Category Archives: family favourite

Split-pea and cumin soup from Marrakech

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Today I take you to Marrakech, the red city of the desert, the Mother of all oasis! We went to the fruit and veg’ souk to choose the ingredients for a very typical Marrocan soup in the warm colours of the flag.

Diced vegetables for a stunning mix of colours

Diced vegetables for a stunning mix of colours

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Ingredients list:

  • Split-peas, one cup
  • Water, 5 cups
  • Carrots, 2 diced
  • Red onions, 2 diced
  • Cumin, 3 Tbsp
  • Parsley , chopped to taste
  • Lemon, ½ squeezed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bay leaves, 2

 

First wash and chop all the vegetables.

Then melt the onions in a pan (with lid) and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until brownish.

Add the well rinsed split-peas, the diced carrots and churn all into the hot oil for a few minutes.

Add the cumin and the bay leaf with the 5 cups of water.

Season with pepper and a little salt ( I prefer to add the rest of the salt at the end).

Leave on a medium heat for 45 min to one hour. Remove the bay leaves. Check the tenderness of the split-peas and carrots. Serve with parsley and lemon juice . Add salt or water if necessary.

Good food is a journey in itself, it bears a story, it stirs your soul. It takes you away and back…

Enjoy !

 

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“Ajo Blanco”, star soup of the Med Diet!

My Spanish born great grand-mother on my maternal side had a wonderful family recipe for “Ajo Blanco”, or so I am told because alas nobody recorded it and therefore nobody can recall its details… So, to complete my family recipe archives, I can only try to recreate this recipe with voices others than hers… Why does it seem so important to me to do so? Because Ajo Blanco is a bit of an iconic Andalucian soup and because it happens to be at the same time a very healthy and rejuvenating combination of almond meal and garlic. Popular and traditional cuisine often combine the qualities of being at once tasty and healthy and this very ancient recipe proves the point with its elegant simplicity.

I am just back from a long week end in Seville where summer was already warm and dry and the beautiful gardens of the Mudejar palaces where full of the most generous and fragrant blossoms. The photos below were taken inside the Casa de Pilatos in Seville Old quarter. But Seville is full of secret gardens that you can visit or sometimes just glimpse, past a patio of azulejos opening onto the heat scorched street… IMG_4397 IMG_4401

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Ingredients list

  • Raw peeled almonds ,200 gr
  • Garlic cloves,2
  • Olive oil, 70 ml
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Bread, 100 gr 70 gr de aceite de oliva virgen extra
  • Jerez or wine vinegar, 50ml
  • Water, 1L
  • Grapes or cucumber chunks to serve

This is a Thermomix adapted recipe but any good blender will do.

A fresh and crisp taste

A fresh and crisp taste for this “white garlic” soup

Soak the almond and bread in water separately for a few hours, if possible. Remove and do not use this water,

Mix the garlic, salt and almonds for 30 sec at speed 5. Add the chopped bread (no crust) and mix another 15 sec. You should get a sort of thick paste.

Keep at speed 5 and add the olive oil, followed by the vinegar and the water. Mix for 1 min at speed 7 to 8.

Season with a little salt and serve cold with the chopped cucumber or grapes to decorate and give a nice biting texture.

I like to serve this in glasses decorated with a mini skewer with fresh grapes and to sprinkle a few flaked almonds and some fried toast on top.

This is a strengthening, wholesome,  cold soup; a godsend in summer and a little miracle of health…

Favourite gardens in Seville:

  • Parque Maria Louisa – I had a beautiful morning run there, but you can take a horse carriage to it if you are no runner!
  • Los Jardines del Real Alcazar – The beautiful gardens of the moors kings… A treasure!
  • Gardens and patios of the Museo de Bellas Artes
  • Gardens of Casa de Pilatos – see pictures above.
  • And many more!!!

Lamb shoulder in red wine and thyme like in Mallorca

A dish for spring:

Falling apart in the pot...

Falling apart in the pot…

A Mallorcan recipe of melting lamb in a reduction of wine, thyme and rosemary.

This is the perfect hot-pot to serve guests at a dinner party because you will have left it to cook in the oven all night and therefore only need to reheat and serve – leaving you lots of time to : A/lay a really lovely table, B/concentrate on pudding or C/ do your nails and get yourself pretty!

Spring is the new lamb season so this dish really comes into his own now but do check with your butcher that he is giving you a spring lamb and not anything he’s had in the freezer for a while. Though you can also try this with a tougher goat or kid joint and it would be just as delicious and tender.

