Archive | August, 2011

Baked Zucchini Fries with Tyrokafteri Chilli Cheese Dip

25 Aug zukes top right

So here you are as promised, these baked zucchini fries are the perfect vehicle for the Tyrokafteri chilli cheese dip that I posted yesterday. They are also really good with a basil pesto mayo.

I first had zucchini fries at a bar/restaurant called Liquid Lounge in Puerto Banus about 8 or 9 years ago. Liquid Lounge is not there anymore unfortunately but, at the time, it was the place to be in Banus. They had an amazing cocktail menu and a chef that thought he was Marco Pierre White. The food was modern Italian/British and they had zucchini fries as one of the starters.

I had them every time we went. They came with a basil pesto mayo and it seemed to me that everyone was ordering them as a side dish as well. We used to think that they must have had one person in that kitchen just doing zucchini fries. They were that popular.

I knew as I saw these courgettes growing where I walk with the dog that Zucchini Fries was going to be my first courgette recipe of the season. Definitely not the last though.

I have made them at home quite a few times and I’ve always deep-fried them in breadcrumbs. I made this version gluten-free and baked them instead of deep-frying. You know what, I think that they might actually be better this way.

The “breading” is  a heavenly mixture of finely grated parmesan/manchego, crushed fennel seeds, ground almonds, cornmeal (arepa flour or polenta), oregano, chilli flakes and gluten-free breadcrumbs. And they do crisp up nicely in the oven too, if that’s what you’re worried about.

Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe

Serves 2 as a snack or side dish, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Prairie Table

  • 1 medium courgette/zucchini
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 35 gr (1/3 cup) finely grated parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 35 gr (1/3 cup) ground almonds
  • 35 gr (1/4 cup) arepa cornmeal (or polenta)
  • 35 gr (1/4 cup) gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (then crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and brush it all over with olive oil.

Tip all the dry coating ingredients in a freezer/ziploc bag season well with salt & pepper and shake to combine well.

Wash & dry your courgette and trim off both ends. Cut the courgette in half into two even cylinders and cut each half lengthways into 8 fries. Make sure each piece has some skin to hold it together.

Put the beaten egg in a shallow dish or plate and season with salt & pepper. Toss 2 pieces at a time in the egg until coated on all sides, then drop the pieces into the freezer bag. Seal and shake about well to make sure they are well coated, then place on the lined, oiled baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the fries.

Drizzle over a little olive oil so that each piece has a little and bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Take the tray out of the oven and use tongs to turn them over. Put them back in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp on the other side.

Serve immediately with Tyrokafteri chilli cheese dip or a basil pesto mayo.

I served them with my version of a Greek Salad too. Cos lettuce, tomatoes, chickpeas, red onion, cucumber, black grapes, (I don’t like olives), fresh mint, fresh parsley, dried oregano, olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper.

Enjoy!!

Tyrokafteri – A Greek Chilli Cheese Dip with Homemade Goat’s Cheese

24 Aug Tyrokafteri Dip

I’ve made Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese (labneh) before by straining Greek yoghurt in the fridge overnight but I’d never gone one step back and actually made the yoghurt as well.

I read about it at Chica Andaluza. She made yoghurt from cow’s milk and then drained it for longer to make a soft cheese. I really wanted to try this with goat’s milk to see if I could make my own soft goat’s cheese.

It took a little longer than expected to “turn” which may have had something to do with the unseasonably cloudy weather we had as soon as I decided I wanted to put my milk out in the sun, but it worked. I made soft goat’s cheese from goat’s milk and it was easy.

A litre carton of goat’s milk made about 250 gr goat’s cheese spread, which is the size of a tub of Philadelphia, it’s that sort of texture too.

Now I could get on with making a Greek chilli cheese dip called Tyrokafteri that had been wanting to try for a while. The original recipe is a mixture of feta cheese and ricotta blended with chillis, lemon juice and olive oil. I just replaced those with my soft goat’s cheese.

Tyrokafteri Chilli Cheese Dip/Sauce Recipe

Makes about 300 ml, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 red & 4 green chillis, I used birds eye chillis (use 20 gr if using the larger mild chillies)
  • 250 gr soft goat’s cheese (or 165 gr feta & 85 gr ricotta)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 35 ml extra virgen olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Wash the chillis, remove the stalks, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds and membrane. Wear gloves or your hands will sting for ages and don’t touch your eyes.

