Well, the title says it all, so if you don’t deep fry or don’t eat fried food, then this one is not for you…
(You could try Natalies beautiful Baked Courgettes instead and check out her fantastic blog which is packed full of amazing vegetarian recipes.)
But you can still enjoy this photo of some super fresh vegetables bought round for us from our lovely neighbours who picked our tomatoes while we were away. From the field to our plates in less than a couple of hours…how wonderful is that?!
When we are Down by the Sea, a local Italian restaurant does a side dish of deep fried courgettes. I used to order them and gorge on a portion myself, safe in the knowledge that Big Man was not a big fan of this gorgeous vegetable. Of course, the day finally came when he decided to give them a go and unfortunately for me, I now have to share. Must remember to stop saying “go on, try them, I think you’ll love them”. Sometimes you get what you asked for.
One courgette cut into thick batons
A little milk
A few tablespoons of flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper
Oil for deep frying
Dip the courgette pieces first in the milk, then the seasoned flour and deep fry in very hot oil for a few minutes until lightly browned. Drain, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve. Alioli or garlic mayonnaise is great with them.
Make double if you run the risk of having to share.
A recent discovery is that our local “Big” supermarket sells packs of thin beef steaks. Ok, it may not be a patch on what we can get in England, but for dishes that require quick cooking, it’s tender and surprisingly tasty.
You may recall I recently made the “acquaintance” of Mr Gok Wan and his cooking and his book travelled back with me to Spain. Sudden temperature highs of around 30 degrees mean it’s time for food that is quickly prepared and cooked.
I served this beautifully fragrant beef dish with pak choi (or bok choy), but more of that another day. If you invest a few minutes (or ten) in getting everything ready, the cooking is quick and ready to serve in just a few minutes. I had to make some adaptations, as ever, and Big Man asked if this was “Cocina Ibero-Chino” (Spanish-Chinese Cooking). I am sure that if had used sesame oil and carrot (which were the things I had to substitute) it would have been even more delicious, but as we didn’t have a scrap left over, I think it was a success!
To serve 2
About 4 tablespoons of cornflour
Salt and pepper (the recipe calls for white, I used black
About 300g steak (the recipe calls for sirloin, I think mine is called “flash fry)
Oil for frying (original recipe says groundnut, I used olive oil)
4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 medium carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks (I used a small courgette)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I used olive oil)
1-2 teaspoons rice or cider vinegar
Coat the meat strips in the cornflour and seasoning and fry in a hot wok or frying pan until browned. I did this in batches. Remove and place on kitchen paper.
Wipe the pan and add a little more oil then add the ginger, garlic, spring onions and carrot. Fry on high for a minute or two until the edges of the onions start to brown a little. Add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, a pinch of pepper and about 3 tablespoons of water and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the flavours to your liking (I added a little more vinegar as I found it quite sweet).
Add the beef into the pan and gently mix into the sauce. Remove from the heat and (optional) garnish with chili flakes.
A beautiful dish, aromatic and quick to prepare.
For another beautiful Chinese Beef dish, check out Mandy’s Shanghai Steak over at The Complete Cookbook.
Now that I’m back Up the Mountain I am enjoying catching up with some of my cookery books. A favourite chef/author of mine is Rick Stein, I love the simplicity of most of his recipes and his passion for fish and the sea. In fact, he’s my imaginary chef boyfriend…a man who like to cook fish and used to have a Jack Russell. What more could a girl want?
Ok, enough of my middle aged fantasies and onto a simple recipe inspired by one from his book Fruits of the Sea.
Ingredients (to serve 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter)
Marinate the squid in the oil, chili and garlic for about 30 minutes and cook on the barbecue (or in a very hot griddle pan) until slightly charred. While the squid is cooking, brush the courgette with a little olive oil and barbecue alongside it.
Make up a salad with the freshest ingredients and a vinaigrette with lemon juice in place of vinegar and add some grated lemon zest to it.
Cut the squid into bite sized pieces and serve it with the courgette on top of the salad. Pour a glass of wine, put your sunglasses on and pretend that it’s sunny….because here it’s been doing a very good impression of not being summer for the last few weeks.
Fish Man took a week off recently and oh how we missed him! Fortunately, he came back refreshed and with a van packed full of gorgeous things for us to enjoy.
After our enforced fish free week, I went a bit mad, and bought some tiny little crabs and a large fillet of rosada (a firm white fish) for us to enjoy.
The crabs were simple to deal with – a good rinse then plunged into boiling, salted water. You need to be quite heavy handed with the salt as they are usually cooked in sea water. In the absence of this up our mountain, a little extra salt goes a long way. After about two minutes they will turn a darker pink colour, drain them and then put into a bowl of iced water to stop them cooking further. It´s the same process that you would use for cooking prawns.
These were then chilled and served as a starter with alioli and lemons. It looks like a huge portion, but there is not a lot of meat inside these little critters. The fun is in chomping, slurping and licking your fingers!
The rosada was treated equally simply. I sautéed red peppers with onions and courgettes until soft, lay the fish fillets over the top and seasoned everything. After covering the pan with a lid I let them cook through gently for about five minutes (until they were no longer opaque), then squeezed plenty of lemon juice over.
Healthy, light and delicious…all we needed was the sound of the waves lapping against the shore.
With the hot weather we´ve been having, the desire to cook has been low. But…a girl and her Big Man have to eat, so the other night we decided on some grilled langoustines with some vegetable fried rice to accompany it. Fried rice is an alien concept to most Spaniards, so Big Man had visions of me deep frying individual grains of rice or making some sort of croquette.
To his relief, and mine (due to the heat), it was a simple dish with only the smallest amount of oil and frying involved.
I boiled some rice (I used brown, but the choice is yours). While this was cooking I fried a finely chopped onion and two crushed cloves of garlic in a very small amount of oil in a non stick pan until it started to look brown at the edges. Then I added finely chopped courgette and a long thin green pepper and continued to stir fry them.
In a separate pan I made the thinnest omelette known to man! Whisk one egg and pour into a lightly oiled pan- almost as if you were making a crêpe – and make a very thin omelette. Flip it over to get both sides lightly browned and slide onto a plate to cool a little.
When the rice is cooked, drain well and add to the vegetables. There´s no need to add more oil if you have a good pan as you will now almost dry fry it. Season with salt and pepper and every few minutes give it a stir until the rice starts to brown.
Roll up the world´s thinnest omelette and cut it into fine shreds. Sprinkle these eggy shreds over the top of your rice, mix gently and serve.
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....