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Savoury Tomato Cobbler with Basil and Manchego

26 Sep Savoury Tomato & Basil Cobbler

Tomato & Basil CobblerIt’s been so long since I posted a recipe I’m sorry. I have so many recipes to catch up with but no time, which is a good thing I suppose. Fresh To Go is really busy which is more than we could have hoped for. Thank you customers!

Savoury Tomato & Basil Cobbler

It is still summery here but I realise that in other parts of the world it can’t make up its mind and is sometimes raining and cold. This recipe is perfect because it makes the transition from a light summery dish to cosy comfort food very easily indeed. Just serve it with a nice rocket salad if the sun is out or some yoghurt & herb mashed potatoes if the weather and/or you are miserable. Mashed potato is a well known antidote to misery.

Tomatoes are cheap & plentiful here and also full of flavour. This recipes uses 3 different types of tomato, plum tomatoes, beef tomatoes and cherry tomatoes but you don’t have to. Cooking the tomatoes encourages flavour even out of the most out of season, cold  & dull specimens.

Tomato Basil & Manchego CobblerSavoury Tomato Cobbler with Basil & Manchego Recipe

Serves 6-8, vegetarian. 

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, white core removed
  • 1 kilo beef (Castellano) tomatoes, chopped (or any tomatoes)
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
  • a squeeze of honey
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)
  • about 10 fresh basil leaves, rolled up & julienned (you will need more for the dough mix too)
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 g) wholemeal spelt flour (or other flour)
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) cornmeal/fine polenta/masa harina 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (110 ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) finely grated Manchego (or Parmesan) cheese
  • a good handful of basil leaves, rolled & julienned
  • 1 1/4 cups (275 ml) goats (or Greek) yoghurt or buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cook the onion in 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat with a pinch of salt until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli flakes & thyme and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes then add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cornflour, salt, pepper and honey. Cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust salt & honey as required.

Place the halved plum tomatoes, cut side up in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or 1 half in each individual dish if you have them), then spoon the cooked tomato, onion mixture over them. Top with the halved cherry tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix together the flours, baking powder & baking soda in a large bowl and season with salt & black pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and then crush it into the flour using a fork until it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble mix. Put it in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Stir the grated cheese & basil into the flour mix, then add the yoghurt and stir until just combined. Do not overmix or it will be tough. Dollop small roundish handfuls of the mix on top of the tomatoes, leaving gaps in between, do not spread to cover.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or longer before serving with either a green salad and/or yoghurt & herb mashed potatoes.

Tomato, Basil & Manchego Cobbler

I am off to Rome to meet up with my Dad this weekend. For research purposes only you understand. Very excited about the food, I have a long list of restaurants I want to try. I’ve heard there’s some sights to see too. Only if there’s time between lunch & dinner though…

Natalie

Quick Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

13 Feb Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Broccoli and Lentils

I bought some lovely tender stem broccoli from the farmer’s market on Sunday. I wanted to elevate it to top billing in a dish rather than the, green vegetable on the side of something else, that it can so often be thoughtlessly demoted to.

Tender Stem Broccoli

One of the most successful recipes on my blog (as in most viewed) is a delicious broccoli as the star dish. It’s my version of an Ottolenghi recipe for Chargrilled Broccoli with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles. It’s still one of The Washer Up’s favourites, and mine. I don’t make it as often as I would like because chargrilling the broccoli on  my striped grill pan fills the kitchen (and the rest of the house) with smoke. Our extractor fan is useless. I think it actually blows the smoke into the kitchen rather than extracting it, so I have to leave the front door open to let it all out. It might need cleaning I suppose. *Buries head in sand*.

Indian Spiced Broccoli & Lentils

This is a quick and easy supper or lunch dish that can be thrown together in about half an hour. That is a real 30 minutes by the way, not a Jamie Oliver 30 minutes. Which is more like 60 minutes in human time in case you were wondering.

Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

Serves 2 as a light lunch/supper with some Indian bread. Easily doubled.

Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 2 tsp coconut oil (or any cooking oil)
  • about 225 g tender stem broccoli or florets
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 125 g dried yellow lentils (or any quick cook lentil)
  • 250 g + veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of flaked almonds (or cashews) toasted in a dry pan until lightly browned

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat, add the cumin seeds & mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add in the onion, garlic, chilli & ginger with a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Then add the lentils, turmeric and ground coriander stirring to coat the lentils and pour in 250 ml stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat  and simmer, covered for about 12 minutes (depending on the lentils) until they are tender soft. Lay the broccoli on top of the lentils and add a good splash of veg stock, season well with salt & pepper, bring to the boil again then lower the heat and simmer, covered again for about 5 minutes until the broccoli is tender but still crisp.

Add most of the fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

Serve topped with some toasted flaked almonds, the rest of the fresh coriander and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.

Indian Broccoli & Yellow Lentils

And no need to use (or clean) the grill pan or the extractor. Result.

Indian Broccoli with Lentils

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Farro “Risotto” with Broad Beans, Wild Asparagus and Poached Egg

18 Jan Broad Bean Farro Risotto

Farro Risotto with Poached Egg

Farro is barley from spelt rather than wheat. This is whole Farro (or spelt).  You can also buy it pearled or semi-pearled apparently but I haven’t found it here yet. Pearling removes some of the outer husks, this means it cooks more quickly but you will also be missing out on some of the fibrey wholeness.

Farro

I bought half a kilo of broad beans at the market this weekend because they screamed “Spring” at me from behind a pile of cabbages and cauliflowers. I love cabbage and cauliflower but it’s nice when new things start to appear.

Broad Beans

I also bought a bunch of wild asparagus, trigueros in Spanish. It is a very fine type of asparagus that grows wild in fields and at the side of the road underneath spiky bushes (very clever). There are sometimes rather scruffy looking men selling big bunches of it at roundabouts at this time of year.  They are probably so scruffy because they have been scrabbling around underneath spiky bushes looking for the asparagus. They are the epitome of “being dragged through a hedge backwards.”

Farro Asparagus Risotto

Revueltos de Esparragos Trigurerosis a classic Spanish dish where the wild asparagus is sautéed in pan until just tender then you add some beaten eggs and cook it all together. Scrambled eggs with asparagus basically. This is what inspired me to top this risotto with a poached egg. It’s lovely because if your egg is perfectly runny when you stick your knife in it the yolk runs into the risotto giving it a rich creaminess that works really well in this dish.

 The flavour or the trigueros is slightly more bitter than the thicker asparagus and you still have to trim off quite a lot of the woody ends or the twiggy bits get stuck in your teeth I found, not attractive.

Broad Bean Farro Risotto

I cooked the farro using the risotto method, adding a ladleful of warm stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on. It took a long time to cook, about 40 minutes in total I think. If you are using whole spelt/farro like me then I would probably suggest that you cook it according to the instructions on the packet (mine didn’t have any). Cooking it normally, in water or stock, will probably shorten the cooking time, you still want it to be nutty and have some bite so don’t overdo it.

You can then add your broad beans, asparagus etc at the end of cooking and heat it all up together. If you are using normal asparagus you will need to blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes before adding it to the risotto at the end.

Farro Risotto with Asparagus

Farro Risotto with Broad Beans, Asparagus & Poached Egg

Serves 3, vegetarian

  • 300 g Farro (spelt barley) I used whole but pearled or semi-pearled cook quicker
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 30 g ( a handful) of grated manchego/parmesan, plus shaved to garnish
  • 500 g broad beans still in their pod chambers (as in the picture above)
  • 1 bunch of wild (or not) asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
  • 100 g frozen peas, left to defrost
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • about 15 basil leaves
  • toasted pine nuts
  • 1 egg per person
  • white vinegar

Remove the broad beans from their chambers, then put them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, rinse under the cold tap, then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale jade cases. Discard the cases. If using normal asparagus cook this in boiling, salted  water for about 3 minutes until just tender, drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes.

