Easy Shakshuka (Spiced North African Tomato and Eggs)

shakshukaI was almost going to call this A Nearly Store Cupboard Shakshuka, but I realised that might be a tad presumptuous. I have had plenty of times in my life when the cupboards contained barely a tin of soup, let alone the fixings for a whole meal, so I can’t assume that the likes of marinated artichoke hearts are going to be sitting idle in your pantry. Tinned tomatoes, I hope, but perhaps not the ‘chokes or the roasted peppers. The point is that these aren’t fresh, and you don’t have to do anything but chop them and thrown them in the sauce. And they are optional anyway. So it’s just plain old Easy Shakshuka. I digress… Continue reading

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Warmly Spiced Peanut, Sweet Potato and Black Eye Pea Stew (Groundnut Stew)

groundnut stew
Growing up in the Deep South, peanuts and peanutty foods were part of my scenery, rather like chips are here in Scotland, or good bread is in France. At its most basic is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich: always on white bread and usually with wobbly Concord grape jelly oozing out of the sides. This sandwich is an everyman food that literally everyone, whether rich or poor, black or white, Democrat or Republican, is happy to eat. A good honest sandwich. Real sweet-tooths might sub the jelly for marshmallow Fluff (the Fluffernutter), but neither is anything without a solid slather of peanut butter. Continue reading

Tunisian Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

tunisian-style chickpea and vegetable couscousVegetarian and vegan food can sometimes get a bad rap for being boring and bland. Bean-filled this, wholemeal encrusted that, a few dried mixed herbs and hey presto, a filling meal. Are most vegetarians really eating like this? I don’t think so. At least I hope not.

Admittedly, if I peruse some of the vegetarian cookery books from the 70s and 80s even I, an ardent exponent of plant-based cuisine, will go ‘bleuch.’ Maybe our tastes have changed, but nut cutlets, lentil loaf and black-eyed pea rissoles don’t really do it for me. Then or now. Continue reading

Greenslove: Greens and Squash Gnocchi with Chili and Roquefort

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day in the UK – or Mothering Sunday, if you prefer not to pander to the Hallmark hijacking of celebrations. Although Andrew and Rachel were away on the train to Newcastle for the football – with my blessing I should add – I managed to have a special day with Andrew’s mum Ann, and great-aunt Trudy. We had thought we would splash out on a slap-up restaurant lunch, or indulge in a fancy afternoon tea at one of the hotels, but I just couldn’t bring myself to book a table. Although I like being waited on hand and foot as much as anyone else, what I wanted – and what I knew Ann wanted too –  was to chill out with some nice food, a bottle of something bubbly and just relax. For us going out to a restaurant  is a treat and not a weekly occurrence, but sometimes you just want to take your time, not worry about getting crumbs on your face and, for us, watch the hens take sun baths in the hard-baked ground. Simple pleasures.  Continue reading

Hoppin’ John for New Year’s Day Luck Southern-style

“Eat poor on New Year’s, and eat fat the rest of the year” Anonymous Southern saying.

New Year’s Day, rather than raucous New Year’s Eve, is a watershed time for many of us. A time to reflect on the year just gone – the disasters, the triumphs, the just-skating-by moments. And a time to plan and dream about the year that shimmers mirage-like, within touching distance, before us. That dream holiday to the Far East, a six-figure book deal, finding ‘the one’, keeping ourselves and family clothed, fed and healthy for another year – whatever dreams and goals that keep you going. The New Year is a clean-slate, big old do-over, the calendar equivalent of moving to a new school, or upping sticks to a new country.  It’s our chance to do things differently, to not carry on bumping along on the same grooved and worn path. Or, to carry on towards established goals, but with renewed vigour and lust for life.

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Beef and Winter Vegetable Casserole with Orange and Star Anise

This past week has been an especially food-centric one. Not one in which I cooked a heck of a lot, but we certainly ate well. You see, my younger sis was in town. Not that a visit from her would stop me from cooking – far from it – but as her visit was fleeting, we made the most of her time in my anything-but-boring adopted city. We were out every day, and I enjoyed seeing her appreciation of the beauty and excitement that is Edinburgh at this time of year. From the brightly painted storefronts in individual, boutiquey Stockbridge (Galeries Mirage is my favourite shop) to the grand Georgian splendour of George Street (the Dome is looking particularly stunning), we covered a fair bit on her short visit. Courtesy of Mr A, we even had afternoon tea and a massage – at the posh yet faintly spooky Hotel du Vin and award-winning Zen Lifestyle, respectively. Although the weather was rather chilly and windy, instead of complaining she just wore all of my warm clothes. At once. I even temporarily convinced her that my ‘Russian’ fake fur hat was fashionable. {Julie, I have deleted the photos. Promise} Continue reading