Food time: Mediterranean wraps

Happy Monday, beautiful people!

Today, I have something a little bit different, and a big bit exciting to share.

Today, I have a recipe for you. Well, I call it a recipe to make it sound swanky, it’s more of a lunch idea.

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(Action wrap shot. Photo by me.)

How does a Mediterranean wrap sound to you? Yummy, right? It features healthy veg and halloumi cheese and it’s super easy. It’s quite cheap too, which is always nice.

There are a couple of things to watch out for: halloumi is addictive. There will be some snaffly bits. You must do your best not to snaffle them, because if you manage not to, one batch of cooking can last you almost a week of lunches. And that little bit of genius is worth the restraint. (I think. I didn’t manage it, myself. I had to have crumpets for lunch, instead, for a couple of days. Quel domage…)

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(Halloumi, YUM. Photo by me.)

So here you go…

Mediterranean wraps (makes 4 servings)

You will need:

  • 1 aubergine (or egg plant for any American readers)
  • 2 courgettes (or zucchini for any American readers)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Dried thyme
  • Crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 block of halloumi
  • 4 wraps
  • Sweet chilli sauce

Preheat the oven to 150ºC (ish, none of this needs to be precise).

Slice your aubergine and courgette thinly and scatter on baking trays.

Sprinkle olive oil, lemon, thyme and chilli flakes over the vegetables. I wasn’t specific with quantities, you don’t need to be either, just go wild.

Bake the veggies for 15-20 minutes, or until they are looking a bit juicy/gnarly/crispy (mine were all of the above).

Meanwhile, drain your halloumi and pat it dry. Slice it into 5mm thick slices and fry in a dry pan on the hob. If more liquid comes out during cooking, soak it up with some kitchen roll and chuck that goo away. We want our cheese toasty.

When the underside is mottled orangey brown, flip each piece of halloumi. Remove from the heat when both sides are equally toasty and scrummy.

Whack your wrap on a plate. Layer up the courgette and aubergine (I did courgette, aubergine, courgette but it’s not exactly a science) and then put a few slices of cheese on top. I like having an extra slice at the bottom so the last mouthful is super cheesy. Drizzle with sweet chille sauce, wrap and EAT.

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(Neat stacking. About the only thing I do neatly. Photo by me.)

The veg makes it fresh and zingy, the cheese adds some salt and protein and the sauce gives it some kick. Perfect lunch? I think so.

Top tip: if you put all of the fillings in the middle at the top you can do the nappy fold and keep all of your fillings safely inside the wrap. Yes I just said ‘nappy’ while talking about food. It’s ok, you will survive.

Until next time, amigos!

The Bread Diaries

Isn’t bread wonderful? Wholesome and delicious, simple and scrummy, you really can’t go wrong with a bit of bread. Whenever I have a food craving it’s either chocolate or bread. But not that pappy stuff that’s mostly additives. I crave real bread with an actual crust and soft, fluffy crumb. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat shop-bought loaves. I have to, thanks to the restraints on my time and my purse. But they don’t come close to real yummy bread.

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(Photo by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie. Random photo, I know, it’s cinnamon and blackberry cake, it’s good…)

I’ve only made bread a couple of times in my life. The first time was at school, and it went surprisingly well. Especially when you compare it to my all-butter sponge cakes that lacked, um, butter and my boiled scones (that one was the teacher’s fault, she made me do it). The bread was pretty damn good. But I didn’t make any again for a good ten years. Until mum and I tackled a loaf together. Unfortunately we buggered off to the gym during the second prove, so it proved far, far too long. The goo monster we returned home to was less than pleased…though the bread itself was still yumtastic once baked.

So I decided to have another go. I couldn’t let bread defeat me! I thought I’d start simple with a cottage loaf, Mary Berry’s cottage loaf to be exact (seriously, if you don’t own her Baking Bible, go and buy it now. You can thank me later. Go. Shoo!)

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(Photo by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie. Here’s a photo of some bakewell tarts for you to come back to, yummy right? Good, I’m glad we agree)

As you may have learned by now, I am the Official Queen of the Slapdash and I didn’t check my recipe before going to the shop. My recipe asked for fast-action yeast. I bought dried active yeast. The recipe said shove it in ­- my kinda style. The tin said activate it in water first. I vacillated between recipe and tin for a few minutes before deciding activated yeast was better than inert yeast. So I soaked it in water, made all the beer-smelling froth and chucked in the extra wet ingredient.

My dough was soggy. I mean really soggy, I could have made prosthetic plague out of it. Add more flour, I thought. Accessing flour with dough-caked  fingers is an interesting exercise that involves lots of elbows, spoons and swearing, but I got there. I never achieved what Mary describes as “a fairly sticky, soft dough” though. I had a very sticky, sticky, dough. I shoved it in the oiled bowl anyway and covered it with cling film to prove. Then I had a chat with mum. Why do I always ask her AFTER I do silly things? She revealed to me that I needn’t have activated my yeast and could have saved myself all the bother. So…at least I learnt something there.

The first prove

(Photo by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie. Mmm oily and gooey, how on earth did our ancestors work out this was a good thing?)

An hour and a half later I knocked back my dough. There were lots of little air bubbles, it had a smooth consistency and it was pliable to knead…things were looking up! I shaped it all up, plonked a little ball on top for that iconic cottage look and eventually managed to poke a wooden spoon through without completely mangling my work. Wrapped up once more for a second prove it looked all snuggly and cosy. It wasn’t the prettiest looking loaf when I peeled back the cling film. The top ball had migrated for a rather jaunty affect, but hey, people need to be sure I made the thing, right? Beaten egg was brushed on (any excuse to play with a pastry brush is fine by me) and into the preheated oven it went – with an unintentional good luck kiss from the wire rack above (of course) narrowly missing dough annihilation.

The second prove

(Photo by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie. Mary says to put it in a bag, may I just ask, who has a bag that big?)

The recipe states that bread is done once golden and hollow-sounding when tapped on the base. I don’t know if you have ever been faced with a freshly baked piping hot loaf of bread but it isn’t instantly clear how to access the bottom. I tapped the top, it sounded hollow, was that good enough?

Fresh from the oven

(Photo by Thoroughly Modern Lizzie. Looks alright dunnit?)

For my first solo attempt at bread, it wasn’t bad. It smelled good, really good, even if it did look a bit deformed. It actually tasted alright as well, but as soon as I cut into it, I knew it hadn’t baked for long enough. Pressing on the crumb, it didn’t spring back and the crust had little strength or structure. It was pappy but tasty so I’d call that half a win. At any rate, it’s a start, and next time, I will do better. Focaccia’s here I come!