Fresh Guacamole and Flat Breads

Ingredients:

2 medium sized avocados
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
a pinch of salt
juice of half a lime
2 – 3 small garlic cloves
Coriander (optional)
Peel the avocados and mash with a fork, adding the salt, pepper, oil, lime juice. Chop the tomato and mince the garlic cloves. Mix everything together well. If you chose to, mix in the coriander. That’s it! It’s ready to serve!

Fatayer Bi Sabanekh – Spinach Turnovers

My Grandmother wrote in 1969 that she sampled this little snack on a picnic in the mountains. Although she was in Austria at the time, this is a Lebanese snack. Now, forty years on, I find myself making them for a picnic of my own. These are little spinach triangle pies, bursting with the flavours of lemon and cinnamon. The trick is to get the pastry as thin as you dare. You may, like me, consider this a peculiar mixture of flavours – but it’s a delightful little edible and really worth a taste.

 

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
7 cups bread flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried fast action yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of sugar
Cold water

For the filling:
2lbs fresh spinach, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup pine nuts or walnuts
Lemon Juice
Sumac
Salt and pepper
Cinnamon

 

Method:
Add a tablespoon of warm water to the sugar and the yeast to activate it. Stir in the olive oil, flour and salt. Slowly add the water a tablespoon at a time and bring together the mix to form a stiff dough. Add a little more flour to compensate if you make the dough too wet.  Cover with a damp cloth and let it stand in warm place for half and hour, before rolling out on a floured surface. It needs to be thin – no more than half a centimetre thick. With a round pastry cutter, cut two-inch diameter circles. Combine the filling ingredients together and spoon a tablespoon into the middle of each pastry disc and push three sides of the circle into the centre, pressing the edges together firmly.

Place on a baking sheet and cook in a hot oven until the edges of the triangle have caught a little colour and the pastry is golden.

Serve hot or cold with slices of lemon to squeeze into the centre. It’s a great accompaniment with lamb, some full flavoured meat (cold is best). Although it may be considered a crossing of various cultures, I also like having it on a kind of mezze platter, with my favourite sliced smoked meats or a bit of leftover roast lamb, roasted aubergines and garlic lathered in olive oil and with a bowl of fresh tzatziki dip.

Black Pudding Bread

There is nothing like a spot of toast with a cup of tea, if you’re a bit peckish one afternoon. And there’s also nothing like a round of peppery black pudding. I could eat it every day, on its own, with breakfast, lunch or supper. I get the impression it is a little underrated as a food, let alone a snack.

So if you’re into making bread, I hope you have a go at trying this out. It’s so simple. The different textures of the hot and soft freshly toasted bread and crispy pieces of peppery black pudding, lathered in some lightly-salted butter is a five minute slice of heaven on a plate. Especially with a cup of strong tea. Darjeeling I suggest.

Ingredients:
500g Strong white flour
7g fast action dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
20g sugar
300ml luke warm water
Chopped pieces of cooked black budding (quarter crescents of sausage slices will do).

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and make a small well in the centre. Then bit by bit, add the water and start to mix it together, bringing flour in from the sides of the well to form a soft dough. Add a little more water if the mix is to dry to come together. Likewise, add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.  When the dough has made one piece, tip it out onto a floured surface and knead it for ten minutes or so.

Oil a bowl large enough to contain the dough with some room to spare and into this place the dough and cover with a damp cloth. Leave the bowl in a warm place to let the dough rise.  When it has doubled in size, tip it back on to the floured surface and ‘knock back’ the dough to take some of the air out.

At this point add the black pudding. Now – if you prefer a more consistent mixture of black pudding through the bread and not chunky spots, then by all means go ahead and crumble the black pudding pieces beforehand. Re-form the dough into a shape you are happy with making sure that all the black pudding is well distributed through the bread. Place it on a greased baking tray for another 30 minutes, covered with a tea towel to let the dough prove.

Bake in a pre-heated oven on 200° and bake for 20 mins before lowering the heat to 180° for another half an hour. Tapping the base of the loaf will tell if it is cooked; it should sound hollow.

Leave on a wire rack to cool.

When ready, cut, toast and serve with salted butter. An amazingly comforting snack. ~