Chermoula Spiced Aubergine Wedges with Tahini Sauce and Feta

Spiced Aubergine Wedges | Selma's TableWhile I was in Cape Town, I stayed with friends in their gorgeous villa.  Justin has designed and decorated the house so that it is not only stunning to look at but also very liveable – and while the rooms are classically arranged, there is nothing precious about the house at all except of course, for their gorgeous Labradors who kept me company! Spiced Aubergine Wedges | Selma's TableIn their fabulous kitchen, antique blue and white Spode plates jostle for position on the open shelving with contemporary blue and white bowls and mugs; bone and silver cutlery is stored in earthenware jars, fruit and vegetables are displayed in blue and white bowls on the island and silver and glass cloches are in constant use to cover food which has been prepared. Mixing old and new, marble and wood – the kitchen is just such joy to work in. Spiced Aubergine Wedges | Selma's TableThe evening before the wedding, they had planned to host a “casual” braai (barbecue). We had all had all been to a cocktail party the night before, at the grooms’ (also stunning) house and some of us were feeling a little fragile! Nonetheless, that morning, Justin went off shopping, coming back with bags full of fresh produce, tender beef and cases of bubbles. Jake was arriving that afternoon, flying out straight after finishing his last mock exam and had to be collected. On the way to the airport we discussed the menu and what had to be done. Traffic was horrendous which meant we were running a little late and Justin had some work to do when we got back, so I assumed the role of sous chef and set about chopping ingredients for a salad and marinating the beef for the barbecue.

That evening, the table was covered in a stunning trellis patterned cloth; the centrepiece was a trio of coral Himalayan salt candles surrounded with a swathe of fresh mint from the garden.  Plates and napkins were piled up and salads were laid out under the cloches. Huge wooden platters with bowls of nibbles and cheese circulated around the pool where we mingled before the meal and watched another spectacular sunset over the South Atlantic.

While I was sous-cheffing, I found a pile of glossy, purple aubergines which were to be turned into ‘chips‘. Further enquiry led to the clarification that chips meant wedges, so I tossed them in a spice mix I found int the larder and they were roasted in the oven that evening. The leftovers were sprinkled with feta and parsley and served at room temperature with houmous and were absolutely delicious. Spiced Aubergine Wedges | Selma's TableI couldn’t wait to re-create this when I got back. Chermoula is a North African spice blend consisting of ground cumin and coriander seeds, sumac, chilli, paprika, salt and pepper. It is mixed into a paste with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and coriander before slathering over meat and fish. You can make your own or buy it ready mixed. Google is your best bet! Spiced Aubergine Wedges | Selma's TableI use the chermoula as a dry rub, coating the aubergine wedges after tossing them in olive oil. The wedges are roasted, turning them over halfway through the cooking time and roasting until the edges are crispy and the thicker bits are soft and squidgy. It’s that wonderful combination of flavours and textures; soft and  crispy with a nutty, smokey, tart and salty flavour with the freshness of the chopped parsley and coriander leaves. Delicious with barbecues, as a side to roast lamb or chicken or as part of a mezze.

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #59 which this week is being co-hosted by the lovely, bubbly Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and  the fabulous Mila @ milkandbun. If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration! Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s   Fiesta Friday #59 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

Chermoula Spiced Aubergine Wedges with Tahini Sauce and Feta

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 aubergines (eggplants)
  • 2 tsp chermoula dry spice blend
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon halved and one of the halves, sliced into wedges
  • water to thin
  • 50 g feta
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley and coriander leaves
  • olive oil to drizzle.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Slice the aubergines into 12 – 16 wedges each, depending on their size.
  3. Toss wedges in olive oil then sprinkle over the chermoula spice mix and a god pinch of salt and toss again. I do all of this on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, turning them over once, half way. They should be golden, cooked through and a little crispy at the edges.
  5. In the meantime, mix the tahini with the juice of half a lemon which will make it very think. Stir in a little water at a time to get it to a good drizzling consistency and then stir in the garlic and set aside.
  6. Crumble the feta and chop the parsley.
  7. Place the wedges in a serving platter, drizzle with tahini mix and scatter over the feta and parsley. Drizzle over a little olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.

You can omit the tahini and serve these with a scoop of houmous instead.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's TableEveryone needs a quick, easy to make canapé recipe, especially at this time of year. This Smoked Mackerel Pâté takes minutes to whizz up together and is endlessly versatile; it can be spread it on some thin oven toasted slices of baguette, topped it with grated cheese and grilled – super easy and really tasty too. Or, if you don’t want to be bothered with heating them up, you could just top the baguette toasts with the Mackerel Pâté, place half of a pitted black olive and a sprinkle of parsley on top and voila!

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's TableIf you are having a buffet style table of nibbles, you can also serve the pâté in a bowl, surrounded by slices of baguette. I’ve often served it as a casual starter when I’ve had friends round for supper during the week. Everyone gathers round the table with a drink, to chat and whet their appetites on this pâté while I get on with finishing off the main attraction.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Canapés | Selma's Table

My version includes a little heat from chilli flakes and a warm spicy note from dry roasted cumin seeds – both work so well with the smoky mackerel and the sharpness of the lemon. You can change the spicing to suit your palate, of course.

Smoked Mackerel Pâté

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fillets (approximately 300 – 350g in total) of smoked and peppered mackerel with the skin removed
  • 1 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • zest and juice of a lemon (unwaxed) Use half the juice to start with and only add more after you have tasted the pâté, if it needs it.
  • 2 Tbsp half fat creme fraiche
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley

To Serve

  • Baguette cut into ½ cm slices and toasted on a tray in the oven
  • A little grated cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Break the mackerel into large chunks and place all the ingredients (using just half of the lemon juice to start with) into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Try and keep some of the texture rather than reducing it to a homogenous paste.
  2. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary – you may need more lemon.
  3. Scrape into a container and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Then, turn on the grill/broiler.
  5. Cover the slices of baguettine with the pâté, top with a little grated cheddar and place on a baking sheet. Grill/broil until bubbly and browned.

