Category Archives: Fellow Bloggers

Lavender and Lovage new cookbook…

I am forever in awe when one of our blog family writes a cook book, it seems like such a massive achievement to me, an investment of so much time and effort and belief…and now the lovely Karen from the equally lovely blog Lavender and Lovage has produced her first solo cookbook…and here it is, available to buy this week!

The cover design alone is beautiful!

This is not only a cookbook, it is a book full of food memories from Karen’s childhood, all the way through her life and her travels around the globe, woven between an array of recipes that have been inspired and influenced by those experiences. Karen brings those memories to life for us with her writing, and we are virtually at the table with her…

I’ve got a list of recipes I want to try, including the “auberge” marinated goats cheese (I LOVE goats cheese!)…

..the “Maghreb” chicken, apricot & chickpea tagine, full of beautiful flavours (I’ll leave out the chicken for me :)), the smoky Mexican bean soup (perfect for winter where I am!) and the Sri Lankan egg hoppers…

And that’s just the beginning!

I suggest you get the book for yourself and see what you fancy, but also to read Karen’s story…

Visit Karen’s lovely blog for more details.

Seeded sourdough crackers…

Over on my foodbod sourdough blog right now, is the recipe for these seeded sourdough crackers if you’d like to pop over and have a look…

Pimping leftovers with Petra’s goodies…

I LOVE leftovers; to me, leftovers, or foods eaten a day or two after cooking/preparing them, taste vastly better than they did on day one. Flavours develop to create something so good that I pretty much always plan for leftovers and extras…

Today I had a variety of cooked vegetables and fresh herbs to use up and I decided to pimp them with some new products in my cupboard: last year my lovely blog friend, Petra, from the blog Food Eat Love, starting selling her homemade food products at her local Saturday market. She started off with amazingly pretty fresh pastas and sauces, and then expanded into sauces and crackers and jams and chutneys. Recently, she sent me some goodies to try, and I have used most of them in my dishes today. Let me show you…

These are what Petra sent me to try…lucky me! The two bottles that you can’t see the labels on are a ‘very hot hot sauce’ and a sweet chilli ginger sauce.

I’m afraid the dry tomato and coconut chutney was devoured first a little while ago, it was so good I literally ate in from the jar in two sittings..

If you can try this stuff, you really should! Included in the ingredients are cobnuts which give the chutney a great texture. But the rest I played with today…

So to today’s pimping…this was my lunch platter…

It includes…

Leftover broccoli & cauliflower, blended with yoghurt, crunchy hazelnut butter & Petra’s sweet chilli ginger sauce which added great flavour to the vegetables.

My homemade garlic mayonnaise pimped with Petra’s very hot hot sauce – perfect pimping.

Leftover roasted carrots & red onions blended with tahini, yoghurt & lemon juice…so good, the lemon juice and roasted carrots always works well together.

Fresh flat leaf parsley & coriander chopped up with my pickled garlic, spring onions, ground cumin, Aleppo chilli flakes, salt, olive oil, my homemade apple cider vinegar & Petra’s caramelised Seville orange & chilli treacle – I often add pomegranate molasses to my salsa verde concoctions and this was a great alternative.

All eaten with Petra’s Carta Di Musica flatbreads which are wonderfully thin and crunchy.

How’s that for a tasty lunch? And a perfect use of leftovers! Even if I do say so myself…;)

So a big thank you to Petra for letting me try some of her great products. I shall be sharing my concoctions with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, which is after all, where Petra and I ‘met’. In the meantime, do check out Petra’s Instagram page if you’re an instagram user and enjoy her beautiful pups as well as those gorgeous pastas…one day I’ll get to try some of them!

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?

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 😊

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 🙂

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.

NOTE: always push the cutter straight into the dough, and then bring the cutter directly upwards when you cut out scones, do not twist it whilst cutting into the dough otherwise they will not rise.

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!!!!! 😄😄😄
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 🙂 Join co hosts Diann and Monika to see what goodies are on offer..

Happy Weekend! 

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

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 🙂

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 I’m the author behind the hanadykitchen.com site. I’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 appétit! 

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

Sauté 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, sauté 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 🙂

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!

Roasted cauliflower leaves…

A little while ago I was intrigued by a post on Laura’s blog about roasting the outer leaves of a cauliflower; I’d read about it before but not yet given it a go myself, so of course, I got straight onto it!

The leaves roast very quickly, especially the outer, thinner, leafy bit, and they get really crispy. The challenge is not to eat them straight out of the oven because, firstly (and obviously if I’d stopped to think about it!) they get really hot, and secondly, if you just wait a few minutes, the leaves crisp up even more (as I discovered after exercising some patience…having burnt my tongue on the really hot one!).

The method is pretty straight forward:

Preheat the oven to 200C fan

Remove and wash the outer leaves – really wash them as this is where little bugs can live

Cut off any browning tips from where the grocer may have previously trimmed the leaves 

Lay the leaves in a single layer on your oven tray and spray with your chosen oil, I used olive oil 

Turn the leaves over and spray both sides

Roast for 5-10 minutes until you see the leaves starting the brown, remove the pan, turn the leaves over and roast a little longer until both sides of the leaves are slightly browned

At this mid point I have experimented with sprinkling the leaves with spices, the ones in the photos below are sprinkled with za’atar 

Once the leaves look browned and crunchy, remove the pan from the oven and allow the leaves to cool for a few minutes, as per the comment above 

These can then be eaten on this own as a snack or side dish, or incorporated into another dish

A note: the spines on the larger outer leaves can be quite thick, and can remain quite chewy to eat; I would still roast these leaves and then cut away the crispy edges once roasted; the inner, smaller leaves will be absolutely fine all the way through 

Yesterday I made the dish below using a mixture of the cauliflower leaves as well as roasting some of the florets and chunks of the main stalk (this part is also very tasty, usually having more flavour than the actual florets, in my opinion)..

I topped my cauliflower with chopped persevered lemon, chopped cashew nuts that I’d roasted and sprinkled with Aleppo chilli flakes, and a herby harissa concoction I created from mixing my rose harissa with chopped coriander, parsley and mixed seeds..

And very nice it was too! Another lovely lunch creation, if I do say so myself 😉