Chickpeas and feta cheese patties

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Super healthy, gluten-free and  protein packed. Also very tasty… The perfect thing  to have on stand by for a weekday meal or a snack.

Chickpeas and feta cheese patties (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog)

 Ingredients

  • 100g feta cheese
  • ½ grated onion (optional)
  • 1 small courgette grated
  • 2 small carrots peeled and grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumins, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon (or lume) zest
  • 2 400g chickpeas tin, drained and washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve

  • leafy salad
  • plain yoghurt

Method

Put the cheese, cumin, lemon zest, chickpeas, and the grated onion, carrots and courgette in a mixer. Mix until you have a coarse consistent puree, still with some chunks.

Make small patties with your hands.  Put in the fridge and let them cool until cooking time.

To fry, heat the olive oil until pipping hot and drop in a couple of  patties. Be careful not to add too many, otherwise they will boil. Sauté about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brow.

Serve with a leafy salad and plain yoghurt.

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Beef and apple tajine

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After last Easter’s lamb tajine cook off, it seemed right to give it a try to a different kind of meat,  now that Winter is on its way. For the same price, Si and Dave, on their Hairy Bikers version,  also got an opportunity redeem themselves from the least favourite tajine of the cook off.  It is slow food at it very slowest food. But, the result is a pure comfort food, packed with different flavours and textures, with sweet and spice notes.  Perfect for a cold Winter day… A word of warning, though:  it is a very heavy and filling dish. Most likely, it is also a caloric bomb…

Beef and apple tajine  (adapted from a recipe by Hairy Bikers found in BBC Goodfood)

Ingredients

  • 750g of  braising steak
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium sweet potato (around 400g)
  • 2 large apples
  • 25g bunch fresh coriander
  • 75g no-soak dried prunes, halved
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1 large red-skinned  apple
  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Method

If not using a tajine, preheat the oven to 180oC.

Trim the beef of any hard fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the tagine (or in a large non-stick frying pan, you are not using the tajine). Fry the beef in three batches over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides, adding a little more oil to the pan when needed.  Reserve or transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned.

Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the tajine (or the frying pan). Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Put the brown meat back to the tajine (or tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef). Add about 50ml of cold water to the tagine and mix well to lift the sediment from the bottom. In case you are not using the tajine, add 150mL of water to the frying pan and stir until the sediment is gone. Pour the water into the casserole.

Add about 150mL of water, the tomatoes and chickpeas to the casserole and stir in the honey. Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, stirring a couple of times. Cover with the tajine and let cook for about 1½ hours. In case you are not using a tajine, you will have to use a bit more water (about 350mL), let it boil. Then cover the dish with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.

Ten minutes before the time is up, peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Trim the coriander and roughly chop half of the leaves.

If you are not using the tajine, carefully take the casserole out of the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander. Cover once more and return to the oven. If you are using a tajine, just add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. In both cases,  cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.

To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.

Scatter the fried apples over the tajine in the casserole, scatter with roughly chopped coriander and serve.


Roasted vegetables

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A special roast required for ultra special roasted vegetables. That was why I used a modification to the Yotam Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous recipe I cooked a few weeks back (orignal post here). Follow the methods, and then forget to add the chickpeas and the couscous (water is still needed to keep it moist, though).

The ultimate Winter couscous

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Another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s column The new vegetarian on the Guardian. It took me a while to realize that it was worthwhile to face an inordinate amount of ingredients: his recipes are absolutely delicious and full of flavors. This one has over 20 ingredients, but it is very straight forward. Plus, the veggies can be done in bulk to eat latter (reheating won’t change its organoleptic properties). Seriously, how hard can it be to roast some vegetables and put them on top of couscous?

The ultimate Winter couscous

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (it is easier to be blessed with a sunny day in November than finding parsnips in Switzerland. I replaced it with a different type of pumpkin).
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • half teaspoon of  salt
  • half teaspoon ground ginger
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • half teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 300g squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (weight after cleanning)
  • 100g  dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 200g chickpeas (cooked or tinned)
  • 350ml water (or chickpea liquor)
  • 170g couscous
  • 1 big pinch saffron fronds
  • 260ml vegetable stock
  • 20g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 25g harissa (I ignored it)
  • 25g preserved lemon, finely chopped (I ignored it)
  • 1 handful picked coriander leaves (I forgot to add, but at the speed this was eaten it didn’t seem to be instrumental for the recipe)

Methods

Preheat the oven to 190oC/gas mark 5. Put the carrots, parsnips and shallots into a large, oven-proof dish, add the cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, four tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and all the spices, and mix. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the squash, stir and roast for 35 minutes more, by which time the vegetables should have softened but retained their bite. Add the apricots, chickpeas and liquid, then return to the oven for 10 minutes, until hot.

Around 15 minutes before the vegetables will be ready, put the couscous in a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, the saffron and half a teaspoon of salt. Boil the stock, pour over the couscous and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 10 minutes, then add the butter and fluff up with a fork until it melts in. Cover again and leave somewhere warm (I followed the couscous instructions for time and volume).

To serve, fill the base of a deep plate with couscous. Stir the harissa and lemon into the vegetables, taste, adjust the seasoning and spoon on to the centre of the couscous. Garnish with lots of coriander.