Throwing a load of vegetables in a tin with some herbs, oil, salt and pepper is about as easy as cooking gets. Easier than boiling an egg, even. It's a great accompaniment to roast meat and steamed fish and gets a load of different colours on your plate. I love picking out the caramelised, sticky and juicy bits that have caught in the pan while roasting, it's such a comforting and delicious treat that the cook gets all to their sneaky self.Often I'll roast a chicken or joint of pork on top of the veg, that's a real treat. The meat takes on a deep flavour, and the juices in the pan are so rich and delicious, you just pour them over, there's no need to make a sauce.I've even roasted a load of sausages in among the vegetables, a perfect one pot meal. All it takes is a little peeling and chopping then the oven does the rest. You can throw in some tomatoes too, they give off their juices and mingle deliciously with the other veg. Fennel softens beautifully, giving off its light, mellow aniseed to the pot and onions turn golden, sticky and sweet.Use what is available at the time and keep an eye on it while cooking so it doesn't burn. 35-45 minutes at 180c is normally about right, depending on what veg you use. One tip I'd give is to have the more delicate vegetables at the bottom and harder ones such as beetroot, carrots and the like on top.Drizzle everything in olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Mix through some hardy herbs such as rosemary, sage and bay leaves and finish off with some young thyme and perhaps chilli flakes as it comes out the oven. Put it straight on the table and dig in.
Bee has gone out again, leaving me alone to play with my favourite cupboard in the kitchen, The Cabinet of Curiosities. For once, though, I'm not tempted by dried fish souflé with truffle juice and barberry powder. As tempting as that may sound to you, you'll have to write that recipe yourself. Don't fear though, here's a five minute dish that is the epitome of quick, simple cooking with good, fresh ingredients. I don't often eat squid at home, so tonight was the perfect opportunity. The cupboard can wait.Squid, quickly seared and served with a little kick of chilli flakes, salt and pepper is one of my favourite snacks. Even better if it's in a light batter. Batter light than never I always say. The perfect sunshine accompaniment to a cold sparkling drink outside.You could use papardelle pasta if you prefer the carbs, but I was on a low calorie day anyway so held back.Ingredients (for two people)250g small squid1 Courgette2 small cloves of garlic, crushed1 red chilli, as hot as you likeOlive oilSalt and pepperLemon zestShave some ribbons of courgette with a vegetable peeler and sauté them for no longer than a minute with the garlic and a sliced red chilli. Put that on the side, heat the pan to vesuvius levels, throw in a splash of olive oil and cook your well seasoned squid for about a minute each side before mixing with the courgette.Serve with lemon zest, a good twist of pepper and some chilli flakes. Pretty easy really.
I've had falafels in the past where I'm not sure if they've dropped a squash ball in the wrap and disguised it with garlic mayonnaise or after a busy day, they've swept all the dust from the floor and glued it together with chilli sauce. That could, however, be down to the kind of places I've visited and the time of day I've found myself there.I've heard talk here and there of the best falafel in London, without really paying attention, but toastandbutter.net mentions a place just down the road from me. I will visit one day, it's down the path of good intentions. It's just that the thought of dragging myself over to a windswept and lonely park isn't very appealing.In the meantime, I've made my own, and honestly, these are the best falafels I've ever made. However, I think they may be the only falafels I've ever made. I'd recommend eating them fresh from the pan, hot, just slightly crumbly and wrapped in warm, homemade flatbreads with chilli sauce and peppers.If you like, you can make the mix, shape it and keep it covered in the fridge for a day. It's better to cook them to order than to eat them after they've been hanging around for a while, like someone in a kebab shop queue.Let me know how you make yours, and if you have any secret ingredients.Ingredients1 tin of chickpeas. Even better would be the equivalent amount, dried and soaked overnight, but you may have forgotten, like I did, or maybe you can't be bothered. Either is fine2 banana shallots, finely sliced. Peeled of course1 red onion, finely sliced, as above1 mild red chilli, chopped (or more if you like them poky)2tsp ground cumin2tsp ground corianderA pinch of grated nutmegA handful of baby spinach, quickly wilted, finely chopped and cooled1 free-range egg, lightly beaten2tbsp olive oil2tbsp chickpea (gram) flour for dusting. Or plain flour if you don't have anySalt and pepper. Use decent salt with everything, please250ml rapeseed oil for frying I like HillfarmMethodSlowly sauté the onion, shallots and spices in a pan until soft and golden. Season well, add the chilli and cook for a minute more.Put this in a large bowl, add the spinach, chickpeas, egg and a dash of olive oil then mix well.Mash the mixture together. I used my hands for the fun of it. I won't do it that way again, it took ages. I'd use a potato masher or stick blender, but be sure to not turn it into a purée. It's best if some of the chickpeas remain whole or halved to give a better texture.When you're happy with the mix, shape them using your hands or two tablespoons into quenelle-like shapes. You can then squash these down into patties if you like.Dust them in the flour and put in the fridge to firm for about an hour.Heat a deep pan with the rapeseed oil to about 180c and when ready, slowly drop in a few of the falafels, one at a time. Cook until golden all over, turning them occasionally in the oil. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain while you finish the rest.Serve with tahini yoghurt and some flatbreads and banish those bad memories.
New season English asparagus traditionally starts on St. George's Day. Enjoy them at their best during the short season and treat them simply.Read More
Savoy cabbage, quickly cooked, with butter and pepper is pretty good as it is. But if you want to pep it up to serve as a side dish with south-east Asian food it may not quite cut the mustard.The trick with cabbage is to not cook it for a whole school term. A flash in the pan to soften it is enough, so be careful and be quick. This is fiery and comforting at the same time and goes really well with some steamed fish with lemongrass and lime leaves.Ingredients1/2 Savoy cabbage, shreddedCoconut oil for frying2 hot red birdseye chillies, sliced1tbsp red Thai curry paste1tbsp dessicated coconut1tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce1tbsp lime juice100ml coconut creamSalt to seasonMethodSauté the cabbage in some coconut oil, letting some of the shreds almost burn. Add as much chilli as you like, my chillies were surprisingly hot, so be careful.Add the curry paste to the pan (home made if you can be bothered) and add a little more coconut oil. Cook for a few minutes, stirring well so it doesn't burn.Pour in the coconut cream and heat through. Tip into a bowl and blowtorch the top of the cabbage if you have one to give it a little bit of a dramatic char. Add a little more sliced red chilli and some hazelnuts sprinkled on top if you fancy, and serve.
On Thursday night we went out for my birthday supper at Olivio Carne, the sister to what is pretty much my favourite restaurant in London (Olivio near Victoria station) and I had pasta for the first time in nearly two months. My new rule is that food like that has to be worth it. And it was. A beautiful wild boar pappardelle. I also had plenty of Kate's duck ragù just to help her out.I've been wondering how to recreate one of my favourite dishes, ravioli con burro e salvia without pasta while I've been avoiding carbs. My new rules are that it's fine to occasionally eat what you want, and to not make sugar and wheat part of my daily diet. There seemed, after thinking about it, little point in trying to recreate ravioli, so here's a new dish based on those flavours.Leek is nature's cannelloni. And with this, instead of the traditional sage infused butter, a creamy sauce seemed a good idea. And to keep it dairy and wheat free meant almond milk and tapioca starch, so it's also gluten free. And vegan. And paleo. And Whole 30. It also dances the can-can for you while singing the Nessun Dorma. This should win awards for the most inclusive dish in the world. Unless you are allergic to nuts. Leave them out if you are. Unless you like risk.It's quite straightforward to make, once you get everything together. Just try not to spill double the amount of tapioca you need into the saucepan. This is very upsetting and can lead to a bit of a strop.Ingredients for two people as a starterFor the filling:420g roast butternut squash or pumpkin, diced40g almonds, skin on, chopped a little1 large clove of garlic, smashedA few young thyme sprigs1tbsp shiitake mushroom powder (optional)Pinch of chilli flakesA big squeeze of lemon juicesalt and pepperOlive oilFor the sauce:1 leek, light green part, pushed into tubesA large handful of sage leaves, shredded3tbsp Olive oilThin bits of middle of the leek, finely sliced300ml Almond milk1 1/2tbsp Tapioca starchSaltShredded sage leaves, chopped toasted almonds and dried borage flowers to serve, if you have them on the shelf in a jar and keep wondering what to do with them.MethodRoast the filling ingredients (apart from the lemon juice) at 