Za’atar Scones & Spring Onion Soup

As a British person, scones are very close to my heart but basically being just a mixture of butter and flour, I don’t eat them as often as I would like. I tend to eat scones as a sweet treat with jam and clotted cream (always jam first! – everyone has an opinion on this in the U.K – it’s a great conversation point.). If you’re a tourist to England and you’d like to try the best scones, you need to go to the teahouse at the Jane Austen museum in the beautiful city of Bath. I saw these savoury scones in the book ‘Palestine on a Plate’ and decided to serve them with Ottolenghi’s spring onion soup. I managed to slice my thumb open in the process of chopping up the immense quantity of 900g spring onions but fortunately it was just as I’d pretty much finished so I’m happy that this soup turned out well considering that I can no longer practice the guitar.

Serves 4 (with 8 scones)

Ingredients

Scones

  • 340g plain flour (plus one handful) and extra for dusting
  • salt
  • 3/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 125g butter
  • 240ml milk
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 egg

Soup

  • 900g spring onions (or salad onions if possible)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 300g peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 80g parsley
  • 40g crème fraiche
  • 20g parmesan
  • 20g mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a bowl. (I found that the flour in the recipe was not enough so ended up adding one more handful at the end)

3.) Chop up the butter into cubes

4.) Rub the butter into the flour but like breadcrumbs as if you were doing a crumble, so you can still see bits of butter

5.) Measure out the milk and add the vinegar (this is my sub for buttermilk), Stir very briefly to combine.

6.) Flour a work surface, tip out the mixture, flour your hands and push it together. Try to work the dough as little as possible.

7.) Sprinkle the za’atar over the dough.

8.) Line a baking tray, cut up the dough into 8 pieces and place on top. You could make these a bit prettier by using a cutter but you’ll just be left with the edges that you’ll need to mix together again at the end and I would rather have light, fluffy scones that look a mess.

9.) Crack the egg into a bowl and beat. Brush the scones with the egg.

10.) Bake for 18 minutes until golden.

11.) For the soup, peel and chop up the garlic. Chop up the white parts of the spring onion.

12.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the whites of the spring onions and the garlic. Add some pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.

13.) In the meantime, slice up the green parts of the onion and chop up the courgette. Make up the litre of stock.

14.) Add the bay leaves and the green parts of the onion to the pan and cook for 10 more minutes.

15.) Add the peas and courgette and cook for another 5 minutes.

16.) Take out half the veggies from the saucepan and put to one side. Adding them back later will give the soup a nice texture.

17.) Chop up the mint and set to one side.

19.) Cover the vegetables with stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

20.) Grate the parmesan and measure out the crème fraiche. Zest the lemon.

21.) When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf, add the parsley and blitz with an immersion blender.

21.) Add back the set aside vegetables, warm up, then stir in the crème fraiche and parmesan

22.) Serve and garnish with lemon zest and mint leaves.

Saag Paneer

You may have noticed a bit of a gap on the blog, I was a little behind on posting but with this recipe I will be caught up to at least before I came back from holiday (4 days ago) – woo! I took this saag paneer recipe from Bosh – ‘Healthy Vegan’ and brutalised it into being vegetarian again. The vegan version uses tofu with nutritional yeast and miso which does sound interesting and probably would have been better than the paneer I bought from Sainsburys which turned out to be the feta textured kind which doesn’t fry properly (the halloumi textured kind that M&S sell is much better).

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 250 paneer
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 onion
  • 5cm ginger
  • 2 tomatoes (actually I forgot to buy these or Sainsburys forgot to deliver so I switched with some asparagus – very Indian I know!)
  • 500g spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 rotis

Method

1.) Chop the paneer into cubes

2.) Prepare a plate with 2 pieces of kitchen roll on it

3.) Melt 1tbsp of the ghee in a frying pan, add the paneer and fry until golden brown, turning around to catch all the sides.

4.) Remove the paneer from the pan and place on top of the kitchen roll. Press down with another piece of kitchen roll to remove the excess oil.

5.) Peel and dice the onion, ginger and garlic. Dice the tomatoes.

