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A nice salad using raw beetroot. It tastes really fresh and good for you. 

Beetroot with walnuts and cumin – serves 4

  • 75g walnuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • about 400g beetroot
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and gently toast the walnuts for a few minutes, until toasted and starting to colour. Remove from the pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast these for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant, then tip onto a plate. 

Peel the beetroot and grate it coarsely into a bowl. Add the parsley, orange juice and a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and salt and pepper. Mix and season again to taste. Leave for 20 minutes or so to marinate and soften. 

Spread the beetroot over a serving dish. Bash the toasted walnuts roughly and scatter over the beetroot. Bash the toasted cumin seeds too, then scatter over the salad. 

Finish with another drizzle of oil. 

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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You need cooked beetroots for this. You can of course buy them pre-cooked in vac packs but they’re much nicer when you cook them fresh. Just give them a good scrub, dry with paper and wrap in tin foil. Roast for about an hour (or as long as it takes) at 200ºC. Let them cool before making the salad. We served this with roast chicken and the next day with a ham salad. Make this up at least an hour in advance to allow the flavours to mingle.

Beetroot & mint salad – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cooked beetroots, finely sliced into rounds
  • a small bunch of mint leaves

Whisk the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Put the sliced beetroot into a bowl. Roughly chop half the mint leaves, and add to the beetroots before pouring over the  dressing. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so.

To serve, drain off some of the marinade, arrange the slices on a platter and scatter over the rest of the mint.

(Original recipe from Skye McAlpine’s A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty, Bloomsbury, 2020.)

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We’re having a little Korean-inspired moment in the kitchen. So many of the dishes are super simple and really tasty. We had these soy-seasoned mushrooms with a glass of sherry for a starter but they’re a side dish really. A few ingredients that were made for each other and brought together quickly and easily!

Wine Suggestion: An umami-rich dish like this thrives with sherry and the La Gitana Manzanilla with it’s seaside freshness and bone-dry texture did not disappoint. Easy to see this dish in a tapas bar in Cadiz, despite the Korean origins.

Soy-seasoned mushrooms – bo-seot namool – serves 4 as a side dish or nibble with drinks

  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g wild mushrooms (we used a mixture of baby shitake and oyster mushrooms), sliced into ½ cm strips
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wide pan over a high heat.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for another minute.

Add the sesame oil and keep going for another minute, keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, then leave to cool a bit so the flavours come together. You can serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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We’ve been looking for recipes that use fresh turmeric but you can also use ground turmeric for this dish. This cauliflower curry is really nice and also uses the cauliflower leaves, genius! Serve with rice. 

Wine Suggestion: This dish cries out for a white from warmer or sunnier climates where there are hints of tropical fruits in the flavours. Tonight’s choice was the superlative Kilikanoon Pierce Road Semillon; an oak aged semillon from the Clare Valley. Rich and layered with buttery, toasty hints of the barrel fermentation carried through with a wonderful, lemony, citrus backbone of acidity. Youthful but poised and balanced.

Cauliflower and yellow split pea curry – serves 4

  • 1 large cauliflower, with leaves, cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and the cut the leaves across the spine into 1cm-thick strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

FOR THE CURRY BASE:

  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated (or you can use 1 tbsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 green chilli, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a bunch of coriander, chop the stalks finely and the leaves roughly

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C/gas 7.

Toss the cauliflower pieces in the vegetable oil and season generously with salt. Place in a roasting tray and roast for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden. Toss them halfway through. 

Meanwhile, put the crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Put over a medium heat and toast until fragrant. Add the vegetable oil, then the rest of curry base ingredients, including the coriander stalks but not the leaves. Season well with salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the split peas and 700ml warm water. Stir, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes, stirring often and adding a little more water if needed. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Add the cauliflower and the cauliflower leaves, then cover and cook for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chopped coriander. 

Serve with rice and anything else you like with you curry. 

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.)

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Jono acquired five trays of figs from one of his customers, much to the approbation of Jules who said he had to find something to do with them! This fig jam used most of them and there was a smaller batch of rather good chutney. A good call too, as we’ve had repeat requests for jam from friends who’ve been given a jar. It is easily scalable, so while the recipe is for 1kg of figs, we used 4kg to make just over 5kg of jam.

