Archive | October, 2010

Mini Indian Sweet Potato Puffs

31 Oct DCIM100MEDIA

These gorgeous little pasties formed part of my mezze with the honey spiced aubergines from yesterday’s blogpost. They are light, sweet, spicy and very moreish. They would be great as part of a buffet instead of the sausage rolls or as little canapes with drinks, or even with afternoon tea. You will need to defrost the puff pastry in the fridge overnight so the pastry is cold when you roll it out and make the filling earlier in the day and leave it to cool.

Indian Spiced Sweet Potato Puffs Recipe

makes 8 (easily doubled) vegetarian

adapted from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal

  • 1 sweet potato, scrubbed well & baked in its skin (or microwaved)
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  •  1 tsp panch pooran
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (or onion seeds)
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  •  1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt & pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  •  a handful of chopped coriander
  • 1/2 a 375 gr pack of puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  •  1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 egg beaten

*Punch pooran is a whole spice mix made up from cumin, fennel, fenugreek, black mustard & onion seeds. It gives a great rounded flavour to any indian dishes & is available from East End Foods.

Bake the scrubbed sweet potato in its skin in a 200 degree oven for 40 mins to 1 hour or microwave for 7 to 10 mins depending on the size. Leave until cool enough to handle and roughly chop into about 1 cm cubes.

Heat the veg oil in a frying pan on a medium low heat and add the punch pooran & mustard/onion seeds. Fry until they start to pop and sizzle then add the onion & garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli & turmeric, add the chopped sweet potato and stir to mix well with the spices. Cook for few more minutes then put the mixture in a bowl and add the salt, pepper, lemon juice & fresh coriander. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Take the block or sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface and roll it out to about 3mm thick. Sprinkle the cumin seeds evenly over the pastry and roll over them to press them into the pastry. Using a round cutter or small glass about 8 cm diameter cut out about 16 discs. You should get about 10 to start with then roll up the leftovers into a ball and roll out again cut out again and repeat as necessary until you have 16 discs.

Mix the beaten egg with a little water and brush around the edge of each disc. Carefully place about a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into the centre of eight discs then take the remaining discs and place them on top of the filling. Push the edges together with your fingers then seal round crimping with a fork to create a border.

 Lift them carefully onto greased baking paper on a baking tray, brush them with egg wash and bake for about 12 – 15 minutes until risen & golden.

Serve as part of a mezze with a yoghurt & mint dip or a spicy tomato sauce. Or for afternoon tea on a rainy day…..

And remember to invite a friend or you will eat them all yourself, they are so addictive!!

Honey Spiced Sticky Aubergines with coriander & lemon yoghurt

30 Oct DCIM100MEDIA

I know I said I was going to make a Wild Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne. Well I tried but my wholemeal pasta turned out to be a bit of a disaster, too hot in the kitchen I think, it all stuck together. So I will keep trying but in the meantime I don’t have any more mushrooms.

Beehives

Today, while out walking, we got a closer look at the beehives, so it got me thinking about honey recipes. One of my favourite Spanish recipes is Berenjenas con Miel which is thinly sliced aubergines in a light batter served drizzled with Miel de Cana. Miel de Cana is a local honey made from cane sugar and the flavour is a mixture of maple syrup, treacle & honey. Apparently they are stopping making it because all the sugar cane in Malaga has been cut down to make way for the new airport terminal and surrounding buildings. This is a real shame because it’s a unique speciality to the area, it tastes fantastic & I love the label. If you see any buy it while you still can….

Berenjenas con miel has been a lifesaver on a number of occasions here in Spain as the vegetarian options available are basically non-existent, well they were when we moved here 10 years ago, it’s getting better now, slowly. I wanted to use the miel de cana and aubergine but spice it up a little as I like to do so I got some inspiration from The Traveler’s Lunchbox an amazing food blog where I have adapted a recipe for eggplant stewed with honey and spices. It really is so good you have to try it even if you hate aubergines, it delicious…

Honey Spiced Aubergines Recipe

serves 2 as part of a mezze or as a side dish

  • 1 aubergine sliced into about 1cm thick rounds
  • salt
  • olive oil
  •  2 1/2 tbsp clear honey (or miel de cana)
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  •  1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste*
  • a handful of chopped coriander

* Harissa paste is a hot spice paste from Morocco use cayenne pepper if you don’t have any.

Lay the aubergine slices on a board or clean tea towel, sprinkle with salt, leave them for 15 – 20 minutes for the water to come out then wipe dry with kitchen roll.

Heat a large frying pan or grill pan (the stripes would be nice) to a medium high heat, brush the aubergines with olive oil on both sides and cook until browned on both sides (You will probably need to do it in two batches). Then set aside.

Combine the honey and lemon in a bowl with about 4 tbsp hot water from the kettle and stir to dissolve the honey. Heat some olive oil in the frying pan over a medium heat, add the ginger & garlic and fry for about 30 seconds (don’t let it burn). Ad the cumin & harissa paste (or cayenne) and fry for another 30 seconds then stir in the honey & lemon water and bring to a boil. Put the aubergines back in to the pan with the sauce and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes turning occasionally to coat in the sauce.

Cook until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze and the aubergines are really soft. You can add more water if the sauce dries up before the aubergines are cooked. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature sprinkled with fresh coriander. Mix some greek yoghurt with lemon juice, fresh coriander & mint, salt & cumin seeds to serve with them.  You can also serve them as part of a mezze with spiced yoghurt cheese (Labneh see recipe September) or as a delicious starter or even as an accompaniment to a Moroccan flavoured roast lamb.

While Walking in the Forest Today….

28 Oct DCIM100MEDIA

I decided to take Rufus on a different walk today. From our roof terrace you can see the pine forests on the mountain. The beautiful bright green trees seem to invite you in. So we went ….

The Washer Up on the roof. When he is not washing up he paints things. Last year we had so much rain that the whole house leaked so he is trying to seal & paint everyting so we don’t get any leaks or damp this year. Last year the damp got into our wardrobe and green mould started growing on my shoes! This year I’m not taking any chances I have taken a little tip from my mother and put all my shoes in see-through plastic shoe boxes. They won’t get damp again and also I can see all my shoes, some of which I have never worn, its fantastic!!

It it wrong that this makes me happy? That’s just the high heels by the way the flat shoes are still in their cardboard boxes. These get special treatment….

Anyway back to the walking, its a bit of a steep climb to get up there but the view and the smell of pine when you do, brings your breathing back to normal!

I just love the contrast of the trees. Seen from above they are green, alive, soft & duvet like, then from underneath they are silvery grey, dry and bare.

This is the view down one of the firebreaks between the trees, towards the town with beeehives in the middle. There is strange mixture of the noises of  bees buzzing and the electric pylon crackling…

I love this picture of Rufus looking very regal on a carpet of yellow flowers……..

It is really difficult to get your dog to stay still for a nice photo together. We both have scrunched faces..

He won’t look at the camera..

Usually when I am walking I get inspiration from what I see growing. Recipes suggest themselves to me. Today we saw lots of wild mushrooms growing in the forest. They really are amazing things to look at..

Don’t worry I’m not going to cook with these as I have absolutely no idea what they are, they look great though..

I Love Mushrooms…

A Heart Shaped Mushroom!

The idea for a Wild Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne is forming in my brain. Must be the stinky goat shack….

I am thinking of homemade wholemeal lasgane layered with wild mushrooms cooked with onion, thyme & parsley and a goats cheese bechamel sauce. Its a shame I can’t work the honey from the beehives in there as well. Or maybe I can..

See tomorrow’s post for the finished recipe …

The Best Veggie Burger & Fat Chips

27 Oct

 

Having been a vegetarian  for about 25 years (god that’s scary) I have tried my fair share of veggie burgers. Most of them are not great, either too dry & cardboardy or too wet and end up a pile of mush in the pan. This one we tried last night turned out perfectly in flavour and texture. Its made with mushrooms & chickpeas and the fat chips are the ultimate, courtesy of  The Washer Up’s secret recipe…

Mushroom & Chickpea Burgers

Makes 2 Vegetarian

  • about 250gr mushroom chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 chilli deseeded & chopped
  •  1/2 tsp paprika
  •  200gr cooked chickpeas rinsed & drained well
  • about 75 gr grated cheddar
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread toasted
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • polenta (cornmeal)

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat, add the onion and cook until tender & slightly golden. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, chilli, cumin & paprika and cook until the mushrooms are dry about 4 to 6 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Either put the toasted bread in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs or chop very finely by hand. Put the drained chickpeas & mushrooms in a processor and blend to a slightly chunky paste. Add the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, tahini and breadcrumbs and blend again, stir in the chopped coriander and season well with salt & pepper.

Sprinkle a handful of polenta over the mixture and bring it together with your hands. Shape it into two patties (adding more polenta if necessary). Shake some polenta onto a plate and place the burger on the plate and cover all sides with the polenta. Shape again and put in the fridge to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and brown the burgers on both sides then put in the oven for about 10 – 15 mins.

Perfect Fat Chips Recipe

  • 1 big potato per person
  • sunflower oil for deep frying
  • salt & vinegar

Square off one side of your potato with a sharp knife. Put this side down on the chopping board and square off the rest of the sides of the potato so you have a sort of rectangular cube. Use a peeler to get rid of any bits of peel. Carefully cut your potato in to 2 or 3 slices vertically(depending on the size of your potato). The slices should be about 2 cm wide. Now turn theses slices on their side and cut into 2cm chips. You should end up with about 6 or 9 chips per large potato.

Put the chips in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat down slightly and boil for 10 minutes exactly. Drain and leave to cool. Put them in the fridge to cool right down if you have time.

To cook the chips, heat about 250 ml sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok. When the oil is hot add the chips (they should sizzle quite a lot, try one chip first to check if the oil is hot enough). Fry for about 10 minutes, while you burger is in the oven, turning them occasionally with a metal slotted spoon. They should be slightly golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels then pile on the plate and sprinkle with sea salt & vinegar. These ultimate fat chips should be crispy on the outside and soft & fluffy in the centre, perfect……

This really is Saturday night food heaven for me, I served it with a basil pesto mayo to dunk the chips in, delicious…..

Pretty In Pink Beetroot Souffles

26 Oct DCIM100MEDIA

We went to see The Psychedelic Furs in Malaga on Friday night, they were really good live even though I had only heard of one song (Pretty in Pink obviously). Most of it was before my time………ha! The Washer Up enjoyed himself though, something about reliving his youth I think.

Any way the whole Pretty In Pink thing got me thinking about doing a pink souffle with the beetroot I have in the fridge,what could be prettier than a bright pink souffle…

I decided to roast the beetroot instead of boiling it to intensify the flavour and keep as much of the colour as possible. I added the feta cheese for that classic flavour combination (sweet beetroot & sour cheese) and also because adding white to red should make a fantastic deep pink colour.

Roasted Beetroot & Feta Souffle Recipe

Makes 2 or 3 individual souffles Vegetarian

  •  2 small beetroot cut the roots off and quarter
  • a few sprigs of thyme leaves
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp veg stock
  • 25 gr butter
  • 40 gr flour
  • 110 ml milk (I use goat’s milk)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, salt & black pepper
  • 75 gr feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  •  3 eggs separated

First roast the beets, preheat the oven to 190 degrees, then put the quartered beets in a roasting tin drizzle with the olive oil, salt, pepper & thyme leaves and toss to coat evenly. Roast for 45 – 50 minutes until slightly charred and tender.

Leave the beets to cool slightly and remove any tough skin before blitzing them in a blender with the veg stock.  (I didn’t use all the beetroot, I saved a handful for lunch tomorrow).Meanwhile melt the butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat before adding the flour. Stir to cook flour for about a minute then remove from the heat and add the milk gradually. Stir over a medium high heat until thickened. Add grated nutmeg, salt & pepper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Transfer the butter/flour/milk mixture to a large bowl with the beetroot, beaten egg yolks, crumbled feta & grated parmesan. Stir well to combine. Butter your (1 cup) ramekins, dust with flour and shake out the excess. Now whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold them into the beetroot mixture in 2 or 3 batches.

You should end up with this fabulous bright magenta pink colour. Now pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, trying not to get any around the rim, and bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door while they are cooking.

 Serve immediately with a sprig of thyme and some broccoli which goes really well both as a flavour combination and colour contrast. These souffles look amazing, there’s something really exciting and maybe childish about eating bright pink food, but they also taste fantastic the feta works really well with the beetroot.

With the leftover roasted beetroot I made a salad for lunch with tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan & basil oil

The colour combinations of the beetroot & tomato juices in the bottom of the dish where beautiful and seemed to compliment my view on our terrace..

