Stew

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Tagine is a great summer time staple, a light stew with lovely spice and hints of sweetness from the dates. The perfect place for brilliant seasonal vegetables, a straightforward and ideal addition to your mid week special board!

In Morocco, tagines are a showcase for the amazing local produce. The stock base is just the cooking juices of the vegetables and a little salt, no added stock needed. You know how good your veggies are, its a good test actually. If this tagine is tasteless, its all down to the produce (add a little veg stock).

I went to Morocco straight from Mexico and I remember being hungry quite a lot. I was travelling on hope and pennies and there was certainly not the range of cheap street eats that you find everywhere in Mexico. It was a bit of a shock to the system. When I found a place that did cook veggie food, normally cous cous or tagine, it was a real find. There was normally then a wait while the cook/ owner went out to but the vegetables and cook the tagine. I travelled in mostly rural areas and this could mean a long wait for dinner/ lunch. Still mint tea always flowed easy and the pace of life in Morocco suits me down to the ground. Life ebbs by nice and easy.

Happy hobs:)

Happy hobs:)

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a proper tagine (the cooking vessel). That’s fine, we can still call it a tagine (just don’t tell your Moroccan mates!) As you’d imagine, we do have a tagine dish. It is normally used as a fruit bowl and I’m always looking for an excuse to use it. A tagine is actually a brilliant shape and design to cook vegetables and cous cous to perfection. You need very little water as the heavy lid keeps in most of the water, it acts as something like a pressure cooker. I find this especially helpful when cooking cous cous.

I like a good mix of veggies in my tagines and potatoes are very important base to other more glamorous (you know what I mean) veg like aubergine, peppers etc. The potatoes have the added benefit of making the tagine sauce thick when they begin to break down.

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

I always bang on about fresh spice, but it makes a huge difference. Many spices have been lurking around our cupboards for a while and may be past their sensational best. Ras El Hanout is the traditional spice mix used, but you know what, other spice mixes can be added to make a tasty stew. Think garam masala, curry mixes, berbere, jerk style mixes. The basic technique will be the same, just experiment with the spice quantity.

I’ve been cooking all over the UK in the past month, it seems like a different kitchen every night! I love it!! I’ve found most people have really good kitchens and its interesting to try out different ovens and cook with a range of pots, pans and utensils. Most people have some amazing kit, much better than the stuff I’ve got!!!  This tagine was made in Durham a few days ago, my Dad who you probably know by now was like me, a real, full power, carnivore and is now going through a real shift. He’s making his own twelve veggie stew at home. I knew Dad would dig this and he says he’ll be trying it out again soon. It’s always wicked when your loved ones enjoy what you make.

Not Durham!  Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Not Durham! Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Recipe Notes

Tagines are normally chunky. Cut all the veggies into roughly 1 1/2 inch chunks.

As a variation, you can substitute the dates with dried apricots and use whatever vegetables are good and seasonal, easy to get hold of.

My friend Abdul, who lives in a cave near the Sahara, swears by a nice glug of olive oil when serving a tagine. It adds extra richness and gives the sauce a shimmer.

To make things extra special, adding a few handfuls of greens just before you serve the tagine would be nice. Something like spinach, kale or chard. Spring greens are awesome, just add then about five minutes before serving, they take a bit more cooking.

Do not use a metal spoon or spatula to stir stews, unless you want the vegetables to break down. A trusty wooden spoon is perfect.

We cooked quinoa to serve the tagine with, instead of the traditional cous cous. Gluten free and delicious, its also packed with massive amounts of goodness/ nutrition.

2016-04-28 19.00.21

Simple summer special!

The Bits – For 6-8

2 tbs cooking oil
1 onion (peeled and sliced)
2 inches fresh ginger (peeled and finely sliced)
½ medium butternut squash (peeled and chopped)

4 small potatoes (chopped)

2 bell peppers (deseeded and chopped)

1 aubergine (chopped)

4 large tomatoes (chopped)

250g/1 tin chickpeas
16 dates (de-stoned and cut in half)
4 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs ras el hanout spice mix
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
400ml hot water
Salt (to taste)

Serving
A little good olive oil, fresh coriander and extra spice

Do It

This is an easy one…….

In a large frying pan or saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and fry the onions and ginger for five minutes until soft, then add the other vegetables, cinnamon, spices and some salt. Stir and fry for two minutes then add the tomatoes, dates, tomato puree and water.

Stir gently and pop on a loose fitting lid and cook on a steady simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just breaking down. Season with a little more salt to taste.

Serve with cous cous, topped with a drizzled of olive oil, fresh coriander and a sprinkle of extra spices.

