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Rhubarb, Ginger and Almond Crumble

14 Jan

I hope you realise that I am risking arrest by sharing this recipe with you. I could be charged with possession of an illegal substance or intent to supply. Apparently it is illegal to grow rhubarb in Spain because it is poisonous to goats. No I’m not joking, it’s true!

You can find tinned rhubarb in British supermarkets here but that’s not the same. For a start it’s not pink which is kind of the point of rhubarb really. The stuff in tins is a sloppy green excuse for rhubarb so when you do come across some of the real stuff, you always buy it and quite a lot of it. And before you ask, no, I’m not revealing the name of my supplier.

Continue reading

Indian Spiced Scotch Egg with Curry Mayo and Turmeric Potatoes

24 Nov

For those of you that don’t know, a Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg (with its shell removed) which is usually wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. They are traditionally served cold as picnic food.

The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738  but they were most definitely taking inspiration from the Moghul dish Nargisi kofta where hard-boiled eggs are encased in a spicy meatball mixture. Continue reading

Grandad’s Pickled Onions

14 Jul

My grandad is 92. He still grows most of his own veg in his back garden and his front garden is always full of flowers. I remember when I was little we used to go round at the weekend and he would take me outside to show me the vegetables.  When I was little the only vegetable I would eat was sweetcorn. I remember him picking the fresh corn cob off the plant and giving to me to eat raw. I can still taste it now. It was the sweetest sweetcorn I’ve ever tasted.

He also had pheasants & partridges hanging from the ceiling of the garden shed that you had to walk under to use the ouside toilet. Not so nice.

My grandad has 9 children, my dad being one of them, as well as 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and 1 great, great grandchild. When I was younger the whole family would descend on my grandparents every Boxing Day. The kids would open all their presents and play together and the parents would eat, drink and get drunk, generally.

One of the best things about Boxing Day at Nan & Grandad’s was the buffet. The table in the back room was filled with cold roast meats leftover from Christmas Day as well as the obligatory sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks and the cheese board. Next to the cheeseboard there was always a big jar of grandad’s homemade pickled onions.

When I was younger I remember being  terrified of these pickled onions. I could see the whole red chillies floating around in the jar. That and the fact that the adults would dare each other to eat them and laugh when someone started coughing and going red in the face, stopped me from going near them until I was much older. Probably about 16.

Once I tried one there was no going back. They are fiery (depending on how long they’ve been left to mature) but also totally addictive. Just make sure you’re amongst family when you eat them. I wouldn’t eat them before a hot date or job interview. Not a good idea.

When we first moved to Spain ten years ago and opened the restaurant, my grandad came to visit with my uncle David. As usual, they asked if there was anything we needed from England, thinking we’d say Marmite or tea bags. I asked him to bring some of his pickled onions, half joking.  And he did.

Can you imagine the look on the faces of the security at the airport? This was in the days before the 100 ml liquids rule obviously. I was very pleased, as you can imagine.

 One of our very good customers at the time, Tim, always ordered the cheese plate instead of a dessert. We used to serve fresh fruit with the cheese, grapes or figs, whatever was in season.

One evening we didn’t have any fruit left to serve with the cheese so I explained this to Tim when he ordered his usual. He asked me if we had any pickled onions instead. I explained that all we had was a jar of my grandad’s homemade. He said that would be perfect. 

Of course I obliged, warning him beforehand of their special potency, and he loved them! Every time Tim and Tony came for dinner from then on, Tim would order his cheese plate with grandad’s pickles on the side.

The funny thing is that Tim and Tony ended up being our best friends over here and 2 years ago they bought the restaurant from us. I like to think that it is all down to grandad’s pickled onions!

This year my auntie Pat came over with my mum and asked if we wanted anything. I couldn’t ask her to bring grandad’s pickled onions because of the no liquids rule and also because I knew she would be up to her luggage limit (It’s a woman thing!) So instead I asked her to bring the recipe so I could make them myself. That and some sumac, vanilla extract and allspice. There’s always something I can’t get here.

So here is the secret recipe for Grandad’s Pickled Onions. I’m only sharing it with you because you deserve it. Don’t go telling everyone about it though…..

