Roasted Veg & Halloumi Burgers

roasted vegetable, hummus and halloumi burger

The first time I tried halloumi cheese on holiday in Cyprus many years ago I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. As a pre-dinner snack, we would sit outside on the balcony of our apartment at sunset enjoying slices of grilled halloumi and bottles of ice cold beer. Uncooked it’s pretty unimpressive and quite squeaky on your teeth, but pop it under the grill for a few minutes and it transforms into a salty delicious flavour bomb!

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Aubergine and mozzarella stacks

Aubergine and mozzarella stacks by Heather Elizabeth Wilkinson

I’ve lost my cooking mojo a bit recently. That’s not to say I’ve lost my appetite though, far from it in fact! I’ve been eating out for more than my bank balance (and belly) would like. But do you know what? I’ve been having a great time and I don’t feel guilty in the slightest. So I think the excitement of enjoying other people’s cooking might have something to do with my lack of enthusiasm in the kitchen.
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Cooking from the book ‘Mighty Spice’ by John Gregory-Smith

Mighty Spice by John Gregory-Smith
Mighty Spice by John Gregory-Smith

All photographs copyright © Heather Wilkinson 2012

I was supposed to put up this post last week, but sadly it got eaten before I had time to photograph it (a good sign I think!) and I ended up having to make it again. 
I think I must have cooked almost all the recipes from John Gregory-Smith’s Mighty Spice book when I purchased it a few months ago. It really is a fantastic book, full of simple, honest, flavour-packed recipes – the type of food I could pretty much eat every day. I really enjoyed the introduction where John talks about the impact travel has had on his life and how it has influenced his cooking. 
For me, there were definitely a couple of standout recipes: Falafel Burgers with a Yogurt and Tahini Dip and the Bulgur Wheat Salad, (shown in the above pictures.) I’d never actually tried bulgur wheat before making this recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was to make – very similar to cous cous. I have to say that I did add make a couple of my own amendments of to the recipe: lemon zest and a huge handful of fresh mint.
I also made the mango, orange and nutmeg cheesecake. Sadly, this wasn’t very successful, hence I haven’t posted a picture. It wasn’t much of a looker, especially after I dropped it on the worktop while trying to get it out of the tin (whoops). It was supposed to have a delicate mango drizzle on the top of it, but I totally fudged it up and it ended up like mango mush that made the cheesecake a bit wet and sloppy. Not nice.
Anyway, I loved the book and I’m looking forward cooking many more meals from it. With any luck the weather will warm up here in the UK and we’ll be able to eat outside – yeah right, who am I kidding…
You can find a link to the book here.

Moroccan-style Bean Stew

All images © Heather Wilkinson 2012

I’ve really got into combining sweet and savoury flavours recently, and I thought I’d use these as a basis for creating a dish for Meat-free Monday. This is a Moroccan-inspired bean stew, healthy, tasty and incredibly simple to prepare. I made sure to make plenty so there was enough left for lunch the next day. I really wanted to try making flat breads but ran out of time, so I served the stew with toasted wholemeal pittas and a yogurt dip.

You will need
400g (dry weight) of mixed beans and pulses (I used chick peas, kidney and flageolet beans)
400g of good quality chopped tinned tomatoes (+ half a tin of water)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp dried chilli flakes (or fresh chilli if you prefer)
½ tsp paprika
A handful of sultanas
1 handful of dried chopped apricots
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp dried powered ginger
1 tsp tomato puree
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 generous glug of olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1.)Heat the oil in a large pan. Add your onion and allow to soften before adding your garlic, carrots, cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, chilli and coriander. Cook for about 3 minutes.
2.)Add your beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, sultanas, apricots and half a tin of fresh water. Stir gently to combine all the ingredients together. 
3.)Leave on a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 mins to allow the stew to cook down.

Spicy sweet potato soup

I know my last post was a soup recipe, but the weather has been so ridiculously cold and snowy here in Sussex this week that I’ve been eating little else. Knowing that I’ve got a warm and satisfying lunch to look forward to is about the only thing that makes braving the arctic temperatures in the morning bearable.

I think this has to be one of the simplest soups I’ve ever made: quick to prepare, healthy and a really short list of ingredients. My kind of recipe.

You will need
A glug of olive oil
1 onion, chopped 
½ teaspoon of dried chill flakes or ½ fresh red chilli, deseeded.
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
1 pint of warm vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste.

1.) Warm the oil in a large pan, add your onions, garlic, chilli flakes and ground coriander and cook until soft.
2.) When your onions have softened, add your sweet potato and mix it in with the other ingredients. Leave it to cook in the pan for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.) Pour your warmed stock over the mixture, bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for about 10/15 mins, or until the sweet potatoes soften.
4.) Blend your soup until smooth. Serve with fresh crusty bread (this soda bread is ideal). If you find the soup too spicy then add a dollop of crème fraiche.

All images © Heather Wilkinson 2012