Tag Archives: best

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.

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Pumpkin, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Tart

28 Sep

It is officially pumpkin time. These little babies that I have been watching grow while walking the dog have now been harvested and are sitting in big crates waiting to go to the market.

The Washer Up bought some pastry home from the restaurant saying it was the best pastry he’d ever made. It was an Austrian pastry recipe he used for a Viennese menu they had on Wednesday, he made a gorgeous quiche and had some pastry left over so he told me I had to use it because it was amazing. Continue reading

Chargrilled Broccoli and Beans with Chilli, Garlic and Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

10 Jul

I know broccoli isn’t usually the most exciting of vegetables. I know it can be a bit bland and boring. Time to rethink that. With this treatment it transforms into a shining star.

Seriously, we can’t get enough of it. The Washer Up, my toughest critic, has claimed it his favourite thing. To quote “This is the best thing you’ve ever made”. You can’t argue with that can you?

My best friend Tara bought me the Ottolenghi cookbook for my birthday. I am steadily working my way through it and every recipe that I have tried has been a definite winner. It’s all about the flavour and colour which is the kind of food I love. It has a definite Middle Eastern theme, but not solely. There are recipes from all over the world.

What I noticed, while flicking through, was that a lot of the food is cooked on a griddle pan. It adds to the flavour and appearance of a dish, giving a certain smokiness and the attractive black stripes that make such a difference to the overall impression.

I didn’t own griddle pan. I do now. Get ready for chargrilled everything.

It is chargrilling the broccoli and then drenching it in a garlic & chilli infused olive oil that makes this dish so special. You can serve it on its own, as a side dish with anything, or make it the star on top of some sweet soy rice noodles. Either way it’s delicious. You need to try this. 

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

serves 2 -3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • a handful of french beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced (or 1 hot red chilli)
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • 250 gr fat (XL) rice noodles (or any noodles)
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or use soy sauce plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of cashew nuts or flaked almonds, toasted

Separate the broccoli into florets with small stems still attached. Trim off  the stalk ends of the beans. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for exactly 2 minutes (no more). Then quickly transfer it, with a slotted spoon, to a large bowl of iced water, to stop the cooking. Now do the same with the beans.

Drain the broccoli & beans in a colander and then spread them out on a clean tea towel and leave to dry completely.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and rinse under the cold tap to stop them sticking together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dried veg with 3 tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt & black pepper. Place a ridged griddle pan over a high heat and leave it for 5 minutes to heat up. Grill the veg in batches so it’s not too crowded. Leave them for a minute on one side then turn them over so they get nice char marks on all sides. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue to griddle the rest.

Meanwhile put the 75 ml olive oil in a small saucepan with the sliced garlic & chillies. Cook them over a medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown. Don’t let it burn. Remove from the heat and pour the hot oil over the bowl of hot broccoli & beans and toss together well. Check seasoning.

Heat up a wok, or large frying pan, over a medium high heat, add in the cooked noodles, kecap manis (or soy sauce & honey), sesame oil and oyster sauce. Heat through the noodles and then throw in the veg. Toss everything together well and serve in deep bowls.

Squeeze over some lemon/lime juice and sprinkle with the toasted nuts and chopped coriander.

You are going to love this. Broccoli has never tasted so good, honestly. If you don’t own a grill pan go out and buy one now.

It’s just a bit of a bitch to clean….. Apparently.

Things that made me smile today…..

Dragonflies…

Butterflies….

And bugs…

Hasta Luego!!

Homemade Granola with Sunflower Seeds

1 Jul

As promised, I have finally got around to posting more photos and a recipe inspired by our recent trip to Vejer de la Frontera.

My lasting memory of Vejer will be the fields and fields of sunflowers that you can see wherever you go. I made “The Washer Up” stop the car on numerous occasions so that I could jump out like a mad woman and take some photos.

Their unpretentious lanky beauty and smiley faces spread a joy that is so infectious you just have to get amongst them. I wanted to share that with you.

My other lasting memory will be of the gorgeous breakfasts we ate every morning at the hotel we stayed in, Casa La Siesta. It started off with granola with yoghurt and fruit….

Followed by homemade bread with tomato and avocado…..

Maybe just a little piece of  banana bread….

And then a lie down to recover, it’s so difficult to say no when it’s all there in front of you!

I knew my first Vejer inspired recipe when I came home would have to be something with sunflower seeds. Just so I could post all my sunflower pictures. Either the sunflower seed bread crackers(above) we had at Castilleria (one of our two favourite restaurants in Vejer) or making my own granola. The granola won, I had to get back to being gluten-free after overdosing on holiday and also because it uses sunflower oil as well as the seeds.

If you have never made your own granola before (like me), you will be surprised at how easy it is and how much better it tastes than the store-bought stuff. It is also much better for you, no refined sugar just honey and maple syrup (or miel de cana) for sweetness. Adapt it to suit your taste by using whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit you like.

Homemade Granola with Sunflowers Seeds Recipe

Makes a lot, gluten-free, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 60 gr hazelnuts
  • 40 gr brazil nuts
  • 40 gr walnuts
  • 300 gr rolled oats
  • 60 gr flaked almonds
  • 60 gr sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • 100 gr dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 60 gr dried cranberries
  • 60 gr moscatel raisins

For the Syrup

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 120 ml maple syrup or miel de cana
  • 120 ml honey

Preheat the oven to 140 C. Roughly chop the nuts and put in a large bowl with the seeds and oats. Mix well.

Mix the syrup ingredients together in a small pan and stir over a low heat until warmed through. Pour this over the seeds, nuts and oats and stir well with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola over it evenly. It should be in a layer no more than 1cm thick. Use two baking sheets if necessary.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning and mixing the granola 2 or 3 times. It should be a dark honey colour when it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Don’t worry if it’s soft it will be crunchy when it cools.

Stir the dried fruit through the granola while it is still warm (not hot). Leave to cool completely on the tray and then transfer to an airtight container. Try not to eat it all off of the tray. It should keep for up to 2 weeks.

I kept some of the granola back without mixing it with the fruit because I want to use it as a crumble topping for a Fig & Almond Granola Crumble. I will be posting the recipe soon. In the meantime enjoy your granola mixed with yoghurt or sprinkled on top of some fresh fruit for breakfast.

Imagine that you are back in your favourite hotel….

Hasta Luego….

Beautiful Almond Blossom and Amaretti Biscuits

18 Jan

You can tell that Spring is just around the corner when the almond trees start blossoming. All of a sudden from nothing and out of nowhere they are everywhere. Beautiful candy floss trees with their barely pink flowers brighten the landscape with hints of pink fairy dust….

 Each tree has its own personality and unique beauty….

Closer up the blossoms are white with fuchsia pink centres and the nut grows underneath it…

With all this inspiration I had to make something with almonds. Something delicate, beautiful & light to match the almond blossoms. These  biscuits are not strictly speaking ” Amaretti ” biscuits they are called Ricciarelli. A deliciously light, moist almondy biscuit from Siena, flavoured with orange zest. The lightness comes from them being made with ground almonds, sugar &  egg white. There is no flour or butter in this recipe…..

Ricciarelli (Almond Biscuits from Siena)

Adapted from  The Travelers Lunchbox  Recipe

Makes about 16, vegetarian

  • 150 gr ground almonds
  • 140 gr caster sugar
  • about 75 gr icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • the zest of  1 orange
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  •  about 1 tsp orange juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sieve the ground almonds into a bowl to get rid of any big lumps. Mix in the caster sugar, 50 gr of the icing sugar, the baking powder and orange zest until well combined. Beat the egg white in a clean bowl to soft peaks then stir it into the almond mixture. Mash everything with a wooden spoon, add the almond extract and the orange juice and mix it all together until you have an almondy paste like in this photo below.

Put the remaining icing sugar on a small plate (you may need more). Take out a small amount of the paste and roll it into a ball, in the palm of your hand, about the size of a walnut. Roll it slightly to form an oval (almond) shape and roll it in the icing sugar, flattening it out slightly. Put it on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the almond paste leaving enough room in between each one for them to spread a little.

Sieve over the rest of the icing sugar and leave at room temperature to dry out for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. They will still be meltingly soft in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving and store in an airtight container.

Serve after dinner with coffee or as an afternoon sweet treat..

These are the best almond biscuits I have ever tasted. Moist and chewy in the middle like a marzipan melting moment. They are really easy to make too. Everyone would be really impressed if you were to make these for a dinner party and they would also make lovely gifts. Just remember about the drying time of 2 hours, it may seem like a pain. I can’t stand waiting either, especially for these, but they are definitely worth the wait…..!

New Year’s Day Brunch: Eggs Tex Mex with chilli cheese sauce

1 Jan

This is a Tex Mex twist on Eggs Florentine, my favourite brunch dish, which is a toasted english muffin topped with wilted spinach, two eggs and a hollandaise sauce. In this recipe the hollandaise is replaced by an amazing chilli cheese sauce I made last night as a dip for nachos. Hot cheese & chilli- it doesn’t get better than that. Forget those scary, bright orange, chemical cheese dips you can buy, this is made with real cheese and real chilli and it’s really addictive….

Chilli Cheese Dip/Sauce

adapted from a recipe by The Homesick Texan

makes a big soup bowl full, vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (you should use Jalapenos adjust quantities to suit your taste)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 cup milk (I used goat’s milk)
  • about 300 gr grated cheese (I used a cured Manchego. Monterey Jack, Cheddar & Red Leicester would be good or a mix)
  • a small handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 150 ml sour cream or creme fraiche
  • the juice of half a lime
  • salt & balck pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium low heat, add the onions & chillis and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the cornflour into the milk and then whisk it into the onions. Cook for a few minutes until it thickens, whisking all the time. Then stir in the coriander & tomatoes.

Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the cheese a heaped tablespoon at a time, stirring to melt the cheese before adding the next spoonful. When all the cheese has been added & melted in, add the sour cream, season with salt & pepper and stir in the lime juice.

Pour it into a bowl and serve with nachos, tortilla chips or raw veggie crudites for dipping.Try to resist eating straight from the bowl with a spoon!

 If you have any left you will definitely find loads of uses for it. In fact you will be designing  dishes especially for it. When I woke up this morning I already knew what we were having for brunch today. I think I must have been dreaming about it, it really is that good….

 Eggs Tex Mex Recipe

serves 2, vegetarian

  • 2 english muffins, sliced in half through the middle
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (about 25ogr) picked and washed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • a knob of butter & 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • some chilli cheese sauce (see recipe above) about 200 ml maybe more!

Melt the butter and a splash of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the garlic, cook for 1 minute then add the spinach, season with salt, pepper & nutmeg and put the lid on. Meanwhile reheat (if cold) the cheese sauce over a low heat in a small pan stirring occasionally. Toast/grill the muffins. In a large frying pan heat 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat then carefully crack in the eggs (1 in each corner) and cover with a lid. Stir the spinach, when it has wilted, remove from the heat and replace the lid to keep warm. Cook the eggs until just set, about 3 minutes.

Butter the muffins halves, top with the wilted spinach and the 2 eggs then pour over the chilli cheese sauce…

Garnish with coriander or parsley leaves and devour greedily…..

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