Tag Archives: quick and easy

Chermoula marinated Halloumi, apricot and rocket salad with a chilli and agave yoghurt dressing

19 Dec

Chermoula marinated Halloumi, apricot and rocket salad with a chilli and agave yoghurt dressing
Is it nearly spring yet? Last night I went to sleep whilst creating some special spring recipes for a magazine and this morning I woke to beautiful sunshine and feeling a bit of a glow within; evidently, I hold magical powers.

It gets to this time of year when the number of philosophical posts I see on social networking sites spikes and I think I register what most of them are about. There’s a lot of stuff on the value of family, kids and love, how psychotic you are and assessing mental age. Then there’s all the stuff about following your dreams and believing in yourself. Now this is the one which gets me, because believing is one thing, but doing something about it is a whole other thing, isn’t it?

I think the ‘doing’ part is all in the mindset. I read something today about the behaviours of mentally strong people. Mentally strong people realise and know that nobody has the power to make you feel weak, or bad. We are are in charge of our own emotions, we are in charge of our lives. We are not in control of how other people behave but we can certainly control our emotional responses to any given person or circumstance. Mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results, don’t give up and don’t waste time.

Don’t waste time. I made Chermoula, dunked some halloumi in it and stuck it in the fridge for an hour. Look at how it turned out. Exactly.

Chermoula is a lively, zingy, herby Moroccan blend and really works well with the salty halloumi. They are beautifully harmonious with the sweet apricot and the heat from the rocket just finishes the whole dish lip-smackingly!

Ingredients to serve 2-3

200g Halloumi
200g rocket leaves
4 apricots, stoned and cut into slices
300ml plain, natural yoghurt
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes

For the Chermoula

50g coriander, roughly chopped
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp olive oil

Method
1. Start by making the Chermoula. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and whizz it together. Gradually add the olive oil until its smooth.
2. Cut the halloumi into large chunks or equal size and then mix them with the Chermoula. Put the Chermoula coated halloumi in the fridge for an hour or so, or until you are ready to use it. Meanwhile make the dressing by gently whipping together the yoghurt, agave nectar and chilli flakes.
3. Prepare the plates with a small pile of rocket, then the apricots and yoghurt dressing.
4. Heat a non-stick pan and place the halloumi onto the pan on a medium flame. Heat the halloumi through and cook until its lightly golden on one side and then flip it over. Use the remaining, reserved Chermoula, as additional dressing if you wish.
5. Serve the halloumi hot, on top of the salad you’ve prepared. Eat it whilst it is hot, to make the most of the texture.

I am linking this to Karens cooking with herbs challenge because my Chermoula is full of them! image

I am also linking this to Vanesthers spice trail because it contains paprika spice-trail-badge-square

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha

5 Nov

IMG_4135Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha
Diwali is over; the fairy lights are off and diya’s have been packed up. We don’t really receive cards anymore otherwise they’d be down too I suppose. The Diwali snacks tubs are still out, but the excitement for them has waned given the over indulgence on them over the last few days. The phones are now quiet and the pretty and bright indian clothes are back in their zip covers and packed up. The skies now sleep in the dark, instead of popping and banging. The hardest bit will be that I will miss my family, the liveliness and the cheerful Diwali banter. The husband goes back to work too. We are back to normal.

So this is where I stop being sad that the festive period is over and take gratitude in the reality, which is a blessing. I was listening to friends and family talk over the past few days and as I grow, the more I realise that it’s so important to keep things in life simple.

We are always chasing. We are always doing. We are always thinking, dreaming, planning and aspiring. All good things, I suppose. If they make you truly happy. Now and in the future. I just often wonder what the point is. The simple things make most people I know happy. Spending time with loved ones, walking, laughing, watching a good movie, eating out, reading a great book, having a soak in the bath. Whatever it is that makes you happy now, do that. Our brains have been conditioned to believe that anger, jealousy, competition are all natural parts of life. But they aren’t. They become parts of our thinking right.

So when I came back from the Diwali celebrations, tired and happy, I flicked on the heaters, stood in front of the fridge and announced that I need a light and tasty meal. It’s part of my gentle recovery from all the feasting over Diwali. I still need something that’s packed with punch, dense but light. If that makes sense. Going straight for the salads feels like a step too far right now. So this is what I concocted. A flavour and texture delight of paneer, black beans, chilli French toasties with a fruity and sweet fig Raitha.

My wonderful sister-in-law is such a light in our lives. She’s an advocate of keeping things simple and the best ideas come to those who keep the clutter away. My sister-in-law is a genius ball of ideas. Honestly, sometimes she will just burst out, ‘ wouldn’t it be good if they invented…’

So amidst my child’s eating refusal, she suggested eggy bread. It’s crunchy and easy eat and taste great. It’s nutritious for a little one too. Of course me being me, I can’t just stop at eggy bread…and my little one loves spice. So I gave him this sarnie without the chillies!

Ingredients for four sandwiches

100g grated paneer
100g black beans
2 green chillies, finely chopped
One red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
A little oil to loosen the butter
8 slices of bread

For the Raitha

75ml plain natural yoghurt
3 fresh figs, peeled.
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp coriander powder

Method
1. Combine the grated paneer, black beans, red onion, chaat masala, cumin seeds, coriander powder and green chilies in a bowl and mix well.
2. Combine the eggs and milk in a separate bowl, whisk and keep to aside.
3. Heat half a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan and add a little oil to loosen and make sure the butter doesn’t burn. Make a sandwich by placing some of the mixture inside and then cut it half. Hold it to close and dip into the batter. Place it on the pan and let it catch a golden colour before turning it over.
4. To make the raitha, simply combine the yoghurt with the flesh of three figs. Fork it down to a pulpy texture and them add a little coriander powder and a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately and wait for sighs.

