red pepper shakshuka


to blog or not to blog? that is the question which has been buzzing around in my head for months. since moving to frankfurt just over two years ago, my blogging has been intermittent at best and stalled at worst. 2016 has been spectacularly bad but i so want to keep blogging so here i am.

given i’m starting again, let’s start with a breakfast option - shakshuka. to be fair though, this tomato and egg dish is equally delicious for lunch or supper.

this is a dish that can be adapted endlessly and which can be found in many cuisines - mexican huevos rancheros, greek avga me domates, italian uova al pomodoro, middle eastern jazmaz, or turkish menemen.  at its simplest, it is eggs in a lightly spiced tomato sauce (this moro recipe is a good version) but after you have made it a few times you’ll quickly get a sense of how to adapt it to the ingredients you have to hand. 

i was intrigued by this recipe from london restaurant the palomar (which i loved when i visited it earlier this year) in which red peppers have a starring role. 6 red peppers –3 bell peppers and 3 romano peppers – for a dish that served four.

i was a little nervous as i’m not a big fan of sauces made just from red peppers but here the flavours added by the tomatoes and spices balance things fantastically well. i made the sauce the evening before which meant this was a relatively quick breakfast option on a lazy sunday.

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yemeni oxtail soup

happy new year and welcome to 2016! life in frankfurt is very grey at the moment – i have neither blue skies nor fresh white snow to distract me, so i am looking to add sunshine and magic into my cooking instead.

i’ve been waiting to make this ottolenghi oxtail recipe for absolutely ages – the combination of rich and meltingly tender oxtail combined with the fresh fiery flavour of zhoug (a spiced coriander paste) seemed too good to miss – but we haven’t had the cold weather that i think it deserves.

never mind, i decided to ignore that and i think you should too, as it really is delicious and deserves to be made just so you can enjoy its exotic flavours.

inevitably it’s a dish that takes time – the oxtail bubbles away for a couple of hours so that it becomes tender. herbs are then added – parsley, bay and coriander – to add depth to the stock. the spice mix (cumin, coriander, a little turmeric and wonderful fragrant cardamom) and vegetables come next. at this point i paused and let everything cool overnight, so i could skim off the little bits of fat that solidified at the top of the broth and let the flavours meld.

reheated with a spritz of lemon to freshen everything up, this was served with the fiery green zhoug on top. i’m chasing a cold away, so added a bit of chilli sauce as well. the suggestion of having it with plenty of crusty white bread (and butter) was also perfect.

i particularly love the lightness that the cardamom adds to this. i also like that the soup itself is quite mildly flavoured so can probably be enjoyed by everyone; it’s the addition of the yemeni zhoug that packs the punch.

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merry christmas

seasons greetings, with this wonderful tree we had when we stayed in boa vista last christmas. 

it's been an odd blogging year for me - i don't feel as though i ever really got into the swing of things, but am hoping to do better in 2016, not least as a prompt to try and share new recipes. i hope you keep reading and commenting, to encourage me. enjoy the holidays and i'll be back in the new year.


harissa chickpeas with feta, on toast

this has been my favourite lunch in recent weeks – a slice of buttery toast topped with a spicy chickpea salad, feta and a creamy herb dressing. it’s based on a fernandez & wells recipe i tore out of a magazine and is a nice homemade alternative to “beans on toast”, not least as it is so easy to assemble.

the chickpeas are dressed with harissa, lemon and garlic then mixed with thinly sliced red onion; the dressing is a mix of yoghurt, mint and coriander. the result, when cherry tomatoes and feta is added, is a healthy flavour-packed dish that is a nice alternative to more traditional winter flavours, particularly on those days when you yearn for blue skies and a hint of spring.

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broad bean, yogurt & mint soup

this is not the sort of recipe i’d normally be sharing in the middle of autumn but because i made it with frozen broad beans it’s the sort of thing you can make all year round.

the reason for making it was a bag of frozen broad beans which had been double-podded (the inner white skin round each bean was also removed, leaving behind the bright green bean) and were originally intended for this ottolenghi meatballs with broad beans and lemon recipe. however, once the beans had been defrosted i realised that they were soft and mushy and really not a very nice texture. however they still tasted good, so soup was the obvious option.

this is a very simple recipe, but a clever one in that as it relies on a handful of rice being added to the soup to add a bit of bulk and create a silky texture, rather than potato which would have diluted the bean flavour. mint and yoghurt are obvious flavours to pair with broad beans; i added some lemon zest as well, something else that combines well with the rest of the soup ingredients.

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