Cumin-chile lamb skewers with lemon yoghurt

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We ate those gorgeous spiced lamb skewers since they were on the cover of Bon Appétit’s Grilling Issue basically all through summer and haven’t stopped since. Why not, caraway & cumin are as much winter players as summer spices and their warm tones are welcome in cooler weather, just as heat & floral notes are provided by Sichuan, Aleppo and black pepper. Most importantly if you have two hurricanes, ahem babies, playing havoc with longwinded supper plans: they are super easy to prepare and quick to make (if you have your butcher debone and cut the lamb shoulder, of course, which you definitely should) and reward you with an explosion of flavour that revives the taste buds after a long, long day. Continue reading

Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin

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Happy New Year and lots of luck with this flavourful and surprisingly snazzy lentil dish! Hopefully you had an amazing Christmas and a great start to this new & shiny year full of miracles and joy.

I don’t know about you but the holidays seem to have just rushed past in one big swoosh: plenty of balmy days spent celebrating, feasting & relaxing and we enjoyed every minute of them. Cooking wise, we’ve had a few ups (these lentils, Christmas goose with all the trimmings, bean chilli) and more than a few downs lately (burnt mince meat and no mince pies, the ‘Spanish’ chicken, yesterday’s supper to name the worst) since a stray swarm of tsetse flies must have settled nearby (odd, the forest does not look in the least like Kalahari) and I could hardly keep my eyes open past 9 o’ clock. Unfortunately, that’s a point where cooking ambition switches into sheer survival mode and explains a certain lack of Internet presence & participation. But, discounting yesterday’s meagre plate, I am getting back to normal and the hunger games might be over.

Whatever this year brings to you, it is always good to have a nice lentil supper up one’s sleeve and this Middle Eastern answer to dal is a real keeper as far as we are concerned. Ottolenghi – who else should wonderful dish be from? – mashes them for a more porridge-y consistency though I prefer the lentils intact in this dish where vibrant lemon & tomatoes deliver upbeat notes and tahini adds a touch of creaminess. Finish with zingy onion slices, fresh coriander and a dusting of warm paprika – a feast for all the senses that should bring lots of luck and keep even the sleepiest awake for dinner (me). Even on its own it is a thoroughly satisfying meal (add hard-boiled eggs for additional sustenance) but the lentils are also a spectacular side to pan fried fish we found one evening.

 

 

Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin


Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin

Serves 4. Adapted with small changes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More

 

200g Puy lentils
30g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoons cumin
1½ tins chopped tomatoes (or 4 medium tomatoes, blanched, skinned and diced)
½ bunch of coriander, chopped (30g), save some 1-2 tbsp. for finishing
60g tahini paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt & pepper
water
½ red onion, sliced into thin half moons
olive oil
½ teaspoon paprika

optional: 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
Cook lentils for about 20-25 minutes until done, drain and set aside until needed.

Heat butter & oil in a large sauté pan over a medium-high flame and cook garlic and cumin for a scant minute before adding tomatoes, nearly all of the chopped coriander (save some to sprinkle over the finished dish later) and the lentils. Stir and cook for a few minutes, add tahini, lemon juice, salt & pepper and 70ml water. Reduce the heat and continue to cook & stir for 5 minutes until the lentil dish has thickened and is hot. At this point Ottolenghi smashes the lentils a few times with a potato masher in order to achieve the consistency of a chunky porridge / hummus but I liked my lentils unmashed.

Garnish with thinly sliced onion, the reserved coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of paprika. For a more substantial main course add halved hard-boiled eggs.

 

 

 

Deutsches Rezept:

Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini and cumin


Puy Linsen mit Tomaten, Tahini & Kreuzkümmel

4 Portionen, adaptiert und abgewandelt von Yotam Ottolenghi’s Linsengericht aus Plenty More. Sehr lecker als Hauptgericht (dazu die hartgekochten Eier) oder als Beilage zu gebratenem Fisch.

 

200g Puy Linsen
30g Butter
2 EL Olivenöl
3 Knoblauchzehen, gepresst
1½ TL Kreuzkümmel
1½ Dosen gehackte Tomaten (oder 4 mittelgroße Tomaten, blanchiert, gehäutet und gewürfelt)
½ Bund Koriander, gehackt (30g), 1-2 EL zur Dekoration zurückbehalten
60g Tahini (Sesampaste)
2 EL Zitronensaft
Salz & Pfeffer
Wasser
½ rote Zwiebel, in dünne Halbmonde geschnitten
Olivenöl
½ TL Paprika

optional: 2 hart gekochte Eier, halbiert
Linsen für ca. 20-25 Minuten gar kochen, abgießen und zur Seite stellen.

Butter und Olivenöl in einer großen Sauteuse bei mittlerer Hitze schmelzen und Knoblauch sowie Kreuzkümmel für eine knappe Minute erhitzen. Tomaten, Koriander und die gekochten Linsen hinzufügen, umrühren und für einige Minute kochen, dann Tahini, Zitronensaft, Salz & Pfeffer sowie 70ml Wasser unterrühren. Die Hitze leicht reduzieren und für ca. 5 Minuten weiterkochen bis das Linsengericht eingedickt und heiß ist. An dieser Stelle zerdrückt Ottolenghi die Linsen mit einem Kartoffelstampfer um die Konsistenz eines stückigen Hummus zu erreichen, ich bevorzuge die Linsen intakt.

In einer flachen Schale mit dünnen Zwiebelscheiben, gehacktem Koriander, etwas Olivenöl und einem Hauch von Paprika servieren. Zusammen mit hart gekochten Eiern wird dies ein noch gehaltvolleres Hauptgericht.

chickpea salad with cucumber, tomatoes & peppers

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This is my go-to-salad for a barbecue. It is rather quick to make (once chickpeas are cooked or substituted by tinned) and its bold, punchy flavours pair extremely well with anything grilled or charred: robust skirt steak and herb-marinated lamb, flash-griddled squid (1), red mullet or snapper (2) or as my husband would hasten to point out: sausages & ribs. The chickpeas provide substance as well as a nice bite and take it far away from limp and watery while cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes add crispness and crunch all the way. Seasoned with a little dose of spice and woodsy-ness (3) from wonderful Piment d’espelette, a dash of cumin, parsley and a final flourish of mint and lemon to deliver another boost of freshness. In short, it is the opposite of boring. Continue reading

cauliflower fritters, spicy carrot salad & lime sauce

These are fantastic fritters and the original recipe is by Sami Tamimi’s mother who according to the introduction made them once a week for the children. Is there a better recommendation? I stumbled upon this recipe to cope with a ton of baked cauliflower – my favourite way to eat it since I had roasted cauliflower with cumin a few years ago and recently baked cauliflower with brown butter crumbs – and needed a way to rework the last remnants of cauliflower.

Preferably, fritters for me should have some bite, so I adapted the recipe to use almost double the amount of cauliflower given in the recipe, baked it & chopped it into smaller pieces rather than cook & mash it, fiddled with the spices, too. The fragrant & zingy lime sauce is a great condiment to balance the spice-laden fritters and I have thrown in my quick spicy carrot salad for a boost of extra colour and to offer another texture for a complete supper.

Cauliflower fritters with spicy carrot salad & lime yoghurt
makes 2-3 generous portions, adapted from Ottolenghi. The cookbook.

½ head of cauliflower (ca. 250g)
olive oil
60g plain flour (optional: mix in a little chickpea flour)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ garlic clove, finely minced
1 shallot, minced
2 eggs
sunflower oil for frying

2 large carrots
3 tablespoons yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons harissa
1 teaspoon lime juice
olive oil
salt & pepper

150g yoghurt (the recipe recommends Greek, I had ordinary organic 3.5%)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
zest of ½ lime
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F). Cut the cauliflower into pieces (ranging from the size of a lime to that of a walnut, reserve the rubble), toss in a baking dish with a little olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) until some pieces have golden brown & crispy edges. Throw in the tiny pieces after about 15 minutes. Leave to cool, then chop into smallish pieces, don’t mush.

For the carrot salad: Cut the carrots into thin strips using a mandolin or a grater. Mix with yoghurt, harissa, a few drops of lime juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Leave for the flavours to mingle and prepare the other stuff. Before serving check the seasoning again.

Lime sauce: Mix yoghurt, coriander, lime zest & juice, olive oil and season. The sauce should have quite a zing to it.

Fritters: Whisk the flour with the spices, add garlic, shallot, parsley and stir in the eggs for a homogenous batter, then the cauliflower. Heat the sunflower oil (1.5 cm depth is recommended) in a pan over high heat and carefully drop about 1 heaped tablespoon of cauliflower mixture for each fritter into the oil. Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain of excess oil and serve with the carrot salad & lime sauce.

Auf deutsch:
Blumenkohlpuffer mit scharfem Möhrensalat & Limettensauce
für 2-3 Portionen, adaptiert von Ottolenghi. The cookbook.

