Category Archives: Mezze

My idea of ‘fast food’…

I don’t eat what is typically called ‘fast food’. I don’t buy or eat any ready made foods, I make everything I eat. I therefore make sure that my fridge contains things that I’ve made, various dishes, sauces, dips, prepared vegetables, cooked grains, at all times, so that I always have choices of my own food readily available. On the very rare occasion that I haven’t got anything immediately and readily available, and I’m hungry and want something NOW, I reach for the eggs…

Eggs cooked in a tomato sauce is my ‘fast food’.

I’ve always got eggs, and I’ve always got a jar of passata (sieved tomatoes), so that becomes my starting point, and then I add whatever takes my fancy from my fridge or kitchen cupboards. This can include any leftover vegetables, as below, any veg that needs using up (like the spinach included above), herbs, spices, chilli sauces, whatever takes my fancy…

And then I make holes in the mix and crack eggs into them and cook them through.

I usually then also add grated or chunks of cheese (as you can see on all three concoctions), sometimes I sprinkle over seeds or nuts, and very quickly, and simply, I’ve got a filling, tasty, healthy, colourful meal….

This can also be a perfect way to top up on protein for a vegetarian like me, particularly after exercise.

If you already make similar dishes, or fancy giving one a go, just grab some passata or tinned tomatoes and start building a sauce; look around your kitchen and take inspiration from what your fridge or cupboards have to offer, and add some texture and flavour and substance; then once you’re happy with it, make wells in the mixture and break eggs into them and cook.

Then, do as I do, and eat it straight from the pan! Perfect!!! That’s your meal right there – fast and fabulous 🙂

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Falafels cooked in a aebelskiver/poffertjes pan..

I’ve made falafels many times before, always oven baked because I could just never bring myself to fry them! I’ve also seen posts from people using a poffertjes pan to cook falafels, and other patties and Indian cutlets, and decided it was time for me to finally treat myself to one.

For me, I remember this type of pan from my childhood for making mini Dutch pancakes ‘poffertjes’, but to you it may be an aebelskiver pan, used for making similar Danish goodies. It makes total sense to use them for cooking falafels or patties on a hob/stove with minimal oil. You can see below the tiny drops of oil in each hollow which proved to be a perfect amount…

I used it for the first time today for falafels and I will definitely use it again for these and other concoctions. 

The recipe I’m sharing below is a pretty standard falafel recipe, it is simple to play with it and create your own versions however. Today I threw together chickpeas, spring onions, garlic, dried herbs, spices, chickpea flour and lemon juice and it worked a treat! I got in there with my hands and started making little balls of mix which I flattened slightly in preparation to cook them. 

I have to tell you – I didn’t weigh or measure anything and I produced the perfect number of patties for the pan by pure luck….or sheer fluke!!!

Ingredients

250g dried chickpeas, placed in a large bowl of water and soaked overnight
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Flour of your choice as needed – I used chickpea flour, but it can be any flour 
Some people also add half a teaspoon of baking powder, I didn’t this time


Method

Wash and drain the chickpeas
Put everything EXCEPT the flour in a blender and chop to a chunky crumb, then put it all into a large bowl
Add enough flour to bring the mixture together in your hands, then create small balls of the mix and flatten them slightly to make the falafel shape 
Put your poffertjes pan over a low/medium heat and place a small amount of oil in each dip and allow it to heat up briefly
Place a falafel in each dip and cook for about 15 minutes depending on the size and the heat your using, I kept checking mine and moving the pan around as it doesn’t sit evenly over the gas on the hob/stove 

I served mine on freshly made homous as is traditional, I highly recommend it! 

I’m taking my falafels to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls and Antonia

In a pickle?

After reading the post about pickled red onions from Frugal Hausfrau recently, I decided it was time for me to get in a pickle! But of course, it would have to be my way. So I filled a jar with sliced red onions, sliced garlic, coriander seeds & cumin seeds, and filled it with a pickling fluid of apple cider vinegar, salt and the tiniest pinch of sugar..

I left them in the fridge for several weeks, and then started to taste and experiment with them. What I liked the most was the pickled spices, so I filled a jar with mostly them too!

A typical pickling juice is vinegar boiled with some salt and sugar then poured over whatever you wish to pickle. Then it’s down to you to enhance it with whatever aromatics take your fancy. Apple cider vinegar is quite a gentle acid, and works well, but white vinegar works just as well. It all depends how sharp you like your pickles. 

