I grew up in pretty humble roots but i always remember home cooked food arriving on the table. My family LOVES food and it’s how we communicate between each other, we may not say i love you (maybe on a christmas card) very often, but we do show our love through sharing, experimenting, fighting over who stirs the pan and ultimately eating together. I think this has soaked into the very core of my bones and my favourite thing is to share the whole sensory experience of cooking and eating with good friends and friends to be.
I wasn’t brought up on the finest, chicest ingredients…we didn’t have enough money for that, but my northern roots were embedded in getting the ‘best’ out of not very much. So we had the cheapest cuts of meats, but they were slow cooked, with care and a few extra sprinkles…we had lots of marrow bones – way before heston got there! ham hocks cooked with juicy butter beans, chicken carcasses boiling on the hob for hours to make a stock to chase your colds and bugs away and of course Lancashire hot-pot – did i mention i’m from Lancashire?
These foundations are still there with me and my winter wedding had a very fine Lancashire hot-pot standing alongside the game casseroles, and foraged items. But my main passion in food direction lies with the food of the mediterranean, the middle east and africa. I love fresh and sharp flavours, preserved lemons, sumac berries, sharp lime, nuts and fruit to give texture and tangy, salty cheeses to awaken the pallet…
I hope my Wednesday posts will reflect these dual influences on my love of food – keri / Humble Cottage x
Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture. It is often served with pitta / flat bread that has been basted with olive oil. The bread is then dipped in the mixture. It has a variety of uses. Basically it is ground-up stuff. Nuts, seeds and spices. It originates in Egypt, and it has a heady flavour and aroma that suggests that part of the world. From my research the ingredients are variable, but generally contain a nut – in the main hazelnuts and spices – defiantly cumin and coriander and then some sesame seeds, thyme and salt. Think of it like pesto, that there is a classic mixture but you can then add your own twists, swop almonds or cashews for the hazelnuts, or cook and roast chick peas if you want to do a less expensive version. Add more herbs, spices to the cumin and coriander – you could try – nigella seeds, peppercorns, paprika, fennel seeds, dried lemon zest, caraway, dried mint. What you want is texture, you want it to have a crunch – think of a triangle and put nutty as a flavour at the top, herby salty on the left bottom, and spicy but not hot as the right hand corner and now go and play!
Dukkah (Basic Recipe)
1 cup nuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
dried thyme to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Toast nuts and seeds in separate batches. Let cool completely.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse. The mixture may fine or coarse, depending on personal preference, but be sure it is dry and crumbly. Over-mixing will turn it into a paste. (Can also use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.)
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (It lasts for about a month)
Now go and eat some!