I woke up this morning thinking about this delicious wrap. It was one of my very first recipes, and I haven’t had it for ages. I went to the computer and searched through my posts thinking of course I would have published it, but no, it was no where to be found. So, although this is an old favourite of mine, I’m sharing it for the first time – told you I wasn’t good at sharing food.
Ingredients for 2 wraps
2 x Arabic breads (or any thin flat soft bread)
1 x aubergine sliced vertically in thin strips
About 2 x tbsp olive oil
1 x tsp za’tar (or any mix of mediterranean dried herbs)
150gr / 5.3 oz. of Halloumi cheese sliced thinly
4 x tbsp Greek Yogurt
A third cucumber sliced very thinly
Two Kos (Romain) lettuce leaves
1 x small garlic clove, crushed or grated
Handful of fresh mint, chopped finely
One spring onion (scallion chopped finely)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the yogurt, za’tar, spring onion, cucumber, honey, garlic and mint together, add a pinch of salt, stir through and taste. Set aside to allow the flavours to marry together.
Rub olive oil into the slices of cheese and aubergine.
Salt and pepper the slices of aubergine on each side.
Heat a grill pan until it is hot and grill the aubergine until it has some nice dark stripes on each side. The same for the cheese. The grill pan may smoke a little. I do the aubergine first. The
Spread the yogurt mix over one side of both of the Arabic breads.
Lay out the lettuce leaf then the aubergine and cheese over the middle section of the bread.
Fold about one third of one side of the bread towards the centre, then roll the rest of the bread perpendicular to the fold.
Tips and Variations
For a spicy version, spread the bread first thinly with some tandoori paste.
You can use lots of grilled vegetables for this, peppers and courgettes work best.
I have this thing about ‘Having Something In’. Sounds vague I know, but what I mean is I get nervous at the thought of having visitors and nothing to feed them. I’m sure it’s about how I grew up. I heard the words ‘Oh, I’ll need to make sure I’ve got something in’ so many times it has stuck in my brain. It could be said when we knew people were coming, then it was with purpose, or it could be more of a mused thought of the knowledge that people always seemed to be popping in and out as mum scribbled down her shopping list. It has left me with a slight panic if I have ‘nothing in’ and a feeling of contentment when I know I have ‘something in’. Then there’s what you should have in. It could be something you buy, biscuits, snacks etc. But, that really is a cop out. In our house the rules were that there had to be a pot of soup on the go, or at least soup that could be heated up (home made broth of course). Then there had to be enough things like tins of salmon, cold meats and cheese, chutneys and pickles to make up sandwiches. And most important of all, baked goods. This would normally come in the form of a of some kind of sweet tea loaf. I carry on this tradition to some extent, although I must confess, I don’t always have ‘something in’ but I do my best. And as my mum did, it is very often a tea loaf, but sometimes I like to have other options, and one of my favourites is quiche. Great to eat fresh from the oven or to have as a bit of lunch when somebody pops by.
Preparation Time: 40 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour
For this recipe I use a springform cake tin that has a diameter of 28cm / 11 in. and is 6cm / 2.5 in. in height.
Ingredients for 6 to 8 servings For the Pastry A little unsalted butter, a couple of tsps should do it, just to grease the tin.
400gr / 14 oz. ready made puff pastry.
For the Filling 1 x tsp olive oil
2 x medium sized leeks, cleaned thoroughly and chopped finely
2 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
250gr / 0.5 lb smoked bacon chopped into small cubes
8 x large eggs
200ml / 6.5 fl. oz. crème fraîche
2 x tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp nutmeg
200gr / 7 oz. grated mature cheese like cheddar, gouda or gruyere
2 x medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
Some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Not too much salt as the bacon can be quite salty.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
Roll out the pastry until it more than fits your cake tin. Grease the tin with the butter. I find the easiest way is to take a bit of the paper in which the butter is wrapped and use this to wipe around the inside of the tin.
Lay the pastry into the tin gently, and still being gentle but firm make sure it fits neatly into the edges. Make sure you have enough pastry to hang over the top of your tin a little. Don’t press it over the rim, just let it hang loosely. This gives a rustic finish and allows for shrinkage of the pastry during cooking.
Blind bake the pastry for about 20 minutes. I do this by placing some baking paper on top of the pastry and then pouring over dried beans to weigh it down.
