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.
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
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!
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.
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).
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.
Recently Big Man came home with one of his horticultural “surprises” for me. Five cauliflowers! We both love cauliflower, but after giving some away and eating cauliflower with vinaigrette, buttered cauliflower and cauliflower cheese, we were still looking at a cooked cauliflower in the fridge wondering what to do with it.
Inspired by a potato and garlic soup recipe over at Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide, this cauliflower´s destiny was decided. Of course, I was in a rush and didn´t have exactly the ingredients to hand, so I made do.
I loved the idea of the roasted garlic, but as I had nothing else to cook in the oven, it felt extravagant to turn the oven on just to roast one head of garlic. I decided to experiment and try to cook it in the microwave to see how it turned out. I usually use my microwave to store my bread in (a kind of electrical bread bin if you like!) so for me to actually cook something in my microwave is rather unusual…
I put a whole head of garlic in on medium for about 3 minutes and I was amazed when it was done. Of course, there were no lovely toasty edges, but the garlic smelt great and each clove was perfectly soft and ready to pop out of its skin to use.
I put the cloves of garlic in a saucepan with a little olive oil and warmed them through whilst mashing them with the back of a spoon. I added the cooked cauliflower broken into florets, a teaspoon of ground cumin seeds and covered with vegetable stock (although water would also be fine). After bringing it to the boil I reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
In the absence of cream I then added half a cup of milk and a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese and then blended with a stick blender.
A few left over rashers of bacon which I also cooked in the microwave – I was feeling adventurous – were cut into small pieces and sprinkled over to finish the dish off. I put a kitchen towel on a plate, put the bacon on top and covered with another sheet of kitchen towel and cooked on high for 5 minutes. This gave me beautifully dry, crisp bacon, and no greasy pan to wash.
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.....