Archive | January, 2012

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

31 Jan Lemon Polenta Cake

Lemons are everywhere here at the moment. I use lemons a lot in my cooking to brighten up soups, curries, salads and dips. Most of my dishes are finished of with a squeeze of lemon before serving. It just highlights all the other flavours and brings the dish to life.

I saw Nigella make a lemon polenta cake that looked delicious. Hers had quite a bit of butter in it so I thought I’d try to make it with olive oil instead. I have some amazing first press newly harvested local stuff to play with and I’m always looking for excuses to use it in anything.

You should always keep olive oil (or anything really) in glass bottles if you can. Plastic affects the chemical make up of things especially when heated.  Like you should never use cling film when microwaving things. Or drink water out of a plastic bottle that has been in the sun. Microwaves are nasty anyway. Ours broke a few years ago and we have never replaced it. I honestly don’t miss it at all.

Most recipes also use a mixture of polenta, plain flour and ground almonds. I wanted to make a gluten-free, dairy-free version so I tried it without the flour. It works…

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

Makes a 24cm/9 inch cake, serves 12. Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Adapted from A Meandering Mango

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 160 gr (3/4 cup) brown sugar (or raw sugar)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2 large lemons, zested & juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190 gr polenta (cornmeal)
  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 150 C and oil a 24 cm loose bottomed cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and creamy (about 4 mins). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to whisk until all the oil is combined. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Sieve this mixture over the eggs and sugar in 3 batches, alternating with the lemon juice, folding until just combined.

Pour into the oiled cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar. You can also make a lemon syrup to drizzle over if you think it needs it. Heat up some lemon juice and icing sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Use a cocktail stick or piece of dried spaghetti (authentic Italian version) to make holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the syrup slowly over the top of the cake letting the syrup sink in.

Buen Provecho!!

In my next post I will be making an exciting announcement about what I will be getting up to over the next month…

Stay Tuned!!

Aloo Gobi Filo Tartlet – My Guest Post at Como Water

28 Jan small-7

The inspiration for this dish came to me because at the moment, where I walk the dog in the mornings, they are harvesting potatoes and cauliflowers.

One of my favourite Indian dishes is Aloo Gobi which is potatoes and cauliflower cooked in a spicy masala. It is real Indian comfort food, the potatoes and cauliflower are meltingly soft, this is no time for al dente vegetables!

 Serving it in a filo tart shell just gives it a little contrast in texture. The delicate crisp filo is the perfect vehicle for the Aloo Gobi and it makes it look a bit more special too.

The recipe for this tartlet is over with Tiffany at Como Water. I was really honoured when Tiffany asked me to guest post on her blog.

I first “met” Tiffany as a friend on Foodbuzz and quickly discovered that we have very similar values and taste in food. I would even go as far as to say that we are foodie kindred spirits. I really hope that one day that we can meet in person and have a very long lunch somewhere gorgeous! This is her introduction:

When I was fourteen, I decided to defy the codes of my family and of my community.  I stopped eating meat. With a splash of age, a sprinkle of food documentaries, a dash of books about the food industry, and a bushel of life experiences, vegetarian and vegan food went from being something I approached rather nonchalantly to becoming a way of life. I started comowater.com to share information and to share my meatless meals, to dialogue with people who approach food from perspectives that may be similar to or very different from my own, and to showcase what I cook on average nights and on special occasions. This site is not about conversion or pushing an agenda. Instead, I hope that folks–vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, pescatarians, and carnivores alike–come to comowater.com to be inspired to make their own vegan and vegetarian cuisine prepared with passion and love.

She also has a “When You Need a Boost Page” filled with really inspirational quotes. This is one of my favourites:

“Everything you could ever want or to be, you already have and are.” ~I Heart Huckabees~
Hop over to Como Water for the recipe and have a look around while you’re there. Say hello to Tiffany from me!