200c for 25-30 mins, until soft and golden then leave to cool before adding the lemon juice and blitzing until smooth (but not too smooth) in a food processor then put in a bowl. Taste it and adjust the lemon juice and seasoning if necessary.Cut the dark green and white parts off the leek and use for stock. Or, do what I did and forget about them in the back of the fridge then throw them away.Push out the inner tubes of the leek, leaving you with about six of the large outer tubes. Slice the inner ones then sauté them until soft in good olive oil, with sage and then season and transfer to a bowl. Add the almond milk and tapioca to the pan, heat and whisk until you have an emulsion as thick as double cream. Add the leek and sage mixture and leave to infuse for ten minutes before removing the sage stalks and blitzing the sauce in the food processor. If you prefer, you can leave it unblitzed, but I prefer it smooth.Stuff the leek tubes with the filling and cook gently in a little olive oil until soft. Turning occasionally and carefully. Chop some toasted almonds and get the sauce warmed.Put the sauce on plates, top with the leek then sprinkle over the almonds, sage leaves and borage flowers if using. Blowtorch the leek if you're feeling fancy. Finish with a drizzle of excellent olive oil and serve.
We have a few jars of various powders on the kitchen shelf that promise us eternal life. They contain about a thousand tons of kale and everything else too. They're great in our morning nutribullets. They are, however, expensive.We also have a permanent collection of avocados in the fruit bowl. They are replaced with fresh ones, obviously, but they come with a free stone inside. Over the week, these build up into a pile, albeit one that rolls about the place, and as I won't be creating an avocado farm in the garden, I roasted them this afternoon for about an hour and then pulverised them in the blender.Apparently the stones have more nutrients in them than the avocado itself and will also guarantee eternal life. Maybe I'll be able to keep my band on the road until we're in our hundreds as well. I'd have to get it back together though. We were called 44 stone after our combined weight. As Bee says, if we reform, we may have to up that number...You can dry the stones out on the window sill for a week or two before blending if you prefer, but roasting does help bring out the nuttiness. 160c is hot enough. Blitz them into a powder then store in a jar, adding a tablespoon to your smoothies or sauces as you want.
Tomorrow the children go back to school after six years off for Easter. I think we're all looking forward to it. It has been good having them around, though, and we've had some fun in the kitchen. Notably making these sausages.Normally, you'd put breadcrumbs in British-style sausages, that's one of the reasons they're not as dense as the meatier Italian ones, or, my favourite, merguez, which I shall be making soon. So to make these wheat-free, I used milled flax seed instead, which helped bind the mixture as well as give a little extra texture.They're quick to make and you can buy the casings from your butcher or online. Making them yourself means there are no additives in them, and you can vary the spicing and herbs as you like, as well as the thickness and length. We got 18 large ones out of this, so quite a few went in the freezer.You can ask your butcher to mince the meat for you if you don't have a mincer at home, and you will need a sausage maker, you can also get these cheaply online. You can, however, skip the casings and roll them by hand into sausage shapes if you want. I'd highly recommend a machine though, not least for the opportunity to add a touch of 'Carry-On' to the kitchen. It's not possible to put the casing on the nozzle without thinking about GCSE biology with Mr. Johnson.Experiment with garlic, herb and red wine or mixed spices. Leek and apple perhaps, and paprika and onion. We'll not be buying sausages any more.Ingredients800g pork mince or pork shoulder800g pork belly1tbsp ground ginger1tbsp ground five-spice1tbsp ground nutmeg1tbsp dried oregano1tbsp dried tarragon1tbsp dried thyme2tbsp flax seedPepperLoads of salt150ml cold water2m hog casing sausage skinMethodMince the meat and mix in the rest of the ingredients.Fry a little of the mixture to test the seasoning and adjust as needed.Try not to snigger as you roll the casing on to the nozzle.Turn the machine on and slowly feed the mixture through until it starts to fill the casing. Gradually let it fill until you reach the desired size then twist to seal and carry on. Twist the opposite way on the next one and repeat until finished.You can cook them straight away, (I tend to grill them) but it's better to let them dry a little, uncovered, in the fridge for a day.Wrap well and freeze what you don't need immediately.
