Archive | November, 2010

Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

30 Nov

Mulligatawny soup is one of those old-fashioned dishes that sounds quite exotic, but you don’t really know what it is.  Mulligatawny means “pepper broth” in Tamil. It became popular with the British stationed in India during colonial times and when they returned home they brought the recipe back home with them.

This Anglo-Indian curried soup has many variations using different vegetables & spices and it is often thickened with rice. Freshly ground toasted spices are used to give it a distinctive warming flavour and aroma.

A spicy soup is just the thing at this time of year when you come home from a very long walk. Today we walked all the way down into the Barranco Blanco valley. At the bottom of this beautiful valley they started to build another golf resort/hotel and then stopped when they didn’t get permission. So not only is it a blot on the landscape, it is also abandoned & unfinished.

This is the view from the top, yes we walked all the way down & then back up again! The lake is in the grounds of a beautiful house and you can see on the left the unfinished hotel/resort. It would almost be better for them to finish it rather than just leave it like that, but if its built illegally then no one will touch it and the money just isn’t here anymore.

This is another beautiful property we saw on the way back up. I think that might just be the garage…I’ll just live there if you don’t mind, great view!!

The rumour goes that this “Hidden Valley” is where Franco hid a lot of Hitler’s generals after the war. Might explain the enormous houses and this eerie looking watchtower…

Anyway back to the soup. The recipe I had added cooked rice to the soup at the end. I decided to throw in some barley to cook in the soup towards the end of cooking as I didn’t have any cooked rice and my dad always used to put barley in his soups when I was young. Maybe I went a bit mad with the barley because it turned out like a spicy barley risotto rather than a soup, but it was all the better for it. It has all the ribsticking goodness of a risotto but no stirring! The freshly ground spices really make a difference to the flavour of the dish, don’t miss this part out if you can help it…You can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, that’s what I did.

Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

adapted from a Delia Smith recipe

serves 4 vegetarian

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette 1 cm diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower in florets
  • 1 medium potato, 1cm cubed (or some halved baby new potatoes)
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 25 gr butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large cardamom pod (seeds only)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 litre veg stock (or more if you want it soupy)
  • 125 gr barley
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh coriander chopped

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan then add the onions and cook over a medium heat until they are a golden brown colour (About 10 minutes). Now put the cardamom, cumin, fennel & coriander seeds in a small pan with the chilli flakes and dry fry them over a medium heat for about 2 or 3 minutes until they start to splutter & jump. Tip them into a mortar & pestle and crush them finely. (You can also crush them with the end of a rolling-pin in a small cup). Add the spices to the onions, stir to combine then add the vegetables. Season generously with salt & black pepper, cook for 1 minute then add the veg stock and the barley. Put the lid on and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

You can serve it like this with some fresh coriander stirred through or for a smoother, thicker consistency ladle out just under half of the soup into a large bowl and blend it carefully (hot soup!) until smooth. Add this puree back into the soup, stir in the coriander and reheat gently. Add more stock to thin it out if you want to. Taste for seasoning and serve in warmed bowls with Anglo crusty bread or Indian parathas.

This really is a delicious soup dish, just perfect for those cold winter nights when you are chilled to the bone and miserable. The comforting warmth of the barley mixed with the aromatic spices is a heavenly combination.

This is one of those old-fashioned recipes that should not be forgotten. If this is where the British love affair with Indian cuisine started then I, for one, am really grateful. I’m bringing Mulligatawny back, you should try it too….

Don’t forget to check out the fantastic November Round -Up of YBR (Your Best Recipe) hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. Click on the badge below to see an amazing variety of delicious dishes with beautiful photos. A real feast for the senses…

Another Fine Mezze….

