Category Archives: Fellow Bloggers

Whole lemon dressings and experiments..

It all began with Sally’s post, in which she uses whole lemons in a marinade for pork; I couldn’t help thinking it would make an interesting dressing. Then up popped Mimis post: a whole lemon dressing, by which time I needed to give this a try…

…and so I did!

So, when I say ‘whole lemon’ I really mean the WHOLE lemon. All I did was give a couple of lemons a wash, cut them into quarters, then eighths, removed any pips, then put them in the blender with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of honey. The resulting dressing is really nice, not overwhelmingly lemony because you’re not actually using a massive amount of juice from 2 small lemons. You can taste the rind flavour, which is not as sour as the actual juice, just different. And you can tone it down with some honey if necessary. I added a very very small amount of honey, more just to see what it does to the taste. 

My blender left me with some texture to the dressing which I liked. 

To store the remainders, on the advice of the eminent scientist Sally, the self same Sally as named above, I stored the dressing in a jar in the fridge. This then really firmed up the mixtures so that when I went to use it again, the texture had changed again, but in a nice way as far as I was concerned. Plus the flavour had developed more after a few days.

You can see that it’s a bit grainier. 

Then up popped Laura’s post who had also been expirementing with whole lemons: this time making a spinach and whole lemon pesto. With this in mind, I whizzed up the remains of my whole lemon dressing with some spinach, walnuts and a tabil spice mix that I’d made (equal amounts of roasted cumin, coriander & caraway seeds) to create something new…

…which went nicely with grains, homous and roasted chickpeas. 

There will no doubt be more experiments with whole lemons to come in my kitchen, but I hope you find this interesting so far. I use so much lemon juice, and I try not to waste the skins (I have jars and jars of pickled lemon skins & preserved lemon skins), so using the whole fruit is really inviting. 

Fancy giving it a try?

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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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

Savoury buttermilk scones or ‘biscuits’…

I’ve seen many of my US blog pals post ‘biscuits’ and I’ve been curious to try them for a while. Jess, Suzanne and Gretchen, to name a few, have all posted recipes for biscuits. My understanding is that these are eaten with a main meal, which makes them even more interesting, and something completely new to me.

In the U.K. we’d call these scones, a savoury, non sweet version of scones, made with buttermilk and NO sugar…consequently, when I finally made these, my savoury loving boy LOVED them, but my sweet toothed husband couldn’t even contemplate trying one! To him, a scone is sweet and eaten with jam, not something dunked in soup or a stew, or used to house a burger!

They are incredibly easy to make, and as you’ll see, very easy to add various cheeses or other ingredients to. I’ve now made them three times in the last few weeks, and the boy has eaten them with relish. I’ve made them plain, with a mixture of cheddar cheese and Red Leicester cheese, with strong cheddar, and with smoked cheddar: all got a thumbs up ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Ingredients

350g self raising flour

85g butter, cut into chunks

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Tiny pinch of salt

284g pot of buttermilk 

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment or greaseproof paper. 

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and butter in a bowl.

Using your fingertips, or using a food processor (as I do), rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Pour in all of the buttermilk and mix lightly to form a soft dough – this takes very little time. If using a food processor, mix until it has just about come together, then turn out and finish bringing it together to form a soft dough with your hands. 

If you are adding cheese, add a couple of handfuls of grafted cheese now as you bring the dough together. 

Knead the dough very briefly, then on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 2cm thick.

Cut out as many rounds as you can using a 5cm cutter. Keep bringing the leftover dough together and flattening to use it all up but handle it as little as possible. 

Place the rounds on the baking sheet with a little space in between each one, and bake for 12-15 minutes – mine have been taking about 13 minutes. 

Leave them to cool….OR just grab one and give it a try!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„
They’re good immediately, or after about 3-4 minutes to save burning your mouth. They also store well in an airtight container. 

I haven’t brought anything to Fiesta Friday for a couple of week’s, so I’m bringing these along this week and I hope the party goers enjoy my biscuits ๐Ÿ™‚ Join co hosts Diann and Monika to see what goodies are on offer..

Happy Weekend! 

The sourdough files…

I haven’t talked about my bread making on my blog for a while, although I share loaves regularly on Instagram, so I thought I’d post an update. I now make 3 loaves of sourdough bread every week for my son, Ben, plus 2 regular loaves for my husband, who doesn’t like sourdough. I now have my method for producing sourdough loaves pretty fixed, and as Ben raves about the bread on a regular basis, I can only assume that I’m getting it right – for his tastes anyway! 

