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Homemade Tomato Ketchup…. with a kick

4 Oct Homemade Tomato Ketchup

What do you do with a kilo of plum tomatoes that you bought because they were really cheap and gorgeous looking? Well, I decided to turn them into ketchup because I had never done it before and it felt right. In a preparing for the winter months ahead type way.

I am really pleased with the consistency of it. It actually looks and tastes a lot like real ketchup, with  quite a bit of heat. I added some of our homegrown Scotch Bonnet chillis to the tomatoes instead of  the pinch of cayenne that the original recipe called for. It’s fiery but fruity at the same time.

And there’s no nasty chemicals or weird stuff, excellent!

Homemade Spicy Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Makes 1 bottle. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Chowhound

  • 1 kilo ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds & membrane removed then chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 75 ml sherry vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1/4 tsp caraway or celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small scotch bonnet chillis (optional) deseeded if you like
  • 3 tbsp molasses (miel de cana)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the tomatoes, red pepper and chillis in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Push this through a sieve into a large saucepan with a spatula until you are just left with dry skins and seeds in the sieve. Discard this.

Puree the onion and add that to the pan with the pureed tomatoes. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat until it is reduced by about a third and is considerably thicker.

Meanwhile put garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds and vinegar into a small saucepan and simmer gently, covered for about 1o-15 mins. Then pour about half the spiced vinegar through a sieve or tea strainer into the thickened tomato mixture. Add the molasses/miel de cana, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir to combine everything well.

Taste at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to suit you. Maybe it needs more of the spiced vinegar or more molasses or salt. Cook it some more, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it is thickened and looks like ketchup. Don’t worry if it looks a bit separated you are now going to blend it carefully with a stick blender in the pan (or in a food processor) and that smooths it out nicely.

Pour into a jug and then pour into a sterilised jar or bottle, seal with an airtight lid and leave to cool. When cool, store in the fridge.

Serve it with chips, beanburgers, anything really you don’t need me to tell what to serve your ketchup with. My particular favourite is with poached eggs and spinach on toast.

As this is quite a short post it seems like quite a good time to tell you about some exciting news. I am going to holding two cookery workshops at the Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena. The first one on Saturday 20th October is a Vegetarian Middle Eastern Mezze Workshop where we will be making, Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Maast-o Khiar, Fattoush, Spanakopita & Sambouseks. The workshop is from 10am – 2pm and we all get to eat everything we have made for lunch together afterwards.

The second one is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November from 5pm -9pm. We will be using spelt flour and olive oil to make pastry for tarts, galettes and quiches as well as making sweet and savoury spelt flour muffins and a flaxseed spelt raisin and date breakfast loaf. We will of course be tasting them all afterwards just to make sure they are good obviously!

For more information and to reserve your place you can either contact me directly or reserve through the Pepe Kitchen website.

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

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine and Pineapple

29 Sep Martinique Sweet Potato Curry

The inspiration for this recipe came from watching a farmer harvesting his sweet potatoes. They look really beautiful coming out of the ground, their terracotta skin mirroring the colour of the soil, lying there baking in the warmth of the sun.

Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is part of the French Caribbean.  The first European to encounter the island was Christopher Columbus in 1502. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Créole Martiniquais. Continue reading

Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit and Nut Rice Pilaf

21 Sep squash side close

I made some of this Jerk marinade/sauce to use up some of the hundreds of scotch bonnet chilli peppers I have at the moment. The plant/bush has actually flowered again and is now producing even more.

I also made another batch of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce …..

The first thing I made with the jerk marinade was Jerk Baked Feta. I don’t have any pictures of it because I made it at night and we ate it all, sorry (not sorry really), but I will definitely do it again, it tasted amazing.

All you do is put the 200 gr block of Feta onto a large rectangle of foil, spoon over 3 or 4 tbsp of the jerk marinade and coat it well. Wrap up the feta in a foil packet and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 180 C. Unwrap your fragrant cheesy parcel and dive in with some  good pita or roti bread.

