Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini

This is another recipe from Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi. It fits well with my lifestyle in summer; food that can be put in the oven, and then served hot or cold, straight away or for the next meal, part of a large meal or just as a light lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Large butternut squash. 
  • 3 red onions
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp light tahini paste (available locally!)
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp za’atar (from Seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 240C gas mark 9
  • Cut the onions and butternut squash into wedges. I peeled and cut each onion into 6-8 wedges. I cut the squash into 3 equal bits across the way, and then cut each bit into 6-8 wedges, measuring around 2cm by 6cm. Remove the seeds.
  • Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, and add 3 tbsp of olive oil, stir to coat, and then add 1 tsp salt, black pepper and mix well. 
  • Spread the onions and squash onto a baking tray, and turn the squash skin-side down. 
  • Roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, use a small bowl and a fork to mix the tahini with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp water, crushed garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt. The mixture should be runny, like honey. 
  • Pour a little olive oil into a pan, and toast the pine nuts over a medium heat with a pinch of salt. Stir, keeping a close eye, until the pine nuts are toasty brown. Transfer to a small bowl. 
  • Put the roast vegetables onto a serving platter, drizzle over with the tahini dressing, sprinkle over with the toasted pine-nuts in oil, and then sprinkle over the za’atar and chopped parsley. 

I enjoyed this better when cooled down to a warm dish, rather than hot. Also good cold the next day. 

 

New potatoes with green beans, celeriac and halloumi

I’ve been playing with this recipe for about a month, which means we have been eating various versions of it every few days. It is quite delicious, and it is easy to adapt to what you have available. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400 to 500g new potatoes, chopped into bite-size chunks (Jersey Royals work well, one bag full)
  • 5 cloves garlic, skin-on, lightly squished
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, and ground black pepper to taste
  • 200g green beans, halved (one pack is usually between 140 and 250g – one pack will do)
  • 1/2 celeriac, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (optional)
  • 225g halloumi, cut into 2cm cubes (one pack)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (equally delicious with lime juice)
  • 1 tsp cumin or caraway seed (optional)

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
  • Put the potatoes and celeriac in a large roasting tray with the garlic, add the olive oil, salt and pepper, the cumin or caraway seed, and mix well. Cook for 30 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove from the oven, add the beans and halloumi and toss to combine. Return the tray to the oven for 15 mins until the beans are tender and the cheese is starting to caramelise.
  • Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and toss everything again, then transfer to a serving dish. 

This is really good cold the next day as well. You could serve it as a side-dish, a starter or as a light lunch. 

Cannellini Bean, Garlic and Lamb Soup

I’m not sure if this is a soup or a stew. It is very sweet from the gently stewed garlic and lamb, just the most delicious comfort food. I found it in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 head of celeriac, peeled and chopped into small dice
  • 20 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lamb or beef, in 2cm squares
  • 1.75L water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 7 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp date syrup or brown sugar
  • 250g small firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon wedges and chopped coriander, to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and celeriac on a medium heat for fie minutes, until the onion starts to brown. 
  • Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another couple of minutes before taking off the heat and setting to one side
  • Put the meat in the water in a large pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes, skimming any foam from the surface.
  • Add the onions, celeriac, beans, cardamom, turmeric, tomato puree and sugar. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for an hour. 
  • Add the potatoes to the soup season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and tender. You may need to add water and stir from time to time to prevent the soup from sticking. 
  • Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped coriander leaves. 

Yoghurt and Barley Soup

I had a guest staying last week, and as well as being very busy at work, I also ended up trying to cook new dishes. I would add, she is a good cook and a fantastic guest who took her turn at cooking too. I will see if I can pinch one of her recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1.6 litres of water
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • a handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 500g yoghurt
  • 3 Spring onions and mint or other fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a little lovage)

METHOD:

  • Soak the barley in the cold water overnight. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. 
  • Meanwhile, saute the onion and the mint in butter until very soft, around 15 minutes. Add the mixture to the barley and water. 
  • Whisk the eggs into the yoghurt. Add in a large spoonful of the soup, and keep whisking, adding soup until the yoghurt and egg mixture is hot. Add the mixture back into the soup, whisking it in. 
  • Reheat, but do not boil the soup. 

Garnish with sliced spring onions and herbs. I had to experiment – the first version was a bit odd, with the barley a bit al dente – the soaking is important. 

 

Couscous for one

I’m home alone, and I am eating a lot of meals that I prepared earlier and froze in single portions. This is fine in theory, as I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking after work. However, I’m not great at couscous portion control, so this week I have been testing out whether I can do couscous for one person. It is all about ratios. 

Couscous is made out of wheat, tiny small balls of steamed semolina flour. It is really very tiny bits of pasta. 

INGREDIENTS/PROPORTIONS:

  • 50g Couscous
  • 75ml water or stock
  • A teaspoon of olive oil
  • A small pinch of salt, if required

METHOD:

  • Bring the water or stock to the boil, with the olive oil and salt
  • Add the couscous, take the pan off the heat and cover. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, and then stir with a fork before serving. 

Obviously, this can be scaled up as far as you like. 50g is a reasonable portion for one. 

