Category Archives: Recipes
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
This is a more decorative version of a starter which used to be very popular in Spain. It usually consists of a single slice of melon with ham draped over it and not much else. I wanted to take this dish up a notch, so I’ve used a variety of melons for their varying textures and colours plus, a few additions I believe take it to a whole new level. The combination of the cool sweetness of the melons and the salty oiliness of the ham make for a very refreshing summer salad. You can dress the salad simply with olive oil or try the dressing I’ve created for it. The addition of mint, chilli and lime in the dressing gives the salad a revitalising fire and ice note.
You will need
Melons 3 different varieties of your choice, one half of each
Spanish Iberico ham slices, about 100g
English cucumber – 1/4
Red radicchio lettuce – 1 small
Micro leaves of your choice to
For the dressing
Mint leaves – about 15 finely chopped
Olive oil – 4 tabelspoons
Chilli flakes – a large pinch
White wine vinegar – 1 teaspoon
Lime juice – 1 teaspoon
Pink salt – a pinch to season
Begin by combining all of the dressing ingredients, then set aside and allow to infuse while you prepare the salad.
Cut the melon halves in half again down their length. Take one half of each, remove most of the skin and slice using a mandoline, pressing firmly to get even slices. Take the remaining melon and scoop out 4 balls of each with a melon baller. Next, cut the cucumber into thin slices diagonally. Gently fold radicchio leaves in half lengthways and cut away the thick white base.
Take 2 radicchio leaves per serving, tear in half and arrange on a plate. Pile the melon slices on top of the lettuce leaves, then add a few slices of ham. Add 3 melon balls, one of each variety per serving and a few slice of cucumber. Garnish with micro leaves and drizzle over the dressing to serve.
The nice thing about soda breads is that they are quick and easy to prepare and no yeast is required. This one uses two gluten-free flours: buckwheat for its robust flavour and wholegrain rice flour which gives lightness to the flavour and texture.
You will need
Buckwheat flour – 250g
Wholegrain rice flour – 250g
Buttermilk – 500ml
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 3 tbs
Pre-heat your oven at 200 degrees celsius with convection. In a large mixing bowl blend all of the dry ingredients then, make a well in the middle. Pour half of the buttermilk into the well and add the olive oil. Blend thoroughly adding the remaining buttermilk as you go. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Mould into a ball shape, make two scores across the top of the dough with a shape knife, place on a lined baking sheet, pop into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The loaf is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow. Place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly before cutting.
Makes 1 small loaf