A salad of dreams…

…well, to me anyway!!! 

I’ve made this salad several times recently because it’s been so good! It’s eminently pimpable, and even better 2-3 days later, so a winner in my book.

When I think of the salads of the past, of a bit of limp lettuce, a few slices of tomatoes and a bit of cucumber, I can see why people might think salads are boring…but this is nowhere close to boring. Not to me anyway….red onion, tomato, chickpeas, sweet potato, spices, flavours….it’s all good 🙂

Having just thrown this together, I have guesstimated the quantities that I used, feel free to amend based on taste and discovery…

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 can/jar chickpeas, drained and washed 

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 tsp pul biber chilli flakes 

1 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder 

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped 

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional) 

Olive oil 

Method

Mix together the tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, tamarind, lemon juice and spices. Stir it well then leave it for the flavours to develop and the juice to emerge from the tomatoes. 

*I leave mine overnight in the fridge for use the following day, although, it is already tasty once you’ve made it, it will be even tastier after a few hours. 

A few hours later, or the next day, boil the sweet potato chunks until they’re nicely cooked but not disintegrating. Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Put the salad together by adding the sweet potato to the tomato and onion mix, add your coriander and parsley, if using, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve on its own as a meal, or with a meal, and be prepared to want to lick the plate! 

Note: if you find the mixture of tangy flavours too sharp, swap the pomegranate molasses for some a little bit of honey.

I’ve also made this with lots of extra coriander and parsley and minus the sweet potato and the flavours are still so good.

It would also be great with any kind of grains soaking up those lovely flavours…actually, now that I’m reminded of how good it is, I think I’ll make some more, right now….

I’m taking my salad of dreams to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted by the lovely Jhuls and Ai…check it out for a great collection of recipes…

Herbs and nuts ‘pesto’…

I had a green day this week; I basically had lots of lovely fresh herbs in my fridge and decided to use some of them in some pastes.

I made a coriander and walnut paste that I’ve made and shared before – I’d forgotten just how tasty it is! And I also threw together a kind of pesto idea at the same time..

This is made of lots of fresh parsley and not as much coriander, several handfuls of almonds and cashews, garlic, olive oil, a little lemon juice and some parmesan. You could easily use nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan to make it vegan if you wish. 

I was careful not to overblend this once I’d added the nuts to retain some crunch. 

It was so good, and, as ever, even better the next day once it had had time to develop the flavours. All you really need is a spoon to eat something like this, but I did force myself to add it to some meals instead. 

Including adding it to bulghur wheat with lots more fresh herbs, dried barberries and grilled aubergine slices one day..

…and similar again but with a pile of grilled courgettes instead the next day…

I did also eat some with some edamame bean spaghetti too, of which I don’t have a photo, and it worked well stirred through the warm ‘pasta’. 

I do love a concoction, especially a successful one!!! 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’m taking my green concoction to this week’s Fiesta Friday, being looked after this week by the lovely Jhuls and Monika, and for now I’ll leave you with a shot or two of the semolina sourdough loaf I have just baked…

Smoky aubergine & lentil dip, preserved roasted red onion relish, and everything in between…

This week I made this lovely dip from Hanady’s blog, it’s made with gorgeous soft aubergine flesh and lentils – the recipe calls for green lentils, i used brown ones and they worked great. 

With the leftover lentils, I mixed them with chopped fresh coriander & parsley, garlic and spring onions, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and left them to marinade for a few hours. This is what I served some of the dip with, above, and then threw over some dried barberries, below..

Which I ate with grilled slices of courgette…

Do check out Hanady’s recipe, it’s lovely, as is all of her blog

With the leftovers of the leftovers I made myself a little platter of the aubergine and lentil dip, the lentil and herb salad, and I blended some of the herb and lentil mix with some yoghurt and tahini to form a third concoction…

And then the rest of the herb and lentil salad got added to some more chopped herbs and spring onions and quinoa…

Which I ate with some of the preserved roasted red onion relish…

….which brings me onto Laura’s excellent recipe

I love roasted red onions, and I love the idea of any relish, but not all of the sugar that they usually require. Laura’s recipe includes no sugar at all! Hurrah!!!!! It’s just the onions, salt, and apple cider vinegar. 

I’ve now made a couple of batches of this, and I will probably continually remake it as my stocks diminish. I’ve added the onions to everything: salads, dips, grains, veg, my husband has added it to his homemade chicken burgers and thrown some over pizzas, it’s so fab to have a jar of in the fridge. 

This week’s onions are so purple, the colour is lovely, last week’s were more red..

