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Feeling Fishy…

9 Jan

Regardless of where we are, Up the Mountain or Down by the Sea, we have access to fantastic seafood. Like many other folk we want to take a few weeks of eating menus that are a little lighter, and going down the fish and vegetable route works for us. We already enjoy pulses, so many meals are meat free, like our much loved lentils (minus the chorizo, or maybe just a little as we’re not being super strict, just making an effort!).

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New Year’s Eve was a very luxurious lobster and prawn platter with bubbles. Grapes and cava, Spanish style at 11pm to ring in the Spanish midnight and champagne and fireworks from London’s South Bank at midnight.

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Skate with prawns, capers and lemons featured another night (we just combined two favourite ways of cooking it…skate with capers and skate with prawns). Absolutely delicious and so quick and easy.

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Tonight was a version of a Spanish dish of prawns with mushrooms with plenty of garlic. Gambas y setas con ajos (setas are oyster mushrooms, but I used chestnut mushrooms this time). Chop your favourite mushrooms into bite sized pieces and stir fry quickly in some olive oil (I cooked in my wok) when they are just turning brown add some peeled, sliced garlic and a little chopped fresh parsley.  When the garlic starts to take on some colour, add some raw, peeled prawns. As soon as they have turned pink, season with coarse sea salt and a little pimentón and add a splash of white wine. Another 30 seconds in the hot pan and you are ready to dish up. Sprinkle with more parsley and serve with some lovely crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.

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Whatever your plans for this month are, be happy! Don’t be hard on yourself if you break those resolutions made in a moment of madness, better still…throw them out the window and celebrate the fact that we’ve made it into another year…and let’s see what it brings. Happy New Year to you all.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Stew

9 May

Regular readers will know that in our house, pulses rule supreme and we often bring supplies of chickpeas and lentils grown locally in Spain, over to England. In a tidying up frenzy the other day (family are visiting from Spain soon!) we came across further supplies that we had forgotten about. Result.

I decided to try something different from our regular Puchero and came across various recipes using Moroccan inspired spices which I adapted to suit us. I included chicken in this version, but I feel sure that you could quite happily leave it out which would give you an amazing vegan main course dish.

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Feel free to play with the spices, next time I’ll double the harissa to give more of a kick. I used my slow cooker but this could easily be cooked (covered) in a low oven, braised gently on the hob or even in a pressure cooker (although I don’t own one so can’t offer any advice on cooking times). If you prefer to use ready cooked, canned beans just skip the soaking stage and use double the volume in the ingredients list which will give you roughly the same quantity as the dried ones after soaking.

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)

  • Approx 400ml of dried chickpeas (measure by volume) soaked overnight in plenty of cold water with a pinch of bicarbonate then drained
  • 4 chicken thighs or drumsticks (optional)
  • Approx 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of peeled and crushed or chopped garlic
  • 1 level tablespoon of harissa (or chili powder to taste). Use more if you like a little tickle (and who doesn’t?!)
  • 1 teaspoon each of paprika, turmeric and ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and cinnamon
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (mine was 390g)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • About 220 ml of water (If using a slow cooker, make sure everything is covered by about 2cm of liquid).  You may need to top up with more liquid if cooking in the oven or on the stovetop. Just keep an eye on it and add more hot liquid if necessary.
  • Salt (season after the dish is cooked to help the chickpeas soften when cooking)
  • To serve – a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some finely chopped radish, coriander and red onion.

Heat the oil gently ad add the onion and garlic. Cover and soften then add the spices and cook (uncovered) until the spices release their aroma.

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Add the chicken (if using) and the tomatoes, tomato puree and liquid. Bring to a boil and cook on high for 10 minutes. Now put everything into whatever you use to cook (casserole dish, slow cooker etc) and cover. I cooked mine on slow in the slow cooker for 6 hours and the chickpeas were soft and creamy with the chicken cooked through and still holding to the bone. Stovetop should take about 2 hours and a slow oven about 4 hours. Add salt to taste once the dish is cooked.

