Saturday 27 November 2010


I'm still buzzing with ideas for meals to cook from my trip to the Lebanon last week but with a weekend of work ahead I know I'm not going to be able to spend much time in the kitchen.

This spicy egg dish which I cooked for the Guardian Student Cookbook I wrote back in the summer will have to do in the meantime.

Cooking eggs with tomatoes, chillies and sometimes peppers is popular all over North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Basque country but this particular version originated in Tunisia. I love the way the egg whites leach into the sauce marbling it red and white.

Serves 2-4
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium to large onion, peeled and sliced
3 small or 2 medium peppers, quartered, seeded and sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp hot pimenton, paprika or chilli powder
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes - or 400g fresh tomatoes, skinned and 1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chopped coriander (optional)
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
Feta and pitta bread to serve (optional but good)

You’ll also need a large frying pan preferably with a lid or some foil

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the sliced onion and peppers and cook for about 10-15 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or two then add the cumin and pimenton, paprika or chilli powder and coriander, if using and cook a minute more. Tip in the tomatoes, stir and leave over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thick and jammy. Check the seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste. Make four hollows in the surface with a large tablespoon then crack an egg into each hollow (or crack it in a saucer then slide it into the sauce). Cover the pan with a lid or a large piece of foil and carry on cooking until the whites are lightly set but the yolks are still runny. Serve with warm pitta bread with some extra coriander sprinkled over the top. Some crumbled feta is also really nice with it.

Do you make baked egg dishes like this? If so what's your favourite?

Monday 22 November 2010

Parsnip, potato and truffle gratin

OK, before you point out that truffles are hardly frugal, I know. If you had to buy them that is. But we were given a huge one by a (Somerset) farmer who had so many on his estate he didn't know what to do with them.

Unfortunately it started to stink out the fridge so swift action was called for. We had pasta last night with an outrageous amount of truffles and tonight a parsnip, potato and truffle gratin I invented on the spur of the moment and which was actually rather good. (So good that we'd scoffed most of it before I got round to taking a photo.)

Serves 4 as a veggie (it would go well with lamb), 2-3 as a vegetarian main course (we had it with cumin-braised carrots and red kale with garlic and chilli.

2-3 large parsnips
1 medium to large potato
1 small onion
Generous shavings of black or white truffle or a drizzle of truffle oil (but don't overdo it. It's probably safer to mix a few drops into some sunflower or vegetable oil until you get the intensity of flavour you want.)
600ml light vegetable stock
Butter for greasing the dish and dotting over the gratin
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6

Scrub, peel and halve the parsnips, cutting away the woody central core. Slice on a mandolin or finely with a very sharp knife. Peel and slice the potato, onion and truffle to a similar thickness. Lightly butter a largeish baking dish, tip in the vegetables and truffles (or truffle-infused oil) season and mix, then pour over the stock and dot with butter. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the top crisp and brown. Serve as a side dish with lamb, for example, or as a main with a couple of other veg.

Personally I'd have been tempted to add some cream to this somewhere along the line but my husband is dairy-intolerant :(

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Peppered mackerel and potato salad with mustard dressing

My husband seems to have taken over in the kitchen recently which isn't too good for this blog so I'm having to raid the back catalogue for recipes. This is another that went into the giveaway Guardian student book I wrote for them a couple of months ago. I'm not mad about smoked mackerel but it's fantastically good value and works brilliantly in this chunky potato salad

Serves 3-4
45 mins including cooling time

450-500g new potatoes
1/2 a small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 level tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
6 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil
200g peppered smoked mackerel
A handful of chopped parsley or some snipped chives (optional but adds a bit of colour)
Salt and pepper

Wash and scrub the potatoes clean leaving on the skins. Cook in boiling salted water until just tender (about 12-15 minutes) then drain and leave until cool enough to handle (another 10 minutes or so). Meanwhile whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a bowl and season with salt and pepper then gradually whisk in the oil plus a tablespoon of water if it seems a bit thick. Slice the potatoes roughly into the dressing and leave for another 15 minutes if you’ve time for the flavours to absorb. Pull the mackerel off the skin and break up with a fork into largeish pieces, removing any bones and lightly mix with the potatoes and parsley. Serve straight away (potato salads are never as good if they’re chilled)

IMO you can never have too many potato salad recipes. What's your favourite?

Tuesday 2 November 2010


The bargain of the week has to be lambs liver in Tesco which is currently selling at £1 a pack. I'd been vaguely thinking in terms of cooking it with mash and onion gravy but my husband offered to make one of his specialities, a Portuguese dish called Iscas.

I can never pin him down to quantities but basically it involves coating the liver with flour flavoured with dried rosemary and sage, frying it lightly then deglazing the pan with port (no, not particularly frugal unless you have some, which we do), vinegar and squeezing in a good dollop of tomato paste. Oh, and 2 or 3 sliced up cloves of garlic are cooked in the oil first. We usually have it with spinach or broccoli then feel very virtuous and smug about the amount of iron we've taken on. Conveniently forgetting the port which will probably give us gout.

There are other rather more precise versions online of which this one from Cookipedia looks about the best.

Do you eat liver and if so, what's your favourite way of cooking it?