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Pinto Bean “Paté” or Dip

18 Mar

I make a lot of soup, especially vegetable soups using whatever I have available.  To make them more filling, I often add lentils, pearl barley or beans. Today I fancied making a mixed plate of tapas to eat before lunch and had paté cravings.

Instead of making a meat paté I took about a cup of dried beans that I had soaked overnight  (the other half of which were destined for the soup pot) and made them into a tasty, garlicky paté which we served with pickled courgettes, our home cured olives, pickled onions from Cook, Eat, Live Vegetarian´s lovely recipe, salami made by a neigbour and some dried oven baked rolls.

To make one bowl of paté cook about a cup of your favourite dried beans until tender and drain (or use a can of beans).  I cooked them with a few sticks of celery and a chopped carrot for extra flavour.

Put the cooked beans into a blender jug and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and a small bunch of fresh parsley.  Blend using an immersion(stick)  blender or a food processor.  If the texture is too thick, taste and then add either extra oil, lemon juice or water depending on which flavours you want to dominate. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Quick, easy, tasty and economical.  Pass the bread please!

Pickled Olives

20 Nov

Ok, so I know that for most people, pickling their own olives is fairly unrealistic.  Having said that, my parents have been on holiday around this time of year and bought olives in local markets abroad and then successfully pickled the olives back in London.

We´re getting to that time of year here were the olives are fattening up nicely after the rain finally started and the boughs are beginning to bend under their weight.  Custom here says that they should be picked when the moon is waning, that is, in the week following a full moon.  I expect we´ll be picking early December for crushing and making olive oil, but this month I picked a few buckets full for us to eat over the coming months.

We have a few varieties growing in our little olive grove.  Large fat olives, the kind they often put in a dry martini.  They´re called Manzanilla and have a pleasant nutty taste. These are the olives in the bowl on the left.

The most common variety round here is called Verdial (right bucket) and makes excellent olive oil for eating “raw” i.e. in salads or on bread. They are medium sized and have a sweet fruity flavour.

We also have some tiny olives (centre bucket) which are a variety called Picual with a slightly more bitter and peppery taste.

I picked a mixture of these and put them into my most glamorous buckets, and covered them with water.  Luckily we can get spring water here as chlorinated or tap water does tend to give them a slightly different taste.

The water is changed daily until they lose their bitterness. Smaller ones take less time, and if you split them first they take even less time.  The process can take anything from a few days to a month…patience, patience.

Finally, when they´ve reached the right stage (and you´ll be tasting them to check them), they get a final rinse and are packed into containers, flavoured with herbs (I used dried chili, garlic, lemon peel and rosemary) and covered in a salty brine.

Just a few days more of patience and they´re ready to enjoy.  They´ll keep for months, up to a year if you´ve made enough to get you through to next November.  As time goes on they may get a little softer and a harmless scum, which can just be removed, will appear on top of the brine.

Now, how do you like your martini – shaken or stirred?

PS. For some other great ways of making your own olives to eat, check out these great posts here and here from Olives and Artichokes

Easy Green Tomato Chutney

27 Sep

Something to relish....sorry, couldn´t resist it!

I hope I´m not too late with this recipe as I know there are plenty of tomato growers out there who will, no doubt, be left with some green tomatoes at the end of the picking season.  I, like many others, had some green tomatoes left from our first crop and decided to give this chutney a go, for the first time ever.

Some of the recipes I found had daunting lists of ingredients.  Finally I came across what looked like a straightforward one in Floyd on Britain and Ireland by the late Keith Floyd. I know the poor man fought with the drink demons at times, but I did love his programmes and his cooking style – always adding in a big dash of wine and a slurp for the cook.

I made very few changes to his recipe, and was pleased with the results.  Here´s what I did.

  • A thumb sized piece of garlic, peeled and grated (his recipe calls for it to be bruised and placed in a muslin bag with the chilies and then removed at the end but I left mine in)
  • 4 chilies (he calls for 8-10 and I think next time I´ll use more than I did as there was only a little heat with just 4) I chopped my chilies finely and left them in
  • 2kg green tomatoes, chopped
  • 500g apples (peeled cored and chopped)
  • 250g raisins (chopped but I left mine whole)
  • 625g shallots (I used onions) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 500g  brown sugar
  • 600ml vinegar (he says malt, I used white wine)

Place all the ingredients into a large pan, bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until it has reached the desired consistency.  Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Result – sweet and sour chutney with a hint of heat.  Perfect with cheese, cold meats, burgers….

Pickled Chilies, Fridge Chilies, Dried Chilies, Chilly Chilies

9 Sep

Can you guess what this post is about? There´s a small hint in the title…

Yes, I am a complete chili addict.  I love things hot and spicy, but I know that not everyone else does.  Big Man has gradually increased his “heat tolerance” over the last few years, but he´s still got a way to go before he catches up with me.  A way around this is to grow your own chilies and then use them as you like.  They´re hard to buy here, Spain is not typically a nation of spicy food lovers.

Most of the chilies ripen at around the same time.  We planted late this year, so ours are all starting to turn red or orange (some are picked green) in early September. When you have this glut of chilies, you have to do something with them to keep them for the year ahead.

Chili Heaven

The simplest methods are (apart from eating them fresh), to freeze them or dry them.  Last year I planted long thin green chilies, some stubby orange ones, and the fiery cayennes.  You can see them in the photo.  If anyone wants seeds, please let me know and I´d be happy to mail them to you…honestly, if you have the weather for growing them they should do well.

This year I also planted some that a neighbour gave me (I don´t have a photo as they are not ripe yet) of some super fiery pinky red chilies that look like little balls or rose hips when they are mature.  If anyone knows what they might be, I´d love to know.

Some of my chilies I pickle and I followed the guidelines in Olives and Artichokes post here.  I used mustard seeds and peppercorns in this particular jar, but am going to enjoy playing around with spices and pickles over the next few weeks.

And a final way, which may be new to you, is my mum´s refrigerator chili preserve (for want of a better name) which keeps for a month or two and is for dedicated chili lovers who enjoy spooning spicy fresh chilies over anything and everything.  Cut your chilies finely, scissors help with this as they help avoid nasty incidents with chili fingers in eyes.  Put them into a sterilised jar (recently out of the dishwasher is good). Cover the chilies with oil (I use olive oil but any oil will do) and soya sauce (about 8 oil to 1 soya).  Keep in the fridge, shake before serving, and enjoy the buzz!

We are off on holiday tomorrow (yay!) for a week – looking forward to catching up on all your posts and comments when we´re back.  ¡Hasta luego!

Pickled Courgettes

5 Sep

What do you do when your Big Man comes home with about 15 mammoth courgettes and you´re the only one in the house who really enjoys them?  Well, you have to give a few away to a courgette loving neighbour, and then get creative.

The courgette loving neighbour gave me a recipe for her courgette bread which looks delicious and rather like my Banana Bread recipe.  As soon as I´ve made it I´ll let you know how it goes. Then I made some little courgette pancakes, but more of those another time.  And then I thought it was time to tackle some pickled courgettes.

These remind me of special Italian family meals when I was younger – lots of salamis and pickled vegetables as a big Antipasto.  It´s been years since I made them, and I used mustard powder and turmeric which is not so Italian, I have to confess.

I used a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food Website with a few small tweaks.

500g courgettes, very finely sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)

500ml white wine vinegar

140g brown sugar

1 tsp mustard powder (I used Colemans English Mustard)

1 tsp mustard seeds

4 dried cayenne chilies, crumbled (use less if you like)

1 tsp ground turmeric

Sprinkle the courgette slices with salt and then cover with ice cold water and leave for an hour. Drain and pat dry. Meanwhile put the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes.

While the pickling liquid is cooling down a little, pack the courgettes into two sterilised jars, pour the liquid over and seal tightly.

The recipe says to keep them in the fridge and that they will keep chilled for a couple of months.  I have them in the larder which is cool.  They will taste great in a few days, but I had a few slices that wouldn´t fit into the jars which I covered with a drop of the pickling liquid and ate that evening…and they were delicious!

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