6.) Melt the other tbsp ghee in the pan, add the cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the garam masala, turmeric and chilli and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook down for 4 minutes.

7.) Add the spinach and leave it to wilt for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and add the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

8.) Stir through the paneer and serve with a roti.

Yemeni Pancakes

Searching for jobs at the moment and noticed an old company that I worked for offering an Accountant role. I wonder if they’re still paying 10p an hour (ok slight exaggeration) but certainly being reminded of your old company gives you a happiness boost. Thinking about how the grass is greener now was mentioned as one of the strategies of being happy on the course ‘The Science of Wellbeing’ from Yale which is free on the Coursera website. If you have some free time, I really recommend it. Speaking of things that make me happy, these Yemeni pancakes were a revelation. Excluding the recipes containing ants and larvae in my complete Thai cookbook, it’s rare to come across a unique recipe to all my cookbooks (from Jamie Oliver ‘Veg’). A yeasted dough is made then fried as a pancake, eggs are cracked over the top, then the pancake is folded over. I’m not sure how authentic the eggs part is – Jamie has named the recipe ‘Yemeni-style’ pancakes but this could just be after the chorizo in paella debacle (which I’m completely on his side about). On the side is served aubergine dip and a salsa.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 7g fast active yeast
  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 4 sprigs coriander
  • 30g parsley
  • 2 green chillis
  • oil
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 8 eggs ( I doubled the eggs as I was hungry after the gym)

Method

1.) Measure out 500ml of tepid water i.e. doesn’t feel hot or cold and add the yeast. Leave to sit for 10 minutes

2.) Add the flour, whisk and set aside for another 20 minutes

3.) While this is going, heat the aubergines in turn directly over a flame, blackening the skin all over, leave to be cool enough to handle

4.) Peel and finely chop the garlic, chop the lemons in half and remove the seeds, dice up the chillis, finely chop the parsley and coriander.

5.) Chop up the tomatoes and place in a bowl, add in a tbsp olive oil, squeeze in the juice of 1 of the lemons. Season with salt and pepper.

6.) Peel the skin from the aubergine, place onto a plate, squeeze over some lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and coriander. Spoon over the yoghurt and tahini.

7.) Now, time to make the pancakes. heat some oil in a frying pan and add a ladle of batter, tilt the pan so it’s covered. Once the edges start to come away from the pan, crack two eggs into the centre then break up with a fork to spread over the surface of the pancake. Sprinkle with some parsley. Fold over the pancake. Flip over until each side is golden. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

8.) Serve with the salsa and aubergine dip.

Avgolemono soup

I first came across this avgolemono soup on the beautiful food blog ‘Adventures in Cooking’. It’s often seen as a Greek recipe (though may have Jewish roots) and the author of this blog has Greek heritage. I first tried that recipe a number of years ago when I still ate meat. It had shredded roasted chicken and chicken stock so it was a bit of an ask to convert it into a vegetarian recipe but I had to try as I really love it and fortunately the result was a success. Whisking the egg white up then slowly incorporating it back into the hot soup is a genius idea which really makes a lovely creamy textured soup. The recipe works pretty well with orzo or rice noodles that I have used. With the kick of lemon, it’s a perfect dinner for when you have a cold.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • Plant pioneers chicken style pieces (300g)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 rice noodle nests
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp Massel ‘chicken flavoured’ stock

Method

1.) Strip the thyme leaves from the thyme sprigs

2.) Pan fry the chicken pieces until cooked with the oregano.

3.) Slice thinly and set to one side

4.) Peel and dice the onion, chop up the courgette

5.) Pan fry the onion and courgette until soft then set to one side

6.) Make up the stock with 8 cups of boiling water

7.) Add the stock to a large pan and add the rice noodles

8.) Let this simmer for 5 minutes and take off the heat.

9.) Separate the eggs into two separate bowls

10.) Juice the lemons into another bowl

11.) Whisk up the egg whites until beginning to froth. Add in the egg yolks and lemons and whisk together.

12.) Add ladlefuls of the stock to the egg, whisking between each spoon.

13.) Carry on until half the stock is whisked into the egg.

