Healthy

Ottolenghi’s Shakshuka

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So we invested in a real, grown up dining table. I am getting so old getting excited about a table runner and reduced plate mats – there is no hope left. However, this did mean – my first dinner party! Even more exciting! (Told you I was old). My parents and my brother and his girlfriend joined James and I for my very first attempt at Shakshuka!

What is shakshuka then? Sounds like a noise rather than a word – but Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty (filled with delicious recipes) tells me it’s a North African dish with many variations, but nearly all will include a peppers/onions/tomatoes mixture with baked in eggs on top. It is ideal for brunch (I took that with a pinch of salt), and can be served in individual pans (who has 6, or even 4, individual pans?) or in one large pan. I clearly didn’t follow this too closely, but I feel like that’s pretty ok with this kind of dish. It is a mishmash of whatever you have, served whenever and however you want!

I cooked mine up in 2 pans so there was an egg for everyone, with a salad, some perfect roast potatoes (coming to the blog soon!), garlic bread and some feta to crumble over the Shakshuka. It wasn’t very expensive, like some Ottolenghi recipes can be, fairly easy as you can prepare the tomato mix well in advance, and went down an absolute treat.

Plenty is filled with amazing recipes, so it’s safe to say Ottolenghi’s new book Plenty More is in my shopping basket!

Serves 4 generously

Ingredients 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

180ml light olive or vegetable oil

2 large onions, sliced

2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cut into 2cm strips

4 tsp muscovado sugar

2 bay leaves

6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish

6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp saffron threads

pinch of cayenne pepper

up to 250ml water

8 free-range eggs

salt and black pepper

Recipe

In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high head for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high head for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.

Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. (You can prepare this mix well in advance).

Remove the bay leaves, then divide the mix among 4 deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. (I used two large frying pans). Place on a medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle head for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.

TIPS

Some add preserved lemons, feta or different herbs and spices. This can easily be readjusted to suit your needs – and eaten at any time of day or night!

Mushroom & Spinach Quesadillas with Sour Cream & Chive Dip

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Quesadillas – they have confused me for a while. They look delicious, but after trying and failing to make them on my George Forman years ago (what was I thinking?), I gave up. However, after a visit to Lucha Libre Liverpool and ordering the Mushroom and Spinach quesadillas – I fell in love with them all over again – they’re just like an inside out pizza! (You have to visit Lucha Libre ASAP by the way – Mexican food done right!) I needed to recreate them so found SORTED Food’s video of their sweet potato and blue cheese quesadillas – I will be trying them ASAP but James doesn’t share my love of blue cheese so that’ll have to be saved for cooking for one! These were delicious with the sour cream and chive dip I got from the boys at SORTED, and served up with my discovery of Pico de Gallo I talked about here. I made enough for 2 of us for a main and they went down a treat, with some leftovers for the next day too!

INGREDIENTS

Quesadillas

Chestnut mushrooms

Bag of washed spinach

100g cheddar cheese

6 flour tortillas

Sesame oil to fry

 

Sour Cream & Chive dip

200ml sour cream

Half a bunch of chives

Lemon

Salt

RECIPE

  1. I made the dip first, as the quesadillas are so quick to make! Chop up the chives quite finely, and combine in a bowl with the sour cream. Squeeze half a lemon juice in there, and sprinkle some extra chives on top! Easy.
  2. Next, I sliced the mushrooms and fried them on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, until just cooked through. Then I threw in the spinach to wilt down at the last second. Once cooked I put the mixture to one side to begin to assemble!
  3. I grated the cheese up and tried to use it as a glue to hold it all together! I lay out 3 tortillas, and sprinkled a layer of cheddar over each. Then I spooned the mixture between the three tortillas. I sprinkled another layer of cheddar to hold the lid on, and then I placed the last 3 tortillas over the tops. Done!
  4. Now to fry them! I put some more oil in a medium to high pan, and placed one of the filled quesadillas in to cook. It doesn’t take long! When the bottom was crispy I flipped it over (with difficulty – some mushrooms did escape!) and cooked the other side through.
  5. When they were done I transferred it over to a board where I cut into sixths, which seemed a nice size. Cook up the last two, slice them up and serve! Eat immediately (not that you need telling!).

