Category Archives: Mediterranean

Cooking Up My Bookmarks: Sun-blushed tomatoes

Lots of tomatoes. Beautiful beautiful tomatoes. We’ve had this enormous surplus of cherry tomatoes. On the online shop each week (not my choice, I love supermarkets), we always order more cherry tomatoes, so when the new shop arrives no one wants to eat tomatoes that are more than a week old. Fair enough. But we literally had about 3 punnets not in use. THUS we had 4 punnets of cherry tomatoes that needed eating. I happily eat them in a salad, and these cherry toms are very nice raw. But comon, everyone loves tomatoes (more?) when they’re cooked.

So while using tomatoes liberally in all types of salad, I’ve been doing various ‘roasting’ recipes. I did these Super Saver Roast Tomatoes, but I also saw this recipe from Culinary Travels and added it to my bookmarks. So when we were inundated with these cherry tomatoes, I decided to cook another bookmark.

(Halfway through cooking)

Ingredients

-500g cherry tomatoes

-2 tbsp olive oil

-1 tsp sugar

-1 tsp salt

-A few sprigs of fresh thyme and a small handful of basil leaves

Method

-Preheat oven to 140 c. and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

-Chop each tomato in half, and put in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

-Take the tomatoes and place them sliced side up on the baking paper. Pour the oil etc. from the bowl over the tomatoes.

– Put in the oven for 2-3 hours, until started to shrivel but still quite plump. Leave to cool, and store in a jar. Submerge with oil.


1 Comment

Filed under Italian, Mediterranean, Vegan, Vegetarian

LOOK WHAT I MADE

Making bread is one of my weaknesses, but so is falafel. I’m sure I am not the only one who attempts falafel, only for it to fall into nothingness in the frying pan. I’ve seen many falafel recipes in my time which call for egg as a binding ingredient, which could help me avoid this problem. I SAY NO EFFING WAY. Traditional falafel recipes do not use egg. And JESSICA don’t use egg. I will avoid egg at all opportunities. No to egg.

If any of you know Paris, you know that Le Marais is home to THE BEST falafel stores in the world. This is evidently an exaggeration on my part because I have ventured little outside France and Italy, however judging by the extremely long queues, you would think that these falafel stores are selling substances other than Mediterranean snacks….

Anyway, it’s therefore always been a shame that I love falafel and have tasted some of the best falafel that can be offered, yet I can’t (couldn’t) seem to make my own. Until I realised I was making a stupid error. I was ignoring flour and baking powder. You wouldn’t think they were so important for binding, well, they are.

To sum up, falafel is great and now I can make it and wont have to go to Paris or wherever in order to have it. Basically, I love falafel, what better food could you possibly have? I’m not even sure what makes it so good, it’s chickpeas…fried…

I was also extremely happy to omit a lot of fresh things from this recipe, which makes it easy on the wallet. Yay. However, you WILL need a food processor. Enjoy.

Ingredients

-1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained.

-1 onion, chopped roughly

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tbsp of lemon juice

-2 tbsp of flour

-1 tsp of baking powder

-1 large handful of spinach (optional)

-2 tsp of dried flat leaf parsley

-2 tsp of chilli powder (I used one, cos my mum is a wimp)

-2 tsp dried coriander

-2 tsp ground cumin

-1 tsp salt

-5-6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil (I used a mix).

Method

-Process the chickpeas until broken apart, but do not process for too long.

-Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until the mixture comes together to resemble mashed potato almost. You will need to stop the processor from time to time in order to move the ingredients about in the container. Do not over-process, it still needs to be slightly chunky. 

-Take a teaspoon amount of the mixture, and then using your hands roll into balls. Place on a plate ready to fry, you will probably need to do it in batches.

-In a large frying pan, ideally a wok-like one, heat up the oil.

-Add about four to five balls to the oil, ideally the oil should come halfway up a ball.

-Leave the balls to cook for about 3 minutes or until dark brown, and then turn the balls over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then drain on kitchen towel.

-Do not overcrowd the frying pan! Enjoy warm, with hummus, salad, pitta or ANYTHING, FALAFEL GOES GREAT WITH ANYTHING!

1 Comment

Filed under Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Cheap Couscous Stew

Sorry about the poor photos, I hope they give credit to the meal, because it was really delicious, and filling. And I don’t think the photos do it justice. This photo was taken in Harrogate on a luvly winter day. Well it wasn’t that lovely, it was fricking freezing but the sun makes it look as though we were having a summer walk.

