I thought this may fit in two parts but clearly I was mistaken. There will definitely be a part 3 and maybe a part 4, if it’s not boring you too much. You may also notice a few issues copped the fallout of a painting spree I was on.
I really have to work hard not to over cater for myself. I just love buying food. I love to have a full store cupboard with things I can have to hand if I want to make something on a whim. For the most part this is ok because these things last but as far as the fridge is concerned it needs some work. At times I open it in shock realisation that I have bought so much it’s chock-a-block full. I justify the over spending by saying to myself “it’s food, I’ll eat it”. Well you can only eat so much before it’s past it’s best.
I also have ideas of things I want to make. I go out and buy the ingredients, then things happen, I get stuck at work or become too tired to make it. Then I forget what I had in mind to make and it becomes just another thing in the fridge I have to use up. Sound familiar to anyone?
Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Patties with Yoghurt Coriander Sauce
1/4 cup unhulled millet
300g cooked black beans or 400g tin black beans drained and rinsed
400g sweet potato, steamed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon chipotle paste
Pop the millet in a saucepan over high heat with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to the boil then simmer,covered, for about 8-10 minutes until cooked. Drain and leave to the side. Into a large food processor add the spring onions, garlic and black beans, whiz to break up the black beans but not too much a little texture is good. Add the sweet potato, chipotle, and millet. Whiz until combined. If you have time, shape into patties, cover with breadcrumbs and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Otherwise it’s fine if you want to continue on. Fry them in a non-stick pan over high-medium heat with a little oil ( I like rice bran oil for this).
To make the sauce just spoon into a bowl as much yoghurt as you think you would like, then add more. Add to it the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper and some chopped fresh coriander. Always taste and adjust.
Makes 8 large patties.
I love that I don’t have a microwave. When I did own one I barely used it. The occasional reheating and warming milk, that was it. I certainly never used it to cook food in. It just didn’t feel right. So when I moved into a tiny one bedroom flat with the tiny one person kitchen I decided I didn’t want to take up valuable space with a piece of gadgetry I hardly ever used. I also wanted to keep thing simple and more natural. I don’t have a toaster either, purely to save space. I have to say this has resulted in many a burnt toast as I forget about it under the grill while I’m distracted by something, usually someone’s blog.
People have also looked at me quizzically when I say I really don’t want a thermomix. Don’t get me wrong they certainly have their place, that’s just not in my kitchen. I like that it takes me time to make ice cream, a risotto that needs constant tending, and I like a dough that requires time kneading. I don’t want any machine that takes that pleasure away from me.
Pear, Hazelnut and Rosewater Cake
100g plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
200g softened unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g golden caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 not quite ripe pears
2 tbspn caster sugar
4 tblspn water
1 tspn rose water
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn dried rose petals
Line a 24cm spring form baking tin. Warm oven to 150°C. Place the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast for about 15 minutes or until you see the skins cracking. Remove and tip onto a tea towel. Increase oven temperature to 180°C. Gather up the tea towel edges and rub the hazelnuts together so the skins will fall off. Don’t be too fussy about this, some skin left on is fine. Pop them into a food processor and when cooled down a bit whiz them to a fine ground.
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and add ground hazelnuts. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating each in well before adding the next. Add vanilla extract with the last egg. Add flour/hazelnut mix and gently fold through well. Tip into the baking tin and spread out to cover the bottom.
Peel and quarter the pears, slice out the core and then slice the quarter into 3-4 more slices. Lay over the cake in a circle, over lapping is fine.
Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool. To make the syrup, mix the caster sugar and water in a very small saucepan over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved. Then add the rosewater and remove from the heat. Pierce the cake with a skewer to make alot of holes over the cake. Spoon over about 3/4 of the syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon and dried rose petals.
I always find nourishing comfort in soup. If it’s a soft smooth blended soup or a clear broth, it does not matter I am deeply in love with soup. This Persian-inspired soup is a broth of slow cooked lamb with chickpeas, pearl barley and onion. Simple flavours that remind me of soups my mother used to make for me as a child.
These yoghurt flatbreads have become a regular fall back at my place. Mainly due to the fact that I always have the ingredients to hand and they are a cinch to make. It’s from one of my favourite sources of inspiring food that works, Ottolenghi. He has shared the recipe for us here. I often tweak the herbs to suit what I’m making. The recipe calls for fresh coriander but here I have used a pinch of dried mint instead. On other occasions I have substituted fennel seeds, fresh parsley or crush cumin seeds.
