Tuesday dinner: mezze
Chickpea and chorizo stew. Cook diced chorizo in a little olive oil, slowly, so it releases its own fat. Add diced onion, carrot, celery, and fennel along with thickly-sliced garlic; sauté gently until soft. Add tomato purée and cook a couple of minutes longer; add a splosh of white wine and cook off. Pour in some vegetable stock along with a generous quantity of paprika. Add cooked chickpeas and chopped red pepper; bring to the boil and simmer until it tastes good.
Baba ganoush. Cook whole aubergines on a griddle pan until the skins are blackened and the inside are softened. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard the skins. Purée the interiors with tahini, squeezy garlic, and depipped preserved lemons. (Normally one would use lemon juice, but I had no lemons.)
Griddled courgettes. Slice courgettes thickly lengthwise. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook on a griddle pan, turning once, until softened but still with some bite.
Quinoa salad. Mix cooked quinoa with finely-chopped spring onion and lots of freshly-squeezed lime juice.
Served with: Turkish sesame flatbread, olive paste, chilli paste, beetroot and horseradish purée, black olives, and mixed salad, all bought on London Road.
Thursday dinner: Bread, sweet potatoes, aubergines, eggs, milk, cheese
Savoury bread pudding with sweet potatoes and aubergines. Tear up some slices of bread and mix them with previously-roasted cubes of sweet potato and aubergine (leftovers from a couple of nights ago). Add grated cheddar and parmesan cheese (leave out the parmesan if you’re feeding vegetarians), season with salt and black pepper, then pour over a custard made by whisking eggs with milk (I used soya milk) and cream cheese (or cream, or plain yoghurt). Mix well, and add more milk if necessary to make it quite moist. Leave for 30 minutes to let the bread absorb the liquid, then pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 4 for 40–60 minutes.
Serve on its own or with salad, green veg, etc.
Friday dinner: Fish, peppers, aubergine, rice
Salmon and pepper stew. Chopped onion and sliced garlic, softened in olive oil; red peppers, chopped; canned chopped tomatoes; capers and green olives; balsamic vinegar and honey; cubed salmon fillet; fried chopped aubergine.
Served with vermicelli rice.
Saturday dinner: Squid, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, cornmeal
Squid and tomato stew. Tomato sauce made with sautéed onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes, red wine, sugar to balance the sourness of the wine and tomatoes, little bit of African fish sauce to add spiciness, bit of soy sauce to add umami. Simmered some chopped aubergines and peppers in this, adding frozen squid rings a few minutes before they were done.
Served with plain polenta.
Sunday lunch: Puy lentils, courgettes, aubergines, leeks, rice, vermicelli
Puy lentil stew. Finely-chopped onions, cubed aubergines and courgettes, tinned tomatoes, veg stock, squeezy garlic, puy lentils, bit of sugar and salt.
Sweet and sour leeks. Sliced leeks wilted in olive oil then braised with balsamic vinegar, jaggery, veg stock, and a pinch of salt. Made up while staring at the fridge contents an hour before lunch guests were due, turned out even better than I’d hoped.
Vermicelli rice. Done in the rice cooker, with the vermicelli cooked separately in olive oil in a frying pan and added to the rice cooker along with the normal amount of rice and water. Stirred well before serving.
Wednesday dinner: Mackerel, courgettes, aubergines, giant couscous
Shallow-fried mackerel. Skin-on.
Courgette and aubergine stew. Made with the end of a jar of pasta sauce, a bit of dairy-free pesto, and a few spoonfuls of home-made tomato and chilli dipping sauce.
Giant couscous. Cooked in vegetable stock.
Sunday dinner: Aubergines, tofu, pork mince, rice
A buffet lunch for some friends, to serve as both lunch and dinner. Some was home-made, the rest was bought from TFC.
- Aubergine with preserved lemons. Sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil; add a bit of tomato purée and some finely-chopped aubergine; cook for about 10 minutes; add chopped preserved lemons and a splash of vegetable stock; reduce heat, cover, and cook until aubergine is soft.
- Okra stew with pomegranate molasses. Sauté chopped onion in olive oil; add a can of chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of squeezy garlic, and a splash of vegetable stock concentrate (I use Touch of Taste); simmer for a bit; add sliced okra and a splash of pomegranate molasses; cover and simmer until okra is very soft and the sauce had reduced.
- Black bean and chickpea salad. Black beans cooked from dried, chickpeas from a can. Mixed with vinaigrette, chopped red peppers, and finely-chopped parsley.
- Vermicelli rice. Done in the rice cooker, with the vermicelli cooked separately in olive oil in a frying pan and added to the rice cooker along with the normal amount of rice and water. Stirred well before serving.
- Borek (spinach/cheese pastries) and vegetable samosas. Bought frozen, cooked in the oven.
- Muhamarra. A spicy dip made from chopped nuts, bought ready-made.
- Hummous. Again bought ready-made.
- Mixed olives.
- Turkish bread. We bought flatbreads and the puffier style of bread; the flatbreads got entirely ignored.
Monday dinner: Aubergines, tofu, pork mince, rice
Mapo tofu. Made with pork mince and no thickener in the sauce. Lots of Sichuan pepper ground over the top at the end.
Served with jasmine rice done in the rice cooker.
Sunday lunch: mushrooms, aubergines, mackerel, rice, potatoes, oranges, almonds
Gluten-free, dairy-free lunch for several friends. All vegetarian aside from the mackerel, all vegan aside from the mackerel and the cake.