Tag Archives: Thermomix

“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!!!
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Valentine chocolates – gifts of love and health!

Winter bloom and chocolate

Winter bloom and chocolate

Valentine day approaching and the shops are tempting us with a cornucopia of very sweet and colourful confectionary – but if you are still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions, the choice can be quite daunting… So here I give you a more virtuous but deliciously indulgent version.

These delicate chocolate flowers are made with raw chocolate, non dairy ingredients and they are still big in flavour and satisfaction…

Ingredients list:

  • Dates, 250g
  • 100g of 100% cocoa chocolate (Check out Chocolat Rabot in Borough Market)
  • Raisins, 150g
  • Vanilla bean, 1
  • Crystalised ginger, a few pieces, but only optional!

Cut the chocolate in squares, cut up the dates.

Than put all in your best chopper (I use my Thermomix for the smoothest result) and mix at high speed for a few minutes until you get a glossy paste. DO NOT overwork it or the chocolate will melt !

Put in silicone moulds for individual chocolates (as above) or just roll bite size chunks in your palms and present them in a nice box or sachet to your Valentine with his Valentine day coffee. Garantie to score brownie points with any health-conscious foodie!

No need to be vegan either to appreciate the soft and creamy result – But take the best chocolate for the best taste, as always… My writing buddies loved them so much that I dedicate this recipe to our blue-stocking group – and their Valentines!

HAPPY VALENTINE DAY EVERYONE! This year it falls on a sunday so plan to take him to a spa, an art gallery or just a favourite place / corner of the world- like Venice?!!!

Promise Venice and chocolate this year!

One of my handprinted Valentine cards/original print.

 

Butternut squash and ginger soup – make it fiery!

Ginger is still a running theme or obsession of mine currently, so there you go: another ginger recipe but fiery this time and velvety, and so perfectly suited to the cold spell we are having in London at the moment… Will it snow? Will it not?!

IMG_9600Ingredients list

  • Butternut squash
  • Ginger and lemongrass stock by Maggi
  • 200 ml of hot water
  • 100ml of coconut milk
  • 5og of coconut cream
  • 50g of soya cream
  • Fresh red chilli ( to taste)
  • Coriander to sprinkle

Slice the squash in large chunks and take all seeds out but do not peel it- This last step is much easier to take after roasting! No sweat! Take the easy route for once… You can also roast it whole in the oven and chop later, as in my picture!

Roast the sliced squash with a bit of olive oil- I use Olivio at the moment.In a hot oven under grill for 20 min should do. Take the opportunity to roast other roots vegetables or pepper and aubergines at the same time – you can always use those in salads or couscous later!

Peel the butternut slices when ready and soft.

Mix them in the food processor with the stock, boiling water and all the other ingredients – but do be careful with the chilli: you want a gentle kick, not a huge explosion!

If using a Thermomix, get it to heat at the same time as you chop (100°C/speed max/5 min).

Dilute with the cream and coconut milk especially if you find it too strong or too thick: it should be served creamy though, not watery.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of coriander.

IMG_2550While you sip, feeling virtuous and engaged, there is still time to write your New Year resolutions : Why not change the world this year?! One step at a time. Be bold!!! There is much that needs doing… Ok, more soup and wholesome food might be a good start; some exercise will not kill you; but do not stop at that, go further: the future is ours! Lets be ambitious. Lets save the world this year. I mean it. Find a platform, a charity, a movement and go with it. And above all: choose your motto!

No wars, no drugs, no hunger.

It feels good already just saying it.

 

 

Avocado and kiwi frozen smoothie for radiant health

 

Just 3 ingredients and lots of ice...

Just 3 ingredients and lots of ice…

A cooling smoothie with an unusual savoury tang: The smooth avocado marries the tangy kiwi in a delicious if surprising combination.

Ingredients list:

  • avocado, 1
  • kiwi, 1 peeled
  • spirulina powder, 1 tsp (optional)
  • orange, 1 squeezed
  • ice cubes, handful

Blitz all of the above ingredients in your food processor ( mine is a Thermomix) and serve cold in an ice cream glass. I love it as a starter or anytime of day as a smoothie. It is also a great post work out recovery drink! Need to remember that next sunday as I attempt to run the Richmond running festival Half-marathon…

Be sure that, with or without spirulina, this sweet and savoury smoothie packs a big vitamin punch in a small size –  quantities above are per person.

You can source Spirulina powder in health shops. It is great for energy because it contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals as well as anti-oxydants. I can’t say I enjoy the taste of it of in small quantities in smoothies it does the job and provide even more green to your diet… The taste is fresh and clean so perfect to start the day feeling radiant with health and virtue!

Pure green energy

Pure green energy

 

 

 

 

Salmorejo – The other gazpacho!

On a very hot like today, this cold soup is a godsend!  I first tasted last year in Granada and a few days ago on the beautiful beach of El Palmar near Cadix, in a Chiringuito with a view. I am writing this from the roof terrace of my hotel in Seville, on a still and very hot night – the temperature having hardly cooled down since sunset…

I gift this dish to my friend and neighbour “Abracadabra”, who will recognise herself and recently asked me for healthy, “eat beautiful” recipes with a Thermomix!

View from the Chiringuito

View from the Chiringuito

Ingredients list:

  • Tomatoes, ripe 1kg
  • Wholemeal bread150g,
  • Garlic cloves, 1 or 2
  • Olive oil, 150ml,
  • Salt and pepper ,
  • green pepper, one seeded
  • Vinaigre of Jerez or cider 30ml,
  • Pimenton dulce, 1 tbsp parsley, chopped , couple of sprigs
  • Soft boiled egg,chopped , 1 per guest
  • Spanish cured ham, chopped, a handful

Serve this with aubergines chips (recipe to follow!)

To Drink: A Tinto de verano with lots of ice! It’s 37 in the shade of the orange grove today as I write this…

The Giralda, a muslim tower turned Belfry

The Giralda, a muslim tower turned Belfry

First soft-boil the eggs and chop the ham. Reserve.

Put the whole tomatoes in a pan of just boiled water. Leave a couple of minutes then peel, quarter and seed them.

Put the garlic (centre shoot removed), the pepper and tomatoes in the Thermomix: feed them through the top hole while turning at speed 4/5.

Tonight's version

My version

Mix the bread chunks with the oil, add the vinaigre and seasoning. Leave to rest a few minutes then add to the tomato mixture.

Whizz thoroughly at speed 6/7. Check and adjust the seasoning with “pimentón” (a kind of Spanish paprika that can come in sweet or hot according to taste), salt and pepper.
Blend at top speed until smooth. If using a Thermomix, you might be able to cut corners and not peel nor seed your tomatoes! If not using one, on the other hand, you might have to sieve the mixture at this point… The soup needs to look like a beefed up gazpacho, creamy and thick.

Reserve in the fridge until serving : Then decorate with chopped cured ham and parsley and chopped hard boiled egg or your soft boil one. I tried this version the other night in Puerto Santamaria and fell in love with it! The soft boiled or poached egg once cut, oozes a delicious yolk into the soup.

This is one of several super-healthy summer soups that I will be posting during the next month, to show that summer soups can be very versatile as well as nutritive and full of health. And that there is so much more to it than Gazpacho!

The Spanish drink a “Tinto de Verano” when the weather is hot like it is at the moment in Andalucia and I am fast becoming partial to it: red Rioja and lemonade with lots of large ice cubes and a slice of lemon…  Enjoy your summer!

With my son in the ocean waves...

With my youngest son in the ocean waves…