Tag Archives: spicy

Kimchi – Korean Chilli and Ginger Cabbage Pickle

25 Mar Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

I think Kimchi is probably one of those Love or Hate things, like Marmite. I’m definitely a lover not a hater of both. I can see why you would be put off I suppose. I mean it’s fermented cabbage for want of a better description. Kids will love it.

Chinese Cabbage & Korean Chiili Flakes

It’s my new favourite thing. If you have never heard of it, where have you been? It’s a spicy Korean cabbage pickle (or condiment really) that can be used to liven up a huge amount of dishes. There are recipes using it all over the internet for Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Pancakes among other things. It is a really versatile thing to have in your fridge for those “What are we having for lunch/dinner that only takes 15 minutes” moments.

Kimchi

This recipe is healthier than most as it uses an apple for sweetness rather than the evil sugar monster. We like that.

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi Recipe

Makes 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free.

Adapted from Dr Ben Kim & Centre Stage Wellness

  • 1 Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage) the long ones (about 500g)
  • 4 Tbsp sea salt
  • about 450 ml (2 cups) warm water
  • 4 Tbsp Korean red chilli flakes/kimchi chilli powder (buy from Asian stores)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions/scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2 onion

Discard any outer damaged leaves, separate off all the cabbage leaves, rinse and chop into bite-size pieces. Dissolve the sea salt in the bowl of warm water, pour it over the cabbage and mix it well. Leave it to sit for at least four hours.

Rinse the cabbage well to remove excess salt then put it in a large bowl. Mix the Korean chilli flakes with a few tablespoons of warm water to create a paste, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together well. Pour this onto the cabbage, stir through the spring onions and fish sauce if using.

Blend the cored apple with the 1/2 onion and about 200 ml (3/4 cup) water then add this to the cabbage as well. Mix everything together really well with a wooden spoon or with your hands (using gloves) to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Transfer the cabbage with a clean spoon into a large sterilised glass jar or bottle, pressing it down well each time as you stack it up. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl but leave about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar/bottle before sealing it up. Leave the  kimchi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

The kimchi is now ready to eat. Store it in the fridge and it will continue to ferment slowly over time. As long as you use a clean spoon every time you take some out, it should keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Korean KimchiAdd a big dollop of it to vegetable stir fries to add another level of flavour, or to this Soba Noodle Salad or this Mee Goreng. It’s great in Asian style soups with some miso.  I love it sautéed with some broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil which you can eat with noodles or add the whole lot to an omelette made with a bit of soy sauce or even some scrambled eggs. It is a fantastic thing to have around for food emergencies.

Have I convinced you yet?

imagesCAFT0O3W

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….

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach and Green Chilli Basil Oil

8 Oct Squash Gnocchi

It’s that time of year again. You know it’s definitely Autumn when you see piles of beautiful squashes at the market and I’m tripping over knobbly pumpkins growing out of the fences at the side of the road as I run past the fields with the dog in the morning.

This is the first of many squash and pumpkin recipes to come and I make no apology for that. Their sweet savoury substantial flesh is a welcome addition to any soup or stew and its versatility and ability to slip seamlessly into the cuisine of any country make it an easy choice for this greedy vegetarian,

Some of my personal favourite and most popular recipes feature  the mighty squash. These Butternut Squash & Chickpea Cakes spiced with Cape Malay flavours are easily my most viewed recipe. This Indian Spiced Smashed Pumpkin is comfort food at its best and this Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with chocolate ganache is heaven.

So after Africa and India we now set foot back in Europe with a classic Italian recipe served with a green and spiced up version of an Aglio Oglio sauce made with our homegrown green chillis which we are now harvesting for the second time this year.

So, I don’t know how many of you out there have ever made Pumpking Gnocchi before, but I have.  They were a complete disaster, dense, heavy and unappealing. You couldn’t eat more than two or three before feeling like your stomach was about to explode. I tried, obviously. Not a good idea.

That kind of put me off ever trying again but that was two years ago and my skills and knowledge have improved slightly since then. And The Washer Up wanted me to, so here I am.

The mistake I made last time, I now know from watching countless cookery programmes on TV, was adding too much flour to the mix. It’s easily done because you think the mixture is too wet and that it will fall apart in the water when you cook them. Trust me, go easy on the flour, you’ll thank me for it. And so will your stomach.

