Category Archives: Recipes
During my stay on Zanzibar Island, I would often sit on the beach quietly taking photos of the village women of Jambiani as they dug for clams on the shoreline. This took place mainly in the early evenings, just as the sun began to set. The vibrantly dressed women against the pale blue of the sea, and the golden hue of evening light was a vision to behold.
I asked a local man – the women did not speak to mzungu much – how the women prepared the clams they were gathering. “The clams are cooked in coconut with lime and salt” he told me.
Eating on the island was an absolute pleasure for the scenes. There are very few fridges in local cafes and restaurants, so everything is freshly prepared–fresh fish, fresh coconut, mango, passion fruit, limes, Thai basil and spices grown on the island were frequently used giving dishes the most delightful flavours and scented aromas.
This simple dish is an adaptation of the recipe given to me, but with a few additional ingredients which were abundantly used in the dishes of local restaurants.
You will need
clams 500 g
coconut milk 400 ml
zest & juice 1/2 lime
2 dried lime leaves
2 inches finely grated ginger
1 clove garlic crushed
1 level tbsp of tamarind
handful (20 g) of fresh Thai basil leaves roughly chopped*
salt & black pepper for seasoning
To begin, soak the clams in a large bowl of cold salted water for about an hour to remove any sand. Pour clams into a colander and rinse thoroughly under the cold water tap. Then swoosh around in the colander to remove excess water. Discard any clams that are fully open.
Place the coconut milk, dried lime leaves, ginger, garlic, tamarind, lime juice and zest and a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a large pan and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes. With a slatted spoon remove the lime leaves and any large bits of tamarind that hasn’t dissolved. Pop the chopped Thai basil into the sauce reserving a little for garnishing. Turn up the heat slightly, pour in the clams, place a lid on the pan and let the clams steam for 5 minutes or so. Check to see if they are all open, if not give them a few minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Discard any clams that have not opened. Spoon the clams and sauce into dishes and garnish with the reserved Thai basil leaves. Serve with dense white bread or white rice.
Serves two as a main dish or four as an appetiser.
*It has to be Thai basil as regular basil doesn’t work as well
I wanted to create a warming drink for the winter season and as we are currently living in northern Germany, a Glühwein recipe seemed a natural choice. But, I’m just not in the mood for the abundant choice alcoholic seasonal drinks right now. So a Mexican friend introduced me to a drink that is on the stove top of pretty much every Mexican home during the holiday season – Ponche.
Traditionally made with Jamaica flower (Hibiscus), spices, Tamarind, dried fruits, cane sugar and Tejocotes, a fruit native to Mexico which is part of the Hawthorne family of plants. I’ve substituted some of these ingredients for ones that you may already have on hand. For example, I’ve used dark brown granular sugar instead of cane sugar which still gives a sweet warming taste to the punch, and Quince instead of Tejocotes, which adds a light aromatic flavour and are more readily available.
The punch is really simple to make, and will create a very inviting fruity, spicy aroma in your home. You can keep it warm on the stove, so that you have something warming to offer guests as they pop by during the holiday season, and as its alcohol-free kids can enjoy it too. Feliz Navidad!
You will need
40 g of Dried Jamaica flowers
40 g Raisins
30 g Tamarind (from a block of fruit or
you can use the fruit from about 8 pods)
40 g Dark brown sugar
2 Cinnamon sticks
6 Star Anise
2 Litres water
2 Clementines, chopped
1 Small Quince, cored and chopped
1 Small yellow apple, cored and chopped
Put the Jamaica flowers, spices, Tamarind, prunes, raisins, sugar and water into a large saucepan, bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove all of the ingredients with a slatted spoon. Add the chopped fruit and simmer for a further 20 minutes. The punch will absorb all of the lovely juices from the fruit. Serve with the pieces of fruit in mugs or punch cups.
I’ve found over the years that when it comes to cooking, like most people, I’m constantly re-adapting or re-inventing a recipe to suit my family’s taste, make it more seasonal or to use up any ingredients I have left over. These dishes often become favourites in themselves. But even classic, much loved recipes invite a little adaptation from time to time. I was initially going to make a tarte au citron a classic lemon tart, exchanging the usual pastry base for a gluten-free almond crust. However, with the bounty of citrus fruits available right now, it seemed fitting to create something more in keeping with the season. So, for the custard filling for my – not at all like a tarte au citron tart, I’ve opted for clementines, a delicious deviations from zesty lemons, with the addition of a little orange blossom water which enhances the delicate notes of the fruit. For the base, a combination of almond flour, fine oats and ground whole almonds gives the tart a bit of gluten-free texture. The result is a delicately aromatic tart, with a little crunch that gently lights up the taste buds.
