What I love about food is that it can transport you to different places or recall memories of places you visited and meals you enjoyed.
I visited Marrakesh six years ago and the place was an assault on the senses. The heat was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and the onslaught from traders left me a little stunned. What I did love was the food, which was too delicious and varied to cover in one post.
What I still crave was the delicious freshly made bread that was served everywhere. Perfect with tagines if you can’t face couscous, or great with houmous and olives, or soup for lunch.
I found a recipe from Cooking the Globe which is pretty much spot on for recreating what I remember. The ingredients and methods are straight forward. It does require a decent amount of kneading , but I don’t mind this as it allows me to burn off some stress and do some rage baking.
250 ml Warm Water (about skin temperature or luke warm, not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
500 Grams Plain flour (you can also use strong bread flour if this is what you have)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
2 & 1/4 Tsp or 7 Gram Sachet of dried yeast
In a small bowl add the warm water, sugar and yeast and stir. Leave in a warm room for 10 minutes, it should start to foam (if it hasn’t done this your yeast is dead)
In a large bowl combine the flour and salt, then gradually add the yeast mixture and work together until you get a soft dough (you may need to use a little more or less water)
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth (this is time to let your rage baking take hold) or if you’re well adnusted and have a stand mixer ou can use the dough hook. Divide into two equal size balls, cover with a slighlty damp tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet, flatten slightly to about 2-3 cm thick, and and cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm room for an hour to rise
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Uncover the bread and knick each loaf 4-5 times with a knife if you want to be totally authentic you can sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina. I didn’t have this and it was still fine
Bake for 25 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them
With the weather improving it’s time to eat a little lighter, and make use of all the delicious veggies that are now coming in season. If you want something healthy full of crunch and protein, then this is the perfect salad.
Ideal for lunch or as a side dish, this salad has lots of colour and fresh flavours (don’t skimp on the herbs). If you don’t already do it, window boxes full of herbs will transform how you cook and eat. The dressing has some Asian flavours for a little extra zing, but if it’s not your thing you can leave out the miso and ginger.
75 Grams Green lentils (dry weight, or use 1 Can of ready cooked lentils)
150 Grams Bulgar wheat, dry weight (you can also use cous cous, barley or whatever grain you prefer)
2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Courgette /zucchini (grated)
75 Grams Cucumber (seeds removed, and chopped into 1 cm chunks)
1 Apple (chopped into 1 cm chunks and cover with some od the lemon juice for the dressing to stop it going brown)
1 Carrot (grated)
1 Handful Parsley or mint (chopped)
1 Handful Coriander (chopped)
I Tbsp Pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper
1 Lemon (juiced)
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Grated ginger
1 Tsp Miso paste
Cook the lentils and Bulgar wheat according to the instructions on he packaging, set aside and allow to cool. If you are using pre cooked lentil just drain them
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad ingredients
Mix well and add salt pepper if you think it needs it.
This pie is very satisfying but still quite light and a good way to get your daily dose of veggies.
I use frozen spinach, because it’s cheaper and a kilo of fresh spinach will take up half your kitchen, make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible so the pie won’t be soggy. Fresh herbs add flavour, and while dill is traditionally used, I used parsley and mint which are also used in some parts of Greece.
Filo pastry can be bought in most larger super markets. Make sure to cover the pastry with a slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out when you are making the pie.
The pie can be eaten hot or cold and can live in your fridge for 2-3 days. It’s great as a lunch dish served with some salad or as a side dish.
1kg Frozen spinach (defrosted, and all excess liquid squeezed out)
Handful of finely chopped parsley and mint
250 Grams Filo pastry
200 Grams Feta style cheese (crumbled)
1 Leek or bunch of scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
25 Grams Butter (melted)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the leek until soft. Set to one side and allow to cool
Add the drained spinach to a large bowl and loosen up with a fork. Stir in the eggs, feta, herbs leeks and seasoning. Stir until combined
Grease a 6 x 9 in baking tin and line with sheets of filo pastry, brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with another sheet (lay 5-6 sheets of filo pastry as a base)
When the tray is lined, spread the spinach mixture evenly across the base. Fold in any overlapping pastry and top the pie with the leftover sheets of pastry (brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with the next.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy
A good sausage roll is one of my many weaknesses and when I was making some some for a work party I realized I work with quite a few vegetarians and would need to have something for them.
Only psychopaths make their own puff pastry, so when you are buying your pastry check that its vegetarian/vegan friendly (most are), unless you want to use the “all butter” versions but this would obviously not be suitable for vegans.
