Chickpeas and Kale

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I know, a recipe called chickpeas and kale is the kind of thing you will only click on in the depths of January guilt. It sounds bland, and unnecessarily wholesome. But bear with me. I had seen the recipe for chickpeas and spinach in the Moro cookbook dozens of times while leafing through it. And I had ignored it. Every single time. It sounded boring, it didn’t involve cheese or tahini and I worked off the logic that there were so many amazing recipes in there, there also had to be some duds. I was wrong. Every recipe Sam and Sam Clarke turn out is consistently wonderful, and often deceptively simple. When this recipe appeared on Food52’s Genius Recipes column, and again on Smitten Kitchen, my interest was finally piqued.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of cooking quick and easy work meals after a long Christmas break, and this recipe fit the bill. I adapted it extensively from the original, using a different spice combination, white wine vinegar instead of red, kale instead of spinach and added some tomato sauce (inspired by Smitten Kitchen). It’s easy, wholesome and inexpensive to make, which is perfect for January cooking. You can prepare the bread paste in the advance and keep it in the fridge, so the whole thing can be assembled in about ten minutes. When I first cooked this it was at the end of a twelve hour working day which had been followed by a cheeky pint. Every route to my house from work involves passing at least one chipper so I felt like I should get a medal for cooking this at 9:30pm.

I can’t properly articulate why this recipe is so good, because I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s some magical alchemy involved in the combination of the sharp vinegar, rich breadcrumbs, earthy chickpeas, mineral kale and the, well, garlicky garlic. This is a recipe I can see myself making again and again.

Makes two generous main course portions.

Ingredients

  • 75g slice of bread, torn into small cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili flakes, like aleppo chili.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 200g kale washed, with the spines removed and leaves torn into small pieces
  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons ,of any basic tomato sauce, passata, or 2 teaspoons tomato puree mixed with two tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add the bread cubes and fry until golden, turning frequently.
  • Add the garlic Herbes de Provence and spices and cook for one minute more, stirring frequently.
  • Remove from the heat, and blend in a pestle and mortar, or with a stick blender together with one tablespoon vinegar to form a paste.
  • Wilt the kale in batches in a hot frying pan with a little bit of water  to prevent burning and a sprinkling of salt, then leave aside.
  • Add the bread paste to a frying pan together with the chickpeas and tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat to combine well.
  • Add the wilted kale and cook for a few minutes until heated through and well combined.
  • Top with smoked paprika and serve warm.

Win Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook ‘Plenty More’

plenty more

I was hoping to have a new recipe post up sooner, but the last few weeks have been hectic, and to make matters worse, I injured my foot last week and have spent the last few days hobbling very inelegantly around on crutches. So instead, I have something even better: a competition.

I’ve been given a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s wonderful new cookbook, Plenty More to give away. As you can probably tell from the blog, I’m a big Ottolenghi fan. I visited London recently and spent quite a lot of time flicking through the new book in Foyles and I’m looking forward to cooking from it once I’m back on my feet. The recipes are as innovative and exciting as always, and it’s the kind of book you will come back to again and again. It’s a vegetable cookbook following on from his earlier book Plenty. 

To win this prize, you just have to leave a comment below telling me your favourite Ottolenghi recipe. There is no restriction on where the book can be sent. The winner will be announced here, on Facebook, and Twitter on Saturday. To whet your appetite, I’ve got a video of Yotam making his tomato and pomegranate salad below, but you can find more videos here.

 

Crispy Spiced Lamb with Aubergine and Pomegranate

Lamb with Aubergine

During my most recent, technically ongoing,  attempt at becoming one of those fit, healthy, exercise loving people, I signed up for the daily Women’s Health Magazine email.  Ever since then, it’s been a daily barrage of guilt (“four foods you have to stop eating or your loved ones will turn against you”, “five ways your flabby arms are ruining your career”) combined with some fairly sweeping statements about physical intimacy that do not bear close examination. It’s a constant reminder that I am just not one of those gym junkie types.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the gym being both relaxing and addictive. For me, it’s cooking that offers the kind of buzz and sense of calm people get from exercise. I exercise based on a combination of Catholic guilt and fear.  The most relaxing thing for me is a day with nothing to do but cook. This lamb dish from the Morito cookbook was made on one of those kind of days, a lazy Sunday with hours to spend in the kitchen. It’s a little bit time consuming, but not tricky to make, and it looks so pretty at the end that you get a fantastic sense of accomplishment.  I followed the recipe pretty much to the word, but if I was remaking it, I’d add some tahini to the aubergine to give a bit of extra bite. This dish serves 6-8 as part of a mezze.

