Archive | August, 2012

Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce

31 Aug Sweet Potato Cakes & Callaloo Sauce

I was looking for recipes containing scotch bonnet chilli peppers because our plant is producing more chillis than we can cope with at the moment. Apart from making more of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce, I am trying to find ways of including them in every meal.

I found a Trinidadian recipe for crab cakes that were coated in grated sweet potato and served with a Callaloo sauce. Callaloo is a popular Caribbean stew or soup of West African origin made with leafy greens called Callaloo or Taro that are similar to kale and spinach. There are many different versions but in Trinidad they use coconut milk, okra and peppers as well as the greens. In Jamaica they use tomatoes and spring onions. The African-American dish Collard Greens is also a version of Callaloo.

In this recipe the callaloo is blended to make a smooth sauce to serve with the cakes. I omitted the crab (obviously) and used roasted and mashed sweet potato as the base for the cakes mixed with Caribbean herbs and spices and our lovely scotch bonnets for heat.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Cakes with Callaloo Sauce

Serves 2-3. Vegan, Gluten-free.

For the cakes:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes (550gr)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • whole bulb of fresh garlic (outer leaves peeled off but still held together)
  • 1 or 2 scotch bonnets chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 3 spring onions/scallions, chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • the zest of 1/2 a lime
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 200C. On a lined baking tray, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, allspice, cumin, dried thyme, chilli flakes salt & pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until soft. Roast the head of garlic at the same time.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl with half of the roasted garlic cloves that have been squeezed out of their skins. Cook the spring onions and scotch bonnets with a pinch of salt,  in a little oil for a few minutes until softened. Stir this into the potatoes with the chopped coriander and lime zest. Check for seasoning, add more salt or lime zest if necessary. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge while you make the sauce.

For the Callaloo Sauce:

  • 1 tin coconut milk, 400 ml
  • 100-150 g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • the rest of the roasted garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli (whole)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, whole
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus extra for garnish

Put everything except lime juice & coriander in a med-large saucepan, season with salt & pepper and bring to the boil stirring to wilt the spinach. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-25  minutes, then remove the whole scotch bonnet (don’t throw it away) and thyme sprigs.

Carefully blend with a stick blender (cover with a towel) or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, if it is not hot enough cut the flesh from the scotch bonnet and add that to the sauce and blend again. Add the lime juice and chopped coriander and taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and keep warm while you cook the cakes.

Shape the sweet potato mix into 6 patties or smaller ones for canapes if you like. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium high heat. when the oil is hot add the cakes to the pan and cook for a about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Pour enough sauce into your dishes to cover the base and top with 2 or 3 cakes. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander and serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

We served this with a side of Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn to carry on with the theme.

I am writing this listening to helicopters and light aircraft flying low over our house. Last night a friend, Andrew rang me at about to say that he could see lots of smoke coming from the mountains where we live. He was staying in his house across the valley at the time. I walked upstairs and opened the door onto the outside terrace and was greeted by huge plumes of orange smoke coming from the mountains in at the edge of our town. The view from the roof terrace was even worse and confirmed our fears.

The Barranco Blanco valley was on fire.

Totally unbelievable and shocking photographs started to appear on social networking sites as we heard about thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

The fire was spreading rapidly, helped by the wind conditions, down the valley towards the coast. Friends of our were extremely worried about a dog rescue centre that was in great danger. Many people came to help and all 300 dogs were helped to safety along the riverbed towards Fuengirola before the fire reached them.

Our thoughts are with the families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed and we hope beyond all hope that this tragedy was not premeditated.

The area affected is one of the areas where we walk with dog. This morning we went out with heavy hearts to see if some of our favourite beauty spots were still there. Thankfully our favourite hill where we love to sit and look down to the coast has only been blackened on one side. The other side is as yet untouched, the firebreaks actually worked.

The whole valley is devastated, all the wildlife and plants destroyed. This is how it looked before.

Looking through all the photos of how it looked before is really upsetting. Rufus on top of the world….

