“Vine-Baked Feta” from “Sirocco”

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Kirstin: So I tweeted the very lovely Sabrina Ghayour to ask her what I should make next from her fab book and she suggested the vine-baked feta. I am always up for anything with feta, so when Anna and Tom couldn’t get into work because of flooding, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it. Because while I could have eaten all that feta by myself, I felt it was probably best to share it with others!

Did we love it? We totally did! I couldn’t find any vine leaves and instead wrapped it in baking parchment like a present as she suggests in her intro. I should also add that while I was looking for vine leaves I also found a new Lebanese food selection in our local M and S which was very exciting! I am definitely going to make this again as it’s a perfect starter; super easy and very tasty especially with flat bread and olives. All I had to do to make it was add the zest of a lemon, some garlic oil, chilli and thyme to the top of the cheese before baking. And with all the rain today, it was the nearest we were going to get to the taste of the Mediterranean on a summer’s day. Yum, yum, yum! Thank you for the tip! We’ll be making this one again, for sure. And even better with a cheeky glass of rosé.

“Vine-Baked Feta” from “Sirocco”

“Feta Bites” from “Sirocco”

IMG_8930Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan (read: obsessed) by cheese. I love it, in all its forms. Halloumi, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Asiago, Emmental, Comte, Cheddar, Wensleydale, Mont d’Or, Toite de Moine, … the list could go on, but I’m stopping at 10. Those were the cheeses I could list off the top of my head without breaking a sweat.

See what I mean?

So when I saw the recipe for Feta Bites, I was enthusiastic, to say the least. As was my family.

The recipe was easy to make, as basically all you’re doing is dredging feta cubes in flour, and then dipping them in a batter mix of egg, ice water and self-raising flour. Simples. You then have to fry them, briefly.

Personally, I then had a challenge to not eat all of the feta bites as they emerged all golden and lovely from the pan. I resisted as best I could, but I have to admit that I was not entirely successfully in resisting their charms before sharing with the rest of my family.

You also make a preserved lemon jam to go with them. While I enjoyed the jam, the rest of the family was lukewarm on it, at best. So when I do make this again, I’m not sure if I’m going to make the jam to go with it. Regardless, it was still a success.

In the introduction, Sabrina Ghayour writes, “Feta makes everything better.” I couldn’t agree more.

Want to try this recipe? Nigella Lawson, the patron saint of this blog, helpfully has posted the recipe on her website. Click through here to see it. 

 

“Feta Bites” from “Sirocco”

“Chicken & Garlic Bread Kebabs, Blood Orange, Spinach & Feta” from “Everyday Super Food”

IMG_2246Maureen: As you can see, the plates of the adults do not match the plates of the children.

Tim: Why is that? (laughing, because he already knows the answer)

Maureen: I knew that the younger half of this family would not abide a plate of spinach salad, even if there was feta tossed over it, so I made them couscous and purple-sprouting spinach instead.

Andrew (15): Couscous! I love couscous!

Nicholas (12): Thank you for not making me eat the spinach salad.

Maureen: Your feelings about spinach are clear. Also, I wasn’t sure I was up for the drama involved, so I just bypassed it altogether. What do you think?

Tim: I like it.

Maureen: Me too. I like all of it. Though I know the salad– using the term loosely since it’s really just spinach leaves, oranges and some dressing– would not be a hit with the boys.

Tim: I’m not sure that the oranges add anything.

Maureen: I don’t get why they’re there either. Maybe it’d be better if I had been able to find the blood oranges he wanted me to use, but I doubt it.

Nicholas: I like the chicken.

Tim: Where is the kick coming from in the chicken?

Maureen: You add cayenne to the marinade. I like it.

Andrew: I’m not crazy about it.

Maureen: Why not?

Andrew: I don’t know. I just don’t fancy it. I like the couscous, though.

Maureen: That’s not part of this recipe.

Tim: I think you should make this again, or at least the chicken part of it. It was a winner.

Maureen: I agree.

“Chicken & Garlic Bread Kebabs, Blood Orange, Spinach & Feta” from “Everyday Super Food”

“Cajun Rice & Barbeque Chicken Burrito” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

IMG_6994Andrew (15): Is this a Jamie Oliver recipe?

Maureen: Indeed it is.

Tim: What’s with the feta cheese?

Maureen: Jamie said to use feta cheese on the burritos. What Jamie wants, Jamie gets. I know it’s a bit strange, but I started thinking about it, and feta isn’t unlike the crumbled cheese they use at Wahaca, so I went with it.

Nicholas (12): I think it’s good.

Andrew: Me gusta!

