Halloumi Fajitas

I’m a bit behind on my posting recently having been a bit preoccupied with my new job and the unexplainable fatigue that you get in your first weeks doing almost no work. The pictures for this were hidden behind pictures of the stuff we stole from other countries in the British museum, the original Twinings tea shop, and the old disused Strand tube stop. I don’t often make fajitas but I don’t know why as it’s super easy. The recipe on BBC Good Food had two blocks of halloumi but I decided to sub one of them for some plant pioneers chicken pieces just because I really like them and to mix up the textures a bit.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 225g block halloumi
  • 300g plant pioneers ‘chicken’ pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 mixed peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 lime
  • 8 tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • small bunch corriander
  • sour cream (to serve)

Method

1.) Chop the halloumi into slices. Place some kitchen roll on a plate. Enough to fold over. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and add the halloumi. Softly fry until it starts to brown, turn over and brown the other side. Remove to the plate and dab with the top of the kitchen roll.

2.) Fry the plant pioneers pieces in the pan until defrosted then remove to a plate.

3.) Peel and slice the onion, take the middle out of the peppers with the seeds and slice up the rest. Peel and finely dice the garlic.

4.) Heat up the rest of the oil in the frying pan and add the onion and when it’s almost soft, add the peppers. Fry for a couple more minutes then add the coriander leaves, the garlic and the paprika and fry for one more minute.

5.) Slice the lime in half and remove the pips. Add the halloumi and the ‘chicken’ pieces back into the pan. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir until everything is hot. Turn off the pan.

6.) Peel and chop up the avocado.

7.) Warm the tortillas if so desired. Spoon on the fajita mixture and add a dollop of sour cream and some chunks of avocado. Serve.

Tofu Yaki Soba

Here’s another vegan recipe in honour of Cop 26. I had a vegetarian noodle dish just this weekend at the Fawlty Towers Dining experience. Their food wasn’t great but it wasn’t about the food. The actor playing Basil Fawlty was not impressed that I’d chosen the vegetarian option, though I was expecting a comment of the sort. Apologies for those who don’t know of Fawlty Towers but it’s an absolute classic in England the equivalent of Seinfeld. It’s hard to separate the nostalgia from the actuality of the show now but the experience was certainly very fun. It would be interesting to watch similar things belonging to other countries. This recipe here is a vegetable noodle dish too with a punchy Asian dressing and crumbled tofu. I have scaled up the original recipe to make a few more servings than the below.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 140g firm tofu
  • 5cm ginger
  • 1 small chilli
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 spring onions
  • 200g shitake mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 100g noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 100g beansprouts
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Unwrap the tofu and place on some kitchen roll on a plate. Top with more kitchen roll then put something on the top (e.g. a tin of spiced parsnip soup and a jar of capers) to weigh it down and squeeze out the water. Leave for 10 minutes.

2.) In the meantime, slice the spring onions into thin slices and wash the shitake mushrooms. Peel the carrots and use a peeler to peel them into ribbons. Peel the garlic and ginger and finely chop the garlic, grate the ginger. Finely chop the chilli, Slice up the red pepper.

3.) Put the noodles in a small pan, add boiling water, cook until soft.

4.) Dry fry the shitake mushrooms and spring onions in a wok until starting to soften. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.

5.) Add the sesame oil and maple syrup. Crumble up the tofu and add to the pan and let it brown for 2 or 3 minutes.

6.) Stir and add the red pepper, beansprouts, carrot and hoisin sauce and fry for a few minutes until the veggies are starting to soften.

7.) Add the drained noodles to the wok, stir to combine and heat everything up.

8.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chickpea Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is so called as it’s a salad from the city of Nice in France. I don’t believe that this really resembles at all a Niçoise. Ignoring the fact that there is no tuna or hardboiled eggs in it (unsurprising since the recipe is from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’), generally most versions seem to have green beans and new potatoes. Even so, this is a tasty recipe which has elevated the protein packed chickpea to a healthy vegan fish substitute. Maybe what you need if you’ve not managed to distribute all of your Halloween treats. Sadly I didn’t have much of a Halloween this year, it was spoilt by Avanti West Coast rail service who cancelled all trains from London to the North-West after my weekend break to the Big Smoke. The original Candyman will have to wait for another week as I’m determined to see if it’s still as terrifying as it was when I watched it for the first time, at the age of twelve. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself by reading ‘Necropolis: London & it’s Dead’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin (400g chickpeas)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small cornichons (or 4 capers)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig dill
  • handful parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g mixed tomatoes
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 150g podded broad beans (I used frozen edamame beans defrosted in the microwave)
  • 35g pitted Kalamata olives

Method

1.) Make the tuna substitute. Peel the shallot and carrot and roughly chop those and the celery and throw them in a food processor. Add the cornichons. Zest and juice the lemon and add that also. Add the dill and parsley. Blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2.) Add the hummus, drain the chickpeas and add those too. Pulse a few times so everything is combined but there is still some texture.

3.) To make the dressing, peel and grate the garlic and finely chop the basil, setting aside the leaves. In a container of some form, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the basil stems and garlic to infuse with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes and rip up the lettuce. Add to a big bowl with the olives and broad beans.

5.) Toss with the dressing to coat everything and divide between two plates.

6.) Add the chickpea mixture on top and serve.

