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June 2014 Archives

cooking mujaddara

June 30, 2014

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I feel like I don’t have any money, won’t ever have any money and can’t remember what money looks like at the moment.

Peasant food beckons in times of hardship. I found this really old Arab dish of mixed rice, lentils and onions on the web. It sounds bland but it’s surprisingly flavourful. That’s the caramelised onions doing their job. Caramelised onions are one of the best culinary secret weapons out there.

I like the name too - mujaddara, sounds tribal.

So this is a thrifty little tumble, I haven’t worked out how much a bowl costs, but I’m sure it’s WELL under a quid. Put a dollop of minty yoghurt and a handful of toasted walnuts over the top (if you’re feeling particularly opulent) and you have yourself a complete meal. I can’t think of anything it wouldn’t go with but know it would be particularly brilliant with chicken, halloumi or grilled aubergine.

The recipe below is if you’re making it from scratch, but it makes sense to make dishes like this when you have leftover rice or lentils.

muja

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Find the recipe here

cooking hot chocolate, the Italian way

June 26, 2014

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I felt like the majority of my time in Sicily was spent topping up my liquid levels. You know how it is when it’s weirdly hot, it throws you. Emergency bottles of san pel. are strapped to the body like weapons.

Then your energy levels are low and you need coffee.

Then more water to counterbalance the coffee.

Then a little Aperol spritz because you’re on holiday. Then more aperol spritz because you’re not driving, then more because it’s nice. Then after a while you’ll need ANOTHER coffee — then more emergency water. It’s a time consuming business. A portable seline drip would be ideal for this sort of situation.

The only thing I found difficult to ‘drink’ in Sicily was the cioccolata calda, which is so thick it’s more akin to pudding.

Italian hot choco is a thick, dark custard-like mass of silky chocolate liquid. I thought I’d write this up because having wanted pudding the other night, and with no means to make it — I made this and my cravings were satisfied. It’s got a real nursery type comfort about it.

If you like a bit of salt with your sweet, sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt atop before spooning in.

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choc

Find the recipe here

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cooking lime & coriander fish taco bowls

June 24, 2014

bowls

When I see white fish on offer in a supermarket I make these.

Fish is good in a taco for two reasons. The first — bite-ability. You can gnaw through fish without the structural integrity giving way. Second— white fish loves bright citrus flavour. I’ve just thought of a third— it doesn’t matter if the fish falls apart a little when cooking, because you end up piling it into a taco.

The tortilla bowls are made from moulding your tortillas into ovenproof bowls and baking them, not strictly necessary but how CUTE?!

The five steps to making these are as follows:

  • One: Making a limey, corinander-y, garlic-y, salty marinade for your fish:

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Two: Pickle your red onion rings:

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  • Three: Mould and crisp up your taco bowls:

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  • Four: Mix creme freiche with hot sauce and a tiny bit of ketchup. No need for a picture, right?

  • Five: And finally pan-fry the fish, slice up an avocado and assemble:

bowls

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For the recipe go here

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cooking Coconut shrimp

June 17, 2014

demshrimp

So I’ve got another football snack. Last one. Brazil has a fish stew called ‘Moqueca de Cameroes’ which is a spicy coconut soup with prawns and rice (and sometimes peanuts).

It sounds really good but eating soup in front of the football has its drawbacks. In anyone scores you’d have to carefully place your bowl down before reacting. Now I don’t want to come across all ‘health and safety officer’ this doesn’t seem (talking through pinched nose) practical.

Luckily, Brazilians also do things on skewers quite a lot, they call them ‘espetinhos’ which translates to ‘little skewers’ in portuguese. So I’ve switched up the ingredients and formatted them into something much more football friendly.

So, just to talk you through…

First up panée the shrimp (prawns) in coconut and panko:

first

Fry:

2nd

Season and serve with peanut sauce (made by warming and mixing said ingredients):

plated

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Find the recipe here

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cooking Sausage Pastels

June 17, 2014

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So IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED, the world cup is happening. So we’re in need of a few more stomach liners and party nibbles to counteract the beer aren’t we?

