A Kind of Shakshuka (eggs cooked in spiced tomato sauce with feta)

One of my loveliest friends recently gave me a wonderful cook book by Madeleine Shaw. I sat down one rainy day this week with a mug of tea to devour the pages.

You won’t be surprised that a Shakshuka recipe caught my eye. Ms Shaw’s is a green version, packed with nourishing veggies. As is often the case with me I set out to rustle this up for lunch only to discover I didn’t have half of the ingredients I needed. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail blah blah blah.

Gladly, I’m not so weak as to be grasped by failure’s clutches at the first hurdle. Or rather I was really hungry and had already gathered the eggs and feta in anticipation.

So this delicious lunch is a hybrid Shakshuka. The eggs are cooked in a deeply delicious tomato sauce but there is a lovely bit of spinach tipping it’s hat to the glorious green Shakshuka that never was.

Serve this with toast, my top choice bring sourdough, but any kind of bread will add the requisite crunch and of course, the means to scrape up every last bit of this saucy delight.

Final note: when I was finishing this off I scattered over a bit of fresh thyme, simply because I have some growing rampant on the window sill. I also sprinkled a pinch of sumac and chilli flakes over the eggs just before serving. All 3 of these are completely optional. If you don’t have them hanging around your kitchen this will still be glorious. And if you decide to play around with the flavours let me know how it turns out.

Shakshuka (eggs in spiced tomato sauce with feta)

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • About a tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • A couple of handfuls of spinach, chopped (or use a couple of frozen spinach blocks)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 pack of feta, roughly chopped or crumbled up
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • A couple of pinches of chilli flakes
  • A couple of pinches of sumac

Method

  • In a frying pan that has a lid, heat your olive oil over a medium heat and fry your onions until they are nice and soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Stir in your spices then pour over the tomatoes.
  • If you’re using frozen spinach you can chuck that in too.
  • Let your sauce simmer away gently for about 10 – 15 minutes to let all the flavours come together and the sauce thicken. Give it a stir every now and then.
  • Add a little salt and pepper (and the spinach if you’re opting for fresh rather than frozen) to the sauce then make 2 little wells in your sauce and crack the eggs in.
  • Pop a lid on the pan and simmer gently for about 7 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to perfection. I like mine with a runny yolk.
  • Now just scatter over the feta and thyme. If you like you can pop the lid back on for a minute so that the feta warms slightly.
  • Serve with a little pinch of sumac and chilli flakes if you fancy and, of course, a pile of hot buttered toast.

Baked Eggs (Oeufs en Cocotte) with Spring Onions & Sriracha

Last week I truly panged to go out and treat myself to a big indulgent brunch. There are a couple of places near me that I love for the very fact that they serve delicious classic brunch dishes with surprising little twists. Delicious twists like eggs on toast with salsa verde or french toast with elderflower cream. Yum and yum.

When I eat out I love to choose things from the menu that I would never have thought of making at home. Well as I can’t go anywhere at the moment so I decided to create a little dish with a twist of my own. Cue baked eggs with spring onions, sriracha and coriander. It’s a pretty simple twiddle to the classic eggs en cocotte but it has tided me over until we can eat out again.

I served this with buttered sourdough toast, which I am very proud to say I baked myself (thanks JB for the starter). I’d eat this with any toast or a good crispy fresh baguette.

Baked Eggs with Spring Onions & Sriracha

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons of double cream
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sriracha
  • A small handful of coriander, chopped

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 170 C / gas 3. Butter 2 ramekins and pop the kettle on to boil.
  • Pour one tablespoon of cream into each ramekin, season with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and scatter in your spring onions.
  • Crack an egg into each ramekin, pour over one more tablespoon of cream and gently season again with salt and pepper.
  • Pop your ramekins into a roasting tin or pyrex dish and fill with hot water so that it comes about half way up the ramekins. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until the eggs are set to your liking.
  • Serve with a scattering of chopped coriander and a generous squirt of sriracha.
  • Enjoy with hot buttered toast or just spoon it up on its own.

Claire’s Loaded Veggie Breakfast Stack

Thank you scrumptious Claire for tickling my taste buds with this pile of savoury favourites… eggs on halloumi on avocado on chilli jam on focaccia. Be still my beating heart!

After a particularly punishing morning HIIT workout in Claire’s garden, my legs were trembling, my arms were aching, my stomach was rumbling, nay roaring! This hearty stack of deliciousness is what she treated me with.

Digging a little deeper into this plate it turns out it didn’t only bestow pleasure on my taste buds. Each of the ingredients is massively helpful to us after a workout. The protein in the eggs helps to repair and build muscle; the avocado is dense in nutrients and fibre, which is really important for our metabolic health; and of course we needed carbs to replenish all the fuel we’d just burned, hello foccacia.

When you stack these awesome ingredients high it’s quite a challenge to open your jaw wide enough to eat this so Claire helpfully served this in 2 halves, making it less exhausting to devour, especially in polite company.

The focaccia was a herby delight but any bread or toast would be welcome to join this party stack. I’m thinking sourdough, bagels or wholegrain toast.

So get veggie stacking this weekend. Workout optional.

