Chimichurri inspired pea dip, chickpea & rice flour flatbreads, plus a ‘fiesta’ of dishes in my kitchen..happy Friday!

Its been a busy few weeks, I’ve done a huge amount of cooking for family, but with no time to take photos, it’s been all about getting the food served rather than photographed…I guess it’s only fair sometimes, to actually get on and serve the food, right?? There’s been some great food though, even if I say so myself!! 

But today I do have some shots of some creations from my kitchen in the last couple of days which I am bringing to this week’s Fiesta Friday weekly blog party; this week I am co hosting along with my lovely friend Jhuls..we invite you to join us and share ours, and your food with everyone..

Here’s my offerings for starters…

I’ve seen lots of bloggers talk about and make chimichurri sauce in the past but haven’t yet made it myself, so yesterday I decided it was time. Having seen Anjanas post this week, I used her recipe to make this fresh, green sauce. I won’t type out her recipe, you should visit her blog for that, but let me tell you that’s it’s packed with fresh flat leaf parsley and coriander, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. I like that I could control the amount of vinegar in the sauce, I sometimes find that vinegars spoil dishes for me, so with this I used apple cider vinegar and added it bit by bit and tested it for my tastes as I went along.  

 
I threw a concoction of ingredients in a pan yesterday, grated courgettes, cooked chickpeas, garlic and my rose harissa spice mix
 
I then threw in some quark and cooked it further before serving it warm with the chimichurri over the top. Nice :)  
 
I then had some remaining chimichurri so I decided to through in some cooked and cooled peas and some more of the quark and it created a really fresh, tasty dip.  
 
The flatbreads are loosely based on Indian ‘besan puda’, made with a mixture of besan (chickpea flour) and rice flour..I used..

3/4 cup besan flour

2-3 tbsp rice flour

1 clove garlic, grated

1cm ginger, grated

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 roasted garam masala 

1 tsp nigella seeds

1 chopped spring onion

1 tbsp olive oil 

Salt to taste

Water as necessary 

 
Put everything in a bowl and add enough water to bring it to a batter. I kept mine quite thick to make breads as opposed to pancakes, but you could thin it out to make something thinner. 
Heat a tawa or wide pan over a medium heat, spoon in half the minute and cook for several minutes on each side until it starts to brown. 
I ate mine with my dip above plus some of my harissa sauce

    
   
Really, you can add whatever spices and vegetables you like to these flatbreads, just have a play :)

Right, time for me to get over to Fiesta Friday and greet some guests..have a great weekend x

Cooking grains successfully every time..

 I regularly eat bowls of grains topped and mixed with various vegetables, seeds, cheeses and/or dips and sauces. Grains replace rice or pasta for me. These provide my lunches and dinners and even sometimes, my breakfast :) 

My favourite grain is quinoa, I like the flavour and it provides a source of protein in my vegetarian diet, but I also like to try different grains for their flavour and nutrients. 

In these dishes, I want my grains to be perfectly cooked, which is what this post is dedicated to…read on…

 I’ve talked about this before in my post about not cooking quinoa as it says on the pack – and I really really mean it: my experience has been that if you go by the packet instructions and cook quinoa in all that water for all that time it has only ever produced mushy, often bitter tasting, quinoa for me. 

I want perfectly cooked quinoa grains that are not stuck together and that have that slightly nutty flavour that they’re meant to and this method works for me every time…

Ingredients 

1 full cup of dried quinoa

1 full cup of cool water

NOTE: my ‘cup’ is a small mug, it doesn’t have to be a measuring cup; basically, it’s equal volumes of grains and water. Whatever you use to measure out the grains, use the same for the water. My mug full of grains makes enough cooked quinoa to last several meals. 

Method

Put the quinoa and water into a pan and heat on your hob/stove.

Bring the water to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer so that you keep the water bubbling.

Boil/simmer for 6 minutes ONLY.

(Don’t worry if it looks like it’s boiling dry, just give it a stir, it will be fine) 

After 6 minutes, turn the heat off and put a lid on the pan. The steam inside the pan will do the rest of the cooking.

Leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes then remove the lid and fork the quinoa to separate the grains.

Eat warm or place in a  bowl to allow to cool for cold recipes.

Keep it covered in the fridge for up to a week. 

And that’s it! 

It works every time for me with standard white quinoa. It has also worked with red quinoa, but I haven’t tried black quinoa, I think it tends to need further cooking. 

I’ve now gone on to experiment with other grains. With standard cooking instructions I found that buckwheat groats (above) are easy to overcook and turn to a sticky mush. With my method, it came out so much better; again, nice separate grains and a great favour.

Again: 1 cup of buckwheat groats + 1 cup of water and method as above.

And then to freekeh. 

Freekeh is a very young green wheat which has been eaten for centuries in the Middle East but is now finding fame in western countries. It’s a really tasty grain, but unlike the quinoa and buckwheat above, this is not a gluten free grain. For me, I find it is still gentle on my stomach though.

