Let’s talk bowls…and plates…and a couple of salads…

Bowls and bowls and more bowls…I love bowls…I eat every meal out of a bowl, and thanks to the lovely Gill from Sytch Farm Studios, I now have endless beautiful bowls to choose from :) 

If I use a plate, it tends to be a small one, like this gorgeous specimen..

As you can see, I am very much in love with my newest crockery, but that isn’t the only aim of this post…I also wanted to share some of the bowls of fabulousness that I’ve been producing recently…like these salads…

Above, this is a mix of quinoa, roasted aubergine flesh, and tomatoes with lots of my freshly made chermoula…

This was the salad before the addition of the quinoa…it was very tasty, even more so the next day! 

And then came this store cupboard/fridge clearance salad…

This is packed with goodness: quinoa, bulgur wheat, peas, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried barberries, chopped parsley and toasted slivered almonds, with a dressing of pomegranate molasses, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, and all sprinkled with za’atar…

(See the plate?) 

The next day I used up the leftovers and boosted them with grated carrot, lettuce and a nut crumb..

Bowls and bowls of loveliness…and always even tastier enjoyed with a huge dollop of homous stirred through them…:) 

There has been more, lots more happening in my kitchen recently, but I’ll save them for next time and hope that the salads above have provided some inspiration…for now I’ll leave you with more plate fabulousness…

This beautiful hand painted plate was a gift from the lovely Linda for my birthday, along with the olive wood board underneath it, and both are absolutely gorgeous, I’m a very lucky girl :) 

Happy May everyone x

My breakfast chai spice mix…

I realised recently that I don’t ever eat a meal that doesn’t have spices in it; whether it’s a full of cacophony of spices, or merely a sprinkle of roasted cumin or sumac, spices are a big part of my world. And it’s not just in my food, I start each day with turmeric capsules and a cayenne pepper capsule…I think if you cooked me I’d be pretty tasty!!! 

Let’s move on from that horrible idea…to my breakfast…

I cannot bring you a picturesque shot of my breakfast because I am far too happily eating it in the mornings to spend time pimping and preening the bowl for a perfect photo; I did consider making two lots one morning just to have one to make pretty, but who needs all that? This is a bowl for eating, not looks. 

This is my chai spiced banana porridge. And I love it!!! 

I eat this every morning, because I love it so much, it’s full of goodness, and if I even think about having something else, I already start missing my lovely porridge. I will tell you how I make it, but what I really want to share is my spice mix…

Which also isn’t pretty to look at really, but the taste and smell is beautiful! 

I was recently sent some chai spices and tea to try from my lovely friends at Spice Kitchen UK and this is what inspired my breakfast spices. I made the tea and spice infused milky drink as directed, but I was far more interested in trying the chai spices minus the tea…so I put some in my porridge. 

It worked really well except for the fact that the spice mix was created for making tea and being strained and therefore, the spices don’t need to be finely ground, consequently, I was biting into peppercorns and cardamoms which wasn’t so good, but the overall effect was fab. So I decided to make my own version..

Chai spice is made up of the spices that you would associate with Christmas: the beautiful cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger take you right into December. Add in the cardamom and black pepper and it becomes the wonderful chai creation of India. For my breakfast mix, I left out the pepper and increased the proportion of cinnamon, but you could of course amend it to your tastes..

Based on ground spices I mix:

4 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp ginger

1 tbsp cardamom

1 tbsp cloves

1/2 tbsp nutmeg

Mix together well and store in an airtight jar. 

To make my breakfast, I soak my oats overnight in water with a huge heaped teaspoonful of the spice mix, then add mashed banana in the morning before heating it all. And then I take time to eat it and savour it and love it…and then I start looking forward to the next morning when I can eat it all again! 

The aroma on its own is enough to make you smile! 

I’m sure this spice mix would work perfectly in cakes and muffins and drinks, it makes me remember Selma’s wonderful award winning chai spiced banana bread :) 

I hope you’re having a great start to the week xx

Aloo gobi matar (potato, cauliflower & peas): the meal, the dish, the leftovers, and more vegetable stuffed parathas (flatbreads)…

 At the weekend, one of the dinners I prepared was an Indian feast, which included marinated chicken kebabs for my boys, this kala chana (brown chickpea) curry, which was a masala sauce I had created myself and added the chickpeas to..

