Well wasn’t November fun?! It started for me with a fab holiday in Norfolk – blustery walks on the beach, chips on Cromer pier, plenty of tea & cake and a cosy holiday cottage. Since then it has been a bit of a hectic month, with lots of lovely recipe development jobs and blog posts keeping me busy in the kitchen, and some fun violin-playing work keeping me busy in the evenings!
I was so chuffed to jump up Foodies100, the UK Food Blog rankings this month, to no. 88! (To put that in context, last month I was at 274 and in June I was at 532!). Finally feels like some hard work is paying off, and your interest, support, lovely comments and social shares and likes continue to make it all worthwhile. Thanks so much!
Enough of the self-congratulating, and on to the food…
Quite a few of the vegetarian and vegan books I’ve flicked through recently have felt a little bit ‘samey’ – lovely, healthy and delicious food with beautiful photography, but mostly the sort of dishes I tend to cook anyway. So it has been really lovely trying out some recipes from Lebanese Home Cooking by Kamal Mouzawak over the last few weeks, and getting to grips with totally different cooking styles and flavour combinations.
Kamal Mouzawak is a Lebanese chef, and founded Beirut’s first ever Farmers’ Market, so really knows his stuff when it comes to making the most of fresh produce. These recipes are really authentic home-cooking – not Middle-Eastern restaurant food, but everyday family food, with interesting explanations of regional and religious variations.
The book is billed as ‘mostly vegetarian’, which I was slightly dubious about, but have been pleasantly surprised to find just 3 recipes in the whole book which are not vegetarian, and two of those contain beef mince so I might experiment using veggie mince instead.
Chapters include Kibbeh (a bit like croquettes, stuffed with a filling); Grains; Mujadara (lentils and rice); Stews; Vegetables; Salads and Breads; Good Friday Food; Souk and Street Food; and Sweets.
Overall, I love the simplicity of the recipes – there are no long lists of hard-to-find ingredients, and most are quick enough to rustle up for a weeknight supper. There’s something very honest and personable about this book – it is peppered with snippets of information about everyday Lebanese life which are lovely to dip into whilst dinner simmers on the stove, and the photography is rustic and tempting, like sneaking a peek at someone’s dinner table through the pages.
November has somehow sped past with nowhere near as many recipe posts as I had hoped to write up, but as always, your comments, likes and shares of those that you have particularly enjoyed have been fabulous. Thank you! Here are your favourite four recipes from November:
- Chipotle-Chocolate Beany Burritos
- Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti
- Beetroot & Chilli Ketchup
- Shiitake Miso Noodle Bowl
It was lovely to pop along to the pre-launch evening for Mildreds‘ brand new restaurant in Camden. Their original Soho branch is always my no.1 recommendation for vegetarians or vegans looking for somewhere lovely to eat in London, and this new Camden branch doesn’t disappoint.
I tried the Rose harrisa hummus, smokey babaganoush and chargrilled flatbread followed by the rather wonderful Polish Burger: beetroot, white bean and dill in a focaccia bun with pickled cabbage, gherkin & monterey jack and some seriously chunky sweet potato fries. My sister-in-law Lizzi loved her Panfried halloumi, spinach and cherry tomato with balsamic followed by Black bean and tomatillo rice buritto with ranchero sauce and grilled cheese, smashed avocado, sour cream and pico de gallo. Yum!
The new Mildreds restaurant is at: 9 Jamestown Road, Camden, London NW1 7BW
Parcels in the Post
November has kept the postman busy in our little village with all sorts of lovely parcels popping through the letterbox for review. Some of my favourites have included:
- What a lovely selection of raw goodies from Planet Organic – my favourites were the fabulously savoury Kale Krackers, decadent Chocolate Fancy Almonds and Chocolate Goji Berries, and Sweet Greens Raw Granola.
- Mr F. valiantly agreed to help me out by taste-testing Rebel Brewing Company‘s latest beers on my behalf, (I’m not much of a beer-drinker myself, but wanted to spread the word about any vegetarian beer I hear about!). And the verdict? Tasty! A dark and malty Cornish ale, with a full-on flavour that you would expect from a 5% ale, perfect on a cold & blustery evening next to a roaring fire. A little birdie tells me they will be bringing out a vegan and gluten-free ale sometime soon… watch this space!
- I’ve been working with V8 Juice once again on some recipe development and have loved starting the day with their wonderful V8 Beetroot & Raspberry Juice, such a lovely combination of flavours. They are running a fab advent calendar on their website, with a chance to win some fabulous presents…. hop over for a look here!
- And finally… having worked with Veetee Rice earlier in the month (see my recipe here) I’ve been working my way through a gorgeous hamper of their various flavours. I’ve found them great inspiration when I’m stuck for ideas for dinner… Thai Jasmine Rice inspired a quick Thai Green Curry, Peri Peri Rice inspired a spicy veggie sausage stew, Wholegrain Rice & Quinoa inspired a healthy biryani… and so on.
If you read my Kale & Squash Pearl Barley Risotto post you will have heard about my new beast of a kitchen gadget that arrived this month, and is on its way to making me redundant in my own kitchen… the Optimum ThermoCook.
I’m still getting to grips with it, and there’s so many functions to test out it will be a while until I completely master it, but I’m using it for so many kitchen jobs already. Hop over here for my full review, or to the ThermoCook website for all the details, (and a massive £346 OFF the RRP price in the Christmas Sale!).
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy Lebanese Home Cooking or an Optimum ThermoCook using these links I will be paid a commission, (which supports my blogging… and my family – thank you!). I was sent all reviewed products – there was no expectation of a positive review and all opinions are my own.