For freekeh, the ‘method’ still works it just benefits from a little bit more water:

1 full cup of uncooked freekeh

1 & 1/4 cup of cool water

Follow the method as above but leave the lid on for more like half an hour after simmering. 

Then fork up your freekeh and eat it in any way you fancy :) 

Enjoy! 

I have numerous examples of my bowls of grains on my Instagram feed if you’d like some ideas, as well as many and various ideas here on the blog. 

I will be continuing my experiments with rice and other grains very soon…x


My dukkah with a difference..

  
Dukkah is typically a mixture of roasted nuts, seeds and spices, all chopped to a tasty crunchy crumb mixture. It is very often mixed with olive oil and bread is dipped into it. It is documented as being Egyptian, and a version features in pretty much every Middle Eastern cookbook I own. There are often slight differences between the choices of nuts used, or the addition of roasted chickpeas, or not…like with all recipes, everyone creates their own version.

I’ve blogged about and made it before, and many times since in various guises, and I’ve been known to eat it unadulterated with a spoon from the jar, or thrown it over salads or vegetables, or included it in dips and marinades; it adds a crunch to all sorts of dishes, as well as great flavour.

I recently made it again with a twist..the addition of roasted hemp seeds for some extra flavour and goodness..
  

This dukkah is a mixture of..

Roasted chickpeas

Roasted hemp seeds

Roasted sesame seeds

Roasted hazelnuts

Roasted coriander seeds

Roasted cumin seeds 

 

Each of the ingredients need to be spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roasted in an oven at 180-200C. 

You need to watch them, as they all take different times to roast, and to ensure that they don’t burn or overcook as they will become bitter and ruin the mixture. 

Let them cool and them chop them all together to a crumb texture in a food blender. 

Then use at will!

  
Today mine became part of a salad with quinoa, grated carrot and courgette, lemon juice and olive oil. Big yum!!!! 

Better late than never..I’m taking this along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by lovely ladies, Sarah and Kaila, and hope that everyone will enjoy the freshness of this salad :) 

Roasted hemp seed dip..

 I’ve continued playing with hemp seeds recently…for starters, I’ve been roasting them – like everything, roasting them really enhances the flavour..

As they are such tiny seeds you do have to keep a close eye on them when you roast them, they can very quickly and easily get burnt. I just spread a thin layer on my biggest oven tray and put them in an oven at 200C (180C fan). I take the tray out every few minutes and agitate the seeds, pulling them away from the edges where they get cooked the most first and giving them all a move around. I take them out of the oven for good once they have become a golden brown then leave them to cool before storing in glass jars. 

Once again I tried out a new dip with the roasted seeds as well as saving some to throw over salads and vegetable dishes. 

So this is made of..

100g Roasted hemp seeds, 

2 tbsp lemon juice, 

water as needed, 

1 tsp roasted cumin, 

1 tsp ground coriander, 

2 cloves garlic, 

salt & pepper to taste,

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped. 

All whizzed up in your blender. 

  
I enjoyed some of this dip with my recent mezze lunch and Selma’s cauliflower and za’atar cakes..tasty, healthy and full of goodness!! 

 
I hope you’re having a good week ;)

Spiced spinach, buckwheat & cheese baked flatbreads/pancakes/pizza bases…

Welcome to Friday!!! Or…depending where you are, I hope you’ve had a good Friday and a good week? Let me share with you a recent creation from my kitchen..colour, goodness and flavour all in one go..

Basically, these concoctions could be used for so many things, hence the title…what they truly are, are tasty, healthy rounds of goodness that you could eat on their own or as a base for something else..

It all began with some leftover cooked buckwheat groats, a bag of spinach and some cheese…
Ingredients 

250g baby spinach

1 cup (when uncooked) buckwheat, cooked

80g mature cheddar 

Harissa spice mix – I just threw it in but probably around 2 heaped tablespoons would do – and if you don’t have this spice mix, throw in any spices that you like 

Method

Blend it all together in a food processor then place in a bowl to use immediately or refrigerate for later

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 

Press several spoonfuls of the mixture onto silicone paper sprayed with olive oil until about 2mm thick

Bake for 15-25 mins until you start to see the edges dry out

  
  Above shows before cooking..

Below shows after cooking..
  They should happily slide off the paper or you should be able to turn out onto a plate in one piece 

I spread various dips and sauces over mine and ate them like pizzas..

But they would be good with just melted cheese, or a tomato sauce and cheese, or so many other things, or just eaten on their own..

  

  
I was so pleased with these and I had made enough of the ‘dough’ to enjoy them for a few days :) sometimes, leftovers make the best meals!! Plus, the flavours developed further over a few days so maybe these are best made ahead anyway? 

