Exploring Spanish Food

spanish-food

My time in Spain, exploring and enjoying Spanish food is almost at an end. Soon I will return to the UK with my great ream of notes ready to start experimenting. I have eaten my way around Valencia, Murcia and Andalucia on this trip. It really has given me food for thought – during the course of the last year the tastes have really influenced my own cooking and I am truly proud of my creations, some of which you will find posted within these pages. Needless to say I am sure I will be posting some more Spanish inspired recipes over the course of the next few months. My latest experiment was to attempt to replicate a “Sopa de Championes y Pollo” (Mushroom & Chicken soup) I tasted at a local restaurant in the mountains. There were also some truly memorable rabbit dishes with ground almonds and garlic! There is more to Spanish food than Paella!!!

So please do stay tuned. If you would like to be notified of further updates to my site – including receiving my recipes direct to your inbox then please do sign up to my free newsletter. You can also follow me on facebook and twitter.

How to carve the perfect pumpkin for Halloween

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1. Ensure your pumpkin is ripe – when tapped it should have a hollow sound – and buy no more than a week before Halloween.

2. Draw your design on the pumpkin.

3. Cut the lid off the pumpkin approx. 2 inches from the stem and save for later. Cut a slice from the base if the pumpkin isn’t steady.

4. Hollow out the pumpkin using a large spoon.

5. Carve out your design using a sharp knife.

6. Place a tealight or two in the base and light – if the holes left by your design are large enough to let sufficient oxygen through to keep the candle lit, the lid can be placed back on, or alternatively use a LED Tealight.

More Pumpkin Design Ideas

Celebrating Pink for Great Pink Bake Off

Don´t forget tomorrow is the Great Pink Bake Off for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. I had intended posting a few more recipes this last few days but unfortunately have been stricken with influenza… so here are a few images to provide you with some inspiration as to what you could make on the day!

In order to take part simply gather your friends, family and colleagues to bring their baked goodies and ask everyone who attends to make a donation. If 18th October doesn’t work for you then you can hold a Bake Off anytime, anywhere, during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a piece of cake!

Perfectly Pink Pancakes

pink-pancakesFancy getting up to a perfect breakfast during Pink October then be sure to try these wonderful Pink Pancakes. The lovely bright pink colour comes from the cooked beetroot but do not be afraid – beyond the beautiful colour you would hardly know it was there! However if you are really afraid of using beetroot you can replaced with raspberries or deep red juicy fruit which will add its colour well also.

Don´t forget the Great Pink Bake off on Friday October 18th in order to raise awareness for Breast Cancer during Pink October!!

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 mug of plain white or wholewheat flour
  • 2 heaped tsp of baking powder
  • 3/4 mug of apple juice
  • 1/2 mug of finely grated cooked beetroot
  • 1/2 tsp of mixed spice
  • Olive oil
  • Butter and maple syrup, to serve

Method

  1. Whisk the egg until frothy. Add flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Pour in the apple juice. Give it all a good whisk.
  3. Fold in the beetroot and spice.
  4. Warm a frying pan over high heat. Brush on a bit of olive oil. Drop in dessert spoonfuls of the pancake batter into the centre of the pan.
  5. Grab a spatula. As soon as the pancake starts to bubble up in the centre, flip it over and cook for 2 minutes or so, until cooked through.
  6. Served with a knob of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup

If you fancy adding a little twist to the pancakes for a little extra colour slice up some berries – strawberries or raspberries work well and through them in the batter. Lovely!

Mini raspberry melting moments

meltingmomentsAs most of you are aware we will shortly be celebrating the Great Pink Bake Off in order to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. I have been planning to share some recipes for sometime for others to use on this occasion – and this is one of my personal favourites.

These little dainties are really addictive and are wonderfully simple to make. The raspberry cream lends the middle a lovely pink colour but if you would really like to go to town and make the whole thing pink then add a little of the blended raspberries to the biscuit dough – it works a treat for me!

Enjoy! and remember to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer in the Great Pink Bake Off

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams butter, softened
  • 90 grams icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250 grams self raising flour
  • 90 grams cornflour

Raspberry filling

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3/4 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 small frozen raspberries, thawed

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Using an a food processor beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift flour over butter mixture. Mix gently until a soft dough forms.
  2. Using a single heaped teaspoon – make 30 balls. Place on prepared trays, remembering to leave room for spreading. Lighten flatten each with the bank of a spoon. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden. Cool on tray for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make raspberry filling: Using a whisk, beat butter in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Add icing sugar and once again whisk until combined.  Blend the raspberries and then stir into the mixture.
  4. Spread the flat side of 1 biscuit with 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich with 1 biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling.
  5. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Halloween Recipe: Oozing Eyeballs with Spaghetti Worms

