Saturday, 19 October 2013

Week 36- Midweek Meze

Our local Turkish restaurant does a lovely meze meal- lots of little dishes of hummus, dips, falafel, halloumi, flatbreads, olives, garlicky beans, fritters, vine leaves and yogurt. It often inspires me to cook food from that part of the world.

Although I have featured various Middle Eastern and North African recipes on the blog- I have just started reading Yotam Ottolenghi's book 'Jerusalem' which is a fascinating look at both Jewish and Arab recipes from that city. It made me want to be more adventurous.

But it is the middle of the week- and there are leftovers to use up- so I've gone for a tagine-spiced lamb and white bean soup, served with sweet potato and carrot falafel and salads- and finished up with iced berries in hot chocolate sauce.

We had a lamb tagine at the weekend (recipe on the blog- just click on the cloud above) and only a few pieces of lamb lurk at the bottom of the jug- but there is plenty of lovely spicy gravy left over and so I'm making it into a soup- made creamy with pureed cannellini beans.

Thin down your leftover gravy with some vegetable stock and add half of the can of rinsed cannellini beans. Blitz with a stick blender. Then add the remaining beans whole and warm through.
Serve with warm pitta bread and sprinkled with coriander leaves (if you like them) or crispy onions. Easy and quick for a mid-week meal.

Tagine spiced lamb and white bean soup

For the sweet potato falafel- bake 1 small sweet potato per person in the oven or microwave until tender. Peel and place the flesh in a bowl with 1-2 grated carrots, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp chili powder,  some chopped sultanas or currants, a tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander and turmeric and some flour to bind (you could use chickpea flour to be authentic but plain flour will do). Mix together until the mixture can be handled and rolled into walnut sized balls.
Leave to set for an hour or so in the fridge.

When ready to cook, heat 2 cm of vegetable oil in a wok or deep pan and fry batches of the fritters until dark golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Sweet potato and carrot falafel

Fritters with pitta and hummus
Serve wrapped in a pitta bread or flatbread, with a dish of hummus on the side and salads- such as carrot and nut, tabbouleh or roasted aubergine and pepper with pine nuts.
Roasted aubergine, pepper and pine nuts

Carrot and nut salad

Alternatively, I squish my fritters flatter and serve in a bun with chutney and crispy onions for a veggie burger treat.
Sweet potato burger

For pudding, I got this idea from a restaurant - where the dish was being sold for £4.50 a portion- and was being ordered left, right and centre- so people clearly liked it. It's about the easiest dessert in the world to make though- iced berries with hot chocolate sauce.

First make your hot chocolate sauce: use dark, milk or white chocolate according to your likes. You will need 100g of chocolate, 25g of unsalted butter and 2 tbsp of icing sugar. Break the chocolate into pieces and put it, the butter, sugar and 100ml of water into a small saucepan and heat until melted. Pour into a little serving jug.

Take your frozen autumn berries straight from the freezer, pour into a bowl and serve with the jug of hot sauce. The berries melt as they hit the sauce. Simple!

Iced berries with chocolate sauce

So, some quick and tasty ideas for a midweek glimpse of the Middle East- using mostly store cupboard ingredients, salads from the vegetable drawer and leftovers.

There were so many wonderful looking recipes in the book though, I shall definitely be looking more closely for inspiration from this part of the world over the next few months.

Have a look for yourselves too:-

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