1/16/2019

Cook & Learn about the World: Algeria: Spicy Chickpea Soup (Hu mmus b´il Kammun

Gradually starting to ease back into blogging and have brought back Cook and Learn about the World, which was inspired by the blog Global Table Adventure and to try to get my fussy eaters to try new things and also learn a little about the different countries.

So, I have arrived at Algeria and thought I´d kick off with this soup as I thought it might be something that my OH and children would possibly enjoy as we´ve never eaten Algerian food before. I´m not a big fan of pulses and we hardly ever eat them so it sounded like a good way to get some pulses down us too. This soup is simple to make and is perfect for a cold winter´s day or night and it has a lovely blend of spices that whisk you off to another country.Plus the majority of the ingredients are easy to find in your local supermarket...the only thing I found a little difficult to encounter was harissa.I actually got mine from an English supermarket but if you don´t come across it, you could make your own using Global Table´s recipe for harissa. Again if you can´t find the specific chilli peppers, you could just use what you can find. The smell while it´s cooking is tantalizing and it´s ideal for mopping up with some crusty bread.

I pretty much followed Global Table Adventure´s recipe although I think I used slightly less chickpeas, which were already cooked and as I didn´t cook the chickpeas instead of cooking water I just used tap water. As I´d never tried harissa before I only used a teaspoon of it as the recipe states but next time I might add a little more. Also, as the chickpeas are already cooked, I didn´t cook it as long as the recipe says so instead of simmering for an hour, I probably only simmered it for a further 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I couldn´t persuade either of my children to try it which is a pity as I think they would´ve enjoyed it as it is quite similar to some Spanish food.

In order to learn a little about Algeria, which I have to admit I don´t know much about myself, we looked at my daughter´s The Usbourne Children´s Picture Atlas and found Algeria and saw that the capital is Algiers and that the Sahara dessert and Atlas mountains can be found in Algeria and that the people of Algeria use camels.We will hopefully learn a lot more about Algeria as we cook a couple more dishes from this country.

1/02/2019

Mad Hatter´s Teashop & Patisserie

Another of the foodie places on my bucket list of places to visit while on my recent trip to the UK was Mad Hatter´s Teashop & Patisserie, a lovely café & teashop which I discovered on Facebook.
I booked a table ahead to avoid disappointment,which was lucky as it is a fairly small café and is pretty popular.

Mad Hatter´s is known for it´s afternoon teas and cakes but they also do hot lunches...I think hotpot was on the menu when we went! They also specialise in baby showers and are even expanding and taking over the shop next door in order to be able to cater better for special events, such as baby showers. The cafe is tastefully decorated in soft,pink pastel shades with their yummy cakes displayed on the counters, which you can´t help but drool over!!

 We ordered a savoury and a sweet afternoon tea and there was also the choice of a Christmas afternoon tea. The savoury  afternoon tea consisted of sandwiches with various fillings, soup of the day...which that day was leek & potato, pork pie and quiche and a giant scone with fresh cream & jam. The sweet afternoon tea came with sandwiches with a variety of fillings...cheese & Branston pickle, ham & piccalilli, tuna mayonnaise & Coronation chicken. As I am a bit fussy and don´t like tuna, they didn´t have any problems with changing the tuna mayo sandwiches for extra coronation chicken ones. We also got a vanilla slice,a coffee renoir...I changed my coffee renoir for carrot cake,brownies and  giant scone. The afternoon teas are for a minimum of two people but I think there is enough for 4 people...we couldn´t manage all of it as we were too full so they packed what we couldn´t eat into boxes for us to take with us. Although a little on the expensive side, it was well worth it as everything was delicious and you get your money´s worth...as I said we couldn´t eat it all!! The service was also good and they were very friendly. It definitely didn´t disappoint and I totally reccommend it as a special treat. I´d love to go back again sometime.

12/27/2018

Dilnaz Restaurant,Preston Restaurant Review

 I was lucky enough to return to the UK for a flying visit recently after 6 years without going so couldn´t resist having an Indian meal the first night, as I miss Indian food because there aren´t any Indian restaurants where I live! We decided to go to one of our frequent takeaway and restaurants, formerly known as the Naaz, which has now reopened as the Dilnaz Restaurant.

