Aubergine Fetteh (Fetteh Beitinjaan)

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (August 2017) and taken from Syria: Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam and Dina Mousawi.

Layering food on toasted bread with a yogurt sauce is a Syrian speciality. Bread is considered a sacred gift in the Arab world, and it’s a sin to waste it even after it has gone stale. That’s why ‘fetteh’ – literally ‘breadcrumbs’ – is so popular and it can be made with chickpeas, aubergines, chicken or lamb.


Serves 4, as part of Mezze

3 aubergines
Olive oil, for roasting and drizzling
2 flatbreads or pittas
500g plain yogurt
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2 tblsp lemon juice
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped, to serve
Handful of pomegranate seeds, to serve
50g pine nuts, toasted, to serve


Step One : Heat the oven to 180oC / 350oF / Gas Mark 4. Cut the aubergines into quarters lengthways, then slice them into 1cm chunks and place in a baking tray. Pour over a generous helping of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, then roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are soft.

Step Two : Brush the bread with olive oil and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until nice and crispy. Then break it up into pieces. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic and lemon juice.

Step Three : When the aubergines are ready, take them out of the oven and allow to cool. Place them in a shallow bowl, then pour the yogurt mix on top. When ready to serve, sprinkle with the crispy bread, parsley, pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts.

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Bean and Pepperoni Risotto

Serves: 4 – Prep time: 20 mins – Cook time: 35 mins – Cals per portion: 560

A colourful, easy to make twist on a classic dish.

3 tbsp (45ml) olive oil
1 onion, sliced
225g (8oz) carrots, diced
1 green pepper, deseeded and diced
200g (7oz) Pepperoni, sliced
1 tbsp (15ml) paprika
225g (8oz) easy-cook brown rice
225g (8oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 ½ pt (900ml) chicken stock
283g (10oz) can red kidney beans, drained
396g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
50g (2oz) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Basil leaves to garnish

Step One: Heat the olive oil and cook the onion until softened. Add carrots, green pepper and pepperoni and cook for 2-3 mins. Stir in paprika and rice. Cook for 2-3 mins, so all the grains are coated.

Step Two: Stir in chopped tomatoes and ¼ pt (150ml) of the stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed.

Step Three: Gradually add the remaining stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, before adding more. When it’s all added, the rice should be tender. Add a little more stock if necessary. Add the beans and chickpeas and heat through. Stir in the Parmesan and scatter over the basil leaves.

Fig Crostata with Rosemary Custard

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2018) and taken from a book called Feasting.

Figs are believed to have originated in the Middle East and have a strong presence in the Bible.  Showcase their sweet flavour and luxurious texture in this rustic crostata.

Serves 6-8


240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
80g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
120g cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
90g semolina
8 fresh figs, sliced in half lengthways
1 egg beaten, for glazing
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Rosemary Custard
750ml milk
2 rosemary sprigs
3 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour

Step One: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of cold water, and blitz again until the dough comes together.  Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball, then flatten slightly.  Wrap in cling-film and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 200oC / 400oF / Gas Mark 6. Roll out the dough into a large circle with a 30cm diameter. Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle one third of the semolina on top. Put the dough on top of the semolina and sprinkle the rest of the semolina on top of the dough.

Step Three: Arrange the figs on top of the pastry in an inner circle with a diameter of about 20cm. You should be left with a 10cm ring of pastry around the fruit. Fold up the edges of the pastry over the fruit. Glaze the pastry flap with the beaten egg and place in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.

Step Four: While the crostata is baking, make the rosemary custard. Pour the milk into a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the rosemary sprigs and warm through to infuse for 5-10 minutes.

Step Five: In a bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour to form a paste. When the milk is warm, remove the rosemary and pour 250ml of the warm milk into the egg mixture. Gently combine, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Stir continuously over a low heat until the custard thickens.

Step Six: Remove the crostata from the oven. Dust with icing sugar, if using, and serve with the rosemary custard on the side.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.