Grandad’s Pickled Onions Recipe

makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free

  • 5oogr small onions/shallots, peeled
  • 1 pint (550 ml) malt vinegar
  • 2 large tbsp black treacle (I used miel de cana) or brown sugar
  • 2 red chillies

Put the peeled onions in a bowl of cold salted water and leave for about an hour. Drain and leave to dry.

Put 1/2 pint (275 ml) of the vinegar in a saucepan with the treacle/brown sugar. Bring to the boil stirring continuously until dissolved and then set aside to cool.

Put the onions in your jar and pour over the cold vinegar and treacle mix. Top up with the rest of the malt vinegar, it needs to cover the onions. Cut the chillis in half lengthways and push them down inside the jar. Seal with a lid and store in a cool dry place for about a month before opening.

Thanks Grandad,

Lots of Love,

Natalie xx

Individual Fig, Apricot and Almond Granola Crumbles

3 Jul

Breva is the Spanish name for the early crop of figs that ripen around the time of the festival of San Juan (the longest day of the year) at the end of June beginning of July. They are very well prized for their size. Larger than the later crop of  Higos, they have a distinctive pear shape and are not as sweet. There are different colours ranging from a yellowy-green to a purpley-black.

While I was clambering up a slope and balancing on one leg trying to get a decent picture of these brevas on a tree at the side of the road where I walk with the dog, the lady from the finca (farm) called out to ask if  there were any brevas there.

After almost falling over from shock at the unexpected voice through the trees, I hurriedly explained, through my embarrassment, that I was taking pictures (while waving my camera in her face) and not stealing her lovely fruit. I needn’t have worried she wasn’t at all bothered and wouldn’t let us go without taking a large handful of the softest juiciest figs you have ever seen.

I decided to make a “healthy” crumble with these delicious brevas and a layer of almonds because I saw some growing on the same finca.

When I got home I saw that I had some apricots in my fruit bowl that weren’t going to last another day so I added those in too. Apricot and almond is a classic combination that goes really well with the fresh figs.

Don’t bother to peel the figs, just wash and slice them. Stone and quarter the apricots and layer them with the figs in the ramekins . You don’t need to add any sugar, the fruit is sweet enough.

Sprinkle over a few drops of almond extract (or Amaretto) and then scatter a thin layer of flaked almonds over the fruit.

For the crumble topping I used some of my homemade granola that I had saved before adding the dried fruit to it. Add a generous layer to the top of the ramekins and bake for around 12-15 minutes.

Individual Fig, Apricot & Almond Granola Crumbles

makes 3 deep individual ramekins, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 3 large figs (brevas), washed & sliced
  • 3 apricots, stoned & quartered
  • a few drops of almond extract per crumble (or 1 tsp amaretto per crumble)
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • homemade granola (without the dried fruit)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Layer the figs and apricots (1 each per person) in the ramekins, add a few drops of almond extract (or 1 tsp amaretto) to each followed by a thin layer of flaked almonds. Top with a generous amount of the granola (without dried fruit) and bake for 12 – 15 minutes taking care not to burn the topping.

You can serve it as it is in the ramekin it doesn’t actually need anything with it, but…..

If you like you can carefully remove the crumble from the ramekin (I got The “Washer Up” to do it, it was his idea!)

And serve it with a blob of vanilla ice cream. If you are feeling really decadent I’m sure it would be lovely with some Amaretto-spiked whipped cream too. This was my dad’s idea. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be improved by adding Amaretto cream to it though. Must be in the genes…..!

Buen Provecho!

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Hazelnut Mint Pesto

28 Apr

This is a great alternative to all those rich mayonnaise based potato salads. It is spring on a plate. Fresh, seasonal, delicious and completely guilt free. I served it warm as a side dish with dinner and then cold for lunch the next day. Both ways were lovely. It would be great for a barbecue or buffet too.

I bought some beautiful baby new potatoes from the market along with fresh asparagus & broad beans. This formed the base of my salad now I just needed  a dressing. My mint plant on the roof terrace is growing like mad with all the rain so I had to use it. A basil pesto would work really well too but I think the mint with the new potatoes is heavenly. The hazelnuts add a slight sweetness which rounds off the flavours and brings it all together.

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans & Hazelnut Mint Pesto

serves 2 -3 as a side dish, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 gr baby new potatoes, cut into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 bundle fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut in half or thirds
  • 200 gr broad beans
  • 50 gr toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (keep mint stalks) plus leaves for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 finely chopped small spring onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a grinding of black pepper

Put the potatoes and mint stalks in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil & cook until just tender. Add the asparagus & broad beans to the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and remove the mint stalks.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Process the hazelnuts, mint, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to a paste. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If you need to add more liquid use olive oil, lemon juice or a bit of veg stock.

If you like you can peel the broad beans at this point if the skins are tough and you want a brighter green colour. Tip the potatoes, beans, asparagus and spring onions into a bowl, pour over the pesto and mix everything together well. Check seasoning again.

Serve straight away sprinkled with some chopped hazelnuts and mint leaves or store, covered in the fridge until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it. Let it come to room temperature then garnish as above.

This is a really elegant, flavourful side dish that can be adapted to what is in season or what you have in the fridge. Green beans would be nice if you don’t have asparagus and try swapping the mint/hazelnut for parsley/almond pesto.

It has just occurred to me that this is the perfect dish to take to a Royal Wedding party tomorrow. Everyone seems to be watching it on TV at someone’s house and taking something for the buffet. I must be the only person who won’t be watching it. It’s The Washer Up’s only day off so we are going out and getting our hair cut instead…. It’s not like I won’t see the dress or anything. I’m sure there’ll be nothing else on the TV for days……..

Good Luck Kate, you’re going to need it!!

Asparagus and Spring Garlic Custard Tart

5 Apr

These pretty little hairy bulbs are spring garlic. Also known as young garlic, green garlic or garlic shoots. They look a lot like spring onions but have a sweet, mild, fresh garlicky flavour. They can be used in place of garlic in any dish and because they have a more delicate flavour can also be used raw in salads as you would a spring onion. In Spain they are called ajos tiernos or ajetes and are used frequently in cooking. One of the most popular dishes is revuelto de ajos tiernos which is eggs scrambled with spring garlic.

This is actually a combination of two recipes put together. The first for an Asparagus Tart from The Art of the Tart and the second for Wild Garlic Custards with Cheddar & Mustard Straws from Terre a Terre. I changed the puff pastry cheese straws for a puff pastry tart and mixed the asparagus into the garlic custard. I wanted a savoury version of a Portuguese Custard Tart type thing.

If I was to do it again I would probably use a blind baked short crust pastry case instead of puff as the base of my tart was undercooked even though I part baked the tart shell before filling it with the custard. Either that or part bake it for longer, say 15- 20 minutes instead of the 10 minutes I gave it. If you are buying a part baked tart case you can miss out the mustard seeds & grated cheese as I don’t think they will stick to the cooked pastry.

Asparagus & Spring Garlic Custard Tart Recipe

serves 4-6, vegetarian

  • a 9 or 10 inch shortcrust pastry case (bought or homemade)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • a sprinkling of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little milk
  • 50 gr spring garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of chives, finely chopped
  • 50 ml whole milk. I used goat’s milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150-200 gr cream cheese (depending on the depth of your tart)
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a bundle of asparagus, snapped and woody ends removed
  • a handful of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200 C. If you have made your own pastry case, bake the pastry blind (by putting some greaseproof paper in the case and filling it with a layer of dried beans) for 15 minutes. Then remove the beans & paper and brush the base with the egg wash and sprinkle over the mustard seeds, grated cheese. Prick all over the base with a fork and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pastry case from the oven to cool and turn the oven down to 180 C.

Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, run under cold water and set aside to cool. Put the finely chopped spring garlic, chives and milk in a bowl or food processor and blend on high until smooth.  Mix the eggs & egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the cream cheese, then add the garlicky milk mix and beat together until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.

Spoon or tong the cooked asparagus into the tart case evenly then pour over the garlic custard. Sprinkle over a little grated cheese and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until just set and slightly browned. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some buttery baby new potatoes for a more substantial dinner. Garnish with some more chopped chives and enjoy this celebration of spring flavours!!

Spring Lettuce, Pea and Mint Soup

31 Mar

I see these beautiful lettuces every day and take photos of them because I love the neat and tidy rows and the way they kind of look like big green roses. Sort of…

I wanted a recipe using lettuces for something other than a salad to test their versatility. I’ve heard of lettuce soup but never tried it so I had no idea how it would taste. It seems an odd thing, to cook a lettuce but together with the peas and fresh mint it makes a really fresh springy soup perfect for this time of year when the weather really can’t make up it’s mind.

It has the lightness of a salad but with the warmth of a soup.  The spring fresh flavours are a taster of what’s just around the corner if you are suffering with the weather where you are. This soup really brightens your day, and it’s healthy too.

Cos (or Romaine) lettuce contains more beta carotene and iron than most other lettuces and peas are rich in fibre, iron & vitamin C. Add to that the fact that mint is an excellent aid to digestion and you have the perfect meal in a bowl.

 And it tastes great too…

Lettuce, Pea & Mint Soup

serves 4 – 6, vegetarian or vegan, without yoghurt swirl

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small Cos/Romaine lettuce, cored & shredded
  • 45o gr frozen peas
  • 750 ml + veg stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves, chopped. Keep the stalks.
  • a small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • creme fraiche or greek yoghurt for swirling (optional)
  • mint tops for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sweat leeks & shallot for 3 or 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add in the peas, lettuce, mint stalks (tied together in a knot so they are easier to fish out later), 750 ml veg stock, salt, pepper & sugar.

Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered for 6 -8 minutes or until the peas are tender. Take out the mint stalks, add in the parsley and mint leaves and remove from the heat.

Blend carefully with a stick blender for 2 or 3 minutes until very smooth. Add more veg stock to get required consistency if necessary, check the seasoning and reheat to serve. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with a swirl of creme fraiche and the mint tops.

If Spring is not happening where you are then bring it yourself with this bowl of soup. I’ll leave you with some more images of the beautiful Spring in Andalucia that I have taken this week while walking the dog….

Disfruta de la Naturaleza!!

The First Days of Spring: Grilled Asparagus and Soft Boiled Duck Egg Brunch

22 Mar



Nothing says “Spring” more to me than asparagus. The fresh green spears make an appearance a lot earlier here in Spain than in the UK but I still wait until Spring to buy them.  I bought some this week for the first time this year and wanted the first of many asparagus dishes to be a simple celebration of this unique, delicious vegetable.

The Washer Up is working with someone who keeps ducks & chickens at the moment and he, very kindly, gave us some duck eggs to try. I have eaten a duck egg once before, it was on top of a salad I ordered in the restaurant in Harvey Nichols in Leeds (those were the days)!  They have a slightly richer, creamier flavour than a normal egg but nothing to be scared off.  I’ve never cooked with duck eggs before so I thought a simple soft-boiled duck egg would sit very happily on top of my grilled asparagus.  Eggs also represent Spring, rebirth and new beginnings so perfect for my first days of Spring brunch.

I really can’t call this a recipe but here is what I did:

Soft Boiled Duck Egg & Grilled Asparagus Brunch

serves 1, vegetarian

  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus
  • 1 duck egg
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
  • shaved manchego or parmesan
  • toasted brown bread (if you like)

Carefully put the duck egg into boiling water and then turn the heat down to medium high. Boil for 6 or 7 minutes depending on the size of your duck egg. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and put into the boiling water with the egg for 2 or 3 minutes.

Preheat your grill to hot and place the blanched asparagus on a sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, roll to coat evenly then put under the grill for a few minutes to brown slightly. Rolling to cook the other side half way through.

Toast your bread if using. After 6 or 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the cold tap over the egg in the pan until cool enough to handle. Roll the egg gently on your counter to break the shell and peel the egg.

Transfer the asparagus to a plate with a slotted spoon, drizzle with little more olive oil, squeeze over some lemon juice and place the egg on top. With a knife cut into your egg to reveal the soft centre, season the egg with salt &  pepper and then finish off the dish by shaving over some manchego or parmesan. Butter your toast and serve on the side.

Enjoy the first days of Spring in pictures taken while walking the dog…

Rufus in the Spring…!!

Our lily at home….

 Ya es Primavera!!

Rainy Day Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

11 Mar

I hasn’t stopped raining here for five days and it’s not supposed to be stopping any time soon. I am not going to complain though as I wake up this morning to the news about the earthquake and terrible Tsunami after effects in Japan and the Pacific. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and anyone with family or friends out there.

I’m definitely not going out in this weather which means cooking something with what I have in the fridge. I found this recipe on The Red Spoon. It may not sound very glamorous but it really is delicious, a perfect rainy day soup to warm you from the inside out.  And I had all the ingredients in my fridge, bonus!!

The cabbage gives a real background flavour punch to the soup and the fried cabbage topping gives it extra texture. The creme fraiche swirl is scented with lemon zest and lifts all the other flavours to a different level. It is home comfort happiness in a bowl.

Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup Recipe

serves 3 – 4, vegetarian/ vegan without the creme fraiche. Adapted from a The Red Spoon recipe

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed & chopped
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche, sour cream or greek yoghurt
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, just white & light green parts, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 big potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of parmesan rind (optional) I used Manchego rind with the black bit cut off
  • 1 & 1/4 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add the cabbage, a large pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper and cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the creme fraiche, lemon zest & juice together in a  small bowl, cover and put in the fridge.

When the cabbage is cooked, separate out 3 or 4 tablespoons into a bowl for garnish. Add the other tbsp butter to the pan with the cabbage, then add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes until the leeks have softened. Then stir in the potatoes, parmesan rind (if using) and the bay leaf. Add in the veg stock and season well with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaf & parmesan rind. Blend carefully with a stick blender until smooth. Add more stock if you want to thin out the consistency (I didn’t need to), taste for seasoning and reheat to serve.

Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls garnished with a spoonful of the reserved cabbage, a swirl of the lemon creme fraiche, some chopped parsley and an extra grinding of black pepper.

This is feel good food, to lift the spirits and make you forget about the rain. This one’s for you Mum, enjoy!!

I’ve got to take the dog out in this….!

Battered Halloumi with Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce and Spicy Lemon Pickle

6 Mar

 This recipe came from a new book The Washer Up bought for me called Terre A Terre. Terre A Terre is a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton and the book has some amazingly creative, unusual recipes for dishes that you will have never seen anywhere else. Their aim is to challenge the image of vegetarian food and push the boundaries of conventional perceptions by creating gourmet vegetarian cuisine.

This recipe caught my eye mainly because of the Halloumi cheese. In case you didn’t know I love Halloumi. Halloumi is a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese that is special because it cooks rather than melts. Because of this you can grill it or fry it and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. I usually cook my Halloumi slices in a dry pan and then marinade them in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs & spices. You can see the full recipe here.

This recipe is a vegetarian play on the traditional English Friday night take-away dish: Battered Fish with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce you would get from the local fish & chip shop.  They had me at battered Halloumi, but the addition of minty mushy peas really sealed it for me. The tartare sauce recipe is mine. I don’t like capers or gherkins (cornichons) so I substituted them for pickled onions, which I love, and it worked! I also added some coriander as well as parsley. The result is better than any tartare sauce you’ve ever tried, I promise. The addition of the nori seaweed is from the book and is, I have to say, genius. Nori seaweed is what you use make sushi rolls and the flavour of the sea it gives to the sauce is so spot on, once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

The “mashy peas” came about by happy accident. I halved the recipe for the minty pea puree from the book which was for 6 people but forgot to halve the butter. This resulted in a very buttery puree (above). To resolve this (I didn’t have any more peas to add) I decided to add some mashed potato to the puree. I had seen Jamie Oliver do something similar with broccoli and peas in mash. Any excuse to include mash really.

The spicy lemon pickle (they call it “Yemeni Lemony Pickle” which is such a cool name) is just the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour and is a fabulous alternate dip for the Halloumi with the creamy tartare sauce. You could always just serve this with a wedge of lemon instead if you’re not up for making the pickle as well. I made it because I had a large fruit bowl full of lemons and was making some preserved lemons as well. I will post the recipe for the preserved lemons when they are ready.

The original dish in the book also serves pickled quail’s eggs and vodka grape tomatoes with this. As fantastic as they sound it would be a lot of work if you were to make everything. I was really happy with it as it was but am intrigued about the pickled quail’s eggs!  This book makes you appreciate and understand how much work goes into each component part of each dish at this restaurant and definitely makes me want to go the next time I am in Brighton.

Each recipe has 4 or 5 different elements to it but you can pick and choose as to how many you do, like I did. It is really inspiring and aspirational.

The Halloumi is soaked in buttermilk for several hours or overnight so do this in the morning or the night before.

Battered Halloumi with Minty Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce & Yemeni Lemony Pickle Recipe

Serves 2 -3, vegetarian.  Adapted from Terre A Terre by Amanda Powley & Phillip Naylor

For the Halloumi

  • 1 pack 250 gr Halloumi cheese
  • 250 ml buttermilk or 125 ml yoghurt mixed with 125 ml milk
  • plain flour for coating
  • sunflower oil to deep fry

For the Batter

  • 75 gr plain flour
  •  35 gr self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml cold water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt & black pepper

Cut the Halloumi in to thin slices (less than 1/2 cm) then cut them into triangles (See photo above). Cut the triangles with the natural break of the Halloumi. Put the buttermilk or yoghurt/milk mixture in to a dish (I used an empty1 litre ice cream tub) and submerge the Halloumi in the liquid to soak, overnight or, for several hours in the fridge.

To make the batter whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of double cream. Adjust water/flour if necessary. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook the Halloumi.

Just before serving heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to hot (180 C).  Put some plain flour in a shallow dish and remove the Halloumi & batter from the fridge. Lift the Halloumi pieces, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and let it drip off slightly. Put it in the flour and flip it to coat, then put it in the batter. Open a window unless you want your whole house to smell of deep-frying. When the oil has reached temperature, lift the Halloumi out of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry two triangles at a time. It should puff up and start to turn golden straight away. If not your oil is not hot enough. Turn the halloumi with a slotted spoon to cook on both sides. This should only take a minute or two to be crisp & golden on both sides. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

For the Mashy Peas

  • 200 gr frozen peas
  • a big handful of mint, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • a big handful of parsley, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • 50 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and put in a pan of cold salted water
  • salt & black pepper

Bring the pan of salted water with the peeled quartered potatoes to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Meanwhile, in a small pan of boiling, salted water, cook the peas with the herb stalks until tender (about 3 minutes).  Drain the cooked peas and throw away the stalks. Blend the peas with the butter and chopped herbs, season with salt & pepper and taste.

Drain the potatoes and mash them well in the pan. Heat up the pea puree and add this to the mashed potatoes, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add more salt & pepper & taste again. Just heat through in a pan when ready to serve.

For the Tartare Sauce

  • 1 nori seaweed sheet
  • a handful of coriander & parsley, chopped
  • about 4 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
  •  1 or 2 pickled onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice about 2 tbsp
  • salt & black pepper

Put the nori sheet under the grill for a few seconds on each side to crisp up. Keep an eye on it, it burns! Crumble or chop the nori into the processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season with a little salt (the seaweed is salty) and pepper stir in and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or pickled onion. It’s up to your taste buds. Store in the fridge.

For the Yemeni Chilli Paste (for the lemon pickle)

makes 1 small jar

  • 4 red chillis, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, leaves & stalks
  • salt
  • olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together, drizzling in olive oil until a paste consistency is reached. Pour into a clean jar and cover the top with olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

For the Lemon Pickle (makes 1 jar)

  • 4 lemons, segmented
  • 100 ml fresh lemon juice
  • peel from 3 preserved lemons (I didn’t have any but I have made some now)!
  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 3 or 4 tsp yemen paste, recipe above, or more if you dare
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Segment the lemons by cutting off the peel & white pith, from top to bottom all the way around (See photo above). Then cut out the lemon segments in between each membrane. Put the lemon segments from 3 of the lemons into a blender and reserve the segments of the fourth for later. Add the lemon juice, peel from preserved lemons if using, to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Put this in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly for two minutes then stir in your Yemeni chilli paste. Put in the fridge to cool. When cool stir in the reserved lemon segments and chopped mint. This is now ready to serve. Store in the fridge. This would be a great sauce or baste for grilled fish or chicken as well.

 To serve, warm your plates and put your lemon pickle (or lemon wedge if you are going for the easier option) and tartare sauce in their dishes on the plate ready. Heat the frying oil. Heat the mashy peas over a low heat with a little veg stock to loosen if necessary. Keep an eye on it while you fry off the Halloumi. Drain the halloumi on kitchen paper and pile them on the plates with a big spoon (or quinelle) of the mashy peas.

This may sound like a lot of work  but it’s so worth it. Soaking the Halloumi really brings out the flavour and softens the texture. The mashy peas are to die for and the lemony pickle is perfect if you can be bothered. The Washer Up said the Halloumi was better than battered fish! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from this book in the future and would recommend it to any creative, confident cooks out there who are looking for something different, delicious, challenging and inspiring. I’m going to have a go at the pickled quail’s eggs next time, I promise!!

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