29 Nov Muhammara Pastries

 “The weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful…” 

These cute little pastries were another part of the Thanksgiving mezze I served on Friday night to our friends Caroline & Jean and that song could have been written for us. As the rain continuously lashed down outside, we were inside enjoying a glass of pink cava by the roaring fireplace. So roaring, in fact, that the glass door of the fire broke about 10 minutes before they arrived and smoked out the whole house! The Washer Up wasn’t amused- we had to let all the smoke (and heat) out by opening the doors. But alls well that ends well, it didn’t take long to heat back up again. We definitely all had a rosy glow. Whether that was from the fire or the cava I couldn’t say but we had a fantastic evening. It’s so lovely to spend time with friends, sharing food and stories around the dinner table, giving thanks for all the beautiful things in life…

These little Muhammara Cigars are another recipe I found on www.tasteofbeirut.com. Muhammara is a dip made from walnuts & hot red pepper paste.  Its addictive taste is one I remember serving at the restaurant on a Lebanese Evening and then wanting to serve it with everything. It is great as a dip for raw veggies or with flatbreads or crackers. In fact it is good on just about anything. The idea of mixing it with feta cheese and then rolling it in filo pastry before baking them into hot crispy, cheesy nibbles is one I could not resist. Some things are just meant to be…

Apparently everyone has their own personal recipe for Muhammara using different nuts and different amounts of the other ingredients. This is mine, why not discover yours…. 

Muhammara Cigars

adapted from a Taste of Beirut recipe

makes about 12- 15, vegetarian

For the muhammara

  • 1oo gr walnuts
  • 100 gr almonds
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  •  the juice of 1/2 a pomegranate (or a tbsp pomegranate molasses)
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any hot chilli paste)
  • 150-200 gr jar roasted peppers
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • about 75 ml olive oil
  • salt

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth but still with some texture. Taste for seasoning you may need more salt or chilli paste, maybe some lemon juice…

You will only be using about 1/2 of this mixture for the cigars, just store the rest in the fridge and serve as a dip, a pasta sauce, on a baked potato or even as a sauce for meat or fish.

For the Cigars

  • 1 packet frozen filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 2oo gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 100 gr grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or manchego are good)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 egg white
  • white pepper
  • melted butter or olive oil to brush on the filo
  • sesame seeds

Leave about half of the Muhammara in the bowl and store the rest in the fridge. Crumble in the Feta, add the grated cheese, chopped onion, white pepper & egg white and blitz again until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Lay a long piece of foil on your worksurface and brush it with oil or melted butter. Lay the filo out flat, cut into two squares then cut each square diagonally into quarters so you end up with eight triangles. There should be about 8 layers of the filo pastry, take 3 or 4 layers off of the top of one of the triangles and use these as the wrapping of your first cigar.

Lay the triangle with the long side facing you on the buttered foil. Brush the 3 corners with butter then place heaped tablespoon of the mixture a little way in from the long edge and start to roll it up like a spring roll. Brush with more butter on top of the rolled cigar and fold in the edges to seal them. Don’t worry if they are a bit of a mess, mine were, just stick them together with the butter or oil and hope for the best!!

Continue rolling all your cigars, you should get 16 triangles but filo can break easily sometimes, I only managed 12. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Place all the cigars on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush the tops with a bit more butter/oil then sprinkle over some sesame seeds. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until browned and serve immediately….

I served these with a Tahini Yoghurt & Mint sauce made with the wild mint we picked by the side of the river.

Tahini, Yoghurt & Mint Sauce

Vegetarian served 4 -6 as a sauce

  • 2 pots greek yoghurt about 250 ml
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp tahini paste
  • a handful of chopped fresh mint
  • salt & black pepper

Mix the lemon juice in with the tahini until smooth then add all the other ingredients and stir until well combined. Taste for seasoning.

This sauce is great to serve as part of a mezze. It goes really well as a sauce for falafels or my recipe for Honey Spiced Aubergines here. It would also be fantastic with lamb kebabs. You can add some toasted cumin seeds for more flavour, some minced garlic or even some grated cucumber would be lovely……

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

29 Nov

 

This is a very common site here in Andalucia at the moment. The iconic orange trees laden with ripe fruit are everywhere. We took a right where we normally go straight on, on our walk today and came across a gorgeous lush green valley where these mandarin trees were growing. We followed the steep path down to the river bed where the dog had a drink and we had a rest before the the long walk back uphill…

There was a different microclimate down near the river to what we are used to. A different smell of damp leaves and there was even some diamond-like dew on the leaves. I haven’t seen dew since I left England and was really amazed with the diamonds….

