Friday, 26 September 2014

Moroccan Table: Lablabi Soup, Marrakesh Tajine with Rocket & Roses Cous Cous Fava Beans (vegan)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Beth Hart ~ I'll Take Care Of You
Shakira ~ Loca
Slash/Joey Ramone ~ New York City
Soul Asylum ~ Somebody To Shove
Pearl Jam ~ The Fixer
Jack Savoretti ~ Knock Knock
The Eagles ~ Wasted Time
Creed ~ Beautiful
Skin ~ Nightsong
Hunter Valentine ~ Liar Liar
Royal Blood ~ Come On Over
Norah Jones ~ Seven Years
The Cars ~ Drive
Chopin: Prelude #15 in D Flat op 28/15 "Raindrops"

My Moroccan Table

I am finally getting my mojo back folks. Let me tell you that it is such a great relief to me. I'm not back in the kitchen every day just yet but I am creating a lot of future recipes and managing lots of 'plotting'. That being said...I did manage to throw together a small dinner party for a few friends last week. I was inspired to create a Moroccan feast and found three recipes inside the covers of World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible Cookbook that I reviewed earlier this year.

I am a sucker for a chickpea soup and so the Lablabi Soup was a The tajine was chosen because of its suggestion of vegetables but I had to make two changes. One of my dinner guests doesn't like dried raisins and I am not a fan of dried apricots so I had to omit them. I did add some pomegranate molasses to give that sweet fruit hit and I think it worked really well. The recipes suggested serving harissa with each dish and so I made a batch of the Tunisian Harissa. Holy hotness folks. The tip end of a teaspoon blew our heads a smidge goes a very long way. So please be warned!! 

I wanted a grain dish to serve with the WFCVB recipes and I had a bag of Giant Cous Cous in my stocks. As I am 99% gluten-free now I hadn't even cracked open the bag but I was really craving a good cous cous side. I also had a tin of fava beans and decided to add them to the cous cous as it cooked. I then made a simple dressing using extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper and whisked them until emulsified. Once the cous cous was cooked I added the dressing and replaced the lid to keep in the heat as the flavours combined. I served the tajine, cous cous and harissa with a large salad of baby leaves, cucumber (and blimey did we need those refreshing slices after the harissa!!!), yellow and orange pepper. 

Each course was an explosion of tastes and textures. The soup was creamy and comforting with an intense flavour. The tajine was full of flavour and just had that 'something' that makes a dish more special than others. It wasn't hot spicy but deeply intense with flavour. The cous cous was a comforting support to the heady delights of the tajine. I enjoyed every second of making these dishes and I know everybody enjoyed eating them's good to be almost back. Now to the recipes...this weekend folks you get four of them...

NB: The Lablabi Soup, Marrakesh Tajine and Tunisian Harissa recipes are all from the World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible Cookbook published by Frances Lincoln Limited. 

First course: Lablabi Soup

Lablabi Soup   Serves 4

8 tbsp olive oil (I used half that amount)
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
12oz/350g chickpeas, soaked overnight and then drained
1 large red onion, diced
3 carrots, diced 
6 celery stalks, diced
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander 
1 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
handful of chopped coriander leaves to garnish
harissa to taste (recipe below)

Heat half of the oil in a saucepan/ when hot, add the garlic and saute until golden. Add the chickpeas and enough water to cover them by 1in/2.5cm. Bring to the boil, removing any foam that rises to the surface, and then reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the the chickpeas are soft. (Or cook the garlic in the oil and then add two drained tins of chickpeas, cover by a good 2" of water and cook for 20 minutes ~R~)

Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a wok. When hot, add the chopped onion, carrots and celery, and saute until soft; it helps if you cover the wok and let the vegetables sweat. Towards the end of cooking, add the cumin, coriander and paprika. Stir the vegetables into the cooked chickpeas, followed by salt and black pepper to taste. Pour half the soup into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return it to unblended soup, adding more water if necessary, and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice.  Serve with coriander leaves to garnish. 

Main course: Marrakesh Tajine

Marrakesh Tajine   Serves 4

5 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 level tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground saffron or turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 aubergine, diced or cut into 1/2" half moons
4 small potatoes, cut into quarters
1 large sweet potato, chopped into large chunks
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and cut lengthwise into 2.5/1" strips
6 artichoke hearts (fresh or canned)
125g/4oz green beans
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
handful of flat-leap parsley, chopped, plus more to garnish
handful of coriander leaves, chopped, plus more to garnish
small handful of raisins 
small handful of dried apricots 
OR 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses 
85g/3oz stoned olives
harissa, to serve recipe below

Heat the oil in a large pan and, when hot, fry the onions until they start to soften. 

Add the spices, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the aubergine, potatoes, sweet potato and green and red peppers. Sprinkle with a little salt as this helps prevent the aubergine from absorbing all the oil. 

When the aubergine starts to soften, add all the remaining vegetables and the tomato puree with just enough water barely to cover the vegetables. Add the parsley, coriander, raisins, apricots, (0r molasses) and olives. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until all the vegetables are really soft and the sauce is reduced until it is thick and rich, with the oil returning on the top. 

Garnish with lots of parsley and coriander, and serve with harissa and cous cous.

Side dish: Tunisian Harissa

Tunisian Harissa   Makes 1 very heaped cup of paste

1 red pepper
1 tbsp ground caraway seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2oz/60g dried red chillies, soaked in hot water
1oz/30g ground cumin
2fl oz/60ml olive oil
salt to taste

First grill the red pepper on all sides until blackened. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film for 10 minutes to make it easier to peel. Peel, deseed and dice the pepper. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Store in the fridge in and airtight container.

And be warned...extremely hot!!!

Finally my contribution to the Moroccan Table....

Side dish: Giant Cous, Cous with Fava Beans

Rocket & Roses Giant Cous Cous with Fava Beans    Serves 4
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 packet of giant cous cous 
OR gluten free maize cous cous
1 tin of fava beans, rinsed and drained 

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper

Cook the cous cous to the packets instructions adding the drained beans towards the end of the cooking time to heat through. 

In a small bowl whisk the dressing until it has emulsified and then drizzle over the hot cous cous and stir well. Recover with the lid to keep warm until serving. Spoon into a serving bowl...


I know these recipes use a lot more oil than I usually advocate but it is entirely your call on how much you use. I wouldn't serve these kind of dishes on a regular basis because of the oil factor so would class them as High Days & Holiday Dishes. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your weekend is a fantastic one folks....


NB: The Lablabi Soup, Makkaresh Tajine and Tunisian Harissa recipes are not my creation. They are the hard work and creation of Chris and Carolyn Caldicott and theirs alone. I take no credit for them whatsoever but do send thanks for sharing such great recipes. The Giant Cous Cous and Fava Bean recipe is mine. I have no problem with you using the recipe or sharing it. I simply ask you give credit where its due as I always try to. Many thanks...Namaste. ~R~  



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Rocket & Roses Thyme, Sage and Potato Soup (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Jack Savoretti ~ Between The Lines Album

The weather here really doesn't know what to do with itself. One minute warm and humid, the next chilly and autumnal. I woke this morning to rain and it instantly relaxed me. Had you forgotten I am one of those rain loving freaks? lol. I was reminded of a soup I made when we were on our road trip. We were staying in a converted cow shed (no, really!) on the wonderful Isle of Skye. The kitchen set up was..interesting...but the cupboards were stocked with the most amazing dinner service. Not a mass production set but one from a local pottery. For me I was in pottery However one major draw back was that it was so heavy and when making a pot of tea I couldn't lift the damn thing. Ah well..the very tea pot is featured in the photo today. The pottery is the Edinbane Pottery and we took some time out to visit the studio and I was blown away by how amazing the work was. If you ever visit Isle of Skye pay it a visit because the talents of Stuart and Julie should be experienced once in a lifetime (or more if you are me! lol). I felt a profound sense of peace as I looked at every single piece...just lovely. 

I had purchased a hand tied bunch of fresh herbs which was extremely pungent. I wanted a hot bowl of soup that day as it was kinda chilly despite the bright sunshine bursting in every window. I had been having green smoothies and salads for most of the road trip as that was most convenient on our travels. I was ready for a hot steamy bowl of savoury goodness. I didn't have a lot of fresh produce to hand so went with what I had. And I was really pleased with it. The herbs were most definitely the star and the potato made for silky texture. Its a basic and humble soup and I am happy with that. 

Rocket & Roses Thyme, Sage and Potato Soup

Rocket & Roses Thyme, Sage and Potato Soup   Serves 2
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 very large white onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 handful chopped fresh thyme
1 handful chopped fresh sage
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground Himalayan salt
1 1/2 - 2 pints veggie stock

Gently saute the onions in the oil until softened. Add in the garlic, cook for a further minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Add in the potatoes and herbs, stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes then add the veggie stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes have gone very soft and the onions are extremely soft. Blend the soup until smooth and reason to taste. Serve sprinkled with extra fresh herbs. 


The entrance to our Isle of Skye digs..not too shabby for a cow shed, eh? lol

Thanks for stopping by and your continued understanding but I am pleased to report I am clocking up a good amount of time back in the kitchen. Phew! I hope your week has started well and is filled with happy moments...


NB: This is my creation. I have no problem with you using this recipe or sharing it. I simply ask that you give credit where it's due as I always try to. Many thanks...Namaste. ~R~


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Soul Asylum ~ So Close
Styx ~ Babe
The Pretenders ~ Spiritual High
The Pretty Reckless ~ Heaven Knows
VAST ~ Thrown Away
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band ~ Get It Together
The Fratellis ~ Tell Me A Lie
Doris Day ~ Bewitched
Melissa Etheridge ~ All The Way To Heaven
James Morrison ~ How Come
Joan Jett ~ Jezebel
Alter Bridge ft Christina Scabbia ~ Watch Over You
Thunder ~ A Million Faces 
Beth Hart ~ Sky Is Falling

Hello folks...I'm back from my Scottish Road Trip. 1509 miles later and we are back home with a car that limped into the garage for repairs. lol. Ooops. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Highlands and everyone we met was so welcoming. I will always look back with great fondness at my time lost in the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye and John O'Groats. Once I have sorted through all my photos I took along the way I shall share some of them with you. But that is a job I haven't had time for as yet. 

Yesterday I managed to get some serious time in the kitchen which as some of you will know has been scarce for the last few months. I cooked a Moroccan Lablabi Soup and a Marrakesh Vegetable Tagine that is served with a lovely homemade Turkish Harissa for a meal we are hosting tonight. Yes I am exhausted now but I had my iPod cranked high and I got through the three recipes with much smiling and some gentle dancing. lol. And then I had a slight mishap and managed to cover myself and half of the walls of the kitchen/breakfast room with freshly made Blackberry Soya Milk Shake. Yes I remembered to put the lid on the blender...the shake was actually in an airtight (HA!) storage cup. I simply shook it up before I was going to drink it...and BOOM...shake everywhere. Bright purple every crevice. Urgh! lol. Anyway....

Today's recipe was a successful attempt at making a sweet rice based dessert that wasn't overloaded with sugar, heavy and rich due to the creamy element but still remained a comforting autumnal dessert. During the first couple of days in Scotland I found a berry that I had never heard of before. Aronia berries are quite common up there and are a robust tart berry that needs to be cooked before consuming. And as I was buying them I already had this recipe planned out. Thankfully I have a great memory because I had to wait until I got home until I gave it a try. lol. 

Since I sourced short grain brown rice I have been addicted to it, so use it at every opportunity. I have also been enjoying almond milk of late and the odd very small amounts of coconut blossom sugar. (Very small amounts of the latter) So the sweet rice part of the dessert was very easy. I left the rice to soak in a bath of almond milk, filtered water and coconut sugar whilst I made the Aronia berry sauce. Then I placed the mix into my trusty rice cooker although I am sure you could place it in the oven and leave to bake until the rice is soft and sweet. I was busy that day so I opted for the convenience of the rice cooker. The sauce was a very simple idea too. I cleaned them, added them to a saucepan with coconut sugar and barely covered them with filtered water. And then left them to simmer although I did have to resort to mashing them with a potato masher as the little suckers really do keep their shape. lol. When they had broken down into a thickened juice I then blitzed them until smooth. 

The results were everything I hoped they would be. The rice was slightly sweet with a good texture and combined with the berry sauce was a delight to eat. It still had a richness that wasn't heavy on the tum. The berry sauce wasn't as sweet as most berry sauces and the Aronias natural tartness really lifted the sauce to a new flavour experience. I loved this dish...another good reason to go back to harvest more berries. lol. It is also delicious served cold...