I’ve also been playing with scoring the loaves, as you might notice! 

It’s great fun! Let’s be honest, Ben doesn’t care about how it looks, that bits just for me ๐Ÿ™‚

The basis of my standard loaf is formed from the overnight loaf recipes created and shared by Celia and Selma, with tweaks for my requirements. I’ve played around with various methods and flours and recipes in the past couple of years, but I always come back to this method, this is my failsafe, and when you need to produce bread regularly for breakfasts and school lunches, you need to know it works!

A key element for me is that I need a closer crumb than typical sourdough. Artisan holes are great, but not for making sandwiches for school dinners. To achieve this, I have found that replacing some of the water with olive oil creates a softer tighter crumb and softer bread. 


I keep my starter, Star, in the fridge, and every couple of days, I bring her up to room temperature, feed her equal amounts of flour and water, and once she’s bubbly and happy, I make up two lots of dough. 

I follow the quantities in Selma’s recipe, linked above, but I replace 30g of the water with olive oil.

In two bowls I squidge two lots all of the ingredients together to a rough mix, so that the flour is completely mixed, cover the bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it for an hour.

After the hour, I fold and knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. 

I then place the dough in bannetons sprinkled with rice flour to prevent sticking. 

I cover the bannetons with plastic bags, and place them both in the fridge. 

Sometimes they’re in the fridge for a night, sometimes for 4 days – the longer proving develops more flavour. 

When I’m ready to bake one, I remove it from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature and prove for another couple of hours. 

I heat the oven to 220c fan, and only when I’m ready to bake, I turn the dough out onto an baking tray, lined with parchment paper. If you turn the dough out too soon, it can spread. 

I quickly slash the dough then bake. 

I put the loaf in the oven, turn the temperature down to 200C fan, and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C fan for another 25 minutes.

Then remove the loaf and cool completely on a rack before slicing. I usually bake my loaves the day before I need them to ensure that they are completely and utterly cooled.

Each of my loaves covers Ben’s breakfast and lunch for two days. He loves it so much, I even made him a special loaf for his birthday earlier this month ๐Ÿ™‚ 

And that’s my sourdough conveyor belt! I hope it’s useful. 

I hope you’ve had a great week, enjoy your Friday and a visit to Fiesta Friday with Sarah and Liz

How to feed a vegetarian this holiday season: ask! (And new tips for roasting veg)ย 

And I don’t necessarily mean ask me, although of course you can, and I’m only too happy to help, but mainly I mean: ask them!

I’ve said it before, probably around this same time last year, but I’ll keep saying it: ask your vegetarian, or vegan, or food intolerant, guest what they’d like to eat. Don’t guess, don’t give yourself the stress of trying to figure it out if you’re not sure. Call them, email them, ask them what kind of dish they’d like. If they’re anything like me, they’ll be grateful that you asked, and relieved that they know they’ll be catered for. Please. Make your life simple ๐Ÿ™‚

And once you know what they’d like, I of course offer you my entire collection of recipes, I hope something may be of use.

In the meantime, I’d like to offer a couple of new ideas (to me anyway) for roasting vegetables, in particular carrots…

 Roasted carrots are so tasty, but sometimes it takes so long to get them cooked through, that they can get almost overcooked in your attempts to roast them. When I read this tip on Sally’s lovely blog, I immediately tried it and it works very well. I HIGHLY recommend that you try it out, with carrots and other dense vegetables, particularly root vegetables. 

Once you’ve tried that, try this…this is a tip from Jamie Oliver, so it must be good mustn’t it?!

When you come to toss your carrots in olive oil, add some cumin seeds and an acid element…in this case I used apple cider vinegar, and it really, really brings out their flavour..

Mr Oliver offers up various ideas for various vegetables including different oils, vinegars, herbs and spices, its definitely worth looking up for your Christmas table. 

Two tips I highly recommend, and great for me to learn new ideas for roasting vegetables – and I thought I knew them all!

I’ll be taking these along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Judi and Sandhya, why not check it out and get some other new ideas for your celebration meals? 

Happy weekend! 