Mustard Sausage and Potato Bake

I was fortunate enough to have some days of holiday to use up in finishing my current job but I had to take them toute seule so I decided to go to France to simultaneously see friends and also check if my language classes were serving their purpose. As I would leave my husband on his own and he is too lazy to cook I tried to make something with a few portions before I left to ensure that he wasn’t just eating fish fingers everyday. There was a recipe in my slow cooker recipe book which I fiddled about with and I came up with this lovely mustardy sausage bake which I can see myself making many times in the future. It’s also nice to have a good British recipe which isn’t just pie (as much as I love pie). There’s not much green in this recipe so it might be nice with a side of broccoli or the traditional British accompaniment – peas.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 750g potatoes
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions
  • 1 pack fake bacon
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml stock (I used Massel chicken flavour)
  • 2 tsp English mustard (i.e. the bright yellow stuff)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g cheddar cheese
  • 8 veggie sausages
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Peel the potatoes and finely slice them

3.) Oil a baking tray and spread out the potatoes on it so they slightly overlap. Season with salt and spray with some oil.

4.) Bake for 30 minutes.

5.) Peel the onion and finely chop. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until starting to soften.

6.) Chop up the ‘bacon’ and add to the pan to crisp up.

7.) Peel and chop up the apple and add it to the pan. Fry for a couple more minutes.

8.) Make up the stock, mix with the mustard and pour over the onion. Add the flour and stir through. Add the sausages and the bay leaf.

9.) Cook for 5 minutes or so until the mixture has thickened. Remove the bay leaf and take off the heat.

10.) Pour the mixture over the potatoes and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

11.) Grate the cheese.

12.) Sprinkle the cheese over the baking tray and cook for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted.

Patatas Bravas Traybake

I looove Spanish food. It’s probably my favourite of the European cuisines though I don’t tend to make Spanish food too often as the food I mostly know is Tapas which are a bit of a pain to try and put together as a whole meal. This great idea from BBC Good Food resolves this as it’s one traybake of potatoes, topped with smoked paprika enriched tomato sauce and (veggie) meatballs. I mixed in also some squid rings as I didn’t have enough meatballs for four portions which tasted nice but they don’t reheat very well. Serve with drizzles of aioli and you have a complete dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 100g pitted black olives
  • enough frozen veggie meatballs for 4 people
  • 10g parsley
  • 1kg potatoes
  • aioli to serve

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C fan

2.) Peel the potatoes and chop into cubes

3.) Add them to a baking tray and toss with 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

4.) Sprinkle with salt, roast for 20 minutes, turn over then roast for another 20 minutes.

5.) In the meantime, peel and finely dice the garlic and onion

6.) Heat some oil in a pan and cook the meatballs until defrosted. Set aside on a plate.

7.) Heat some more oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Stir in the tomatoes and the sugar and cook on a low heat until the sauce thickens slightly.

9.) Dice the parsley finely and set to one side.

10.) Put the meatballs in the baking tray with the potatoes and spoon over the tomato sauce.

11.) Bake for another 10 minutes.

12.) Top with the parsley and lashings of aioli.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Living a relatively solitary life having started a new job working at home for the past year I don’t tend to make cakes all that often too more. Eating a whole cake between two people is just a bit too much. So when I heard a colleague of my husband’s brought a cake they’d made into work, I saw my opportunity and decided to make one myself. Unfortunately for my waistline (not so much for my taste buds) the majority of the cake came home as my husband’s colleagues are health freaks that don’t eat carbs. At my old company in London, everyone would bring treats in and we even had a baking competition (which I won twice). I can only hope that my colleagues at the new job I’m starting are more in this vein.

For my first cake in a while, I decided to choose a recipe from Nigel Slater’s ‘Notes from the Larder’. He is the king of cakes in my opinion. I’d made another hazelnut cake from one of his books in the past but I think that one didn’t have icing. The icing in this one uses hazelnut spread. You can use Nutella but I used Baci because I’ve seen a picture of the make-up of Nutella and I don’t think I can eat it anymore. At least with Baci I can claim ignorance even if it is made by Nestle and the less said about that company – the better! I’d try to avoid putting the cake in the fridge so put on the icing at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 250g hazelnuts
  • 90g + 6 tbsp sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 250g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream or sour cream
  • 200g chocolate hazelnut spread

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C

2.) Line a 7 inch square tin (or round tin with 10 inch diameter)

3.) Oil a baking tray

4.) Put a frying pan on low-medium heat and add the hazelnuts to toast

5.) Once toasted, add the 6 tbsp sugar and let it melt to a golden caramel. It’s ok to move the sugar a little but don’t stir too much.

6.) Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and allow it to cool until cool enough to be able to put into a food processor.

7.) Blitz the praline in the food processor to coarse crumbs

8.) Now, make the cake. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie.

9.) Measure out 100g of the butter and add in chunks to the chocolate and melt with the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the 90g sugar and the praline crumbs.

10.) Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the mix.

11.) Measure out the flour and the cocoa powder and fold into the cake mixture. It will be quite thick.

12.) Bake for 35 – 40 minutes (mine was done after 35)

13.) In the meantime, make the buttercream, beat the hazelnut spread, softened 150g butter (microwaving it helps) and the icing sugar until it’s not lumpy. Loosen with the cream/sour cream.

14.) When the cake is cooled and removed from the tin, spread the buttercream liberally over the top.