From salad to dip via Verjus…

At the end of my last post I included a shot of this salad, it was packed with so much good stuff: chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, roasted sweet potato, roasted cauliflower, roasted carrots, roasted red onion, chickpeas, chopped preserved lemon, spices, olive oil, and something new: Verjus. Or, in English, Verjuice. 

Verjus is as the direct translation says, ‘green juice’ as it is made from unripe, and therefore sour, green grapes. It is often used in dressings and I read about it being used as a less tart alternative to lemon juice or vinegar and wanted to try it – some days I consume so much lemon juice that my mouth burns!! And having used it in this salad, I found it very tasty:)

This is a link from the website of the make that I bought, and will tell you more, it’s very interesting!

I had more of the salad the day after I made it, when it had become even tastier and then I decided to play with the leftovers..

They all went into the small bowl of my handheld blender along with some more Verjus and some plain yoghurt and whizzed up..

I didn’t blend it too much as I wanted to keep it textured..

Difficult to get a pretty picture of it, but it worked nicely :) 

I enjoyed some today with a very tasty lunch of freshly made herb and quinoa salad, and mutabal..

There appears to be lots of dedicated recipes for using Verjus so I’m sure I’ll be playing more :) 

If you already use Verjus please do let me know what you do with it x

Chermoula, chickpeas, salad, eggs…it’s all here…

It’s a weekly thing for me to make chermoula, a lovely herby middle eastern sauce. I often put it together, with no definitive plan, and then utilise it in various ways throughout the week; it can be used as a sauce, a dip, a paste, a dressing, the possibilities are endless. 

Chermoula has featured many times on this blog, but for ease let me share again what I do.. I use the small bowl attached to my hand blender and chop together a big bunch of flat leaf parsley, a slightly smaller bunch of fresh coriander, 2-3 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp roasted ground cumin, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes, salt to taste, and lots of olive oil and lemon juice until it becomes the consistency you would like. 

You can pimp your chermoula in many ways, I’ve recently added chopped preserved lemons to mine, some people add a pinch of cayenne pepper; I also use it as a basis for salad, I multiply everything to make a bigger version and don’t chop the herbs up as small, then add all sorts of other things to it, like various roasted vegetables, chickpeas, grains…as you can see in the following couple of examples..

Last week I made up a batch of chermoula and mixed it through a bowl full of chickpeas; like everything I make, I knew this would be worth leaving in the fridge for a day for the flavours to infiltrate the chickpeas, which they did very nicely, then I worked my way through the chickpeas across a few meals, including this lunch with chopped lettuce..

With the final portion of chickpeas, I went for a version of shakshuka/baked eggs..

In this pan is a can of chopped tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of my homemade rose harissa, the rest of the chermoula marinated chickpeas, little cubes of cheese and the eggs…flavour upon flavour to create a wonderful concoction for lunch one day last week..



I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I love my own food!!!!! There’s a reason I eat all my meals at home :) 
And here’s the salad I’ve thrown together today, full of similar flavours, and packed out with leftover roasted vegetables, now all thrown together sharing flavours.. 

If you want to know where I’ll be all week…I’ll be at home, eating, and making, lots of food!!! (In between going to the gym to enable me to do so!) 

I’m bringing my selection of dishes along to this week’s Fiesta Friday – apologies for being late!  A big thank you to this week’s co hosts, the lovely, Jhuls, and Colleen

Have a great week x

Dishes of fabulousness…salad, dips, breads, and so much more…

It’s another one of those posts of plenty I’m afraid, lots of dishes from my kitchen that I hope you might like…the picture above includes some of the dishes I made for our Sunday evening meal, and this is what they include…

The salad..slices of beautiful ripe tomatoes, sliced raw red onions and chopped parsley, sprinkled with salt and sumac, and drizzled with copious amounts of olive oil. 

I ate  it like a version of fattoush, with pieces of tortilla fried in rapeseed oil, so that the bread soaked up the dressing..

The green stuff is a dip of peas, garlic, yoghurt, ground roasted cumin and coriander seeds, and a sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes…

I had leftover potatoes that I’d boiled the previous day for something else, which I mixed with freshly made chermoula and left for a few hours for the flavours to develop and infiltrate the potatoes..

Alongside these I served a bowl of the tortilla chips I’d made, and spelt sourdough naan breads with nigella seeds (based on similar methods shared in my previous post…

I served all of these with some freshly made homous, and sriracha homous, plus chicken kebabs which I’d marinated in yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic and Aleppo chilli flakes for my boys; when I made the marinade, I saved some and spread it over a halved and scored aubergine…

I left it overnight…

Then baked it the next day until it was lovely and soft inside..

Yum yum yum!!! 

As you can imagine, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating the leftovers of all of these dishes too, these kinds of concoctions only get better with time :) 

I hope you like them x

Flatbreads aplenty…

Before wild yeast was discovered in Egypt, thousands of years ago (which lead to the first ever risen breads) all bread was flat. When I first heard this fact I thought it was so cool – the first risen breads were basically sourdough loaves, using wild yeast as the rising agent; just imagine the first time someone ever saw their bread dough rise?! 