½ Blumenkohlkopf (ca. 250g)
Olivenöl
60g Mehl (man kann auch ein wenig Kichererbsenmehl darunter mischen)
1 TL gemahlener Kreuzkümmel
¼ TL Zimt
¼ TL Kurkuma
¼ TL Cayenne
Salz & Pfeffer
2 EL gehackte großblätterige Petersilie
½ Knoblauchzehe, fein gehackt
1 Schalotte, fein gehackt
2 Eier
Sonnenblumenöl zum Ausbacken

2 große Möhren
3 EL Joghurt
1-2 TL Harissa
1 TL Limettensaft
Olivenöl
Salz & Pfeffer

150g Joghurt (empfohlen ist griechischer Joghurt, ich hatte 3,5% Bio Joghurt da)
2 EL gehackter Koriander
geriebene Schale von ½ (Bio) Limette
1-2 EL Limettensaft
1 EL Olivenöl
Salz & Pfeffer

Backofen auf 200°C vorheizen.
Blumenkohl in Stücken schneiden (ungefähr von der Größe einer Limette bis zu einer Walnuss), mit wenig Olivenöl in einer Auflaufform vermischen und für 30 Minuten backen bis die Röschen krosse, goldbraune Ecken haben. Von Zeit zu Zeit den Blumenkohl wenden. Die kleinen Krümel aufbewahren und nach ca. 15 Minuten ebenfalls hinzugeben und mitbacken. Abkühlen lassen.

Für den Möhrensalat die Möhren mit einer Mandoline oder einer Reibe in dünne Streifchen schneiden, mit Joghurt, Harissa, Limettensaft, Öl mischen und mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen. Eine Weile ruhen lassen, vor dem Servieren nochmals abschmecken.

Für die Limettensauce den Joghurt mit Koriander, Limettenschalen und –saft, Olivenöl verrühren und mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen.

Für die Puffer den Blumenkohl in kleinere Stückchen hacken, aber nicht zu klein. Das Mehl mit den Gewürzen vermischen, Zwiebel, Knoblauch, Petersilie hinzugeben und mit den Eiern zu einem dicklichen Ausbackteig verrühren, dann den Blumenkohl hineingeben. Das Sonnenblumenöl in einer Pfanne erhitzen (ca. 1,5 cm tief) und pro Puffer vorsichtig einen gehäuften Esslöffel Masse in das Öl träufeln und bei starker Hitze ca. 2-3 Minuten von jeder Seite zu goldbraunen Puffern backen. Auf Küchenpapier das überschüssige Öl abtropfen lassen und mit Möhrensalat und Limettensauce servieren.

Indian spiced chickpeas with mint & coriander yoghurt dressing

Do you know, when you are using this upbeat voice & add ‘we liked it so much last time’ to sell dinner, everyone is forewarned: “Hey, we are having this lovely aubergine, red pepper & pea curry for supper that we liked so much last time! And it comes with this new chickpea salad!” Well, we had to use up some vegetables and there was a great void in the creative department – all on holiday away from the lead-grey sky (and we really did like that curry last time, honest). Maybe we did not shower it with Michelin stars and “Greatest supper ever”-nominations but it was nice and after some tweaking it was still nice and boring.

What saved the day was the wild card, this little salad that was supposed to be a starter and thrown in at the last moment because I just stumbled over the recipe in Food & Wine and some of the ingredients where on the to-be-used list as well. This tangy, herby dressed salad perfectly balances intense and crunchy spices, lemony sourness and onion-y sharpness against the creamy chickpeas and its success should have not come unexpected since it was on a best-of staff-picks list. I have made a few adjustments: I used crème fraîche  and yoghurt (1.5%) instead of whole-milk yoghurt since that was in the fridge and simplified the spice-frying (tossed all into the oil at the same time instead of delaying some due to slap-dash reading). Those might very well be the reason for the creamyness and lovely crunch and I was quite happy about those particular traits.

Just for the record, yesterday’s vegetarian supper was Bombay potatoes with a fried egg on top (yummy, coming soon) and the wild card side dish fell through. What a shame, it looked so nice.

Indian spiced chickpeas with lemon, mint & coriander yoghurt dressing
serves 6 as a side dish, adapted from Jerry Traunfeld’s (Poppy, Seattle) recipe in Food & Wine

1 tin (800g/28oz; 450g/15oz drained) chickpeas, rinsed
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds (I used brown mustard seeds)
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup yoghurt
¼ cup crème fraîche (or use another ¼ cup whole-milk yoghurt)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
¼ cup (or more) chopped mint
¼ cup (or more) chopped coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon Piment d’Espelette
salt & pepper

Pour the rinsed chickpeas into a bowl, they should be drained in a strainer to get rid of too much excess water but no need to worry about a few drops of water. Heat the peanut oil in a small skillet until it is warm and shimmers. You are supposed to add the mustard seeds first and cook them with a partially closed lid for about a minute until they stop popping, after which the cumin and fennel seeds are supposed to be added and fried for 30 seconds. Or, do as I did and add the whole lot to the shimmering oil with one swooshing motion and fry for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Pour the hot spice oil over the chickpeas and mix with the yoghurt, crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, spring onion, mint, coriander and season with Piment d’Espelette, salt & pepper. Stir and check the seasoning and add more lemon juice if needed and serve at room temperature.