Spiced Bulgur Wheat with Roast Vegetables

This is indeed a treat for a vegetarian or anyone who adores wonderful flavors and textures plus it is a visual feast for the eyes. Enjoy!

For the bulgur wheat:

3 tbs. olive oil
small bunch coriander
2 fat garlic cloves
1 orange
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4 cup red lentils
375ml cold water
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes

For the roast vegetables:

2 large leeks, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
2-3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
3 tbs. olive oil
6 radishes, topped and halved

First, make the bulgur wheat. Heat the oil over a low heat in a heavy pan that comes with a tight-fitting lid. Chop the stalks of the coriander and stir into the oil along with the grated zest of the orange and the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn up the heat to medium-low and stir in the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds, followed by the red chili flakes.

Turn the heat to high and stir in the bulgur wheat and lentils. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and replace the lid. Leave for 40 minuets or up to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Tip all the ingredients for the roast vegetables along with 2 tbs. of the orange juice and 2 tbs. water into a shallow roasting tin that will fit them all snuggly. Toss everything together well and roast for 30 minutes. Stir in the radishes and roast another 10 minutes.

To serve, fork through the bulgur wheat to fluff it up and scoop it into a large bowl. Fork through a third of the vegetables, then chop the coriander leaves and fork through most the them. Taste for seasoning, then top with the remaining vegetables and coriander.

Snow-Flecked Brownies

The are luscious and meltingly-squidgy squares of heaven.

3 sticks plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
6 eggs
2 cups caster sugar
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate in a large pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with the sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Stir this into the semi-cooled chocolate, followed by the flour and salt. Fold in the white chocolate and spread in the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes. They will be ready when the sides pull away and the middle remains dark and gooey. Leave to cool in the pan, then cut into squares. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

A French classic that’s been updated to use chicken thighs – quite rightly!!

2 tbs. regular olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 scallions, finely sliced
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (apprize. 3-4 heads)
2 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding of black pepper

Heat the oven the 350°F. In a large Dutch oven (one that has a lid and will fit the chicken in one layer), heat the oil and sear the chicken pieces over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.

Once the chicken is seared and resting in the bowl, stir in the scallions and the leaves of a few sprigs of the thyme. Add the garlic cloves, then arrange the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Pour in the vermouth and any juices left in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then add a few more whole thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

These lovely little cookies will delight all ages. The cranberries and white chocolate look like jewels!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
9 tbs. softened butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs. caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour mixture and stir to combine, then fold in the cranberries, pecans and white chocolate. Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Let rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pork Tacos

Nigella used left-over pork for this recipe. Not having any, I recreated it using a pork tenderloin with delicious results.

1 pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 large jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lime
tortillas, to serve
shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
pickled cabbage, to serve
diced avocado, to serve

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the pork until just pink. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, ground cumin, smoked paprika, lime juice, then let everything bubble for 4-5 minutes.

Serve the pork inside warm tortillas and topped with shredded lettuce, pickled cabbage and diced avocado.

Serves 4

Steak with Anchovy Elixir

This lovely elixir can be served with crudities or cooked potatoes for dipping or drizzled over steak.

20 salt-packed anchovies
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
125ml cold water

Soak the anchovies in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes. Throw out the water, add fresh water and soak for a further 5 minuets. Rinse each anchovy under running cold water and remove the tails. (Or use oil-packed anchovies that have been well-rinsed.)

Place the anchovies in a small food processor (or into a bowl if using a stick blender) with the remaining ingredients except the steaks. Blitz to a gloomily, fluid sauce. Decant into serving pieces.

Cook the steak to your liking, leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with the elixir.

Serves 4 with steaks or many more as a dip

Croque Monsieur Bake

This savory bake is perfect for brunch because everything is done the night before.

6 slices multi-grain brown bread
1/3 cup dijon mustard
4 oz. Gruyere cheese slices
3 slices ham (3 oz.)
6 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt ot 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tbs. grated Gruyere cheese
good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce

Spread the mustard on the bread slices and make sandwiches with the sliced cheese and ham. Cut each in half making two triangles. Squish the sandwiches into a baking dish approx. 10 x 8″.

Beat together the eggs, salt and milk, then pour over the sandwiches. Cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the sandwiches with the grated cheese and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella Seed

Nigella often says that if one has an ingredient with the same name, it would be rude not to use it! Here, Nigella seeds pair beautifully with bulgar wheat and it is ideal served with Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette.

1 tbs. olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. Nigella seeds
2 cups bulgar wheat
750 ml cold water
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
2/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the lemon zest, thyme, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and Nigella seeds. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the bulgar wheat. Pour in the water and add the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. By this time the water should be absorbed and the grains soft.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and leave for 10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the bulgar wheat and tip into a bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, almonds and parsley.

Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

The simplicity of this lovely salmon is what makes it perfection and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar is an ideal flavor pairing. It is wonderful with Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella seeds.

1 tbs. vegetable oil
8 thin scallops or fillets of salmon
6 tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 tbs. olive oil
small bunch chives, snipped (optional)

Heat a heavy-bottomed, well-seasoned skillet or a good non-stick skillet. Tip in the 1 tbs. of vegetable oil, then add the salmon and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or to your liking. Keep warm with tented foil.

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and the 6 tbs. of olive oil until warm. Serve poured over the salmon and sprinkled with chives.

Serves 4-6

Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans

The taste of autumn in a lovely side dish.

4 1/2 lbs. butternut squash
3 tbs. olive oil
6 stalks fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 cup pecans
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese

Heat the oven to  425°F. Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds. Cut into roughly 1″ cubes. Transfer to a roasting tin and toss with the oil and a bit of seasoning. Strip 4 of the thyme leaves over (or sprinkle with all of the dried thyme). Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.

Remove to a serving bowl and scatter over the pecans and cheese. Toss everything together and add the last 2 stalks of fresh thyme, torn into small sprigs, to decorate.

Serves 6-8