Sajjeyya – Syrian beef stew with arak

We are eating the last of the beef we got from Dr Louise, from cattle grazed on Askernish Machair. I made this last week, so easy. It is from #CookforSyria, a recipe book that I bought two years ago. The website link also tells you a little bit more about the creation of CookforSyria, a celebration of Syrian food culture, and a fund-raiser for Unicef. 

This dish is meant to be cooked in a single pot, as part of a barbecue, picnic or other al-fresco dining event. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g beef, cubed
  • 100g suet, beef fat or other cooking fat
  • 2 aubergines, cubed
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 125ml of Arak (or Raki, or Ouzo)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In the pot, cover the beef in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Any stock that is produced can be used for other dishes. 
  • Take the beef out of the water, and reserve the stock for another day. In the pan, fry the beef fat for a few minutes then add the chopped vegetables and the beef. Add a few spoonfuls of the stock from earlier. 
  • Cover and leave to simmer for 25 minutes, and then add the Arak, and simmer for a further five minutes. 
  • Serve with flat bread and/or rice. 

Beef Jhal Faraizi

I had no idea that Jhal Faraizi was designed to use up left-overs. In fact, this recipe is almost like stovies, but with more meat, and green Chillies. Madhur Jaffrey’s book Curry Easy gives a short history of the origins of the dish, which originated in Bengal. Some versions have a sauce, but this is more pared back, and quick and easy. I didn’t have any left-over potatoes or beef, so this version includes cooking from scratch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium floury potatoes
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fresh hot green chillies, chopped finely
  • around 350g beef (could be left-overs) – diced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly sliced
  •  Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Boil the potatoes whole, and then set aside to cool
  • Poach the beef in some water and ginger, for around 20 minutes, then strain and remove the ginger. I kept the liquid back and used it as stock in another recipe. 
  • When the potatoes are cool, peel them and cut into small dice. 
  • Put the oil in a large frying pan, and heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle briefly. 
  • Add the onion, potatoes and chillies, then turn the heat down a bit, and stir, cooking until the onions are translucent, around five minutes. 
  • Add the meat, a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Stir and mix for a minute, and turn the heat down very low. Press the mixture down into the pan and then cook gently for around 15 minutes. 
  • We had this with poached eggs on top. 

Potato Gnocchi with mushrooms cheese and parsley

Shows Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese
Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese

Malcolm came back from a trip to the mainland with some gnocchi, a cauliflower, and some mushrooms. I vetoed the cauliflower, so we had this dish. This served two. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g Gnocchi
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g grated hard cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • A punnet of mushrooms, chopped
  • a shallot 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Butter
  • Herbs e.g. sage or thyme
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic finely, and fry in butter until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and herbs, and continue to fry until the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Meanwhile boil the gnocchi according to the instructions. 
  • Mix the mushrooms, cheese, and gnocchi together, and add enough butter to ensure that the gnocchi are coated. Adjust seasoning. 
  • Serve garnished with parsley

I have seen versions that include blue cheese or spinach. 

Salar smoked salmon frittata

I’m home alone this week, Mr Bolton is checking up on family members in the south, sleeping in his van and stocking up on essentials. I have a lot of eggs, and a lot of potatoes, so frittata was inevitable. I also had a box of Salar off-cuts from a local supermarket, so I made this. I had half last night and half tonight. 

salmon frittata

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked with the skins on and cooled. (left-over potatoes are the best)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • black pepper
  • flaky smoked salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Garnish – choose from chive flowers, chopped parsley, or dukkha spice mix

METHOD:

  • Heat the grill
  • Cut the potatoes into thick slices, and fry in the olive oil until crisp and golden brown on both sides
  • Season the eggs with the pepper, and pour over the potatoes, and scatter the salmon and garnish over the top. Stir a little to allow raw egg to the bottom of the pan. 
  • When it is nearly cooked, pop it under the grill so that the top begins to set. 

That is all – ready to eat. 

 

 

Blackberry & apple jam/cheese

Blackberry pips in jam; bothersome. Jelly; too much fruit wasted. There is a third way, making a fruit ‘cheese’ – essentially you cook the fruit and then force it through a sieve or mouli

INGREDIENTS

This can be made proportionally. 

  • 1 quantity of blackberries
  • half that weight in cooking apple, such as bramley, chopped, cored but not peeled
  • 1 tbsp water for each 150g blackberries
  • jam sugar

METHOD

  • Simmer the apple and the blackberries together in the water, until the apple is soft. 
  • Put the cooked fruit through the mouli on the finest setting. 
  • Measure the pulp: for each 100g pulp add 100g jam sugar
  • Boil the sugar and pulp together to setting point. 
  • Pour into warmed clean jars. 

