Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hlalem (Tunisian Pasta and Beans)

Pasta is probably my all time favourite food, I just adore it! Lately, though, I've been trying to eat a little less of it because I'm not quite as young as I used to be and I don't burn it off as easily, so now pasta is a real treat. I'm always a bit excited when a pasta dish comes up as part of my research for a country, because then I have an excuse to make pasta :)

This Tunisian dish of pasta and beans is wonderful - hearty, nourishing and beautifully flavoured. Traditionally it is sometimes made with the addition of Mergues sausages, so if you like, you can throw in some chopped vegetarian sausages when you add the pasta. I've used frozen broad beans, but you can also use dried - just soak them with the chickpeas and add them at the same time.

Hlalem (Tunisian Pasta & Beans)

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours and then drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp harissa paste or harissa spice mix
3/4 cup green lentils, rinsed
1 x 400g diced or crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
200g pasta (any large shape such as large spirals or shells)
1 cup frozen or fresh broad beans

To Make
1. Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours and then drain and rinse.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the harissa paste or spice mix and fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
3. Add the chickpeas and lentils and enough water to cover them. Then add the tomato paste and tin of tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Keep an eye on the water level and add more water as needed during the cooking.
4. Once the beans are cooked, add the pasta and the broad beans. Simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente. You may need to add more water as it's cooking in order to properly cook the pasta.


Serves 4-6

This month I'm featuring lots of recipes from Tunisia!
Check out my other Tunisian recipe posts:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Mzoura (Tunisian Harissa Parsnips)

Parsnips are often a vegetable which gets undervalued, a lot of people dismiss them without giving them a chance or just don't got near them in the first place because of some childhood memory of mushy boiled unflavoured parsnips. Well, I love parsnips - if they're cooked right! They add a beautiful hearty nutty flavour to soups and stews. They were just delicious in my Swede & Parsnip Cottage Pies. They're perfect for all kinds of comfort food (potato and parsnip mash anyone?). These simple but really tasty Tunisian spiced parsnips really impressed. I cooked them up as side veggies for one of my dinner parties and they ended up being a favourite of many of my guests!

Mzoura (Tunisian Harissa Parsnips)

800g parsnips, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp harisa paste or harisa spice mix
2 tbsp agave nectar
Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)

To Make
1. Boil the parsnips until only just tender. Drain well and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large frypan and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is softened.
3. Add the cumin, corander and harissa. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the parsnips and about 1/2 cup water. Simmer until the water is gone and then add the agave nectar and stir to coat completely. Heat through and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as a side veggie. Perfect for potlucks.

This month I'm featuring lots of recipes from Tunisia!
Check out my other Tunisian recipe posts:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

{Baked} Tunisian Yoyo (Orange Flavoured Doughnuts)

It's wonderful to try new desserts from all over the globe as part of my world food challenge. The only problem, of course, it it's potential impact on my health!! In Tunisia they have a dessert of fried orange flavoured doughnuts soaked in orange blossom and honey syrup. Sounds divine but oh my, I'm not sure if I should be eating that! So, I've dived well off the ladder of authenticity with this one and baked my doughnuts. I'm sure it creates a much different dish but honestly they were pretty delicious, although with a slightly more bready/bagel-y consistency than they were probably supposed to. I made my orange blossom syrup with agave instead of honey and I think that it replicated the flavour quite well.

1 x 7g sachet of yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups plain flour

Agave & Orange Blossom Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tsp orange blossom water

To Make
1. Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes until the top becomes very frothy and it smells yeasty. Stir in the oil, orange zest and orange juice.
2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and then make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and stir well. Turn the dough out onto a floured benchtop and knead for 5 minutes (or use a mixer with a dough hook, I think I have one somewhere but I always prefer to knead my dough by hand).
3. Wash, dry and lightly oil the large mixing bowl and then return the dough to it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a cloth and set aside in a warm place to let it rise for 2 hours.
4. While it's rising you can make the syrup by combining the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and then bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the agave nectar and orange blossom water. Simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy. Transfer to a jar or bowl and cool completely. Once cool, refrigerate.
5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down and then tear off pieces about the size of a billiard ball. Roll into a log between your hands and then connect the ends to make a doughnut shape. Now stretch the hole in the middle out so that it's a bit bigger than you think it should be (because the yeast will rise more as it bakes, so if you make the holes small they'll disappear when you bake them!). Continue until all the dough is gone.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes, until just golden. Remove from the oven a punch a couple of holes in them with a skewer to help absorb the syrup and then put the hot doughnuts straight into the cold syrup. Allow to soak, turning as necessary for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a plate. Serve.