The Smoked Mackerel Pâté also very nice cold topped with a slice of olive, and as a casual starter with a baguette.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sensational Meatballs with Lentils

Sensational Meatballs with LentilsI almost didn’t post this recipe, hence the lack of photos, in progress or otherwise! I’ve been making these Sensational Meatballs and Lentils for about 8 years (since 2006 according to my notes) and it was Jake who suggested that I share the recipe here on the blog when I made it the other day. It came about the usual way – picking up a few bits on the way home from work and seeing what was in the cupboards to supplement the ingredients – a bit like Ready Steady Cook! The resultant deeply flavoured, lemony Meatballs and Lentils were so delicious that I wrote up the recipe in my notebook.

This is one of those dishes that wraps you up in a warm blanket and gives you a hug; so comforting on these dark, chilly evenings. The seasonings of smoked paprika, rosemary and cumin seeds give the dish so much depth and flavour and the lemon juice and zest perk it all up.  It’s very quick to prepare, especially if you buy pre-made (raw) meatballs which can be a godsend if you are strapped for time.  Red lentils don’t require pre-soaking and cook very quickly, usually between 15 – 20 minutes and the lemon juice is the perfect complement to them. Stirring in spinach or chard leaves at the end gives it a vegetal boost with the added bonus of not having to prepare a separate side dish. You could also use frozen spinach. adding it a few minutes earlier so that it has a chance to thaw in the pot. Don’t add salt until the end otherwise the lentils stay hard.  This is quick, one pot cooking at it’s best.

Sensational Meatballs with LentilsYou start by rolling the meatballs, then sauté the onions, then the meatballs with the seasonings; stir in the stock, lentils, lemon juice and tomatoes and let the whole lot simmer away while you get the rice on and prepare the spinach which gets stirred in a couple of minutes before the end. That’s it!! I urge you to give the Meatballs and Lentils  a try – the dish is absolutely sensational!

I’m taking these to share with all the Fiesta Friday #46  revellers, so generously hosted by Angie at the Novice Gardener. Today our co hosts are  Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. – do drop by and say hello to them!

Sensational Meatballs with Lentils

  • Servings: 4 generous portions
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g lean mince beef
  • 1 tsp of salt and a good grinding of the pepper mill
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • A good splash of Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp whole, dry roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 200g dry red split lentils
  • 1 rounded tsp of chicken stock powder stirred into 500 ml of hot water/500ml homemade stock
  • 1 tin of tomatoes or 3-4 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 couple of bay leaves
  • 300 – 400 g fresh spinach or chard

To serve

  • Cooked rice
  • Dollop of greek yoghurt or tzatziki

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Season the minced beef with salt and pepper, stir in parsley and with a light hand, mix well to combine. Wet your hands and roll into walnut sized balls and set aside. If you are in a hurry you can substitute ready made (raw) meatballs but get the premium ones as the cheaper ones have more fat and sometimes, gristle.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions until soft and a little coloured.
  3. Stir in the rosemary, smoked paprika, garlic and lemon zest, then add the meatballs and sauté until lightly brown on all sides – about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, the lentils, the stock, the tomatoes (break up the tomatoes if you are using whole tinned ones) and bay leaves. Let this simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it and add a little more water if necessary. It shouldn’t be too thick.
  5. While it’s simmering away, wash the spinach/chard and remove the central rib if thick and fibrous. Save them in the freezer, for the stock pot. Chop the leaves and set aside. Get the rice on.
  6. After 20 minutes, check that the lentils are cooked through and also check the seasoning. Adjust to taste – this is the time to add salt; I also like to add more cumin seeds.
  7. Stir in the spinach/chard leaves and cover the pot to allow the leaves to wilt in the heat.
  8. Serve hot with rice an a dollop of greek yoghurt or tzatziki.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintYou all know how much I enjoy my veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm. I just love the quality of the produce and also that it is a not-for-profit organisation which encourages schools, businesses and anyone else to visit the farm, learn all about their organic farming methods and get stuck in too. Well, a couple of weeks ago they hosted their very first Pop-Up VegBox Dinner as part of the fabulous Streatham Food Festival, in the charming new Community Space at The White Lion. With Hix Soho Chef, Joe Fox at the helm, I was really lucky to snaffle a reservation as the event quickly sold out.

It was a lovely warm summer’s evening as we gathered and mingled in the courtyard sipping delicious elderflower champagne which Joris, Head Grower at the farm had brewed in anticipation of his wedding; decorated with freshly foraged elderflowers buds and served in the most adorable 1930’s style champagne coupes, these slipped down effortlessly.  The team were working outside so we  got a sneaky peek at the cooking, prepping and plating up too. Inside, long tables had been set with hessian runners and studded with tomato plant centerpieces, terracotta pots crammed with crudités of baby carrots, radishes and asparagus sprue and served with a fresh wobbly mayo, herb and garlic dip with bread donated by local baker and farm supplier Gaye Whitwham of Sticky Mitts.

The Menu

The Menu

The starter of freshly made ricotta, broad beans which included the shoots and flowers, pickled cucumber, cucumber flowers, salad leaves and croutons, dressed with an organic rapeseed oil was simply stunning. The main course of chargrilled asparagus, served on a bed of crushed Charlotte potatoes and topped with a romano pepper stew was gorgeous – perfectly balanced and seasoned. Pudding was a glorious Mess of farm foraged elderflower and gooseberry compote, meringue, cream and shavings of white chocolate. We also got a brown paper and string tied gift to take home  – inside which was one of their printed cloth shopping bags which now lives in my handbag ready for any purchases I make.

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Starter – Broad Bean, Cucumber, Ricotta & Salad Burnet

An evocative video of the evening has been put together by Asa of Triple A Films which captures the night beautifully. It was a truly wonderful, inspirational and magical evening.

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintSo, in homage to that wonderful starter and to use up the broad beans in my veg box I made these delicious crostini. When it’s too hot to turn on the oven or spend too long at the stove, this sort of thing is just ideal on a warm evening with a large glass of something crisp and cold!

I am taking them with me to Angie’s popular weekly virtual party – Fiesta Friday #21, so that everyone can feel a little of the magic of that night! This week Angie has also eschewed turning on the oven and has made THE most beautiful salad. So it is only right that the party is co-hosted by Elaine@Foodbod and Julianna@Foodie On Board, both of whom make the most fabulous salads! Thank you ladies!

And since broad beans and the recipe are both Simple and in Season, I’m taking them over to the blog event of the same name graciously hosted by Ren Behan.