Ingredients

  • 600g stewing lamb
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • a few sprigs of thyme and some bay leaves
  • 3 aubergines
  • 3 tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 50g butter
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • chilli flakes, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts

Method

  • Put the lamb in a large sauce pan with all of the ingredients down to and including the bay leaves.
  • Simmer for around 45-50 minutes, skimming the froth off the top as you go (appealing, I know!)
  • The meat should be very soft and easy to tear apart with a fork/your hands once cooled (test with a fork before taking off the heat)
  • Roast the aubergines in a very hot oven, over a gas flame or over a barbecue until soft (around 45 minutes in an oven at 220C)
  • Once they cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin into a bowl, and blend with a stick blender.
  • Stir in the yoghurt, oil, lemon juice and garlic.
  • Once the lamb is torn into small shreds, heat the butter in a saucepan.
  • Cook the onion in the butter with a pinch of salt until soft and sweet, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the spices and cook for a minute, then add in the lamb.
  • Fry until bits of the lamb are crisping up, then remove from the heat, and pile on top of the aubergine in a big bowl.
  • Top with the pinenuts, mint and pomegranate seeds.

 

Mejadra

Mejadra

This is yet another recipe from ‘Jerusalem’. *Insert grumble about food blogger Ottolenghi hero worship here*.  One of my favourite things about the book is how is explores recipes in Jerusalem from the perspective of the many different cultures and traditions that exist there. It shows what makes up a local traditional cuisine and where the different facets of a dish or type of dish came from. This is something I have thought about a lot when it comes to traditional Irish food. I’ve often been asked, what is traditional Irish food? Most European countries can point to a distinctive cuisine, whether regional or throughout the country. When I taught in Denmark, I used to supervise the school lunches, and became aware of just how many traditional Danish dishes there were that every kid could name. I’m not sure the same could be said in Ireland.

An article in this week’s Irish Times tried to tackle the issue of ‘what is Irish cuisine’ and came to much the same conclusions as I have. The article found that what really typifies Irish food is the freshness and quality of ingredients, rather than a huge selection of traditional dishes. If you ask any Irish person, they’ll give you a different answer as to what a traditional Irish dish is.  Irish culinary traditions that I have introduced the Dane to include breakfast rolls and putting crisps into sandwiches, so I may not be the best ambassador. What do you think of when you think of Irish food?

Anyway, back to the dish at hand. Mejadra crops up in a lot of cookbooks, and seems to be traditional across the Arabic world. According to Wikipedia, the recipe was first recorded in 1226 in Iraq. To put this in perspective, the food that most people think typifies Irish cuisine, potatoes, weren’t even introduced in Ireland for another 300 or so years!  Mejadra (or mujaddara) is a tasty dish of rice, onions and lentils. It is so much more than the sum of its parts and is easily a meal in itself. It’s quite easy to make and is a good foundation to build a mezze around (particularly with this fantastic hummus). Serves 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of flour
  • 250g green or brown lentils
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2tsp coriander seeds
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 350ml water
  • Neutral oil like sunflower or vegetable
  • Greek yoghurt (optional)

Method

  • Cook the lentils in boiling salted water until cooked through but not completely soft (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Sprinkle the flour on a plate and season well with plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Toss the onion slices in the seasoned flour.
  • Pour a couple of tablespoons of neutral oil into a frying pan.
  • How much oil you use is up to you. You can get away with not that much if you’re very health conscious, but if you want really crispy  and delicious onions, you’re going to need  a fair few tablespoons.
  • Depending on the size of your frying pan, either fry the onions all at once or in batches (there should only be one layer of onions in the pan at a time).
  • Fry them in the oil over a medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  • Heat a large saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients over a medium heat.
  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a minute or so until they start to pop.
  • Add the oil and remaining spices and season well.
  • Add the rice and toss in the spicy oil to coat.
  • Add the cooked lentils and the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  • It won’t look like there is enough water, but there is.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes covered with a lid.
  • Take off the heat, remove the lid, cover with a towel and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Serve topped with the onions, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt (if you like).

Courgette (Zucchini) Lasagne

Courgette Lasagne

Before I started this blog, I never would have thought I liked courgette. I always ate it, but it would never have been a favourite. Judging by the amount of courgette recipes I have put up in the past few years, it seems that I subconsciously love it. Apologies if you don’t, I will try and tone it down after this one.

