Search results for 'spinach'

Seared Scallops with Spinach in Black Bean Sauce

19 Jan

Quick doesn’t have to be boring – especially when it comes to food. Top quality ingredients will give you amazing tasting food, and you don’t always have to spend hours preparing it with a long list of ingredients. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy making complex meals too, but here’s a fast food experience that will be ready in less time than it takes to wait for a food delivery.

Scallops with Spinach & Blackbean Sauce (2)

Ingredients per person

  • 4-6 fresh scallops
  • 2 cups of washed spinach (roughly chopped)
  • About 6 mushrooms, sliced not too thinly
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • A little oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon of black bean sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Lemon or lime juice

Start by gently frying the mushrooms in a little oil and when they start to soften, add the garlic and spinach and cook until the spinach wilts.

On a hot griddle or under a hot grill, quickly cook the scallops on both sides (this can take less than a minute per side).

Stir the black bean sauce and about a teaspoon of soy sauce into the spinach and mushrooms. Serve the scallops on top of the vegetables with a little squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Sopa de Bacalao – Cod and Spinach Soup

24 Sep

If you do an internet search for a typical Spanish soup called Sopa de Bacalao, you’ll find many versions of a firm favourite. I don’t lay claim to my version being authentic, especially as it uses a very non Spanish ingredient – Ras El Hanout – but as the spice mix comes from North Africa and there are such very strong connections between Africa and Andalucía, I feel no one will be up in arms.

The ingredient list is short and simple, the preparation too. But the taste, oh the taste, your friends and family will think you’ve spent hours reducing stock to achieve the intensity of flavour.

Sopa de Bacalao (3)

Ingredients (to serve 2-4 as a main or starter)

  • 1 large cod fillet, skinned and cut into bite sized chunks (use either fresh cod or desalted salt cod)
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
  • About 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout
  • About 1.25l of either fish stock or water (if you use a cube to make your stock, I won’t tell!)
  • A little olive oil

Start by sweating the onion and garlic until softened then add the potatoes. Toss them around in the oil until they are all coated in oil then add the Ras El Hanout and mix in. Pour over the stock and cook until the potatoes are almost done.

Add the cod and cook for a minute or two until the fish is cooked. Taste and season if necessary and then add the spinach. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and wait for the spinach to wilt before serving with plenty of fresh lemon to squeeze over.

Tamarind Spiced Aubergines and Spinach

18 Sep

The Veggie Garden, although planted sparsely and late this year, continues to reward us with a bounty of aubergines. Always on the lookout for new ways to prepare old favourites, and in the midst of spring autumn cleaning, I came across a packet of tamarind paste from one of my UK trips. Perfect!

Tamarind Spiced Abergine (9)

Internet searches came up with curry recipes, so thinking of a curry type base as inspiration, I made it up as a I went along, and oh my goodness…what beautiful flavours emerged from a few very simple ingredients.

Ingredients (to serve two as a main course with rice or four as a side dish)

  • 1 large aubergine cut into small dice
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • About 1 heaped tablespoon of fresh garlic and ginger paste (make this by finely chopping or mincing equal quantities of garlic and ginger, it can be stored in the freezer, and you can scrape off what you need)
  • About 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 teaspoons of tamarind paste soaked in a little hot water
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • Half a teaspoon of hot chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • Oil for shallow frying

Fry the aubergines until lightly browned and remove from pan. You can omit this step if you like but will need to cook the dish when all the ingredients have been added for about 10 minutes longer. Both methods are good.  Add a little more oil if necessary and fry the garlic and ginger paste and onions until the onions are soft but not browned.

Add the tomatoes and cook until softened then add the chili powder and garam masala. After a further minute, add the aubergines, sugar and tamarind, season and pour over enough water or stock to cover the vegetables.

Tamarind Spiced Abergine (4)

Simmer gently until the aubergines are completely tender (about 15 minutes) and just before serving add the spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve with a little chopped coriander and some plain boiled rice. Observant readers will note, however, that in the first photo I picked parsley by mistake!