Maureen: It’s appropriate that you would use Spanish to describe how much you like this dish, since we are having burritos.

Tim: The spciy rice is good.

Maureen: It’s a variation of the cowboy rice we like so much, though in this case, you use pre-made rice. This is because the recipe was sponsored by Uncle Ben’s, which strikes me as a bit strange, but there we are. Despite use the pre-made rice, it’s made significantly better with the addition of fried peppers and onions. Yum.

Nicholas: We should definitely have this again.

Andrew: I agree.

Maureen: The only change I made is I didn’t make it with leftover turkey tossed in barbeque sauce, since we didn’t have any turkey. So I fried up some chicken with fajita seasoning, like I usually do, and that worked a treat.

Tim: Huzzah for burrito night.

Maureen: Indeed.

 

If you’d like to watch the original video, see it here:

“Cajun Rice & Barbeque Chicken Burrito” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

“Grilled Ziti with Feta” from “Plenty More”

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This is our first dish from this month’s cookbook, which we have (lovingly) nicknamed “Otto-Impossible: The Sequel.”

Perhaps that’s a misnomer, because the recipes I’ve done so far– including this one– aren’t impossible, just time consuming. So maybe it’s not a fair name, but it is catchy.

This ziti dish is just a variation on baked ziti, the Italian-American classic that we’ve enjoyed many times. In that dish, you boil up some ziti (which we know as penne pasta), toss it in a dish with tomato sauce, then add as much mozzarella as you like. It’s pretty easy to make and I always loved it. Baked ziti was a staple of my American childhood, as no buffet would be complete without it.

This recipe takes baked ziti to a new level. While it does have the basic components of the baked ziti we know and love, the new additions, like caraway, cumin and celery, elevate it to a new level. Having three different kinds of cheese (though no mozzarella) make it that much better. Finishing it off under the grill was unexpected, but it worked.

Would I make it again? You bet. For someone who grew up on traditional baked ziti, the addition of caraway and cumin was a surprise, but it was all the better for it.

Highly recommended.

If you would like to make some Grilled Ziti with Feta, click through this link to find the recipe on the Guardian website.

“Grilled Ziti with Feta” from “Plenty More”

“Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chilli” from “Jerusalem”

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Stop the presses. In the 12+ months I’ve had “Jerusalem,” this is the first recipe that elicited the response, “Meh.”

I know! A Meh! From this book, which has been hit-after-hit-after-hit. But not today. Up until now, the dishes I’ve made had evoked universal approval (for the most part). This was not one of those days.

What was the problem? I’m not quite sure. In theory, with feta, peas and yogurt over pasta, it should have been delicious. In practice, it was just a bit bland. Other reviewers of this recipe said they thought it was great, so maybe there was some operator error involved. However, given that it was just a simple pasta dish, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case.

It was all just a bit Meh. The leftovers sat in the refrigerator for days and didn’t tempt anyone.

Will I make it again? Obviously not. Life is too short for “Meh.”

If you want to try this (though reading the above, why would you want to?), the Guardian had the recipe. Click through this paragraph to find it– it’s the second recipe featured in the Ottolenghi column that weekend.

“Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chilli” from “Jerusalem”

“Broad Bean Puree with Feta Relish and Cumin Flatbread” and “Lamb Kebabs with Georgian Adzhika” from “A Change of Appetite”

CBAMLambKebabsMaureen: Let me tell you, this dinner truly was a labour of love.

Tim: What do you mean?

Maureen: Well, first I had to pod the broad beans. Then, after I cooked them, I had to take the skin off. Diana Henry even says, “It’s a bit of a pain at first, but quite soothing when you get into a rhythm.” Respectfully, I disagree. It’s just a pain. I never found it soothing.

Nicholas (10): I like the pita.

Tim: I’m not so sure about the pita. I think we have other recipes for flatbread that were better.

Maureen: I’m with you on that. These are fine, but we’ve made better. The fact that it took yeast and needed a few hours for it to rise was a real minus.

Andrew: The kebabs are good.

Maureen: I agree. They’re nice. I also like the feta relish– that’s delicious. This other stuff [pause to look up the name] the Georgian adzhika is also good.

Tim: Did that take long to make?

Maureen: Nope. That was a quick whizz in the food processor.

Tim: So what do you think?

Maureen: I would make again everything but the pita and the broad beans. The pita is just OK and I lost the will to live making the broad beans.

Tim: Agreed.

“Broad Bean Puree with Feta Relish and Cumin Flatbread” and “Lamb Kebabs with Georgian Adzhika” from “A Change of Appetite”