Stay Safe Everyone

Yellow Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin with Fresh Herbs

29 Aug sm-91

I bought some of these little organic yellow tomatoes at the market and have been saving them to star in something rather than just adding them anonymously into salads. Their beauty deserves a leading role.

A tarte tatin is one of those recipes, like souffle, that strikes fear into the hearts of many. This however, is really easy. There I’ve said it. I’m just waiting for the backlash now.

I used my simple spelt flour olive oil pastry recipe to keep it vegan and because it’s so much quicker than using butter and letting the pastry rest. I used honey and a sherry vinegar syrup drizzle to add sweetness but you could use agave syrup (to stay vegan) and balsamic syrup would be lovely too.

Sprinkling the tomatoes with a handful of breadcrumbs before covering them with pastry soaks up a lot of  the juice that leaks out of the tomatoes while cooking and helps to hold them together with the honey.

Turning it out is the scary part but be careful and confident, or get The Washer Up to do it because you burnt yourself on the handle of the frying pan. You will need an ovenproof frying pan obviously, no plastic handles please that would be messy.

You could also use a shop-bought puff pastry for this recipe to save time. The recipe for the olive oil pastry is here. I used about half of that amount for an 8″ tarte. The amount of tomatoes will depend on the size of your frying pan. You need to cover the base snugly so they can’t move about.

Yellow Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 2, vegan/vegetarian, wheat-free. I used an 8 “/20 cm ovenproof frying pan/skillet

  • about 250 g yellow (or a mix) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey/agave syrup
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried oregano
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)
  • fresh basil, thyme or oregano leaves to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base with a snug even layer of cherry tomatoes. You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey/agave syrup and balsamic/sherry vinegar syrup. Season well with oregano, salt & pepper and leave to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Meanwhile on a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to a rough circle about 2 or 3 mm thick and about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs all over the top of the tomatoes and remove from the heat. Cover the tomatoes with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the tomatoes. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes (preferably longer). When ready to turn out, tip away any excess liquid (I didn’t have any) and run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any tomatoes that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve at room temperature scattered with the fresh herbs. Slice and eat with a green salad or offer around thinner slices as a canape before dinner.

Bon Appetit!

Tomato and Saffron Risotto with Basil, Pine Nuts and Parmesan

24 Aug Tomato & Saffron Risotto

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe inspired by our trip to Cape Town. This one is a version of the Tomato Risotto I had at Sand at The Plettenberg Hotel in Plettenberg Bay.

Sand is one of the restaurants in the Liz Mcgrath Collection of three hotels overseen by the Grand Chef, Peter Tempelhoff. I have been lucky enough to have eaten at all three. I had an unforgettable passionfruit souffle at The Marine, Hermanus a few years ago that I must remember to have a go at with my next  lot of passionfruit.

I had one of the best meals of my life, a 7 Course Vegetarian Tasting Menu at The Greenhouse , Cellars Hohenort, awarded restaurant of the year and number 1 in South Africa, this year. More of that in a future post, I am still trying to get close to replicating one of the recipes from that memorable meal, but failing miserably at the moment. I can see why he is a multi award-winning Grand Chef.

Above are some pictures of the beautiful meal I had at Sand prepared by the very capable sous-chef , Tronnette. We were presented first of all with some Baked Rosemary & Sea Salt Lavash with Aubergine Puree and a Melon Shot with Cucumber Salsa Bruschetta. For a starter I chose the Double Baked Underberg Cheese Souffle with Chive & Parmesan Veloute which was light, fluffy and creamy, the best  savoury souffle I have ever had. A Tomato & Artichoke Risotto was prepared especially for me (being vegetarian). It had an intense tomato flavour (from the stock I think) that made it particularly special. The dessert was a Madagascan Vanilla Creme Brulee, Coconut Foam, Marshmallow Compresse and Pineapple Almond Biscotti, this was totally amazing!

