Tag Archives: baked

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Bulbs with Tomato Sauce

20 Mar Risotto Stuffed Fennel

Risotto Stuffed Fennel with Tomato Sauce

Fennel is another one of those vegetables, like cauliflower, that gets a bit of a bad name. People have preconceived ideas about it. They don’t like it. But many have never tried it cooked. I may have been one of those narrow-minded people.

Fennel Plants

Running past this field full of feathery fennel fronds floating in the breeze in front of an 11th Century Moorish watchtower while Rufus begs me to turn around and run back because of the pack of very tiny dogs who bark (or actually yap) at his heels as we pass, made me want to research this undervalued vegetable a little more deeply.

And by research I mean, look at recipes. On Pinterest mainly. Not that I’m addicted or anything but that is where I store all of the recipes I like the look of and want to make soon.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Fennel Bulb

The idea for this recipe didn’t come from Pinterest though. It came from Jim, The Washer Up’s dad. It’s not his recipe. I don’t think he stretches much farther than a ham sandwich in his own particular kitchen, but he does send me everything food related cut out from the British press, neatly folded in a brown envelope every couple of weeks. This is always a very welcome distraction, for me, from any cleaning that might need doing.

It was in one of those envelopes that I found out about baking and stuffing fennel.

Fennel Stock & Bulbs

Because I bought four whole fennel (complete with long feathery fronds still attached)  from the farmer’s market on Sunday, I decided I wouldn’t waste all of that aniseedy greenery and I made a stock out of them for the risotto. This isn’t essential but if you have them, you may as well if you have the time.

Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel

In the original recipe they stuffed the fennel with wild rice. I decided to make a risotto using brown rice and the mushrooms I had in my fridge and use that to stuff them instead.

I have finally worked out how to make risotto from brown rice that actually looks and tastes like risotto. You have to part cook the rice first so it is nearly done. Then you add it to the risotto and continue as you would with uncooked risotto rice. It’ so much softer and creamier. I have to give credit to The Washer Up for this tip, he has been telling me to do it for ages.

And he was right. There I said it.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel

To make the fennel stock I cut the stalks and fronds off of the fennel bulbs and chopped them up roughly. I put them in  a large pot with 3 or 4 bay leaves, 15 whole peppercorns and a good teaspoon of salt. Bring this to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered for about an hour. Taste and add more salt if necessary . Then drain and store in the fridge or freezer in 500 ml or 1 litre pots.

You can just use a normal vegetable stock if you don’t have the fronds, time or inclination.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Recipe

Serves  4, vegetarian. Adapted from

  • 300 ml brown rice
  • 600 ml fennel stock or water

Put the rice and stock/water in a pan. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked. Drain if necessary. Rinse under cold water if not using straight away to stop the cooking and set aside.

  • 4  fennel bulbs
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • white wine (or cava)

Preheat oven to 180C. Cut about 2 cm off of the base of each bulb so it can stand up. Then cut another inch or so off of the tops. Remove any damaged/bruised outer layers. Using a teaspoon, hollow out the fennel bulbs as best you can (see picture above) reserving the fennel flesh for the risotto.

Stand the hollowed out fennel bulbs on a large sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt & pepper. Start to bring the edges of the foil up and around the fennel then carefully pour in about 4 Tbsp white wine. Seal the foil package completely around the fennel but make sure that they are still standing. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until nicely softened.

  • reserved fennel flesh from above, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested 
  • about 250 g mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
  • a splosh of white wine
  • up to 1 litre vegetable/fennel stock
  • 30 g grated manchego/parmesan
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • a handful of manchego/parmesan
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • tomato pasta sauce/marinara sauce

Put the stock in a small pan over a medium heat and keep hot but not boiling.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, chopped fennel and a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the garlic, thyme, chilli flakes, half of the lemon zest and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, cook for three minutes until softened then add the part cooked rice. Add a good splosh of white wine and cook until evaporated. Season well with salt & black pepper then start adding the hot stock a ladleful at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful, stirring and swirling occasionally. Keep going until you have used all the stock and the rice is cooked. The risotto should be soft and quite liquidy.