Sweetcorn fritters

These are a childhood classic – we used to get these about once a week, often served with bacon. I’ve no idea whose idea it is, but I made them this afternoon for Cedar, who is three today. He helped me make them, mixing the egg in and stirring in the milk. He ate three and a half before he was full. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g self-raising flour (or 4 mounded tablespoons)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a pinch of salt
  • around 150ml milk
  • 1 small can of sweetcorn, drained. 

METHOD

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl, with the pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre and put the beaten egg in, mixing together. 
  • Stir the milk in gradually, until the batter is the consistency of cream. 
  • Add the sweetcorn, and mix again. 
  • Fry in an oiled pan over a medium heat. Drop in dessert-spoonfuls of batter, and when the bottom is cooked, you should be able to see bubbles setting on the surface of the batter. Turn them over and cook on the other side. 
  • Serve with bacon, and if you like it, tomato ketchup.

Blackberry and apple crumble

Bramble season in the Hebrides, much later than on the mainland. The blackberries we picked last weekend were sharp and flavourful, juicy and small. I’ve frozen some for making bramble jelly later, but I made a crumble for Malcolm, because he loves it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 very large cooking apple 
  • around 200g blackberries
  • 1 tbsp date syrup or dark brown sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon, or allspice
  • 90g butter
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 90g sugar

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Make a crumble mix – rub the butter into the flour and then add the sugar. You can add porridge oats, ground nuts, use brown sugar, or add spices if you wish.
  • Peel and chop the cooking apple, and then combine with the blackberries and the date syrup and allspice (or other sugar, sweet spice). 
  • Put the fruit evenly in the bottom of an oven-proof dish, then cover with the crumble mix. 
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, then serve with custard or cream. 

Crab and pea risotto

We had a big tub of crab meat, almost 500g, much more than I could eat in one roll, so I made this delicious risotto. The crab meat came from Kallin – Namara seafoods 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 800ml of hot stock (vegetable or fish)
  • 200ml white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 175g risotto rice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • A tiny pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 400g crab meat
  • 1-2 tbsp chive flowers, or chopped chives. 

METHOD:

  • Make sure the stock is hot, bring to a simmer.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft – around 5 minutes. 
  • Add the rice, and cook for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add the lemon zest and then the white wine, and then the pinch of saffron.
  • Add the hot stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring to mix and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. 
  • When the rice is nearly cooked (about 18 minutes into the cooking process) add the peas, lemon juice and crab meat, season and cook for around 3 monutes. 
  • Once the rice is cooked, add a knob of butter, another tbsp of stock, stir and leave to sit. 
  • Serve with wedges of lemon, and garnished with chive flowers. 

Teeny tiny potatoes

OK, so nobody admits to growing teeny tiny potatoes. I was given a bag of mixed potatoes by a friend, their first go at home-grown spuds. I think the plants had had a hot dry time of it, and were probably harvested too early as well. At the bottom of the bag was a selection of potatoes about the size of a marble. This is what I did with them. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Teeny tiny potatoes.
  • Butter
  • Garlic 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley

METHOD:

  • I boiled the teeny tiny potatoes in salted water for ten minutes, and then drained them. 
  • I melted the butter in the pan, and fried the garlic until it was golden, then added the tiny potatoes along with seasoning and continued to cook until the potato skins were beginning to colour and crisp up a bit. 
  • Then I added the chopped parsley, and served

I added some very fresh cooked carrots the second time I made this. 

 

 

Chickpeas and potatoes

I have no idea where I found this recipe, I think it dates back to student days in the 1980s. There are lots of notes and at least two totally different versions in my old recipe book. It works well with or without the potatoes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely chipped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed, ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tins of chickpeas (do not drain)
  • 1 tbsp amchoor or juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes, and put into cold water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fresh green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat, until beginning to brown, around 10 minutes
  • Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric, stir, and reduce the heat
  • Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the chickpeas with their liquid from the tin, and around 200ml water, and the amchoor, and paprika. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes. 
  • At this point, it may be wise to set the pan aside for a day or too, for the flavour to develop. 
  • To serve, drain and pat dry the potato cubes. Fry in oil for 10 minutes over a medium to high heat, stirring. 
  • Stir in the ginger and chillies, and then the fried potatoes, and serve.