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.
Friday dinner: Chickpeas, squash, bacon, bread
Chickpea and acorn squash stew with bacon and smoked garlic. Lardons and thick-sliced onions fried in the fat coming from the bacon until well-browned; thick slices of smoked garlic added, fried some more; Chinese cooking wine added and reduced; tomato purée added and stirred for a minute. Cooked chickpeas and cubed acorn squash added along with enough vegetable stock to cover; simmered until done.
Served with bread and butter.
Friday dinner: Chickpeas, potatoes, chorizo, olives, bread
Chickpea, chorizo, and potato stew. Sauté chopped onions and chopped cooking chorizo in olive oil until onions are soft; add peeled chopped potatoes, de-stoned black olives, tomato purée, garlic purée, cider, veg stock, paprika; simmer until potatoes are soft; add finely-chopped parsley and celery leaves; simmer 1 more minute; serve with nice bread.
Sunday lunch: Artichokes, bread, carrots, chickpeas, cucumbers, edamame, peppers, rice
Buffet lunch for various friends.
Cucumber, edamame, and kelp salad. Scoop out and discard the seeds from a cucumber; cut the rest of it into chunks. Cook some edamame, take them out of the pods if they didn’t already come that way (I used frozen depodded ones). Mix with a packet of spicy kelp. Season with a little white vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.
Chickpea, artichoke, and pepper salad. Mix cooked chickpeas with quartered artichoke hearts and chopped peppers; dress with olive oil vinaigrette.
Sweet and sour peppers. Slice peppers, fry in olive oil until very soft. Add balsamic vinegar, palm sugar, and a slosh of vegetable stock concentrate; cook down until the liquid becomes a thick glaze.
Vermicelli rice. Made with olive oil instead of butter.
Everything I cooked was vegan, though I did serve some non-vegan things (cheese, taramasalata, chicken wings) on the side. I also served various breads; black Lithuanian bread with cumin, Caribbean mongoose bread, Turkish bread (all these were bought within 5 minutes’ walk of my house).
Saturday dinner: pumpkin, green beans, chickpeas, rice
Pumpkin, green bean, and chickpea curry. Chop and sauté an onion and some garlic; add hot curry paste and tomato purée and cook for a few more minutes; add vegetable stock, tamarind paste, grated jaggery, coconut cream, cooked chickpeas, and peeled, cubed pumpkin; cook for about 20 minutes; add sliced green beans; cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Served with jasmine rice done in the rice cooker.
Tuesday dinner: Black chickpeas, red pepper, okra, plantain, parathas
Black chickpea stew. Black chickpeas, red peppers, okra, onion, garlic, ginger, curry paste, tamarind, jaggery, tomatoes.
Tired tonight, so you don’t get instructions.
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.
Friday dinner: Chickpeas, cauliflower, rice
Chickpea and cauliflower curry. Chop red onion finely, fry in groundnut oil until very soft. Pound ginger and garlic to a paste with a bit of salt in a mortar, add to onion along with shrimp paste and hot curry paste. Cook for a few more minutes, then add tamarind paste, jaggery, canned tomatoes, coconut cream. Stir until mixed well, then add cooked drained chickpeas and cauliflower florets. Add water to nearly cover, then put the lid on and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked and the sauce is thick.
I had it with rice left over from last night, bob had it with parathas.
Sunday dinner: chickpeas, spinach, mushrooms, radishes, cucumber, rice
Tonight’s menu changed dramatically as the number of guests expected waxed and waned. In the end, it was just me!
Spiced mushrooms. With mustard seed, tomato, and fresh coriander.
Radish and cucumber salad. Seasoned with salt and fresh lemon juice.
Basmati rice. Done in the rice cooker.
Wednesday dinner: Seabass, peppers, chickpeas
Chickpea-stuffed peppers. I didn’t have any spinach, so I used some mixed salad leaves that had been in the fridge a bit too long for me to want to eat them raw.
Pan-fried seabass. Fillets, sprinkled with salt and black pepper, then shallow-fried in an attempt to get the skin crispy. This didn’t work. However! I managed to not overcook them, and they were delicious anyway.