Pastry glazes for vegan dishes obviously can’t use the traditional egg or milk glazes but plant milk or coconut oil can work well, I used some onion seeds as well to add some interest.
While these are mushrooms flavoured, I also included some lentils to add some meatiness to the texture as well as some protein and some miso paste to give it that umami flavour that some vegan dishes lack.
1 x 375 Gram Sheet ready rolled puff pastry
300 Grams Button mushrooms (finely chopped)
25 Grams Dried Porcini mushrooms
100 Grams Breadcrumbs
1 Tsp Miso paste
200 Grams Tinned lentils (or cooked green lentils)
1 Leek (finely chopped)
1 Tablespoon Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Plank milk/Coconut oil to brush the pastry with
2 Tsp Onion or sesame seeds to decorate (optional)
Put the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 100 Mil boiling water and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes
In a large frying pan over a medium heat, and the oil and when hot add the mushrooms and leek. Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally (don’t move the mushrooms about too much or they will become watery)
When cooked add the lentils, miso, and porcini mushrooms (including the water they were soaking), cook for a further 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, and then add the breadcrumbs and stir well. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking and cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways.
Spoon the cooled mushroom mix down the centre of each strip of pastry leaving enough space for when you roll the edges together. Wet the long edges of the pastry and gently bring the edges together to slightly overlap each other then press together
Turn the side where pastry meet to the bottom and brush with your glaze before sprinkling with seeds, if you are using them.
With a sharp knife cut the pastry sausage into 3-4 cm slices before transferring onto the lined baking sheet.
I usually find sandwiches a bit meh!, but I love these. I make these as pinwheel sandwiches, which is basically a tortilla rolled up and cut into slices. They are nice for parties, or just because you want to fancy up your lunchbox.
The filling is packed full of flavours from America’s South West, black beans, corn, coriander (cilantro) etc. This makes it full of colour, crunch, fibre and flavour.
I used full fat sour cream and cream cheese, but you can use lower fat versions. This sandwich filling also makes an amazing topping for baked potatoes, or stirred into left over pasta to make a salad.
400 Gram Can Sweet Corn (drained)
400 Gram Can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 Large red pepper (chopped into 1cm cubes)
2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)
2 Tbsp Coriander (Finely chopped)
150 Grams Cheddar Cheese (grated)
2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Salt
200 Grams Sour Cream
200 Grams Cream Cheese
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir until well combined
Spread 2 large spoonfuls of the filling on a tortilla, and roll the outside edge inwards tightly
My friend Mags has been raving about this recipe for ages. We both have a serious bread addiction and this recipe is from a slimming club site. So when she shared the recipe I had to make it. If you’ve ever had Irish wheaten bread this is similar in taste.
It takes two minutes to knock together, can be enjoyed by those who have issues with gluten and is pretty cheap to make. If you want something to keep kids busy this also something to do with them on a rainy afternoon and the will be super pleased with themselves.
It’s not the lightest fluffiest bread, but it is packed full of fibre and perfect served with cheese and chutney or buttered along side soup. I topped mine with some pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch, but you can also sprinkle with porridge oats.
180 Grams Porridge oats
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Grease a load tin, you can also line it with baking parchment if want to (but I just greased the tin really well and it was fine)
Mix the yoghurt, salt and baking soda together, before stirring in the porridge oats
In a separate bowl, crack the egg and whisk with a fork until light and fluffy. Stir into the porridge mix and stir until we’ll combined
Transfer the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a tooth pick, when it comes out clean it’s ready.
I know I harp on about it, but I hate food waste. So when I found some discounted tomatoes in the supermarket that were too soft for salads I decided to make soup.
Tomatoes are roasted with some onion in the oven to bring out their flavour. I always try to cook more than one thing at a time so using the oven is more cost effective, so it’s the perfect excuse to whip up a cake too if feeling like it (I always feel ready for cake)
For the best lunch ever, team it up with a grilled cheese sandwich
500 Grams tomatoes
2 onion (cut into quarters)
2-3 Cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp Oil
500 ml Vegetable stock (I used a stock cube dissolved in 500ml of boiling water)
1-2 Tbsp Basil leaves
1 tsp Cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
Add the tomatoes, oil, and onion to an oven proof dish and roast for 30-40 minutes or until the tomatoes have blistered. Remove and discard the skin from the garlic
Add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Nothing smells better than freshly baked bread straight out of the oven. Making your own focaccia also costs about a third of the price of buying one from a fancy bakery or deli.
Like most people I don’t bake my own bread everyday. At the weekend when you have a little more time its nice to shake off the stresses of the week and kneading bread is a great way to work off any residual tension. Although this bread only needs 5 minutes kneading and you’re rewarded with amazingly tasty bread that can be sliced in half for sandwiches or is a delicious side dish served along side soups, stews, or pasta.
I’ve used a traditional salt and rosemary topping, but caramelised onion or olives are also brilliant alternatives. This also freezes really well.
500 Grams Strong white flour
7 Grams Dried yeast
1 Tsp Salt
300-400 Mil Luke warm water
4-5 Tbsp Olive oil
2-3 Sprigs Rosemary
1. Mix your yeast with 300ml of luke warm water and set to one side while you measure out the flour and add it to a large bowl
2. Add a teaspoon of salt to one side of the (this will stop it coming into direct contact with the yeast and killing it). Make a well in the centre of the flour, add two tablespoons of olive oil and the water and yeast mix.
3. Mix well, you may need to add more water, your dough should be quite soft and sticky, but not super wet
4. Turn your dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes (or until the urge to punch someone has passed, if I haven’t mentioned it before I sometimes “rage bake”)
5. Clean the bowl you were using, (I always give the bowl a quick wipe with a little oil to stop your dough sticking). Put your dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel and prove for one hour
6. Grease an 8 x 12 inch tin with some olive oil and transfer the dough from the bowl to the tin. Stretch the dough out to fill the tin. Cover with a tea towel again and prove for 45 minutes
7. Pre-heat your oven to 220 degree (Celsius). Remove the tea towel from your baking tin, and with your finger tips press little dimples into the dough
8. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of olive oil across the top of the dough. Pluck leaves of rosemary and poke them into the dough (it will just sit on top and then fall off if you don’t). Sprinkle a teaspoon is salt across the top of the dough (sea salt is best if you have it, but just use a little less ordinary salt if you don’t)
9. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes
I love any type of dumpling, but have been over indulging lately, so needed something that tasted great but needed to be good for me. These are so delicious you won’t even like you’re being healthy.
I make a big batch of these and freeze them, as they make a really quick week night dinner, they’re also much nicer and cheaper that the frozen ones you can buy. You can use any dipping sauce you like (I just used a bottle of sweet chilli sauce I had in a cupboard).
Like most batch cooking if you can rope in friends or some child labour (kids love making these) it gives you a chance to kick back and give orders. Chop the vegetables fairly finely, as it will be easy to stuff the dumplings.
I came up with these mainly to use up vegetables that had been hanging about my fridge and a packet of wonton wrappers that had been in my freezer since my last visit to the Asian supper market. Traditional pot sticker dumplings are usually made with a dough, so these are a bit of a cheat, I think they work well and saves you time.
1/2 Small head of cabbage (finely chopped)
1 Red pepper (finely chopped)
200 Grams Mushrooms (finely chopped)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
3-4 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Garlic (minced/crushed)
1 Tbsp Ginger (grated or finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tsp Chilli flakes, or 1 fresh chilli (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Sesame oil
1 -2 Tbsp Sunflower oil (plus extra to fry the dumplings)
1 Pack Wonton wrappers
Heat 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil to a large frying pan and add the chopped vegetables, chilli garlic and ginger, cook for about 5 minutes, there should still be a bit of bite, but the onion should be cooked through.
Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and allow to cool completely
Set up a little work station for yourself, you should have your bowl of the dumpling filling, a small bowl of water to wet the edges of the dumplings and if you are making some to freeze you should have a tray lined with foil that has had a small about of oil rubbed across it so the dumpling don’t stick to it while they’re in the freezer
Open your packet of wonton wrappers and wrap in a slightly damp tea towel to stop then drying out as you work
Lift a wonton wrapper and put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre. Wet your finger and wet all the edges of the wrapper and take one corner to meet the opposite corner to make a triangle. Make sure that the edges of the dumpling is properly sealed. Set on your tray and move onto make the next dumpling, keep going until you have run out of filling or wrappers.
If you’re freezing some of the dumplings, freeze them on a tray and then transfer into freezer bags
When you’re ready to eat the dumplings, spray a small amount of oil in a non stick frying pan (you’ll need a lid or some way to cover the pan) and heat over a high heat. Boil the kettle.
Place your dumplings in the pan (don’t try to squeeze too many in the pan at once). Cook for 2 minutes or until the bottoms have started to brown, then add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water (the pan shouldn’t be swimming in water), and cover with a lid and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until the water has been absorbed
Serve with your favourite dipping sauce (they’re also amazing washed down with a cold beer)