Date Archives August 2015

Pistachio and Feta Dip

Jess - Pistachio feta dip2 Jess - Crackers


ot another dip I hear you say? And not another Moroccan and middle Eastern themed recipe. Yes. Please continue. A boozy and wonderful dinner party in the Wiltshire countryside this weekend was enhanced as it naturally would be by the addition of a Middle Eastern themed feast! And gracious guests of course! And the weather seemed to be on it best behaviour for most of the time rather suitably while we guzzled bubbly Saumur and nibbles. The downpour and lightening only theatrically threatened to steal the attention late into the evening when the food had already stolen my guests hearts. It reminded me a little of my recent venture to Morocco where a hearty downpour after a heavy humid day was still not enough to spoil the show once the hearty tanginess graced our dining tables.

Kicking off with a round (or two) of sparkling Saumur, my new and cheaper favourite alternative to Champagne, to set the tone, this cheesy spiced Turkish/Bulgarian dip went down a treat. A lovely alternative to the usual humus this is perfect with some mini ‘olive oil cracker tongues’ (see here) adapted with the addition of some sweet smoked paprika and rolled smaller and bite sized.

While the middle East is always a source of natural inspiration for me, both these recipes were inspired by a new cookbook purchase that has weakened my already full and bursting cookbook shelf. Bought on a whim having been won over in a trace by the initial sparkling textured cover and once in side, by the beautiful photos and recipe combinations that steal my foodie heart. Adapated slighty but quite welcomely without much amending. Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour. A delightful book for any cookbook collector, food lover or photography buff.

Serves 8 as a nibble with drinks

  • 100g pistachios, shelled
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese
  • Handful chopped dill
  • Large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp dukka (see here) to garish (optional)
  1. Blend the pistachios and oil in a processor for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you get a smooth but rustic texture. Season to taste
  3. Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with any leftover dill leaves, the dukka and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with olive oil crackers.

Dips and drinks were followed by a slow roasted, shredded and falling off the bone leg of  lamb spiced to the nines with Moroccan love. Zesty lime yoghurt and cumin dipping salt on the side of a fresh allotment picked raw vegetable salad….

Serves 8-10

  • 1 large leg of lamb on the bone (2.5kg approx)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • Handful coriander leaves to garnish

Cumin dipping salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a large roasting tin.
  2. Mark deep incisions over the lamb with a sharp knife
  3. In a small bowl, place the butter, spiced, thyme, and garlic and blend into a paste. Rub the paste over the land and into the incisions.
  4. Place the lamb in the tin and pour in 1 large glass white wine. Cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
  5. During this time, baste the lamb with any juices every 40 minutes or so.
  6. After 4 hours, turn the oven up to 190°C. Remove the foil and finish the cooking for the final 1 hour uncovered to brown the top and crisp the skin.
  7. Meanwhile, for the dipping salt, dry fry the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add the salt and cinnamon and grind together lightly. Tip into a small ramekin or bowl.
  8. After 5 hours, remove the lamb from the over. Cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, carve the lamb which should tenderly fall from the bone. Carve into chunky pieces and slice the herbed skin. Serve on a large warmed serving platter, scattered with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve e.g some turmeric and cumin roasted new potatoes, fresh raw green salad and a limey creamy yoghurt.

Jess - Lamb Jess - Lamb2

Nectarine, Almond and Rosemary Tart


 adore the savoury taste of rosemary in desserts which should not be knocked before tried. Whether with apricots (see here) or honeyed pine nuts (see here) it adds a lovely warming flavour if added with a disciplined hand…don’t get to carried away or you’ll be expecting roasted lamb to appear in your ice cream! With an abundance of fresh juicy ripe nectarines in season at the moment, I combined them with the sugary flavours of this frangipane tart and the subtle spike of rosemary. Although sweet, this dessert can handle the sharp honeyed flavours of a lovely Sauterens with acts as the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Washed down with a dainty glass (at my encouragement) was a perfect end to a summer BBQ with friends. Serve with creamy vanilla flecked ice cream, luxurious clotted cream or tart creme fraiche.

