All posts filed under: Snacks

Israeli Couscous with onion squash, haricot beans and pumpkin seeds

I am using pumpkin alot lately, I know. They’re in season, so I like to make the most of them. I love everything about them, the way they look and taste, their bright orange colour, I (clearly) just can’t get enough. I love just having them on my kitchen windsill, brightening the place up. Yes, sad, I know. I try to bring a homemade lunch to work every day but, lately, I’ve been lax. I find the change in seasons breaks my routine, which is no bad thing, but it’s time to get my house in order again. Often, it’s leftovers from dinner the night before but, sometimes, I make something especially for lunch as the repetition can get tedious. Anna Pickard recently made a suggested dish of mine in her “Out of my box” post on the Word of Mouth blog, and I laughed so hard at her description of it, as it’s so true of how I eat in November: The rest was dedicated to Niamheen and her Rice and Chorizo and Squash …

Moutabal

I love Lebanese food. The flavours are so fresh and lively, and the meze style eating is varied and so sociable. London is awash with great Lebanese restaurants, particularly around the Edgware Rd area.  They’re great places to bring vegetarian friends as there is plenty to satisfy everyone from the vegan to the carnivore. The Maroush chain of restaurants in London have a deli on the Edgware Rd, where I used to treat myself to moutabal when I lived in nearby Kilburn, a smoky aubergine dip, not unlike baba ghanoush from Egypt. I frequently make dips like guacamole, hummus and pesto but infrequently moutabal as I didn’t have a gas cooker in my last flat, so I decided that now that I have,  I should make it last weekend. To make moutabal you need to grill some aubergines over a gas flame until the skin is burned and the flesh is hot. The aubergine will be very hot so, take care, and ensure you don’t burn yourself as I did. I have previously made this …

Samphire Tabbouleh

Following on from yesterdays post –Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes, I have another samphire post. This one is vegetarian and is based on the salad recipe from yesterdays post. I was looking at the 100g of samphire that I had left and wondering what I could do with it that would be tasty and suitable for lunch the next day. A quick fumble in the cupboard revealed a forgotten bag of organic bulgur. Bulgur is very healthy, it’s more nutritious than rice or cous cous so I always have a bag to hand next to the quinoa. There’s lots of forgotten random bits in my cupboards, it’s like a bunker in there! I have promised myself that I will empty them over the coming months and base my recipes on what’s in there so it should be interesting. For the samphire, I decided on a chunky samphire tabbouleh. I love tabbouleh, it’s so light and fragrant but can take really robust flavours. I decided that I …

Chargrilled peach & speck salad

This is a spectacular summer salad devised by Yotam Ottolenghi of Ottolenghi’s in London and published in the Summer BBQ series in the Guardian on Saturdays. I had wanted to make it since it was published (2 weeks ago?) but I didn’t have the orange blossom water required nor had I the time to go source it. I spotted it on a trip to Borough Market on Saturday and with that purchase was all set. I went to the farmers market in Queen’s Park on Sunday to get the leaves but the leaves specified in the recipe weren’t available so I bought mizuna & mustard leaves instead of baby chard, endives & watercress. These worked really well and I think, really, you could use rocket, it would counter the sweetness of the peach nicely and is readily available. Speck is a meat that I only discovered 4 years ago when I started working in the Kings Cross area and started shopping in the italian deli, KC Continental Stores on Caledonian Rd. It’s a dry-cured smoked …

Rice paper rolls

Or, for me, they’re pretend it’s summer rolls. It’s Saturday and I am sitting in my flat looking at the pouring rain. I can’t bring myself to go outside, it’s too grim. I need to make something to lift my spirits that doesn’t require leaving the house. Something vietnamese would be nice, it’s been a while since I’ve made any vietnamese food and it reminds me of a lovely holiday I spent in Sydney last year with two old friends. A quick stocktake reveals rice paper, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, chillis, a green pepper, a very big avocado and some fresh herbs. So, vietnamese rice paper rolls it is. Or a twist on them at least. These look really tricky, but really they’re very simple. Rolling them is a little fiddly and you may lose the first couple through practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about! I usually make these with prawns. They’re perfect for lunch and great for a light evening snack. I don’t …

Broad beans with ham & lemon

I am still on a Spanish buzz! I just can’t get enough of tapas. This dish was inspired by habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) that we had in Spain but using what I had to hand – bacon. We had it twice in Spain. The first time was very disappointing in Plaza Nueva in Granada, in a bodegas which looked great but unfortunately wasn’t. This, incidentally appears to be very rare in Andalucia! The beans were overcooked and I couldn’t even see any ham. However, we had it again and it was delicious, nice bright fresh broad beans amidst chunks of serrano ham, one for the notebook to try and recreate when I got back to London. It’s broad bean season so I had no problem getting these fresh. At this stage they’re quite large but still tender. To get the best from the broad beans be sure to double pod them. This takes a while but it is worth removing the rubbery skin, especially from larger ones (you can leave it on …