The slight amendments I’ve made to Laura’s recipe is that I roast my onions in a tiny drizzle of olive oil, uncovered, and keep them moving during the roasting time; then I chop them quite finely. I also scrape out all of the sticky bits of roasted onion from the pan into the mixture. But otherwise, it’s all thanks to Laura for this one 🙂

This adds to the collection of jars of goodies that I have in my fridge, always jars and jars of homemade goodness…

A shot of all of the jars of my creations in my fridge last week – I do love having a fridge full of possibilities!!! 

I hope you’ve had a great weekend, and have a great weekend to come. I’m going to take Hanady’s and Laura’s inspirations over to this week’s Fiesta Friday and share my leftover creations with this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice collection…

Ciabatta, pretzel rolls & confit garlic…

In amongst recent creations in my kitchen this week, and in between lots more semolina sourdough, I have made my first (and second) ciabatta loaves, my first (and second!) pretzel rolls, and lots of confit garlic.

The second batches of ciabatta and pretzels were better than the firsts, but then the firsts were pretty good too, so I was happy. And the chief taster and bread eater in the house loved and at them all, so I must have got something right”

For the ciabatta, I followed this recipe and took very useful notes from Sally’s post

First batch 

I possibly rushed the first batch, because for the second batch I gave the biga more time to come up to room temperature (from the fridge), plus I made it all by hand. 

Very bubbly biga 


I followed Gingers recipe for the pretzel rolls. It includes dunking the uncooked dough into a bath of bicarbonate of soda, which was a first for me! That’s what creates the darker coloured chewy exterior.

The first time I made the buns (above), I placed the portioned and cut dough onto baking paper on a tray to refrigerate overnight (as per the recipe) but the buns stuck to the paper and remained very soft so I had to pull off what I could which meant that they lost their shape. The second time (below), I floured the dough well and floured the tray well and it worked perfectly. 

I think this is the perfect time to note, that flours behave differently around the world and country, some require more water than others. It’s something we have to feel our way with..


I’ve heard the term confit on so many cookery shows but never know what it means. Having seen confit garlic coming up recently, I decided to look it up. To confit historically was to preserve an ingredient by cooking it for a long period over/in a low heat in oil, grease of sugar water. This way food stuffs could be preserved for long periods. 

Wikipedia says: “The term is usually used in modern cuisine to mean long slow cooking in oil or fat at low temperatures, many having no element of preservation, such as dishes like confit potatoes.” It’s typically a method used to cook meat, but can be used for vegetables too. Therefore when I saw Sally produce confit garlic and chilli, I decided to give it a go.

I do love my garlic peeler, the roll of rubber in the photo; a close friend bought it for me a few years ago and it was the perfect gift!

I made my confit in the oven (the photo above shows the oil still bubbling – warning: it’s VERY HOT) . 

I submerged lots of peeled garlic cloves in enough olive oil to cover them and cooked at 140C for 45-60 minutes until they became soft and sticky, but not completely broken down. I then drained them immediately (if you leave them to cool in the oil, they sink into the oil and become completely sodden, which I didn’t like so much), let them cool then stored them in a jar, well the ones that I didn’t eat there and then…!

Once cooled I also stored the oil and used it on everything! 


The garlic is soft and tasty and can be used in dishes, or merely spread on a piece of toast, as I did here…


These were all fun to make and learn new processes, and I’ll make them all again! 

So, now it’s time for this week’s Fiesta Friday, and Angie very kindly featured my semolina sourdough in last week’s picks 😊

Semolina sourdough…

On Instagram I follow a lovely lady called Anita who bakes amazing bread and lots of sourdough which she shares as @sourdough_mania. Anita shares lots of recipes and tips and recently posted a semolina sourdough recipe which just tickled my fancy! So I made it, the loaf is in the photo above, and it was fab. The dough is lovely, beautifully smooth, wonderfully springy, and the baked outcome is really tasty. So I’m sharing my experience and recipe; I added some oil to Anita’s recipe to tighten up the crumb…

NOTE: this recipe is four days in the making, although not labour intensive during that time, and I do think it’s worth it. I tried making a shorter overnight version and the outcome wasn’t as good as the full four day version, although I will be experimenting with that further. All of the love and care does create a lovely, bouncy dough.

It is a VERY soft dough though and it does need to be cooked straight from the fridge. If you leave it out of the fridge for a while before cooking, my experience is that it will lose its form and spread as you bake it. 

Recipe 

Preparing your starter: 

Feed your starter. I know that if I feed Star with 1/4 cup of flour & 1/4 cup of water, she will yield the necessary 70g of bubbly starter. I increase this to 1/2 cups to generate the starter I need when I’m making 500g loafs. Once your starter is lovely and bubbly, begin..

Day one: mix together..

70g bubbly starter

70g ground semolina 

70g water

…and leave out overnight.

