Category Archives: Recipes
I still remember the feeling of absolute awe when I first arrived in Morocco. And in spite of its flourishing tourist trade, Morocco still holds a sense of mystic and seductive allure. Hearing the early morning call to prayer, watching the celebrations as pilgrims return from Mecca. The fields of mint and coriander, emerald coloured oases and stunning casbahs conjure images of old Arabian tales and epic movies.
We stayed at a nomadic camp in the Sahara. Our host an older gentleman, who wore his life on his weathered yet pleasant face, his voice deep brown and gravely, welcomed us like old friends. At dinner, we were served the most delicious tagines and salads, all vibrantly coloured like platefuls of jewels.
The colourful food of the Arabian lands is among my favourite world cuisines. This Moroccan inspired recipe is fresh and light and so simple to make. It’s equally delicious as a sweet dessert or as a side to savoury dishes – a slow cooked lamb tagine perhaps!
Serve with the syrup for a dessert or a dusting of ground cinnamon as a side dish.
You will need
For the salad
3 Medium Size Oranges
3 Medium Size Blood Oranges
1 Extra Orange for the Juice
Seeds from 1/2 Pomegranate
6 Fresh Mint Leaves
Ground Cinnamon (Optional)
For the Syrup
2 Tbsp of Orange Blossom Water
200g Light Cane Sugar
3 Tbsp Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
250 ml Water
To make the syrup, pop the water and sugar into a medium pan. Simmer over med-high heat, continually stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to thicken. This will take about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the orange blossom water and orange juice, continue to simmer until you get a thick, viscose syrup. Remove from the heat, place a lid on the pan and set aside to allow it to cool and the flavours to infuse.
Peel the 3 oranges and 3 blood oranges for the salad, removing the white pith. With a sharp knife cut the oranges into thin slices, but not too thin. Arrange slices on a serving plate alternating orange and red. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves and spoon over the syrup. Alternatively, put about a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a fine mesh sieve, and lightly dust over the fruit.
Serve with cream or natural greek-style yoghurt.
One of the many pleasures of travelling to a country or city is experiencing new flavours and new aromas, and every place seems to have something that’s uniquely theirs. Although I often buy souvenirs when visiting somewhere for the first time, nothing reminds me of a favourite destination more than the taste of a dish I first tried there. So, when I recreate those favourite dishes at home, I’m immediately transported back to those places, those tastes and those memories.
During my recent visit to Porto, I come across this very simple but very delicious sweet squash dessert, Doce de Abobora, a compote-like dessert native to Portugal. The original recipe is quite sweet and jammy, consisting of pumpkin and sugar, with the occasional addition of spices and coconut. My version of this recipe uses less sugar, but more of the flavours that remind me of this beautiful city and country.
Porto was built on Port wine, not literally of course, but the city did thrive because of the success of the industry. So I think it would be criminal not to add a splash of Port to this dessert. I’ve also added toasted almonds for crunch and texture, and the hint of orange zest which gives each mouthful little bursts of sunshine. Served with a dollop of mascarpone cheese, the sweet and slightly savoury flavours create a magical combination. Although the deep orange, sweet squash compote feels a little autumny, it is just as enjoyable during the spring.
You will need
1 small pumpkin or squash – about 800g or so
light brown cane sugar 1 cup – 200g
1/2 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
finely grated zest 1/2 small orange
50ml white port wine
flaked almonds about 40g
Remove the skin and seeds from the squash, and cut into pieces about 2 cm in size but no smaller. Add the squash to a heavy-based pan along with the port and sugar and stir to coat the squash pieces thoroughly. Add the cinnamon stick or cassia bark and orange zest, and bring to a simmer without a lid over med-high heat for about 2-3 mins. Next, turn down the heat to med-low and simmer for about 50-60 mins, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon. It’s cooked when the compote is slightly jammy looking and all of the moisture has evaporated.
Set aside to cool slightly while you toast the almonds. Place the flaked almonds in a large heavy-based frying pan or shallow pan in a single layer and, over a medium heat toast until they are lightly browned.
Serve the compote with a sprinkling of toasted almonds, a generous helping of mascarpone cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon.
Zanzibari Clams in Coconut | Recipe
During my stay on Zanzibar Island, I would often sit on the beach quietly taking photos of the village women in 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. “They cook the clams in coconut with lime and salt,” he told me.
Eating on the island was an absolute pleasure for the scenes. There were very few fridges in local cafes and restaurants. Everything is freshly prepared: fresh fish, fresh coconut, mango, passion fruit, limes, Thai basil and spices are either gathered or grown on the island are used to give 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 medium heat for 15-20 minutes. With a slotted 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 of 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 slotted 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 deviation 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.
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
500g vine tomatoes
3 small red peppers deseeded
4 fat cloves garlic
1 medium red onion cut into quarters
olive oil for roasting
2 thick slices slightly stale bread
a handful almonds with the skins on
1/2 litre chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp ground cumin
2 generous pinches sumac
2 tsp red wine vinegar –
1 generous pinch chilli flakes
4 medjool dates (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