Category Archives: Recipes
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 otherworldly 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 and bash open the cardamom pods in a Pestle and Mortar and remove the seeds, stir them into the coffee along with the saffron. Keep the coffee hot by placing the pan over 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 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 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 into 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 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, easy to make and has 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 saucepan, bring the double cream, milk and chocolate slowly to simmering point. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has melted and combined with the milk and cream. Remove from the heat before adding the chilli powder one 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 syrupy 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 Andalucia are as commonplace 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 immigrants 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 a 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 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
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.
Gluten-Free Buckwheat and Rice flour Soda Bread
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