Tag Archives: ideas

Baby Leeks and Tomatoes with Oregano and Thyme

14 Aug

I can’t really call this a recipe. It’s just four ingredients cooked quickly in a pan with some olive oil. Which is about all the cooking I can manage in this heat.  I have also been working (in kitchens) for the past three weeks so I also have a slight aversion to being in one longer than absolutely necessary.

This goes someway towards explaining  my recent blogging absence too. We have been working as menu consultants at a beautiful yoga retreat hotel and restaurant called Shanti Som in Monda/Marbella. We have created a menu for them that compliments the style of the surroundings and the health and well-being ethos of the retreat. The new menu takes the best from the hotel’s Asian roots and Mediterranean heart ensuring that there is hopefully something for everyone to enjoy. Starting with fresh, seasonal and colourful salads…

Moving on to a Roasted Vegetable and Goats Cheese Tartlet with an olive oil spelt flour pastry case, Lebanese Lamb Burger with hummus, chargrilled aubergine, tabouli and tzatziki salad, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and Fresh Fish of the Day with an Asian or Mediterranean marinade.

We then moved on to cooking lunch in a private villa for a family of 14 people every day for two weeks. Now this may sound like a bit of a nightmare but luckily they were very open to our “world of flavours” which made our lives a lot easier and more fun. The family was Iranian living in London, Paris, Boston and Switzerland. They meet up once a year for a holiday together. They were lovely people and we really enjoyed cooking for the whole family, including the children, which could be a little challenging at times!!

We cooked from a different country every day but our favourite (and I’m sure theirs) was the Persian food that we made. We learnt a lot about Persian cuisine from the Aunties, the Grandma and the nieces which was fabulous. We served a fresh rocket and herb salad every day, they love fresh herbs and greens (sabzi is the Persian word for greens).

The Washer Up made a gorgeous Persian Roast Lamb marinated in lots of spices and served with an apricot, orange and date glaze. Pomegranates make everything look beautiful and burst like sweet jewels in your mouth.

Alongside the Lamb and Herb Salad we also served Shirazi, a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and lime juice, Tomatoes Stuffed with feta, apricot and almond couscous and Sabzi (fresh herb) rice. Persian is my new favourite food. I didn’t even like dill before, now I love it! It’s so good in rice and in a Tzatziki dip as well as the mint you should try it. They also add sultanas and chopped walnuts which takes it to another level completely.

So back to the non recipe. It’s all about quality and freshness of ingredients if you’re going to go this minimal. We bought some tiny little baby cherry tomatoes and baby leeks from the organic market this Sunday. There they were next to each other as I unpacked the bag. Sometimes it is that easy. Sometimes you are incapable of anything else. Occasionally it all works out perfectly. This was one of those times. We have fresh oregano and thyme growing on the roof so they went in as well.

I served them with a poached egg and spinach on brown toast. You could eat them with anything. The next evening we had them with some Italian white bean and rosemary cakes. They would be lovely with a steak or to toss with some freshly cooked pasta or on their own with a chunk of nice bread.

Baby Leeks & Tomatoes with Oregano & Thyme

Vegan, gluten-free. Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 2 tbsp good olive oil (Andalucian Extra Virgen if possible)
  • 250 g baby cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better for quick cooking)
  • 3 baby leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed to get rid of any mud and finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, chopped (about 1/2 tsp) or dried
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped oregano leaves or dried
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and saute the leeks with a pinch of salt for about a minute then add the tomatoes and herbs. Season well with salt & black pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to split and soften. Serve with anything you like.

Buen Provecho!!

Advertisements

My Weekend Inspiration….

21 May

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…….

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

23 Dec

As this is probably my last post before the big day I thought I would share something Christmassy with you. This fudge is really easy to make and makes great gifts. Just wrap it in cellophane and tie up with a ribbon.

It’s actually one of Nigella’s Christmas Recipes. I do love Nigella even though she does come out with the cheesiest waffle sometimes. I’m saving up for her hips, not long to go now, especially after picking at this fudge. You have to trim the edges to get them nice and straight you see. You can’t waste it. Continue reading

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Hazelnut Mint Pesto

28 Apr

This is a great alternative to all those rich mayonnaise based potato salads. It is spring on a plate. Fresh, seasonal, delicious and completely guilt free. I served it warm as a side dish with dinner and then cold for lunch the next day. Both ways were lovely. It would be great for a barbecue or buffet too.

I bought some beautiful baby new potatoes from the market along with fresh asparagus & broad beans. This formed the base of my salad now I just needed  a dressing. My mint plant on the roof terrace is growing like mad with all the rain so I had to use it. A basil pesto would work really well too but I think the mint with the new potatoes is heavenly. The hazelnuts add a slight sweetness which rounds off the flavours and brings it all together.