I first tried courgette lasagne in a restaurant in Venice as a teenager. We stopped outside a place on an empty square with tables in the sunshine, and examined the pro-forma red and white Italian restaurant menu. As soon as the owner came out, it was clear that the menu was a fiction. The restaurant was run by a husband and wife team. He did the cooking, and she did front of house. He cooked whatever he felt like, and so you sat and waited and something would be presented to you by his wife. This could be absolutely anything. We received a minestrone soup and this lasagne. A table after us received fish. It depended entirely on the whims of the chef at the moment you sat down. I was an incredibly fussy eater as a teenager, and we were lucky since the lasagne was about the only thing we spotted during our time there that I would have willingly eaten. It ranks in my memory as one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. At least part of that is probably the memory of the relief at being presented with something suited to my taste against the odds. Unfortunately, the restaurant is long gone now and has been replaced by a chain restaurant.

I found a similar recipe in the Ballymaloe Cookbook years later, and have been making it ever since. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of dried or fresh lasagne (how much you will use depends on size and shape of dish)
  • 1kg courgettes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour
  • 500ml milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 30g grated pecorino (or just do 70g parmesan)

Method

  • Wash and trim the courgettes.
  • Slice them lengthways, and then start slicing each half into thin semi circular shapes.
  • If you are using dried lasagne, blanch each piece individually (they’ll stick together if you do more) in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two to soften, then refresh with cold water and set aside.
  • Unless you have a really big pan, you’ll probably have to cook the courgette in batches.
  • Heat some olive oil in over a medium heat and saute the courgette for five minutes.
  • Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Add some garlic (if cooking in batches) and cook for another five or so minutes, until the courgette is meltingly soft.
  • Repeat with the remaining batches.
  • Toss the cooked courgette with fresh parsley.
  • To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • When the butter is fully melted, stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes to form a roux.
  • Gradually stir in the milk until it is fully combined with the roux.
  • Cook while gently stirring until the sauce is thickened to a slightly liquid paste – this can take up to fifteen minutes.
  • If there are lumps of roux at the start, don’t worry, they’ll usually melt away and if they don’t, strain them out at the end.
  • Season the bechamel heavily with salt, pepper and nutmeg (it will take much more than you think, but taste throughout).
  • Stir in 3/4 of the cheese.
  • Butter the dish and spread a little bechamel over it.
  • Reserve about 1/4 of the bechamel to spread on top.
  • Mix the courgette and remaining bechamel.
  • Layer the lasagne and courgette.
  • Spread the bechamel on the top piece of lasagne, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake at 180C for approximately 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Courgette and Rice Tian

Tian

I picked up this lovely Julia Child recipe via Food 52 and have been making it every few weeks ever since. Julia Child seems to be the most iconic  chef for French food in America. In my house growing up, Elizabeth David was the go-to, despite the fact that her recipes are pretty confusing for novice chefs. I actually hadn’t heard of Julia Child until the Julie & Julia film came out. Once I managed to overcome the resentment of losing an hour and a half of my life on that film, I was won over the real Julia’s recipes and wit. Nothing endears a food writer to me like an unhealthy respect for butter.

I’m a bit of an Irish stereotype about potatoes, I like to include them in most meals, but I’ve found this is a great substitute. I usually make it alongside roast tarragon chicken. If you want to make it a bit healthier, you can omit the cheese and maybe add in some chopped herbs like dill, basil or tarragon. It is nice cold the next day as well, so it makes a good lunch of leftovers. This serves six as a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 500g courgette
  • 50g rice
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 100ml milk
  • Approximately 75g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 230mls liquid

Method

  • Grate the courgette and place in a colander.
  • Toss well with 2-3 teaspoons of salt and place over a large bowl or pot to catch all the escaping liquid.
  • Leave to sit and drain for at least 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze the courgette well to get out the rest of the liquid and dry it a bit.
  • Mix 130ml of the liquid with 100ml of milk in a saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, cook the rice in plenty of salted boiling water for 5 minutes until it is partially cooked, then drain.
  • Saute the onion in a large, deep frying pan with a little oil over low-medium heat for 8 minutes until translucent.
  • Turn up the heat for a minute or two to lightly colour the onion.
  • Add the courgette to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or so.
  • Turn the heat down, add the garlic and nutmeg and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Heat the milk/juice mixture gently.
  • Stir in the flour and mix well until smooth.
  • Take off the heat and slowly stir in the milk/juice bit by bit.
  • You may be tempted like me to add in extra liquid, thinking the mixture is too dry and the rice won’t soak it up properly. Don’t!
  • Put back on the heat until the mixture is bubbling.
  • Remove again and stir in the blanched rice and 2/3’s of the cheese.
  • Check for seasoning then pour into a buttered baking dish.
  • Top with the remaining cheese and drizzle with olive oil (optional).
  • Bake at 220C for about 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and crisp, and the rice has absorbed the liquid.

