Harissa spring greens & butternut squash..

 Having made and thoroughly enjoyed Whitneys saag recipe recently, I bought more spring greens, kale and spinach at the market last week to make it again, then decided to play around with them..hence my previous post’s kale recipe, and today’s greens recipe… 

 Harissa greens

Ingredients 

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bag spring greens, washed and dried, stems removed and leaves cut into strips

200ml harissa sauce – I made this using Kellie’s rose Harrissa recipe again then I added and blended in a great pile of baby plum tomatoes that I’d roasted with garlic, olive oil and salt and therefore taking the harissa from a paste to more of a sauce 

Alternatively…add your own harissa, homemade or purchased, and add some passata or sunblushed tomatoes for the extra liquid and flavour 

Oil of your choice, I used olive oil

Water as needed 

Method

Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and cook the onions for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the greens and start to cook them down. 

Stir the harissa sauce, or harissa & passata, through the greens.

Put a lid over the pan to aid the cooking of the greens. This is where you may need to add some water if things look dry, plus it will also assist when blending the mixture.

Once the greens are cooked and soft, remove the pan from the heat and blend with a stick blender (making sure to protect everything else in your kitchen from getting covered in splats! Yes…I made a mess!!)

Return to the heat and warm through ready for serving. 

I ate this with the other half of Sunday’s butternut squash, cubed and roasted, plus spoonfuls of my ‘creamy chermoula‘. 

    

See you tomorrow for this week’s ‘What would you feed me?’ guest post…x

Butternut squash, kale and ‘creamy chermoula’..

Last nights dinner was borne out of experimentation and it worked beautifully. I knew what flavours I wanted to create and so it evolved in the pan to great success..here’s what I did…

Ingredients

1 red onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 very small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks

1 bunch kale, stripped from spines and roughly chopped

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp roasted cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften.

Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add chunks of butternut squash and cook on over medium/low heat until it’s starts to brown and cook through.

This could take a little while depending how big you chunks of squash are. Add extra oil if necessary.

Once the squash has virtually cooked through, add the spices and salt and pepper and stir through.

Add the kale and stir well and cook until the kale is cooked/wilted to your liking.

Top with sauce below to serve. 

A creamy kind of chermoula

Ingredients

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 large bunch coriander, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp ground roasted cumin

Juice of 1 lemon

150ml olive oil

200ml natural yoghurt of your choice

Method

Whizz it up all together in blender. Store in refrigerator.

Boy it was good!!!!!

Wholemeal spelt & roasted cumin flatbreads and my daily loaf..

 It’s not news to you that I make fresh bread daily for my boys; for a year or so, that was the job of my breadmaker, producing perfect loaves each day. Since taking up the sourdough challenge and loving making my own loaves by hand, I’ve now started making all of my household’s bread myself each day and the breadmaker is now collecting dust. 

I use fresh yeast each day for my bread and I much prefer it to dried yeast, it’s so easy to work with. You can ask at any supermarket with an in house bakery for fresh yeast in the UK and they give it out for free, alternatively, I bought a big brick of it last week on eBay. I kept some out for immediate use and have portioned up the rest and put it in the freezer, as fresh yeast only lasts a week or so in the fridge. I defrost a portion daily, it defrosts very quickly; it may soften as it defrosts but it’s still in good working order.  
For daily use, I follow this pretty standard bread recipe which turns out a perfect loaf each time. I make this each afternoon ready for the next day; the rising time is only an hour. Should you wish to develop the flavour for longer, you could always reduce the amount of yeast and leave the dough to rise for longer. In this house, this typical, straightforward loaf is ideal for my boys and their less discerning palettes. You can play around with flours and additions. 
I use an organic strong white flour that hasn’t been bleached or played with in any way. I’ve also used the same recipe with brown flour and spelt flour (more about that later). 
This is my basic daily bread recipe:

Ingredients 

500g strong white flour

1 tsp salt

300ml warm water

15g fresh yeast

1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, then top with the flour. 

Melt the yeast in the warm water, pour it into the bowl with the flour, add the olive oil, and mix it all together by hand.

