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Chickpeas with spinach and halloumi

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

I was discussing food with one of my colleagues in work and I remembered that we had some chopped spinach in the freezer which we had bought a couple of months ago but haven't used yet. When I got home and mentioned this to Emma, she looked for recipes and found Spiced chickpeas with halloumi. She described the recipe to me then I went into the kitchen to start cooking our version. At this stage I hadn't actually read the original recipe.

Chickpeas with spinach and halloumi

I started by slicing and frying one red pepper and one orange pepper. I then added a sliced onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, 3 small chilli peppers, and a level teaspoon of dried ginger. I stirred everything together then left it for a few minutes for the veg to soften.

I sliced the halloumi and left it on a piece of kitchen roll to remove excess water while I drained one can of chick peas and added them to the pan then added a handful of the chopped spinach. I then fried the halloumi in a separate pan.

The meal was rather spicy (Emma actually added the chillies and 3 seemed like a reasonable number - we didn't realise the original only called for 1) and I couldn't really taste the ginger, so next time I might reduce the chilli and increase the ginger. For a less vegetarian version, we could also add some shredded chicken to the chickpeas

Start of the Chilli Harvest

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

This year we seem to have a house full of chilli plants. There are several on the windowsills in both the upstairs and downstairs front rooms. The upstairs chilli plants get a bit more sunlight during the day and were the first to start to ripen.

This afternoon I noticed there were 3 bright red chillies so I harvested them to add to our regular saturday night pizza. They seem to have a decent amount of heat and flavour. There are a lot of green unripe chillies on the plants so it looks like it might be a good chilli harvest this year.

First ripe chillies

Chilli Jam

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

I still have a few home-grown chillies and tomatoes in the fridge and I felt like making some kind of chilli sauce out of them. A few weeks ago I came across a Chilli Jam recipe from the BBC Good Food website and I thought that might be suitable. I used to occasionally buy a jar of Tracklements chilli jam and the recipe looked like it might give similar results.

I scaled the recipe down a bit for two reasons: I only wanted to make a single jar, and I didn't have enough vinegar or red peppers. The original recipe called for garlic and root ginger, which I didn't have either so I left those out. I hope it doesn't affect the recipe too much.

I started off by weighing 150g of granulated sugar into a pan and added 100ml of white vinegar. I started warming this through gently while I chopped one red pepper and 5 small cayenne peppers and put them in the liquidizer. I peeled 100g of fresh tomatoes, popped those in with the peppers then turned the liquidizer on and blitzed everything to a fine mush. I then added that to the pan.

At this stage, I transferred everything to a small camping stove in the back garden since every time I boil up vinegar in the kitchen, the smell permeates the house and lingers for hours. I gently heated the pan until it started to simmer, then left it for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

When it had started to thicken (and had reached what felt like the consistency of a melted jam) I turned the gas off and let the pan cool slightly while I sterilized a jar by pouring boiling water over it. I emptied the jar, left it to dry for about a minute, then carefully spooned the jam into it.

Chilli Jam

I haven't tried the jam yet since it is still cooling down so I hope it works out ok.

Week 48: Chicken chilli casserole with millet crust

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

We followed the recipe from this website as closely as we could. We had all the ingredients apart from the chipotle in adobo sauce and celery. We used normal mature cheddar instead of monterey jack. The recipe suggests using a gluten free flour so since we were using millet, we used millet flour.

The cheesy millet topping was prepared by dry-frying 1 cupful of millet for about 5 minutes, then simmered in 3 cups of water until the millet is cooked and all the water has been absorbed. A cupful of grated cheddar was then stirred in.

The 'filling' was prepared by tossing chicken pieces in seasoned flour, then the chicken was fried in a small amount of oil. The chicken was removed and the vegetables (onion, pepper, celery) were fried, then the chilli and seasonings (garlic, herbs, cumin, lemon) were added. The remaining flour was added, along with a couple of cups of water, and the mixture was simmered until the sauce thickened.

To replace the celery, we decided to stick with the 'long and green' theme so added some courgette and leek. I had no idea what 'chipotle in adobo sauce' was so I looked it up. The smoked chillies are marinated in a spicy tomato sauce. I decided to use a pickled chilli which I chopped and mixed with a little tomato puree and some smoked paprika.

