Archive | December, 2010

Spinach and Feta Fatayers with pine nuts and sultanas

31 Dec Fatayers & Cucumber Salad

I got the original recipe for Spinach Fatayers from Taste of Beirut. She makes little ones kind of canape style with  a special pastry rolled out really thinly. I had some puff pastry defrosted in the fridge to use up so I decided to go with that. I made them a lot bigger too so they were a main course or lunch portion size each. I added feta cheese to the filling because I love it with spinach, and sultanas to go with the pine nuts. I also added dried mint & nutmeg.  Taste of Beirut always inspires and delivers on flavour, I’m addicted…

Spinach & Feta Fatayers

makes 4 or 5, vegetarian

  • 1 block/ sheet puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight (See the original pastry recipe here)
  • 300 gr frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 120 gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 50 gr sultanas
  • 50 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tsp sumac (a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking it has a smokey lemony flavour)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  •  1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten for glazing pastry

Defrost the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (you can do this in a clean tea towel but don’t use your new favourite one!). Make sure all the water is out of the spinach and that it is really dry. Mix the onions, spices, salt & pepper in a bowl then add the spinach, crumbled feta, pine nuts & sultanas. Whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and pour it over the spinach mixture, stirring everything well to combine. Put this mixture in the fridge while you roll out the pastry. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees.

Flour your work surface & rolling-pin and roll out the pastry as thinly as possible (about 1 – 2mm). Cut out 4 or 5 circles 6 inches(15 cm) diameter, spoon about 2 heaped tbsp of the mixture into the centre of each circle and spread it out evenly (leave about a 1 cm border clear).

Brush the border with beaten egg, pick up the circle, pinch 2 sides together to from an open cone/triangle. Pinch the edges together so they are sealed.

Then close up the third edge, making a pyramid, pinching the edges together to seal them. It doesn’t matter if there is an opening in the middle.

Brush the tops with beaten egg and place on a baking sheet lined with oiled parchment paper.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until puffed & golden. Leave to cool slightly before eating. These are best eaten warm or at room temperature.

Serve with a simple cucumber salad dressed with olive oil & lemon juice for lunch or with some spice roasted new potatoes and a cucumber, yoghurt & mint raita for dinner… Enjoy!

“Your Best Recipe” is a monthly round-up of the Food Blogging community’s best recipes hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie.  As we come to the end of 2010 people are sharing their best recipes of the year. Click on the badge above to see some fabulous recipes and photos from the last year of cooking and food blogging… Thanks Nancy and Happy New Year to Everyone!!

“When life hands you lemons…”

30 Dec

“…..Make Lemon Curd”

It was mandarins, now its lemons. They are everywhere, people are giving them away. That’s how we came to have a huge bag full. The lemons obviously like the rain..

I would usually make lemonade but it’s not really the weather for it. I’m sure it won’t be long before the sun comes out again but until then its going to be lemon curd. The mandarin jam is nearly finished so I need something else to spread on my morning panettone. The second panettone I made came out the same as the first (a bit like a giant teacake). It tastes great but the electric went off half way through cooking it again so it didn’t rise very much. I’m not making it anymore I’m obviously jinxed Panettone-wise. And anyway, as my friend Tara said “that’s why people buy them”! I wouldn’t usually agree but on this occasion I admit defeat. Luckily they are all reduced now in the sale after Christmas…

Lemon Curd Recipe

makes about 1 & 1/2 jars (double it to make 3 jars, obviously!) I only had 2 jars, vegetarian

  • grated zest & juice of 3 small lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 gr caster sugar
  • 115 gr room temperature unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 tsp cornflour

Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and put on a medium high heat. Whisk continuously until thickened about 5 – 8 minutes. Lower the heat to minimum and simmer, whisking for another minute. Remove from the heat and pour into hot sterilized jars (just put them through the dishwasher or fill with boiling water from the kettle and tip out). Seal immediately, leave to cool then store in the fridge.

Serve on hot toasted bread (or panettone). They’re reduced at the moment!!

Enjoy….

    

Christmas Carbicide and Boxing Day Bubble…

29 Dec

On Christmas Eve we walked up to these rocks….

