The Honey Sandwich

March 18, 2009

Now that Marks and Spencer have unveiled their own jam sandwich, competitively priced at 75p, I feel certain that the time is ripe for an occasional series on my own favourite sandwiches.

The homemade sandwich is a very personal affair. Since most of us only admit to eating them when we have to  – ie for lunch at work – owning up to actually liking them feels like a truly personal revelation. Particularly on a food blog, you know? It sounds kind of slummy. Like telling you that I don’t wear underwear.

But there it is. I do (like sandwiches that is).

And this is my latest favourite.

sandwich-007

That’s butter (or Utterly Butterly to be perfectly exact) on granary bread. Plus a thick layer of set honey on one of the slices, and a thin layer of light Tahini on the other.

Tahini is made from sesame seeds and it adds a little chewiness, along with some protein and a rather larger number of calories.

It works, really it does. Try it. And then let me know your  own favourite sandwiches.

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aubergines in the sun

After a week in Cyprus I’m craving sun. 

Cyprus was dry and dusty, the hills white with sparse trees, here where the Mediterranean met the Middle East. October, like May, is the perfect time to visit; it’s hot enough to swim but nothing like as sweltering and humid as high summer.

We spent almost all our time outside, from early morning tea on the balcony, looking out at the pale blue line of sea, to dinner under the bougainvillea. Maybe it was the fresh air, but everything we ate had that much more flavour than supermarket-bought food. I suppose it would do, having been grown locally and ripened naturally, rather than flown in from the other side of the planet.

There was plenty everywhere, even in such a dry climate, roadside shops overflowing with the choicest Mediterranean fruit and vegetables, from fat juicy tomatoes to tiny crisp cucumbers, grapes, pomegranates and peppers.

Also in season were aubergines (or eggplants if you prefer..or brinjal, in India). I love them, but in general they elicit mixed views, since they can end up rather tasteless and mushy. Salting them before cooking does get rid of some of their wateriness, but more vital is how they’re cooked.

They work well barbecued, fat slices brushed with olive oil placed directly onto the barbecue grill for just a few minutes on each side. Or you can cook them in the oven, as I did this dish, but with only a little oil and at a high temperature, so the aubergines end up slightly blackened at the edges and with a dark smoky flavour.

Baked Aubergines with Garlic and Lemon, for 2
2 aubergines (about 500g)
1 lemon
half a bulb of garlic
2-3 tbs olive oil
salt

Set the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Top and tail the aubergines and cut them into long fat chips, by slicing them lengthwise and then halving those slices. Put them into a roasting pan along with the garlic cloves – there should be 7 or 8 of these and they can go in as they are, unpeeled. Sprinkle over the olive oil, squeeze on the lemon and give it all a generous salting. 

Bake for about 20 minutes. Ovens vary a great deal, so if the aubergines look mushy or bland, give them a few minutes under the grill – they need to be slightly charred.

You may need to add more salt once cooked. This ultra lemony dish works even better eaten cold, alongside something like a tomato salad and feta cheese.

fast healthy lunch

Asparagus is still in the shops and though I couldn’t call this an Indian summer, it hasn’t rained today, not yet at least.

So I rustled this up for an al fresco lunch and sat out there in my thickest sweater, pretending it wasn’t 70-odd shopping days to Christmas.

Asparagus Spears with Halloumi and Caramelised Walnuts (for 2 with bread)
50g walnut halves
25g butter
1 dsp honey
100g broccoli florets
about 10 asparagus spears
200g halloumi

Saute the walnuts in the butter for just a couple of minutes, then drizzle in the honey and give them another minute or so – any more and they will begin to burn. Extract the walnuts from the pan and leave them to cool. 

On a hot griddle sear the halloumi for a few minutes on each side. I like my halloumi virtually charcoaled on the outside and succulent within, so I don’t grease the griddle, though you can for a more golden effect. 

Steam the broccoli and asparagus for about 5 minutes, no more. Leave to cool. 
I dressed all the ingredients with 3 parts olive oil to 1 of balsamic vinegar, plus a quarter of a teaspoon grainy mustard and the same of honey.