NOTE: To make these more authentic, follow the recipe up to step 5 (inclusive), and then instead of baking them fry them in oil for about 3-4 minutes each side. Then drain briefly in a paper towel, punch holes with a skewer and soak in the syrup.

Makes about 14 yoyos.

This month I'm featuring lots of recipes from Tunisia!
Check out my other Tunisian recipe posts:

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Tunisian Cooked Carrot & Olive Salad

Sweet tender cooked carrots make up the bulk of this easy and delicious north African salad, flavoured with harissa and tangy lemon & vinegar and punctuated with marinated black olives that pack a punch of flavour every time you get one. I love cooked salads, and this one made me really happy. It's healthy, quick to make, a bit different to your usual table salad and perfect for all seasons.

1 kg carrots
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp harissa (you can use paste or spice mix)
1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
10 marinated kalamata olives

To Make
1. Trim and slice the carrots. Place in a pan and cover with water; bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
2. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the olives in a jar and shake to combine.
3. Drain and rinse carrots. Place in a bowl and dress with the dressing in the jar.
4. Sprinkle olives on top and serve at room temperature.

This month I'm featuring lots of recipes from Tunisia!
Check out my other Tunisian recipe posts:

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Kale & Macadamia Pesto

If you've never made your own pesto then this should be the year you try it, because you're missing out! Home made pesto is so bright, fresh and delicious! It's also much better for you, generally using less oil and, of course, no preservatives or additives. If you make your own pesto, but you've never made kale pesto, then this should be the year you try it because you're missing out! Kale makes the tastiest pesto, and it's also a lot cheaper than basil. I've posted kale pesto once before, my Kale, Almond and Orange Pesto, but this one has an Australian flair, with delicious creamy macadamia nuts.

Kale & Macadamia Pesto

1 bunch kale, washed
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

To Make
1. Remove the tough stems from the kale and tear up into pieces.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blitz into a paste. You can have it as chunky or as smooth as you prefer (I like mine a bit chunky!).

Makes about 2 jars.

To have with pasta:
1. Cook some pasta al dente and then drain. Stir a generous drizzle of olive oil through the hot pasta and then add lots of kale pesto. Stir until all the pasta is coated in pesto and then eat hot or cold as a salad.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Easy Vegan Fig Rolls

I think these are very cute, they remind me of a sweet version of a sausage roll. They're so easy to make, just a handful of ingredients, and they make a pretty healthy snack to satisfy your sweet tooth.

I hope you all had a great Xmas and new year period, I know I indulged a little too much and am now just getting back on track with my normal (slightly healthier) habits! I'm really excited about what 2014 has to offer though, there are some wonderful things in store for us and I've decided to make it one of my best years ever.

Vegan Fig Rolls

250g dried figs
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sheets filo pastry
1 tbsp melted nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
Sesame seeds, for garnish

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Chop up the figs and place in a small saucepan. Add the water, agave and spices. Place over a low heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid and simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone and you have a thick paste.
3. Transfer to a food processor and process until you have a fairly smooth consistency.
4. Lay out one sheet of the filo and brush a little bit of melted margarine around the edges. Place the second sheet on top of the first.
5. Spread the fig paste in an even log along the pastry lengthwise and then roll it up into one big long roll. Brush melted margarine on the last inch of the pastry to help it stick better.
6. Cut the log in half and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the tops with the remaining melted margarine and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, until the pastry is just crisp and slightly golden. Once cooked, cool and then slice into bit sized pieces.

Makes about 10 pieces.

Monday, 6 January 2014

15 Most Popular Recipes of 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 was a bit of an up and down year for me, I had some wonderful highs but also some very sad and devastating lows. I'm hoping that 2014 will have more of the highs and less of the lows, but, of course, one can never know what life is going to throw at you.

I don't doubt we have a delicious year of vegan treats and world foods ahead of us, but to start us off I thought I might share with you some of the most popular recipes from 2013. This year I posted about 100 new recipes onto the blog, which now has more than 300 recipes on it in total. That is a staggering amount really, you can browse them here if you like. I'd like to thank everyone for all the kind words and great support that you've shown me. It means a lot to me, from nice emails, kind comments on posts, feedback on recipes or even just likes on my facebook page, it all makes my day a little brighter when I hear from you all. 

My new years resolution in relation to the blog is to post a little less often and to spend a bit of time putting together a cookbook. I've already had quite a few people say they'd be keen, and hopefully some people will buy it :)

In the meantime there are hundreds of recipes up here for free for you to enjoy and adapt. Here are the most popular ones of 2013, some I could have guessed but others came as a complete surprise.

Hope you've enjoyed that cross section of some of the delights we've had last year. How did 2013 treat you? Anything interesting or unexpected happen to you? Share your most significant moments in the comments :)