Leek, carrot and potato fritatta

Leek, carrot and potato fritatta with soya topping on a cast iron pan

I had some left over boiled potatoes and carrots from a bollit, and a lot of leeks, so I turned them into a comforting fritatta.

I was feeling quite creative so I decided to add a spicy twist to this by concocting a sort of “spicy soya topping”, using dehydrated soya mince, chilli oil and paprika. After baking in the oven, the texture became crispy and super interesting—nothing to do with the boring soggy soya bits you get just after rehydrating.

It provided a good counterpart to the soft, comforting fritatta flavours. Something to experiment with!

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Cauliflower fritters

Cauliflower fritters, with salad and black tahini sauce

I bought some spices online, and an interesting looking recipe by Susie Morrison (Gourmet Glow) was included in the box. I did not have any better ideas for dinner, so I thought: why not try this?

What a success! We’ve made several times already, and I predict there will be more repeats (if only because we’ve bought more za’atar—all these repeats depleted our stock!)

That said, the original instructions confused me a bit, and they also suggested using some ingredients I did not have at hand, so this is my own interpretation, adjusted to my own way of cooking.

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Pimientos rellenos / bajoques farcides (stuffed peppers)

Stuffing the pepper with the rice mix

I absolutely adore stuffed peppers—if Proust had madeleines, I have stuffed peppers.

It’s smelling them and instantly thinking of sunny Sundays and visiting grandparents; chasing the faint scent of the roasted skins all the way from the ground floor through three flights of stairs, across the long corridor leading to the kitchen, and then finally (finally!) digging into the strongly flavoured rice while sitting on a pile of cushions on a chair that was way too low for me… Yummmm!

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Aubergine shawarma

Aubergine shawarma on pitta bread with black tahini dressing, with a salad of cucumber, tomato, mint and olives

This is my version of a recipe from Honey & Co published in the FT magazine.

It is a bit tedious to make the first couple of times, because there are things you have to do in a sequence and others can be done in parallel (to save time), so it’s a bit hard to visualise it all in your head initially, but once you internalise the instructions (which I’ve also “streamlined” to my liking) it should be fairly fast to get it going.

This is how I see it in my head:

Apart from the flavour itself, what I also really like is that you can cook a big portion of this and keep them in the fridge for easy consumption later. I put them on a box and re-heat a portion on the microwave before serving.

A plate with aubergine shawarma, served with a cucumber and tomato salad and black tahini dressing
A plate with aubergine shawarma, served with a cucumber and tomato salad and black tahini dressing
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Sesame seed bread

Two sesame seed bread loaves cooling down on a rack

Sesame seeds are used mostly as a decorative element in Spanish food, e.g. as topping on burger buns or in “rosquilletas” (a sort of bread-based snack). The dishes with a much stronger presence of sesame seeds were all originating from Andalusia, such as tortas de anís and mantecados—possibly related to the Arab influence, but I’m hypothesising here.

I think I started “sesame seeding” my life after I tried Japanese food for the first time and I wanted to replicate some of the flavours at home. Apparently there was some mysterious ingredient called “sesame seed oil” that provided that extra “something” that my attempts were missing so far (no wonder something was amiss—I was using olive oil to cook Japanese stuff 😅). What a discovery!

Later I progressed to learn how to make hummus at home. It had a mysterious ingredient called tahini…! And once I discovered what it was, I wanted to put it on everything.

Then I started learning about all the sauces and dips you can make that involve tahini: whisk with a bit of water and it turns into a smooth dip. Add some garlic and it becomes nicely punchy. Or you can add lemon and yoghurt and it’s tangy and addictive. So many variations! All of them so tasty!

Of course, I also learned about the Divine Trinity: cumin, nigella and sesame seeds sprinkled on crackers or anything that deserves a good oomph. And there’s also my beloved dukkah, which you might have heard me talk rave about already many times.

But—and this is a big but—neither of these recipes really puts sesame front and center. I wanted to make something that would unashamedly declare its sesameness. Something where “sesame” was in the name of the recipe.

And so I came up with this sesame seed bread!

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