Archive | Home & Lifestyle RSS feed for this section

Fresh To Go! Courgette Flower and Leek Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta and Parsley

30 Jun Courgette Flower Quiche

Courgette Flower Quiche

“Where the **** have you been?” I hear you ask in my guilt ridden dreams just before morning.

So I promise myself over and over again that today will be the day that I actually blog some of the recipes that I have been developing, cooking and selling (Yes actually selling) over the past few months. But then life takes over again and I run out of time.

Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been seven weeks since my last blog. Seven weeks! It feels terrible just typing it.

Courgettes & Flowers

My explanation is as follows:

We have set up a small catering company called “Fresh To Go” supplying naturally delicious & healthy prepared foods, in our local area. It is for people who really want to eat healthily but don’t have the time, skills or inclination to cook for themselves every day.

We send out a newsletter every Friday detailing the dishes (with photographs obviously) on the following week’s menu. It is just an extension of this blog really. I go to the farmer’s market in Coin on Sunday and look at which natural fruit and vegetables are in season and looking gorgeous and create recipes using them. The only difference being is that now we make food for other people too. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

And it is, sort of. The thing is that it doesn’t leave much time for blogging, so I apologise for neglecting you and hope that this beautiful little quiche, made with the best of this season’s produce, will go someway towards making it up to you.

If you are living in or visiting the Malaga area and would like to receive weekly updates of what’s cooking in our kitchen
Subscribe to our newsletter

Courgette Flower Quiche

Courgette, Leek & Courgette Flower Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta & Parsley

Makes 1 large or 3-4 small quiches, vegetarian

For the pastry crust:

  • 150 g wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 50 g walnuts, blended to a course powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 80-100 ml cold water
  • 1 egg white for glazing (save yolk for filling)

Mix together the flour, oats, walnuts, salt, pepper & thyme in a large bowl with a fork. Then add the olive oil and, using the fork, mix it into the dry ingredients, mashing it together so it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble.

Then slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need all of it) mixing it with the fork until it starts coming together. Using your hands bring it together into a ball and knead gently just until it holds, don’t overwork it. It will be slightly crumbly.

Preheat oven to 200C. Oil and flour a 9 or 10 inch tart tin/dish or 3 or 4, 4-5  inch tart cases and line the base with a circle of baking paper.Flour you work surface  and rolling-pin and roll out your pastry to a flat disc about 3-4 mm thick and big enough to line your tart case(s).

Using your fingertips and heel of your hand press it into and up the sides of the tin. A flat-bottomed mug can be quite useful too. When you have the base reasonably even, trim off any bits hanging over the edge and use them to fill any holes. Put in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up.

Place a sheet of  baking paper in the tin, fill with baking beans and bake for 8-10 mins. Remove from the oven, brush the base with the egg white and put back in for two minutes – this should stop it getting a soggy base. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 courgette, thinly sliced on the slight diagonal
  • 1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 1 green spring garlic (or clove), trimmed and sliced
  • 4 courgette flowers (stamens snipped out) if baby courgettes still attached slice them too
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 egg yolk (saved from above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or Greek yoghurt
  • rice milk (or your choice of milk)
  • about 100 gr goat’s ricotta (or Greek Feta) 
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 190 C. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan and saute the leeks, courgettes (and baby courgettes if you have them) & spring garlic with a good pinch of salt, black pepper, thyme, chilli flakes. Stir occasionally until the courgettes are well softened. Taste for seasoning and drain for a few minutes on kitchen paper to get rid of any liquid.

Cover the pastry base with an even layer of the courgette & leeks then crumble over the ricotta/feta. In a measuring jug whisk together the egg yolk, eggs and yoghurt. Add in enough milk to take it up to about 400 ml (more if your tin is deep), season well with salt & black pepper, throw in the chopped parsley and whisk again.

Place the quiche on the middle shelf of the oven then whisk and quickly pour in the liquid up to a few mm below the edge. Slide in the tray carefully to avoid spillage and shut the oven door.

Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, check how it is cooking and add the flowers to the top when it is nearly cooked. Put back in for another 5 or so minutes until the flowers have wilted slightly and the quiche is browned and set in the middle.

Courgette Flower Quiche


My apologies again for the extended absence but cross your fingers for us that  this is a success!

imagesCAFT0O3W

Warm Roasted Beetroot, Carrot, Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad with Dill Hazelnut Pesto

25 Oct sm-91

This salad started with these beautiful organic beetroot & carrots from the market.