Jono now believes he is allowed to get loads of figs when there is a glut again next year.

Fig Jam – makes roughly 1.3kg of jam

  • 1kg figs, remove the stalks at the top and roughly chop
  • 2 fig leaves, cleaned (we took two from a neighbour’s garden – with permission)
  • 500g jam sugar (with pectin)

Put the ingredients into a large saucepan and stir well to combine. Put the pan over a low heat and let the sugar dissolve, then increase the heat slightly and bring to a gentle simmer. 

When the liquid starts to be released from the figs, turn the heat up a little again and stir often to stop the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer rapidly until the jam reaches 105°C (You will need a jam thermometer to check this. If you don’t have one the other option is to put a few saucers in the freezer. To check if the jam is ready, put a tiny spoonful onto the cold plate and see if it runs. If it doesn’t, it’s ready. If it does try again using another cold plate in a few minutes). 

Remove the fig leaves and pour the jam into sterilised jars. Cover immediately with the lids. The jam will now keep for up to a year, but it’s highly unlikely to last that long!

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollins Publishing, 2019.)

 

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Green Hummus

Really fresh and tasty. A lovely recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour (our new favourite thing!). We served with toasted pittas. Leftovers great for lunch the next day.

Green hummus – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and reserve ¾ of the brine from 1 of the tins
  • juice of ½ a lemon, you might need a bit more
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 30g of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 30g of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 15g of tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • warm pitta bread, to serve

Put the chickpeas, reserved brine, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, coriander, tarragon, tahini, some sea salt and black pepper, in a food processor and whizz until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might like to add more lemon juice. Serve in a bowl garnished with the nigella seeds and with some of your best olive oil drizzled over.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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Georgian Kidney Bean Salad

We try so many recipes but it’s rare that we find one that’s like nothing we’ve had before. This is different and definitely recommended by us.

Georgian kidney bean salad – serves 2

  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of dill, chopped

Toast the fenugreek, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and crush with a pinch of sea salt.

Heat 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for 10-15 minutes or until soft and browned. Add the beans and warm through.

Mix 1 tbsp sunflower oil, the sherry vinegar, sugar, crushed spices, herbs and salt and pepper, together in a bowl. Stir through the beans and serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from Mamushka by Olia Hercules, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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Sweet Beetroot Pickle

This is so simple and far superior to the jars you buy in supermarkets (though we do like them too). The flavour of the earthy beetroot really shines through.

A good thing about pickling your own beetroot is that you can source/grow different types and they’ll all have their own character; this one was less red in colour and a touch more peppery than the usual supermarket variety. We’re on the lookout for golden beetroot next to see what happens there too.

Sweet pickle beetroot – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 4-6 beetroots (about 300g)
  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 125ml red wine vinegar
  • 125ml water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 220C/180 fan/Gas 6.

Sprinkle the salt into the bottom of a roasting tin and place the whole beetroots on top. Bake for 30 minutes, then pierce with a sharp knife to see if they’re tender all the way through. Keep cooking until your knife goes through easily. It could take 15 minutes more or longer depending on the size of your beetroots.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then trim the ends and peel off the skin – you will need gloves. Cut each beetroot into 8-10 wedges and put into an airtight container.

Heat the remaining ingredients together and bring to the boil. Pour over the beetroots, including all the spices, and seal the container. Leave to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge.

You can eat the beetroots the following day or leave them longer for the flavour to develop. They should be good for a month if you don’t open the container. Once opened you need to eat within 2 weeks which should not be a problem!

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Saltyard Books, 2014)

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Courgettes with Broad Beans and Walnuts

We can’t resist all the courgettes at this time of year, and even less so if they’re multi-coloured. This is a really tasty side dish that we make with frozen broad beans but of course use the fresh version if you have them. A great side to bring a bit of sunshine to any meal.

Courgettes with broad beans & walnuts – serves 4

  • 8 baby courgettes, sliced on the diagonal into 4 or 5 pieces (you can also use medium courgettes but cut them in 4 lengthways, then slice)
  • 200g podded broad beans, (about 1kg unpodded weight)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 walnut halves, roughly chopped

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil

Make the vinaigrette by whisking the vinegar and olive oil together with some seasoning.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the broad beans and cook for 2-3 minutes (if you are using frozen baby broad beans they will only need a minute). Drain and run under cold water, then remove the skins.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook over a medium heat until golden on all sides – about 5-8 minutes.

Add the broad beans, season with salt and pepper and warm through for 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vinaigrette. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Aubergine and Cherry Tomato Curry

This is delicious and so simple. A perfect summer curry. Serve with yoghurt and naan bread. It’s versatile too as it is lovely on its own with some rice, or as a side, or part of a larger feast.

Wine Suggestion: a light grenache red is our pick, either a simple Spanish bottle such as Bodegas Monfil in Cariñena or something more sophisticated like Domaine Cébène’s ex Arena from Faugeres.

Aubergine & cherry tomato curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4cm ginger, finely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 large aubergine, quartered, then cut into ½ cm thick slices
  • coriander leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan with a lid.

Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until soft. Add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add the cherry tomatoes, then cover with the lid and leave over a low heat for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened.

Stir in the salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, tomato purée and sugar. Mix well, then add 150ml warm water, then the aubergine. Stir to coat the aubergines in the tomatoes, then cover again.

Cook for 15-20 minutes over a medium heat or until the aubergine is tender and soft enough to cut with a wooden spoon.

Season to taste and garnish with coriander leaves.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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Aubergine, Chickpea & Tomato Bake

Absolute deliciousness from Sami Tamami and Tara Wigley. You could definitely eat a plate of this as it is, but we had it tonight with a barbecued leg of lamb. You can prep it in advance and cook when needed.

Aubergine, chickpea & tomato bake – serves 4 to 6

  • 5 medium aubergines (about 1.25kg), trim off the tops, use a peeler to peel of strips of skin so you have stripy aubergines, then cut into 2cm thick slices
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp tomato purée
  • 2 green peppers, cut in to 3cm chunks
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 15g coriander, roughly chopped, plus an extra 5g to serve
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1½ cm rounds

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the aubergine slices into a large bowl and toss with 75ml of the olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Spread the slices over the baking trays and bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes. They should be completely softened and lightly browned.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180C fan.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then cook the onion for about 7 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée and cook for another minutes. Add the peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, sugar, 200ml of water, 1¼ tsp salt and and plenty of black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, or until the peppers have cooked through. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat.

Spread half the tomato slices and half the aubergine over the base of a large baking dish. Pour over the sauce, then top with the remaining aubergine and tomato slices. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle over the remaining coriander to serve.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Spicy Roasted New Potatoes with Lemon & Herbs

This dish bursts with flavour. We’ve been entertaining in our garden (in small groups and at a distance) and it’s been so nice to cook dishes to feed more than 2! Another triumph from Falastin and great with some grilled meat; this will be done many atime again we suspect. You can prep up to the point before you put the potatoes in the oven. Cook and dress when you’re ready to eat.

Spicy roasted new potatoes with lemon & herbs  – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 7 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 750g baby new potatoes, quartered
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 large lemon, finely grate the zest to get 2 tsp and juice to get 2 tbsp
  • 10g coriander, roughly chopped
  • 5g dill, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.

Lightly crush the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seed and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until it starts to colour.

Add the chilli and tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes start to soften. Add the potatoes, sugar, 1 tsp of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir and transfer to a large baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Roast for 40 minutes, tossing once, until the potatoes are crispy and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before adding the lemon zest & juice, coriander & dill. Toss gently & serve.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Couscous, Cherry Tomato & Herb Salad

We made this couscous salad from Ottolenghi Simple for the first time this week and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Serve it at all your summer barbecues (provided local restrictions allow) and expect very happy guests.

Couscous, cherry tomato and herb salad – serves 4

  • 250g couscous
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 30g golden raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 50g roasted and salted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 15g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 15g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, finely grate to get 1 tsp of zest and squeeze to get 1 tbsp of juice

Put the couscous into a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle over 2 tbsp of oil, sprinkle with 1 tsp of the ras el hanout, ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Pour over 400ml boiling water, then seal well with tin foil and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff the couscous with a fork, then set aside to cool.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the tomatoes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until they start to brown and split. Remove the tomatoes from the pan and sprinkle them with salt.

