I recently posted about shakskuka and have since made it a few times. This time I tried experimenting with Ottolenghi’s ground beef and aubergine version.
The first step in making this is grilling the aubergines. I was initially a bit worried about this, especially after reading about my friend M.’s recent aubergine adventure! However, I’m glad to say that grilling them in the oven worked better than I expected. Scooping out the flesh was easy as well. After that, the assembly of the dish is fairly straightforward; everything goes into the pan and cooked until done, and then the eggs are added. The tahini sauce adds a nice touch but is quite strong – if you don’t like the taste of tahini, don’t include it (I think plain Greek yogurt could work in lieu).
Minced aubergine and beef don’t seem like the most obvious combination, but this worked. However we found that this meal did not fill us – it definitely needs a side or two.
The beige is the tahini sauce
I’m not quite sure why I haven’t been posting as much lately. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, but I seem to be in a bit of a rut when it comes to my posts. After 200 of them I guess I’m starting to feel that I’m repeating myself a bit. Just looking in my drafts I have 4 or 5 posts in the works and they are all quite similar! Anyway, as long as I get enjoyment out of this blog, I’m going to keep sharing.
This is such a brilliant, easy, and healthy meal and one of those where you think to yourself, “why didn’t I think of this before?”
The best thing about the rice bowl is its versatility – you can throw in pretty much anything. I used chicken, cucumber, red pepper, carrots, and green onions. It would work well with beef or tofu too as well as a myriad of other veggies. I love brown rice and would choose it over white any day, but white would also work well. I modified the sauce slightly and used coconut milk (rather than half coconut milk/half stock), peanut butter, lime leaves (or juice), fish sauce, and red curry paste rather than powder.
This is a winner for me: delicious, fairly quick to throw together, and can also be eaten cold or warm as leftovers for the next day.
Without sauce & chopped coriander
Happy May, which just happens to be one of my favourite months of the year! London has been having some lovely warm weather recently and it finally feels and looks like spring.
I’m starting off this month with a rather challenging (for me) meal I attempted few weeks ago (I’m behind). Every once in a while I attempt an ambitious recipe that almost doesn’t work out. This was definitely one of them. There can be a fine line between a challenge and stress-inducing – when things go wrong, it’s not fun anymore! All of these evenings share a pattern: they start well, then I usually lose confidence around the most crucial part (the filling and shaping of the parcels in this case), H. steps in to assist, and things end up turning out alright in the end.
The start of these nights usually begin with a hunt for ingredients that go beyond the scope of my normal food-buying habits, in this case a visit to Loon Fung, Chinatown’s mecca for Asian ingredients. The recipe for the pork parcels comes from Donna Hay’s slightly buggy website (the link seems to work sometimes and others not). I couldn’t find the chili jam so instead used chili-garlic sauce which worked just as well (might even be the same thing?). I cooked the base of ground pork and vermicelli, and all went well until I tried to assemble the parcels – they did not want to stick together. I think in hindsight that I used the wrong type of wrapper – when I made the spring rolls, this did not happen.
To go with the parcels I made fried rice from my Simply Thai Cooking, which is essentially white rice, cooked veggies (I used cauliflower, carrots, & mushrooms), 2 eggs, along with black pepper, garlic & soya sauce, and a generous topping of
everyone’s my favourite herb, fresh coriander. It was delicious and the perfect side.
Aside from problems with the filling, this was a successful and tasty meal, if a little labourious and finicky. We had leftover filling and rice and H. ate them on their own for lunch the next day.
They don’t look like much, but they were tasty!
The end of another month is already here and with it, a few favourites & links:
◌ Love this: rules of dinner, although I don’t agree with them all.
◌ Clever ways to make your groceries last, from Buzzfeed.
◌ Check out the most relaxing song.
◌ Drool-worthy fantasy accommodation in Brooklyn.
◌ Food & drink ideas for a summer get-together.
◌ Some spring cleaning ideas.
Sunny Waterlow Park
H. and I have now lived almost 7 months in north London, and we love our little corner of this massive and sometimes overwhelming city. The one main downside of living where we do is that we do not have a large supermarket near us (although have recently ‘discovered’ a closer Sainbury’s than the one in Camden we’d been trekking to for big shops). Because of this, we have started doing some of our shopping — especially for pantry items, i.e. not fresh food — online. This may seem weird to some/many of you, but it is extremely popular here in the UK, and, believe it or not, it is cheaper to get food delivered than 2×2 bus rides. I recently discovered that Ocado has a bespoke butcher service, delivered right to your door – who knew? I decided to give it a go and ordered Aberdeen Angus beef brisket as a test. It came perfectly wrapped and was very fresh.
Originally we were going to roast the beef per Martha’s recipe. However because we only have one oven rack, we decided to braise it on the stovetop and save the oven for roasting the vegetables. This worked extremely well (I have to give credit to H. for the idea and finding the recipe!). We modified Mario Batali’s recipe and braised it canned chopped tomatoes, red wine, onions, carrots, and seasoning.
I got the idea for the cauliflower salad from my friend M.’s post here. It was so good I made it again the next day for lunch – absolutely delicious. I could have eaten all of the cauliflower right out of the oven. She had it with lamb but it also paired very well with the beef.
This was a delicious meal that last us leftovers for the next day too. The long braise meant the meat was juicy and SO flavourful. I’d never braised beef in tomatoes before but this is my new go-to method – delicious.
Braised beef brisket with tomatoes and carrots, cauliflower salad, & sweet potato fries
If that sounds like a mouthful, it is! My lovely boyfriend recently celebrated his 29th birthday and I made these for him. I found the recipe in the Guardian’s weekly Cook section which I am beginning to like more with each passing week.
