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What to eat for lunch when the fridge is almost bare?  My solution is homemade hummous and toasted pitta bread – all which can be made from what’s in my cupboards and freezer.

My homemade hummous is inspired by some my friend Jane made – it’s a simple matter of whizzing together a tin of chickpeas and olive oil, with lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Today I’ve used 1 medium garlic clove, juice of about 1 small lemon (I find getting the amount of lemon juice right is what makes or breaks this hummous), and about a teaspoon of ground cumin.

Today I’m eating my hummous with toasted pitta breads from the freezer.  Pitta breads freeze fantastically and I always try to have a packet in the freezer ready to toast whenever I’m out of fresh bread. 

They can be easily popped in a toaster or if, like me, you are toaster-less, simply bung them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side.  Beware of hot steam escaping from the pittas once toasted!

Here’s me eating my lunch in my not-so-romantic working space…

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This was one of those cheats lunch that feels incredibly satisfying.  We went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up a bag of onion and potato bhajis from one of the stalls, and from these our lunch was inspired using up some bits and pieces.

The other week we pulled up the last of the carrots from the garden – these were scrubbed, sliced into lengths and roasted in the oven tossed in a little olive oil. 

Once soft and starting to crisp at the edges, you take them out and mash them roughly with some ground cumin and dried oregano.  A final touch of crumbled feta cheese and fresh mint.

We warmed the onion bhajis up in the oven along with a couple of naans from the freezer – I used a new technique learnt from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals of scrunching up a piece of baking paper, wetting it then wrapping up your naans or tortilla wraps before putting them in the oven.  They come out beautifully soft.

In true Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals style we served everything on a wooden board, with a small bowl of Greek yoghurt and ate the lot with salad and much finger licking!

Still on the phone camera – new camera to come soon I hope!

Mezze Birthday Banquet

Earlier in January was my mommy’s birthday.  N and I packed our car and headed down for the weekend to celebrate her birthday with her and my family. 

While my dad took her off to London for the day the little sister and me got to work preparing a delicious birthday banquet for dinner.  For the main course we decided to do a selection of mezze style dishes with some middle eastern flavours.

There was a crushed carrot and goat’s cheese salad (similar to this one) but prepared everso slightly differently. 

Crushed Cumin Carrots

Toss a bunch of washed carrots that have been cut into lengths in some olive oil and bung in a pre-heated oven at 180°C – roast for about 40-50 minutes until soft and golden.

Allow them to cool slightly then mash.  Stir through a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin and season lightly.  Spread the crushed carrots over a plate, crumble over some goat’s cheese, and sprinkle with finely sliced mint.

Taken and slightly adapted from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter – one of my favourite recipe books especially for lovely veggie dishes.

An earthy roasted beetroot, red onion, lentil and feta salad

Beetroot and Onion Salad

In a bowl mix 2 tbsp soft brown sugar and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar.  Add to this 1 medium red onion that has been finely sliced.  Leave the onion to ‘pickle’ in the vinegar mixture for about an hour.

Roast about 500g beetroot that have been scrubbed and trimmed in 5mm of water covered in foil at 200°C for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Cook the Puy lentils and allow to cool until just warm:  Place 100g Puy lentils in a pan with 2 peeled garlic cloves and add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, turn turn and simmer for about 30 minutes until tender – top up the water if necessary.  Drain.

In a bowl mix together the lentils, onion mixture and any remaining liquid, and season with salt and pepper.  Peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and mix into the lentils.  Stir through some chopped mint and crumble over some feta cheese.

Another delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter.

A coriander and mint hummous (inspired by A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell). 

Coriander and Mint Hummous

I wanted to try a different take on hummous, so used Sky Gyngell’s recipe for chickpea purée to inspire me.  I can’t remember the exact amounts of ingredients as it was ‘taste and see’.  Into a blender tip a can of drained chickpeas, 2 garlic cloves, some fresh red chilli (seeds removed), a good bunch of coriander and another of mint, lemon juice (add more to taste), a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt, a sprinkle of ground cumin and coriander, salt and pepper, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Blend it all up into a rough purée.  Keep tasting and adjusting the flavours until it’s how you like.  I made it quite lemony, much to the horror of the little sister, but I promised her by dinner time the flavours would mellow and she would love it – they did and she loved it.

A platter of pan-fried ‘hint of spice’ chicken. 

Take some chicken thighs on the bone.  Place in a dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper.  Mix the chicken thighs in the flavours well and pop in the fridge for an hour or so.  When you’re ready to eat, pan-fry the chicken until cooked through.

Moroccan Olives

And a bowl of mixed olives – some with Moroccan flavoured and the others were called ‘Mojito Olives’ – spiked with lime and mint.

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This year is set to be the summer of salads, I’m sure of it.  The heat here in England is incredible at the moment, our office temperature gauge said it was 29°C!  Far too hot to be working. 

At home we are relishing salad after salad, and I am enjoying creating these light, wholesome salads to fill our bellies.  With this heat no one wants to eat much, just a few lovely salads and some grilled meat, or a bowl of simply dressed pasta with a side of green leaves.  We have had friends round for barbecues and my parents visited for a day, so I have been perfecting my salad making skills.  And when I say salad, I don’t just mean a bowl of leafy greens, I mean plates of spring vegetables, prepared with different flavourings and complimented with cheeses and herbs.

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The first of these salads that I’m going to showcase is a dish of roasted spring carrots with cumin and feta cheese.  I serve this warm or room temperature, not hot.  Like so many of my favourite recipes, this is so simple and easy to do – a real ‘no fuss’ dish.  I discovered some bunched English baby carrots at my one of my local farm shops, which were a perfect size for what I wanted – if you can’t find baby sized carrots, just take normal sized ones and cut them into slender batons.

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Trim and scrub the carrots.  Bung them in a roasting tin, drizzle with oil, add a grinding of black pepper and some salt, and finally sprinkle over a teaspoon or so of cumin.  Give them a good toss to coat with all the yumminess an pop them in a moderately hot oven.  They should only about 20-30 minutes, and are ready when they are tender.

Because I like to serve the carrots warm not hot, it means you can cook them in advance, turn the oven off and leave them to cool.  When you’re ready to serve the salad, take a pretty serving plate, spread out the carrots over the plate, crumble over the feta cheese, sprinkle over some fresh thyme leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

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If you fancy, you could always serve the carrots in a tortilla wrap or mashed up a bit and served on a crostini. 

Hope everyone else is enjoying some sunny evening meals in the garden!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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