Even the flowers are mandarin coloured its like the whole valley is bathed in lush green with highlights of tangerine..

The mandarins are being given away or, even worse, rotting on the ground. We have a mountain of them in our fruit bowl and although they are sweet and delicious as they are I wanted to try a Nigella recipe I had seen for a clementine cake where you boil the whole fruit and then blitz it up with the rest of the ingredients. This recipe uses 4 or 5 clementines/mandarins and as we have many more I wanted to make a mandarin syrup to drizzle over it so it soaks into the cake to make it really moist….

This cake is made using ground almonds rather than flour which makes it even more moist and gluten free.

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • 4 or 5 mandarins/clementines (about 375gr total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225gr sugar
  • 25o gr ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

For the syrup

  • 110gr caster sugar
  • 110 ml mandarin juice

Put the mandarins in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook over a lowish heat for 2 hours. Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary. (Don’t do what I did and leave the water to dry out while on the computer and burn the bottom of the pan & the mandarins!!)

Drain and leave to cool slightly then cut in half and remove the pips and any green stem bits on the outside. Put the halved mandarins(peel & everything) into a food processor and blitz. You can then add all the other cake ingredients to the food processor and blitz together. Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

Butter a 21 cm springform cake tin and put a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Have a circle of foil ready to cover the top after about 40 minutes to stop it burning. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for about 10 minutes on a rack.

Meanwhile make your syrup. Put the sugar & mandarin juice in a small saucepan over a low ish heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Take a cocktail stick or wooden skewer and make lots of holes in the cake that go right to the bottom.

Spoon the syrup, carefully,all over the top of the cake letting it soak in until you have used all of the syrup. When the cake is cold you can remove it from the tin.

This is a deliciously moist cake with an intense mandarin flavour and aroma. Serve, as it is, with coffee or with some ice cream or creme fraiche as a dessert…

Artichoke, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto

27 Nov

 

The artichokes growing where we walk the dog are looking pretty ready and they are a really good price in the market now so I bought a couple. I have never eaten artichoke before let alone cooked with one so I was a little nervous about preparing them- it looks complicated!

The artichoke globes are so pretty when you buy them like green & purple prehistoric looking flowers. It seems a real shame to pull all  the leaves off when you want to cook them.

This is how the artichokes start out but by the time you have cleaned them down to the hearts, you are not left with much. You can understand why they are expensive to buy in jars. If you want to know how to clean an artichoke look here.

I would definitely recommend buying more than two! I thought one each would be plenty for a risotto but you don’t get left with much so I added some mushrooms to bulk it out a bit. The artichokes get soaked in lemon water to stop them discolouring so I decided to follow that flavour through in the risotto as well. The combination of artichoke, mushroom & lemon worked really well, I added some fresh parsley too..

Artichoke, Mushroom & Lemon Risotto

Serves 2 Vegetarian

  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • at least 2 artichokes (4 would be better) you could use some from a jar of hearts.
  • a handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lemon 1/2 zested & then juiced
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 125 ml white wine or sherry
  • about 1 litre veg stock
  • 2 big handfuls of arborio rice (I used brown shortgrain)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • about 100 gr manchego cheese (or parmesan) grated

When you have prepared your artichokes (see above) put them in a bowl of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium low heat for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Chop up your artichoke hearts, add them to the pan with the mushrooms and a spoonful of the stock and cook until the chokes are tender about 5-8 minutes, add a bit more stock if it dries up.

Turn the heat up, add the rice and lemon zest & stir to coat the rice. After a minute or so add the wine and leave it to absorb into the rice. Season with salt & pepper.

Meanwhile put the veg stock in a small pan and bring to the boil the turn it down to a simmer. Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the rice, stir or swirl until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each ladle has been absorbed. About 18-20 minutes.

When the rice is just cooked turn off the heat, add the other 1/2 lemon juice, the chopped parsley and the grated cheese. Stir to combine, put the lid on and leave it for 2 minutes.

Taste for seasoning then serve in warmed bowls with extra cheese & parsley garnish

If you are lucky enough to have some, crumble over some Lancashire cheese, so delicious with it and the lemon really highlights the flavour of the artichokes. This was my first attempt cooking with artichokes and it won’t be my last but I will definitely buy more next time, or maybe a jar of hearts!!

