Tag Archives: fiesta friday

Uses for spice mixes…

Picture the scene: you’ve got a selection of spices mixes in your cupboard that you’ve made or bought for a particular recipe and never used again…or someone has bought you a great set of spice mixes from the lovely people at Spice Kitchen, for example, and you don’t know what to do with them, here’s some ideas for you. In fact, this is why I love making spice mixes because you can use them so easily.

Whatever the spice mix, whatever the origin, these ideas will work with whatever you’ve got to hand..

An easy dip

Stir a teaspoon of any spice mix into a small bowlful of natural yoghurt, ideally Greek yoghurt, or a mix of half yoghurt/half mayonnaise. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving. Stir again before serving. 

Pimp your homous:

Add a teaspoon of any spice mix to a pot of shop bought homous, or a small bowl of homemade homous. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving, it will be even better the next day. Stir again before serving. I particularly like using my Moroccan spice mix or harissa spice to do this. 

Eggs:

Sprinkle a pinch of spice mix over cooked eggs prior to eating.

Stir half a teaspoon of spice mix into scrambled eggs or an egg mixture prior to making an omelette. Try a Mexican spice mix for starters. 

Eggs and tomato sauce in one!

Tomato sauce:

Make an easy tomato sauce and add any of the spice mixes as it cooks.

Soups:

Add a teaspoon of the spice mix to any premade soup, or add several teaspoons to your own homemade soups as you cook the base ingredients.

I’ve made a lot of soups recently, for example, this soup above is made of olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, water and baharat spice mix. I’ve made similar in the past with Mexican and Indian spice mixes. 

Whereas this soup is made with cauliflower and a Japanese curry powder. 

Roasted chickpeas:

Drain a can or jar of chickpeas and toss with a tablespoon of oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice mix and roast in a single layer at 180C until the chickpeas look roasted and tasty, and before they start exploding in your oven.


Roasted nuts
:

Pretty much the same as above, more details on my post here. 


Rice/grains
:

Stir some spice mix through any cooked rice or grains prior to serving.


Salads
:

Mix a pinch of spice mix with homemade or shop bought salad dressing, or just sprinkle some spice mix over a salad just before serving.

Salsas:

Finely chop fresh mixed herbs, garlic, maybe a chilli, with olive oil, lemon juice/your choice of vinegar, and add some spice mix.


For marinading
:

Cut 2 your choice of vegetables or meat into chunks, put them into a plastic bag (preferably one without any holes) in it, add 2 heaped teaspoons of spice mix and shake the bag to mix it round and cover all of the chicken. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Alternatively, mix a couple of teaspoonfuls of spice mix with a couple of tablespoons of oil and create a paste. Add you choice of veg/meat and thoroughly stir it through the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Or, add a couple of tablespoons of spice mix to a couple of tablespoonfuls of natural yoghurt, below, and marinade as above. 


These work well if you are then grilling/broiling or barbecuing the vegetables/meat.


Roasting vegetables

Toss prepared vegetables in a drizzle of oil and a couple of teaspoons spice mix and roast until ready. More details here

OR…..throw some spice mix into your bread dough! 

I’m taking my spice mix ideas along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Ginger and Suzanne

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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

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 

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 πŸ™‚ 

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

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 

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

A chilli sauce with a twist..


When it comes to cooking, l’m always up for a challenge; to me, nothing is impossible, I’ll have a go at anything, as long as someone is going to eat it! So when Angie issued a recipe challenge, I was, naturally, curious…

Angie issued a Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge – healthy eating is my thing, that posed no threat to me, however, Angie also declared that the recipe must include leafy greens (no problem) and…..pineapple….there’s my challenge…!

I don’t eat or use much fruit, and I’m not a fan of anything sweet, so the thought of including pineapple, in any form in a dish, was a real challenge for me. I needed to let my brain ruminate and ponder and create a way to use pineapple in my way, in a dish that I would eat or serve my menfolk.

Hence, this chilli sauce… Yes! This chilli sauce includes pineapple. Freeze dried powdered pineapple to be exact. I found this freeze dried version in my local supermarket and I powdered it.

A lot of recipes I read for chilli sauces include some kind of sugar, and sometimes HUGE amounts of sugar! I do not eat refined sugar in any form, I do not eat sugar substitutes, and I don’t like honey or maple syrup, and I just can’t bring myself to add the required sugar to these recipes. If I make chilli sauces I therefore don’t add any sugar, but sometimes I can taste that it needs something to give it a final finish, so have tried adding cinnamon as an alternative, or even ‘anardana’, which is dried pomegranate powder, both of which were interesting. So, you guessed it, today I tried adding a bit of dried pineapple powder; it’s extremely sweet, to me anyway, so you don’t need much, and it worked very nicely! 