Turn it onto a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until silky and smooth.

I then put the dough into a greased loaf pan and leave it to rise with a plastic bag over the top, not touching the dough.

Heat oven to 210C (fan) and bake for 15 mins; turn oven down to 180C fan and bake for a further 15 mins. 

Remove and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool.

Done :)  

I also often use plain or wholemeal spelt flour. Spelt flour acts quite differently; it doesn’t need to be kneaded for long, it’s happier not being handled so much; its roses quickly, half an hour will do; and it baked beautifully, with a gorgeous nutty smell. It will bake with a crunchy crust which looks and smells amazing! My boys are getting to appreciate these loaves too.  

 This week I also made my first ‘khobez’ or Arabic bread (khobez means bread in arabic). I loved this bread as a teenager living in Dubai; it comes in various sizes in Middle Eastern supermarkets, from huge thin platter-sized rounds, to smaller, thicker breads, which is what I made. We used to cut these open and fill them with onion and cheese and cook them on a barbecue on the beach at the weekend..yum!!! 

I used a recipe from ‘Palestine on a Plate‘, the writer of which, Joudie Kalla. is featured in this months Delicious. magazine. Joudie has created a downloadable app with recipes and other stuff which I purchased last week and am loving.  

Following on from making the khobez and from a comment from Linda about adding cumin to bread, I, of course, decided to play around with the breads and came up with these… 

Wholemeal spelt & roasted cumin flatbreads:

Ingredients 

200g flour (I used wholemeal spelt flour, you could use any flour of your choice)

120ml warm water

7g fresh yeast

25ml olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp nigella seeds

Method 

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, then top with the flour. 

Melt the yeast in the warm water, pour it into the bowl with the flour, add the olive oil, roasted cumin and nigella seeds and mix it all together by hand.

Turn it onto a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until silky and smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl and leave covered to rise to an hour. 

Once risen, knock the dough back and cut into 5-6 pieces. 

Form balls with the dough and roll out flat, not too thin or too thick. 

Heat a tawa or non stick pan over a medium heat and cook the breads in the pan for about 4-5 minutes each side, checking they don’t get burnt. 

Alternatively, you could try baking in a hot oven for a few minutes.

Eat immediately or store for a few days in an airtight container. These were almost better the next day once the flavour had developed further. I throughly enjoyed them with some of my green goodness sauce as a dip.  
I’m bringing my bread recipes to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Loretta and Caroline – come and join the fun :) 

More of my daily dishes of health and colour..

 As always, my recent lunches have been full of colour and health and flavour…so here’s a few tasters to inspire and tickle the tastebuds…

Last week I roasted a tray of cumin seeds to create my own roasted ground cumin, the smell was amazing! OMG! Just gorgeous! I keep smelling the jar of the ground roasted seeds it smells so good :) I immediately threw some over some chopped tomatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower, along with some salt and olive oil, and roasted it all.. 

So tasty! 
Whilst cooking an Indian feast at the weekend, I followed a typical chicken madras recipe, but replaced the chicken with mushrooms and peas to create my own vegetarian dish.. 

 ..the leftovers of which made a great lunch the following day. 

I cooked up some quinoa yesterday – using my cooking method – and loaded it with my harissa sauce, this is harissa made as per my previous posts but made with the addition of lots of my own oven roasted baby plum tomatoes and garlic to create more of a sauce.  

This was topped with my ‘holy grail’ homous, dried barberries and raw cashew nuts. 
And today, after reading Julie’s post including braised lettuce, I decided it was time to give this one a try; I’ve seen several posts utilising lettuce this way and when I found a pack of mini lettuce gems in the reduced section of my local supermarket today, I felt fate had stepped in.  

I cut off the ends of the lettuce hearts and cut each one in half length wise; I melted coconut oil in a pan and laid the lettuce cut side down and cooked them for a few minutes until they started to brown, then turned them over to cook through some more. I served them in the pan with grated Red Leicester style goats cheese, my homemade Mexican chilli ketchup and sprinkled with aleppo chilli flakes.   

