Tag: Middle Eastern

roast cauliflower
Gluten Free, Lunch, Spring, Vegetable, Winter

Whole Roast Cauliflower

This spiced-up whole roast cauliflower with lemony herb yoghurt is bringing sunshine into my winter.  I have made this several times over the past few weeks and I think it would be just as delicious as a spring vegetable for my friends on the other side of the world. For us, cauliflower is in season – along with snow and heavy frosts – letting us know that as of June 1 Autumn is finished for another year and it is time to lean into winter. A few remnants of the final fruits of the autumn still linger, clinging to the branches or lying on the ground returning to the soil – I hope that these will provide compost for the next seasons crop.  It is time now though, to light the fire and think about warming winter comfort foods to tempt my friends and family out on cold and stormy evenings. Cooking a whole cauliflower does offer a few conundrums – such as whether to steam it first or just to let it cook slowly in the oven. At this point I have decided it depends for me on what is going on in the oven and with my time.  Steaming, or dare I say it, even steaming in the microwave will definitely hurry the roasting process and allow you to just give it a quick char grill in the oven. But, if you have the oven on anyway it is fine to cook it in there.  One tip I […]

tahini eggplant bake
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable, Winter

Tahini Eggplant Bake

This is delicious winter comfort food that can be served as a side dish, or the main event.  It is also exciting because this vegan and gluten free bake is comfort food at its wintery best. I was was inspired in this dish by the Lamb Siniyah recipe in the beautiful Ottolenghi book Simple, a recipe described as the middle eastern equivalent of Shepherds Pie. I absolutely loved this recipe and the tahini sauce baked on top was a revelation to me.  I have since talked it up and spent a lot of time in the middle of the night creating recipes to use it. This is the first of my experiments and one that I have enjoyed three times already and now a forth in the writing and photographing of it for this post. I have made it in my favourite smallish 5 cup capacity enamel baking pan and find it is the perfect size for four people as a side vegetable dish or two as main meal with side salad.  This is another of those recipes that can easily be doubled or more to feed a crowd.  It is also great, and possibly even better (as are most similar baked dishes) the next day.  This also makes me very happy when Ed is away and I am cooking for one as it is delicious as leftovers and makes a tasty easy start to the next days meal. Today I had a friend coming to visit and I wanted […]

labna and char grilled vegetables
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Lunch

Labna Yoghurt – Everyday Delicious

Welcome to 2019, I wish you all well and I hope it holds everything good for you. I did have a momentary panic as I sat down at the computer this morning, wondering if I would even remember how to open this blog — it feels it has been a long time since I have sat myself down and written anything, being busy and being creative it would seem do not go hand in hand for me.  Luckily life seems to be in some sort of order now (an optimistic view of my normal state of semi controlled chaos) and with the madness of Christmas behind me I am looking forward to some slightly more considered and creative eating and cooking. As always for me it is condiments that star in my cooking and the main player the last few weeks has been strained yoghurt called Labna or Labneh.   Labna is a Middle Eastern staple made by straining yoghurt to remove excess whey and resulting in a thickened slightly sour spread.  Inspired by both some delicious Turkish eggs eaten at a local cafe, and a recipe from Ottolinghi s new book – Simple – for “Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt”.   I was ready to make again that staple I have talked of before Labna/Labnah.   While both these recipes use greek yoghurt I wanted to make my own version of this thickened greek style yoghurt in order to control the thickness. With Labna you can choose how thick you […]

carrot and white bean falafel
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Snack

Carrot and White bean Falafel

Spicy little “falafel’ that hold together well and can be made to what ever size suits in the moment – pan fry them bake them or waffle them.  Make them into little snack size balls and serve canape style with chilli sauce and or a citrus tahini, wrap them in a tortilla, a lettuce burger or on top of a salad,  waffle them for a power breakfast, or maybe even try them with a curry sauce or dahl and some naan breads or chapati and a cucumber raita…. I am of course waiting to be struck down by the middle  eastern food gods for calling these falafel – no chickpeas? carrots? …madness!  In my defence – I do feel that these capture the feeling of the falafel I know and love and offer something a little bit same but different to try. As I was making these and thinking about flavours, I got a little distracted, wanting to share my thoughts on caramelising onions.  The humble onion is the perfect, affordable, accessible, non seasonal vegetable for creating unbeatable umami flavour.  Herbs and spices hit the high notes of flavour but the caramelised onion base in anything you cook with onions gives a balanced, comforting, deep flavour base.  It gives what ever you cook – soup, meat sauce/ragu, frittata… the unmistakable feel of something cooked with patience, skill and an understanding of flavour. I’m not talking about anything tricky or requiring great skill – all the caramelising of onions requires is […]

medjool date and char grilled broccoli salad
Autumn, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Winter

Medjool Date and Char Grilled Broccoli Salad

Another salad with enough weight and complexity to be eaten as a meal on its own – as lunch or supper,  but also fantastic as a side to whatever else might be on the menu.  Although my mind is on spring this salad would work in any season.  It has all the elements you are looking for in a delicious salad – something raw and zingy in the red onion, something crunchy with your croutons and almonds, something rich to carry the flavours and make it a substantial in the cheese, and something green and virtuous in the broccoli.  Spinach or rocket tossed through this is also a great idea. Medjool dates are certainly a luxury item and I will often use ordinary dry dates in  baking recipes soaking them to reconstitute if necessary.  But if you haven’t tried them before I suggest you treat your self to a handful of  fresh medjool dates.  Easy to prepare,  you can simply tear them in half and remove the seed and put a brazil nut in its place for  one of the best instant healthy treats you will ever eat – great for two or three o’clock in the afternoon when you start circling the refrigerator ready to eat anything quick and easy and usually not recommended for best health.  Or you can take them to the next level, by warming a little olive oil in a pan and sautéing them carefully with a pinch of flakey malden sea salt (as I […]

muhammara
Autumn, Condiments, Gluten Free, Snack

Smokey Pepper and Walnut Muhammara

Another taste of the middle east, another condiment to make life better, to make the ordinary extraordinary.  Maybe I am over stating the case – trying to catch your attention with bold claims.  In truth – I really do love the way having bold flavoured condiments in my pantry and refrigerator can take a group of ingredients and make them special. I wrote a while ago about trying to cook once and eat twice and in many ways I fail absolutely in this – there is either too much or not enough when it comes to leftovers and somehow they rarely work out to be that clever meal remade into something new and exciting the next day.  Condiments are my exception to this, they really are the magic to make meals great and I love having a changing mix of these to make my every day meals better. This sauce is great in that the flavours come together and get even better over a few days and keep for up to a week in your refrigerator.   There are so many ways you can use your Muhammara … In your favourite burger or slider or wrap. Dolloped over your roast vegetable salad. Beside your roast beef, lamb or chicken. Spooned into a jacket roast potato or sweet potato. On your antipasto platter with crusty bread, olives, aged hard cheeses such as goudas, pecorino and chedder and chargrilled vegetables. As part of your mixed lunch salad bowl with some grain,avocado, tomato, […]

shakshuka
Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Meal, Snack

Zhoug – spicy-green-delicious

Zhoug, shakshuka, labna, all words my computer would rather I changed, but which offer a delicious look into another world of  vibrant and exciting foods and flavours. Today it is all about Zhoug. This spicy middle eastern condiment,originally from Yemen and now a favourite in Israel, had somehow missed my food radar. Happily Lily, an inspiring young work colleague – knowing my love of middle eastern foods –  bought me a small jar of both a red and a green zhoug that her father had made.   I was immediately hooked and needing to be able to make this myself, I turned to my ridiculously large collection of recipe books – (it is always good to have an excuse to justify the purchase of more though!) – and found this sauce in a number of my middle eastern recipe books.  After some further reading and research, (reality says – lying around, thumbing through recipe books and surfing the food files of the internet), I have been happily giving these recipes a try! I am sure the real deal is different in its nuances, but I am so happy with the results that I think you should give it a try too.  It will warm up just about anything you wish to eat and will be something you are happy to find in your refrigerator – my friend Lily said you can even freeze it!  Most importantly, this isn’t all about the chilli, it is a whole palate of flavours giving this […]