Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Lahmajoun is derived from Arabic: لحم بعجين‎‎ (laḥm bi-ʿajīn) meaning meat with dough. It is a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat (most commonly beef or lamb), minced vegetables and herbs including onions, tomatoes and parsley, and spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, sumac, cumin and cinnamon, then baked.


For the flatbread:
  • 2tspsugar
  • 2tspactive dry yeast
  • 2/3 cupwarm water
  • 2 1/2 cupsall-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1 1/2 tspsalt
For the topping:
  • 1/4 cupolive oil
  • 5 Tbsptomato paste
  • 1 handfulparsley
  • 1 handfulmint
  •  1 handful sultanas
  • 1tsp (or more)hot paprika
  •   salt & pepper
  • 4 clovesgarlic, crushed
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1lbminced lamb
Garnish ideas:
  • parsley
  • ground sumac
  • red onions (sliced)
  • lemons (wedged)
  • shredded lettuce
  • roasted red peppers
  • pickles – chillies etc
Make the dough:
  1. For one batch of dough: mix together the sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let sit about five minutes until frothy.
  2. Next, add the remaining dough ingredients to a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and knead until a soft, smooth ball forms. Add more flour, if necessary to keep from sticking. Let rise for an hour, then punch down and divide into four pieces. Shape into balls.
  3. Let rise another hour, or refrigerate until needed. A long, cool rise gives time for the yeast to fully develop the flavours.
Make the topping:
  1. When you’re ready to eat (or up to a day ahead), mix together the topping ingredients.
Bake the Lahmajoun
  1. Preheat the oven to HOT. If you have a baking stone, use it! Roll out the dough fairly thin. Spoon on some of the topping and spread around with the back of a spoon.
  2. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is lightly browned and the meat is cooked through. The olive oil and paprika in the topping will drip down over the crust, making it a little reddish orange in places.
  3. Add toppings to taste, such as red onion, parsley, lemon juice, sumac, and a bit of mint. Lahmajoun is traditionally folded or rolled to keep it all together, as it is essentially street food, but you can eat it with a knife and fork if you wish.
    I had a side of garlicky kale tops sprinkled with dukkah, but you could roast some aubergines, make some hummus, open a tin of dolmas, whatever…

Mango Lassi

Posted: March 14, 2015 in drink, food
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This is something that Molly inspired me to try, after she bought some cheap, over-ripe mangoes in her local Lidl. I’ve had lassi many times in Indian restaurants, but never though of making it. It’s actually so easy, and so delicious, I thought I’d have to share it.


Makes enough for 2 small glasses – or one greedy person!

1 large nicely ripe mango
2 or 3 Tbsp of thick Greek style yoghurt
6 or so cardamon pods
Coarse sea salt or rock salt
Splash of milk
Few mint leaves
Optional – squeeze of lime if you want to sour it a bit

Peel, de-stone, then chop your mango into large chunks. Crush the cardamon pods with the flat of a knife, and remove the little black seeds. Put the mango, cardamon seeds and a good grinding of salt in the container of a hand blender with the yoghurt and a splash of milk (otherwise I find it just too gloopy) and blend until smooth.

At this point, taste it. If your mango wasn’t really ripe and intensely fruity and aromatic, you may want to add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten it up. Alternatively, if, like me, you have a palate that prefers sharper, sour flavours, a squeeze of lime to counterpoint the sweetness is a good idea.

Serve with a sprig of mint for flavour. If you’re serving it to guests you might also garnish with hibiscus flowers, a couple of raspberries, blueberries or whatever comes to hand. Enjoy 🙂

I had a slightly disappointing experience with Korean beef at a local street food festival – it wasn’t bad, just a bit bland. I’ve never cooked Korean before, but it uses many of the same ingredients and techniques as Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian, so I thought I’d see if I could do better…

Serves 2


300g or so good beef steak  – you could use chicken, or tuna, or even tofu I reckon
1 clove garlic (or more!) a chunk of fresh ginger, one green chilli, crushed and finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp Soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Sesame seeds

Slice your beef to about 1cm or 1/2 inch thick. You want it thin enough to cook quickly, but not dry out – and thick enough to get on skewers, but not big chunks of meat.

