Haloumi, Courgette and Mint Fritters with a Wild Rice Salad with Peas (and Green Harissa)

Last night we were supposed to meet up with an old work colleague but it didn’t work out. Just as well really given the expensive meal we had out on Monday at Hawksmoor Bar in Seven Dials.

This comforting and very filling dish comes from Mildred’s. This is the second thing I’ve cooked from their book.

We’d already had Latkes the day before – and these are similar in concept – but I really fancied them so I chose to ignore the fact that I was frying stuff off in a pan; a few extra calories and grams of fat won’t hurt once in a while. We’d have done far worse if we’d have eaten out.

One of the dangers of frying at the moment is Freya has just reupholstered our sofa on the boat with a beautiful Laura Ashley fabric. It’s quite amazing what she’s managed to achieve for a first attempt. The cushion covers are perfect; complete with contrast piping. BUT: The sofa does back on to the island unit of the kitchen. So the hob is directly above it – and any splashes from a frying pan are heading straight for the sofa.

We already have a plan to add a sort of splash back to the work surface to prevent such things but for now I just have to be extra careful. The beautiful sofa is covered in old throws – hiding all the great work – sad times!

Anyway. These fritters are pretty easy to make. You grate a slab of haloumi into a bowl, add chopped red onion, chilli, garlic, mint and lemon rind and mix together. You then add grated courgette (with all the water squeezed out of it), eggs and fresh breadcrumbs and form a blob of mixture.

Once you’ve let it rest a while you form egg sized balls (rolling them in flour) and fry them in a pan; pressing them down as you fry them to make them more patty like! I found this to be quite messy – the mixture was quite sticky – I probably could have squeezed more liquid from the courgettes – but I was being impatient.

We had 4 each together with the salad – which was pretty yummy too.

The salad is made from Wild Rice (which I couldn’t get so I used a Basmati and Wild Rice Mix), which you cook and allow to go cold, spring onions, cucumber, mint, coriander, parsley, green chillies, lemon juice and rind and frozen peas that you’ve allowed to thaw. Mix it all together its nearly done!

I didn’t thaw the peas. I chucked them in with the rice while it was cooling, much quicker!

The rice has ‘Green Harissa’ stirred through it and this takes some time to make. Once you’ve made it though you have tonnes of the stuff for future recipes as you can keep it in a jelly jar and store it in the fridge – I don’t see why it wouldn’t keep.

The Green Harissa is made by roasting a handful of green peppers in a very hot over until they pop, skinning and deseeding them and blending them together with cumin and fennel seeds, sumac, chilli fakes, coriander, mint, parsley, lemon juice and rind, spring onions, peas and garlic – oh and a lot of olive oil.

You need to blend the harissa until it is really smooth. I used my Nutribullet but it really struggled with the quantity I was blending. I tasted it and it was very runny and bitter and then I realised I’d forgotten to add the peas (I only noticed as I’d left them on the side and they were the only spare ingredient left out). After these were added it was much thicker and tasted much better!

Most of the Harissa went into a jar. You only need about 100mls for the Salad – I had over half a litre left over!

This dish took a while to make. Fortunately we’d had a snack of stuffed vine leaves from our local Syrian supermarket in Brentford ‘Al Shaaam’. They always have everything I need for the type of cooking I enjoy and they are far cheaper than Morrisons. The staff there are so friendly and helpful – even more so now that Ramadam is over!

I really recommend this dish. If you make it to the recipe you’ll have enough for 2 meals easily. It makes a lot more than you think – and as tempting as it is to go back for seconds there is that waistline to look after!

Shakshuka

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Some dishes taste better than they look. This is one of them I think.

This dish is a typical Middle Eastern breakfast dish – but yet again because we were late back from the boat – 10:30pm this time – I ended up throwing this together in about 25 minutes.

It rained all day on Sunday so we decided to take a trip to IKEA to pick up two small sofas to go in the wheelhouse of our boat. Sadly – we did the bad thing which was changing our minds on what we wanted – picked something a little bit bigger and found it didn’t fit ! It was a real shame as it meant we just lost a tonne of time driving all the way back to IKEA to return the oversized items and then had to queue for a refund and buy what we had originally planned to buy. By the time we’d done these two trips (from Maidenhead to Wembley) and assembled, dismantled, reboxed, returned, then assembled the smaller sofas it was very late indeed.

We were happy with what we should have bought in the first place though so it really doesn’t matter. Just lost lots of time!

Anyway, this dish is basically poached eggs in a tomato and red pepper sauce. Very simple and very tasty.

After dicing a couple of red peppers and chopping a good half kilo of ripe tomatoes, you fry them off with some Harissa (again!) garlic, cumin and tomato puree until you get a nice thick sauce.

At this stage you make some wells in your sauce and crack eggs into them – then cook until they are done. While they are cooking you wiggle the whites into the sauce a bit – and that’s it!

You serve this dish with Labneh or a thick yoghurt. I used creme fraiche – given I hadn’t made any Labneh (it does take at least a day to make it) and wanted to keep our yoghurt for something else.

Basic, fast, and very tasty. A definite dish to have in the bag when you have no time on your hands.

We definitely have to get out of the habit of eating so late. It’s not good for us! But better than eating nothing and going to bed on a rumbly tumbly.

Spicy Carrot Salad

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One thing I really struggle with is taking photographs of Orange food with an iPhone. All the pictures on this site are taken with my iPhone – and nearly all of them look acceptable – apart from the orange and really purple things. No idea why! Anyway – apologies for the photos of this dish!

On Thursday we got home a little too late and all I could think of making in a short span of time was this. Another dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book.

This is essentially some steamed carrots mixed with some spices. Very simple but very tasty. Another dish I made in less than 30 minutes !

While the carrots are steaming (or boiling as it says in the book) you fry some onions with some harissa, cumin and caraway seeds. Once the carrots are done you slice them, add them to the onion and spices, with some cider vinegar and sugar.

Then you just serve them with some rocket. It is recommended that you leave this dish for a while for the flavours of the onion and spice mix to infuse into the carrots.

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It doesn’t get simpler than that really. In reality this is just a side dish – but given the time of day this ended up being our main meal. Typically this would be a meze dish and as Ottolenghi says you could experiment and substitute the carrots for either pumpkin or butternut squash.

The recipe calls for Pilpelchuma (or Filfel chuma if you are searching wiki) – which is very similar to harissa anyway – although it is implied it might be a little more spicy. There’s a recipe later in the book to make it yourself but I just didn’t have the time – maybe some other time!

Freya thought this was too spicy. I really liked it.

One thing I’d change is to lightly crush the carrots. I don’t like the appearance of carrots when they are just sliced – reminds me of Sunday Roasts and school dinners – they look a bit primitive this way – whereas the crushed look is far more trendy and visually appealing.