Tag Archives: starter

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

22 Aug Fig Bruschetta

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

Rosemary and Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear and Almonds

17 Apr Baked Camembert & Honey Glazed Pears

This dish was inspired by a picnic lunch we enjoyed at the Bramon Wine Estate just outside Plettenberg Bay. Bramon Wine Estate is a boutique vineyard and it is the first and only Estate that far East of the Western Cape.

Their flagship Sauvignon Blanc wine is called The Crags which is the name of the “town” where the Wine Estate is situated. You couldn’t really call it a town though. It consists of a petrol station and a shop. Which is why it is such a pleasant surprise to find this beautiful place just off the main road. They also have two sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Cap Classiques. I went for the 2008 sparkling ” a  refreshingly clean palate with vibrant mousse and an exciting, limey, zesty lingering finish”. It was one of the best sparkling wines I have tried in a long time.

So I had another glass. As you do.

In the summer they offer a picnic lunch amongst the vines. It is a really special feeling to be drinking the wine that is growing all around you. It is a relaxed, informal dining experience (in a really good way). You order your drinks and then get a list of the foods available. You trick the boxes next to what you would like to order and then give it back to the very capable waiting staff. Sit back relax, enjoy your drink and the beautiful surroundings while your picnic is freshly prepared for you.

We chose the mini baked camembert with honey figs and nuts, a beautiful plaited bread with rosemary and sea salt, green fig preserve, avocado and parmesan crisp salad, fresh pesto with mixed herbs and almonds, sundried tomatoes and a creamy hummus.

There is a monkey park and a bird sanctuary very near to the Wine Estate, so in a very organised fashion we went to Bramon in the morning to book a nice table in the vines for lunch at 1pm and then went off to Monkeyland for the rest of the morning. You get a guided walking tour around the forest that is very informative for kids and adults. More than 450 primates live and free-roam around the forest. It is an amazing feeling to be that close to so many different types of monkeys and lemurs that are living in a natural habitat. 

After lunch we went to Birds of Eden which is the largest free flight bird aviary in the world. It is a great way to spend a a couple of hours, there are 3500 birds out in the open. You walk up wooden walkways that snake their way through ruins and waterfalls up into the canopy of the trees. It is a stunning place.

And again you get so close to them.

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are next to each other so you can buy combination tickets for both, which is what we did. With an excellent lunch at Bramon in between of course. Which brings me back to the food.

I contacted Bramon to get the recipes for the baked camembert and the rosemary plaited bread. The gave me the camembert but then told me that the bread recipe was a secret! I can understand it of course, it was very good.

So I made my own version of the bread using spelt flour which I flavoured with roasted garlic and rosemary. It was lovely, especially dipped into the oozing  baked camembert.

I will give you the bread recipe in my next post but for now here’s the baked camembert. I used pears rather than figs because figs aren’t in season here yet and I had some in my fruit bowl.

 I also studded the cheese with sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs before baking it because we used to serve it like that when it was on the menu at the restaurant. It’s something I saw Jamie Oliver do somewhere that makes such a difference to the flavour.

Rosemary & Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 30-35 mins

  • 1 boxed camembert (250 gr) wooden box is best but card is fine
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a few tops of fresh rosemary
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C, remove the paper wrapping from around the cheese and put it back in the box. Make little slits all over the top of the cheese with a sharp knife and push in the slices of garlic and rosemary tops.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until soft and melting inside. Meanwhile make the honeyed pear and almonds.

Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pear, cored and sliced into 12 wedges
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a handful of whole toasted almonds (I used salted)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 1 tbsp honey (rosemary honey if possible)

Toss all the ingredients apart from the honey together in a small bowl until evenly coated. Heat up a small frying pan over a medium high heat and throw in the pear & almond mix. Brown/caramelise slightly on both sides before adding the honey and stir to coat the pears.

Cook until the pears are soft but not mushy and remove from the heat.

Serve the warm honey glazed pear and almonds with the baked camembert and a nice bread for dipping. Or wait for my Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Braided Spelt Loaf in my next post…

For more information about the Bramon Wine Estate visit their webste here.

Enjoy!!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes with salsa, raita and red onion maramalade

2 Mar 20120302-154237.jpg

It’s so good to be back in the kitchen after three weeks of eating out every day. The first recipe inspired by our trip to South Africa is for these beautiful Butternut and Chickpea Cakes that we enjoyed at Ile de Pain in Knysna. You can read my review of this fantastic place here.

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Light, spicy and delicious they are fantastic with the trio of sauces. The spicy tomato and chilli salsa, the cool and creamy cucumber and coriander raita and the sweet red onion maramalade. They all compliment each other so well to create a perfectly well balanced combination of flavours that really dance in your mouth.

