Tag Archives: mezze

Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

6 Mar Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Za'atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage

Red cabbage may not be your favourite vegetable. It wasn’t mine.  I have always loved the colour of it though. You’ve got to love food that is such a beautiful shade of magenta. When I run past these purple and green striped fields of  cabbages I can’t help but smile.

Cabbages

Another thing that makes me happy is the price. They are so cheap at the moment at the farmer’s market and if you have ever bought a cabbage you will know how far it goes. I mean these things go on for ever.

I use about a quarter of a white cabbage in this fridge emptying favourite Minestrone Soup that I now serve topped with a swirl of homemade basil pesto, it makes such a difference to the flavour.

mont 3

You can’t really use red cabbage in that soup though, it turns everything purple. Other than using it to make my Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage I have never done anything exciting or blogworthy with this beautiful Brassica. Until now that is.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

I found a recipe for roasted red cabbage steaks on Drizzle & Dip that immediately caught my eye.  She used a different spice mix but the idea is the same and I have been wanting to incorporate Za’atar into a recipe for a while.

Z'a'atar Spice Oil

Za’atar is herb and spice blend popular throughout the Middle East most often made with a mix of dried oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. There are other variations if you want to research it more.

It has many uses but its most common guise is to be mixed with olive oil, rubbed over flatbread dough and baked. You can also dip your toasted flatbread straight into a pot of it on the table. It can be used as a quick and easy marinade or rub for meat, fish and vegetables as well, as I have done here.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Serves 2-3 as a side dish. Vegan, gluten-free.

For the za’atar

  • 1 Tbsp sumac (used ground cumin or coriander if you can’t find it)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  •  a few grindings of black pepper
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes

Mix this all together and store in an airtight container.

  • 3 – 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a red cabbage (or more)  cut into 1/2 – 1 cm thick slices 
  • sea salt to serve

Mix the oil with the za’atar in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 180C and line  baking sheet with baking paper.

Lay the cabbage steaks out on the baking sheet and spread the za’atar oil all over them, you may need some more oil. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes depending on thickness and serve sprinkled with sea salt.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Serve these as a side dish or for a party as part of a mezze table with some Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Sweet Potato Filo Cigars , Roasted Beetroot Hummus and this Lebanese Lentil Salad. Just a suggestion.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

Make some more of the Za’atar straight away so you will always have some for dipping bread into or for a quick salad dressing or to serve over a plain hummus. The possiblities are endless.

You will be addicted, I am.

Za'atar Spice Oil

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rainy Day Dog

This little fella was all ready for the rain. He was really working that outfit and Rufus was a little jealous of all the attention he was getting…

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Roasted Beetroot Hummus with Toasted Flatbread Crackers

1 Jan Beetroot Hummus

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

Happy New Year Hummus!

Surprisingly, my most popular (or most visited) post of 2012 was this traditional hummus recipe. I don’t know why but if you search for Hummus or Hummus recipe in Google it’s right up there on the first page. Consequently I get loads of traffic from search engines. I should really learn how this all works. Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution.

Baby Beetroot

The trouble is I’m too busy doing what I enjoy doing, which is cooking, to want to spend more time on the computer. So it’s probably not going to happen, but you never know. If someone had told me at the start of 2012 that by the end of the year I would be teaching Vegetarian Cookery Workshops at a cookery school in Spanish I would laughed in their face.

Roasting Beetroot

Speaking of which, this beautifully sweet, deliciously deep magenta coloured dip, is one of the dishes from the Middle Eastern inspired Christmas party menu workshop that I hosted in December. It formed part of a festive jewel coloured mezze that we all devoured with a glass of pink cava after everything was prepared. I will be sharing more of those recipes with you over the next few weeks.

Roasted Beet Hummus

I bought some little organic baby beets from the market which roasted in about 30-35 minutes but if you can only get larger ones, cut them in half or quarters and roast until they are tender all the way through. This could take up to an hour depending on their size. Use gloves when you rub the skins off, if you don’t want fuchsia fingers.