Mix all the other ingredients for the marinade into a thick paste – you want it clinging to the meat, not dripping everywhere. Leave for as long as you’ve got. Many say marinate overnight, but half an hour will do, in my experience.

Meanwhile, we want to rustle up some quick kimchi, which is the traditional accompaniment to many Korean dishes. This is usually fermented, like a chillied sauerkraut if you will, but it is possible to make kimchi within 30 minutes all from scratch. Koreans call this fresher type of kimchi, “Gutjeori (겉절이)”, which translates into briefly salted kimchi. (Note: kimchi can be bought vacuum packed or in jars in most Chinese supermarkets, and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge – but it’s good to make your own!)


Chinese leaf type cabbage
Garlic, ginger, and half an onion
1 tbsp Fish sauce (again, a Thai Nam Pla or Chinese one will do fine, if that’s what you have in the cupboard, or a spoon of shrimp paste and a little water)
Chilli flakes to taste
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Apple juice (optional, but it adds a nice sweet/tart note – you could use OJ or squeeze a fresh lime and only a Korean pedant would complain…)

Cut off the stem part of the cabbage, cut the cabbage leaves vertically into 2-4 sections, depending on size, and horizontally if needed. Now, the important part – soak this cabbage in express salt brine.  Mix 1/2 cup of sea salt with 5 cups of water. Bring it to a full boil, stir to dissolve all the salt, then let it cool down just a little, about 5 minutes.

Pour the hot salt brine over the cabbage and stir well. Let it sit for 10 minutes, stir again and leave for another 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly.

While the cabbage is soaking, combine some garlic, ginger, and half a diced onion in a blender. Add fish sauce and apple juice and puree all together until smooth. Add red chilli flakes (or a shake of chilli powder), a sprinkle of sugar, then combine the cabbage and the kimchi sauce. Take a piece and taste. You can add a little more salt or anchovy sauce if needed. I added some sliced fresh red chillies, but you don’t have to!

Cook the beef skewers (in batches if necessary) under the grill, set as high as it will go, for around 2 minutes each side, adding some of the marinade towards the end so the beef doesn’t dry out. When cooked, garnish the bulgogi with more sesame seeds and spring onions.

I also did a little pak choi and cloud ear mushrooms, as I had some in the fridge. Feel free to improvise and stir fry any veg you have lying around – it all adds colour, texture and vitamins to the finished dish.

You can serve with a wheat noodle (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, whatever…) if you like, but Koreans traditionally love to eat bulgogi by placing a small amount of steamed rice in a lettuce leaf, a slice of bulgogi and small amount of kimchi. Roll up and eat 🙂

Paprika Chicken with Mint Salad

Posted: July 12, 2014 in food

Molly made this amazingly tasty supper last night, and as a couple of people asked for the recipe, I thought I’d stick it on my blog.


2 Chicken breasts
2 tsp paprika (hot, mild, smoked, whatever)
1 clove garlic (or more!) crushed and chopped
1 lemon
Olive oil
Dijon mustard
Fresh mint – a good handful, finely chopped

Flatten your chicken fillets to about 1cm or 1/2 inch thick. You can use a steak mallet if you have one, or cover in cling-film and bash with a rolling pin.

Mix paprika, garlic, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil, then use to marinate chicken while you make a salad. Oh, and get your griddle pan set over a high heat – we want to cook this quickly so it chars outside and stays moist inside.

Chuck together some leaves, tomatoes, olives, chunks of cucumber, red onions, apple – you get the picture – and make a dressing with mustard, mint, oil and remaining lemon juice. You could add feta, halloumi, chevre or a shaving of parmesan if you like. There just happened to be half a packet of halloumi in the fridge last night…

Whack the chicken into the hot griddle pan. It only needs 5 minutes per side, and you can baste it with any remaining marinade once it’s taken some colour. Serve on the salad with a dollop of creme fraiche and an extra wedge of lemon if you like.

It doesn’t need any carbs with it, but if you insist, I would suggest grilled flatbreads or maybe a wedge of crusty fried polenta. Enjoy 🙂


Adventures in Ale – British Beer

The Feathers Inn, Hedley on the Hill, is featured in the Times Top 20 Gastro Pubs; they’ve received gold in the North East Tourism Awards; came runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Lunch 2012 category; scooped Great British Pub of the Year 2011, as well as receiving countless others accolades. It’s safe to say the Feathers is a culinary gem in the north of England.

