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.
- 50g Couscous
- 75ml water or stock
- A teaspoon of olive oil
- A small pinch of salt, if required
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
Over 20,000 visitors, over 100,000 visits. Thanks to you all.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
These are fantastic with goat’s cheese and a little sliver of dried fig.
- 225g wholewheat flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 125g butter
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- Mix the flour and salt, and rub in the butter – fine breadcrumb texture
- Mix in the honey to make a stiff dough.
- Roll out thinly on a floured board, and cut into rounds with a 5cm cutter.
- Bake at 150C for 20 minutes.
A big hit at the recent coffee morning. I think the helpers had quite a few.
- 175g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 75g butter
- 75g grated cheese, mixture of cheddar and parmesan
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 tsp milk
- Sieve the flour, cayenne pepper and salt into a bowl.
- Rub in the butter, then stir in the grated cheese.
- Mix the mustard, egg yolk and water together.
- Make a stiff dough by adding the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients.
- Roll out to about 1cm thick, and then cut into fingers, about 1cm by 5cm.
- Place on a lightly greased baking tray, and bake at 220C for 12 minutes.
- Lift onto a wire rack to cool.
I was baking for a coffee morning for the Uist Coastal Rowing Club. We are raising funds to build a new skiff, and we raised over £700, which is amazing. I made quite a lot of biscuits as they are easy to serve.
- 125g butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 125g self-raising flour
- Cream the butter and sugar together
- Add the ginger and flour and work into a stiff dough.
- Divide into 24 small balls, and space out onto ungreased baking trays.
- Bake at 130C for 45 minutes
- Lift onto a wire cooling rack when they are done.
These biscuits are very easy to make.
- 100g butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 125g self-raising flour, sifted
- flaked almonds
- 1 egg, beaten
- Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
- Work in the flour to make a stiff dough.
- Roll the mixture into small balls, around 16 altogether
- Place the balls of mixture on a greased baking sheet, at least 5cm apart. Flatten the balls slightly
- In the centre of each biscuit, put a couple of flaked almonds, and brush each biscuit with beaten egg.
- Bake at 190C for 10 minutes.
- Once out of the oven, lift the biscuits off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack.