Tag Archives: how to make

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…

Homemade Aloe Vera Moisturising Gel and Some Exciting News!

4 Feb Aloe Vera Moisturising gel

The aloe vera plants on our roof terrace are out of control. They are in fairly small pots and they seem to produce new leaves overnight. So many leaves that the pots are actually splitting. The Washer Up decided to cut them back today which meant we had carrier bags full of aloe vera leaves.

It seemed such a shame to throw them all away so I did a google search to see how difficult it would be to make some aloe vera moisturiser. After all I buy aloe vera face cream from Mercadona. It turns out that it is really easy (if a little messy). All you do is blend the fresh aloe gel with some sweet almond oil (that you can get from the pharmacy) and there you have it. Your own 100% natural aloe vera  moisturising gel.

It admitedly looks a little bit like snot but disappears into your skin really quickly and leaves it feeling, soft, smooth and nourished. The Washer Up’s hands are reaping the benefits and I can defintely see the difference in my face.

Homemade Aloe Vera Moisturising Gel

Makes 1 jam jar.

  • about 200 gr aloe vera gel  (I used about 4 big leaves)
  • 1 or 2 tsp sweet almond oil
  • a few drops of your favourite essential oil if you want it to be scented (optional)

You  may want to use gloves and protect the worksurface with a plastic bag or something.

The aloe starts to oxidise (turn red) quickly once it is cut so you have to do it straight away.

Split the aloe leaves down the middle, open them out and scrape the slimy gel out onto the scales with a teaspoon.

When you have about 200 gr tip into a bowl or blender with 1 or 2 teaspoons of almond oil and blend until smooth and slimy.

Tip into a sterilised jar and keep in a cool place (my bathroom is freezing) or in the fridge in summer.

This can be used as a face, hand and body moisturiser but it is also excellent for burns, sunburn, skin irritations and mosquito bites.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…….

The almond blossom is really early this year because of the mild weather we have been having up until this weekend which has been freezing cold. I love the candy floss trees with their barely pink delicate blooms. It is one of my favourite things about living here, it signifies that spring is not too far away.

I have some very exciting news to tell you. Next week we will be going to Cape Town. As many of you will already know, my Dad lives there so we are primarily going to see him but also….

We are going for three weeks, during which time I will be travelling around the Cape eating in some of the best and most popular restaurants the region has to offer.

I am a contributor to Getaway Magazine which has won South African Travel Blog of the year for two years running. They recently held an award ceremony of their own in Cape Town (which my dad attended on my behalf) and to my complete surprise I won the award for best food blog!!

I will be compiling a list of the best restaurants for vegetarian food (not vegetarian restaurants) in the area with reviews, recommendations, and a Vegetarian Culinary Journey Route.

We  start the tour in Cape Town then move on to Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Montagu, Robertson, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and then back to Cape Town again.

We have lunch and dinner booked in a different restaurant every day. Such is the quality and choice of fabulous restaurants out there, there are still quite a few that I won’t have time to get to unfortunately.

I will be taking my camera to photograph the restaurants and food and will hopefully be posting a quick photo daily just to let you know where we are and what we’ve eaten.

I have also asked if the chefs in these gorgeous restaurants would be willing to share the recipe for one of  their favourite vegetarian dishes for me to recreate when I return home.

I have already received some fantastic recipes for such delights as, Goats Cheese & Beetroot Lollipops from Peter Tempelhoff, winner of award for Best Chef 2011. Peter is Executive Chef for three of the best restaurants in South Africa including The Greenhouse, winner of the award for Best Restaurant 2011.

As you can probably tell I can’t wait to get started. We leave on Tuesday, arrive on Wednesday morning and have lunch booked at Harbour House at The Waterfront in Cape Town.

For dinner we have reservations at The Mount Nelson Hotel’s restaurant Planet. The Mount Nelson (or Nellies as it is affectionately known) is a local institution famous for their afternoon tea. The Planet chef, Rudi Leibenberg has had the foresight and invention to create a four and six course vegan tasting menu. Yes, a vegan tasting menu! It must be the first one ever.

I will let you know the rest of our itinerary when we get there. But until then I’ve got some ironing and packing to be getting on with…

Tyrokafteri – A Greek Chilli Cheese Dip with Homemade Goat’s Cheese

24 Aug Tyrokafteri Dip

I’ve made Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese (labneh) before by straining Greek yoghurt in the fridge overnight but I’d never gone one step back and actually made the yoghurt as well.

I read about it at Chica Andaluza. She made yoghurt from cow’s milk and then drained it for longer to make a soft cheese. I really wanted to try this with goat’s milk to see if I could make my own soft goat’s cheese.

It took a little longer than expected to “turn” which may have had something to do with the unseasonably cloudy weather we had as soon as I decided I wanted to put my milk out in the sun, but it worked. I made soft goat’s cheese from goat’s milk and it was easy.

A litre carton of goat’s milk made about 250 gr goat’s cheese spread, which is the size of a tub of Philadelphia, it’s that sort of texture too.

Now I could get on with making a Greek chilli cheese dip called Tyrokafteri that had been wanting to try for a while. The original recipe is a mixture of feta cheese and ricotta blended with chillis, lemon juice and olive oil. I just replaced those with my soft goat’s cheese.

Tyrokafteri Chilli Cheese Dip/Sauce Recipe

Makes about 300 ml, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 red & 4 green chillis, I used birds eye chillis (use 20 gr if using the larger mild chillies)
  • 250 gr soft goat’s cheese (or 165 gr feta & 85 gr ricotta)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 35 ml extra virgen olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Wash the chillis, remove the stalks, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds and membrane. Wear gloves or your hands will sting for ages and don’t touch your eyes.

Boil them in a small pan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel off the skin (if using larger chillies) using gloves. If you used small chillies no need to peel. Boiling them takes away some of the heat but not the flavour.

Put the rest of the ingredients and  in a blender/processor and blend together well. I added my chillies two at a time because I was worried about it being too hot, and blended again. Taste and add more chillies until you are happy with the heat. I added all eight in the end and it was perfect. Blend until smooth and season with salt & black pepper. If  you are using feta you may not need any salt.

Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate until using. It tastes even better the next day.

Serve with toasted pita bread or crudites for dipping or drizzle over roasted or chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables. It’s addictive. I served mine with some baked zucchini fries and I will be posting the recipe tomorrow…

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

I love these flowers, they look like a multi-layered gerbera…..

The bees seem pretty taken with them too….

Hasta Manana!

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