I’m playing catch up with The Spice Trail this month and bringing you two months’ worth of recipe round-ups in one go. November saw us celebrating the humble peppercorn as a star ingredient in its own right, while in December we showcased recipes using the gorgeous and very versatile allspice berry. Continue reading “The Spice Trail round-up: peppercorns and allspice”
I’d love to tell you some story about how I first came across this black pepper chicken curry when I was backpacking around India, or how I discovered it in some wonderful Keralan restaurant. But in fact this was the first time I’ve tried this recipe and it was the result of looking up inspiration for pepper recipes online.
When I started researching something to cook for this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which has peppercorns as its theme, Kerala-style dishes came up again and again. I suppose this isn’t surprising really, since black pepper is thought to originate from the rainforests of Kerala in southern India and it’s still one of the main producers of the spice. Continue reading “Black pepper chicken”
Shakshuka is one of our favourite weekend brunch dishes. It’s essentially a spiced tomato and pepper stew with eggs poached on top and hails originally from North Africa. As you may have noticed, I’m a sucker for any dish that comes with an egg on top.
We play around with the ingredients of our shakshuka quite a bit – it’s one of those versatile dishes that lends itself to experimentation. This particular variation is very good and very satisfying, bringing together flavours of North Africa with elements of a Full English, namely sausage and potato. If you happen to have either or both of these leftover in your fridge, it’s the perfect way to put them to good use.
The addition of sausage is rather fitting as this week is British Sausage Week, an annual celebration of the traditional Great British Banger. We adore sausages here at Chez Bangers, as you might have guessed, but we are very fussy about the sausages we buy. Only proper bangers with a high meat content from happy pigs make it onto our table.
For this shakshuka, I used delicious Cumberland pork and honey sausages from Donald Russell, an award-winning online butcher. They are beautifully flavoured with herbs and spices and there’s a subtle sweetness from the honey, which works so well with the spicy vegetable stew. All Donald Russell sausages are made with Freedom Food pork shoulder meat as standard.
Make sure you serve this up with lots of crusty white bread for mopping up all those gorgeous spicy juices and runny egg yolk.
Shakshuka with potato and sausage
Serves 3 to 4
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 red and 1 green pepper, sliced
2 bay leaves
handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
4 good quality pork sausages, grilled and chopped into bitesize chunks
3 medium potatoes, boiled and diced
3 or 4 eggs (1 per person)
Dry roast the cumin seeds in a large frying pan for a couple of minutes, before adding the oil and onions. Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes, then add the peppers, bay leaves and thyme. Continue to cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes.
Next add the chopped tomatoes, cayenne and season to taste. Turn the heat down low and cook for another 15 minutes. Then stir in the cooked sausages and potatoes.
Preheat oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.
Pour the stew into a large, flat, ovenproof dish. Using the back of a ladle or large spoon, make ‘dents’ in the stew into which you then break your eggs. Place the dish carefully in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the eggs are just cooked – the whites should be set but the yolk still runny.
Serve immediately with lots of fresh, white bread.
Disclosure: I received a selection of complimentary sausages and sausage products from Donald Russell for review and recipe development. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own. For details of the full range visit www.donaldrussell.com.
Much loved by the Romans, even though it was hideously expensive – Gibbon tells us that Alaric the Goth demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as part of his ransom for Rome in the 5th century. Pepper is ubiquitous worldwide now, and if there is a downside to its mass popularity, it is that people forget its true spice status and tend to overlook making it a star player in its own right…
So says Allegra McEvedy in Leon’s Ingredients & Recipes. And she’s right. All too often the only time pepper makes as appearance in a recipe is at the end when the cook is called to add a little salt and pepper to taste in order to ‘finish off’ their dish.
But pepper is a wonderful spice – tasty, fruity, warming, vibrant and even fiery – depending on which type you use and how much – and deserves to be celebrated in its own right. So that is our mission this month, to put the humble peppercorn on a pedestal all of its own and show just what this much-neglected spice can do!
Whether it’s black, white, green or pink (although technically pink peppercorns are a completely different species entirely but we’ll ignore that fact for the benefit of this challenge), I can’t wait to see how you incorporate peppercorns into your cooking and make them star of the show.
How to enter The Spice Trail
- Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
- Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as each one feature’s this month’s spice, peppercorns, as a central ingredient.
- Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
- Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Sunday 30 November 2014.
- If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
- As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
- At the end of the month, the winner will be announced in a round-up of all the entries.
- Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted.
- All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.
I look forward to seeing your entries, and keep an eye out for the round-up of October’s Pickles & Preserves challenge – coming very soon!
- Mulled Grape Juice from Eat Like You Love Yourself
- Spiced Shortbread from Eat Like You Love Yourself
- Schezwan Idli and Sambar from Home Cook Food
- Maple and Mustard Glazed Ham from Searching for Spice
- Home-roasted Pumpkin Seeds from By the Way… By Nasifriet
- Indian Potato Sliders from Home Cook Food
- Black Pepper Chicken from Bangers & Mash
- Braided Chilli Bread from By the Way… By Nasifriet
- Tuscan Panforte Biscotti from The Lass In The Apron
- Salt and Pepper Chocolate Truffles from Bangers & Mash
- Cambodian Green Peppercorn Prawns from Lapin d’Or & More
- Sprouts with Lemon & Black Pepper from Eat Like You Love Yourself
Along with my tasty chicken rice, this easy ratatouille is my go-to meal when I’m stocking the freezer with quick weekday meals for the kids.
Now that I’m working over in Wells four days a week, ratatouille appears regularly on my meal plans. It’s particularly good for those days when I’m not back home til late and my husband has little time to get the girls back from school and fed before taking them off out again to their various clubs and activities.
My girls have been eating ratatouille since they were very little, when I’d mash it up for them a bit. They still love it today, served either on its own with a hunk of bread to mop up the juices, with rice, pasta or a baked potato and sprinkled with cheese, or as a veggie accompaniment to sausages or chops.
This is one of those recipes you can play around with. If you’ve got herbs to hand, throw in some of those. If you don’t like cumin, leave that out. The quantities of aubergine, courgette and pepper vary each time I make it, but this should give you the general idea.
Makes 8-10 servings
2tbsp olive oil
½tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
3 courgettes, chopped
2 aubergines, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200ºC / gas mark 6.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish and fry the cumin seeds for a minute or so.
Add the onions and fry gently until golden, then add the garlic and fry for another minute before throwing in the red and yellow peppers.
Saute the peppers until they have slightly softened and then add the courgettes. Continue to saute for a couple of minutes and then add the aubergine. You may need to add a little more oil to the pan at this stage. Keep stirring the vegetables until they’ve started to colour, and then add the bay leaf, tomatoes and season to taste.
Put the lid on your pan and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If it’s a little too liquid for your liking, remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Leave to cool before dividing into freezer bags.