Sometimes on the weekend I can spend the afternoon in the kitchen, prepping lots of ingredients and dishes, enjoying the calm of a Saturday or Sunday.Tonight, however, we have many episodes of Trapped to watch so it's a quick steak, grilled and blowtorched with some roast spiced carrots, early season British asparagus and this classic Argentinian accompaniment.It's really just a herb oil, but the chilli and garlic (not the Chilean garlic) give the steak a real lift. And it only takes a couple of minutes to make. Fewer if you use a food processor. It's also really good with monkfish or lobster.
No matter how worthy your diet, how well one can live on hemp and lentils, even hippies want a sweet snack every now and then.We've got a few 'nakd' bars in the cupboard for snacks but of late these have been relegated to the back for emergency use only. I've started to make my own in the Nutribullet and they're easy as well as being customisable to whatever ingredients, shape and size you can reasonably buy and make.These are quite addictive and it's easy to demolish the whole thing in one go, but while they're pure and healthy, it's probably not a good idea to do so. I have no idea what that many dates will do to your system in one go.If you don't have a Nutribullet, use a food processor or blender. Failing that, chop everything by hand. It's probably better to use a knife though.Ingredients (for one large bar)Equal amounts of:whole skin-on almondspitted datesraisinsapricots (the dark, sun-dried type, not the bright orange ones if possible)2tbsp raw cacao nibs1tbsp sunflower seeds1tbsp supergreens powder (I use Bioglan)1tbsp bee pollenA handful of dessicated coconutMethodBlitz half the almonds to a powder then add half of the remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. You may need to stop and shake it up a bit.Empty the container into a large bowl and repeat with the remaining ingredients.Tip this into the same bowl and mix everything well by hand. Shape into one or two bars, squares or balls as you prefer and wrap well in clingfilm or put in an airtight container.Put in the fridge to firm. I keep them in there anyway, I like them better slightly chilled.You can vary the ingredients as you like, cashew nuts work well as does adding orange zest, vanilla seeds, fennel seeds for suprise and even chilli flakes. I'm tempted by the thought of covering them in melted chocolate, but that will have to wait a while.