Boil them in a small pan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel off the skin (if using larger chillies) using gloves. If you used small chillies no need to peel. Boiling them takes away some of the heat but not the flavour.

Put the rest of the ingredients and  in a blender/processor and blend together well. I added my chillies two at a time because I was worried about it being too hot, and blended again. Taste and add more chillies until you are happy with the heat. I added all eight in the end and it was perfect. Blend until smooth and season with salt & black pepper. If  you are using feta you may not need any salt.

Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate until using. It tastes even better the next day.

Serve with toasted pita bread or crudites for dipping or drizzle over roasted or chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables. It’s addictive. I served mine with some baked zucchini fries and I will be posting the recipe tomorrow…

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

I love these flowers, they look like a multi-layered gerbera…..

The bees seem pretty taken with them too….

Hasta Manana!

My 7 Links Challenge, Pass it on…

21 Aug Almond Blossom

There’s a challenge going around the blogosphere at the moment called The Seven Links Challenge. I have been nominated by four different bloggers over the past few weeks and I am very honoured, if not a little apprehensive, to be thought of for this.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the lovely ladies who passed this on to me, starting with E from Legally Blissful, who has just started law school and is following her bliss. Tiffany from Como Water a kindred spirit with a positive soul, Tanya from Chica Andaluza my fellow guiri living the dream in Andalucia, and last but by no means least Sawsan from Chef in Disguise my Middle East meets West kitchen guru.

This is the Challenge:

THE GOAL

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

THE RULES

1)     Blogger is nominated to take part

2)     Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.

- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of

3)     Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part

So here are my “7 links”

Most Beautiful Post…

Chocolate, Fig & Almond Rosewater Brownies….

Or Beautiful Almond Blossom & Amaretti Biscuits

Are you noticing a theme here? I like pink flowers….

Most Popular Post….

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles…..

This was featured on Freshly Pressed, the front page of WordPress and had 45oo hits in 2 days. Very exciting!

Most Controversial Post…..

Mint Julep Peaches Via Iran….

This was featured on Foodpress and got quite a lot of hits. I didn’t think this was controversial but I received a comment saying that the book I was reviewing “Reading Lolita in Tehran” was considered by most Iranians to be“baloney”.

I’d just like to point out that all the opinions on this blog are mine and mine only and the last time I looked freedom of speech and expression were legal, at least they are here.

Most Helpful Post…..

Thai Squash Wonton Soup & Spring Rolls….

I don’t know how helpful it is but there’s some pictures of how to fold wontons and spring rolls. And the filling is delicious!

Most Surprisingly Successful Post….

Spanish Onion Soup on the Beach…..

I was really surprised when this made the Foodbuzz Top 9 and ended up at number one. It was the first time I had been featured anywhere. It’s my Spanish take on the classic French Onion Soup.

Or Indian Lentil Dhal with Potato Stuffed Parathas

This one of my really early posts but it still get loads of traffic now through search engines. It must be something to do with the way it’s titled or something, I don’t know.

The Post That Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved……

Halloumi Tikka Kebab with Turmeric & Cardamom Risotto & Tamarind Syrup

This is definitely one of mine and the The Washer Up’s all time favourite dishes. The texture of the halloumi that has been marinated in yoghurt & spices is a revelation and the complex balance of  flavours makes it a real winner.

The Post I am Most Proud Of……

Definitely Grandad’s Pickled Onions..

They’re amazing and so is he….xx

Okay so now I have to pass this challenge on to 5 other bloggers. I have chosen these five because they are blogs that I enjoy following that are quite new to me and I am really interested to see what they come up with from their archives.

Beth Michelle

Pease Pudding

The Sometimes Zoo

Sunshine & Smile

Crumb

Beloved Green

That’s 6, I know. If you get a chance you should check out their lovely blogs, if you don’t know them already.

And I look forward to seeing your gone but not forgotten posts…

Roasted Tomato, Saffron and Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

20 Aug terrine left

I roasted off another batch of my favourite slow roasted tomatoes yesterday and wanted to use them in something lovely for dinner. I found a recipe for a grilled vegetable saffron risotto cake that fit the bill perfectly.

