Tunisian seafood stew with fennel

This is a delicious recipe, you can use it with just about any seafood you like. We made it with some fish that Hector gave us, and some squat lobsters. Any mixture of fillets of white fish, mussels, prawns, etcetera could be used. I started with a recipe in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. A few adaptations were made – I want to use local fresh seafood, and good cooking tomatoes are not always available. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into thin segmental wedges
  • 1 large firm-fleshed potato such as Maris Piper, or 200g of any waxy potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes.
  • 700 ml fish, vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 a medium preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • mixed prepared seafood – enough for four people, around 600g
  • 3 tbsp raki or similar spirit
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a wide casserole dish over a low heat, and add the olive oil, and gently fry the garlic for a couple of minutes
  • Add the fennel and potato, and cook for a further three to four minutes
  • Add stock, preserved lemon, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 12 minutes, until the potatoes are done. 
  • Add the chilli, tomatoes, paprika, saffron, half the parsley, tarragon, and cook through for another few minutes. Add the raki and bring to the boil.
  • Add the seafood, and enough boiling water to cover, bring back to the boil and cover, cooking fast for three to five minutes, until the fish is just done. 
  • Serve over couscous, garnished with chopped parsley.

The original recipe suggests taking out the seafood once it is cooked , and then adding the raki, reducing the sauce then adding the fish back in. I didn’t have the patience. 

 

Carrots roasted with pomegranate molasses and harissa

We live on a small island, and although our local shops generally do very well for range and price of stock, some ingredients are hard to come by. I have some rather exotic recipe books, and so I have become better at substituting and messing around with recipes to make them fit. 

Pomegranate molasses adds a fruity sharpness to the dish, and helps the dressing to stick to the carrots. The harissa is hot and fragrant at the same time. 

This time, I had some random carrots, so I turned to Ottolenghi’s book, Simple, and adapted one of his ideas, and I made this. I served it with bread, cheese, and an aubergine dish. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa (or ordinary harissa)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or 50/50 melted butter and oil)
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 400g carrot batons
  • salt
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 220C
  • In a small bowl, mix the cumin, honey, harissa, oil and molasses with a good pinch of salt. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. 
  • Add the carrot batons, and stir to coat in the mixture
  • Line a baking sheet with tin foil, and spread out the carrots. Roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they are beginning to brown but still have some ‘bite’ to them.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves. 

Braised eggs with leeks, lemon and zahtar

We are about to head off to a family gathering, and so tonight’s supper was composed of items that needed to be eaten. This included a very chunky home-grown leek and some fresh local eggs. This served 3

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chunky leek, sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 150ml marigold stock or other simple stock
  • 125g baby spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 45g feta cheese
  • 1 dessert spoon zahtar spice mix
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter into the olive oil in a small braising pan which has a lid that fits well. 
  • When the butter starts to foam, add the chopped leeks and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes or so, until the leeks soften. Season with a little pepper while the leeks are cooking.
  • Add the cumin, lemon and stock, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes or so to reduce the liquid.
  • Add the spinach, and cover, cook for a minute until the spinach has wilted right down.
  • Use a spoon to make nests for the eggs in the mixture. Break the eggs into these depressions. Sprinkle crumbled feta over the top. Cover with the lid, and braise for 4 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks are runny. (I wonder if crowdie would work). 
  • Sprinkle with Zahtar spice mix, and then serve immediately, with fresh bread. 

 

Beetroot dip/spread

I  made this dip from Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem. We had it as part of a meal that included a hot bean and leek dish, some salmon, and bread. This was the best bit. The spices I got mail order from Seasoned Pioneers

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium beetroot, about the size of a tennis ball
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 250g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1.5 tbsp date syrup 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp za’atar spice mix
  • 2 spring onions
  • 15g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed. 
  • 60g soft goat’s cheese or sheep’s cheese, crumbled. 

METHOD

  • Wash the beetroot, and cook without peeling. I boil them in water for an hour, but you can also bake them for an hour in the oven. 
  • Once they are cooked and cooled, peel them and chop them roughly. 
  • Put the garlic, beetroot, chilli and yoghurt in a blender, and puree. I used a soup wand to do this. 
  • Mix in the date syrup, salt, olive oil and Za’atar. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, and garnish with chopped spring onions, goats cheese and toasted hazelnuts. A drizzle of olive oil is good as well. 

This is best served at room temperature, with bread. 

