Carrots with Cumin and Garlic Dressing

Well, the party’s over, the “Spanishes” have all gone home and fortunately Big Man and I walked miles and miles doing touristy things which helped burn off the excessive drinking/partying/eating calories which have been consumed over the last few weeks. I’ll share some photos of places we visited once I’m a bit more organised but for the moment it’s noses to the grindstone and back to renovations and a bit of healthy eating needs to be done.

Here’s another lovely, and very simple, recipe from the Moro Cookbook. In their version it´s billed as a salad and has coriander sprinkled over. I didn´t have coriander, so I made do! The dressing was fabulous and as I only made enough carrots for the two of us, there was plenty left over to dress a salad the next day.

Carrots with Cumin (3)

The Moro version cooks the carrots whole and then chops them when cooled but mine were too big to fit into the pan whole so I peeled and chopped them first.

Ingredients to serve 4

  • 450g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2/3 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry fried
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice of ¾ lemon
  • Sea salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Some roughly chopped coriander

 

Cook the carrots in boiling salted water until tender, drain and leave to cool.

Pound the cumin in a mortar then add the garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt and continue to pound. Add the lemon juice, sugar and olive oil and mix before dressing the carrots with this delicious smokey, tangy dressing.

This recipe is made thinking especially of a wonderful fellow blogger, Fran, aka narf7 over at Serendipity Farm. With her husband Steve and beautiful dogs Earl and Bezial they are based in Tasmania and living a life which is as self-sufficient as possible. Miss narf is vegan and I’m not, but she makes wonderful comments on my posts (even those pork and beef laden ones!) and makes me laugh with her brilliant sense of humour. Do take the time to pay her a visit, you won’t regret it!

Spiced Carrot Soup

Soup is generally enjoyed by most people. But there are a few funny folk out there, and I can say this, as the ones I’m going to talk about I love dearly. I have one friend who will only eat blended soup. She says if it’s chunky she doesn’t know whether to eat it or drink it. Big Man, on the other hand, will tolerate blended soup, but prefers chunks in a hearty soup. Maybe it’s a Boy Thing. I, being contrary to everyone, love soup in all forms and think it should be served for breakfast along with all things savoury. Am still working on curry flavoured yogurt (seriously!) but in the meantime, let’s get back to soup.

Spiced Carrot Soup (2)

Big Man had to head back to Spain for a few days, so in addition to catching up on a pile of paperwork, I indulged in curries (not the curry flavoured yogurt though) and blended soups.  A favourite of many people, with everyone giving it their own little twist, here’s my carrot soup recipe.

To serve 2 as a main course

  • 1 litre of water or vegetable stock
  • 8-10 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • A bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (including the stalks)
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 chopped onion

Fry the cumin seeds and coriander powder for a minute in a little olive oil. Now put all the ingredients including the spices and their scented oil (reserving some of the fresh coriander for serving) into a large saucepan, bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes until the  carrots are cooked.  Check and season to taste if necessary then purée with an immersion stick blender or in your regular blender.  Also good with a dollop of creamy natural yogurt.  Serve piping hot, wearing comfy slippers with two pups at your feet (optional).

And do check out another version of this soup I make with split peas. Yum!

It’s is carrot soup time of year I think, as here too are some beautiful recipes posted recently by fellow bloggers Frugal Feeding and Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian…yum!

And now for some gratuitous house renovation shots (House No 2)

Before

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After (Luna thinks the carpet was put there expressly for her as a back scratcher)

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Sunshine Chicken

Chicken is a great healer, so they say, especially chicken soup. Well, I made soup last week for the sick girl, but fortunately she was at that point of recovery where she was wanting to move on from invalid food and, as we joked, to using a knife and fork!

In London it´s easy to get wonderful vegetables year round and I was inspired by a beautiful little butternut squash that was in the veggie basket. As with most of my dishes, this is simple to put together, then you forget about it for a while, then you eat it and the next day you make another delicious soup. Well, I fancied it, it was raining.