Claire’s Loaded Veggie Breakfast Stack

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 generous slices of focaccia or bread / toast of your choice
  • 1 packet of halloumi, thickly sliced
  • Chilli jam
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 – 4 eggs (depending on how starving you are)
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  • First of all heat your oven to about 120C / gas 1 and slip in an oven tray. This is for keeping the halloumi warm once cooked.
  • Heat a frying pan and once it’s warm cook your halloumi slices. You will not need oil for this. Once the liquid has evaporated and the halloumi is golden flip over and cook the other side, the 2nd side cooks much quicker than the 1st so keep an eye on it. Transfer to the warm oven tray to keep nice and warm.
  • Now add a little oil to your pan and fry your eggs (1 or 2 each).
  • While you’re waiting for the eggs to cook you can spread your chilli jam on your toast / bread and slice your avocado.
  • Arrange the avo on the bread / toast, followed by the halloumi and eggs. Sprinkle over salt and pepper if you like.
  • If you’ve built a stack you can pop the 2nd slice of bread / toast on top or just keep it on your plate to catch the tumbling odds and ends.
  • Loosen up your jaw then sink your teeth into this heavenly manna.

Garden Berry Waffles

Waffles truly are waffley versatile. They’re delicious sweet or savoury with a delectable array of tempting toppings and and accompaniments.

This is my new favourite way to munch sweet waffles. The combination of juicy berries, crunchy nuts and sweet syrup with the warm, fluffy waffles is pretty much perfection on a plate.

Of course you do need a waffle machine to make the actual waffles at home (I picked up mine from a well known discount supermarket some years ago). But if you don’t have one fear not, this would be just as fabulous with a stack of hot pancakes. And let’s be honest this would be ready in mere minutes if you decided to opt for shop bought waffles. There’s no shame in keeping it real.

And if you do want to try this with pancakes I use the exact same ingredients for pancakes as I do for the waffles and just cook them in a standard non stick pan.

Garden Berry Waffles

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • A big rounded tablespoon of butter
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Berries
  • Pecans
  • Maple syrup
  • Peanut or almond butter (optional)

Method

  • Melt your butter in a pan then leave it to cool slightly while you get on with your measuring and weighing.
  • Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla, whisk.
  • Now add the flour, baking powder and sugar. Whisk again.
  • Pour in the melted butter and whisk for the final time.
  • Cook your waffles in your machine. Keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.
  • To assemble, pop a couple of waffles onto each plate, strew with berries and nuts and drizzle generously with maple syrup.
  • If you fancy, dollop over a little peanut or almond butter.

Spiced Roasted Chickpea & Veggie Wraps

I love chickpeas roasted in the oven. They’re a lovely little snack. They also add a stunning crunch atop a bowl of simple homemade soup. Now I can attest to spiced roasted chickpeas to be the most delicious filling for a tortilla wrap. Just add a bit of crunchy veg and you’re good to go. Wrap them tightly and take them on a picnic or make this at home when the chickpeas are just out of the oven and still warm.

Another thing I’m rather partial to is garlic. So I made a really simple garlic yoghurt spread for this. You can spread what you like on your tortilla: mayo, cream cheese, aoili, chilli sauce or, for a double chickpea whammy, try hummus.

Veg-wise, I enjoyed this with grated carrot and rocket. Use whatever you have in the fridge. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, spinach… the choices are endless.

Feeling cheesy? You could also add feta, goats cheese, grilled halloumi or even mozzarella. My son had a simple scattering of grated cheddar to finish his off very nicely.

If you have the time and inclination you could roll this, squash down slightly and then grill or heat in a hot dry pan to get an extra layer of crispiness.

Spiced Roasted Chickpea & Veggie Wraps

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and turmeric
  • A teaspoon of oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 wholemeal tortilla wraps
  • 4 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • A few chives, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 4 handfuls of rocket
  • Cheese of any kind you fancy (very much optional)

Method

  • First thing’s first, get those chickpeas in the oven: preheat your oven to 180C / gas 4. Mix together the chickpeas, spices, a teeny bit of salt and pepper and the teaspoon of oil and lay out on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are crisp at the edges.
  • Next get the the garlic yoghurt spread sorted (if you’re not using this just skip to the next step). Simply mix together the yoghurt, garlic and the chives, if using. Sprinkle in a small pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Now lay out your tortillas and spread with your garlic yoghurt or whatever spread you’re going for today.
  • Scatter over the chickpeas then the rest of the ingredients.
  • Fold and munch, maybe dipping and scooping up any leftover garlicky yoghurt if the fancy takes you.

Super smoked salmon and avo open sandwiches

I was in the bakery section of the supermarket yesterday and was feeling drastically underwhelmed by the rows and rows of white loaves with slightly different names: bloomers, farmhouse loaves, white sliced, batard etc etc. These are all very nice but none of them were calling ‘eat me, I’ll be your perfect lunch today’.

I was about to move on when I spotted a brown sourdough loaf shouting ‘take me’. And I did. From there it all slotted into place: lovely fresh brown loaf needs slithers of pink smoked salmon atop a tangy cream cheese.

When I got home I found a perfectly ripe avocado in the fridge (joy!), a bag of fresh dill and some lettuce (freshly picked from my Mother in Law’s garden). Heaven.

The colours in this sandwich are so delicate and attractive they simply have to be served as open sandwiches.

In every bite you have the tang of the sourdough, the cool cream cheese, the salty salmon, the creamy avo, the crisp lettuce and the grassy freshness of the dill. Get this sandwich in your life. Today.

Smoked Salmon & Avo Open Sandwiches

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 slices of brown or white sourdough bread (depending on appetite)
  • Cream cheese (I like full fat)
  • 1 small packet of smoked salmon
  • 1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced
  • A few sprigs of dill
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon or lime
  • A few lettuce leaves

Method

  • First of all spread your bread generously with cream cheese.
  • Now gently tear up your smoked salmon and scatter over the bread.
  • Arrange the avocado slices next.
  • Scatter over the dill and add a modest grinding of black pepper.
  • Spritz over a little lemon or lime juice and artfully toss in a couple of leaves to complete this beautifully delicious tableau.