Anytime is tortilla time….

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Anytime is tortilla time....

Tonight I stared into the abyss that is the end of the week cupboard…staring back at me were 6 free range eggs and a jar of cornichons. Ok….let’s flip the fridge open…..8 slices of prosciutto. Hmmm….in the veg rack were several potatoes minding their own business and 4 shallots snoozing softly.

Nothing to be done other than a dish redolent of Spanish nights, aimed solely at dispelling the rusting rainy weather engulfing my corner of the globe presently.

Tortilla. Paradise on a plate.

So, I poured a glass of finest Spanish Cava to set me on the right path and began peeling and slicing. I even popped Mana on the sound system.

This simple piece of bliss was around 6 spuds peeled, halved and sliced. 4 shallots peeled and chopped. A frying pan coated with plenty of olive oil, heated then add the pots and shallots. Coax around the pan until starting to brown a little – about 15 to 20 minutes on a lowish to medium heat. I was a bit cheeky tonight because I also added a finely sliced green birdseye chilli.

Warmth.

I then beat 6 free range eggs with plenty of black pepper and some ground sea salt – added this to the pan and let it drift into every nook and cranny.

Another five minutes then place the frying pan under a hot grill until the egg is setting and browning. Remove. Place a platter over, pray and flip!

Voila!

I served it with the prosciutto, cornichon and some fennel salami. I also has some warm crusty ciabatta and mixed green salad on the side.

Perfecto!

Gracias!

Saturday Supper Part Deux – Med Eggs…

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Saturday Supper Part Deux - Med Eggs...

I used to love egg and chips for supper as a child – in fact I still do…who doesn’t…but these eggs, with a mediterranean twist, are just a wee bit posher, yet still simple. I will give you the ingredients for one person and then you can multiply it to your heart’s content…this is a very social dish.

Olive oil & vegetable oil
2/3 potatoes, par boiled for 15 minutes – I used Maris Pipers
2 spring onions, chopped quite finely
A good handful of cherry or baby plum tomatoes, sliced
1 good free range or organic egg
Fresh rosemary – a good tbsp chopped roughly
1 clove of garlic chopped finely.
Black pepper and sea salt

Once the potatoes have cooled – I leave them for about 15 minutes or so in a sieve over a pan – slice them into rounds-some may split but that does not matter. In a really serious splash of olive oil, pan fry the potato slices until starting to brown – be patient and turn gently with a spatula – great word that – spatula…love it! Add a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt.

Then add the spring onions, garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. Continue to fry gently for about another five minutes – at this stage you could also add some slices of serrano or parma ham if you felt so inclined and in a more meaty mood.

In another frying pan, heat a splash of vegetable oil and fry the eggs until the white sets but the yolk is still unctiously runny. I used eggs from  Old Cotswold Legbars last night – a favourite of mine – so tasty and deep golden. And their shells are a rather funky pastel blue colour!

Serve the spuds in a dish and slide the egg on top…I split some of the white doing this…as you can see above…blast…so take care…but, hey , it still tasted wonderfully wonderful! I love a little zing with this dish- so I also threw a few slices of red jalapenos on mine.

The eggs, olive oil and rosemary just meld so well flavour wise. A great Saturday supper….or indeed anytime!

The picture below is of the ingredients making friends in the pan…..Happy Sunday to you all!

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Monday magic… of the tomato variety…..

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Monday magic... of the tomato variety.....

Tonight was one of those nights when an experiment worked, and worked so well, I wanted to freeze time. The flavours were simply exquisite. I used one of my favourite base dishes of pan fried plum toms with rosemary and cream…and added to it. You know by now, well I know that you know that I know, that I like to fiddle with recipes…so here we fiddly well go!

For 4 folk who may have been working in the garden all day…

Two decent punnets of baby plum tomatoes – mine were from Spain and as sweet as a smile from Marilyn Monroe.
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
250 ml of single cream
5 or 6 slices of serrano ham – or prosciutto would be fine
1 slice of smoked bacon
A good handful or more of baby spinach and rocket, chopped
Black pepper
Olive oil

400 gm of pasta – rigatoni or fusilli

Pop a good tablespoon or two of oil in a frying pan. Heat and then add the tomatoes. Add the garlic after a minute or so, then chop off with scissors quite a lot of rosemary into the pan and then add the sprigs too.

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Let them cook for about 15 minutes or so on a low heat until they give when pressed with a spoon. Flatten them a little with a slotted spoon – but don’t break them open too much.

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In a second pan, fry the smoked bacon finely chopped. When cooked, add in the serrano ham chopped and allow to crisp a little.

