The Middle East from North Africa and Moorish Spain, through Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, to Iran and the Arabian Peninsula has a long and vibrant tradition of home-style vegetarian cuisine. From abundant fresh salads, dips and breads, to a diverse collection of delicious and hearty main meals, there is a profusion of delicious flavour combinations. Based on the freshest ingredients and cooked from the heart, Greg and Lucy Malouf’s recipes in The New Feast are designed for sharing and enjoying with others. Their approach to vegetarian food comes from their love of traditional Middle Eastern flavours and the importance of colour and texture in this cuisine. The recipes are new interpretations of Middle Eastern food, inspired by the spirit of generosity and sharing, which characterises the region?s approach to cooking.
Archives for August 2017
So we have finally had a dry couple of days with sunshine thrown in for good measure. Perfect for picking mulberries and blackberries to make a fresh batch of jam.
Mulberries are so rare round here that I keep my foraged secret to myself each year in the hope that I get first pick of the new years crop and with all the early years sunshine and recent rain it has ensured a particularly plump season for these delicious berries.
The health benefits of berries is well documented.
- Delicious, fleshy, succulent mulberries are less in calories (just 43 calories per 100 g). They compose of health-promoting phytonutrient compounds like polyphenol pigment antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
- Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries has potential health effects against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
- The berries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol protects against stroke risk by altering molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels; reducing their susceptibility to damage through reduced activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) but potentiating production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.
- Also, these berries are excellent sources of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
- Further, the berries also contain small amounts of vitamin-A, and vitamin-E in addition to the antioxidants mentioned above. Consumption of mulberry provides another group of health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, ß-carotene and a-carotene in small but notably significant amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protect from harmful effects of oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
The health benefits of blackberries are equally impressive.
Just one cup of raw blackberries has 30.2 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s half the daily recommended value. Vitamin C is integral to collagen formation in bones, connective tissue, and blood vessels. Vitamin C may also help you:
- heal wounds
- regenerate the skin
- battle free radicals (molecules released by toxins) in the body
- absorb iron
- shorten the common cold
- prevent scurvy
More research is needed, but some studies suggest vitamin C helps reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances in the body. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant which may also reduce oxidative stress in the body that can lead to cancer.
- 1kg mulberries
- 0.75kg blackberries
- 2kg caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons powdered pectin
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Place the mulberries and blackberries into a large, heavy saucepan and crush them with a potato masher.
- Add the sugar and pectin and heat very slowly, stirring all the time until every grain of sugar has dissolved. Add the butter, increase the heat, bring to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool for 1 minute, then place in jam jars and cover immediately.
This is one of my favorite ways to eat asparagus, simply paired with a plain old poached egg. There is no real recipe to this just cook the asparagus the way you like it. I like to simply blanche mine for a minute and the poach an egg in boiling salted water and sit it on top. Poaching for 3 minutes will give you a perfect runny yolk to dip the still crunchy spears in.
There you go a very quick and satisfying meal packed full of goodness.
Now I know it’s not in season but I just love asparagus and I look forward to the fresh English asparagus every springtime.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like asparagus decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.
Asparagus ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to its ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index); this score measures vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content in relation to the caloric content.
To earn a high ANDI rank, food must provide a high amount of nutrients for a small amount of calories.
Asparagus is one of the best natural sources of folate. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.
Asparagus is high in both fiber and water content, this helps to prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Yet another cookbook from a highly successful food blog. This time I am going to recommend the Love and Lemons cookbook which is packed to the rafters with inspirational veggie delights and cracking food styling.
Donofrio’s cooking philosophy is that simple combinations can make exceptionally delicious meals that are easy to put together. Organised by ingredient, THE LOVE & LEMONS COOKBOOK will teach you to make beautiful food with what you have on hand, whether it’s a bunch of rainbow-colored heirloom carrots from the farmers market or a four-pound cauliflower that just showed up in your veggie box.
With exquisite, fresh food photography, artful graphic elements and exceptionally stylish layouts, THE LOVE & LEMONS COOKBOOK caters to today’s image-oriented readers. Stunningly designed and efficiently organised, this book will be a resource that you’ll find yourself using again and again.
Well what happend to summer? The jet stream seems to have moved and it’s now positively autumnal at times. So what better way to warm up than with my baked rigatoni with aubergine and mozzarella.
Iv’e been wondering where the sun has gone for a few weeks now as it is needed to ripen all the wonderful blackberries, blueberries and raspberries that grow wild around here and I am looking forward to foraging a few of them to make this seasons blackberry vodka. Then I have plans for some fresh raspberry jam which is just one of my favorite flavor’s of all time. It always reminds me of my childhood in Scotland and eating as many raspberries as I put in the pot from days out foraging. They were so juicy and tart, delicious.
- 1¼kg small vine or small plum tomato
- a sprinkling of golden caster sugar
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 large aubergine(about 450g/1lb)
- 500g rigatoni
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 85g black olive, stoned and chopped
- 2 good handfuls of basil leaves, plus extra for serving
- 450g buffalo mozzarella
- 50g parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
- Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/gas 3. Halve the tomatoes through their equator, rather than their core. Stand them cut-side up on a shallow baking tray (I use a nonstick Swiss roll tin). Scatter a little salt, pepper and sugar over the cut surfaces and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the aubergine into rounds, brush both sides with oil and spread out in one layer on another tray. After the tomatoes have been roasting for 45 minutes, put the aubergines in with them and roast for another 45 minutes.
- Towards the end of the time, cook the pasta in plenty of gently boiling well-salted water until nearly al dente – it should be undercooked because it finishes off in the oven. Drain well and tip into a large bowl. Have ready 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil mixed with the crushed garlic and chopped olives. Toss the oil mixture through the pasta and turn half of it into a 2-21⁄2 litre ovenproof dish.
