Tag Archives: lunch

Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint and Feta

22 Apr Orzo Primavera

Primavera Orzo Salad

Spring has definitely sprung. The wild flowers are wafting their sweet fragrance in the mornings where I run with the dog so my thoughts turn away from steaming hot soups and comforting stews towards lighter flavours and all things fresh and green.

Spring Flowers

I bought some fresh peas in their pods from the farmers’ market on Sunday. There is nothing more spring-like than peas, except for maybe asparagus. This recipe has both. In fact it has all my favourite spring flavours in one dish. There’s also fresh mint, dill, lemon, spring onions, spring garlic and feta. Is it singing to you yet?

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Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a rice shaped pasta. If you can’t find it (I got mine in Eroski, believe it or not, in the Moroccan section) you could use any small-ish pasta shapes or even cooked rice. The good thing about orzo is that it doesn’t go all flabby and stick together when it is cooked so it is perfect for salads.

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You toss all the ingredients and the dressing over the cooked orzo while it is still hot so all the flavours get absorbed and start to mingle. Leave it to cool to room temperature then you can store it in the fridge. The feta and fresh herbs are best stirred through just before serving. This is an ideal lunch that would be easy to take to work or for a weekend picnic.

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint & Feta Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian.

  • 300 g uncooked orzo (or other pasta shapes)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 baby leek (or more spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 spring garlic/green garlic/ajete, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 100 gr shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
  • a handful of fresh chopped dill
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 100 g Greek feta
  • toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the orzo in lots of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the spring onions, baby leek and spring garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt some black pepper, the thyme, oregano and chilli flakes until softened. Mix this with the drained cooked pasta in large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & black pepper. Leave to cool.

Trim or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Shell the peas. Cook the peas & asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes then drain and add to the orzo, Stir everything together well.

Leave to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge from this point. When ready to serve stir through the crumbled or cubed feta and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve topped with some tiny mint leaves, dill fronds and toasted pine nuts, if using. I forgot to put mine on for the photos, duh…

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Say hello to spring even if it is raining where you are!

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Have a lovely week whatever the weather.

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Caramelised Baby Leek Spelt Flour Tarte Tatin

26 Feb Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I bought a bunch of these baby leeks at the farmer’s market and wanted to make something special with them rather than just chopping them into other things like I would normally. They are so much easier to peel and chop than normal onions and the flavour is mild and sweet. They also cook quicker. This is why they end up being ingredients in other dishes. I am intrinsically lazy and if I have leeks (or spring onions come to that) in the house the normal onions just sit there waiting.

Baby Leeks

Making a Tarte Tatin is not as scary as it sounds. You just have to be confident when you turn it out. And this one has none of the butter and sugar used to make the caramel that is usually abundant. I use honey and balsamic vinegar instead. You still get the nice sticky, sweet and caramelised effect that you need in a Tarte Tatin just fewer calories and less messing about. Yay.

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I used my olive oil spelt flour pastry (recipe here) for this tarte but you could use shop bought puff or shortcrust pastry if you like. I used about half of the pastry for this 8 inch tarte. Use the rest to make a quiche or empanadas.

You will need an ovenproof frying pan/skillet with a metal handle (plastic melts in the oven and gets messy). The amounts below are for my 8 inch/20 cm frying pan that serves 1 (or 2 at a push) with a nice salad. Whatever size you make you will need to fill the pan snugly with the leeks so adjust the amounts accordingly.

Caramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 1-2. Vegetarian

  • about 250 g baby leeks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried thyme
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup reduction (it comes in squeezy bottles)
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • finely grated manchego/parmesan
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)

Preheat the oven to 200 C. On a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to about 2 or 3 mm thick and cut out a circle about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Put in the fridge to rest.

Prepare the leeks by cutting off the dark green ends, cutting in half lengthwise and rinsing under the tap to remove any dirt hiding under the layers.

Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base, round side down with a snug/tight even row of leeks. You can trim the leeks to fit the pan You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey and balsamic vinegar syrup. Season well with thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs and a little grated cheese all over the top of the leeks and remove from the heat.

Cover the leeks with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the leeks. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Using oven gloves, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When ready to turn out, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any leeks that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple green salad.

sCaramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

The only thing to be scared of is picking up the hot pan without oven gloves. Don’t do it. It really hurts. But the tarte was worth it.