Our verdict: We liked it, especially the cheesy millet topping.

Week 42: Green tomato risotto

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

This was based on a recipe from the Cottage Smallholder website. It's a great way of using up unripe tomatoes. We made a few changes, such as a pinch of dried herbs and a sprig of fresh parsley to replace the 'savoury'.

Green tomato risotto with meatballs

The meatballs had turkey mince, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, finely diced chilli and seasoning.

Week 27: Sweet Potato Dip

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

This was my attempt at recreating a Marks & Spencer dish which we ate a couple of months ago. I can't remember what the original tasted like but I was happy with the flavour of my version. A lot of our cooking is based around what we can buy reduced or on offer. The sweet potato and butternut squash came from a supermarket pack which was cheap since it was going out of date.

In a low oven (approx gas mark 4), roast the following for about 30 minutes:

  • 250g sweet potato and butternut squash.
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled but kept whole)
  • ½ green chilli (chopped).
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.

When everything has cooled down, add to a food processor, along with:

  • 100g cooked white beans
  • 2tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp pumpkin seed oil
  • 1tsp horseradish or ½ tsp wasabi paste.

Add a small amount of water if needed, to get everything to blend to a smooth paste.

Sweet Potato Dip

We used some of the dip as a pizza sauce, and topped it with salmon, leek and cheese.

Pizza with dip and salmon

Chilli Sauce revisited

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

A few weeks ago I mentioned my attempt at making chilli sauce. We had a turkey curry tonight so in addition to a heaped teaspoon of curry powder, I added half a teaspoon of the chilli sauce.

The sauce had separated a bit so I gave it a good stir first. It was quite spicy but seemed to add heat rather than flavour to the curry.

I intend to plant more chilli seeds soon. If I get a good harvest then I might try making the sauce again but this time use my home grown chillies.

Week 8: Cheating and Chillies

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

We seem to have gone through this week without cooking anything new or original. Today's lunch was something we haven't made before, but that was just a quick pasta meal using a tin of condensed chicken soup as the sauce. We fried some leeks and added those.

A couple of weeks ago we bought 2 bags of going-out-of-date chilli peppers - they were a mixture of red and green chillies. I dried some by cutting them in half and putting them in a foil tray. I put some of the trays in the oven, at gas mark 1, for a couple of hours. The other trays I put on the radiator and left them for a week. The oven-dried chillies had turned brown whereas the radiator-dried ones had kept their colour. I put the dried chillies in a food processor and blitzed them to make chilli flakes.

Today I decided to try to make a chilli sauce from the remaining chillies. I chopped the chillies, sprinkled them with salt and put them in the fridge for a few days. The next step was to put the chillies, 1 clove of garlic, some spices (mustard seed, onion seed) and a splash of vinegar in a food processor and blend to a purée. I simmered the purée for a few minutes before putting it back in the food processor to make a smooth paste. I added equal amounts of water and vinegar until it reached a decent pourable consistency. I've put the sauce in a jar in the fridge to mature for a few weeks before I try it.

Week 5, recipe 2: Cod in Puttanesca Sauce

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

We cooked a second new recipe this week, also inspired by the You Magazine.

  • Chop and fry 1 onion, 1 leek, 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Add a pinch of dried chilli and some mixed herbs.
  • Add 250g of passata and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Place the cod steaks on top of the sauce. Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat down, and let the fish cook for about to minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil some pasta to serve alongside.

Week 3: Sweet potato mash with chilli

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

We tried this recipe 2 different ways. The first time used boiled sweet potatoes:

2 sweet potatoes, diced and boiled until a knife goes in with little resistance. Mash, mixing in a few drops of chilli sauce. The sauce we used was Encona Original Hot Pepper Sauce which is a mixture of habañero and scotch bonnet chillies. It gives a sweet/spicy kick to a recipe.

For the second version we roasted the sweet potato instead of boiling.

  • cut 2 sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks and cook for 30 minutes at gas mark 6.

  • finely chop 1 red onion and gently fry until it goes soft. Add 1 crushed garlic clove and cook for a few more minutes.

  • when the potatoes are soft, mash them. Adding the onion and garlic.

  • Mix in a splash of chilli sauce.

Serves 2, and counts as 1 portion of veg.