Luscious lunches…

It’s been a little while since I shared some of my lunches, so here’s a few to tempt your tastebuds…and maybe your eyes…

To start, here’s some roasted butternut squash wedges, drizzled with a sauce of chickpeas, kefir yoghurt, tahini & garlic; with a green sauce of avocado, parsley, coriander, kefir yoghurt, mixed roasted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower & linseeds), garlic, chilli, lemon juice & salt; and with a salsa of parsley, coriander, garlic, spring onions, chilli, roast cumin, olive oil & apple cider vinegar; with toasted pine nuts…

Or…baked aubergines loaded with my Mexican chilli sauce, topped with grated cheese, spring onions, chillies, soured cream and lovely, soft avocado…

A quick pan full of flavour made from a can of chopped tomatoes + several tablespoons of my own harissa plus a teaspoon or two of ras el hanout, an egg in the middle, a sprinkle of leftover Parmesan and a sprinkle of home roasted seeds…

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…

Plus I’ve been whizzing up various sauces and dips and pastes as usual…

I do like mixing up leftovers and concocting something completely new…this began life as homemade chermoula (fresh parsley, fresh coriander, garlic, sweet paprika, ground cumin, pul biber chilli flakes, olive oil & lemon juice), to which I added some defrosted peas and spinach; and then mixed with my leftover mutabal (aubergine, tahini, lemon juice, yoghurt, cumin & garlic), and it’s now a whole new level of GOOD!

Below is a preserved lemon and olive harissa…
Lunch anyone?

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. 

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! 

Loaded sweet potato wedges…

This dish was part of a Mexican feast that I served for lunch last weekend, and it was so good, I’m still salivating about it!!!! 

So although it’s not ground breaking in any way, I’m sharing it for the sheer joy of it 🙂 

It’s basically loaded nachos, but with sweet potato wedges instead of nacho chips. 

I roasted some sweet potato wedges and laid them in a single layer on a large plate; I covered them with some of my mixed bean chilli, made with one of my homemade Mexican chilli sauces; then covered it all with a mixture of grated cheddar and Red Leicester cheeses. That went in the oven for the cheese to melt, then I topped it all with jalapeños, chopped mild green chillies, chopped spring onion and soured cream. 

I can tell you, it didn’t last very long at all!!!! 

Need I say anymore?! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all had a great week and have a great weekend ahead. Now, it’s  Fiesta Friday time…! 

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 🙂

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 🙂 

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

Cauliflower and chickpeas ❤

There are some dishes that stay in your heart, that you never tire of…my marinated cauliflower is one of them…I made it again last week, and this time made my version with added chickpeas, and fell in love all over again!!! (I have to make it in small batches because I know I will eat the whole thing!)

Heavenly!

I’ve learnt from each time I’ve cooked this dish, and I now know to cook it for longer than I did originally. I can’t tell you exactly how long though, I just keep a watch on it. If you can be patience and take it right to the edge, it will reward you with crunchy cauliflower and gorgeous chickpeas 🙂 

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..

Spiced coconut chips..

I’ve been play in my kitchen…nothing new there, I know…;)

This time it’s been with coconut chips. 

I don’t eat crisps or chips (whatever you call them in your part of the globe) but if you’d like an alternative option to those fried potato morsels, give this a go, if you get the flavouring right, I’d challenge you to miss your usual crisps, and you’ll have a healthier version.

It all started with a big bag of raw coconut chips, which I toasted in the oven:

I laid the chips out in a single layer on my oven tray then put it in the oven at 180C. To be honest, the oven could be set a bit lower and I think it would still have been fine. You really need to watch them, they toast very quickly so you need to stay on hand to take the tray out, move the chips around, then put the tray back in the oven and keep doing this until they’re all toasted how you want..

Whilst they’re warm, they remain soft. As they cool, they get nice and crispy, and they’re good just like that. 

However, whilst they’re warm is the perfect time to toss them with your chosen flavouring, then leave them to crisp up and take on the spices. 

I mixed some of the chips with my chai spice mix…

…some with my rose harissa spice mix…

…and (no individual photo) some with my barbecue spice mix from my previous post (which I’m very proud to say has been featured on this week’s Fiesta Friday picks).

They work REALLY well, if you like barbecue spiced crisps, this combination is a winner, the harissa ones are good too, and the chai spiced ones are a great addition to your breakfast. And if you don’t like coconut, don’t be put off, to be honest, you don’t really taste it! 

I hope you like my creations, happy Friday and happy weekend!