Serves 12


  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cold cubed butter
  • Zest 1 lemon


  • 2 ripe nectarines, halved and sliced into wedges
  • 1 1/2/ tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 200g cubed butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  1. Start with the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and zest in a food processor until the mixture starts to come together. Slowly add up to 2 tbsp cold water until the pastry forms a soft ball of dough.
  2. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180. Grease and line a large tart tin with a loose bottom. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to the thickness of about £1 coin and line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork all over.
  4. Line with parchment and baking beans and bake blind for about 20 minutes. Once beginning to just colour straw brown, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or so until the base is lightly borne and cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor. Once combined, add the eggs one by one and a splash of vanilla. Add the 1tbsp of chopped rosemary
  6. Finally, fold in the ground almonds until thoroughly combined.
  7. Fill the baked tart shell with the frangipane mixture and spread out evenly.
  8. Top with the wedges of nectarine, allowing about 1 slice per portion or there abouts.
  9. Scatter with the crunchy demerara sugar and bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown and cooked.
  10. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before removing and serving on a large plate. Scatter with the remaining 1/2 tsp rosemary and a little dusting of icing sugar. Serve with creme fraiche and a delicious glass of Sautnernes.

Jess - Nectarine, Almond Rosemary Tart#2

Pea and Avocado Dip with Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers

Jess - Cracker2

Jess - rudehealth


irstly I think I need to explain the mystery behind the ‘Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers’. As if the wholesome organic produce that Rude Health so stylishly provide wasn’t tempting enough, they have developed a range of ‘sprouted flours’. Nothing to do with sprouts, nothing to do with flowers…..These flours basically contain a grain that has been allowed to sprout and germinate in an environment which stimulates enzyme activity and allows for the transformation of wonderful nutrients. Soaked in water, the grains sprout and release nutrients and once slow fired and and stone ground these are captured inside these tasty flours ready for your baking purposes. Nutty, wholesome and devine, they can be used in baking like for like to add a fantastic texture and flavour layer. Here I used the flour in some lovely giant tongue shaped crackers which I often make for dinner parties as elaborate dipping utensils!

They are amazing served with dips and spreads. I’ve made these in the past but never with sprouted flour and the baking smell alone as they crisped away in the safety of the oven was enough to inspire a healthy dip to accompany.

Makes about 15 dependant on size (adapted from Ottolenghi)

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large tray with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl or food processor combine all the ingredients except for the salt until you have  affirm dough.
  3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
  4. When ready to cook, take walnut sized pieces of dough (about 15g) and roll on a floured surface into tongue or oval shaped crackers, paper thin if you can!
  5. Repeat and place on your lined backing tray. Drizzle well with olive oil and scatter with the sea salt.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes or until crisp, golden and filling the kitchen with wonderful smells.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack before enjoying with a dip or choice.

Pea and Avocado Dip (Serve 4-5 as a starter/nibble)

I saw a version of this recipe in a recent Waitrose magazine. Having been invited to a last minute impromptu BBQ I felt I needed a culinary offering which is where this speedy dip was created. To my disappointment this said recipe wasn’t particularly inspiring on the taste delivery. It was a bit bland. However, with a complete recipe makeover and the addition of some forage in the pantry flavour staples I had a tasty vibrant dip in no time to accompany my sprouted olive oil crackers. Knocked out in minutes I just had time to grab a bottle of chilled white before heading out into the sun….

  • 150 peas, defrosted or fresh
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 15g pistachios
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see here)
  • 60g feta cheese
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Chives, dill and chilli oil to garnish
  1. In a food processor, please the peas, lime juice, garlic, pistachios, creme fraiche, spice mix and mint. Pulse and blend until the mixture turns into a paste. You may need to scarp the sides down as you go.
  2. Add plenty of seasoning and then add the feta cheese and avocado.
  3. Blend again to form a smooth paste. If you like it a bit thinner, add some olive oil.
  4. Serve scattered with chopped dill and chives and drizzled with chilli oil

