I’m almost embarrassed to even post this; it’s barely a recipe. But it might inspire you to use what’s left in your fridge, and if you take nothing else away, do take this: chapattis work as amazing wraps, and are easy to keep as they freeze brilliantly but tend to have a three-month shelf life anyway.
- a pack of halloumi
- chilli jam
- salad (preferably something peppery like a watercress and rocket but anything would work)
- a griddle pan (or some sort of George Foreman, or a frying pan at a push)
I’ve found that 2/3 of a pack of halloumi will work for four wraps, if you cut it thinner and put more in, but for a more hearty wrap I would allow half a pack for two big wraps, and cut it into chunkier slabs.
Heat up your griddle pan. Seriously, these are the best so if you don’t have one, get on it. They add a little bit of colour and texture to your food, and often you don’t need any oil. When hot, put your sliced halloumi on the griddle and fry on both sides until brown, toasty, and yummy.
When browned, set aside and turn the heat right down. Pop a chapati on the pan and it’ll be warmed by the time you’ve got a plate out of the cupboard. This is absolutely the key to manipulating wraps for stuffing; warm them and they’re tasty and pliable, otherwise they’re a bit dull and they break when you try to, well, wrap them.
Two generous tablespoons of houmous, some blobs of chilli jam- once you buy this stuff you’ll be amazed you ever lived without it, and it’s really not hot- a BIG handful of salad, and the halloumi. The chapati provides a depth of flavour that’s way better than a boring old white wrap, and it holds up well to being stuffed and held. You can really easily adapt this idea to save some calories with reduced fat houmous and halloumi, without sacrificing flavour.
Birthdays are a big deal in my family. The now obligatory post-birthday Loz and Kathry lunch is even more of a big deal. It has to be somewhere posh or cool and involves lots of food and not a little drink. This concept could only be improved if Big Sister lived a little closer and was able to come along!
This year’s birthday lunch for Loz was meant to be a brunch, an all-you-can-drink brunch no less at the South Place Hotel, but now one of us is, ahem, up the duff, all you can drink Prosecco suddenly didn’t seem as exciting.
Our first port of call was going to be the delish Red Dog Saloon on Hoxton Square. Disgustingly big burgers, pitchers of beer and Hipster Central – what wasn’t to love? Well, actually, the lack of non-meaty products wasn’t particularly to love for veggie Loz so we decided on nearby The Breakfast Club instead. Having a cheeky branch in Shoreditch that we hadn’t visited plus a rather fabulous German beer on tap made this seem like the perfect spot but having had a quick gander at the other branch on Artillery Lane opposite Liverpool Street, and spying the queue OUT OF THE DOOR we thought that we might save our feet and head to Spitalfields instead.
And that’s how we ended up at Byron. Yay for Byron! Got a booth immediately AND they serve Brooklyn Lager. Score! (And being in the second trimester means that certain mummies-to-be can have one alcoholic drink a week. Double score!)
Now, Byron is emerging as the biggest train in the burger joint trend that looks unlikely to die out any time soon. People in my office actually clapped for joy at the arrival of American chain Five Guys to Covent Garden, and I have been lured in the slightly dirty, and slightly pretentious queue-only, world of Meat Liquor on several occasions.
Byron is a much cleaner brand than ML but still aims to retain the trendy aesthetic so key to the burger revolution: the interior is modern with chairs that you want to pinch for your own flat, and the burger buns are shiny brioche. You may want to discount the most visible of this brand of tasty meatwich but please don’t. It. Is. Awesome.
You might have a Byron on your high street but the burgers are good, the sides are very good (onion rings and chipotle mayo are musts), and the Oreo cookie milkshake is the perfect way to finish. There are very few veggie options, as with most of these places, but the Portobello mushroom burger was pronounced to be the proverbial hit.
Incidentally, Loz rates Gourmet Burger Kitchen quite highly as a veggie destination. It doesn’t feel quite as much like a restaurant as Byron (it’s a bit closer to Nando’s in that you pay at a counter), but as well as offering a vegetable-based, goat’s cheese option, there’s also a bean burger and a falafel one. A bit of variety is never a bad thing, although a meat-substitute burger would be even better, my vegetarian relatives tell me.