14.) Then, add ladlefuls of the egg mixture back into the soup and whisk between each until it’s all incorporated.

15.) Put back onto the heat and simmer until the noodles are cooked

16.) Add the chicken pieces, courgette and onion back into the soup, season, stir and serve.

Tom YUM Goong

Tom Yum derives from the Thai word for the boiling process ‘Tom’ and ‘Yam’ – mixed. Everyone loves a Thai rice noodle dish and this one is fairly quick to put together once you’ve sorted out the curry paste which could be done in advance and even frozen. I have a Kenwood mixer plus spice blender attachment but I had to split the ingredients into smaller portions to get them to blend properly. Once you’re done you have a vibrant green paste which is very appetising. Don’t be tempted to add any more shrimp paste than stated in the recipe, the smallest amount of that overpowers everything. This was supposed to be a soup but for me ended up more like a noodle in sauce dish which was just as tasty. This was another recipe from ‘Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite’.

Ingredients

Serves 4

Curry paste

  • 3 shallots
  • 3 lemon grass sticks / 1tbsp paste
  • 4cm piece galangal/ginger 1 1/2 tsp paste
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (I used dried but use fresh if you can get them)
  • 3 chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 20g coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp lemongrass paste/1 stick
  • 1 cm ginger/ 1/2 tsp paste
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves
  • 350g plum tomatoes
  • 400ml stock (Massel chicken flavour or vegetarian)
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 12 raw tiger prawns
  • 3 fillets white fish
  • salt
  • 10g basil
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • crispy shallots
  • rice noodles for 4 people

Method

1.) Make the curry paste by peeling and chopping the ingredients and crushing down into a smooth paste.

2.) Peel and finely chop the other lemongrass, ginger and garlic

3.) Heat the oil in the pan and add the ginger, lemongrass and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes then add the paste. Cook for another 3 minutes.

4.) In the meantime, chop up the plum tomatoes. Add them to the pan and cook down for 3 minutes.

5.) Make up the stock, chop the lime in half.

6.) Boil some water, add the noodles to another pan, pour over the water and cook until soft.

7.) Add the stock to the tomatoes then squeeze in the juice of each lime half. Add the fish sauce and the kaffir lime leaves. Cook for another few minutes to let the tomatoes break down.

8.) Chop up the white fish into cubes and add to the pan with the prawns. Cook until the fish is done.

9.) Dice the herbs finely. Drain the noodles and move into the pan with the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Season with salt and stir.

10.) Garnish with the shallots and the herbs and serve.

Squid ink Spaghetti with mussels

I’m always tempted by the black squid ink spaghetti you can always find in the deli section of TK Maxx but have resisted until now. To use it I adapted a recipe from Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite by Gizzi Erskine. Gizzi is a well-known chef in the UK who used to do this great TV series where they took people’s favourite take-away dishes and made them healthier and easy to make at home. Her recipe here uses clams and N’Duja. Clams are a pain to find except at the fishmonger so I got mussels instead. N’juda is a spicy sausage so I replaced this with chorizo shroomdogs. These are stuffed with paprika and are perfect for any recipe where chorizo is used to flavour the meal. As I learnt this weekend, there are many rules when it comes to using mussels, discard any broken mussels, any mussels that are open that don’t close with gentle pressure, and any mussels that haven’t opened after cooking.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400g squid ink spaghetti
  • 1kg mussels
  • tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 chorizo shroomdog sausages (or vegetarian sausages + paprika)
  • 300ml wine white
  • 1 lemon
  • bunch parsley
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Prepare the mussels, wash off any sand, discard any with broken shells or that won’t close after a tap.

2.) Boil some water, place the spaghetti in a pan and pour over the water, cook until soft.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic, slice the lemon in half, cut the sausages into slices. Dice up the parsley.

4.) In a frying pan, heat up the oil then add the garlic and chilli and fry gently for a minute.

5.) Add the sausages and fry until cooked.

6.) Add the wine and reduce to half.

7.) Add the mussels and cook for 2-3 minutes until they open.

8.) Drain the spaghetti, retaining one tbsp of water. Tip the spaghetti into the frying pan and stir.

9.) Garnish with parsley.