Shakshuka

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This is another Ottolenghi recipe, though I have had Shakshuka before in my local vegetarian cafe. It’s a very simple dish and doesn’t require too many ingredients. Takes about half an hour and perfect when it’s cold outside. I have scaled down to serve one.

Ingredients

1 ripe red bell pepper, chopped into small cubes
2 tablespoons of harissa paste (quite hot – available from most middle eastern groceries),
2 tsp tomato puree,
3 big ripe vine tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp salt,
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tsp ground cumin,
2 eggs
chopped parsley to serve (optional)
cooking oil

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Directions

Heat your oil in large frying pan. Add the garlic, pepper, tomato puree, harissa, cumin and salt. Fry for 8 minutes on a medium heat, so that the pepper has softened.

Add the tomatoes. Fry for a further 8 minutes.

Next you need to make some ‘hollows’ in the sauce, so that you can poach the eggs in it. You can either make 4 hollows or 2, depending on whether or not you’d prefer to keep your yolks and whites separate. I don’t think it makes much difference – either way you break the eggs and let them fall into their places in the sauce. Cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

When done, add chopped parsley if using.
Serve with yoghurt and/or hummous.

Lovely.

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The Best of what I’ve Eaten, Since Last I Posted

Chermoula Aubergine with Quinoa (Lemony or Kisir)

I absolutely love aubergines. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. Their flesh has an almost potato like texture, which is pleasant since I no longer eat normal potatoes because of the starch and its effect on insulin levels, and they soak up so much flavour. I never seem to gain weight when I eat them, something a friend of mine was discussing with me after I passed on my aubergine bug to him.

Oh before I post it, I must add, Ottolenghi’s directions for roasting aubergines always seem to be written with non-fan ovens in mind. If you have a fan oven, you only need to put the aubergines in at about 180 degrees and for half an hour, rather than the 40 minutes he states, otherwise they’ll end up charred and acrid.

from the Guardian

from the Guardian Newspaper

So I made this meal in the festive season between Christmas and New Year. It is perhaps the most popular dish of increasingly reknowned chef Yotam Ottolengh’s, judging from the ‘buzz’ being created by it online.

Here is the main recipe, which I changed and supplemented to make more suitable for a gluten-free vegan PCOS diet:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/12/chermoula-aubergine-bulgar-recipe-ottolenghi

Served separately, both the aubergine and the bulgar salad from this dish are delicious with the accompanying Greek yoghurt, but all three together are a match made in food heaven. Chermoula is a potent North African spice paste that is ideal for smearing on your favourite vegetables for roasting. Serves four as a main course.

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin make at least a night in advance
140ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
Salt
2 medium aubergines
150g quinoa or – choose this lemony quinoa recipe or Ottolenghi’s Kisir substituting the bulgar wheat with quinoa and adding more water than stated
50g sultanas
10g fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra to finish
10g fresh mint, chopped
50g green olives, halved
30g flaked almonds, toasted
3 spring onions, chopped
1½ tbsp lemon juice
120g Greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. To make the chermoula, mix together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh of each half with diagonal, crisscross lines, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are very soft.

Meanwhile, place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover with 140ml boiling water. Soak the sultanas in 50ml of warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and add to the bulgar, along with the remaining oil. Stir in the herbs, olives, almonds, spring onions, lemon juice and salt, taste and add more salt, if necessary.

Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature. Place one half-aubergine per portion on a serving plate, spoon bulgar on top, allowing some to fall over the sides, spoon over a little yoghurt, sprinkle with chopped coriander and finish with a dribble of olive oil. – The Guardian Newspaper

What I do is then add the ingredients he adds to the bulgar wheat, to add even more flavour.
So, yes, it’s quite an undertaking, cooking all this in its entirity, however it is very much how I imagine the food of gods must taste.

Back After New Year

Hellooooo. I have not posted anything since Christmas – it might even have been Christmas day itself. No reason why in particular, other than the general excuse of being busy 🙂 And ‘with what’ you might ask…

in which case a run down must include: being asked to write a book review for The Times Literary Supplement. Something I’ve wanted to get into doing for a while now – it happened mostly as a result of me getting a poem published in there last November; boyfriend stuff. Urgh. Sometimes relationships are very VERY stressy; finally *nearly* finishing work on my album; German AS Level; getting together all of my poems from the past year or so, having been awarded funding for some one-to-one tutorials; discovering and cooking excellent recipes I will share elsewhere on the site; going to Warsaw; finally getting back out in the hills and doing some hiking; finally making a regular thing of yoga classes; work (yes, I’ve started doing that again); joining a new band on guitar; and then there was just general laziness/ joyous instances of indolent comfort while reading or streaming films in bed.

My experiences of PCOS has inevitably continued over this time. I’ve had some extremely painful and debilitating periods, which included vomiting a couple of times, such was the pain. I’ve found some ways of alleviating this pain, or so it seems for now. I’ve also found ways of ridding the cyclical breast pain associated with PMS (via evening primrose oil supplements) and have finally changed the sanitary products I use, switching from expensive and uncomfortable tampons and pads, to the more environmentally and biologically friendly Mooncup. I’ve also learned some further diet information: started cooking with various forms of buckwheat, taking vitamin E etc. For Christmas I bought my mum Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi’s latest recipe book, ‘Jerusalem’, and that has got me cooking some exceptional vegan/PCOS-friendly food from the Middle East.

Now I just have to decide where to start, after this blog update… 🙂