Archive | December, 2010

My First Panettone with Mandarin Jam

11 Dec

Does breakfast get any better than this..

I don’t think so. This was my first experience of making panettone and it turned out pretty well. The taste is fantastic, it could have been a little lighter but that might have something to do with the electric cutting out halfway through cooking it! It does that here when it rains heavily, very annoying when you are slightly nervous about baking your first panettone and have just spent quite a long time getting the dough to rise…

My idea is to make mini ones as gifts for Christmas but I don’t have any little baking tins and I wanted to try it out on myself first before inflicting it on other people. The Washer Up said it was like a giant tea cake and there is nothing wrong with that!

The other thing I was desperate to make was mandarin jam with the mountain of mandarins we have here. I think a gift bag of a mini panettone & mandarin jam should make most people smile on Christmas morning, don’t you?

Panettone Recipe

makes an 8 or 9 inch round cake, vegetarian

adapted from “Pickle” by Ellie Jarvis http://elliejarvis.co.uk/

  • 125gr dried mixed fruit (I used 75gr sultanas & 50 gr dried cranberries)
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of 2 mandarins(or 1 orange)
  • 1 tbsp cointreau (or grand marnier)
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 level tbsp active dried yeast (1 sachet)
  • 50 gr caster sugar
  • 450 gr strong white bread flour (I used plain flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg & 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tbsp honey (I used miel de cana)
  •  2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75 gr butter, softened

Put the dried fruit in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak while you make the dough. Heat the milk until warm, remove from the heat, add the yeast, 1 tsp of the sugar and leave to activate for about 5 minutes. (A foam will form on the top).

Into a large bowl sieve together the flour, remaining sugar and salt, make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs, milk & yeast mixture, honey, vanilla, cointreau and softened butter. Mix it together with a wooden spoon and then use your hands to form a soft dough and mix for a few minutes. Drain the fruit and dry with kitchen roll, add it to the dough along with the zests and knead it all together until well-distributed. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 1 or 2 minutes. Shape in to a ball, put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and knead again for 1 minute. Put it in your 8 or 9 inch cake tin which has been lined with baking paper and rubbed with oil. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise  again in a warm place for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 17o degrees, brush with beaten egg or milk and bake in the bottom third of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until browned & risen. Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn it out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Slice it like you would a loaf of bread and serve it toasted and smothered with butter & mandarin jam. ..

If you have never made jam before, this is a really good one to start with. It is easy, quick & delicious you will be so impressed with yourself that you will probably never buy jam again!

Mandarin Jam Recipe

makes 1 jam jar

  • 500 gr mandarins/ satsumas/tangerines
  • 250 gr sugar
  • the juice of 1 lemon

Wash 2 or 3 of the mandarins and zest them carefully. (you don’t want any of the white pith). Then peel all the mandarins removing as much of the pith and filaments as you can. Cut each mandarin in half around its middle and pick out any pips. (Do this over a bowl to collect any juice). Put the halves in the bowl aswell and blitz with a stick blender until you have a smoothish puree. (you can do this in a food processor).

Put the mandarin puree, zest, sugar and lemon juice in saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium high heat then reduce the heat so it boils gently. Cook for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally until it sets.  To check if it is set put a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes, then put a teaspoon of the hot jam onto it. Leave it to cool slightly then run your finger through the jam, if the line holds it’s set.

Pour into a hot, sterilized jar, (I pour boiling water in the clean jar and tip it out just before pouring in the jam) seal tightly, turn upside down and leave to cool. Store in the fridge when cool.

I was so pleased with how this jam turned out. The texture is perfect and it looks and tastes lovely. The perfect accompaniment to my homemade panettone!! I can’t believe I made panettone……

     

Andalucian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and a tricolor salad)

8 Dec

We have picked up our bottles of the olive oil we helped to harvest here a few weeks ago and it is amazing. The flavour is so far superior to that of anything I have ever bought, I want to put it on everything. Its viscous, cloudy, golden greenness is a joy to behold. I think  that this olive oil and the bouganvilla flower should become the emblems of Andalucia, they represent the beauty and flavour of the region perfectly..

And I’m going to put it on an Italian salad! Oh well, these are the ingredients I have in my possesion: avocadoes (loads of them -windfalls!), juicy Spanish tomatoes (full of flavour right now), mozzarella cheese & our homegrown basil. What would you do?!

Andalucian Tricolor Salad

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 large spanish tomato, sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella, sliced
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil (Andalucian preferably!)
  • Jerez- sherry vinegar (or balsamic)
  • salt & black pepper

Alternate the slices of tomato & mozzarella around the plate and top with the avocado slices in the centre. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt & sherry vinegar and tear over some fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the olive oil generously over the salad and crack over some black pepper..

