Tag Archives: shallots

Grandad’s Pickled Onions

14 Jul

My grandad is 92. He still grows most of his own veg in his back garden and his front garden is always full of flowers. I remember when I was little we used to go round at the weekend and he would take me outside to show me the vegetables.  When I was little the only vegetable I would eat was sweetcorn. I remember him picking the fresh corn cob off the plant and giving to me to eat raw. I can still taste it now. It was the sweetest sweetcorn I’ve ever tasted.

He also had pheasants & partridges hanging from the ceiling of the garden shed that you had to walk under to use the ouside toilet. Not so nice.

My grandad has 9 children, my dad being one of them, as well as 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and 1 great, great grandchild. When I was younger the whole family would descend on my grandparents every Boxing Day. The kids would open all their presents and play together and the parents would eat, drink and get drunk, generally.

One of the best things about Boxing Day at Nan & Grandad’s was the buffet. The table in the back room was filled with cold roast meats leftover from Christmas Day as well as the obligatory sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks and the cheese board. Next to the cheeseboard there was always a big jar of grandad’s homemade pickled onions.

When I was younger I remember being  terrified of these pickled onions. I could see the whole red chillies floating around in the jar. That and the fact that the adults would dare each other to eat them and laugh when someone started coughing and going red in the face, stopped me from going near them until I was much older. Probably about 16.

Once I tried one there was no going back. They are fiery (depending on how long they’ve been left to mature) but also totally addictive. Just make sure you’re amongst family when you eat them. I wouldn’t eat them before a hot date or job interview. Not a good idea.

When we first moved to Spain ten years ago and opened the restaurant, my grandad came to visit with my uncle David. As usual, they asked if there was anything we needed from England, thinking we’d say Marmite or tea bags. I asked him to bring some of his pickled onions, half joking.  And he did.

Can you imagine the look on the faces of the security at the airport? This was in the days before the 100 ml liquids rule obviously. I was very pleased, as you can imagine.

 One of our very good customers at the time, Tim, always ordered the cheese plate instead of a dessert. We used to serve fresh fruit with the cheese, grapes or figs, whatever was in season.

One evening we didn’t have any fruit left to serve with the cheese so I explained this to Tim when he ordered his usual. He asked me if we had any pickled onions instead. I explained that all we had was a jar of my grandad’s homemade. He said that would be perfect. 

Of course I obliged, warning him beforehand of their special potency, and he loved them! Every time Tim and Tony came for dinner from then on, Tim would order his cheese plate with grandad’s pickles on the side.

The funny thing is that Tim and Tony ended up being our best friends over here and 2 years ago they bought the restaurant from us. I like to think that it is all down to grandad’s pickled onions!

This year my auntie Pat came over with my mum and asked if we wanted anything. I couldn’t ask her to bring grandad’s pickled onions because of the no liquids rule and also because I knew she would be up to her luggage limit (It’s a woman thing!) So instead I asked her to bring the recipe so I could make them myself. That and some sumac, vanilla extract and allspice. There’s always something I can’t get here.

So here is the secret recipe for Grandad’s Pickled Onions. I’m only sharing it with you because you deserve it. Don’t go telling everyone about it though…..

Grandad’s Pickled Onions Recipe

makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free

  • 5oogr small onions/shallots, peeled
  • 1 pint (550 ml) malt vinegar
  • 2 large tbsp black treacle (I used miel de cana) or brown sugar
  • 2 red chillies

Put the peeled onions in a bowl of cold salted water and leave for about an hour. Drain and leave to dry.

Put 1/2 pint (275 ml) of the vinegar in a saucepan with the treacle/brown sugar. Bring to the boil stirring continuously until dissolved and then set aside to cool.

Put the onions in your jar and pour over the cold vinegar and treacle mix. Top up with the rest of the malt vinegar, it needs to cover the onions. Cut the chillis in half lengthways and push them down inside the jar. Seal with a lid and store in a cool dry place for about a month before opening.

Thanks Grandad,

Lots of Love,

Natalie xx

Turk(ish) Pizza with roasted squash, shallots, chilli, garlic and feta

16 Mar

 It has taken me a long time to find the perfect pizza dough especially because I want a wholemeal version. Most of my attempts up untill now have turned out like pastry rather than pizza.

By perfect I mean, thin, crispy and bubbling at the edges. To find my perfect pizza I did a lot of research and this is a hybrid of three different recipes I found. The lovely dough is from here and it is made with beer. It caught my eye because of the beer and thinking about it, it makes sense. If you want a bubbly crust add bubbles, it works with tempura and beer batter so why not with pizza.

The thing I have learned about getting a crispy base is don’t overload your pizza with toppings (especially tomatoes) as they make the base soggy. My favourite Italian restaurant, La Pergola in Fuengirola, have a dish called base de pizza which is not really a pizza at all. It is a pizza base with  roasted garlic and parmesan which they serve with the homemade chilli oil to drizzle over, it is so good. It is actually a starter, like garlic bread but we order it every time we go as a main dish because we can’t bear to not have it. We share that and a bowl of their homemade pasta, normally the parpardella al funghi. I’ve never tried their pizzas, which I’m sure are amazing too, because every time I go I have to have the base de pizza.

So for my perfect pizza topping I found a recipe for Roasted Onion & Garlic Parmesan Pizza which looked ideal. But then I found a recipe for Turkish Pizza called Pide which was topped with spice roasted squash, feta and chilli that I couldn’t resist. So I put them both together added some fresh herbs for a bit of greenery and came up with this gorgeous pizza which I just had to share with you. The flavours are unusual for a pizza but, I think, all the better for it. You should try it, it’s delicious….

Turk(ish) Pizza with Roasted Squash, Onion, Garlic, Chilli & Feta

makes 4 individual pizzas, vegetarian

For the dough: Adapted from The Red Spoon

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast 7 gr
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 55 ml warm (not hot) water
  • 150 gr white bread flour
  • 300 gr wholemeal bread flour
  • 165 ml or more of warm beer
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together the yeast, honey and warm water in a large bowl and leave for at least 10 minutes until foamy. When foamy add in the flours, beer, olive oil and salt and stir to combine. You may need to add a splash more beer to make it come together.

Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 & 1/2 – 2 hours.

Cut the dough into quarters and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.

For the topping: Adapted from Delicieux & The Best I Ever had

  • 5oo gr butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp baharat seasoning & 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 3 0r 4 large shallots, cut in half & peeled
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, chop the top off
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • about 75 gr finely grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese
  • 200 gr Greek Feta
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven 2oo C.  On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, put the squash on one half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, the Baharat seasoning & cinnamon. Toss everything together with your hands and spread out in one layer. On the other half of the baking sheet, put the shallots & garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, toss to coat and put the shallots cut side down and the garlic bulb cut side up. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes until everything is browned and the squash is tender. Leave to cool slightly then slice up the shallots and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their paper cases.

Now back to the dough. Preheat/turn up the oven to 220C and heat up 1 or 2 large baking sheets. (You can probably only cook one or two pizzas at a time). Roll out one piece of dough, on a floured surface as thinly as possible, brush all over with olive oil and place on a piece of floured baking parchment. Scatter over a quarter of the onions, smush on a quarter of the garlic, sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan, a quarter of the oregano, a quarter of the chopped chilli and tumble over a quarter of the squash.  Season with a little salt & pepper and crumble over a little of the feta. Repeat with the next piece of dough etc..

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until browned & bubbling.  Crumble over some more feta and sprinkle with the chopped coriander & parsley.

Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!!

    
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