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broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of podded broad beans
  • 1 cup of peas (frozen is fine)
  • Zest of a lemon and some juice
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced fresh mint
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 1 large clove of garlic halved
  • 6-8 Tbsp ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil then add the broad beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the peas and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Drain immediately and run under a cold tap or plunge into an ice bath to cool and set the gorgeous green colours.
  4. Skin the broad beans – give those fleshy skins a little pinch and squeeze the beans out.
  5. Place the broad beans and the peas in a bowl with most of the mint; grate over some lemon zest, squeeze over a little lemon juice and a little olive oil;  season, stir and set aside.
  6. Toast the sourdough and while the slices are still hot, rub one side with the  cut side of garlic cloves. The garlic will disappear into the toast.
  7. Spread the toast thickly with ricotta cheese and season lightly.
  8. Top generously with the broad bean mixture, sprinkle with a little more mint and drizzle over a fruity olive oil.
  9. Serve as part of an antipasti or as a first course.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Caesar Dressing

caesar-dressingMy lovely 16 year old son has become a salad eating afficiando – he absolutely loves them and has a huge portion after every meal. Yesterday, I didn’t feel like cooking – we had some left over chicken from the night before but I really fancied a herby Greek salad type meal with lots of chopped cucumber, feta and mint. So when Jake came bounding down the stairs and asked what was for dinner as he couldn’t smell anything (!), I replied “A chopped Greek salad” and waited for him to say “Oh great  – how long until we eat?!”  Instead he paused and then said – “Hey Mum, can we have a chicken Caesar salad instead? It’s my new favourite salad.” Well, how could I refuse?

I used to love Caesar Salads when I lived in Canada – crisp salad leaves, crunchy croutons, grainy parmesan cheese and a dreamy, creamy, pungent sauce – I was in! I was also butterfingers yesterday, managing to drop a fresh roll of paper towels into a sink full of dirty water, which really, really annoyed me! That was just before I knocked over a bottle of oil which dripped onto the smooth tiled kitchen floor, ensuring that I had to stop and have a huge clean up and wipe down. At that point, I didn’t like my chances of ending up Humpty-Dumpty-like, on that floor!

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Chicken Caesar Salad

I know that the dressing traditionally has a raw egg in it but decided that mayonnaise would be a good substitute as it is already egg and oil based and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the result as was Jake. Don’t miss out the anchovies – they add a deep umami flavour that cannot be replicated by salt alone. You could probably substitute with some fish sauce or anchovy paste – you will have to add a little at a time until you get the flavour you like. This makes quite a lot of dressing but it keeps very well and the recipe can easily be halved too.

From the comments below, a few of you have asked about substitutions;

  •  for mayo – I had a google and Jamie Oliver uses Greek yoghurt – it you try it, do come back and let me know and I will update the post with a credit to you and your blog.
  • vegetarian substitute for anchovies – I suggest tamari or soy sauce – start with one teaspoon and see if that adds enough umami – again, do come back and let me know and I will update the post.
  • vegetarian substitute for the chicken – try marinating firm tofu slices in smoky paprika, a little lemon juice and oil, then griddle or barbecue.

caesar-dressing

Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: 300 ml
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise – don’t skimp on the quality here
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon – about 50 ml or so – see my Tips and Tricks page on how to get the most juice out of a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovies preserved in oil
  • freshly ground black pepper – about ½ tsp
  • 120ml/ ½ cup mild olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp oil from the anchovies – optional but good!
  • 35 g parmesan cheese grated

To serve (for 2 people)

  • 1 large slice of  sourdough or ciabatta bread cubed into croutons
  • a little olive oil
  • Half a romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 cooked  and sliced chicken breasts – barbecued or cooked on the griddle is the tastiest. Ours was room temperature.
  • grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies and black pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and the anchovy oil to emulsify the sauce. Add the oil slowly – this is the key to the dressing emulsifying and not splitting – the mustard really helps with this process in any case.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavour (not the salt though as the parmesan goes in next). More garlic? Add another crushed clove. If it’s too sharp from the lemon, add a little more oil but we found that the above measurements were perfect.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese (or you could carry on blitzing in the food processor but I was using my really small one and didn’t have enough space!)
  5. Taste again and make any final adjustments to the flavour.

To serve

  1. Toss the bread cubes in a little olive oil and either cook them in a dry non-stick frying pan or toast in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  2. Tear up the romaine leaves into manageable pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Top with the chicken/tofu and croutons.
  4. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss well to coat. Add more if you like more dressing on the salad.
  5. Scatter with some grated parmesan cheese, dish up and enjoy, hopefully alfresco with a large glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cook the Books – Demerara Lemon Cake

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cakeNigel Slater’s recipes seem to have a resonance that are simultaneously timeless and on trend. It was his ‘Real Fast Food’ to which I first turned when I would come home from a long day at work and it is his ‘Kitchen Diaries” today to which I will always flip through to get inspiration. The cake below is another syrup soaked affair, full of zingy lemon flavour and dense with almonds and eggs. It is perfect as a light pudding with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and some strawberries or raspberries.  I been making it since 2010, initially for Jake’s lunch box but now, to occasionally have for unexpected visitors as it also keeps extremely well.

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cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

 

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

It’s not a difficult cake to make as long as you get everything measured out and ready to go. The first thing to do is to make the topping which is merely a matter of  slicing a lemon and simmering it for 5 or 6 minutes in a little water and sugar. This cools as you get on with the cake. Beat the butter and the sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the batter starts to look curdled you can either add a spoonful of the flour mix with every egg or just ignore it as it all comes together in the end.  Fold in the flour mixture and scrape it into a lined loaf tin. Top with the lemon slices and bake. While it is baking, make the syrup which is just a little water and sugar and pour it over the spiked cake while it is still warm out of the oven. This is the first time I have made it in a conventional oven (as opposed to a fan oven) and the lemon slices sank – this has happened with other bakes too so the next time I try a topped cake, I will be turning the fan on to see if it makes a difference…

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Lemon slices after simmering

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Ready for the oven

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For those of you who have been asking about Demerara sugar, it is a golden, raw cane, large crystal sugar, similar to Turbinado sugar. This is what BBC Food have to say about it;

This pale-coloured and mild-tasting raw cane sugar is named after its place of origin – Demerara, in Guyana – but it is now imported from various other countries, such as Jamaica, Malawi and Mauritius. It has large sparkling golden crystals and a crunchy texture. Traditionally used to sweeten coffee, it’s perfect for sprinkling but can also be used for baking, particularly in things that need extra crunchiness such as crumbles, cheesecake bases, flapjacks and biscuits.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about brown sugar;

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content, or it is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar (so-called Molasses Sugar).

Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar) based on total volume. Based on total weight, regular brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses. The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labelled as “soft.” The product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be permitted in some areas or for industrial products.

And finally, this is what Wikipedia has to say about white sugar;

White refined sugar is typically sold as granulated sugar, which has been dried to prevent clumping and comes in various crystal sizes for home and industrial use:

  • Coarse-grain, such as sanding sugar (also called “pearl sugar”, “decorating sugar”, nibbed sugar or sugar nibs) is a coarse grain sugar used to add sparkle and flavor atop baked goods and candies. Its large reflective crystals will not dissolve when subjected to heat.
  • Granulated, familiar as table sugar, with a grain size about 0.5 mm across.”Sugar cubes” are lumps for convenient consumption produced by mixing granulated sugar with sugar syrup.
  •  Caster (or castor) (0.35 mm), a very fine sugar in Britain, so-named because the grains are small enough to fit through a castor, a form of sieve. Commonly used in baking and mixed drinks, it is sold as “superfine” sugar in the United States. Because of its fineness it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar and is thus especially useful in meringues and cold liquids. Castor sugar can be prepared at home by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor.
  • Powdered, 10X sugar, confectioner’s sugar (0.060 mm), or icing sugar (0.024 mm), produced by grinding sugar to a fine powder.

Demerara Lemon Cake

  • Servings: 8 slices
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the topping

  • 1 large lemon
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar

For the cake

  • 200 g soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g demerara sugar (I use 100g caster/superfine and 100g soft light brown)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 90 g plain flour
  • 90 g ground almonds or almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 large lemon, zested

For the syrup

  • The juice from the lemon that has been zested
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the topping

  1. Place water and sugar in a small pan.  Slice lemon thinly and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.
  2. Set aside to cool while you get the cake ready.

For the cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/ 325F and line a loaf pan with paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take longer with demerara sugar as it is a larger crystal.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may look curdled but it will be fine once the dry ingredients are added.
  4. Combine the rest of the (dry)  ingredients in a bowl and whisk to make sure that the mixture is well blended
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter with a large metal spoon to preserve as much of the air as possible.
  6. Scrape into the lined loaf tin and overlap the reserved lemon slices down the middle of the batter.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. In the mean time, make the syrup by combing the lemon juice and sugar in a pan (I use the one I have cooked the slices in) and leave to dissolve while the cake bakes.
  9. Check the cake, using a skewer or toothpick – if it comes out clean then it is done – if there is some batter clinging to the then it will need a little  extra time.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and spike all over with a toothpick. Pour the syrup (not all of the sugar will have dissolved) over the cake slowly and evenly.
  11. Leave to cool in the pan.
  12. Serve with a thick dollop of  yoghurt, cream fraiche or double cream and possibly some fruit such as raspberries or strawberries to make it more of a pudding course.

This damp cake keeps very well for a few days if it lasts that long.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tennis’ Turkey

tennis_turkeyWhen my son was much younger, he, like most children these days, had all sorts of after school activities to attend; Mad Science on a Monday, swimming on a Tuesday, football on a Wednesday and tennis on a Thursday. I would make him an after school snack – usually Vogel seeded bread with either hommous and cucumber or peanut butter and banana –  to keep him going until dinner. We would get home and I would get something cooked  and on the table in record breaking time. ‘Tennis’ Turkey came about when we stopped at the Sainsbury’s Local near the tennis club on the way home and picked up a pack of turkey breast steaks. I got home, took a look at what I had in the cupboards and this dish came together.

It was so tasty, with a depth of flavour which belied it’s short cooking time, that I wrote down what I had done whilst Jake cleared away (he has been setting the table and clearing the dishes for a very long time now – just wish he would show some interest in cooking rather than just eating!). I asked him what he thought the dish should be called and without hesitation, he said ‘Tennis Turkey” and the name has stuck.

tennis_turkeyIt is one of those dishes where prep and cooking harmoniously segue into each other. I start by washing and putting some rice on to cook. Then as the oil in the frypan heats up, I slice the onion and toss that in, with a pinch of salt to help it along. As that cooks, I thump the cumin in the pestle and mortar, slice the turkey into long strips, mince the garlic and chop some herbs.

tennis_turkeyOnce the onions have had about 10 minutes – and cooking them long and slow is what give the dish such a great depth of flavour- I stir in the garlic and then spread the turkey strips out in a layer. While those are cooking on one side, I get the peas, creme fraiche and bouillon out and slice the lemon. Then I  give the strips a stir, add the cumin and cook for a minute or so until there is very little pink visible in the meat.

tennis_turkeyThen I yell up the stairs at Jake to set the table, add the bouillon powder, the creme fraiche and a little water, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any caramelisation and let that bubble and thicken, stir in the peas, squeeze over some lemon and it’s done!

tennis_turkey

Of course you can substitute chicken breasts if you don’t like or can’t find turkey. Both cook really quickly and are ideal for this sort of cooking. Can I also mention this time saving flavour booster?

tennis_turkeyI love these tubs of crispy fried onions – a little sprinkle  adds crunch and a savoury note to things like egg salads, noodle soups and rice – a very short ingredient list (onions,  vegetable oil, wheat flour and salt) and a real time saver…I have seen them in bags in the Indian grocery stores too.

tennis_turkey

Tennis Turkey

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large onion or 4 shallots
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 500g (or 4 x) turkey breast steaks
  • 2 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds, separated
  • 1 tsp Marigold bouillon powder or a vegetable stock cube, crumbled
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp  ½ fat creme fraiche or double cream
  • ¼ of a lemon
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • crispy fried onions (optional)
  • red peppercorns (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Halve and slice onion in half moons and sauté gently  on a medium low heat, in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, until floppy and pale gold. This should take about 10 minutes. If the onions start to catch, stir in a little water and lower the heat
  2. While the onions are cooking, slice the turkey across the grain into 1 cm thick strips, chop the garlic and pound 1 tsp of the cumin seed in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Then stir the garlic into the onions and let this cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the turkey strips, spreading them out in one layer and let them cook on one side, browning slightly, before stirring to cook on the other side.
  5. Sprinkle on the ground and whole cumin and stir for a minute.
  6. Sprinkle on the bouillon power stir, then add the water and the creme fraiche. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a little. Squeeze in a little lemon to taste.
  7. Stir in the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
  8. Top with a few crispy fried onions and a few red peppercorns if using.