When you’re ready to serve (and it’s even better the next day), ladle into deep bowls and serve with the garnish and your favourite bread. Enjoy!

Bluebells (6)

PS. Because the photos of the stew weren’t great (although the stew was…photo quality is due to a desire to eat quickly!), I have included some gratuitous shots of a recent walk we took in a Bluebell Wood nearby, do hope you enjoy a little burst of English springtime.

If you enjoy chick peas and North African inspired spices, why not try this soup?

Gigantes Plakis – Greek Style Giant Baked Beans

23 Jun

So, as you probably can guess, Gigantes refers to the size of the beans! And Plaki (I think) means that it’s something cooked in the oven or baked. Now, I’m not claiming that my version of this dish is authentically Greek. I’ve seen several versions, some which involved a few extra steps in the process, but here’s my interpretation of a delicious vegetarian dish which can be served as is, or as part of a meze. And you don’t even have to stress about it being served piping hot, Greek food is often dished up at room temperature!

Gigantes Plakis (4)

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 500g of large white beans (I used butter beans but others that can be used are lima beans) soaked overnight in water with a small pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • About 500g of a simple tomato sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, some finely chopped celery (if you have it) and some chopped fresh parsley

Rinse the beans, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Fast boil for 10 minutes, skim off any scum and reduce to a simmer for about an hour – you want them almost cooked but not quite.

Heat the oven to medium (about 160 degrees) and make sure your tomato sauce is hot. Drain the beans.

Gigantes Plakis (1)

Stir the beans and the tomato sauce together and put into an ovenproof dish. Bake for about 1 ½ – 2 hours until the beans are tender and a little dry/crispy on top. You may need to add a little water during cooking. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary, add a little extra chopped parsley if you like and sit back and wait for them to cool down a little. Or just eat them piping hot and hope that no one reports you….

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.

Mixed Bean, Pork and Sausage Hot Pot

28 Oct

When in England we get to enjoy a wide variety of different foods that we wouldn’t normally have access to in Spain. Sometimes though, we long for the taste of our other home. If we lived in London, it would be easier to get hold of some of the more authentic ingredients to recreate certain dishes, outside of London it’s a bit trickier. Sometimes, London or not, you can’t get hold of them at all.

Our beloved Fabada, from the north of Spain, is one dish that it’s particularly tricky to replicate exactly without the traditional beans and smoked meats. No matter, we make do and end up with a delicious variation of the original. Fusion cooking? No….we’re not that trendy! Make do and mend? You bet!3 bean & sausage potaje (1)

 

This is a dish you need to plan in advance (especially if you are going to use dried beans which will need soaking overnight). It tastes even better the day after you’ve made it, so is a great one to prepare ahead, or use the slow cooker.

In Spain, this style of dish using dried beans is called a Potaje (pronounced po-tah-heh) which is similar to the French word Potage and the old English word Pottage. All three dishes seem to have much in common with each other as well as the name – do check out the links if you have time.

Ingredients (to serve 6 as a main course)

  • 500g mixed dried beans, soaked overnight
  • 6 fresh chorizo sausages
  • 4-6 slices of pork belly
  • A length of black pudding (or morcilla or boudin noir) about 25cm in length
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon of saffron (or turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked pimentón
  • Salt (smoked if you can get it)
  • Water

Cover the soaked beans with plenty of cold water and bring to a fast boil. Boil hard for 10 minutes, skimming off any froth that appears on the surface.

Now add the rest of the ingredients except the salt, and bring back to the boil. You can now either put the whole thing into a slow cooker and cook on low for about 8-10 hours, simmer on the stove top for about 2 hours or cook on low in the oven for 4 hours. Make sure you use a dish which has a lid.

When the cooking time is up, test the beans. They should be soft and creamy, even a little mushy. Season to taste. When you are about to serve, put the pot back onto the stove top (transfer to another pot if you used the slow cooker) and return to a fast boil for about 5 minutes. The liquid will turn from a clearer state to cloudy, and thicken at the same time.

