Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Halva Biscuits – Flavours of the Middle East

Halva Biscuits

These halva biscuits, adapted from a recipe for Sesame Crisps in Bake it Better Biscuits by Annie Rigg, really do taste like halva, only not as tooth achingly sweet.

(more…)

Aubergine Dip, The Cranks Bible and a Giveaway #70

Aubergine Dip

The Cranks Bible: a timeless collection of vegetarian recipes by Nadine Abensur is one of my treasured cookery books. I bought it when it was first published in 2001 and have taken inspiration from it ever since. Despite its frequent use as a bed time read, there are many recipes I’ve barely looked at. The one for aubergine purΓ©e with cumin pitot is one such, or in my more prosaic terminology, aubergine dip.

(more…)

Cypriot Vegetable Stew – otherwise known as Turlu

Cypriot Vegetable Stew

Following on from the gorgeous olive garlic halloumi spelt bread I made a couple of weeks ago, I now bring you my version of another Cypriot recipe, Turlu. It’s a kind of vegetable stew from the Turkish side of Cyprus. It’s very tasty and the aforementioned bread makes a perfect accompaniment.

(more…)

Olive Garlic Halloumi Spelt Bread – Eliopsomi

Olive Bread

Although I’m someone who loves experimenting with recipes, I tend to stick to the tried and tested when it comes to bread. However, when the travel company Expedia challenged me to make a Cypriot dish for World on a Plate, olive bread was the first thing I thought of.

(more…)

Jewelled Persian Rice

Jewelled Rice

Once upon a time, long long ago, I had an Iranian boyfriend. He introduced me to a whole new cuisine, which, although similar to the Middle Eastern one I was more familiar with, was distinct and flavoursome. It was rare that he did any cooking, but when he did he always made the most delicious rice in the classic Persian way, complete with tahdig.

(more…)

Basbousa (Egyptian Semolina Cake) and Long Live Lebara.

Basbousa

In my youth, when it was rare to know anyone who had travelled abroad, I was a lot more adventurous than I am now. At just eighteen I set off to work in a Swiss hotel in order to learn French, something I hadn’t managed to pick up at school. At various times I hitchhiked from home to France, to Spain and to Switzerland and when I had only just turned seventeen I went to stay with relatives of relatives in Egypt for a month.

(more…)

Fasulye with Dukkah Roasted Tofu

Fasulye

Street food in the UK, I’m very glad to say, is on the up and up. Hot dogs and burgers made with cheap and often unhealthy ingredients are making way for fresher and more vibrant fare. With this in mind Cauldron Foods are challenging bloggers to create a street food recipe using one of their vegetarian products. Cauldron Cumberland sausages have long been a favourite of mine, but I am less familiar with their tofu. Sausages, I thought would be too easy, so I opted for the tofu.

(more…)

Caramelised Onion and Cocoa Yogurt Dip

Yogurt Dip

It’s not only National Vegetarian Week, but it’s National Yogurt Week too. Being both vegetarian and passionate about yogurt, I couldn’t let this go without a post. Nayna over at simply food recently mentioned making a caramelised onion and yogurt dip at an event. I was immediately struck by this excellent idea and thought I’d try and create my own version – with a chocolate twist, of course.

(more…)

Honey & Walnut Yogurt Semolina Cake

Yogurt Semolina Cake

Before Christmas, I was sent vouchers to buy some Greek Gods yogurt to try. However, it was a few weeks before I was able to get to a store that sells them, which was no bad thing given the amount of Christmas baking I ended up doing. Greek Gods yogurt is all about the honey. There is something about thick creamy yogurt and honey which speaks to me of the Middle East. It is a thick Greek style yogurt and is quite delicious as a dessert in its own right. There is no mistaking the honey flavour which comes through quite strongly; I find it very pleasant. The yogurt is a little too sweet for me to eat on my morning muesli; I prefer plain yogurt best for this purpose. On reading the ingredients I noticed there is added sugar as well as honey. Does it really need both? Served with fruit or with puddings instead of cream, however, it would work splendidly. The texture is quite firm, almost solid but smooth and creamy too. It reminded me of the yogurts I used to eat in Switzerland, which were quite different to those then found in the UK.

