Tag Archives: vegetables

Vegetable Soup and a Review of 2013

vegetable soup-0251-2The festivities have come to an end, many rich foods were enjoyed and now the fridge and freezer are almost empty… simple food is craved once again. With the last remaining vegetables I decided to make a pot of soup. Nothing fancy, no special ingredients just a tasty wholesome bowl of soup, served with thick slices of home-made brown bread on the side. You might say I am kicking off the new year with a healthy start but it more comes down to what’s left on the vegetable rack. The soups flavor is determined by the combination of vegetables used and sometimes I like to throw in a granny smith apple for its sweet-tart flavor. I would have used fresh turkey stock but as my good friend Sarah had taken charge of Christmas Day and did an amazing job (I did boxing day), I had no turkey to cook. Continue reading

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash with Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted butternut squash or pumpkin is an excellent side dish for roast chicken, lamb or chops, but can equally be enjoyed served at room temperature as part of a warm Autumn salad with some couscous. Roasting this orange coloured vegetable/fruit intensifies and caramelizes their natural sweet flavor… which I favour over steaming! Although I steam butternut squash when making a purée for Pumpkin Ice Cream, which is quite delicious!

Over at  Jungle Frog Cooking Simone is hosting an Autumn Orange/Pumpkin theme for this months photography and styling challenge and as I have just come back from a Photography and Styling Workshop (more on the workshop later),  a good time to put some learning into practice and hopefully create an Autumn feel to the images while living on a sunny desert Island!

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash with Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 1kg butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  •  4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly squashed leaving the skin on
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

How to make: Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Place the squash into  a large shallow roasting tin, add the olive oil, garlic, ground spice mix, sea salt , black pepper and bay leaf. Gently toss all the ingredients together with your hands.

Roast the squash in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize,  giving a stir halfway through.

While the squash is roasting, toast the pumpkin seeds on a dry pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes and set aside.

When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and place into a warmed serving dish and sprinkle over the toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve hot as a side dish or at room temperature as part of a salad. Serves 4.

lamb and vegetable stew with arabic flatbread – thareed

Stewing is an age-old method of cooking and history suggests that these types of dishes have been around since the advent of clay pottery. From gumbo to Irish stew many cultures from around the globe have some type of stew recorded in their culinary repertoire. Coming from an Irish upbringing stews play close to my taste buds heart as Irish Stew (also lamb and vegetables) is a national favourite!

Thareed is a stew consisting of lamb and vegetables that have been slowly simmered in a spiced tomato based broth. Once cooked, torn pieces of thin flatbread (khoubz) are added, soaking into the flavorsome broth, making the dish a complete meal in itself! Thareed is a popular dish eaten during Ramadan and served for Iftar, the first meal eaten after fasting.

Dried black lime (loomi aswad) added to the simmering broth of thareed imparts a delicious sweet-tangy flavour which is quite unique! Piercing with a knife beforehand allows the broth to permeate the dried lime, releasing its wonderful flavour, that I believe cannot be substituted in the same way using fresh lime or lemon zest!

These small limes are boiled for a short time in salted water and left to dry out in the sun or in a dehydrator, turning them tan or black in colour depending on the length of time spent drying. Throughout the middle east dried limes are used as a souring agent in cooking and are also ground and used in spice mixes and marinades! Sometimes these dried limes are called whole black lemons or lemon powder… somehow the name may have got lost in the translation… but dried limes they are!

Long and slowly simmered stews deserve the best cooking pots  and my preference is a heavy gauge pot with a tight-fitting lid (also called a Dutch oven), which can be used either on the stove top or in an oven. The food can also be served straight from the pot itself, making washing-up a breeze!

Slow simmering stews with wafting aromas are usually associated with cold blustery winter days, however living in Bahrain with a 45 celsius summer heat  leaves me with the only suggestion… turn your air-conditioning to full blast and tuck in!

Thareed

Ingredients:

  • 1kg lamb shoulder chops
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Baharat (Arabic spices, see note below)  or your favourite mixed spices
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4  heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 small whole dried limes, pierced with a knife
  • 2 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole green chilli
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 baby courgettes, cut into chunks
  • 1 or 2 piece (approximately) of thin flatbread (khoubz)

 How to make: With a sharp knife, remove the meat from the bone, trim excess fat and cut into cubes, do not discard the bones as they will be used for flavour.

In a flame-proof casserole dish or heavy based saucepan placed over high heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the lamb and bones in batches and brown on all sides, transfer each batch to a plate when browned. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, cook until soft and golden. While cooking the onion you may notice the bottom of the pan getting brown, adding a little water will help loosen the brown bits from the bottom while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about 30 seconds stirring continuously, next add in the mixed spices and coriander seeds, cook for a further 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, tomato purée, fresh coriander, lamb and bones, stir all together.

Pour in the water, add the dried lime, cassia bark or cinnamon stick,  green chilli and salt.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer very gently for 1 hour.

Add the potatoes and carrots into the stew cover and continue to gently simmer for another 40 minutes. Add the courgettes, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until tender.

Once the stew is finished cooking and meat and vegetables are tender, taste  and add more salt if necessary. Tear the bread into 3 or 4 inch pieces and gently mix into the dish, the bread will soak into the broth, no dry bits of bread should be visible. Serve straight from the cooking pot or place into a large serving bowl. Serves 4 to 5 people.

Baharat is the Arabic word for spice mix which may consist of a mix of ground black pepper, cinnamon sticks or cassia bark, cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, chilies, turmeric and nutmeg in various quantities. The souks in Bahrain have a wonderful variety of whole and ground spices.

What is your favourite stew?

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