Spiced spinach and chickpeas…

I had a bag of baby spinach and I had every intention of making spiced spinach flatbreads, but as I chopped the spinach with a variety of spices, I thought I’d use it differently and create a spinach and chickpea dish using the East Indian Bottle Masala spice mix I made up previously from a recipe by The Spice Adventuress

I chopped the washed spinach in a food processor with some garlic, a good couple of tablespoons of the spice mix and a couple of long red chillies, plus some rapeseed oil..

It smelled amazing!!!

At the same time I chopped a couple of medium red onions..

Ready to cook over a medium heat in rapeseed oil until they softened and started to caremalise. Once they were cooked, I added the spinach mixture and cooked it through..

Then added the chickpeas..

It tasted so good! 

I ate it with some slightly watered down plain yoghurt..

As always, I had leftovers, and it tasted even better the next day🙂

When Fiesta Friday opens later I shall be taking this along and joining co hosts Antonia and Sandyha and everyone else sharing their dishes. I hope you’ve had a great week, Autumn is in full flow in my part of England and I love it!!!! 

Spinach and cheese concoctions..

I always lust after images of spinach and cheese pastries, whether it’s a Greek spanakopita, or middle eastern ‘fatayer’, or Turkish ‘borek’, or any kind of version; I’m not a big pastry eater though. So, I look for other ways to create these pies or pastries, utilising the lovely flavours of the filling in other ways…

Which is how this aubergine-lined creation came to life. 

It all began with some oven roasted aubergine slices..

And when I finally stopped myself from scoffing them all, I used them to line my dish, then topped the slices with half of this mixture of baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta, chopped fresh mozzarella, chopped chives, dill & parsley, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and two eggs…

Then placed the remaining slices of aubergine over the top. If I hadn’t eaten so many, I could have formed a better top!

I then topped this with grated hard goats cheese and baked until it looked like this..

Oh yes 😀😀😀😀😀 I rarely have this much cheese, but when I do, it’s a joy!!! 

The ‘pie’ held together when I cut into it and created a very lovely meal..

At the same time time I went authentic and made a filo pastry version too, layering three sheets of filo pastry for the base, and folding the edges over the top..

Which I baked until it looked like this..

Another winner..although I preferred the aubergine lined version myself. 

The next day I removed any soggy pastry and chopped up the reminds of both dishes, then threw it all in a pan with some coconut oil and tomatoes and created a whole new dish for my lunch..

Now that was tasty!!!! And very filling!!!

I enjoyed my little venture into cheese overload…that will do for now though I think…! It all tasted great though 😀

Hob/stove pan cooked spelt sourdough pizza…

As is my way, when I recently made up some sourdough dough, I threw the leftover bubbly starter into a bowl with some spelt flour, fine semolina, olive oil, water and salt and put it in the fridge until I decided what to do with it…it continued to bubble and develop over the next few days..

…even in the fridge! 

It was so bubbly, it looked like it was just sourdough starter, not a complete dough!

I had read a snippet in a food magazine recently about cooking pizzas in a pan on the hob (I guess in the US you’d call it a skillet pizza?) to ensure a crispy base, so decided to try it out with some of this dough.

I took out a handful and rolled it into a loose ball; I sprinkled fine semolina over an oven sheet pan, then pushed the dough into a round with my hands..

I made it quite thin, as I knew it would puff up in the pan, which meant it lost a lot of shape as I transferred it to the hot pan, but I just pushed it back into shape as it started to cook. 

I used a non stick pan, heated over a high heat initially to crisp up the base, before turning it down to medium once the dough had been in the pan for a minute or so. I cooked it for a few minutes, then turned it over, and starting cooking it further. At this time I smeared our homemade tomato sauce over the base, sprinkled over grated cheese and dollops of mascarpone. I turned on the grill as it cooked through. 

Once the base had browned, and before it burnt, I removed the pan from the hob and place it under the grill for a couple of minutes to cook the cheeses. If, like me, your pan has a plastic handle, just don’t push the pan in too far under the heat. 

And it worked a treat! By using the hob, it saved turning on the oven for a single pizza, plus with the added semolina in the dough, it created a lovely crispy base. I’ll definitely do this again because it’s also a speedy way to produce a pizza for a hungry teenage boy!

Please note that this can be done with any dough, it doesn’t have to be sourdough or spelt as I’ve done, any pizza or bread dough would work. 

With the rest of the dough, I also made up some crispy flatbreads which I enjoyed with some fridge/freezer raid salad the next day..

Welcome to Autumn, my most favourite season of the year! I hope you’ve had a good week and a good weekend ahead – but before then, let’s pop over to Fiesta Friday, with Mollie and Johanne and see what wonderful dishes everyone has brought…

Beetroot…three ways…

Having purchased a bunch of fresh beetroot to make my pickled turnips (previous post) I then had several left to use…the followed dishes therefore include raw, boiled (as in the salad above) and roasted beetroot…

When using beetroot, in all forms, I would advise: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES!!!

The raw beetroot went into flatbreads; I washed the skin then grated a beetroot and put it into a food processor along with a selection of spices, some rapeseed oil, chapati flour and a splash of water, and processed it until it created a ‘dough’…

I brought it together by feel, it didn’t need much water at all. I then left it in the fridge to rest until I wanted to use it…

To make the breads, with floured hands, I took a handful of the dough, and flattened it into a flatbread, not too thin and not too thick, ready to cook. I heated my ‘tawa’ pan over a medium heat, then cooked the breads on both sides for several minutes, until cooked through. The breads remain quite moist, and are a perfect way to get kids eating beetroot, as well as us lucky adults! 

