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Alice and Fejsal’s White Bean Stew with Pita Bread and Baba Ganoush

During the time we’ve been closed, our team wanted to find a way to cook for each other and stay connected from a distance. Each week, two of our chefs have volunteered their time to cook take away meals for the team and their families. The prepared meals get picked up each day in shifts, just outside the restaurant – enough time for a quick smile and wave hello. We’ve done this over the past month, and the meals have been so delicious that we’d like to share some of our recipes to stay connected to you, too.

Pita Bread

500 g all-purpose flour
300 g water
30 g olive oil
30 g fresh yeast
25 g salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar
olive oil for brushing
(plus any seasoning you like to finish the pita bread, we used a spice mix of black pepper, sumac, coriander seeds, and a touch of salt, but rubs like Za’atar or Baharat would be great too)

Using a sieve, sift the flour into a bowl to ensure there’re no lumps, and add in the salt and sugar too.

Combine the liquids and fresh yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and set it to low speed for 3 to 5 minutes with a whisk attachment. If you don’t have a countertop mixer, this can of course also be done hand.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients at low speed. When everything’s in the bowl, bring the mixer to medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Then finish mixing at high speed for 1 minute to develop the gluten a bit more. (If you’re doing this by hand, knead the dough for 3-5 minutes.)

Transfer the dough to a baking tray dusted with a bit of flour and keep it covered with a wet towel and cling film and let it proof at room temperature for 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, use a knife to cut out 50 gram balls (a bit bigger than a golf ball) and place them onto a floured countertop. Shape the portions of dough by forming a cup with the palm of your hand rolling the them on the counter in a circular motion until they form tight balls. Once they’re all rolled out, place them back onto the tray, again covered with wet towels and cling film and let them proof for 30 minutes more.

Once proofed, place each ball, one at a time, onto your countertop dusted with flour and roll them out with a rolling pin into thin flatbreads, about 1.5 cm thick.

You can bake the pita breads in a very hot oven set to 250° Celsius, on a BBQ, directly on hot coals, or in a hot, dry pan on the stove until they puff and the dough is cooked from within, which should take just a few minutes.

Once cooked and while still hot, brush the pita breads with a bit of olive oil and season with a sprinkle of salt and seasonings of your choice.

White Bean Stew

500 g large white beans, soaked in ample water overnight at room temperature
2 large carrots
1 large leeks
1 head fennel
2 scallions
1 white onion, skin on and cut in half widthwise
5 large leaves kale, per person
1 head garlic, cut in half widthwise
3 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs dill

4 sprigs parsley

2½ L vegetable stock
olive oil

lemon juice to season

With your bean soaked overnight, drain them of their water and transfer them to a pot to simmer in the vegetable stock, which can be made from vegetables you have in your fridge; staples like onion, carrot and celery all work well. Don’t season the beans with salt yet as they’ll take a very long time to cook. Bring the beans up to just a boil and then drop the pot to a simmer over low heat.

Pick the leaves off the sprigs of dill and parsley and reserve the tender tips to use as garnish to finish the soup. Reserve the herb stems too.

Cut your carrots, leeks, fennel and scallions into small pieces, roughly the same size of the beans. Roast them in a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat until they’ve lightly caramelized but haven’t fully cooked, and then set them aside.

In the same pan, take the onion and the head of garlic and char them, cut side down until they blacken. Once charred place them in a small piece of muslin or cheese cloth along with the herb stems, and the rosemary and tie up the parcel with kitchen twine (like a sachet) to infuse into the stew for the rest of the cooking period, at least 30 to 45 minutes.

Cut the leaves of kale into 3 cm wide strips and toss it in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat the leaves lightly. Place the chopped kale onto a baking tray, evenly spread out, and roast it in the oven until the edges begin to brown, then take it out and set it aside. Take the time now to also chop the majority of the leaves of picked dill and parsley.

When the beans are ¾ of the way cooked, to the point that they have just a bit of bite to them, add your chopped vegetables and keep simmering the stew on low heat until everything is pleasantly tender. Remove the sachet of aromatics and finish the stew with the chopped herbs. Season the stew with salt, a bit more olive oil, and some fresh lemon juice to taste. Add the roasted kale just before serving it, and top the portions with the reserved herbs.

Baba Ghanoush

4 medium sized eggplants

2 yellow bell peppers
3 scallions
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch parsley

Olive oil

The key to making good baba ghanoush is to char the eggplants well, either on the barbecue or directly on hot coals (if you don’t have a barbecue you could do this over the flame on your stove top, or under the broiler in your oven). Turning them often, char all sides of the eggplants’ skins until well burned. Don’t be afraid here; the char is needed to impart a smoky flavor to the finished dish. Once charred, if they aren’t yet juicy and knife tender all the way through, you can finish them by cooking them in the oven at around 170° Celsius. Once cooked, allow them to cool to the point where you can handle them, and then peel the eggplants, discarding the burnt skins. Chop the flesh into rough 1 cm chunks with a knife and reserve.

You’ll also need to cook the yellow pepper and scallions on the barbecue and directly on the charcoal (alternatively on your stove top or under the broiler), but not to the point of severely charring like the eggplant—the point here is to get a bit of char on their surface and allow the vegetables to and steam through from within. Coat the vegetables in a bit of olive oil first to help with the cooking. When the vegetables are cooked to your liking, remove the seeds from the peppers, but keep the skin on and chop them and the scallion to the same size as the eggplant flesh (charred pepper skin is delicious in the baba ghanoush). Also save all of the delicious cooking juices that come from the pepper! You can use it to dress a salad.

Finely mince the garlic and the parsley tops (the stems can also be sliced thinly for a bit of crunch and freshness). Then mix everything together, season with the tahini and olive oil, as well as salt to taste.

We would love to see what you make, tag us @nomacph!

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