 It was almost like a pizza on a lettuce base! And very tasty, if I say so myself!! ;) 

I hope your week has started well xx

Keeping it green: cauliflower falafels & ‘spinach falafel homous’…

 Following on from making oven baked falafels this week, I, of course, then had a play with the recipe and ingredients. When I made the falafels during the week, I loved the flavours, the uncooked mixture was lovely even before it was cooked.I decided to try out the recipe again replacing the chickpeas with finely chopped cauliflower and some chickpea flour instead of standard plain flour and gluten free baking powder making the patties gluten free and low carb as something different…

So, taking Sadia’s falafels recipe, this is what I did.. 

Ingredients 

1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped into florets 

1/2 of a large onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves 

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder 

1/2 tsp pepper powder 

1/2 tsp red chilly powder/ cayenne 

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder

3 tbsp besam/chickpea flour 

Method

I chopped the cauliflower to a small crumb in my blender first, then added everything else and blended it all together. I put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours to firm up a bit, it remained pretty sloppy though.

To cook the ‘falafels’ I heated a pan over a low/medium heat and sprayed a fine mist of oil across the base of the pan. 

With my hands, I formed balls of the mixture then placed them into the pan and flattened them. I cooked them until the underside started to brown then carefully turned them over to cook the other side. Keeping the heat low allowed the patties to cook through and firm up the mixture.

As above, I ate the first ones with my own harissa sauce (homemade rose harissa with extra tomato) and crumbled soft goats cheese. I finished the mixture off the next day with grated hard goats cheese.. 

  Keeping the flavours of the mixture in mind, I decided to make some more falafels and then to utilise the flavours in a dip.  Since making the first lot of falafels I had received a parcel of ingredients that I’d ordered including this falafel making tool.. 

  Isn’t it cool? And it looks like it’s made of recycled tin cans so there’s arabic print in the inside of the cup :) 

So this is how it works.. 

 

You fill the cup with the mixture, press it firmly into the cup then use the lever to push out the moulded falafel onto a sheet of oiled foil, lining a baking tray, ready to cook. Perfect little oven baked falafels..

Whilst making these, I made the dip: ‘spinach falafel dip’

Ingredients 

200g cooked chickpeas

200g baby spinach 

100g tahini 

1/2 of a large onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

2-3 tbsp lemon juice, to your taste 

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder 

1/2 tsp red chilly powder/ cayenne 

1 1/2 tsp salt

Water as needed

Method 

Whizz it all up together until smooth, you will have to add the spinach in batches. 

So this was my lunch today: falafels, crisp lettuce, carrot sticks, my spinach dip, my homous and my harissa.  

     

Do you mind if I just say, again….I love my own food!!!! Belatedly, I am bringing this to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted today by the fabulous Michelle and Juju, and hope that everyone fancies trying my concoctions. 

I hope you’ve all had, or are having, a great weekend x x x  

     

What would you feed me…Ginger? 

  
This week we are joined by a superstar blogger (and soon to be superstar TV cook – read about it on her blog!), the lovely Ginger from Ginger and Bread. Ginger’s is a fabulous blog, full of wonderful recipes and photographs, but also full of stories, culture and history, I’ve already learnt so much from her blog. Although we come from pretty much opposite ends of the culinary scale, Ginger responded immediately, and positively, when I invited her to do a guest post for me…..so….

Ginger, what would you feed me? 

Elaine and I are not just on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to food, I am convinced we’re on different spektra altogether. I absolutely adore her posts, the way her dishes are put together and presented makes me completely forget that they don’t contain any of the foods I consider necessary for my survival. When Elaine looks at my food, she probably needs protective eyewear. Needless to say, when she invited me to cook for her, I was both excited and terrified. 

Those who knows my blog knows that Germans survive on a balanced mix of sausages, bread and beer. Any surplus dietary requirements are covered by cake and, occasionally, sauerkraut. Incidentally, I had been dying to make a particular Ligurian dish, pansotti with walnut sauce, for ages, especially as our garden at this time of the year gets overtaken by borage. 

