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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…

Autumnal Pumpkin or Squash Soup

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

It’s that time of year – after Halloween and the glut of pumpkins and squashes – when the weather turns colder, and a warming bowl of soup for lunch looks like a really good idea. I made this with a massive Boston Squash from Lauren’s allotment, but pumpkin or butternut would do equally well.

Autumnal Pumpkin or Squash Soup

Makes loads!

1 large pumpkin, squash etc.
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 piece of cinnamon bark
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 generous splash sherry or sherry vinegar
Optional – couple of drops of Tabasco or similar hot sauce
Vegetable or Chicken stock
Salt and pepper
To serve – finely chopped spring onion, fresh parsley or coriander, and a squeeze of fresh orange

De-seed, then chop your pumpkin/squash into large chunks. Leave the onion and garlic whole, and roast in a hot oven (200C or gas 7) until cooked and lightly charred. I didn’t use any oil, to keep the calories down, but you could drizzle everything with olive oil quite happily.

Allow to cool slightly, and peel the skins from onion and garlic, and any burnt bits from the squash. Add to the hot stock in a large pan and blend with a stick blender. Add your cinnamon, nutmeg and sherry, season well (adding hot sauce in moderation if using) and simmer lightly until the flavours have got to know each other – about 20 mins should do it.

Warm some bowls, slice some crusty bread, and when you’re ready, serve up and garnish. A swirl of creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt would work if you fancy it, but I couldn’t be bothered 🙂



I would think nearly everyone who has wielded a hot pan has at some time cooked with wine – a splash of white in a pasta sauce, or half a bottle of red in a hearty casserole. However, cooking with beer doesn’t seem to be so common in the UK.

Across the channel, it is a recognised style of cooking to the French and Belgians, people at the goegraphical meeting point of the passions for good food and fine beers. With that in mind, and Leffe on a good deal at one of our major supermarkets, I set out to cook some salmon in the Belgian style for supper.

Salmon fillets
Leffe Blonde
Creme Fraiche
Leek – the top green bits for preference
Garlic – a couple of cloves
Butter – a knob, plus a splash of good olive oil

Lightly brush salmon with oil and season well. Place in a hot oven (220C or so) to roast, for about 20 mins. Meanwhile, boil a few baby new potatoes and make a salad with whatever crisp leaves and veg you have in the fridge.

When the salmon is a few minutes away from finished, heat your butter and oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan, add garlic and leek and stir until softened, not browned. Add a handful of mussels, a ladle of fish stock (a dash of Thai fish sauce will do, actually) and about 200ml of Leffe beer. Reduce over a fierce heat.

Remove your salmon from the oven to rest, and warm your plates. Reduce the heat to the pan and stir in enough creme fraiche to make a sauce of a rich pouring consistency. When thoroughly warmed through, plate up – sauce, a couple of potatoes, salmon – and garnish with rocket, parsley or whatever comes to hand.

Serve with the dressed salad and a glass of the remaining beer. In my case I sat back to enjoy Barcelona demolish Leverkusen in the Champions League – but you may prefer some music, or some pleasant chat with whoever is lucky enough to share this lovely food with you 🙂


It’s 15C and sunny in Newcastle – not bad for the end of February – so I decided to brave the outdoors and have lunch in the garden. A nice comforting fish finger sandwich was just the job (it’s not THAT warm outside, OK!?) with some bacon jam and hollandaise to pep it up. There’s coffee brewing and I feel altogether better for seeing a bit of sunshine!

It will probably be Athens at the end of March before I do outdoor food again, but let’s hope this is a sign of things to come for 2012 🙂


The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will accentuate the beauty of the slender crescent moon on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 25 and 26). The planet Mercury may also be visible too, low on the horizon, beneath Venus depending on your sky conditions, but it will disappear quickly after sunset.

Even if your local weather brings clouds or rain, you can still watch Venus, Jupiter and the moon alignonline via online broadcasts.

The sky maps of Jupiter and Venus for this story show how the planets and the moon will appear together on Saturday and Sunday. Astronomers call this cosmic arrangement a triple conjunction.

The Golden Pints Beer Awards 2011

Posted: December 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s the Golden Pint Awards time again. Andy over at posted this,

“The 2009 and 2010 Golden Pint awards were a laugh and seemed to go down well so here’s this years list. It couldn’t be simpler, just fill in your answers to the categories below…”

So, FWIW here’s my twopenn’orth:


Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer – Hardknott Vitesse Noir, but only just, as frankly we’ve been spoiled for choice by the Free Trade and Bacchus this year

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer – Difficult one, maybe The Kernel IPA, maybe not…

Best Overseas Draught Beer – Odell IPA, simply a revelation

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer – Mikkeller Beer Geek Bacon, mad and complex in equal measure, it really does have coffee and smoked bacon flavours

Best Overall Beer – depends if I’m in a bitter mood or a black mood!

Best Pumpclip or Label – Brewdog Old World Russian Imperial Stout, unusual and beautiful label on a world class beer.

Best UK Brewery – Summer Wine, Tempest, Hardknott, too close to call

Best Overseas Brewery – Odell with an honourable mention to Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Cantillon, both of which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this year

Pub/Bar of the Year – Free Trade Inn, Newcastle for a stunning range of beers on keg, cask and bottle, and the best view from any pub in the world, as our Twissup visitors will attest! Honourable mentions to the Beer Temple in Amsterdam and Moeder Lambic in Brussels – seek them out if you’re in either city.

Beer Festival of the Year – only went to one: Newcastle, so it wins by default

Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose for stocking Kipling and St Peter’s IPA

Independent Retailer of the Year – A close call between Rehills and Coppers8till8

Online Retailer of the Year – Summer Wine for great beers at sensible prices, and super quick delivery

Best Beer Book or Magazine – currently re-reading the late great Michael Jackson’s 1993 Beer Companion (signed by the author when I met him)

Best Beer Blog or Website – endlessly fascinating and historically rigorous

Best Beer Twitterer – too many to mention

Best Online Brewery presence – Brewdog for sheer front, and 20% off for shareholders

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year – Tyskie porter with pork and wild mushroom Pierogi. A breakfast of champions in Rynek Starego Miasta, Warsaw

In 2012 I’d Most Like To – visit a craft brewer in France, or failing that, go back to Cantillon with a van 🙂

Open Category: Belgium, for introducing me to stunning beers when UK brewing was in the mid 80’s doldrums

Special mention to Tyne Bank Brewery, my local brewers, who have made two truly superb beers in their first year of operation. If you get the chance, do try the Southern Star and the Cherry Oatmeal Stout