Meet Hanady…and her fabulous food…


Today I am very happy to bring you a guest post from a lovely lady and great cook: Hanady and I met via Instagram and on our blogs; we live in such different parts of the world, but we are virtual food twins. We have literally coincidentally made the same meals, we share a love of the same flavours, we use the same ingredients, even though we reside thousands of miles apart. This is what I love about having my blog, meeting lovely people like Hanady and sharing our food loves, and so I asked her to share some recipes here on my blog, this is the first one, using my favourite grain, freekeh, I hope you like it too…have a great week x

Hello everyone! First of all, I would like to thank my friend, Elaine, for asking me to create a guest post for her blog. It is always so wonderful connecting with other culinary explorers through this platform. For many of you who are new to my blog, my name is Hanady and Iโ€™m the author behind the hanadykitchen.com site. Iโ€™m also an international affairs researcher and a human rights advocate. My relationship with food, however, has been a lifelong pursuit. As a child of Palestinian and Spanish parents, my experimentation in the kitchen often involved combining different culinary traditions. I learned that combining flavors of different worlds produced creations that were both unique and full of character. Having relocated from the United States to Palestine last year, I realized that my curiosity in the kitchen was just beginning to develop. My past year has consisted of exploring new foods and cooking styles through wonderful people, learning to cook straight from scratch, and developing recipes with a combination of unconventional ingredients. 

One such recipe is this okra freekeh, which is a combination of two different Palestinian dishes, okrah tomato stew and freekeh soup. While I love both dishes on their own, I find that their fusion makes for a blast of flavors. The smokiness of the freekeh, zesty sweetness of the tomatoes, and the freshness of the okra combined with aromatic spices and herbs, results in a most satisfying dish. The heartiness that the freekeh grains provide also make this recipe quite wholesome and fulfilling for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. I hope you will be pleased. And again, many thanks to Elaine and you all for sharing this lovely blog space. Sahtain and bon appรฉtit! 

With love, 

Hanady Xx

Okrah and Tomato Freekeh


INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 3

1 large onion, finely chopped 

7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

generous pinch dried chili flakes, to taste

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds 

5 cloves garlic, minced, divided

5 medium/ about 460 gr. tomatoes, very finely chopped in a food processor 

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup/ 118 ml. water or vegetable stock

loose handful fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 

salt, to taste

good grinding black pepper

1 cup/ 150 gr. medium sized freekeh kernels, well rinsed 

1 bag/ 400 gr./ 14 oz. frozen okra, slightly thawed

METHOD

Sautรฉ the onion, chili flakes, and cumin seeds in a large saucepan with 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft and transparent. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and stir for another 2-3 minutes. 

Pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water or vegetable stock, and stir in fresh coriander, paprika, turmeric, bay leaf, at least 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, set the heat to low, and leave to cook for 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, pour the freekeh into a medium pot with 2 cups / 470 ml. boiling water. Stir in at least a half teaspoon salt, bring to a simmer, cover, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes over low heat or until al dente. 

In another hot saucepan, sautรฉ the the okra over high heat with 4 tablespoons of olive oil , salt, and 2 minced garlic cloves until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. 

Stir the okra into the tomato sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stir in the cooked freekeh, and serve. Top with yogurt for some coolness and balance. 

A Cajun sauce & marinade…

And now for something a bit different…a little break from the salads and the greenery of my usual posts…

How exactly does on take a photo of a sauce???? There’s probably much better ways of showing it off than this, but I keep forgetting to shoot it in use, hence the pic above…so apologies for the uninspiring photos, I can promise that the flavour makes up for it!

It came about as I was recently inspired by Julie’s recipe for a chipotle marinade which I made and used on chicken for my boys; I then made up the marinade again as a sauce, which then lead on to this creation…it works very well as spicy ketchup ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients

2 parts rapeseed oil

2 parts honey

3 parts ketchup

1 part apple cider vinegar

1/2 – 1 tbsp Cajun spice mix (I use this recipe from the Frugal Hausfrau’s blog)

1 tsp hot paprika

Optional: add chilli/chipotle powder

Method

Mix everything together in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens, then remove from the heat

Once cooled, pour into a jar to store it – you’ll find the oil separates, I poured this off and used it in a salad dressing; you could mix it back into the sauce if you choose

Marinade your chosen meat or vegetables in sauce and cook under a grill, or add the sauce to any dish

Enjoy!