A Simple Curry of Poton


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This fish from the Cephalopod family which includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish, resembles squid in form but is generally much larger and less tender, needing longer slow cooking. Stewing it in a coconut sauce spiced with ginger, garlic and chilli is a simple and flavoursome way to prepare it.

The same sauce can be used to cook more tender fish, but will need to be simmered for 30 minutes for the flavours in it to develop before adding the fish.

For 2 portions

1 stick lemongrass

1 large clove of garlic

a thumb sized piece of ginger – or galangal if you can get it

1 large green chilli

bunch of fresh coriander leaves or green coriander seeds

250 ml coconut milk

500 grams Poton

1 tablespoon Nam Pla fish sauce

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice the tender part of the lemongrass into very fine rounds

Finely chop the garlic, chilli, ginger, and coriander leaves – save a few of these for garnishing

Put the chopped ingredients above in a pan with the coconut milk and bring to simmer.

After five minutes add the Poton and simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes until the Poton is tender.

If you are using a more tender fish, or selection of fish, then simmer the sauce for 30 minutes for the flavours in it to develop before adding the fish and then cooking the 5 or ten minutes that the fish needs.

Season the curry with fish sauce, freshly ground black pepper and salt if needed.

Serve with plain rice or rice noodles, and stir fried vegetables. A great garnish are thinly sliced radish that have been steeped in sweetened rice vinegar.


South American Style Prawn Cocktail


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When I cook for my friends I quite often like to have a theme to the dishes, so once I’d decided on Chicken Burritos as a main course for this particular lunch, I was looking for something to have as an appetiser. There are generally frozen prawns in the freezer, so why not mix them with typical South American salads, tomatoes, peppers, sweetcorn, add a spicy sauce sharpened with lime juice and have a prawn cocktail?

My guests loved it!

Per person

8 large prawns in their shells

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon quinoa – black or red look good, but if you have neither then the white is fine

1 tablespoon diced green pepper

1 tablespoon diced red pepper

1 tablespoon sweetcorn kernels

1/2 small avocado diced

Lettuce leaves to decorate your dishes

For the dressing

1 small clove of garlic

Fresh red chilli – finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves or the same of green coriander seeds

zest and juice of 1/2 a small lime

Boil the quinoa until tender.

Drain and put in a bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Peel the prawns reserving the heads and skins.

Fry the prawns in olive oil until just cooked. Remove to a plate and let cool.

To the same pan add the heads and skins. Fry gently squashing the juices out of the heads with a wooden spatula.

Once the prawn heads are cooked and have given out their juices, add the coconut milk and water. Mix well scraping any solid bits at the bottom of the pan into the liquid and squashing the the heads again to add yet more flavour to the dressing.

Let cook down a little and then take off the heat.

With a pestle and mortar crush the garlic, chilli and coriander with a pinch of salt.

Strain the dressing into the mortar and then mix well.

Add the lime zest and juice, mix again, then add the dressing and cooled prawns to the salad and mix to cover all with the dressing.

Line your serving dishes with leaves and pile on the cocktail.


Red Pepper & Walnut Pate


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This rich, spicy pate is popular throughout the Middle East with each country having their own variation of flavourings added to the two main ingredients of walnuts and roasted red peppers. In Turkey it’s name is Acuka, and it’s fiercely picante, in Syria it’s Muhammara. You, of course can make it as mild or spicy as you prefer.

For the red pepper flesh, either roast about 400 grams of thick fleshed peppers in a hot – 180C – oven until the skin is slightly charred and blistering.
The peppers can be roasted over a glowing fire or barbecue as well of course.
Remove to a container with a lid and leave to cool.

Skin the peppers and remove the seeds and stem keeping any juice that flows out of them.
We are aiming for about 300 grams of flesh including any juices.

Alternatively, if you can get hold of a jar of ready roasted and skinned Pimientos de Piquillo, these can be used for making a quick dip.

So you will need –

300 grams red pepper flesh

50 grams walnut pieces

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon allspices/ pimienta de Jamaica

1/4 teaspoon black or mixed peppercorns

1 clove garlic

1 small chilli or more to taste

4 tablespoons virgin olive oil

zest of 1 lemon plus 2 tablespoons of its juice


2-3 heaped tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Toast the walnut pieces in a thick based pan on a low heat, turning them over from time to time until they ara golden colour at the edges and you can smell their rich scent emerging.

Put to one side to cool.

Now put the cumin, allspice and peppercorn seeds in the same pan and toast until their aroma is detectable.

Put them into a small food processor and whizz to a powder.

Add the pepper pulp, garlic, olive oil, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice and zest. Whizz to a fine purée.

Add 2 of the tablespoons of breadcrumbs and pulse to mix in.

Leave for about half an hour for the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid in the purée and thicken it. If it is not the texture of a spreadable pate and is too liquid add more breadcrumbs.

