Appetising artichokes!

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This is a popular first course at my local bar in Malasaña. (Click on the link to see my barrio !)

Alcachofas a plancha con jamón iberico.

It is so easy to replicate at home and really really tasty.

All you need is a good tin of artichokes – if not ready sliced, drain them well and slice. Get around 50 gm to 100 gm of, if possible, jamón iberico diced, if not any decent lardon cubed or even cubed pancetta.

Pan fry the jamón in olive oil for a minute or two then add the artichoke and warm through. No need for seasoning at this point, but taste in case and by all means add a pinch of salt.

Serve and add a few grinds of black pepper and serve with crusty bread.

Muy bueno!

Fennel and Chicken Soup

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A fabulous combination! And a great way to use up left over chicken…oh and one of my very favourite vegetables!

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Ingredients

1 fennel bulb – trimmed and cut roughly into 3 or 4 chunks.

1 tulip shallot – or a small onion if not available

1 litre of chicken stock

A pinch of saffron

A pinch or two of smoked paprika

A clove of garlic crushed

About 100 gm left over chicken meat – no skin

A little olive oil

50 gm unsalted butter

50 ml milk – optional

METHOD

Pop the fennel chunks in a food processor with the shallot and whizz until well shredded. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when warm add the fennel and onion. Pan fry gently for about ten minutes until the fennel becomes soft. 

Add the garlic. Stir for another minute or two. Pour in the chicken stock and add the saffron and paprika.  

Put a lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Pop the chicken in the food processor and whizz until broken down. Add to the soup. 

Simmer for a further 15 minutes with the lid off.

You could now add the milk – or cream if you want to be remarkably indulgent (!)  – and simmer for another minute – then remove from the heat , and blend down gently with a stick blender.

Serve with warm crusty bread!

I promise you, this is full of fabulous flavours!

 

 

Fresh Salmon and Red Onion Frittata

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FRITTATA DI SALMONE E CIPOLLE ROSSE

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Some say frittata some say tortilla! Well, the Italians and Spanish at least! This is my version of a recipe gleaned form the work of Gino D’campo. He uses cod and chives – but I reckon this one with salmon and basil is better! I love making these – not much work for lots of reward flavour wise and it looks so fab on the plate!

You can get at least 6 good portions out of this – or more if you want to serve it as a tapas cut into squares.

INGREDIENTS

300 gm of fresh salmon fillet skin removed

8 eggs – good ones!

Small bunch of basil leaves torn

Salt and black pepper

100 ml olive oil

1 large red onion peeled and thinly sliced

700 gm potatoes peeled and cut into 2 cm chunks

METHOD

Place the salmon in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Put to one side for a minute to cool, then strain and put salmon on a plate whilst you get everything else sorted.

Beat the eggs in a bowl – do not use cheap eggs – for what it is worth I used chestnut marines – anyway, the flavour of this dish is so much better with good organic ones. Add the basil and season. Stir.

Pour the oil into a non stick frying pan and pop onto a medium heat. Fry the onion for 4 minutes until softened, sit now and then with a wooden spoon. Add the potatoes, season with a little salt and a bit more black pepper. Continue to cook for 15 minutes more. Potatoes should be tender – might take up to 20 minutes. Flake the salmon and add to the pan and stir everything together. Now add the eggs and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill. After the 15 minutes is up, pop the frying pan under the hot grill for about 3 to 4 minutes to allow the frittata to set  – the top should have turned a light brown colour.

Transfer to a wam plate and slice and serve. Crusty bread goes down well with this. I served a dish of melanzane parmigiana too. Good buddies!

A fabulous, light supper dish. Tasty and satisfying. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado crostini

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Simplicity itself…and soooo good for you…especially after the excesses of the Christmas season…at least I hope you excessed a little!

I adore avocados…so versatile…and, apart from being an excellent source of fibre and vitamins, research suggests that there may be a number of other benefits associated with the fruit, including: lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of diabetes, promoting lower body weight, and… they contain a shedload of vitamins and other goodies. These green goddesses are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). and they are rich in vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E.2. And one avocado accounts for almost half your fibre content for a day. So there.

If you want to cut back on things like mayo – mash an avocado and use in its place – creamy too and better for you.

This light lunch today was a thin slice of grilled panini topped with a chopped ripe avocado, which had been mixed with the juice of half  a lemon, a small handful of chopped coriander (cilantro), a little black pepper and a dash of sea salt. You could use any herb instead of the coriander – fresh basil or oregano would work well. It would also be a great starter.