Add a squeeze of lemon, a little of the chopped parsley and stir in the 30 gr grated manchego/parmesan. Turn off the heat, put a lid on and leave for 3-5 minutes. Heat up your tomato sauce.

If your fennel bulbs are done remove them from the oven and put the grill/broiler on high.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, grated manchego/parmesan, rest of the lemon zest, some pine nuts & some chopped parsley in a small bowl.

Check the risotto for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Spoon some risotto into each fennel bulb right to the top and a little bit more, sprinkle over the breadcrumb mix and put them under the grill for a minute or two until browned.

To serve: Cover the base of each dish with a shallow pool of risotto and place the stuffed fennel in the middle. Spoon some of the tomato sauce on and around the dish and garnish with some of the breadcrumb mix if you have any left, some chopped parsley or fennel fronds.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel & Tomato Sauce

Buen Provecho!!

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Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

22 Jan Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

This is my type of comfort food. Spice roasted sweet potatoes cooked down and mashed with tomatoes then mixed with black beans, fresh coriander and lime juice. That’s the filling, you could just eat that on its own with spoon if you like.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Filling & Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

But rolled up in soft flour tortillas and covered in the quick and easy Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce from my Mexican Tortilla Lasagne recipe it is divine. Not forgetting the handful of mature Manchego cheese that is grated over the top before going in the oven.

Step by Step Enchiladas

The final step of whacking it under a hot grill for 5 minutes at the end is what makes this special though. You need to give it that caramelised at the edges crispy cheese topping that is irresistible. To me anyway. You have to keep your eye on it, there’s a fine line between brilliance and burnt beyond repair.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce Recipe

Serves 4, vegetarian. Adapted from Call Me Fudge

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 300 g each)
  • olive oil salt & black pepper
  • oregano, allspice, ground cumin
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 Tbsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 1 tin (400ml) chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tin (400 g) black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 10 x 8 inch tortilla wraps
  • a big handful of grated manchego cheese
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus garnish
  • lime/lemon juice
  • sour cream, or goat’s yoghurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and cut into 1-2 cm dice. Put them on the baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and allspice if you have it. Toss it all together with you hands to evenly coat then spread it all out in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the red onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add in the cooked sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chipotle sauce and water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to cook the tomatoes. Mash the sweet potatoes in the pan then add the black beans, stir them through and add the chopped coriander. Season with salt & black pepper and a squeeze of lime/lemon juice. Taste and adjust as required. (Try not to eat it all).

For the red pepper sauce:

  • 1 jar/tin, roasted red peppers (about 200-250 gr), rinsed drained
  • about 100 ml tomate frito /puree tomato/tomato passata
  • 4 or 5 tsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • the other 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  1/2 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)

Blend the drained, rinsed peppers, tomato puree, chipotle sauce, sugar, cumin & Worcestershire sauce in a food processor until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the processor with the red pepper sauce and blend again. Season with salt & black pepper and taste. Adjust as required.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 190 C. You will need either one large or 4 individual ovenproof dishes. Or I used the dish in the pictures twice, this amount fed us both for two nights. The amount of tortillas depends on your dishes so just fill as many as you need.

Spread a layer of the red pepper sauce on the base of your dish(es). Take a few heaped tablespoons of the filling and lay it at one end of the tortilla (as in pictures above), roll up the tortilla and place it in the dish seam side down. Continue with the rest until your dish is full (you may have to trim some).

Tip the rest of the red pepper sauce all over the top of the wraps spreading it out evenly. Top with the grated cheese and bake for about 15 minutes. Then turn the grill/broiler on high and leave it under there for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, don’t ruin it!

Leave it for 5 minutes before serving with a dollop of sour cream/goats yoghurt, fresh coriander and a wedge of lime/lemon to squeeze over. A nice green salad would be good if you need something to accompany it. And a bottle of Coronita, of course.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Buen Provecho!

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Sweet Potato and Feta Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

31 Oct Sweet Potato Cigars Filling

 Just because it’s Halloween I am purposefully not posting a pumpkin recipe. I’m not of fan of Halloween and this is my pathetic attempt at rebellion.