Add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil to the same pan. Add the onions, the other tsp of ras el hanout and an a pinch of salt. Fry over a medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until dark golden-brown and soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins and leave to cool.

When the couscous has cooked a bit, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the onions and raisin mixture and stir, then add the cumin seeds, almonds, herbs, lemon zest & juice, ¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Mix gently to combine.

Serve on a platter with the tomatoes on the top.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Guacamole

We have a stash of chilli in the freezer which makes for perfect Friday night food. We like our chilli with a ridiculous number of extras including grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh coriander, lime wedges, tortilla chips, rice or jacket potatoes and a big bowl of guacamole. Do not feel limited to serving this with a chilli either as we’ll spread this on toast, have with jacket potatoes or tortillas, or whenever the notion takes us.

Guacamole – serves 4

  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 25g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 big green chilli, chopped, leave in the seeds
  • 4 small avocados, roughly chopped
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • juice of ½ lime

Put the onion, most of the coriander and the chilli in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and grind to a paste.

Add the avocados to the pestle and mortar with the rest of the coriander, the oregano and the lime juice. Pound until mixed and chunky, then season to taste with some more salt or lime.

Serve with chilli or on top of toast.

(Original recipe from Where the Wild Cooks Go by Cerys Matthews, Penguin Books, 2019.)

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Monastery Soup

The second Bulgarian recipe we’ve cooked from Black Sea by Caroline Eden and one of the best soups we’ve had in ages. We think it’s the combination of sweet peppers and parsnip with the spicy broth that makes it so good. Serve with a good slick of olive oil and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Monastery Soup – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large red or yellow pepper, diced very finely
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 parsnip, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 700ml veg stock
  • a tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • a tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • flat-leaf parsley & mint, chopped (to serve)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to serve)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche (to serve, optional but good)

Warm the sunflower oil in a large pot, then add the pepper, onion, parsnip and carrot with some salt. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add the paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and some black pepper and continue to cook for another few minutes. Add the stock and beans and turn up the heat. When the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through (try one of the carrots). Remove from the heat and divide between warm bowls. Sprinkle over the herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. A spoon of sour cream on top is also really good.

(Original recipe Black Sea by Caroline Eden, Quadrille, 2018)

 

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Vegan Achari Brussels Sprout Curry

Sprouts are not just for Christmas. They’ll be around for ages yet and we love them. This is also a useful dish for those choosing a spell of Veganism. Serve with yoghurt (non-dairy if you wish) and naan breads.

Wine Suggestion: tonight we opened a German white lager, the Grevensteiner Naturtrübes Helles. A slightly cloudy and smooth beer with fruit hints and a refined malty touch. This has character and roundness and is a good foil to the curry and a compliment to the Brussels.

Vegan Achari Brussels Sprout Curry – serves 2

  • 750g brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or halved depending on size
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Bash the mustard, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds together in a mortar as finely as you can, then stir in the nigella seeds.

Heat a large frying pan, then add 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes before adding the spice mix, then continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and browning. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and the salt, then cook for 15 minutes. Add 400ml water and the sprouts, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for until just tender – start checking after 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice before serving.

(Original recipe by Meera Sodha in The Guardian, Saturday, 21 December 2019.)

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Well hello there, we have been very quiet for the last few months while our new kitchen and other house renovations are happening. We had really hoped to be back to normal by now but we’re still kitchen hopping amongst our very generous (and patient) family & friends. So normal service will hopefully resume very soon and in the meantime here’s a fab recipe for a super rich ratatouille by Barney Desmazery for BBC Good Food. We served with some steak off the barbecue but it is also great on it’s own with some toasted bread.

Wine Suggestion: we love choosing southern French reds when eating this dish and find that Syrah, Grenache, Mourvédre and Carignan (either on their own or as a blend) just work. Tonight it was the superb Faugères “les Bancels” from Domaine Cébène which is elegant, effortless and wonderfully long on the finish.