…a rajma (red kidney bean) curry…inspired by this recipe from Mallika Basu

 …pimped baked beans for my boy (I drained off as much of the liquid as possible then added my own puréed masala sauce and cooked them in that, which turned out to be a great success!)…
  …and, this…

…aloo gobi matar, which is potatoes, cauliflower and peas, cooked with red onions and spices. I followed Aruna’s recipe for aloo gobi and added the peas to that. 

And of course, there were naan breads:)

It was a very tasty dinner and the aloo gobi matar, with the lovely sweetness of the peas, was a great addition. And of course, maybe the best bit, there was lots of lovely leftovers…I’ve still got a big dish of the rajma curry in the fridge today! 

I finished off half of the potato, cauliflower and peas for lunch yesterday with added quinoa and homous… 

…and the other half I stuffed into flatbreads and successfully tempted my son with them:) He didn’t eat the vegetables as they were in the original dish, but he happily ate them stuffed into bread! 

I followed the recipe I used in my previous post, replacing the broccoli with some of the mashed aloo gobi matar… 

    
  And again, grilled some cheese on the leftover breads! Why not? It worked so well previously, why not do it again…and again?! 

I do like this way of using up leftovers but also of getting more vegetables into my darling child. He will literally eat any of the breads in make, stuffed with whatever vegetables – success! And they’re fun to make, especially if little hands want to join in :) 

Spiced broccoli stuffed parathas..

 Following on from my previous post, I continued to play with some more broccoli last week, and made these spiced broccoli stuffed breads..they were a huge success, and another great way to get my son to eat vegetables he other would not! 

Before I go any further, can I just make a note here: 

My esteemed Indian food blogging friends make a much better job of putting these breads together than I did, but it worked, so I’m not complaining, they’re just not as pretty as many of yours are! This is what I did as a result of reading your many wonderful recipes.. 

Check out Sonals blog for lots more stuffed flatbread recipes including tutorials on how to make them. 

But before you do that…here’s mine..

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat/atta flour 

2 tsp oil (I used rapeseed)

Pinch of salt

Warm water as needed

For the filling:

1 tbsp oil of your choice, I used coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup broccoli, chopped into florets

1/2 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala or Kitchen King masala (I used the one I made recently)  

 Method 

Boil or steam the broccoli florets as you would normally, without letting them get too soft, then leave them to drain well. I used the tops of the ‘trees’ as much as possible

Once cooled, blend or chop roughly 

Heat the oil in a pan then add the cumin seeds, and when they start to sizzle, as the broccoli and all of the ground spices and cook for a few minutes

Leave this to cool whilst making the dough..

Mix together the flour, oil and salt, and add enough water to bring together a dough. It should be soft and not sticky, knead it for a few minutes, then place it in a covered bowl for 15-20 minutes

To put the breads together, I split the dough into 6 portions, and on a floured surface, rolled them into a ball and rolled them out into as much a round as I could

I then placed a heaped tablespoon of the broccoli mixture in the middle of the dough and brought the dough together around it like a parcel, then rolled the breads out again. 

(I could probably have done with chopping the broccoli mixture up finer as it broke through the dough in lots of places) 

I floured them and placed them on a plate ready to cook

I heated my tawa, you can use a wide flat frying pan, to a medium heat, then placed the bread into the pan.

Once the surface started to bubble, I daubed the top of the bread with rapeseed oil using a pastry brush, then turned it over to cook the other side. I then daubed the new side with some more oil, and once both sides had some healthy brown spots on, I placed them on a kitchen towel and wrapped them up in a tea towel whilst I cooked the rest of the rounds and until we were ready to eat 

  See what I mean..they’re not very round and not very even, but they tasted good! 

I enjoyed these with a special friend that I made lunch for on Friday, along with with a collection of dips that I’d made, plus the leftover salad and broccoli crumb from my previous post. 

 Red pepper and sriracha homous, mutabal with Aleppo chilli flakes, roasted broccoli & garlic homous, homous with my broccoli crumb, chermoula pimped goats cheese and the rest of my toasted broccoli crumb, all sitting pretty on a beautiful olive wood board gifted to me by the lovely Linda from La Petite Paniere, who I was recently extremely lucky to meet up with in London.  

Later that evening I heated the last couple of parathas in the oven and added some cheese to the top to make a quick pizzette and took this very quick photo of it, which has turned out to be the most popular photo I’ve ever posted on Instagram!!! How curious is that?  It was very tasty though! 

Broccoli gets a foodbod makeover..