At this point you can either:

1) Add in the uncooked farro, stirring to coat for a minute. Heat the veg stock in a small pan until hot but not boiling. Add two ladles of the hot stock to the farro and cook until absorbed then add another two ladles of stock, repeating until the farro is tender but still with a nutty bite. If you need more liquid add some boiling water from the kettle. Season with salt & black pepper.

Or…

2) Add the uncooked farro and the veg stock, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the farro is cooked, tender but still with a nutty bite. Season with salt & black pepper.

Then, when ready to serve stir the peas, broad beans and chopped asparagus into the farro stirring to heat through for a few minutes until cooked. Then stir in the cheese and most of the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning

For the poached eggs:

Meanwhile, using a pan big enough to hold all the eggs, fill it 2/3 full with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into separate teacups or ramekins.

When the water is boiling, squeeze in about a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir it with a wooden spoon very fast to create a little whirlpool then, quickly but gently, slide the eggs into the water, one at a time. Put on a lid and leave for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.

When the white is cooked, carefully lift the eggs out, one at a time with a slotted spoon onto a double sheet of kitchen paper to drain, cover the tops with another sheet of kitchen paper.

Serve the farro “risotto” in warmed bowls and carefully use the paper and spoon to move the poached egg on top of the farro. Season the egg with a little salt & black pepper and garnish the dish with some shaved manchego/parmesan, the rest of the herbs and the toasted pine nuts.

Farro Risotto with a Poached Egg

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!!

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Fesenjan – A Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

11 Nov Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew

I have been wanting to make a vegetarian version of the savoury and sweet Persian celebration dish, Fesanjan for a long time. It is normally made with chicken or lamb but I have used aubergine and sweet potato as the meat replacements. Pumpkin or squash would also be lovely in this or maybe even some meaty mushrooms.

The reason that I have been desperate to make this is because I love pomegranates. There are hundreds of pomegranate trees were we walk with the dog and The Washer Up is always screaming at me to stop taking photos of them, but I can’t.

“Not another bloody picture of a pomegranate” he says “How many do you need?” he asks impatiently  “You must have thousands already, along with all the pictures of blooming oranges”.

“It’s what I do!” I reply.

This is the perfect dish to showcase the beautiful pomegranates that are plentiful and cheap here at the moment. I use their ruby jewels a lot as a final garnish, like on this Lebanese Lentil Salad where their sweet and sourness pops in your mouth, livens up the whole dish and, of course, they look lovely. I have also topped this Savoury Feta Cheesecake with a generous glistening pile of them for an impressively dramatic but surprisingly easy to prepare dinner party dish.

In this dish though it’s the juice that gets to take a leading role. Traditionally pomegranate molasses (a reduced thickened pomegranate syrup) would be used but I can’t seem to find any here. I used the juice of four pomegranates and some veg stock as the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked. Along with the ground walnuts that thicken the stew while it cooks, these are the two most important ingredients in the recipe. They give it colour, texture and flavour.

You can obviously buy pomegranate juice in a carton if you like, but I wanted to try it with my beloved pomegranates. Juicing a pomegranate is quite a mission but you get used to it. I did most of it on my normal hand orange juicer, bursting any jewels left in the top of the juicer and squishing the juice out with my fingers. I then squeezed what was left in the fruit directly into the pot by hand. I got about 500 ml of juice from four big pomegranates.

Fesanjan – Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew Recipe

Serves 4. Vegan, Gluten-free.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large aubergine 300 g, cut in 1-2 cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato 400 g, scrubbed, cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • salt & black pepper
  • 200 g walnuts, finely ground in a processor plus some chopped for garnish
  • the juice of four pomegranates (about 500 ml) reserve some jewels for garnish
  • 500 ml stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • fresh parsley leaves to serve

Heat the oil, in a large pot, over a medium heat and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for about 4 mins until softened, then add the spices, cook for a minute or so (add a splash of stock if it’s dry), then add the ground walnuts, aubergine & sweet potato. Stir to coat in the spices then add the pomegranate juice and stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the lid then simmer again for 25-30 mins until the sauce is thickened, it shouldn’t be liquidy.