Jess - Peaavocadodip2


Moroccan Chicken and Green Bulgar Wheat


recent adventure to the Moroccan Atlas Mountains can only (and easily) be described as the time of my life and the best birthday I’ve ever experienced. A timelessly long relaxing weekend perched secludedly on the crumbly edge of the Atlas Mountains in the Ourika Valley in the heart of the National Park. Nestled high above the local Berber village I felt more than privileged to be there and in wonderful company. Basking in the golden sun, trekking through the local valley, wholeheartedly absorbing the culture and contagiously relaxing in the peaceful vibe of the Kasbah Bab Ourika. How many bedrooms can you watch the sun rise while gazing at snow caped mountains before enjoying a humble breakfast on a warm terracotta terrace? Kasbah Bab Ourika really is a special place. Saturated in charm, authenticity and the smell of fire and leather. And mint tea…lots of mint tea.

On arrival we were welcomed by the local Berber staff by the hydrating delights of said fresh mint tea. With only 26 rooms and more staff than guests, not once did we feel the infringing presence of the other holiday makers. We wondered the lavender filled gardens, bathed by the pool and drank tea until the sun went down. Or at least until an acceptable time arrived to sip on a cocktail or two.


The view from our bedroom balcony was breath taking. An inspiring place to cleanse the soul so what better way to start my birthday than a yoga practice and some ‘sun’ salutations at sunrise.


My birthday ticked casually by starting with a stimulating 12km trek through the undulating local National Park, an indulgent foodie buffet lunch served in the sun washed terrace before unwinding with a Moroccan massage in the lavender filled gardens.



Ice cream

Only then did the heavens open and cool the hot parched ground. Naturally we retired to the leather filled bar with a crisp class of bubbly by a soothing fire in our dinner finery.


The peace and tranquility was broken only momentarily by a crazy and amazing venture into Marakesh! What a place. The flavours and familiar smells of the ingredients I have accustomed myself to using were 100 times stronger and more intense in this vibrant city making my reluctant return to the English supermarkets even more disappointing. The mint seemed fresher and the spices seemed stronger. Inspiration for my favourite cuisine could not be ignored on return home. Cucumber martinis to cool us down before tackling the vibrant market as the sun went down




After having commitedly devoured the tender delights of tagine every night I felt an alternative recipe in order. Taking inspiration from the African bliss I enjoyed this weekends meal. Clean, fresh, flavoursome and delicious. Moroccan spiced chicken with green herby bulghar wheat and sharp lime yoghurt.

Serves 2

  • 60g bulgar wheat
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 25g currants, soaked in boiling water/orange juice for 20 minutes
  • 50g pistachios, chopped
  • Large handful each of dill, parsley, basil and mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 chicken supremes/chicken breasts
  • 2 heaped tsp Ras el Hanout
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 50g yoghurt
  • 1 large lime
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Marinade your chicken in the Ras El Hanout, salt and pepper and a few tbsp’s of rapeseed oil in a large bowl for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When ready to cook, heat a frying pan over a high heat and drizzle with some more oil. Sear the chicken on the skin side to get a really crispy and golden skin for up to 5 minutes. Once crisp, turn and seal on the flesh side for 1 minute. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until tender and cooked. Leave to rest for 5 minutes and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile make the bulgar wheat salad. Simmer the wheat in boiling water (about 5 x as much water as wheat) for about 10 minutes or so or until tender and soft. Drain well and fluff with a fork. Keep warm in the pan with a lid on.
  4. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the ground cumin for the final few minutes to cook out. Add these to the warm wheat.
  5. Combine the green herbs in a food processor (or finely chop). Add seasoning, the juice from the lemon and a little oil to loosen if needed. Scrap the herby mixture into the bulgar wheat and stir well.
  6. Check the seasoning of the wheat before adding the currants (drained) and the chopped nuts.
  7. Combine the yoghurt with the lime juice and some salt and pepper.
  8. When the chicken is cooked and rested, slice in half on the diagonal.
  9. Spoon a ring of yoghurt onto your serving plate and fill the centre with a generous helping of green bulgar wheat salad. Top with the sliced chicken and scatter over any remaining herbs.
  10. Enjoy!