Tag Archives: costa del sol

Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce

31 Aug

I was looking for recipes containing scotch bonnet chilli peppers because our plant is producing more chillis than we can cope with at the moment. Apart from making more of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce, I am trying to find ways of including them in every meal.

I found a Trinidadian recipe for crab cakes that were coated in grated sweet potato and served with a Callaloo sauce. Callaloo is a popular Caribbean stew or soup of West African origin made with leafy greens called Callaloo or Taro that are similar to kale and spinach. There are many different versions but in Trinidad they use coconut milk, okra and peppers as well as the greens. In Jamaica they use tomatoes and spring onions. The African-American dish Collard Greens is also a version of Callaloo.

In this recipe the callaloo is blended to make a smooth sauce to serve with the cakes. I omitted the crab (obviously) and used roasted and mashed sweet potato as the base for the cakes mixed with Caribbean herbs and spices and our lovely scotch bonnets for heat.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Cakes with Callaloo Sauce

Serves 2-3. Vegan, Gluten-free.

For the cakes:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes (550gr)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • whole bulb of fresh garlic (outer leaves peeled off but still held together)
  • 1 or 2 scotch bonnets chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 3 spring onions/scallions, chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • the zest of 1/2 a lime
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 200C. On a lined baking tray, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil, allspice, cumin, dried thyme, chilli flakes salt & pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until soft. Roast the head of garlic at the same time.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl with half of the roasted garlic cloves that have been squeezed out of their skins. Cook the spring onions and scotch bonnets with a pinch of salt,  in a little oil for a few minutes until softened. Stir this into the potatoes with the chopped coriander and lime zest. Check for seasoning, add more salt or lime zest if necessary. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge while you make the sauce.

For the Callaloo Sauce:

  • 1 tin coconut milk, 400 ml
  • 100-150 g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • the rest of the roasted garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli (whole)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, whole
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus extra for garnish

Put everything except lime juice & coriander in a med-large saucepan, season with salt & pepper and bring to the boil stirring to wilt the spinach. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-25  minutes, then remove the whole scotch bonnet (don’t throw it away) and thyme sprigs.

Carefully blend with a stick blender (cover with a towel) or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, if it is not hot enough cut the flesh from the scotch bonnet and add that to the sauce and blend again. Add the lime juice and chopped coriander and taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and keep warm while you cook the cakes.

Shape the sweet potato mix into 6 patties or smaller ones for canapes if you like. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium high heat. when the oil is hot add the cakes to the pan and cook for a about 2 minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Pour enough sauce into your dishes to cover the base and top with 2 or 3 cakes. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander and serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

We served this with a side of Caribbean Chargrilled Sweetcorn to carry on with the theme.

I am writing this listening to helicopters and light aircraft flying low over our house. Last night a friend, Andrew rang me at about to say that he could see lots of smoke coming from the mountains where we live. He was staying in his house across the valley at the time. I walked upstairs and opened the door onto the outside terrace and was greeted by huge plumes of orange smoke coming from the mountains in at the edge of our town. The view from the roof terrace was even worse and confirmed our fears.

The Barranco Blanco valley was on fire.

Totally unbelievable and shocking photographs started to appear on social networking sites as we heard about thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

The fire was spreading rapidly, helped by the wind conditions, down the valley towards the coast. Friends of our were extremely worried about a dog rescue centre that was in great danger. Many people came to help and all 300 dogs were helped to safety along the riverbed towards Fuengirola before the fire reached them.

Our thoughts are with the families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed and we hope beyond all hope that this tragedy was not premeditated.

The area affected is one of the areas where we walk with dog. This morning we went out with heavy hearts to see if some of our favourite beauty spots were still there. Thankfully our favourite hill where we love to sit and look down to the coast has only been blackened on one side. The other side is as yet untouched, the firebreaks actually worked.

The whole valley is devastated, all the wildlife and plants destroyed. This is how it looked before.

Looking through all the photos of how it looked before is really upsetting. Rufus on top of the world….

Stay Safe Everyone

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Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies at The Lakes

21 Feb

Wholemeal cookies taste really good and they are healthier. Don’t kid yourself though there’s still butter and sugar in there but chocolate is an antioxidant so that makes up for it – sort of!!  These were part of a picnic we took the lakes at El Chorro yesterday.

 Half an hour away at  Malaga Airport, millions of tourists arrive every year and get on a coach to Marbella or Fuengirola to spend a week or two on the Costa del Sol and fly home again completely unaware that this exists. Whether this is a great oversight by the Andalucian Tourist Board or whether they are purposefully keeping it a secret I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame them. At this time of year it is all but deserted except at the weekends when a few Malaguenos bring a picnic or some meat to barbeque.

It does get busier in the summer when we all escape the heat of the city or towns to swim in these freshwater lakes. There are campsites, picnic areas, public barbeques, canoeing, pedalos, and fantastic walks. It is great for kids and adults alike there’s something for everyone. Whether you like to do a lot or very little,  you can find your perfect spot here……

The colours are amazing. The bright turquoise of the lakes contrasting with the dusky pink terracotta soil and green patchwork landscape take your breath away every time you come. You never quite believe it’s real. 

The geology is stunning too. The Washer Up tells me this is sandstone (he studied Geology at university). Is it just me or does this (above) remind you of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona? You know the curved balconies?

The thing is they are not actually lakes. They are man-made reservoirs. Franco flooded the whole area, including some villages, to create the water reservoirs for Malaga. How something so beautiful can be man-made doesn’t make sense to me. Especially made by that man. It must have been the best thing he ever did…..

Anyway we found our picnic table with a view (above) and sat down to make our egg salad sandwiches…

If you want to know how to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg see my instructions here…..

Then we shared a cookie before going for walk around the lake and finding a sheltered sunny spot to read the paper. Does a Sunday get any better than that? I don’t think so, the cookies are pretty near perfect too….

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

makes 18 – 24, vegetarian.  Adapted from a Culinate recipe

  • 380 gr wholemeal flour (I used self-raising because that was all I had and 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225 gr cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 140 gr brown sugar
  • 200 gr caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 gr plain chocolate (70%) roughly chopped into 1 cm chunks
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sieve the flour, baking powders and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl or food processor on low whisk/mix together the butter & sugars until blended, about 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is combined. Mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again.

Add 3/4 of the chopped chocolate & hazelnuts to the mix saving the rest for the tops. Mix until evenly distributed.  Take a heaped tablespoon of the batter and put it onto the lined baking sheet, pressing it down slightly. Leave about a 3 inch gap between each cookie, they spread like mad. You should only have about 6 cookies per sheet or they will all blend into each other. Sprinkle a little of the leftover chocolate & hazelnuts on top of each cookie and press in lightly. Put one sheet in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third. Bake for 10 minutes then swap the baking sheets around (top to bottom etc) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven & leave to cool on a rack on the baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

These cookies are deliciously special enough to serve as a dessert, warm and chewy, straight out of the oven with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream melting on top. Or leave to cool, store in an airtight container and they will firm up to a more crunchy everyday cookie.

Share them with friends or do like the Andalucian Tourist Board and make them your best kept secret……

Buen Provecho!

Keralan Soft Boiled Egg and Aubergine Curry

4 Dec

Kerala is one of those places I dream of visiting. An Ayurvedic retreat specialising in vegetarian food near the tea & cardamom plantations would be perfect. A place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, somewhere like this…

Until that time comes I am happy to cook my own versions of Keralan dishes from home and use my walking as a means of rejuvenation. Today we walked to the top of a hill  I had been intrigued by for a while. It has some trees and what looks like a retreat or chapel at the top and I wanted to walk up there..

We had to walk up hill through the pine forest to get to the fire break, which is what looks like the path from down below.

When we got out of the forest about half way up we could see Alhaurin(the town where we live) and the snow on the mountains in the distance.Nearer the top we could see over the other side down to the coast and the sea. This is the Costa del Sol seen from the other side. The side that most tourists never see….

At the top was a deserted building that looks like it  is used for observation or maybe a forest warden’s office.

Whatever its use is, it is now our own private hilltop retreat! It’s free and the views are priceless…

It’s not Kerala but we can walk there in an hour and stay as long as we like….

I think this will be the first of many times that we will find ourselves at this sheltered hilltop retreat, but next time we will take a picnic, we were starving by the time we  had walked home. Definitely in the mood for a Keralan curry…

 Keralan Egg & Aubergine Curry Recipe

serves 2 or 3  vegetarian

  • 1 large aubergine cut into quarters, lengthways and chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 2 or 3 large eggs (1 egg per person)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • oil for frying (coconut oil would be good)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  •  2 cardamom pods (crush and use the seeds)
  • 250ml -500ml veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or jaggery)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • salt & black pepper

*Punch pooran is a spice mix made with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds. fennel seeds & fenugreek seeds. You can get it from Indian supermarkets or from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion & spices. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens then add the chilli, ginger & garlic. Mix everything together adding a little veg stock to stop it drying out. Add the aubergine chunks, stir to coat them in the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes until the aubergines begin to soften & brown slightly. Season well with salt & black pepper. Add the chopped tomato, vinegar, tamarind & sugar, stir and add about 250 ml of the veg stock. Cook gently for about 15 – 20 minutes until the aubergines are really tender and the sauce has reduced. You can add more veg stock if it seems too dry. Stir in fresh coriander and check seasoning.

Meanwhile put a small pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling turn it down slightly and cook the eggs in the boiling water for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwys.

Serve the aubergine curry topped with the soft boiled eggs and some extra chopped coriander.

I served this curry with some onion seed flatbreads see recipe here and a dollop of  Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh mint & lemon juice. Some coconut and cardamom infused rice would be lovely too.

The combination of the sweet, spicy aubergines with the texture of the perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg is so lovely, you wonder why you have never tried it before. It may sound strange but it is really delicious.. Enjoy!!

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