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Moroccan Spiced Squash and Feta Empanadas with Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Feb Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Squash & Feta Empanadas

Empanadas are little Spanish or Portuguese pasties depending who you speak to. Around here they are most commonly filled with a tuna, tomato and onion mixture. Legend has it that they were bought to Medieval Spain by the Moorish invaders. This is my way of interpreting that and bringing back some of the Moorish flavours.

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Here the pastry is traditionally made with Manteca which is a kind of pig fat or lard. Not really my cup of tea but tasty I’m sure.

I used the same spelt flour olive oil pastry that I used for this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche and this Italian Courgette & Basil Crostata .  It’s so good and much healthier and easier than using butter or lard. The Washer Up has, as you may have read in a previous post, become intolerant to wheat quite recently so will not be taking sandwiches to work as often as he did.

Spelt Squash & Feta Empanadas

Thankfully he has no reaction to spelt flour so these empanadas are the perfect replacement. You can change the filling to whatever you have or whatever is in season to keep it interesting but this is a lovely mix of sweet, spicy Moroccan flavours with some nice texture from the toasted pine nuts and juicy moscatel raisins. I cook them the day before and they are just as good at room temperature as they are hot. This makes them ideal for packed lunches or picnics.

Makling Empanadas

Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas Recipe

For the pastry:

Makes about 8 empanadas depending on the size. Vegan, Wheat-free

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • up to 120 ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and use a fork to mash it into the flour so it is evenly distributed.

Slowly add the water bit by bit (you may not need it all) and use the fork to combine it with the flour. When it starts coming together use your hands to bring it together into a ball and knead gently for a few seconds only. If it is too dry add a bit of water, too wet add a bit of flour. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling:

Makes a lot of filling. Vegetarian

  • 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin unpeeled, cut into chunky wedges
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander

Preheat the oven to 200C and put the squash wedges on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle over the ground spices. Toss the wedges in the oil & spices and roast until the squash is very tender. This could take 25 -50 minutes depending on the size of you squash pieces.

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • the zest of half an orange and the juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
  • a handful of Moscatel raisins or sultanas
  • a handful of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan until browned)
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • about 100 g Greek feta
  • olive oil

Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in some olive oil over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. add in the turmeric, orange zest, orange juice, raisins and pine nuts and cook the liquid out.

Scrape the squash flesh out of its skin (or peel off the skin) and mash it into the pan with the onions etc. Cook this together until there is very little moisture, add the chopped fresh coriander.

Leave to cool then stir through the crumbled feta until evenly combined. Taste and season with salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble:

Roll the pastry out with a floured rolling-pin on a floured surface, turning it quarters turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a thickness of about 2-3 mm. I used a saucer to cut out most circles but I also used cutters to make smaller ones too. You will need to reroll the off cuts a few times to get the most circles out of the pastry.

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray. Take a good heaped tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the bottom half of one of the pastry circles leaving about a centimetre border clear. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges together with your fingers. Then use a fork to seal it again. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the rest of the circles. You may have some filling leftover, I did.

Make a few little slits in the top of each then brush the tops all over with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes depending on the size.

Spelt Squash Empanadas

Serve warm or at room temperature. The original Cornish pasties were apparently taken hot out of the oven and put into coat pockets to keep the hands warm on the chilly walk to work or school. Sounds like some people could probably do with that at the moment in some areas. It’s not that bad here and he has heating in the car….

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Have a lovely weekend!

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Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup with Star Anise

4 Feb Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I am a bit of a soup freak at the moment. They are quick, easy, cheap and good for you. Lunch doesn’t have to mean a sandwich especially if you are a bit of a delicate flower like The Washer Up. Bread is not his friend, it gives him all sorts of grief that I won’t go into here but his system can’t cope with it anymore so his lunches for work have been a bit challenging recently.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

We had a big bunch of carrots in the fridge and I had never made a carrot soup before so I began to think about flavour combinations. Carrot & coriander was too obvious although I couldn’t resist a little on the top for garnish.

Carrot Orange & Ginger Soup

Ginger has a wide range of health benefits including proven anti inflammatory effects that help alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal distress or indigestion. This is one of The Washer Up’s main complaints after eating bread (or anything at the moment) so ginger was definitely going into this soup. Not that I can’t bear to listen to the winging anymore you understand. I am just not that patient.

Did I really say “Just eat this and shut up!”?

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

Carrot, Ginger & Orange Soup with Star Anise Recipe

Serves 2-3, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • coriander stalks, finely chopped (optional) save some leaves for garnish
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 Tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • about 400 g carrots, washed & grated (not peeled)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey/sugar/agave syrup
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • half an orange
  • goat’s yoghurt/sour cream/crème fraiche to serve (optional)

Sweat the onions, celery, coriander stalks, ginger and star anise in the oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt for 7-10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the grated carrots, honey and stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.

Pick out the star anise before blending carefully until smooth. Add a big squeeze of the orange juice and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust salt, honey, orange juice as required. Add more stock if it is too thick for you.

To serve: bring back up to heat and serve in warmed bowls topped with some coriander leaves and a swirl of crème fraiche if using.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I have some more lunch ideas that don’t involve bread coming up soon. Including some Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas that he is very happy with.

Buen Provecho!

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Sweet Potato and Feta Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

31 Oct Sweet Potato Cigars Filling

 Just because it’s Halloween I am purposefully not posting a pumpkin recipe. I’m not of fan of Halloween and this is my pathetic attempt at rebellion.

This year I actually purchased hideous Halloween sweets from Mercadona for the lovely children next door who knocked incessantly on my front door last year.  I studiously ignored them because I didn’t have any sugary, chemically, teeth-rotting unhealthy products to give them. They repayed my kindness by chucking eggs at our front door, so The Washer Up went mad and chucked them back at the neighbours front door. So this year I bought sweets. I hope they’re happy.

So anyway, this is  my kind of treat, filo pastry cigars filled with roasted sweet potato, feta cheese, spring onion, fresh coriander, parsley and red chilli. Unsurprisingly Middle Eastern in origin and unashamedly Ottolenghi of course, who else? He has a new TV programme starting in November on More4, needless to say we are very excited.

The tahini yoghurt sauce is one of my favourite things, it is totally delicious. You can serve it just as a dip with flatbreads or raw veggies, or I have served it with these Cauliflower Fritters, these Baked Falafel Cakes and these Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut) Cigars too.

Sweet Potato & Feta Cigars Recipe

Makes 6 cigars, serves 3-4, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi for The Guardian

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 400 g), scrubbed clean
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 75 g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (defrosted if frozen)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a knife and place directly on a rack in the oven. Roast for 45-50 minutes until soft and cooked all the way through. Cut in half lengthways and leave until cool enough to handle.

Scrape out all of the sweet potato flesh into a bowl and mix with feta, spring onions, herbs, chilli, salt & pepper mashing with a fork. Taste for seasoning and leave to cool completely.

When ready, preheat the oven to 200C, line a baking tray with parchment and brush with a little oil. Unroll the filo pastry sheets and cover them with a clean tea towel to stop them drying out. Remove two sheets together and place them on top of each other on your work surface with the short end facing you, so you have a double layer sheet. Cover the rest back up with the tea towel.

Cut the two sheets in half lengthways this will make two cigars. On the left hand double layer strip, put a few heaped tablespoons of the filling in a sausage shape about 2 inches from the end of the pastry nearest you, leaving a centimetre free at each side end. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and start to roll up your cigar around the filling, fold in the two side ends at about half way through and brush with a little more oil every now and then while you finish rolling up the cigar. Brush the top with some oil and place on the lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling, you should get six cigars. You can refreeze (or refrigerate) the unused pastry.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the tops of the cigars and bake for 25 -30 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

Tahini Yoghurt Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped Tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • cumin or sumac to serve

Mix all the ingredients together well making sure the tahini is mixed in and taste. Adjust lemon, salt or tahini to suit. Serve in bowl sprinkled with a little cumin or sumac and a few fresh herb leaves.

These are the perfect sweet treat for an evening huddled on the sofa with all the lights turned off pretending you’re not in…

Happy Halloween!!

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!!

Yellow Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin with Fresh Herbs

29 Aug sm-91

I bought some of these little organic yellow tomatoes at the market and have been saving them to star in something rather than just adding them anonymously into salads. Their beauty deserves a leading role.

A tarte tatin is one of those recipes, like souffle, that strikes fear into the hearts of many. This however, is really easy. There I’ve said it. I’m just waiting for the backlash now.