It’s the colours that I love, and their rusticness or is that rusticity? I couldn’t resist them anyway and wanted them both to star in something lovely. Something where they were roasted to bring out their natural sweetness.

The warm mellow sweetness of beetroot is always perfectly enhanced by the cool sharpness of a mature goat’s cheese. Enter an extremely mature goats cheese that a friend of mine Jeanne bought when we went to the Luna Mora festival in Guaro this September.

She very kindly gave me a huge wedge of it to try a few days later. I think she just wanted to get it out of her fridge to be honest, it is very stinky, but very good.

Luna Mora is held every September in the small Andalucian village of Guaro.

The festival of Luna Mora which translates as The Festival of the Moorish Moon is a celebration of Andalucia’s Muslim, Christian and Jewish history. There are colourful performance artists and hundreds of stalls line the narrow streets giving it a souk vibe. Tourists and locals flock to enjoy the spectacle and ambience.

The festival is held over two weekends and when night falls, the streets are illuminated by over 20,00 candles and lantern. It really is an unforgettable sight that creates an extremely special atmosphere and explains why nearly 50,000 people visit this festival every year.

For more information on The Festival of Luna Mora, and other things to do and places to visit in the spectacular province of Andalucia have a look at The Andalucia Diary. Andrew knows all there is to know about what to do and where to stay as well as having a beautiful holiday cottage to rent in the village of Guaro itself with breathtaking views of the Sierra de las Nieves.

So back to the food and the smelly goats cheese. This is actually two recipes merged together. Warm Roasted Vegetable & Lentil Salad from Alli at Pease Pudding and Puy Lentil Salad with Goats Cheese, Beetroot & Dill Vinaigrette from My Little Paris Kitchen.

Dill and beetroot are another classic combination that works so well. Even if you think you don’t like dill you have to try this. Dill is now my new favourite herb. I used to loathe it. But since working over the summer with an Iranian family I learnt a lot of new Persian dishes that I will be sharing shortly. And they put dill in everything, I love it.

I changed the dill vinaigrette to a pesto to make it a bit more robust and less of a salad really. It’s beautiful with hazelnuts, quite sweet but you could use walnuts or almonds, whatever you like.

Warm Roasted Beetroot & Lentil Salad with Goats Cheese & Dill Hazelnut Pesto

Serves 2-3, vegetarian, gluten-free.

  • 200 g beetroot, peeled & cut into small wedges
  • 200 g carrots, peeled & cut into batons/wedges
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the prepared vegetables on two lined baking sheets (keep the carrots separate from the beetroot or they will turn pink too) drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & thyme leaves, toss to coat and roast for about 25 minutes or until soft to the point of a knife. Depending on the size, the carrots may be cooked before the beetroot.

  • 250 g dried Puy lentils (they hold their shape when cooked and taste delicious)
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  1 sprig of thyme
  • 500 ml veg stock
  • salt & black pepper

Wash the lentils under cold water then put them in a sauce pan with the stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt & black pepper.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, partially covered, or until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then drain and discard the bay leaf & thyme. Meanwhile make the dill pesto.

  • a handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • a small handful of toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • a squeeze of honey (1 /2 tsp to start with)
  •  a squeeze of lemon
  • salt & black pepper
  • olive oil
  • about 150 g goats cheese

Blend the  dill, vinegar, hazelnuts, lemon juice, honey, salt & pepper with a good glug of olive oil until you get a chunky pesto consistency. Taste and add more salt, honey, lemon juice as required. I like it quite sweet , it works nicely with the dill.

Pile some warm lentils on a plate and top with the warm roasted vegetables, pieces of goats cheese and drizzle over the dill pesto. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Buen Provecho!!

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.

Moroccan 7 Vegetable Couscous with Saffron and Moscatel Raisins

29 Sep 7 Vegetable Couscous

Apologies for the extended absence but the computer was being mended so I couldn’t blog or access any of my photos, so frustrating. On a positive note all this spare time afforded me a window of opportunity to join Pinterest.

Oh dear, it’s very addictive, I mean really, if you haven’t already got an account, give it a go. It’s a great way to organise all your favourite things from the internet onto different boards so you never lose or forget about that fantastic recipe, that amazing paint colour or that must-have pair of shoes. The Washer Up is threatening to leave me but said he would have to put it on my Pinterest feed or I wouldn’t even notice. No, really?

So if you want to see what I would like our lounge to look like when he has eventually finished re-rendering all the walls, what food I will be cooking, what food styling and photography inspires me and what shoes and bags I own in my dreams, then why not follow Cook Eat Live on Pinterest here. He just said “or you could try getting a life instead”, so rude!

I said in my previous post for  the Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia that I have been watching Moscatel grapes turn to raisins on the vine at one of the small farms that I run past with the dog in the mornings. This got me thinking about recipes including raisins.

At the same time one of our friends brought us some beautiful saffron all the way back from Afghanistan. He is another one of those men (like this pink watermelon martini loving guy) who would have to kill me if I told you his name. No, seriously he would. Apparently.

So, raisins and saffron take you in a certain direction gastronomically, and I had been wanting to try out a Moroccan restaurant in Malaga called Al- Yamal for a while. So, with my friend Caroline and my camera, I jumped on the bus and made a day of it. It being eating and drinking of course.

The restaurant is tiny, only about six tables, but comfortable and beautifully decorated so you are immediately transported to a Moroccan souk by the fabrics, lanterns, arches and delicious smells coming from the equally tiny kitchen. We were the only people in there when we arrived apart from the owner reading in the corner, his wife in the kitchen, his father with his grandson on another table and his son taking our order. A proper family business.

The food was lovely as was the service. We had the hummus with homemade pita bread, a roasted red pepper salad and the seven vegetable couscous to share. Caroline also ordered a lamb kebab which she said was delicious. The vegetable couscous comes to the table in a painted terracotta tagine. As the lid is removed you are drawn in by the warm scent of cinnamon, you see the different vegetables and chickpeas piled up the sides of the golden mound of couscous and the plump raisins and toasted almonds on top. You are also given a separate jug full of the spiced stock used to cook the vegetables to pour over as you wish. That was the best bit for me, I really enjoyed the whole dish and decided to try to recreate it when I got home.

Malaga continues to surprise every time I go. There is always something new to discover  food-wise, bar-wise or culture-wise which makes it my favourite city and one of Spain’s best kept secrets.

The seven vegetables you use can be whatever you have and whatever is in season but I would definitely use some root vegetables as they keep their shape with the cooking process. I used carrots, butternut squash, green beans, courgette, leek, green beans and red onion. Parsnips, turnips, potatoes or sweet potatoes would also be lovely.

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Couscous with saffron & raisins

Serves 6, vegan. Adapted from The Vegetarian Times

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, quartered & cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 leek, halved washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • a big pinch saffron
  • 1/4 tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 3 tomatoes, cored cut into 8 wedges (or 400ml tin chopped)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 500 -750 ml water
  • a small bunch parsley & coriander stalks
  • 1 courgette, quartered & cut into 2 inch batons
  • 250 gr carrots, peeled, halved (or quartered) and cut into 2 inch batons
  • 200 gr green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 350 gr butternut squash, peeled cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
  • 1 tin 400 g cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 100 g raisins (I used Moscatel raisins they are bigger and juicier)
  • 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 1 squidge of honey
  • 300 ml couscous
  • 300ml veg stock or water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a  big pinch of saffron
  • olive oil
  • fresh coriander and parsley, chopped

Cook the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until softened and caramelising. Add the leeks, garlic,and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Add a splash of stock if it gets dry. Then add the saffron and the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, adding a splash of stock if it gets too dry.

Add in the tomatoes, stock, 500 ml water and herb stalks. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the hard vegetables (carrots and  squash) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the courgettes, beans, chickpeas, raisins and honey, season well with salt & black pepper and cook for 10 minutes more or until all vegetables are tender, you can some more water if you think it is too dry. Taste and add more honey, salt or even some lemon juice if required

Meanwhile make the couscous. Measure 300ml couscous into a measuring jug and then tip it into a large bowl. Measure the same amount of stock or water and heat it in a saucepan with the pinch of saffron and the ground cinnamon. When boiling, pour this over the couscous, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with some olive oil and quickly mix it in with a fork, not a spoon. Cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, fluff the couscous up to separate the grains again, with a fork and taste for seasoning. Pile a mound of couscous onto each plate (or a large serving dish/tagine) and make a well in the middle. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the well and arrange some around the edge of the couscous too. Ladle some of the cooking stock left in the pan over the dish and transfer the rest into a jug to serve alongside for everyone to help themselves to.

Top with some toasted almonds, chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.

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!!