No, the berries are not local/in season, but I made an exception and also managed to find them at my local fruiterers (such a British word!) so at least I did not give my money to a chain.
As I read through the ingredient list right before making them, I realized I’d forgotten to get cream cheese. Based on this I decided to modify the topping: I halved the ingredients, added a bit of plain Greek yogurt, and tried to spread it only on half of the brownies in case it failed (as you can see from the picture, that didn’t really work). I was a bit nervous, but surprisingly everything turned out well.
The brownies were definitely a hit — even for me, and I do not have a sweet tooth! They’re not too difficult to make, look impressive, and are a rich, luxurious occasional treat, perfect for a birthday.
A couple of weeks ago, I spotted these chickpea cakes on Love & Lemons and thought they would be great for a veggie meal, which we have been eating more and more of lately. Little did I know how challenging making them would prove to be!
The preparation is rather straightforward until you get to shaping the cakes. They were VERY wet and not sticking together at all (the recipe warns that this will happen, but it was much worse than I expected). I ended up adding between a 1/2 cup and cup of chickpea flour in order to hold them together, and even then, they didn’t really. After the cakes chill in the fridge, they are slightly easier to handle, but it’s not until they get into the pan that they really begin to look like cakes instead of mud! (I will spare you the photo I took pre-pan).
Although we enjoyed the end product, served with my favourite tried and true coriander-lemon yogurt and a side spinach salad, I will NOT be making these again for the simple reason that they were very awkward and difficult to make!
With side salad.
I’ll be honest, the texture of aubergines is not my favourite. However, this salad works somehow. The goat cheese and almonds add not only taste but a different texture as well, and the combination is very tasty. We ate this on its own but it would also work well as a brunch item or as a side.
Find the recipe here.
This dish, (another) from Ottolenghi the cookbook, looked like an ideal one for me as it combines two of my favourite foods, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
It is a two-step process. The first step is boiling the sweet potatoes in honey, water, butter, and a pinch of salt. While that is happening, the ‘base’ is made, which is composed of canned tomatoes, chickpeas, cumin, coriander, tomato puree, and sugar, with the spinach added in at the end along with the potatoes on top.
The dish is served with a mint, garlic, and lemon yogurt. I did not have any dried mint on hand, so skipped that but otherwise made the yogurt as directed.
Although this was a tasty meal, I will probably not make it again for the following reasons. As regular readers will know, I love sweet potatoes. The way they were prepared in this dish though was a bit of a miss for me. I halved the amount of honey that Ottolenghi suggests, thinking to myself that they don’t need to be any sweeter than they already are. For my tastebuds, I was right, I just don’t think the honey is necessary – the potatoes are sweet enough on their own. Secondly, (my fault) I didn’t boil them long enough. They needed to be in for 5-10 more minutes to be super soft. I also prefer the texture of roasted sweet potatoes so if making this again on its own, I would do that. Also, I am not a huge fan of cooked spinach; I much prefer it raw. Ultimately though, I prefer the combination in this sweet potato & chickpea curry, which also uses spinach but has a creamy peanut butter/coconut milk base instead.
The number one key to motivation in the kitchen, in my opinion, is inspiration. Although it is not normally a problem for me, I sometimes fall into the habit of old favourites. I’ve read that one way of combating this is to keep track of what you eat for a month and refer back to it. So, that’s what I did. March was atypical in that I managed to eat out FIVE nights in a row, mostly due to the fact that I was away for a conference in Wales for three days. Also, my dad was visiting for a week and we ate out twice then. That NEVER happens, trust me! We eat out on average I’d say once a month (and it’s never splashy). This list also gives you an idea of how often I replicate stuff I’ve previously made on the blog and how often I try new things. I went a few days into April to make up for the eating out.
V=veggie; bolded=new recipe
2nd: Sweet potato & chickpea curry (V)
Sunday 3rd: Sweet potato salad
4th: Cauliflower, cheddar, & bacon risotto
5th: Creamy mushroom pasta & side salad (V)
6th: Sweet potato gratin & salad (V)
7th: Salad (mixed greens) (V)
8th: Pad Thai
9th: Senegalese peanut soup (V)
Sunday 10th: Pork roast
11th: Fryup –> free range sausages, potatoes, mushrooms, & tomatoes
12th: Indian takeaway
13th: Ate out (Yalla Yalla)
14th: Homemade sweet potato fries & salad (V)
15th: Ate out
16th: Orange and balsamic chicken with rice and salad
Sunday 17th: Kisir (V)
18th: Cauliflower fritters (V)
19th: Aubergine & parmesan bake (V)
20th: Ham & cheese sandwich (the old classic)
21st: H.’s meatballs
22nd: Ate out (Central & Co.)
23rd: Ate out (Chinatown)
Sunday 24th: (Wales) Ate out (Bill’s)
25th: (Wales) Ate out (takeaway sandwich)
26th: (Wales) Ate out (Wagamama)
27th: H.’s Chili con carne
28th: Pad Thai
29th: Veggie version of amazing chicken & tomato curry, with chickpeas instead of chicken (V)
30th: Cauliflower gratin and side salad (V)
Sunday 31st: Easter –> Mustard & orange pork tenderloin with roasted veg and mashed potatoes
1st April: Leftover pork, potatoes, and salad
2nd April: Homemade chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, & spinach salad
3rd April: Creamy mushroom penne with tomatoes and Parmesan (V)
4th April: Leftover penne with leftover pork
5th April: Chickpeas, spinach, & honeyed sweet potato (V)