 Lina, my fellow food blogger, is great at issuing cooking challenges – I thoroughly enjoyed the North Indian Curries challenge – and this month I took up her Creative Ingredient challenge…to those of us who responded to the challenge, Lina issued a vegetable for us to cook with. 

Yes, I cook vegetables daily, but I thought this might encourage me to cook with a vegetable I don’t often pick..and I was right: Lina gave me broccoli (Lina also gave me cauliflower, but having previously made so many cauliflower dishes – there’s been cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza base, cauliflower wraps, marinades, dips, so many cauliflower creations, all on my recipe index- I decided not to add more to the cauliflower arsenal! It doesn’t need any further assistance from me to get even more expensive!)  I rarely choose broccoli, and when I do, I tend to prefer the stems to the tops of the ‘trees’, I think the stems hold more flavour and a better texture. That’s just my view of course :) 

So I decided to push myself and play with the curly tree tops, which scream ‘crumb’ to me, and this is what I came up with…a crunchy zesty crumb of broccoli, nuts and spices.. 

To sprinkle over whatever you fancy, I sprinkled mine over this salad…it added crunch as well as flavour and colour…

So, time for the details…

The crumb

Ingredients

The florets from a medium sized bunch of broccoli

3-4 small garlic cloves

A handful of roasted unsalted hazelnuts

A handful of roasted unsalted cashews 

1/2 tbsp Aleppo (pul biber) red pepper flakes

1 tbsp sumac

1/2 tbsp olive oil 

Method

Place the broccoli in a glass bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with cling film; microwave on high for 6 minutes

Remove the broccoli and place in a colander to drain and cool

Once cooled, cut off the tops and keep the stems for the dip below

Place the curly tops of the broccoli in a food processor with all of the other ingredients 

Blend to a crumb, don’t let it go as far as a paste 

Then sprinkle over anything you can think of, like I did! Or stir it into some homous..of course! Tasty!!

 
    The salad


Ingredients
 

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and washed 

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Roasted ground cumin

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Several tablespoons of cooked quinoa

Method

Starting with the chickpeas, I put the chickpeas in a pan with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and cumin, and brought the liquid to the boil and simmered for on a low heat

I then (after eating several lovely spoonfuls from direct the pan!) left them in the pan overnight to cool and marinate

The next day I mixed the chickpeas with the chopped herbs, tomatoes and quinoa to serve 
 The dip 

Whilst I was playing around, I also put this dip together using the broccoli stems..

Ingredients 

Steamed and roasted broccoli stems

Several roasted cloves of garlic

Tiny pinch cayenne pepper

Salt

Plain homous

Plain yoghurt 

Method

I steamed the broccoli stems along with the trees for the broccolata, then roasted them with some peeled garlic cloves and a spray of olive oil 

Once they’re nicely roasted, I left them to cool then blended them with some homous I’d already made, a tiny pinch of cayenne and some natural yoghurt  

  Of course, I did then take things a step further…I decided to bake it at a low temperature and see if I could add some more crunch to it.. 

I spread the mixture in a thin layer across a baking tray lined with foil and baked for 20-25 minutes at 150c, checking constantly that none of it burnt, then turned the oven off, propped open the door slightly, and left the tray in the oven to dry out further. It worked really well.. 

It became really crispy and crunchy and zesty…and although it looks like bits are burnt, they really aren’t, the broccoli just coloured more than the rest..

and again, tasty over my leftover salad today… 

So, how’s that for something different? Possibly not what you might think of when you look at broccoli?! We know my brain works in mysterious ways….I had great fun playing with it, I hope that Lina and you like the outcome.

I did also do more with the rest of the broccoli that I bought, but I’ll save that for next time, for now I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday with my broccoli crumb and hoping that this week’s co hosts Julie, and Ashley like it:)  

Red and yellow and pink and green…

 I recently discovered a greengrocers in a village near me that pretty much sells every slightly ‘unusual’ fruit and vegetable you could wish for…it is packed with heavenly wonders…including samphire, artichokes, wild garlic, yellow courgettes, numerous types of tomatoes…so much lovely produce I can barely remember it all. Sadly it’s not locally grown produce, all those things couldn’t grow in the UK at the same time, and it’s not exactly cheap either, but nice for an occasional visit I think..I’ll stick with our wonderful central market for my usual supplies. 

