of the flavours your tongue can detect, along with sweet, sour and bitter. Umami is what you would call the savouriness of a dish. Unfortunately for me, I tried to replicate that by eating a lot of salt- obviously not a good idea. 


 Good old Google came in handy here, by suggesting that I introduce umami rich foods into my diet, such as mushrooms, sweet potatoes and balsamic vinegar. So what did I do? I incorporated all these elements into the ultimate feel good vegan burger. Mushrooms fried and dressed in a balsamic vinegar reduction, sweet potato fries on the side and gorgeous crispy onion rings, how could one ask for more? 


But wait! There is more!!!! These pickled red onions are about to be your next guilty pleasure. The crisp bitter flavour of the onions just works perfectly with the soft mild avocado, and don’t get me started on what it does for the burger as a whole. It just works and I don’t know why yet- but when I find out, trust that you’ll be getting a post about it. 


I’m working on a couple more science posts to bring you because I realized that I haven’t been doing that a lot lately and I send you all my apologies in the form of this burger. Don’t take my word for it – go out and try it! 

Loaded Quinoa Lentil Burgers with all the Fixings.                                          makes 4 patties

Ingredients

For the burger patties:

  • ½ cup uncooked brown lentils
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • A handful of fresh rosemary
  • 4 burger rolls

For the pickled onion:

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 150ml of white vinegar
  • 2 heaped tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 250ml water

For the onion rings:

  • Enough vegetable oil for shallow frying (my estimate is 1 cup)
  • 1 large white onion, sliced cross-sectionally to yield rings
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

For the sweet potato fries:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced into fries
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Extras/Toppings:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced tomato
  • Mayonnaise/Vegannaise
  • Barbecue sauce

 

Method:

Make the burger patties:

  1. In a large saucepan combine the lentils and quinoa and cover with the water. Cook for 20 minutes or until you can see the white tails on the quinoa and the lentils are soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil on high heat and fry the mushrooms and garlic until the mushrooms are dark brown and have softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently until the balsamic has reduced and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
  3. Add the lentil quinoa mixture, mushrooms, parsley and rosemary to a food processor. Pulse until you have a thick mixture that holds together and can easily be shaped into patties. This took me about 2 minutes. If your mixture is too heavy for the food processor, then you can add 2 tbsp of water to ease it along.
  4. Shape the mixture into 4 patties and at this point you can either refrigerate them to cook later or cook straight away. This recipe is freezer friendly, separate the patties with parchment paper and seal in an airtight plastic bag.
  5. Heat a skillet on high heat and brush with olive oil. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on either side before flipping. Serve immediately

For the pickled onion:

Dump the red onion at the bottom of a 500ml glass jar. In a measuring cup, stir together the vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Pour it over the onion and fill up the jar with as much liquid as possible. Give the jar a good shake and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the sweet potato fries:

Start by soaking the chopped sweet potatoes in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain before adding the cornflour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and sugar and tossing to coat. Lie in a single layer on a baking tray and roast for 25 minutes without turning. Serve hot.

For the onion rings:

Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and water to make a thick batter. In a shallow dish, crush the cornflakes till they resemble breadcrumbs and stir with the cayenne pepper. Dip the onion rings first in the batter then the cornflakes and fry for 3 minutes or until deep golden brown, turning once halfway. Serve immediately.