Serve with some rustic toasted bread drizzled with more healthy, fabulous olive oil… Enjoy!!

Marvellous Minestrone

7 Dec

Minestrone is an Italian word meaning “the big soup.” It is the name for a variety of thick soup made with vegetables often with the addition of pasta or rice.  Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season.

Yesterday we walked past this  field of gorgeous cabbages looking like huge silvery roses in the sun. I had a cabbage at home and the Minestrone idea just grew out of  what I had in the fridge. I love this kind of soup, where you look at what vegetables you have in your fridge and make something hearty, healthy & delicious. You can turn normal everyday vegetables into a rustic farmhouse feast, which makes you feel all Tuscan Housewife for the afternoon….!

Marvellous Minestrone Soup

serves 4-6 vegetarian

  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 4 sticks celery sliced (save some leaves for garnish)
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthways and diced
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • a handful of herbs (I used rosemary, thyme & parsley) chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin/jar cooked white beans(cannellini), drained & rinsed well 
  • 1/2 cabbage finely shredded
  •  a handful of swiss chard (acelgas) chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 100 gr dried pasta(you can use whatever you have broken spaghetti pieces are the original ) I used a little pine nut shaped pasta called  pinones
  • salt & black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan cheese shavings
  • you can add any parmesan rinds you may have in your fridge to the pan with the stock for extra flavour

In a large saucepan or frying pan heat 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat and throw in the onion, leek, carrot, celery, herbs & garlic with a big pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to low, stir everything to coat in the oil, put a lid on and cook gently for 25 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, season again with salt & black pepper and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat the veg stock in a separate saucepan. After the tomatoes have been cooking for 10 minutes add the boiling veg stock followed by the sliced cabbage, chard and the rinsed beans. Stir everything well, season again with salt & black pepper and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and leave to cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve in warmed bowls topped with shaved parmesan and celery leaves. A nice rustic bread and a glass of Italian red would be lovely to go with this and drizzle the soup with extra virgin olive oil at the table. Buon Appetito….

The oil in the picture above is the extra virgin olive oil we helped to harvest here. It is honestly the best olive oil I have ever tasted, really fruity. I will be putting it on everything from now on. Expect lots of recipes using olive oil in the near future!!

Rainbows, Mushrooms and Pot Pies!

6 Dec

This Mushroom & Leek Pot Pie is comfort food at its best. Quick ,easy, warming and oh so satisfying. All you need is a sofa and a fork. It’s like a big hug in dish.

Today we walked about 15 km around the Barranco Blanco valley. This picture is the view to the hill retreat we visited yesterday, from the other side of the valley.

It rained on and off as we walked round which meant we were lucky enough to see this beautiful rainbow as we descended into the valley. We remebered to take a picnic this time…

At the bottom of the valley we came across a stream which led into an overgrown woodland area…

We saw these amazing mushrooms growing in the woodland but I have absolutely no idea if the are poisonous or not so decided it was best to leave them where they were..

Got me thinking about dinner though, after three and a half hours walking in the rain it had to be quick and comforting!

Individual Mushroom & Leek Pot Pies

makes 2 vegetarian

  • 1/2 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 15 gr butter
  • 1 clove garlic chopped finely
  • 1 pack mushrooms approx. 300 gr (I used small portobellos) quartered, you want chunky
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced into 1 cm half moons, chunky again
  • 2 or 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs of thyme leaves
  • some chopped parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 200 ml veg stock (you could use 1ooml white wine 100 ml veg stock)
  • 50 gr grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1 egg beaten mixed with a little water to brush on the tops

Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the leeks & garlic and soften gently for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile put the quartered mushrooms in a freezer bag and tip in the flour, herbs, spices, salt & pepper. Shake it around a bit to get the mushrooms coated in the seasoned flour.

Tip the mushrooms and the floury mix into the pan with the leeks and stir everything around. Cook this for a minute or two then add in the veg stock little by little until you get a thickened white sauce consistency. You may not need all the stock. Leave this to cook gently while you do the pastry.

If necessary, roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 2 or 3 mm thick. Preheat the oven to 21o degrees. Take a dish that you will be using for the pies and cut out two circles about 1 cm larger than the top.(you may need to re roll the pastry to get two). From the leftover pastry cut 1 cm thick strips to stick around the edge of the dishes.

 Stir the grated cheese into the mushroom mix and pour the whole lot into the two pie dishes. Wet you fingers and run them round the edges of the pie dishes then stick the strips of pastry round the top edge. Wet the strips and stick the circle of pastry on top of each dish. Squeeze the pastry together to seal the edges and crimp round the edges with a fork. (This doesn’t have to be perfect, messy is good!). Make 3 sets of holes in the top of each pie with a fork then brush the tops with the egg wash. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown & crispy.

Serve immediately and feel yourself coming back to life……..

Keralan Soft Boiled Egg and Aubergine Curry

4 Dec

Kerala is one of those places I dream of visiting. An Ayurvedic retreat specialising in vegetarian food near the tea & cardamom plantations would be perfect. A place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, somewhere like this…

Until that time comes I am happy to cook my own versions of Keralan dishes from home and use my walking as a means of rejuvenation. Today we walked to the top of a hill  I had been intrigued by for a while. It has some trees and what looks like a retreat or chapel at the top and I wanted to walk up there..

We had to walk up hill through the pine forest to get to the fire break, which is what looks like the path from down below.

When we got out of the forest about half way up we could see Alhaurin(the town where we live) and the snow on the mountains in the distance.Nearer the top we could see over the other side down to the coast and the sea. This is the Costa del Sol seen from the other side. The side that most tourists never see….

At the top was a deserted building that looks like it  is used for observation or maybe a forest warden’s office.

Whatever its use is, it is now our own private hilltop retreat! It’s free and the views are priceless…

It’s not Kerala but we can walk there in an hour and stay as long as we like….

I think this will be the first of many times that we will find ourselves at this sheltered hilltop retreat, but next time we will take a picnic, we were starving by the time we  had walked home. Definitely in the mood for a Keralan curry…

 Keralan Egg & Aubergine Curry Recipe

serves 2 or 3  vegetarian

  • 1 large aubergine cut into quarters, lengthways and chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 2 or 3 large eggs (1 egg per person)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • oil for frying (coconut oil would be good)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  •  2 cardamom pods (crush and use the seeds)
  • 250ml -500ml veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or jaggery)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • salt & black pepper

*Punch pooran is a spice mix made with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds. fennel seeds & fenugreek seeds. You can get it from Indian supermarkets or from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion & spices. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens then add the chilli, ginger & garlic. Mix everything together adding a little veg stock to stop it drying out. Add the aubergine chunks, stir to coat them in the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes until the aubergines begin to soften & brown slightly. Season well with salt & black pepper. Add the chopped tomato, vinegar, tamarind & sugar, stir and add about 250 ml of the veg stock. Cook gently for about 15 – 20 minutes until the aubergines are really tender and the sauce has reduced. You can add more veg stock if it seems too dry. Stir in fresh coriander and check seasoning.

Meanwhile put a small pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling turn it down slightly and cook the eggs in the boiling water for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwys.

Serve the aubergine curry topped with the soft boiled eggs and some extra chopped coriander.

I served this curry with some onion seed flatbreads see recipe here and a dollop of  Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh mint & lemon juice. Some coconut and cardamom infused rice would be lovely too.

The combination of the sweet, spicy aubergines with the texture of the perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg is so lovely, you wonder why you have never tried it before. It may sound strange but it is really delicious.. Enjoy!!

Red Onion Tempura Bhajis

3 Dec

 

I’ve never made onion bhajis before. I had been thinking about making red onion rings using a tempura batter then I found a recipe for Indian Onion Fritters on one of my favourite food blogs http://tesathome.com Tes is from Thailand but lives in India so her blog is full of really inspiring recipes from these two fantastic countries as well as beautiful photos from her travels around India & Thailand.

 Tes’s recipe uses besan which is chickpea flour to make the batter. I didn’t have any but I had some rice flour so I decided to go down the Japanese Tempura batter route but add in the Indian spices. The batter I made was very liquidy so I panicked a bit and thickened it with a few Panko breadcrumbs just to continue with the Japanese theme.

I was really pleased, they turned out to be deliciously light, crispy & spicy just how I had imagined. The colour of the red onions made them look more special. I love it when experiments work out and I hope Tes approves of my fusion of Japanese technique with Indian flavours…

Red Onion Tempura Bhajis

Serves 2 or 3 as a snack or starter,Vegetarian

  • 1 large red onion, cut in half & sliced into half moons
  • 1 small green chilli chopped
  • about 100 gr rice flour 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • ice-cold sparkling water
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Mix the rice flour, turmeric & salt together in a bowl then slowly whisk in the fizzy water until you get the consistency of single cream. Add the sliced onion, chopped chilli & coriander and mix well. Sprinkle over some panko breadcrumbs until it thickens into more of a paste.

Heat about 5cm oil in a wok/frying pan over a medium high heat until hot. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and drop it into the hot oil. You can probably do 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Cook them for about 2 or 3 minutes turning occasionally until golden brown & crispy. Pat dry on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the bhajis & some yoghurt mixed with lemon juice, mint & salt to dip them in. Eat with your fingers………….Enjoy!

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