Tag Archives: small

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!!

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Individual Strawberry and Amaretto Trifles with Toasted Flaked Almonds and Crushed Amaretti Biscuits

26 Jun

You can make a big one if you like but these are cute, don’t you think? I made a big version (in fact it was huge) for a Jubilee party at our friend, Jeanne’s house. There were about 14 people going so I made the most enormous trifle and an apricot frangipane tart aswell. Well you wouldn’t want to run out of desserts would you? 

Jeanne knows how to throw a party, she has a fine selection of a cushions in a pink Jubilee style and she always makes the best drinks. Champagne with strawberries and a big jug of Pimms filled with fresh fruit, cucumber and mint. How to choose? One of each obviously.

Even after a gorgeous buffet prepared by Jeanne everyone managed to polish off one or (in some cases) two desserts. It’s difficult to get a good picture of a trifle as you can see from my attempt below, it’s like a big sloppy delicious mess really. I was pleased with the glaze on my apricot tart though.

So, solely for your benefit you understand, I had to make some of these pretty little individual trifles that would photograph better.

Just a few tips; the recipe below is just an outline, it obviously depends on the size of you dish, glass or bowl as to how much of everything you need. The fruit can be replaced with whatever is in season or looks nice in the market, as can the booze, just try to match it with the fruit. You may have to do a few taste tests first before you get the right combination!

Oh and don’t go too mad with the amount you put in, apparently it is possible to have too much alcohol in a trifle. Mine was a little on the strong side but there are worse things in life and I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

Individual Strawberry & Amaretto Trifles

  • mini sponge cakes (or trifle sponges)
  • strawberry jam
  • amaretto
  • fresh strawberries
  • icing sugar
  • creme patissiere (or thick custard) see my recipe  That amount was enough for 4 or 5 individual trifles . I added a splosh of amaretto to it instead of the orange blossom water.
  • double cream (for whipping)
  • vanilla extract
  • caster sugar
  • mascarpone
  • flaked almonds (toasted in a dry pan)
  • amaretti biscuits

Spread the jam on each of the sponges and sandwich them together to form a single layer covering the bottom of your dish, glass or bowl. Try one. Jam sponge is lovely, how long has it been?

Poke holes all over the sponges with a wooden skewer and slowly drizzle over the Amaretto letting it soak in. Don’t go too mad. Leave it for about 10 minutes to soak in properly.

Hull and half or quarter some strawberries and arrange them evenly on top of the sponge. Blend about the same amount of strawberries and a tablespoon or two of icing sugar to a smooth coulis/sauce and pour it over the strawberries.

Cover with a layer of cooled creme patissiere (or thick custard). Whip some cream with the same amount of mascarpone, a little vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of caster sugar to soft peaks. Spread this evenly over the custard layer.

Refrigerate until ready to serve and then top with a layer of toasted flaked almonds and crumble over some Amaretti biscuits.

Enjoy!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rufus posing on his favourite sofa. Very handsome he looks too!!

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato and Cashew Nut Curry

16 May

I saw Rick Stein making this curry on his Far Eastern Odyssey series. I watched every episode because he visited all the places I’d love to go; India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam. Him eating his way around Asia just reinforced my desire. Even though he doesn’t cook much vegetarian food it still transports you there.

You know when you are watching a food programme and someone makes a dish that you just have to cook straight away. That’s what happened when I saw this dish. It’s like the planets align and you simultaneously have all the ingredients in the house and the perfect recipe. I love it when that happens……

The original recipe doesn’t have potatoes in it but calls for 300 gr cashew nuts. I didn’t have 300 gr of cashew nuts (who does?) so I padded it out with some baby new potatoes. The potatoes are great  because it means that you don’t have to make rice to go with it. It’s a one pot dish, which is always a bonus, less washing up.

It may seem like a lot of fuss to make you own Sri Lankan curry powder but it makes such a difference. You just toast the whole spices and then grind them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. I did mine in a battery operated pepper mill, it took a while and it wasn’t really a powder but hey, afterwards you have a little jar of your own  Sri Lankan curry powder that you can bust out whenever you need a quick and delicious dinner.

Cinnamon has been cultivated in Sri Lanka for a very long time. About 90% of the world’s cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka making it a very important part of the history of the island.  It is made from fine curls of the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. Not surprisingly cinnamon plays an important part in the cuisine of Sri Lanka and, along with coconut, is found in nearly every dish.

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato & Cashew Nut Curry

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

For the curry powder

I halved the original recipe feel free to double it again.

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  •  1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rice

Toast all the spices in a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their aromas and start to pop. Cool them slightly and then grind in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. Tip into an airtight jar and store in a cool dry place.

For the Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 stick lemongrass, bruised & finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk (I used low-fat)
  • about 400 ml veg stock
  • a handful of curry leaves (if you can find them)
  • 2oo gr green beans, trimmed & cut into thirds
  • 350 gr baby new potatoes, quartered
  • 150 gr cashew nuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 lime, 1/2 juiced 1/2 cut into wedges
  • salt
  • 1 tsp cornflour, to thicken if necessary

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over a medium heat. Add in the cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, turmeric and the Sri Lankan curry powder. Fry until the aromas develop but don’t let it burn. Add the coconut milk then fill up the coconut milk tin with veg stock and add that too, mix well.

Stir in the potatoes, green beans, curry leaves and cashew nuts (save some for garnish).  Bring to the boil, season well with salt then add the sugar & lime juice. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

If it seems a bit too liquidy. Stir a teaspoon of cornflour into a few tablespoons of water until dissolved, add this to the pan and stir. Cook for a few more minutes until thickened.

Serve in warm bowls topped with more toasted cashew nuts and the lime wedges.

Enjoy!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Dandelions……..

Daisies…….

Rufus in a daisy chain….

Make a daisy chain if you see some. It’s like being a kid again…..

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Chica Andaluza

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