Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fried Green Tomatoes

You don't need a cafe, whistle stop or otherwise to eat this delicious treat.  Nothing goes to waste here and all tomatoes, whatever colour, have their uses.

Green tomatoes, garlic, chilli pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

Heat the olive oil good and hot. Add the green tomatoes and fry until getting soft... not squishy soft but softish.

Add the garlic and chili and fry for a couple more minutes.

Splash in a good glug of balsamic vinegar and stir it a bit. Just another minute and it's done!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fermenting Vegetables

I have been waiting for a certain book to arrive before I could complete this post and today it came.  Rather than purchase those yoghurts or probiotic drinks that also contain stuff you might not want to consume in the search for a healthy diet/lifestyle, I have decided to cultivate my own probiotic enzymes with ingredients that I know where they come from.

I began before the book arrived and then hesitated because... look at this funny white stuff that has formed on the top of my pickled carrots!  What's that all about then?

It would seem that it is normal.  It isn't mould.  Mould is quite different.  For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of fermented foods I would merely mention Saurkraut.  If you have never tasted it, then you should at least give it a try.  and not the stuff that comes in tins or jars from the supermarket, that doesn't taste anything like the real thing (I have made this previously and its crunchy and surprisingly yummy).  I can't wait for my latest batch to be ready to team it up with hot dogs (did I say I was trying to be healthy?  clearly I lied!).

The principals of fermenting veg are very simply that you add salt to fresh veg and squeeze out the natural juices which then cover the veg and begin the fermenting process.  The veg goes through several stages of fermentation all the while producing beneficial enzymes and probiotic bacteria that aid in the digestion of not only the veg you have fermented but also anything else you are eating at the same time.

The subject is vast and the range of foods that can be fermented equally wide.  I am not going to give instructions because for that you really need a good book.  the internet is full of advice.  read several sites before following any recipes because there are some differences in techniques.  But suffice to say it is very hard to poison yourself with this method of pickling, which for me is like showing a red rag to a bull.  I ran out of fermentation lids or we would have a lot more stuff pickled and in the cupboard by now!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Herb Butter

A really quick and easy and useful way to keep herbs.

Collect your fresh herbs. Here I am using Oregano but you can pretty much choose any herb. Chop it really finely.

Mash with butter and add a little lemon juice. You don't need much.

When it's all evenly mixed, roll it in greaseproof paper into a log shape and freeze it.
Store in the freezer and saw a bit off when you need to enliven your potatoes or veg.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Coq au Cidre

Many of you will have heard of Coq au Vin but perhaps not its Flemish cousin.  Made in almost exactly the same way but of course with cider not wine. We used our own home grown cockerel, and here's a tip worth knowing, if it's been free range it's going to be tough. Flavourful but tough.

There is only one solution. Very slow, long cooking time.

The recipe couldn't be easier. Put cockerel pieces (works for an old hen too) in a pot with a litre of cider a couple of chopped apples, an onion , some carrots and a few garden herbs.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer slowly for at least four hours. At the end of this time, remove the chicken and push the stock through a sieve. Thicken the stock with a little cornflour if you wish, replace the meat and season to taste. Yum!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Lettuce Soup

This is brilliant when the veggie plot is producing lettuce like its going out of fashion and you are fed up of salads.  It's light and fresh and very summery.

One head of crisp lettuce (not iceberg... well you could but I don't know how well that will wilt down). One salad onion, a couple of spoonfuls of flour, a knob of butter, a litre of chicken stock, 100ml of cream, salt, pepper and a light grating of nutmeg.

Fry the onion in the butter until soft and then add the lettuce.

Let the lettuce wilt down slightly and then sprinkle on the flour and stir.

Cook for a minute or two but be careful it doesn't catch on the bottom.

Add the stock and stir well.  Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about five minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the cream and then transfer to your blender and whizz until combined.

Season with salt and pepper and a scraping of nutmeg.  Heat gently to warm it through but don't boil it (a soup boiled is a soup spoiled as granny used to say).  Alternatively you could serve this one chilled... might be nice... haven't tried that yet.

Ah... summer is coming!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Porridge Cake

I cannot claim credit for this recipe as I have pinched it from this lady HERE.  I have modified it a bit but not enough to make it a different recipe altogether so if you want to try it, and I suggest you do, then do use her recipe page as the starting point.

This is a really nourishing healthy breakfast (made less so by us eating it with cream some days lol).  It's also convenient, can be packed 'to go' and eaten on the run or out on the finca.

I used water and yoghurt to soak the oats but I am thinking of using apple juice or orange juice next time.  I also did not have any raisons so I used chopped dried prunes and almonds instead of walnuts (the first time I made it I used chopped hazlenuts and sultanas and it was great).

OK... apologies once again, being an American recipe its measured in cups, but I don't think the exact quantities are crucial as I did play a little fast and loose with the quantities and it still came out fine.

Soak your oats with water or juice and add some yoghurt or buttermilk or whey.  Leave them overnight or for 24 hours.

Add eggs (this recipe took 8 eggs... hoorah! For those of us with hens this is a fab way to use up the egg mountain. Add butter and molasses (here in Spain I used Miel de Cana which is the closest I could get to molasses - its like treacle but not quite as bitter as treacle.  Add cinnamon ( I used mixed spice), nuts and dried fruit, salt and mix it very well.  Its quite hard to mix up but the better you mix it, the better it turns out.