I’ve also pickled lots of whole garlic cloves – and they turn blue! Which is meant to be a good thing – healthy blue food, who knew??? (See below)

Aside from eating my pickled onions with a meal, I’ve also added them to various concoctions…

This is a ‘salad’ of chopped fresh parsley and coriander with lots of the pickled red onions and garlic and whole spices, using some of the pickling liquid with olive oil to create the texture. 

Tasty with everything, including roasted cauliflower with added leaves, tahini and dried barberries, providing a pop of sweet against the acidity of the pickles.

Or atop roasted aubergine slices topped with a Greek yoghurt & ricotta dressing, topped with pul biber chilli flakes and extra roasted coriander seeds.

I also used some of the pickles as a marinade, mixed with olive oil and roasted cherry tomatoes above.

And some more with cooled roasted aubergine slices and added pickled garlic – see the blue garlic slices? 

I left this mix to brew for a couple of days before adding some of both creations to some chopped leaves, below, with added roasted seeds..

I’m definitely a pickling convert, and having them in the fridge proves very useful. You can pretty much pickle anything, whether raw or cooked, so…

….what will you pickle today?

A salad of dreams…

…well, to me anyway!!! 

I’ve made this salad several times recently because it’s been so good! It’s eminently pimpable, and even better 2-3 days later, so a winner in my book.

When I think of the salads of the past, of a bit of limp lettuce, a few slices of tomatoes and a bit of cucumber, I can see why people might think salads are boring…but this is nowhere close to boring. Not to me anyway….red onion, tomato, chickpeas, sweet potato, spices, flavours….it’s all good 🙂

Having just thrown this together, I have guesstimated the quantities that I used, feel free to amend based on taste and discovery…

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 can/jar chickpeas, drained and washed 

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 tsp pul biber chilli flakes 

1 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder 

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped 

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional) 

Olive oil 

Method

Mix together the tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, tamarind, lemon juice and spices. Stir it well then leave it for the flavours to develop and the juice to emerge from the tomatoes. 

*I leave mine overnight in the fridge for use the following day, although, it is already tasty once you’ve made it, it will be even tastier after a few hours. 

A few hours later, or the next day, boil the sweet potato chunks until they’re nicely cooked but not disintegrating. Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Put the salad together by adding the sweet potato to the tomato and onion mix, add your coriander and parsley, if using, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve on its own as a meal, or with a meal, and be prepared to want to lick the plate! 

Note: if you find the mixture of tangy flavours too sharp, swap the pomegranate molasses for some a little bit of honey.

I’ve also made this with lots of extra coriander and parsley and minus the sweet potato and the flavours are still so good.

It would also be great with any kind of grains soaking up those lovely flavours…actually, now that I’m reminded of how good it is, I think I’ll make some more, right now….

I’m taking my salad of dreams to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted by the lovely Jhuls and Ai…check it out for a great collection of recipes…

Smoky aubergine & lentil dip, preserved roasted red onion relish, and everything in between…

This week I made this lovely dip from Hanady’s blog, it’s made with gorgeous soft aubergine flesh and lentils – the recipe calls for green lentils, i used brown ones and they worked great. 

With the leftover lentils, I mixed them with chopped fresh coriander & parsley, garlic and spring onions, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and left them to marinade for a few hours. This is what I served some of the dip with, above, and then threw over some dried barberries, below..

Which I ate with grilled slices of courgette…

Do check out Hanady’s recipe, it’s lovely, as is all of her blog

With the leftovers of the leftovers I made myself a little platter of the aubergine and lentil dip, the lentil and herb salad, and I blended some of the herb and lentil mix with some yoghurt and tahini to form a third concoction…

And then the rest of the herb and lentil salad got added to some more chopped herbs and spring onions and quinoa…

Which I ate with some of the preserved roasted red onion relish…

….which brings me onto Laura’s excellent recipe

I love roasted red onions, and I love the idea of any relish, but not all of the sugar that they usually require. Laura’s recipe includes no sugar at all! Hurrah!!!!! It’s just the onions, salt, and apple cider vinegar. 

