Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Smoky Freekah with Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas

I haven't had aubergines this year, its a vegetable that nowadays evokes greedy thoughts of my mothers Baingan Bharta - Smoky Aubergine; or middle eastern cuisine, so it may not be a surprise that at the weekend I made a Middle Eastern inspired meal when I brought home a couple of gorgeous two tone deep maroon aubergines, next to them were some bunches of coriander, so I picked some of that too.  

Still unsure exactly what I was going to make with the aubergines, I gazed into my kitchen cupboards when my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun Smoky Freekah and this dish of Smoky Freekah with Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas was created.
 The Smoky Freekah comes from Zaytoun.  Zaytoun is a social enterprise founded in 2004  to create and develop a UK market for artisan fairly traded Palestinian produce that carries the stories of  'the producers and their land'.  Zaytoun are celebrating their 10 year anniversary this year.  I've been fortunate in the past to try some of their products including organic extra virgin olive oil, wild grown za'atar and more recently maftoul.  I will share more later in the week, but today its all about the smoky greenwheat grain called Freekah. The Zaytoun freekah was really smoky in flavour and infused the oven roasted aubergines naturally.  

You know I don't boast about my food that often, I just make it, eat it and share it with my bloggers, but I have to hand on heart say that this is one of the most delicious meals that I have ever made and enjoyed; and the truth is down to the ingredients namely the smoky freekah from Zaytoun.  
The Smoky Freekah dish was accompanied with a Palestinian, I was originally going to make a Tahini Sauce to accompany this dish, but decided on a Palestinian Salatat Taheena - Tahini Salad.  This salad was made not only to compliment the dish, but the fact was that I also had most of the ingredients to hand.  I also think it could have done with some vegetable based falafels for additional texture, maybe next time.   

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Red Dragon Chilli Chocolate Brownies

The entries for We Should Cocoa November 2014 are coming in thick and fast, that I thought I better share my entry too - Chilli Chocolate Brownies.   I know there are loads of Chilli Chocolate recipes on blogosphere and the Internet in general, but I noted that I have never posted a Chilli Chocolate Brownie recipe on my blog, even though I have made them countless times.  

A few years back, I made these Chocolate Brownies for St Davids Day and dubbed them rather pretentiously as Red Dragon Chilli Chocolate Brownies, they were gone before I could even photograph them, and it was almost the case with these too as these were the last two pieces.   
Around the same time, I also made some Wasabi Chocolate Brownies and dubbed them as Green Dragon Chocolate Brownies.  The idea came to me when I stumbled upon a bar of Dark Wasabi Chocolate, one definitely for adults as the wasabi sneaks up on you and blows your head.  Anyway, back to these Chilli Chocolate Brownies, the chilli heat it right, its not their to knock your socks off or make you run for a glass of milk, though milk with these would be good, no these just give you a bit of warmth, something that is welcome on cold evenings.  

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Maftoul

I came home a few days back and we had no Basmati rice in the kitchen cupboards, then my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun maftoul.  Its been there for a few months, if I am honest just over a year I think.  So I decided to actually cook with it, rather than just admire the packet and its contents.

Maftoul will remind you of being somewhere between couscous and Bulgar wheat.  Maftoul is a large, hand rolled and pearly grain made from sundried bulgar wheat.  It has a unique, nutty flavour.  When I started eating it, I actually recalled having cooked and eaten it before, it went under the name pearl couscous aka mograbiah and was used for my Beetroot Pearls Salad, but I have since learned its the same thing, also known as fregola  and even giant couscous.    
I simply broke up a large cauliflower into bite size florets, drizzled it in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and generous scattering of Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar  and then placed it in the oven to roast, now and again I would give it a good toss and shake.  Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar is a zesty Middle Eastern seasoning made with wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. Halfway through this process, I added in some sliced baby peppers.      
Whilst the za'atar florets were turning golden, I put the maftoul on the hob.  I simply emptied the whole packet into a medium saucepan along with 500ml water and cooked using the absorption method.  It was ready in 20 minutes (if there is any excess liquid just drain).  I also stirred in a can of drained cooked chickpeas to warm through for a couple of minutes. The contents of the sauce pan were then stirred very gently into the za'atar roasted cauliflower (and peppers).   

