Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Garlic Sauce... and DIY Shawarma Sandwich

This was one of those meals where I made the sauce to use with some leftover khobez breads, which I bought as a vehicle for some excess houmous. The garlic sauce is actually surprisingly versatile

If you've ever been to any Turkish or Lebanese restaurants, you've probably come across garlic sauce. I'm a huge fan of it, but I hadn't realised how simple it was to make until very recently. It may require a little patience but it is very, very easy, especially if you have a decent blender.

The reason for making garlic sauce was as part of a shawarma sandwich. However, as I don't have a rotating grill, I've found a great compromise in baking the chicken double-wrapped in baking paper and foil.

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 khobez pittas
2 chicken breasts
6 skinless & boneless chicken thighs, marinaded
1 little gem lettuce
1 medium tomato
Garlic sauce

For the chicken marinade:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp plain  yogurt
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
Pinch of nutmeg powder

For the garlic sauce:
2 heads of garlic, peeled
350ml olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)

Put together the marinade by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl. Then prepare the chicken by slicing the breast fillets horizontally across into 2-3 slices, and then tenderise. Also flatten and tenderise the thighs. Marinade the chicken breast and thighs together for up to 24 hours, then line a large square of tin foil with baking paper and alternate the breasts and thighs in a neat pile in the middle of the baking paper. Wrap the foil and baking paper parcel tightly then place it in a small bread tin if you have one to hand (otherwise, use a normal roasting tin or baking tray). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 180°C.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare the garlic sauce. Crush the garlic into the blender (don't start running it yet). Once you've crushed all the garlic, add the salt and blend until the garlic turns into a paste. Drizzle the oil very slowly into the garlic, stopping pouring frequently to allow it to be absorbed by the garlic. Each time you stop pouring the oil, add a little lemon juice. Continue doing this until all the oil and lemon is absorbed. If you find the recipe too sour, add a little more olive oil.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes before unwrapping and slicing. While the chicken is standing, slice the tomatoes and lettuce and warm through the pitta. Unwrap the chicken parcel and thinly slice the chicken. Arrange on the pitta, drizzle on a couple of teaspoons of garlic sauce and add a few slices of tomato and lettuce. Wrap much like you would a burrito and serve immediately. Delicious!

The leftover garlic sauce is also very versatile - I found it made a very useful "lazy garlic" subsitute in sauces and is equally delicious stirred through pasta dishes with a grating of parmesan and a few shredded basil leaves!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Linguine Primavera

Who knew that comfort food could appear so healthy? This recipe contains pretty much all my favourite vegetables and is a deliciously quick and easy dinner. And it's another great recipe when you're entertaining and want something on the table with minimum effort. 

As I'm a sucker for anything with chilli in it, I sprinkled my serving with a few chilli flakes and a drizzle of chilli oil, but I know not everyone likes feeling their tastebuds being jump-started.

Ingredients (serves 4):
300g linguine
1 courgette
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
80g broad beans
50g fine beans
150g chargrilled artichoke hearts
100g chestnut mushrooms
100g sunblush tomatoes
2 tbsp couchillo olives
juice & zest of 1 lemon
75ml white wine
2 tbsp crème fraîche
20g fresh basil 
50g parmesan

Start by preparing all the vegetables so everything can be put together quickly - thinly slice the onions, courgettes and garlic and slice the mushrooms. I also chopped the artichoke hearts and sunblush tomatoes in half again so they stretched a little further. 

Fry the onion until translucent, then add the courgette. Fry for about 5 minutes, until soft and going golden, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushroom is cooked and then set aside.

Put the water on to boil for the linguine, then add the linguine once it reaches boiling point. Cook as per the directions on the pack - usually about 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn the heat back on for the courgettes and mushrooms, and add the white wine and lemon juice/zest along with the artichoke hearts, sunblush tomatoes and olives. Meanwhile, cook the broad and fine beans in boiling water for 5 minutes then drain and set aside.

Grate the parmesan and shred the basil. Add half the basil and half the parmesan to the courgettes and mushrooms, along with the beans and crème fraîche. The pasta should be ready by now, so combine all the ingredients in a large bowl along with the pasta. Scatter the last of the basil leaves on top and add a sprinkling of parmesan then serve.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Halloumi and Portobello Mushroom Burgers

When not gorging on takeaways recently, I've found myself down my local pub for a few gin and tonics with friends and the inevitable burger. I always have the same one - a divine portobello mushroom and halloumi burger served in a ciabatta roll. So instead of going out and buying more burgers down the pub, I thought I'd have a go at my own version. As a small bonus the ingredients for four people cost the same as a burger for one. Bargain!

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 large portobello mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
250g halloumi
200g hummous
4 ciabatta rolls

For the relish:
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp harissa paste

Start with the relish: peel the onion, slice it in half and then thinly slice. Fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes until just translucent. While the onion starts to fry, thinly slice the red pepper, discarding the seeds. Add to the onions with the cumin and coriander and once the onion starts to brown, cover the frying pan to ensure the moisture is kept in. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the peppers are soft. Then, add the sugar and harissa and stir until the sugar has melted. If necessary, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan to loosen the harissa, but make sure the water has evaporated before you set aside.

Once you've made the relish, move on to the rest of the burger. To prepare the mushrooms, crush the garlic cloves over the mushrooms, making sure the garlic is evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper then drizzle with oil. Place under a hot grill for 10-15 minutes, until cooked. 

While the mushrooms are cooking, lightly toast the ciabattas and smother the bottom layer with a tablespoon of hummous per roll. Just before the mushrooms are ready, slice the halloumi and griddle until cooked - I find about 30 seconds to a minute each side tends to be enough.

Place the mushrooms on the hummous, then arrange the halloumi slices on top of the mushrooms. Add a large spoonful of the onion and pepper relish, and gobble down greedily. Perfect summertime veggie burgers!