Then the Washer Up made his amazing vegeatble sushi rolls stuffed with omelette, carrot, spring onion & spinach which we served with sushi ginger, wasabi paste & soy sauce… yum!

Followed by a spicy miso noodle broth with pak choi & shitake mushrooms..

And then we played cards..with the cat!

On Christmas morning we walked up to our favourite hilltop retreat and ate mince pies..

From there we could see this waterfall on the mountain over the other side of the valley and decided to walk there on Boxing day… more of that “adventure” later…!

Our Christmas Dinner was “Potatoes Four Ways” also known as “Christmas Carbicide!”..

This consisted of (clockwise from bottom right) Dauphinoise Potatoes, Potato Fondant, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Mash & Polenta Encrusted Roast Potatoes. As you can imagine I have only just emerged from my carb induced coma.. The stuffing on top is Sage & Onion. I think my favourite was the Potato Fondant which is a disc of potato cooked slowly in butter & stock.  We served this with roasted shallots, peas & green beans with garlic & ground almonds..

This was all covered with “purple” gravy (don’t ask- it was red onion gravy but I blitzed it so it was purple!) nice…
We had red wine with dinner which was probably not a good idea, the Washer Up is not good on red wine…

So it was with a hangover on Boxing Day morning that we embarked on our trip to the faraway waterfall…. We parked at Barranco Blanco and took some pictures of the lovely waterfall there….

We couldn’t get down to the bottom because of all the water but you can see some more pictures I took there earlier in the year here.

We set off on the path around the valley and looked back at our favourite hilltop, where we walked to on Christmas day..

We passed another small waterfall on the mountain path before we went “off road”….

So, The Washer Up said it would only take us about 20 minutes off the path to reach the waterfall. Needless to say we ended up on a steep incline head height in thorn bushes with no idea how to get out! It was impossible to reach the waterfall through all the spikey bush but we got near enough to take this photo. There were three levels of waterfall..

It was pretty scary trying to find our way back to the path, but we haven’t given up. Next time we are going to go along the river bed at the bottom and see if we can reach it from that direction….

By the time we arrived back at home we had been out for about 3 1/2 hours so we were starving. What was in the fridge? Leftover potatoes and veg from our Christmas dinner. So it had to be Bubble & Squeak with a Fried Egg…

Put all of your leftover potatoes (mash & roasts) in to a bowl with the leftover veg and stuffing and mash with a potato masher. Shape into a ball and place a slice/chunk of goat’s cheese in the middle roll it up again to seal it and shape into patties.
Sprinkle some flour/breadcrumbs/polenta on a plate and lightly coat the patties to give it a nice crust. Fry in hot butter & olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side (turn them over when browned). When they are nearly cooked crack two egs into the same pan and cook until just set.
Serve the Bubble & Squeak straight away topped with the fried egg (and some HP sauce!). The addition of the goat’s cheese is a Nigel Slater idea. I’ve never tried it before. It’s lovely when you cut into the Bubble & Squeak and the cheese oozes out. With that and the soft egg yolk …..heaven!!
Hope you enjoyed your Christmas too xx

Chile Sin Carne Con Nachos y Queso

23 Dec

Vegetarian chilli is one of those dishes , like vegetarian lasagna, that tends to disappoint. Flavourless, watery, frozen ready meals spring to mind. This is the antithesis of that sad memory. Think healthy, colourful, packed with flavour, get up and go comfort food and you’re half way there. The toppings make it extra special and tasty, don’t skimp…!

Chilli Sin Carne Con Nachos y Queso

serves 4, vegetarian

adapted from a 101 Cookbooks recipe

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion , chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste (a mexican smoked chilli paste)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (4oo ml)
  • 1 – 1 & 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 125 gr cooked chickpeas ( drained & rinsed)
  •  about 200 gr dried brown lentils 1 cup, rinsed
  • about 75 gr dried red lentils 1/3 cup , rinsed
  • about 75 gr barley 1/3 cup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Toppings

  • nachos (corn tortilla chips)
  • grated cheese (I used Cheddar & Manchego)
  • fresh lime juice
  • sour cream
  • fresh coriander, chopped

Cook the onions & celery in hot oil over a medium heat for about 6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, fresh chilli, chilli powder & cumin and cook for another minute. Stir in the chipotle paste, tinned tomatoes and a litre of stock. Add the chickpeas, lentils and barley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, season with the salt, pepper & oregano and simmer for 35 – 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. You may need to add more stock while it’s cooking.

