Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food by Gregg and Lucy Malouf

Any book put together by the Maloufs will inspire you to make Middle Eastern food and make you want to travel. Their books are always beautiful to look at, and the food, deceptively simple, tastes magic. This is my interpretation of one of their dips.

Spinach, turmeric and golden raisin dip
1. Soak 2 tbsp of golden raisins in warm water for 15 minutes, then drain.

2. Finely chop 2 large shallots and fry in a little olive oil until soft and translucent.

3. Stir in ¼ teaspoon of turmeric and the drained raisins, fry another couple of minutes then set aside to cool.

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4. Blanch 250g of spinach leaves in salted water for 20 seconds, run under cold water and squeeze tightly to extract as much water as you can.

5. Chop the spinach finely and mix in 200g of thick natural yoghurt. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

6. Mound the spinach mix onto a platter or in a bowl, top with the turmeric raisins and serve with some pita bread.

A honey of a cut

It's too graphic to put on the page, but at a recent Pork Board demonstration a whole pig was butchered into its various cuts. It inspired me to support the local butcher who can offer individual quantities of meats and cuts not provided on pre-portioned plastic trays in supermarkets.

Chef Nick Honeyman then demonstrated a pig's head brawn and a confit of pig's tail. This is probably a bit adventurous for the home cook, however Honeyman had a great tip to achieve perfect crackling.

1. Any pork roast needs to dry, uncovered, in the fridge for at least a few hours before cooking, preferably overnight.

2. Once the meat has roasted remove it from the oven and allow to rest. Remove the skin-fat layer and put between two baking trays, sandwiched between baking paper.

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3. Try and squeeze the two trays between one rung of the oven. Have the oven set on at least 180C and in 15 minutes or so you will achieve a perfect sheet of crackling.

Now that's a great idea if I ever heard one.