Tag Archives: grilled

The Almost Perfect Deliciously Smokey Baba Ghanoush Recipe

21 Oct Baba Ghanoush

Unbelievably, this is the first time I have posted a Baba Ghanoush recipe. I love it – it is definitely one of my favourite things to eat but until recently I had not been happy with my own attempts a recreating the deliciously creamy smokiness of the excellent Baba (or mutabal) at my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Malaga.

Seeing this unusual aubergine growing by the side of the road featured in the picture below (no rude comments about its big nose please) and the incredibly cheap piles of gorgeous deep purple, brushed magenta or even lilac ombre specimens on sale at the market was encouragement enough for me to give it another go.

The key to really good baba is the smokiness. This usually comes from cooking the aubergines directly over an open flame until the skin is blackened and the flesh inside is very soft and collapsing when you squeeze it with tongs. The smoky flavour comes from the charred skin that permeates the flesh of the aubergine transforming it into one of the most delicious things on this earth. This is where my problem lies, I don’t have gas hob. I have a silly beep beep beep induction hob which is admittedly much easier to clean.

Or so he tells me.

I had read recipes before saying that you could get the same effect by grilling (or broiling US) them under a hot grill for 70 minutes. 70 minutes?! The idea of leaving something under a hot grill for 70 minutes scared me to death because I knew I would wander off and forget about them completely. So do you know what I did? I bought smaller aubergines. Genius I know. Instead of using 3 large aubergines that the recipe calls for, I use 6 or 7 baby ones. It’s so much quicker and I am less likely to burn the house down in the process.

The traditional way, if you have a gas hob, is to line underneath the burners with some aluminium foil, prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife (you can use 3 large or 6 or 7 baby ones) then lay them directly on the flames, turning occasionally with tongs to make sure they are blackened on all sides and collapsingly soft inside. If you don’t have gas like me the recipe below comes  a very close second. Whatever you do don’t use roasted aubergines, the flavour will be very disappointing and nothing like the real thing.

Baba Ghanoush Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack with flatbread or crudities. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigel Slater

  • 6 or 7 small aubergines (mine were about 15 -18 cm long from the tip of the stalk to the bottom)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • the juice of a small lemon
  • 2 or 3 heaped tbsp tahini paste
  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley or mint leaves to garnish
  • sesame seeds to garnish

Prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife and cook under a hot grill (or over a gas flame), turning once the skin is blackened. Keep turning and leaving it to blacken on all four sides. The skin should be blackened and charred on all sides and the flesh inside very soft and collapsing when you pick it up with tongs.

Leave until cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways and scrape out all of the flesh including any that is sticking to the skin (this is where all the flavour is). It doesn’t matter if some of the blackened skin gets into the bowl too this will be great for flavour.

Puree with a stick blender with the rest of the ingredients until just smooth (or still a little bit chunky) and then taste. Adjust the lemon juice, salt and tahini to your liking. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over some parsley or mint leaves and a few sesame seeds.

This is gorgeous served straight away still warm or at room temperature with some toasted flatbread or crudites for dipping.

This is one of the recipe from my first Vegetarian Mezze Cookery Workshop that I hosted yesterday at Pepe Kitchen in Benalmadena, Malaga. I would like to thank all of the lovely people who turned up to learn to cook and eat some of my favourite food, I really enjoyed it and hope you did too.

My next course is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November when we will be making (and eating) tarts and  quiche made with spelt flour olive oil pastry, healthy sweet and savoury muffins including my favourite cherry tomato, pesto & goat’s cheese muffin made using wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil. Also my signature healthy breakfast or tea loaf made with flax seeds, oats, dates, raisins, honey and sunflower seeds. Hope to see you there…

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

22 Aug Fig Bruschetta

It’s green fig season here……

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 1 as a snack, vegetarian

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

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

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

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

Buen Provecho

Chargrilled Vegetable “Sandwich” with Feta, Basil and Pine Nuts

16 Oct Chargrilled Vegetable & Feta "Sandwich"

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a sandwich without the bread for a while. Alli at Pease Pudding recreated a version of this that she had for lunch in a cafe.