I said it was easy – and it is so tasty… and all you will need to fill you for a light lunch.

Sweet Squash and Goats Cheese Melt…

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A sumptuous simple starter to grace any table any time…especially in the throes of Autumn!

Autumn. Browns and golds speckle every roadside. Seasonal magic weaves its way into every household. Oranges and burnt umbers cascade form hedgerows. Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness descend upon each culinary heart.

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So it is that tonight after a simple carpaccio starter, I turn to a dish that one could use happily as a starter or a nourishing, warming main dish. Tis up to you. Tonight, this and the carpaccio were a marriage made in heaven. Enough with a fine bottle of shiraz to accompany it all.

I wanted to capture the season in a starter, a first course that yelled Autumn.

For 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish

1 decent sized sweet potato

1 butternut squash

Olive oil

Fresh bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

Black pepper and a little rock salt

2 slices of soft goats cheese per person

Ok, nothing complicated here. Peel both the sweet potato and the squash. Halve the squash and deseed thoroughly. Halve again each half and slice into pound coin rounds. Then quarter the sweet potato and do likewise.

Pop all the slices into a large dish and drizzle a goodly amount of olive oil over. Add the parsley. Grind over the mix some black pepper and rock salt. Stir and leave for about half an hour. 

Heat your oven to 180c for a fan oven or 200c for any other type. Add the potato and squash slices to a roasting tin, but one that they fit into happily without overlapping.

Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes until browning and a sharp knife will easily cut into them.

Remove from the oven and add the goat cheese rounds. Pop back into the oven for about 5 to 8 inures until you can see the cheese beginning to brown and melt.

Remove from the oven and serve on platters with warm crusty bread, and more olive oil if desired. 

This is a fabulous dish and one you could play about with, experimenting with different types of squash or cheese.

Keats would have loved this, I know!

RED PEPPERS WITH GORGONZOLA

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PERFECT PEPPERS 

FOR 6

3 large red peppers, halved and deseeded

1 tbsp olive oil

200 gm gorgonzola cut into cubes – roughly 2 per pepper half (if poss. get the dolce not the piccante gorgonzola..

To dress

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tbsps olive oil

Balsamic to drizzle over – I use crema di balsamico – a balsamic glaze

Heat a large frying pan – brush the pepper halves with olive oil inside and out. Pop them in the hot pan cut side down for 5 minutes or so. Turn them over and add 2 pieces of cheese to each one. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Pop the pan then under a hot grill to finish off melting the cheese for about 2 minutes – keep an eye on them!

For the dressing – combine all the ingredients well in a bowl. Arrange the peppers in bowls – drizzle over a little of the dressing and then finish off with a squiggle of the balsamic glaze.

This is a fabulously simple Italian starter from the pages of Gino D’acampo – only tinkered with slightly! You could also use taleggio cheese like Gino…though I have to say the walnuts in the dressing combine mellifluously with the gorgonzola.

It is a surprisingly filling dish too when served with a slice or two of a good rustic bread to mop up the juices. It would be a great lunch dish on its own.

Padrón Peppers Pack a punch…well, now and then…

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These beauties known as pimientos de Padrón in Spanish are one of my favourite tapas. They are so simple to prepare and have a wonderful fresh earthy flavour and, now and then, – they say 1 in 30 – one has quite a chilli kick! Whether a given pepper ends up being hot or mild apparently depends on the amount of water and sunlight it receives during its growth. They are fun to eat and my family looks on it as a kind of tapas roulette – who will get the fiery pepper!

They originate from Galicia in North West Spain, in actual fact from Padrón near La Coruna – hence the name. The peppers are picked while their size is still small, starting as soon as mid-May. Traditionally, they were sold in the period going from late May until late October or, on occasion, even early November. However, the introduction of greenhouse plantations has made them available throughout the year. e get ours from a local market but Waitrose often sell them too. You can order them on line as well.

All you need to do is take your peppers and wash and dry them. I reckon about 8 each is a good number for a tapas – but it is up to you! Pop some olive oil in a frying pan and get it hot. Add the peppers to the pan and fry gently until they start to blister and brown slightly. About three minutes or so usually.

Sprinkle them with rock salt and serve immediately – great with a nice glass of ice cold beer, a cold dry sherry or a cold crisp dry white wine. Eat it all down to the stalk!

A friend of ours calls these ‘Pardon me peppers’ – if you eat too many – you will no doubt discover why !!