This year I actually purchased hideous Halloween sweets from Mercadona for the lovely children next door who knocked incessantly on my front door last year.  I studiously ignored them because I didn’t have any sugary, chemically, teeth-rotting unhealthy products to give them. They repayed my kindness by chucking eggs at our front door, so The Washer Up went mad and chucked them back at the neighbours front door. So this year I bought sweets. I hope they’re happy.

So anyway, this is  my kind of treat, filo pastry cigars filled with roasted sweet potato, feta cheese, spring onion, fresh coriander, parsley and red chilli. Unsurprisingly Middle Eastern in origin and unashamedly Ottolenghi of course, who else? He has a new TV programme starting in November on More4, needless to say we are very excited.

The tahini yoghurt sauce is one of my favourite things, it is totally delicious. You can serve it just as a dip with flatbreads or raw veggies, or I have served it with these Cauliflower Fritters, these Baked Falafel Cakes and these Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut) Cigars too.

Sweet Potato & Feta Cigars Recipe

Makes 6 cigars, serves 3-4, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi for The Guardian

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 400 g), scrubbed clean
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 75 g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (defrosted if frozen)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a knife and place directly on a rack in the oven. Roast for 45-50 minutes until soft and cooked all the way through. Cut in half lengthways and leave until cool enough to handle.

Scrape out all of the sweet potato flesh into a bowl and mix with feta, spring onions, herbs, chilli, salt & pepper mashing with a fork. Taste for seasoning and leave to cool completely.

When ready, preheat the oven to 200C, line a baking tray with parchment and brush with a little oil. Unroll the filo pastry sheets and cover them with a clean tea towel to stop them drying out. Remove two sheets together and place them on top of each other on your work surface with the short end facing you, so you have a double layer sheet. Cover the rest back up with the tea towel.

Cut the two sheets in half lengthways this will make two cigars. On the left hand double layer strip, put a few heaped tablespoons of the filling in a sausage shape about 2 inches from the end of the pastry nearest you, leaving a centimetre free at each side end. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and start to roll up your cigar around the filling, fold in the two side ends at about half way through and brush with a little more oil every now and then while you finish rolling up the cigar. Brush the top with some oil and place on the lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling, you should get six cigars. You can refreeze (or refrigerate) the unused pastry.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the tops of the cigars and bake for 25 -30 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

Tahini Yoghurt Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped Tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • cumin or sumac to serve

Mix all the ingredients together well making sure the tahini is mixed in and taste. Adjust lemon, salt or tahini to suit. Serve in bowl sprinkled with a little cumin or sumac and a few fresh herb leaves.

These are the perfect sweet treat for an evening huddled on the sofa with all the lights turned off pretending you’re not in…

Happy Halloween!!

Italian Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic and Basil

11 Oct Courgette Crostata

There is a whole field of courgette plants that I pass every morning with the dog. I have been watching the vegetables grow out of their delicate sunshine flowers and waiting for the day that I arrive and they have  all been harvested. I really hope they don’t leave them too long. They do that a lot here. Leave the courgettes to get too big before they pick them. I know if you grow your own that it is difficult to keep up with the mountain of courgettes that the plants produce but on a farm there is no excuse.

There is nothing worse than big, fat, watery courgettes. You really need them when they are young, firm and still squeaky. Like these ones I found at the market on Sunday.  These were only a euro for a kilo so I had to buy a kilo obviously.

Then you get home and realise you have a load of courgettes. One of my favourite things to cook with them at the moment is this crostata, we have it for dinner about once a week. A crostata is a freeform tart, an Italian version of a French galette. You cut a big circle of pastry, leave an inch or two border spread the base with some ricotta or yoghurt mixed with garlic & herbs, then make pretty concentric circles with courgette slices and brush with some herby garlic oil. You then roll up and crimp the edges and bake. It’s as easy as that, especially with this quick olive oil pastry recipe.

Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic & Basil Oil

Serves 4-6 as part of a meal. Vegetarian. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the spelt olive oil pastry:

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough. shape into a flat disc, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge until ready to use. It doesn’t need long but will keep well for a few days like that.