They very kindly sent me the recipes for both the souffle and the risotto. So, with it being summer here now and with tomatoes being at their cheapest and best at the moment, I had to make the risotto first.  I added some saffron for colour and for that extra Spanish touch and topped it with my favourite tomato friends: basil, pine nuts and parmesan. They were meant for each other.

The first part of this recipe is making a tomato fondue (or sauce) to add into the risotto when it is cooked. You could skip this part if short on time and replace it with some shop-bought tomato pasta/marinara sauce.

Tomato & Saffron Risotto with Basil Pine Nuts & Parmesan

Serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Sand at The Plettenberg recipe

For the tomato fondue (sauce)

  • 2-4 ripe tomatoes, I used 2 huge Spanish ones that hardly have any seeds
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt & pepper

Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 20 seconds, drain and remove the skins, seeds and chop the tomato flesh. Cook the onion in olive oil for a few minutes with a pinch of salt then add the garlic & oregano and cook for another minute. add the tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the ketchup, sugar and season with salt & black pepper. Cook until reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust sugar/salt as required. Set aside.

For the Risotto:

  • 350 g risotto rice
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (I made my own recipe here using lots of tomato to intensify the tomato flavour)
  • a big pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 150 ml sherry or white wine
  • about 120 ml (1/2 cup) tomato fondue/pasta sauce (see recipe above)
  • 200 g cherry/baby tomatoes (on the vine if possible)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 30 gr grated parmesan or manchego (vegetarian) plus shaved for garnish
  •  a hand ful of basil leaves juliennned, plus leaves to garnish
  •  a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 40 gr toasted pine nuts

Put the veg stock and saffron in pan over a medium low heat to warm up but not boil.

Meanwhile, cook the onion in the olive oil with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for 3 minutes then add the garlic, oregano & chilli flakes and cook for another 2 mins.  Add in the rice stirring to coat in the oil and cook for 2 minutes before adding the sherry/wine and cook until it is dry.

Start by adding 2 ladles of the hot stock to the rice and swirl the pan until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, wait for it to be absorbed, swirling  and continue like this until the rice is cooked and you have used all of the stock. If you run out of stock you can add hot water. Then stir in the tomato fondue/sauce.

Stir in the grated parmesan, sliced basil, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper. Remove from the heat and put the lid on.

Preheat a griddle pan (or frying pan if you don’t have one), season the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. Cook them on the griddle pan until you get black marks and they start to soften.

Taste the risotto for seasoning and serve topped with a pile of  cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and basil leaves.

Buen Provecho!

 Sand at The Plettenberg

Look-out Rocks, 40 Church Street
P. O. Box 719
Plettenberg Bay 6600
South Africa

+27 44 533 2030
 

Green Fig and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta with honey, basil and black pepper

22 Aug Fig Bruschetta

It’s green fig season here……

I bought a kilo at the organic market on Sunday…..

I also bought a jar of local goat’s cheese spread. You may have already noticed that one of my favourite food combinations is fig and goat’s cheese from this Dried Fig & Goat’s Cheese Pizza and this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche.

But this gives all the fabulous flavour in a fraction of the time. It literally takes 5 minutes to make and the ingredients are local. To me anyway… The figs and goat’s cheese are from Coin (next village).  The honey I used is not actually honey, it is called Miel de Cana (cane honey) which is molasses from Malaga, a delicacy used liberally in this local recipe for Berenjenas con Miel (fried aubergines with honey).

I finished it off with a grinding of black pepper, some flakes of sea salt, a drizzle of Andalucian extra virgen olive oil and some baby basil leaves from our terrace. Andalucian sunshine on a plate, sending it your way if you are in need of some….

Green Fig & Goat Cheese Bruschetta Recipe with honey, basil & black pepper

Serves 1 as a snack, vegetarian

  • 1 large ripe green fig, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 piece of wholemeal/brown/rustic bread
  • goats cheese
  • black pepper
  • miel de cana or honey
  • sea salt
  • small fresh basil leaves
  • extra virgen olive oil
  • salad leaves to serve (optional)

Toast the bread under a hot grill (or in a toaster) on both sides. Spread the goat’s cheese on the toast and top with the wedges of fig. Generously drizzle over the honey and grind over the black pepper.

Put under the grill for a few minutes until bubbling and hot. Serve sprinkled with flakes of sea salt, baby basil leaves and drizzle over some olive oil. Add a handful of salad leaves to the plate if you like.

Serve this as a luxurious breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack or supper. Even as a starter/appetizer it works very well. Easy, impressive and it takes minutes. Which is always a good thing.

Buen Provecho

Peach and Almond Spelt Cake with Passionfruit Syrup

20 Aug sm-8

Summer is all about fruit in Andalucia. It is at the moment anyway. Fruit and tomatoes, which are technically a fruit anyway. We went to the market this weekend and bought two kilos of peaches for a euro and quarter of a kilo of passionfruit (which is a lot) for the same price, one euro. Passionfruit are usually ridiculously expensive, I couldn’t believe it.

I have been photographing these peaches while walking the dog and today we saw some almonds hatching out of their furry jackets on the trees next to them.

I have been blending peaches, passionfruit pulp and orange juice for breakfast smoothies (with flaxmeal, flax seeds and flax seed oil) but still nowhere near using them all and I saw two gorgeous peach cake recipes, both on beautiful Italian blogs, that I couldn’t get out of my head.

A Peach & Mead Cake on Juls’ Kitchen and a Peach & Hazelnut Cake on Lucullian Delights both had me desperate to try something similar. I added Amaretto (my liqueur of choice) in the absence of mead and swapped the hazelnuts to ground almonds. I also decided to use a mix of white and wholemeal spelt flours and used coconut oil and olive oil instead of butter. So it’s dairy and wheat-free. As well as moist and delicious.

You could obviously serve it with some cream or ice cream but to keep it dairy-free and because of the pile of bargain passionfruit, I made a passionfruit syrup/coulis or sauce, whatever you want to call it, to pour liberally over the top. Make sure you buy the old and wrinkly looking ones that are ripe.

Peach & Almond Spelt Cake with Passionfruit Syrup

Makes 1 cake, Vegetarian, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free. Adapted from Lucullian Delights

  • 500 gr peaches (I used 4), peeled and sliced
  • 3 tbsp soft brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 tbsp Amaretto
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch (maybe)

Put the peaches, sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp amaretto in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes. If it is still a bit liquidy you can dissolve the cornflour in some amaretto and stir that in. Keep cooking until it thickens like jam. Leave it to cool while you make the cake.

  • 3 eggs
  • 175 gr soft brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1+1/2 tbsp oat milk (or any milk)
  • 1 +1/2 tbsp amaretto
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 75 gr olive oil plus 75 gr coconut oil (or 150 gr melted butter)
  • 100 gr ground almonds
  • 180 gr white spelt flour (or normal flour)
  • 120 gr wholemeal spelt flour, or normal wholemeal flour ( I used 100 g wholemeal spelt flour plus 20 gr flaxmeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a big pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and sugar together for a few minutes until light and fluffy then add the milk, amaretto, almond extract, both oils (or melted butter) and mix well. Sieve over the dry ingredients, tipping  any wholemeal bits left in the sieve into the bowl too, and fold them into the wet ingredients gently with a rubber spatula until just combined. Don’t overmix or it will be tough. It is quite a sticky batter.

Preheat the oven to 175 C and oil and flour (or breadcrumb) the inside of your cake tin. I used a 23 cm 9″ cake tin with a removable base. If your cake tin is smaller you will get a deeper cake and may have to cook it for longer.

Pour about two-thirds of the batter into the cake tin then cover with an even layer of the peaches. Tip out the rest of the batter onto the peaches and cover as much as you can. Cook for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and a cocktail stick come out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar if you like before slicing.

