Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Smoky Freekah with Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas

I haven't had aubergines this year, its a vegetable that nowadays evokes greedy thoughts of my mothers Baingan Bharta - Smoky Aubergine; or middle eastern cuisine, so it may not be a surprise that at the weekend I made a Middle Eastern inspired meal when I brought home a couple of gorgeous two tone deep maroon aubergines, next to them were some bunches of coriander, so I picked some of that too.  

Still unsure exactly what I was going to make with the aubergines, I gazed into my kitchen cupboards when my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun Smoky Freekah that I got last month from Suma Wholefoods and this dish of Smoky Freekah with Roasted Aubergines and Chickpeas was created.
 The Smoky Freekah comes from Zaytoun.  Zaytoun is a social enterprise founded in 2004  to create and develop a UK market for artisan fairly traded Palestinian produce that carries the stories of  'the producers and their land'.  Zaytoun are celebrating their 10 year anniversary this year.  I've been fortunate in the past to try some of their products including organic extra virgin olive oil, wild grown za'atar and more recently maftoul.  I will share more later in the week, but today its all about the smoky greenwheat grain called Freekah. The Zaytoun freekah was really smoky in flavour and infused the oven roasted aubergines naturally.  

You know I don't boast about my food that often, I just make it, eat it and share it with my bloggers, but I have to hand on heart say that this is one of the most delicious meals that I have ever made and enjoyed; and the truth is down to the ingredients namely the smoky freekah from Zaytoun.  
The Smoky Freekah dish was accompanied with a Palestinian, I was originally going to make a Tahini Sauce to accompany this dish, but decided on a Palestinian Salatat Taheena - Tahini Salad.  This salad was made not only to compliment the dish, but the fact was that I also had most of the ingredients to hand.  I also think it could have done with some vegetable based falafels for additional texture, maybe next time.   

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Red Dragon Chilli Chocolate Brownies

The entries for We Should Cocoa November 2014 are coming in thick and fast, that I thought I better share my entry too - Chilli Chocolate Brownies.   I know there are loads of Chilli Chocolate recipes on blogosphere and the Internet in general, but I noted that I have never posted a Chilli Chocolate Brownie recipe on my blog, even though I have made them countless times.  

A few years back, I made these Chocolate Brownies for St Davids Day and dubbed them rather pretentiously as Red Dragon Chilli Chocolate Brownies, they were gone before I could even photograph them, and it was almost the case with these too as these were the last two pieces.   
Around the same time, I also made some Wasabi Chocolate Brownies and dubbed them as Green Dragon Chocolate Brownies.  The idea came to me when I stumbled upon a bar of Dark Wasabi Chocolate, one definitely for adults as the wasabi sneaks up on you and blows your head.  Anyway, back to these Chilli Chocolate Brownies, the chilli heat it right, its not their to knock your socks off or make you run for a glass of milk, though milk with these would be good, no these just give you a bit of warmth, something that is welcome on cold evenings.  

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Maftoul

I came home a few days back and we had no Basmati rice in the kitchen cupboards, then my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun maftoul.  Its been there for a few months, if I am honest just over a year I think.  So I decided to actually cook with it, rather than just admire the packet and its contents.

Maftoul will remind you of being somewhere between couscous and Bulgar wheat.  Maftoul is a large, hand rolled and pearly grain made from sundried bulgar wheat.  It has a unique, nutty flavour.  When I started eating it, I actually recalled having cooked and eaten it before, it went under the name pearl couscous aka mograbiah and was used for my Beetroot Pearls Salad, but I have since learned its the same thing, also known as fregola  and even giant couscous.    
I simply broke up a large cauliflower into bite size florets, drizzled it in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and generous scattering of Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar  and then placed it in the oven to roast, now and again I would give it a good toss and shake.  Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar is a zesty Middle Eastern seasoning made with wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. Halfway through this process, I added in some sliced baby peppers.      
Whilst the za'atar florets were turning golden, I put the maftoul on the hob.  I simply emptied the whole packet into a medium saucepan along with 500ml water and cooked using the absorption method.  It was ready in 20 minutes (if there is any excess liquid just drain).  I also stirred in a can of drained cooked chickpeas to warm through for a couple of minutes. The contents of the sauce pan were then stirred very gently into the za'atar roasted cauliflower (and peppers).   

It was really, really very good, not only was the cauliflower well flavoured, the texture of the maftoul was al dente - perfect with a little bite.  I am just disappointed that this photograph (as with other photographs of late) that just do not do the plated dish justice.  Anyway, I served this warm salad with a lightly spiced red pepper sauce, even D loved it and he doesn't say that about the traditional North African couscous at all, so maftoul will be making an appearance again pretty soon.   By the way this recipe serves four, we had the left overs the following day for lunch.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble

My husband picked up two bags of pears a couple of weeks back, I have to say I don't like it when he does this, as he never eats the fruit fresh and it sits there, for days, no for weeks going dark and very soft.  I often think its a ploy on his part.  He knows I won't let the fruit go to waste or even the compost bin, and secretly wishes them to somehow magically be transformed into cake or some other sweet thing, and often his little fairy grants his wish.  I wish my little fairy would make me cake!

Anyway, I did originally have intentions on making this Savoury Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Tart, and still may do as I still have half a dozen brown freckled pears left over, but at the weekend I ended up making a belly warming Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble.  
Its been a long while since I've made a pear crumble, the last time was in my first year of blogging and it was with hazelnuts.  This was different in that it had no nutty crunch, but it had warmth and a little fire from the fresh ginger.  I served this golden pear, apple and ginger crumble simply with some home-made custard, but cream or ice-cream would have been nice too.