Jambalaya

Don’t worry I won’t go quoting lines from that song by the Carpenters!

A quick glance in the fridge today and I found a gammon steak and some spring onions. These needed using up before the weekends continued DIY spell on the boat so I looked through a number of books and found this recipe from Sally Butchers Salmagundi.

Jambalaya is somewhat similar to a paella. This particular version is served cold and is ideal for picnics, barbecues or outdoor eating. I chose it because the temperature inside the boat has been 25 degrees today and I really didn’t fancy a hot meal.

This is pretty easy to make. Boil some gammon in water with a bay leaf and some thyme until it’s cooked, remove the gammon and cook the rice gently in the cooking liquid with some chopped tomatoes.

While that’s cooking you have 15 minutes or so to dice some red and green pepper; slice some onion, celery and spring onions and chop some chorizo or other smoky cooked sausage. Also chop your cooked gammon.

You also make a dressing of garlic, lime juice, green chillies and rapeseed oil – which I blitzed in my Nutribullet.

When the rice is done, let it cool and then mix everything together. That’s it.

This far exceeded my expectations. What was just going to be a leftover rice dish turned out to be flavoursome, crunchy, comforting and the sauce was really zingy and lifted it to another level.

Fortunately I made twice as much as I needed so that’s tomorrow’s dinner taken care of too!

Just as well. We have another floor to sand, dye and stain and lots of other boat DIY tasks to get done done during our unusually commitment free weekend. And it’s going to be a warm dry weekend – happy days!

Ras El Hanout Chicken Wraps

Ras el Hanout Chicken Wraps

If there’s one spice (in fact spice mix) associated with Morocco it is Ras el Hanout. Take a walk down any market street in Marrakech or Essaouria and you’ll struggle to walk 10 yards without seeing someone selling it. They’ll tell you that theirs is better than the guy next to him because of x y z or the alignment of the stars. Every one of the sellers say it is a blend of 35 spices – but I think it’s more likely to be 10.

Truth be told I didn’t buy any in Morocco. I have plenty and I simply didn’t trust the sellers. We were ripped off enough times for me to just rest assured that I can get perfectly good stuff at home and probably for half the price.

We eat wraps a lot. Mainly on gym days. After a 90 minute drive home from work and a 90 minute plus gym session its just too late to start cooking. So unless you’ve got leftovers, wraps are a great alternative.

Typically our wraps are salad and grilled halloumi, but I stumbled across this recipe in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour so I decided to try something different.

Like most things in this book it’s pretty easy. You create a paste with the ras el hanout and some olive oil, then smear it all over some chicken strips. I did mine in a plastic freezer bag as you can squish all the paste into all the surfaces of the chicken and it doesn’t stink out your fridge while you leave it to marinate.

The book recommends leaving the chicken to marinate overnight (I’ve done this subsequently and it does make a big difference) but on the first occasion I left it less than an hour – I was hungry!

While your chicken is marinating, make the yoghurt dressing by simply mixing chopped mint, greek yoghurt, black pepper and sumac.

Sumac is amazing. It lifts everything. Its a ground berry from the Rhus plant – and it tastes fantanstic. Sprinkle it on bland looking stuff and it’ll make it look pretty too!

When you’re ready to eat, fry off the chicken until it’s springy and when it’s done let it rest for a few minutes on a board.

Then simply construct the wraps with some rocket leaves (or spinach like I did), the chicken, some sliced red onion, the yoghurt dressing, some pomegranate molasses and some pomegranate seeds.

You won’t eat a better wrap. It’s good if you can dry fry the wraps first to warm them through – your filling will stay warmer for longer and it’ll be easier to wrap the wrap!

I really love these. And I make them all the time. It’s why you don’t see me blogging much these days – too many of these awesome wraps!

Marinated Feta

Marinated Feta

Many of us buy those pots of antipasti in supermarkets. The little plastic pot that you fill with stuff for a two or three pounds. Well they always have marinated feta and/or olives.

Well I thoughts I’d give it a go myself – for no other reason that I’d bought too much fresh feta from my local Syrian supermarket in Brentford and couldn’t feasibly eat it all before it was past it!

Fortunately there was a recipe for marinated feta in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour.

This is incredibly simple and just benefits from maturing for 24 hours or so.

In a big bowl, cube some feta, add olive oil, garlic, pickled chillies, finely sliced banana shallots, fresh coriander, lemon rind and lemon juice and stir the whole thing together carefully (you don’t want to mash the feta).

I didn’t add salt to mine – I find the feta is salty enough as it is.

Once it’s all nicely mixed, decant into jars – I used the plastic pots left over from the fresh feta and seal the lid. Pop in the fridge and leave for as long as you can resist.

We ate this for days! We had three or four pots of the stuff and we grazed on it, had it on toast, sneaked spoonfuls from the fridge and made it part of a meze meal.

For something so simple to make it really makes sense to give it a go yourself rather than buy it pre-made for you.

Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa and Tomato Sauce & Coriander

Baked Eggs with Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander

Another amazing dish from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. We had this before we went to Morocco; part of a week where we thought we’d try out the types of food we were likely to eat while we were on holiday. Sadly stuff like this was nowhere to be found.

It’s an incredibly tasty dish and, although it is supposedly what people eat for breakfast, it was a main meal for us. I should knock one of these up the morning before our next Monopoly Board Pub Crawl (we are well over half way !).

Our local Syrian supermarket has fresh feta. Its far superior to the stuff you get in packets, much smoother and it matures if you keep it a couple of days. We buy it a lot and it often ends up in this recipe (as well as the pistachio dip) – I’ve made them both many times.

It’s very simple to make but does take a while if you want your sauce to be rich and your eggs well baked.

The sauce isn’t unlike most tomato based curry sauces. You fry some red onions, add lots of garlic, stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and then the harissa paste. Once the onions are well coated add both tinned and fresh tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Very simple.

Pour this sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and break chunks of feta into the sauce, and stir in lots of coriander.

Then make four wells in the sauce, crack eggs into the wells, season with pepper and bake in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

I like recipes like this because you don’t have to paw over them for ages. It can be a one pot creation if you start your sauce in the right dish. First time round I doubled my washing up by not planning properly.

The recipe recommends eating this with flatbreads, which we did. Mopping up that awesome tomato sauce was very satisfying.

Pistachio and Feta Dip with Tenderstem Broccoli

Pistachio and Feta Dip

One thing Freya absolutely loves to eat is this dip. Since the first time I made it she was blown away and we’ve had it many times since.

It comes from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour – which I bought after having a really disappointing Persian meal in a restaurant in Brentford, London. I decided I could do better – bought the book and have made many things from it since.

This is a very quick dip to make – if you have a Nutribullet, a Vitamix or (if you’re wealthy) a Thermomix.

Simply put shelled pistachios, olive oil, feta cheese, dill, coriander, garlic, a red chilli some greek yoghurt and the rind and juice of a lemon in a blender and blitz until smooth.

As you can see I served mine with some raw tender stem broccoli.

The dip has so things going on. It’s salty, nutty, has a chilli hit and is creamy and smooth. I don’t think I’ve ever made a better dip.

Persiana is a great book – the best one I’ve found in its category.

I made quite a few tagines from the book (which I loved). Unfortunately this left me disappointed when I went to Morocco and their food was bland and uninteresting in comparison.

Gammon and Chestnut Tagliatelle 


I usually load myself up on chicken after I’ve had a session at the tattooist. I find I fall asleep from the three hours of constant needlework if I don’t load up on food. But today was an exception. I stuck to the diet and just had my regular diet replacement shake.

This evening while Freya tried on a new batch of clothes from ASOS to reward herself for her impressive weight loss – I put this together. And very quickly too. It only took 20 minutes to make. And I wasn’t even rushing.  The recipe is from delicious magazine by the way.

They don’t sell pappardelle pasta in Morrisons  so I subbed it for tagliatelle. It was close enough and still had the desired effect.

Very simply you fry a gammon steak that you have cut into lardon shapes, add an onion, some garlic, chopped chestnuts and cook a little longer. Then stir in some creme fraiche and some chopped parsley before combining it with your cooked pasta.

Like I said it was ready in 20 minutes; which included bringing the water for the pasta to the boil.  This is very tasty indeed. The chestnuts really made this dish. Really nice contrasts of textures and flavours.

Freya loved this; as did I. She loved it even more when you worked out it came in at less than 400 calories. What she loved even more was fitting into everything she bought from ASOS and not having to send anything back. She even fits into my jeans now.

Can’t argue with that now can you!

Left Over Chicken Curry and Brown Rice

Having spent all weekend sanding, dyeing and lacquering the boat floors (not to mention tiling and grouting the wet room) we needed to put the living room and kitchen back the way it was on Monday evening.

Without a kitchen the plan for dinner was chicken wraps; with a cooked chicken from the supermarket and a load of salad. As nice as it was we were just being practical and quick – and there was a lot of chicken left over.

But what to do with the other half of the chicken?

The Guardian ran an article about 27 things to do with left over chicken. This curry was first on the list. There were many other lovely recipes in the article but I had all the ingredients for the curry. I may revisit them another time!

The curry is pretty simple and very low in fat. I don’t usually make curry (even though I love spicy foods) as Freya isn’t a big fan of spicy food and I always tend to fail in making something mild enough for her. This one looked like it might suit us both.

For this one you slowly sweat some onions and then add garlic and fresh ginger and sweat some more.

Add a mix of ground spices including cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, chilli powder and make sure all the onions are coated.

Add chopped fresh tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to be boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Stir in the cooked chicken and once it had warmed through stir in a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt.

Serve with some fresh chopped coriander and some rice.

I really liked this curry. The yoghurt made it very creamy and rich- just without the cream.

It was a little bit too spicy for Freya. I think it was the fresh ginger – it didn’t bother me though. Perhaps halving the ginger might be in order next time.

It’s certainly one that I’m going to squirrel away for other leftover days.