Spring Pea & Thyme Risotto with Manchego and Olive Tapenade

18 Jun Summer Pea Risotto

When we were in South Africa, one of the most memorable meals, for me was at Makaron at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Having visited, and eaten in, about thirty restaurants in nineteen days it takes something quite special to stand out from the crowd.

In a sea of  mainly white, minimal, distressed wood interiors (which I love, by the way), this was a welcome diversion.  The bar has an opulent gentleman’s club/hunting lodge feel, with dark navy and gold upholstery and lighting. It manages to be eccentric and elegant at the same time. It is quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is very refreshing.

 The Washer Up was very pleased (understatement) with the fact that they have a beer pairing with each of the dishes as well as wine pairings. This is the first time that I have come across this and think it is genius, especially as they are promoting local microbreweries at the same time. I have read in numerous publications recently that Beer is the New Wine and that some restaurants have started hiring beer sommeliers but this is the only place I have seen it in action.

 There is a sense of humour in the food that compliments the quirkyness of the restaurant perfectly.

The bread was brought out on a slate (my favourite thing) and included a beautiful braid, crispy lavash, homemade butter, anchovy mayonnaise, olives, figs, lavender & rosemary. The Amuse Bouche was a Peppadew Popper in beer batter with guacamole & sour cream.

For a starter we ordered the Caprese Terrine, tomato cloud, basil gelee, semi dried tomatoes, olive oil powder which was beautiful and delicious. And the Garden Pea Risotto, garlic espuma, smoked olive tapenade.

The main courses we had were an Open Duck Egg Ravioli, young artichoke, asparagus, truffle caviar, which was amazing, I loved the little beads of truffle caviar. And a Mushroom & Roasted Corn Open Lasagne that the chef Tanja prepared especially for us.

All the food was excellent but the stand out dish was the pea risotto with olive tapenade, it was stunning, and I don’t even like olives. This dish changed my mind. The pea risotto tasted like the best mushy peas you have ever had, the flavour intense & the texture comforting. There was a deliciously creamy garlic & parmesan veloute with it and the olive tapenade just took it to another level taste wise. Such a surprisingly good combination, even if you think you don’t like olives, like me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the original recipe from Tanja because she is a very busy lady working in Paris at the moment sharpening her skills even further at Alain Passard’s restaurant L’Aperge. But when I picked up some of these beautiful fresh garden peas in my organic veg box I couldn’t wait any longer and I had a go at it myself anyway.

I love the mixed mauve colours of these olives, so pretty with the bright green peas. A match made in heaven, believe me.

I used a mixture of fresh and frozen peas. I made a puree with the frozen and kept the fresh ones whole. You can use all fresh if you have that many, or indeed all frozen if you have no fresh. I used brown short grain rice to make my risotto but you can substitute arborio for a creamier finish and a lot shorter cooking time. It will also make the finished risotto look more green than mine.

Summer Pea & Thyme Risotto with Manchego and Olive Tapenade

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 gr frozen peas (or fresh if you have that many)
  • 50 gr fresh peas (podded weight)
  • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  •  a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves removed & chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1 litre (up to a litre & a half for brown rice) veg stock
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50 gr manchego (or parmesan) grated plus 1 tbsp to finish
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 gr arborio (or brown) rice
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the tapenade:

  • 75 gr good quality olives, buy with stones in, then remove them if possible (better flavour)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or to taste)
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper
  • extra virgen olive oil

To make the tapenade, put all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blitz to a smoothish puree. Drizzle in the oil a bit at a time, blending until you get the desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt, lemon or garlic as required.

Cook the 150 gr frozen peas in two ladles full (just enough to cover the peas) of boiling veg stock with the parsley & thyme for about 5 minutes until soft. Puree this (stock & peas) with the grated cheese and season with salt, pepper & nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Put the veg stock in a small pan over a medium low heat to keep warm but do not boil. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat then cook the onions for 4 minutes with a pinch of salt, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Do not brown. Stir in the rice and coat in the oil, add in the wine and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the hot stock a one ladle at a time waiting for each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked and you have a soft soupy risotto. This should take about 20-25 mins for arborio, longer for brown rice. If you run out of stock add hot water.

After about 15 minutes add the uncooked fresh peas, then when the rice is nearly cooked stir in the pea puree. When the rice is cooked add the cream cheese, tablespoon of grated cheese and squeeze of lemon. Put on the lid, remove from the heat and leave for 2 minutes.