- Remove the tomatoes and aubergines from the oven. (You can prepare them up to 24 hours ahead.)
- Turn up the oven to fan 180C/conventional 200C/gas 6. Scatter half the tomatoes and their juices over the pasta in the dish. Roughly tear the basil leaves and scatter on top. Drain the mozzarella, pat dry with kitchen paper, then slice very thinly. Lay two-thirds of the slices over the tomatoes. Grind black pepper over, and scatter over the aubergine. Add the rest of the pasta, top with the remaining tomatoes and mozzarella and then the parmesan. (Can be made up to here 3-4 hours in advance). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until piping hot and the top is extra crusty. Serve hot with a sprinkle of basil and extra parmesan.
Following on from my post about this glorious vegetable romesco. Here is a funky alternative to plain old cauliflower cheese. My Romesco & Cauliflower Cheese.
Well the weather has taken a turn for the worst today with nought but torrential rain and a cold wind. Not really summer weather so here is a comfort dish to keep you warm and cosy on these abnormal summer days. I must say though the ground does need the rain as it has been so dry for so long now. I love the vibrant green that the romesco brings to the dish and if you are wondering what it tastes like well it’s a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
- 1 romanesco cauliflower
- 1 cauliflower
- 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 500ml whole milk
- A 100g chunk of Cheddar
- 2 stale slices of bread
- A pinch of mixed spice or chilli powder
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 2 large handfuls of watercress
- Pull the leaves off both the cauliflowers. Chop them into florets. Pop the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket or colander.
- Pour boiling water into a steamer or pan. Pop the basket or colander above the hot water. Cover. Steam for 15-20 mins till the cauliflower is tender. Drain and tip into an ovenproof dish. Heat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4.
- Mash the butter and flour together with a fork. Pour 500ml milk into a pan. Bring to the boil. Stir the milk now and then to stop it burning. Take off the heat. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, a little at a time, till it’s all combined and smooth.
- Put the pan back on the heat. Bring to the boil. Whisk and simmer for 2 mins till the sauce is thick. Take off the heat.
- Coarsely grate the Cheddar. Stir two-thirds of it into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the cauliflowers.
- Blitz or grate the stale bread till you have a 25g batch of breadcrumbs. Mix the breadcrumbs with a pinch of mixed spice or cayenne pepper and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the cauliflower. Bake for 20 mins till golden and bubbling.
- While the cauliflower cheese bakes, whisk the balsamic vinegar with ½ tbsp olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
- Rinse the watercress. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Pop into a bowl. Add the balsamic dressing. Toss to mix. Serve the salad with the cauliflower cheese.
I love the geometric shapes in romanesco, isn’t nature wonderful at patterns. This is just coming into it’s early season and can be used as an alternative to regular cauliflower as its part of the same family of vegetables.
Romanesco (Brassica oleracea) is part of the cruciferous family. It is often called broccoflower but more closely resembles cauliflower.
A bright yellow-green, Romanesco is incredibly unique and strangely beautiful. The outer appearance is so distinctive that it has led some to joke that it was seeded here by an alien race (that might also explain the egg-laying mammalian platypus).
The Romanesco is a natural cross between cauliflower and broccoli, the two better-known produce items. It has a flavor comparable to cauliflower with a slightly “nutty” undertone. Scientists and nutritionists consider it one of the most easily digestible vegetables available.
Originally cultivated in Italy, this edible flower is tender, making it a perfect addition to recipes in place of broccoli or cauliflower. The slightly different flavor and interesting look can spruce up tired recipes. Cook times should be shortened to avoid overcooking.
Vitamins and minerals are abundant in Romanesco and calories are low, making it a nutrient-dense food that is ideal for the vegan diet.
You’ll find vitamin C, A, and K as well as folate, dietary fiber (though slightly less than broccoli), iron, manganese, carotene, protein, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids in this pretty vegetable – along with so much more.
Irish treacle bread is quite simply delicious straight from the oven with a cup of tea and lashings of butter. There is no proving required to make this bread as soda is substituted for yeast. I first came across this bread whilst searching for a basic soda bread recipe and I have been hooked ever since, making it regularly through the summer months to eat outside with a cup of tea in hand.
We are into August now which for me signals the start of the foraging season so I am looking forward to collecting lots of blackberries and sloes to make everything from jams to flavored vodkas. I really do love this time of year especially with summer being at its height. I love my long walks along the shoreline with my camera hoping to get that killer sunset shot that I seem to manage to do every year. This summer a new micro brewery has opened up in the village offering all sorts of wonderful cask ales and real ciders to taste. So I am sure I will post a review of some of their wares in the coming weeks.
For now though sit back and enjoy a nice summer afternoon lazing in the garden with some of my delicious Irish treacle bread.
- 500 g or 1lb plain flour (sieved)
- 2 Tbsp treacle also known as molasses in america .
- ½ pt butter milk or cows milk (approx)
- 2 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp bread soda
- Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f.ligth dust a flat baking sheet with flour. Leave the tin of treacle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, this will help soften treacle and make it easier to spoon out of tin. Heat the treacle and butter milk in a low heat just slightly warm .
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add sufficient liquid to mix ,to a soft dough then onto a floured surface and lighting knead.
- Shape into a round circle, place onto the flat baking sheet and make a cross on top of dough with a knife.
- Place into pre-heated oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
- Treacle bread is a traditional Irish favourite.
- When baked the bread will have a hallow sound if trapped on the base.
- cool on wire tray for 5 minutes.
- Then get a clean ,dry tea towel and wrap the treacle bread up in it, this will help to give a softer crust on your bread..