Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Vegan Strawberry Cinnamon Crumb Bars

Yesterday I was going to share progress in my garden, as well as a small harvest of fresh strawberries, but I was tired.  Even though I had not done much over the weekend, I was mentally tired and then coming back home from work, had me crashing to the sofa. 

All week I have been sharing food from overseas and other climes, but today its back to British - not necessarily these bars which are American, but I am nodding my head to one of the Best British ingredients - Yes, lets all scream Strawberries!
This was one beautiful strawberry bar.  The bottom soft spongy, the top crumbly and crunch and in between a layer of strawberries. Teasing me, first a little bit burst of fruit, then a little bit jammy and then a little bit chewy.  Nice.  Although D eats everything I make, he does not always appreciate the vegan cakes I make that often, but he loved this one and was happy that I was not going to take any slices into work to share.  Secretly I was pleased too.  
I've adapted  the recipe for Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars slightly from  Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Post Punk Kitchen's Duo.   I am not going to republish it here, if you don't have the cookbook - go on treat yourself, if not - you can find the recipe on-line.  I  replaced the spelt flour with plain flour, blueberries with strawberries and omitted the ginger and allspice.  

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Maqluba - Middle Eastern Upside Down Savoury Rice Cake

All week,  except for Friday much to do with the EU Referendum I have been trying to raise some awareness of Refugee Week through Cooking A Dish from Another Country .  Refugee Week  in the United Kingdom is an event that promotes positive encounters between asylum seekers and refugees and members of the receiving communities, as well as raising awareness. The theme for Refugee Week  2016 was Welcome.  
Today I will share another Middle Eastern dish called Maqluba.
Over the years, I've seen various versions of Maqlub.   Maqluba is a Palestinian dish popular throughout the Middle East.  Once the dish is cooked, the cooking pot is turned  upside down and removed to reveal  the edible crown beneath.  

I have no doubt that Maqluba takes centre stage on the table at Middle Eastern family feasts, especially now when many Muslims across the world are taking part in the holy time in the Islamic calendar of Ramadan and this may be part of the Iftar meal - breaking of the fast.  I do however wonder how the Syrian asylum seekers  in the Calais Jungle in France are coping at this trying and testing time.  There is an initiative called The Refugee Community Kitchen which has seen a group of compassionate people band together to help the refugees living in the camps of Europe.  The Refugee Community Kitchen have come together to create a kitchen to feed people to sustain them and their children.  I hope we can all play a small part here and donate a little.
Maqluba is often made with meat, but I have adapted a meat version from Libyan Food and Kitchen of Palestineinto a version, suitable not just for vegetarians but also vegans.  This one is made with aubergines and cauliflower.
I have to admit, I was expecting it to collapse on removing the pot, but it remained perfectly intact. I was really pleased to even slice it perfectly too.  Feel free to sprinkle with toasted pine-nuts, almonds or herbs.  
Other posts related to Refugee Week
Eritrean Zigni and Berbere
Middle Eastern Kibbeh
Somalian Fava Beans 
Syrian Cauliflower Zahra Mnazalet

Zimbabwean Butternut Squash

I am sharing some of these pictures Sunday Snap hosted by JibberJabber UK for Sunday Snap; and My Sunday Photo hosted by One Dad 3 Girls; and the recipe with Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan FridaysCredit Crunch Munch hosted this month by Lovely Appetite and often co-hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food For All.   I am also sharing it with No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen; and Tinned Tomatoes for MeatFree Mondays and finally and CookBlogShare hosted Hijacked By Twins

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Middle Eastern Sweet Potato Kibbeh

The theme for Refugee Week  for 2016 is Welcome.  Refugee Week is a collective acknowledgement across the world to raise awareness  of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers across the world.   As my blog is a vegetarian food blog my Simple Act was to Cook A Dish from Another Country and try and raise some awareness that way among some of my readers.
Kibbeh is a popular dish from the Middle East, especially in Aleppo in Syria.  It is made from bulgar wheat, meat, onions, spices and then deep fried.   It often comes in torpedo shape croquettes which I have yet to master and many variations.  In Aleppo, Syria there are many varieties including those made with vegetables.  Some of you may remember me mentioning a Middle Eastern cookbook I found at my local library a little while back called Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa (2000) by Habeeb Salloum which shared a a number of Kibber recipes, including one made with Pumpkin.  
Kibbeh is the national dish of many countries in the Middle East where refugees have fled from such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria respectively.  In 2011, an estimated 9 million Syrians were forced to flee their homes because of the outbreak of the Civil War.  This is perhaps the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

The first time I heard of kibbeh was from a Scottish mature student at the University.   It was in her home on the Southside of Glasgow when she cooked for me that I was  introduced to kibbeh and tabbouleh, tabbouli.  She told me she was of Armenian diaspora. She said her family had come into the UK after the Second World War.  I was completely fascinated as I knew nothing about the Armenian people.  We do forget how many people around us have refugee heritage and ancestry, even the UKIP leader Nigel Farage's ancestors were refugees from Huguenot background fleeing to England from France to escape religious persecution (The Guardian, May 10 2013).  Some of us are able to assimilate and change our names because of our skin colour.  Some of us who have been in this country for decades, born and bred will always be seen as immigrants; 'the Other' because of our skin colour.  
Anyway, it was only after graduating from University that I  attempted to make Kibbeh  from scratch , I have to admit I was not happy with the final dish, it was gritty.  Hence, I am glad to be given the excuse through Refugee Week to make it again. It was much lovelier this time. Its very much like a falafel that you stuff it in a pitta bread and munch.  Enjoy!  I am sharing this recipe with Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching for Spice; and Utterly Scrummy for the No Waste Food Challenge run by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary