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Last weekend we celebrated the fine weather with our first barbeque of the season (hopefully not the last!).  We had tiny buffalo koftas from Laverstoke Park Farm, asparagus, new potatoes baked in the embers, and homemade flatbreads.

This was a new adventure for us – attempting to make our own flatbreads – and I was desperately worried they would go all crispy, and not soft and doughy like I was hoping.  If there was anyone I was going to put my trust in, it was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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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…

So following on from my weekend (last week) with my family and then the little sister, this is what we got up to when she came to stay…

We made French toast or eggy bread.  The little sister had hers with cinnamon sugar and I added some crushed (and homegrown!) raspberries to mine…

We made ‘cheats’ wraps – seed flecked tortilla wraps filled with Moroccan style hummous, sweet potato falafel and homegrown lettuce.  Sadly only the salad was homegrown…

We also had a delicious girlie lunch at Tampopo (the little sister’s favourite) – we shared Vietnamese goi cuon, she ate yaki udon noodles and I ate pad Thai.  Sadly we ate it all too quickly and there are no photos to show for these delicious dishes.

However, we also grabbed some lunch from Selfridges which I did snap a few quick photos of before we devoured it.  A selection of Indian delights and a pesto, mushroom and cheese pretzel and a mango smoothie to share…

A vegetarian breakfast for a hungry sister – a fried egg, sunny-side up with diced vegetarian sausage…

As part of her final parting dinner we did a baked Camembert eaten with crusty white bread that we picked up at the Abbey Leys farmer’s market.  Recipe for how to bake Camembert (it’s really easy) here.

We also made to-die-for cookies.  These are Hugh’s 10 minute cookies from his River Cottage Everyday recipe book, and they are everything you want from a cookie.  They are moist in places but crispy in others, chewy, sweet, and bittersweet with dark chocolate…

And finally, just before we left to pop her on a train home, we whipped up a quick quesadilla.  Two tortillas pan fried in a little oil with grated cheddar cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes sandwiched in the middle…

I miss you little sister!

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.

It’s about time to write about the lovely time I had last week when my little sister came to visit.  The time went too quickly and we really needed another day or so…but homework beckoned so she had to leave. 

Firstly, I must tell you that my little sister knows exactly what she wants (probably I do too), but in this case I am talking about food.  Her food requests went something like this…homemade hummous, sushi, fried halloumi sandwiches, baked Camembert, and most of the menu from Tampopo. 

the lovely little sister

the lovely little sister

So after picking her up from the train station on Wednesday, we headed straight for my favourite food shopping haunt – Chorlton.  We found all the necessary ingredients to fulfill the little sister’s wishes, before heading to Out of the Blue (Wilbraham Road, Chorlton), an utterly fantastic fish mongers.  They also have their own sushi chef, who can be seen most days in the store window busily creating the days sushi.  The little sister chose the veggie rolls and I opted for the mixed rolls.  The veggie rolls are small delicate mouthfuls, that include fillings such as cucumber, daikon, carrot, avocado, and red pepper – probably not authentic, but total heaven to a vegetarian country girl.  Mine were pretty much the same, but included tuna and salmon. 

Thursday lunchtime after a morning pouring over beautiful Etsy websites, we made some homemade hummous, defrosted some root vegetable soup and toasted some pittas. 

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For my hummous, I use a can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), a clove of garlic (roughly chopped), a teaspoon or two of cumin powder (more or less to your taste), a pinch of crushed dried chillies, a generous squeeze of lemon juice (if your hummous doesn’t taste amazing, add more lemon juice), and a good slug of olive oil (add enough to create a smooth paste).  I blitz all the ingredients together, and season with salt and pepper. 

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Apologies for not giving specific ingredient amounts, but I really feel that my taste in hummous might not be yours, so just adjust the flavourings until you get it how you like it.

Check back this week for more food adventure with the little sister, including a Snickers (!) muffin and homemade chocolate croissants.

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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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