I have posted recipes from “Moro The Cookbook” by Sam and Sam Clarke before. After Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem”, this is one of my favourite collection of recipes from the Middle East. As the name “Moro” suggests, the recipes in this cookbook are a Spanish-Islamic fusion dating back to the Moors who came from Morocco and ruled the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra, parts of Southern France and Gibraltar) for nearly 700 years.
Given I am a vegetarian, I have probably not used this book to its full capacity but the vegetarian recipes such as Aubergine and red pepper salad with caramelised butter, Carrot and cumin salad with coriander and fatayer that I have tried so far have been spectacular. This recipe is another one of Sam & Sam’s vegetarian gems – the sweet tartness of the orange, the salty-oiliness of the olives and the crispy-gooey-saltiness of the grilled feta are a match made in heaven.
My very first real job was in a small student town in the North Island of New Zealand (NZ) called Palmerston North. The reason it is called Palmerston North is because there is a town called “Palmerston” in the South Island of New Zealand. Full marks for imagination I suppose.
If one wasn’t a student or had a partner/family/pet in this little town, it could get terribly boring. Given I was flush with cash for the first time in my life (not really, but it felt like it), I signed up to as many activities as I could after my work day. Running, swimming, salsa, ceramic painting and so on. Just so happened, 2 other friends of mine, finding themselves in a similar situation as I did, signed up to an “Italian cooking class”. I took cooking classes to be a slight on my ability as a self-made home chef so I shunned them. I could follow recipes well enough on my own!
As fate would have it, one of the two friends couldn’t take the small town politics any more and went back to BIG Auckland (population 1.5 million, largest town in NZ). One of her leaving gifts to me was her place in the cooking class. I smiled and accepted gracefully as that’s all I could do. I went to the first one with great apprehension but to my surprise, I loved it. Our cooking teacher would give us a list of ingredients for the following class. We bought them and then got given recipes for a 3-course meal. We had two hours to cook this 3-course meal and then we’d sit together and have dinner with the teacher. One of the evenings, we even had an olive-oil tasting session. After attending this class, my image of cooking classes changed completely. I’m going to a wine-tasting class soon and will report back.
The friend who remained in Palmerston North was from Germany and was on an exchange programme. So before she went back, she scanned all the recipes from the class and mailed it to not just herself but to me too! I have the entire collection and I printed some of my favourites for my cooking album. The tiramisu recipe earlier on this blog is one of hers. This Caponata recipe is another.
Our teacher told us that Caponata is originally a Sicilian recipe but had spread throughout Italy taking many forms. While it is usually served as a “Contorno” or vegetable side dish, I have always eaten it as a main. It goes with pasta, with pita bread and more recently as I discovered, as a pizza topping.
A colleague of mine who is a keen gardener and has an allotment, turned up to work one day with what he called “mutant zucchini”, offering them to anyone interested. I asked him why they were named so and if one should be eating them given they were mutant. Apparently they just grew really rapidly and doubled in size overnight, thus making them mutant. Convinced that I wasn’t going to be eating anything toxic, I brought home 1 giant yellow and 1 giant green zucchini.
That was the easy bit. The hard part was to figure out what to do with them. Zucchini bread maybe – but I didn’t ave the patience or the time to knead and allow the dough to rise. Zucchini cake – I didn’t think vegetable cakes would go down too well and I would end up with most of the cake in my belly. So I did the usual thing of querying fellow wordpressers for some ideas. Lots of great stuff out there but I settled on this one for proportions http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_breakfast_casserole/. As with most recipes, I added my own things to it and removed things I didn’t feel like using. I served my zucchini bake with a tomato chutney (that I will provide a recipe for) and some rosemary bread (thank you Waitrose!) . Hope you like it.
Zucchni bake with tomato chutney and rosemary bread
Having polished off the Red Capsicum-Tomato dip and walnut bread very quickly, we got to work on the main and dessert. This recipe for summer spaghetti is one I made up as I went. My partner and his mum physically put this together so I won’t take credit for it. My contributions were the the roasting of the vegetables and calling out the ingredients off the top of my head while beating egg whites for dessert. It was a lot of fun working together in the lovely kitchen and the end result was yummy!
While one would typically grate/shave parmesan over spaghetti, we thought we’d use the local cheeses Cabecou and Rocamadour instead.They are little, round, lovely sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Easy to digest and very very tasty – better still, we bought it straight from the “Fermier” or farmer at the local market. You can have it on your sandwich, in an omlette, over pasta or just on its own. I’ll have to go on a hunt for some in England – Maybe Ocado will have it !
I’ll stop my banter now and give you the recipe. Hope you try it and if you like it, do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
I think I have confessed before that I am a slow cook. Cooking relaxes me and is my unwind at the end of the working day and so I take my own sweet time at it. However, we all have those days when we just can’t be bothered and I’m no exception. I still like to pretend I’ve put some effort into my dinner and try and jazz up our dinners even if they are simple. Here I present one such pretence with olive bread and goat’s cheese. They were dinners on 2 consecutive days. Easy and tasty!
Please note: I love avocado (much to my partner’s dismay) and will throw it on everything I can but please don’t feel obliged to.
a. Toasted bread spread with goat’s cheese, topped with mushrooms sautéed with thyme and finished off with fresh tomatoes and avocado b. Toasted bread spread with goat’s cheese, topped with a salad of tomatoes, olives, croutons, avocado, olive oil and lemon juice and served with fresh rocket.