Tag Archives: Middle-Eastern

Fake baked beans

1 Feb

It’s not that often – or cool – that people portending to keep food blogs describe the attempt to recreate the flavours of a canned product a lofty goal. But, if this blog is anything, it is not ‘often’.

So it is that this recipe is an endeavour to recreate the amazingly delicious Turkish/Cypriot giant beans you get in cans. While it does take a few more hours than it would to tug at the ring pull and deposit the gloopy blob of beans from a can into a saucepan, it’s infinitely more rewarding (if you’re the kind of person who finds work a reward). Also, it does happily lack the excess salt, oil and probably E numbers lurking in the packaged versions.

Also, we may not always live in such close proximity to Cypriot grocers, so we need to start developing self sufficiency. These giant beans are such a great, heart warming breakfast dish – all pillowy and comforting in their fillingness.Not sure if our liberal use of smoked paprika stops this from being Cypriot, but it tastes pretty fab.

(I swear we do cook things other than breakfast, it’s just that the light is so much nicer in the daytime.)

Giant Turkish/Greek beans (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 C butter beans (or 2 tins of pre-cooked)
  • 6 C water
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 TBSP chopped dill

You can’t really make this on the morning of your breakfast, unless you use canned beans. If you do, use two cans to make this recipe. If you do, skip the next sentence.

Soak beans in water overnight, then boil in water for about an hour. It’s not a glamorous task, but occasionally skimming the scummy froth (mmm!) off the top of the water will ensure the beans are ‘better for your tummy’.

When beans are nearly cooked (basically edible), drain and return to the pot with chopped tomato, paprika and onion. cook for a further 20 minutes on low heat. Add dill, cook for another two minutes, then remove from heat and add lemon as well as seasoning.

This is perfectly good to have on it’s own with some nice crusty bread, but we quite enjoy it with a side of grilled haloumi (don’t know what happened to this one) and a poached egg. Ripe avocado and rocket would also do very well.

Estimated cost (without egg and haloumi):  £1.50

Musical accompaniment: NPR ‘All Songs Considered’ stream

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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

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

Gozleme with spinach & parlsey or cheesy sumac egg stuffing

17 Mar

To Woman’s insatiable upset, the caff near Finsbury Park which used to make fresh gozleme in the mornings alongside gelatinous Full Englishes, abruptly stopped selling the far more amazing gozleme some two years ago.

I remember the day clearly: a house guest and dear old friend of Man’s from Sydney (I’m looking at you, Peter Carey) had a list of London things to do, among them was a full English. ‘I know just the place’, said I smugly, imagining tucking into a  gozleme, drizzled in lemon juice and accompanied with some briny black olives as Man and Friend waded through gluggy tinned baked beans and anemic fried tomato. Oh, the hubris. Oh fate, tempted.

The caff, in the face of zero demand (excepting Man Woman’s occasional popping in for the £1.50 delights) had capitulated to a far more Anglo cuisine. A sad day it was, dear readers. Sad and bitter, as Woman refused to order any alternate dish and sat, seething, drinking instant coffee and seeing her angry face infinitely reflected on the two walls of facing mirrors.

And so, we started to make our own. It’s easy.

Gozleme dough (makes 4)

  • 1/2 C white flour
  • 1/2 C wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C water

Mix all ingredients. Give it a good knead. Like a ten minute knead. Knead it good.

Then let it rest for an hour, ideally. Divide into four balls and then roll the dough out into a rectangular shape. Roll as thin as possible – 2mm would be great.

Spread your filling in the centre of the dough. Not very thick – just enough to cover a section of about half the dough evenly. Then pull the edges over (see  above and below) in an envelope-style fold.

Brush the gozleme in olive oil or melted butter and fry on a hot pan for about 4 minutes a side, or until cooked through with nice black dots on it.

  •  

    The folded gozleme, ready for fryin’

Spinach and parsley stuffing (makes 2)

  • 1/2 C cooked or thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 C chopped parsley
  • 1 spring onion (or less red onion)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint

Mix together and do as above.

Sumac cheesy eggs stuffing (makes 2)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C grated cheese (we used cheddar, but a white cheese would be great)
  • 2 tsp chopped red onion
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix together. You’ll want your dough a little thicker for this one.

Estimated cost: £1.90

Musical accompaniment: Mulatu Astatke

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

Quick & chunky hummus (or houmus)

15 Feb

This recipe carries with it a startling and depressing confession: Man Woman does not possess a food processor. Gasp! Shriek!

Alack, dear readers, ’tis true. So the reason that this following recipe is ‘chunky’ is partly because we couldn’t be stuffed mashing the chickpeas for any longer. The amount of liquid added to this, however, does make for a more, well, liquid hummus, and the lack of blitzing means that the texture ends up being desirable as well as the only one we’re capable of producing.

Chunky hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/3 C tahini
  • salt
  • sumac, paprika, mint or parsley to garnish

Mash chickpeas, combine with other liquids and salt to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, fresh or dried herbs & serve with bread or veg sticks.

Estimated cost: £1

Musical accompaniment: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

Lebanese calzone – Lentils, parsley and feta folded pizza

6 Dec

Man Woman likes to debate what our favourite cuisine may be (for, indeed, the independence of our individual tastes has crumbled over the last few years, the only difference now being Man’s persistent love of a veggie fry-up breakfast). This debate is moot. The Turks. The Italians. The Viets.  We love them each in their own special way.

This dish here would be called ‘fusion’ if it wasn’t so rustic and the word ‘fusion’ wasn’t so simultaneously pretentious and out-dated. It combines my memories of massive dinners at Lebanese friends’ houses back in Sydney, when the delicious spinach and onion triangles would get inhaled by any who dared tread near. Saving ourselves the hassle that so many Lebanese ladies throughout the centuries have endured of making endless tidy little parcels, we decided we’ll big it up. Go calzone size and also throw a bit more beefiness in it to make it a substantial meal. Substantial it was. It was also darn tasty. How can the cross-breeding of two Mediterranean dishes ever go wrong?

What I love particularly about Lebanese cuisine is the appreciation for parsley as a flavour. Don’t knock it and don’t you dare scrimp on the parsley outlined below. This herb is not to be mistaken for a garnish.

Lentil, feta and parsley stuffing (serves 6)

  • 2.5 C cooked lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 150g ricotta
  • 200g feta
  • 1.5 C chopped parsley
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 TBSP raisins
  • 1 TBSP dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 TBSP lemon juice (to taste)
  • ground black pepper
  • salt
  • toasted pine nuts (if desired)

Calzone dough recipe

Soak and cook beans (probably about 1 cup of dried lentils will make 2.5 cups of cooked). Prepare pizza dough.

In a small pot, cook diced onions until softened. Add garlic, cook for another two minutes, then add lentils, stir through for a minute and add all three kinds of tomato (paste, dried and tinned).

Add herbs and spices and cook over a medium-high heat until there isn’t much liquid left. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. Mix in ricotta, feta and chopped parsley. Let cool.

Take a handful of the prepared pizza dough, and spread out into a 20cm circle. On one half of the circle, lay out a few good wooden spoonfuls of the lentil-feta mix. Fold the clear half over the half with the mix on it and seal shut.

Cook in an oven at 200C for about 25 – 30 minutes or until calzone dough is hard.

Estimated cost: £4.50

Musical accompaniment: Freelance Whales

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