Anyway, back to the flatbreads…basically, all you need to make flatbread is flour and water, and heat or fire of some sort. Joining blogworld has taught me just how simply flatbreads can be made, which is why they are now a staple in my cooking armoury. Blogworld has also introduced me to all the wonderful ways that flatbreads can be pimped! Luckily my son is a huge bread lover and is happy to eat my creations as I play around with different versions :) 

And as so many flatbreads go through up my kitchen I thought I’d share some of my recent creations today…

Every time I feed my sourdough starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread for my boy, I use whatever bubbly starter is leftover by throwing it in with whatever flour takes my fancy (the bread above is 100% spelt flour), add a bit of salt, a splash of water, and bring together a dough. I tend to determine how the dough feels by hand, adding extra water if necessary to make a firm, but not sloppy, dough. I bring this together then leave it to initialise for an hour, before folding and turning the dough to create a lovely soft smooth dough, then put it in the fridge until I decide to use it. This can be overnight or for several days. When I’m ready to use it, I bring it from the fridge to come to room temperature and prove for a few more hours.

To cook, I take handfuls of the dough, form them into some kind of round shape (I’ve never managed perfect rounds, let’s call them rustic!) and place them on a floured surface to rest. 
I heat a pan over a medium heat, and place the flatbreads in the pan, no oil required. After a few minutes, and when the bottom of the breads look cooked I turn it over. Sometimes they bubble up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I spray them with olive oil, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they’re a bit thicker, as above, sometimes they’re thinner, like the ones below. 

And then if Ben doesn’t eat them all, I sometimes pile different toppings onto the odd one for myself. The bread above is topped with leftover shakshuka sauce, Turkish cheese and grated cheddar. The bread below is spread with my coriander stalk and toasted seeds pesto and topped with feta, avocado and sriracha. 

The flatbreads on this plate, and below, were truly experimental; I was playing with some fava bean (dried broad bean) flour that I’ve had for a while and this was the outcome. Basically, these are gluten free breads, packed full of the goodness from the beans. 

The dough for these was the fava bean flour and plain yoghurt only; the fava bean flour is quite dry, so I needed to feel my way as I added the yoghurt. I pan cooked them as above, this time with some additional spray olive oil. 

The breads were lovely and soft when first cooked, and they became quite hard the next day, but after a stint in the toaster, they were lovely and soft again, and even tastier than the first day. 


These were spelt flour and sourdough starter again. The addition of olive oil in the dough softened the finished breads. 

And these beauties could be called naan breads I guess; these are made with atta (whole wheat/chapati) flour, sourdough starter, olive oil, yoghurt and water. It was the first time I’ve used atta flour with sourdough starter and it worked really well, again these were created with a dough thrown together by feel and following the same loose method as above. These were again lovely when first made, heated in the toaster the next day, and I also froze some, and they defrosted well. 

Flatbreads don’t necessarily need yeast, they can all be made without it; or with a sprinkle of fresh yeast or dried yeast in place of the sourdough starter if you fancy. I just happen to have been experimenting with sourdough starter recently, and it adds a lovely flavour. You could also easily add herbs, spices, garlic, cheese, seeds…whatever you fancy to the dough, it’s all up to you! 

I hope you like my ideas, and that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday agrees :) 

Oven baked artichokes..

Recently, the lovely Susan shared a post about roasting a whole artichoke; they were studded with garlic and sprinkled with fennel seeds and looked fab; add to the fact that every food magazine has recently included all sorts of recipes including artichokes, I decided it was time to get involved…

I have vivid memories of eating artichokes as a child, my Mum poached whole artichokes in white wine, water and garlic, following a very French theme. It evokes very happy memories for me, I remember loving scraping the artichoke ‘meat’ off the leaves and enjoying the prize: the artichoke heart. So when I saw Susan’s post, and how simply she roasted her artichokes, I decided to try it out. 

My fabulous local market had artichokes available on my recent visit so this weekend it was all systems go – do check out Susan’s post for full details of how to roast your artichokes. The only thing I did differently was drizzle some olive oil over mine, otherwise I followed Susan’s recipe.

And it was a great success! The leaves came away easily and the flavours had infiltrated through the whole artichoke:)And of course, they’re so pretty, it’s like eating flowers…give it a go!

Enjoy xx

Some dishes are too good not to share…(virtually anyway!!) 

This was one of those dishes that developed over a few days, started out as one thing, and became another, as I pimped leftovers…and culminated in such heaven on a plate that I just had to share it! 
It began as one of my typical salads…

The salad at the top, left of the dish, is made up of lots and lots of chopped flat leaf parsley; a mixture of cooked grains, in this case including spelt and kamut, both cooked my way; chopped garlic; liberal amounts of ground roasted cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes; a good amount of lemon juice and a good amount of olive oil. This is a very typical salad for me, sometimes it includes chopped coriander as well, sometimes some added dill, all different grains, sometimes added seeds or nuts. 

