Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour

Hello hello hello,

If you were expecting a newsletter last Sunday - Sorry I was too busy celebrating turning 30 and seeing my friends and family. I do hope that all of you are too busy to notice if I skip a week ;)

I promised to write about Anita Lo’s ‘Solo’, but whilst planning the menu for my birthday weekend I turned to one of my favourite books - ‘Feasts’ by Sabrina Ghayour. And I realised that it’s a very special book for me. So many friends have been fed with the recipes from this book, so many celebrations and overflowing tables. I fed my friend’s toddler his first saffron potato thanks to this book, I made incredibly moist and fluffy cake to celebrate reunions, hosted an all-vegetarian Cookbook Club, blew some heads off using Tunisian harissa instead of Rose harissa and so much more. Oh and I celebrated my big birthday eating food from this book. So it was only fair to write about it. It’s stained and tattered, with pages sticking together, bits of dry herbs stuck to pages.

Sabrina Ghayour is one of my favourite chefs. Her recipes are simple in execution, require only a few special ingredients, the majority of which are easily accessible in the supermarkets. Her books are great for novice cooks - the instructions are easy to follow and there aren’t any insane techniques and processes. The most you’d be required to do is marinate something overnight, but even when you don’t, the flavours are so intense they’ll shine through even after a quick marinade.

I have all of Sabrina’s books but this is the one I turn to most, I hope you enjoy reading about the ten recipes I cooked and maybe you’ll even go and buy yourself a copy. This book is brimming with meat, fish and vegetarian recipes so will suit many dietary needs, Sabrina’s cakes often use almond flour so it’s a great option for those allergic to gluten.

The book is divided into eight sections - Breakfast & Brunch, Weekend Feasts, Quick-fix Feasts, Vegetarian Feasts, Summer Feasts, Lighter Feasts, Special Occasions and Comfort Food and at the end, you can find a selection of menus for easy hosting and prep.

Sausage, Potato, Pepper & Onion Bake p. 22

Even though this recipe is in the ‘Breakfast & Brunch’ section we had this for dinner. I halved all the ingredients and it made just enough to feed two hungry adults. This dish is versatile, you can substitute any vegetables you don’t like for your favourites and everyone can control the heat of their dish by using hot sauce. The spice mix is simply cumin seeds, coriander seeds, paprika and pul biber flakes (now widely available in most supermarkets). I made this a while ago but I am very tempted to revisit this for a bank holiday brunch.

Pomegranate & Aubergine Salad p.52

I love aubergine and this dish really celebrates this ingredient, turning it into fall apart, melt in your mouth bites. Combined with rose harissa, honey and pomegranate molasses this dish feels indulgent and celebratory. Can be eaten on its own or stuffed into flatbreads, spread atop toasted bread or even mixed through your favourite grains or plates of pasta.

Tomato & Olive Salad p.57

This salad is my go-to for a big gathering. It only requires few simple ingredients and takes no time to assemble. The buttermilk dressing is what makes it (and the very generous use of za’atar). I often don’t use buttermilk and instead mix some yoghurt with water, it works just as well. Always get the best possible tomatoes you can, to ensure you get a really good flavour from your star ingredient.

Peach, Lime & Pistachio Polenta Cake p.63

I ADORE simple cakes like this. But don’t be fooled by the word ‘simple’, this is a very flavourful and moist sponge, with a beautiful texture from pistachios. The topping is a mix of yoghurt, pistachios and honey, topped with fresh sliced peaches. The liberal use of pistachios makes it a little bit pricey but it’s so worth it and chances are, you’ll be making this for your favourite people.

Ultimate Chicken Shawarmas p.73

This page in the book is crinkled and sticky. I can’t even count how many times I’ve used this recipe. It’s one of our favourite dishes to make on a Friday night. I always marinate the chicken the night before or early in the morning. The result is beautiful, tender and flavourful filling for pillowy flatbreads. Frying on high heat creates a beautiful bbq-like char and gives it a smoky flavour.

Make sure you have your favourite extras to stuff in the bread. We love pickled chillies, pickled cucumbers, pink onions and Sriracha.

Roasted Cod Loins p.76

When it comes to fish, white flakey fish is the only fish I’ll willingly eat (plus seafood and shellfish). This cod loin recipe is perfect for midweek dinners with an accompaniment of light salad and great for hot blistering summer evenings. You only need 5 ingredients (if you don’t count salt and pepper) and voila, your dinner is ready.

Black-Eyed Bean Salad p.80

This salad is quick and easy to assemble and it bursts with freshness; another dish for a hot summer’s day. It’s also great for packed lunches and is made special through the liberal use of fresh herbs. And if you don’t like black-eye beans you can swap it for your favourite bean (creamy sexy cannellini are my favourite).

Spicy Halloumi Salad p.88

I have a tendency to make too much food and am often left with leftovers. This salad is not great for the leftovers (due to the bread going super soggy) so make sure you make just the right amount. But it’s incredible and layered with textures. Requires a fair bit of frying but the final result is worth it. You can easily serve this salad as a main dish, it’s THAT good.

Banana, Coffee and Chocolate Chunk Cake p. 119

This is one sexy cake that uses overripe bananas but is nothing like banana bread. This is a very grown-up cake infused with coffee and caramel flavours. I remember making this but I really don’t remember sharing this with anyone so I have a feeling it was too good to share and Pete and I ate it all.

Blackened Spatchcock Chicken p.130

I made this for a bbq last week, then for my mum’s visit the next day and I made it again last night. We stuffed chicken into fluffy flatbreads and topped with Pan-Roasted Peppers, pink onions, garlicky yoghurt and other bits. The paste of garlic, lemon, cumin, pul biber, thyme, coriander, cardamom and sugar creates a beautiful coating for the chicken skin. I rub mine all over. If there’s enough fridge space I’ll infuse it for as long as possible but even a quick 20-minute marinade will make it sing. Spatchcocking the chicken means you only need 45 minutes to roast the whole bird. Win. Win. Win

I’ve also made Raspberry, Cardamom & Vanilla Yoghurt Fool; Green Couscous & Roasted Vegetables; Roasted Portobello Mushrooms; Grilled Corn in Harissa Mayo (my mum’s husband LOVED this and took the leftovers home); Pomegranate, Cucumber & Pistachio Yoghurt; Peach, Feta & Mint Salad; Orzo & Tomato Salad, Beer Roasted Pork Shoulder; Saffron Roast Potatoes, Pan-Roasted Peppers, Spiced Potatoes and Saffron-infused Leg of Lamb (star of the show every Easter and always makes me think of that time when Xian and I opened WAY too many bottles of wine, one of us had to be carried home and one of us had to be carried upstairs).

As you can tell, it’s a well-loved book. EVERY single recipes speaks to my soul. Now that restrictions are easing and we’re allowed to see people I hope to get more friends around our table and introduce them to Sabrina’s world.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of #notanothercookbook. If you fancy grabbing your own copy, you can do it here.

Happy Bank Holiday weekend! May there be food, drinks, friends and family. I am going to spend this bank holiday recovering from last week’s festivities and earmarking recipes in my new cookbooks - East by Meera Sodha and One by Anna Jones.

Anya xx

Next time on Appetite: turmeric

If you enjoyed this issue, you can buy me a Ko-fi, or we can go for an actual coffee!