Harissa Happiness

I had a hankering for spice today, and we just happened to have bought a bulk order of Al Fez Harissa (both red and green) from Suma recently – so I went with something with a bit of a North African twist.

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Aubergine is one of the most amazing things in the world. And when it’s first griddled, and then baked until meltingly soft, and smothered in green harissa it becomes almost supernatural in it’s perfection.

I’m also, as you may already know, a HUGE fan of okra. Here’s a tip for you – if you don’t want your okra going slimy, or breaking down in your sauce – toss it in lemon juice, salt and oil and roast it until the skin bubbles – chuck it in whatever sauce you’re cooking at the last minute. Alternatively you could always take a leaf out of Bundobust‘s book and make okra fries. (These WILL make an appearance on the blog in the future – I set out to copy them the first time I tasted them.). If you aren’t familiar with Bundobust – it’s a craft beer bar in Leeds that also serves amazing vegetarian Indian street food.

The sauce for the okra is loosely based on one I first tasted in Empires Cafe in Edinburgh. It’s made from charred tomatoes and red peppers, flavoured with ALL the garlic, lemon juice, paprika and a generous amount of red harissa.

The couscous has pumpkin seeds and rocket through it, and is flavoured with black pepper and ajwain seeds. I’ve only recently discovered ajwain seeds, and love their thymey/minty flavour.

Last, but not least, the chickpeas. My wife had really gone off chickpeas (ok, maybe I *might* have added them to just about every meal for a while) – but then I introduced her to ROASTED CRISPY chickpeas. It’s just a tin of chickpeas (don’t forget to keep the amazing AQUAFABA to use as an egg substitute!), tossed in olive oil, smoked salt, smoked paprika and roasted. Then, just before serving, coat them in a teaspoon of red harissa (that might actually be the first specific measurement on this entire food blog!).

Goes rather nicely with a fruity red wine 🙂

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Soya Suya

Seriously, I’m just going to change the name of this blog to “The Flatbread Chronicles” and be done with it….

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This is my “take” on the classic Nigerian street food/kebab, suya.

Suya’s normally made by marinading bits of dead animal in spices and peanuts. Mine, as the name implies, is tofu.

I firstly drain and press out the tofu, then marinade in dark soy and liquid smoke. Then dust down the outside with smoked paprika, chilli powder and a sprinkling of sugar. The marinade is peanut butter, veg stock, fresh chillies (bashed into a paste in a mortar and pestle) with black pepper and nutmeg. Traditionally a spice called “Uda” is used, but as I haven’t been able to source a reasonably priced UK supplier, I’ve been using the mix of nutmeg and pepper.

The salad is just cucumber, tomato and coriander diced – with salt and lemon juice.

Flatbreads, made the usual way – but with oat milk instead of water this time. They were lovely and soft.

My nose and eyes are streaming, my insides are on fire, but damn that was good!

 

Falafalafalafalafel

I’ve just realised that flatbreads seem to be featuring alot on this blog. I guess that’s a pretty good representation of my life though – I’m a big fan of my unleavened breads.

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My wife is one of those “artisan baker” types – and yes, she even gets paid for it. So tend to be a bit lazy about breads. Nomatter how nice a loaf I make is, hers are always better. WAAAY better. Maybe that’s why I focus more on flatbreads. Chapattis, tortillas, pittas, rotis, khebz – that’s my territory.

 

I also love falafel. Who doesn’t love falafel? Granted, these were kind of “cheats falafels” as I used tinned chickpeas, and breadcrumbs – they were still very tasty though.

I blitzed up some old stale (sourdough) bread for the crumbs, smoothly blended some of the chickpeas, roughly crushed some more. Chopped some chilli, garlic and parsley, and mixed it all together with some ground coriander seed, cumin and za’atar. Formed it into balls, drizzled on some oil, and baked at a high temperature for around 20mins.

For the flatbreads – the usual really – strong white flour, salt, oil, water, a little more za’atar this time too. Kneaded until smooth, left to sit for 10 mins, rolled out, in the pan, couple of minutes on each side.

Served with salad and olives, drizzled with tahini and lemon juice.

If i’d have thought, i’d have dropped some harissa on top of that too for some extra punch – but I was VERY hungry.

 

 

Sunday Roast.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a good old fashioned roast dinner….

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Roast dinners are, I’d imagine, one of those meals that omnivores are baffled by vegan versions of – unless you substitute the meat for some processed blob of fake chicken with awful “stuffing” in the middle. For me though, even back in my old meat eating days, roasts were always about the veg – so why bother replacing anything?

Top left clockwise – Roasted butternut squash (with sesame oil and smoked salt), on a bed of steamed and baked white cabbage. Roasted “hassleback” potatoes, with olive oil and za’atar. And stuffing balls, with red onion, sage, walnuts and breadcrumbs made from homemade malted sourdough.

All well and good, but it’s not a Sunday Roast without GRAVY!!

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Red onion, sage and garlic gravy. Fried off the onions and started a simple roux off, then added the sage and garlic, then gently poured in veg stock, stirring all the time to stop the gravy from going lumpy. Added a little soy sauce for colour and extra umame. Washed down with a nice bottle of Sainsbury’s “Winemakers Selection” Reciente Rioja. Sainsbury’s are getting very good with their vegan labeling these days.