Serve with rice.

Iced Lemon Squares

iced_lemon_squaresCan we talk about Facebook for a moment?  Do you think it’s Lucifer’s own handiwork or do you embrace  it with open arms? I have a friend who doesn’t go near it or Twitter because she doesn’t want to have her identity accessible or stolen or to have to read inane tweets like “Ima in the shops innit” and the like! Personally, I find Facebook invaluable for keeping up with my large and far flung family, though ironically, not my brother who is social media averse and prefers to communicate by rather more conventional means, such as the telephone. Facebook has allowed me to connect (awful, awful word, only marginally better than ‘reach out’…) with aunts, uncles, distant and not so distant cousins, nieces and nephews and watch as they grow up, get married, have children and continue that wonderful circle that is life. I have been able to stay in touch with friends who have moved away, colleagues who have moved on and teachers and parents from prep school, long after our children have  moved on to their separate senior schools. You know, the sort of people with whom it was once so easy to loose touch. I cheer along as milestones are reached, champion business endeavours and comment on birthday, wedding and holiday pictures. I have found and been found by old school friends, discovered by one of my mother’s best friends from our Kenya days and  stumbled upon family members that I would never have known otherwise. It is important not to post personal details like the year of birth, to remove geo tagging from home photos and to keep an eye on the privacy settings but in general, Facebook really works for me.

When I started this blog, I set up a Facebook ‘Page’ for it (you have ‘liked’ it, haven’t you?) and have been overwhelmed at the support. Posts have been shared, photos commented on and best of all, recipes have been made and photos posted on the timeline. Last week, my niece who lives in Toronto, messaged  me (on Facebook!) to say that she had a couple of days in London and wondered if we could meet up. It turns out that we last saw each other about 25 years ago, when she and her brother were just young ‘uns. I took them strawberry picking at Garson’s Farm in Esher and we made strawberry ice-cream when we got back. She is as sweet and gorgeous now as she was then and it was an absolute delight to spend time with her and her lovely friend. She says that she doesn’t cook very much but has made my Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers and sent me a photo. Now, of course, none of this would have happened without Facebook…

I knew I wanted to take her a little treat, something that would be light, easy to carry and easy to eat and I remembered these Iced Lemon Squares. The original recipe compares them to brownies (and called them ‘lemonies’) but I never saw the correlation. It is a slender bake – more of a bar than a cake but is dense with a lot of lemon flavour.  I have added ground almonds and tweaked the measurements a little too.

I am taking these over to Angie at The Novice Gardener‘s Fiesta Friday as the party is still going strong and I think that those die-hard revellers may just need a little hit of sugar to keep them going!

Click on the link to be taken to Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener and join the party! Mix and mingle with the the guests – who knows who you might meet! http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/fiesta-friday-10/

If you blog and would like to join the party, here are the guidelines http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

iced_lemon_squares

Mix the dry ingredients, then beat in the butter which should be really soft. Nuking it for 15 or 20 seconds may help things along and don’t worry if some melts completely. At this stage the batter will be lumpy. Then, in a separate bowl,  (and without cleaning the beaters), give the eggs and lemon juice a bit of a whisking. Pour this onto the lumpen flour mix, beat and watch it transform into a smooth, creamy batter. Pour it into the prepared tin, spread it out  and bake for 25 minutes. It will be lightly golden rather than deeply tan.

iced_lemon_squares

Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes then, using the lining paper as handles, lift carefully and place onto a wire rack to cool. If you don’t have paper, make sure to butter the tin very well and also flour it, then when the cake is ready, run a knife round the sides, shake it a few times and flip it out onto a plate then back onto a rack to finish cooling.

iced_lemon_squares

While the bake is cooling, make the icing. First, zest the second lemon and set this aside. Then sift the icing to get rid of any lumps. I have. in the past, tried to skip this step because the ‘dust’ that this process generates really gets my OCD to go into overdrive but this results in bumpy icing so what I do instead is put the icing sugar in a sieve, sit it on top of a bowl and use a spoon to stir and push it through – this really keeps the mess down to a minimum. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the sifted icing sugar and whisk away until all the icing sugar has been absorbed. Keep going – it will happen! If the paste is too thick, add a teaspoonful of milk to loosen it. It should be thick but spreadable. Scrape it onto the middle of the bake and spread it out evenly. Scatter over the lemon zest and leave the icing to set before slicing.

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

To slice, cut the bake in half then slice each half in half so that you have 4 long slices. Spin the bake a quarter turn and do the same again.

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

Iced Lemon Squares

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g plain/AP flour
  • 60g almond meal/flour/ground
  • 170g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Icing

  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp of milk if necessary
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Line an 8 inch square tin (mine is a 9 inch) with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See my Tip and Tricks page, tip no 18 for an easy way to do this.
  3. Zest the lemon then juice it, keeping both separate and set aside.
  4. Hand whisk the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt to blend.
  5. Beat in the butter using an electric mixer until the butter has been incorporated – it will be quite lumpy.
  6. Whisk the eggs and the lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  7. Pour it onto the flour mix together with the lemon zest. Beat until creamy – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I always try to handle the batter as little as possible so as not to overwork the gluten which can result in a tough crumb.
  8. Scrape into the tin and spread out evenly using a spatula. It will seem like there isn’t enough batter but  don’t worry, there is.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes – it will have coloured a little on top. Place the tin on a wire rack for 10/15 minutes to cool, then using the foil or paper as handles, carefully lift out the cake , place on the rack and peel back the paper from the sides. Let the cake cool completely before icing.

To make the icing:

  1. Zest another lemon and set aside.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl to get rid of any  lumps.
  3. Whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and keep whisking until it has all been absorbed.
  4. If resulting paste is too thick, add a tsp of milk and whisk in. The icing should be thick enough stay put yet spreadable.
  5. Pour onto the middle of the cake and spread it out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle over the zest and leave to set for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:

  1. Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
  2. Then  slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
  3. Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two.  You should have 16 fairly equal squares.