That's a whole month now with no carbs or sugar. A whole month. And one that had Easter in it as well. It has been pretty tough watching the children stuffing their faces with chocolate, but I'm not going to give up now. I did have two helpings of coffee ice-cream on Easter Sunday, but I did it for Jesus.When you are having meals like steak with béarnaise sauce and asparagus, or you can eat your way through a whole spiced roast chicken, there is nothing to complain about. I've eaten out a few times too, and everywhere I went had sweet potato fries on the menu, which meant I didn't sound like a paranoid L.A stereotype when ordering. It seems places are cottoning on and I don't have to go Hunting High and Low for healthy food when socialising. Yes, I saw A-ha this week.This recipe is made up of simple ingredients and is quick to cook, but is so much more than the sum of its parts. For the salsa verde, there is a recipe here. (Leave out the rapeseed oil if you're doing the Whole 30). There are a few parts to cook, but prepare your pans and it will all come together beautifully. Make the salsa verde beforehand and you can keep it in the fridge for a few days. It's great on scrambled eggs.Ingredients (for two)2 salmon steaks, approx 150g each2tbsp salsa verde1/2 large bulb of fennel, sliced1 courgette, diced into 1cm cubes1 clove of garlic, crushed1/2 hot red chilli, thinly sliced1 spring onion, slicedCoconut oil for fryingSalt to seasonMethodBefore you start, sprinkle salt over the salmon and leave for 20 minutes so excess moisture is drawn out and the fish is a little firmer. This will also prevent protein leaking out when cooking.Heat a griddle pan until really hot and add a little coconut oil. Grill the fennel until soft and charred, season and set aside. Keep the pan on the heat.Sauté the courgette with the garlic in a little oil in another pan for two minutes, season well and set aside. I like this dish warm, so don't worry about keeping the veg hot.Rinse the salmon and pat dry then cook on the hot griddle for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how pink you like it.Divide the courgette between two plates and top with the fennel, salmon, spring onion and chilli. Spoon over the salsa verde and serve.
Another carb-free week goes by and I'm fine. I don't miss bread as much as I thought. Basmati rice though, is a little harder to give up, we had lunch at Lahore Karai in Tooting the other day and the children tucked into a big plate of it without loosening their belts.This week I've made a few dishes that are more springlike. A confit tuna Niçoise, a spring minestrone, smoked salmon with avocado and eggs, and a light spinach and apple soup among other things.Last night though, with a breaking boiler and the cold weather still biting, we fancied something cosy and comforting: risotto. Rice is out of the question, but I've been using buckwheat a lot recently. I used buckwheat flour to make the children galettes the other day for lunch and I also used it to make soba noodles to go in a prawn and tofu miso soup. In the past I've toasted it in a frying pan before cooking it, making kasha to serve with salmon steaks. So I used it in place of my favourite Vialone Nano rice to make this simple mushroom 'risotto'.IngredientsFor two150g buckwheat1 small onion, chopped1 clove of garlic, crushed1tbsp powdered, dried porcini mushrooms (you can make your own in a grinder)150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced400ml chicken or vegetable stock. I used homemade chicken stock.Olive oilSalt and pepper2tbsp butterGrated parmesanChopped parsley to serveMethodSauté the mushrooms in a little oil and set aside.Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the onion and buckwheat. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the grains are beginning to toast a little.Add the garlic, mushroom powder, season a little and stir well.Add a ladleful of the stock to the pan and stir well. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the buckwheat absorb the liquid before adding the next. Keep on doing this until the stock is finished or the buckwheat is soft, but with a little bite.Add the cooked mushrooms and stir.Now for the 'mantecatura'. Add the butter and Parmesan and vigorously shake the pan while stirring with a wooden spoon. Put a lid on and leave to rest for a few minutes. Stir through some chopped parsley and serve with more Parmesan.
About an hour after I've had my jasmine tea in the morning, I'm ready for breakfast, which almost every morning is a Nutribullet smoothie.Usually I will start with a base of kale or other greens then add a little fruit or avocado, some coyo yoghurt, and top it up with almond milk and various ground things from mysterious containers. (Actually, they're all labelled, so there's no real mystery).This morning though, I was distracted. No hemp seeds, no flax seed, no greens. Mainly berries. And that's fine every now and then. It was much like a fruit ice-cream milkshake, and that's a pretty good way to start any day.Fortunately I have a few boxes of Bioglan superfood powders on the shelf. A tablespoon of the supergreens one went in. A quick fix. I can steam the greens later with some garlic, chilli and ginger and have them with lunch.Ingredients for two1 large or two small bananasA large handful of frozen berries (I used a mix of raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants)1tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter (amazing stuff- goes great with bananas)1tbsp Bioglan supergreens powder, we got ours on Ocado (if you don't have this, I would recommend it. Along with hemp powder, flax seed, chia seeds and all those things you can get in the health food shop and many supermarkets now)1tsp raw cocoa nibs1tsp turmeric (fresh preferably, but I only had extract and powdered on my shelf)Almond milk, fill up to the line, otherwise enough for two glasses (unsweetened and preferably with a high almond content)MethodBlend it all together until smooth. Couldn't be simpler. If you don't have a Nutribullet, a normal blender should do the job.