Roasted Beetroot Hummus Recipe

Serves 6-8 as a dip. Vegan, Gluten-Free

  • about 600 g beetroot
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • thyme

Trim off the leaves, leaving about 2 inches of stalk attached and leave the root on. Cut into halves or quarters if large. Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay the beets on the tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & black pepper and some fresh or dried thyme leaves. Roast until tender all the way through. 30 mins to an hour depending on size. Leave to cool then cut off the stalks and roots and rub the skins off with kitchen paper.

  • 400 g cooked chickpeas (1 tin/jar) drained & rinsed
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt & black pepper
  • sesame seeds & fresh dill for garnish (optional)

Roughly chop the beetroot and put half of it along with half of the chickpeas in a food processor and blend until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the rest of the beetroot (saving some finely chopped for garnish) and the rest of the chickpeas and blend again to a paste, scraping down the sides.

Add the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt & black pepper and blend to a smooth paste. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Serve topped with some finely chopped beetroot, sesame seeds, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of fresh dill, if using.

Beetroot Hummus

Toasted Flatbread Crackers Recipe

vegan

  • lavash flatbread or soft flour tortillas
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • cumin
  • sumac (if available)

Preheat the oven to 125 C. Brush your lavash or tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle over some cumin, sumac (if using), salt & black pepper.

Using scissors, cut the lavash/tortillas into triangles and place on the baking tray(s). Cook for 10-15 mins until slightly golden and crispy, keep an eye on them. Leave to cool slightly (they will crisp up a bit more) and serve immediately with the hummus.

These crackers are also great served with Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara or even Guacamole.

Beet Hummus & Flatbread Chips

Happy New Year Everyone!!

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The Almost Perfect Deliciously Smokey Baba Ghanoush Recipe

21 Oct Baba Ghanoush

Unbelievably, this is the first time I have posted a Baba Ghanoush recipe. I love it – it is definitely one of my favourite things to eat but until recently I had not been happy with my own attempts a recreating the deliciously creamy smokiness of the excellent Baba (or mutabal) at my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Malaga.

Seeing this unusual aubergine growing by the side of the road featured in the picture below (no rude comments about its big nose please) and the incredibly cheap piles of gorgeous deep purple, brushed magenta or even lilac ombre specimens on sale at the market was encouragement enough for me to give it another go.

The key to really good baba is the smokiness. This usually comes from cooking the aubergines directly over an open flame until the skin is blackened and the flesh inside is very soft and collapsing when you squeeze it with tongs. The smoky flavour comes from the charred skin that permeates the flesh of the aubergine transforming it into one of the most delicious things on this earth. This is where my problem lies, I don’t have gas hob. I have a silly beep beep beep induction hob which is admittedly much easier to clean.

Or so he tells me.

I had read recipes before saying that you could get the same effect by grilling (or broiling US) them under a hot grill for 70 minutes. 70 minutes?! The idea of leaving something under a hot grill for 70 minutes scared me to death because I knew I would wander off and forget about them completely. So do you know what I did? I bought smaller aubergines. Genius I know. Instead of using 3 large aubergines that the recipe calls for, I use 6 or 7 baby ones. It’s so much quicker and I am less likely to burn the house down in the process.

The traditional way, if you have a gas hob, is to line underneath the burners with some aluminium foil, prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife (you can use 3 large or 6 or 7 baby ones) then lay them directly on the flames, turning occasionally with tongs to make sure they are blackened on all sides and collapsingly soft inside. If you don’t have gas like me the recipe below comes  a very close second. Whatever you do don’t use roasted aubergines, the flavour will be very disappointing and nothing like the real thing.

Baba Ghanoush Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack with flatbread or crudities. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigel Slater

  • 6 or 7 small aubergines (mine were about 15 -18 cm long from the tip of the stalk to the bottom)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • the juice of a small lemon
  • 2 or 3 heaped tbsp tahini paste
  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley or mint leaves to garnish
  • sesame seeds to garnish

Prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife and cook under a hot grill (or over a gas flame), turning once the skin is blackened. Keep turning and leaving it to blacken on all four sides. The skin should be blackened and charred on all sides and the flesh inside very soft and collapsing when you pick it up with tongs.

Leave until cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways and scrape out all of the flesh including any that is sticking to the skin (this is where all the flavour is). It doesn’t matter if some of the blackened skin gets into the bowl too this will be great for flavour.