A customer at the restaurant, Norman, gave us a bag full of these beautiful squash. In my new guise as “Jerk Addict” I knew I was going to give it the jerk treatment. The sweet butteryness of the squash is enhanced by the spicy, zingy jerk marinade, they are made for each other, seriously.

I served this with a Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf I found in my new Caribbean cookbook. Spice It Up by Levi Roots and drizzled it with some of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce mixed with some Greek yoghurt to tone it down slightly.

Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

For the jerk roasted squash:

  • 1 bunch/handful fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, then crushed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, then crushed
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tsp allspice berries, then crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 6 scotch bonnet chillies (mine are small) use 4 large deseeded
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 limes, zest of 1, juice of 2
  • 140 ml olive oil
  • 1 medium squash

Put all the ingredients for the jerk marinade (not the squash) in a processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a sterilised jar and seal. Refrigerate until needed. This makes about 200 ml.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Wash the squash and slice off  a little of the top and bottom. Leave the skin on. Slice the narrow end into 1-2cm discs (see picture above). Then cut the fatter end in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds and slice each half into 1-2 cm half moons.

Line 2 baking sheets with foil and place the squash circles on one tray and the half moons on the other. Drop about a teaspoon of the jerk marinade onto each disc and swirl it around to coat the top. Turn the disc over and do the same on the other side. Do the same with the half moons. Drizzle both sets of squash with a little olive oil and put both trays in the oven. The discs on the top shelf and the half moons on the middle shelf.

Cook for 30 -40 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices. The half moons will be ready before the discs. You want them to be really soft when you test them with a knife.

Serve hot or at room temperature with the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf.

For the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf:

Serves 3, vegan, gluten free. Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

  • 150 gr long grain rice, I used a wild rice mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50 gr sultanas (or dried tropical fruit mix)
  • 25 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 350 ml veg stock
  • the juice of 1/2 lime or orange
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & black pepper

Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear and leave to drain. Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes.

Next add the rice to the pan, stir to coat in the oil and spices then add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Season well with salt & black pepper and boil hard for a minute. Then reduce the heat to very low and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes until tender, try not to stir but make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Check seasoning and serve immediately garnished with some fresh thyme.

Serve the dish drizzled with some Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce if you like it fiery. Or mix it with some greek yoghurt for a more manageable heat.

This jerk marinade is amazing. You can use it for chicken, fish or pork but try the foil baked feta and squash too. You may surprise even the most stubborn carnivores with this recipe.

I also used it as a salad dressing with some more olive oil and lime juice. I used some of the leftover roasted squash, chopped up with some chickpeas and mixed it into a salad with the jerk dressing and a splash of hot pepper sauce. Really good lunch dish..

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

 The Eucalyptus trees are starting to shed their bark, covering the ground with cinnamon- like curls….

It reminds me of a programme I saw about the cinnamon producers in Sri Lanka. Strips of  bark from the cinnamon tree are layered together, one curl inside another and then it is expertly rolled into the cinnamon sticks we buy and use for cooking. Amazing to watch….

It is one of the few signs of autumn we get here, and the first nod towards the changing season…..

Hello Autumn!

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

16 Sep peppers sdie close

As you know I get most of my food inspiration from the fruit & vegetables I see growing in the fields where I walk with the dog in the morning.  There are hundreds of these peppers everywhere.

This time of year there is always a glut of tomatoes. So much so that they are basically being given away or left to rot on the ground.

This whole field of corn is being left to dry out completely. The corn was ripe about a month ago but has not been harvested. I don’t know why, I’m hoping that they are going to use it to make corn flour or something. It seems such a waste.

My scotch bonnet chilli pepper plant is still producing more chillis. I have 3 large tubs already in the freezer and it has just flowered again which means another crop.

I have just been back to England for a few days for my mum’s birthday. As usual I had to buy another cookbook while I was there. This time I decided to go for something Caribbean as I have so many Scotch Bonnets to use. The book is Spice it Up by Levi Roots.

There are lots of recipes I’m eager to try but his Caribbean chilli was the first one because it used a lot of stuff I had to finish up in my fridge. I love recipes like this It’s so versatile. I added the sweetcorn and used lentils instead of kidney beans as  that is what I had.

