Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Danish Tebirkes, A Vegetarian Lunch and Lebanese Pasta Bake

Tebirkes Some of you might have heard about Danish Tebirkes before, some of you might be introduced to them this very moment! Birkes in Danish are Poppy seeds which the breads are topped with. I didn't have any and I'm sure any Dane would tell me off if they knew. I don't really feel that bad about it. So what are they? Tebirkes are made from a dough that has cold butter folded into it and has thus a buttery and flaky taste and appearance. Much like croissants, but these are much easier to make. It's all made in one go and left to prove, then baked. I felt that there was something missing in this recipe which is why I will try to adapt it a bit and post it when I am happy with it. It's very easy to put together for a weekend breakfast and also freeze well if you should choose to do so. Indian-style Chaat

I love a traditional Channe Chaat (chickpea salad), but this particular day I did not have any chickpeas nor any tomatoes, so I had to improvise. If you have tomatoes, do add it because it really tastes nicey-nice.

1 400g can tinned blackeye beans

3 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed

1 avocado

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 tsp (or to taste) Chaat Masala (should be fairly easy to obtain)

Chilli powder (to taste)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Juice of 1 small lemon

A handful of fresh coriander , chopped (optional)

Mix all the ingredients and and season to taste. I love eating this as a simple lunch. It is very easy to prepare, you just have to wait for the potatoes to cook, which can be hard if you are starving. This serves two adults. It can be kept in the fridge to the next day if you are eating alone (cover with clingfilm or else the smell will poison the rest of your fridge!).

Lebanese Pasta Bake with chicken and mushroom w. vegetarian option

We had some leftover roast chicken (as one has) and I wondered (as one does) what to do with it this time. Then I remembered a dish suggested by one of our Lebanese members @ www.throughtheovendoor.com and I decided to make it.

Basically, you make a roux and then add chickenstock and milk powder to make the sauce. Fry some mushrooms and add whichever spice you fancy (I really like thyme and parsley with mushrooms) and then season. Boil some pasta, tagliatelle is good, although this time I had farfalle. When it is al dente, drain and mix with the sauce along with fried mushrooms and shredded cooked chicken. Top with a generous grating of parmesan and bake at 200'C/Gas 6 for 30 minutes. I haven't specified quantities, but it all depends on how much leftover chicken you've got and how many you are cooking for.

I would quite like this as a vegetarian dish too, which I am intending to try. I am thinking.. obviously swap chicken stock for vegetable stock, perhaps griddle or grill some vegetables, such as courgettes, aubergine and peppers (You might have had roast vegetables earlier that you need to use up?) and add a generous amount of mushrooms, and parmesan-style cheese. If you belong to the meat-substitute-quorn-eating group, then you could always try it with chicken-style quorn pieces. Although I think it would taste fab with vegetables.

Some of the pictures in the wrong order.. I will try to upload them reverse to how I intend to post next time.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

My favourite food

..is Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne

I love lasagne, but this is the best version in my opinion. A tomato sauce with a rosemary, thyme and a hint of chilli, a mixture of ricotta and spinach and a cheesy bechamel sauce...and arrest me if you must, I love it topped with cheddar rather than parmesan. Guilty. I just love the way cheddar melts, more than anything. I made this lasagne on Friday. They were all out of Ricotta in my local supermarket, so I made my own. It tasted very nice too, I must admit. I know it's not traditional with bechamel in spinach and ricotta lasagne, but I love it anyway (As you can see, I'm not a purist). Luckily, I made a large portion so I could eat it this evening too while the others ate Tarragon Chicken. Not only that, I can also eat it tomorrow! Good times.
I know it is a little naughty to re-heat spinach, but one makes exceptions. I served it with lots and lots of salad. Yesterday the avocado was still not ripe enough to eat, but today it was, thank God! I find myself slightly in panic if I don't have avocado. But that's another post.
What's your favourite lasagne?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I'm still trying to figure out how to make the pictures come where I want them to be, so please bare with me. Also.. I do appologise for the quality, viritually no daylight in grey wintery Northern England to take nice pictures, so I kind of have to move the food where there is a little bit of light. One is also lucky enough to get a glimpse of the bin in the background here.