 This beautiful plant with its distinctive blue flowers is not only an attraction for bees, it is also used in many Italian and German dishes. We use the young leaves and even the flowers in salads or for sauces; it tastes a little like cucumber and adds a fresh note to your dishes. Traditionally, this pasta is filled with a combination of several wild herbs, but a mix of spinach and chard works brilliantly. If only I had sown my chard a little earlier, though … 

 Liguria is the home of pesto, which we know as a mix of parmesan, pine nuts and basil. Unsurprisingly, they have hundreds of variations of it, and the mix of walnuts, ricotta, cheese and marjoram sounded just too promising! Walnuts are a right superfood, too, and any recipe that makes use of them is definitely a start in the right direction. That only left me with the issue of pasta …

Armed with a recipe for gluten-free pasta by Jamie Oliver [http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/gluten-free-pasta-dough/], I made my way into the ‘free from’ section at our local supermarket. Not for the first time, I hasten to add. I once accidentally bought a bar of gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and, potentially, chocolate free chocolate from there.

Using rice flour and xantham gum, as well as almost double the amount of eggs as for regular pasta, the finished product was much better than I had anticipated, namely with the consistency and taste of, well, pasta.

The lack of gluten means that the dough is a little more challenging to process: you’ll have to roll it out quite thin before using your pasta maker, otherwise it will break. It is less elastic, which makes it harder to close the parcels around the filling. I used some beaten egg to seal them, just to be on the safe side. Any offcuts are best kept aside and cut into thin strips for further use as tagliatelle or similar rather than trying to knead them and roll them out again. Simply leave them to dry on a kitchen towel dusted with rice flour and use them at another time. 

 The finished dish was absolutely wonderful – the fresh borage really compliments the spinach, and the creamy consistency of the walnut pesto really made it stand out for us. If you are using gluten free pasta, you need to season the filling slightly more generously than for wheat pasta, I think, but otherwise I would certainly recommend going through the effort of making your own pasta! 

Even when working under Elaine’s strict guidelines, there is no way I would miss out on dessert. Funnily enough, this one was a no-brainer, and a traditional German one at that, too! ‘Rote Grütze’, a specialty of Hamburg, translates as ‘red porridge’ and is best described as a berry compote, usually served with a dollop of cream. It doesn’t contain much more than berries and corn flour, and the sweetness can be adjusted using grape juice. Instead of cream I used quark, which complements the slight tartness of the berries perfectly. 

I just hope Elaine will like the finished result as my as we did – even the kids finished their plates without any complaints, which must have been a first!

Pansotti di Borragine (serves 4)

 For the gluten-free pasta:

 180 g gluten-free rice flour, plus extra for dusting

50 g potato starch

1 tablespoon corn flour

2 tablespoons xanthan gum

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

4 medium eggs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the filling:

300g of spinach, borage leaves and swiss chard

150g ricotta

100g grated parmesan

2 eggs

1 tsp marjoram

salt, pepper, to taste

 1 egg, beaten, to seal the pansotti.

 Jamie suggests ‘blitzing’ the ingredients for the dough in a blender, and I can only agree with him as it helps you to mix the dryish ingredients thoroughly before even attempting to knead them into a dough. Start with a little less of the rice flour and add more, if necessary. Once the dough comes together, cover it with cling film to prevent it from drying out and leave it to rest for about half an hour.

In the meantime, wash the vegetables. I used around 300g altogether, how you mix it is really up to you. I wouldn’t use borage on its own, but 1/4 to 3/4 spinach worked a treat. 

Steam the leaves over boiling water for a few minutes, drain them carefully and chop them finely. Mix them with the remaining ingredients. 

 Cut the dough into 4 portions and roll out one on a lightly dusted surface. If you are using a pasta maker, keep rolling it out until the second last setting – I couldn’t get the gluten-free dough any thinner than that. Although it stretches quite well in terms of its length, it won’t expand sidewise, so bearr that in mind when you are rolling it out.

 Cut the rolled-out dough into 5 cm/3 in squares and fill them with a small teaspoon of filling each. Close the pansoti by folding them into a triangle, using a little of the beaten egg to seal them.