I was going to then add spinach to the sauce for the leafy green vegetable element but I didn’t want to muddy the colour, so I paired the sauce with spelt, spinach, red onions and garlic, and mixed it all together to eat it…


The sauce recipe..


This makes a lot of sauce, I don’t know how to make small quantities, plus I like to maximise my cooking and make batches of everything!

2 medium red onions, peeled

2 long red peppers

5 long red chillies

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 

2 bay leaves

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tbsp dried thyme 

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

And..

Several tablespoons of olive oil, apple cider vinegar & lemon juice

600g  passata, or a tin of chopped tomatoes plus a splash of water

3 tbsp tomato puree 

2 tsp pineapple powder

Method..

Roughly chop then blend the first 8 ingredients together to make a rough paste 



Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat 

Cook the paste in the olive oil for a few minutes

Add the passata, tomato puree, vinegar, lemon juice and pineapple powder and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes. 

Keep it covered to avoid splashes but stir occasionally

You can then blend the mixture again if you prefer it smoother 

It’s a tasty tasty thing! You can use it like I did, use it like a ragu, use it as a pasta sauce, whatever takes your fancy.

If you want to create this as a thicker, condiment sauce, reduce the amount of passata or even replace it with sunblushed tomatoes. 

For the spelt base, I heated olive oil in a small pan, cooked some chopped garlic, added some defrosted frozen spinach, some roasted red onions and cooked spelt and heated it all through. Mixed with the sauce, it was a lovely concoction.

My next plan is to use pineapple powder in a spice mix of some sort, possibly a barbecue spice rub…watch this space! 

So, thank you, Angie, for challenging me, I always enjoy it! And do check out what everyone else is creating

Daily fresh bread…my secret…

I’ve been doing something different with my breadmaking recently that I’d like to share..

In my house, my son loves my sourdough loaves (I make 3, sometimes 4, sourdough loaves a week for him), whereas my husband prefers a basic white loaf, and neither of them is keen on the other one’s choice! 

A recent sourdough loaf 

My man also prefers his bread no older than 1 day, so making an actual loaf for him doesn’t really work, it needs to be something smaller. So I’ve started making bread rolls or baguettes on a daily basis – but I’m NOT making the actual dough on a daily basis, which is what I thought I’d share with you. I find this method so useful..

On a Saturday morning, and again midweek, I make up a pretty standard bread dough (details below), leave it to rise briefly, maybe up to an hour, then put it in the fridge

That’s the key: the fridge. 

Bread dough will continue to prove in the fridge but at a much slower rate. And it can be in there for days, all week if you like!

When I am ready to bake, I take out a couple of handfuls of the dough and shape them, place them on baking parchment on a baking tray, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, and leave them to come to room temperature and prove for one last time for 1-2 hours. Then bake. Done!

Having the dough readily available also means that you could utilise some for pizza bases, or to make a slightly larger loaf on occasion, as I did last Friday evening to accompany their dinner..

Or knock up quick baguettes to accompany soup..

I have been including fine semolina flour in my dough to add some crispness to the crusts, but you don’t need to. I’ve also been adding olive oil for the flavour and goodness instead of butter. 

I also have portions of dough in the freezer; these are unlikely to rise enough to make a loaf but can be defrosted and used for flatbreads and pizza bases.

The recipe I use is below…place the ingredients into your mixing bowl in the order they are written..

1tsp salt

450g strong white flour

50g fine semolina 

1/2tsp dried yeast 

20g olive oil

280ml water 

Please note: flours around the world behave differently, some require more liquid than others, you may need a bit more water, see how your dough feels.

AND: the yeast does not need any special attention, it does NOT require sugar or warm water to activate it, all you need to do is sprinkle it across the flour then add your liquids. 

Squelch all of the ingredients together so that the flour is all incorporated, cover the bowl and leave it for an hour. 

After an hour, fold and knead the dough until it is a smooth ball. 

Leave to prove for an hour, then either take some out to use immediately or put the whole bowl in your fridge and use at will. 

I bake these rolls or baguettes, whatever I’ve decided to make, in the evening whilst I’m making dinner. If I’m roasting vegetables I bake at the same time and utilise the steam the vegetables create instead of putting a bowl of water in the oven. I leave them to cool, then bag them ready for the next morning for my husband to take to work. 

As a guide, I preheat my oven to 200C fan, put a bowl of boiling water in to create steam, and bake my rolls for 13-15 mins, and my baguettes for a bit longer. I tend to do it all by eye. 

I hope you find this useful too πŸ™‚

Happy Friday! I’m taking my bread ideas along to Fiesta Friday to join my roasted vegetable soup πŸ™‚

Rolls and sourdough baked last Sunday all ready for the start of the week  

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 appΓ©tit! 

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

SautΓ© 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, sautΓ© 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.