Tag Archives: mediterranean

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers with fresh cheese & pistachio

24 Jul

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And we’re back. It’s been a long time, blog. A lot of recipes as yet unpublished. Anyway.

The sight of zucchini flowers is a little bit exciting. I mean, we know you can’t buy these at your local supermarket. Fair enough. We’d pined after zucchini flowers for long enough to know that this is not widely available. Since we abandoned this blog, we have moved sarf of the Thames to deepest darkest SE14. No more of the organic baby shops, boutiques and gastropubs of Crouch End. Nah, bruv. We’re in Telegraph Hill now. As such, we have ready access to fabulous Brockley Market on a Saturday morning (and Maltby Street – another story), which does a good trade in seasonal and local produce. Among them, famed zucchini flowers (these are four for £2.50)

So when you do manage to get your hands on zucchini flowers, it seems a bit of a sacrilege (although quite delicious) to dunk the sinewy petals into a batter and dump them in the fiery furnaces of a hissing saucepan of  boiling oil . Baking is much more genteel, innit? The result clearly isn’t crispy (there remains bite in the stem and texture in the crushed pistachios), but is so fresh and summery I would say, should fried zucchini flowers meet baked zucchini flowers in a dark alley, and if the two had a grievance with one another, then my money is on baked zucchini flowers. There. I said it.

And it’s quite versatile – the key is a light, fresh cheese as the bulk paired with a sharper cheese. Baking on the tomatoes makes the tomatoes nice and sweet, and turns it into an entire dish (a light supper or starter), as well as preventing the flowers from sticking to the pan. DSC_0975

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers

  • 4 large zucchini flowers
  • 100g mild, soft white cheese (we’ve used both a very, very fresh goats cheese and a salted ricotta)
  • 50g strong sharp cheese (with the fresh goats cheese we paired this with a hard, strong goats; with ricotta it was paired with parmesan)
  • 2 TBSP pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 TBSP thyme leaves (dry – or 1.5TBSP fresh)
  • Pinch of lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 ripe tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Crumble and grate the cheeses into a bowl. Add in the chopped pistachios, minced garlic clove, thyme and lemon zest. This should now be delicious – if not, adjust accordingly.

In stuffing the zucchini flowers you require a delicate hand, but the petals are more robust than you might imagine. With a teaspoon, scoop out the stamen (which conveniently also evicts any bugs convening in the flower). Each flower should be able to hold a good few teaspoons of mixture – larger ones will fit perhaps five or six teaspoons. In these pictures here we had some absolutely tiny flowers, and they still had some space. To close the flowers, hold the tips of all petals together and firmly but gently twist. This should remain closed.

Cut the tomatoes about 5mm thick, and lay out on greased baking tray. Arrange the stuffed zucchini flowers on the tomatoes.

Cover the flowers with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Check, and if nearly done remove foil and bake – uncovered – for a further 5 minutes.

Serve flowers with the tomatoes on which they lay. DSC_0986

Musical accompaniment: The Mynabirds

Estimated cost: £6.50

Mediterranean baked breakfast eggs

15 Jan

This is a breakfast for when you really want breakfast. For when you really need a big old feed in the morning and may or may not intend to eat anything else for the rest of the day. I mean for when you wake up pained and startled by your own hunger, wondering whether perhaps somewhere in the depths of sleep, some strange person has entered your house wielding a contraption of their own invention, the sole purpose of which is to suck out the entire contents of your stomach and use the half-digested contents as some sort of magical fuel source.

It’s also the breakfast Man Woman has after Woman has had the fortitude to wake up on a Saturday morning and do a double class at the gym, and Man has exhibited a similar level of strength in remaining in bed while one’s partner is kitting up for (and boasting about) some serious cardio-vascular exercise.

Baked eggs for brekkie is a great idea. Often the Frenchie version involves double cream and a bain marie, but this is far easier and pretty much contains your daily recommended intake of veg in one hit.

Adjust the spices for your own taste, but the below mix is a pretty darn good one.

Mediterranean baked breakfast eggs

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 C spinach, chopped (about 1/3 bunch)
  • 1 tin tomatoes (chopped or whole)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 eggs
  • Parsley
  • Feta (optional)
  • Bread (optional)

In a fry pan, heat some oil. Then add onions and garlic, sautee until softened. Add spices, spinach and tomatoes and cook until the mix has stopped being watery, but the spinach is reduced down (probably about 5-10 minutes).

Either divide the mix into a couple of heat-proof dishes, or just leave as is. Crack two eggs into each heat-proof dish (or four into the fry pan). The eggs should cover most of the mix.

Put the pans/dishes under the grill for a few minutes until eggs are cooked to your liking. Throw a couple of pieces of pita bread under the grill too while you’re at it.

Top with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

(I realise that by grilling this, it’s not technically ‘baked eggs’, but really it’s so satisfying that semantics lose their power)

Estimated cost: £4 (if you go for cheese and bread)

Musical accompaniment: Peaches

Tomato and red onion tarte tatin

1 Aug

I promise we have made this prettier than these pictures, but I’ve not uploaded the pics to the computer and it’s been ages since posting, so just look at the above pictures, imagine a 30-40 per cent visual improvement and you’re there.