I also have a really healthy thyme plant on my terrace. It’s not woody at all so you can use the whole sprigs for seasoning as well as the leaves. Fresh thyme is used a lot in Caribbean food.

So you can kind of see how my brain works. The stuff I see growing while walking the dog stays in my head. It gets added to the things I have on my roof terrace and inspiration from books brings it all together somehow.  It’s this creativity that I love and that keeps me cooking and writing this blog.

So I made the chilli which was delicious on its own with some rice or cornbread and then used the rest to stuff into the green peppers for lunch the next day. A sprinkling of grated cheese before roasting gives it that something extra and takes it in a slightly more Mexican direction.

For that late summer vibe you can’t beat a bit of Caribbean spice. So if it’s rainy where you are, bring on the sunshine, get creative and start cooking.

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4 as chilli, 6 for stuffed peppers, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.

Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

For the Caribbean chilli:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • salt & black pepper
  • a bunch of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly diced
  • 2 small long green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 250 gr mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped (or 1 x 400 gr tin)
  • 1 or 2 red chilli (ideally scotch bonnet) I used 4 of my small ones
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tin/jar cooked lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tin/jar cooked kidney beans/white beans, rinsed
  • 1 ear of corn, silk removed and kernels sliced off into a bowl
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree/ketchup)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 or 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 a lime juiced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot & garlic and cook for about 5-8 minutes until softened.

Season well with salt & pepper and add the cumin, allspice and fresh thyme leaves, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Next add in the  peppers, cook for 2 minutes then add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped tomatoes, chillis, sweetcorn, lentils & beans and stir well. Then add the tomato puree, sugar & soy sauce.

Lower the heat, cover and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, add more salt, sugar or cayenne pepper if not hot enough for you. Stir in the chopped coriander and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Serve straight away with plain boiled rice or some cornbread or use to stuff peppers.

For the Stuffed Peppers:

  • 1 large long green pepper per person
  • Caribbean chilli (see above)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • dried chilli flakes
  • grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds and core. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the peppers on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme leaves and chilli flakes, toss to coat.

Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, you can do this while your chilli is cooking if you like. When the peppers are cooked spoon the cooked chilli into the peppers and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes for the cheese to melt. Cook for 15-2o minutes if the filling is cold.

Serve on their own or with a simple green salad.

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

My best friend Tara, who I miss a lot, made dinner for me when I was back in England. I’ve never seen her cook before so I was very honoured!!

Especially as she made my White Bean Dip  as well as a Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Salad, Nachos and some delicious Spicy Roasted Potatoes. It was  far too much food for the two of us but we still managed to polish off some Baklava and a bottle of pink champagne.

She has two gorgeous Chihuahuas, a boy & a girl called Rocky and Coco. Rocky is the white one and Coco is brown. I don’t usually like little yappy- type dogs but they are so cute.

Thanks T, I miss you. Come and see me soon!!

Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn

11 Aug chillies

The sweetcorn plants that I walk past every morning with the dog are starting to show their sweet kernels, which means it must be nearly ready for harvesting.

This recipe could easily be adapted to suit a variety of different influences. I made it Caribbean because I have so many scotch bonnet chillis at the moment but I have also made a Thai version with birds-eye chilli, ginger, red curry paste and fresh coriander which is also fantastic.

You start by making a flavoured butter (or I used an olive oil spread) that you pack as much flavour into as possible. Then you remove the corn silk from inside the leaves, but keep the leaves on.

Smear the flavoured butter all over the sweetcorn kernels then cover them back up with the leaves. Heat up your griddle pan or barbecue to hot and cook for about 12 minutes rotating slightly, with tongs, every 3 minutes until all sides are cooked. The leaves with be blackened, you may need to open a window!

Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn Recipe

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free. Inspired by Como Water (Tiffany made a version using harissa paste which I will be trying out next time)

  • 2 ears of sweetcorn, with leaves still attached
  • about 3 tbsp olive oil spread (flora) or butter
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli pepper, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  a small handful of fresh parsley, chopped (marjoram would be nice too, I couldn’t get any)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves, stripped
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • a tiny pinch of ground cloves
  • the juice of half a lime
  • salt & black pepper

Remove the butter from the fridge to soften if using. Mix the olive oil spread (or butter) with the rest of the ingredients, except the corn and season with salt & pepper. Store, covered in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Carefully peel back the leaves of the corn without removing them and pull off the corn silk (strands). Smear the flavoured spread all over the corn kernels and replace the leaves to cover the corn.

Heat your griddle pan or barbecue to hot and cook the corn in the leaves for about 3 minutes on each side, using tongs to turn them, 12 minutes in total.

Serve immediately sprinkled with a little more salt. 

I served mine with some of my homemade Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce.

As I said before, adapt this recipe to suit your preferences or the style of meal you are planning. I would always start by adding spring onions, garlic, salt & pepper to the butter and then add…

Thai: minced ginger, chilli, red/green curry paste, fresh coriander, lime juice.

Mexican: cumin, oregano, fresh coriander, chipotle sauce, lime juice

Indian: garam masala (or curry paste), minced ginger, fresh coriander, chilli powder, lemon juice

Middle Eastern: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, fresh coriander, harissa paste, lemon juice

Cajun/Creole: paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, dried basil, white pepper, lemon juice

Italian: dried oregano, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, dried chilli flakes

Greek: dried oregano, fresh mint, fresh thyme, crushed fennel seeds,cinnamon, black olives, lemon juice

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

Beautiful bright coloured gerberas……

And sunflowers reaching for the sky…..

Also, I have a new camera which I am very excited about. I will still be using my trusty point and shoot for when I’m walking the dog but I am using a “proper” SLR camera for my food pictures. Please bear with me as I have no idea what I’m doing and the instructions are in Spanish, which could take a while. 

I’m learning as I go and loving it, any advice?

Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red and Green Pepper Salsa

27 May DCIM100MEDIA

At the restaurant we aways had some sort of fish cake on the menu and they were always best sellers. One of the most memorable ones for me were the Creole Crab Cakes that we served with a roasted red pepper mayo. There was something about the combination of Creole seasoning, fresh thyme and finely diced peppers that everyone loved.

Everyone except for Nik the Chef.  He hated making them. They were a bit (ok a lot) of a nightmare because the peppers would leak their liquid into the crab cakes and make them soggy so Nik had to spend hours finely dicing peppers and then meticulously drying them out on kitchen towel before combining them with the crab meat. He hated me for coming up with those crab cakes, but the customers loved them.

I was reminded of those crab cakes when I saw a recipe for chickpea fritters on A Little Bit Crunchy. Hers were Mexican in flavour but they had diced red pepper in them which is what caught my eye. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, after all I never ate a whole crab cake because I was vegetarian. I only ever tried a little bit to see if it tasted how I wanted it to.

So I made some Creole seasoning which I added to a jar of cooked chickpeas that I had blended to a puree. I added some fresh thyme and started to finely dice a red and green pepper, a spring onion, garlic & chilli. I stirred a few handfuls of the diced veg into the chickpea mix, but not too much, I didn’t want the mixture to be too wet.  I used the rest of the diced peppers etc to make a salsa to accompany the chickpea fritters by adding a chopped tomato, lemon juice & some Creole seasoning. I used chickpea flour to dust the fritters and then mould them into patties to keep it gluten-free but you can use flour and breadcrumbs if you like.

Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red & Green Pepper Salsa

makes 6-8 patties, vegan, gluten-free

For the Creole seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well to combine.

For the Chickpea Fritters:

  • 1 jar/tin 400 gr cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning (see above)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely diced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 spring garlic or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • the juice of half  a lemon
  • 1 big tomato, finely diced
  • salt
  • chickpea flour/besan/gram flour for dusting
  • olive oil for frying

Put the rinsed, drained chickpeas in a bowl or processor and blend until smoothish. Mix the diced peppers, spring onions, garlic and chilli together in a bowl and add a couple of small handfuls to the chickpeas with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the thyme leaves. Stir everything together so well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Tip some chickpea flour onto a plate and shape the mix into patties about 1/2 inch thick. Then dust the patties in the flour and put in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes. (No longer or the peppers will start to leak their juice and the patties will be too wet).