Oozing Eyeballs

Serves: 4-6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:
500 g minced turkey
3 tablespoons pesto sauce
25 g fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 g Mozzarella cheese, from a block, cut into thin sticks
350 g jar Newman’s Own Basilico sauce
4 extra large pitted black olives, sliced into 12
300 g dried spaghetti

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180?C, Gas mark 4. Place the minced turkey in a mixing bowl, with the pesto sauce, breadcrumbs and egg. Season and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Shape into 12 meatballs and place on a non-stick baking tray.
  1. Make a hole through the centre of each meatball with the handle of a teaspoon, but not all the way through. Drizzle in a little of the Basilico sauce then poke a mozzarella stick into each, so just poking out the top. Top each with a slice of olive.
  1. Bake for 20- 25 minutes until cooked through and the cheese has melted and is oozing.
  1. Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of slightly salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti, cook for 8-10 minutes or according to packet instructions and drain well. Return to the pan to keep warm.
  1. Place the remaining Basilico sauce in a small pan, heat gently until hot, then pour over the spaghetti and toss well.
  1. Divide the spaghetti worms between 4 bowls and top each with the oozing meatball eyes. Serve immediately.

Halloween Recipe: Witches’ Fingers Breadsticks With Blood Dip

image005Makes: about 32
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour rising
Cooking time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:
225g strong plain white bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon fast- action dried yeast
1 teaspoon Very Lazy Garlic Paste
1 tablespoon Very Lazy Basil Paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
150ml warm water
1 egg, lightly beaten
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
32 blanched almonds
Little paprika

For the dip:
125g soft cream cheese
150g roasted red peppers, from a jar, drained
1 tablespoon tomato purée
½ teaspoon Very Lazy Piri Piri chillies with oil, drained

Method:

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and garlic and basil paste in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Using a wooden spoon stir in the olive oil and enough of the water to form a dough.
  2. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7- 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 190ºC, Gas Mark 5. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
  5. Using your fist punch the dough to knock out the air bubbles. Knead on a lightly floured surface, then roll of the dough to a rectangle about 32 x 26 cm. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife cut the dough in half horizontally, then into 2cm thick strips. Fold one strip of dough in half, so it is 1cm thick, then roll to make a thin finger about 12cm long. Repeat with remaining strips. Pinch the dough to form knuckles and mark with lines. Bend to make scraggy fingers. Place on the baking sheets and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle over the cheese.
  6. Toss the almonds in a little paprika, then press into the end of the fingers. Bake for 12- 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile make the dip. Place the roasted peppers in a food processor and blend until smooth. Stir into the cream cheese, tomato purée and chillies.
  8. Serve the witches’ fingers with the dip.

TABBOULEH SALAD

Tabbouleh-SaladIf you love the bold, vibrant flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine, but don’t want to ruin the bikini diet, this Tabbouleh Salad  could be the answer.

This bright, colourful salad includes a host of nutrient-rich foods, such as parsley and pomegranate, popular with celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow – and a fantastic way to boost your five a day.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1/4 cup brown bulgur wheat
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
60g of flat leaf parsley, washed and dried
30g of mint, washed and dried
4 Large ripe vine tomatoes
1 Medium red onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (available in good supermarkets and health food stores)
Pinch of salt
Ground white pepper
Pinch of sumac (available in good supermarkets and health food stores)

Instructions

1. Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl and prepare some boiling water. Pour the water – just off the boil, into the bowl so the bulgur is just covered. Set aside to soak for approximately 10 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur has softened.

2. While the bulgur is soaking, juice the lemon and chop the parsley, mint and onions. Slice the tomatoes and chop them into medium size cubes. De-seed the pomegranate.

3. The bulgur wheat will have soaked up all the water. Once prepared add the tomatoes, onions, mint and parsley.

4. In a separate bowl add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, pepper, molasses and sumac and mix well. Whisk in the olive oil.

5. Pour the dressing over the tomato mix, toss everything together, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

6. To serve, garnish the Tabbouleh with the pomegranate seeds a few whole mint sprigs. Serve at room temperature with warm pita bread, falafel and hummous for a Middle Eastern treat.

 

 

Breakthrough Breast Cancer : Great Pink Bake Off

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Nine years ago my mother was diagnosed with Grade 3 Breast Cancer. It was a grueling few months, during which she had an operation to remove the lump, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. After she was placed on Tamoxifen for five years. She came through thanks to the awesome team of doctors and nurses who were in charge of her care. Shortly afterwards my Grandmother was diagnosed with Grade 1 Breast Cancer. She also came through just fine despite being in her 80s. Both my mother and grandmother are still in, but many years ago my great uncle did die of breast cancer.  Once the Big C enters your life it never really leaves – and it is for this reason I have always taken it upon myself to support some of the better causes to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer. When I received the following from Break through Breast Cancer naturally I jumped at the chance!