In a separate bowl mix together…

310g semolina flour

180g water 

1tbsp oil 

…and leave in fridge overnight.

Day two: remove the semolina/water/oil mixture from the fridge to soften up and make it easier to mix with the starter.

Your starter should be lovely and bubbly and alive now. Add 1tsp salt to it, then mix it into the semolina/water/oil mixture. You’ll need to get your hands in to mix it really well.

Keep it out of the fridge like this for 2-3 hours and during that time, perform a series of 5 stretches and folds on the dough. Then cover the bowl and return it to the fridge.

Day three: remove the bowl from the fridge and leave at room temperature and allow the dough to increase by about 60% (by eye). 

Then shape the dough. I stretch and fold the dough into a ball and place it into a floured banneton. 

Cover and put back into the fridge. 

Day four: Preheat oven to 275C.

Prepare your choice of bakeware – I bake mine in an enamel roaster on a round of parchment paper. Take the dough from the fridge and place directly into the roaster/on baking sheet, slash and put into the oven.

Reduce the oven to 245C (I use 220C fan), bake with the lid in the roaster for 25 mins, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 mins

Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool before slicing 

Since making this first loaf, I have made 3 more! For one of them I merely doubled everything and created a monster loaf (above)! It was a beauty though!! I’ve also calculated up the quantities to make a 500g (semolina) loaf which is my typical size, and it worked well too.

The quantities were: 

112g starter/semolina/water

500g semolina 

288g water 

1tbsp oil

1tsp salt 

Baked for 25 mins covered, 20 mins uncovered 

I highly recommend giving it a go! 

Wishing you all a great weekend, starting with this week’s Fiesta Friday with Lindy and Paula

x

It’s in the pan…

I like nothing better than a big pan full of lovely vegetables, the more the better! I often start with a base of red onions, garlic and red peppers, cooked in coconut oil and then I add whatever takes my fancy….and then I grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan.

Which is exactly what I did this evening…this began with my usual trio, chopped red onions, red peppers and garlic, all cooked in coconut oil, to which I added several spoonfuls of my harissa, lots of chopped parsley and spring onions, toasted mixed seeds…

 …and adorned with several dollops of harissa tahini sauce…

See what I mean? I do love a big pan full of vegetables. 

As you might have seen before, I often add eggs to the pan, and avocado and chopped chillies…

This was one my lunches last week. 

And this one was pimped with one of my many sauce concoctions and goats cheese..

These are the type of dishes I happily devour ona regular basis as I always have an excess of red onions, red peppers and garlic in my kitchen 🙂 

There’s been lots of new things being cooked up in my ‘office’ this week too, which will no doubt feature on the blog soon. (I am currently reading about The Victorian House and have discovered that the working rooms of the house, like the kitchen, pantry, and bathrooms, were called offices. So my kitchen is now officially my office!) 

Happy weekend! Now let’s pop over to Fiesta Friday with the lovely Jhuls (lover and maker of harissa tahini sauce), and Su, who are co hosting this week…

Shatta inspired meals…

It all began when I saw someone talking about ‘shatta’ sauce on Instagram; I, of course, immediately looked it up, and discovered that it’s a middle eastern chilli sauce. I had never heard of it before; I read various recipes and versions of it, then had a play at making a version. 

And boy it was hot! In fact I made two versions, one with red jalapeños (from a jar), and one with milder long red fresh chillies; the one with the jalapeños was the killer! So I added a few other ingredients to flesh it out and take down the rawness of the flavour. In fact I played with both versions and this is what I got…

This one is red jalapeño chillies, fresh parsley & coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, dried tomato flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, tomato puree, olive oil & lemon juice.

And this is chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, long red chillies, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, which I added to mashed white beans.

As the week has gone on, the flavours have developed nicely, and I’ve used both concoctions in various ways…

This was a salad of chopped parsley & coriander, bulgur wheat cooked in goats whey, chopped spring onions & chillies, and mixed roasted seeds, with the red jalapeño sauce stirred through it. And serviced with some of the sauce mixed with my red pepper ajvar sauce.

Let’s talk SERIOUS leftovers! This is bulghur wheat, cooked in the whey from making goats curd, and mixed with leftovers of 3 sauces: the red jalapeño sauce; a sauce made by mixing the red jalapeño sauce mixed with some of my red pepper ajvar sauce; and a roasted tomato and chilli ajvar sauce; all stirred together and left to develop lots of flavour. So good heated the next day.

And this was roasted butternut squash wedges filled with a mixture of leftovers of the mashed bean salad mixed together with leftover zaalouk.

So you can see how one idea can lead to so many outcomes, especially in my hands! I know I’ve said it before but I do love chucking stuff together 😉 

Happy Fiesta Friday everyone, and happy weekend x