When you traditionally think of Middle Eastern food you might think of mezze, which are small dishes, hot and cold, like hummus and tabbouleh prepared to share. This is the food you would be served in Lebanese restaurants, similar to the tapas of Spain.
Lebanese home cooking is actually very different and based around simple dishes such as stews (yakhnehs) served with bulgar wheat, which is the traditional grain of the Levant.
The typical flavours of Lebanese cuisine include olive oil, herbs, garlic (lots and lots of garlic) and lemon. It is traditionally healthy and very friendly to vegetarians, with orthodox Christians in the region even following a strict vegan diet during lent.
I was sent the cookbook above to review and found it very inspiring. I haven’t cooked properly in a while but the food looked simple to prepare and I was amazed by how few ingredients many of the recipes actually involved….
I decided to cook the Red Bean Stew, which is beans, onions, garlic stewed in tomatoes and oil. The dish should have been made with kidney or pinto beans but as I only had one can of kidney beans I substituted in some broad beans as well. I didn’t feel bad doing this as in the introduction to the book Kamal explains that you don’t learn to cook by reading books, you learn to cook by actually cooking and experimenting and also that you are cooking for your family, not a panel of judges. It was very tasty and I served it with some left over lentils and rice from a previous meal.
There were plenty of leftovers so the next day I made up some hummus (which is a very simple recipe) and roasted some courgette in lemon, salt, olive oil and garlic to serve it with. Again, very filling, very tasty and very satisfying.
This cookbook has over 50 recipes to choose from and will keep me busy for quite a while. If you want to own your own copy, Lebanese Home Cooking by Kamal Mousawak is released on the 5th November by Quarry Books. It is also available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk
It’s that crazy time between Christmas and New Year and I’m feeling like I’ve eaten my own weight in both chocolate and Pringles (incidentally, have you tried the Choc Mint Pringles? Two foodstuffs that should never be combined. Horrid.) So it’s time for some healthy, simple and quick food to try to feel a bit normal again. I’ve written about the hangover fighting properties of eggs before, which at this time of year is also bonus.
In our house eggs are mostly scrambled (a baby favorite) but I thought I’d be brave and try poached eggs. In the past my poached eggs have been a bit hit and miss but I thought I’d give it another go.
Here’s what you will need
Vinegar, salt and some eggs (doh!)
British Lion Eggs in the UK are stamped with a code which tells you what type of egg it is, where it’s from and it’s best before date is.
So looking at my egg and using this website I can tell that it is free range and from Norwich. Pretty cool.
First of all I heated the water to just boiling, added a pinch of salt and a dash of vinegar and then cracked the egg into a shallow bowl. Swirling the water I added the egg slowly into the water…
Hmmm, so far, so murky. I wasn’t holding my breath at this point, as I’ve said before my poached eggs tend to come out a bit er, free form but fingers crossed this time. So I put some toast in the toaster and waited for 4 minutes and…
Woah! It actually looks like a poached egg! Victory is mine! Not actually that difficult at all. I will definitely be poaching more often now.
In other news, it’s New Years Eve and we are attempting a slow cooker fondue for dinner. Expect cheese covered carnage in the next post. Happy New Year everybody.
Long time, no post. I’m not dead. Last time I posted I think I was about to give birth which seems like a very long time ago now and a lot has changed!
R was born late 2013 and the chaos started. If anyone asks what gifts they should bring when they visit a new baby make sure you say FOOD. In fact, don’t let anyone in the house unless they are carrying something easy to grab out of the fridge one-handed at 5am. It is very hard to cook with a newborn and we lived mainly off Frosted Fancies and Aero for the first 6 months. Oh and my partners mums Macaroni and Cheese which is amazing.
So yeah, not much cooking has been going on. This needs to change. Especially as R is now 1 and well into eating solids and often has a better diet than me. He loves food but is getting fussier as he gets older. His favorite is currently blueberries.
In January we decided to move to a new house with a very small kitchen (and a one month old. Argh!)
This isn’t our actual kitchen. If it was it would have unwashed dishes everywhere and a lovely selection of recycling/bins in shot so this is someone else on our streets kitchen, but it looks pretty much the same. It’s quite hard to cook in here (excuses, excuses) and everything requires planning as there is little chopping space and no room to put pots/pans stuff on the work surface once it comes out of the oven – but it is doable. You can’t fit two people in it though!
Something else that happened In 2014 is that I had a lot of hair colours – here’s a selection:
There was a green in there somewhere too but can’t find a good picture of that! At the moment it’s a dark navy blue. Not sure where it’s going to go from here.
2014 also involved a lot of coffee.
So 2015 looms and I guess it’s time to stop making excuses and start blogging again. Which means to dust off those cook books and start cooking again, which in turn can only mean I get healthier (which is good news as that Aero, caffiene and lack of sleep has taken its toll and then some.) Finding the time may prove to be a bit difficult but I’ll give it a good go.
…and belated Happy Halloween. This year I carved my first pumpkin ever (mines on the left in the photo above) and then made soup with the left overs. Larger pumpkins aren’t the tastiest but I couldn’t see something edible go in the bin, so it was mixed with onions, garlic, potato, sage and stock and fed me for 2 meals. Thanks pumpkins.
In other news, Nakd were kind enough to get in contact to send me these natural bars to try:
Each bar is raw vegan, gluten free with no added sugar and counts as one of your five a day. Healthy snacking at the moment is important to me as I am now 38 weeks pregnant and have to eat every few hours otherwise morning sickness comes knocking on my door so these have been very handy to have around. They are mainly dates and nuts with other things added depending on the flavour and certainly fill the hole that would usually be filled by fat laden chocolate or crisps. They come in a wide variety of flavours like Cocoa Orange, Cashew Cookie, Pecan Pie and Berry Delight (my fav.) I have found the odd bit of stone or shell in there, but that’s to be expected using natural ingredients and is just an added bonus right? ;) They’ve come with me in packed lunches to ante natal classes, shopping trips, days out to Blackpool to be eaten on the sea front whilst keeping a wary eye on the seagulls….