You will need
For the crust
100 g Almond flour
50 g Fine Oats (Gluten-free)
150 g Almonds
1 egg yolk
50 g butter, melted plus extra for greasing tart tin
1 tbsp honey
23-24 cm tart tin
For the custard
5 med size eggs
Zest of 2 Clementines
Juice of 2-3 Clementines – you’ll need 100ml
150 g of brown caster sugar
1 tbsp of Orange blossom water
65 g of butter, melted but not hot
To begin, grease your tart tin. Pop the whole almonds in a food processor and grind to a medium texture. Mix all of the crust ingredients in a bowl and combine until it resembles a moist crumble. Empty the mixture into the prepared tart tin and, with your fingers or the back of a spoon press the mixture out evenly from the centre to and around the edges of the tin to form a base of even thickness. This may take a little patience, but persevere. Place in the fridge for about half an hour to set.
Pre-heat your oven at 180 C with convection. If you are using a loose-bottom tart tin, place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly.
Turn the oven down to 160 C. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Zest the clementines with a fine grater, then squeeze the juice into a measuring jug and add the orange blossom water. Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Add the zest then slowly add the melted butter and then the juice. Pour the filling into the tart base, put it in the oven for 20 minutes or until the filling is golden and just set. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and a little mascarpone.
The base for this recipe was inspired by – Food and Travel Magazine May 2017 edition.
For the longest time and for reasons unknown to me, I have been utterly seduced by all things Middle Eastern–the music, decor, architecture and, of course, the cuisine.
I especially love the way ingredients such as rosewater and orange blossom water are added to foods and drinks giving them a delicate, sensual, almost other worldly nuance. So when I’m in the mood for a little dreamy reminiscing about my previous trip to Morocco, I reach for this beautifully fragrant, easy to prepare aromatic coffee and date recipe.
You will need
For the coffee
Strong, freshly brewed coffee – 4 cups
20 Green Cardamom pods
Saffron, a generous pinch
For the dates
Medjool Dates – 12 pitted
Ground almonds – 3oz
Rosewater – 2-3 tablespoons
Soft brown caster sugar – 1 1/2 oz
Put the brewed coffee into a saucepan, bash open the cardamon pods in a Pestel and Mortar and remove the seeds, stir them into the coffee along with the saffron. Keep the coffee hot by placing the pan over a medium heat, pop a lid on and leave for about 8-10 minutes. This will allow the spices to infuse into the coffee while you prepare the dates.
Mix together the ground almonds, sugar and 2 tablespoons of rosewater and make into a paste. Squeeze the paste together by hand to form a ball. Add more rosewater only if needed, as the natural oils from the almonds will help bind the paste together.
Take just less than a teaspoonful of the paste, roll it into a ball between the palms of your hands, then form a sausage shape. Fill a pitted date with the paste. Continue until you have filled all twelve dates.
Pour the coffee into cups through a tea strainer to remove the spices, and serve with the dates. The aromatic coffee is delicious either black or with a splash of cream. Enjoy!
Date recipe inspired: Tamarind & Saffron by Claudia Roden
This is one of those non-recipe recipes, the ones you turn to again and again when, although you have tons of cookbooks, you haven’t a clue what to make. I usually make this dish with quinoa, but this time I’ve chosen to use freekeh, a grain I’ve been meaning to try for an age.
Freekeh (pronounced free-kay) also known as frikeh or farik, is a green durum wheat used in Levantine and North African cuisines. The roasting of the grain gives it a traditional smoking flavour which pairs beautifully with the roasted vegetables in this dish. I’m sure there are a myriad of recipes similar to this, but I’m rather partial to this one. Enjoy.
You will need
100 g freekeh
500 ml chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 medium butternut squash
1/2 fennel bulb – reserve leaves for garnish
1 med red onion
2 red peppers
1 med aubergine
100 g cooked chickpeas
4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley
3 black cardamon pods seeds removed and ground
6 tbsp olive oil plus extra for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
To begin, preheat your oven at 200C or equivalent. Put the Freekeh in a bowl and add enough cold water to just cover. Soak for about 20 minutes.
