food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘tahini

salty-sweet orange and tahini pretzels

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Another delight from Honey & Co The Baking Book by Sarit Packer & Itmar Srulovich and my first attempt at pretzels.

Mix together 200g (7 oz) of strong white flour, 150g (5⅓ oz) of plain flour, ½ a teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of icing sugar. Warm 140ml (4¾ fl oz) of milk to blood temperature and add 4½ teaspoons of dry active yeast, the grated zest of 1 orange and 50g (1¾ oz) of date molasses or dark honey. Stir to dissolve then add this liquid to the dry ingredients and knead together to form a ball. Slowly incorporate 80g (2¾ oz) of tahini paste then 50g (1¾ oz) of unsalted butter (diced and at room temperature). Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for at least 1 hour. On an un-floured work surface, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll each one into a long 40-45cm (16-17″) snake. Lie the snake in a semi-circle with the 2 ends facing you. Lift the ends only and twist them around each other then lower them towards the remaining half circle and press the ends down gently. Carefully flip the pretzel onto a prepared, paper-covered baking sheet so that the ends are underneath. Repeat the process until you have 8 pretzels, allowing a little space between each pretzel. Prove for a further 90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (390ºF). Brush the pretzels with an egg yolk beaten with a pinch of sugar and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they have a dark golden brown crust. Delicious at any time of day.


Written by michelle picker

June 2, 2017 at 5:30 am

Posted in breakfast, cakes & desserts

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freekeh salad with lamb

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Freekeh (or farik) is roasted green wheat which derives it’s name from being rubbed (farīkor) or threshed. The wheat is harvested when the grains are yellow and the seeds soft and is first sun-dried then carefully set on fire so only the straw and chaff burn. The high moisture content of the seeds prevents them from burning. It has been used in Arabian cooking since the 13th Century and is still widely used in North Africa and the Middle East. My salad uses a mix of these influences.


To cook the freekeh, boil it in water until the grains are soft but still a little chewy. This will take quite a long time -even with a pressure cooker the grains will take 20 minutes to cook. When they are cooked, shock them with cold water, drain and place in a bowl. Meanwhile season some fresh diced beetroot with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook in a generous amount of olive oil in a covered frypan over medium heat. When the beetroot is becoming soft add an equal amount of seasoned diced pumpkin. Cover again and cook until beginning to soften. Add some diced garlic to the pan and cook for a further minute or two. Cool the vegetables a little then add them to the freekeh along with handfuls of chopped mint, coriander (cilantro) and spring onions, the juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste), more olive oil if necessary, salt and freshly ground black pepper. For the dressing combine equal parts tahini and yoghurt with some grated or crushed garlic, sumac or lemon juice (or both), salt, black pepper and enough water to make the desired consistency. Pile the salad onto some baby spinach leaves or greens of your choice. I topped my salad with roasted lamb but if you prefer a vegetarian version try feta or grilled haloumi. Drizzle with the prepared dressing and garnish with either dukkah or za’atar (both are available from Middle Eastern stores).

Written by michelle picker

March 11, 2016 at 5:45 am

lamb meatballs with eggplant and tomato + couscous with cauliflower

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Here’s a hearty meal with North African and Middle Eastern influences.


To make the meatballs combine lamb mince with finely chopped parsley, ground cumin and ground cinnamon to taste and season well with salt and pepper. Form into small meatballs and set aside in the fridge. Dice a large eggplant (aubergine) and fry gently in some olive oil until it begins to soften. Add a large diced onion, 2-3 cloves of finely diced garlic and a diced red pepper and continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Next add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 2-3 teaspoons of cumin powder and a cinnamon quill. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a fry-pan and brown the meatballs a little to seal them. Add them to the sauce and continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through and the flavours are well combined.


For this couscous you will need to cut ¼ of a cauliflower very finely until it resembles couscous – this is most easily done by pulsing pieces in a food processor. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Put the cauliflower together with 1½ cups of couscous into a shallow oven dish, season with salt and drizzle with olive oil and melted butter. Stir to coat everything with oil and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until a little toasted. Add 2½ cups of boiling water and return to the oven until all the water is absorbed and the couscous feels quite dry and separate. This should only take 10 minutes or so. To make the sauce combine ⅓ of a cup of tahini paste with ½ a cup of greek yoghurt, 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a little lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Add ½ – ¾ of a cup of water, enough to make the consistency like thin honey, and mix well. I garnished my cauliflower couscous with steamed green beans and fried shallots.

Written by michelle picker

October 2, 2014 at 5:25 am

koftas with tahini sauce

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Thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi again for these delicious morsels!


In a bowl mix 400g (14 oz) each of freshly minced lamb and beef, 1 small finely diced onion, 2 large minced cloves of garlic, 50g (1¾ oz) of roughly chopped toasted pine nuts (save some whole ones for later), 30g (1 oz) of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (save some whole leaves for later), 1 large finely diced red chilli, 1½ teaspoons each of ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground black pepper and salt and ¾ of a teaspoon of grated nutmeg. Shape the mixture into torpedo-shaped koftas weighing approximately 60g (2 oz) each. Make sure to press them together firmly so that they retain their shape when cooking. Arrange them on a plate and chill them. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 210ºC (410ºF). For the sauce mix 150g (5¼ oz) of tahini paste with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 crushed clove of garlic, ¼ of a teaspoon of salt and ¼ of a cup of water in a small saucepan. This mixture should be thinner than honey. Warm the sauce a little. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frypan and sear the koftas in batches over high heat until golden brown. Remove them to an oven tray and when they are all browned finish them in the oven for 2-4 minutes. Spoon the tahini sauce into a serving platter and add the koftas. Garnish with the remaining pine nuts and parsley leaves and serve immediately.

Written by michelle picker

May 11, 2014 at 6:05 am