Thursday, 20 November 2014

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Maftoul

I came home a few days back and we had no Basmati rice in the kitchen cupboards, then my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun maftoul.  Its been there for a few months, if I am honest just over a year I think.  So I decided to actually cook with it, rather than just admire the packet and its contents.

Maftoul will remind you of being somewhere between couscous and Bulgar wheat.  Maftoul is a large, hand rolled and pearly grain made from sundried bulgar wheat.  It has a unique, nutty flavour.  When I started eating it, I actually recalled having cooked and eaten it before, it went under the name pearl couscous aka mograbiah and was used for my Beetroot Pearls Salad, but I have since leaned its the same thing, also known as fregola  and even giant couscous too.    
 I simply broke up a large cauliflower into bite size florets, drizzled it in a little olive oi with a pinch of sea salt and generous scattering of Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar  and then put it in the oven to roast, now and again I would give it a good toss and shake.  Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar is a zesty Middle Eastern seasoning made with wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. Halfway through this process, I added in some sliced baby peppers.      
Whilst the za'atar florets were turning golden, I put the maftoul on the hob.  I simply emptied the whole packer into a medium saucepan along with 500ml water and cooked using the absorption method.  It was ready in 20 minutes (if there is any excess liquid just drain).  I also stirred in a can of drained cooked chickpeas to warm through for a couple of minutes.  The contents of the sauce pan were then stirred very gently into the za'atar roasted cauliflower (and peppers).   It was really, really very good, not only was the cauliflower well flavoured, the texture of the maftoul was al dente - perfect with a little bite.  I am just disappointed that this photograph (as with other photographs of late) that just do not do the plated dish justice.  Anyway, I served this warm salad with a lightly spiced red pepper sauce, even D loved it and he doesn't say that about the traditional North African couscous at all, so maftoul will be making an appearance again pretty soon.   By the way this recipe serves four, we had the left overs the following day for lunch.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble

My husband picked up two bags of pears a couple of weeks back, I have to say I don't like it when he does this, as he never eats the fruit fresh and it sits there, for days, no for weeks going dark and very soft.  I often think its a ploy on his part.  He knows I won't let the fruit go to waste or even the compost bin, and secretly wishes them to somehow magically be transformed into cake or some other sweet thing, and often his little fairy grants his wish.  I wish my little fairy would make me cake!

Anyway, I did originally have intentions on making this Savoury Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Tart, and still may do as I still have half a dozen brown freckled pears left over, but at the weekend I ended up making a belly warming Pear, Apple and Ginger Crumble.  
Its been a long while since I've made a pear crumble, the last time was in my first year of blogging and it was with hazelnuts.  This was different in that it had no nutty crunch, but it had warmth and a little fire from the fresh ginger.  I served this golden pear, apple and ginger crumble simply with some home-made custard, but cream or ice-cream would have been nice too.  

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Curly Kale Paprika Risotto

Well with the weather getting nippy as well as drippy, I've been making risotto every other week the past month, but this particular Curly Kale Paprika Risott actually came about when I had very little in the house and fridge.  

I just threw together what we had and it turned out pretty nice actually. 
Its getting dark in the evenings, so food photographs are going to look more homely than usual.  
Curly Kale Paprika Risotto
Serves 3 - 4 with a side salad
2 - 3 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 - 4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A good handful of curly kale, washed, rinsed and roughly chopped (including the stalks)
250g risotto rice
1 1/2- 2 pints vegetable stock
2 - 4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wide pan, heat the oil.  Stir in the onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika and cook for a a minute, then stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so. 
Then stir in the chopped kale and about 150ml of the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, gradually add more, a ladle at a time until all is used up.  Stir frequently until the rice is cooked, about 25 - 55 minutes, maybe even more.  Taste and tweak seasoning, as well as smoked paprika to taste.   Cook for a few minutes more, then serve immediately. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Golden Quince Almond Tart

I've pretty much always passed quinces by whenever I've seen them at farmers markets.  On rare occasions, I would sometimes pick, admire and sniff them, but never bring back one home .  The only thing that ever came to mind to do with them was Quince Cheese, but it wasn't something that I really wanted to make, so they were often dismissed.
This time round I changed my mind when I saw them at a local food festival.  I decided to pick up a couple, they were not particularly cheap so I consider these quinces to be a bit of a luxury but that didn't influence me to cook or bake with them any quicker.  The quinces sat first for two weeks in my fruit basket, then got moved to the fridge. As I did not wish for them to end up in the compost bin, I started  considering making Johanna's Buttery Quince and Almond Cake, but then got distracted thinking maybe I should do a savoury dish with them as there were loads of sweet Quince recipes around. 
Well after being in my home for nearly three weeks, at the weekend, I gave up, peeled, sliced and poached them in a little cinnamon honeyed water for about 30 minutes until they were just soft, but not falling apart.  I thought we would just enjoy the poached fragrant pieces with Greek yogurt and honey.  We both tried a bit and quite liked it.  D said it tasted a bit between pear and peach and that is when I became motivated to cook with them further and make a sweet tart.