Taste for seasoning, it should be quite sweet and a little sour. Add more salt, lemon or honey/sugar until you are happy. Serve garnished with pomegranate jewels, chopped walnuts and a few parsley leaves. This isn’t authentic but it isn’t the prettiest of dishes otherwise, it’s very brown so the pomegranate seeds brighten it up a bit.

Serve with some plain rice and a herby green salad like the ones we served the lovely Iranian family that we cooked for over the summer. They use herb leaves whole as a salad leaf rather than as a garnish. I topped it with pomegranate seeds obviously, but then I am obsessed. Apparently.

I hope they approve of my vegetarian version of Fesenjan!

Keralan Vegetable and Coconut Sambar Recipe

2 Nov Keralan Vegetable Sambar

Kerala is right at the top of my list of places I want to visit. It is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India and is known for having some of the best and most delicious vegetarian food in the whole of India. That and its beautiful beaches, backwaters, tropical forests and luxury Ayurvedic retreats and you can see why I am so keen to get there.

Until that day arrives I am happy to continue on my culinary journey around my kitchen and be transported by the flavours and smells unique to that area. Sambar is a typical southern Indian vegetable stew made with lots of vegetables and pigeon peas (or lentils) in a tamarind broth. The sambar is the spice mix or paste which has variations from state to state in the south.

Coconuts grow along the coast in Kerala and most of their signature dishes feature it in some form. This Keralan Sambar powder  is made by toasting coconut along with the spices and grinding it to create a paste that is used to flavour the stew. The sambar is finished or tempered with a garnish of mustard seeds, chilli and spices cooked in coconut oil that is poured over just before serving.

In the original recipe the pigeon peas or lentils are cooked separately with some turmeric and chilli powder until soft and mushy. They are then added to the vegetables cooked in the tamarind & stock to thicken the stew towards the end. I used dried quick cooking yellow lentils that cook in the same amount of time as the vegetables so I cooked it all together. Less washing up too.

The vegetables I used are just what I had in the fridge. You could use pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, aubergine, courgettes, okra…..

Keralan Vegetable & Coconut Sambar Recipe

Serves 4 with rice. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Mistress of Spices & Sankeerthanam

  • 75-100 g dried yellow lentils
  • 300 g sweet potato, scrubbed & cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 300 g cauliflower florets
  • 300 g (1 very large) tomato, chopped
  • 200 g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • salt
  • about 1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar or honey

For the tempering:

  •  2 tsp  coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli whole (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • curry leaves (if you can get them)

Put the veg stock and tamarind in large pot with the turmeric, chilli flakes, lentils, sweet potato and cauliflower. Bring to the boil, season with salt then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes & lentils are cooked. Meanwhile make the sambar paste.

For the sambar paste

  • 4 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • salt

Toast everything in a dry frying pan until fragrant and toasty. The onions wont be cooked. Blend to a paste adding some salt and water as necessary.

Stir the sambar paste into the vegetable pot then add the softer vegetables, the beans and tomatoes. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or longer, until the lentils have broken down and you have a thicker stew consistency.  Add the jaggery/sugar or honey and taste for seasoning. Does it need more salt or sugar?

When ready to serve, heat the coconut oil in pan over a medium high heat and add the tempering spices, chilli and curry leaves (if using). When the seeds start to splutter tip the contents of the pan over the stew and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

The oranges are coming. They are turning from green to a yellowy orange. Getting more orange every day. Which means it’s not long till Christmas.

Which means I need to get busy making Grandad’s Pickled Onions if I want them to be ready in time for Christmas. They need at least a month to mature into the spicy perfect beasts that everyone adores.

What Christmas treats are you planning to make this year?

