Tag Archives: cooking

Andalucian Stuffed Vine Leaves with Spinach, Raisins and Almonds

4 Sep

I’ve been watching these grapes drying on the vine and turning into raisins. Every day I walk past them and wonder if they are going to pick them today or whether they are just leaving them to rot.

There’s a traditional Andaluz dish called Espinacas con Pasas y Almendras which is Spinach with Raisins & Almonds. I wanted to use this as a filling for stuffed vine leaves because it is similar to the Greek/Middle Eastern filling except they usually contain rice. I wanted to do and Andalucian version but I couldn’t find vine leaves anywhere, they just don’t sell them.

So I decided to pick some and use them, well I got The Washer Up to pick them actually. I read about how to prepare them here. Basically you just wash them, blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water, drain them, leave them to dry and then store them in the fridge or freezer.

Or you could just buy them in a jar and rinse them before using.

When you’ve made the filling you pile a heaped teaspoon onto the vine leaf at the bottom where the stalk has been removed. Then you fold the bottom leaves up over the filling, fold the sides in and roll up like a spring roll.

I only cooked mine for 15 minutes because my filling didn’t contain rice. Most recipes I looked at were cooked over a low heat for about 45 minutes to cook the rice. This is much quicker.

This makes quite a lot of filling and I didn’t have that many vine leaves (as I had picked them off somebody elses vine) so I used the rest of the filling to make some empanadas which were lovely too. You can buy ready to use round empanada sheets or make you own pastry from my recipe here.

Just pile  a heaped tablespoon of the filling on one side of the circle, fold the other side over to make a semi-circle and seal the edges with a fork. Brush with olive oil or beaten egg and cook at 200 C for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your pastry.

Andalucian Stuffed Vine Leaves with Spinach, Raisins & Almonds

makes 24-36 stuffed vine leaves, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 gr frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped (optional)
  • 75 gr whole toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 50 gr raisins
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • salt & black pepper
  • 50 gr manchego cheese, grated (or crumbled feta)
  •  a squeeze of lemon juice
  • vine leaves (rinsed if in brine) see how to prepare vine leaves here

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another minute.

Add in the nuts, spinach, raisins and nutmeg, season with salt & pepper and cook for another few minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the grated cheese. Taste for seasoning and drain away any excess liquid from the spinach. transfer to a bowl to cool.

Lay out your rinsed or blanched vine leaves (cut away any stalks) on a clean surface veiny side up. Pile a heaped teaspoon of the filling onto the bottom part of the leaf where the stalk was (see picture above) then fold the bottom leaves up and over the filling. Fold both sides of the leaf in and over the filling, then roll it up like a mini spring roll.

Place all the rolled vine leaves seam side down in a saucepan, squash them together so there’s no gaps. Drizzle with olive oil and then cover with water to about and inch over the vine leaves. Cover them with a heatproof plate (to stop them floating up), bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer, cover with lid and cook for about 15 minutes (if your filling doesn’t contain uncooked rice). Keep an eye on them though and try not to burn the bottom of the pan. I may or may not have done this!

Remove with tongs to a plate and leave to cool.

Serve at room temperature sprinkled with fresh parsley and a Greek yoghurt dip. I just mixed some Greek yoghurt with chopped fresh parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…….

My beautiful, if slightly mental cats……

The gorgeous and terribly aloof Anouschka. Also known as Moomin Mamma (If you don’t know what a Moomin is, they have big staring eyes).

The beautiful Biba, bonkers but very attentive….

And the baby Tallulah, looks evil, scared of everything but loves to be loved….

This is her favourite spot….

Tempura Green Peppers with Dipping Sauce

2 Sep

First of all, sorry for my lack of posts recently. I’ve had some sort of virus and I couldn’t eat. I know, it was awful. Everything made me feel sick, even the smell of food was repulsive. I haven’t cooked anything for a week. The Washer Up has been surviving on pasta (and beer obviously) and is now desperate for something different.

This has been on my “to make” list ever since these beautiful long emerald peppers first made an appearance in the fields where we walk the dog about  a month ago. They are known as frying peppers here and are used in a typically Andaluz dish called Pimientos Fritos (fried peppers) where they are simply fried in lots of good olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

This Spanish/Japanese fusion came to me because I wanted to do something a little different from the usual fried peppers and I saw Nami’s recipe for Shrimp Tempura. She also posted a video of a Japanese chef making proper tempura and I was intrigued. It looked light, airy, crispy and delicate. A million miles away from the doughy excuses you get for tempura in most places.

They are not perfect but I’m really pleased with my first attempt at making tempura. They are light, crispy and gorgeous with the dipping sauce. It’s not as hard as I thought. The kitchen’s a bit of  a state though, better clean that up before The Washer Up gets home…

I’d definitely recommend heading over to Nami’s blog and watching the video if you are going to have a go at this. It’s amazing to watch and so much easier than me trying to explain it!

Green Pepper Tempura with Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 2, vegan. Adapted from Just One Cookbook

  • 4 medium long green peppers (frying peppers)
  • 2 or 3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch, maizena)
  • 100 gr (3/4 cup) flour. I’m going to try it with rice flour next time.
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml iced water
  • oil for deep-frying

For the dipping sauce:

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 1/2 tsp dashi flakes/powder (I used ajishima no dashi)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine or sake
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of shichimi (a Japanese 7 spice chilli pepper mix)
  • salt & shichimi to serve

First make the dipping sauce. Heat all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the dashi. When boiling remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Cut your peppers in half lengthways, through the stalk so that both sides has a bit of stalk to pick them up with. Lay them on a plate and sieve over the cornflour. Turn the peppers in the cornflour until evenly coated. Heat up your oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a medium high heat, 170 C.

Sieve the flour, baking powder & salt into a bowl and whisk in the ice-cold water until just combined to make a batter. Don’t over whisk. 

Dip your peppers into the batter and coat them well (you will need to do it in two batches). Carefully lower them into the hot oil and sprinkle over some more batter from a height with your fingers. This gives it that extra light crispy coating. Use a metal slotted spoon or chopsticks to move the peppers onto the bits of batter (watch the video it explains it so much better) and cook for 2 or 3 minutes turning once to cook on both sides.

Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest.

To serve, pile up the peppers sprinkle with sea salt and shichimi pepper and pour some of the dipping sauce into a bowl.

 Buen Provecho!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

I’ve been trying to get a shot of this for ages. There’s a pair of them in the spring where Rufus likes to cool down. They look like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly. The Washer Up got the shot in the end, he was more patient then me and willing to balance on a rock in the stream while trying not to fall in.

He also spotted this one through a gap in a fence….

I love that you can see it’s cute little face…

Have a great weekend…

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!!

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!

Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

25 Jun

Our chilli plant on the roof terrace has loads of green chillis on it all of a sudden. I’m sure it grows about 5 centimetres overnight. It’s been so hot here  so we have been watering it really well every evening when the sun goes down. It seems to be very happy there.

This is my cue now for putting chilli in everything. Not that I need another excuse. The Washer Up loves anything with chilli in it especially Indian food. Apparently eating chilli cools you down in hot weather too. Like having a cup of tea is supposed to. I don’t know about that but I’m willing to give it a try, this heat is unbearable.

Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spicy sauce) is one my favourite dishes. I always order it, along with Tarka Dal (spiced lentils), and Saag Aloo (potatoes with spinach) when we go out for Indian food. I borrowed this recipe from Dani at Moderate Oven which combines two of my favourite dishes. Chana Saag is spiced chickpeas with spinach. I’d never tried it before and couldn’t wait to debut our homegrown green chillis.

Chana Saag-  Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach Recipe

serves 2-3, adapted from Moderate Oven

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 gr frozen spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus some leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom pods and cook for a minute until they start to pop, don’t let them burn. Add the onion and cook for around 4 minutes. When the onion begins to soften & brown then add the ginger, garlic & green chillis and cook for another minute.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric & cayenne pepper until coating the onions then add the tinned tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the frozen spinach, stirring the tomatoes around and over it and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the spinach until completely thawed.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or processor to (carefully) puree the spinach until smooth. Put the pan back on the heat with the spinach and add the rinsed chickpeas to it. Season with salt, pepper & garam masala and simmer, partially covered, for 8 -10 more minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Add boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the chopped coriander, squeeze over some lemon juice and check the seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon on the side.

That reminds me I must go and water the chilli plants, it has been another ridiculously hot day, they must be thirsty!

Things that made me smile today…..

I think it must be baby snail (caracolillos) season. They live on the wild fennel at the side of the road. You see people with buckets picking them off.

It looks like they like artichokes too. If I wasn’t  vegetarian I would make a Snail, Fennel & Artichoke Risotto. But I am, so I won’t. Don’t let me stop you though….

Buen Fin de Semana!

Mee Goreng – Malaysian Fried Noodles

22 Jun

Mee goreng which translates as fried noodles is a very popular dish in Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore. Thought to be derived from Chow Mein, it is believed to have been brought over by Chinese immigrants.

There are hundreds of different variations of  Mee Goreng. It is sold from stalls as street food as well as in high-end restaurants. Some versions contain prawns, chicken or beef.  This recipe came from Ami’s Vegetarian Delicacies who lives in Malaysia. I changed the egg noodles to soba noodles to keep it vegan & gluten-free and used cashews instead of peanuts but apart from that it is fairly similar to her original recipe.

Malaysian Mee Goreng Recipe

serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Amis Vegetarian Delicacies

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 150 gr mushrooms , cleaned & thinly sliced
  • a handful of cashew nuts (I used salted)
  • 150 gr chinese cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shaved into ribbons with a peeler
  • 1 stick celery, diagonally sliced
  • 1 tbsp chilli bean paste
  • 200 gr soba noodles (or egg noodles)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions, sliced diagonally (save some of the green parts for garnish)
  • 1 spring garlic, finely sliced

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce or kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp curry paste (I used Massaman curry paste)
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli sauce)

To Garnish

  • a handful of fresh coriander/chives (optional)
  • a few slices of spring onion (green parts)
  • a handful of cashew nuts (I used salted)
  • a handful of crispy fried onions (bought in a bag/tub)

Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cashew nuts and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned. Tip this into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan add a bit more of the oils, when hot , stir in the cabbage, carrot, celery and chilli bean paste and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Tip this into the bowl with the mushrooms and mix well.

Meanwhile cook the noodles in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet, drain them in  a colander, rinse under the cold tap to stop them cooking and set aside.

For the sauce heat the sesame oil in the same frying pan over a medium heat and stir fry the spring onion, garlic and ginger for 2 minutes but don’t let it burn. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir everything together for a minute.

Reduce the heat slightly, stir in the noodles and cooked vegetables and mix everything to coat in the sauce and heat through. Serve immediately garnished with more cashews, spring onions, crispy onions and fresh coriander/chives.

This is also equally delicious served cold/room temperature the next day as a salad.  This gives the flavours time to develop and mingle together.

Enjoy!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

A field of lilac flowers….

Apricot Oleander….

Bright orange/coral rose, amazing…..

Soupe Au Pistou- A French Summer Classic

18 Jun

Walking past the farms at the moment it is clear that we are at an “in-between” seasons moment. The tomatoes are still green, the peppers are on their way but apart from that not much is happening.

The only vegetables being harvested are the new season potatoes…..

Leeks…

And the enormous Spanish spring onions..

Potato, leek and onion just sounds like a soup doesn’t it? But I didn’t want to make a thick, creamy leek and potato soup, it’s far too hot for that. And Vichysoisse, non!  Call me a heathen if you like but, even coming from the land of Gazpacho, I can’t eat cold soup. I wanted something light, fresh and clean tasting.

I remembered seeing Raymond Blanc making his mother’s (Maman Blanc’s) summer vegetable soup which he served with a basil pistou. Pistou is the French version of pesto, without the nuts. It looked so clean, clear, healthy and delicious. Just perfect for a summer’s day, and it’s quick too. The vegetables are still quite al dente (or whatever the French word for al dente is) which adds to the freshness of the dish.

The pistou is amazing. I made mine with parsley instead of basil because I didn’t have any. When I buy basil here in the summer it wilts in the heat before I get home, so annoying.

You just blitz a big bunch of parsley (or basil) leaves with extra virgin olive oil and loads of garlic.  The original recipe uses parmesan as well. I left that out to keep it vegan and it was still stunning. Drizzled over the finished soup it lifts all the flavours and takes it to another level.

It keeps really well in a sealed jar in the fridge too. If you make this amount you will have some left so you are only minutes away from a quick and delicious dinner. Just stir the pistou through some cooked pasta and garnish with toasted pine nuts and/or parmesan. Or drizzle it over some sliced fresh tomatoes for an impressive side dish or salad.

This recipe is actually a combination of Dorie Greenspan’s Warm Weather Pot- Au-Feu and Maman Blanc’s Soupe Au Pistou. The original Soupe Au Pistou would also contain white beans so you could add some cooked haricots or cannellinis towards the end of cooking to heat through if you like. I thought the new potatoes were enough to give it body. Chopped fresh tomato is another ingredient that is sometimes added. I just cleaned out what I had in my fridge.

Soupe Au Pistou Recipe

serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Spanish spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut off dark green parts (could keep for making veg stock), quartered lengthways, rinsed and sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces (reserve leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 6 baby new potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 large carrots (or 4 small) quartered lengthways & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces diagonally
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres good quality veg stock ,preferably homemade (or water)
  • 1 strip lemon zest (use a peeler)
  •  2 inch piece lemongrass, cut in half, lengthways and bruised
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into thirds
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, removed stems, cleaned, finely sliced
  • 100 gr frozen spinach (or a bag of fresh, stems removed)

For the Pistou

  • a big bunch of basil or parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ground white pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan (optional)

First put all the pistou ingredients in a processor (or mortar & pestle) and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge.

In a large soup pan, heat the oil over a medium heat then add the onions, leeks and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots season with salt & pepper and pour in the stock/water. Throw in the lemon zest and lemongrass, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer gently (uncovered) until the vegetables are just tender about 10 minutes. The soup can be kept in the fridge now until you are ready to serve.

Bring back to the boil and add the asparagus, mushrooms (beans & tomatoes if using) and frozen spinach. Cook for another 4 minutes until asparagus is tender (add fresh spinach and celery leaves if using to wilt).

Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Ladle onto a warmed soup plate and drizzle generously with the pistou.

Bon Appetit!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

Jacarandas en la Plaza Alta…

Have a Great Weekend & Happy Father’s Day !! xxx

West African Jollof Rice

5 Jun

This is another one of the recipes  that I first made while watching the World Cup last summer. The other being my Brazilian Bean Patties. I decided to make a dish from one of the countries playing in each match. This recipe was from when England played Ghana. There are many different variations on Jollof rice from all over West Africa but nearly all are tomato based with whatever vegetables you have, or are in season, added.

Most versions also contain chicken, which I have obviously left out. If you want to add the chicken just fry off some chicken pieces first to colour them then remove them from the pan, continue with the rest of the recipe and then add the chicken pieces back in when you add the stock.

The Washer Up pointed out that it is very similar to Paella and I had to agree. I think this would have something to do with the fact that Paella came to Spain during the Moorish occupation. It is believed to be a derivation of a Pilaf or Pilau and you can see that in the name.  The Arabs were also in West Africa for a long time controlling the slave trade in that area so obviously would have had an influence on their cuisine also. It makes sense doesn’t it. So Pilau, Paella, Pilaf  and Jollof could all have started out as one dish that over the centuries has been adapted by many different cultures and adopted as part of their own food heritage.

West African Jollof Rice Recipe

serves 4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 litre (2 – 4 cups) veg stock
  • 2  ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1oo gr cooked kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 50 gr frozen peas (I used a peas & sweetcorn mix)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 400 gr (2 cups) wholegrain rice
  • 150 ml tomate frito/tomato passata/puree
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, herbs, spices, salt & black pepper and cook until the onions have softened (about 5 minutes). Then add the garlic, fresh chilli & ginger and cook for another minute.

Next add in the chopped vegetables and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables are partly cooked(5 -8 minutes).

Stir in the rice then add the tomato puree and stir over a low heat to coat the rice. Next add 1/2 litre of stock, season with salt & black pepper and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, over a low heat, covered until the rice and vegetables are cooked and all the stock has been absorbed. (About 25 minutes). Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and add more veg stock if necessary, a cup at a time, to stop it becoming dry before the rice is cooked.

Check for seasoning and serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Things that made me smile today…

Giant Dandelions…?

Make a wish Rufus….!

Middle Eastern Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

4 Jun

Tabbouleh (or tabouli) is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with bulgur wheat, tomato and spring onion. Loads of finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are added then it is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It is so simple to make and has bags of flavour from the fresh herbs. The lemon juice lifts all the other flavours making it a refreshing, easy and delicious salad which can be served on its own,  as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or as part of a mezze.

This is one of my favourite lunch dishes. I vary the ingredients slightly every time according to what I have in the house. I’ve replaced the bulgur wheat with quinoa to keep it gluten-free but you could use couscous as well.

This time I added my Chermoula Seasoning and some harissa paste to the quinoa while it was cooking as well as throwing in some juicy raisins to plump up in the cooking liquid. Some flaked almonds on top give it some added texture but it is really all about the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Whatever you do don’t skimp on the herbs….

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed in fine sieve
  • 450 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp chermoula seasoning
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional) or a big pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small red onion or 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (or the zest of 1/2 a lemon)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • salt & black pepper
  • small mint leaves for garnish

Put the rinsed quinoa, stock, raisins, chermoula seasoning, harissa paste, salt & pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the curlicues in each grain. Leave to cool.

Stir through the chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber and preserved lemon or zest. You can keep it in the fridge like this, in an airtight container until you are ready to serve it.

To serve, stir through the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and taste for seasoning. Tip into a serving dish and top with some flaked almonds and extra mint leaves.

Enjoy!!

Things that made me smile today…..

Thistles…

Double Layer Hibiscus…

Tequila Sunrise anyone…?

Have a great weekend!!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Miso Risotto

2 Jun

It was my birthday on Tuesday (I’m 38!). I had a bit of a boring morning, went to the hospital for a chest X-Ray (just a follow-up thing) then went food shopping in Mercadona (not exciting). It got better from then on though, I bought a new yellow dress (I’ve got a thing about yellow at the  moment) and then “The Washer Up” left work early so we could go out for a late dinner at our favourite Indian Restaurant (wearing the new yellow dress).

The Mumtaz Mahal in Coin is the restaurant that we love. We love the food (always delicious) and the staff (so polite & friendly) and we can take the dog and sit outside.  The food is stunning, none of that “one sauce fits all” type of Indian restaurant. Every dish has a unique flavour and is cooked to perfection.

We have been guilty, in the past, of always ordering the same things because they are so gorgeous (tarka dal, chana masala, vegetable balti, bombay aloo) but recently have decided to branch out and order something different every time we go.

My latest favourite is the Paneer Tikka. Paneer is an Indian cheese made in a similar way to ricotta which is then pressed to firm it up. The paneer is marinaded in the tikka sauce, threaded onto skewers with peppers & onions and then cooked until slightly charred. It comes out sizzling on a cast iron and wooden plate which all adds to the drama, I love it..

Please excuse the dodgy photo, I still haven’t worked out how to take pictures at night with this camera but you get the idea. And, before you say it, yes I did eat cheese, it was my birthday treat, I had a day off the detox (yay)!

They also do the most amazing bread called an Onion Kulcha which is a mixture between naan and pizza topped with onions, chilli and coriander. We have that every time without fail which means we don’t try any of the other breads but I just can’t not order it, it’s that good.

Oh and we always order far too much which means we get to take the leftovers away and eat (and photograph) them the next day….

Back to the recipe. I know that squash isn’t exactly seasonal here at the moment but I saw the bright orange in a sea of green and had to buy it. A lot of my readers are in the southern hemisphere (including my dad in South Africa) where it is  Autumn/Winter so I’ll use that as my excuse.

I usually make a squash and feta cheese risotto. I like the combination of the sweet squash and the sour salty feta. Making a vegan version was going to be challenge. I needed to get that same contrast in flavours without the cheese. Inspiration came from A Meandering Mango in Australia. She made a roasted squash soup with miso as she didn’t have any stock. Miso has that umami savouriness that I needed to off set the sweet squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Miso Risotto

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 700 gr) including seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 gr brown wholegrain rice (or risotto rice)
  • a big splash of beer
  • 1- 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 1 heaped tbsp miso paste
  • fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • lime wedges to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Scrape the seeds out of the squash with a spoon, wash all the orange stringy bits off and dry the seeds. Place them in one layer on a piece of foil drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the preheated oven for 4 -5 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on them they burn quickly!

Remove the seeds from the oven and turn it up to 210 C. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes (I didn’t peel it), put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and season with the salt & black pepper. Toss everything together with your hands so evenly coated and lay the squash out in one layer. Roast in the 210 C oven for 35 -40 minutes until well cooked, softened and slightly browned.

After about 20 minutes you can start making the risotto. Put the veg stock and miso paste in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the miso while you make the risotto. In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onion, celery and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the onions. When the rice is starting to turn translucent at the edges, add a good splosh of beer and cook until all the liquid disappears. Add a ladleful of the hot miso stock into the rice and stir or swirl the pan until all the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock, stir or swirl until absorbed and continue like this until the rice is nearly cooked. About 20 minutes with risotto rice, wholegrain rice takes about 25 minutes and more stock.

Stir in most or all of the roasted squash (depending on the size of your squash) and cook for 5 more minutes until it has melted into the risotto. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary.

Serve topped with the roasted squash seeds, a few fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime to spritz over if you like.

This has a slightly unusual flavour for a risotto but it is really delicious. In fact I’ve come up with the perfect name for it, it’s a misotto. You should give it a go, it’s surprisingly good, whatever the season…

Things that made me smile today..

Wild Orchids…

So beautiful…

A definite “Moment of Gratitude”…

Enjoy!!

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Chica Andaluza

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