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. 


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)


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…

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


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


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

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


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


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! 

My lunch feast: a royal dal, with ‘churma’ crumb, peanut butter chutney, and red onion & tomato curry..


 A couple of weeks ago, Naina brought a wonderful selection of dishes to Fiesta Friday, it consisted of several Rajasthani dishes, including a mixed lentil dal and ‘churma’, a crumb for sprinkling over the dal, almost like an Indian dukkah…check it out, it all looked beautiful…

A ROYAL REPAST: DAL BAATI CHURMA: a heavenly dish with three delectable elements from the princely state of Rajasthan, India!

Of course, it piqued my interest greatly, so I made the dal and churma this week for lunch with my lovely friend, and added a peanut butter chutney, and my own version of a gravy, plus some roasted cauliflower.  

   I’d like to share a few notes on the dishes of Naina’s that I made, as well as sharing the recipes for my ‘gravy’ and the peanut butter chutney. 

 I followed Naina’s recipe completely for the dal..

  For the churma, I did make a couple of changes..the recipe calls for ghee, which I replaced with coconut oil. The recipe also calls for sugar added to the crumb which I replaced with some ground cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt to make a savoury version which is more to my taste.  

  The peanut butter chutney was inspired by Mallika Basu, a food writer that I follow on Instagram. She posted a quick peanut butter chutney which I based mine on, but it then grew..basically, I started adding more things! So this is how it began…

  ..but I translated teaspoons to tablespoons and made a bigger serving, plus I added garlic paste and some chilli powder. 
It was so good over the cauliflower, in fact, I’m discovering it’s good over anything. 

  And finally, my gravy. I probably didn’t really need another dish, but I wanted some kind of sauce, plus I made enough to eat it for several more days which I always like. I do like to open my fridge and see a range of things that I’ve made that I can select from during the week. 

2 tbsp Coconut oil

2 tsp Mustard seeds

2 tsp Cumin seeds

4 Cardamom pods

1 Cinnamon stick

1 Dried red chilli

4 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped 

1 tbsp Ginger paste

1 tbsp of my curry paste (garlic, ginger, green chillies, turmeric, cumin, coriander – more details soon) 

2 tsp Ground cumin & coriander 

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Chilli powder

680g Passata + 1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp Amchoor powder 


Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon & dried chilli. 

When the seeds start to sizzle, add the chopped red onions and cook over a medium/low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger paste and curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and cook for a minute, then add the passata and water and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 

Finally add the amchoor powder, stir through and cook for a further few minutes. 

Eat on its own or add your choice of vegetables and/or chicken. Or, like I did, throw over some of the leftover churma and enjoy.. 

 I hope my Fiesta Friday family will enjoy my lunch feast, join in the fun with Mila and Hilda and share your dishes 🙂 

Have a great weekend!

Shawarma spiced vegetables and chickpeas…and why you should be a Fiesta Friday co host..

 This is the kind of food I could, and do, eat daily; packed full of root vegetables and garlic and spices, it’s the kind of thing you’ll find in lots of food publications as something new and exciting at the moment….in my kitchen it’s an old favourite 🙂 

It’s not a long or complicated recipe which is great as I want to also take the opportunity to tell you about being a co host for Fiesta Friday. I have co hosted for Angie several times now and it struck me that maybe not everyone knows what that means or what the undertaking is, so I thought I’d explain it a bit more (it’s okay it’s only brief) and maybe inspire some new co hosts..

What is co hosting?

Fiesta Friday was created by the wonderful Angie as a weekly blog party for bloggers to share posts, chat, meet new bloggers and generally have their own Friday night party, full of international guests, without leaving the house! As a co host your role is to support Angie, because there really is too much to do for one person, but also, it’s a thank you to Angie for creating this great space. 

What does it entail?

To do this, your job as co host is to share the reading of the posts that are linked up, thank the writers for joining the party and commenting on their dish/post/story. There are usually at least two co hosts and you can share the posts between you, and/or read them all.

What are the benefits of co hosting? 