Whilst the pastry is having its first bake you can make the filling. Add the oil to a frying pan and heat it on a medium high heat. Fry off the bacon for a couple of minutes until crisp. Add the leeks and garlic with a little salt and pepper, stir through, set to a medium low heat, cover with a close fitting lid and cook until soft. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir from time to time just to check that the mix is not sticking – if the heat is not set too hot, it should be ok. Check for seasoning and adjust if need be. The amount of salt you need will depend on how salty the bacon is.
Mix the eggs, crème fraîche, nutmeg and thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl – I use a metal whisk for this.
Once the pastry has been blind baked, remove the beans spread the leek mix gently and evenly over the pastry base. Sprinkle over the cheese, also evenly. Hold back about a little of the cheese to sprinkle over the top of the quiche. Pour over the egg mix carefully – you don’t want to splash it in as it will disperse your leeks and cheese making some areas a little sparse on the tasty filling.
Lay the sliced tomatoes carefully over the top and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese.
Cover the quiche with tin foil and put it back in the oven to back for about 45 minutes or until it is almost set.
Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes to brown the top and completely set the filling.
Tips and Variations
If you want to avoid the pastry shrinking, once you have lined the tin, place it in the fridge for about half an hour. As I go for a rustic look with this quiche I don’t bother with this step.
You can use this method with almost any sort of vegetables. Some need a bit of cooking, others for example spinach (works really well with goats’ cheese) you can just add raw. It’s a great way to use up leftover vegetables.
When cooking or sweating down the leeks, try not to get too much colour on them, ie. don’t turn them brown. It doesn’t matter that much if you do, but it is nice to keep the pale green colour.
I’m a bit of a pie fiend. If left to my own devices I’d eat them any chance I get, so I have to exercise self discipline when it comes to lots of flavour wrapped in a buttery, crispy pastry. Saying that, spanakopita isn’t a total calorie bomb. Filo is lighter, and we don’t use so much of it here, not that I’m trying to justify my greed, oh no, I’ waaay past that. Just hoping you’ll give this one a go.
Preparation Time: 40 minutes Cooking Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Roasting Tin Measurements: 34cm / 13in. x 20cm / 8in.
Serves 4 to 6 For the Pumpkin 1kg / 2.2lb of pumpkin flesh chopped into cubes of about 2cm/ 1in.
2 x tbsp of olive oil
A good pinch of salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
For the Spinach 250gr / 0.5 lb of chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water drained off.
2 x eggs, lightly beaten
6 x spring onions (scallions), chopped finely
3 x garlic cloves, chopped finely
150gr / 5.3 oz. feta
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Pastry About 4 x sheets of filo pastry. I buy frozen and let it defrost, but try to keep it chilled and work quickly because it gets quite fiddly to work with if warm. The sheets of pastry I buy are about 34cm / 13in. x 45 cm 17.5in.
About 50ml / 1.7 fl. oz. olive oil
50gr / 1.7 oz. grated pecorino cheese
Place the pumpkin in a roasting tray, drizzle over the oil, sprinkle over the salt and pepper, mix through to cover with your hands and roast it for 20 to 25 minutes at 200°C (pre-heated oven) or until it has softened, still retains its shape and has taken on some colour.
Whilst you are waiting on the pumpkin roasting, you can get on with the rest of the filling. Mix the spinach, eggs, feta, spring onions (scallions), garlic, nutmeg and salt and pepper together in a large mixing bowl.
When the pumpkin is ready, remove it from the oven, but leave the oven on. Mix the pumpkin through the spinach mixture and taste to check for seasoning.
Brush an oven proof dish lightly with olive oil and lay in a couple of your sheets of filo. You want it to come up the sides of the tray and if it is larger than that, just let it flop over the outside for now.
Spoon in the pumpkin filling and cover with any excess filo. Then lay over your other sheets of filo, brushing each layer with a little olive oil.
Sprinkle over the pecorino cheese and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the filo is golden brown and crispy and the pecorino cheese has melted.
Tips and Variations
Don’t worry if your filo isn’t all neat, just scrunch it and lay it casually. If it’s too tidy you won’t get all those crispy edges.
Normally, spanakopita is made with only spinach, but pumpkin makes a nice seasonal addition as well as giving a more hearty result.
You can eat this pie hot or cold, works great as a leftover with some simple green salad.
Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon : Quick and Easy, Great for Brunch or Lunch.
