Category Archives: Healthy

Herbs and nuts ‘pesto’…

I had a green day this week; I basically had lots of lovely fresh herbs in my fridge and decided to use some of them in some pastes.

I made a coriander and walnut paste that I’ve made and shared before – I’d forgotten just how tasty it is! And I also threw together a kind of pesto idea at the same time..

This is made of lots of fresh parsley and not as much coriander, several handfuls of almonds and cashews, garlic, olive oil, a little lemon juice and some parmesan. You could easily use nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan to make it vegan if you wish. 

I was careful not to overblend this once I’d added the nuts to retain some crunch. 

It was so good, and, as ever, even better the next day once it had had time to develop the flavours. All you really need is a spoon to eat something like this, but I did force myself to add it to some meals instead. 

Including adding it to bulghur wheat with lots more fresh herbs, dried barberries and grilled aubergine slices one day..

…and similar again but with a pile of grilled courgettes instead the next day…

I did also eat some with some edamame bean spaghetti too, of which I don’t have a photo, and it worked well stirred through the warm ‘pasta’. 

I do love a concoction, especially a successful one!!! 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’m taking my green concoction to this week’s Fiesta Friday, being looked after this week by the lovely Jhuls and Monika, and for now I’ll leave you with a shot or two of the semolina sourdough loaf I have just baked…

Semolina sourdough…

On Instagram I follow a lovely lady called Anita who bakes amazing bread and lots of sourdough which she shares as @sourdough_mania. Anita shares lots of recipes and tips and recently posted a semolina sourdough recipe which just tickled my fancy! So I made it, the loaf is in the photo above, and it was fab. The dough is lovely, beautifully smooth, wonderfully springy, and the baked outcome is really tasty. So I’m sharing my experience and recipe; I added some oil to Anita’s recipe to tighten up the crumb…

NOTE: this recipe is four days in the making, although not labour intensive during that time, and I do think it’s worth it. I tried making a shorter overnight version and the outcome wasn’t as good as the full four day version, although I will be experimenting with that further. All of the love and care does create a lovely, bouncy dough.

It is a VERY soft dough though and it does need to be cooked straight from the fridge. If you leave it out of the fridge for a while before cooking, my experience is that it will lose its form and spread as you bake it. 

Recipe 

Preparing your starter: 

Feed your starter. I know that if I feed Star with 1/4 cup of flour & 1/4 cup of water, she will yield the necessary 70g of bubbly starter. I increase this to 1/2 cups to generate the starter I need when I’m making 500g loafs. Once your starter is lovely and bubbly, begin..

Day one: mix together..

70g bubbly starter

70g ground semolina 

70g water

…and leave out overnight.

In a separate bowl mix together…

310g semolina flour

180g water 

1tbsp oil 

…and leave in fridge overnight.

Day two: remove the semolina/water/oil mixture from the fridge to soften up and make it easier to mix with the starter.

Your starter should be lovely and bubbly and alive now. Add 1tsp salt to it, then mix it into the semolina/water/oil mixture. You’ll need to get your hands in to mix it really well.

Keep it out of the fridge like this for 2-3 hours and during that time, perform a series of 5 stretches and folds on the dough. Then cover the bowl and return it to the fridge.

Day three: remove the bowl from the fridge and leave at room temperature and allow the dough to increase by about 60% (by eye). 

Then shape the dough. I stretch and fold the dough into a ball and place it into a floured banneton. 

Cover and put back into the fridge. 

Day four: Preheat oven to 275C.

Prepare your choice of bakeware – I bake mine in an enamel roaster on a round of parchment paper. Take the dough from the fridge and place directly into the roaster/on baking sheet, slash and put into the oven.

Reduce the oven to 245C (I use 220C fan), bake with the lid in the roaster for 25 mins, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 mins

Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool before slicing 

Since making this first loaf, I have made 3 more! For one of them I merely doubled everything and created a monster loaf (above)! It was a beauty though!! I’ve also calculated up the quantities to make a 500g (semolina) loaf which is my typical size, and it worked well too.

The quantities were: 

112g starter/semolina/water

500g semolina 

288g water 

1tbsp oil

1tsp salt 

Baked for 25 mins covered, 20 mins uncovered 

I highly recommend giving it a go! 

Wishing you all a great weekend, starting with this week’s Fiesta Friday with Lindy and Paula

x

It’s in the pan…

I like nothing better than a big pan full of lovely vegetables, the more the better! I often start with a base of red onions, garlic and red peppers, cooked in coconut oil and then I add whatever takes my fancy….and then I grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan.

Which is exactly what I did this evening…this began with my usual trio, chopped red onions, red peppers and garlic, all cooked in coconut oil, to which I added several spoonfuls of my harissa, lots of chopped parsley and spring onions, toasted mixed seeds…

 …and adorned with several dollops of harissa tahini sauce…

See what I mean? I do love a big pan full of vegetables. 