Passionfruit Syrup Recipe

serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 9 passionfruit
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tbsp soft brown (or raw) sugar

Halve the passionfruit and scrape out all the pulp with a teaspoon into a small saucepan. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add the sugar. Bring to the boil stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and simmer for about four minutes. Taste and add more sugar/lemon juice as required. It should be tart and sweet at the same time and your kitchen will smell amazing!

Serve each slice of the cake with a generous drizzle of the passionfruit syrup.

Buen Provecho!

Baby Leeks and Tomatoes with Oregano and Thyme

14 Aug Cherry Tomatoes

I can’t really call this a recipe. It’s just four ingredients cooked quickly in a pan with some olive oil. Which is about all the cooking I can manage in this heat.  I have also been working (in kitchens) for the past three weeks so I also have a slight aversion to being in one longer than absolutely necessary.

This goes someway towards explaining  my recent blogging absence too. We have been working as menu consultants at a beautiful yoga retreat hotel and restaurant called Shanti Som in Monda/Marbella. We have created a menu for them that compliments the style of the surroundings and the health and well-being ethos of the retreat. The new menu takes the best from the hotel’s Asian roots and Mediterranean heart ensuring that there is hopefully something for everyone to enjoy. Starting with fresh, seasonal and colourful salads…

Moving on to a Roasted Vegetable and Goats Cheese Tartlet with an olive oil spelt flour pastry case, Lebanese Lamb Burger with hummus, chargrilled aubergine, tabouli and tzatziki salad, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and Fresh Fish of the Day with an Asian or Mediterranean marinade.

We then moved on to cooking lunch in a private villa for a family of 14 people every day for two weeks. Now this may sound like a bit of a nightmare but luckily they were very open to our “world of flavours” which made our lives a lot easier and more fun. The family was Iranian living in London, Paris, Boston and Switzerland. They meet up once a year for a holiday together. They were lovely people and we really enjoyed cooking for the whole family, including the children, which could be a little challenging at times!!

We cooked from a different country every day but our favourite (and I’m sure theirs) was the Persian food that we made. We learnt a lot about Persian cuisine from the Aunties, the Grandma and the nieces which was fabulous. We served a fresh rocket and herb salad every day, they love fresh herbs and greens (sabzi is the Persian word for greens).

The Washer Up made a gorgeous Persian Roast Lamb marinated in lots of spices and served with an apricot, orange and date glaze. Pomegranates make everything look beautiful and burst like sweet jewels in your mouth.

Alongside the Lamb and Herb Salad we also served Shirazi, a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and lime juice, Tomatoes Stuffed with feta, apricot and almond couscous and Sabzi (fresh herb) rice. Persian is my new favourite food. I didn’t even like dill before, now I love it! It’s so good in rice and in a Tzatziki dip as well as the mint you should try it. They also add sultanas and chopped walnuts which takes it to another level completely.

So back to the non recipe. It’s all about quality and freshness of ingredients if you’re going to go this minimal. We bought some tiny little baby cherry tomatoes and baby leeks from the organic market this Sunday. There they were next to each other as I unpacked the bag. Sometimes it is that easy. Sometimes you are incapable of anything else. Occasionally it all works out perfectly. This was one of those times. We have fresh oregano and thyme growing on the roof so they went in as well.

I served them with a poached egg and spinach on brown toast. You could eat them with anything. The next evening we had them with some Italian white bean and rosemary cakes. They would be lovely with a steak or to toss with some freshly cooked pasta or on their own with a chunk of nice bread.

Baby Leeks & Tomatoes with Oregano & Thyme

Vegan, gluten-free. Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 2 tbsp good olive oil (Andalucian Extra Virgen if possible)
  • 250 g baby cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better for quick cooking)
  • 3 baby leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed to get rid of any mud and finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, chopped (about 1/2 tsp) or dried
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped oregano leaves or dried
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and saute the leeks with a pinch of salt for about a minute then add the tomatoes and herbs. Season well with salt & black pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to split and soften. Serve with anything you like.

Buen Provecho!!

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