easyrecipes

Sikil P’ak

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Mayan Roasted Tomato & Pumpkin Dip

Before us Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and even Northern Europe inhabitants claimed the tomato as one of the fruits defining our food cultures, this divine berry was a staple of the Mayan diet. Its ancient Mayan name is P’ak. In Nahuatl cultures ingesting the seeds of the tomato berry was considered a divine blessing – its name closer to its worldwide term nowadays is ‘tomatl’. This dip or as some of guests called it ‘tomato and nut butter’ hails from the olden times of South American food heritage. My recipe was inspired by the infamous Diane Kennedy, whose books on Mexican cuisine are a precious ethnography of the land’s food culture. You can use raw, un-peeled pumpkin seeds for one third of the quantity of pumpkin seeds used here. If you do be careful to NOT use salted ones and you might need to increase the water quantity used. I prefer to play safe and to use organic peeled and home roasted seeds.

What

(yields approx. 500g dip)

  • 350g ripe tomatoes
  • 160g pumpkin seeds
  • Half a habanero or Hungarian hotwax or jalapeño chilli pepper (optional)
  • 65-85ml water
  • 15g fresh coriander leaves finely chopped 
  • ½- 1tsp salt
  • 2 pinches of smoked or plain salt
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Handful of chives, roughly chopped or some parsley

How

  1. Place the washed & dried tomatoes a non-stick pan with a couple of pinches of salt. Preferably use ripe cherry or small plum tomatoes whole. Other tomatoes should be sliced in half.
  2. Roast the tomatoes on high heat for the first five minutes and then lower to medium heat to cook until soft in the middle, usually for another five minutes.  
  3. Whilst the tomatoes roast, place the pumpkin seeds in another non-stick pan and toast for a few minutes until they start popping. Make sure you regularly shake the pan to avoid burn.
  4. Set aside the pumpkin seeds to cool down  (5 minutes).
  5. Whilst the pumpkins are cooling down dry toast the chilli pepper until it browns in spots and softens.
  6. Using a coffee or spice grinder blend the toasted pumpkins to a fine meal.
  7. In a food processor place the tomatoes, chilli (if using), the ½ tsp of salt, the coriander and some water. Blend until well mixed.
  8. Transfer the pumpkin meal and tomato mix into a bowl, add the lime and mix well. You can also mix in the food processor if big enough.
  9. The mixture should resemble a mayonnaise dip in consistency or a thin hummus.
  10. If you don’t mind a chunkier dip, you can make the dip in a large stone pestle and mortar. Starting with the grinding of the seeds, then the tomato and pepper and then the other ingredients.
  11. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  12. Mix in the lime juice and garnish with the chives.
  13. Serve with nachos as a starter or beer snack.
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LOVE EWE

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We have joined forces with Ty Caws cheesemongers in Wales to tell you why we think you should give ewe’s or sheep’s milk cheese a go.  Contact our friend Owen and place your order for that cheese now! Or attend some of the forthcoming Farmer’s markets in Wales where Owen and the team showcase cheese we love to eat.

To help you take that step to loving ewe, we are sharing an easy, baked cheese recipe for the fantastic & award winning #fettle cheese from Shepherd’s Purse in Yorkshire. You can order #fettle from Ty Caws or get it at forthcoming farmers market in Cardiff. We also recommend Brefu raw ewe’s milk cheese from Cosyn Cymru (uses thistle rennet so it is truly vegetarian).

Here is why we think you should eat Ewe’s milk cheese:

1. It’s so tasty! If you are not so hot on goat cheese (which we also love by the way) why not try some sheep or ewe milk cheese instead?  You might actually like it.

2. It is digestible! A great alternative to cow’s milk cheese and an overall much more digestible dairy product for most humans!  

3. You support UK sheep farmers who really need our help to survive during these hard times. Shepherd’s Purse Cheese company recently increased its investment in a sheep farmer collective it supports to ensure the production of fettle and other sheep’s milk cheeses. Every slice you buy it from Ty Caws in Wales this helps some sheep farmer continue having the demand to sustain a dairy producing herd. How great is that?

Bougiourntí Baked Fettle Recipe

What:

  • 150g Fettle cheese
  • 1 mild green chilli pepper, sliced in rings
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes or two small tomatoes sliced
  • Two sprigs of fresh oregano or a generous amount of dried oregano
  • Two springs of fresh thyme from the garden (optional)
  • 5-6 Tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil

How

  1. Place a 20cm by 20Cm square aluminium foil sheet on a chopping board and fold sides in slightly to contain the olive oil you will use.
  2. Drizzle half the olive oil on the bottom of the foil, add the oregano springs or pinch, the thyme sprigs if you are using, half the sliced chilli pepper and half the sliced tomatoes.
  3. Place the slab of fettle cheese on top of the ingredients.
  4. Top with the rest of the oregano, thyme, pepper, tomatoes and olive oil.
  5. Fold the foil sides in and then downwards to create a baking purse. Rather than acking the foil tightly and flat fold like you would a brown paper bad and allow an air gap for the roasting.
  6. If you have a small lidded pot use that instead of aluminium foil.
  7. Bake for 20 min on 180 degrees Celsius in the oven.
  8. Cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Eat with plenty of bread to enjoy the juices of the baked cheese, seasonal veg, herds and olive oil.

Whilst Fettle uses a feta cheese making method it is not feta but it is utterly delicious. It seems less ‘pickled’ than Greek feta cheese and is therefore less tangy! But as the sheep herds graze on grassier plains the cheese is creamier, nuttier and denser in texture (as well as salty enough to make it distinct). When baked its texture changes beautifully to be a little bit more chewy (like halloumi on a grill). We also loved it in fresh tomato salads with salted onions and generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.

Lia’s Kitchen is a community interest company which aims to raise awareness on independent, sustainable and local food producers and suppliers as part of its objectives. We seek out local knowledge to raise awareness of such produce. We also aim to raise awareness on food which is accessible to people with health conditions and dietary restrictions – ewe’s milk cheese makes dairy products accessible to those with cow milk intolerance or allergies. Whilst were given free samples of the ewe’s milk cheese we were not obliged to write about it or to recommend its consumption Please make sure you do not consumer dairy products if you are allergic to all dairy! . We were not paid for this feature.