I was excited to find some wild garlic though as I know it’s the season and it’s not sold anywhere else locally to me, and I haven’t been brave enough for forage for any for fear of poisoning myself! (Plus I don’t know where to start looking locally?!) I grabbed a handful of the lovely leaves, as well as a couple of yellow courgettes (squash) and a few other things…

After a VERY good wash, some of the wild garlic leaves went into some homous, and some became a pesto, whizzed up with almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some grated cheddar cheese..very nice with these sweet potato fries, using Chitra’s recipe, and sriracha homous for a Saturday tea.. 

When I saw how many stalks I had left (and registered how much they must have cost!) I decided to use them too and chopped them up for another days lunch.. 

This was a creation of bits and pieces really:
Chopped yellow courgette and wild garlic stems, cooked in coconut oil, with added cooked freekeh, and topped with roasted flaked almonds and dried barberries..yum! I didn’t add a dressing as I ate it with freshly made homous.. 

It’s such a pretty plateful, even if Spring isn’t happening outside your window, it can happen on your plate.. 

That’s what I think anyway :) 

Enjoy! 

Chermoula pimped goats cheese..and other things..

After my first foray into creating an aubergine boat and filling it – just like you would bake and fill a potato really – it’s become a feature of my lunches recently, as the photo above shows: this was a roasted whole aubergine filled with chermoula mixed with yoghurt, and again it was a delight and I fully recommend it, but on this occasion, it’s that’s filling idea that this post is going to focus on… 

 
Whenever I make chermoula I tend to pimp it in various ways; the sauce is traditionally served with fish or chicken, but in my vegetarian world, it becomes so much more..the wonderful mix of fresh parsley and coriander, with garlic, paprika, olive and lemon juice just offers up a world of opportunity to me..although, don’t get me wrong, unpimped and drizzled over roasted sweet potato is heavenly..but playing is fun too..

 
Just stirring it into freshly made tahini sauce or homous is so good! They are, after all, flavours from the same part of the world. Tahini, lemon juice, garlic…you just can’t go wrong. 

I also often stir it into yoghurt or quark, as per the filled aubergine at the top of the post, and this week took it a step further and utilised the basics of the sauce rcipe, pimped it and created a ‘chermoulaesque goats cheese’.. 

On this occasion, I mixed up an enhanced version of chermoula, details below, and mixed it with soft crumbly goats cheese and left it a couple of days to develop and see what it would do. And it was good!!! 

I included dried tomato flakes and dried red pepper flakes in the mix, so they took on any moisture and helped to create a thickened soft cheese. The tanginess of the goats cheese works perfectly with the tang of the lemon juice, just as it does with quark, or labneh, so if you’re not a goats cheese fan, try an alternative. I throughly enjoyed the outcome, and stirred some through some warm cooked freekeh for my lunch..  And with freekeh and leftover chunks of roasted sweet potato the next day.. Flavour flavour flavour!! So much flavour, goodness and joy in one dish! 

It’s good on its own and probably lovely spread on some toast too :) 

This is how I made it: 

Ingredients

Half a bag baby spinach

A bunch of coriander

A bunch of flat leaf parsley

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp ground roasted cumin

1 tsp mild paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1-2 tbsp dried red pepper flakes

1-2 tbsp dried tomato flakes

150 ml olive oil

100-150ml lemon juice 

150g soft goats cheese log

Method

Chop up the spinach, parsley and coriander with the garlic and spices in a blender until finely chopped, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. You may need to feel your way with the olive oil and lemon juice. 

Then stir in the goats cheese until completely incorporated and put it all in a bowl or pot and store in the fridge for 1-2 days until you’re ready to use it.  

  Sticking with the same idea, I also stirred up some goats cheese a few days later with just some red pepper flakes, tomato flakes, cumin, paprika, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and created another version of the cheese idea.. 
Again, very tasty!!!!  

And perfect on a baked sweet potato… (with my homous on the other half)

I cannot tell you just how good all of these flavours have been this week! 

And just to top it off perfectly..my week started with the arrival of a ‘new’ set of beautiful Art Deco cutlery that I bought on Etsy and was delivered from the US on Monday; it is so beautiful, I am in heaven! I have used it every day since and it makes me smile constantly..I love it!!! You will definitely be seeing it time and again.. 
 
I hope you have enjoyed my ideas, happy Friday and happy weekend! I’m taking a pot of my chermoula cheese to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Angie and the lovely, inimitable Jhuls, and hope that they like it :)