They are lovely eaten fresh, and reheat well the next day in the toaster. 

To boil the beetroot, I removed the top and bottom stalky bits, then chopped the beetroots into wedges and boiled until soft, but not mushy. Once cooked I drained them and allowed the wedges to cool slightly, then peeled off the skin, it comes off really easily with your hands. Some of these went into salads and dips, and some I then roasted for an extra punch. 

I find beetroot quite sweet, so I tend to pair it with lemon juice or preserved lemons, or goats cheese, ingredients that will help to even out the sweetness. 

This dip was a mix of boiled beetroot, tahini, lemon juice and chopped preserved lemons, mashed so that it remained chunky. 

This salad used the boiled and roasted beetroot mixed with chopped parsley and dill, chopped preserved lemons, whole roasted hazelnuts and a dressing of Verjus and argan oil. 

And similar to the previous one, this salad includes still warm boiled beetroot, chopped parsley & dill, my chermoula spice mix, labneh, crushed hazelnuts and olive oil. With the beetroot being warm it made it all lovely and a bit gluggy ;) 

I hope you like my beetroot creations – I shall be taking them along to this week’s Fiesta Friday (better late than never!) and hope that everyone likes my ideas, especially the co hosts, Loretta and Natalie. Enjoy your weekend! 

Pickled turnips..

Beautiful, vibrant pink pickled turnips are a very typical sight on any Lebanese table. Any Lebanese meal will include a plate of pickles, and would usually include these, so of course, I had to make some! If you have ever eaten a shawarma or a falafel sandwich in the Middle East, you will probably have eaten these as part of it, they are an integral part of the whole wonderful taste sensation. 

I literally had no idea how the turnips become pink, the answer is all to obvious once you know it: beetroot. One beetroot generates so much colour that that is all that is needed to create the pink colour. And when you put the jar together, it’s happen so fast, you can literally see the colour spreading!!! 

I used a recipe from a cookbook which I won’t reproduce here, but you can find endless versions online. You need a basic pickling juice (vinegar, water, salt), some turnips, and a beetroot. Peel and chop the turnips and the beetroot (wear gloves for the beetroot unless you want to be pink for days) into batons, then start packing it all into a jar. You can add garlic, chillies, bay leaves, whatever takes your fancy, then watch the magic happen..

All chopped up and ready for the liquid..

As soon as you pour it in, the beetroot colour starts to spread..

This was less than an hour later! 

I put the jar in a dark cool place and left it..by the next morning. The colour had intensified..

Surrounded by my beloved pots of tahini!! 

I left the turnips for a week before trying them. By then they were completely pink, and each piece had a softness and a crunch, and lots of flavour..

Now I’m just working my way through them..why can’t I ever make small batches of anything???

Am I officially Lebanese yet?! ;) 

Aubergine, carrot & beetroot ‘salads’…

This little plateful of colours, somewhat like a painters palette, formed a recent meal; it included a beetroot salad, a roasted aubergine salad, a roasted carrot salad, homous, and caremalised onions.

I put salad in quotation marks because these are not what you might typically call salads – there’s no green leaves in sight and they’re quite ‘tight’, as opposed to a typically looser collection of ingredients. These are more middle eastern in style, as you’ll see from the ingredients..

You’ll also notice a theme amongst the ingredients: tahini, garlic and lemon juice, the wonderful trio that I put with so many things, and that forms the backbone of homous, along with chickpeas.

So, on the plate is..

Beetroot salad

Boiled and cooled beetroot, mashed with tahini, lemon juice & garlic

Carrot salad

Boiled, roasted and cooled carrots, mashed with olive oil, soy sauce, tahini, garlic, chopped coriander, Aleppo chilli flakes and ground roasted cumin & coriander seeds 

Aubergine salad

Whole roasted aubergine, skin removed, and mashed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and mixed with chopped fresh coriander and ground roasted cumin 

Plus homous, using my holy grail recipe, and sliced red onion that I’d caramelised in the oven. 

As you’ll notice, there’s no quantities, because they were all just thrown together from bits and pieces of inspiration and ideas, so I would suggest playing with the amounts. And if any of them taste or feel too ‘claggy’, just add more lemon juice, that’s my motto!

The next day I mixed up the leftovers of the carrot salad and the aubergine salad to create one thing of beauty…mmmmmm…..

I hope your week starts well :) 

Super simple salad…

When life gives you fresh ripe tasty tomatoes….make this!!! 

This simple tasty salad is based on fattoush (and it’s cousin panzanella, depending on where you come from) and is a current favourite of mine…the best bit is the twist at the end…

Chop/slice as many tomatoes as you like, and as many red onions as you like, and mix with some handfuls of chopped flat leaf parsley; sprinkle with salt, and then sprinkle LIBERALLY with sumac and mix them through; drizzle with lemon juice, and then drench with olive oil…

Note: sumac has a citrus flavour, so you can leave out the lemon juice and just use plenty of olive oil on its own if you wish.

Mix it all well and leave it aside for at least half an hour if you can before serving – I prefer to leave mine out of the fridge, I think the flavours are better.

In the meantime, toast khobez/Arabic bread or pita bread in a toaster or in the oven; once nice and toasty and crunchy, break the breads into pieces and leave to cool. I have bags of toasted Arabic bread in the freezer for such an occasion. If you really want to do it properly, fry the bread in broken pieces in oil or ghee, it tastes amazing! For me, I just toast it minus the oil. 

When you’re ready to serve the salad, give it all another good mix up, then add the bread. Mix some through the salad, and arrange some on the top…

The bread soaks up the juices and dressing and tastes so good!!! 

Of course, the salad is also lovely without the bread too – the choice is yours!