Co hosting gives you the opportunity to mingle with your known fellow bloggers, but also to meet lots of new bloggers, and be inspired by new recipes or stories. And at the same, they get to meet YOU! It’s basically free publicity 🙂 
And…it’s good fun! I always worry whether I’ll be overwhelmed by all of the reading, but I never am, I just enjoy meeting and greeting the bloggers, and seeing lots of amazing food!!!! 

So, I say, do it! Ask Angie if you can get involved…

Now, onto the food..

Basically, all I’ve done here is pan cook a selection of peeled and cubed sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots in a large pan with some coconut oil; along the way I threw in some whole garlic cloves and chickpeas and some shawarma spice mix – a middle eastern spice mix including cinnamon and cloves – but any spice mix of your choice would work. 

If you fancy making a shawarma mix of your own, give this a try:

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

I add it to lots of vegetable dishes, but it’s also good to mix with plain yogurt and marinade chunks of chicken or lamb in for several hours and then grill it. 

As you cook the vegetables, you will need to add small amounts of water to assist in cooking them through, and loosen the spices from the pan..but the key is to stick with it and give the vegetables a chance to really cook well over a medium heat and maybe even caramelise..

And then eat it that day and for several days after that! Yum! 

Consider topping a portion with tahini sauce or homous too 🙂 

Can I tempt you?? No, okay then, excellent…I can happily eat it all myself! 😉

I’m bring this to share at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the wonderful Sonal and Petra..pop over and join in and think about co hosting in the future..:)

Homemade baked beans for this week’s fiesta! 

Today it is my honour to be co hosting Fiesta Friday again, along with the lovely Julie from Hostess at Heart – check out the fabulous bread she’s been making recently – we hope you will join us for the party, join the chat, and see what everyone is bringing along 🙂 

For me, I’ve got several dishes ready to share with you all so I’ve had to be tough on myself and get decisive. And I decided to go for the beans!  

I’m afraid I don’t like tinned baked beans. I realise that may be sacrilege to many, but for me, they’re just too sweet, and have never been very appealing. I do cook many cans of the Heinz variety, however, as they are very popular with my menfolk, and, weirdly, whenever my Grandmother laid on a ‘salad’, she thought it was the height of sophistication to (in amongst the standard iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber) include a bowl of cold baked beans as part of the selection!!! It couldn’t be further from my idea of a salad really…however, that is not what I’m here to debate…

I’m here to share my homemade ‘baked beans’. A very yummy dish, perfect for the cold weather, perfect to eat on their own, as a side dish, on toast, or over grains, as I did. Hot or cold, they’re good. And being homemade, there’s no chance of any hidden sugar or nasties.

I made my beans with black eyed beans because that’s what I had to hand, cannelini or haricot beans would be more typical, but really, I’d pick whatever beans you like! 


Coconut oil, 1-2 tbsp

1 red onion, chopped 

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 x 400g tin of your chosen beans, rinsed and drained OR 1 full cup of home cooked beans, drained 

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes or passata 

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika 

Salt and pepper to taste

Note: Many recipes for homemade baked beans include some of sweet element like honey or maple syrup, or indeed sugar, but I didn’t, and the dish didn’t appear to be missing anything to me. 


Heat the coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat, once melted, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it softens

Add the garlic and cook briefly 

Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato purée, sauces, paprika and seasoning

Simmer for 5-10 minutes

Eat however you like! I ate the beans over a few days as I made double the amount above, including with eggs on one occasion.. 

These beans were inspired by the lovely dish that Jhuls made for my What would you feed me? guest series last year – I just wish I’d made them sooner! 

Grab a fork and dig in! Enjoy!!

Have a great weekend and enjoy Fiesta Friday xx

2015 : the year of sourdough..

  I’ve been going round and round thinking of how to end the year here on my blog, and I realised that there is only one possible way: with sourdough!  

 2015 is the year that I was introduced to sourdough bread and the year has been punctuated with many and various loaves, high and lows, and always learning. 

I baked my first sourdough loaf on 20th January, having been sent some sourdough starter and comprehensive instructions by the lovely Selma. I’d never even tried sourdough bread, but had been totally drawn to the idea of baking it after seeing Selma’s loaves and hearing her enthusiasm for the process and outcome, she held my hand all the way through that first exploration, and for the following months as I got to grips with this new way of baking bread. And I’ve loved it!! I’m so grateful to Selma, and Celia, for bringing this into my world, it’s been great fun. 