So yes, they are good things to have around if you are trying to be healthier but don’t want to feel like you are missing out on a treat.
This might be my last post in a while due to impending child arrival, I will be back early next year probably covered in baby sick and very sleep depraved. Wish me luck!
Disclaimer: I was sent the product described to review free of charge, however opinions are entirely my own.
Let’s see if I can remember how to do this. Those of you who know me in real life/Facebook will know I’m currently 8 months pregnant, hence the blogging hiatus. I am now at a stage where I can eat foods other than salt and vinegar crisps, cereal, mashed potatoes and pineapple rings (not all at the same time…., but sometimes at 5am :( ) I can now chop an onion without feeling the urge to vomit so hurray! Back in the room!
Since I’ve been able to cook again I’ve made a few things – this cheese and onion loaf which whilst tasting nice, was as dense as a very dense thing. When a recipe says “lukewarm milk” (as nice as that sounds) it does mean it and cold milk from the fridge will make things go wrong. Still, it looks good and I’ve learnt my lesson for next time…
This Three Bean Loaf (loaf theme!) from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson (great name) was made for a Sunday dinner and fed two of us for at least three meals along with veg and roast potatoes. Sadly for some weird reason I don’t have a picture of it once out of the oven (and it looked a lot better than it does here) So this is it is before going in to cook. It was really easy to make and I now have ARMS OF STEEL after all the bean mashing involved…
Finally, for lunch today I wanted something light as despite being 35 weeks tomorrow, morning sickness still sometimes rears its ugly evil head and I wasn’t feeling great so I improv’d some soup. The (loose) recipe is below:
Simple Bean and Pasta Soup (Freestyle!)
1 chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic
Tsp of Olive Oil
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of Borlotti beans (currently 48p a tin from Asda. Bargain.)
Vegetable Stock cube
Handful of pasta
Pinch of sugar/salt/ground black pepper
Chop the onion and garlic and lightly fry in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft
Add the tinned tomatoes, stir and cover the mixture with boiling water
Add the vegetable stock cube and the basil (to taste, I like quite a lot)
Bring to the boil, cover and let simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes
Add the Borlotti beans and the pasta and let cook for 10 minutes
Add the pinch of sugar and stir. Season with the salt and pepper and serve
Times are currently quite harsh (great way to start a blog post I know, but keep reading…) I’ve been ill for pretty much A MONTH (with what we have lovingly termed “The Bish”) with no appetite. I also have no money (yay) so have been cooking in bulk and not really following any recipes.
Cooking in bulk is a good idea when there isn’t much in the cupboards, you have no time to make something complicated and you really don’t want to be lured in by an overpriced sandwich at lunchtime. The downside is you have to eat the same thing for about a week so you better make something nice otherwise it’s an endurance test. Bad times.
Currently I have some form of noodle soup with some of protein on the go. No recipe really. Onions and garlic, stock, some forlorn veg from the back of the fridge, some less forlorn veg from the freezer, noodles, soy sauce, ginger, splash of chilli and garlic sauce. First time out and about it looked like this:
It’s now on meal 4 and it looks like this, a bit less brown and a bit more appetising.
This is being alternated with burritos which are filled with rice, (forlorn) veg, cheese and the Mexican Chilli Gravy from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah , which is a great book as most of the recipes don’t use that many ingredients and they all taste great. This gravy tastes as good as any shop bought cooking sauce and can be knocked up in no time. Don’t have the recipe to hand but the books only £3.74 so y’know…
I am going to go back to real cooking soon and stop whingeing about being broke, the Butternut Squash Alfredo from the PPK is on the list for Friday. I am looking forward to eating something that isn’t mainly brown or served in a tortilla, hurray!
Bit late to the party here but I thought I’d do a quick post about my new year food resolutions as towards the latter end of 2013 my diet (and therefore my health) went off the rails a bit. I’ve never really been one for making resolutions full stop but if they are out there, and written down maybe they have a greater chance of happening.
Have you made any food/health related resolutions for 2013? If so, I’d be interested to hear them.
Work out how to use the kitchen Sounds simple but it isn’t. The hob seems to operate at 2 temperatures- cold and BLAZING HOT which makes cooking rather difficult. Unless you like it raw or burnt.
I’ve tried buying new heavy bottom pans etc but the “low” setting still alludes me. The way forward is 4 pans filled with cold water on the rings set at different temperatures (hopefully) and to see what boils first.
Less booze, less salt and less caffeine. All have crept more and more into my everyday life and aren’t doing me any favours. I live for caffeine but it leaves me feeling wrecked within a few hours and the dreaded headaches are kicking in if I go without. Might be time for a bit more decaf. I’m also a salt addict to the point where it’s added to everything and if other people cook it tastes weird without it. Basically, some unhealthy habits need to be kicked.
Meal Plan Work out what’s in the cupboards, what I can cook from it and what I need to buy on a week by week basis. At the moment I’m buying way too much stuff I’m not using (I’ve had some orzo in the cupboard for a year now, unopened) and being a bit more sensible with my food and money is generally a good idea.
Cook something from every cook book I own …including the weird ones from the 70’s that feature such horrors as Banana and Parsnip Curry
Bake more Cooking is intuition. Baking is science. I don’t like baking as it can’t always be saved through substitutions and quite often goes horrendously wrong.
Eat healthier in general What you put in is what you get out and all that. Less processed meals/takeaways, which is what my diet has become, and more fruit and vegetables.
Self indulgent waffly post I know, but just wanted to get them out there…