Ingredients for 2 people

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion cut into about 8 chunks
  • 1 small head of garlic (all the cloves peeled)
  • 1 small squash, cut into about 10 large chunks (washed but not peeled)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into quarters lengthways
  • 4 medium potatoes, washed and cut into 8 pieces each
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A sprig of lemon thyme (or use ordinary) and a sprig of rosemary
  • Half a teaspoon each of dried cumin and hot chili powder (or use sweet)
  • A small glass of white wine (or water or stock)

Put all the ingredients into an oven tray, pour over a little olive oil and season then sprinkle over the cumin and chili.  Mix it all up to ensure everything is covered with oil and seasoning then pour over the wine/stock and tuck in the herbs.

Cover with foil and cook on a medium heat for about an hour and a quarter. Remove the foil, check that the chicken is cooked through (if not leave for a little longer) then turn the oven up to high and cook for a further 15 minutes until the chicken skin is crispy and the vegetables start to turn brown at the edges. Serve and enjoy!

The next day I peeled what was left of the pumpkin and potatoes, put it all into a pot, added a little more cumin and chilli then covered with water. I bought the dish to a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes. Then I blended with a stick blender and added about a cup of milk to thin it slightly then warmed through and served.

Ginger Spiced Carrot and Split Pea Soup

Winter and soups go together. As do winter and colds and I´ve got one right now. Fortunately it´s not too bad, as I´m still cooking and enjoying my food. Shame really, as a day or two of fasting is probably no bad thing for me.

I fancied soup this morning but didn´t want to wait for hours for stock to simmer. Now that I´ve realised I can buy split yellow peas in our supermarket, I don´t even have to wait overnight for other legumes to soak before cooking.  They´re also super healthy, packed with protein and fibre and low in fat.  This means they fill you up without filling you out.

As my sense of taste and smell is a little dulled at the moment due to my cold, I decided to make a warming spicy soup to try and wake those senses up a little.

To serve 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup of split yellow peas (or you could use lentils) rinsed
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 cup of minced tomatoes or conserva
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb) peeled and grated or use a teaspoon of dried ginger
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Salt to taste (but do not add until the soup is cooked)

Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan, bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes until the split peas and carrots are cooked.  Season to taste and either eat as is or purée with an immersion stick blender or in your regular blender.  It´s good with a dollop of creamy natural yogurt but I prefer a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of extra cumin.  Serve piping hot, sitting by the fire.

Chunky Pumpkin and Vegetable Soup

Not so much a recipe as a prescription.  After the excesses of Christmas coupled with a bad stomach virus, it was time for a cleansing soup.

Like all the best soups it was made from whatever the fridge had available.  Having said that, we had some beautiful stock made from the carcass of one of our home bred chickens, a cabbage given to us by one of Big Man´s family and the star of the show, a beautiful Green Striped Cushaw Squash grown by Big Man´s lovely cousin Raphael.

Now, I´m not usually so knowledgeable about Squash (or should that be Squashes?) as I have even called it a pumpkin in the recipe title. It just so happened that Claire over at Promenade Plantings posted a gorgeous Winter Panzanella Salad recipe recently, and there showing off in a fabulous photo was MY pumpkin. Or squash.

I used about 400g of chopped squash, 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed, 3 large carrots peeled and diced, an onion peeled and sliced, half a red pepper cut into chunks, 2 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced and four large savoy cabbage leaves which I shredded finely. Along with the broth I also added a cup of tomato conserva. For a vegetarian version, use water or vegetable stock.

I sautéed the squash, carrots, pepper, onions and garlic for a few minutes in a little olive oil then seasoned with salt and pepper  and poured stock and tomato over to cover.  I bought it all to the boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer.  After about 10 minutes I added the potatoes and when the vegetables were all tender, I added the cabbage which I only cooked for a few minutes.

Instead of cheese or croutons, we served it with freshly squeezed lemon juice which gave it all a lovely lift.  Filling but comforting.  Perfect for a post Christmas detox. With a glass of wine of course!

For another gorgeous pumpkin soup recipe, check out Raymund at Ang Sarap who inspired me with his Chunky Beef and Pumpkin Soup.

Merluza A La Barbacoa y Ensalada Arcoiris – Barbecued Hake & A Rainbow Salad

Dressed For Dinner

Fish Man came up trumps the other day with a whole hake in the back of his little van. It was rather large, too much for just Big Man and me, so as it was fresh it went into the freezer.

