Thursday, 20 March 2014

Roasted Carrots, Chickpea Salad with Tahini, Cumin & Yogurt Dressing

I've only realised today after writing this blog to you all where one gets one's inspirations from.  Firstly, I have to say, my passion for cooking and eating stems from my dad. He was a great cook who made the culinary experience just a wonderful game. When I was small, he'd take me out for lunch most Saturdays so I could experience different cuisines.  We'd have long discussions about what we had just eaten describing flavours, textures and how to combine ingredients. For me this has been the building blocks of cooking and feeling confident about just throwing things together. 

By the age of 12 (which is when we sadly lost him), he had taught me the basics in cooking, sewing, car maintenance, electrics & DIY, just to name a few things. I realise now, what in fact he was teaching me was how to be self-sufficient in life. 

He had travelled the world with work and was never shy in coming forward to ask someone how they cooked a particular dish. Subsequently, I was eating curries, mediterranean and all sorts of exotic foods when my head barely reached the top of the table. Apparently at the ripe old age of two, my three favourite things were caviar, smoked salmon and stuffed olives. Just goes to show, if you experiment with food with a small child they will eat unusual dishes.

Then of course there was my beautiful mum, who always made our home glow with love and joy and who had an incredible sense of style, colour and artistry.  She was the one who taught and influenced me with regards to presentation. With my dad normally on dinner duty and mama on lunches, I eagerly awaited her 1pm feasts.  With a radiant smile, she'd present me with a wonderful array of different healthy, colourful & yummy things. I guess that's why my favourite way of eating is a fabulous smorgasbord all served up on different dishes, bowls, plates and of course the whole array of colours & display is down to one person and one person only, my mum.

When I start writing my blog I'm never quite sure what's going to appear on the page in front of me. As per usual I have gone off on a tangent writing about two extraordinary people, my mum and dad. I'm now looking at the photo of my roasted carrot and chickpea salad feeling I really should've created something far more impressive and elaborate in honour of my parents. But then I started to think.  No, this is the right dish to put up there.  It's vibrant, exotic, full of zest & flavour, humble and honest and that's all so relevant and the perfect dish for the two people I was so blessed to have as parents.  Enjoy.

1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed drained and dried 
600 g carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil
100 grams mixed salad leaves

6-8 fresh mint leaves, sliced carefully so as not to bruise

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt, the runny kind
2 tablespoons tahini 

2 tablespoons olive oil
One garlic clove crushed
Juice of one lemon

1. Toss carrots in the olive oil, paprika, ground coriander and season with S&P.  Roast in a pre heated oven at 200c for 30-40 mins.
2.  In a small frying, dry roast the cumin seeds for approx 2 mins shaking the pan round every now and then until they start to colour, tip onto a small plate until you are ready to use them as they will burn if you leave them in the pan.
3.  Stir the yogurt and tahini together into a smooth paste, mix in the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice & start adding water, a tbsp at a time until you have the consistency of pouring cream. Finally sprinkle in a 1/4 of the toasted cumin seeds.
4. Whilst the carrots are still warm, mix together with the chickpeas, arrange on a fabulous dish, pour on the dressing, sprinkle the remaining toasted cumin and mint, scatter around with salad leaves & serve immediately. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Tuna Nicoise style Lazy lunch salad

 I felt a lazy lunch coming on. With a gale blowing outside in the garden, I started to fantasise about summertime and and yearn for my salads.  Although the days of eating raw seem lost in a distant dream, I thought I'd just grab a little piece of summer here. 

Just before I snuggle up with the Grumpy Greek, a roaring fire and five extremely content cats. Yes, you heard correctly, five cats, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Milo, Archie, Winnie Wheeze and Puff Diddy, I opened the fridge and this is what leapt out at me.

First of all the loin of tuna I had bought had been quite large, so I kept a piece which I had cooked it thoroughly. Thus, this salad Nicoise kinda salad appeared.  Enjoy x

Tinned or fresh tuna 
1 Bunch of asparagus
4 hard boiled eggs cut in quarters
Salad leaves of your choice (I've used purple little gems)
1/2 a packet cherry tomatoes (roasted for 10 mins with olive oil, s&p)
1/2 a red pepper
1 small pkt mange tout
10 cooked new potatoes cut in half and skin left on
1 tin of anchovies
1/2 a lemon
olive oil

2 Tbsp good quality white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 crushed clove garlic
Put all the dressing ingredients  in a cup and stir briskly until combined, alternatively shake in a jam jar.


1. Coat asparagus in olive oil and season well, place on an extremely hot griddle for 10 mins turning occasionally, remove from griddle and squeeze with 1/2 a lemon whilst warm.

2. Roast cherry tomatoes for 10 mins with olive oil, s&p at 200c

3. Boil eggs for 10 mins.

4. Arrange all the above on a plate and drizzle with dressing.