Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Caponata (Aubergine and Tomato Stew)

The title is totally unprepossessing, and I'm sure memories of poorly-cooked ratatouilles are sending you scrolling away from this screaming. HOWEVER! I implore you to stay. Try this recipe! Particularly in summer, when aubergines and tomatoes are in plentiful supply. The capers and olives make a fantastic contrast with the fresh vegetables, and it's amazingly filling as well. Yes, it's Jamie Oliver. Yes, olive oil must be glugged. But you won't be disappointed with a new away to jazz up those med veg.


  • 2 large aubergines, cut into large chunks
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked and drained
  • 1 handful green olives, stones removed
  • 2-3 tablespoons best-quality herb (or at least wine) vinegar
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted, optional

Fry the aubergine and oregano in olive oil on a  high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the aubergine in batches.) When the aubergines are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it's getting too dry.

Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender. Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the almonds if you like.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Mega Veggie Breakfast: Hash Browns

I prefer to shop once a week, since I just don't have much time in the evenings, and the challenge of extending the same shop through the week often prompts me to try different meals in order to use up the food while it's at its best. However, I also like starting my weekend with a proper cooked breakfast, rather than the bowls of cereal we have through the week. Sometimes it's toast, often it's pancakes or waffles, but every so often I want a proper English breakfast.

This week, I had the craving, but hadn't really done anything to justify pigging out on... well, pig. Also, the fridge was at Peak Bareness. So, I put together this Mega Veggie Breakfast :) The dregs of buttermilk were enough for pancakes from The Joy of Cooking, beans came from a tin, avocados I'd left ripening on the counter all week finally got sliced, there were leftover fried mushrooms from dinner, I poached eggs in the microwave (only one explosion), and made my first home-made hash browns. I used this recipe, modifying it for the two golf-ball size potatoes I had left in the fridge. Despite the tiny amount of potato, it made four hash browns - enough for two people as part of this breakfast. So you'll really make loads if you follow their instructions and use six medium potatoes!


  • 6 medium (about 1.2kg) desiree potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil, to shallow-fry
  • Select all ingredients

Coarsely grate the potatoes into a colander. Use your hands to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible -- this is really, really important, so give it some welly!

In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated potato, flour, egg and salt, and stir until well-combined. Make flattened cakes with the potato mixture -- the thinner you make them, the faster they will cook, and the less oil you will use.

If you're feeling fancy, use a deep fryer to cook the hash browns. If you're feeling like you want to live a few days longer, use as much oil as it takes to cover the bottom third of the hash browns, and flip them once the underside is golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and serve as quickly as possible, dusted with a little more salt.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Lamb Kofta with Tomato Sauce

The well-meaning but somewhat dappy SO managed to buy 1kg of lamb mince when I'd asked for diced lamb -- I suppose it was just extremely well-diced. So I had to think of a way of using a huge amount of lamb mince, and I didn't really feel like mousakka or shepherd's pie. So for the first time, I made kofta! I had a few jars of homemade passata that a friend had given me so used one as a base for the tomato sauce, but you could easily use a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook it for longer. Loosely following this recipe, we didn't fry the onions first, and the final result had a distinctly raw-onion-y flavour. So I recommend frying them first, if only for a minute or two, just to get rid of that rawness.  I served this with aloo gobi and plain basmati rice.


  • 1 onion (white or red)
  • a large bunch of parsley
  • a slice of day-old bread
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes or a jar of passata
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
Finely chop or zap the onion in a blender and fry for a few minutes, until the rawness has gone and the onions turn sweet. Meanwhile, blitz the parsley, bread, garlic and spices in a blender and dump into a mixing bowl. Fold in the cooked onions and lamb mince and blend well. Stir in the plain flour and then the egg. Bring the mixture together and form into large-egg-sized meatballs.

Fry in olive oil for a few minutes on each side, until browned. Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes with the curry powder in a large saucepan, seasoning to taste. As each kofta browns, drop it into the tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the kofta are done to taste and the sauce is thickened.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Pork Belly with Pomegranate Molasses

Using the fancy new oven timer, I slow-cooked this pork belly using solar power while I was out cycling. I used Nigel Slater's recipe with a generous dose of pomegranate molasses. I followed the recipe exactly so won't repeat it here.

The tart base of the pork belly was really tasty, the flesh was succulent, and the crackling was totally delicious, but it felt weird to be throwing away so much marinade. I wonder if there is a better way of getting the sticky tacky gooberiness of the marinade into the pork, rather than just having the occasional fragment of the base spiked with tartness. I think I might prefer simply roasting the pork belly as is, and making a dipping sauce to go with it.