Honey & Co

It’s hard to believe that we are mid-way through August already. 2021 is whizzing by at incredible speed. Before I catch my breath, it will be September!

This weekend started with an in impromptu gathering of old friends/colleagues. We all share a love of food from the team at Honey & Co, so when they invited me for lunch, I couldn’t say no, could I?

We started with the sharing menu

Yemeni style falafel with cucumber, chilli & mint salad, tahini

Creamy hummus, chilli garlic dressing, chickpeas, zehug & pitta

Labaneh with roasted courgette, pine nuts & herb salsa

Aubergine badargani – rolls of roasted aubergine filled with caramalised onions, pomegranate molassas & walnuts

Flat white peach & goats’ cheese salad, almonds & orange blossom dressing Cheesy bouikos, house pickles, Kalamata olives, bread & olive oil

For my mains I chose the pomegranate molasses roasted chicken and for dessert, chocolate terrazzo cake.

I thought I would be uncomfortably full after all the food. I was not. I was pleasantly full. I was content and my heart was full of joy. It was not just the food but the company. I have not seen these ladies since last year and it was so nice to see them face to face, to chat and laugh. We seemed to laugh all afternoon, it was such a nice feeling.

I hope we can meet up and do this again.

Jollof rice

Jollof rice!

I will always alway return to the Western African/Nigerian staple. Despite having grown up in my mother’s kitchen cooking this, it continues to be my nemesis in my adult life, until now…

What changed?

I have some lovely new pots, I have a gas cooker and I followed instruction from a hitherto undiscovered West African cooking book. With all this decluttering and sorting I am discovering all manner of long overlooked things. It’s nice. So I made this jollof rice so that I could have lunch for when I go into the office to do my clinics. It’s nice to have access to ready made food, even if I am still eating it at my desk during an MS Teams meeting.

It seemed quite simple and it came out perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy with myself. I will be tinkering with the flavouring and meat content, to suit my palate, the next time I make it. However I feel that the general instructions are spot on. I will let you know how the second batch goes!

Ingredients

4 to 6 pieces of skinless chicken

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

60ml vegetable oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

115 g of cubed ham

2 chicken stock cubes

1/4 tsp of ground chilli

1/2 tsp of dried thyme or 1 spring fresh thyme, crushed

350 ml of water

170g of tomato puree

260g uncooked rice

any combination of green peas, chopped French beans, carrots, green peppers or tomatoes, adding up to 300g

Instructions

Preparation time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

1. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and brown then on both sides.

2. Place the chicken into a large saucepan and set it aside. Add the ham and onion on to the frying pan and saute until the onion is transparent. Add both the onion and the ham to the saucepan and set the frying pan aside. (Do not discard the oil).

3. Add the stock cubes, red pepper (I am assuming the author meant ground chilli), thyme, water and tomato puree to the saucepan and stir well. Simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

4. Add the rice to the frying pan and stir to coat it with the oil. Add the rice and vegetables to the saucepan, stir well and cover. Cook over a low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables and rice are tender.

the second batch (made with curry powder and paprika)

Akara

Another delicious Nigerian recipe.

Can be eaten alone or with a sweet custard

These ones were made by my Jamaican and Hungarian friends. Turned out very nice.

Ingredients

200g of dried black-eyed beans

80 -120 ml water

75g onion, finel chopped

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of chopped and deseeded chilli or 1/4 tsp of ground red chilli

1 egg

50 – 100g of finely chopped cooked prawns (optional)

vegetable oil

Preparation time: A few hours or overnight; then 30 minutes

Serves 6

Instructions

1. Place the beans in a large, deep pan and cover them with water. Leave them to soak for a few hours or overnight.

2. With your hands under water in the pan, rub the beans together to remove the skins. The skins will float to the top and can be skimmed off. Drain the beans in a colander and place them into a blender or food processor with 80 ml of water. Blend them for about 20 seconds or until they become smooth.

3. Place the ground beans into a bowl. If the mixture is dry, stir in water, little by little, until it is a paste.

4. Add the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Beat the mixture until it is light and airy. If, after adding the egg, the mixture is too runny, add 1 tbsp of flour.

5. In a large frying pan, heat a 2.5-cm depth of oil a medium heat, until the temperature reaches 190oC. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the oil’s heat. Drop teaspoons of dough into the oil and fry for about 5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove the akara from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain them on pieces of kitchen towel. Serve immediately.

Reference: Cooking the West African Way

Tomato and pomegranate tubule for high summer

Somedays, working from home is bearable. By bearable, I stop long enough between video meeting, telephone consultations and letter dictations to get some food to eat. On this particular weekday, I decided that I wanted to make another Honey and Co recipe from the book I received as a birthday gift last year. I have previously made the green tabule for spring and I noted that there was an option to make the same recipe but with tomatoes, celery and pomegranate seeds. I thought it would make an interesting combination so tried it.

It is certainly spectacular to look at – all the bright colours are a joy to behold. It also tastes nice, the pomegrante seeds popping in the mouth like bubbles of sweet goodness.

eaten with a spinach and feta quiche

Ingredients

100g cooked coarse-grind bulgar wheat
100g fresh pomegranate seeds 
100g tomatoes, cut into small dice
1 large bunch of parsley (about 30-40g), picked and chopped
3 sprigs of mint, picked and chopped
1 green chilli, seeded and chopped
2 inner stalks of celery
Finely sliced zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Mix everything together in a bowl and adjust the seasoning to taste. Eat straight away.