She lives in New Zealand and every time I visit her blog it makes me want to visit New Zealand even more. The choice of food apart from everything else is inspiring. One of her latest posts is a breakfast she had in another cafe which was Baba Ghanoush topped with a Poached Egg (heaven), that is definitely next on my list. Maybe for brunch tomorrow, if I can wait that long…. 

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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?

Chargrilled Broccoli and Beans with Chilli, Garlic and Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

10 Jul DCIM100MEDIA

I know broccoli isn’t usually the most exciting of vegetables. I know it can be a bit bland and boring. Time to rethink that. With this treatment it transforms into a shining star.

Seriously, we can’t get enough of it. The Washer Up, my toughest critic, has claimed it his favourite thing. To quote “This is the best thing you’ve ever made”. You can’t argue with that can you?

My best friend Tara bought me the Ottolenghi cookbook for my birthday. I am steadily working my way through it and every recipe that I have tried has been a definite winner. It’s all about the flavour and colour which is the kind of food I love. It has a definite Middle Eastern theme, but not solely. There are recipes from all over the world.

What I noticed, while flicking through, was that a lot of the food is cooked on a griddle pan. It adds to the flavour and appearance of a dish, giving a certain smokiness and the attractive black stripes that make such a difference to the overall impression.

I didn’t own griddle pan. I do now. Get ready for chargrilled everything.

It is chargrilling the broccoli and then drenching it in a garlic & chilli infused olive oil that makes this dish so special. You can serve it on its own, as a side dish with anything, or make it the star on top of some sweet soy rice noodles. Either way it’s delicious. You need to try this. 

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

serves 2 -3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • a handful of french beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced (or 1 hot red chilli)
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • 250 gr fat (XL) rice noodles (or any noodles)
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or use soy sauce plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of cashew nuts or flaked almonds, toasted

Separate the broccoli into florets with small stems still attached. Trim off  the stalk ends of the beans. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for exactly 2 minutes (no more). Then quickly transfer it, with a slotted spoon, to a large bowl of iced water, to stop the cooking. Now do the same with the beans.

Drain the broccoli & beans in a colander and then spread them out on a clean tea towel and leave to dry completely.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and rinse under the cold tap to stop them sticking together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dried veg with 3 tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt & black pepper. Place a ridged griddle pan over a high heat and leave it for 5 minutes to heat up. Grill the veg in batches so it’s not too crowded. Leave them for a minute on one side then turn them over so they get nice char marks on all sides. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue to griddle the rest.

Meanwhile put the 75 ml olive oil in a small saucepan with the sliced garlic & chillies. Cook them over a medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown. Don’t let it burn. Remove from the heat and pour the hot oil over the bowl of hot broccoli & beans and toss together well. Check seasoning.

Heat up a wok, or large frying pan, over a medium high heat, add in the cooked noodles, kecap manis (or soy sauce & honey), sesame oil and oyster sauce. Heat through the noodles and then throw in the veg. Toss everything together well and serve in deep bowls.

Squeeze over some lemon/lime juice and sprinkle with the toasted nuts and chopped coriander.

You are going to love this. Broccoli has never tasted so good, honestly. If you don’t own a grill pan go out and buy one now.

It’s just a bit of a bitch to clean….. Apparently.

Things that made me smile today…..

Dragonflies…

Butterflies….

And bugs…

Hasta Luego!!

My Big Fat Greek Salad with Grilled Halloumi

11 Jan

If you’ve never tried Halloumi cheese before, buy some. I promise you its delicious. It’s a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese and I would go as far as to say it is my favourite cheese. Even saying that makes me feel bad about Feta. I love Feta too it’s just that Halloumi is more difficult to get over here. So, when I do see some, I buy 3 blocks because I know they will sell out quickly and not get any back in for weeks. I think it’s a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder“. Does that apply to cheese too? I think Feta suffers from being slightly more (dare I say it) common. Now I feel really awful.