Still off the carbs and sugar, mealtimes are becoming much more interesting. While I have craved the odd sandwich or snack, and with weekends being particularly tricky with the spaghetti loving children around more, it's not been too difficult to keep on track.I've realised that we rely so heavily on carbs to fill us up, adding other ingredients to it, rather than focusing on vegetables as the main ingredient and building around that. We've also cut down on salt here, which goes against all my instincts in the kitchen. I'm having to really get as much flavour out of the ingredients as I can through spicing, and sleight of cooking. The jar of powdered dried mushroom now has a place at the front of the shelf.Still, as I float from room to room rather than bloat my way around, I feel a little lighter physically and a little more excited about fresh ingredients. I do half expect David Attenborough to peek out from behind the vegetation in the fridge at times —I also have crocodile meat in the freezer, so he may well be in there too— such is its lushness.Apart from the seven hour lamb leg with harissa, rosemary and garlic I cooked on Friday, this week has had a lot of fish in it. Including my favourite pickled herring in dill which is my snack of choice, I've cooked salmon, tuna, prawns and in this recipe, hake. I'm surprised it's not more popular here, it's soft and meaty like cod and has a lovely delicate flavour. It's a winner with coconut and Thai ingredients so please try this. Once you make the paste, which you can keep in an airtight container for a week, this recipe takes about ten minutes. I'm not going to give you a paste recipe here, by all means buy some ready made if you like. I used David Thompson's Panaeng paste recipe, which does involve boiling peanuts for half an hour, but that's up to you. I ate this on my own, by candlelight listening to The Beautiful South, but that, also, is up to you.IngredientsThis is for one person, so just add more veg and fish as you need.Coconut oil for frying (or olive oil if you don't have any)4tbsp Panaeng curry paste - homemade or bought. I'm sure green curry paste would be as delicious1 tin coconut milk125ml water1/4 savoy cabbage, inner leaves only, shredded1 small bunch of spring greens, trimmed2 small hake fillets, total about 180g, salted for five minutes and rinsedSoy sauce and lime juice to tasteA pinch of chilli flakes to tasteMethodHeat a little coconut oil in a deep, heavy saucepan and fry the paste gently for a few minutes.Add the coconut milk and water then bring to the boil. Now throw in the spring greens and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Add the cabbage and cook for a minute, then add the fish, bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes depending on its thickness.Taste the broth and add lime juice and soy sauce to taste.Spoon the greens into a bowl then add the cabbage and fish. Pour over the broth and finish with chilli flakes.