The original recipe calls for a very large tin to put it in which was impractical for me so the first time I did this recipe I cut it in half and used a 22cm cake mould.  This time I was making the full recipe amount so I split it between two cake moulds.  You will have to use your judgement on this if you deviate from the recipe.

I baked my two porridge cakes for 35 minutes at 180C but they were still underdone so I gave them another 8 minutes.  I cooled them in the moulds.

the porridge cake is cut and put into freezer bags in twos.  That's breakfasts sorted for the next couple of weeks. (So tasty served with banana and yoghurt and a spoonful of honey).

Friday, 8 April 2016

Pears and Chocolate

Classic combination right? Except that two of my pears were bad so I had to substitute with apples, I think bananas would have been better. Also I used the wrong container, I should have considered using ramekins... For next time.  Anyway just for the record it was delicious and apologies too, the recipe is in ounces!

2ounces sugar
2ounces chocolate melted and cooled
2 ounces whole-wheat flour.
A sprinkling of almonds.

Beat eggs and sugar until very pale and fluffy.

Add chocolate and fold in flour.

Slice pears thinly into oven proof dish.

Pour chocolate mixture on top and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake 200C for 30  to 40 minutes. Obviously less if you used ramekins.  This recipe will be fine even if it's a bit under done.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Pressure Canning First Time

I ordered my Pressue canner from the UK last November and friends of ours who were travelling this way brought it over for me.  I devoured the book of instructions and then put it on the kitchen worktop where it stayed, glaring at me, for several months.  It all seemed a little bit scary.

Finally I thought I had better use it.  Now my rules are that its important to research before tackling aything new so when it comes to Pressure canning you have to look to the experts, and quite simply, that means the Americans.

As much as I love our American cousins I do find some of their practices a little irritating.  For example... weights and measures.  1 cup?  Which cup? Whose cup? Getting an accurate decision on what the volume of a cup is, is almost impossible... I had a set of cups which  were quite old so I bought new ones and these are positively not the same size as the originals.  The internet is not much help either since you get so much information its hard to know which is accurate.

I also have a USA published recipe book that not only measures solids in cups but also in cubic millilitres (a conversion made to no doubt make it easier for the Europeans???)

Since I am old enough to remember pounds and ounces I do have a set of weights in imperial as well as metric (whose a clever girl?)

Anyway, that little bugbear put to one side I wombled over to Iowa Sue on the internet (if you are interested she is HERE) and was actually very impressed by the easy instructions and tips that she gave.

Once I got over the panic surrounding 'what is a quart?' and converted the Farenheit temperatures to Celcius (btw Celsius and Kilograms are the standard precision measurements used by scientists all over the world, including America.  Isn't cooking a science?)  But I digress...

Voila Meat balls!  I passed on my favourite meatball recipe in favour of Iowa Sue's just to be on the safe side.  I did reduce the egg quantity because the mix was a bit sloppy for my liking.  She also mentioned scoop sizes.  Again, another mystery.  I have only one scoop, its for ice cream and it doesn't have a size written on it... I used my fingers.

Three quart jars of meat balls in stock.  Two jars of meatballs in tomato juice and one jar of meatballs in water.  I had enough left over for lunch which I popped into my usual tomato sauce.

And for those who are nervous about the idea of Pressure canning... it was not as scary as I thought it was going to be and I think I will be doing this regularly.   Of course the scary part could still be to come when we eat them!  If you want the recipe, I believe Iowa Sue has it covered.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Tritordeum Flour Biscuits with Lemon Curd

Well it's not a very sexy title is it?  Be that as it may, the Tritordeum flour is a bit of a Spanish success story, it is made from a  wheat which has been crossed (naturally bred not GM and took thirty years to develop) between a durum wheat and a wild barley species native to Chile.  It has great nutritive values and is drought resistant and highly tolerant to stress.  Qualities that will become increasingly important as our planet's climate and weather changes.

But is it tasty?  Well I think so.  And where can you buy it?  As far as I can see ... not in Britain or the USA... it is available online though and many of the suppliers will post worldwide.  Even though it is grown here in Spain I bought it online since there are no specialist bakeries or 'flour shops' near my home.  It was a fairly painless operation and took only two days to arrive.  If you are interested I would recommend the site is also available in English.

Now to the recipe:

175g Tritordeum flour; 75g oatflakes whizzed briefly with a spoonful of sugar in the food processor and then toasted on the stovetop until they only just lose their pale colour; 125g softened butter; 60g sugar; 1 tblsp lemon curd; pinch of salt; zest of half a lemon and sugar for dusting.

Toasting the oatflakes - you have to keep them moving constantly and watch they don't burn
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and pale in colour.  Add the lemon curd and stir until combined.

Add the other ingredients and knead the dough lightly until it comes together.

Roll to 1/2 cm thick and then cut into rounds.

Put on parchment paper in the fridge for 15 minutes or until just chilled.  I actually chilled my dough before rolling it out because the kitchen was a little warm and the dough felt a bit soft.  Use your discretion.

Dust with sugar and bake at 160C for 15 to 20 minutes depending upon how dark you want them to be.

They turn out sort of a cross between a digestive and a shortbread... if such a thing is possible.  I might make them larger next time.  And you can taste the lemon curd in them too.