The decor of the Dilnaz is modern, smart and clean-looking. We ordered a chicken tikka and onion baji starter and as the owner recognised us he threw in some poppadoms,mango chutney, sweet chilli sauce and mint yoghurt.All were delicious! I then ordered some plain Naan bread and my favourite curry,lamb pasanda and plain Basmati rice. The Naan bread was lovely and fluffy, the rice cooked to perfection and the lamb pasanda,which I haven´t been able to find a similar version of in many Indian restaurants,did not disappoint and tasted exactly the way I remembered it. The lamb was lovely and tender and the pasanda curry sauce was lovely,creamy,coconuty and sweet.The only problem was I was so stuffed I couldn´t eat it all! The owner also threw in some samosas but again I didn´t even eat one as I was so full. I´d definitely reccommend the Dilnaz Restaurant...hope I can return again some time!

10/20/2018

Cook & Learn about the World: Albania: Leek Pie & Leek & Rice Bake

Things as usual have been very hectic and I haven´t got round to blogging these delicious Albanian dishes, depite making them months ago. The first is Leek Pie, which is a tasty and usual vegetarian leek pie. I say unusual because the filling is very different, kind of like a custard. I  have actually made this pie twice now because it´s so good. The first time I made it the filling leaked out of the pie.The second time the filling also leaked out a little....I don´t know if this is because I put an airhole in the pie even though the recipe doesn´t tell you to do this or just because the pie was overfull. Although all the grown ups enjoyed it, I couldn´t persuade my kids to even try it but I know it is a recipe that I will repeat. I followed the following recipe from Global Table Adventure and hardly altered it although I
think I halved the amounts or put 4 eggs instead of 6....I can´t remember very well now!!!                   
I also made Leek and Rice Bake following the recipe from the blog,My Albanian Food. The only changes I made to the recipe was to use cubed leg of lamb as it´s difficult to buy lamb mince here and instead of using lamb stock, I used chicken or beef stock. Unfortunately this dish wasn´t a hit with either my husband or my children although I thought it was tasty. My husband blames the type of lamb here in Spain and that it isn´t good for cooking in this way. We didn´t learn much more about Albania unfortunately as I couldn´t find much.

3/05/2018

Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge E: Eggplant: Eggplant Parmigiana

 Why when you can´t sleep at night, words come easily for a new blog post but when you actually sit down to write it, you can´t even remember what you were going to put or even think of anything to write. Zero,nada, zilch! A big fat nothing!

I had an aubergine lurking in my fridge, about to go bad, waiting to be used and I came across a recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana...or aubergine as it´s known as to us Brits, in my trusty American Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Every recipe that I cook from that book turns out delicious and it is one of my most used and well-thumbed, tatty,falling apart and spattered cookbooks. I decided to make it for me and my other half´s dinner as I wasn´t sure if the kids would even try it,despite the fact that one of my aims in doing this Eat More Variety Challenge is to get us all eating more variety. This dish was definitely a winner and I think the kids might even like it,if I can manage to get past the first stumbling block of getting them to at least try it, as it´s reminiscent of pizza. However, my daughter can even be fussy with pizza as she doesn´t like it with cheese...who doesn´t like cheese on pizza?...so she might not like the cheesey aspect of this dish.So with out further ado, on to the recipe.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
 1 small eggplant
  1 beaten egg
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup meatless spaghetti sauce or bolognese sauce
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method:
1.Wash and peel the aubergine and cut into thin slices.
2.Combine egg and 1 tbsp water,then dip aubergine slices in egg, then flour to coat
3.Fry aubergine in hot oil  for 4 to 6 mins until golden on both sides, drain on kitchen roll.
4.Place aubergine in a single layer in a baking dish about 30x 19x 4.5cm,then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then add the spaghetti sauce and finally sprinkle the Mozzarella over the top.
5.Bake for 10-12 mins in a 200ºC oven until cheese has melted.

...and there you have it!Easy peasy! Enjoy on it´s own or with a salad and some crusty bread.