Ingredients list:

  • A shoulder of lamb (with bone in)
  • A bottle of spanish Rioja or Mallorcan red (some body and flavour!)
  • A mix of diced carrots, onion and celery (or other root veg) to flavour the juices
  • A bundle of thyme and rosemary, tied in a string, with bay leaf optional
  • Salt and pepper to season (always towards the end)
  • OPTIONAL: Add 6 to 8 dry or fresh figs towards the end – you will love this!!!

Rinse and pat dry your joint.

Make a pretty bundle with the herbs, tie in string.

Brush and chop the vegetables. I do not tend to peel them. It is easier and healthier with skin on so why bother…

Put the ingredients in a large pot with a lid and pour the wine over. The liquid should be at two third of the meat. Add some water if needed.

Leave to cook, covered, in the oven for at least 8 hours at 160°. I put it around 11pm when I go to bed and stop it when I get up at 7:30.

Season with sea salt and black pepper. Leave it to cool, then remove the fatty blob bits that solidify at the surface – it is worth doing this if you have the time, to get a leaner dish.Taste then reheat just before serving, leaving the dish uncovered.

I promise you the house will smell like the farmhouse restaurant, lost in the hills of Mallorca, where I first tasted that dish. It was generously soaked in the rich wine juice and tasted as if the meat had been infused in thyme and grape juice for a long long time – which it had!

Spring lambs

Spring lambs

Pumpkin, ginger and cinnamon bread

Here I indulge my love of all things ginger! Don’t you love this warm colour and spice?! And it goes so well with pumpkin it would be a sin not to pair them… Here is your week-end recipe, just in time!

Libby’s pumpkin purée is a very ubiquitous ingredient in the UK and it is a great product to use when winter makes fresh fruit a bit more scarce… So this is a cupboard or pantry recipe, unashamedly quick and practical.IMG_2049

Ingredients list:

  • Eggs, 3
  • Libby’s pumpkin purée, 3/4 of a jar
  • Brown sugar, 150g
  • Rapeseed oil, 100ml
  • Self-Raising Gluten free flour mix, 150g
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • Ground ginger, 1 generous Tbsp
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp
  • Vanilla extract

Blend the eggs with sugar and pumpkin purée.

Add the oil, then the flour mixed with the bicarbonate.

Blend in the spices. I use a robot for that but you can make do with a hand whisk because all the ingredients are very easily blendable.

Pour the mix into a rectangular pan and bake for 30 minutes at 180°.

This is a lovely and light cake with lots of seasonal spices, perfectly suited to the winter and delicious with a cup of chai latte or coffee latte.

Because it is rather low in sugar and has no dairy in it, I will still call it a bread but it is as indulgent as it gets! The pumpkin purée makes it very moist and similar to a gingerbread. Just a nice, healthy twist on it…

NO butter, no dairy, no gluten! No fun?! Actually plenty of taste – As I said I DO love all things ginger…IMG_2007

 

 

 

Aubergine caviar – In praise of simple food!

“Caviar d’aubergine” or Aubergine dip is a traditional middle eastern dish and I love it everywhere and anywhere because it is super healthy and oh so simple to whip up. I can hardly believe I have not yet included it in this blog… For us, it always goes with our family size pot of hummous and lots of fresh veg and homemade bread to dip in.

I have been recently immersed in the excellent book by Dr Michel de Lorgeril “Le nouveau régime méditerranéen”- a well written, even humorous scientific essay-

IMG_7185 and I am loving the idea that simple, century-old recipes still hold the key to good health and longevity. Aubergine salad or dip is one of the staples of the Mediterranean diet and as such needs to feature in a balanced diet. So here it is : not a fad’ and not made of fancy expensive ingredients nobody has heard of – just authentic, simple and classic food.

 

 Ingredients List:

  • Aubergines, 4 medium size
  • Tahini, 3 Tbsp
  • Lemon juice,  of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Garlic cloves, 2
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper and smoked paprika to taste

Slice the aubergines in two halves, drizzle a little oil over and put them in the oven for 1h at 160°.

Once cooled, peel them and cut them up in chunks. Press them with a potato masher or put them through the food processor with all the other ingredients until you get a smooth cream.

Check the seasoning. It needs to be sharp and well balanced but not too pungent. One tip: cut each garlic clove in twos and removed the greenish shoot in the middle to take the edge off the garlic but still have a beautiful  flavour.

Serve with oatcakes or flat bread. Or just with cut up raw carrots and peppers if you are going Paleo!

A venitian market

A venitian market