Moroccan M’hanncha, Spiced Vegetables in a Pastry Casing

This looks a lot more complicated than it actually is.

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If there is ever a dish that I have struggled to photograph: it is this one right here. From the disasters I had rolling up pastry to the dilemma of how to make a blob of pastry look pretty: I’ve been through it all. The traditional m’hanncha spirals several times like a snake as you can see from the cookbook image, whilst mine looks more like a curled up sloth. However, I can assure you that for what my version of this dish lacks in aesthetics, it has in flavour.

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During my second attempt at this much beloved dish I miscalculated the amount of pastry I would need and let’s just say that the results left much more to be desired (see embarrassing photo below). Granted, the original recipe from Jamie Oliver had called for filo  pastry instead of puff pastry, I was clearly destined for failure. Nevertheless, this story is one of perseverance and you can tell from the other (less embarrassing) photos that I eventually prevailed.

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The combination of sweet dates and spicy veg works wonders and makes for an epic journey for your tastebuds. Everything is wrapped up in a crispy, flaky pastry crust and that just sends it right over the edge!

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Moroccan M’hanncha                                                                    Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ½ cups of wild rice (can substitute quinoa, barley or brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dates, soaked and deseeded
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (can substitute dried apricots)
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (optional)

Method:

  1. Start by cooking the wild rice according to the packet instructions. In this case, 1 and ½ cups of wild rice translates to 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Allow to steam for 10 minutes before using.
  2. Whilst the rice is cooking, add the olive oil, chilli flakes, cumin seeds and coriander to a large frying pan on medium-low heat and cook for 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant. Throw in the butternut, onions, garlic and red peppers and stir to coat in the spices. Cook the vegetables with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the butternut is fork tender. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the dates finely add them to the vegetable pan with the cranberries and wild rice. Squeeze the lemon over the veg mix and stir to combine. Make sure to really mix everything together.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Dust a worktop with flour, you don’t want your pastry to be sticking to the counter! Roll out your puff pastry into a large rectangle that’s about 70cm × 30cm. Spread your filling in an even layer over the top of the pastry, leaving a ½ inch border. I recommend wetting your hands for the next part because we’re about to rolllllllll this up!
  5. Be careful with this part, as you’ve seen this can end in disaster. Carefully roll up the pastry into a long roll, being careful not to tear the pastry. As we are using puff pastry as opposed to the traditional filo roll, this is going to be a lot bulkier than the traditional m’hanncha. Curl the ends of the roll towards each other, if you can, try to get it to spiral like a snake. Th first time I made this, I was able to get 2 curls but the last time attempts haven’t been as successful…..
  6. Bake the pastry in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Slice and serve with the vegetable broth if desired, enjoy!
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Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma with Spinach Hummus

A flavour party in your mouth.

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Hello and welcome to the first recipe of 2018! Having survived my first year of college without a kitchen, I felt like I needed to take baby steps in the kitchen. You’d be surprised by how unsteady your hands can be when you haven’t handled a knife in ages.

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So here we are: right back at the basics. There’s nothing complicated here: just chopping some vegetables, making a marinade and handling a blender, surely I could get that right? If you want to go a step further, then you can make your own naan bread (which is precisely what I did) using this recipe.

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Quick rundown: you’ve got your brown sugar carrots, your curry roasted cauliflower and the creamy spinach hummus that ties it all together. This is a really weekday lunch idea, if you want you can roast some extra broccoli and have different variations of vegetables throughout the week! I can also see this as a post-workout meal, you’ve got to load up on all those healthy vegetables!

Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma

Ingredients:

For the shawarma:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • 250g cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • 4 pieces of naan bread or 4 pita pockets

For the spinach hummus: 

  • 1×400g can of tinned chickpeas
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, torn

Method:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. In a small bowl, toss together the olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon. Chop the carrots into sticks that are about an inch long. Toss the carrots and brown sugar mixture together, ensuring that the carrots are completely coated in the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, throw together the vegetable oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper and stir to combine. Toss the cauliflower with this curry mixture and make sure that the cauliflower is completely coated in the mixture.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lay the brown sugar carrots, curry cauliflower and sliced red onions in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Place the lemon halves on opposite ends of the sheetpan. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and top with a crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Whilst the veg are in the oven, combine all the ingredients for the spinach hummus in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes. The texture should be smooth but slightly runny, closer to ricotta cheese.
  5. To assemble, spread the spinach hummus on the naan/pita and top with an assortment of the roasted vegetables. Squeeze some of the roasted lemon over the shawarma. Enjoy!

 

 

Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Ciabbata Sandwich

Well that recipe title is a mouthful, but not as delicious as the mouthfuls of hot cheese sandwiched between some incredible toppings.


To the person who decided to marinate cheese- THANK YOU. I first came across the concept on The Kitchn and stopped in my tracks to try it. The only cheese I had in the fridge at the time was halloumi, and you can see for yourself how much I’ve enjoyed using halloumi. I marinated it in a tandoor paste to make these killer skewers a couple of months ago- seriously so good!


Whilst in Europe, I fell in love with sandwiches. I know, so terribly common of me. There was one particular sandwich that sealed the deal and it was this caprese sandwich. Made by an Australian man in Interlaken, Switzerland, I had this sandwich alongside a blood orange cocktail; incredibly incongruous but in that moment, I didn’t feel lonely. At that point, I had been without family for 3 weeks and I was feeling that ache in my chest commonly known as homesickness.


There’s a reason why a large portion of Zimbabweans choose to migrate to Australia. Their culture is very similar to ours, our weather patterns are almost identical and our accents are indistinguishable to the average European/American. Seriously, I have been asked way too many times if I’m from Australia or New Zealand. For this one plucky restaurant owner, his friendliness and sage in helping me choose a meal I’ll never forget uplifted my spirits after a long day of hiking.


Upon my return to Zimbabwe, I spent my time in the kitchen trying to recreate the magical sandwich. To some extent, my circumstances created some of the magic around the sandwich; I had been travelling alone for a week and I hadn’t had anything to eat that day since descending the mountain. The prospect of a new friend and a killer cocktail made me enjoy the meal so much more. Cheers to familiar faces in strange places!

Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Ciabbata Grilled Sandwich

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 250 g mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup spinach pesto, homemade or storebought
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally then cut into sections.
  • Optional for serving: balsamic reduction, just boil 1 cup of balsamic vinegar until thick and reduced by half.

Method

  1. Combine the olive oil, garlic cloves, honey, lemon zest, black pepper and chilli flakes in a large airtight glass jar. Seal tightly and shake the jar to combine everything. Normally I would microwave the jar for 30 seconds to infuse the olive oil with the spices but this isn’t necessary.
  2. Throw the mozzarella and tomatoes into the olive oil mixture, seal the jar and shake to soak the tomatoes and cheese in the oil. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour but for best results, leave overnight. Meanwhile, make the balsamic reduction if using.
  3. Heat your grill/broiler. Spread both halves of the ciabatta bread with the spinach pesto. Layer one half of the sandwiches with the tomatoes followed by the marinated cheese. Add both halves of the sandwiches to a baking tray, with the empty half pesto-side up.
  4. Grill the sandwich until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. If desired, you can leave it until the cheese is starting to turn golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Serve hot whilst the cheese is still gooey with the balsamic reduction!

Herby Halloumi Heirloom Tomato Bake

That alliteration in the recipe title actually gave me goosebumps.


My mum’s been at it again folks, we have ripe tomatoes in our garden! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, firstly hop to it my username is @lifeisohsodandy! Secondly, you wouldn’t know about our chickens. Yes, we have chickens. You may have seen the first hen who was a gift to my mother from a friend in this post, her name is Butters. We thought that Butters was lonely, so we arranged for a rooster to keep her company and his name is Rodney. Don’t they make a sporting pair?


Whilst they are fascinating creatures to observe, they are wreaking havoc in the vegetable garden. Our gardener has recently locked the gate to the vegetable garden to stop them from getting in. In their hunt for earthworms and various insects, our beloved chickens have been digging up dirt en masse and uprooting the vegetables- not good.


Aside from the mischievous chickens, my mother has been successful in her tomato growing venture. We have beautiful heirloom tomatoes! I did what I do best- turned them into a delicious dish, of course. This makes a wholesome appetiser, best served with garlic bread or just plain toast as I’ve done. Throw in some olives and hummus and you could turn this into a winning platter!

Herby Halloumi Heirloom Tomato Bake

Ingredients

For the tomato bake:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 100g halloumi, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 4-6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 medium potato, unpeeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp castor sugar (optional- most of the time I find this unnecessary but if you think that the sauce is too bitter then throw in the sugar)

For the crusty bread: 

  • 3 slices white bread (sourdough also works really well)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • some salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, oregano, basil and thyme. Add the halloumi and toss to coat in the herb mixture. Set aside and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Reserve 2 of your tomatoes for the top of the dish. Dice the remaining tomatoes into small pieces. Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and fry the onion on high heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot and mixed herbs to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the carrots are soft and the garlic is fragrant, about another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste (if using) and water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil  before adding the sweet potatoes and reducing the heat to low. Simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sweet potatoes are soft, between 15 and 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes you had reserved earlier into thin slices. Heat up your grill/broiler and adjust your oven rack to the top shelf. Once the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, remove the saucepan from heat. Taste and season with salt ad pepper if needed; if the sauce is too bitter then add the castor sugar. Layer the top with the sliced tomatoes and top with the marinated halloumi. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown, serve hot with crusty bread!

For the crusty bread: 

Slice the bread in half diagonally and lay on a rimless baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 5-7 minutes or until golden and crusty.

Crispy Curry Vegan Potato Pancakes

Because savoury pancakes beat sweet pancakes any day.


As much as I will always be a sweet tooth at heart, coriander beats chocolate in my book. Whilst we’re on the topic, what do you think about chilli infused chocolate? Is it the best of both worlds or an utter hit and miss?


This is a ridiculously easy snack recipe. It’s a variation of potato croquettes but with an Indian twist with the addition of the curry spices. If you’re shy of spicy food then feel free to either reduce the cayenne pepper added or serve with a dollop of yogurt on top! As much as I detest tomato sauce in every other context, I have to confess that it does compliment this particular dish.

Spicy Vegan Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled
  • ¼ cup soy milk or any other plant based milk
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup plain flour

Method

  1. Fill a large saucepan with boiling salted water. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Pour the soy milk into the saucepan with the cool potatoes and mash until smooth.
  2. Add the mashed potatoes to a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until combined. Shape into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan and allow to heat until almost smoking. Fry the patties until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with tomato sauce, fresh parsley and fresh mint. Enjoy!

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

I honestly cannot understand people who hate broccoli.


Now hold on- give the poor vegetable a chance! Broccoli has been unfairly lumped with the most hated vegetables, amongst brussel sprouts, cauliflower and beetroot. All of these vegetables have redeemable qualities; except you beetroot, you’re absolutely hopeless.


I find that the reason why people hate these vegetables is often not because of the way the vegetable tastes but the way that it is prepared. Broccoli is often steamed until it becomes a mushy lump of green slime. I’m here to show you that broccoli doesn’t need to be steamed into submission, it can be thrown into a curry just before serving, left to soften and absorb the flavours of the curry and come out tasting fantastico! Don’t believe me, just give this recipe a try.

 

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 200g chopped broccoli florets
  • 200g chopped green beans
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional for serving: chopped peanuts, fresh parsley, naan bread, jasmine rice, squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the cinnamon stick. Fry the onions on high until starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the curry paste and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is starting to caramelise; you’ll be able to tell by the browning of the tomato paste on the edges and the smell of the curry. Slowly pour in the coconut milk, stirring whilst you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the curry is too spicy then add more coconut milk.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil before adding the lentils and reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked- they should be soft but not firm to the bite. Throw in the broccoli and green beans and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. If you find that the curry is too thick for the broccoli then add ½ cup of water to loosen it up.
  4. Just before serving, stir the garam masala and lemon juice through the curry and season one last time with salt and pepper. Serve hot with some warm naan and jasmine rice- enjoy!

Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

In case you were wondering what I brought back from Switzerland, it was a bunch of cheese.


Seriously, there’s a pound of Gruyère in my fridge. As I type this post, I have to restrict myself from running to the kitchen to sneak a bite. Naturally, I would want to dump it all on top of my pasta and drown in the calorific goodness. That’s what this recipe is all about, it’s a comfy one pot winter meal. I chose to transfer my pasta into a baking dish just to make it easier to transfer to a friend’s house. You could make this all in one pot and save yourself the washing up!


If you’re looking to try out more pasta dishes, check out the Pasta category on the blog. A few of my favorites include this INSANE pasta sauce, this One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake and this Butternut Squash and Kale Ravioli




Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 300g uncooked tortellini (I used spinach + ricotta but you can use any of your choice)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and if using a baking dish, grease lightly with some butter. Alternatively, you can bake the tortellini directly in the skillet, thus making it a one pot meal.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron pot and fry the onions on high heat until translucent. Add the basil, rosemary, basil and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the onions in the dried herbs. Throw in the minced garlic and toss with a wooden spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Throw in the tortellini and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted, remove from heat. If using a baking dish, transfer the tortellini and sauce to the baking dish. Top with the grated mozzarella and grated Gruyère.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling adn the cheese is a deep golden brown. Serve hot! If desired, top with some fresh basil and grated Parmesan. Throw in some crusty bread and white wine and you’ve got a winning dinner!