I am bringing these babies to this week’s Fiesta Friday, I missed last week’s, so look forward to seeing everyone this week :) 

My Indian feast with spiced bread rolls..

   
 
This was my Saturday night dinner, an amalgamation of tried and trested recipes plus some experimentation. I spent the whole afternoon cooking these dishes plus some meat dishes for my family…and then the whole dinner was eaten in about 20 minutes!!! That tells me it was a success :) 
   
Aubergine Madras

Note: this is lovely when first cooked, and even better if made then eaten later in the day, or even the next day, as the flavours have even more time to develop. 

Ingredients

10 baby aubergines, cut into 1.5cm slices or 2 medium aubergines chopped into chunks 

3 small green chillies (optional)*

5 tbsp oil

3 cloves

2 cardamom pods

2 large onions, finely chopped

2.5cm piece root ginger, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes, pureed

handful coriander leaves

1 tsp garam masala

  
Method 

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan, add the cloves and cardamom and wait till they sizzle.

Add the onions and fry until dark brown.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Next add the red chilli powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt and stir frequently.

Finally add the nutmeg and tomatoes.

Take off the heat and blend with a stick blender still in the pan (do this carefully otherwise your whole kitchen will get splattered!). Keep to one side. 

*I add the chillies now so that I have the option to remove them. If you like a spicier curry, add them with the garlic and ginger and then they will be blended into the sauce.

Chop the aubergines (or whatever vegetable you prefer) and cook in another pan until soft then stir them into the sauce.

Simmer, covered, all together for 15-20 mins. 

Finish with garam masala & chopped coriander to serve.
   
 I made the onion bhajia using Naina’s recipe, however, I shallow fried them in vegetable oil as I do not have a pan like Naina’s, yet!  Great flavours :)

   
 Bread 

I literally threw this bread together, trying to make a note of what I was doing as I went along. I split the dough in half and cooked half as bread rolls and half as flatbreads under a grill, and both worked well. The flatbreads came out with a crunch and the rolls were nice and soft and kept for the next few days. 

Ingredients 

500g flour – I used a mix of atta flour and plain flour (you may need more if the dough feels too wet) 

15g fresh yeast

300ml warm water

2 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt 

1tsp salt

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp ground coriander

1tsp turmeric

1tbsp nigella seeds

  
Method

Add the yeast to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Keep to one side.

In a large bowl, add the salt, then all of the flour over the top of the salt. 

Add in all of the spices, seeds, yoghurt and olive oil and loosely stir all together.

Pour in the yeast water then get your hands in and mix it all until it comes together as a dough.

Turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 5-10 mins until the dough is smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a plastic bag and leave to prove for an hour. 

After the hour, the dough should be well risen. Punch it down then turn out onto the counter again.

Split into 8 portions and either roll out to make flatbreads and/or shape into balls for rolls. 

Place the portions onto a lined baking sheet, with space in between for expansion as they cook, and cover with oiled cling film and leave to raise again for half an hour.

Bake the rolls in an oven at 200C for 12-18 mins, or, grill the flatbreads under a medium heat grill until the surface browns then turn the bread over and grill the other side. Keep an eye on them as they can brown very suddenly, very quickly.  

   
Before grilling, you can press your fingers into the surface of the flatbreads like I did if you fancy, or leave them as they are. 

I also made some roasted potatoes as a side dish. 

Serve it all together whilst it’s hot.

  
The following day, I had the leftover aubergine madras with some soft goats cheese and a couple of the bread rolls for lunch..nice! 

   
 I am taking my Indian feast to Whitney’s new Monthly Masala Link Party – why not join in or check out everyone’s recipes :) 

Liquid gold: roasted pine nut butter..

 As my brain twists and turns through the day, I am forever pondering new food ideas; I look in my actual kitchen cupboards and I look in the virtual kitchen cupboards inside my head and ponder new concoctions, and ways to push recipes and ingredients and classical food ideas; I have great fun in this world inside my head and even greater fun when I then try things out for real; not everything works out as you expect, which usually that just leads to a different outcome, nothing is ever a failure. 

And some things work wonderfully first time. This was one of them.. 

Making your own nut butters is so simple, if you have the time, inclination and machinery. Since Mum presented me with a Nutribullet last year, making nut butters has become a breeze, it does such a good and fast job. You can make cashew butter in seconds! Some harder nuts take a bit more time and some patience, but in the end they ‘give’ and it’s always worth it. 

After playing around with hemp seeds so much recently, I turned my attention to pine nuts. I prefer everything roasted so I had already roasted my pine nuts before throwing them in the Nutribullet with its ‘milling’ blade tool and whizzed it up to see what happens..

Yes. Liquid Gold. And not just because pine nuts can be expensive ;) 

They make a lovely rich butter, truly heavenly. Just grab a spoon and dig in and I challenge you not to sigh with joy..bliss on a spoon…