As you might have seen before, I often add eggs to the pan, and avocado and chopped chillies…

This was one my lunches last week. 

And this one was pimped with one of my many sauce concoctions and goats cheese..

These are the type of dishes I happily devour ona regular basis as I always have an excess of red onions, red peppers and garlic in my kitchen 🙂 

There’s been lots of new things being cooked up in my ‘office’ this week too, which will no doubt feature on the blog soon. (I am currently reading about The Victorian House and have discovered that the working rooms of the house, like the kitchen, pantry, and bathrooms, were called offices. So my kitchen is now officially my office!) 

Happy weekend! Now let’s pop over to Fiesta Friday with the lovely Jhuls (lover and maker of harissa tahini sauce), and Su, who are co hosting this week…

Shatta inspired meals…

It all began when I saw someone talking about ‘shatta’ sauce on Instagram; I, of course, immediately looked it up, and discovered that it’s a middle eastern chilli sauce. I had never heard of it before; I read various recipes and versions of it, then had a play at making a version. 

And boy it was hot! In fact I made two versions, one with red jalapeños (from a jar), and one with milder long red fresh chillies; the one with the jalapeños was the killer! So I added a few other ingredients to flesh it out and take down the rawness of the flavour. In fact I played with both versions and this is what I got…

This one is red jalapeño chillies, fresh parsley & coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, dried tomato flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, tomato puree, olive oil & lemon juice.

And this is chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, long red chillies, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, which I added to mashed white beans.

As the week has gone on, the flavours have developed nicely, and I’ve used both concoctions in various ways…

This was a salad of chopped parsley & coriander, bulgur wheat cooked in goats whey, chopped spring onions & chillies, and mixed roasted seeds, with the red jalapeño sauce stirred through it. And serviced with some of the sauce mixed with my red pepper ajvar sauce.

Let’s talk SERIOUS leftovers! This is bulghur wheat, cooked in the whey from making goats curd, and mixed with leftovers of 3 sauces: the red jalapeño sauce; a sauce made by mixing the red jalapeño sauce mixed with some of my red pepper ajvar sauce; and a roasted tomato and chilli ajvar sauce; all stirred together and left to develop lots of flavour. So good heated the next day.

And this was roasted butternut squash wedges filled with a mixture of leftovers of the mashed bean salad mixed together with leftover zaalouk.

So you can see how one idea can lead to so many outcomes, especially in my hands! I know I’ve said it before but I do love chucking stuff together 😉 

Happy Fiesta Friday everyone, and happy weekend x

Twice cooked cauliflower steaks..

Roasted cauliflower is not new on this blog, I’d just like to share with you something that I do in my kitchen…

Whenever I roast cauliflower, I always roast the whole thing so that I have leftovers; this way whatever is left is easy to reheat for the next day’s lunch. Once it’s already been roasted, reheating the cauliflower in an oven takes no time at all and it gets really nice and crunchy really quickly. You can eat it cold, or heat it in a microwave, but you won’t then get that lovely crunchiness. 

Then it can be topped with whatever you’ve got to hand, like I do…

You can consider it an alternative to bread if you like?

This is a perfect idea to share with this Corina’s Cook Once Eat Twice collection this month. I hope you like my ideas…

Above are roasted cauliflower steaks, reheated until crispy, topped with leftovers of my bulgur wheat salad with chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, spring onion, chilli, olive oil & lemon juice, and my salad of roasted aubergines, chopped and mashed, skin and all, with finely chopped garlic, spring onions & chillies, olive oil & lemon juice, and roughly chopped parsley and coriander, with some avocado on the side.

Seriously crunchy roasted cauliflower (on the edge of being burnt but not quite!), butternut squash wedges, and a mix of grains, aubergine, chopped herbs, spices, olive oil & ACV, all drizzled with tahini.

Roasted cauliflower topped with a mixed herb and freeze dried pineapple salsa, and crumbled goats cheese.

Lunch of roasted cauliflower topped with my roasted carrot & aubergine sauce creation from my last post, here pimped with added yoghurt to create something completely new and lovely – and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Re-roasted cauliflower toppe with stuffed roasted peppers and homous.

I do think that cauliflower is a beautiful thing, I love trees and cauliflower really is like a baby tree – although probably a lot tastier..;) 

Ajvar sauce and friends…

It’s not news that I like making and eating sauces and dips and pastes, there is currently 10 jars of different ones in my fridge right now, and this week I’ve made a few new concoctions to my collection. As one lead to the development of another, then another, and so on, I thought I’d share them all at once. I’m also co hosting the weekly Fiesta Friday blog party this week with my lovely friend, and her great blog, Jhuls, so please do join us and see what everyone is bringing to the table this week..