Puree with a stick blender with the rest of the ingredients until just smooth (or still a little bit chunky) and then taste. Adjust the lemon juice, salt and tahini to your liking. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over some parsley or mint leaves and a few sesame seeds.

This is gorgeous served straight away still warm or at room temperature with some toasted flatbread or crudites for dipping.

This is one of the recipe from my first Vegetarian Mezze Cookery Workshop that I hosted yesterday at Pepe Kitchen in Benalmadena, Malaga. I would like to thank all of the lovely people who turned up to learn to cook and eat some of my favourite food, I really enjoyed it and hope you did too.

My next course is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November when we will be making (and eating) tarts and  quiche made with spelt flour olive oil pastry, healthy sweet and savoury muffins including my favourite cherry tomato, pesto & goat’s cheese muffin made using wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil. Also my signature healthy breakfast or tea loaf made with flax seeds, oats, dates, raisins, honey and sunflower seeds. Hope to see you there…

Homemade Tomato Ketchup…. with a kick

4 Oct Homemade Tomato Ketchup

What do you do with a kilo of plum tomatoes that you bought because they were really cheap and gorgeous looking? Well, I decided to turn them into ketchup because I had never done it before and it felt right. In a preparing for the winter months ahead type way.

I am really pleased with the consistency of it. It actually looks and tastes a lot like real ketchup, with  quite a bit of heat. I added some of our homegrown Scotch Bonnet chillis to the tomatoes instead of  the pinch of cayenne that the original recipe called for. It’s fiery but fruity at the same time.

And there’s no nasty chemicals or weird stuff, excellent!

Homemade Spicy Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Makes 1 bottle. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Chowhound

  • 1 kilo ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds & membrane removed then chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 75 ml sherry vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1/4 tsp caraway or celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small scotch bonnet chillis (optional) deseeded if you like
  • 3 tbsp molasses (miel de cana)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the tomatoes, red pepper and chillis in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Push this through a sieve into a large saucepan with a spatula until you are just left with dry skins and seeds in the sieve. Discard this.

Puree the onion and add that to the pan with the pureed tomatoes. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat until it is reduced by about a third and is considerably thicker.

Meanwhile put garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds and vinegar into a small saucepan and simmer gently, covered for about 1o-15 mins. Then pour about half the spiced vinegar through a sieve or tea strainer into the thickened tomato mixture. Add the molasses/miel de cana, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir to combine everything well.

Taste at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to suit you. Maybe it needs more of the spiced vinegar or more molasses or salt. Cook it some more, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it is thickened and looks like ketchup. Don’t worry if it looks a bit separated you are now going to blend it carefully with a stick blender in the pan (or in a food processor) and that smooths it out nicely.

Pour into a jug and then pour into a sterilised jar or bottle, seal with an airtight lid and leave to cool. When cool, store in the fridge.

Serve it with chips, beanburgers, anything really you don’t need me to tell what to serve your ketchup with. My particular favourite is with poached eggs and spinach on toast.

As this is quite a short post it seems like quite a good time to tell you about some exciting news. I am going to holding two cookery workshops at the Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena. The first one on Saturday 20th October is a Vegetarian Middle Eastern Mezze Workshop where we will be making, Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Maast-o Khiar, Fattoush, Spanakopita & Sambouseks. The workshop is from 10am – 2pm and we all get to eat everything we have made for lunch together afterwards.

The second one is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November from 5pm -9pm. We will be using spelt flour and olive oil to make pastry for tarts, galettes and quiches as well as making sweet and savoury spelt flour muffins and a flaxseed spelt raisin and date breakfast loaf. We will of course be tasting them all afterwards just to make sure they are good obviously!

For more information and to reserve your place you can either contact me directly or reserve through the Pepe Kitchen website.

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?

Smashed Broad Bean Dip with Fresh Mint, Garlic, Manchego and Lemon

27 May Broad Bean Dip

This is just a quick and easy recipe that I wanted to share with you because it is perfect for this time of year. When you can’t be bothered to cook anything complicated but want something fresh and delicious to munch on. This is it.