I’ve recently been experimenting with different mixes of flours: kamut flour, spelt flour, rye flour, plus adding different seeds. I’ve made a couple of loaves recently including roasted pumpkin seeds which have been really good!  

  Today I began the last day of the year by heating the oven at 6.30am and baking a dough that’s been proving in a banneton in the fridge for the last week. It’s a mix of kamut flour, spelt flour and strong white flour.. 

 I baked it in my enamel roaster, as originally guided by Selma and Celia, and it came out perfectly.. 

   What better way to end the year? And to remember Selma..the first half of this year is full of wonderful memories of lovely Selma, and everything we shared; the second half of the year is full things I wish I could have continued to share with her and of missing her 😦

I’ve loved learning to bake sourdough and watching my son enjoy eating it is a real gift, and so I hope you understand why I chose to end the year with my bread..it’s a gift that Selma gave me that will last for many years to come. 

I also wanted to have something special to share with this week’s amazing 100th Fiesta Friday blog party. 100!!! And it’s been going for two years! Wow! Such an a amazing achievement. The #100 party has been going on over the last week and is being hosted not only by its wonderful creator Angie but also Ginger, Suzanne, Judi and Mollie. Please pop over and see what everyone is bringing to the celebration. 

For now, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year, with best wishes for a wonderful 2016, and so many thanks for all of your support this year xx 


Za’atar & goats cheese mixed flour sourdough bread…

 I’ve been having fun with my sourdough starter again recently, as you will have seen from my previous post, and may have already seen on Instagram…? Well, this loaf was my biggest experiment yet… 

I’ve seen lots of wonderful looking filled or flavoured loaves of bread on others people’s blogs and have wanted to try out some ideas but wasn’t sure what effect the added ingredients would have on the dough. This week I had put together two different sourdough doughs so decided to risk one of them. 

The dough was a mixture of spelt flour, kamut/Khorason flour and a smaller amount of strong white flour, consequently the dough was quite sloppy and not the easiest to work with. When you use spelt flour, whether using 100% spelt or with a small percentage of other strong bread flours as I did here, the dough initially feels quite sturdy, but quickly loosens up as it proves, it is therefore often useful to bake the bread in a tin to help it keep a shape. I didn’t do that this time which is why when you bake the bread, the dough spreads before it rises during the bake, hence why the bread looks flatter than previous loaves, it made up for its looks in taste though 🙂  

So, I basically put the dough together based on the overnight recipe I’ve used many times before, using 200g spelt flour, 200g kamut flour & 100g strong white flour, 160g bubbly starter & 290g water. It developed and rose beautifully overnight and the next day I used a scraper to pour the dough onto a large tray sprinkled with flour and crumbled mild goats cheese over the top along with some za’atar mixed with olive oil.. 

I then had to use the scraper to loosely mix it through the dough, I didn’t work it too much, then left it to rise again whilst I heated the oven.. 

I heated the oven to 250C (fan) then poured – yes, poured, it was that sloppy! – the dough into my roasting pan, put the lid on, turned the oven down to 220C and baked it for 30 minutes with the lid on, and a further 12 minutes without it. The smell as it baked was AMAZING!!!!!!! OMG! spelt smells amazing as you bake it, so does kamut, put them together with the spices, and woohoo!!! heaven in your nose!  

  I ate it on its own yesterday, it didn’t need anything with it to be honest. By this morning the aroma of the za’atar filled the kitchen and it took all my will power to wait until lunch time to have some! 

I toasted a couple of slices and topped them with ricotta cheese and some cherry tomatoes and garlic that I had slow roasted yesterday.. 

  So good!! And check me out using my gorgeous new bowls from Sytch Farm Studios – I’ve been looking at them and loving them for three weeks now so finally decided to use them…I struggle to use new things! I like to cherish them in all their new beautiful glory for a while, I’m exactly the same with clothes!!

Anyway, I hope you feel inspired to chuck something new in your dough, next time I will add more goats cheese, as it got a bit lost. I hope my lovely friends at this week’s Fiesta Friday enjoy my loaf, do join us and our lovely co hosts this week, the fabulous Linda and Caroline

Have a great weekend!