You can substitute oranges or limes for the lemons. You can double up the recipe to make in a larger pan.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintI’ve always coveted having an organic-oh-so-good-for-you-and-the-enviroment veg box delivery. For years, I’ve looked longingly at the flyers that land on my doormat then stalked their websites, imagining what size box I would need; sighing over the fabulous fresh, muddy vegetables available, all the time acutely aware, that in my bit of London, a safe  delivery spot, if I am not in, is non-existent. If not filched by human hand then the cats, foxes, squirrels or mice would inflict their damage. I was, therefore, thrilled to discover Sutton Community Farm. They not only deliver to homes but also to local pick-up points so that one may collect said muddy vegetables, on the way home from work. Within seconds of finding this out, I had followed them on Twitter, liked them on Facebook and registered on their website. I did not want to miss out…

Sutton Community Farm describe themselves thus; “We are London’s largest community farm, a not-for-profit social enterprise growing fresh vegetables using organic principles, as well as providing a shared space for the local community to cultivate skills.” And they make deliveries in a van powered by London’s waste cooking oil. How utterly wonderful – please do take a look at their website to see if they cover your area I cannot recommend this scheme highly enough…  http://suttoncommunityfarm.org.uk

Just look at what I got in my small veg box…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Purple sprouting broccoli, onions,  carrots, muddy(!) golden and red beets, crisp, firm mushrooms, gorgeous salad leaves plus they stock my favourite eggs. I am so thrilled to have found SCF and plan to order fortnightly.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

How lovely that these delicious salad leaves were grown happily, without chemicals! We enjoyed them for lunch at the weekend.

IMG_6429

And these are my favourite eggs – they taste like the eggs of my childhood and I wrote about them in my first ever recipe post     https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/courgette-feta-and-thyme-bake/ ‎Alas, the farmers market from where I used to get the eggs,  is no-more so I am really pleased to have found them at SCF. We had the eggs for brunch on Sunday, poached with some steamed purple sprouting broccoli and a little hollandaise sauce.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintThe beets –  beautiful and glowing jewel-like once scrubbed.  If you follow Selma’s Table on Facebook, you will have seen me enthusiastically posting some of these photos.

Beetroot can be boiled, steamed and even thinly sliced and eaten raw. They are also wonderful juiced raw, with a couple of apples and  carrots, a nugget of ginger and half a lemon. I find that roasting them intensifies the natural sweetness and transforms them to soft silky slivers that are wonderful in salads.  Once cooked, they keep for days in the fridge (so you may as well prepare quite a few)  which makes lunch boxes and salads so much more exciting. I like to start them off in a sealed foil packet and then, towards the end of the cooking time, open them out to the direct heat of the oven to caramelise.

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Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintIf your beets are really fresh, they should have quite a thin skin. The red beets from the SCF were so fresh, that we did not need to peel the skins at all once they were cooked.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

And just a reminder that red beets will stain everything porous…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Waterlogue’d

My recipe for Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint is a great balance of flavours; warm beets with melting cubes of goats cheese and a sweet and sour dressing topped with mint.

Mixed Beets with Goat's Cheese and Mint

  • Servings: 4 - 6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small to medium sized Golden Beets
  • 4 small to medium sized Red Beets
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • leaves from 3 or 4 Thyme sprigs
  • 80 g firm  Goat’s Cheese/Chevre, cubed
  • A small handful of  chopped mint leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • ¼ – ½ of a Lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F
  2. Scrub the beets well – I use one of those green plastic scouring pads to get all the mud off.
  3. Peel the golden beets but leave the skins on the red ones to avoid staining everything
  4. Halve the beets then slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges depending on how large they are. Keep the two beets separate to preserve the colour of the golden ones.
  5. Tear off 2 sections of foil, large enough to wrap each pile of the beet wedges in.
  6. Pop the wedges on the foil, drizzle over a little honey and olive oil, scatter over a little thyme and sea salt, then wrap the foil to make a couple of packets.
  7. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes; depending on their size, they may need longer.
  8. Once soft, open out the foil, spoon over the juices to baste the wedges and pop back into the oven to caramelise for about 10 minutes.
  9. If the skins are tough on the red beets, remove them – they should slip off easily once they are cooked.
  10. Arrange on a serving plate, top with the goat’s cheese, squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with honey and EVOO then strew with chopped mint leaves.

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-SauceI came across this recipe which originates from Puglia, in the early 90’s, in a copy of Elle Decoration – a magazine I adored. The issue is long gone but I have never forgotten how wonderful this sauce tasted.  I can remember feeling genuinely surprised that something so simple and uncooked could have such depth of flavour. Well, that will be the anchovies – when blended like this, there is no fishy odour or taste – just a deep, satisfying undertone to a bright and summery sauce.

Now, I haven’t tried this but I am pretty sure that you can substitute tamari sauce for the anchovies – this would make it vegan/vegetarian and keep it wheat free too. Tamari and Soya sauces are both made with fermented soybeans but soy sauce includes wheat and is saltier.

The recipe does require a lot of herbs but these can be bought so easily nowadays – in the supermarkets, in the green grocers and in the ethnic food shops too and they add so much flavour and colour to other dishes that you won’t regret it. Trim the stalks and keep them in a vase/tumbler of water and they will last quite a while.

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

As daffodils and cherry blossom are coming into bloom, this bright, zingy sauce seems just the thing to herald the much anticipated Spring season. This Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce would also be delicious slathered on fish or lamb.

29 May 2014 – I am really thrilled to say that this recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52 and that California Walnuts have asked to use it on their website!

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Pasta Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 6 anchovies preserved in oil (or substitute Tamari sauce starting with 1 Tbsp and adjusting the flavour to your palate)
  • 100 g flat leaf parsley including the stems
  • 40 g basil leaves
  • 40 g mint leaves
  • 20 g tarragon leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c water
  • lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whiz the toasted nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the anchovies, herbs, garlic, shallot, water and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree.
  3. Then add the olive oil and whiz until combined.
  4. Stir in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavour, stirring in additional lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the sauce sing.