Chop all of the vegetables in to chunks an inch or so in size. Remove the herb leaves from the stems and roughly chop reserving a little of each to garnish along with the fennel leaves.
Place the chopped vegetable in a large bowl, add the herbs, black cardamon and 6 tablespoons of olive oil and toss the vegetables until completely covered. Line a large baking tray with foil and spread all of the vegetables out in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Drain the freekeh, place in a saucepan, add the broth and simmer for 14 minutes.
Add some olive oil to a small non-stick frying pan and bring to a med-high heat. Fry the chickpeas until lightly crispy, then place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
When the vegetables are roasted allow them to cool slightly before adding the freekeh. Mix together thoroughly.
Serve garnished with the fried chickpeas and the reserved herbs.
Making this recipe always reminds me of one of my favourite books and movies Chocolat. The chocolate melting as it slowly simmers, stirring it gently, adding the spices one pinch at a time. And the aroma of chocolate filling the air, rich and dark only adds to the sensual chocolatey pleasure.
This soup is rich, velvety, and easy to make, with a hint of chilli, cinnamon and nutmeg which adds complexity and intrigue to every spoonful.
You will need
Milk – 362 ml
Double cream 32-35% – 125 ml
Dark chocolate – 250g at least 70% cocoa
Caster sugar – 25g
Water – 1 tbsp
Egg yolks – 4 large
Whipping cream – 100 ml plus a little extra for garnish
Chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Ground cinnamon – 3 generous pinches
Nutmeg – a little grated
Lime zest to garnish
In a sauce pan bring the double cream, milk and chocolate slowly to simmering point, stirring continuously with a wooded spoon until the chocolate has melted and combined with the milk and cream. Remove from the heat, then add the chilli powder a pinch at a time. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg then set aside.
In another pan heat the sugar and water for just under a minute until you get a syrup consistency. Be careful not to overheat otherwise you’ll end up with hard goop in the bottom of your pan. Next, whisk the egg yolks and add the sugar syrup. Whisk continuously until the yolks and syrup are thoroughly combined and the mixture has almost doubled in volume.
Whip up the whipping cream then fold it into the eggs. Now add to the chocolate sauce until thoroughly combined.
Pour the soup into 4-6 individual bowls and pop in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
You can serve the soup chilled or at room temperature. Once made it will keep for a day or two in the fridge if you want to make it ahead of time.
When you are ready to serve, garnish with a spoonful of whipping cream and a few very thin strips of lime zest. Top with crumbly flakes of chocolate and serve.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Recipe inspiration: Unwrapped, Black & Green’s Chocolate Recipes
This easy to prepare sweet walnut bread uses a combination of three gluten-free flours. The natural sweetness of chestnut flour combined with coconut flour and rice flour creates a light, warm flavoured bread that’s perfect for breakfast, and totally scrumptious served with heaps of butter or chocolate spread.
You will need
Chestnut flour – 1 cup
Wholegrain rice flour – 2/3 cup
Coconut flour – 1/3 cup
Whole milk – 1 cup
Brown sugar – 2/3 cup
Egg – 1
Butter – 2 generous tbs, softened
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
Walnuts – 2/3 cup lightly chopped
Bread tin – about 8 inch
Baking paper for lining the bread tin
Pre-heat your oven at 160 degrees celsius with convection or equivalent, and line your bread tin with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl thoroughly combine the flours, baking soda and baking powder. In another bowl add the egg, sugar, milk and butter and combine thoroughly using a balloon whisk. Make a well in the flour mix and slowly add the wet ingredients ensuring it’s thoroughly combined. Add the chopped walnut, mixing well and pour into the prepared bread tin. Pop into a pre-heated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. When the cooking time is up, test the centre of the bread with a skewer to ensure it is baked through. Remove the bread from the tin and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. The bread slices best when left to cool thoroughly.
Note: I am using a 200 ml teacup for measuring.
The Freiduria, or fry shops scattered throughout Andelucia are as common place there as sherry and flamenco. Traditionally cooked in a batter of gram and wheat flours, fried fish and potatoes are often served in paper cones to eat at the beach. If this sound familiar, the Freiduria is said to be the origin of the iconic British fish and chip shops, possibly introduced into Britain by Jewish immagrants from this region of Spain.
This version is totally gluten-free, using gram and rice flours to create a light, golden batter.