God I love a dirty burger. If a topping isn’t oozing out of the rapidly disintegrating bun then frankly it’s just not worth the effort. Funnily enough, Whitechapel’s aptly named Dirty Burger is next on the hit list with Camden’s Hache being named the restaurant of choice for when me and hubby have London overnighter when celebrating our wedding anniversary in November.
I really wish I had written this post after lunch as I have started to drool on my desk. Ah well.
If you know a great burger place in London or Essex then give us a shout please!
I think this post is sponsored by the rage I felt at seeing a bottle of Dolmio on sale at a WH Smith’s at the local hospital for a whopping £2.99. Why do people buy this stuff? It’s awful and doesn’t taste like any of the ingredients that are purported to be in it. Apologies if you very much enjoy a ‘Dolmio Day’ but any pre-made sauce, of any brand or supermarket origin, just feels like a waste because it’s very easy to make your own sauce.
So this is my fall-back sauce. I very much enjoy whipping up my bolognaise, a Nigella spaghetti with lemon and garlic breadcrumbs, or a walnut and parsley pesto, but when I’m hungover and/or starving, this “arrabiata” hits the spot.
An arrabiata is a tomato and chilli sauce, which this definitely is, but without any of the skill that it probably should be made with. But then again it’s very simple, and I’ve whipped it up several times when my head should be firmly on a pillow in a darkened room. Add a few more fancy ingredients and extra cooking time and this could probably be a dinner party dish….. or, y’know, a Tuesday lunch when working from home. Whatevs.
Anyway, you need the stuff below.
These are store cupboard essentials for me. If you don’t have fresh chillies then crushed chilli flakes will serve you just as well. I sometimes add some for an extra kick anyway.
The one thing you definitely need is a food processor. This is the key ingredient, so-to-speak, of this sauce because it excludes the need for proper chopping and produces a smooth-ish sauce. A stick blender would probably assist and achieve a similar effect but you would need to chop the veg much finer.
Speaking of which, the chopping is very easy. Top and tail the onion, remove the skin and then chop into rough wedges. Top and tail the garlic and peel, then remove the stalks from the chillies and cut each in half. I use two red chillies but if you wanted an element of freshness then a green one would probably be tasty. Go mad if you dare! Just bear in the mind that the heat comes from the seeds of the chilli, which I don’t remove. If you’re chillis are small then you might want to think about removing the seeds but this is supposed to be a hot sauce.
Pour the chopped toms into the processor and start whizzing on a slow speed. Now add the veg using the feeder at the top and carry on whizzing until you have a slightly bitty looking sauce.
To cook the sauce, add a glug (roughly a tablespoon) of extra virgin olive oil to a pan – I use a frying pan just for a larger surface area so the sauce reduces slightly – heat the oil and add the sauce. A decent oil is good in this case because it’s going to contribute to the flavour as opposed to being just for frying purposes, so I use my supremely poncy organic Palestinian olive oil from Whole Foods. Oooooh, pretentious and pricey! But also tasty!
Now it’s just a case of heating the sauce through. I like it to thicken so just keep it on a low heat until I can see where the level has lowered on the side of the pan. Or until my pasta is ready. The point is that it doesn’t need to cook per se so keep an eye on it and don’t have the heat too high. Feel free to season to taste.
I like this with white pasta spaghetti. I cook the pasta in a big pan, drain, pour back in the pan and then pour in the sauce to combine (you should always add pasta to sauce, not the other way around – Ed/Loz). Oh yeah, that’s the stuff right there.
Dinner/lunch/tea/supper/snack is served. My lunch today was particularly satisfying with a sneaky can of diet cola and some sautéed kale to up my iron intake and relieve some of the carb guilt.
Do let me know if you attempt this and how you fare – I would love to see snaps and your modifications. Samples of your own cheat’s arrabiata are always gratefully received!