I love pilaou and recently I made channe pilaou (chickpea pilaou) from black chickpeas. It's only I and little Miss 1 who are keen on this because Master 10 does not care for rice that has been fiddled with (plain boiled thank you) and hubby doesn't jump for joy because 1) there is no meat and 2) meat has been replaced with chickpeas (or beans/veg/etc). But I adore this and can eat a large plateful with salad and mint chutney (fresh mint, fresh coriander, greeen chillies, onion, more salt than you think - mix it in a blender/processor and mix a small amount with natural yoghurt. The rest can be frozen and you can break a piece off whenever you need it and dissolve in yoghurt).

Channe Pilaou
225g basmati rice (ideally soaked for 30 minutes prior to cooking)
1 tin chickpeas (any kind)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into half moons
4 -5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 black peppercorns
5 green cardamoms, bruised
1 black cardamom
1 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt
Stock powder (such as Marigold) to taste, or salt if you dont wish to use stock powder)

1) Fry onion in oil until it starts to brown
2) Add garlic and ginger and fry for about 30 seconds, making sure the garlic does not burn. Now add the whole spices and fry for a minute.
3) Rinse the tinned chickpeas in water and add them to the pan along with 100 ml water and the Maldon salt and cook until water has evaporated.
4) Now add the drained basmati rice and pour over water so it just covers the rice and chickpeas. Bring it to the boil and turn it down to a simmer and cook for 10- 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, you dont want it to stick to the bottom of the pan.
5) When the water has evaporated, turn the heat off and let it cook in it's own steam for 5 -10 minute with the lid on. This will make the rice nice and fluffy.
6) Check seasoning and serve with salad and chutney.

Leftover chicken suggestion:

Yesterday I made a all in one herby chicken dish, which had vegetables and chicken cooked together in the oven with herbs and garlic. It gave us some leftover chicken and I always use leftover chicken for sandwhiches, even if it is in a curry, I pick the chicken pieces out and transform them into something that can go inbetween slices of bread. This time was no exception, but it needed some spicing up.
I'd say this was probably about 250 - 300 g chicken. I added 3 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp Tandoori Masala, pinch of salt, good grinding of pepper, 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes and a small handful of fresh coriander. If I was to eat this at once I would have added red onion and tomato, but since this was for hubby's lunch today I didn't want any soggy tomatoes and I thought I'd spare him for raw onion breath at work. The result was really yummy!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


What's better than freshly baked yeasted goods for breakfast? Nothing beats it. The house is filled with the luscious smell of bread and tempts you long before it comes out of the oven, let alone your plate. I'm an enthusiastic baker, both yeast baking and cakes. Bread is being baked in my kitchen more often than some people change socks (it also smells a lot better than such people's socks, by the way).

I prefer home made bread to shop bought bread and the kind that comes in plastic is just dreadful. It is so easy to make bread, I am surprised that it is not more wide-spread than it is. I am not sure why people don't bake their own. Perhaps it is too time-consuming? But.. it is not really. Once you know what to do it's as easy as hoovering your living room, just a lot more fun.

Most of the time I just make it up as I go along, I know how much liquid I need to make a certain loaf size and then I just add whatever flour I fancy. But I do try to follow recipes now and then, just to broaden my horizon as to which combinations you can do, what techniques to use and do expand my list of baking skills to a little more than loaves and buns.

One of those lovely little things you can make are croissants. Mmmmm... delicious. And very dangerous, unless you have really good self control. It takes a bit more time and work than the common loaf, but is totally worth it. I have tried both Rachel Allen's recipe from Bake (good) and the one from Bourke Street Bakery (very very good), the latter requiring a little more work than the former.

Then there is the popular no-knead bread which seems to have plagued the blogging world since it saw daylight a few years a go. I didn't really want to try it at first, it felt like cheating. But I am very glad I decided to give it a go. Now I make it occasionally and it's lovely and rustic.

At the moment I have Rhyley's Granny's honeyed porridge bread in the oven and it smells delicious. Here is the link to her recipe: http://teandwheatenbread.blogspot.com/2011/02/honeyed-porridge-bread.html

I think everyone should have a go at making their own bread at least once. Trust me, you'll be hooked!