This weekend I was looking for a vegetarian dish that would use up some of the vegetables we had left in the fridge, and helpfully I found a recipe from A Lebanese Feast that did just that. This was a Lebanese recipe that was basically a vegetable stew, and it suggests you can substitute the vegetable as you wish. I actually had pretty much what the recipe suggested, so just a few alterations. But this really was one of the easiest things I have cooked for a while; literally fry the onions and garlic and then add everything else and let it cook down in its own juices which produce an incredibly flavour.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
1 aubergine, into cubes about 3cm
3 carrots, sliced
200g grean beans, cut into pieces
3 mixed peppers, chopped
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 tin beans (red kidney, black eyed, what ever you prefer)
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt to season
Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish and fry onions and garlic for around 5 minutes. .
Add all the remaining ingredients, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
Cook for about 45 minutes and served with rice or bread.
As I said, that’s it. Just let it cook and serve. A nice easy dish to use up vegetables left over from the week, and something doesn’t require much effort.
This week I cooked some dishes inspired by Ethiopia. I don’t think I have ever really read about Ethiopian cuisine before, and so this week I ended up learning a lot. There are so many good websites and blogs with recipes for Ethiopian food that I was spoilt for choice. What became clear is that in a lot of recipes it would be very helpful to have a berbere spice mix, an ethiopian spice blend. While you can buy it I decided to try and make my own as I already had the component spices in the house. The recipe I went for was from the Daring Gourmet blog. Don’t be put off by the relatively long list of spices (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice berries, cardamon pods, cloves, dried chilies, sweet paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and tumeric) its a very simple blend to make.
A lot of what I read suggested making a range of dishes to be served on Injera bread, but I didn’t time in the day to get hold of teff flour, so I ended up just focusing on the dishes, and serving everything with pitta bread. Of the many different dishes that looked and sounded delicious I went for three based on the ingredients I already had, with a mix of meat and vegetables: doro wat (a spiced chicken dish), mesir wat (a spiced lentil stew) and fasolia (a spiced vegetable dish).
Cook the onions on for five minutes, in a bit of the oil.
Add the rest of the oil and cook for another five minutes.
Add the tomato puree and simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the green beans and carrots, stir and cover.
Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add the tomato, ginger, garlic, and salt and simmer.
I may have only recent discovered ethiopian recipes, but I will be sure to try more. I really like the berbere spice mix, which is quite spicy (and if you’re not so happy with spicy food you might want to reduce the amount of spice mix you add), but also smoky and adds so much flavour. I still have a bit left of the batch I made so I’ll probably add that to a soup at some point soon. Another country ticked off for this year.
As a dessert for my Filipino meal last week I attempted to make some bibingka (coconut sponge cakes). Now, the recipe I was using suggested cooking the cakes in banana leaves. I did attempt to find some but to no avail, so I adapted the recipe to use some little tart cases I had instead. What I didn’t quite realise was how big these coconut cakes were probably supposed to be so I ended up with a few small bibingka and then used the rest of the cake batter in a savarin cake tin. This was the first time I have baked anything with rice flour and coconut milk – usually coconut milk just ends up in curries. So, already this challenge for the year is teaching me to do different things with ingredients.
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups rice flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
one can coconut milk (400ml)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp dessicated coconut (grated fresh coconut if you have it)
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In a large bowl mix together the eggs, brown sugar, rice flour, melted butter, coconut milk and baking powder. Make sure it is mixed thoroughly.
If you do manage to find a banana leaf then line a small-ish cake tin with the leaf (around 10cm diameter and 5cm deep) and pour in the batter. Or if you decide to use smaller tins/tart cases/any tin you have, make sure it has been lightly greased with butter. Pour the batter into your cake tin/s of choice.
If baking in a large cake tin as one cake, bake for around 1 hour or until brown lightly on top. If using smaller tins bake for about 30 minutes until lightly browned.
Sprinkle coconut on top of the cakes. Many recipes will brush the cakes with melted butter before sprinkling coconut but I decided not to in this case.
If possible serve warm.
That concludes my cooking inspiration from the Philippines for now.
There are so many different recipes for Hungarian goulash (or Gulyás) I really found it difficult knowing which one to go with. In the end I pulled inspiration from a few (Delia Online, The Hungary Dish, The Guardian, and Daring Gourmet). This probably means it is not an authentic recipe, but still takes inspiration from Hungarian influences.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
600g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp hungarian paprika (or other smoked sweet paprika)
1 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 sticks of celery
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish then brown the cubes of beef, a few at a time, and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped onions and celery to the dish, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic.
Return the meat to the pan.
Add flour, paprika and mix.
Add the bay leaves and tomatoes. Add 200ml water and wine (or enough just to cover the mixture). Season well with salt and black pepper.