This video was put together to highlight what we do here at Breakthrough, research, and to help us recruit people to join in the Great Pink Bake Off. I’d also like to point out that no real scientists were used in the film.

Not everyone is as lucky as my family.  Every month in the UK 1,000 women die from breast cancer, so Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s work has never been more important. We’re leading the way in discovering new treatments, improving diagnosis and identifying ways to prevent breast cancer from developing at all.

Great-Pink-Bake-Off-RGB-300dpi-3On Friday 18th October simply gather your friends, family and colleagues to bring their baked goodies and ask everyone who attends to make a donation. If 18th October doesn’t work for you then you can hold a Bake Off anytime, anywhere, during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a piece of cake!

Jane Asher, Great Pink Bake Off ambassador, says: “Everybody knows someone affected by breast cancer – so I’m urging everyone to join the Great Pink Bake Off on Friday 18th October and get baking to help support this fantastic organisation.

“Simply ask your friends and family to bring their homemade treats, make a donation and decide whose bake is best. As well as having lots of fun, it’ll be satisfying to know that all the money you raise will go towards Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s vital work. Do join me: sign up today and help us save lives. Visit pinkbakeoff.org or call 08080 100 200.”

Every penny raised for Breakthrough Breast Cancer is absolutely vital in making a real difference to the lives of the 50,000 women and 400 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK alone. Breakthrough funds a quarter of breast cancer research in the UK – that’s 270 scientists across the country working to beat this disease. Although more people than ever before are surviving breast cancer, 1,000 UK women are still dying from the disease each month – which is why we desperately need everybody’s support, so we can put a stop to this, and ultimately, create a world freed from breast cancer.

To celebrate the campaign stay tuned for some of my very own pink themed recipes over the next few weeks!!!

 

 

 

Turkey and Bean Chilli Burritos

At the moment I am passionate about chilli spiced food.  Generally speaking I do go through these food phases and I think this one may have sprung up as we are currently mid summer in Andalucia. Thats right, I am in Southern Spain, slowly baking in the sun. I am not sure wha it is about this time of year that makes me crave spicy chilli laced food – but there it is. One of my all time favourites is, I admit, a bit of a cheat – and it uses the Old El Paso Beef & Chilli Bean Burrito Kit http://www.oldelpaso.co.uk/recipes/beef-and-bean-chilli-burritos/eae746e6-d699-4023-bc72-12e5509ee924/  Sure its a bit of a cheat, but it works for me and it is especially good on these hot summer days when the last thing I want to be doing is slaving over a hot stove in my small and extremely hot kitchen (no air conditioning!).

exps35516_THHC1444460D55DI admit to being a little bit of a health nut so in the following I have replaced the Beef with Turkey mince – which really works a treat. I have also found chicken mince works exceptionally well also!

Ingredients

1 x 620g Old El Paso Beef & Bean Chilli Burrito Kit
500g Turkey beef
15ml (1tbsp) Olive Oil
60ml (4tbsp) water

To serve:
1 lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced or chopped
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
125g grated cheddar cheese

Kit contains: 8 soft flour tortillas, Tomato & Bean Stir-in Sauce, Thick ‘n’ Chunky Salsa

Instructions

1. Heat up the olive oil in a large pan. Brown the mince on a medium heat until it is brown.

2. Drain off the excess liquid, this will be very little with turkey mince owing to the less fat, but with beef there can be considerable amount. Do this by carefully holding the lid over the pot and pouring the juices away. You can also try tipping the contents of the pan into a fine sieve – this works for me.

3. Now add the sachet of Tomato & Bean Stir-in Sauce. Add the water and simmer uncovered for around 5 minutes. Keep stirring to make sure it’s all nicely mixed – this will also prevent it from burning.

4. To warm the Old El Paso Soft Flour Tortillas pierce the packaging and microwave on full power for 35-40 seconds (cooking time may vary depending on microwave). Keep them covered and warm until ready to serve. Alternatively, if you are without microwave you can place them in a lovely warm oven – which, speaking honestly, is my preference.

5. Get your lettuce, grated cheese, sliced cucumber (not traditional but I like it= chopped tomatoes, grated cheese and Old El Paso Thick ‘n’ Chunky Salsa ready on the table.

6. Carry your pot of delicious chilli to the table and let everyone tuck in!

Make it your way

Make a bed of lettuce and tomato in the centre of an Old El Paso Soft Flour Tortilla, load a couple of spoonfuls of tasty chilli filling, then top with the grated cheese and Old El Paso Thick ‘n’ Chunky Salsa. Wrap the Old El Paso Soft Flour Tortilla round the filling, tucking in one end for a snug burrito!

Cooks Tips

If you want to cool the whole thing down you can add a fresh sour cream into the burrito. Likewise you can spice it up with some sliced jalapenos!! I replaced the beef with turkey in this recipe for an healthier alternative but you can also go veggie by using soya mince, quorn or even stir fried vegetables and more beans!