Preheat the grill to hot and ladle the chilli into warmed bowls. Top with the nachos, grated cheese, a blob of sour cream, a good squeeze of lime juice and sprinkle with fresh coriander. Put it under the hot grill for about a minute until the cheese is melted and bubbling……

This chilli is special, you should make a lot of it. We had it for dinner, and then for lunch the next day, I added some more stock to stretch it. So we had Chilli Soup with Nachos which was also fantastic..

Remember the toppings make it. The crunchy nachos, bubbling cheese, cooling sour cream & zingy lime juice take it to another level… Enjoy!

Christmas Gift Biscotti with Chocolate and Cranberries

21 Dec small-biscotti

 

We’ve just been loaned a Nespresso coffee machine which is very exciting! We only drink decaf as caffeine sends The Washer Up a bit loopy but the decaf options are great. We are trying the Intenso the Lungo and the normal decaffeinato. They are all good but the Intenso is a bit Intenso for me…

All this coffee drinking gives me a really good excuse to make some biscotti. You have to have a biscotti with a coffee and they also make fantastic Christmas gifts. I thought I’d “Christmas” up the original recipe by adding chocolate and cranberries but you can leave them out or add chestnuts or hazelnuts instead. Don’t be scared this is a really easy recipe that you can impress all your friends with when they pop round for coffee….

Christmas Biscotti Recipe

makes about 25- 30 biscotti vegetarian

  • 25o gr plain flour
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 gr caster sugar
  •  2 eggs , beaten
  • grated zest of 1 mandarin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 110 gr toasted almonds, chopped (you can toast them in a dry pan or in the oven)
  • 65 gr dried cranberries
  • 65 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and toast the almonds if necessary.  Leave to cool and chop roughly. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla & almond extracts, the nuts, cranberries & chocolate. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands and the worksurface well and divide the mixture into two. Roll the first half of the mixture into a long sausage/log with your hands. (Start with both hands together in the middle and work your way out rolling). Roll the sausage to the length of your baking sheet and transfer it over to the lined baking sheet, flattening it out slightly. Repeat with the other half of the mixture. Make sure you leave space in between the two logs for them to spread.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25 -30 minutes until firm. Remove the tray from the oven, lower the heat to 150 degrees and leave them to cool slightly.

Remove the biscotti loaves from the tray and cut them into diagonal fingers about 2cm wide, put them back on the tray, cut side up and back in the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out completely.

You can also serve these after dinner with coffee or a glass of dessert wine (classically vin santo) to dip them in…

A great way to wrap homemade gifts is in clear cellophane (sometimes printed with snowflakes etc) which you can buy in most “euro” shops here in Spain. I rolled up 6 biscotti in the cellophane then tied each end with raffia (to make a christmas cracker shape). I tucked a few sprigs of lavender in the rafia bow because we have some growing on our roof terrace that smells lovely…..

I also wrapped my Mandarin jam( See recipe here) gifts in cellophane with a pink gingham napkin tied around the lid!!

I love it!!!

Shakshuka – eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce

20 Dec Shakshuka in Pan

Shakshuka is an Israeli dish perfect for a spicy Sunday Brunch. It is all cooked in one pan so less washing up and you don’t have to worry about poaching the eggs because they cook in the tomato sauce. This dish is really simple and shouldn’t be as delicious as it is…

Shakshuka Recipe

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chilli chopped
  •  1/2 red onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2- 3/4 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 75 ml veg stock or water
  •  salt & black pepper
  •  4 eggs
  • 5o gr feta cheese
  •  a handful of chopped coriander or parsley plus some leaves for garnish
  • warm bread (I used a rustic baguette but pita or flatbread would be nice)

Heat the oil in a large- ish frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onions & chilli for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until softened. Add the garlic, cumin & paprika and cook & stir for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stock/water, reduce the heat slightly and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced.(About 8 – 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs into the sauce, try to do one in each corner. Put the lid on and cook for about 5 – 6 minutes until the yolks are just set. Baste the whites with the tomato mixture but don’t break the yolks. Replace the lid for another minute if you need to cook  the whites more. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and crumble over the feta cheese.