Once it reaches a simmering point, place the lid on the casserole dish and transfer to the oven to cook for 1.5 hours.
Then add the chopped peppers and carrots, replace the lid and cook for another 45 minutes.
I served this with boiled rice, but it would also go well just with some bread.
I first discovered apfelstreuselkuchen (apple crumble cake) in Borough market. I think I have probably had some version of this crumble cake before but would never have associated with German baking. Anyway, while in Berlin last year I tried the plum version, pflaumen streuselkuchen (plum crumble cake) in Balzac Coffee, a German coffee house chain. I have adapted the recipe in this post from one on All Recipes Deutschland.
For the base:
50g butter, softened
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125ml milk (I used soya milk)
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon
150 g plain flour
100g sugar (caster or golden caster)
Line a 25x25cm cake tin and preheat the oven to 200°C.
Mix the butter and sugar together for the base until smooth.
Beat in the egg.
Alternate adding a bit of the flour and baking powder with a bit of the milk until all has been mixed in.
Spread the mixture to cover the cake tin.
Chop the plums into small pieces and scatter over the base mixture.
For the topping mix the sugar and flour in a bowl and then rub in the butter with your fingers until it makes a crumble mixture. Sprinkle on top of the plum layer. Sprinkle
Over time, friends have got to know that I like to cook, and in particular that I like to cook things from different places. Last year a friend who is originally from the Philippines kindly brought me ‘The Filipino Cookbook‘. It’s been sitting there on the shelf for too long, and since she was coming to visit I said I would try and make something from the book. So, today’s recipe is a chicken dish which the book suggests is one of the most popular in the Philippines.
1.25kg bone-in chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
1 tbsp oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp of brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 large onion
For the marinade:
180ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
65ml lime juice
250ml soy sauce
Combine marinade ingredients in a box and mix throughly before adding the chicken and refridgerating over night.
Remove chicken from the marinade.
Heat a skillet or sautee pan and add the oil, and then the garlic until it is lightly browned. Add the chicken and sautee for 10 minutes.
Add the marinade, peppercorns, sugar and bay lead. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, and reduce the eeat and simmer for around 45 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the onion and simmer for another 5 minutes.
I served this with fried rice. To make the fried rice, which is best cooked in a wok if you have one add 1 tbsp of oil and sautee 3 cloves of garlic, and then add a chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add another tbsp of oil and increase the heat to high and add the rice. Stir fry for about 5 minutes but make sure you stir constantly to stop the rice sticking. Then pour over 3 eggs which have been lightly beaten and then 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
The adobo chicken got the seal of approval from my friend, as did the bibingka (a kind of rice coconut cake) which I served for dessert – recipe to follow soon.
My entry into Indian cooking really began with Rick Stein’s book ‘Rick Stein’s India‘, after watching the series and deciding that I wanted to try and make some of the dishes. The recipes were clear, and the results have been great more or less every time. A favourite has to be chana masala (a chickpea curry) – I never thought one of my favourite foods would be a tomato and chickpea dish. But anyway, I’ve now cooked so many of the recipes from there that I wanted to try something different. I first discovered what Bagara Baingan was after visiting Exotic Dining restaurant in Kettering, my home town. We met a friend there for dinner a couple of years ago and the food was wonderful – of all the years I lived in the that town I hadn’t even realised the restaurant was there, and the sign outside really doesn’t do the food justice. My usual dish until recently would have been the murgh methi, a chicken based dish, but for some reason I decided to order something from the vegetarian section – Hyderabadi Bagara Baignan. According to saffron streaks: Bagara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. The recipe uses the small types of aubergines (brinjal) that you should be able to find in larger supermarkets or if you live in a city like Coventry, the central market should have them (once again Coventry market has been my first port of call for getting ingredients I need for my year of global cooking). There are lots of different versions of the recipe available online and I have decided to go for an adapted version of the recipe from the blog Edible Garden. Already this year, by looking for cooking inspiration I have found so many great cooking blogs – I should compile a list at some point.
(Serves two people)
6 baby aubergines
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanuts (red skinned)
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 dried kashmiri chilli (finely chopped)
A small lemon sized ball of tamarind
1 tbsp oil
Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds separately until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Then, blend together with the coconut and little water to form a smooth paste.
Extract the tamarind paste in 1 cup warm water. Grind the ginger and garlic (or mash in a pestle and mortar).
Fry the aubergines in 1 tbsp of oil until soft but still hold their shape (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In the same oil, fry the onions and ginger garlic paste until golden. Then add the ground paste and fry for a minute.
To this, add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and fry for another minute.
Add the tamarind water, mix, then add the aubergines and cook closed for 5-10 mins.
It’s usually served with roti or rice, but we had it with naan bread. If you have any fresh coriander you could sprinkle some of that on top too.