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert     Serves 6-8
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

8 oz aronia berries, rinsed and drained well
2 tbsp coconut sugar 
filtered water, enough to just cover the berries in the pan

12 oz short grain brown rice 
2 tbsp coconut sugar
940 ml almond milk
235 ml filtered water 

Add the rice, coconut sugar, milk and water into a bowl and stir well. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Then transfer to a rice cooker/oven and cook until the liquids have been absorbed and the rice is plump and soft. 

Add the berries, coconut sugar and water to a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Using a potato mash, gently mash the berries whilst they simmer. Stir and leave to simmer until the pulp has blended with the cooking water. Approx a further 10 minutes. Then pour into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth sauce. Leave to cool. 

To assemble: Spoon the sweet brown rice into a warmed serving dish and then spoon/drizzle the sauce over the top. 

If you want the added creaminess that I don't lol. Try warming some almond milk to drizzle over before the berry sauce. Then serve...


Thanks for stopping by and loyally coming back during this hiatus. I hope your weekend is a splendid one...


NB: This is my creation and I am very happy for you to use the recipe and share it. I only ask that you give credit where it's due as I always try to. Many thanks...Namaste ~R~ 



Monday, 1 September 2014

SUMA: Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Maroon 5 ~ V Album

For me there is something beautiful about a skillet filled with summer veggies and herbs bubbling away. And every time you lift the lid to give them a stir the smell that invades your senses is a moment of bliss. Sometimes the most simple of dishes are often the best and most enjoyable. As we are drawing to the end of this years summer and there is a nip in the air...eating a bowl of a summer stew is most welcome. 

I created this recipe for my Suma Bloggers Network post. Whilst making my selection for my order this time I found some dried beans I had never heard of before...Tatar Beans. Visually the dried beans are quite stunning and I was quite taken with the deep purple bean with its white swirl. I decided to cook them off and then taste test them before I started to create the recipe around them. I soaked them overnight and they doubled in size so after a good rinse and addition of fresh water I put them on the stove to cook. Thankfully they don't have a distinctive smell when boiling however they do scum up a lot and I found myself dredging the scum off quite a lot. But it is a rather impressive purple My beans were perfectly cooked in just over an hour. Sadly they lost some of their distinctive pattern in the cooking process but that didn't bother me too much. I cooked off 1 cup of dried beans and that yielded enough for this recipe and a good portion to go into the freezer. They are rather like a butter/lima bean in texture and shape and quite nutty in flavour. I instantly adored them. 

I was craving a meal that was simple in both making and flavours and a light stew came to mind. Not a heavy, rich in sauce based stew but a light, herby and savoury stew crammed with fresh veggies and beans. Selecting the veggies was easy and having my friend there to help me chop was a blessing as I'm not back up to full kitchen duties just yet. Both of our mouths watered at the intense aroma at every stir. When the stew was cooked and we taste tested a small sample I knew this was a winner. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and individually bursting with flavour. The herbs lifted the natural flavours and the light sauce to another level and the added texture and flavour from the Tatar beans made this stew for me...comforting, satisfying and foodie heaven. Yes, you do need to cook off the beans first but it's not hard work...just have them simmering away whilst you do something else. Believe me..they are worth it. 

Thank you to Suma for asking me to be part of the Suma Bloggers Network and I hope you take some time to check out their website. I hope you enjoy this recipe...we did! lol. 

Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew

Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew       Serves 2-3
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 tsp sunflower oil
1 med onion, sliced
3 small carrots, peeled and chunked
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup swede, small dice
1 small fennel, trimmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 fl oz low sodium veggie stock
1/2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup cashew pieces
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces, tips separated from stems
1 1/2 cups of cooked Tatar beans 
Freshly cracked black pepper
Himalayan salt to season to taste (optional)

Over a gentle heat, saute the onions, celery, carrots, swede in the oil until beginning to soften. Add in the fennel and garlic and stir well. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add in the tom paste and dried herbs and stir well. Cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the asparagus stems and cashew nuts and cook, covered, until the stems are tender crisp. Stir in the Tatar beans and asparagus tips and cook until the beans are heated through..approx 3-4 minutes. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt. Serve...


Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week is a great one. We are preparing to set off on our road trip around Scotland..woo! Cannot wait..


NB: This is my creation and I have no problem with you using this recipe or sharing it. I just ask that you give credit where it's due as I always try to...Thanks. Namaste ~R~