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

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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.

Enjoy!




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.

Enjoy!

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.

Red Rice, Cauliflower & Green Bean Biryani

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In the lockdown I got into ordering some of the food stuffs less easy to get hold of locally online, and that is where I found the red rice. I overcooked it the first time I used it, but now I’ve got it right. It’s all down to the soaking. This rice wants to be steeped in cold water for a couple of hours or so before it’s cooking.

For 4 portions

120 grams red rice

500 ml vegetable stock

50 grams raw cashew nuts

2-3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil

1/2 red onion – diced

3-4 cloves garlic – finely chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 red chilli – finely chopped

Seeds from 10 green cardamoms

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 medium courgette – cut into small cubes

1/2 cauliflower – just the florets cut small

150 grams french green beans – cut into 1/2 cm lengths

salt and freshly ground black pepper

At least two hours before you are going to cook, put the rice to soak in enough cold water to cover it generously.

Toast the cashews in a thick based pan over a low heat until golden brown. Put to one side.

Drain the rice from its soaking liquid. Heat the stock in a saucepan and once it is boiling add the rice and a pinch of salt. Leave to cook on a slow simmer for about ten minutes.

Heat the oil or butter in a wok or deep frying pan over a low heat and add the onion. Fry until translucent then add the garlic and ginger. Continue frying until the contents are lightly browned.

Add the spices and fry for a few minutes.

Add the courgettes and cauliflower florets. Cover the pan and continue cooking.

After the rice has had its ten minutes of cooking, throw in the green beans and cook for a further 3-4 minutes by which time most of the cooking liquid will have been absorbed.

Add the rice and beans to the rest of the vegetables and stir well to mix. Cook for a further five minutes for the flavours to mix and to dry the Biryani if it is a bit too liquid.

Check the seasonings adding salt and pepper as needed.

Lastly stir in the cashew nuts and serve.

Fish Cooked in Coconut Milk with Spices

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I made the sauce for this fish dish first, and then slowly poached the fish in it. I’ve used fillets of Mackerel as they are in season here right now, so superbly fresh and a good price, but any firm fleshed fish fillets can be used. I haven’t tried it, but it could be a good sauce to cook prawns in as well.

For 2 portions

500 grams fish fillets

1/2 red onion – sliced

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped or green garlic sliced

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1/2 fresh red chilli – finely chopped

oil or butter for frying

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

200 ml coconut milk

1 teaspoon ground rice

juice of a small lime

salt and pepper

Heat the oil or butter in a deep frying pan or wok. Add the onions and cook on a low heat until starting to brown a little.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir in and fry for a few minutes.

Add the mustard seeds and fry until they begin to pop, then add the turmeric and coconut milk.

Gently cook the sauce for five minutes.

If the sauce is thin, then thicken with the rice flour.

Add the fish and poach gently until the fillets are just cooked.

Season with salt, pepper and the lime juice.

Serve with rice. I made a Red Rice, Cauliflower and Green Bean Biryani, which went very well. I’ll post the recipe for that next.

Hazelnut Toffee Tart

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I often end a meal with just fresh fruit, but sometimes there’s an urge for something quite sweet, not a big portion, but a mouthful or two of delicious sweetness, and this set of super easy desserts fits the bill. They all have a biscuit base, topped with a caramel toffee made by boiling tins of condensed milk to which chopped nuts are added.

If you have not come across this way of making a toffee before it’s, as I have already said, very easy, if a little disconcerting. You take the labels off your tins of condensed milk, and without opening or piercing them, put them in a pan with enough boiling water to cover and simmer them for three hours. If the water level gets below the top of the tins during cooking just add some boiling water. It’s three hours simmering wether the tins are the small or the larger size. I usually boil three of the small, 400 gram tins together. Let them cool for several hours in the water in which they have cooked. The caramel, being in tins will keep indefinitely of course, so it’s a good standby to have in the cupboard. Even an open tin will keep for several weeks. Shall we slide quickly past the reason being the high sugar content of the toffee…..

When you get to opening your tin you will find a thick caramel that holds its shape and can be spread onto a biscuit base. My favourite tart is to mix chopped nuts into the toffee before spreading it onto the biscuit layer, then decorate the top with whole or half nuts. I’ve made this with Pecan nuts and with Hazelnuts, both are very good. You can also put the a neat toffee layer onto the biscuits, then top that with banana slices and whipped cream for a Banoffee Tart.

The little tart pictured is made in a 10 cm wide loose based tin, which makes 6 my size mini portions or 4 larger ones.
For a 15 cm wide tart tin double all the amounts in the recipe.


60 grams biscuits – finely chopped in a food processor

20 grams butter

200 grams toffeed condensed milk

100 grams hazelnuts

Just in case you have never made a biscuit base, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, add the biscuits and mix well.
Tip into the tart tin and spread into an even layer, tamp down firmly with either your fingers or something flat. Put to cool in the refrigerator.

Cut enough hazelnuts in half to decorate the top of the tart, then roughly chop the rest.

Mix with the toffee, then once the biscuit base is cooled, spread over this in an even layer, and then decorate with the hazelnut halves.

That’s it! Serve with fresh cream.