Uses

  1. Toss into hot pasta, thinning with a little of the pasta water and finishing with a drizzle of good EVOO.
  2. Slash a whole fish and slather in the cavity and in the slashes; roast in the oven or cook on the barbecue.
  3. Top fish fillets or steaks with a spoonful of sauce and a dribble of wine; bake in parchment (thanks Tish!)
  4. Serve on the side with roast lamb or fish steaks.
  5. Spread baguette slices with a creamy goats cheese and top with a slice of roasted red pepper and little of the sauce; finish a drizzle of EVOO.

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonAfter all the feasting and merriment comes the overwhelming urge to eat lightly and healthfully. I picked up a bag of kale and thought to make some sort of virtuous salad from it. But outside, it’s blowing a gale and a salad just doesn’t cut it – I wanted something warm and filling. Just not rich. A quick inspection of my cupboards revealed a tin of chickpeas and a soup was born. Warm, filling, with a slight bite and a sharp edge.  I don’t like using too many ingredients in a pureed vegetable soup as it sort of muddies the flavour. I suppose you could swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche or a little double cream but I don’t think it needs it. The blitzed chickpeas makes it quite creamy in any case. This Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon is perfect to take to work in a flask or spill proof container to heat up in the microwave for lunch. Delicious, virtuous and thrifty!

Thrilled to stay that his recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52!     http://food52.com/recipes/25867-kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

 

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonYou could substitute other beans like butter beans or cannellini beans too. You could also use thyme leaves instead of the rosemary and omit the chilli flakes and use freshly ground pepper instead. This is one of those recipes that you can use as a base – use half the stock to make it more of a thick puree than a soup and serve with a nice thick slice of oven roasted (responsibly sourced) cod or halibut atop for instance…

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Prep time 15 minutes. Cook time 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots (or one onion)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 410g tin of chickpeas drained and throughly rinsed
  • 200g bag of chopped kale
  • 800ml hot stock (a cube or powder is fine – I used a combination of Marigold powder and vegetable stock)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste

To Serve:

  • Paper thin lemon slices
  • Grated parmesan cheese (omit if vegan)
  • Toasted crusty bread (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the olive oil.
  2. Finely dice the shallots and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the oil.
  3. Make 4 or 5 long horizontal slices in the celery stalk and dice. Add this to the pan and stir.
  4. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and stir into the pan together with the bay leaf and the chilli flakes.
  5. Peel the garlic clove and using the flat of your knife and the heel of your hand, crush so that it is still whole and add to pan.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the kale and stir. Pour in the hot stock, let it come to a boil and turn down the heat.
  7. Let it simmer for 20 minutes until the kale is tender. Squeeze in  the juice of half a lemon. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. You might want more lemon or salt – it all depends on what you have used for the stock.
  8. Working in batches or in the pan itself if you have a stick blender, blitz until you have the texture you like. I like mine to still have a few chickpeas and pieces of kale through it so I set aside a couple of ladlefuls and used a stick blender to blitz the rest.
  9. Serve hot, floating a couple of slices of lemon on top of each serving and pass round the parmesan cheese for everyone to help themselves. Lovely with toasted crusty bread.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake

I don’t know about you but I can’t get used to these early evenings especially after the gorgeous summer we’ve had. As much as I love cold weather cooking I am finding myself drawn to sunny colours and citrus flavours in an effort to stretch out that summer feeling. Sunshine and light in a slice is what this Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake is and long may it shine!

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

It is a damp, dense, sticky cake redolent with intense lemon and warm saffron flavours. Don’t be put off by the soaking-it-in-syrup stage – it is supremely easy and lends itself to all sorts of riffs (a dash of limoncello or amaretto or some thyme leaves…)  and is just utterly delicious! I tend to have a little bag of fine semolina in the cupboards for dusting when I make pasta. It is really easy to find in even the smallest of ethnic (Indian or Mediterranean) food provision shops. This could also be made with 1 large juicy orange instead of 2 lemons.

To make it gluten free, use fine polenta or cornmeal instead of semolina and a gluten free baking powder too.

It is not a difficult cake to make and because of it’s weighty ingredients is quite forgiving.

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Soak the saffron threads in a tablespoon of kettle hot water

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Zest the unwaxed lemons finely

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Syrup soaked cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon and Saffron Semolina Cake

  • Servings: 12 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Lemon and Polenta Cake

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 200 g soft preferably unsalted butter (and a little smidgen  for greasing)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 100 g fine semolina  polenta or cornmeal will make it gluten free)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 2 unwaxed lemons (save lemons to juice for the syrup)
  • pinch of saffron threads dissolved in 1 Tbsp of hot water

For the syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (put the whole, zested lemons in a microwave for about 75-90 seconds to maximise the juice output!)
  • 125 grams icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/ 350°F and put the kettle on.
  2. In a little bowl/saucer (I used one one those tiny soy dipping dishes) place the saffron threads giving them a bit of a rub together as you do so. Pour over about 1 Tbsp of hot water from the kettle and leave to steep while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
  3. Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with a circle of baking paper and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy – this will take about 5 minutes depending on how soft the butter is. Don’t skimp on this step as this not only helps to aerate but also serves to somewhat dissolve the sugar.
  5. Mix together the almonds, semolina and baking powder in a medium sized bowl and beat 2 heaped Tbsp of it into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg. Then alternate with ⅓ of the dry ingredients and the 2 remaining eggs, finishing with the dry ingredients. Beat well after each addition.
  6. Beat in the lemon zest and saffron water and threads.
  7. Scrape the thick batter into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking after 30. Mine was done at 30 minutes but I have a very hot oven. The cake is done when a cake tester  comes out quite clean and the edges of the cake have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin even if it seems a bit tender.
  9. Place onto a wire cooling rack, but leave it in its tin.
  10. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan. When the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, it’s ready. Let it cool for 5 minutes or so.
  11. Prick the top of the warm cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick – don’t use anything too big like a skewer as it will punch too-large holes in the cake.
  12. Slowly pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.
  13. Eat as is or serve as a pudding with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a pretty dusting of icing sugar.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

Lemon Saffron and Semolina Cake

A Green Tapenade

IMG_4199I was a serious bookaholic from a very young age. On Saturdays, my mum would make the rounds of the butchers, the green grocers and the bakery in Westlands Shopping Centre leaving my little brother and me to squabble as we waited  fractiously in the car. We were always careful not to carry  on in front of her as she to and froed followed by shop assistants laden with bags for the boot because our reward for waiting patiently (hah!) was a visit to Lavington Green Shopping Centre. Mum would take my brother off to the sweet shop probably via the fishmongers as I browsed the wonderful books in the bookshop trying to decide which ones I should spend all my pocket money on. As I came to read more challenging books, I would usually have a dictionary by my side to look up words that I didn’t know and couldn’t make sense of. One day I realised that these definitions included a little note on the origin of the word – many hours were spent trawling through the dictionary and marvelling at where our words came from.