I’ve now made a couple of batches of this, and I will probably continually remake it as my stocks diminish. I’ve added the onions to everything: salads, dips, grains, veg, my husband has added it to his homemade chicken burgers and thrown some over pizzas, it’s so fab to have a jar of in the fridge. 

This week’s onions are so purple, the colour is lovely, last week’s were more red..

The slight amendments I’ve made to Laura’s recipe is that I roast my onions in a tiny drizzle of olive oil, uncovered, and keep them moving during the roasting time; then I chop them quite finely. I also scrape out all of the sticky bits of roasted onion from the pan into the mixture. But otherwise, it’s all thanks to Laura for this one 🙂

This adds to the collection of jars of goodies that I have in my fridge, always jars and jars of homemade goodness…

A shot of all of the jars of my creations in my fridge last week – I do love having a fridge full of possibilities!!! 

I hope you’ve had a great weekend, and have a great weekend to come. I’m going to take Hanady’s and Laura’s inspirations over to this week’s Fiesta Friday and share my leftover creations with this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice collection…

Butternut squash kibbeh…

A typical middle eastern ‘kibbeh’ dish would include meat; this being my blog, and me being wholeheartedly vegetarian, this version does not…it is however, a really simple dish to make, eminently useful if you have any vegetarian guests at any time, and great for leftovers and weekday lunches. 

Of course, I threw mine together, but for more detail, you could refer to this recipe for a sweet potato version. 

In essence, this is a bake, almost a cake, utilising the grains to draw moisture from the vegetable of choice as it cooks, to create a finished article that holds together when you cut into it. 

I made my kibbeh in the photos using butternut squash that I had previously baked, mashed with a bulgur wheat and red and white quinoa mix, ground cumin, ground coriander, finely chopped red onion, olive oil and a pinch of salt. 

This was spooned over a bed of sliced red onions drizzled with olive oil, and baked for 25-30 minutes. 

And it’s done! 

You could easily add other spices and/or herbs to create your own flavours, I think some ras el hanout or baharat would be good. You could also play with using other vegetables and grains; I’ve made very similar dishes using a spiced tomato base and quinoa, I think it’s an easy basis to experiment with.

This was another one I’ve made recently using only bulgur wheat, and you can see how it keeps its shape when cut. 

It’s easy to cut into pieces and serve slices, when it’s hot or cold. And very tasty with any array of homous, dips, salsas, chimichurri…

I had some leftovers with extra caramelised onions and a dressing of buttermilk, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. The sweetness of the butternut squash/sweet potato, however you make it, works well with slightly tart of acidic flavours. Goats cheese would be perfect! 

I hope you like my offering for the week, I’ll be bringing it over to Fiesta Friday to see who I can tempt 🙂 

Have a great weekend, and happy Easter! 

A ‘green harissa’ feast..

I recently came across a ‘verbena harissa’ that sounded and looked interesting…so I read the ingredients and created a version of my own…

Look at all that green goodness! I think it worked well, I’m thoroughly enjoying eating it anyway.. My experimental recipe is below.

Yesterday I reheated some leftover roasted vegetables from our Sunday lunch, added some freekeh..

..then spooned over lots of my green concoction and drizzled with tahini..

OMG! Heavenly!! There literally aren’t the words to tell you how good it was! 
So, back to my ‘green harissa’..


Ingredients

Frozen spinach, 6-7 cubes, defrosted & drained 

Frozen peas, defrosted & drained 

Coriander, small bunch

Dried parsley, 1 tbsp

Dried lemon verbena, 2 big pinches 

Preserved lemon, 1 washed & finely chopped

Garlic, 1-2 cloves depending on size peeled

Spices: equal amounts of  cumin, coriander & caraway seeds and star anise, toasted, cooled and ground, then 2-3 tsp added to the mix, you can store any leftovers for future and other uses 

Aleppo chilli flakes, 1-2 tbsp depending on taste

Pinch of salt 

Vegetable OR rapeseed oil, 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp as required 

Method

Except for the peas, put everything into a blender and process it to a consistency you like

Remove from the blender and stir the peas in gently by hand

Spoon into a jar and store in the fridge overnight for the flavour to develop

To use: remove from the fridge an hour before use, stir well and use at will!

An attempt at a close up 

What do you think? I hope you think it looks as interesting as it tastes..I’m sharing this with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Margy and Anugya..