A few days later friends were coming over for lunch, and the sun promised to shine, so I decided to barbecue it.  A quick visit to the garden to gather mint and lemons, and out into the olive grove for the tops of the wild fennel which is everywhere, and I was set.

I had to gut and clean the fish, but if you´re buying from a fishmonger, I´m sure it will be cleaned for you.  It´s not that tricky (wear kitchen gloves though, or you´ll smell like a hake for the rest of the day!) but not for the squeamish.

Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper and salt the inside slightly.  Stuff it with bunches of herbs and thin slices of lemons, then sprinkle the outside with coarse sea salt.  No oil needed, but the salt will protect the fish and you´ll end up with lovely charred skin which I personally love to eat, but I know some people don´t.

Then it´s on to the barbecue for your hake.  We cooked it on a low heat and the lid on for about 15 minutes in total.  If you do use hake, but you could do this with pretty much any fish, it´s firm, so easy to turn when it´s half done.  Check it´s cooked by peeking inside – the flesh will be white when it´s ready.

Ready to eat!

I served this with a delicious salad which was so beautifully coloured, it didn´t matter that the sun went in and a big cloud hovered over us all through lunch!  I used chopped new boiled potatoes, cooked beetroot, oranges, thin slices of raw carrot and chopped chives. I made a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard powder, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper.

With so much colour, it can´t not be good for you...

Food for a sunny, or not so sunny day!

Spring Chicken One Pot

 
Bedding Down for a Slow Braise

Now, before I get going I have to apologise that I haven´t posted a photo of the finished dish!  It´s been a cold, wet rainy day up the mountain after a very stormy night.  Big Man, the two dogs and I were tired and grizzly after a night of no sleep and needed comfort food to fill our bellies and soothe our frazzled nerves.  I can only think that we were so in need of something calming that we were tucking in and sipping a glass of Rioja before I realised that I hadn´t snapped the finished result. Apologies, it was a delicious bowl of braised chicken, spring vegetables and steaming mashed potatoes.

Because we don´t have a machine to pluck our chickens for us, and as I don´t have the patience to pluck chickens “en masse”, they are skinned after dispatch and usually cut up and frozen.  One chicken was kept whole so that I could cook a one pot dish, and today was its day.  I cooked it slowly on the hob in a large tagine that I have, but it can equally well be cooked in a heavy based saucepan with a tight fitting lid (I think they may be called Dutch Ovens in the US) either on the hob or in a very slow oven.

It´s a simple dish with only a little preparation, then you go away and forget about it for a few hours whilst enjoying the smells of slowly braising chicken wafting through your home. 

Here´s how to do it…

  • One whole chicken (with or without skin) or chicken pieces for however many people you are cooking for
  • About 3-4 carrots per person, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • A cup of broad beans per person  (but  feel free to use whatever vegetable is seasonal)
  • Half an onion roughly chopped per person
  • A tablespoon of chopped parsley and of olive oil per person
  • Grated lemon rind to taste and the juice of half a lemon per person
  • Seasoning
  • About 2 medium potatoes per person, peeled and quartered – keep these in a bowl of water until needed
  • Extra olive oil
  • Milk (optional)

Mix the carrots, beans, onion, parsley, lemon zest, juice and olive oil in a bowl.  Season to taste.

Crunchy Spring Vegetables

Put half the vegetable mix at the bottom of your cooking dish then place the chicken on top.  Use the rest of the vegetables to fill the chicken cavity and tuck and the lemon shells in with the chicken.

Rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper over the chicken, put the lid on and place on a low heat.  This needs to cook very slowly for about two hours.  Check every so often and if it looks as though it´s drying out, add about half a glass of water.  If the lid of your pot fits well, you should find that the chicken starts to cook in its own steam.  When the chicken is almost cooked (i.e. it looks cooked on the outside but the juices do not quite run clear when you stab a thigh with a skewer), remove the lemon shells and put the potatoes in on top of the bed of vegetables and around the chicken.

The potatoes will take about another half an hour to cook, by which time the chicken will be cooked.

Remove the potatoes and mash with a little milk or the juice from the chicken and vegetables – it´s your choice!

Serve the chicken with the vegetables and mashed potato.  Now you only have one cooking pot to wash up and, if you have them, you can use any leftovers plus the bones to make a delicious stock for another day.