I have always been fascinated by provenance. What is the history behind things/people/ideas/languages/recipes? On a recent Bank Holiday Monday, I found myself sitting up at the bar in Polpo at lunch time in what can only be described as “continuing” birthday celebrations for my dear friend C which had started on the Thursday prior. Polpo model themselves on a Venetian “bàcaro” which literally translates as House of Bacchus – Bacchus being the Roman God of wine . A bàcaro is a small Venetian bar which serves local wines and little plates of cicchetti – tidbits of delicious food – predating the more well known Spanish custom of tapas by a few centuries. Polpo had run out of a couple of items on the menu (annoying) but had whipped up some replacements (laudable) one of which was an utterly delicious green olive tapenade crostini. As C and I discussed the ingredients in a tapenade, I found myself curious as to why something so intrinsically Provencal was being served somewhere which prides itself on its (utterly delicious) Venetian roots. Turns out that olive tapenades with anchovies can be found in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back to thousands of years before the appearance of the French word tapenade, or indeed the French language itself. The earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella’s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD… So much lovely provenance in this story!

IMG_4196There are many recipes for tapenade but they all have the same basic ingredients – olives (usually black), capers, garlic, anchovies, lemon/vinegar and olive oil – in varying amounts. This is my take on it inspired by our visit to Polpo.

A Green Tapenade

  • Servings: just fills a 250g jar
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 200g green olives (pitted weight) or thereabouts
  • 3 cloves of skinned garlic confit or 1 fat clove of raw garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 to 2 anchovies
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp sundried tomato paste or red pesto
  • Olive oil
  • A squeeze or two of lemon

PREPARATION

  1. You can either finely chop the first five ingredients for a more rustic texture or blitz them in a food processor for a minute or two. Either way, then stir in the sun-dried tomato paste and drizzle in some olive oil.
  2. Taste.
  3. Give the mixture a squeeze of lemon and taste it again. Adjust the flavours to your liking bearing in mind that they mellow as time goes on. Salt shouldn’t be necessary as there is plenty in the olives, capers and anchovies.
  4. Store it in an scrupulously  clean jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. It should keep for at least a week in the fridge.

USES

  • Spread on grilled or toasted slices of ciabatta or baguette and enjoy with a glass of something suitable
  • Spread a couple of tablespoons under the skin of a chicken before roasting
  • Make a slit in the side of a thick fillet of cod/haddock and spread a little of the tapenade inside before cooking
  • Top a thinner fillet of fish with a smear of tapenade before cooking
  • Mix a couple of tablespoons into an oil and vinegar dressing and spoon over just boiled new potatoes

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Courgette, Feta and Thyme Bake

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Pinterest is the rabbit hole of the internet for me. It has led me to many a new discovery; from art to icons, amazing interiors and gardens and food of course. If there is one thing that can be said about Pinterest is that it is absolutely bursting at the seams with food pictures from pinners all over the world.

We have had an amazing summer this year and the courgettes have been absolutely delicious. Whilst I love them raw, shredded and dressed with lemon, olive oil with shavings of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh mint or griddlled and added to a couscous, I am always on the lookout for new recipes. So when I came across this pin which led me to this recipe, I knew that it would become a summer regular at my table. It is light and lemony with depth from the golden onions, salty with feta and with a wonderful herbal note from the thyme. It is absolutely delicious!

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You gently sauté an onion until it is golden, stir in some minced garlic and thyme leaves then sauté courgette slices until they have just started to soften and are coated in the delicious flavoured oil.

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You take a couple of eggs; and these are some of the most delicious eggs I have ever eaten, from a biodynamic farm in Sussex that I get from our local Farmers Market.

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Whisk them lightly, then stir in lemon juice, sour cream, grated parmesan and feta cheese.

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Layer a scant half of the courgettes in the bottom of a well buttered baking dish

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and cover with a really scant half of the egg mixture, spreading it as necessary to cover the courgettes.

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Then do the same again, finishing with a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.

After baking, let it cool down a little to have warm with some seared salmon or roast chicken or have as a lovely light lunch with a salad. It would also be terrific to take on a picnic.

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I had half a pack of feta left over which I find always goes off before I can use it. So this time I cubed and packed it into a tiny little jar with thyme and covered the cubes with olive oil and popped it in the fridge.  Use in salads or when roasting red peppers…

Courgette, Feta and Thyme Bake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 medium courgettes
  • 1-2 Tbsp worth of fresh thyme leaves depending on how much you like thyme
  • 1 Tbsp mild olive oil (don’t waste extra virgin on frying)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g sour cream which is half a tub
  • 100g feta cubed or crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan which you can judge by eyeballing the pile
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Start by warming the olive oil in the pan on a medium heat. Peel, halve and slice the onion into half moons and tip into pan, sprinkling with a little salt to help release the water in the onions. Wash the courgettes and slice into rounds that are about as thick a pound coin. Keep an eye on the onions, stirring from time to time so that they don’t catch and burn. Stir in the garlic and the thyme leaves. I added a splash of water to help keep everything going at this point. Then tip in the sliced courgettes and sauté for about 4 or 5 minutes – long enough to only just soften them and coat them in the lovely oil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk the eggs then stir in the sour cream, parmesan, feta, the juice from squeezing that lemon half and some cracked black pepper. It will feel thick and look a little curdled from the lemon juice. The cheeses are both quite salty so you shouldn’t need any additional salt.
  4. In a well buttered ovenproof dish, layer a scant half of the courgettes and cover with a very scant half of the egg mix. Repeat, finishing with a scattering of the halved cherry tomatoes.
  5. Bake for 25- 30 minutes. The original recipe call for 40 minutes but that is much too long in my oven that seems super hot. I checked after 20 minutes and it was almost done so I took it out after 30 minutes.
  6. Let it cool a little before serving warm.

Serves 6 as side dish or 4 as a light lunch with salad

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.