Adventures in Ale is a collaboration between Rhian Cradock, chef and owner of the Feathers, and highly acclaimed beer aficionado Andrew Mitchell, which tonight  is set to showcase both British ales and the delicious foods which complement them. I’ve been asked by Mitch to be official photographer for the night, with payment in food and drink. It took me about a naonsecond to agree!


Ilkley Rhubarb Saison 5.9% – Brewed using world-famous Yorkshire rhubarb, there is earthy spice, and fresh vanilla from this naturally hazy saison. Refreshing on the palate, with a long, satisfying bittersweet finish.

Served with Salt and vinegar North Sea herring, pickled Yorkshire rhubarb, pink fir heritage potato salad, sweet mustard dressing


Wild Beer Co Ninkasi 9% – Named after the ancient Greek goddess of beer, this is an equally divine Belgian-style beer with a copious amount of New Zealand hops, freshly harvested Somerset apple juice and wild yeast. On the nose there’s a bouquet of playfully aromatic notes, a further cascade of striking and sensuous flavours alongside a champagne-like spritziness.

Served with Steamed west coast razor clams with, wild fennel, three corned leek and meadowsweet


Magic Rock High Wire 5.5% – High Wire is our tribute to the pale ales of the West Coast of America; beers unapologetically hop-forward in character. Let your taste buds walk this test of balance. Mango, lychee and lip-smacking grapefruit flavours harmonise against a smooth malt base, culminating in a crisply bitter finish. Are you ready for our tightrope of taste?

Served with Butter poached English asparagus with Wylam duck egg and garden sorrel


Anarchy Sublime Chaos 7% – Brewed in collaboration with coffee roaster HasBean this is a dark, voluptuous stout infused with Ethiopian Guji natural coffee beans, delicately balanced with New Zealand hops.

Served with 24 hour braised ox cheek, wild garlic and barley pilaf, and malted onions, with a Sublime Chaos jelly


Thornbridge Raven Black IPA 6.6% – Five malts and six hops combine to provide bitter chocolate flavours with dark roasted fruits. Voted World’s Best IPA 2012 and 2013 at the World Beer Awards.

Served with Middle White pig’s blood, bitter chocolate mousse and almond biscotti


Hardknott Granite 2013 12.7% – A “vintage” barley wine beer, with aromas of dark fruit, liquorice, caramel, spicy cloves and figs and flavours of currants, molasses, juniper berries and dry sherry.

Served with 5-year-old Doddington’s cheese, air-dried Hedley roe deer, crisp rye bread, homemade quince cheese


This looks like a truly amazing menu, and I cannot wait for tonight! I’ll report back with a few thoughts, tasting notes and photos tomorrow.

Andrew and I are due to resume our quest to drink our way round the Metro system on Sunday, so keep an eye out for a new post on next week.

P 😉


Final day, thank goodness! And with the sun shining brightly, my mood was lifted for the final 24 hours of the #BelowTheLine challenge – although the thought of having to miss out on the monthly Boilershop Steamer event is rather depressing…

No matter, who needs pulled pork, lamb shwarma and charcoal grilled monkfish, when there’s a potato, half a carrot and some week old mushrooms to be eaten? Ready, Steady, Cook has got nothing on this!

Potato and Parsnip patties with garlic mushrooms

1/2 Potato – 4p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1/2 Parsnip – 3p
1/2 Stock Cube – 1p
Plus a sprig of oregano from the garden and a splash of oil

2 Cloves Garlic – 4p
Handful Mushrooms – 11p
Plus a few slivers of carrot for garnish

Total Cost – 28p

Grate the root veg and crumble half a stock cube into the resulting mush. Season with salt and pepper and form into two round patties. Fry in a little oil over medium/low heat until browned on the bottom and firm enough to turn over. At this point add the chopped garlic and give it a stir until it takes on some colour. Add chopped mushrooms and warm through – by which time the other side of the patty should be done.

I decided to treat myself to a little home made green tomato chutney as an ideal accompaniment. It’s not really cheating, as I grew the tomatoes, and was given the onions from a friend’s allotment. And I tell you what, as cheap lunches go, that was really good!