Rustic Leek and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

25 Jan Leek & White Bean Soup

They are busy harvesting leeks at the moment where we walk the dog in the morning. I like leeks, they have a milder flavour than onions and they don’t make you cry when you chop them.

Leeks are one of those vegetables that have a strong supporting role in many dishes but hardly ever get to play the lead. Seeing fields full of row after row of them made me think about making them shine.

Leeks and white beans have an affinity. They have a history of working together in such classics as Cassoulet and Tuscan White Bean Soup. Rosemary is often found hanging around in the background with these two, completing the love triangle and it is flowering beautifully at the moment. Shall I stop with the film metaphors now and get on with the recipe?

Rustic Leek & White Bean Soup with Rosemary

Serves 4, Vegan, gluten free

  • Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time 20 mins
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
    • 3 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed and sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked white beans, drained & rinsed
    • about 500 ml veg stock
    • salt & black pepper
    • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

    Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the leeks, celery, rosemary and thyme with a pinch of salt for about 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

    Blend half of the drained beans with splash of stock or water to a smooth puree. Add the pureed beans to the pan and stir to combine.  Pour in the veg stock and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the beans.

    Add in the whole beans, lower the heat to a simmer, season with salt & black pepper and cook  for about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

    Buen Provecho!!

    As promised here are some more pictures of our visit to the beautiful Alcazaba in Malaga. This is the view from the outside with the amphitheatre in the foreground.

    Inside is a study in  exquisite Moorish archways…..

    Leading through to hidden doorways and secluded patios………….

    Elaborately tiled ceilings…

    And floors….

    There are more pictures to follow on my next post…..

     

Indian Spinach Koftas with Creamy Tomato and Cashew Nut Sauce

19 Jan Spinach Koftas

Any excuse to get more spinach in my diet and I’m there. It’s not all about the iron you know, here are just some of the health benefits of eating this wonderful green leaf. Popeye wasn’t as stupid as he looked….

One cup of spinach has nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fibre which aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.

Flavonoids — a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties abundant in spinach have been shown to slow down the growth of stomach and skin cancer cells. Furthermore, spinach has shown significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.

The vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium present in spinach all serve as powerful antioxidants that combat the onset of osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

Both antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially plentiful in spinach and protect the eye from cataracts and age-related eyesight degeneration.

One cup of spinach contains over 337% of the RDA of vitamin A that not only protects and strengthens “entry points” into the human body, such as mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, but is also a key component of white blood cells that fight infection.

The high amount of vitamin A in spinach also promotes healthy skin by allowing for proper moisture retention in the epidermis, thus fighting psoriasis, acne and even wrinkles.

This information is taken from healthdiaries. com

Some friends of ours, Nik & Stacey bought us a new cook book called I Love Curry by Anjum Anand on their last trip back to the UK.  On the first flick through this was the recipe that stood out for me, the one that I wanted to make straight away.

The blended cashew nuts in the sauce give it a creamy texture and flavour that is perfect with the light and fluffy spinach koftas. The koftas are made in a similar way to spinach and ricotta gnocchi and then fried. I used goat’s ricotta which gives a very mild goat’s cheese flavour and is so much better for you than cow’s milk. I served it with a spiced turmeric pilaf rice.

Indian Spinach Koftas with Creamy Tomato & Cashew Nut Sauce

Serves 3-4, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from I Love Curry by Anjun Ananad

For the sauce:

  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered & deseeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 or 2 tbsp coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 50 gr cashew nuts
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 500 ml veg stock (or water)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, to serve

For the koftas:

  • 200 gr fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 200 gr ricotta cheese (I used goat’s ricotta)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the Turmeric Pilaf:

  • 220 gr basmati rice, well washed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Blend the tomatoes, garlic and ginger to a paste with a little water to get it going. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the onion for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.

Add in the blended tomatoes, cashew nuts, spices, salt & pepper. Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend until smooth with a little water if necessary then pour it back into the pan, add the stock (or water), tomato puree, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until it is the consistency of single cream.