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Za’atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

2 Oct Za'atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za’atar aubergines with toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za'atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Za’atar aubergines and toasted pine nuts on silky hummus

Great things can happen, both in life and food, completely by accident…or rather in an unplanned or coincidental fashion. For example, today whilst putting my boy to sleep I thought of my regular Chinese restaurant, then of Navratri (hindu festival which involves nine nights of dancing) following which I realised I hadn’t made one of the Gujarati classics that I’m pretty darn good at doing, in a while. All of these thoughts inspired the creation a weird but outrageously good new soup recipe which I will soon share.

Back to this recipe, which is also unpremeditated. My parents came to stay last week when my husband was in Moscow for work. They, besides enjoying time with my boy and I, were so helpful in the kitchen. My dad was my kitchen assistant.
They have a habit of overcooking and under eating. They have also started to use a tongue-swelling level of chilli in their cooking, which I can no longer endure. During my late pregnancy I developed intolerable reflux so I cut the chilli and since then I never really reintroduced it. Anyway, they’re a bit obsessed with aubergines, my folks. They cooked thick slithers of fresh and slippery Aubergine in oil, without water and lots of indian spices but no tomatoes. Such a simple and garlicky dish.

I don’t know why I was reluctant to try it, but when I did I actually really enjoyed it. But then the chilli kicked in and in the absence of cooling yoghurt I grabbed the hummus. And thats how this recipe happened.

Za’atar spice is a tangy and herbaceous spice blend with a thyme like flavour. The tanginess comes from sumac, which is made from dried fruits. The za’atar spice blend also contains nutty sesame seeds and aromatic cumin. It’s fairly delicate so I like to let it sing for itself rather than mix it in with other powerful flavours. Simple is best with spice blends like za’atar.

This is no word of an exaggeration, this hummus is probably the best I have made. Nothing sexy; it’s a simple, smooth and silky hummus. It’s really good though. This is why I’ve allowed for a batch for your fridge, it’ll keep for about 3 days.

Ingredients to serve four

One large Aubergine, cut into 2 inch slithers
4-5 shallots,sliced
1 1/2 tbsp za’atar spice
3 tsp lemon juice
A handful of pine nuts, dry toasted on a non-stick pan
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

For the hummus

2 cans of cooked chickpeas
4 tbsp lemon juice
7 tbsp of ice cold water
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup tahini
1 1/2 tsp salt

Method.

1. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a non stick pan and add the onions and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes
2. Add the aubergines and mix well. Stir in the za’atar spice blend and the lemon juice. Turn the heat to a very low flame and cook for about 20minutes or until the Aubergine is soft enough to pierce through, but not until they lose shape or become squashed.
3. To make the hummus put the chickpeas into a food processor and blitz until they are a coarse paste.image
4. Add the tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice and then blitz again.
5. Whilst the food processor is doing its thing, slowly pour in the water and it should loosen up to a lovely consistency.

To serve, top the hummus with the cooked Aubergine whilst they are still warm and when the pine nuts. Serve with flatbread or pitta bread. Don’t forget to tell me how you enjoyed this recipe!

Quick and Easy Blueberry Shrikhand Fool

18 Jan

ImageQuick and Easy Blueberry Shrikhand Fool

So, it’s a Friday night and you invited some friends round for dinner.  You are running late home from work, stupid transport and why are so many people in your way! Goodness, you really wanted to make it special…well, nothing gourmet necessarily, but still, somewhat impressive!! You didn’t want to get ready-made cake from the supermarket…but should you…is that just rude? Do you have time to go and grab a cake? Oh no…Friday, it’ll be busy. Darn it.

I have an answer for you…yes, it is cheating…but you still do some work! It’s not like you are plonking a shop-bought cake on a plate!

Shrikhand is a popular Gujarati sweet dish.  The traditional recipe is made with hung curd and is infused with saffron and cardamom and often garnished with pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios. I could lick countless spoonful’s of sweet and creamy shrikhand.  I’ve added a twist with a deep purple infusion of blueberries which I think gives an alluring effect. I have also added a few chunks of meringue nests which add wonderful texture.

We all know about meringue don’t we…for those of us who watch ‘come dine with me’ we have seen the meringue disasters and triumphs and I am sure we have all picked up tips.  This is, however a cheats recipe…don’t sweat, just sling it together.

This is my cheat’s recipe…let’s admit it, we all do it…

I like to think of it; a bit like cheesecake…you don’t make the cheese do you? Nah…

Ingredients (serves 4)

150g of blueberries and a few for decoration (about 10-12)

6 tbsp. of icing sugar, or more if you prefer a sweeter taste

500g of Quark cheese

1 tsp of cardamom

A pinch of saffron

A couple of meringue nests broken into chunks (don’t crumble)

50g toasted pistachios. Half for decorating and half for the shrikhand

Method

  1. Blend the blueberries and icing sugar together until smooth.
  2. Transfer the blueberry and sugar puree to a non-stick pan and set it on a low-medium flame before bringing it to a gentle simmer. Continue to stir it gently and allow it to thicken; it should take 3-4 minutes until its ready.  Remove from the flame and then let it cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl whip through the quark cheese and saffron. Don’t worry about beating too heavily if the saffron doesn’t release its orange glow, this will happen as the shrikhand settles.  Add half the pistachio’s.
  4. Once the blueberry sauce has cooled, add it to the quark cheese and mix through thoroughly.
  5. All you need to do now, is layer through the chunks of meringue and shrikhand in individual serving dishes/cups and decorate with a couple of blueberries and pistachio’s and then share, if you can bring yourself to…

 

 

 

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