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You can use any sweet fruit chutney you have knocking around instead of the marmalade if you don’t have the patience, time or inclination to make you own. But if you do have the time it is a great thing to have in your fridge. Serve it with any burgers or patties, with a grilled goat’s cheese salad or transform a cheese sandwich into a gourmet experience by topping it with a spoonful of red onion marmalade and a handful of rocket or watercress leaves.

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Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes Recipe
Serves 4 (12 patties), vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free. Adapted from the Ile de Pain recipe.
Prep Time: 30 mins (plus 1 hr in the fridge if possible) Cooking Time: 10 mins

400 gr butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1-2 cm cubes
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
40 gr (1/3 cup) polenta/cornmeal (or breadcrumbs) plus extra for coating
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the squash cubes onto the tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle it over the squash. Toss it all together with your hands so it is evenly coated. Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden and soft when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl then tip the cooked squash into the bowl as well. Mix everything together well with your hands, squishing the squash and chickpeas to create a mushy but still a bit chunky mixture. Squish until the mixture comes together and holds it’s shape.

At this point you can cover the surface of the mixture directly with cling film and refrigerate for an hour or until needed. It will firm up in the fridge and be easier to work with but you can make them straight away if you can’t wait. Meanwhile make the sauces (see recipes below).

Divide and shape the mixture into 12 equal patties (about 60 gr. each). Pour some polenta (or breadcrumbs) onto a large flat plate and lightly dip the patties into the polenta on each side as well as rolling the sides in it too.

Heat about 1/2 cm of olive oil in a frying pan until hot then turn it down to medium and cook the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.

Serve immediately with the trio of sauces and some salad leaves.

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Red Onion Marmalade Recipe
Makes 1 big jar (about 500 ml), vegan, gluten-free.
Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 90 mins

1.25 kg red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
65 gr raw cane sugar (or white sugar)
185 gr brown sugar
280 ml cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Put the onions in a large pan on a low heat, stir occasionally and cook gently for 30-40 minutes until soft.

Add the sugars and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally until thick and jammy (about 45 mins).

Stir in the salt, pepper and thyme and spoon into sterilised jars. Leave to cool then store in the fridge.

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Cucumber, Coriander & Lemon Raita
Serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep Time: 5 mins

250 ml Greek yoghurt (2 pots)
about 10 cm cucumber cucumber, deseeded & finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely grated (or to taste)
4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and taste. Adjust salt & lemon juice as necessary.

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Tomato & Chilli Salsa
Serves 4, vegan, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep time: 5 mins
2 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2-1 chilli, finely chopped (depending on you and the chilli)
2 spring onions, green & white parts, finely chopped
2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt & black pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, they’re really good, thanks Ile de Pain!

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Restaurant Review and Recipe: Muhammara – Roasted Pepper and Walnut Dip

6 Jan Muhammara

This is my version of the Muhammara (or hammara) roasted red pepper & walnut dip I had at the fantastic Lebanese restaurant in Malaga, Samarkanda.

Everything that we ordered was amazing. The hummos was the creamiest I have ever tasted and the baba ghanoush (or mutabak) had that deliciously intense smokiness that I can never replicate at home because I don’t have a gas hob to burn the aubergines over an open flame. The tabouli salad was heavy on the herbs, just how I like it and the cheese briwat (like a samosa) heavenly. The falafels were really good but a step to far I think. We ordered too much as usual, I got a bit excited and wanted everything.

This was the first time I had tried Muhammara in a restaurant. I have made it myself before and used it to stuff these Muhammara & Feta Cigars (gorgeous). Samarkanda’s muhammara was much sweeter than mine and it was lovely because of it. They had used cinnamon and I was desperate to get home and try it, none of the recipes I had seen used cinnamon but it made such a difference t o the flavour.

Continue reading

Provencal Goat’s Cheese Brulee with Fresh Fig and Orange Compote

11 Nov Goat's Cheese Brulee

This is a dish we served at the restaurant. I came up with the idea and The Washer Up translated it into reality. That’s what he does, he makes what goes on in my head happen. I have no concept of how difficult things are, I just know what I want. Thankfully he is very practical (unlike me) and incredibly patient (ditto). We are the perfect team.

You can serve this with any seasonal compote/jam. Cranberries would be nice especially for a Christmas starter/appetizer or snack. I chose to make a Fig & Orange Compote because that is what I am seeing while walking the dog at the moment. The last of the late season figs….. Continue reading

Tunisian Spiced Aubergine with a Soft Poached Egg

9 Nov Poached Egg & Tunisian Aubergine

This is another 0ne of those aubergine dishes that you have to try even if you think you don’t like aubergine. We are coming to the end of the season here now so it maybe your last chance to change your life. Or your eating habits anyway..

This is dish from Delia Smith (we love Delia) and she got it from an Elizabeth David recipe. It is supposed to be served at room temperature, drizzled with olive oil and served with some warmed pita breads on the side, a blob of greek yoghurt and fresh herbs on the top. Continue reading

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

29 Oct Feta & Pomegranate Cheesecake

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

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