Venison Chops with Creamed Spinach and Mushrooms

3 Dec

Venison Chops with Creamed Mushrooms & Spinach (2)

I have spoken a few times about our lovely local butcher, London Road Butcher of Bexhill (just in case any locals are interested – but he does need a website!). Funnily enough, he was bought up in the same road as House Number One. Small world.

We recently saw a programme about cooking with traditional ingredients that are falling out of fashion, and venison was mentioned. I hadn’t eaten if for years and Big Man didn´t know if he had ever tasted it. In a timely fashion, the butcher had venison chops (which looked more like smaller versions of T-Bone steaks) for sale, so how could I say no?

The chops were cooked very simply – salted, rubbed with a little olive oil and cooked on a very hot griddle pan.  To go with them I made creamed spinach and mushrooms which I have since made again and served simply with rice. A great vegetarian dish (but obviously not when you have a slab of Bambi´s mother on the plate next to it). Quantities are flexible, the process is simple.

Venison Chops with Creamed Mushrooms & Spinach (1)

Ingredients (to serve 2 people)

  •  About 10 chestnut mushrooms, cut into medium slices
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • About 4-6 cups of washed spinach leaves
  • A splash of white wine
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of full fat crème fraîche (don´t use the low fat version for this, it will split and be very runny)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Gently fry the mushrooms and garlic in a little oil with the lid on the pan until the mushrooms start to release some of their juices. Add a splash of white wine and the spinach and cover again. When the spinach has wilted, removed the lid, season and turn the heat up so that most of the liquid evaporates.  Turn the heat down low, stir in the crème fraîche, add a final grind of pepper and serve.

Rendang Style Beef and time to catch up with myself…

30 Nov

It’s been quiet on the blog for a while. Spain was hectic and by the time we got back to England just over four weeks ago we made a conscious decision to take things a little more slowly for a while. Old favourites were made in the kitchen, lots of comforting chickpea stews and delicious bowls of Spanish style lentils.

There was time for me to relax a little finishing off my summer quilt. It will have to wait to be used until next year as it’s enormous but thin. Not warm enough for the cold winter weather that has moved in here on the English South Coast.

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Totally hand made, Every. Single. Stitch. And I loved making it!

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Then I moved on to making my first proper socks for Big Man to keep cosy in. Thanks to Evie at Pendle Stitches for sending me this great pattern.

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I know the heel looks a bit odd, but it is a proper one, I promise! It’s just a dodgy photo.

And now, as we are one day away from December (some of my pals on the other side of the world are already into December!), I am allowing myself to tentatively think about Christmas menus. But we also have another very important celebration on 27th December. Best pal Ria’s birthday, and I have the honour of cooking a meal for a group of us. Nothing remotely Christmassy, so we’ve chosen a curry menu. A mix of different curries, some old favourites like Monkfish and Prawn curry. And a new one. A Rendang Style Beef Curry.

I say Rendang Style and not Beef Rendang as I don’t think the method of cooking it is entirely authentic. I’ve also been told that if the curry is saucy, it’s not a Rendang. So, a curry cooked differently, with plenty of sauce –  but well worth the time it takes to prepare and the longish list of ingredients. I had a trial run with it and (she says humbly) it was amazing! Fantastic flavours, meat that melted in your mouth, second and third helpings and clean plates all round.  I’ll post some of the other recipes in the coming week. Lemon and Cashew nut rice, potato and spinach curry and Keralan parathas to follow soon.

