Tag Archives: fiesta friday

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 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

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 🙂

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

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 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. whole 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 pan of vegetables, egg, avocado and goats cheese..

How often do cooks/food bloggers contemplate ‘what constitutes a recipe?’? I’ve seen so many other bloggers ponder the same question, especially when they want to share a dish that they don’t feel fulfils the requirements of a ‘recipe’; likewise, I’ve discarded many photos and ideas because I don’t feel that there’s sufficient substance to share…

But then, what IS a recipe? It is one persons view of a set of ingredients that go well together that they’d like to share with other people in case they might enjoy it. 

And how should those recipes then be used? Should they be followed to the letter? (I’m not talking about baking here, which tends to need to be quite precise). 

For me, a recipe is a suggestion, sometimes an education, often a starting point…I read recipes out of interest to see how someone else has put flavours together and I glean inspiration from their creativity and let it roll around my brain; I read recipes to learn about other cultures and cuisines; but I rarely follow a recipe absolutely nowadays. And I know that also comes with time and confidence…years ago I would have been absolutely paranoid about following a recipe perfectly, because I wasn’t yet a comfortable, or confident, cook. Nowadays I ‘interpret’ recipes to suit my food choices and tastes, whilst embracing the overall aim of the recipe, if that makes sense?! 

Anyway, all that is to say that I wasn’t going to share this dish as a post, because it’s something I threw together, but it was so tasty and satisfying that I do want to share it, and not just on Instagram, so that maybe, just maybe, it might inspire someone else…

This was so good, I made it again the next day! If its your thing, it’s also packed with protein, good fats and low in carbs, IF that’s your thing. 

What’s in it? 

Coconut oil

Red onion, chopped

Garlic cloves, chopped

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Rose harissa, several tablespoons 

Spinach, big handful

Baby avocado, chopped into cubes

Eggs, 2 

Goats cheese, crumbled 

Salt to taste 

In went about a tablespoon of coconut oil, followed by the red onion, which I cooked for a few minutes on its own so that it would caramelise a bit; then I added the garlic and tomatoes; then I stirred through the harissa, and added the spinach; I allowed the spinach leaves a couple of minutes to wilt, then stirred them in too; then added the avocado and made two spaces in the middle of it all to break the eggs into; as they cooked as sprinkled the goats cheese over the top to start melting slightly. 

And then I ate it all straight from the pan! (And almost cried when I finished it!!! I didn’t want it to end!) 

So, I give you, and everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, my non-recipe recipe! Enjoy for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner! 
This was also followed up later in the week by another version using my chipotle en adobe sauce…

This one is coconut oil, red onion, garlic, red pepper, chipotle sauce, baby plum tomatoes, eggs and ricotta. 

Again, eaten straight out of the pan! Yum!!!

Now head over and join the wonderful co hosts of this week’s Fiesta Friday, the lovely, lovely Linda, and Margy…now there’s two ladies whose amazing dishes will always inspire you! 

North Indian curry challenge..shahi paneer and gatta curry..

 In February I decided to take part in Lina’s North Indian curry challenge; Lina had put together a list inclduing vegetarian curry dishes for food bloggers to make should they choose to take part…and I did! 

 In fact, I chose two of the dishes, completely new dishes to me, to try making. I chose ‘gatta curry‘ and ‘shahi paneer‘. As you know, I love to cook Indian food, and I make lots of it, but these recipes were new to me, and I do love to learn new recipes and ideas, and I do love a challenge! 

I found recipes online, which I am linking to and fully encourage you to visit if you fancy making these dishes, I have no intention of reprinting their work; I can, however, tell you about the experience and the outcomes.

Firstly, the gatta curry.. 

This is a Rajasthani dish which includes ‘gatta’ or dumplings made from besan/chickpea flour, yoghurt and spices; you create a dough then roll it into cigars and boil them until they float to the top of the water; they are then cut up to be added to the sauce, which also includes yogurt and, of course, more spices..

  I really enjoyed making the dough and dumplings as I have never done so before but have seen similar recipes; it’s quite involved as there’s lots of different ingredients and parts to the recipe, but not difficult at all.
 This dish was very different from anything I have made or eaten before, and I can tell you that the gatta are quite heavy and very filling! And for me to say that is really something, I don’t feel full easily. The best part of the dish as far as I’m concerned, was the sauce.
Onto the shahi paneer.. 

This dish includes chunks of paneer cooked in a lovely cashew nut and tomato gravy. I really enjoyed making this because the recipe includes links to make tomato puree and onion puree, which I happily did, and am grateful that I now have that knowledge for the future. Making the onion puree includes blanching and puree onions and I know I will be doing that again and again, alongside my usual garlic and ginger purées..

I used red onions so my puree turned purple! 

The gravy is the best bit for me – I do like sauces! The basis of the gravy is quite a typical one like many I’ve made before, but this one includes some ground cashews; I’ve seen many Indian dishes utilising ground nuts in their sauces but had not yet tried it out, and again, I will using this practice over and over again. The addition of the cashews made the sauce lovely and rich, and slightly thicker. So good!!!!  

I’m still learning to like paneer, it’s not my favourite I’m afraid, but I will use the sauce recipe and add vegetables in the future. 

I am so glad that I took Lina’s challenge, I really enjoyed trying the different dishes and learning new techniques. I hope that Lina and the other challengers enjoy seeing what I made, especially Parul who is judging the vegetarian dishes. And I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday likes the look of my dishes, especially our lovely co hosts, Sonal and Laurie

Happy Weekend!