How’s the injury you ask? (I like to vent). Well, these past 2 months I have learnt many things:

  • Back pain  leads to every other pain in the entire body.
  • Backs take ages to heal. Patience is the key.
  • Don’t think that a foot injury is just a foot injury, it is probably a back injury.
  • I don’t value my mobility enough.
  • Almost everyone doesn’t value their mobility enough.
  • I genuinely do love running, and without it I am a shadow of my former self.
  • BACKS AND EVERYTHING RELATED TO SPINE PROBLEMS SUCK SO MUCH. 
  • Injuries happen, that’s life, and more often than not people recover.

What we have here is couscous cooked in chopped tomatoes, with some kidney beans, peppers, carrots and onions. Easy, cheap, healthy, filling. It’s really comforting and can be frozen/made ahead. I chose couscous because it served as a good way to bulk up the meal, without having rice. I don’t have any brown rice, and white rice would have made it too stodgy. The couscous is so soft and gives the dish a really creamy texture. Couscous has a greater flavour than rice. Other alternatives can be used, I was thinking bulgur wheat or buckwheat groats, but chose couscous to give it a great Mediterranean flavour.

Analysis of Cheap Cousous

-Couscous is one of the healthiest grains, having more vitamins that pasta, the same amount of protein and a lower glycemic index and fat content. It’s a slow energy releaser, so it beats white pasta and rice in that sense.

-The kidney beans are stuffed with fibre, giving you slow release energy. And they absorb flavours really well–very yummy.

-Chopped tomatoes–SUPERFOOD.

Ingredients-serves 3-4

-1 red onion, chopped

-1 clove of garlic chopped

-1 carrot, chopped (I did mine into discs)

-1 yellow pepper chopped

-2 x 1/3 cup of couscous (about 3/4 a mug).

-1x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained

-500ml water

-Mixed herbs

-paprika

-vegetable bouillon(optional)

-salt and pepper

Method

-In a saucepan, fry  the chopped vegetables in some oil until soft. About 10 minutes, but just use your judgement. Add about 1 tsp of herbs, paprika, bouillon, salt and pepper.

-Add the remaining ingredients, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes until the couscous tastes soft, stirring every so often. You might need to add a bit more water if it seems that the ‘stew’ is becoming a bit dry. Unlike a normal stew, do not leave this simmering for hours, otherwise the couscous will burn the surface.  Serve hot or cold.

2 Comments

Filed under Grains, How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Olives, but Nicer.

I have never laid claim to being the most open eater. Let me tell you, as I child I was awful. I still have my friends’ mums telling me how hard it was for them to cater for me when I came round. I think they tell me their stories with quite a happy retrospect, but I know deep down they’re screaming “DAMN IT THAT GIRL WAS SO RIDICULOUS”. The favourite story for my friend and her mum to tell me and everyone over and over is when the mum asked what I like to eat, I said I like eating chicken dippers. So she made me chicken dippers and I said, “I said I like chicken dippers, I didn’t say I wanted them”. I still vow that THIS NEVER HAPPENED. Fussy eating is fun to laugh at by many (I know, I do it now), but I didn’t enjoy being a fussy eater. Dinner scared me a lot when going to relatives’ and friends’ houses,  it wasn’t fun for me either. It’s easy to tell someone “just have some of the sweetcorn”, when that person is mortified they’re going to throw up. I was evidently a very dramatic child. But something happened, I went to my cousin’s wedding at the age of 12, and was made to eat a set menu which I had no control over. And that did it. I loved the food they gave me and from then on I tried everything I was given.

But because of this fussy past, there are still some foods which retain awful memories, which I will eat but unhappily. Boiled eggs for example. And olives, I just knew I didn’t like them, and I constantly tried to eat them and it just didn’t work, they weren’t nice. However, I begun, in time, to be able to palate them. My very good friend told me “I hated olives too, but just make yourself like them”. There is still something GEURGH about them, but after realising they’re so cheap I’m not going to let them pass me.

So these olives are for the person who was/is like me. Palatable olives, or NICE OLIVES. Stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes or cheese, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They’re completely malleable to your tastes, add Stilton, peppers, or jalapeños!  Alternatively, you could buy your olives pre-stuffed. 

