Pea and Mint Houmous

So it’s been a while. In fact it has been a lengthy 20 days since I last updated my blog. The neglect has been preying on my mind. The truth is that I’ve been away in places where life revolved around food, yet I was nowhere near a kitchen. Sad, yet happy times.

But I’m back and I bring you this. Pea and mint houmous. Continue reading

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Tzatziki

Does this magical dip really need an introduction? Well..if you insist.

Tzatziki is a staple in any Greek or Cypriot diet. It’s eaten with everything. On meat, on keftedes, on gyros, on bread, on a spoon. Everything. It is magical. Continue reading

Tomato and Feta Keftedes

These keftedes take me right back to long summer evenings in Cyprus, spent sharing conversation and mezedes with my friend Rosalie at Pantopoleio.

Keftedes are perfect for sharing and great dipped in tzatziki… nom. I’d make these everyday if I had unlimited supplies of tomato and feta.

These can be served either hot or cold – completely moreish either way. Continue reading

Arancini di Riso

Ho deciso che era tempo che avrei dovuto scrivere una ricetta in Italiano (ho bisogno di praticare!). Così ho pensato che non esiste una ricetta meglio di arancini di riso. Dico questo perché è un piatto veramente Italiano. Originariamente della cucina Sicilia, sono anche serviti in tutta Italia, insieme con variazioni regionali come il ‘supplì al telefono’ da Roma, e le palline di riso da Napoli. Continue reading

Seafood Meze with Garlic Lemon Dressing

Seafood Meze with Garlic Lemon Dressing

A few weeks back my cousin Nat and I had dinner at this awesome restaurant which serves up Beirut style street food. We ate a ton of food, literally ridiculous amounts – but it reminded us that we’d be back in sunny Cyprus come September, and we’d be chowing down on such delectables on a daily basis.

One of the meze dishes we picked out was a mixture of deep fried squid and prawns, served with a tzatziki dipping sauce. It was so immensely good, words can’t even describe.

However, I’m not one to eat fried food on a regular basis, so I came up with a twist on the dish, which is equally as sexual on the mouth, but a little healthier.


Ingredients:

  • 8 large squid, cleaned
  • 500g uncooked prawns, shelled and de-veined
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 lemons
  • 300g loose natural yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • Handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

Firstly prepare your squid. Separate the mantle of the squid from all the tentacles. Chop half of them into rings and leave half of them whole. Lightly score the whole mantle’s in a criss cross pattern, then place all the squid in a large bowl along with the prawns and the cherry tomatoes.

For the marinade, throw into the bowl a good glug of olive oil then the cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, the juice of half a lemon and the chopped parsley. Mix well with your hands then cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before cooking.

Meanwhile make the dressing. To your yoghurt add the juice of the left over lemons (1 ½), the minced garlic and a generous amount of seasoning. Mix well, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove your marinated seafood from the fridge around 30 minutes before cooking to bring up to room temperature. In a large flat pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium to high heat. Once very hot add the squid, prawns and tomatoes making sure not to add all of the juices they have been marinating in. The squid will only take a couple of minutes or so to cook so keep an eye on the pan. You’ll know when it’s ready to take off the heat once the prawns have cooked through entirely and have turned pink.

Remove from the pan, drizzle with the garlic lemon dressing, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 6.

Rustic Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Rustic Kalamata Olive Tapenade

The weather here is temperamental and annoying. We get sunshine for a microsecond before it takes off and visits one of our clearly favoured neighouring countries (damn you, rest of Europe!). The only thing that will get me through this erratic season is eating food that I relate to real summer. It is the only viable solution to my woes.

This method of survival totally involves olive tapenade. Spread it on literally anything, and believe you’re in the South of France catching some rays.

Keep it rustic and chunky or pulse it to a fine paste. Stuff it in fish, spread it on chicken, slather it on bread, crackers, mini toasts, use it in canapés, eat it on a spoon.

Ingredients:

  • 100g pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • 3 anchovies, roughly chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Ground black pepper

Method:

Add the olives, capers, garlic and anchovies to a food processor and pulse until the ingredients have reached desired consistency and texture. Add the olive oil and pulse again until incorporated. Remove from the food processor and transfer to a bowl, then add the lemon juice and pepper to taste.

Makes around 150g/ 1 jar of tapenade. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Roasted Red Pepper Houmous with Moroccan Flatbreads

Roasted Red Pepper Houmous with Moroccan Flatbreads

I’ve got a double whammy for you guys!

So the other day I was casually relaxing at home and realised, as you do, that I had a massive red pepper in the fridge. Imagine 2 medium to large sized red peppers merged into one. I’m talking beast-like quality.

So, what do I do with a giant red pepper and a store cupboard containing tahini and chickpeas? I make houmous, that’s what I do. You should make houmous too. It’s good for the environment.

Roasting the ingredients is pretty much the best idea ever, the garlic tastes amazing, the chickpeas taste amazing, the pepper tastes amazing. Need I go on? Thought not.