Jamie’s 15 Minute (5 minutes) Smokey Baked Beans

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Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! The more you eat, the more you fart! Well, I’m not owning up to anything here, but I will tell you I love these quick baked beans! Jamie Oliver again – 15 minute meals this time – and swiped from a Cajun Steak recipe I can’t say I’ve tried yet. I think I saw these on the programme he filmed for Channel 4, and they have fast become a BBQ favourite. So quick it’s ridiculous, and uses most things you have in your cupboard – love these types of recipes. Serve them up with some salad, burgers, sausages, halloumi and sangria and have a feast!! Perfect for bank holidays!

Ingredients

2 x 400g tins of mixed beans

350g passata

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons HP brown sauce

1 heaped teaspoon English mustard

1 teaspoon tabasco

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon runny honey

40g grated cheddar cheese

Recipe

1. Drain and rinse the beans and start frying them for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. This will crispen the outsides up.

2. Next, add the rest of the ingredients except for the cheddar, mix well and bring to the boil.

3. Grate over the cheddar cheese and put in the oven at 200°C until golden and bubbling!

4. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

Make more! These are delicious the next day, hot or cold, so I will make extra and use as a side dish.

Two Ingredient Healthy Pancakes!!

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So I’ve been trying to be healthy lately, as all of a sudden my holiday is 6 weeks away!! And I found this recipe for two ingredient pancakes – only banana and eggs! Quickly forgot all about it until I woke up starving with not much in for breakfast, and remembered this recipe! I had lots of eggs and a banana, and some strawberries to finish off! Oh my god – amazing. Don’t taste too banana-ery (is that a word?) but just enough to be able to taste it. I added a sprinkle of mixed spice because it’s what I had in, but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. I also served it with a drizzle of honey which I decided was better that fakey ‘no sugar’ syrup – and I could eat them all over again. The best bit is that it couldn’t be more simple – I love it when it’s easy!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, whisked.
  • 1 banana, mashed.
  • Oil for the pan – I used coconut!
  • Berries for serving.

Optional Extras:

  • All natural maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Mixed spice, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

Directions:

  • Mash the banana up with a spoon or a fork or whatever you can find!! Mash it up with no lumps.
  • Whisk the two eggs together in a bowl.
  • Then add the mashed banana, and whisk together again.
  • Put some oil on a low medium heat.
  • Using approx. 2 tablespoons per pancake, spoon them into the pan.
  • Flip them after a minute, or when the centre looks bubbly!
  • Serve them with whatever berries you have in, and a little bit of syrup/honey!

This served two hungry people for breakfast/brunch, but could stretch to three maybe!!

I dare you to try it!

REVIEW: Gorilla Manchester & The Staves

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Tonight my Mum and I were off to see the lovely Staves (Spotify if you’ve never heard them, they’re perfection to your ears I promise!) who were playing in somewhere called Gorilla in Manchester. Looking on their website we saw they did food there and it looked like lovely food too, so decided to eat there.

When we got there it was chocker, but we sneakily found a jammy table after people didn’t show up (how rude!) but good for us I suppose – so thanks!! There was too much to choose from really, but the smells of the chicken from the table next to us were too much to bear, so we ordered the Chermoula Chicken Kebab and deluxe chips! I was going to get the Chargrilled Chicken but we were told it took an extra 20 minutes and we were a bit short of time, so unadventurously we both ordered the same!! Don’t care though as it was bloody marvellous. I have a real thing for chicken at the moment, but only when it’s done right (a la Gourmet Burger Kitchen – they know how it’s done!), but this place can join the list of Places That Can Do Chicken Well (a real list!). Perfect flavour and golden colour that tastes a bit of barbecue. Can’t be beaten. Along with the flatbread and puy lentil salad it was lovely.

