Leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach









I am on a continuous quest for new vegetable dishes to ring the changes: alternative preparations, different seasoning spices & new flavour combinations who will not only rejuvenate the usual suspects of sides but add an exciting twist & surprise us with hitherto unknown delightful tastes (with occasionally mediocre results or sad failures). Even better, when those experiments turn out to be such marvels and immediately join the ranks of the favourites, like these leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach.

Elementary ingredients of Greece & the Levant give the leeks a flavour makeover: the various citrus notes of dill and sumach accentuate the inherent sweetness of the leeks while the seasoned creamy yoghurt refreshes and adds piquancy at the same time. A fantastic little side that goes with absolutely everything from Middle Eastern to Western cuisine, lamb tagine to pork chops, falafel or cauliflower fritters, roast chicken or this gorgeous citrus-spiced salmon. Did I say, it is a cinch to make? Well, it is ready in a few minutes: assemble the yoghurt dressing while the leeks steam, drizzle it on and finish with a final flourish of crimson sumach. Done. How fast was that? Continue reading


Mexican Green Goddess dressing









If the phrase Lightning never strikes twice only would be true, then we might be safe for all eternity (unfortunately, that’s a myth). A few things got fried: phone & router & AirPort & the likes and it took a while to replace them as well as to get everything back up and running. But… I actually found being cut off quite a soothing state of (temporary) splendid isolation. Which brings me to this:

You can say about Gwyneth Paltrow’s cooking what you like but better try this dressing first: once you modify it and substitute a fresh goat yoghurt for the vegan mayonnaise, it is fabulous. A Mexican riff on the Green Goddess dressing takes the creamy (mayonnaise) green herb salad sauce to a bright & fresh Spa version, which is not only highly addictive, but even more beneficial than the original, it might need a CA zip code. Good bacteria (yoghurt) are all the rage…again & the green zingy freshness (lime! coriander! Spring onions!) a true Californian, if you ask me and I can’t get enough of it. 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)
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
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.

celeriac remoulade

celery remoulade by the james kitchen
celeriac remoulade, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


Maybe a little old-fashioned, dowdy or too root vegetable-y for some, celeriac remoulade is a wonderful salad and is easily relieved of the usual mayonnaise overload. I actually prefer this lighter version with yoghurt and just a little sour cream & mayo. You could even substitute these meagre 2 tablespoons if you are freaking out worried but you might need to rename this French classic. Celeriac (the celery root) has a savoury taste, it is milder than celery and even slightly sweet and the mayonnaise of the classic recipe complements its smooth- and sweetness. I like the contrast of the fresh and sharp mustard & yoghurt dressing which makes this salad a perfect side dish to almost anything though I particularly like it with game-birds.

We had this incarnation (forgive the pun) of celeriac remoulade with hot smoked duck breast & a rather fabulous lentil salad for a party in December and I thought the combination was a true winner though initially I was a little worried about the lack of glamour. Anyway, to glam up the colour scheme a little crimson was added by a bowl of Preisselbeersauce (a tart, earthy & fruity sauce made from Preisselbeeren = lingonberries, in Germany traditionally served with game and baked Camembert or in Sweden company to the famous Köttbullar) and there was really no need to worry, the fresh savouryness of the celeriac salad brought it all together.

Celeriac remoulade – Célérie rémoulade (just a little bit more légèr)
for six to eight

One medium celeriac (Sellerieknolle)
juice of 1 lemon
2 heaped tablespoons of coarse Dijon mustard
2 heaped tablespoons of regular Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of homemade or organic mayonnaise (substitute crème fraîche if you want even more légèreté)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1½-2 cups of yoghurt (1.5% or 3%, whatever you have got)
salt & pepper
2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Peel the outer skin of the celeriac and cut the white bulb into fine (but not too thin)  matchsticks. I use a food processor or a japanese mandoline for this, if you like the precision workout hone your knife skills. Mix the shredded celeriac immediately with lemon juice to preserve the wonderful ivory colour. Make a dressing from the other ingredients but save a little parsley for decoration. Check the seasoning and leave to rest for an hour. Finally sprinkle with the remaining parsley before you serve it.


Auf deutsch:

für 6-8 Personen als Beilage

1 mittelgroße Sellerieknolle
Saft einer Zitrone
2 gehäufte EL Dijonsenf
2 gehäufte EL grober Dijonsenf
2 EL gute Mayonnaise, hausgemacht oder Bio (durch Crème fraîche oder Sauerrahm ersetzen wenn man auf Mayonnaise ganz verzichten möchte)
2 EL saure Sahne
1½ – 2 Tassen (ca. 500g) Joghurt (1,5% oder 3%)
Salz & Pfeffer
2 Handvoll glatte Petersilie, gehackt bzw. gewiegt

Vom Sellerie die äußere Haut abschälen und die Knolle in nicht zu dünne Stifte schneiden (entweder mit der Küchenmaschine oder einer japanischen Mandoline oder klassisch mit dem Messer). Sie sollten ungefähr so dick und lang sein wie Streichhölzer. Sofort mit Zitronensaft übergießen um die schöne weiße Farbe zu erhalten. Aus den anderen Zutaten ein Dressing herstellen, dabei etwas gehackte Petersilie zurückbehalten. Mit Salz und Pfeffer abschmecken und den Selleriesalat am besten eine Stunde durchziehen lassen. Vor dem Servieren mit Petersilie bestreuen.


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.