Tag Archives: simple

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!!

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

Savoury Feta and Pomegranate Cheesecake with Pistachio, Mint and Parsley (and a Winner!!)

29 Oct

Having seen Beth Michelle’s beautiful pure white sweet cheesecake bed topped with a generous pile of glistening ruby pomegranate jewels, I knew that I was going to make a cheesecake with the pomegranates that I am now seeing all over the trees here at the moment.

At the restaurant we used to serve a savoury cheesecake with an apricot chutney. It wasn’t baked and I think it was goat’s cheese. Anyway I was thinking of going down a Greek/Middle Eastern road because of the pomegranate, and feta was the obvious cheese choice. Continue reading

Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo

10 Aug

Antonia, the lady that does the washing up at the restaurant, gave us a tub full of her homegrown cherry tomatoes yesterday.

I thought about roasting them but I really did not want to put the oven on today. It’s far too hot for all that so I made my favourite summer salad instead, Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo (Tomato and garlic salad).

I first had this salad in Bar Sardina, a restaurant/tapas bar in Alhaurin that has been around for 92 years, apparently. They are well-known for their fresh seafood especially the Conchas Finas which are like a cross between a scallop (they have a coral) and a clam. They are indigenous to Malaga and are traditionally served raw, with a glass of Fino (dry sherry).

Being a vegetarian, it is normally quite difficult to find something to eat if you go out to typically Spanish restaurants . Fortunately Bar Sardina has three dishes that I can order, all of them being fantastic. This salad is so simple but so delicious, which is what for me, sums up Spanish cuisine. It’s all about the ingredients and letting them do what they do best.

The best, in season, sweet tomatoes are mixed with lots of fresh garlic, drizzled with Andalucian extra virgin olive oil, good Jerez (sherry) vinegar and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and some fresh parsley. That’s it.

Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo Recipe

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 400 gr ripe tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tsp good Jerez (sherry) vinegar
  • sea salt & black pepper

Wash the tomatoes and cut them into halves or quarters for cherry tomatoes or into wedges for normal tomatoes. Mix them with the garlic and parsley in a bowl and drizzle them generously with olive oil, then add the sherry vinegar.

Leave to marinate for a while if you can and then season well with the sea salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust vinegar/seasoning.

Tip into a serving dish, garnish with a little more parsley and serve as part of a meal like the Spanish do.

Or you can do like I did and eat it with some of my sundried tomato & basil focaccia (or any nice bread) to soak up the gorgeous garlicky, tomatoey juices.

This is the perfect simple summer salad, enjoy this right now when tomatoes are at their best.

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

The pomegranate flowers turning into the fruit…

Another sure sign that Autumn is just around the corner.

I’m so looking forward to the cooler weather….!

Local Goat’s Cheese and Pear Salad with toasted almonds and rosemary honey dressing

31 Jan

 

Today while walking the dog I walked past lettuces, Romaine, Lollo Rosso and Cos …

Almond trees with their beautiful barely pink blossom….

A bee on wild rosemary flowers…..

Some unexpected pears amongst the ever present mandarins……..

And some goats which reminded of my visit to the local Goat’s Cheese producer “El Pastor del Valle”….

 This just shows how my mind works and proves that I am thinking about food all the time. While I am walking the inspiration and ideas come from all around me and somehow work themselves out into a finished dish….

This salad can be served for lunch or as a starter. It would also work as a dessert/cheese course after a meal or with drinks. Just arrange the pears, cheese, almonds and honey on a board with some biscuits and let everyone help themselves. The flavour combination of sour sharp goat’s cheese, sweet honey, juicy pears and crunchy almonds is a lovely alternative to the Stilton, Pear & Walnut classic….

Goat’s Cheese & Pear Salad with Toasted Almonds and Rosemary Honey Dressing

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
  • about 150gr goat’s cheese (I used a hard goat’ cheese but you can use a soft rind) sliced
  • a handful of toasted almonds, plus extra for garnish
  • some mixed lettuce leaves (a big handful each)
  •  about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 tbsp sherry (Jerez) vinegar (or balsamic)
  • 2 tbsp rosemary honey (just use normal honey and add about 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary if you don’t have any)
  • salt & pepper
  • rosemary flowers to garnish (if you can find some) but not too many they are very strong

Wash & pick your salad leaves and put them in a large bowl with the sliced pears, cheese and toasted almonds. Pour the olive oil, vinegar and rosemary honey into a small bowl and whisk together well. Season with salt & pepper and taste, you can add more oil/vinegar/honey to your taste. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss together with your hands. Pile onto your serving plate(s), add a few rosemary flowers onto the cheese & pears and top with some more toasted almonds…

 It really is that simple, enjoy!!

    
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