I used my simple spelt flour olive oil pastry recipe to keep it vegan and because it’s so much quicker than using butter and letting the pastry rest. I used honey and a sherry vinegar syrup drizzle to add sweetness but you could use agave syrup (to stay vegan) and balsamic syrup would be lovely too.

Sprinkling the tomatoes with a handful of breadcrumbs before covering them with pastry soaks up a lot of  the juice that leaks out of the tomatoes while cooking and helps to hold them together with the honey.

Turning it out is the scary part but be careful and confident, or get The Washer Up to do it because you burnt yourself on the handle of the frying pan. You will need an ovenproof frying pan obviously, no plastic handles please that would be messy.

You could also use a shop-bought puff pastry for this recipe to save time. The recipe for the olive oil pastry is here. I used about half of that amount for an 8″ tarte. The amount of tomatoes will depend on the size of your frying pan. You need to cover the base snugly so they can’t move about.

Yellow Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 2, vegan/vegetarian, wheat-free. I used an 8 “/20 cm ovenproof frying pan/skillet

  • about 250 g yellow (or a mix) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey/agave syrup
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried oregano
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)
  • fresh basil, thyme or oregano leaves to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base with a snug even layer of cherry tomatoes. You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey/agave syrup and balsamic/sherry vinegar syrup. Season well with oregano, salt & pepper and leave to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Meanwhile on a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to a rough circle about 2 or 3 mm thick and about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs all over the top of the tomatoes and remove from the heat. Cover the tomatoes with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the tomatoes. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes (preferably longer). When ready to turn out, tip away any excess liquid (I didn’t have any) and run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any tomatoes that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve at room temperature scattered with the fresh herbs. Slice and eat with a green salad or offer around thinner slices as a canape before dinner.

Bon Appetit!

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

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!!

Savoury Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Basil, Goat’s Cheese and Courgette Blossom

7 Jul Individual Cherry Tomato Clafoutis

I have been wanting to make a clafoutis for a while now. The traditionally sweet French dessert is made with fruit, usually cherries, cooked in a batter made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar and flour. Cherries are in season here now and are very cheap but it is impossible to find a cherry pitter/pipper/stoner or whatever it’s called, in this town. Apparently you can make it with the stones left in the cherries but I live with the most accident prone man in Andalucia and can’t be doing with the Heimlich manoeuver in this heat.

Thankfully our cherry tomato plant has just decided to produce a large amount of ripe fruit at the same time that the basil plants (purple and green) are growing like weeds. I say thankfully because I found a recipe for a savoury clafoutis in  The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo that my friend Rhian bought me for my birthday. There are lots of lovely things in the book but the savoury clafoutis was top of my list of things to try especially with our little baby tomatoes.

I saw these courgette blossoms still with the little courgettes attached at the market and bought a load of them. I used some as a topping with some portobello mushrooms on a pizza but still had a few left so I sliced the mini courgettes into the clafoutis filling and topped them with a flower.

I made two individual clafoutis in mini loaf tins with this recipe but you can double it and make a big one in a baking dish or tin that should serve 4-6 as part of a lunch or picnic. Or use little ramekins.

You could change the cheese to a Manchego, Cheddar or Gruyère, switch up the herbs and use leftover roasted vegetables as an alternative filling. I served it with this French Potato Salad.

Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Goat’s Cheese, Basil & Courgette Blossom

Serves 2-3 (easily doubled), Vegetarian. Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15-20 mins (small) 30-40 mins (large)

  • 50g goat’s cheese/feta
  • 50g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 or 3 courgette blossoms (stamens removed) baby courgettes finely sliced (optional)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & black pepper
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 50g goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • 50 ml milk (I used oat milk)

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly oil and flour your dishes. Scatter the tomatoes, crumbled/torn goat’s cheese and sliced baby courgettes, if using, evenly over the base(s).

Whisk the eggs well with the salt & pepper then gently fold in the ground almonds and flour until just combined. Stir in the yoghurt, milk and fresh herbs.

Pour the batter over the filling and top each one with a courgette flower. Bake until golden brown and set. 15-20 minutes for small, 30 -40 minutes for larger. Tip them out of the moulds or serve from the large dish, warm or at room temperature.

Things That Made Me Smile Today………

Our new lavender plant, a beautiful magenta colour.

Huge, bright and blousy squash and pumpkin flowers, the first sign that autumn will arrive and along with it relief from the unbearable heat.

Enjoy your weekend..

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