Meanwhile make the salsa by adding a finely diced tomato to the rest of the diced veg with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the juice of half a lemon. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

To cook the fritters, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the fritters for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Serve with the pepper salsa and a green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…

A Shetland pony and her new foal…

A white dolomite rock and delicate magenta flowers…..

Desert Island Banana and Coconut Breakfast Muffins

14 Mar

This is the perfect pick me up after all this rain. I wanted something tropical to remind me of the sun that seems to have disappeared for good. Banana and coconut, such a classic combination that takes me back to Caribbean holidays when I was younger. One holiday to Antigua in particular springs to mind. I had the amazing banana bread for breakfast every day for three weeks, it was that good. I’ve never found a banana bread to match it since. That might be something to do with waking up to a view of the turquoise sea and pinky white sandy beach though, it makes everything taste better.

So if muffins grew on palm trees this is what they would taste like. Banana, coconut & honey. So, go with me on this one and imagine yourself stranded on a desert island and all you have to eat are muffins that grow on trees. It wouldn’t be so bad would it? And if the rain is throwing your fantasy off just imagine it’s a tropical thunder-storm, they only last for an hour and it means you can shelter in the bar with an over-garnished tacky cocktail. Or is that just me? Oh yes, this desert island has a bar and a hammock. Well, it’s my fantasy I can have what I like…..

These delicious little fantasy muffins are made with wholemeal flour and olive oil rather than butter. So you can eat as many as you like. In fantasy world that is…..

Desert Island Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins

makes 12, vegetarian

  • 250 gr self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 175 gr brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 ml milk (I used goat’s milk)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, quartered lengthways and chopped
  • 50 gr toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 50 gr desiccated coconut
  • about 12 tsp honey (a squeezy bottle is easiest)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, mix in the sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg and make a well in the centre. Mix together the egg, milk & oil in a jug and pour into the well in the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Don’t over mix or your muffins will be tough. Then carefully fold in the banana, walnuts & coconut.

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases and spoon (or use and ice cream scoop) the mixture into the paper cases about 2/3 full.  Make a hole in the top of the muffins with the back of a teaspoon and squeeze in about a teaspoon of honey (see photo above) don’t worry if it overflows.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown & cooked. Remove from the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

You could add whatever you like to these muffins, some dates would be nice and follow on from the palm tree theme. Or maybe some chopped apples would be good with the cinnamon & nutmeg.

Just keep the fantasy going by imagining yourself on that tropical beach somewhere. You know what, I think the sun might be coming out!  That’s the power of positive thinking for you. I’d better take the dog out before it starts raining again……

Jamaican Lentil and Coconut Soup

14 Dec

This recipe started off as a Jamaican lentil stew that I wanted to turn into a soup for a Caribbean meal I made on Friday night.  The basic recipe was kind of plain & rustic, I thought it needed the volume turning up, as Ina Garten would say. So I added a lot more Caribbean spices, scotch bonnet chillis, thyme and coconut and some fresh mandarin juice for sweetness. I also blended the soup to a smooth puree rather than leaving it as a chunky stew. The result was a spicy, sweet and aromatic flavour with a smooth & creamy texture. Just the thing to warm the soul and transport you to a Caribbean island on a cold winter’s night…..

Jamaican Lentil & Coconut Soup Recipe

serves 4-6 vegetarian

  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils about 2oo gr
  • 1 cup veg stock 225ml
  • 2 cups water 550 ml
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  •  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 big spanish spring onion (or about 4 scallions)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, chopped (you can use any fresh chilli or 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 45 gr sultanas
  • 50 ml tomato puree
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk about 200 ml
  • about 3oo ml veg stock to get desired consistency
  • the juice of 1 mandarin
  • fresh coriander, chopped for garnish
  • greek yoghurt to swirl on top (or mango & coriander yoghurt chutney see recipe here)

Rinse the lentils well and put them in a large sauce pan with the water & veg stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the carrot, celery & half the ginger, cover and simmer for about 20- 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile in a small frying pan dry toast the curry powder & spices over a low heat until fragrant, don’t let it burn. Tip this into a small bowl and set aside. In the same pan heat the butter or oil over a medium heat, add the spring onions, the rest of the ginger, garlic, chilli, vinegar & raisins. Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly then add the tomato puree and cook for another minute.  Add the toasted spices to the tomato mixture along with the thyme & oregano, mix well and add this to the simmering lentils along with the coconut milk and season generously with salt & black pepper.