Baked celeriac

So easy. Serve with anything. Ottolenghi SIMPLE. I grew the celeriac. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large celeriac, scrubbed clean and hairy roots removed. 
  • 50 ml olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seed
  • 1 lemon in wedges
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Pierce the celeriac all over with a sharp knife. Rub with the oil, season with the salt and coriander and put it in a small baking dish. 
  • Roast for around 2 1/2 hours, basting with olive oil if required. 
  • To serve, cut into wedges and serve with lemon, a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil. 

Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino cheese

Another wonderfully easy and tasty recipe from the Levant. This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book SIMPLE. Best recipe book I ever bought, possibly. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60ml olive oil (4 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 1 spring cabbage (the pointy kind) cut lengthways into 8ths. 
  • 5g tarragon leaves, or 3 tsp dried tarragon
  • 20g pecorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, a good pinch of salt and a good grate of black pepper. Put 1 tbsp of this mixture in a separate bowl. 
  • Put the cabbage in a large bowl, season with a pinch of salt,  and pour the oil mixture over the cabbages, tossing well to coat. 
  • Arrange the cabbage in a roasting dish, and roast for 15 minutes, until the edges are getting crispy. Remove from the oven to set aside and cool a little. 
  • Add the lemon juice to the reserve tbsp of oil. Add the tarragon. 
  • Put the cabbage on a platter, drizzle over the oil, then add shavings of pecorino cheese and a good grating of black pepper. 

Pea and feta fritters

This is from Ottolenghi’s book, SIMPLE. These pea fritters are good hot or cold, as part of a light lunch or a side dish as part of a feast. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 120g ricotta
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • wedges of lemon, to serve
  • 3 tbsp za’atar spice (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 100g white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 200g block of feta, crumbled into large chunks
  • about 800ml oil
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Mash the defrosted peas using a soup wand or blender, just until the mixture is coarsely crushed. 
  • Transfer the peas to a bowl, add the ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, 3/4 tsp salt, a good grind of pepper, and mix well. 
  • Add the za’atar, flour and baking powder, mix well, and then fold in the feta and the chopped mint. 
  • Pour the oil into a saucepan, and heat to a medium to high heat. 
  • Using a pair of dessert spoons, form the mixture into smooth ovals, and drop them into the boiling oil. They should fizz and bob to the surface, and cook to a wonderful crispy brown in about 3-4 minutes. You’ll need to ensure they are flipped over in the oil to cook on all sides. 
  • As each batch becomes cooked, lift them out in a slotted spoon and put on a towel to drain the oil, before adding to the serving dish. 
  • Serve with the wedges of lemon. 

Ottolenghi – SIMPLE

I’ve been cooking from SIMPLE all week, and the food that I have produced has been astonishingly delicious. The recipes are generally quite easy, and the ingredients are usually available locally. Many of the ingredients I have grown myself, and I am totally in love with this book. 

Another plus: lots of recipes. The book is not stingy. The recipes themselves seem to be easy to adapt to what is available as well. Where fresh dill has not been available, dried dill has worked. I have swapped the cheeses in some of the recipes, and used lemon as well as lime in others. 

If I could only have one recipe book, this would be the one. 

 

Tomato, Chard, Spinach, Lime, Mint, Almonds

Sorry about the wee hiatus – keep having many things to do. This is an astonishing mix of flavours and textures, and I was raving about it at work. Clair – this is the recipe I was talking about. It is from ‘Simple’ by Yotam Ottolenghi. Even better, it uses lots of ingredients from my garden. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g chard leaves – roughly shred the green leaves, and finely chop the stems
  • 150g spinach, roughly shredded
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 35g chopped mint
  • 35g chopped dill, or 3 tsp dried dill leaves. 
  • 8 spring onions, chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • salt

METHOD:

  • In a frying pan, put in half the oil, heat to medium, and then add the almonds and the paprika. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown. Remove them from the heat, and strain the oil from the almonds, which should be set aside in a bowl. 
  • In a large pan, heat the remaining oil over medium to high heat. When it is hot, add the crushed garlic and the caraway, and cook for a a couple of minutes until they start to sizzle and brown.
  • Add the tomatoes and chard, and 3/4 tsp salt, and stir. The pan will look very full. Cover the pan, and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every so often. If you are using dried herbs, add them at this step.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the spinach, lime juice and zest, herbs and spring onions. 
  • Serve with the almonds sprinkled on to. 

I successfully reheated this the next day, although it did wilt the spinach a bit too much. I ate it with pitta bread and labneh.