 If you’re really lazy you can eat it straight out of the pan with some crusty bread. If not serve it on warmed plates with extra coriander leaves and the bread on the side.

I think this brunch could be the perfect  “hangover cure” for the holiday season. Bloody Mary anyone?!!

Moroccan Butternut Squash and Barley “Tagine”

19 Dec Squash & Barley Tagine
 

 

 

This my version of a Moroccan Vegetable Tagine which would generally be served with couscous not barley but barley gives me a Winter warmer feeling and couscous reminds me of Summer for some reason. Tagine is the name of the dish that the casserole or stew is cooked in. Usually earthenware/terracotta with a conical lid to let the steam circulate while the dish cooks.

I don’t have a Tagine which is unbelievable since the restaurant we owned here was decorated in a Moroccan style and I went to Tangiers with my dad to buy the lights, lanterns, fabrics and ashtrays.  That was a long day, we left the house at about 5.30 am to drive down the coast to Algeciras to catch the ferry to Tangiers. When we finally arrived at the port of Tangier and disembarked we were surrounded by about 30 guides all offering their services. They wouldn’t take no for an answer so we ended up being escorted through the souk to a shop owned by the guide’s cousin.

It really would be a shopper’s paradise if you were left alone to browse through the beautiful lanterns, slippers and fabrics, but no, out come the kelims, hundreds of them, hand-woven in silk by virgins in the mountains. They are beautiful but we were on a very tight budget given to us by the Washer Up and were under strict instructions not to deviate and we didn’t need any rugs!! My dad doesn’t “do” budgets and can’t resist beautiful things so I had my work cut out. We also had the shop owner plying us with mint tea and pastries, which gave me a huge sugar rush, I had to take control so I told them all to leave us alone or we wouldn’t by anything… It worked!

We ended up buying everything we needed in budget and surprisingly didn’t miss the last boat home. Probably because it sat in the port not moving for 2 hours while we were waiting for it to leave! This meant that we didn’t get home until 1am the next day. A successful trip but not one to be repeated in a hurry.

The ashtrays we bought for the tables were mini decorated tagines which were really popular and were always being stolen or people wanted to buy them. I think this probably explains why I don’t own a Tagine, I spent nearly 10 years emptying & cleaning them so I would be quite happy never to see one ever again….

This recipe is very flexible you can use whatever vegetables & beans you have in the house. The red beans could be replaced with chickpeas, the squash replaced with sweet potato, the possibilities are endless…

 

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Barley “Tagine”

 

serves 4 Vegetarian
 
 

 

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek washed & sliced
  • 1 kilo squash or pumpkin, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  •  1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced (reserve some leaves for garnish)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree not paste)
  •  7 or 8 dates, stoned & chopped
  •  200 gr cooked red beans(about 1/2 a jar/tin) drained and rinsed
  • 100 gr barley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  •  1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any chilli paste or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 /4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ras-al Hanout (a Moroccan spice mix) optional
  • 1 tsp sumac (a crushed dried berry which has a smokey lemony flavour) optional
  • 750 ml veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1 mandarin
  • toasted almonds chopped
  • a handful of mint, coriander & parsley chopped and the reserved celery leaves
  • some feta crumbled or greek yoghurt

 

 

 

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion, celery, leek & carrots with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic cook for another minute and start adding the spices. You can moisten the pan with some lemon juice if its drying out. Add the chopped tomatoes & tomato puree, cook for 2 a minute then add the squash cubes and dates. Stir the squash to coat it in the tomatoey spices then add the veg stock and season generously with salt & black pepper. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low and cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes add the barley, stir to combine, replace the lid and cook for a further 10 – 12 minutes. By this time the squash and the barley should be cooked, if not give it a bit longer. Stir in the mandarin juice and the beans and give it a couple of minutes more. Taste for seasoning.

Serve garnished with the chopped almonds, crumbled feta (or yoghurt)  and the fresh herbs……
 

This is one of the those dishes I will cook again and again it is so flavourful and comforting and the colours are beautiful as well.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 

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