Beef Rendang

Ingredients (Recipe from Sainsbury’s Oct 2015 Magazine) Serves 6

  • 1 piece of brisket or silverside about 1.7kg cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
  • 8 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander, hot chili powder
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
  • 8-10 kaffir lime leaves
  • 4 stalks of lemongrass, lightly “bashed”
  • juice of 2 limes
  • Chopped coriander, toasted dessicated coconut and red chili slivers to garnish (optional)

 

For the Spice Paste

  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeld
  • 20g root ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 20g galangal peeled and finely chopped (or use paste)
  • up to 6 birds eye chilis, stalks removed (I used a couple of my super hot, Bexhill grown chilis)
  • 3 tablespoons lemongrass paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Make the paste by blending all the ingredients in a food processor with about 50ml water to make it smooth. Add to the beef and marinate overnight in the fridge.

I used a slow cooker but this can also be done in the oven which you will need to preheat to 160C, (fan 140c) or gas 3. Otherwise preheat your slow cooker.

Heat the coconut or vegetable oil in a large pan or your casserole dish if it can go on the stove top. Add the cardamom, star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ground spices and stir fry until fragrant.

Chillies (2)

Add the beef and marinade, fry for a few minutes but you don’t need to brown. Then add the crumbled stock cube, coconut milk, tamarind paste, Thai fish sauce, lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to the boil.

Cover and transfer to the preheated oven for about 3 hours – I cooked mine in the slow cooker on low for about 8 hours.  Return to the hob and simmer, uncovered until the sauce has thickened and reduced. When you are ready to serve, stir in the lime juice and garnish.

I made mine ahead and found that when it has chilled there was a layer of oil from the cooking which solidified and was easy to remove. Of course, you don’t need to do this!

Curry Night (9)

We drank this with a delicious sauvignon blanc, but I think an ice cold beer would be great too.

Split Mung Bean Curry

5 Mar

I do enjoy curries made with pulses, they’re so good for you, economical and wonderfully tasty. I had bought a packet of split mung beans in a local shop and wanted to try them out. I came across a recipe online which inspired my own version, but of course, didn’t keep track of the original source. Apologies to the owner of the original recipe, I’d be happy to credit you.

Mung Bean Dhal (4)

The quantity I made filled 4 plastic tubs, so I shared the curry love with my mum and my best pal. Feel free to scoff it all yourself or make less! This gives a gentle tasting curry, you may want to increase the quantities of the spices (I think I will next time) for a little more punch!

Ingredients to serve 4-6

  • 400g yellow split mung beans (yellow moong dal), well rinsed
  • Water, to cover the beans
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Approx 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 small red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 level teaspoon chilli powder or to taste
  • 1 level teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tomato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 200g frozen spinach (or 400g fresh, finely chopped)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Some finely chopped coriander

In a deep pot, combine about 4 cups of water, the turmeric, and 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Bring to the boil, then add the mung beans. Add more water if necessary, you want about 5cm of water above the beans.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the lentils are very soft. If the water starts to dry up, add another ½ cup of water. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium-sized frying, heat the rest of the vegetable oil and add the red onions. Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are browned.

Mung Bean Dhal (9)

Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli powder, frozen spinach and tomatoes. Continue cooking gently until the tomatoes are soft. If using fresh spinach, add once the tomatoes have softened. Mix in the cooked beans.

Add the salt (it needs a fair amount, keep tasting) and coriander and mix well. Delicious served hot, but makes a fantastic dip served cold as it thickens as it cools.

If you enjoy curries like this, take a look at my Split Pea and Squash Curry or my Green Lentil Curry.

Ham Hock Persillade

19 Jul

Some neighbours of ours in England recently moved from Bexhill on Sea to the wilds of Bonny Scotland. As with most house moves, it was a chance for them to de-clutter. Fortunately for me Mr Neighbour managed a local bookstore and as a result of this had a house packed full of a wide variety of books. I assume these had been come by through honest means and he didn’t shove a book down his trousers each night as he went home. It would have been churlish to ask as I was the lucky recipient of an eclectic collection of books.

One of them was Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch. I have to confess that in the past I have had no f*****g time for him, he swears too much…Jokes aside (yes, that was a little joke) I just hadn’t ever bought any of his books or watched any of his programmes so I was a little reluctant to even read the book, let alone use it. I’m so glad I did delve into its pages…a lot of very uncomplicated recipes and menus, dishes that I actually wanted to cook. Sorry Mr Ramsay, you bl**dy surprised me!