And now the chips. Deluxe chips with truffle oil and parmesan cheese. Oh. Wow. I honestly do love chips so I am easily pleased, but these will have to be recreated. I’ll let you know how I get on, but I will dream of these chips until then.

Then we headed around the corner to see the Staves. I’m no music reviewer, but just give them a listen and you’ll understand how good they can be live. Three sisters with beautiful harmonies and a sharp sense of humour made for a perfect night. Please listen to them!

Now I’m off to dream of truffle oil and parmesan chips and listen to the Staves!

Happy Saturday!!

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Pea, Feta & Mint Fritters and Yoghurt Mint Dip

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Having finished uni this week, I can finally do all the things I never felt I had time for before!! Including these! Pea, feta & mint fritters with yoghurt mint dipping sauce from Gourmande In the Kitchen, found them the other day, and a combination of not needing the whole of ASDA to make them, and looking fairly quick and easy to do, meant they were on the list of things to make! I did them for lunch today and although they took longer than I thought to make, they were definitely worth it. Especially the little golden bits which was big hunks of melting feta – amazing!! The recipe was originally gluten free and grain free, but I wasn’t too bothered about that and changed it up a little bit to suit what I had in. I’m a big fan of mashing anything together, frying it and calling it a fritter, so I was easily pleased!! Here’s the recipe I used:

Ingredients

For the Yogurt Sauce:
  • 120 ml thick Greek or strained plain yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
For the Pea Fritters:
  • 260 g fresh or thawed frozen green peas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 spring onions (or one medium shallot), white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • The zest from half of an unwaxed or organic lemon, finely grated
  • 56g sheep’s milk feta
  • 28 g coconut flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Make the Yogurt Sauce:
  2. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Refrigerate until needed. (Can be made ahead of time)
  1. Make the Pea Fritters:
  2. Cook peas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Drain and mash coarsely using a fork or pulse briefly in a food processor until chunky.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the egg, green onions or shallots, mint, lemon rind, feta, coconut flour and salt and pepper. Add in the pea mixture and mix thoroughly. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb some of the moisture.
  5. Heat a thin layer of coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and place heaped tablespoons of the pea mixture in the pan pressing down the mixture into a disc. Cook in batches flipping when golden on one side (about 2 minutes each side).
  6. Drain fritters on parchment paper if needed.
  7. Serve immediately with the yogurt sauce on the side and additional lemon wedges and a green salad if desired.

I don’t really like a strong flavour of mint to be honest, but followed the recipe and it wasn’t too much, but add more if you like that sort of thing!! Same with the lemon really, but I did forget to serve with the lemon wedges at the end so I’d definitely do that next time. I served these for lunch for two with a salad which was enough, but it’d need to be served with more for a bigger number of people. Perfect for a picky tea – like the Sesame Seeded Halloumi from the other day!!

Happy frittering!

Sesame Seeded Halloumi

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So I’ve been busy of late with excessive uni work, dissertation deadlines and exams upon exams, meaning I’ve been heading home for tea without the time to figure out how to feed myself! Luckily mum’s ‘just thrown together’ tea’s resemble a banquet for me who generally hardly has anything in to throw together except beans and dried couscous. Not great.

The stand out for this however, was the sesame seeded halloumi. We’ve done this for years but I can’t remember where we first heard about it – but it gives it this amazing skin and crunch that is unbeatable. For ages we used to coat it in flour making it brown and crispy, but this adds something else to it and it’s amazing!! One of those things you have to tell people to try if they like halloumi, or even mention the word around me!

It’s quite simply halloumi sliced up and coated in sesame seeds, and then fried on a medium heat. Serve with salad, parmesan potatoes, and anything else you like to make up your picky tea! Garlic bread is a must though.