Hummus Revisited

Hummus 2

Yes, this is the second hummus recipe I’ve posted. The last one was an everyday version for when you have a tin of chickpeas lying around and you need something to dunk some carrots in. This recipe is for a perfectly smooth hummus for showing off to dinner guests.  This is the kind of hummus I didn’t know you could make without some very labour-intensive work like individually peeling chickpeas. It is properly smooth and silky like it is in proper Middle Eastern restaurants, rather than out of a supermarket pack.

Predictably, the recipe is taken from ‘Jerusalem’. After nine months, I still love leafing through this book time and again. As well as providing this amazing recipe, it has an excellent discussion on the political debate on the origins of hummus, along with the battle to be named the best hummus, and the divisive issue of what kind of hummus is the best. I side with Ottolenghi and Tamimi in feeling the best kind has lots of tahini and is very smooth. I like a bit more lemon than is included here, and I added a little less tahini then the original recipe out of deference for my less tahini mad boyfriend. Basically this is just a template and you can scale it up or down, with less or more lemon, garlic and tahini, once you stick to the method. Frying the chickpeas in bicarbonate of soda seemed unorthodox, but it really did the trick to remove the skins. I was skeptical about the water and lack of olive oil in the hummus itself, but trust me, it works.

This makes a lot of hummus, enough for six as a starter, since the chickpeas swell up to more than half a kilo in weight. It keeps pretty well in the fridge for a day or two if you have a thin layer of olive oil on top to stop it drying out.

Ingredients

  • 250g dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 heaped tablespoons Tahini paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 4 tablespoons)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 70-100ml ice cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons roasted and ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pinenuts (optional)
  • Olive oil, to taste

Method

  • The night before you want to make the hummus, leave the chickpeas to soak in a pan of water, with at least twice as much water as chickpeas.
  • The next day, drain the swollen chickpeas
  • Heat a saucepan large enough to accommodate the chickpeas and 1.5 litres of water over a high heat.
  • Add the chickpeas and the bicabornate of soda and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add 1.5 litres of water and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer the chickpeas for 20-40 minutes until soft but not mushy.
  • Skim off the foam and chickpea skins every few minutes while they are cooking.
  • Drain the chickpeas once they are soft.
  • You’ll probably still have chickpea skins mixed in, so fill the pot with cold water and tip the chickpeas in.
  • The remaining skins should float to the top and you can either pour them out or remove them with a slotted spoon.
  • Blend the chickpeas and garlic in a processor or with a stickblender (which worked fine for me) until smooth.
  • Add the tahini, salt and lemon juice and blend.
  • Finally, add the iced water bit by bit (I didn’t need the entire 100 mls) and blend until you get a smooth paste.
  • Leave to rest for 30 minutes for the flavours to come together.
  • Serve sprinkled with the cumin, paprika and pinenuts, and drizzled with olive oil.

Hummus

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

In case you hadn’t noticed, Northern Europe is in the grip of a heatwave. My Twitter feed has more commentary on the weather than an awkward dinner party. The freckle to skin ratio on my face is tipping rapidly in favour of freckles. Weather like this does not really encourage cooking, but it does encourage eating outdoors, and barbecuing everything you can think of. With this in mind, I propose salsa verde as the perfect heatwave sauce. It goes with just about everything, is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge. In the last week I have had it with fresh homemade bread (word to the wise:don’t make bread in a heatwave), grilled vegetables, boiled new potatoes and tossed with raw shaved courgette and pine nuts to make a quick salad. It also goes great with grilled meat and fish. So it’s basically perfect. I adapted a Jamie Oliver recipe, but since every recipe I looked at was different, salsa verde seems to be more of a template or idea rather than a concrete defined sauce. Jamie’s website actually has two completely different recipes both called salsa verde. If you don’t like mustard, you can leave it out. Use whatever vinegar and herbs you have to hand. Some grated lemon zest might be nice. Add in the anchovies that I left out, whatever you feel like really.

Makes a cereal bowl sized amount

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley and basil)
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of mustard (depending on taste, I love a lot of mustard)
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey to taste (optional)

Method

  • Finely chop the herbs and add to a bowl along with the capers, garlic, mustard and vinegar.
  • Stir well to combine.
  • Slowly stir in the olive oil bit by bit (you may need a bit more or less, it depends on what you want consistency wise)
  • Season and add in honey if you like.
  • This will keep well for a few days in the fridge.