We had some risotto left over as I always make too much. I like to do this , it means you can get creative for lunch with the leftovers. We had some lovely long green peppers in the fridge that were just crying out to be stuffed, I added a little chopped green chilli to the risotto for a little heat and piled the mix into the halved and deseeded peppers.

I crumbled over some Lancashire cheese but you can use whatever you have, Feta or Parmesan would be good. Then sprinkle with a few breadcrumbs, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 200 degree oven for about 25 minutes until the peppers are collapsing slightly and the cheese & breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Serve garnished with lime wedges to squeeze over and some fresh coriander or parsley. The lime juice brings all the flavours back to life, enhances the green chilli and sends it down Mexico way… Enjoy!

 

The Art of the Tart-ine!

24 Nov

It’s a posh word for an open sandwich but it makes all the difference in the world to your lunch break if you can take that sandwich to another level by making it look and taste really beautiful.

The thing is, it is really easy, all you have to do is look in your fridge, come up with a theme and fire up your grill. At the moment, here in Spain, we have a mountain of  ripe tomatoes and avocados both in the height of season, flavourful and well priced.

That’s where my inspiration came from for this Tartine Tricolore. My favourite Italian salad as a toasted sandwich…

 It all starts with the bread, buy some nice bread. Italian would be good to follow the theme. A nice Ciabatta or even Focaccia.

Tartine Tricolore

Serves 2 Vegetarian

  • 1 small ciabatta about 18 – 20 cm
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut in half, scooped out and sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 large tomato(or 2 small plum tomatoes) sliced
  • mayonnaise
  • basil pesto
  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • rocket
  • salt & black pepper

Slice the ciabatta in half lengthways so you have flat sides to pile your filling on. Preheat the grill to high and line a baking sheet with foil. Spread each side with some mayonnaise then spread a small amount of pesto on top of the mayo. Place your avocado slices on each half, then the tomato slices, season with a little salt then top with the mozzarella slices. Drizzle with olive oil then add some freshly cracked black pepper and put the open sandwiches on the baking sheet under the grill for about 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese is melting nicely. To serve scatter some fresh basil leaves & rocket over the top and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. This is the kind of sandwich you need a knife and fork for either that or a very large napkin!!

This next idea started when our friends Terry & Joan kindly brought us some Lancashire Crumbly cheese over from England. The Washer Up is a Lancashire lad and he has cravings for it occasionally. It is a creamy, mild but sharp, crumbly cheese that is really delicious served with something sweet & fruity. This got me thinking about a proper old English lunch called The Ploughman’s. A 60′s/70′s thing served in pubs which consisted of a big wedge of cheese (normally Cheddar), pickled onions, Branston pickle and some sort of scary salad.

I decided to take the Cheese & Pickle thing and bring it up to date by serving the Lancashire Crumbly topped with two types of chutney and watercress…

 Start with the bread again, it should really be something English and crusty, like a Bloomer or something similar. We can’t get that sort of thing here so I used a baguette (sacrilege, I know)! You can use whichever chutney you have around but this combination of Mango & Fig was heaven…

Posh Cheese & 2 Pickle Tartines

Serves 2 Vegetarian

Preheat the grill to high and line a baking tray with foil. Get your four slices of bread or baguette sliced lengthways drizzle with a little olive oil, layer over some generous slices of the cheese and top with a couple of spoonfuls of chutney. I like the contrast of using 2 different types, it stops you getting bored half way through. Stick it under the grill for few minutes until the cheese melts then scatter over some watercress…

The Washer Up says this should be enjoyed with a nice hand pulled pint of warm bitter….mmm. I’d go for a nice chilled glass of Albarino myself.

The next version uses Halloumi, a Cypriot Sheep’s milk cheese that is totally addictive. If you have never tried Halloumi give this a try, I promise you, you will be hooked…

Marinaded Halloumi Tartine 

serves 2 or 3 vegetarian

  • some nice bread, maybe pita or a flatbread (I used a baguette because that’s what I had)
  • 1 pack halloumi, thinly sliced about 1/2 cm
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 80ml olive oil
  • fresh mint, parsley & coriander, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & finely chopped or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sumac* (optional)

*Sumac is a crushed dried berry sold in flakes which is used a lot in Middle Eastern dishes it has a smoky, lemony flavour which is fantastic with the Halloumi.

In a shallow dish large enough to fit in all the Halloumi slices, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, chopped herbs, spices, black pepper and chilli and set aside.

Dry fry the Halloumi slices in a hot pan for about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy(you will probably need to do it in 2 batches). When each batch is done place in the oil & lime juice marinade and toss to coat on both sides.

Meanwhile preheat the grill to hot, drizzle your bread with olive oil, place the sliced tomatoes on the bread, season with salt, pepper & olive oil and put under the grill for a minute or so to toast the bread and warm the tomatoes.

When the bread & tomatoes are toasted, layer over the cooked, marinaded Halloumi and pour over some of the herby marinade.

This really is an amazing sandwich, the combination of the salty Halloumi with the fresh herbs, chilli & lime juice is fingerlicking good! If a little messy…. Prepare to feed your Halloumi addiction!

Thanksgiving Mezze Part 2: Spiced Cauliflower Soup

23 Nov

So, the next dish I have chosen for my Thanksgiving Mezze is a Middle Eastern Spiced Cauliflower Soup. Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that gets a lot of bad press from being either under or over cooked. It isn’t the most inspiring of vegetables but it does take on flavours really well and it makes fantastic soup. You should try this, it might just change your mind, it did mine….

Middle Eastern Spiced Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Serves 4 – 6 vegetarian

  • 1 medium cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  •  2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  •  1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  •  1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (if you don’t have it use cayenne pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp ras-al-hanout*
  • 1/2 tsp zhoug*
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh lemon juice about 1/2
  • a handful of chopped coriander (plus extra for garnish)
  • a spoonful of mashed potato (optional)

* Ras-al-hanout & Zhoug are middle eastern spice mixes. If you don’t have them don’t worry your soup will still have lots of flavour.

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan add the leek and cumin seeds and fry for about 2 minutes on a medium heat. Add the garlic and the rest of the spices/pastes fry for another minute, stirring to cook the spices. Add the cauliflower and the water and stir to coat the cauliflower with the spices. Cover the cauliflower with the veg stock, season well with salt & pepper and cook with the lid on for about 10 – 12 minutes until the cauliflower is really tender.

When the cauliflower is soft leave to cool slightly and transfer the whole lot to a food processor (or a large bowl with a stick blender)and process carefully until very smooth. Add the mashed potato, if using, and fresh coriander and pulse again. Put the soup back into the pan to heat up, squeeze over the fresh lemon juice and taste for seasoning. You may need more salt & pepper. Add some more stock if it needs thinning down a bit.

Serve drizzled with a swirl of greek yoghurt and some fresh coriander leaves. Cauliflower never tasted so good…..



Every month Nancy from http://Spiciefoodie.blogspot.com hosts a round-up of the month’s best recipes. Spicie Foodie is a beautiful blog with amazing photographs and really tasty recipes. This month I have chosen to post my Indian Dhal Soup with Aloo Parathas & Mango Chutney as my favourite November recipe. (Click on the “Your Best Recipe” badge above to see it). The round-up will be published on Spicie Foodie on 30th November.

Thanksgiving Mezze Part 1: Butternut Hummus

22 Nov

This is one of the dishes I will be serving as part of my Thanksgiving mezze. I am English and live in Spain but this year I have decided to “adopt” the Thanksgiving concept and cook a fabulous dinner for some people I would really like to thank for their support over the last year.  The positivity I feel and gratitude I need to express is something I would never have imagined possible at this time last year. I feel more healthy, happy and alive than ever and for that I am truly grateful…  Thank you!

Anyway back to the mezze, as Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, I thought that a mezze would be the perfect thing. A delicious vegetarian feast in the middle of the table for everyone to pick at and enjoy. I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Hummus on this amazing blog www.tasteofbeirut.com  There are so many delicious recipes that I want to try on this blog but the Pumpkin Hummus was just perfect for Thanksgiving. I have adapted it slightly by using butternut squash instead of pumpkin which I roasted.

Roasted Butternut Hummus Recipe

Adapted from a Taste of Beirut recipe

Serves 4 Vegan

  • 1/2 butternut squash 750 gr plus
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch dried chilli flakes
  • the juice of 1 & 1/2 lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic minced with a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp tahini

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Scrape out the seeds from the squash and spread them out on a sheet of foil, picking off any stringy bits of squash then set aside. Cut the squash into small pieces (about 1 inch triangles) and put them on a lined baking sheet/tin. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & black pepper and sprinkle with good pinch of chilli flakes then toss everything together with your hands so evenly coated. Roast the squash on the middle shelf of the oven for 35 - 40 minutes until  tender. Put the squash seeds on the bottom shelf of the oven (on the foil) and toast for about 10 – 15 minutes until slightly browned. Sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before pulling off the skin. Blitz the squash with a stick blender or pulse in a food processor until smooth-ish.

Mix the minced garlic with the lemon juice then add the tahini and stir to combine well. Add the tahini mixture to the squash and blitz again to combine. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Place in a serving dish sprinkled with the toasted squash seeds and serve with leek & cumin seed flatbreads (see my recipe) or with some lavash or pita triangles.

This is the ultimate dip for me – all the flavour of hummus with the added sweetness and colour of butternut squash. I’d make double if I was you, it disappears really quickly….

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

21 Nov DCIM100MEDIA

I love the colour of pomegranates, I want a pomegranate wall in our office. Either pomegranate or tomato I can’t decide. These pomegranates were given to me by my friend Margarita, the one with the olive trees, she has pomegranates too…

This lentil salad is part of a mezze I made on Friday. The inspiration came from a blog I follow called Kalyn’s Kitchen which I found through a site called Vegolicious. As the name suggests, Vegolicious is a site where people share their vegetarian photos & recipes. I use it a lot for inspiration and I have also posted some of my recipes there.

The recipe was for Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint & Parsley which was exactly the base I was looking for. All I had to do was add the sweet pomegranate jewels, some red onion and the sharp & creamy white feta to create the dish that was in my head.  The perfect backdrop from which the beautiful pomegranates could sparkle..

Lebanese Lentil & Herb Salad with Pomegranate & Feta

Serves 4 – 6 as part of a mezze. Vegetarian

  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils (about 175 gr)
  • 3 cups water (about 6oo ml)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 or 8 cloves garlic very finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  •  about 100 gr Greek feta

Rinse the lentils under the tap then put them in a small pan with the water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently until lentils are cooked (about 25 – 30 mins). They should be tender inside but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic cloves & chop the onion very finely. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion & garlic and cook over a very low heat until well softened but not coloured, about 10 – 12 minutes. Then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, finely chop the mint & parsley. Whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin, cinnamon & nutmeg. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally (not through the crown), hold it in your palm, seeds facing down, into a large bowl and tap it quite forcefully, on the back, with a wooden spoon. The seeds should fall out into the bowl. Keep tapping until you have all the seeds and pick any white bits out of the bowl.

When lentils are tender, drain well, rinse under cold water then return to the pan.(Not on the heat). Turn the heat back on the garlic & onion pan, add the lemon dressing mixture and heat for about a minute. Pour this over the lentils and gently stir to make sure the lentils are well coated in the dressing.

Stir in the fresh herbs and season well with salt & black pepper. You can serve this salad warm or at room temperature. When you are ready to serve the salad sprinkle it with the pomegranate seeds, crumble over the feta and finish it off with a few more chopped herbs.

This salad can be kept in the fridge, just bring it up to room temperature and add the feta & pomegranate as you serve it.  The combination of the salty, sharp feta & the sweet, crunchy pomegranate with the garlicky lentils and fresh herbs is just spectacular. You have to try it..

Tomorrow I’ll be posting another delicious mezze dish Butternut Hummus! All the addictiveness of Hummus with the extra colour & sweetness of  butternut squash, yum…..

Indian Dhal Soup with Potato Stuffed Parathas

20 Nov

Dhal is the Indian word for lentils. There a lots of different types of dhal; moong dal, urad dal, the list goes on and on. For this quick and easy recipe I cheated and used a jar of cooked lentils because it is a lot faster and the consistency is perfect for a soup as they are really soft and mushy anyway. I wouldn’t use them for a dish like a lentil salad because you need the firmer texture & bite you get from cooking dried lentils. You can, of course, cook your own lentils for this recipe as well.

Indian Dhal Soup Recipe

serves 2 -4 vegan

  • 1 jar/tin cooked lentils (400gr), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 large onion chopped (you will need the other 1/2 for the parathas)
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 litre veg stock (depending on how thick you want & for how many people)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon

Cook the onion & cumin seeds in the oil, over a medium heat, until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, ginger and the rest of the spices and cook for a minute. Tip in the lentils and cook  for another minute while coating in the spices. Add 1/2 litre veg stock, take off  the heat and carefully blend with a stick blender(you don’t want to splash yourself or the kitchen!) until it is smooth ish but still has texture. Put it back on the heat, add the lemon juice, fresh coriander, salt & black pepper then taste it. You may need more salt or lemon juice.

You can serve it like this as a thick soup with the parathas to scoop it up or, if you want it thinner, add some more veg stock, that way it also serves more people.

This is also really delicious served at room temperature as a dip with some mini poppadoms or batons of carrot and cucumber. Just don’t add the veg stock and blend to the desired consistency.

The reason I made this dhal soup was because I wanted to make Aloo Parathas and needed something to dip them into. I had seen a recipe on The Hairy Bikers and on a lovely food blog I follow called For The Love Of  Yum. I saw both of these recipes in the same week, so it was like they were calling to me, I just had to make them….

Aloo Parathas Recipe (Potato Stuffed Indian Bread)

Adapted from The Hairy Bikers recipe

Makes 3 Vegetarian

For the dough:

  • 2oo gr plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • about 100 ml milk

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 medium potatoes boiled & mashed (or some leftover mashed potato)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 or 4 tbsp veg oil

First make the dough. Sieve the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl then add the beaten egg and gradually pour in the milk  mixing with a wooden spoon to bring it together. With your hands, make it into a ball of dough then knead it on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth (You may need to sprinkle over more flour to stop it being sticky).

When the dough is smooth, put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rest for about 15 minutes or until you are ready to make the parathas.

Meanwhile make the filling. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, fry for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger & fresh chilli and fry until everything is soft. Add the spices and cook for 2 minutes then stir in the mashed potato. When the mash is incorporated into the spice mix season well with salt &  pepper and stir in the fresh coriander.

Leave to cool slightly then roll the potato mixture into 3 equal sized balls and set aside.

Back to the dough. Divide it into 3 equal sized balls, flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll each ball into a round about 1/2 cm thick. Place a ball of potato mixture in the middle of  each circle of dough and bring the edges up around the filling so it looks like a big dim sum dumpling then twist the top to seal it. Turn the ball-shaped paratha over (so the seal is underneath), sprinkle the top with flour and very gently roll it into a flat circle again about 1 cm thick. Preheat oven to 160 degrees.

When all your parathas are made, grease a frying with oil and heat until hot. Place a paratha in the pan with the twisted side down and leave for 2 minutes to cook. Brush a layer of veg oil on the top side and flip it over then leave it to cook for another 2 minutes. Cook until golden on both sides then put it in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.

Serve hot with the dhal or whatever curry you like. Some yoghurt & mint raita would be nice with this just mix some chopped mint, salt, pepper, cumin seeds, & lemon juice into a pot of Greek yoghurt.

Or why not make some delicious Mango & Tomato Chutney to go with it. This recipe is really easy, it is a great accompaniment with any curry dish and it also makes fantastic homemade presents for people..

Mango & Tomato Chutney Recipe

Makes about 1 jar maybe slightly more. Vegan

  • 1 large mango chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 red chilli chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tsp balsamic/sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp punch pooran*  (or use 1 tsp fennel seeds & 1 tsp onion seeds)

*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.

Blend all the ingredients except the oil and punch pooran until smooth ish. Pour into a saucepan and cook on a low heat for about 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until it is well thickened and reduced.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the punch pooran seeds and fry till they splutter. Pour this over the chutney and mix well. Taste for seasoning you may need more salt/sugar/lime juice.

