Tag Archives: cooking

Moroccan 7 Vegetable Couscous with Saffron and Moscatel Raisins

29 Sep 7 Vegetable Couscous

Apologies for the extended absence but the computer was being mended so I couldn’t blog or access any of my photos, so frustrating. On a positive note all this spare time afforded me a window of opportunity to join Pinterest.

Oh dear, it’s very addictive, I mean really, if you haven’t already got an account, give it a go. It’s a great way to organise all your favourite things from the internet onto different boards so you never lose or forget about that fantastic recipe, that amazing paint colour or that must-have pair of shoes. The Washer Up is threatening to leave me but said he would have to put it on my Pinterest feed or I wouldn’t even notice. No, really?

So if you want to see what I would like our lounge to look like when he has eventually finished re-rendering all the walls, what food I will be cooking, what food styling and photography inspires me and what shoes and bags I own in my dreams, then why not follow Cook Eat Live on Pinterest here. He just said “or you could try getting a life instead”, so rude!

I said in my previous post for  the Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia that I have been watching Moscatel grapes turn to raisins on the vine at one of the small farms that I run past with the dog in the mornings. This got me thinking about recipes including raisins.

At the same time one of our friends brought us some beautiful saffron all the way back from Afghanistan. He is another one of those men (like this pink watermelon martini loving guy) who would have to kill me if I told you his name. No, seriously he would. Apparently.

So, raisins and saffron take you in a certain direction gastronomically, and I had been wanting to try out a Moroccan restaurant in Malaga called Al- Yamal for a while. So, with my friend Caroline and my camera, I jumped on the bus and made a day of it. It being eating and drinking of course.

The restaurant is tiny, only about six tables, but comfortable and beautifully decorated so you are immediately transported to a Moroccan souk by the fabrics, lanterns, arches and delicious smells coming from the equally tiny kitchen. We were the only people in there when we arrived apart from the owner reading in the corner, his wife in the kitchen, his father with his grandson on another table and his son taking our order. A proper family business.

The food was lovely as was the service. We had the hummus with homemade pita bread, a roasted red pepper salad and the seven vegetable couscous to share. Caroline also ordered a lamb kebab which she said was delicious. The vegetable couscous comes to the table in a painted terracotta tagine. As the lid is removed you are drawn in by the warm scent of cinnamon, you see the different vegetables and chickpeas piled up the sides of the golden mound of couscous and the plump raisins and toasted almonds on top. You are also given a separate jug full of the spiced stock used to cook the vegetables to pour over as you wish. That was the best bit for me, I really enjoyed the whole dish and decided to try to recreate it when I got home.

Malaga continues to surprise every time I go. There is always something new to discover  food-wise, bar-wise or culture-wise which makes it my favourite city and one of Spain’s best kept secrets.

The seven vegetables you use can be whatever you have and whatever is in season but I would definitely use some root vegetables as they keep their shape with the cooking process. I used carrots, butternut squash, green beans, courgette, leek, green beans and red onion. Parsnips, turnips, potatoes or sweet potatoes would also be lovely.

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Couscous with saffron & raisins

Serves 6, vegan. Adapted from The Vegetarian Times

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, quartered & cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 leek, halved washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • a big pinch saffron
  • 1/4 tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 3 tomatoes, cored cut into 8 wedges (or 400ml tin chopped)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 500 -750 ml water
  • a small bunch parsley & coriander stalks
  • 1 courgette, quartered & cut into 2 inch batons
  • 250 gr carrots, peeled, halved (or quartered) and cut into 2 inch batons
  • 200 gr green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 350 gr butternut squash, peeled cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
  • 1 tin 400 g cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 100 g raisins (I used Moscatel raisins they are bigger and juicier)
  • 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 1 squidge of honey
  • 300 ml couscous
  • 300ml veg stock or water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a  big pinch of saffron
  • olive oil
  • fresh coriander and parsley, chopped

Cook the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until softened and caramelising. Add the leeks, garlic,and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Add a splash of stock if it gets dry. Then add the saffron and the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, adding a splash of stock if it gets too dry.

Add in the tomatoes, stock, 500 ml water and herb stalks. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the hard vegetables (carrots and  squash) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the courgettes, beans, chickpeas, raisins and honey, season well with salt & black pepper and cook for 10 minutes more or until all vegetables are tender, you can some more water if you think it is too dry. Taste and add more honey, salt or even some lemon juice if required

Meanwhile make the couscous. Measure 300ml couscous into a measuring jug and then tip it into a large bowl. Measure the same amount of stock or water and heat it in a saucepan with the pinch of saffron and the ground cinnamon. When boiling, pour this over the couscous, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with some olive oil and quickly mix it in with a fork, not a spoon. Cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, fluff the couscous up to separate the grains again, with a fork and taste for seasoning. Pile a mound of couscous onto each plate (or a large serving dish/tagine) and make a well in the middle. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the well and arrange some around the edge of the couscous too. Ladle some of the cooking stock left in the pan over the dish and transfer the rest into a jug to serve alongside for everyone to help themselves to.

Top with some toasted almonds, chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Buen Provecho!!

My Weekend Inspiration….

21 May Baby Persimmons

A lot of people ask where I get my inspiration and ideas from. It’s usually the first thing they ask me if they know about my blog. Apart from being influenced by all the amazing restaurants we visited in Cape Town recently, I get inspiration every day when I go out running with Rufus (the dog) and occasionally The Washer Up comes too.

It’s when I get time to think about ideas and things come together somehow. I’ll try to explain: on Saturday I saw this apricot on the ground as I was running past a field that normally has a Shetland pony in it. The pony is not there anymore but we always look to see if he’s come back.  I noticed that there were two apricot trees laden with fruit that were just about ripe. One had fallen on the ground so I took some pictures of it. I wanted to take some more close up pictures of the tree with the fruit on it but I am a bit short and would have to climb on a fence to get the shots. A job for The Washer Up definitely.  He was coming running with us on Sunday, I would have to wait.

Further on I saw these roses and had to stop to photograph them. The coral one is so beautiful I can still smell it now when I look at the picture, can you?

These apricot roses caught my eye aswell. It must be an apricot thing. So now we have apricots and roses, in my head I mean, not physically. I didn’t steal them, honest.

Next I noticed that the almond trees have started to bear fruit (or nut) and you can see little furry green pods all over the branches. These protect the young green almond inside. So almonds join the apricots and roses in my head. What does apricot, rose and almond say to you? To me it says, Moroccan, Middle Eastern exotic, floral, sweet pastries. Or even slow-cooked fragrant tagines sweetened with dried fruits and topped with crisp, toasted almonds. Or lightly aromatic Tabbouleh or couscous salads studded with jewel coloured fruits and crunchy nuts and flecked with bright green fresh herbs. So that is where my mind is going on that one. Watch this space, I am getting apricots in my organic veg box this week.

Oh and he got the apricot tree shots by the way….

Sunday was all about photographing baby fruits and getting excited about future summer recipes. The creative process begins now. There are baby persimmons to think about.

Watching pomegranate flowers turning into fruit before your eyes.

Baby quince with their furry skin just beginning to show.

And tiny little bunches of grapes peeking out from under the vine leaves. Lots to think about.

We also saw a farmer harvesting his red potato crop on the way round.

Very exciting, we had been watching them grow for a while but had no idea that they were red until now. Aren’t they lovely? He also had some enormous spring onions growing next to the potatoes. So I’ve now opened a new file in my head that contains red potatoes and spring onions.

There are also some beautifully vibrant green lettuces that are desperate to be included somewhere too.

On the way back home we went to a new organic farmers market that is held every Sunday morning in Coin. My friend Judi had told me about it, so we went to have a look. It’s a local initiative to encourage people to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from their neighbours rather than supermarkets. All the stallholders live in Coin and have private small holdings. Some are organic and some are not but it is all clearly marked.

And guess what the first organic stall we came across was selling?

Oh yes, red new potatoes. It’s the little things that make you happy isn’t it. We bought a kilo, I have no idea what I am going to do with a kilo of new potatoes but they were 50 cents, so I couldn’t ask for half could I?

They also had some young garlic at the back there. So this file now contains, baby new red potatoes, spring onions and spring garlic. It has got to be a potato salad with those ingredients. But not a rich mayonnaise heavy potato salad, I’m thinking more of a light wine and stock cooked potato salad with olive oil, herbs, spring onions and garlic. It’s a French thing, I’ve seen it on Barefoot Contessa. I may have to try roasting some too as I have bought so many….

It’s only a small market but there was a local potter doing his thing and we also bought some of these deliciously sweet little organic strawberries.

They have a special destiny in a separate mental folder that I will share with you tomorrow…….

Mushroom Goats Cheese Ravioli, Butternut Sauce, Confit Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, Basil

9 Apr Ravioli with Butternut Sauce

This recipe is inspired by a couple of dishes we tried at Reuben’s restaurants in Franschhoek and Robertson. For those of you that don’t know, Reuben Riffel is the Chef Patron of the, now very successful chain of Reuben’s restaurants in South Africa. The first restaurant opened in Franschhoek seven or eight years ago and put the town well and truly on the map as a culinary destination. Reuben’s food is all about flavour and freshness of ingredients and has a definite world influence. His consistency has kept this popular award-winning restaurant at the top of the ever-increasing number of fine-dining establishments in the town. Which is why, I presume they decided to open another one.

Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel is an oasis of calm, serenity and cool styling. I had to physically restrain myself from diving (dream on) into the pool that lies adjacent to the suites as we arrived at the restaurant. Our table overlooked the pool area but luckily the menu was enough to take my mind off of that view.

The menu is typically Reuben. For starters we chose the water, summer & sweet melon salad with poppy-seed dressing, light & refreshing. The marinated mixed tomato, artichoke salad, olive caramel, deep-fried boconccini, pesto, tomato chutney. The deep-fried boconccini mozzarella balls were beautiful (must try at home soon) and came with the best tomatoes I’ve had for a long time. The Washer Up had the double baked gruyere souffle, waldorf salad, raisin puree, vanilla citrus vinaigrette. The souffle was light and flavourful, excellent with the sweet raisin puree which I recreated to go with this tart.

The main courses that lead me to this recipe came from both restaurants. Goat’s cheese ravioli, yellow pepper essence, pine nuts, confit tomato, spinach and olives from The Robertson and Butternut Ravioli, melting goat’s cheese mousse, pine nuts, tomato, yellow pepper essence from Reuben’s in Franschhoek. Mine is a mash-up of both.

Oh, and the desserts are to die for. Bon Courage white muskadel creme brulee, poached plum, plum ice cream.  Heaven.

Vanilla Panna Cotta, lemon thyme poached peaches, apricot sorbet, enough said.

Affogato: vanilla ice cream, Klipdrift gold brandy, hazelnuts, hot espresso shot. I’m going to try this at home but with frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) next time

The thing about Reuben’s food is the flavour. Every dish has a small amount of chilli in it. You don’t really notice the heat it just enhances all the other flavours. I love it. Oh, I forgot about the side dishes they do a Parmesan Truffle Oil Mash which is the most comfortingly addictive thing I have ever tasted. I didn’t get a picture because we ate it too fast.

This is my version of a Reuben dish. I made a wholemeal pasta dough with spelt flour rather than 00 flour. It actually worked really well. I’ve had disasters with wholemeal pasta before but the spelt flour seemed to be better. I did leave the dough in the fridge to rest overnight as well though. This may have helped it firm up more.

I contacted Reuben’s for the recipes and they, very kindly, sent me  a few different ones. The mushroom filling is from one dish (I added the goat’s cheese) and the Cape Malay butternut sauce is from a completely different dish. It may sound odd but it all balances out well and tastes great. The only thing I may do differently next time is trim some of the “skirt” of the raviolis (above) so that there isn’t so much double layer dough, or even use more filling to reach nearer the edges.

The confit tomatoes are intense little balls of flavour that burst in your mouth. I will definitely make these again, for pasta or salads or anything really. You may think life is too short to peel cherry tomatoes and I do kind of agree with you but, it means they soak up all of the garlicky herb oil they are soaked in. You could just saute them in a pan to save time.

Mushroom Goat Cheese Ravioli

Serves 2, vegetarian. Adapted from the Reuben’s recipe

  • 200 gr ’00’ flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 2 large eggs

Mix together in a processor until it forms a dough. Bring together, knead for a minute, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I left mine overnight.

  • 12 chestnut (or mixed) mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 small sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp soy sauce + 1 tsp sugar (or 2 tsp kecap manis)
  • 2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • about 30 gr goat cheese, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten for sealing raviolis

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in  a pan over a medium high heat and cook the mushrooms and rosemary for a minute. Add the soy, sugar and Worcester sauce and saute until the mushrooms are dark, soft and the liquid has all been absorbed. Leave to cool completely before filling the raviolis.

Roll out the pasta dough, on a well floured surface with a rolling-pin or pasta machine until 1mm thin. Cut out circles about 7cm in diameter. Take a tablespoon of the (cooled) mushroom filling and place on one side of the circle. Top with a piece of goat cheese. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold it over to cover the filling. Press down around the filling to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the edges are sealed and there are no holes in the dough. You can cut off some of the excess skirt of the ravioli if you think there is too much. Place on a tray on a piece of baking paper until ready to cook. Store in the fridge if necessary.

To cook: carefully lower them into a large pan of salted, boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. They should float and look softer. Drain and serve immediately with your choice of sauce.

Garlic & Herb Confit Tomatoes

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 175 gr cherry tomatoes
  • 25 ml white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, sliced finely
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt & black pepper

Put a cross in the bottom of each tomato, put in a bowl and pour over boiling water till covered. Leave for 20-30 seconds, drain and then shock in iced water for 30 seconds. Peel immediately.

Warm the oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic and shallot over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Pour this over the peeled tomatoes and leave for at least two hours at room temperature before serving. Reheat in a pan with some of the oil. Season with sea salt & black pepper just before serving.

Cape Malay Butternut Squash Sauce/Soup

This makes a lot of sauce so I used it as a soup for lunch the next day as well.

  • 600 ml veg stock
  • 1 tbsp Cape Malay spice mix (see my recipe here)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 celery leaves & tops, chopped
  • 750 ml grated butternut squash
  • 400 ml milk/cream (I used oat milk)
  • 1 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
  •  a squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 1 tin (400 ml) coconut milk (optional)
  • salt to taste

Put the stock, squash, Malay spices, onion, garlic and celery leaves in a large pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash is soft. Add the milk, season with the salt, sugar and bring to the boil again. Cook for a few minutes to reduce slightly.

Remove from the heat and carefully blend with a stick blender until smooth. You can serve as it is or add a tin of coconut milk to make it more soupy. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and taste for seasoning.

I used a potato peeler to make some courgette ribbons which I heated through with the tomatoes and toasted off some pine nuts. Some baby basil leaves and fresh rocket look pretty for a garnish too.

For more information about Reuben’s restaurants and The Small Hotel visit their website here

Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup

29 Dec Japanese Soup

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging over Christmas? You need a bowl of nutritious soup that makes you feel all virtuous and healthy inside.

Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has dark green skin with lighter stripes. Inside, the flesh is a bright yellowy orange colour and it has a natural sweetness that makes it delicious as well as nutritious. I saw this one growing in the fields where we walk the dog but have been unable to find them to buy here. Apparently they are readily available in Australia, New Zealand & the US as well as in Japan obviously.

Azuki beans (or adzuki beans) are small, reddish-brown beans with a white ridge along one edge. Cooked, they have a sweet, nutty flavor. They originated in China but are also popular in Japan. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating these amazing little beans. Taken from Natural Health Articles Continue reading

Indian Spiced Scotch Egg with Curry Mayo and Turmeric Potatoes

24 Nov Vegetarian Scotch Egg

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

Pisto Con Huevos – A Rustic Spanish Classic

1 Oct small-8

Pisto con huevos is a Spanish version of ratatouille (pisto) topped with an egg then baked in the oven, in my version anyway. Alternatively you can top it with a fried egg or mix the eggs into the pisto like scrambled.

This popular rustic dish is often referred to as Pisto Manchego because it was first developed in central La Mancha. Manchego means “from La Mancha”. You may not know that the true Manchego cheese is made only from whole milk of the Manchega sheep raised in the “La Mancha” region.  Hard cured sheep’s milk cheeses from other regions are called Queso de Oveja Curado. Continue reading

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine and Pineapple

29 Sep Martinique Sweet Potato Curry

The inspiration for this recipe came from watching a farmer harvesting his sweet potatoes. They look really beautiful coming out of the ground, their terracotta skin mirroring the colour of the soil, lying there baking in the warmth of the sun.

Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is part of the French Caribbean.  The first European to encounter the island was Christopher Columbus in 1502. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Créole Martiniquais. Continue reading

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Pease Pudding

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Chica Andaluza

Sometimes Up a Mountain in Andalucia and sometimes Down by the Sea on the English South Coast

Tony Ward on everything

The gospel according to me!

Agrigirl's Blog

Placemaking for Healthier Communities and a Healthier Planet

Kitchen Operas

Gluten-Free Deliciousness

for the love of yum

A girl who loves to cook fresh, fun, and global cuisine.

The Path To Authenticity

Mind, Body & Spiritual Growth