Simmer this uncovered for about 20 minutes or so then take off the heat and carefully blitz with a stick blender until you have a smooth puree. Put the lentil puree back in the pan and on the heat. Add more stock (if you wish) until you reach your desired consistency (I like it thick but still soupy).  Add in the mandarin juice and check for seasoning.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with a swirl of  Greek yoghurt or Mango & Coriander Yoghurt Chutney and some freshly chopped coriander. I served some Roti Bread alongside the soup see the recipe here.

Enjoy…!

Caribbean Vegetable Patties with Mango and Coriander Yoghurt Chutney

13 Dec

These little pasties/patties were part of a Caribbean meal I made for friends on Friday night. They remind me of the vegetable pasties they sell in the Caribbean shops in Notting Hill and Portobello Road, the ones in the clear plastic packets. I used to live on them when I was working around there, well working & shopping, actually mostly shopping!! I do miss London occasionally, the multicultural buzz and the food, obviously. The fantastic choice of vegetarian food from all over the world. You could eat from around the world just in one street. Anyway, I suppose that living here, in Spain, makes me more creative. It means I continue to learn about food by cooking recipes from around the world rather than going out to eat, cheaper too…!

Caribbean Vegetable Patties

adapted from an www.101cookbooks.com recipe

makes about 15 mini patties, Vegetarian

  • 1 pack (375gr) frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight. If you want to make your own authentic pastry see recipe here
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (I used 1 scotch bonnet fresh chilli, chopped)
  • salt & white pepper
  •  2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • the juice of 1 mandarin & 1/2 a lime
  • about 75 ml of veg stock
  • tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, scrubbed & diced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • a handful of frozen sweet corn
  • 1/4 cabbage finely shredded
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • the other 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • cumin seeds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the onion, spices & salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and caramelized slightly. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more then stir in the juices, veg stock, carrots, sweet potatoes & coconut. Reduce the heat slightly, cover with a lid and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10- 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, sweetcorn, cabbage, herbs and the rest of the lime juice and cook for 3 minutes more (you don’t want any liquid). Taste & season again with salt & white pepper and leave to cool for at least an hour (I left mine in the fridge over night)

When your filling has cooled preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll out the pastry, if necessary, to about 2 or 3 mm thick.  Cut out circles of pastry about 12cm (4 1/2 inches) in diameter (I cut around a small bowl). You will have to re roll the off cuts of pastry to get about 12 – 15 circles. Put a heaped tbsp of the filling in the middle of one half of the circle, being careful to leave the edges clear. Get yourself a cup of water, wet you fingers and wet the edges of the pastry. Fold the other half over the filling, press together with your fingers to seal and then crimp around the edges with a fork.

Place the patties on a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush the tops with beaten egg, sprinkle with few cumin seeds and bake until golden brown (about 25 minutes) turning half way through.

These patties are great served hot or cold so they would be perfect for a buffet table or as party food nibbles. Serve them with a chilli sauce or my easy mango & coriander yoghurt chutney. You may have some of the filling leftover, I did, so I made an individual Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie by topping it with mashed potato, grated cheese & breadcrumbs and baking for about 3o minutes. Really tasty Caribbean comfort food!!

Mango & Coriander Yoghurt Chutney

  • 2 pots greek yoghurt about 250 ml
  • about 3 tbsp mango chutney, if you want to make your own see my recipe here
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a good squeeze of lime juice

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, taste and adjust as required. You may want more sweetness from the chutney or more lime juice, it’s up to you.

I served these as a starter as well as a Caribbean Lentil Soup (I will blog this tomorrow) and my Caribbean Squash & Plantain Curry with Roti Bread see recipe here.

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