Meanwhile make the dumplings. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a tbsp water, a pinch salt and 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg. When cool enough to handle squeeze out the excess water (in a clean tea towel) and blend to a puree with a stick blender. Then add the cornflour and ricotta and mix together well. Taste and season with salt & black pepper as required.

Heat about 5cm vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or wok over a medium high heat. To test if the oil is hot enough drop a tiny amount of the spinach mix into the oil, it should sizzle immediately but not brown straight away.

Drop heaped teaspoons full of the spinach mix into the oil. You will need to do it in batches. I got 16 out of this mixture.

Cook the koftas, turning occasionally with a metal spoon, so they cook evenly. They should take 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, add a squeeze of lemon to the sauce. You can add the koftas into the sauce to reheat them or serve them straight way with the hot sauce poured over and some fresh coriander leaves to garnish.

For the Rice Pilaf:

Tip the rice into a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak. Heat the coconut oil/ghee in a saucepan over a medium heat then add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom pods and cloves and leave to sizzle and pop for about 20 seconds. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes until turning golden.

Drain the rice and add it to the pan with the turmeric, salt & black pepper and cook, stirring for a minute. Add 400 ml water, taste the water and add more salt if necessary.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to its lowest setting, cover and leave to cook for 12-13 minutes without stirring. Check the rice it should be cooked. Remove from the heat and serve when ready.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…………..

Today we visited the Alcazaba (Moorish fortress) in Malaga. It’s the first time we’ve been and I was really surprised at how beautiful it is. Everyone goes to the Alhambra but I doubt many people even know there is a smaller much less touristy version in Malaga. It’s practically deserted. Apart from the robins that is….

I have obviously taken a whole load more photographs that I will share with you over the next few posts, this is just a teaser….

Rhubarb, Ginger and Almond Crumble

14 Jan Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

I hope you realise that I am risking arrest by sharing this recipe with you. I could be charged with possession of an illegal substance or intent to supply. Apparently it is illegal to grow rhubarb in Spain because it is poisonous to goats. No I’m not joking, it’s true!

You can find tinned rhubarb in British supermarkets here but that’s not the same. For a start it’s not pink which is kind of the point of rhubarb really. The stuff in tins is a sloppy green excuse for rhubarb so when you do come across some of the real stuff, you always buy it and quite a lot of it. And before you ask, no, I’m not revealing the name of my supplier.

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Spiced Cauliflower Fritters with Lemon Coriander Yoghurt Sauce

11 Jan Cauliflower Fritters

I’ve been watching these cauliflowers growing over the last couple of months and up until a week ago I thought they were cabbages. Suddenly the creamy white florets appeared and grew very quickly inside their leafy layers.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that I used to hate but now love, like aubergines. I think I had a bad cauliflower cheese experience at some point that put me off them for a long time.

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Restaurant Review and Recipe: Muhammara – Roasted Pepper and Walnut Dip

6 Jan Muhammara

This is my version of the Muhammara (or hammara) roasted red pepper & walnut dip I had at the fantastic Lebanese restaurant in Malaga, Samarkanda.

Everything that we ordered was amazing. The hummos was the creamiest I have ever tasted and the baba ghanoush (or mutabak) had that deliciously intense smokiness that I can never replicate at home because I don’t have a gas hob to burn the aubergines over an open flame. The tabouli salad was heavy on the herbs, just how I like it and the cheese briwat (like a samosa) heavenly. The falafels were really good but a step to far I think. We ordered too much as usual, I got a bit excited and wanted everything.

This was the first time I had tried Muhammara in a restaurant. I have made it myself before and used it to stuff these Muhammara & Feta Cigars (gorgeous). Samarkanda’s muhammara was much sweeter than mine and it was lovely because of it. They had used cinnamon and I was desperate to get home and try it, none of the recipes I had seen used cinnamon but it made such a difference t o the flavour.

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