*Mine were probably slightly under floured this time as you can see from the raw shot above. They look like very soft gnocchi, but this made them so light and fluffy when they were cooked. You didn’t get that “Oh god I’ve eaten a duvet” feeling afterwards. A trick is to cook one first and try it. If it doesn’t hold, add a little more flour to the mix.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach & Green Chilli Basil Oil

Serves 2-3, vegetarian. Adapted from Cranks Recipe Book

  • 375 g peeled, cubed squash or pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a pinch chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the squash cubes on the tray, drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with the spices and season with salt & pepper. Toss with you hands so evenly coated and lay out in one layer on the tray. Bake for 15-25 minutes until soft, depending on the size of your cubes.

  • 50-75 g plain flour ( I used white spelt flour)
  • 30 g finely grated parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 1 small spring onion green parts, finely chopped
  •  a handful of basil leaves, finely shredded
  • salt & pepper

Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher then sieve over 50 g flour and mix well. Then add and mix together the parmesan, spring onion and basil and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Using floured hands, shape the mixture into small walnut sized ovalish balls, put on a floured, lined tray, then roll over with a floured fork to make the pattern and store in the fridge until ready to cook.

*See note above about adding a little more flour a bit at a time and doing a test run if unhappy with the consistency. But don’t add too much flour or your cooked gnocchi will be very heavy & dense.

For the sauce:

  • 4 or 5 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of spinach leaves, chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • a cup of the hot pasta water (from cooking the gnocchi)
  • shaved parmesan for garnish
  • pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Heat the oil in a  frying pan large enough to hold the gnocchi over a medium heat and add the sliced garlic and chilli. Cook slowly until the garlic is starting to brown (but don’t let it burn) then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in lots of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. They will float to the top when they are cooked.  Reserve a teacup full of the hot cooking water, put the garlic oil back on the heat and add about half of the cup of pasta water when hot.Reduce this slightly while the gnocchi cooks and add the chopped spinach and basil to create the sauce. Season with salt & black pepper.

When the gnocchi are cooked and you are ready to serve, heat them up in the same pan as the sauce for a minute or two (you can add the rest of the cup of pasta water if it needs it) and then serve garnished with the shaved parmesan & toasted pine nuts.

Buon Appetito!

Homemade Tomato Ketchup…. with a kick

4 Oct Homemade Tomato Ketchup

What do you do with a kilo of plum tomatoes that you bought because they were really cheap and gorgeous looking? Well, I decided to turn them into ketchup because I had never done it before and it felt right. In a preparing for the winter months ahead type way.

I am really pleased with the consistency of it. It actually looks and tastes a lot like real ketchup, with  quite a bit of heat. I added some of our homegrown Scotch Bonnet chillis to the tomatoes instead of  the pinch of cayenne that the original recipe called for. It’s fiery but fruity at the same time.

And there’s no nasty chemicals or weird stuff, excellent!

Homemade Spicy Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Makes 1 bottle. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Chowhound

  • 1 kilo ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds & membrane removed then chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 75 ml sherry vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1/4 tsp caraway or celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small scotch bonnet chillis (optional) deseeded if you like
  • 3 tbsp molasses (miel de cana)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the tomatoes, red pepper and chillis in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Push this through a sieve into a large saucepan with a spatula until you are just left with dry skins and seeds in the sieve. Discard this.

Puree the onion and add that to the pan with the pureed tomatoes. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat until it is reduced by about a third and is considerably thicker.

Meanwhile put garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds and vinegar into a small saucepan and simmer gently, covered for about 1o-15 mins. Then pour about half the spiced vinegar through a sieve or tea strainer into the thickened tomato mixture. Add the molasses/miel de cana, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir to combine everything well.

Taste at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to suit you. Maybe it needs more of the spiced vinegar or more molasses or salt. Cook it some more, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it is thickened and looks like ketchup. Don’t worry if it looks a bit separated you are now going to blend it carefully with a stick blender in the pan (or in a food processor) and that smooths it out nicely.

Pour into a jug and then pour into a sterilised jar or bottle, seal with an airtight lid and leave to cool. When cool, store in the fridge.

Serve it with chips, beanburgers, anything really you don’t need me to tell what to serve your ketchup with. My particular favourite is with poached eggs and spinach on toast.