You will need
White fish – cod, haddock or halibut, 2 fillets cut into pieces about 3 cm wide
Gram flour – 6 tablespoons
Rice flour – 1 tablespoon
Sunflower oil for frying
Cold water – 2 cups
For the dip
Crème fraîche – 200g
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Lemon juice – 2 tbs
Tarragon – fresh leaves, 3 tablespoons finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season
For the dip simply pour the crème fraîche into a bowl, and fold in the lemon zest, juice and the chopped tarragon leaves. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste and pop in the fridge while you prepare the fish.
In a large bowl add the gram flour with a pinch of salt and pepper and, in another bowl add the rice flour and about 2 cups of cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well. Prepare the fish by blotting dry the fillets with paper towel to remove any non-starch moisture. Cut the fish into strips about 3 cm wide. Dip each piece first into the rice water and then into the gram flour ensuring each piece is completely covered. Pour a good quantity of the sunflower oil (you’ll need at least an inch deep) into a frying pan and bring to a med-high heat. Place a couple of pieces of the fish into the pan at a time, and fry on both sides until golden. Serve immediately with the tarragon dip, a handful of crunchy samphire and a few lemon wedges.
I found almost as many theories about the origins of this soup as there are recipes. Bread, olive oil and garlic, soaked in water which forms the original base of the soup, was likely eaten by the Romans during their occupation of Spain. The Moors added almonds, then, nightshade vegetables from the New World were introduced which are now considered the foundation ingredients of Gazpacho.
Although traditionally a raw soup, this version uses roasted vegetable and almonds, and buckwheat bread which gives a wonderful warmth and fullness to the flavour.
You will need
Vine tomatoes – 500g
Red peppers – 3 small, deseeded
Garlic – 4 fat cloves
Red onions – 1 medium size, cut into quarters
Olive oil for roasting
Buckwheat soda bread – 2 thick slices, slightly stale
Almonds – a handful preferably with the skins on
Chicken or vegetable broth – 1/2 litre
Cumin – 2 tsp, ground
Sumac – 2 generous pinches
Red wine vinegar – 2 tsp
Chilli flakes – 1 generous pinch
Medjool dates – 4 (1 per serving)
Fresh mint leaves – about 12
To begin with, pre-heat your oven at a med-high heat. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic and peppers onto a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 25 minutes or until they are lightly charred. When the vegetables are cooked, set aside to cool. Pop the almonds on a baking sheet and dry roast for 5 minutes. When all of the vegetables and almonds are cool enough to handle, remove any skins from the garlic and onion and pop into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until smooth. Serve warm with a garnish of freshly chopped mint leaves and chopped medjool dates.
While visiting Venice, I loved popping into one of the many Bacari, little bars dotted all over the city, for cicchetti (a bite sized snack similar to tapas) and a glass of Campari spritz. It’s an absolute must while you are there, and a great way to sample the Venetian way to eat and drink. This recipe was inspired by those visits. However, I have replaced the bread based cicchetti for a polenta base which I think is just as tasty.
You will need
Polenta – 150g
Chicken or vegetable broth – 750ml
Salt – 1 tps
Olive oil – 2 tbs
Creamy gorgonzola cheese – 150g
Brown mushrooms – 8 thinly sliced
A handful of walnuts
Small bunch of fresh thyme
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
A knob of butter – for greasing the baking tray
Non-stick frying pan or griddle pan
Baking tray – approximately 20 by 30 cm
First you’ll need to cook the polenta for the base. Place the broth in a saucepan, bring to simmering point and add the salt. Slowly pour in the polenta stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until nice and thick. When cooked pour onto your greased baking tray and spread out evenly. Allow it to cool to room temperature then transfer to the fridge to set. This should take a minimum of 30 minutes. When the polenta base is set, carefully remove from the tray and cut into 6-7 cm squares. Brush each of the squares with olive oil on both sides and fry on both sides until golden brown or lightly charred depending on whether you are using a frying pan or griddle pan. Put them to one side while you prepare the topping. Pre-heat your oven to a moderated heat. Add a little butter to a frying pan, fry the sliced mushrooms with some of the Thyme leaves until until they are lightly browned. Spread a generous amount of creamy gorgonzola to each polenta square, top with mushrooms and crushed walnuts, season and pop into the oven for 7-8 minute or until the cheese has melted. When they are ready garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
Makes 14 cicchetti