Pour into a hot sterilized jar and seal with a lid. Leave to cool then store in the fridge. Serve as a side with curries or samosas or as a gorgeous addition to a cheese board..

Enjoy!!

Festive Season Spanakopita with chestnut and cranberry

18 Nov DCIM100MEDIA

Spanakopita is a Greek spinach & feta cheese filo pie sometimes with pine nuts & raisins added. I wanted to give it a Christmas twist so it could be a stunning vegetarian Christmas dinner option. The chestnuts and dried cranberries (craisins) were calling me and made perfect seasonal replacements for the pine nuts & raisins.

The chestnuts were a gift from our friends Andrew & Rafa who invited us to dinner on Sunday evening. They have a beautiful country house just outside a small village called Guaro which is about 20 minutes from where we live. Andrew has been following my blog and wanted to try cooking one of my recipes while I was there to supervise him (He is not a confident cook!)

Cortijo-de-las-nieves-holiday-rental-villa-andalusia (6)

This is pool area and the views are 360 degrees- stunning ..

The house has a really cosy feel to it and there was roaring fire burning in the fireplace when we arrived to take away the chill of that fresh mountain air.

Cortijo-de-las-nieves-holiday-rental-villa-andalusia (19)

They made us feel so welcome and the place was so comfortable that I really did not want to move from the sofa to the kitchen, but I did, occasionally!!

Cortijo-de-las-nieves-holiday-rental-villa-andalusia (22)

Andrew chose to cook my recipe for Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin which turned out really well, it’s a bit nerve-wracking watching someone else cook from your recipe, too much responsibility!!

We had some puff pastry left over so we made some Parmesan Cheese Straws as well which were a great aperitivo with  a glass of cava. They are really easy to make you just cut the puff pastry into thin strips, sprinkle with grated parmesan, hold both ends of a strip and twist one end towards you and the other end away from you. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan  and bake for about 10 -15 minutes at 200 degrees.

We had a wonderful evening and this was where we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace with that amazing view….

This stunning country cottage is available for holiday rentals and I would thoroughly recommend it, the attention to detail is second to none. For more information see Andrew’s blog at www.andaluciadiary.com which is an insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond with really great information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.

Cortijo-de-las-nieves-holiday-rental-villa-andalusia (13)

Anyway, back to the Christmas Spanakopita. The inspiration came from the chestnuts Andrew & Rafa gave us as we were leaving.

I have been thinking about a vegetarian christmas option for a while but nothing has excited me until this. It has all of my favourite things, feta, spinach, fresh herbs and the addition of the chestnuts & cranberries makes it  really special. The good thing about this dish is that you can make a big baking dish size pie and even if there is only one vegetarian to serve it is even more delicious cold which means you can serve it for an evening buffet or as part of your  Boxing Day lunch.

Chestnut & Cranberry Spanakopita Recipe

  • 1 packet of filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  •  a bag of fresh spinach (about 350 gr)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 75 gr peeled chestnuts chopped
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • about 75 ml cream
  •  120 gr feta cheese crumbled
  • 120 gr grated cheese (parmesan, manchego or cheddar or a mixture)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the spinach. Stir and cover with a lid, leave to wilt for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. When the spinach has wilted tip away any water then add the herbs and spices salt & pepper, stir to combine and leave to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the beaten eggs, cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Then add the  wilted spinach (minus any liquid), cranberries and chopped chestnuts and stir well until combined.

Line a rectangular baking tin/dish about the same size as the filo pastry sheets with some baking paper. Then layer 3 or 4 sheets of filo in the baking dish, brushing each sheet with a little oil. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread it out evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo (5 or 6) tucking it down the sides if necessary and brushing each sheet with olive oil.

Brush the top sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with a little water and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until browned.

Serve, cut into squares or wedges, with all the Christmas trimmings or just with some boiled new potatoes in minted butter. (Remember to remove the baking paper from the bottom!)

Leave the rest to cool and serve slices as part of a buffet. This is one of those vegetarian dishes that everyone is going to wish they had, so it is always good to have some left over…..

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