Slice the pork belly and black pudding into smaller pieces and serve each person with beans, a chorizo and some pork belly and black pudding. A final drizzle of fresh, fruity olive oil over each dish will really lift the flavour. A perfect dish for a hearty lunch on a cold day.

If you like this kind of dish, why not check out this dish of Pork Shanks with Giant Beans

We need more wine, the bottle is almost empty!

We need more wine, the bottle is almost empty!

or Cod with Butterbeans?

Smoked  Cod & Butterbean Stew (1)

Green Lentil Curry

5 Jul

We all know (and some of us love) dhal made with little red lentils. It’s fast and simple to cook and immensely gorgeous. This curry takes longer to prepare as the green (or you can use brown) lentils need about 45 minutes to an hour of cooking to become tender and delicious. It’s worth the wait though, I promise.

The recipe comes from Anjum Anand’s book Anjum’s New Indian and is perfect as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish in a larger meal. Economical to make and if you make curries regularly you’ll have most of the ingredients to hand. Delicious eaten with naan bread and/or plain boiled rice – I added a dollop of creamy yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander.

Green Lentil Curry (9)

Ingredients (to serve 4-6 as a side dish)

  • 250g green lentils
  • A paste made from about 6g of peeled fresh ginger and about 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ small onion, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 rounded tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 small tomatoes puréed or grated or finely chopped
  • Finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks

Rinse the lentils and simmer in plenty of water until soft (about an hour).

Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds until they give off their scent then add the onion and cook until golden brown. Pour in the garlic and ginger paste and cook until this turns golden then add the salt and powdered spices and cook for 10 seconds.

Pour in the tomatoes and simmer until the moisture has cooked off and the oil has separated from the mix to form the masala. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the masala to the lentils and simmer for about 10 minutes. Check the seasoning again, sprinkle with coriander and enjoy.

Smoked Cod & Butterbean Stew

11 Mar

Lent is a time in Catholic countries of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Believer or not, it also means a few changes to diet in Andalucía with a reduction in meat heavy meals and a focus on vegetables, pulses and fish. A typical dish during this period is Potaje de Semana Santa, Holy Week Stew, which is typically made with chick peas (or a mix of chick peas and giant white beans) and salt cod. I was sure I had previously given you a recipe for this, but alas I have been remiss. Fortunately, Giovanna over at Blue Jellybeans, has done the honours, do check it out!

Smoked  Cod & Butterbean Stew (4)

As we’re still in the UK, and the weather has turned icy again, it was time to reinterpret this classic dish using ingredients available locally to me here.  We were pleased with the results and it’s definitely a dish that can be eaten any time of year, not just Lent.

The ingredient list is simple, but the slow cooking turns this into a beautifully flavoured dish.

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)

  • 2 cups of dried butterbeans
  • 1 head of garlic
  • A bay leaf
  • 1 large fillet of fresh cod (I used smoked but unsmoked would also be good) flaked into chunks
  • 2 cups approx. of finely chopped fresh spinach or kale
  • A pinch of saffron (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
  • 3 cloves (optional)

Start by soaking the beans in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda overnight. The next day drain them, cover well with water, add all the ingredients except the fish and spinach and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a couple of hours (or cook in a low heat in the oven for about 4 hous as I do) until the beans are really tender. Just before serving remove the garlic, bay leaf and cloves (if using), add the cod and spinach and cook on a medium heat. Stir a little to break up some of the beans and thicken the soup. Season with salt to taste.

Smoked  Cod & Butterbean Stew (1)

Serve with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.

If you want more Lenten recipes, take a look at Chgo John gorgeous Grilled Salted Cod recipe or my Parpuchas (Salt Cod Fritters) from last year.

PS. I have jsut come across a company that supplies (in the UK) some Spanish ingredients. Here’s the link (they haven’t paid me for this) but have just ordered the ingredients for Fabada Asturiana from them, so am hoping they’ll be good.