Add the toasted walnut pieces and pulse to mix in to the pate and be cut up a bit smaller but not too small.

Check seasonings and enjoy

Tortilla de Habas con Menta


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Broad bean spanish omlette with mint.

The Spanish tortilla made with potatoes is universally known, but tortillas are also regularly made with other vegetables, peas, green garlics, peppers and beans, as in this case. Really any flavoursome vegetable that is not to wet to hold the cake shape can make a tortilla, or a combination of vegetables of course.

The fresh broad beans from my huerta or vegetable garden are sweet and tender, perfect for this dish.

For 2 portions

220 grams broad beans

3 eggs

1 -2 tablespoons of olive oil

small bunch of mint – finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the beans by pouring boiling water over them and leaving them to steep for five minutes. Drain.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly to mix.

Add the beans and mint. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small non stick pan. When hot add the egg mix, turn the heat low and cover.

After about five minutes of cooking check how the omlette is cooking. With a spatula pull the egg slightly away from the sides and towards the middle.

Cover again and leave to cook for a few more minutes.

Once you can see that the tortilla is cooked at the edge, but not quite cooked through in the middle, its time to turn it over.

With a spatula make sure that the tortilla is loose from the pan. Put a plate over the pan and in one quick movement invert the pan over the plate.

Return the pan to the heat and add the other spoon of oil, slide the tortilla back into the pan to cook the second side. This will only take three to four minutes.

Turn the tortilla onto a plate and enjoy with a fresh salad….or two.

Orange Conserve



These conserved orange slices keep that fresh orange tang and colour while not having any bitterness. They are fabulous in the summer with ice cream, yoghurt or fresh cheeses, and also a useful addition to cakes and sweets, as in the Chocolate Paradise of the previous post.

The recipe is very simple.

For every kilo of sweet oranges you will need half a kilo of sugar.

Wash the oranges and top and tail them, taking just the peel from the top and bottom.

Prick the oranges all over with a large needle or pin.

Put to soak in fresh cold water to cover the oranges, they will float.

Change the water for fresh every day for three days. This removes the bitterness from the peel and also soaks into the oranges

On day four slice the oranges and put into a pan with the sugar and stir to mix.

Slowly bring to the boil, stirring from time to time. The mix will create its own juice.

Simmer for 30 minutes, by which time the oranges will be cooked and some what softened.

While still hot put into warm, clean and dry jars. This will keep for a year or so if kept in a cool dark place. Refrigerate once opened.

Intense Chocolate Heaven


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For dessert these days I prefer to serve fresh fruit, but then with coffee is good to have a mouthful of sweet intense naughtiness. This tiny chocolate loaf fits the bill. Amaretto infused biscuits, dried fruits and nuts, bound together with a thick dark bittersweet chocolate mousse. What’s not to like?

I’ve made this Chocolate Heaven twice now, the first time using the very sweet dried pears from my own tree, which produced a bumper crop this year, and ginger biscuits. For the second version I managed to get hold of cantucci biscuits, not common in southern spain, which I paired with orange peel from my Orange Conserve. I mistakenly thought that I had given you the recipe for this, so it will appear as the next post on here. Both versions were successful, so any flavour crunchy biscuits can be used with what ever dried fruits you fancy and whichever nuts you think will go with them. Have fun experimenting.

My loaf tins are small, 12 x 7 cm and 5 cm deep, and take 350 ml volume, and the amount below make two loaves.

200 grams – dark chocolate 85% cocoa solids

110 grams – biscuits – almond (cantucci) or ginger. 

100 grams – dried fruit – pears, apples, apricots or candied citrus peel

60 grams – toasted almonds

4 tablespoons – amaretto

3 egg yolks

Slice or cut the fruit into chunks and put into a bowl big enough to eventually take all the ingredients.

Put the biscuits into a plastic bag and with a rolling pin break them into smallish pieces, add to the fruit.
Add the toasted nuts to the fruit and biscuits and mix throughly.

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a bowl over hot water to melt. Stir from time to time so that it is evenly melted.

Put the egg yolks into another bowl and beat until pale, creamy and thickened.

Once the chocolate has melted thoroughly, remove the bowl from the hot water. Fold in the egg yolks, and then the amaretto.

Add the chocolate mix to the fruit, nuts and biscuits and mix to blend.

Line your loaf tins with cling film and divide the chocolate mix between them tamping down lightly so that you don’t have air gaps but not compacting the mix too much.

Cover and put in the fridge to cool. The Chocolate Heaven will keep well in the fridge up to four weeks.

To serve, unmold and unwrap a loaf and cut into thin slices. As it is very rich , one slice per person is enough.