2/08/2018

Cook & Learn about the World: Albania Part 1 Albanian Shendetlie or Honey & Nut Cake

 Although I haven´t been doing much blogging lately, I have been trying out plenty of recipes, especially for this Cook & Learn about the World post,in which we´re taking a trip to Albania. Although I don´t really know much about Albania or it´s cuisine, it seems like it´s food is made of simple ingredients that can be found easily in any supermarket or kitchen cupboards! Unfortunately,many of the recipes have eluded me and I haven´t been pleased enough with the results in order to make it worthwhile publishing them. I tried Lamb in Yoghurt but it ended up tasting very strong mutton-maybe it was the cut I used- in scrambled egg, then I made a yoghurt drink, which ended up being thrown away as I didn´t like the salty taste of it.

However, some success was finally achieved when I made the simple Albanian dessert or cake, Shendetlie or Honey & Nut cakes.When it is first baked, the Honey & Nut cake seems more biscuit-like in texture and appearance but after it soaks up the sugar syrup, it takes on a more cake-like consistency. Those who don´t have a sweet tooth may find them a bit too sweet but me and my daughter loved them even though I´m not too keen on nuts. I followed this recipe from the blog My Albanian food, only tweaking it a little,for example making only half the amount of the recipe given and cooking it around 10 degrees less than the temperature given in the recipe so at 170 degrees instead of 180 degrees. I made my Shendetlie with whole walnuts which I roughly chopped although you can also used ground walnuts. Dicovering delicious treats like this is a great way to find out about a country´s culture and cuisine.

Although we are still in the middle of cooking and learning about Albania, here is a link to a page where you can find activities to do with your children so they can find out more about Albania: http://www.wartgames.com/themes/countries/albania.html and also : http://dinolingo.com/blog/2012/11/14/albanian-culture-food-festivals-clothes-and-so-much-more/.So far I have only read my daughter the folk story about Rozafa Castle, although I was surprised that it was a story for children! However, I would like to do some other activities with her to teach her more about this country and as I myself also know very little about it!


1/17/2018

Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge E: Eggplant: Stuffed Eggplant

It´s the start of a New Year and with it brings new promises, many of which I try to keep and often fail. One of those promises is to try and blog more,something which I have very little time for these days but somehow I´m going to have to find it, and the other is to eat healthier and attempt to get my kids to eat healthier and eat more variety of food.So I have returned to my Eat More Variety Challenge after my long absence to continue from where I left off,with the letter E. After brainstorming ingredients beginning with E, I decided to choose eggplant,even though it really begins with A if you´re from the UK like me! Eggplant is the American English word for aubergine and although I like it,it´s not something we eat a lot of and getting the kids to eat it is a whole other ball game!

Eggplants,or aubergines, have many nutritional and health benefits. They contain anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid which fuction as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds as well as containing fibre,potassium,Vitamin C,Vitamin B6 and phytonutrient so can help with heart health, blood cholesterol,cancer, cognitive function, weight mangement and liver health.

I discovered this recipe for Stuffed Aubergines when I was browsing my cookery books and thought it sounded yummy and it certainly didn´t disappoint. I made this for supper for my husband and I, thinking that maybe the kids might be persuaded to try it but I should´ve known better, despite the fact that they thought it looked a little like pizza, they wouldn´t even try a tiny forkful!!Another good thing was that it didn´t take me as much time to prepare as I had expected.

Stuffed  Eggplant orAubergine, based on the recipe in The Dairy Book of Home Cookery(Serves2)

Ingredients:
2 medium sized eggplants/aubergines
1/2 medium onion
2 slices of bacon (think I´d increase this to 4)
1/2 green pepper
1/2 can of tinned tomatoes(around 200g)
25g butter
50g sliced mushrooms
50g white breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
50g Cheddar cheese,grated

Method:
1. Halve eggplants lengthways and scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/2cm thick shells.
2.Chop pulp and place in a saucepan.
3.Chop onion, green pepper and bacon
4.Add to aubergine pulp along with the butter and simmer gently till pulp is tender.
5.Add tinned tomatoes and stir in mushrooms.
6.Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs to thicken,season with salt & pepper.
7. Stuff eggplant shells with the mixture and spinkle with grated cheese.
8. Cook in preheated oven at between 200ºC/400ºF for 15 '20 minutes.
 
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