Taste for seasoning before serving with a quenelle (or dollop) of the tapenade, a few fresh thyme leaves and some shaved Manchego.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…….

Jacarandas, I love their pretty purple flowers, like a tree full of droopy bluebells…..

And Oleanders in soft apricot…..

Or electric pink against the bright blue sky….

My Weekend Inspiration….

21 May Baby Persimmons

A lot of people ask where I get my inspiration and ideas from. It’s usually the first thing they ask me if they know about my blog. Apart from being influenced by all the amazing restaurants we visited in Cape Town recently, I get inspiration every day when I go out running with Rufus (the dog) and occasionally The Washer Up comes too.

It’s when I get time to think about ideas and things come together somehow. I’ll try to explain: on Saturday I saw this apricot on the ground as I was running past a field that normally has a Shetland pony in it. The pony is not there anymore but we always look to see if he’s come back.  I noticed that there were two apricot trees laden with fruit that were just about ripe. One had fallen on the ground so I took some pictures of it. I wanted to take some more close up pictures of the tree with the fruit on it but I am a bit short and would have to climb on a fence to get the shots. A job for The Washer Up definitely.  He was coming running with us on Sunday, I would have to wait.

Further on I saw these roses and had to stop to photograph them. The coral one is so beautiful I can still smell it now when I look at the picture, can you?

These apricot roses caught my eye aswell. It must be an apricot thing. So now we have apricots and roses, in my head I mean, not physically. I didn’t steal them, honest.

Next I noticed that the almond trees have started to bear fruit (or nut) and you can see little furry green pods all over the branches. These protect the young green almond inside. So almonds join the apricots and roses in my head. What does apricot, rose and almond say to you? To me it says, Moroccan, Middle Eastern exotic, floral, sweet pastries. Or even slow-cooked fragrant tagines sweetened with dried fruits and topped with crisp, toasted almonds. Or lightly aromatic Tabbouleh or couscous salads studded with jewel coloured fruits and crunchy nuts and flecked with bright green fresh herbs. So that is where my mind is going on that one. Watch this space, I am getting apricots in my organic veg box this week.

Oh and he got the apricot tree shots by the way….

Sunday was all about photographing baby fruits and getting excited about future summer recipes. The creative process begins now. There are baby persimmons to think about.

Watching pomegranate flowers turning into fruit before your eyes.

Baby quince with their furry skin just beginning to show.

And tiny little bunches of grapes peeking out from under the vine leaves. Lots to think about.

We also saw a farmer harvesting his red potato crop on the way round.

Very exciting, we had been watching them grow for a while but had no idea that they were red until now. Aren’t they lovely? He also had some enormous spring onions growing next to the potatoes. So I’ve now opened a new file in my head that contains red potatoes and spring onions.

There are also some beautifully vibrant green lettuces that are desperate to be included somewhere too.

On the way back home we went to a new organic farmers market that is held every Sunday morning in Coin. My friend Judi had told me about it, so we went to have a look. It’s a local initiative to encourage people to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from their neighbours rather than supermarkets. All the stallholders live in Coin and have private small holdings. Some are organic and some are not but it is all clearly marked.

And guess what the first organic stall we came across was selling?

Oh yes, red new potatoes. It’s the little things that make you happy isn’t it. We bought a kilo, I have no idea what I am going to do with a kilo of new potatoes but they were 50 cents, so I couldn’t ask for half could I?

They also had some young garlic at the back there. So this file now contains, baby new red potatoes, spring onions and spring garlic. It has got to be a potato salad with those ingredients. But not a rich mayonnaise heavy potato salad, I’m thinking more of a light wine and stock cooked potato salad with olive oil, herbs, spring onions and garlic. It’s a French thing, I’ve seen it on Barefoot Contessa. I may have to try roasting some too as I have bought so many….

It’s only a small market but there was a local potter doing his thing and we also bought some of these deliciously sweet little organic strawberries.

They have a special destiny in a separate mental folder that I will share with you tomorrow…….

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Pease Pudding

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Chica Andaluza

Sometimes Up a Mountain in Andalucia and sometimes Down by the Sea on the English South Coast

Tony Ward on everything

The gospel according to me!

Agrigirl's Blog

Life, leadership and community supported agriculture...

The Kitchen Operas℠

Vegetarian Whole Food Deliciousness

for the love of yum

A girl who loves to cook fresh, fun, and global cuisine.

The Path To Authenticity

Mind, Body & Spiritual Growth

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,135 other followers