 

Marinated sweet and sour fish curry

Another new recipe book with a middle eastern flavour, ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. This book is actually not so new to me, but I haven’t used it much. But then we had visitors who were looking at it, and Hector came in with a large pollock. This makes 4 very large portions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced (1cm slices)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 peppers (red and/or yellow), sliced (1cm slices)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 bayleaves
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes 
  • 2-3 tsp sugar (I used basra date syrup instead)
  • 5 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 pollock, or around 500g of white fish, divided into pieces
  • plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 190C
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan, and add the onions with the coriander seeds. Cook on a medium heat for around five minutes. 
  • Add the peppers and cook for a further ten minutes
  • Add the garlic, bayleaves, curry powder, and tomatoes. Cook for another eight minutes.
  • Add sugar, vinegar, around 1 tsp salt and pepper, and cook together for another five minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, heat the other 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Sprinkle a little salt on the fish, dip into the seasoned flour and then into the egg, and fry each portion for around 3 minutes, turning once. 
  • In a casserole dish, add the fish and the cooked sauce, so that the fish is at the bottom of the pan. Add around 250ml hot water to ensure that the fish is immersed. 
  • Place the pan in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the fish is cooked. Remove from the oven and allow the curry to cool to room temperature. 

This dish can be eaten warm, as it is. It is better after a night in the fridge. Try garnishing with coriander leaves. We served this with bread. 

Chickpea, herb and spinach soup – Ash-e Mast

I’ve bought a few new cookbooks this year, the theme seems to be about the middle east. This book of Persian recipes is called ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Hopelessly romantic title, but then again, I have a photograph of two Tehrani police officers outside our gate in northern Tehran, posing for my mother with bunches of roses and honeysuckle. 

I never had this soup, though, until today. It is easy and delicious. The recipe makes a large quantity, it says it serves four but only if you have two helpings each. It takes about an hour and a half to make. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • 50g arborio rice
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 pack of coriander leaf, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 pack of flat leaf parsley, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 tbsp dried summer savory (or substitute a mixture of thyme and mint)
  • 300g spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 250ml greek yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Black pepper to garnish

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the chopped onions, and fry for 10-15 minutes until the onions are brown. Stir in the turmeric and mix. Set aside a tablespoonful of fried onions for a garnish at the end. 
  • Add the water and rice to the rest of the fried onions, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Add the chickpeas, herbs and spinach, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes. 
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the yoghurt. Don’t boil once the yoghurt is added, because it will curdle. 
  • Garnish with extra yoghurt, the fried onions, and a grating of black pepper. 

For a vegan version, leave out the yoghurt, or use coconut yoghurt. For a meaty version, use beef stock instead of water and add small meatballs. 

Roast Butternut Squash Mujadara

This is from ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book, from the club of the same name. The food is great, as is the idea behind the project. This recipe looks quite long, with lots of ingredients, but it didn’t involve anything complicated, and many of the steps can be done while other bits are cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 dessert-spoonful of olive oil
  • 100g shredded cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts
  • 1 tbsp sumac powder (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or powder
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 160g puy lentils or other green lentils
  • a bay leaf
  • salt
  • 160g basmati rice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 6 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • Coriander leaves, chopped.

METHOD:

  • To make the cabbage/kale layer, chop the leaves and mix with the sumac, chilli, sesame seeds, 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, and put it into a roasting dish. Roast for 15 minutes at 150C
  • To make the butternut squash layer, mix the squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, thyme leaves, honey, salt and pepper. Put this into another roasting dish and roast for 30 minutes at 180C
  • The rice layer has more steps. First of all, slice the onions finely, and fry gently in olive oil until beginning to brown and caramelise. Set aside.
  • Rinse the green lentils in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water with the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Rinse the rice in cold water, then cook in plenty of boiling water for around 6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water, and return to the pan. Leave the pan in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the lentils with the rice, the fried onions, and add the lemon juice.
  • Make the yoghurt dressing: heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds. After a minute, add the ground cumin, stir, and then beat into the yoghurt, with the tahini.
  • Take 1 large platter, and put the rice and lentil mix at the bottom, then the squash, and top with the cabbage, garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Guests should help themselves, adding as much of the tahini/yoghurt dressing as they wish.

Teacakes

These large teacakes make several portions each. To serve, I split them across, and then cut each half in half. They can also be started in the bread-maker; instructions below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 300ml warmed milk
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g lard
  • 50g currants
  • 50g mixed peel (optional)
  • Milk for glazing

METHOD:

  • Grease a couple of baking sheets, and warm the oven to 220C
  • Stir the yeast into the warm milk with the sugar, and leave in a warm place until starting to ferment and frothing.
  • Mix the sugar, flour and salt, and rub in the lard.
  • Add the currents, peel and the yeast/milk mixture, and kneed on a floured surface to make a soft dough.
  • Set aside to rise for around 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Divide the dough into six equal pieces, and roll to around 15 cm across, 1 cm thick. Put these onto the baking sheets, and cover while they prove. This will take around 40 minutes.
  • Brush the tops with milk and bake for around 20 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

If you are going to make the dough in a breadmaker, follow the method below:

Put the ingredients into the breadmaker in the order below:

Yeast, flour, sugar, salt, lard, milk (or water and milk powder). Set the bread machine to ‘basic dough’. Once the dough is ready, kneed in the dried fruit before dividing into buns and leaving to prove.