I'll explain the ginger later, but this week, we have decided to stop eating refined carbs and sugar for the foreseeable future. So I did what any sane person would and have stuffed my face full of cake, crumpets, pancakes, sandwiches, potatoes in their various, seductive guises, ice cream and chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although my stomach may have had a few complaints.In my daily life working with food, I often munch and graze my way through the day like a goat eating a coat sleeve just because it's there. And while a lot of the recipes are not too unhealthy, when you combine that with three meals a day it's easy to see why my clothes from ten years ago have inexplicably shrunk.When I'm out, I find it very difficult to buy food on the go that isn't stodgy and carb heavy. Now, I think hard about snacks and what I'm eating. It's shocking how much rubbish food we buy. I'm not going to turn into a health nut, but I feel excited by the thought of returning to eating how we were designed to. I will, on occasion, allow myself to revel in a burger, or have a great pile of steamed basmati rice with a curry, or some silken home-made pasta with ragu in a seaside Italian restaurant, or hot, salty chips with vinegar on the beach. I'm not a freak.So, I've stunk the house out with chicken stocks and chinese spices bubbling away in mysterious pots. I've worried about where I can store all the veg in addition to the fruit and veg I was already buying for my morning Nutribullet. These days, a liquid breakfast or lunch means a very different thing... Breakfast this morning, as an aside, was some sliced roast pork from the weekend, two fried eggs and a pile of steamed spinach with herb salt and chilli flakes. It took a little while longer than toast, but not much.This week, apart from the soups and stocks, and leftover meat, I am making a batch of ginger beer. My usual brand, 'Granny Steads' has sugar in it. And while I love its warming ginger heat, it's time to say goodbye. I'll use date syrup in this one. Adjust the quantities as you see fit. Bottoms up! (and with hope, smaller too...)Ingredients:2 large ginger roots, scrubbed and grated2tbsp date syrup250ml water1tsp yeast1 small red chilli1tsp turmericJuice of up to one lemon2l waterMethod:Heat the ginger, syrup, chilli, turmeric and water in a pan until just below the boil, simmer for a few minutes then turn off and leave to cool completely.Strain the syrup and add the yeast. Divide between two litre bottles and fill up with water (I'd use plastic ones at this point, just until you're ready to decant into glass and store in the fridge. You don't want to risk having to redecorate the kitchen. Add the lemon juice and shake well.Leave these for a week at room temperature, checking occasionally for excess gas buildup then transfer to glass bottles in the fridge. This will stop any further fermentation.
I say North African, but this really is a mix of store cupboard items that could be Asian, Indian, Turkish, Moroccan and Mediterranean.Chickpeas were a staple growing up and my aunt always told me they make you fart a lot. Whether or not this is true, I’m not sure, but it means that I tend to always put caraway seed in every chickpea recipe just in case.This dish really punches above its weight in flavour. It’s rich, comforting and quick to make. I served it as part of a mezze platter the other week and it worked really well with dishes such as baba ganoush, flatbreads and spiced courgette. Alternatively, eat it with cauliflower ‘rice’ or sweet potato.Serves: 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main coursePreparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 30 minutesIngredients2 onions2 cloves of garlicA large splash of rapeseed oil6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped2tbsp tomato purée1 tin of chickpeas1 tin of cannellini beans1tbsp berbere spice mix1tbsp baharat spice mix1tbsp cumin seeds1 medium bunch of fresh coriander1-2 red birdseye chillies1tsp caraway seedsA splash of waterSalt and pepper to season Method:
- Fry the onions and garlic in rapeseed oil then add the spices and chilli.
- Add the spices and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the chillies, tomato purée and tomatoes, season, add some water and stir well. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes then squash down with a wooden spoon.
- Add the chickpeas and beans heat through then stir in the chopped coriander, check the seasoning and serve.
This is a take on one of my favourite pasta dishes. It’s a great way to cut out carbohydrates if you're on a health kick, and it really stands out as a dish in its own right.It’s so quick to make, as long as you have a spiralizer. If not, you’ll have to slice the courgettes very finely by hand. I have a small hand-held spiralizer that only cost a few pounds and I highly recommend it.Use good olive oil, juicy tomatoes and adjust the chilli to your taste. Don’t overdo it though, this is a delicate dish. It also works very well with prawns if you prefer.Serves: 4 Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutesIngredients2 tins of crab1 large courgette½ a clove of garlicA large handful of cherry tomatoesOlive oilA pinch of chilli flakes2 tbsp fresh chives, finely slicedSalt to seasonMethod
- Prepare the courgette and set aside for a minute.
- Gently heat the olive oil and add the garlic, then cook for a minute.
- Add the courgette, season and toss in the pan for a minute or two, until it starts to soften.
- Add the crab, tomatoes and chilli flakes and cook for a further minute to warm through.
