Entries in red pepper (9)


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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chipotle chicken with chorizo rice and lime yoghurt

this meal was inspired by a recipe in my new diana henry book a bird in the hand, every uses chicken in every recipe. as is the case with so many diana henry recipes, this is a dish with bold flavours used in exciting ways – the chicken is marinated with spicy chipotle paste and lime juice; the brown rice has sweetness from roasted tomatoes, chorizo and slow-cooked red peppers and spring onions; the avocado and yoghurt flecked with lime zest add freshness.

while this is based on diana henry’s recipe, it is also quite different - i left my chicken on the bone and roasted it rather than frying, which meant that i could just add my halved tomatoes to the roasting dish and allow them to pick up the chicken-chipotle flavours, rather than basting them with a separate harissa and balsamic dressing - having said that, it is a great way to cook tomatoes and boost their flavour; i’ve been using this technique (which was in an earlier book of hers) for many years now and still love their flavour and versatility.

nor did i use the quinoa suggested in the recipe, preferring brown rice; the slow-cooked red pepper and spring onions were also variations on the original, which used spinach and left the spring onions raw. greek yoghurt instead of crème fraiche was the final change, but a much more inconsequential one.

despite all of this, the deliciousness of the meals was very much a testament to the original recipe and i’m looking forward to exploring the book further.

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tunisian chicken

this dish reminded me of the spicy chickpeas with ginger that i made recently – they both have a rich tomato and red pepper sauce which packs a real flavour punch. the chickpea version uses fresh ginger to great effect, with underlying flavours of garlic, cumin and coriander; this version uses cinnamon and cloves to add a rich spiciness plus pomegranate molasses which emphasises the rich fruity tomato flavours.

the recipe is based on this tunisian chicken recipe - i kept most of the ingredients as listed but adjusted the proportions to suit my taste (more tomatoes, red pepper added, extra spice, more pomegranate molasses and some fresh mint in addition to the coriander) and simplified the method. the result was great and this is a dish i’ll definitely make again.

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roasted vegetable pithivier

a pithivier is a very easy pie to make – a disc of puff pastry laid on a tray then topped with your cooked filling, a larger disc of pastry placed on top, the edges sealed and all brushed with egg or milk for a shiny finish, before being cooked in the oven for around half an hour, so the pastry can cook through and the filling heat up.

i was inspired to make this by a recipe for a version filled with roasted apple and shallots with blue cheese. i needed to use up some vegetables that were looking a little sorry for themselves – a few courgettes and a red pepper – so decided on a roasted vegetable and cheese version. i added a sweet potato to provide a softer more comforting texture (squash would also have been nice), some red onion plus chilli and garlic. grated cheese (including some ricotta), fresh thyme and seasoning were the next additions. the mix looked a little dry so i added half a tin of chopped tomatoes and that was it.

half an hour at 180c and the pie was ready. it looks a bit messy as i was stretching my pastry (a 270g pack of butter puff pastry) a little further than i should have so the base crumbled as i lifted it from the tray. no matter, it tasted lovely with a rocket and beetroot salad on the side. best of all, half the pie was leftover and will be my lunch over the next few days.

i have a fancy for making a sweet version some time soon – dusting the top with a little sugar for crunch – perhaps with flavours similar to this plum and almond galette, which is a similarly rough and ready tart.


chorizo, feta and tomato salad

the weather in london has been very spring-like recently and i’ve really been wanting to make the most of this with my cooking. having said that, this salad was also a bit of an effort is using up various things which had been lurking in the fridge or freezer for a bit longer than i’d have liked.

i sliced a couple of chorizo sausages (the raw, cooking ones) and fried them in a little oil until they started to release their own oils. i then added  some fennel seeds, sliced red onion and red pepper and let these cook until the vegetables were soft and had begun to caramelise, so they added a lovely sweetness to the salad.

salt (not too much as the feta will be salty), pepper, a generous glug of balsamic vinegar and a tin of cannellini beans were the next additions and once everything had warmed through i added some halved cherry tomatoes which i let cook for just a few minutes as i wanted to keep their fresh, raw flavour (unlike a lot of tomatoes at this time of year, they were really flavoursome).

if i’d had any parsley or basil, i’d have added this now, just before serving in a large bowl, scattered with crumbled feta cheese and some fresh crusty bread – the first meal of 2014 that i’ve eaten in the garden.