I usually put all this together and then leave it to brew overnight, as the flavours develop and it is even better when eaten the next day, and the day after that to be honest. This occasion was no different. And so it became a part of the meal above one lunchtime. 

The next day, some of the leftovers made their way onto this lovely aubergine boat, now very much a firm fixture in my kitchen since its first introduction…and as you’ll notice, the salad had gained some cooked chickpeas and avocado by this time..

I cooked the aubergine whole in the microwave for 6 minutes ( it was a large aubergine) then put it under a hot grill, close to the heat, turing it occasionally to slightly burn the skin and give it a nice finish. I then cut it open and slathered the hot softened flesh with freshly made homous, and topped with more of the salad. Yum!!!! 

The leftovers then sat in the fridge for another day, during which time I made up my most favourite of dishes, my marinated cauliflower and chickpeas. I’ve learn from experience to roast the dish for longer than I did originally, and having served and eaten the cauliflower, and/or potatoes, whichever version you make, and been left with some chickpeas and garlic, put it back I the oven to cook even more. The outcome is stunning, and a challenge not to eat it all immediately!!! 

These were the leftovers that I forced myself to save!! And so yesterday, they joined the rest of my salad, and created a dish of so much flavour and joy, I can barely find the words!! 

Heavenly! 

The mixture of the ingredients and flavours, and how they’d all developed was fabulous! 

So, I just had to share it…obviously, only sharing it virtually is fine, I wouldn’t have shared it in person….only joking, of course ;) 

And yes, there was leftovers, which of course, got whizzed up with tahini and became a dip! You wouldn’t expect anything else 😀😀 

I’m going to share this post with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, and this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice link up….like I said, I’m only too happy to share it, virtually…!  ;) 

Coriander two ways, new kitchen goodies and Fiesta Friday…

This weekend it is my honour to co host Fiesta Friday, along with Quinn from the blog Dad What’s 4 Dinner. We hope that lots of you will join us and bring your wonderful dishes. 

Before I get onto my dishes of food, let me show you my beautiful new actual dishes; this time last week I was visiting the BBC Good Food Show as a guest of the lovely Gill from Sytch Farm Studios. The show was as busy as ever, full of great food, new products and lovely kitchenware, none more so than the items that Gill makes by hand..

…of which several just had to come home with me…

…along with the board that was made by Gill’s equally talented partner, Jon. They are such a wonderfully creative pair and I love everything they make! This beautiful bowl just makes me smile daily..

…look at that colour!!! I love it :) 

Anyway, enough of my Sytchware love affair, let’s talk coriander..

I buy at least two huge bunches of fresh coriander weekly, rarely without a plan, but it always gets used, whether in salads, sauces, curries, dips; this week was the same. 

And then I saw a post on Instagram by a lady that I follow for a Georgian style walnut and coriander paste; it included spices, and garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses…what’s not to like???? 

So this is my version, and it was lovely!!! I used a mixture of walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds (both of which I’d already roasted), mainly because I didn’t have enough walnuts. You can use all walnuts or mix it up. 

Ingredients

A large bunch of fresh coriander, leaves stripped from stalks (don’t throw the stalks away – details below)

A handful of fresh walnuts

A handful of almonds

A handfuls of toasted pumpkin seeds 

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled 

1-2 tbsp ‘khmeli suneli’ spice mix – I made may own from this recipe 

A couple of good glugs of pomegranate molasses and the same of olive oil

Method

All in a blender and whizz it up, keeping it still a bit rustic, not too smooth. Add additional olive oil and/or pomegranate molasses to taste if necessary 

I found that it thickened up a bit by day two and I loosened it up with a bit of water 

Use it as a dip, spoon it over roasted vegetables, as a filling for a roasted sweet potato, or eat straight from the bowl with a spoon…or mix with chickpeas like I did as a side dish…

And of course, I whizzed up some of these chickpeas with some tahini and water to make a dip which I enjoyed with my lunch today..


With a pile of leftover stalks I decided to whizz them up into something else – I end up with so many stripped stalks in my kitchen, I literally spend hours and hours stripping parsley and coriander leaves from stalks, I view it as a form of meditation, but recently I’ve started utilising the stalks too – and so on this occasion I created a paste/pesto with coriander stalks, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and za’atar, and it worked really well..

Ingredients

A pile of coriander stalks

A handful of toasted pumpkin seeds

A handful of toasted sunflower seeds 

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

2-3 tablespoons za’atar spice mix

Lots of olive oil

Salt to taste 

Method

Whizz in a blender, keeping it rustic and maintaining some crunch from the seeds 

Again, if you have some left and it thickens overnight, loosen up with a splash of water 

Use as a dip, as a pesto, whatever you fancy! I added it to all sorts of dishes and salads.

I hope you like my coriander ideas, and that you’ll join us at Fiesta Friday and see what everyone else brings along. 

Happy Friday!