Analysis of Stuffed Olives:

  • Olives, not just olive oil, are healthy. When eaten in moderation these are little bombs of anti-oxidants, brilliant for the stomach and most definitely reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • If stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, you’re benefiting from the super-food benefits of tomatoes.
  • These are oily and rich, due to being lightly coated in bread and because olives themselves are filling, they are therefore effective as a snack that you wont eat tonnes of.

Ingredients-Adapted from Lisa is Cooking (thank you Lisa!)

-Olives without the stone, however many you want of whatever kind. I’m convinced that black olives are my favourite.

-1 egg whisked with a fork, in a bowl

-1 cup of bread crumbs, in a bowl

-1 tbsp of plain flour, in a bowl

-the filling of your choice, cut slim so you can push it into the olives.

-4 tbsp oil Olive oil

Method

-With a tooth pick, poke your fillings into the olive.

-Dip the olives into the flour, then in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Another method (if you’re interested, which I was cos I don’t like egg so like to use as little possible) which might collect more breadcrumbs is dipping the olives into the EGG FIRST, then the flour and then THE EGG again, and then into the breadcrumbs. Both worked fine, I think it all depends on how much egg and flour you’re coating the olives with.

-In a deepish frying pan, if available, heat up the olive oil. Place the breaded olives into the oil, and with a utensil of some sort make sure the whole olive is covered in oil. Gently fry the olives into they are brown and place on a kitchen towel to drain them of the oil.

3 Comments

Filed under How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Other, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

Warming Veggie Enchiladas

So it’s very chilly, and grizzly, and grey and wet/snowy. I have to say Leeds was  much colder and grey than it is here in London, but my family proclaim that “it’s just SO cold!”.

I’m still injured and getting over it (to an extent). It took a few days moping around and lashing out at my family but I’m recovering day by day and swimming like Nemo so it’s fine. My problem is something to do with my lower disc which consequently putting strain on my groin and hip. It’s weird, and I’m not sure I really get it. But I’m walking relatively pain free, and the pain in my foot has almost subsided.

So my injury hasn’t left me with great empathy with cooking, but after lots of swimming and an absence of pain, I foresee a future with running so my appetite has come back. These Mexican enchiladas are quite work intensive, but are SO worth it. If you like Mexican, you’ll love this. I’m not trying to be particularly big headed or anything. Anyway you’ll have to make your own enchilada sauce first, so here is the recipe for that:

For one portion of Enchilada sauce

Ingredients

-1 tbsp of flour

-2 tbsp of olive oil

-3 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 clove of garlic crushed

-4tsp paprika

-2 tsp cumin

-2 tsp coriander

1x 200g tube/can of tomato puree

-1 cup of water (maybe a bit more)

Method

-WHISK the oil flour, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until there are now lumps.

-Warm slightly in medium saucepan, and continue to whisk.

-Add the remain ingredients, whisking at all times. I can’t stress the importance of whisking, whisk until there are no lumps.

-Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember to taste test, you might want to adjust the seasonings.

For the Enchiladas

Ingredients-Serves 4

-1 pepper-chopped into slices

-1 mushroom-chopped

-1 courgette-chopped into half moons

-2 tsp of cumin, coriander and paprika.

-salt and pepper

-1x can of aduki beans.

-1 x red onion chopped

-1 serving of Enchilada sauce (recipe above)

-4 tortillas

-cheddar cheese (optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 c, gas mark 8 and roast courgettes, mushroom and pepper with the spices and about 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for about an hour, or until the vegetables are done.

-Drain the beans, and divide into two portions. Mash one portion with a potato masher.

-In a saucepan, fry onion in a bit of oil and salt, until soft. Once soft, add both portions of aduki beans, roast vegetables and 2 heaped tbsp of enchilada sauce.

-Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.

-Warm tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave. Divide the bean and vegetable mixture down the middle of each wrap, fold up and place seam side down in a baking dish. Place the wraps snugly next to each other.

-Spread remaining enchilada sauce over top of enchiladas and top with grated cheese if wanted. Any cheese, such as goats or mozzarella, is fine!

-Serve with GUACAMOLE

Ingredients

-2 x Avacados

-Juice of one lime

-2 tsp of salt

-2 tsp of coriander leaf or fresh coriander chopped finely

-1 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 half of white onion, chopped very finely.