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans & Hazelnut Mint Pesto

serves 2 -3 as a side dish, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 gr baby new potatoes, cut into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 bundle fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut in half or thirds
  • 200 gr broad beans
  • 50 gr toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (keep mint stalks) plus leaves for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 finely chopped small spring onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a grinding of black pepper

Put the potatoes and mint stalks in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil & cook until just tender. Add the asparagus & broad beans to the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and remove the mint stalks.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Process the hazelnuts, mint, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to a paste. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If you need to add more liquid use olive oil, lemon juice or a bit of veg stock.

If you like you can peel the broad beans at this point if the skins are tough and you want a brighter green colour. Tip the potatoes, beans, asparagus and spring onions into a bowl, pour over the pesto and mix everything together well. Check seasoning again.

Serve straight away sprinkled with some chopped hazelnuts and mint leaves or store, covered in the fridge until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it. Let it come to room temperature then garnish as above.

This is a really elegant, flavourful side dish that can be adapted to what is in season or what you have in the fridge. Green beans would be nice if you don’t have asparagus and try swapping the mint/hazelnut for parsley/almond pesto.

It has just occurred to me that this is the perfect dish to take to a Royal Wedding party tomorrow. Everyone seems to be watching it on TV at someone’s house and taking something for the buffet. I must be the only person who won’t be watching it. It’s The Washer Up’s only day off so we are going out and getting our hair cut instead…. It’s not like I won’t see the dress or anything. I’m sure there’ll be nothing else on the TV for days……..

Good Luck Kate, you’re going to need it!!

Brilliant Green Broccoli Soup

23 Feb

This one’s for my Mum. She loves broccoli and she loves soup so this should be her idea of heaven. Broccoli soups can be disappointing, sludgy, smelly and look a bit like dishwater if you’re not careful. This broccoli soup , however, is bright green, elegant, nutritious and delicious. The Washer Up claimed it was the best soup he had ever had, high praise indeed!!

The reason it stays bright green is because of the spinach added at the last-minute to boost the colour. What I like about this soup is that the predominant flavour is still broccoli with a background of cheese to give it richness and the touch of spice which brings it all together. You can make this soup as basic as you like just topped with a swirl of creme fraiche, or sprinkle over some toasted breadcrumbs, grated cheese and walnuts.  I found this soup recipe at All day I dream about food it’s from Cooks Illustrated magazine. I also found another recipe at The Dabble  which had great topping ideas my favourite being potato croutons.

To make the croutons I used some leftover cooked potatoes that I chopped into about 1cm dice. Put them on some baking parchment drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper & a pinch of cayenne toss to coat and roast in a 210 C oven for about 15 – 20 minutes until browned at the edges. Scatter the still hot croutons over the soup and serve.

As I still had some more potatoes left I thought I would try to glam it up a bit more by making a potato gallette to go on top as well. A potato gallette is a flat thin ring of overlapping potato slices usually made with raw very thinly sliced potatoes. My rather rustic attempt using cooked new potatoes, sliced turned out pretty well except the slices didn’t stick together as well as if you used raw potatoes.

To make a gallete, slice a medium new potato (mine was already cooked) as thinly as you can. Lay the discs on a piece of parchment to form an overlapping circle. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and bake at 210C for 15 – 20 minutes until browned. Keep an eye on them especially if they are really thin, they burn easily. Use a metal spatula to lift the gallete on to the hot soup.

Brilliant Green Broccoli Soup Recipe

serves 2 -3, vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • about 1 litre veg stock
  • water if necessary
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 10 squares frozen spinach (or about 15o gr fresh)
  • about 1oo gr grated cheese (I used manchego) parmesan or cheddar would be nice
  • your choice of toppings (see suggestions above)

Cut the broccoli into 1 inch pieces, peel the stem and chop that up into smaller pieces too. In a large pot heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add in the onions, broccoli, garlic, mustard, cayenne, salt & pepper. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until the onion is translucent or starting to brown. Add in about 200 ml veg stock and the baking soda, bring to a simmer, lower the heat slightly, cover and cook for 15 -20 minutes until the broccoli is very soft.

Add in the rest of the veg stock, bring to a boil and add in the spinach. If using fresh, stir to wilt then add in the cheese. If using frozen spinach cook for 2 or 3 minutes more until the spinach is soft, then stir in the cheese. Remove from the heat and blend (carefully) using a stick blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more water if your soup is too thick for your liking. To serve bring back up to the boil and ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish with grated cheese or see suggestions above.