Santa plum tomato, avocado & manchego toasts

This isn’t exactly complicated but it was so pretty and easy I thought I’d blog it :-) On a recent trip to the market I spotted beautiful baby santa plum tomatoes. I bought a pound of them with the intention of making a tomato, basil and mozarella salad. But, I forgot to buy the mozarella. So, I quickly threw these toasts together instead: Chop half the tomatoes & 1 avocado. Season, then add some fresh lemon juice to taste. Toast the bread on one side and lightly toast the second side until slightly crisp but not brown (this ensures they won’t go too soggy when you add the avocado/tomato). Add your tomato and avocado mixture and sprinkle some grated manchego on top. Grill until the cheese is melted. Eat!

Roast baby orange peppers with feta on pita

I fancied a quick snack so I raided the fridge. I had lots of leftover bits. What most interested me was feta left over from the risotto recipe and a big bag of orange baby peppers that needed to be used before they went bad. So, I roasted the peppers, we don’t have a gas cooker so I brushed them with olive oil and put them under the grill until they went black, then turned them around and did the other side. Don’t be afraid to completely burn them, the flesh is protected by the skin underneath. When blackened all over I placed them in a plastic bag and into the fridge to cool. Doing this ensures that they sweat and makes it much easier to peel their skin off. Once cool (takes half an hour or so) I peeled them and chopped them into strips and mixed them with crumbled feta. I left them in the fridge for a half an hour or so to allow the flavours to mingle. You could add honey …

Quinoa with soya beans, parsley, sesame seeds & red onion

Quinoa is one of those foodstuffs that is so nutritious that I try to include it in my diet as regularly as possible. I like the nutty texture and as the flavour is quite subtle it mixes with almost everything. You can use it in the place of cous cous for a healthier tabbouleh or as a side dish in place of rice. It’s one of the few non-meat, non-dairy foodstuffs that contains the full complement of essential amino acids. I am not vegetarian but I was for 11 years and still keep to a predominantly vegetarian diet, mainly because I really enjoy vegetarian food and it’s extremely healthy once you take care to mix your proteins. I hadn’t had quinoa for a couple of months so I thought I’d drag it out of the cupboard and make a healthy lunch out of it. I cook quinoa in a similar way to rice, twice the amount of liquid to grain. The only difference in the way I cook it is I like to fry/toast it …

A new take on guacamole

I have been called a food snob in the past (amongst other things!). I am fairly strict with my recipes and like to do things as they should and have always been done, for example, you don’t put chicken tikka on a pizza, you do it the way the Italians have always done it! And I have always had a simliar attitude to guacamole. I like mine with lime juice not lemon juice for example. There’s a recipe I have stuck to for years since I’ve first started making it and anything outside that is an avocado dip – not guacamole. Yesterday, however, we had a breakthrough :-) I was making an asparagus risotto for dinner and in our hunger it seemed to be taking forever. I thought I’d knock up a quick snack. In the fridge I had an avocado, shallots, orange peppers and feta. First of all, I thought I’d roast some peppers and mix them with some feta and maybe green chilli on ciabatta toast. I started this but again, impatience got …

Cloud mushroom with sesame oil, red onion & parsley on ciabatta toast

On my recent trip to Marylebone farmers Market I came across a gourmet mushroom stall. He had some fantastic large brown and white oyster mushrooms, mixed dried mushrooms and fluffy white ones that almost looked like coral or seaweed. I love coming across new things like this and enquired after this one. The new discovery was a cloud mushroom which I was told has a texture similar to crab or lobster and is best eaten raw or lightly cooked. How could I resist?! A few years ago I had bought a big bag of St Georges Mushrooms in a state of excitement only to discover that I didn’t like them atall so I thought I’d play safe and bought one big one to experiment with when I got home. I carried my little treasure home in the palm of my hand like a kitten worried I’d break or damage it. Some investigations on Google weren’t all that beneficial, at least for my culinary purposes. I discovered it is used in Chinese medicine, primarily an extract …

Hummus-ish and chickpeas on crackers

We have a bit of a glut of chickpeas at the moment as I cooked a big batch of dried ones earlier in the week. My intention was to freeze them in batches for further use but there are so many I have kept half to experiment with. Today, I had planned to make hummus but thought I might try and vary it a bit. The end result really wasn’t all that different from hummus, the only difference being that I substituted sesame seeds for tahini to give it a crunchier texture. It was nice for a change. This was thrown together in a haphazard fashion so the measurements are approximate. Ingredients: 400g chickpeas 50g sesame seeds Juice half lemon 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crackers Method: The method is very simple! Reserve a small amount of the chickpeas and sesame seeds to put on the crackers after. Chuck the rest save the oil in a blender and add the oil slowly until you are happy with the consistency. Season to …