French cuisine is really not often very amenable to the absence of meat, over-fed livers and the like, but we’re determined to defy French conservatism. Like vegetarian Jacobins or something equally historically significant.

As you’ll see from the pictures, we’ve made this both with shallots and red onions. It really, really doesn’t matter. Roma/plum tomatoes, normal vine tomatoes – whatever. Choose what looks best in the fresh veg aisle.

Pastry

  • 60g white flour
  • 30g mature cheddar cheese or parmesan
  • 30g butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 15g self-raising flour

Filling

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 -1 TBSP sugar
  • 5 shallots or 2 red onions, sliced into thick rings
  • 2 sliced garlic cloves
  • 5 or so tomatoes halved (whatever fills your pan)
  • 1 – 2 tomatoes cut into thick slices (to sit on top of other fillings)

If you’re good you can make the pastry while the filing is cooking, but you will need some pretty impressive powers of multi-tasking to do so very effectively.

So, melt butter and sugar in a pan of around 20cm diameter. Then add balsamic vinegar, garlic and place the cut tomatoes and onions/shallots face down. Squeeze in as many as possible and keep the plate on low heat. Maybe even chuck a few extra wedges in here and there. Throw another tablespoon of balsamic (or more) over the stuff and sprinkle with salt.

While this is going, mix together pastry ingredients. Then wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for about an hour. (You could do this before the cooking, actually)

Move the pan into an oven in low heat. I like to cover the tomato/onion mix with a lid or foil because it’s really best not to let it dry out. Cook for about 20mins – half an hour.

When the onions are softened and tomatoes cooked through and similarly soft, you can take the pan out of the oven and hopefully by this time the pastry has rested in the fridge.

Carefully place the pastry over the tomato mix, checking first that it’s still quite liquidy. It should be a sticky kind of liquid – not as thick as honey, but on its way. Try to tuck the pastry into the pan, but it might just end up ‘rustic’.

Put back in the oven at around 180C for about 20 minutes. Take out when pastry is hard.

Let cool for a couple of mintues then tip over, placing a plate inside or over the pan and quickly flipping.

Best served with a green or rocket salad.

Estimated cost: £6

Musical accompaniment: Anna Calvi

Fried eggplant with tomato onions

25 Mar

As a child Woman was scarred by eggplant. Her father would fry up what seemed like mountains of eggplant on the barbeque. I don’t know why this scarred her, but it just seemed there was always a lot.

But Woman has been rehabilitated to fried eggplant. Fried eggplant, in moderation, is very, very good. (It’s hiding in this picture behind the vineleaves and lentils.. oh mezze, how I love you)

Fried eggplant with tomato onions (serves 2 as part of a mezze)

  • 1/2 eggplant (medium size) cut into slices
  • 1/4 C chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 small white onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 tsp thyme

Heat olive oil in pan and cook onion until soft and browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the pan, add a bit more olive oil and cook eggplants on each side for about three minutes or until very soft. Remove from pan. Set on plate.

Throw cooked onion back into the pan with tomatoes and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have become less watery. Serve on top of fried eggplant.

Estimated cost: £1

Musical accompaniment: John Grant

Stuffed vine leaves with yoghurt tahini sauce

14 Mar

Woman is nearly becoming a woman of a certain age. That age being 30. Woah.

The day after she turned 29, she fashioned herself a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30. Generally, it’s a typical list: career goals, travel KPIs, 10km race targets, extreme sports commitments and, you know, learning to play the accordion. Among the orthodox hit list, are some exceptionally lame inclusions. One being the home made manufacture of stuffed vine leaves.

This recipe is modified from the totally brilliant From the Tables of Lebanon veggie cookbook. It’s such an un-photogenic (there are no photos) cook book, Man Woman love it. Everything we’ve cooked from it has been good. Lebanese!

Making your own stuffed vine leaves is not as time-consuming or difficult as Woman thought – otherwise she wouldn’t have put it off for so many years. It is, though, something you definitely want to make in bulk because once you start you get a whole production line thing happening.

Stuffed vine leaves (makes 18)

  • 1 packet of vine leaves in brine
  • 1 C short grain rice
  • 2/3 C tinned chopped tomato (or 1.5 tomatoes)
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP dried mint

Combine all ingredients bar the vine leaves in a bowl.

In the middle of each vine leaf (rinse before using), place a tablespoon sized log-shaped dollop. Roll over once, tuck the sides in and continue rolling.

When all are rolled, line an oiled heavy-bottomed pot with thin sices of potatoes. Stack vine leaves in layers, cover with 1.5 cups of water (and salt) and top with a heat-proof plate (like terracotta).

Bring to a boil, then simmer for a further 40 minutes.

Don’t discard the potatoes! They’re some kind of wonderful on their own, and I’m sure the Lebanese wouldn’t throw them away.

Yoghurt tahini sauce

  • 1.5 TBSP tahini
  • 2 TBSP yoghurt
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 TBSP water
  • salt

Mix water, tahini, salt and lemon juice first with a fork or whisk. When combined, add yoghurt and combine.

Estimated cost (with sauce): £2

Musical accompaniment: Noah and the Whale

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