Enjoy!!

Christmas Gift Biscotti with Chocolate and Cranberries

21 Dec

 

We’ve just been loaned a Nespresso coffee machine which is very exciting! We only drink decaf as caffeine sends The Washer Up a bit loopy but the decaf options are great. We are trying the Intenso the Lungo and the normal decaffeinato. They are all good but the Intenso is a bit Intenso for me…

All this coffee drinking gives me a really good excuse to make some biscotti. You have to have a biscotti with a coffee and they also make fantastic Christmas gifts. I thought I’d “Christmas” up the original recipe by adding chocolate and cranberries but you can leave them out or add chestnuts or hazelnuts instead. Don’t be scared this is a really easy recipe that you can impress all your friends with when they pop round for coffee….

Christmas Biscotti Recipe

makes about 25- 30 biscotti vegetarian

  • 25o gr plain flour
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 gr caster sugar
  •  2 eggs , beaten
  • grated zest of 1 mandarin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 110 gr toasted almonds, chopped (you can toast them in a dry pan or in the oven)
  • 65 gr dried cranberries
  • 65 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and toast the almonds if necessary.  Leave to cool and chop roughly. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla & almond extracts, the nuts, cranberries & chocolate. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands and the worksurface well and divide the mixture into two. Roll the first half of the mixture into a long sausage/log with your hands. (Start with both hands together in the middle and work your way out rolling). Roll the sausage to the length of your baking sheet and transfer it over to the lined baking sheet, flattening it out slightly. Repeat with the other half of the mixture. Make sure you leave space in between the two logs for them to spread.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25 -30 minutes until firm. Remove the tray from the oven, lower the heat to 150 degrees and leave them to cool slightly.

Remove the biscotti loaves from the tray and cut them into diagonal fingers about 2cm wide, put them back on the tray, cut side up and back in the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out completely.

You can also serve these after dinner with coffee or a glass of dessert wine (classically vin santo) to dip them in…

A great way to wrap homemade gifts is in clear cellophane (sometimes printed with snowflakes etc) which you can buy in most “euro” shops here in Spain. I rolled up 6 biscotti in the cellophane then tied each end with raffia (to make a christmas cracker shape). I tucked a few sprigs of lavender in the rafia bow because we have some growing on our roof terrace that smells lovely…..

I also wrapped my Mandarin jam( See recipe here) gifts in cellophane with a pink gingham napkin tied around the lid!!

I love it!!!

Thanksgiving Mezze Part 1: Butternut Hummus

22 Nov

This is one of the dishes I will be serving as part of my Thanksgiving mezze. I am English and live in Spain but this year I have decided to “adopt” the Thanksgiving concept and cook a fabulous dinner for some people I would really like to thank for their support over the last year.  The positivity I feel and gratitude I need to express is something I would never have imagined possible at this time last year. I feel more healthy, happy and alive than ever and for that I am truly grateful…  Thank you!

Anyway back to the mezze, as Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, I thought that a mezze would be the perfect thing. A delicious vegetarian feast in the middle of the table for everyone to pick at and enjoy. I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Hummus on this amazing blog www.tasteofbeirut.com  There are so many delicious recipes that I want to try on this blog but the Pumpkin Hummus was just perfect for Thanksgiving. I have adapted it slightly by using butternut squash instead of pumpkin which I roasted.

Roasted Butternut Hummus Recipe

Adapted from a Taste of Beirut recipe

Serves 4 Vegan

  • 1/2 butternut squash 750 gr plus
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch dried chilli flakes
  • the juice of 1 & 1/2 lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic minced with a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp tahini

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Scrape out the seeds from the squash and spread them out on a sheet of foil, picking off any stringy bits of squash then set aside. Cut the squash into small pieces (about 1 inch triangles) and put them on a lined baking sheet/tin. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & black pepper and sprinkle with good pinch of chilli flakes then toss everything together with your hands so evenly coated. Roast the squash on the middle shelf of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until  tender. Put the squash seeds on the bottom shelf of the oven (on the foil) and toast for about 10 – 15 minutes until slightly browned. Sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before pulling off the skin. Blitz the squash with a stick blender or pulse in a food processor until smooth-ish.

Mix the minced garlic with the lemon juice then add the tahini and stir to combine well. Add the tahini mixture to the squash and blitz again to combine. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.

Place in a serving dish sprinkled with the toasted squash seeds and serve with leek & cumin seed flatbreads (see my recipe) or with some lavash or pita triangles.

This is the ultimate dip for me – all the flavour of hummus with the added sweetness and colour of butternut squash. I’d make double if I was you, it disappears really quickly….

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