Dhal, greens with ginger and chilli, flatbread

For my last supper, I decided on more dhal (recipe as per Day 1) to finish off the lentils and dough, and the last of the cabbage, ginger and lemon went into a simple stirfry on the side:

Shredded Cabbage – 10p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/4 Lemon – 4p
Sliver of Ginger – 2p

Chop, season, stir fry and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s it!

Total Cost – 52p

And again, I’d be happy to serve that to a guest, it was tasty and quite nutritious.

Total cost for the day is 80p and I’m feeling quite full and contented!


Saturday Morning Postscript

Firstly, special thanks to everyone who has donated, and also to those who have followed and supported across the various social media channels. Without the words of encouragement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and G+, I wouldn’t have made it through the week – and knowing you were watching has kept me honest. Apart from about 15p worth of cooking oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice, I’ve had nothing to eat or drink apart from what was in my initial shopping.

Even counting that, I’ve come in just under budget, and amazingly enough, there’s half a pan of dhal, 150g of spaghetti, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, a potato, 4 stock cubes and some mushrooms left! That’s enough to have kept me going another couple of days, at a push. No way – I’ve enjoyed the challenge, but I’m going for bacon, cheese, coffee and beer!

A few people have asked if I’m wasting away, and unfortunately the answer is no. I’ve not felt particularly hungry, and neither gained nor lost any weight. What calories I’ve saved from having no beer, chocolate and cheese have been counteracted by the huge carb load. I wouldn’t normally eat pasta or potatoes more than once a week – but you can’t afford fresh salmon and asparagus on a pound a day. Oh, and I don’t feel any better at all for having no alcohol all week…

As of this morning, I had reached, in fact slightly exceeded my target of £250, so thank you – from me, from the good people at #BelowTheLine, and Malaria No More who are my chosen charity partner. I know you get bombarded from all sides with requests for donations, sponsorships etc. these days, so I’m very grateful.

I promise there will be no more food photos for a while too, although I must admit I’ve quite enjoyed doing them!

Cheers, Paul 🙂



And finally, although I’ve reached my target, it’s not too late to chip in with a couple of quid if you haven’t already sponsored me!



Well, I’m past half way, and with a bit of imagination I’ve managed to coax some quite acceptable meals out of less than a pound a day so far…

…but I’m not about to say it’s easy. Leaving aside the 3rd World for a moment, there are millions in this country living in or near to food poverty – and don’t even get me started on the socio-political aspects of that in such a rich nation – and I certainly couldn’t imagine having to do this every day of every week, every month. I’ve been craving a good coffee, some dark chocolate, roast lamb, a cold refreshing IPA… but most of all, cheese. The sharp salty tang of Roquefort, the gooey goodness of melted mozzarella, mmm…

Anyway, this was brunch:

Leek and Potato Soup

1 Potato – 8p
1/6 Onion – 3p
1/4 Leek – 11p
1 Stock Cube – 2p
Plus a handful of parsley from the garden – and half a flatbread (see day 2)

Total Cost – 28p

I basically just boiled a diced potato in stock until it fell apart, then added some chopped onion and leek, reserving a bit for garnish. Despite the lack of cream or milk, with the addition of some fresh ground pepper this was actually really nice. The bit of flatbread dough I had made up earlier in the week has started to develop a sourdough tang, and the tart lemony flavours contrasted with the heavy soup nicely. That should see me through until the evening just fine!



Patatas Bravas and Lemon Slaw

1 Potato – 8p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
2/3 Chilli – 4p
1/3 Tin Tomatoes – 7p
Plus herbs from the garden, a pinch of paprika and a splash of oil

Cube and parboil the potatoes, drain, then drizzle with a little oil and fry until golden browned. If you were really on a budget, you’d do this in one pan to save on fuel and washing up – so remove the potatoes to a warmed plate or dish, then add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli to the pan, stirring until they take on a bit of colour. Add tomatoes, paprika and herbs, warm through and pour over your crisp patatas.

1/2 parsnip – 8p
1/4 Onion – 5p
Cabbage – 10p
1/2 Carrot – 7p
1/4 Lemon – 4p

Grate or very finely chop, season and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s it!

Total Cost – 60p

Very tasty, if I say it myself 🙂

My most expensive day yet, at 88p – but still under the £1 limit

Sponsor me please!