Patatas a lo Pobre – Poor Mans Potatoes – with Broken Eggs – con Huevos Rotos


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This is a very common dish down here in Andalucia, especially at this time of year when, in the old days, the ingredients for it were pretty well all that was in the larder. Potatoes, good olive oil, onions, garlic and green peppers. It can then be fortified with whatever you have, chorizo, fresh sausages, a slice of pork, or my favourite, eggs, or if you are really hungry, all of those.
All sorts of other ingredients can be added to this basic recipe to vary it. Mushrooms work well, red peppers of course, olives for a different flavour.
Per person you want

150 grams more or less of waxy potatoes – scrubbed and cut into thickish slices

1/4 of a large onion – cut into slices

2 cloves of garlic – cut into thin slices

1 green horn shaped pepper – cut into bite sized pieces

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

one or two free range eggs

Traditionally the potatoes are fried with the rest of the ingredients from raw, but as you have to use a generous amount of olive oil to ensure that they don’t stick in the pan, I prefer to par boil them for five to seven minutes until half cooked, then I drain them and put them to one side while I cook the rest of the ingredients. You can do this or go the traditional method, the choice is yours.

Put two tablespoons of oil into a shallow pan, add the onions, garlic and green peppers. Fry on a low heat stirring regularly, until lightly browned at the edges.

Add the potatoes and continue frying and stirring, adding more oil if you think you need to.

Season well, and continue cooking until the potatoes are cooked.

Either poach or fry the eggs.

Serve the potatoes with the eggs on top cutting into the eggs so that the lovely warm yellow yolks dribble into them.


Autumn Red Salad


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I made this to have with the Potato and Chickpea Cakes in the previous post using ingredients that are currently in season here. Fragrant green peppers from the huerta, this years almonds which I love dry toasted in their skins, big winter radishes and plum tomatoes from the local market.

You will need –

Several leaves of red oak leaved lettuce

2 medium tomatoes – chopped into chunks

2 samall or 1 large green pepper

about 20 whole almonds – either with skins or if you prefer without

1 large cooked beetroot – cut into smallish cubes

Winter radish – about 20 thin slices

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablesoons water

1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup

2 tablespoons extra virgen olive oil

Start by steeping the radishes. The large winter radishes can be quite peppery, so a sweet marinade will make them less so. Mix the vinegar water and honey or syrup in small bowl, then add the radishes. Leave to marinate for at least ten minutes.

Meanwhile dry toast the almonds in a thick based pan over a low heat. Stir regularly to ensure that they are evenly toasted and a little browned. Remove from the heat and put to one side.

Rip up the lettuce leaves and arrange them on a large plate, then add the chopped tomatoes.

slice the green peppers and arrange on the salad.

Remove the radish slices from their marinade and arrange them over the salad.

Put the beetroot in the marinade and stir to cover all the cubes.

Spoon the cubes and vinegar over the salad, then sprinkle on the almonds.

Finally drizzle over the olive oil.


Chickpea & Potato Cakes with Whole Spices


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These spicy cakes are so quick and easy to make and use only two main ingredients.

Per serving you need –

100 grams cooked chickpeas

medium potato

pinch fennel seeds

pinch cumin seeds

pinch coriander seeds

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a bowl and mash them to a coarse paste.

Grate the potato into the chickpea mash and mix thoroughly.

Add all the seasonings and mix well.

Form into three cakes and fry for a few minutes each side, I turned mine twice, until they are golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with greek yoghurt and a spicy sauce.

Market Day Salad Nicoise


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Sometimes when food shopping most of the elements of a great recipe just happen to appear before you. In this case, picked this morning french beans, bright green little gem lettuce and fresh from underneath the hen free range eggs. A salad Nicoise is asking to be made. There is no fresh tuna, which I would normally use, but lovely big prawns will do nicely for the fish element. Southern Spain is the land of the tomato, so super tasty tomatoes are always plentiful.

I prefer poached eggs to boiled, I like warm yolks to dribble over the salad, and a vinaigrette dressing to mayonnaise, so here is my version of Salade Nicoise.

Per person

lettuce leaves

1 or 2 tomatoes – chopped

French beans – top and tail them and cut them into about 3cm lengths, then blanch them in boiling water for two or three minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

1 tablespoon corn kernels

1 clove of garlic – chopped

olive oil

7 large prawns – peeled

2 large free range eggs

For the dressing

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine/cider vinegar

pinch of sugar

Firstly mix all the dressing ingredients together thoroughly. You can put them all in a little jar and give it a good shake. Put to one side while you assemble the salad.

Lay the lettuce leaves on a dinner plate to make a bed for the rest of the ingredients. Strew over the tomatoes, beans and corn.

Heat water in a small pan for poaching the eggs.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and add the chopped garlic, fry for a minute then add the prawns. Fry gently until just cooked through. Add to the salad with the cooking juices and garlic.

Poach the eggs, drain and lay on the salad.

Spoon over the dressing, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with fresh crunchy bread.