I found the recipe in a pile of newspaper and magazine clippings that The Washer Up’s dad, Jim had sent me from England. He cuts anything food and drink related out of the Sunday papers and saves them up to send over. It’ s very handy for keeping up with what’s going on over there.

The original recipe used 500 grammes of podded broad beans, I didn’t have anywhere near that many so I have adjusted it to suit. It’s one of those things where you can taste it as you go and add more garlic, lemon or mint to your taste. 

If you have young broad beans that are still very small and bright green you can use them raw. If not you can blanch the podded beans for two minutes then squeeze the bright green peas out of the pale jade skins and you’re good to go. I know that squeezing broad beans may sound boring bit it’s actually quite a therapeutic thing to do sitting outside in the early evening sipping a glass of mint tea or even a Mojito. It’s worth it just to see that beautiful bright green paste when you’ve done.

Smashed Broad Bean & Mint Dip

Serves 2-3 as a snack, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Eat Your Veg

Prep time 15 mins

  • about 200 gr broad beans (podded weight)
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or more)
  • 50 gr grated manchego (or pecorino/parmesan)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • bread to serve, toasted flatbread/baguette/ciabatta or wholemeal toast

Blanch the broad beans (unless very young, tiny & bright green) for two minutes in boiling salted water, drain and then squeeze the bright green peas out of the pale green cases.

In a mortar & pestle, crush the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt to a paste. Add the mint leaves and pound again to a paste. Add a handful of the broad beans and grind to a paste. Add more beans and continue pounding until you get a slightly chunky textured puree.

Drizzle in the olive oil and mix well then add the cheese, lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust lemon, mint salt as necessary. Serve on/with toasted bread and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Sit back and enjoy this fresh and delicious seasonal treat, I’m off to make some more, it’s addictive. Thanks Jim.

A Really Good Hummus Recipe

9 May Hummus Bi Tahineh

At last, I’ve found an authentic tasting hummus recipe that comes somewhere close to replicating the gorgeous hummus at my favourite Lebanese restaurants. Sure, I can make a half decent tasty hummus, have been making it for years, but I have never been to get anywhere near to the creamy smooth addictiveness of the professionals. Until now that is.

The purists out there are going to say that it’s not authentic because I didn’t use dried chickpeas that I soaked overnight. They would be right and next time I will. If I remember. That’s the problem you see, I am never that organised. I have the best of intentions but it never seems to happen.

That is what is so great about this recipe, it is fabulous even if you don’t do the soaking overnight thing. The secret to the smooth and creaminess is that you rub the skins off of the chickpeas. I’d never heard of that before. It makes such a difference to the texture and flavour of the finished product. It is lighter in colour, much creamier, smoother and less bitter. It is a little bit of a faff but so worth it for the end result, I promise.

Hummus Bi Tahine (Chickpeas with Tahini) Recipe

Serves 3-4 as a snack, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Desert Candy

Prep time: 20-25 mins with cooked chickpeas. If using dried chickpeas see the original recipe here

  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil, cumin, sesame seeds to serve

Place the drained and rinsed chickpeas in a saucepan and cover them with water by at least an inch. Gently rub the chickpeas against each other with your hands in the pan. Do this for a few minutes. Skim off any visible skins from the top.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the chickpeas are very soft. Check by squishing one between your fingers, it should squish very easily. Remove from the heat and skim off any more visible skins but keep the cooking liquid as you will need it later.

 I actually removed the chickpeas from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and slipped any remaining skins off of the chickpeas. Fiddly but worth it.

Place the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and smush to a paste (you can also do this in a mini chopper). Add the tahini & lemon juice to a processor with the garlic & salt paste and blend until smooth and light coloured. Then add the skinned chickpeas and blend until very smooth. Thin the hummus to the desired consistency with the cooking liquid a tablespoon at a time. Taste and season with more salt as required.

To serve, swirl the hummus onto a deep plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil. Finish with a sprinkling of cumin/paprika and a few sesame seeds.

Use warmed flatbreads, raw carrots, salted crisps (so wrong but so right) or even clean fingers when you run out of everything else, to carry the hummus to your happy mouth and smile.

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