Incredibly Easy Tomato and Fennel Bread

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Over the past few weeks, I have been making the transition from studying all hours of day and night combined with two part-time jobs, to a more leisurely life working a part-time job that currently involves sitting around a room complaining about the industrial conflict which  prevents me from doing my job. It’s been a challenge. To fill the void in my life that was once filled with making flashcards, I’ve turned to making bread. Having a loaf of fresh bread on the table feels like an achievement. It gives the impression that you have something to show for a day that has mainly involved flicking between The Guardian, Broadsheet and old episodes of The Colbert Report, interspersed with napping. Moreover, being able to make bread seems to be an intrinsic part of Danish culture.  Most young Danish people I’ve met make their own, and every supermarket will sell both fresh and dried yeast. I saw this recipe on Food 52 (originally from Jim Lahey’s ‘My Bread’) and decided I had to try a recipe that compared making bread to having a pet cat. It requires minimum effort, a little bit of waiting, and given that I have used it six times with five perfect results, and one almost perfect result*, I would have to say it is foolproof. I’ve adapted a plain loaf to make a tomato and fennel loaf, which is fantastic with some very seasonal wild garlic pesto and a schmear of goats cheese. This makes a decent 500g loaf, and just requires you to plan a day ahead.

*This recipe is designed for white flour. If you use wholemeal flour you will get a denser loaf that doesn’t rise as much. A 50/50 mix yields good results.

bread 005_phixr

Ingredients

  • 400g white flour
  • 300ml cold water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1g (1/4 teaspoon) dried yeast, or 3g fresh yeast
  • 1-2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped sun dried tomato

Method

  • Put the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  • Dissolve the tomato puree and yeast in the water.
  • Stir into the flour with a wooden spoon until you have a dough.
  • Mix in the fennel seeds and sundried tomato.
  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 12-18 hours covered (it will rise massively).
  • Take it out of the bowl with floured hands, and knead together for a minute or so on a floured surface until it forms a coherent ball coated in flour.
  • It will still be more sticky than you think is right, but it is, you don’t need to add more flour.
  • Wrap in a tea towel and leave for 1-2 hours.
  • It’s ready when you stick your finger in it and it leaves an indentation.
  • During the last half hour or so of this, put a big casserole dish (apparently called a Dutch oven in the States?) or metal pot with a lid big enough to fit the dough almost doubling in size) in the oven at 250C to preheat.
  • When the dough is raised, shape it into a loaf.
  • Dust the now heated pot (carefully) with flour.
  • Add the loaf to the heated pot and put in the oven with the lid on for 30 minutes.
  • Take off the lid and cook in the oven for about another ten minutes, until the outside is crispy and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for 30-45 minutes.

bread 014_phixr

Fattoush

Hake and Fattoush 003_phixr

I have a slight obsession with Turkish grocers. I keep reading articles raving about Danish food culture, the NOMA effect and so on but I’m not sure I have seen the effects of it as much here in Aarhus. Every single article mentions how you can now buy foraged herbs in Danish supermarkets. I’m not sure if this is a Copenhagen thing, or some kind of elaborate hoax being played on hapless journalists. ‘Quick, it’s that guy from the Guardian, break out the emergency sorrel’. This trend does not seem to have made its way further afield. In fact, getting fruit and vegetables outside of a supermarket is pretty tricky from what I can see, unless you really stock up at the weekly market.

This is where Turkish grocers come in, as a good source of fresh fruit,vegetables and most importantly, herbs. I have recently discovered a fantastic one near my flat, complete with a million different kind of olives, haydari, and huge bunches of parsley, coriander, dill and mint. This is helpful when working your way through Ottolenghi recipes, which inevitably call for bushels and bushels of fresh herbs. This recipe is adapted, given that finding a decent looking tomato in the midst of Danish winter is as likely as a Michelin guide reviewer venturing outside Copenhagen. Instead, I have substituted sweet red peppers, which work just as well, if not as authentically. You can however get buttermilk in every shop, as the Danes have a tradition of drinking buttermilk, which I haven’t seen elsewhere. It seems to be a longstanding one, as James Joyce writes about it in his book ‘The Cats of Copenhagen’. At least I am not the only Irish visitor to these shores that finds this a bit unusual.

Serves 2-3 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 flat bread
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, or 2 mini cucumbers, diced
  • 5-6 radishes, sliced thinly
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tbsp sumac

Method

  • Put the flatbread in a hot oven for 1-2 minutes to crisp up (alternatively use a hot frying pan)
  • Tear into small pieces.
  • Put all the ingredients but the bread and sumac into a bowl.
  • Mix them all up well.
  • Leave aside for at least 10 minutes for the flavours to combine (if leaving for more than 30, put in the fridge).
  • Add in  the bread and sprinkle with sumac just before serving.
  • Season well with salt and pepper.