Persian Lamb and Barley Soup
1 big tablespoon clarified butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lamb shank
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
60g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
a pinch of saffron threads
50g pearl barley
1 big handful of chopped parsley
juice 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and warm clarified butter. Add onions and soften. Add garlic and turmeric, add lamb shank to brown on all sides. Pour in a litre of boiling water and lower to a gentle simmer. Cover with lid askew and simmer gently for 90 minutes. Add chickpeas and saffron then continue cooking for another hour. Then add pearl barley and cook for 30 minutes. Lamb should be falling off the bone by this stage. Remove the meat from the bone and discard the bone. Add salt and pepper to taste, parsley and lemon juice. Combine mint and olive oil. Serve hot with greek yoghurt, mint oil, crisp fried onion and yoghurt flatbreads.
Sometimes that saying “life wasn’t meant to be easy” feels like it rings true more often than not. I don’t mean to depress you but it’s true, yes. Those are the times I feel like hibernating in my little flat surrounded by all the beautiful things that comfort and bring me joy. Lounging on the couch watching old movies, reading cookbooks and even polishing the silver could keep me content.
Although it’s probably when I should be getting out and about, not letting things get me down but sometimes I just don’t feel like it. This recipe arose out of one of those days.
Sticky Fruit Flapjacks
100g unsalted butter (sometimes I use half butter half sunflower oil)
100g golden caster sugar
100g dried fruit ( I used a mixture of dates, figs, and cranberries)
100g of mixed nuts and seeds ( I used half walnuts and then sunflower, sesame and pepita seeds)
A large handful of shredded coconut
50g ground almonds
200g rolled oats (sometimes I mix in some barley or spelt flakes)
Preheat oven to 150°C. Gently heat the butter, honey and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. While this is happening, chop the dried fruit and nuts into small pieces. Place them in a large bowl along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Once the butter, honey and sugar have melted and combined together, pour into dry ingredients and mix together well. Tip into a lined baking tray (approx. 26cmx18cm). Press down into the tray. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden brown. Remove and leave to cool completely cooled before cutting. They will be soft and sticky. Keep in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
When I moved overseas I had to pack up a three bedroom house and divide the boxes and furniture between my sister, my parents and my grandparents homes. Most went to my parents, who had built two storey shelving in their garage. Some things, that I didn’t want eaten by rats, (my parents live in the country and yes they ate whole tupperware lids), I kept at my sisters. This included my Vogue Entertaining and Gourmet Traveller collection.
It was great to see them again after so long but I have barely looked at them since and the time has come where the need for space overrides the need to hoard.
I thought I might share the covers with you. I have only photographed the Vogue issues as they seem streams ahead in terms of styling and design. These issues range from 1994 – early 2002. There will be more to follow.
Gee I’m finding it hard to get back into work this year! Is anyone else having the same problem? or is that a silly question. I don’t know if it’s the glorious beach weather or the fact that I’m so over my job that is causing this. I suspect a bit of both.
Quite often I have to eat lunch around 1130am before I go to work and end up having dinner when I get home, anywhere from 730pm -1100pm. So, in summer, these are the dishes I live off, quick fridge and cupboard creations.
Yes it’s vegetarian but I make most of my salads that way. If anything a whisper of shredded chicken or if you want to make it even more substantial some pan fried lamb fillet would work well.
Warm courgette, pearl barley, white bean and basil salad
1 medium courgette
about 55g pearl barley
about 100g cooked white beans (I used cannelini)
1 small spring onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs of basil
persian fetta (optional)
I large tablespoon greek yogurt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Put pearl barley in a small saucepan, cover with water so it’s about an inch above the barley and bring to boil on the stovetop. Reduce to a simmer for 12-15 minutes until cooked but still retaining some bite. While the pearl barley is cooking, slice the courgette. Lightly oil (I used spray) a med-hot pan and lay courgette in a single layer. Lightly oil the side facing up while in the pan and add salt and pepper. Turn then over when lightly browned. Don’t cook the courgette to a mush, you want them to be lightly browned and just cooked through. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust to taste.
To assemble scatter half the drained pearl barley in your dish, top with half your spring onions, and half your white beans, lay some courgettes over top, and repeat. Top with basil leaves, a small amount of crumbled fetta, dollop a few teaspoons of the dressing around and sprinkle with ground pepperberries. If you don’t like a dairy overload you can choose either the fetta or dressing but I like a little of both. The dressing will keep for two weeks in the fridge. It’s great on other salads too.