For the filling:

  • 2 firm small/med. courgettes, sliced into 1/2 cm coins on a slight diagonal
  • 1 pot goats yoghurt (about 100ml) or ricotta or greek yoghurt
  • a handful of grated manchego cheese (or parmesan/cheddar)
  • 25 gr crumbled goats cheese or feta
  • grated lemon zest 1/2 tsp
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1+1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • fresh basil leaves, finely sliced (plus extra for garnish)  or 1 tsp basil pesto
  • salt & black pepper

Lay the courgette slices on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and leave to sit while you prepare the pastry & filling.

In a small bowl mix (or blend) together the olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, basil (or pesto) & lemon zest. Mix 1 tbsp of this in another bowl with the yoghurt (or ricotta), and cheeses. Season with salt & black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a very rough circle about 2-3 mm thick.  Take your largest dinner plate or serving plate,  place it lightly on the pastry and cut around it, remove the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge if there is enough for another small tart. Remove the plate with a sharp knife and lift the circle carefully, on a floured rolling pin, onto the lined baking tray.

Leaving a border round the edge of about an inch or two, spread the cheesy mixture out evenly over the pastry. Dry the tops of your courgette slices well with kitchen towel and then start laying them, overlapping slightly, around the edge still leaving the border clear.  When you have finished the outside circle start another circle going in the opposite direction just inside the first. Then overlap a few slices in the middle. See pictures above for these stages.

Drizzle and/or brush the rest of the garlicky herb oil all over the courgettes and then start to fold up the edges by turning the paper and folding and pleating as you go. Brush the pleated border with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then scatter over a few fresh basil leaves and serve.

Serve with a simple lemon & olive oil dressed green salad or this delicious White Bean Mash. This is a very versatile recipe, you could easily switch up the herbs and cheese to use whatever you have in the fridge.

I know I said I bought a kilo of courgettes and I only used two of them in this dish and I also know that a lot of you are overrun with courgettes at certain times of the year so maybe, like me,  you could have a go at making this deliciously light Zucchini Green Chilli Cornbread or these very moreish Baked Zucchini Fries as well.

Have a Great Weekend!!

 

Savoury Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Basil, Goat’s Cheese and Courgette Blossom

7 Jul Individual Cherry Tomato Clafoutis

I have been wanting to make a clafoutis for a while now. The traditionally sweet French dessert is made with fruit, usually cherries, cooked in a batter made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar and flour. Cherries are in season here now and are very cheap but it is impossible to find a cherry pitter/pipper/stoner or whatever it’s called, in this town. Apparently you can make it with the stones left in the cherries but I live with the most accident prone man in Andalucia and can’t be doing with the Heimlich manoeuver in this heat.

Thankfully our cherry tomato plant has just decided to produce a large amount of ripe fruit at the same time that the basil plants (purple and green) are growing like weeds. I say thankfully because I found a recipe for a savoury clafoutis in  The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo that my friend Rhian bought me for my birthday. There are lots of lovely things in the book but the savoury clafoutis was top of my list of things to try especially with our little baby tomatoes.

I saw these courgette blossoms still with the little courgettes attached at the market and bought a load of them. I used some as a topping with some portobello mushrooms on a pizza but still had a few left so I sliced the mini courgettes into the clafoutis filling and topped them with a flower.

I made two individual clafoutis in mini loaf tins with this recipe but you can double it and make a big one in a baking dish or tin that should serve 4-6 as part of a lunch or picnic. Or use little ramekins.

You could change the cheese to a Manchego, Cheddar or Gruyère, switch up the herbs and use leftover roasted vegetables as an alternative filling. I served it with this French Potato Salad.

Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Goat’s Cheese, Basil & Courgette Blossom

Serves 2-3 (easily doubled), Vegetarian. Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15-20 mins (small) 30-40 mins (large)

  • 50g goat’s cheese/feta
  • 50g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 or 3 courgette blossoms (stamens removed) baby courgettes finely sliced (optional)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & black pepper
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 50g goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • 50 ml milk (I used oat milk)

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly oil and flour your dishes. Scatter the tomatoes, crumbled/torn goat’s cheese and sliced baby courgettes, if using, evenly over the base(s).

Whisk the eggs well with the salt & pepper then gently fold in the ground almonds and flour until just combined. Stir in the yoghurt, milk and fresh herbs.