Nice with some greens!  (Isn't everything;)

Nice with some greens! (Isn’t everything;)

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Stew, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Egyptian Ful Medames

We have hardly been prolific of late, both of us busy as bees.  Things are about to change.  Raw Earth Month is about to commence, more of that later.

It’s great to be getting back in the blog flow, so I thought I’d start with a simple little stew that we love, get warmed up gently.  So its semi-official, the Beach House is back and in many ways, better than ever!!!!!!!

I love broad beans.  They are surprisingly one of Britian’s most ancient crops and we used to make bread out of it until our seafaring sorts brought wheat to these shore.  I haven’t tried broad bean bread, but it sounds mighty.

This is a simple stew and ideal for a midweek dinner, hearty and superbly healthy, it also only takes a short time to prepare.

This may well be the national dish of Egypt, but it’s also served throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Ful (I like to mispronounce it ‘fool’) Medames is a rich, spiced stew that was a true food revelation when I ate it in Cairo old town all those years ago (seven to be exact).  The food of Egypt was a pleasant surprise, as it does not have the reputation of say Lebanon or Iran.  I can think of one little restaurant, buffet style, with fresh flat bread, heavenly light hummus and a large dollop of this on a steel plate.  You can keep your Michelin star joints, this was real food, heart and soul.  They also showed very entertaining Egyptian TV and a beautiful recitation of the Koran, it was a multi-media feast.

This dish is equalled by an Arabian recipe, heavy on the tahini and tomato, which transports broad (fava) beans to something supreme.  I’ll be whipping that up in the future for sure.  Broad beans have such a great, chewy texture, they are great fodder for visiting meat eaters and would sate any ravenous carnivore, especially if you serve topped with a fried egg and lashing of warm bread.  YUM, YUM……

Alas, we live halfway up the hill in sunny Wales and my duty in the Beach House Kitchen it to bring the flavours of the world into our lovely little cottage.  Last night it was flavours of the pharaohs that we dined on and no, we were not walking like an Egyptian afterwards.

 

The Bits – For 6-8

1kg whole dried fava beans, 3 garlic clove (blended), 1 red onion (blended), 50g fresh coriander, 25g fresh parsley, 1 large lemons (juice and zest), 1 small hot chilli (finely sliced), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, 700ml good tomato passata, 3 heaped tsp tomato puree
3 heaped tsp brown sugar, 100ml olive oil, sea salt and black pepper

Add a tablespoon of light tahini for added richness.

Do It

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and cook for around one hour until tender.

Toast cumin seeds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, no oil, pop in a pestle and mortar and grind (ground cumin is also fine, but just not as good)

Blend the onion and garlic in a food processor, then fry gently in a little oil. Meanwhile, chop and mix the herbs, oil, lemon juice, chilli and spices.

Add this mixture to the onions and garlic, then cook for a few minutes. Add the passata and tomato puree plus 100ml of fresh water, which you can first use to wash the remains of the passata out of the jar or packet it came in.

Cook for a ten more minutes and then add the beans. Continue to simmer and taste – adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. The beans will be ready as soon as the seasoning is balanced and the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve

Eat straight away or allow it to cool, divide into portions and freeze. It’s traditionally eaten with warm pitta bread, plus tomato and cucumber salad.

We Love It!

I love bringing the flavours of the bustling streets of Cairo into our quiet little kitchen.  Food evokes so many memories of travel for me and these flavours are allow me to relive days and nights in more exotic times.  I love Wales, but its good to mix things up, regularly.

Foodie Fact

Broad beans offer awesome levels of fibre, keeping the belly and below very happy.  They are full of folate, which lessens heart issues and other nasty diseases.  A cup of broad beans contains 40% of your daily iron (and fibre) and is a brilliant source of lean protein.  They are also easy to grow and even grow well in our windswept veg patch.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ciambotta – Italian Butter Bean Stew with lots of Greens

From the top of Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

From the top of Knicht – Snowdonia, Wales

We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!

After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.

We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store).  We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.

We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age.  We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.

This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians.  But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the vegan parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian Mum’s to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)

To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette.  But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!

We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)

Bon Appetito!

 

The Bits – For 4 hungry folk

3 cups cooked butter beans

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion (finely sliced)

1 stick celery (finely sliced)

2 large carrots (small cubes)

1 large parsnips (small cubes)

4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)

2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced)

1 big handful of cherry tomatoes

1 lemon (juice and zest)

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoons dried basil

2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice)

2 tbs vegan parmesan cheese (buy online and in selected shops)

Do It

Cook off your beans for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs and tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.

At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, greens and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes.  If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heat through.

Serve

We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else!  A little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely.  It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order.

In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stews to add some creaminess.

We Love It!

The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.

 

 

Tunes

As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’.  Wicked!:

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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