The Greek Gods range is available at Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and retails at Β£1.99 for a 450g pot and 99p for a 175g one.

I chose a 450g pot of their honey yogurt, a 175g pot of honey and vanilla and a 175g pot of honey and walnut.  Any of these yogurts, including the honey and clementine which I didn’t buy, would work well I thought in a yogurt semolina cake recipe. However, it was the honey and walnut version that particularly grabbed my attention and it whispered seductively: basbousa.

When I lived in Egypt many years ago, one of my favourite sweet treats was basbousa – a syrupy cake made with semolina and honey. In the sweet shop I particularly favoured, it was served with something that was suspiciously like clotted cream. My Arabic was never good enough to find out exactly what it was, but that’s my bet and I do know something about clotted cream. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to recreate the wonder that was basbousa, but I’ve never managed it. This could of course be false memory syndrome and nostalgia getting in the way. Whatever the reason, I now have a particular fondness for yogurt semolina cakes. I made one recently as part of a 60th birthday celebration and it proved to be popular.

Basbousa

Traditionally, basbousa is made without eggs and is quite a dense cake. I thought I’d try making a lighter textured version, so included eggs and a little flour.  I decided to use white chocolate, which I’ve found works really well in cakes. I reduced the amount of butter and sugar needed accordingly. Nuts are generally used for decoration and are not included in the actual bake, but inspired by the Greek Gods honey and walnut yogurt, I thought walnuts would marry well with the flavours of honey, lemon and rose.

And I was right. the walnut yogurt worked brilliantly in this cake. The result was a substantial yet light cake which was moist with a slightly chewy texture. Not surprisingly  it tasted of honey and walnuts. Any self respecting Greek god would be delighted to tuck into this on Mount Olympus. We had to make do with Bodmin Moor, but there are compensations; we ate ours with clotted cream. Proper Job.

This is my Y for Yogurt Cake entry to Alpha Bakes which is hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes.

I was sent some vouchers to buy Greek Gods yogurt. There was no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.

This is my tribute to basbousa.

print recipe

Basbousa

Honey and Walnut Yogurt Semolina Cake

by Choclette January-19-2014
A dense but delicious nutty cake made with semolina and yogurt which is then soaked in a sweet citrus and rose honey syrup. It is very simple to make.
 
Ingredients
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 200g semolina
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g Greek yogurt (walnut & honey flavour)
  • 120g 120g caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • juice and grated rind lemon
  • 1 tbsp rose water
 
Instructions
1. Melt the butter and white chocolate in a pan over low heat.2. Grind the walnuts roughly (I used a coffee grinder).3. Sift the semolina, flour and bicarb into a bowl then stir in the walnuts.4. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Stir from the centre a little. Add the yogurt and stir a little further towards the edges. Add the butter and stir until all incorporated.5. Grate in the lemon zest and stir once more.6. Turn into a greased or lined 8″ sq, cake pan and bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.7. Meanwhile dissolve the sugar in the water in a pan over a low heat. Then add the honey and lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes when the syrup should have thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat and add the rosewater.8. Pour slowly over the hot cake making sure all is covered. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but the cake will absorb it all. Leave until cold, then turn out of the tin and cut into squares or diamonds.
 
Details

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 slices

Chocolate Falafel

These falafel were the inspiration that kick-started me into planning a six course chocolate themed Middle Eastern menu for a dinner party last week. I saw a recipe for falafel salad in the summer edition of the Co-operative’s Share magazine and it immediately appealed to me. I decided to separate the falafel from the salad and add raw chocolate and almond spread. The falafel recipe I have from the Vegetarian Cookery School used tahini, so I couldn’t see why a nut butter wouldn’t work instead of a seed one. I mixed and matched between the two recipes and came up with a version I am really happy with.

(more…)