Have a great weekend!

Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread

22 Oct Wat & Injera Flatbread

A wat or wot (what?) is an Ethiopian stew. I first read about Ethiopian cuisine on The Taste Space and I knew I had to try it out for myself. It is spicy, which I love as you might have guessed and is great for vegetarian or vegan food lovers. The flavour comes mainly from an Ethiopian spice mix called Berbere. Berbere has as many different variations as I have shoes but the one I have chosen to make includes: red chilli flakes, turmeric, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice & clove.

I decided to make it with sweet potatoes and yellow lentils (or split peas) because the sweet potatoes are at their peak here at the moment which means delicious and cheap. You could also use pumpkin and chickpeas or any other vegetables you need to use up. Just add a legume to the pot to make it authentic and nutritionally balanced.

The traditional accompaniment to any Ethiopian meal are Injera flatbreads. Injera are slightly spongy crepe or pancake-like flatbreads made with a yeasted dough batter made from Teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain believed to have been cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 4000 BC.

I have a brilliant flour supplier in Alhaurin, Andres from El Amasadero who can get hold of these unusual flours. He also holds bread making workshops which I am threatening to attend one day.  Fortunately you don’t have to make these with Teff flour you can use spelt or normal flour instead. It’s actually fun to do. Or you could just buy some Indian or Middle Eastern flatbreads if you’re short of time (or patience).

Ethiopian Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free.  Adapted from The Taste Space

For the Berbere spice mix:

Makes 1 small jar. You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe

  • 4 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Grind the fenugreek seeds, red chilli flakes & sea salt in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder until you have a powder then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a dry place.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 600g), scrubbed and cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Berbere spice mix (see above)
  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils (or split peas)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 cabbage (250 g), shredded
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions, with a pinch of salt, for about 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two more. If it gets dry add a little splash of stock. Add the 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix, cabbage, tomato and season with salt & black pepper.

Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and veg stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander just before serving and check seasoning.

Injera Flatbread Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan. Needs an hour rising time

  • 110 g wholemeal, spelt or teff flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 15 g fresh)
  • 155 ml warm (not hot) water

Mix everything together in a large bowl to form a batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or longer until well risen.

When ready to cook, stir the batter then tip into a blender with about 110 ml (1/2 cup) water and blend. The batter will be quite thin.

Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil and pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan, swirl or spread it about with a spatula until it covers the base of the pan evenly like a crepe/pancake. Cook until little bubbles or cracks appear all over the top. You do not need to turn it over to cook the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus posing in the autumn sun.

Pink Roses & Acorns, there’s got to be a recipe in there somewhere….

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!!

Aloo Gobi Filo Tartlet – My Guest Post at Como Water

28 Jan small-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup

29 Dec Japanese Soup

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging over Christmas? You need a bowl of nutritious soup that makes you feel all virtuous and healthy inside.

Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has dark green skin with lighter stripes. Inside, the flesh is a bright yellowy orange colour and it has a natural sweetness that makes it delicious as well as nutritious. I saw this one growing in the fields where we walk the dog but have been unable to find them to buy here. Apparently they are readily available in Australia, New Zealand & the US as well as in Japan obviously.

Azuki beans (or adzuki beans) are small, reddish-brown beans with a white ridge along one edge. Cooked, they have a sweet, nutty flavor. They originated in China but are also popular in Japan. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating these amazing little beans. Taken from Natural Health Articles Continue reading

Sweet Potato and Lentil Dhal

18 Dec Sweet Potato Dhal

So here it is, as promised, the recipe for my Sweet Potato Dhal that makes the perfect accompaniment to the crunchy Spiced Red Cabbage that I posted yesterday.

This is actually a combination of two of the very first recipes that I posted on this blog about a year ago, Sweet Potato Curry  and Indian Dhal Soup with Potato Stuffed Parathas. I love both of these dishes so much that I couldn’t choose which one to cook which is why I decided to combine them. Continue reading

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