As this is quite a short post it seems like quite a good time to tell you about some exciting news. I am going to holding two cookery workshops at the Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena. The first one on Saturday 20th October is a Vegetarian Middle Eastern Mezze Workshop where we will be making, Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Maast-o Khiar, Fattoush, Spanakopita & Sambouseks. The workshop is from 10am – 2pm and we all get to eat everything we have made for lunch together afterwards.

The second one is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November from 5pm -9pm. We will be using spelt flour and olive oil to make pastry for tarts, galettes and quiches as well as making sweet and savoury spelt flour muffins and a flaxseed spelt raisin and date breakfast loaf. We will of course be tasting them all afterwards just to make sure they are good obviously!

For more information and to reserve your place you can either contact me directly or reserve through the Pepe Kitchen website.

Pretty Pickled Peppers Recipe

5 Sep Pickled Peppers

As in “Peter Piper picked a peck of…..”. A peck is a lot by the way, about 8 pints worth. I didn’t buy that many, I resisted from buying the whole crate of organic Pimientos Picante that were shining up at me from the floor of one of the stalls at the market on Sunday.

I bought quite few though, enough to think “What the hell..?” when I got home and realised that I already have a freezer full of our own homegrown red and green chillis and a scotch bonnet bush that is producing more than we can cope with at the moment.

I’m a sucker for them though, it didn’t even cross my mind, as I stuffed a few greedy handfuls into a bag, paid and left with a smile on my face and thoughts of pretty jars of pickled peppers on imaginary wooden shelves in a pantry that only exists in my dreams rushing through my brain. What can I say, it’s an addiction.

Pretty Pickled Peppers Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from David Lebowitz

  • about 350 g chilli peppers (mixed red & green)
  • 350 ml vinegar ( I used a mix of apple, sherry, rice and white wine vinegars)
  • 350 ml water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp course salt Himalayan or kosher
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Pierce the peppers all over a few times with the tip of a knife and pack them into a sterilised jar. Put the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the entire contents of the pan into the jar with the peppers until they are all covered with the pickling liquid, seal with a lid and leave to cool. When cooled store in the fridge. You are supposed to leave them for at least a week but we couldn’t wait that long.

Apparently they get better the longer you leave them but we served them to our friends the next day and they were really good. Jeanne is now known as The Chilli Queen.

Enjoy!

Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce

31 Aug Sweet Potato Cakes & Callaloo Sauce

I was looking for recipes containing scotch bonnet chilli peppers because our plant is producing more chillis than we can cope with at the moment. Apart from making more of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce, I am trying to find ways of including them in every meal.

I found a Trinidadian recipe for crab cakes that were coated in grated sweet potato and served with a Callaloo sauce. Callaloo is a popular Caribbean stew or soup of West African origin made with leafy greens called Callaloo or Taro that are similar to kale and spinach. There are many different versions but in Trinidad they use coconut milk, okra and peppers as well as the greens. In Jamaica they use tomatoes and spring onions. The African-American dish Collard Greens is also a version of Callaloo.

In this recipe the callaloo is blended to make a smooth sauce to serve with the cakes. I omitted the crab (obviously) and used roasted and mashed sweet potato as the base for the cakes mixed with Caribbean herbs and spices and our lovely scotch bonnets for heat.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Cakes with Callaloo Sauce

Serves 2-3. Vegan, Gluten-free.

For the cakes:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes (550gr)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • whole bulb of fresh garlic (outer leaves peeled off but still held together)
  • 1 or 2 scotch bonnets chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 3 spring onions/scallions, chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • the zest of 1/2 a lime
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 200C. On a lined baking tray, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, allspice, cumin, dried thyme, chilli flakes salt & pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until soft. Roast the head of garlic at the same time.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl with half of the roasted garlic cloves that have been squeezed out of their skins. Cook the spring onions and scotch bonnets with a pinch of salt,  in a little oil for a few minutes until softened. Stir this into the potatoes with the chopped coriander and lime zest. Check for seasoning, add more salt or lime zest if necessary. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge while you make the sauce.

For the Callaloo Sauce:

  • 1 tin coconut milk, 400 ml
  • 100-150 g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • the rest of the roasted garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli (whole)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, whole
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus extra for garnish

Put everything except lime juice & coriander in a med-large saucepan, season with salt & pepper and bring to the boil stirring to wilt the spinach. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-25  minutes, then remove the whole scotch bonnet (don’t throw it away) and thyme sprigs.

Carefully blend with a stick blender (cover with a towel) or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, if it is not hot enough cut the flesh from the scotch bonnet and add that to the sauce and blend again. Add the lime juice and chopped coriander and taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and keep warm while you cook the cakes.

Shape the sweet potato mix into 6 patties or smaller ones for canapes if you like. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium high heat. when the oil is hot add the cakes to the pan and cook for a about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Pour enough sauce into your dishes to cover the base and top with 2 or 3 cakes. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander and serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

We served this with a side of Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn to carry on with the theme.

I am writing this listening to helicopters and light aircraft flying low over our house. Last night a friend, Andrew rang me at about to say that he could see lots of smoke coming from the mountains where we live. He was staying in his house across the valley at the time. I walked upstairs and opened the door onto the outside terrace and was greeted by huge plumes of orange smoke coming from the mountains in at the edge of our town. The view from the roof terrace was even worse and confirmed our fears.

The Barranco Blanco valley was on fire.

Totally unbelievable and shocking photographs started to appear on social networking sites as we heard about thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

The fire was spreading rapidly, helped by the wind conditions, down the valley towards the coast. Friends of our were extremely worried about a dog rescue centre that was in great danger. Many people came to help and all 300 dogs were helped to safety along the riverbed towards Fuengirola before the fire reached them.

Our thoughts are with the families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed and we hope beyond all hope that this tragedy was not premeditated.

The area affected is one of the areas where we walk with dog. This morning we went out with heavy hearts to see if some of our favourite beauty spots were still there. Thankfully our favourite hill where we love to sit and look down to the coast has only been blackened on one side. The other side is as yet untouched, the firebreaks actually worked.

The whole valley is devastated, all the wildlife and plants destroyed. This is how it looked before.

Looking through all the photos of how it looked before is really upsetting. Rufus on top of the world….

Stay Safe Everyone

Sweet, Spicy Watermelon Pickle

11 Jul Pickled Watermelon Rinds

This is what I made with the watermelon rinds I had leftover from making the Watermelon Agua Fresca in my last post.

It’s a sweet spicy pickle perfect to serve as a relish on burgers, at barbeques or as part of a picnic lunch. It’s great with mature sharp cheeses like goat’s cheese, Manchego, Cheddar or Feta or with salty cured hams like Serrano and Parma, you could even serve it with a whole roast ham or gammon steak. It would also be a very welcome addition to any Indian meal.

It’s really simple to make but you do it over three days. Don’t let that put you off, you’re not working on it for three whole days or anything silly. You leave it covered in its syrup overnight in the fridge then take it out in the morning, drain it into a saucepan, bring the syrup to a boil and then pour it back over the watermelon. Then put it back in the fridge until the next morning and repeat the process once more.

The original recipe didn’t have any chilli in it but my chilli pepper plant has just started to produce some little green babies so I added a few whole ones to the pot with the whole spices. You’ve got to have a little heat in a pickle or what’s the point?

Watermelon Pickle Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2kg (4 pound) watermelon, quartered & sliced into 1 inch thick wedges/triangles
  • 1.75 litres (8 cups) water
  • 2 tbsp sea salt plus 2 tsp
  • 450 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 275 ml (1+1/4 cups) apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 3 whole green (or red) chillies

Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind leaving a thin layer of pink on the rind. Use the flesh to make agua fresca or watermelon feta & mint salad.  Cut off the dark green part of the rind and discard it. Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.

Bring the water and 2 tbsp salt to a boil in a large saucepan then add the rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer them to a metal bowl with the whole chillies.

Add the 2 tsp salt, sugar and the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Pour this over the watermelon rinds and chillies in the bowl then place a plate on top to keep the rinds under the syrup. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day strain the syrup from the rinds into a saucepan, bring the syrup to the boil and pour it back over the rinds in the bowl. Cover with the plate again and the cling film and leave again overnight.

Repeat straining, boiling and pouring over rinds one more time and leave again, covered in fridge overnight. Then spoon the rinds and spices into a sterilised jar, pour over the syrup so it covers the top of the rinds and seal. Store in the fridge.

I really enjoyed making something so delicious out of something that would normally just get thrown away. Means more money to spend on shoes…..!

Warm Roasted Red Onion Salad with Spicy Walnut Pickle Dressing

14 Jun Red Onion & Walnut Salad

As most of you will already know, I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. Obsessed would be an appropriate word for it. His Mediterrasian recipes (a mix of Middle Eastern & Mediterranean) combine all of my favourite ingredients and flavours in a way that is impossible to resist. This is one of said recipes. It came up on my Twitter feed from The Guardian food section a few Sundays ago and I knew that I wanted to make it straight away.

Don’t you love it when that happens? You are pondering what to make for lunch with the (sometimes) minimal contents of your fridge. You stumble across a recipe that you are desperate to make and you actually have all the ingredients in the house. Food Serendipity I like to call it, and it makes me smile.

Warm Roasted Red Onion Salad with Spicy Walnut Pickle Dressing

Serves 2, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi at The Guardian

  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  •  rocket/watercress or mixed leaves
  • a handful of coriander/parsley leaves
  • some crumbled Greek feta or goat’s cheese (optional)

For the Walnut Pickle Dressing:

  • 30g walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 0r 1 red chilli (depending how hot) deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Peel the onions and cut off the tops and bottoms. Cut each onion widthways into two or three slices about 2cm thick (see pic. above) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes, until cooked and golden-brown on top. If they haven’t browned much you can pop them under the grill for a few minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

While the onions are cooking, put all the ingredients for the walnut pickle in a small bowl, season with salt & black pepper, stir and set aside. It gets better the longer you leave it.

To serve, put the salad leaves and most of the coriander/parsley in bowl, tip over about half of the walnut pickle and toss to coat evenly. Divide this between your serving plates, arrange the onion slices on top, tip over some more walnut pickle, crumble over the feta and finish with some more coriander/parsley leaves.

This spicy, robust salad is perfect as a lunch dish on its own but would also be a fantastic accompaniment to a spring/summer Sunday roast (especially beef), if you can’t be bothered with all those potatoes and vegetables. It’s a lighter and easier option for this time of year and is equally good served warm or  at room temperature. The onions could even be done on the barbecue and served as a side dish alfresco if the weather is being kind to you…..

Back By Popular Demand…..

Things That Made Me Smile Today 

Rufus enjoying our favourite hill walk, a treat for all his fans out there epsecially you Greg.

While we enjoyed the wild flowers too…..

Have a great weekend!

Cape Malay Sweet Potato Samosas, Spiced Apple Chutney, Curried Mayonnaise

14 Mar Sweet Potato Samosas

This recipe is inspired by a meal we had at Apprentice in Stellenbosch. Apprentice is a restaurant owned by the Institute of Culinary Arts. All the staff, kitchen and front of house, are students from the institute serving a six month placement.

The Head Chef Hylton is a former graduate from the institute and he trains and watches over the trainees. Two of the chefs in the Top Ten restaurants of South Africa are graduates of this scheme including the winner of the award for best chef 2011/2012 Peter Tempelhoff.

We went for lunch and ordered the Tapas plate, the Greek Salad and the Roasted Vegetable Wrap. Every dish was full of flavour and well executed. Hylton was very keen to inform us that the evening menu is far more “fine dining” so he bought us an example of that menu. The Beetroot Tart came with a dukkah spiced goat’s cheese and honeycomb crumble. Really lovely. The lunch menu is more casual but no less enjoyable. They also open in the morning with a very popular breakfast menu.

Part of the tapas plate was a delicious sweet potato samosa that I was very keen to recreate at home. They make their own Cape Malay curry powder which makes a real difference to the flavour. I managed to get the recipe for both the samosas and the curry powder so now I have always got some to add to any vegetable curry or chutney that I make. I recommend that you have a go at it too.

I used a double layer of filo pastry cut into 9/10 cm strips (above) to make these. You could also use spring roll wrappers, see my tutorial here. I brushed them with olive oil and baked them rather than deep-frying but it’s up to you. The apple chutney is sweet and sticky like a spicy jam and I also made a curry mayonnaise (the yellow stripe) to go with it, made with the Cape Malay curry powder.

Sweet Potato Samosas with Apple Chutney & Curry Mayonnaise

Makes 12-15 depending size, vegetarian. Adapted from The Apprentice recipe

For the Cape Malay Curry Powder:

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 18 curry leaves (optional)

Roast the whole spices in a dry pan for a minute until fragrant. Grind to a fine powder then add the powdered spices and curry leaves if using. Store in an airtight container.

For the samosas:

Prep time: 45 mins Cooking Time: 15 mins

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 350 gr), peeled & cut into 1/2-1 cm cubes
  • 1 tsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cardamom pod, bashed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 pack filo pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 1 egg & a splash milk, beaten, to stick samosas
  • olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all of the ingredients apart from the fresh coriander together and spread out in one layer on the baking tray. Bake until soft about 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool. Remove bay leaf, cardamom pod and taste. Stir through the fresh coriander. Mash slightly to create a chunky mass.

Unroll the filo, remove two layers and cover the rest with a tea towel to stop it drying out. Cut the double layer into 9 or 10 cm strips.

Take a heaped teaspoon of the sweet potato mix and lay it in a triangle shape at the bottom of the strip on the right hand side. See the pictures above. Brush the edges with the egg wash then fold the left hand side of the pastry over the filling to create the triangle.

Brush around the edges with egg wash again and fold the whole triangle up along the long edge. Brush with egg wash again and fold the triangle over to the left. Keep folding until you have reached the top and run out of pastry.

Put the folded samosa on a lined baking tray, brush the top with olive oil and continue to make samosas until you run out of filling.

Bake at 200 C for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.

For the Spiced Apple Chutney:

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

  • 1 large apple, (200 gr) peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 25 gr sultanas/raisins
  • 1/2 orange, zested & juiced
  • 50 gr brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1 tsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 50 ml cider vinegar

Add all the ingredients except the apples to a large frying pan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the onions are tender. Add in the apples and cook for another 20 minutes or the apples are soft and the mix has reduced and thickened and is sticky.

Blend it with a stick blender until jammy but still a bit chunky.

For the Curried Mayonnaise:

  • 2 tbsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise

In a bowl, mix together the curry powder and olive oil to a paste. Add the mayonnaise and mix vigorously until combined. If it splits add more mayo. Season with a pinch of salt & taste.

Serve the hot samosas with the apple chutney, some curry mayo and sprinkle with some more fresh coriander.

At the Institute of Culinary Arts they cultivate chefs who breathe inspiration and innovation into the culinary world. The hospitality industry is experiencing record growth and South Africa is leading the way. Food is being taken a lot more seriously and there is also a growing public interest in quality ingredients and local flavours and cuisines. The concept of giving young chefs the opportunity to learn and grow in a business enviromment is obviously a very succesful one. For more information visit their website here.

Asian Mushrooms and Pak Choy in a Crispy Noodle Basket with a Poached Egg

6 Mar egg top closeup

This recipe was inspired by a dish we had at Kitima in Hout Bay. Kitima was given the award for the best Asian restaurant in the South African Eat Out Awards this year. I can see why.

Behind its traditional Cape Dutch facade hides a series of beautiful lounges, secluded private dining rooms, bars and terraces. All opulently decorated with gold and brocade. It has that real “East Meets West” feel that many fail to acheive.

The large menu and extensive wine list is accompanied by knowledgeable staff and excellent service. The food is more reasonably priced than you would expect from this level of service and surroundings.

We ordered the Veggie Gau, steamed rice paper dumplings filled with carrot,water chestnut, pickled Chinese radish, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots. They came with a dipping sauce and some lovely crispy fried garlic to sprinkle over the soft dumplings.

And some Vegetable California, “Inside out” sushi rice rolls filled with cucumber, carrot, pickled radish, avocado & Japanese mayonnaise. They came with the usual wasabi, soy and sushi ginger.

We also ordred a Thai Green Vegetable Curry, Pad Thai Noodles and my favourite dish of the night, Kitima’s Mushroom Basket. This had fresh mushrooms wok-fried with cashew nuts, onion, carrots and water chestnut nestled in a crispy potato basket. Everything was full of flavour and authenticly spiced. By which I mean it was hot. Which is a good thing.

So, you will have probably noticed from the title (and the pictures) that I did not make a crispy potato basket. Well, I tried! They very kindly let me have the recipe and I gave it a go unfortunately without success. My excuse is that you need an industrial sized fryer (and an experienced chef) to make it work.

You finely julienne the potatoes, toss them in corn flour and line them on the inside of a stainless steel bowl. Then you submerge the bowl in the hot oil using a metal ladle to hold the bowl under and keep the basket shape. I didn’t have a metal bowl small enough to be able to submerge it in the oil (I used a wok as a fryer) so The Washer Up suggested that I line the potatoes in a sieve so that the oil could get in and cook them. Genius, I thought, it cooked the potatoes and held the shape.

But then I couldn’t get it out of the sieve, it was stuck! Fail number one…

Fail number two involved lining the potato matchsticks around the inside of my stainless steel hand juicer bowl. It was small enough, I thought to submerge it in the oil in the wok. But no still no go. So then he suggested that I should put the oil in a smaller pan so that the oil would be deeper. You see this is why we are together, I would never have thought of that. My mind doesn’t work like that.

It worked, the potatoes fried and it (kind of) held its shape. The problem came when we tried to turn it out of the bowl. They all fell out in a pile and they were soggy, not crispy at all.

By this time I was totally losing the will to live and starving hungry. Not a good combination.

The Washer Up to the rescue again, looks at the left over cooked soba noodles from last nights dinner and chucks them in the hot oil. They bubble and splutter a bit but they stick together and cook. Lifting the whole lacey noodle disc onto some kitchen paper to drain he moulds it, while still warm, into a basket shape. Success at last. We have a crispy basket. And soba noodles are so much better for you than potatoes anyway. Even if they are deep-fried.

I adjusted the mushroom recipe slightly too by adding some dried chinese mushrooms and using pak choy instead of water chestnuts because I didn’t have any. The poached egg and watercress were inspired by the gorgeous breakfast we had at Ile de Pain in Knysna. So this is really a hybrid of two of the best dishes we ate while away. It makes the perfect brunch or lunch dish and you don’t have to worry about the potato basket because I’ve already been there…

Asian Mushrooms & Pak Choy in Crispy Noodle Basket with a Poached Egg (optional)

Serves 2, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from the Kitima recipe 

Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 10 mins

  • 50 gr dried soba noodles, cooked according to packet instrustions, drained, rinsed under cold water
  • oil for deep frying
  • 200 gr mushrooms, wiped & finely sliced
  • 25 gr dried chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 mins or more (reserve the soaking liquid)
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 large spanish spring onion (or 4 scallions) green & white parts
  • 2 heads of pak choy, rinsed, leaves whole, white parts chopped
  • 50 gr cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp chilli bean paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • white pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander, stalks & leaves chopped seperately
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • raw carrot & red pepper julienne to garnish (optional)
  • watercress
  • 2 eggs (optional)

Remove the dried mushrooms from their soaking liquid (keep the mushroomy stock for later) and slice.

Heat the oil to about 180 C. Take a handful of the cooked, drained noodles (they should be dry) and drop them carefully into the hot oil. It will bubble up. After a minute or so, using a metal slotted spoon, check that the noodles are crispy and browned. Remove with the slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper and, while still warm, gently mould into a basket shape. Repeat to make a second basket. Set aside.

Heat a tbsp oil in a frying pan or wok over a medium high heat. Add in the garlic, ginger, coriander stalks & chilli paste and cook fro about a minute. Then add the carrots and the white parts of the spring onions. Stri fry for 30 seconds then add both types of  mushrooms, the white parts of the pak choy and the cashew nuts (save some for topping).

Stir fry until barely cooked then add a splash of the mushroom soaking liquid. Season with the soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, rice wine & rice vinegar. Throw in the green parts of the spring onions, pak choy leaves, most of the coriander and cook for another minute.

Taste and adjust sugar and soy sauce as required.

For the poached eggs. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil and squirt in a little vinegar. Crack the eggs into separate teacups. When boiling turn off the heat, stir the water to create a little whirlpool and carefully slide the eggs into the water. Put the lid on and leave them for 3-4 minutes.

Remove them with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper.

Put a handful of watercress on each plate and top it with the noodle baskets. Fill the baskets with the mushroom stir fry, topping with a few carrot & pepper juliennes. Carefully place the poached eggs on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a few coriander leaves.

Serve immediately.

For more information about Kitima visit their website here.

Enjoy!!

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