It was really, really very good, not only was the cauliflower well flavoured, the texture of the maftoul was al dente - perfect with a little bite.  I am just disappointed that this photograph (as with other photographs of late) that just do not do the plated dish justice.  Anyway, I served this warm salad with a lightly spiced red pepper sauce, even D loved it and he doesn't say that about the traditional North African couscous at all, so maftoul will be making an appearance again pretty soon.   By the way this recipe serves four, we had the left overs the following day for lunch.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble

My husband picked up two bags of pears a couple of weeks back, I have to say I don't like it when he does this, as he never eats the fruit fresh and it sits there, for days, no for weeks going dark and very soft.  I often think its a ploy on his part.  He knows I won't let the fruit go to waste or even the compost bin, and secretly wishes them to somehow magically be transformed into cake or some other sweet thing, and often his little fairy grants his wish.  I wish my little fairy would make me cake!

Anyway, I did originally have intentions on making this Savoury Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Tart, and still may do as I still have half a dozen brown freckled pears left over, but at the weekend I ended up making a belly warming Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble.  
Its been a long while since I've made a pear crumble, the last time was in my first year of blogging and it was with hazelnuts.  This was different in that it had no nutty crunch, but it had warmth and a little fire from the fresh ginger.  I served this golden pear, apple and ginger crumble simply with some home-made custard, but cream or ice-cream would have been nice too.  

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Curly Kale Paprika Risotto

Well with the weather getting nippy as well as drippy, I've been making risotto every other week the past month, but this particular Curly Kale Paprika Risott actually came about when I had very little in the house and fridge.  

I just threw together what we had and it turned out pretty nice actually. 
Its getting dark in the evenings, so food photographs are going to look more homely than usual.  
Curly Kale Paprika Risotto
Serves 3 - 4 with a side salad
2 - 3 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 - 4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A good handful of curly kale, washed, rinsed and roughly chopped (including the stalks)
250g risotto rice
1 1/2- 2 pints vegetable stock
2 - 4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wide pan, heat the oil.  Stir in the onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika and cook for a a minute, then stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so. 
Then stir in the chopped kale and about 150ml of the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, gradually add more, a ladle at a time until all is used up.  Stir frequently until the rice is cooked, about 25 - 55 minutes, maybe even more.  Taste and tweak seasoning, as well as smoked paprika to taste.   Cook for a few minutes more, then serve immediately. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Golden Quince Almond Tart

I've pretty much always passed quinces by whenever I've seen them at farmers markets.  On rare occasions, I would sometimes pick, admire and sniff them, but never bring back one home .  The only thing that ever came to mind to do with them was Quince Cheese, but it wasn't something that I really wanted to make, so they were often dismissed.
This time round I changed my mind when I saw them at a local food festival.  I decided to pick up a couple, they were not particularly cheap so I consider these quinces to be a bit of a luxury but that didn't influence me to cook or bake with them any quicker.  The quinces sat first for two weeks in my fruit basket, then got moved to the fridge. As I did not wish for them to end up in the compost bin, I started  considering making Johanna's Buttery Quince and Almond Cake, but then got distracted thinking maybe I should do a savoury dish with them as there were loads of sweet Quince recipes around. 
Well after being in my home for nearly three weeks, at the weekend, I gave up, peeled, sliced and poached them in a little cinnamon honeyed water for about 30 minutes until they were just soft, but not falling apart.  I thought we would just enjoy the poached fragrant pieces with Greek yogurt and honey.  We both tried a bit and quite liked it.  D said it tasted a bit between pear and peach and that is when I became motivated to cook with them further and make a sweet tart.  

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Red Camargue Rice Salad

I made this red camargue rice salad last month.  It was my first time cooking and eating red camargue rice. 
I don't know why, but I had expected the red camargue rice to be chewy like brown rice, but it wasn't and was somewhere in between white rice and brown rice.  It did however add texture and faint colour to this very autumnal looking salad. The rice was further enhanced by the flavours of the roasted butternut squash and red peppers, I also threw in some fresh tomatoes.  There was plenty of left over as the quantity I made served 3 - 4, so I took some into work the following day for lunch.   