And because I’m just feeling so full of love today, here’s a simple, scrummy Moroccan inspired flatbread recipe. It goes really well with the houmous, I know this because…I ate the majority.

Roasted Red Pepper Houmous

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red pepper (or 2 medium), kept whole
  • 300g pre-cooked chickpeas
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, kept whole
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Paprika, to garnish

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°c

In a roasting dish, bake the chickpeas, garlic and red pepper for 30 minutes. Once cooled slightly, peel the skin off the pepper and roughly chop, discarding the seeds inside. Set aside a few chickpeas for garnish, then throw the rest into a blender along with the pepper and garlic then purée for around 30 seconds until thick and creamy.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper, blend again.

Add half of the tahini and half of the lemon juice, blend, then repeat. The final result should be a thick and creamy consistency. If you find the mixture is a little thick, or you’d prefer it lighter, just add a bit of water, a tablespoon as a time and mix in.

Garnish with paprika, scattered chickpeas and a drizzle of olive oil.

Get your houmous on!

Makes a big tub of the good stuff.

Moroccan Flatbreads

Ingredients:

  • 300g all-purpose flour
  • 1 sachet fast-action yeast (7g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 175ml warm water
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pepper
  • Sesame seeds
  • Milk, for brushing

Method:

In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and spices and mix well. Then, slowly pour in the water, bringing it together first with a spoon, then with your hands.

Once dough has formed, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film then leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour. By a radiator perhaps.

Preheat the oven to 220°c

After the dough has proved, split it into two balls then roughly roll each out flat, about half an inch thick.

Transfer each piece of dough onto a prepared baking sheet, press in dents with your fingers and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Brush with milk, cover and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a golden brown, brushing with milk every 5 minutes or so.

Dip that in your houmous and eat it.

Makes two flatbread loaves.

Chilli, Carrot and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Yoghurt Dip

Chilli, Carrot and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Yoghurt Dip

Completely moreish with a chilli kick. What more could one want? Pretty simple to make and perfect for any occassion – even breakfast.

I pretty much ate all of these, and I’m not even sorry.

Ingredients:

For the fritters:

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 200g tinned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Sprig of fresh mint and of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½  teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt, pepper
  • Vegetable oil (for shallow frying)

For the chilli yoghurt:

  • Thick plain yoghurt, Greek or Lebanese style
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli paste

Method:

In a saucepan bring water to the boil and add the carrots and cook for around 15 minutes until tender. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat some vegetable oil on a medium heat in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and chilli – gently sweat for around 5 minutes. Next add the spices, a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and the tomato paste, mixing well until you are left with a thick paste. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the carrots and chickpeas are cooked and tender, drain well then transfer to a large bowl. Crush the carrots and chickpeas with a potato masher until combined but don’t worry about there being little bits of chickpeas left in halves or whole. Add to the bowl the spice paste made earlier along with the fresh mint and parsley. Using your hands mix well until all the ingredients are combined.

Wet your hands slightly and roll the mixture out into small balls. Shallow fry in vegetable oil for around 3-5 minutes or until slightly crispy on the outside, drain on kitchen paper.

For the chilli yoghurt:

Combine the chopped chilli and chilli paste with the yoghurt and voilà!

Then…nom nom nom…

Makes 12-14 fritters

Houmous

Houmous

Houmous for me is an extremely personal thing. Everyone has their own style of houmous, whether it be thick and chunky, smooth and whipped or with/without garlic.

The first houmous I remember trying was in Cyprus where my father is from. I have no recollection of what exact age I was when the holy dip was first introduced into my diet, but let’s just say I don’t remember life without it – and I have a scarily excellent memory. Houmous in Cyprus always had a lot more tahini in it than most, which effected the consistency making it smoother and thinner. When I taste that houmous I know I’m home!

However, although that little trip down memory lane was lovely, my houmous is not that houmous at all. I prefer a balance of ingredients and flavours, a thick yet smooth consistency with an indulgent garnishing of chickpeas, smoked paprika and of course my beloved – olive oil.

Grab some khoubiz people, it’s houmous time.

Note: Unlike my other recipes I shall be displaying units of measurement in cups. This is purely because whenever I make houmous I whack out my measuring cups and forget about those uptight, precise scales.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups precooked chickpeas, plus a handful reserved for garnish (I recommend jarred instead of tinned)
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ½ – ¾ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with some salt
  • Salt and pepper (unorthodox – I know)
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika
  • Water

Method:

Drain and rinse chickpeas then purée in a blender. Add to the chickpeas around 3 tablespoons of olive oil, crushed garlic, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and blend.

Add half the tahini and half the lemon juice and blend, add the rest then blend again. Transfer the houmous to a bowl to finish the job by hand.

Taste the houmous, add more olive oil, lemon juice, tahini or salt as preferred. To thin the houmous add tiny splashes of cold water until the desired texture is achieved.

Serve by garnishing with the reserved chickpeas, a healthy drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.