-3 cherry tomatoes, chopped.

Method

Scoop out insides of avacado in a bowl.

-Add rest together and mash with a fork, knife or potato masher!!

6 Comments

Filed under Cheese, Mediterranean, Vegetarian

Sweet’n’Spicy Tabbouleh

MMM, tabouleh, eh? Who doesn’t love some Mediterranean freshness to pick them in the ridiculously foggy weather up here in Leeds, and whereever you are. I’m sure the weather is pretty much dismal everywhere. I don’t seem to be taking that much notice or even care because I am so happy to be finally healed (touch wood), after having been injured for the past 2 1/2 weeks in the run up to two races. My first 10k took place on Sunday 20th and it was incredible, I got 46:43 which I’m happy with seeing as I hadn’t done any proper training and it was my first 10k, and I hadn’t really been able to break past the 8 minute miling stage in the run up to the race. Anyway blah blah blah, I did it and pain free.

This tabbouleh is gorgeous because it has the spiciness of the raw red onions and jalapeños, which the tomatoes and sultanas cut through. Of course, feel free to make this ‘sweet’n’spicy’-less by ignoring the jalapeños and sultanas which are an addition of my own.

Ingredients (serves 1)

1/4 cup of bulgar wheat

-2 cups of water

-1 tsp vegetable stock

-2 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 tsp cajun spice(optional)

-2 tsp jalapeños

1/2 red onion

1 tomato

-1/2 tbsp of sultanas

3 tbsp of french dressing (method to follow)

4 tbsp oil

-3 tsbp white wine vinegar

-1 tsp whole grain mustard-SHAKE IT ALL UP.

Method

Put the bulgar wheat, sultanas and water in a saucepan and bring to boil, once boiling lower to a medium heat adding the vegetable stock, cayenne and cajun spice. A little salt wouldn’t go amiss too. Cook the bulgar wheat to packet instructions, normally 15 minutes, or until it is soft. Drain it.

-Chop up tomatoes, onions and jalapeños finely. Add these to the bulgar wheat and sultanas, mix and fluff up with a fork.

-Pour over French dressing and mix well.

1 Comment

Filed under Grains, Mediterranean, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Super Saver Roast Tomatoes

Hello, happy autumn from West Yorkshire, the home of the best landscape in the world (according to me, who hasn’t been to many places).  I haven’t written for a long time, and that’s for numerous reasons. I’ve been very busy whilst being back at University. Most of the time I’m either studying, socialising or, more often than not, training with cross country. This has resulted in me being very unadventurous with food, I always resort to courgette fritters or  my super food salad consisting of: roasted pepper, garlic and sweet potato, spinach, lettuce, grated carrot, raw red onion, jalapeños topped with feta, hummus and balsamic vinegar, with a brown bread roll. Why would I want to cook anything else? But I do branch out, don’t worry. I make pizza and squash, and pastry things.

I’ve been injured these past 3 days and I think I’m going insane without running, and I’ve been a bit of wreck because I have two races lined up. I’m taking it easy today with a 3-4 mile run and going to see how that turns out. I think it will be okay, if not I have a free sports massage woo-hoo.

Right here we have sweet roasted tomatoes. My friend’s dad made them for her, and when she invited me round for a cheese night I went crazy for these things. They’re absolutely delicious, and perfect with anything. Remember: tomatoes are healthier cooked!
Ingredients

1 pack of cherry tomatoes

-Olive oil. And lots of it.

-1 tbsp of dried herbs (Rosemary, thyme, basil and sage). I have a mixed pack for money’s sake, but obviously you use can use different quantities etc.

-1 dessert spoon of salt

-1 dessert spoon of sugar (I used demerera).

Method
 Pre-heat oven to 180 c.

-Find a small baking tray, it should be small, otherwise you’ll be using lots of oil which is not necessary.

-Fill baking try with cherry tomatoes, make sure they’re not piled on top of each other, and pour in oil till it covers half of tomatoes. Cover with rest of ingredients, and use a spoon or whatever to make sure all the tomatoes covered with oil and herbs etc.

-Put in the oven for 4 hours, checking every hour or so to shake the oil ingredients about. There will be double amounts of liquid as tomatoes release their juices, don’t worry. The tomatoes are done when they are shrivelled up like so.

-Preserve in oil, and eat whenever!!

3 Comments

Filed under Mediterranean, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian