Tag Archives: green

Pretty Pickled Peppers Recipe

5 Sep

As in “Peter Piper picked a peck of…..”. A peck is a lot by the way, about 8 pints worth. I didn’t buy that many, I resisted from buying the whole crate of organic Pimientos Picante that were shining up at me from the floor of one of the stalls at the market on Sunday.

I bought quite few though, enough to think “What the hell..?” when I got home and realised that I already have a freezer full of our own homegrown red and green chillis and a scotch bonnet bush that is producing more than we can cope with at the moment.

I’m a sucker for them though, it didn’t even cross my mind, as I stuffed a few greedy handfuls into a bag, paid and left with a smile on my face and thoughts of pretty jars of pickled peppers on imaginary wooden shelves in a pantry that only exists in my dreams rushing through my brain. What can I say, it’s an addiction.

Pretty Pickled Peppers Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from David Lebowitz

  • about 350 g chilli peppers (mixed red & green)
  • 350 ml vinegar ( I used a mix of apple, sherry, rice and white wine vinegars)
  • 350 ml water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp course salt Himalayan or kosher
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Pierce the peppers all over a few times with the tip of a knife and pack them into a sterilised jar. Put the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the entire contents of the pan into the jar with the peppers until they are all covered with the pickling liquid, seal with a lid and leave to cool. When cooled store in the fridge. You are supposed to leave them for at least a week but we couldn’t wait that long.

Apparently they get better the longer you leave them but we served them to our friends the next day and they were really good. Jeanne is now known as The Chilli Queen.

Enjoy!

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Green Fig and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta with honey, basil and black pepper

22 Aug

It’s green fig season here……

I bought a kilo at the organic market on Sunday…..

I also bought a jar of local goat’s cheese spread. You may have already noticed that one of my favourite food combinations is fig and goat’s cheese from this Dried Fig & Goat’s Cheese Pizza and this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche.

But this gives all the fabulous flavour in a fraction of the time. It literally takes 5 minutes to make and the ingredients are local. To me anyway… The figs and goat’s cheese are from Coin (next village).  The honey I used is not actually honey, it is called Miel de Cana (cane honey) which is molasses from Malaga, a delicacy used liberally in this local recipe for Berenjenas con Miel (fried aubergines with honey).

I finished it off with a grinding of black pepper, some flakes of sea salt, a drizzle of Andalucian extra virgen olive oil and some baby basil leaves from our terrace. Andalucian sunshine on a plate, sending it your way if you are in need of some….

Green Fig & Goat Cheese Bruschetta Recipe with honey, basil & black pepper

Serves 1 as a snack, vegetarian

  • 1 large ripe green fig, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 piece of wholemeal/brown/rustic bread
  • goats cheese
  • black pepper
  • miel de cana or honey
  • sea salt
  • small fresh basil leaves
  • extra virgen olive oil
  • salad leaves to serve (optional)

Toast the bread under a hot grill (or in a toaster) on both sides. Spread the goat’s cheese on the toast and top with the wedges of fig. Generously drizzle over the honey and grind over the black pepper.

Put under the grill for a few minutes until bubbling and hot. Serve sprinkled with flakes of sea salt, baby basil leaves and drizzle over some olive oil. Add a handful of salad leaves to the plate if you like.

Serve this as a luxurious breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack or supper. Even as a starter/appetizer it works very well. Easy, impressive and it takes minutes. Which is always a good thing.

Buen Provecho

Spring Pea & Thyme Risotto with Manchego and Olive Tapenade

18 Jun

When we were in South Africa, one of the most memorable meals, for me was at Makaron at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Having visited, and eaten in, about thirty restaurants in nineteen days it takes something quite special to stand out from the crowd.

In a sea of  mainly white, minimal, distressed wood interiors (which I love, by the way), this was a welcome diversion.  The bar has an opulent gentleman’s club/hunting lodge feel, with dark navy and gold upholstery and lighting. It manages to be eccentric and elegant at the same time. It is quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is very refreshing.

 The Washer Up was very pleased (understatement) with the fact that they have a beer pairing with each of the dishes as well as wine pairings. This is the first time that I have come across this and think it is genius, especially as they are promoting local microbreweries at the same time. I have read in numerous publications recently that Beer is the New Wine and that some restaurants have started hiring beer sommeliers but this is the only place I have seen it in action.

 There is a sense of humour in the food that compliments the quirkyness of the restaurant perfectly.

The bread was brought out on a slate (my favourite thing) and included a beautiful braid, crispy lavash, homemade butter, anchovy mayonnaise, olives, figs, lavender & rosemary. The Amuse Bouche was a Peppadew Popper in beer batter with guacamole & sour cream.

For a starter we ordered the Caprese Terrine, tomato cloud, basil gelee, semi dried tomatoes, olive oil powder which was beautiful and delicious. And the Garden Pea Risotto, garlic espuma, smoked olive tapenade.

The main courses we had were an Open Duck Egg Ravioli, young artichoke, asparagus, truffle caviar, which was amazing, I loved the little beads of truffle caviar. And a Mushroom & Roasted Corn Open Lasagne that the chef Tanja prepared especially for us.

All the food was excellent but the stand out dish was the pea risotto with olive tapenade, it was stunning, and I don’t even like olives. This dish changed my mind. The pea risotto tasted like the best mushy peas you have ever had, the flavour intense & the texture comforting. There was a deliciously creamy garlic & parmesan veloute with it and the olive tapenade just took it to another level taste wise. Such a surprisingly good combination, even if you think you don’t like olives, like me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the original recipe from Tanja because she is a very busy lady working in Paris at the moment sharpening her skills even further at Alain Passard’s restaurant L’Aperge. But when I picked up some of these beautiful fresh garden peas in my organic veg box I couldn’t wait any longer and I had a go at it myself anyway.

I love the mixed mauve colours of these olives, so pretty with the bright green peas. A match made in heaven, believe me.

I used a mixture of fresh and frozen peas. I made a puree with the frozen and kept the fresh ones whole. You can use all fresh if you have that many, or indeed all frozen if you have no fresh. I used brown short grain rice to make my risotto but you can substitute arborio for a creamier finish and a lot shorter cooking time. It will also make the finished risotto look more green than mine.

Summer Pea & Thyme Risotto with Manchego and Olive Tapenade

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 gr frozen peas (or fresh if you have that many)
  • 50 gr fresh peas (podded weight)
  • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  •  a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves removed & chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1 litre (up to a litre & a half for brown rice) veg stock
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50 gr manchego (or parmesan) grated plus 1 tbsp to finish
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 gr arborio (or brown) rice
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the tapenade:

  • 75 gr good quality olives, buy with stones in, then remove them if possible (better flavour)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or to taste)
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper
  • extra virgen olive oil

To make the tapenade, put all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blitz to a smoothish puree. Drizzle in the oil a bit at a time, blending until you get the desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt, lemon or garlic as required.

Cook the 150 gr frozen peas in two ladles full (just enough to cover the peas) of boiling veg stock with the parsley & thyme for about 5 minutes until soft. Puree this (stock & peas) with the grated cheese and season with salt, pepper & nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Put the veg stock in a small pan over a medium low heat to keep warm but do not boil. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat then cook the onions for 4 minutes with a pinch of salt, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Do not brown. Stir in the rice and coat in the oil, add in the wine and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the hot stock a one ladle at a time waiting for each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked and you have a soft soupy risotto. This should take about 20-25 mins for arborio, longer for brown rice. If you run out of stock add hot water.

After about 15 minutes add the uncooked fresh peas, then when the rice is nearly cooked stir in the pea puree. When the rice is cooked add the cream cheese, tablespoon of grated cheese and squeeze of lemon. Put on the lid, remove from the heat and leave for 2 minutes.

Taste for seasoning before serving with a quenelle (or dollop) of the tapenade, a few fresh thyme leaves and some shaved Manchego.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…….

Jacarandas, I love their pretty purple flowers, like a tree full of droopy bluebells…..

And Oleanders in soft apricot…..

Or electric pink against the bright blue sky….

Golden Jasmine Martini

22 Sep

I walk past this beautiful jasmine plant every morning with the dog and brush past it to release it’s exotic perfume.

I’ve been thinking about what I could make with jasmine. I have jasmine green tea that I drink every morning and was exploring ideas around that. I thought about making a Jasmine Tiramisu (or tea -ramisu) because The Washer Up made an amazing Tiramisu with Darjeeling tea when we had a special menu from the region of Darjeeling in India. I still might do that but it is a lot of work (and calories).

I was flicking through some newspaper cuttings The Washer Up’s dad had sent me. He cuts out anything to do with food and sends it to me along with any classic books he may have picked up in a charity shop, thanks Jim for keeping my brain functioning and furthering my literary education!!

In one of the clippings there was a recipe for a Rose & Lychee Martini. This got me thinking about a Jasmine Martini, an alcoholic iced tea, a Mar-tea-ni if you like. I love the golden colour it’s very elegant & expensive-looking.

Golden Jasmine Martini

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 heaped teaspoon jasmine green tea
  • boiling water
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes
  • 2 measures vodka (or gin) be as generous as you’re feeling, about 100 ml should do it
  • 1 tbsp 15 ml sugar syrup or honey
  • jasmine flowers to garnish

Put your martini glasses in the freezer to chill for as long as you can. Half an hour is good.

Make a cup of jasmine tea with boiling water and leave it to steep for a few minutes. Add the honey or sugar syrup and stir to dissolve it.

Put the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and pour the tea, through a strainer (to catch any tea leaves) into the shaker and add the vodka or gin. Shake well until ice-cold and strain into the frozen glasses. Garnish with jasmine petals and enjoy.

Serve this as an aperitif before a fragrant Asian meal or with canapes to people you’d like to impress….

Cheers!!

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

16 Sep

As you know I get most of my food inspiration from the fruit & vegetables I see growing in the fields where I walk with the dog in the morning.  There are hundreds of these peppers everywhere.

This time of year there is always a glut of tomatoes. So much so that they are basically being given away or left to rot on the ground.

This whole field of corn is being left to dry out completely. The corn was ripe about a month ago but has not been harvested. I don’t know why, I’m hoping that they are going to use it to make corn flour or something. It seems such a waste.

My scotch bonnet chilli pepper plant is still producing more chillis. I have 3 large tubs already in the freezer and it has just flowered again which means another crop.

I have just been back to England for a few days for my mum’s birthday. As usual I had to buy another cookbook while I was there. This time I decided to go for something Caribbean as I have so many Scotch Bonnets to use. The book is Spice it Up by Levi Roots.

There are lots of recipes I’m eager to try but his Caribbean chilli was the first one because it used a lot of stuff I had to finish up in my fridge. I love recipes like this It’s so versatile. I added the sweetcorn and used lentils instead of kidney beans as  that is what I had.

I also have a really healthy thyme plant on my terrace. It’s not woody at all so you can use the whole sprigs for seasoning as well as the leaves. Fresh thyme is used a lot in Caribbean food.

So you can kind of see how my brain works. The stuff I see growing while walking the dog stays in my head. It gets added to the things I have on my roof terrace and inspiration from books brings it all together somehow.  It’s this creativity that I love and that keeps me cooking and writing this blog.

So I made the chilli which was delicious on its own with some rice or cornbread and then used the rest to stuff into the green peppers for lunch the next day. A sprinkling of grated cheese before roasting gives it that something extra and takes it in a slightly more Mexican direction.

For that late summer vibe you can’t beat a bit of Caribbean spice. So if it’s rainy where you are, bring on the sunshine, get creative and start cooking.

Caribbean Chilli Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4 as chilli, 6 for stuffed peppers, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.

Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

For the Caribbean chilli:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • salt & black pepper
  • a bunch of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly diced
  • 2 small long green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 250 gr mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped (or 1 x 400 gr tin)
  • 1 or 2 red chilli (ideally scotch bonnet) I used 4 of my small ones
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tin/jar cooked lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tin/jar cooked kidney beans/white beans, rinsed
  • 1 ear of corn, silk removed and kernels sliced off into a bowl
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree/ketchup)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 or 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 a lime juiced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot & garlic and cook for about 5-8 minutes until softened.

Season well with salt & pepper and add the cumin, allspice and fresh thyme leaves, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Next add in the  peppers, cook for 2 minutes then add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped tomatoes, chillis, sweetcorn, lentils & beans and stir well. Then add the tomato puree, sugar & soy sauce.

Lower the heat, cover and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, add more salt, sugar or cayenne pepper if not hot enough for you. Stir in the chopped coriander and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Serve straight away with plain boiled rice or some cornbread or use to stuff peppers.

For the Stuffed Peppers:

  • 1 large long green pepper per person
  • Caribbean chilli (see above)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • dried chilli flakes
  • grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds and core. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the peppers on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme leaves and chilli flakes, toss to coat.

Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, you can do this while your chilli is cooking if you like. When the peppers are cooked spoon the cooked chilli into the peppers and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes for the cheese to melt. Cook for 15-2o minutes if the filling is cold.

Serve on their own or with a simple green salad.

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

My best friend Tara, who I miss a lot, made dinner for me when I was back in England. I’ve never seen her cook before so I was very honoured!!

Especially as she made my White Bean Dip  as well as a Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Salad, Nachos and some delicious Spicy Roasted Potatoes. It was  far too much food for the two of us but we still managed to polish off some Baklava and a bottle of pink champagne.

She has two gorgeous Chihuahuas, a boy & a girl called Rocky and Coco. Rocky is the white one and Coco is brown. I don’t usually like little yappy- type dogs but they are so cute.

Thanks T, I miss you. Come and see me soon!!

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

4 May

May Day here is known as Dia de la Cruz “Day of the Cross”. It is also Dia de los Verdes “Day of the Greens”. In Alhaurin there are two main churches known as The Greens & The Purples (the colours of the Andalucian flag). For the whole long weekend and Tuesday the Green Church known asVera Cruz have processions, marching bands and let off rockets very early in the morning and very late at night.

Thankfully it stopped raining long enough to get out and take some photos this week.

I can’t pretend to know what it’s all about but they seem to enjoy it and it brings the community (well one half of it anyway) together. Rows of different types of chairs are tied together all along the procession route so no one can steal a precious front row seat.

After the processions everyone congregates at the church.

Everyone is wearing green. Purple is a definite faux-pas. Unless you are our friend Miguel, who was over from England with his girlfriend Lindsey for the Bank Holiday. He decide to rock it in lilac jeans, despite all the funny looks, classic Miguel, hilarious….!!

So in keeping with this green weekend and to atone slightly for the purple jeans incident I have made a Green Vegetable Minestrone. This is my favourite soup that we served at the restaurant. I got it from a Cape Town cookbook my Dad gave to me. It is really fresh tasting and more Springy than a classic Minestrone. You can use whatever green veg you like just make sure you give it loads of fresh basil…

I kept it vegan & gluten-free by using rice vermicelli. You can use any pasta you like but keep it tiny. Freshly shaved parmesan on top is the authentic addition that I replaced with toasted pine nuts. Either way it’s a deliciously healthy bowl of goodness that leaves you feeling all virtuous inside…

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

serves 6 , vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Cape Town Food by Phillippa Cheifitz

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 big Spanish spring onion (or 4 or 5 scallions)
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 small cabbage, cored & finely shredded
  • 125 gr green beans, 2 cm diagonal slices
  • 1 courgette, diced
  •  bundle of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, 2cm diagonal slices
  • 100 gr frozen peas
  • 50 gr rice vermicelli (or other tiny pasta) 
  • 150 gr rocket (or spinach/watercress)
  • 1+ 1/2 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a big bunch of basil, leaves torn or sliced when served
  • 25 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • shaved parmesan (unless vegan)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat, add in the spring onions, leeks & celery with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to soften about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic & parsley and cook for another minute or two.

Add in the cabbage and cook gently for about 10 minutes (you don’t want it to brown) add a splash of stock if dry. Then add in the rest of the vegetables, except the rocket and basil, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt & black pepper, pour over the stock, bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat & simmer for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and rocket and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add more stock if you want it more soupy than stewy.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over lots of freshly torn basil, the toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan (if using). Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin.

I think Los Verdes would approve don’t you?

Asparagus and Spring Garlic Custard Tart

5 Apr

These pretty little hairy bulbs are spring garlic. Also known as young garlic, green garlic or garlic shoots. They look a lot like spring onions but have a sweet, mild, fresh garlicky flavour. They can be used in place of garlic in any dish and because they have a more delicate flavour can also be used raw in salads as you would a spring onion. In Spain they are called ajos tiernos or ajetes and are used frequently in cooking. One of the most popular dishes is revuelto de ajos tiernos which is eggs scrambled with spring garlic.

This is actually a combination of two recipes put together. The first for an Asparagus Tart from The Art of the Tart and the second for Wild Garlic Custards with Cheddar & Mustard Straws from Terre a Terre. I changed the puff pastry cheese straws for a puff pastry tart and mixed the asparagus into the garlic custard. I wanted a savoury version of a Portuguese Custard Tart type thing.

If I was to do it again I would probably use a blind baked short crust pastry case instead of puff as the base of my tart was undercooked even though I part baked the tart shell before filling it with the custard. Either that or part bake it for longer, say 15- 20 minutes instead of the 10 minutes I gave it. If you are buying a part baked tart case you can miss out the mustard seeds & grated cheese as I don’t think they will stick to the cooked pastry.

Asparagus & Spring Garlic Custard Tart Recipe

serves 4-6, vegetarian

  • a 9 or 10 inch shortcrust pastry case (bought or homemade)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • a sprinkling of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little milk
  • 50 gr spring garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of chives, finely chopped
  • 50 ml whole milk. I used goat’s milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150-200 gr cream cheese (depending on the depth of your tart)
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a bundle of asparagus, snapped and woody ends removed
  • a handful of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200 C. If you have made your own pastry case, bake the pastry blind (by putting some greaseproof paper in the case and filling it with a layer of dried beans) for 15 minutes. Then remove the beans & paper and brush the base with the egg wash and sprinkle over the mustard seeds, grated cheese. Prick all over the base with a fork and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pastry case from the oven to cool and turn the oven down to 180 C.

Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, run under cold water and set aside to cool. Put the finely chopped spring garlic, chives and milk in a bowl or food processor and blend on high until smooth.  Mix the eggs & egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the cream cheese, then add the garlicky milk mix and beat together until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.

Spoon or tong the cooked asparagus into the tart case evenly then pour over the garlic custard. Sprinkle over a little grated cheese and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until just set and slightly browned. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some buttery baby new potatoes for a more substantial dinner. Garnish with some more chopped chives and enjoy this celebration of spring flavours!!

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