In the original version they layer it with grilled aubergine, courgette and roasted peppers which I will definitely try next time. But I had all these sweet roasted tomatoes hanging about and I was hungry, so I just used them. I also added some of my sundried tomatoes for extra tomato intensity.

Roasted Tomato, Saffron & Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

Serves 4-6, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from  Jane Baxter, The Guardian

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 20 slow roasted tomato halves, see recipe here
  • 2 or 3 tbsp finely chopped sundried tomatoes plus 8 strips for layers
  • 300 gr risotto rice (I used brown rice, it takes longer to cook and more stock)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a splash of white wine/vermouth
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • a bunch fresh basil leaves, 1/2 finely shredded 1/2 left whole
  • 125 gr ball mozzarella, sliced in 5mm thick ovals
  • a handful of finely grated Manchego/Parmesan
  • rocket, olive oil & balsamic vinegar to serve

Put the veg stock in small pan, over a medium-low heat to heat up while you are cooking.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and saffron with a pinch of salt for 5 -6 minutes until softened. Then add the fennel seeds, garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add 12 of the roasted tomato halves and any roasting juices, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the rice. Cook at a fast simmer, stirring for about 2 minutes, season generously with salt & pepper & splash in the wine.

Add the hot stock to the rice a ladleful at a time over a medium heat, adding the next ladleful when the previous one has all been absorbed. Continue like this until most of the stock is used up (1 litre for risotto rice – 1 1/2 for brown rice), taste the rice and see if it is cooked. It should still have a bit of bite to it. Season again, add in the finely shredded basil, stir and taste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. I didn’t leave it to cool very long, I was hungry.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line the base of a terrine or loaf tin with baking parchment and oil/butter the sides. Take 1/3 of the cooled rice and press it into the bottom of the mould evenly. Top with 4 of the remaining roasted tomatoes in a line along the centre of the rice then top those with a half of the mozzarella slices, the a line of sun-dried tomato strips, then with a line of basil leaves. Sprinkle over half the grated cheese.

Top with another 1/3 rice, press down evenly and add toppings as before. Then finish off with the final layer of rice and press down evenly. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a serving plate. Use a serrated bread knife to cut into generous slices and serve with a rocket salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

This is equally good served hot or cold and would be perfect for a summer picnic or buffet table.

 I’m having this cold for my lunch now, have a great weekend!

 Happy Birthday Dad,

Love You xxx

Berenjenas Con Miel – Fried Aubergines with Cane Honey

17 Aug toppled top

Berenjenas con Miel is a typically Andaluz dish from around Malaga and Granada. It has saved my life, on more than a few occasions, when eating out here, as it is on most Spanish restaurants’ menus and it’s usually the one and only vegetarian dish, apart from tortilla (no more tortilla, por favor!) on offer.

It is the second in my aubergine season series, the first being an Aubergine & Chickpea Curry, designed to convert even the most stubborn of aubergine haters out there.

The reason it will convert is that it is sliced very thinly, lightly coated in seasoned flour and fried until golden. Then comes the good bit, it is drizzled generously with Miel de Cana. Miel de Cana literally translates as “sugar cane honey” or, as it known elsewhere, molasses.

Miel de cana is produced in the Malaga area and it comes in a glass jar with a beautiful printed label.

It says on the side: “Did you know that…?”

“In the 5th century BC, the Persian king Dario discovered sugar cane on his expedition to the Indus Valley. He described it as a cane that gives honey without the intervention of bees.”

If you see some anywhere, buy it, I’ve heard that they have stopped producing it because all the sugar cane plantations have been destroyed to make way for the new runway and terminal at Malaga airport.

I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it would be a real shame to lose this important local product with such a long history, the company was started in 1929.

Berenjenas Con Miel Recipe

Serves 2-3 sharing as part of a meal. Vegan. From Spanish Food About

  • 1 large Aubergine
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • about 1oo gr (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 220 ml (1 cup) virgen olive oil
  • miel de cana (or molasses/ honey/ maple syrup)

Wash and dry the aubergine, cut off the stalk end and carefully slice into 3 mm thick circles.

Put the slices on a baking tray or large platter and lightly salt each one on both sides. Leave for at least 20 mins up to an hour to draw out the moisture, then pat both sides dry with kitchen roll.