Through the staircase I could see the two-tone bouganvilla matching my two-tone salad perfectly. Or is it just me…

Pretty in Pink ………

Caribbean Squash & Plantain Curry with Roti Bread

22 Oct

Walking the dog today we saw all the squash & pumpkins growing, a sure sign its Autumn, and we still have a huge amount of our own Scotch Bonnet chillis in the freezer so I decided to make a Caribbean dish (Scotch Bonnets are used in the Caribbean) which uses these ingredients. Luckily my local Mercadona sells plantain which is really surprising so I was all set..

Squash Growing

Our Scotch Bonnet Chilli Plant

First make the Roti dough. For some reason I don’t like to eat rice with curries so I have tried lots of different bread recipes from Indian Puris to Middle Eastern flatbreads. This was the first time I had tried to make rotis and they turned out surprisingly well (no dramas). They are my favourite bread so far, really delicious with this curry and easy to make..

Roti Bread Recipe

Makes 8 Rotis Vegetarian

  • 5oo gr plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 165 gr butter diced
  • about 160 ml water
  • veg oil for frying

Sieve together the flour, baking powder & salt in to a large bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it into the flour mixture with you fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor on slow). Slowly add the water bit by bit and mix together with you hands to form a ball of dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 or 3 minutes then put it in a bowl covered with a clean tea towel and leave it for about 30 minutes.

Roti Dough

Meanwhile make the curry don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients if you don’t have everything it’s still going to be gorgeous. The flavour combinations that make it uniquely Caribbean are the fresh thyme, oregano, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice (if you have it I don’t).

Caribbean Squash & Plantain Curry Recipe

Serves 4 Vegetarian

  •  3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg squash or pumpkin peeled, deseeded & chopped into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 plantain peeled & sliced into diagonal 1cm coins
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper deseeded & chopped into rough squares
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli chopped (You can use any fresh chilli)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste or fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • the zest of 1/2 lime
  • 300 ml veg stock (you may want to use more)
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk about 2oo ml ( You can use more if you like)
  • lime juice to taste 1/2 to 1 whole lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander chopped plus extra for garnish
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan add the onion and saute for 2 minutes over a medium heat until softened then add the garlic, ginger & chilli. Add the sliced plantain and fry for a minute. Add the curry paste, tomato paste and the rest of the herbs & spices, apart from the lime juice & fresh coriander, stirring constantly. Then add the squash, red pepper & fresh tomato and pour over the stock & coconut milk, Turn up the heat & bring to the boil seasoning generously with salt & black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is soft, stirring occasionally. 

While the curry is cooking, go back to you roti dough, knead it again & cut it into quarters, then into eighths and roll them into balls. Flour the work surface and the rolling pin and start rolling out your rotis as thinly as possible (really thin). They don’t have to be a perfect circle that’s part of the charm. Make a pile of rotis flouring well in between each one so they don’t stick together.

Brush a large frying pan with oil, heat it up until hot and cook the rotis for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. They should bubble up & brown slightly. Brush the pan with oil in between each one. Cover the cooked rotis with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

 Stand back & admire your rotis don’t they look lovely…

By now your curry should be ready, the squash cooked and the plantain kind of melted into the sauce. Add the lime juice & fresh coriander and taste for seasoning. You may need more salt or you might want to add more veg stock if you like it more liquidy. Serve the curry garnished with fresh coriander, lime wedges and the warm, folded rotis on the side. Who cares if it’s raining outside…..

Walking To The Waterfall

21 Oct

This is the stunning waterfall that we eventually found in an area of our town called Barranco Blanco which translates as White Ravine. I have been there before with our Spanish waitress Meri and thought it would be a good idea to show The Washer Up as he has never been. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember exactly where it was but I knew the general area, a bit like when I can’t remember where I’ve parked the car!

Apparently this is the waterfall used in the Timotei adverts in the eighties. I don’t know how they got all their equipment down there beacause we found it hard enough on our own just with the dog.

Crossing The Stream

The dog makes it look easy doesn’t he. Well this was one of the detours we took whilst trying to find the waterfall, it turned out we were going the wrong way anyway but it was quite an adventure…

Action Shot!

The thing is you can hear it but you can’t work out how to get there, I remember it being slightly diificult to get to but not this bad. Eventually we make it after several attempts and the dog falling in…

We Made It

It was definitely worth the effort though, it is beautiful and most people don’t know that it’s there, which is kind of nice you get it all to yourself especially at this time of year.

I couldn’t tell you how to get there though…. I think finding it is part of the adventure and what makes it so special.

This tree marks the spot…………

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