- Check the seasoning and stir the chives through just before serving with a salad.
I have talked about my love of lentils in an earlier post. Like the Swedish are never too far away from a herring, dhal is never too far from my mind. Lentils are comfort food with the benefit of being incredibly good for you. The varieties lend themselves to a wide range of different dishes: Le Puy for a sausage casserole, beluga for a rabbit stew.When my wife asked me to make an Indian version of falafel (as a lower carb snack), I remembered eating something similar at the wonderful Ganapati canteen in Peckham.So here is my version of a very popular Indian street snack, perfect for an aperitif or even a small starter. For this dish, I have used split red lentils, but you could replace 50g with chana dhal, which is dried split chickpea.Feel free to adjust the amount of chilli to your taste. I like mine hot.Prep time: 15 minutesCooking time: 30 minsIngredients:200g split red lentils3cm cinnamon stick1 tbsp toasted coriander seed1 tbsp toasted cumin seed3 tbsp garam masala3 green birds-eye chillies1 tbsp peppercorns (fresh if possible)1 tbsp turmeric powder10-12 curry leaves (fresh if possible, use 6-8 if dried)Salt to seasonMethod:Rinse 100g of the lentils until the water runs clear. Add them to a pan with 350ml cold water, a pinch of salt, the turmeric, curry leaves, cinnamon and peppercorns.Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until soft.Spread out on a tray to dry a little and remove the cinnamon stick and as many of the curry leaves as you can.Meanwhile, grind the remaining lentils to a powder in a spice grinder and mix with the cooked lentils until you get a fairly firm and shapeable mix.Heat vegetable or rapeseed oil to 180c in a deep pan to about 1/3 of the way up. You can tell when it’s hot enough by dropping a little of the mix into the oil and it goes golden brown in about 30 seconds.Using a coffee scoop, shape the mix into balls and cook three or four at a time until golden brown. Remove and place on kitchen towel to dry as you make the rest.Serve with yoghurt mixed with two tablespoons of dried coriander leaves, a few fresh chopped mint leaves, wholegrain mustard and a pinch of chilli powder.
A good kebab is a great thing. It’s almost the ultimate in balanced meals with the meat, salad, vegetables and carbohydrates. It can either soak up a night’s excesses or remind you of long summer lunches in Greece or Turkey, surrounded by the chargrills and their mouthwatering aromas.Cooking over coals or wood gives the meat such tenderness and depth of flavour and certainly appeals to my inner Neanderthal.The best way to cook this, then, is over flames. However, if it’s the height of the English summer and you have to cook inside, grill them on the highest heat possible and that should do.Prep: 25-30 mins (15-20 if using minced meat)Serves: 4Ingredients300g rib-eye steak300g osso bucco1 tsp white peppercorns1tbsp cumin seeds1tbsp coriander seeds1 tsp dried mint½ tsp smoked paprika1 tsp za’atar1 tsp chilli powder1 tbsp puréed garlic1 tbsp puréed ginger½ red onion, finely dicedA handful of breadcrumbs1 eggA squeeze of lemon juiceMethodSlice the meat as finely as you can, or if you haven’t the time, get your butcher to mince it for you. The texture won't be as good, but the end result will still be delicious.Squeeze out the bone marrow from the osso bucco and add with the sliced meat to a large mixing bowl.Toast the peppercorns, cumin and coriander in a dry frying pan until they start to release their aroma, then transfer to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and process to a fine powder.Add the ground spices along with the rest of the ingredients to the meat, season well and mix thoroughly until everything is incorporated without it becoming to slushy.Shape the mixture into sausage shapes around metal skewers and grill on a high heat, turning occasionally, for five to ten minutes, depending on how thick you have made them.Tonight, I’m serving these with a carrot, cumin and dried mint yoghurt and a simple salad.Feel free to add flatbreads, but as I’m currently going low carb in a bid to look 20 again, not for me this time…