So my saucy week all began with ‘ajvar’. Ajvar is historically a Serbian ‘salad’ made with roasted red peppers and aubergines, garlic and sometimes chilli; I realised I’ve virtually made this previously without realising that I was making somehing that exists with a name, I was just chucking things together one day…like you do! Then I saw this on Instagram and looked it up and decided to make my version of it.

The inclusion of the aubergine flesh to the sauce adds more texture than flavour – I have found this in some of my experiments, roasted aubergine flesh often adds a ‘whipped’ lightness to a sauce or dip, and of course adds a healthy fresh addition too 🙂 the sauce therefore tastes more of the lovely sweetness of the red peppers, and the finished texture is quite thick so can be used in a variety of ways: on toast topped with goats cheese screams out to me! 

Also, all of the recipes I read called for roasting and peeling the red peppers, which I did here, but next time I make it I will leave the skins on; I have found that the skins often add an almost emulsifying effect to sauces that I like. 

Ingredients 

4 red peppers (i used 2 long red and 2 red bell peppers because that’s what I had!)

2 small/medium aubergines

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil (some recipes have said 1/3 cup, I just poured a decent amount in, but probably not as much as that)

Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 

Salt to taste

Chilli flakes (optional)

Method 

Heat oven to 200C

Place the peppers and aubergines (prick the skins first) on a baking tray and roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and the aubergines are completely soft to the touch

Place the peppers in a plastic bag to cool and sweat, this makes it easier to remove the skin

Once the aubergine and peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stalks of all of them, and the seeds of the peppers

Add them to a blender with the garlic, a good amount of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt, and blend until smooth

Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes until thickened

Add salt to your taste. 

Add chilli flakes/powder as it cooks if you choose 

Either use it warm as a sauce, or transfer to a jar and allow to cool

NOTE: Mine definitely benefitted from developing its flavour more overnight and being used the next day

Of course, making ajvar started a range of ideas bubbling in my mind, and as I had a lot of carrots that needed using, I peeled and roasted them all, ate some with my dinner, and used the rest in some sauce ideas. Like this one, above, which basically followed the ajvar idea and quantities, just with carrots instead of peppers.

It is made of roasted carrots, roasted aubergine, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Aleppo chilli flakes & a pinch of salt, again left overnight to develop the flavour, and it worked very well! The aubergine flesh really lightens up the density of the root vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon juice is always good with carrots. I keep dipping a spoon into it quite happily 🙂 

As I had so many roasted carrots, I also created this sauce by blending roasted carrot, roasted red onion, roasted garlic, olive oil and some of my own harissa. 

And this one, which is made up of roasted carrots, roasted red onions, passata, olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, and a spice mix of ground roasted cumin seeds, roasted caraway seeds and roasted coriander seeds. 

I blended this with some added water but still kept it quite thick and ate some heated and topped with goats cheese, alongside some sweet potato wedges. I aim to use it as a sauce or spread, I’m sure it would make a tasty soup with added liquid. 

And so ends my collection of sauces from this week, I hope you have found one or some of them interesting. It’s just a case of chucking things together and seei what emerges really! 

Happy Friday and happy weekend 🙂 

Right, I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday to start reading as soon as it kicks off…

The butternut squash wedges files…

In my last post I shared a butternut squash kibbeh, and I casually stated how I threw together my kibbeh mixture and that I used roasted butternut squash. I thought I’d clarify something about that point: I usually have a ready stock of roasted butternut squash to hand, hence how it was easy enough to throw the dish together…I shall explain…

I routinely buy large butternut squashes (Costco is good for them in the U.K.) and I cut them into wedges (or in half if they’re smaller), remove the seeds, and roast them. I don’t peel them, I don’t use oil, just put them in a hot oven, usually when I’m cooking something else too, and leave them until I’m happy with them. 

Before

After

Usually I’ll eat some of the freshly roasted squash at the time of cooking, and then I leave the rest of it to cool down and store it in the fridge. This way, I can pull a couple of wedges out and reheat them for lunches, or scrape the flesh from the skin and use them in recipes, like the kibbeh or thick soups. Having them already roasted means that the wedges can be reheated really quickly in the oven and the edges crisp up nicely and they make a great base for all sorts of toppings…

This is basically my alternative to a baked potato I guess – but with more flavour as far as I’m concerned. Or they can be loaded up like nachos or tacos, or spread with goats cheese instead of bread, or just drizzled with tahini. Or chopped up to be part of a salad, warm or cold, or added to cooked grains…I could happily go on and on….

Or used to throw together an easy kibbeh, as I did again this weekend…

So I’m not sharing a recipe today, but more a kitchen habit that I find useful and that I thought I would share. I like having a fridge full of things made and ready to go, because when I get hungry I need to eat right then! So along with endless dips and sauces and middle eastern style ‘salad’ concoctions, you’ll often find a tub of butternut squash wedges in my fridge 🙂 

I think I’ll add this to my ‘pimp your veg‘ collection…have a good week!