Sausage rolls are what is eaten at England matches (so I’m told, I’ve never actually been to one). In Brazil they have a street snack called Pastel (translates simply to ‘pastry’), which is a deep fried crispy envelope, which is filled with spicy beef, chicken, cheese or even banana. They look a bit like those McDonalds apple pies. You can find them all over Brazil.

You can see where I’m going here can’t you? I’ve created a mongrel, aptly titled ‘Sausage Pastels’.

I’ve made these ones quite small because to be honest I would be arrested by nutritionists if they got hold of this recipe. They are essentially deep fried sausage rolls. Enjoy with ice cold beer and some spicy sauce. And don’t get too hammered because remember you’ve got confession in the morning.

So, to run you through it:

First you make the dough (if you can’t be bothered just use wonton pastry or filo). The dough contains vodka to make it crisp up better

dough

I’ve made circular ones because I found it’s easier than making rectangles

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The filling is just sausage-meat, so get really good sausages, Dutchy Originals or other. Adding chorizo would be good

meat

fold

crimp

These work EXCEPTIONALLY well from frozen. And you don’t need a gallon of oil, just a couple of inches, and fry them in batches, making sure the oil is good and hot before you put them in.

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sausage

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Find the recipe here

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cooking stuffed courgette flowers with salty ricotta and honey

June 09, 2014

So I made these in Sicily last week. Bit of shitty picture I know, but forgive me I was VERY chilled out at the time.

courgettes

Sicilians do ricotta and honey very well thanks to the Greeks and Arabs who settled there (like bare time ago). They use both a lot, particularly in desserts. They also grow amazing vegetables, especially where we were staying at the foot of mount Etna. The volcanic soil is rich in minerals so the vegetables taste incredible. I found a punnet of baby courgette flowers in a corner shop and had to have.

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I don’t think you should ever do anything else with courgette flowers, you just need this one recipe, that’s you sorted for courgette flowers, for LIFE.

fry

You just need:

  • some courgette flowers

  • some salted (brined) ricotta. Use goats cheese or feta as replacement

  • honey for drizzling

  • olive oil for frying and drizzling

make ‘em:

  1. stuff the flower parts with cheese.
  2. fry in olive oil
  3. drizzle with honey

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cooking lamb, date and pistachio meatballs

June 09, 2014

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‘Don’t play with your food’ doesn’t apply to this recipe. These meatballs should be played with.

Lamb mince (my favourite) can take a lot of spice and seasoning. If you don’t have all the spices in the recipe list, make them anyway.

Stay away from curry spices and go for Persian ones, so things like cumin, cinnamon, chilli, ras-el-hanout sort of thing. Warm ones. The addition of nuts (you can mix this up too) and dried fruits (same same) gives them more texture and flavour. So nut variations can be pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and dried fruits can be apricots, sultanas, dates, figs etc.

These are what you should make if you ever feel stressed about what to cook in a short space of time. Everyone will always loves them, you can’t not.

cookin

I like to have them with yoghurt mixed with tahini and lemon juice, or tzatiki and chilli sauce (as in pics) or eaten kebab style in flatbread.

Find the recipe here

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cooking a watermelon panzanella salad

June 09, 2014

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So panzanella - a lovely vibrant Tuscan bread salad, made with charred bread that absorbs the juices. I added watermelon to this one and a few other salty bits of bling.

This is not by any means a measly salad, it’s big, salty, sweet and hefty and refreshing. A meal in it’s own right, perfecto for hot weather — where you want to pick, go away, come back pick some more etc.

A few tips:

Use 3 day old bread, or really hard sourdough.

bread

If you put cucumber in it (not essential) don’t ribbon them as I did, they go too soggy, Cut them chunky.

cucumber

Let the red onion sit in some vinegar for 10mins before you use it, it gets rid of the acrid burn that raw onion has

redonion

Use the nicest tomatoes you can

cherry

toms

Don’t bother de-seeding the melon, too much faff

melon

For the dressing, put everything in an empty jar and shake up

dressing

Let it sit for 30mins to an hour before eating, this is one of the only salads you can do this with, so it’s good for parties

salad

fin

salid

plate

Find the recipe here

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