Eating out is my favourite thing. My second favourite thing is eating in. This is kind of how this recipe for Asian Coleslaw with Baked Salmon Came about. I was having lunch a couple of weeks ago in Riva, Amsterdam (I’m so lucky that they are like literally 100 paces from my front door), and my meal was distracting me from the company. It was one of those perfect food moments, you know when what you are eating is exactly what you needed at that time. Anyway, I just knew that I had to re-create this at home, but it wasn’t a standard ingredient combination. With every mouthful I tried to dissect the flavours down to ingredient and proportion of ingredient. It didn’t work there and then. Took me a couple of days of daydreaming about the taste to deconstruct and reconstruct it. This is the result, I think I hit the spot.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: About 10 minutes to bake the salmon
Ingredients for 4 Servings
For the Salmon 4 x salmon filets of about 150gr / 5 oz. each
Juice of one lemon
1 x tbsp of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the Coleslaw 6 to 8 leaves of Chinese lettuce leaf, shredded
200gr / 7 oz. sweet corn
200gr / 7 oz. beansprouts
1 x courgette (zucchini), shredded or cut julienne
200gr / 7 oz. grated carrot For the Dressing 2 x tbsp good quality mayonnaise (or 2 x tbsp mayonnaise and 2 x tbsp natural yogurt – this will give a sharper result)
4 x tbsp Japanese Mirin
3 x tsp wasabi paste (more if you want more of a kick)
Juice of one lime (About 2 x tbsps.)
4 x tbsp finely chopped chives To Finish An avocado, sliced and served on the side.
A tbsp per person of wakame (Japanese Seaweed Salad)
2 x limes quartered.
Method To Bake the Salmon
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Place aluminium foil in a roasting tray. Use enough foil so that you can wrap the fish in it loosely. Place the fish on the foil. Drizzle over the oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the salt and the pepper.
Cover your fish with the foil, making a loose parcel.
Place the tray in the oven and allow to bake for 7 to 12 minutes. The cooking time will not only depend on your oven, but also on how thick the salmon filets are. You can bake the salmon in advance as it should be served at room temperature.
To Make the Coleslaw and Dressing
Mix the dressing ingredients, except for the chives, together in a bowl. I find the best way to do this is with a metal whisk. Then stir in the chives. Check for flavouring and adjust if you wish. Set aside.
Place the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
When you are ready to serve pour over the dressing and toss through until evenly mixed.
Serve with the salmon on the top of your salad and the spoonful of wakame on top of the salmon and a few slices of avocado and a wedge of lime on the side.
Tips and Variations
I often use a mandolin to slice the courgette (zucchini), and carrot, but you can also use a vegetable peeler or just slice with a knife into long matchsticks – if you have the patience.
You can make wakame yourself, but I buy it ready made.
Remember, if you are using the avocado, open it at the last minute or it will become brown.
I have a tendency to get slightly obsessive about stuff. All kinds of trivial things can consume my attention. That goes for food too of course, eating and in this case developing recipes. This burger recipe was the combination of two food obsessions. Firstly I got a bit caught up with beetroots and their health benefits, then burgers. Every cook seems to have a huge collection of burger recipes at their disposal, I thought I was lagging behind, so… I went for it. Although, think I may have gone just a bit too far with this burger recipe – what do you think?
Ingredients for 6 Burgers 400gr / 3.5 oz. beef mince (ground beef)
300gr / 10.5 oz. grated beetroot. Not the pickled kind! You can either cook the beetroot yourself or you can buy it ready to go, vacuum packed. I tend to go for the ready to use version for this recipe.
50gr / 1.7 oz. porridge oats
1 x tsp sumak powder (from middle eastern deli’s or good supermarkets)
2 x tsp dried mint
2 x tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp salt
3 x spring onions (scallions) chopped finely
1 x red chili chopped finely
A handful of each, flat parsley and fresh mint chopped finely
65gr / 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2 x tbsp olive oil
To Serve Some salad leaves, I like rucola (rocket) or Kos, on a crispy burger bun (try toasting lightly first)
A little tangy chutney or relish works really well. I also like yogurt based dressings, or just simply some natural yogurt with a little mint.
Mix all the burger ingredients, except for the olive oil together in a bowl with your hands. Make sure everything is evenly incorporated.
Split into 6 equal pieces and roll into balls in your hands then flatten into patties of about 1.5 cm / 0.6in. thick.
Lay your burgers on a plate and place them in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan to fry off the burgers, and cook them evenly on both sides. They will need about 5 minutes on each side.
Tips and Variations
These burgers cook great on the barbeque, in a frying or grill pan.
Use this mix to make little balls and serve with a yogurt dip with drinks.
For a vegetarian version, try swapping the beef for mashed up chickpeas or cannellini beans. You may need to add an egg to this version to get the mix to come together so that you can form the patties.