The best thing about Halloumi is it doesn’t melt, it cooks. This means you can grill it on a dry pan or griddle and serve it as you would chicken like the Grilled Halloumi Sandwich  that I have posted before. The texture is actually quite meaty when it’s cooked and its salty flavour stands up really well to loads of fresh herbs & lemon juice. This salad is the perfect backdrop from which your Halloumi can shine. In the interest of fairness and equality Foil Baked Feta would be a great alternative if you can’t get hold of any Halloumi…..

Greek Salad with Grilled Halloumi

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 1 pack halloumi 240gr sliced into 1/2cm slices
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber diced
  • 1/2 shallot finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of black olives (I left them out because I don’t like them)
  • a handful of rocket
  • 1 little gem lettuce heart, cut into quarters, lengthways
  • sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of chopped coriander or parsley. Stalks as well.
  • a handful of chopped mint
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red chilli (deseeded & chopped) optional
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • coriander/parsley leaves for garnish

Put the little gem wedges on the plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, lemon juice & a little sea salt. Put the tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, olives, oregano & half the fresh herbs in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil &  a good squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt & pepper and set aside. In a shallow dish large enough to hold the Halloumi slices mix together about 4 tbsp olive oil the juice of half the lemon, cumin, sumac, chilli, black pepper and the rest of the fresh herbs.

Heat a non stick frying pan or griddle to hot. (Don’t add any oil). Put the Halloumi slices in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. When the halloumi is browned put the slices into the dish with the marinade and cover it in the marinade. (You may need to add more oil/lemon juice). When all of the Halloumi is in the marinade add the rocket to the tomato salad and toss together with you hands. Pile this on top of the little gem wedges then arrange your Halloumi slices on top and around the salad. Pour over the remaining marinade and serve garnished with the coriander/parsley leaves.

You could also serve some toasted pita wedges on the side to soak up the delicious marinade juices. This is a dish you could serve to hardened meat eaters and they wouldn’t notice it was vegetarian. It’s so good, please try it!

Braised Quince with Grilled Manchego Cheese

3 Nov DCIM100MEDIA

Manchego & quince is a typically Spanish combination. The contrast of the sharp, cured sheep’s cheese with the jelly like sweet fruit paste called Dulce de Membrillo is a classic tapas dish. Served with triangles of the quince paste on top of triangles of Manchego or even on cocktail sticks a la cheese & pineapple.

To be honest I find the Dulce far to dulce (sweet) and the grainy texture offputting. So when we saw some quince growing I decided to buy one and see if there is another way to prepare it. Speaking to the senora in the market, I asked how you know when they are ripe. She said that you cannot eat them raw and they have to be cooked for along time and then she started talking about, muslin & hanging for days at which point I switched off, I don’t have the patience for that, but I bought one anyway.

Searching the internet for easier ways of preparing quince I came across a gorgeous blog called The Traveler’s Lunchbox which had a fantastically simple recipe for braised quince, which I just had to try..

Braised Quince

Serves 2 – 4 with cheese

  • 1 large quince
  • about 250 ml water
  • 50 gr sugar
  • the zest of 1/2 lemon

First heat the oven to 160degrees. Wash and dry the quince then halve them or cut into wedges. Place in a baking tray and pour the water on top and sprinkle over the sugar and lemon zest. Cover the tray tightly with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for around three hours.

You will know it’s ready when the quince is completely soft and the cooking syrup is a deep ruby-pink – leave them in the oven a bit longer if necessary. Take the tray out of the oven, remove the cooked fruit and strain the syrup into a jar. I didn’t have a lot of syrup as I only roasted one quince but if you do more you can use the syrup as a quince cordial to serve with chilled cava or champagne as an unusual cocktail or in make a jug of the cordial mixed with sparkling water & ice.

To eat the quince, simply remove the papery peel and cut the soft fruit from the core. Serve slivers of the quince on slices of cured Manchego or other strong, sharp cheese. The combination is lovely and the braised fruit is so much easier and tastes fresher and less sweet than the paste/jelly.

For a delicious lunch I drizzled some olive oil over a halfed baguette, added slices of Manchego and the braised quince slivers and put it under a hot grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese. I love finding new ingredients especially when they’re beautiful like this. If you see some in the market buy them and become a fan….

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