Pour the batter over the filling and top each one with a courgette flower. Bake until golden brown and set. 15-20 minutes for small, 30 -40 minutes for larger. Tip them out of the moulds or serve from the large dish, warm or at room temperature.

Things That Made Me Smile Today………

Our new lavender plant, a beautiful magenta colour.

Huge, bright and blousy squash and pumpkin flowers, the first sign that autumn will arrive and along with it relief from the unbearable heat.

Enjoy your weekend..

Spiced Chickpea Falafel Cakes with Tahini, Yogurt and Mint Sauce

22 Jun Falafel Cake

It may surprise you to find that this is the first time I have posted a falafel recipe. Falafels are emergency vegetarian food, especially when out and about. Wherever you are there is normally a Turkish kebab shop that can save your life when starvation takes hold and you need something quick and tasty.

I have a theory though. A falafel conspiracy theory, if you like. I think that the falafels you buy in most Turkish or Lebanese restaurants or cafes are made out of a packet mix. I know, controversial. My reason for this slanderous outburst is sound and based on personal experience. Theirs hold together and mine, do not. See the picture below for an example of a very lovely falafel we bought from an Israeli vendor at the market.

 Along with a delicious tabouli salad, spicy tomato dip, broad bean dip and cheese and potato puffs. Perfect picnic food. For when your friends have very kindly allowed you to spend the day by their pool while they are away.

I also some bought some gorgeous gladioli and a big box of irresistible looking plums at the market. I see plum recipes coming up. Anyway back to the falafels.

Correct me if I am wrong, and I am sure you will, but aren’t falafels made from chickpeas? The ones you buy seem to be made from bulgur wheat or couscous. They have a distinctly grainy inside that looks and tastes nothing like a chickpea, cooked or uncooked. Am I the only person that has noticed this? Don’t get me wrong they taste great and I love them but pureed chickpeas they ain’t.

That’s my excuse anyway. I’ve tried with cooked chickpeas and dried, soaked overnight chickpeas. Whatever, I have always had a disaster. Either too dense, hard and chewy because I’ve added so much chickpea flour to make them hold together or too sloppy and they fall apart and disintegrate as soon as I start to cook them in the oil. Until now that is…..

…actually that is a little bit of a lie. The first lot of these I cooked in oil and they disintegrated as usual. Tasted good but had to be scooped into a flatbread and eaten.

My success came about through baking them rather than frying. Mould them into patties, dust with a little polenta or cornmeal, brush with a tiny amount of oil and bake for about 30 minutes. They are still not the most stable of snacks, you couldn’t throw one at someone from the other side of the pool, for instance but they are soft, delicious and a little crumbly.

And they taste of chickpea. Enhanced with a few herbs, spices and harissa. Perfect. You just need a little tahini yoghurt sauce and a squeeze of lemon.

Spiced Chickpea Falafel Cakes with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

Serves 3, makes about 9, vegan, (without the sauce) gluten-free.

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking Time 30 mins

  • 1 tin/jar cooked chickpeas (400 gr), drained, rinsed & dried
  • 50 g of fresh peas (not frozen too wet) optional
  • 25 g hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  a big handful of chopped fresh herbs, I used, mint, coriander, parsley & oregano
  • 1/2 tsp or more harissa paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • the juice of half a lemon plus wedges to serve
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • polenta or cornmeal fro dusting

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smoothish and it has come together. If you need to, add a bit more lemon juice to get it moving but not a lot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mould into cakes and put in the fridge to firm up for a while or overnight.

When ready to cook preheat oven to 200 C. Put the polenta on a flat plate and roll the patties in it to lightly coat all sides. Line a baking tray with baking paper place the patties on the tray and brush very lightly with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly browned and serve with the tahini yoghurt sauce.

Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

  • 1 pot (125ml) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a handfull of fresh herbs, chopped I used mint, coriander, parsley & oregano
  •  a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch ground cumin
  • a pinch sumac (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust lemon & salt as necessary.

Serve the falafel cakes with the tahini yoghurt sauce, lemon wedges and some salad leaves. In a flatbread/pita or not, it’s up to you.

I might have to buy a packet mix for falafel just to find out if that’s what they use. Just to prove to myself really. If it’s not I can’t understand it, any ideas?

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