an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

deseeding pomegranates is feminine & erotic, unless you hit them with a wooden spoon...


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Pea, avocado and mint dip

Bright green, summery, fresh, and kind of healthy-ish.

Serves around 6 as part of a mezze (mezze is probably the best kind of meal).

2 cups green peas – I use frozen garden peas, which I prefer to petit pois, but it is up to you I suppose. Some broad beans would probably work too, but I don’t like them
1 ripe avocado, preferably the crocodile-textured hass variety.
1 small or ½ a large clove or garlic
1 tbsp crème fraîche, or cream cheese, or ricotta. Or leave out.
Juice of ½ a lemon
6 leaves of fresh mint or a generous tsp of dried mint. (I used dried as I didn’t have any fresh, and it worked really well.
½ tsp each of mustard seeds, sumac, ground coriander, and chilli flakes
salt and pepper


Defrost the peas if you need to. Blend everything together with half the mint and lemon juice, and a little bit of salt and pepper. Taste and add more mint, lemon, salt and pepper as needed. If you like your dips with texture then you can add some finely chopped spring onion, shallot or radish once it has been blended.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Cornbread with cheese and seeds

This is technically the third variation of this recipe on the blog, but I do feel like they are all valid, and delicious in different ways. This is the only version that is fully gluten free, and baking it as a loaf makes the cornbread much fluffier and more decadent.

Serve with a hearty Southwestern style stewy thing, like a beany thing, or a chilli con/sin carne. Heston Blumenthal says, and I agree, that cornbread is a much nicer accompaniment to a chilli than a crispy taco shell.

230g fine polenta/cornmeal
100g gram flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp each cumin, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ grated sweet potato or carrot (optional but interesting), or alternatively 1 cup sweetcorn
300ml/ ½ pint milk, or dairy-free alternative
1 large handful grated cheddar cheese
A few cherry tomatoes, halved (if you have some spare)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1 tbsp olive oil

Makes 1 large loaf


Preheat the oven to 200c.

Drizzle the olive oil into the loaf tin, and put it in the hot oven. The oil needs to be hot when you put the batter in, so it might be worth doing this before you weigh out the ingredients and get everything ready.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the dry powder ingredients, add the eggs and milk and mix until you get a smooth batter. Then mix in the veggies (if using) and cheese.

Take the loaf tin out of the oven (be very careful of the hot oil) and pour in the batter. Scatter the seeds and cherry tomatoes (if using) over the top, and bake for about 35-45 minutes, until risen and golden. The cooking time is an estimate as my oven is not the most predictable, so maybe check the cornbread after about half an hour, the classic cake technique of poking with a knife or skewer will work just as well for this.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Carrot Tzatziki

This is based on something I had in Turkey a couple of years ago. Everything I ate in that trip was very simple, earnest and vegetarian, but just so delicious. Good quality veggies, and a generous amount of olive oil and garlic had a lot to do with it. And also the fact that it was holiday – everything tastes better on holiday.

I had never really thought that plain yogurt could be delicious until I went to Turkey. I always thought it was just plain yogurt. One way to recreate this back in the UK is to buy Middle Eastern brands of yogurt, or at least to buy full-fat yogurt instead of low or fat free. It is amazing how much difference full fat makes to the flavour (and I think the jury is out on how much it could really impact your waistline).

Obviously there is nothing wrong with regular tzatziki, its just that sometimes there are carrots that need using up, and it is good to ring the changes every once in a while. It is definitely better with fresh garlic, but if you want a more ‘social’ version, use garlic powder for a subtler garlic-y hum.

Serve this as part of a mezze, or with whatever you would usually use tzatziki for.  When I made it, I ate it with shakshuka and dukkah, and it was very delicious. There is no photo unfortunately – the lighting wasn’t quite right, so the gorgeous orange, gold and white-flecked tzatziki looked not so luscious, more nauseous.

Makes a generous mezze bowl for 4 – 6 people

1 medium sized carrot, grated (only peel if it really needs it)
300g greek yogurt, preferably full fat
1 clove crushed garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of salt
½ tsp dried mint (use fresh if you have a glut of it in the garden, but dried I think works better for this)
1 generous tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil


Squeeze the grated carrot a bit to get some of the excess liquid out. Then simply mix everything together. If using fresh garlic, I would advise making it at least an hour before you are ready to serve, to allow the flavours to start to relax and develop.

I ate it with warm tortillas and dukkah – very delicious.

Pomegranate, tomato and herb salad

This tastes like proper Israeli falafel stand/kebab shop salad, and I mean that in a very good way.

½ cucumber, finely diced
1 pomegranate, de-seeded (save some of the seeds for scattering over everything later)
Bunch parsley
1/2 bunch mint
1-2 (depending on size) echalion or banana shallots
3-4 medium vine tomatoes seeds removed
1-2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tsp sumac
Salt and pepper


De-seed the pomegranate, finely dice all of the veggies and roughly chop the herbs. Lightly dress with 1 tbsp each of olive oil and pomegranate molasses, and half the sumac. Season with salt and pepper. Let it sit for a bit before serving, around 10-20 minutes or so. Drizzle the remaining olive oil, pomegranate molasses and sumac over the top before serving. Fresh coriander and some finely diced red or green pepper is good in it too (if you like it).