Lamb Shanks with Borlotti Beans

11 Dec

Any regular readers of this blog will know that in the colder months, when I can light the oven in Spain (or pretty much any time in England) I am a huge fan of slow cooked comfort food.

Lamb Shanks with Borlotti & Harissa (1)

In Spain we often eat pork shanks, in England we got to enjoy lamb instead.  Here´s a simple recipe that is great for those cold winter days or nights and also a useful dish for entertaining as it can be prepared ahead and then forgotten about for several hours before serving.

Ingredients (to serve 2 people, easily doubled)

  • Two lamb shanks
  • 1 can (400g approx) of borlotti beans
  • About 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (tinned are fine at this time of year)
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • A glass of red wine
  • A teaspoon of olive oil
  • A teaspoon of tomato purée
  • Salt & Pepper

Mix all the ingredients (except the meat) together and season, pour them over the lamb using a deep oven proof dish. Cover with a lid or wrap tightly in foil and cook in a low oven for about 4 hours.

Serve with creamy mashed potato and make sure to finish that wine you opened to make the dish.

Okra and Green Pigeon Pea Curry

22 Oct

Okra is not a vegetable I have ever seen in Spain and I´m determined to track down some seeds so that I can try to grow it next summer. Greg over at Rufus´ Food & Spirits Guide has great success with his crop, and some amazing okra recipes.

Our little temporary home town of Bexhill on Sea boasts a Caribbean food store and I often pop in for a chat with the friendly owner and a look around for new products. Recently he had fresh okra in store, so I snapped up a bag. In addition I spotted a tin of Green Pigeon Peas, something very new to me, so they went into the basket as well. Two final purchases of a small jar of Thai yellow curry paste (yes, I know I should have made it, but it was all natural ingredients with no additives, so I didn´t feel too guilty) and a can of coconut milk.

I planned on making a vegetable curry from a mix of fresh and store cupboard ingredients, and I have to say I was thrilled with the results. A great “cheat´s” curry for when you don´t have time to make your own paste or spice mix.

Ingredients (to serve four people with rice or noodles)

  • About two heaped tablespoons of your favourite curry paste
  • About 200g of okra, washed and sliced
  • One can of green pigeon peas
  • One medium onion, halved and cut into medium slices
  • One courgette, cut into medium slices
  • About 10 medium mushrooms cut into slices (not too thin)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed and cooked for about 5 minutes in boiling water then drained
  • A can of coconut milk
  • Fresh natural yogurt and fresh coriander to serve
  • Oil for frying

Start by gently frying the onions in a little oil until they start to soften then add the okra and courgette. Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes then add the mushrooms, potatoes and pigeon peas. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes then add the paste and fry off for a minute or two. Finally add the coconut milk and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender. If the mixture looks like it is getting too dry, add a splash of water. Just before serving stir in a couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt and some chopped coriander. Delicious with rice or noodles and the perfect dish to warm you up from the inside out.

Tarka Dhal

1 Jun

Keeping with the recent Indian theme, a final recipe (for the moment at least) from the very reliable Anjum Anand. A delicious side dish or vegetarian main dish as part of a curry meal. I have eaten versions of this dish which have been thin like a soup, thick like a paté and others which are between the two (like this one). All are equally tasty and delicious with roti or any other Indian flatbread.

Ingredients

  •  250g/9oz chana dal (yellow dried split peas), rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife
  • 2cm/¾in piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 small crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • handful chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)

 

Place the lentils and 900ml/1¾ pints of the water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender, adding more water as necessary.

When the lentils have cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and use a stick blenbder or potato masher to break down the lentils slightly (optional). Set the mixture aside to thicken and cool.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add the onion, chillies and ginger and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan and stir well to combine.

Add the ground spices and 100ml/3½fl oz of water to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the oil from the sauce has risen to the surface of the sauce.

Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped coriander (if using) just before serving.

This recipe can also be found on the BBC website here.

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