Persillade (1)

A local butcher regularly sells cooked ham hocks. It’s the knee basically, cooked and then sold with the gelatine (formed by the cooking liquid) for a bargain price of less than £3 (that’s about the same in Euro and a few US dollars more). I often buy them as the ham picked off the bones is great in sandwiches or soup and the dogs love the bones which keep them entertained in the garden for hours. Result all round.

I came across a recipe in the book, very grandly titled Ham Hock Persillade which reminded me of the delicious brawn my mum makes. The recipe called for cooking the ham and reducing the stock with gelatine to solidify it. No need for that, my hock was already cooked and covered in the delicious stuff. I halved his recipe which he says serves 6-8. Even my halved version (using pickled garlic instead of gherkins as I didn’t have any) would easily have fed 8 as a starter, probably with a little left over. I served it as a starter (for 5 people) thickly sliced on top of a salad of spinach and watercress and also as canapés (there were 6 of us for drinks and nibbles), cut into little cubes and served with some very retro cocktail sticks!

Persillade (6)

Ingredients

  • 1 large cooked ham hock and its gelatine
  • 2 tbsp large capers, cut into slices
  • 2 tbsp pickled garlic, thinly sliced
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

You will need a loaf tin or a deep plastic container.

Remove the gelatine and skin from the hock and place into a saucepan with about half a cup of water.

Pull the meat off the bones (the bones will now also go into the saucepan) and shred it. Set the meat aside.

Boil the skin, bones etc for about 7 or 8 minutes then drain the liquid and leave it to cool slightly.

Mix the shredded meat with the capers, garlic (or use gherkins), parsley and some freshly ground pepper. You probably won’t need salt as ham hocks tend to be quite salty. Put this mixture into a loaf tin or plastic tub lined with cling film then pour the liquid over until the mix is completely covered. Tap the tin or terrine gently to get rid of any air bubbles, cover with cling film and place a weight on top. Chill overnight or until it has set.

Persillade (10)

When you are ready to serve, peel off the cling film on the top and invert the container onto a serving plate. It should slide out easily, then you can peel the remaining film off. Serve cut into thick slices (Mr Ramsay serves his with piccalilli which I imagine must be very good). A really impressive but not too tricky to make dish. Would be great for a picnic too as it’s very portable when still in its mould.

Thanks Mr Ramsay, a flippin’ marvellous recipe!

Ravioli Making – Fun on a Hot Summer’s Evening

11 Jul

Some things are more fun when done with pals. Ravioli making is one of them. Just ask Chgo John.  Luckily my lovely neighbour Denise was willing to give up a few hours of her time and we had an evening of ravioli making and eating in the garden.

Ravioli (1)

We made four kinds of fillings.

Ravioli (5)

Potato with caramelised onion and parmesan, mixed mushrooms with spinach and nutmeg, ricotta with lemon zest and coriander and mascarpone with rocket and sun-dried tomatoes.

Ravioli (22)

No quantities except to say we made pasta with 500g of flour and 5 eggs. This made about 70 ravioli (with some leftover dough too), although we didn’t manage to eat them all. We did give it our best shot though!

Ravioli (23)

We were well lubricated with wine as I believe it is actually illegal to make ravioli without a glass or two to hand.

Ravioli (11)

We served some with tomato sauce and others more simply with olive oil and parmesan.

Ravioli (31)

Summer cooking, summer eating. Everything tastes better eaten outdoors on a hot summer’s night don’t you think?!

Ravioli (32)

(I know they’re not the best shots in the world but they were “working” snaps and it got darker and darker as the evening went on – naturally – I hope you enjoy the atmosphere of the evening as much as we did despite this!)

Leaving Home Leftovers, or Fridge Foraging

2 May

So…tomorrow we move from house renovation Number 2 into our little second home by the sea. It’s been a long 9 months on and off between England and Spain and in other ways it’s flown by. What an experience, we’re lucky to have had it!