 Let the finished pansotti rest for around 30 minutes on a floured tea towel or similar. Then boil them for about 10 minutes in salted water: once they come up they are ready to serve!

Salsa di Noci – Ligurian Walnut Sauce (serves 4)

1 cup walnuts

1 clove garlic, peeled

100g ricotta cheese

60g grated parmesan

2 tbs marjoram

100ml extra virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

As for pesto alla Genovese, simply put all the ingredients bar the olive oil into a blender and mix them until they are all roughly chopped. Add the olive oil in steps until you have a smooth paste. Adjust the seasoning depending on the saltiness of your parmesan! 

 

Hamburger Rote Grütze – Sugar-free Red Berry Compote (serves 4-6) 

250g mixed berries, frozen or fresh (red currants, black currants, blueberries, raspberries and brambles

200g cherries, ideally without the stones …

1 – 1 ½ cup grape juice

3 tbs corn flour

100g quark

Bring the berries to boil over a medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the corn flour with the grape juice until fully dissolved. Once the berries are bubbling, add the cherries, and finally the corn flour mix. Adjust the sweetness of the compote by adding more grape juice, if necessary. You want to achieve the consistency of a thick soup, or single cream.

Serve cold, with a generous dollop of quark. 

It’s a great way to make the most of seasonal produce, some of which is growing on our very doorstep. I hope Elaine enjoys this summer feast as much as we did!

Ginger, I am so honoured by your beautiful dish and all of the hard work you obviously put into this post. Thank you so very much for taking part and for feeding me such an amazing meal xxx

It’s all about you: fellow bloggers’ recipes I’ve been making recently…

 I’ve cooked a lot of new dishes recently, as well as lots of my own and old favourites, so I thought I’d do a roll call of some of your recipes as a kind of thank you for the inspiration :)

I don’t have photos for most of them as the food has been eaten too quickly but I do have some, and I can tell you about the recipes and hope you might find them interesting enough to pop over and check them out yourself… 
  I made these ‘lavash’ flatbreads yesterday, from a new blog to me, to accompany a mezze dinner with my boys, they were really good. The recipe calls for seed oil so I used some of the pumpkin seed oil that I bought the first time I met Selma; my son didn’t know this, and suddenly whilst eating the bread he commented that it tasted nutty! I was stunned! He’s really getting a good palette :)   
They ate the breads with my shish taouk, cauliflower nirvana and a range of dips and roasted vegetables – great big yum! 

This evening, I made them Angie’s chicken kebabs, some ‘man salad’ (cooked and cooled pasta, grated carrot, grated cheese, chopped lettuce and my homemade mayo) dips and these gorgeous falafels.. 

  These are an amalgamation of two recipes that I read recently, one from Ronit and one from Sadia. I mainly followed Sadia’s recipe, although I added spinach as I didn’t have any coriander and parsley, but I utilised both of their tips, and oven baked them as per Ronits recipe. And they were SO GOOD!!!!! I served a selection of dips and sauces again, and more of my own green goodness sauce with grated carrot…a dinner full of serious flavour!  

Last Sunday I went down an Indian route and followed Sadia’s do pyaza recipe, using chicken for my men, plus several of Whitneys recipes from Whitbits Kitchen: spinach, kale & spring greens saag, mushroom masala, chapatis and the samosa burger recipe minus the breadcrumbs to make a potato and pea side dish. What a feast!!! Such great flavours from great recipes :) 
During the week I thoroughly enjoyed this fava bean salad from another new blog..

 And I made Tabithas homemade ketchup and added my own chipotle en abode sauce to create a mexican inspired ketchup for myself. 

All of these have been made in amongst my daily loaves of homemade bread and my endless other dishes and meals, and people ask me what I do all day….!!!!! Hmmmm…..

I’ve loved trying out some new reicpes and being inspired by my fellow bloggers – thank you all xx

Here’s some shots from my walk today and I’ll see you on Wednesday with a cracking guest post from another fabulous fellow blogger..