Ratatouille – serves 6

  • 3 red peppers, quartered and seeds removed
  • a handful of basil, separate the leaves and stalks (you will need both)
  • a large sprig of thyme
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 2 courgettes (any colour or a mix), roughly chopped
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • grilled sourdough, to serve

Put the pieces of pepper onto a baking tray and place under a hot grill until blackened. Tip them into a bowl, cover and leave to cool. Peel the skin off the peppers, then cut into strips and toss back into the juices in the bowl.

Tie the basil stalks and thyme together with kitchen string.

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 4.

Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and fry the courgettes and aubergine for 15 minutes or until browned. It is easiest to do this in batches, adding a little of the oil each time.

Remove the courgette and aubergine from the pan and set aside. Add a drizzle more oil, then add the onion and cook for 15 minutes or until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and sizzle for a minute. Scatter with sugar, then leave for a minute to caramelise before adding the vinegar. Stir in the cooked veg and pepper juice, season well, then pour over the cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Add the tied herbs to the dish, cover, and cook in the oven for an hour. Remove the lid and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes or until reduced and jammy. Leave to cool until just warm, then stir through most of the basil leaves and the extra virgin olive oil. Scatter the rest of the basil over the top and serve with the toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Tumbet

This Mallorcan vegetable dish is perfect for late summer when peppers, tomatoes, aubergines & courgettes are in abundance. It works really well alongside roast pork and other meat or fish but it has enough going on to work as a veggie main too. There are a few processes but ultimately this is an easy dish and you can prep it in advance and bake when you’re ready.

Wine Suggestion: given the Mediterranean origin, we’d suggest a wine match with Grenache / Garnacha, either on it’s own or with a typical southern French blend.

Tumbet – seres 4

  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into 1.5cm rounds
  • up to 200ml olive oil
  • 2 medium courgettes, cut into 2cm rounds
  • 500g large waxy potatoes e.g. Charlotte, thinly sliced (about 3mm) – use a mandolin if you have one
  • 2 roast red peppers, cut into strips (to roast yourself put the peppers on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, then roast for 30 minutes at 220C/Fan 200/Gas 7. Leave in a covered bowl to cool, then peel off the skins.)
  • small bunch of fresh oregano
  • small bunch of fresh basil

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or you can use a tin)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch of sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Spread the aubergine slices over a large baking tray and brush with some of the olive oil. Season with salt and roast for 20-25 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Leave to cool.

Pour ½ cm of oil into a large, heavy-based frying pan. Fry the courgettes over a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. Season lightly with salt.

Add the potato slices to the pan and fry on both sides for about 10 minutes or until softened the whole way through and a light golden colour. Drain on kitchen paper.

To make the sauce, put the olive oil in a sauce pan and cook the garlic over a low to medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until softened, then add the tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 25 minutes or until well reduced. Taste after 10 minutes and add a pinch of sugar if it seems acidic.

Spread a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce in the base of a large baking dish. Sprinkle over some oregano and basil leaves, then top with the aubergine slices. Add more tomato sauce, sprinkle with more herbs, and add the courgettes. Repeat with more tomato sauce, herbs and the peppers, then finish with the last of the tomato sauce and herbs and top with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

When ready to bake the dish, heat the oven to 180C/160C/Gas 4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and browned and the vegetables underneath are tender.

(Original recipe from the Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

 

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Spicy potatoes

We loved these Indian spiced potatoes and they were great for bulking out some leftover saag paneer that definitely would not have satisfied our hungry bellies.

Spicy Potatoes – serves 4

  • 800g potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 140g frozen peas

Cover the potatoes in cold salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins or until just tender, then drain and allow to steam dry for a few mins.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the spices for a minute until fragrant. Throw in the potatoes and toss well so they are coated in the spices. Gently fry for 5-10 mins until golden, then add peas, mix well and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season well before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Everyday Palestinian Salad

We love a chopped salad and this one in particular is a handy one to have up your sleeve. We served with a Palestinian rice dish but it would be suitable for all sorts of eventualities.

Everyday Palestinian Salad – serves 4

  • 4 Persian cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 10g parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 10g mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of a lemon

Slice the cucumbers in half and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Finely chop into 1cm dice.

Scoop the seed out of the tomatoes and chop into similar sized pieces to the cucumber. Do the same with the red pepper and put all three into a large bowl.

Dress the salad with the herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, and plenty of salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Zaitoon by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2018.)

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