Heat the oil in a med-large frying pan over a medium high heat. Tip the flour onto a large plate and season it with salt and pepper, mix it together with your hands. Put about 4 slices of aubergine in the flour and press down, turn over with tongs and coat the other side.

When the oil is hot (it should sizzle when you put the slices in), lift the slices with tongs, shaking off the excess flour, and place in the oil. Cook for about a minute on one side until golden brown and then turn over with the tongs and do the same on the other side. When cooked on both sides remove to some kitchen roll to drain. Meanwhile put some more slices in the flour and continue until all the aubergine is cooked.

Arrange the slices overlapping in one layer on a large serving dish/platter and drizzle generously with the miel de cana/molasses. Serve immediately with extra miel de cana on the table.

Buen Provecho!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……….

The cactus fruit or prickly pear are called Chumbos here and are everywhere at the moment.

I love their bright acid colours against the burnt earth and the almost cartoon-like shapes of the cactus. It feels very Mexico to me.

They make me smile because every time I see them I think of The Jungle Book and I just can’t get that song out of my head.  “Do be do I wanna be like you oo… I wanna walk like you, talk like you, ooo….”

Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug alls side clear close

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

13 Aug IMG_0239

This is a fusion of two of the most well-known Spanish summer soups: Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco. Gazpacho is traditionally a tomato based chilled vegetable soup and Ajo Blanco is a white version, also served chilled, made with almonds, garlic and olive oil.

They have their roots in southern Andalucia from around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga and they are both believed to have originated with the Moors.

I was looking for white grape recipes because I walk by these bunches of Moscatel grapes every morning watching them grow sweeter and darker with the heat of the sun.

I found a recipe for White Grape Gazpacho which I really liked the idea of. I have to admit that I am not all that fond of cold soup, in fact I never eat it. I realise that this is sacrilege coming from the birthplace of Gazpacho but I can’t help it, I’ve tried and I’m just not feeling it. I don’t like olives either, I know, por dios!

For some strange reason the fact that it was a cold soup with fruit, rather than vegetables, made it more appealing to me. It may have been to do with the soaring temperatures and the inability to think about eating anything even the slightest bit warm. Whatever the explanation, I was happy to try it.

I’m so glad I did, this is a really refreshing soup. It has to be really cold though, I mean ice-cold, and you have to eat it quickly before it starts to get warm.

The Ajo Blanco cream came to me because I thought it needed a swirl of something on top. You could use creme fraiche but it’s a bit French and I saw Rick Stein making (well he was actually watching someone else making) Ajo Blanco on his new series, A Taste of Spain. The traditional garnish is some Moscatel grapes. So I decided to turn the tables and use Ajo Blanco as my garnish on the White Grape Gazpacho. The two work so well together.

This would make a really elegant summer starter/appetizer for entertaining. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy. Just chill and serve.

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Honey Flow Farm & Spain Recipes

For the White Grape Gazpacho:

  • 350 gr white grapes (moscatel would be lovely, deseeded) I used seedless. Plus extra for garnish, halved
  • 10/12 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber (1 Spanish pepino) peeled and diced
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (1 small cebolleta), finely chopped
  • 220 ml (1 cup) veg stock
  • 220 ml (1 cup) iced water (I use 3 ice cubes crushed, and water)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix all the ingredients apart from the stock and water together in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Remove three-quarters of the mix to a food processor, pulse a few times then add the stock and iced water and process until it liquid but still with some texture. Then add in the rest of the ingredients from the bowl and pulse once more. Taste for seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours. Put your serving bowls in the freezer to chill too.

For the Ajo Blanco Cream:

  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 50-75 ml (1/2-3/4 cup) cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Put the ground almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar in a food processor and blend. Then add the olive oil and blend to a smooth paste. Add the water, a bit at a time until you reach the consistency of thick pouring cream. Season with the salt, taste, cover and chill for 2 hours.

To serve, ladle the cold Grape Gazpacho soup into the frozen bowls and top with a generous swirl of the Ajo Blanco cream. Top with a few halved grapes and some of the toasted flaked almonds.

Buen Provecho!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

A lone goat wandering down the middle of the road. We stopped the car to say hello, she was very friendly!

Rufus looking very serious, “Stop taking pictures of me!”

Have a great weekend,

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