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Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage

5 Apr

It was my granddad’s birthday on Tuesday, he was 93. I phoned him to wish him a happy birthday and also to persuade him to give me this recipe. After the success of his amazing Pickled Onion recipe that I posted in the Summer I have been trying to get him to write this one down too. They really are the best pickled onions in the world. If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for?

I have been running past these red cabbages every day with the dog thinking “I have to get that recipe”.

Then I got a huge red cabbage in my organic veg box this week and I knew it was time.

Grandad uses pickling spices that come in a muslin bag from the supermarket. You hang them in the vinegar while it is boiling to infuse it with the spices. They don’t sell pickling spices in the supermarkets here so I googled it to find out what they were.

There are different combinations but the main ingredients are bay leaves, cardamom, allspice, coriander, mustard seeds, cinnamon, black peppercorns and cloves. I didn’t have any muslin and all the shops are shut for Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) so I just threw the whole lot into the vinegar. Hopefully it will turn out the same but I won’t know for a month. That’s how long you have to leave it before eating.

Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free

You have to salt the cabbage overnight before continuing

  • 1 small red cabbage (I used 1/2 a big one)
  • salt
  • 1 or 2 bags of pickling spices or I used: 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp allspice berries, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 4 or 5 cloves
  • 500 – 750 ml malt vinegar (or I used a mixture of malt vinegar, sherry vinegar and cider vinegar)

Tear off the outer leaves of the cabbage and any that look a bit tired. Remove the core and slice the cabbage into 1/4 inch slices. Lay them out on a large ceramic plate and salt very generously. Leave overnight.

…In the morning my grandad recommends trying some of the salty cabbage and, he says you’ll wonder why you are pickling it…

Rinse the salt off and dry the cabbage. Put the vinegar and pickling spices in a pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for 10 minutes. Now you can remove the muslin bag of spices if you have one.

Pour about half of the hot vinegar into a sterilised jar then add most of the cabbage. Fill up the jar with the rest of the vinegar and any more cabbage that will fit in. Make sure the cabbage is covered with vinegar then seal the jar and store in a cool dry place for about a month before opening.

 I’ll let you know in a month how it is…….if I can wait that long!!

Thanks Grandad, Happy Birthday, Happy Easter and I’ll see you soon!!

Lots of Love

Chocolate and Lavender Easter Cupcakes

3 Apr

Lavender is the colour of the moment. Everywhere I look when we are out walking the dog I see wild lavender growing out of rocks.

Or the beautiful wisteria that has decided to bloom all at once. Just in time for Easter.

I wanted to make something sweet for Easter and that for me that means chocolate. I had an idea in my head of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkled with crumbled up Flake (to look like a nest) and little mini eggs inside the nest.

The thing is that tidy, delicate and uniform is not my forte. Also, if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s never going to happen. So when my first attempt at a mini egg chocolate flake nest looked like a six year old had been let loose in the chocolate cupboard, I actually considered inventing some children and blaming them.

Already bored of the chocolate nest idea I started playing around with the icing and some of the lavender I had picked that morning. It turns out that the lavender ones looked the best, so I spent the next few minutes picking out all of the lavender coloured mini eggs. I don’t know what happened to the other colours, must of been those pesky kids again…

These cupcakes are actually vegan and made with spelt flour. The frosting is also vegan, made with an olive oil spread instead of butter which is why it is a bit softer than proper buttercream icing. As I didn’t know beforehand that I was making lavender chocolate cupcakes I didn’t add any lavender to the cake mix. I have added it into the recipe below but it is up to you whether you do or not.

Chocolate Lavender Easter Cupcakes

Makes 10-12, vegan (without toppings), wheat-free. Adapted fron Oh She Glows

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

  • 1 cup oat milk (or any non dairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (raw cane if possible)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt (or wholemeal) flour
  • 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp dried edible lavender (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, beat together the  milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla with an electric whisk/mixer for a minute ot two.

Sieve the dry ingredients (except the lavender) into the wet and stir well to get rid of any lumps. Then stir through the lavender.

Transfer the mix to a jug and pour it into the cupcake liners about two thirds to three quarters full for each. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top springs back slowly when pressed with a finger. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before adding the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 tbsp olive oil spread (or equivalent)
  • 3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 2+2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat milk (or other non dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the spread and vanilla together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add 2 tbsp of the milk and whisk again.

Alternate adding the sugar, cocoa and milk a bit at a time until it is all mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all of it combined well.

Store in the fridge until ready to use. Don’t start icing until the cupcakes are completely cool. Use a palette knife or piping bag to ice the cakes and decorate as you wish.

If it stops raining long enough I should be able to get about and photograph some of the spectacular processions and plays that take place here for Semana Santa. I remember saying the same thing last year and there was a huge electrical storm which blew up my modem and motherboard as well as cancelling all the processions and the crucifixion.

So, fingers crossed!

Happy Easter everyone!!

Babel Roasted Artichoke Goat’s Cheese Tart, Rocket Pesto, Raisin Puree

29 Mar

We have found a new organic veg supplier, which is really cool. In this weeks box we had some beautiful young artichokes and a bunch of fat peppery rocket leaves (as well as other stuff obviously).  Artichokes are stunning looking thistle-type vegetables and it always seems such a shame to rip all their leaves off and throw them away. I did it though, using this tutorial.

To be honest preparing an artichoke is a complete faff. Such a lot of work for little return. Is that controversial?

That’s why they sell them already prepped and cooked in delis or in jars in supermarkets. So, if you are impatient (like me) or they are not in season where you are, save yourself some time and buy them. Use the whole vegetable as a table decoration instead with some lavender maybe, or even some fat rocket leaves as an alternative bouquet….

The artichokes reminded me of the delicious tart we had at Babel restaurant at Babylonstoren. The pastry was the amazingly crumbly and I managed to get the recipe from the Chef Simone. This tart came with the best chips in the world that I have recreated too. I will share the recipe in my next post.

I have already written about our day at Babylonstoren in another post . They have a huge farm on site that supplies the restaurant with fresh fruit and vegetables. There is also a beautiful greenhouse that houses the more exotic plants where you can sit and enjoy a fresh from the garden herb tea.

The interior of the restaurant is effortlessly chic.

Even the menus are gorgeous.

Their version of the tart came with tamarillo (a cross between a tomato and a passionfruit), onion marmalade and pesto. I made a rocket and walnut pesto with the gorgeous rocket and a sweet raisin puree to cut through the sourness of the goat’s cheese. After preparing the artichoke hearts I roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh thyme to enhance their delicate flavour.

You could also buy the tart cases if you are short of time but this pastry recipe is definitely worth the effort.

Roasted Artichoke & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Makes 4 x 10 cm tarts, Vegetarian. Adapted from the Babel Restaurant recipe

For the pastry:

Prep time: 35 mins (including resting)  Cooking time: 15 mins

  • 100 g  chilled butter, cubed
  • 125 spelt flour (or plain)
  • 65 ml sour cream/creme fraiche
  • a pinch of salt

Pulse the cubed butter, flour and salt in a food processor until it resembles crumble mix. Add the sour cream and pulse again until it just comes together. Do not over mix. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Prep time: 40 mins (if using fresh artichokes) Cooking time: 15-25 mins

  • 3 young artichoke hearts, quartered (to prepare artichokes read this)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a sprig of fresh thyme, leaves removed & chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 150 gr soft goat’s cheese
  • 75 ml sour cream/creme fraiche
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • fresh thyme, rosemary leaves, very finely chopped
  • pinch salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 180C and toss the uncooked artichoke hearts (you can leave this part out of you have bought cooked artichoke hearts) with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast for 20-30 minutes until slightly browned.

Whisk together the goat’s cheese, sour cream, herbs, egg, salt & pepper until combined.

Butter and flour your tart tins. Quarter the pastry and roll out each piece between two bits of floured cling film to about 3mm thick. Lift the pastry and carefully push it into the tin, do not stretch it, until fairly even. Trim off the excess with a sharp knife. Put in the fridge while you do the rest.

Prick the bases all over with a fork, cover with a square of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or any dried beans.  Bake at 180c for about 10 minutes then remove the paper and beads and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the cheese, but not to the top, then add in the artichoke hearts and peeled roasted garlic cloves so the filling now reaches the top and bake for 15 -25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

 Rocket & Walnut Pesto

serves 4, vegan, gluten free

  • a bunch of fresh rocket leaves
  • about 100 gr walnuts (toast them in the oven for 4 minutes) then chop
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a squeeze lemon/orange juice
  • a pinch of sugar

Put all the ingredients except the oil in a measuring jug (or food processor) and start to puree with a stick blender drizzling in the oil until you get a nice consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

 

 

For the Raisin Puree:

serves 4, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 100 gr raisins
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic/sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp miel de cana (molasses)

Put the raisins and sugar in a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Reserving some of the liquid blend the raisins with the rest of the ingredients and a splash of the cooking water if necessary to a smooth puree. Taste for sweetness.

Serve the tart hot or warm with the rocket pesto, raisin puree and some fresh rocket leaves if you like. The perfect accompaniment though would have to be these chunky chips.

Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the middle, sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect.

I’ll give you the recipe in my next post, I promise….

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!

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