Tag Archives: perfect

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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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…

Tunisian Spiced Aubergine with a Soft Poached Egg

9 Nov Poached Egg & Tunisian Aubergine

This is another 0ne of those aubergine dishes that you have to try even if you think you don’t like aubergine. We are coming to the end of the season here now so it maybe your last chance to change your life. Or your eating habits anyway..

This is dish from Delia Smith (we love Delia) and she got it from an Elizabeth David recipe. It is supposed to be served at room temperature, drizzled with olive oil and served with some warmed pita breads on the side, a blob of greek yoghurt and fresh herbs on the top. Continue reading

Turk(ish) Pizza with roasted squash, shallots, chilli, garlic and feta

16 Mar

 It has taken me a long time to find the perfect pizza dough especially because I want a wholemeal version. Most of my attempts up untill now have turned out like pastry rather than pizza.

By perfect I mean, thin, crispy and bubbling at the edges. To find my perfect pizza I did a lot of research and this is a hybrid of three different recipes I found. The lovely dough is from here and it is made with beer. It caught my eye because of the beer and thinking about it, it makes sense. If you want a bubbly crust add bubbles, it works with tempura and beer batter so why not with pizza.

The thing I have learned about getting a crispy base is don’t overload your pizza with toppings (especially tomatoes) as they make the base soggy. My favourite Italian restaurant, La Pergola in Fuengirola, have a dish called base de pizza which is not really a pizza at all. It is a pizza base with  roasted garlic and parmesan which they serve with the homemade chilli oil to drizzle over, it is so good. It is actually a starter, like garlic bread but we order it every time we go as a main dish because we can’t bear to not have it. We share that and a bowl of their homemade pasta, normally the parpardella al funghi. I’ve never tried their pizzas, which I’m sure are amazing too, because every time I go I have to have the base de pizza.

So for my perfect pizza topping I found a recipe for Roasted Onion & Garlic Parmesan Pizza which looked ideal. But then I found a recipe for Turkish Pizza called Pide which was topped with spice roasted squash, feta and chilli that I couldn’t resist. So I put them both together added some fresh herbs for a bit of greenery and came up with this gorgeous pizza which I just had to share with you. The flavours are unusual for a pizza but, I think, all the better for it. You should try it, it’s delicious….

Turk(ish) Pizza with Roasted Squash, Onion, Garlic, Chilli & Feta

makes 4 individual pizzas, vegetarian

For the dough: Adapted from The Red Spoon

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast 7 gr
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 55 ml warm (not hot) water
  • 150 gr white bread flour
  • 300 gr wholemeal bread flour
  • 165 ml or more of warm beer
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together the yeast, honey and warm water in a large bowl and leave for at least 10 minutes until foamy. When foamy add in the flours, beer, olive oil and salt and stir to combine. You may need to add a splash more beer to make it come together.

Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 & 1/2 – 2 hours.

Cut the dough into quarters and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.

For the topping: Adapted from Delicieux & The Best I Ever had

  • 5oo gr butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp baharat seasoning & 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 3 0r 4 large shallots, cut in half & peeled
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, chop the top off
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • about 75 gr finely grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese
  • 200 gr Greek Feta
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven 2oo C.  On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, put the squash on one half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, the Baharat seasoning & cinnamon. Toss everything together with your hands and spread out in one layer. On the other half of the baking sheet, put the shallots & garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, toss to coat and put the shallots cut side down and the garlic bulb cut side up. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes until everything is browned and the squash is tender. Leave to cool slightly then slice up the shallots and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their paper cases.

Now back to the dough. Preheat/turn up the oven to 220C and heat up 1 or 2 large baking sheets. (You can probably only cook one or two pizzas at a time). Roll out one piece of dough, on a floured surface as thinly as possible, brush all over with olive oil and place on a piece of floured baking parchment. Scatter over a quarter of the onions, smush on a quarter of the garlic, sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan, a quarter of the oregano, a quarter of the chopped chilli and tumble over a quarter of the squash.  Season with a little salt & pepper and crumble over a little of the feta. Repeat with the next piece of dough etc..

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until browned & bubbling.  Crumble over some more feta and sprinkle with the chopped coriander & parsley.

Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!!

    

The Best Veggie Burger & Fat Chips

27 Oct

 

Having been a vegetarian  for about 25 years (god that’s scary) I have tried my fair share of veggie burgers. Most of them are not great, either too dry & cardboardy or too wet and end up a pile of mush in the pan. This one we tried last night turned out perfectly in flavour and texture. Its made with mushrooms & chickpeas and the fat chips are the ultimate, courtesy of  The Washer Up’s secret recipe…

Mushroom & Chickpea Burgers

Makes 2 Vegetarian

  • about 250gr mushroom chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 chilli deseeded & chopped
  •  1/2 tsp paprika
  •  200gr cooked chickpeas rinsed & drained well
  • about 75 gr grated cheddar
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread toasted
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • polenta (cornmeal)

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat, add the onion and cook until tender & slightly golden. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, chilli, cumin & paprika and cook until the mushrooms are dry about 4 to 6 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Either put the toasted bread in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs or chop very finely by hand. Put the drained chickpeas & mushrooms in a processor and blend to a slightly chunky paste. Add the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, tahini and breadcrumbs and blend again, stir in the chopped coriander and season well with salt & pepper.

Sprinkle a handful of polenta over the mixture and bring it together with your hands. Shape it into two patties (adding more polenta if necessary). Shake some polenta onto a plate and place the burger on the plate and cover all sides with the polenta. Shape again and put in the fridge to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and brown the burgers on both sides then put in the oven for about 10 – 15 mins.

Perfect Fat Chips Recipe

  • 1 big potato per person
  • sunflower oil for deep frying
  • salt & vinegar

Square off one side of your potato with a sharp knife. Put this side down on the chopping board and square off the rest of the sides of the potato so you have a sort of rectangular cube. Use a peeler to get rid of any bits of peel. Carefully cut your potato in to 2 or 3 slices vertically(depending on the size of your potato). The slices should be about 2 cm wide. Now turn theses slices on their side and cut into 2cm chips. You should end up with about 6 or 9 chips per large potato.

Put the chips in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat down slightly and boil for 10 minutes exactly. Drain and leave to cool. Put them in the fridge to cool right down if you have time.

To cook the chips, heat about 250 ml sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok. When the oil is hot add the chips (they should sizzle quite a lot, try one chip first to check if the oil is hot enough). Fry for about 10 minutes, while you burger is in the oven, turning them occasionally with a metal slotted spoon. They should be slightly golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels then pile on the plate and sprinkle with sea salt & vinegar. These ultimate fat chips should be crispy on the outside and soft & fluffy in the centre, perfect……

This really is Saturday night food heaven for me, I served it with a basil pesto mayo to dunk the chips in, delicious…..

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