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Little Bit of Bruges In My Kitchen

A couple of weeks back, I went for a long weekend with my husband to Bruges, Belgium.  I came back with a handful of things for the kitchen.
We stopped at a supermarket to pick up some sandwiches for our journey back to the U.K, but I couldn't resist also picking up this punnet of tricolour cherry tomatoes depicting the colours of the Belgium Flag.
We were charmed by this ceramic ornament, some kind of bird with a tomato on its head, but what I loved about it most was the various vegetables on its belly, it appealed both to the vegetarian and vegetable grower in me. It was the only ornament type thing that we brought back with us and it sits in the kitchen proudly.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Its in Belgium

Crispy frites, hot milk melting chocolate off a stick and fruit beers - yes we were in Belgium a few weeks back for our first holiday in four years.  
And more specifically in Bruge popularised moreso since the release of the movie In Bruges with the talented Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell.  
It was proper touristy, which was a bit of a shock for us as we thought going in late October it would have been a bit quieter and not so rushed, but we were so so wrong.  Still we had a pretty good time there.  
We took loads of pictures, but have been selective here. We did everything that is expected, we walked 366 steps up the Beltower, gosh that was hard.
Here is proof that I did it, pictures of the bells and it was 12.00, oh it was amazing and so loud.
Sampled some chocolate. My food head was not screwed on as I was just enjoying the holiday experience.   I even overlooked the abundance of chocolatiers, so there is distinct lack of food photographs here, yes I know very unusual of me.
Admiring a map of the city in lace form.
 .. the canal boat ride ...
Look close at the picture below and you will see a sleeping dog in the window, apparently this dog has also become a tourist attraction as it is often seen there. In fact if you ever watch the movie In Bruges, even if you watch the movie trailer - the dog does make an appearance, so it must be true. 

A little bit of the quirky.

We did have one of the best vegetarian meals ever at De Bhune, but the photographs due to the mood lighting in the family run restaurant do not do the beautifully presented and tasty plates any justice, so you will just have to take my word for it.  We had planned to go back, but it did not happen.
A beer and a farewell to Bruge.

Here we are still in Belgium, but this was a short pit stop on our way back to the Euro-Tunnel in Calais, France.
I am looking forward to going to Belgium again, and maybe this time I will pick up some chocolate for us. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

We Should Cocoa - The Chilli Chocolate Challenge

I am humbled to be hosting We Should Cocoa for the second time.  For those of you unfamiliar with We Should Cocoa - a chocolate challenge.  This is a monthly cooking event created by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot a few good years ago.  The idea is to create something each month with chocolate.  It can be a sweet dish or a savoury one.  You can use any kind of chocolate or cocoa substance, but it must include the specially selected ingredient chosen by the host.   
The ingredient that I have chosen will be absolutely no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog - its red hot chilli.   
Chilli and chocolate combination has been done before on We Should Cocoa, but people come up with new recipes all the time, so why not do it again.   
I am tempted to make this vegan Chocolate Chilli Mousse Like Cake again.  Anyway, I look forward to see what you come up with, it can be sweet or savoury, but as this is a vegetarian blog, I do ask that all entries for this edition must be suitable for vegetarians.   

To participate:
Email the link to your submission and include: your name, the name of your blog, your recipe title and a photograph (please can you make it no bigger than 640 x 480 pixels) to allotment2kitchen@hotmail.co.uk by the 25th of November
Mention We Should Cocoa in your post
Please link to the current host Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen;  Chocolate Log Blog  and Chocolate Teapot.
Please use the 'We Should Cocoa' logo in your post.
If you use Twitter, please tweet your post to @SeasonalSeasonalShaheen and @Choclette8 with tag #weshouldcocoa and we will endeavour to  re-tweet it.
Please follow the current theme.  This month it is chocolate and chilli when creating your recipe.  All entries for this edition must be suitable for vegetarians.  
Only one entry per blog.
The round up of entries will be posted here on or before the last day of the month.