The plan is to head back to Spain in about 2 weeks and take a very long rest until we head back to England late autumn and do it all over again. Of course, now it’s become a joint enterprise/job for us and we plan to continue this way for another year or two. Who would have thought this City Slicka turned Chica Andaluza would now become a Lady Builder (as one of my neighbours calls me)?!

I was a sad Chica becuase all the windows and doors were rotten and had to come out

I was a sad Chica because all the windows and doors were rotten and had to come out

Moving on from one home to another, even if it was only a temporary one, still involves packing up belongings that have accumulated (mostly in the kitchen, I confess) and the little flat is starting to look like home as the furniture goes in.

Coming to terms with the new French Doors

Coming to terms with the new French Doors

And in the same way as a major move, or before the start of a holiday you have to clean the fridge out. Well, you have to eat the contents first before you clean and for people like Chgo John who makes Frittata, this is a challenge which is risen to with pleasure. As we have no chickies here to feed, there were vegetable delights to be made.  Here are a few ideas, not exactly recipes, for those days when you need to go shopping but still have a few things to finish off, or you’re eating the contents of your fridge before a holiday or a house move!

Finally...loving the light in our new kitchen!

Finally…loving the light in our new kitchen!

First up was a salad using up cold boiled potatoes, an avocado which wouldn’t last another day, a bag of spinach and a handful of mushrooms. The potatoes were lightly sautéed then the sliced mushrooms added until they were cooked. The spinach was chopped then added and a lid put over the pan until it wilted. Chopped avocado was stirred in and the whole things was dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Spinach & Mushrooms (2)

The next day leftover cooked green beans were stir fried with mushrooms and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice while still warm and the zest of a lemon grated over for extra “oomph”.

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Finally, a few rashers of grilled bacon made a light supper salad dish with rocket, raw spinach, avocado, baby plum tomatoes and chunks of fresh parmesan and a dressing made with mustard. On the side we ate grilled ciabatta rubbed with a clove of garlic and then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt.

DSCF4059

I suspect tomorrow may well have to be a take away…well, the fridge is empty!

Staple Guns and Happy Accident Pasta

24 Mar

It’s been a busy old time here and writing has been virtually impossible. Floorboards are up, plumbing is going down, kitchen units have been delivered and it’s freezing cold. Oh well, I think we’ve got to the stage where it can’t possibly get any worse, just better, so onwards and upwards.

In between the mucky stuff, we’ve continued to eat well. Never fear, Chica and Big Man won’t fade away. I had planned one evening to make a carbonara but got home to find, shock horror, not an egg in the house. As we have no chickens here, I had to make do and ended up with what I call my Happy Accident pasta.

Happy Accident Pasta (1)

I fried some garlic and finely chopped onion then added a few rashers of finely chopped smoked streaky bacon and a handful of sliced mushrooms.

When the pasta was cooked I kept a little of the cooking water and stirred in the bacon and mushrooms plus a good dollop of crème fraiche, some finely chopped spinach and about half a cup of chopped up dolcelatte.

Result? Creamy, delicious, quick pasta but most definitely not carbonara.

Then it was back to work tidying up some dining chairs we bought second hand. Quite a traditional style but it will work in the house. The chairs had a regency stripe silk material covering them but it had seen better days…many bottoms had clearly sat on them and enjoyed countless meals around the table.

Dining Chair Seats (3)

So it was off with old material.

Dining Chair Seats (4)

Cutting out of a new piece using the old one as a template (and the fabric was recycled too from a friend’s kind donation of unwanted curtains). Fortunately Luna and Alfi (who appears to be headless in the photo) were around to comfort test the fabric.

Dining Chair Seats (6)

A staple gun frenzy followed.

Dining Chair Seats (10)

Now we have six fancy new dining chairs…who wants to come round and help wear them out?!

Dining Chair Seats (13)

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