Cook the pasta – I always use rigatoni for this.

Add the bacon and ham to the tomato mixture, then add the cream. Heat gently and after two or three minutes, add in the spinach and rocket. Grind over some black pepper. Stir for about 5 minutes until it wilts into the cream sauce.

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Drain the pasta and then pop a portion into each of the 4 bowls – then spoon over the tomato mixture.

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I cannot express how wonderfully dreamy and gorgeous this dish is. It is…believe me…….no……don’t….make it for yourself!

I had been gardening all day today trying, as I mentioned in the last post, to get it tidied before this weekend’s belated birthday celebrations for my son and daughter. In the process, I discovered that there were lots of blackberries lurking wistfully below my sage plants and rosemary bushes. So, I picked them! And happily my rhubarb had coped with my absence and soldiered on, producing several fine stems which I duly cut…but with love. I poached the chopped rhubarb lightly and then popped them and the blackberries in a low gratin dish. I knocked up a crumble mix using plain flour, porridge oats, some crushed pecans, pumpkin seeds, butter and brown sugar. The result was stultifyngly superb though I say it myself!

I think part of the secret of the crispy buttery top was cooking it for 40 minutes on 180 degrees then switching the oven off, removing the crumble and after about 10 minutes returning it to the cooling oven whilst we ate the main course.

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Anyway it was fruitastic and even better because it all cane from our garden. I drank a cold pinot noir from Alsace whilst cooking, and a lovely bottle of shiraz with the meal itself. I listened to Bob Marley on the record player, then the Pet Shop Boys ‘Disco’. I felt good… and I felt as if I was back where I belonged……in my kitchen!

And here was the mellow aftermath in Alfredo’s after our meal…my home from home…

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A thigh of relief…

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A thigh of relief... You know when you come in from work and you stand in front of the fridge and you ponder for a second and think….hmmmm… what are we going to eat this evening? Then you remember..(hey it’s  been a long day)….that you randomly bought a pack of free range thighs and chicken drumsticks at the weekend…and you have got some tikka paste left over from Sunday’s lamb dish. So….I marinated the chicken pieces in the paste. Left them for an hour in the fridge. I then put on Spotify and listened to a great new band called Peace and Love…then I opened a bottle of Shiraz and put on Bob Dylan‘s Modern Times…wonderful.The world was already looking better…. Ok…the chicken thighs and drumsticks went in the oven for an hour on 220c. I basted them after half an hour. Whilst I was listening to Bob, I decided to have a go at my very own Brinjal Bhaji. So- I sliced up, then chopped into cubes, one aubergine. I popped it into a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes then drained it. In a frying pan I decided to make a fine curry style dressing for it. I added a tablespoon of olive oil, then added a tsp of mustard seeds, a tsp of fenugreek seeds, a tsp of fennel seeds. I pan fried them for a minute or two – then tossed in the drained aubergine. I then added a tsp of garam masala and a tsp of mild curry powder. I chopped and deseeded a red chilli and a small orange pepper. I added them along with a finely sliced red onion. Turn up the heat and stir constantly until the onion starts to wilt. Turn the heat down, add a little rock salt and pop a lid on for 20 minutes or so, I cooked some basmati rice in my rice cooker with a pinch of turmeric to add colour, When all was nearly ready, I took the lid off the aubergine mix, added a knob of butter and a tbsp of crème fraîche. Leave on a low heat for a minute or two whilst you serve the rice and the chicken. Then add a good spoonful of the aromatic aubergine. This was a scintillating dish for a damp squib of a Tuesday. Oh yes…..back to my wine now…and Bob singing about the Mississipi….see you soon!

Coriander and Chicken Pilaf

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Coriander and Chicken Pilaf

Last night for supper, I wanted to use up some chicken left over from the Khao Man Ghai…and I also had a gorgeous cluster of heavenly coriander sitting staring at me from the kitchen window sill. My kids fancied a risotto…but I had run out of risotto rice – poor planning there.. But I did have my usual large kiln jar full of basmati rice. The sun was still in the sky so I went into pilaf mode! I love pilafs and they are SO easy to make – and so versatile – just like risotto – but less fiddly.

This is for 4 – though I recommend making more as it is it is moorish! Olive oil / 1 onion chopped finely or 4 small shallots/ 1 garlic clove chopped finely / 240 gm basmati rice – though long grain white is just dandy / 400 gm of good chopped tomatoes / pinch of sugar / 600 ml of chicken stock / left over chicken / bunch of coriander, chopped roughly / 2 tsp of pine kernels.

Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add a splash of oil. Pan fry onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice – no need to rinse first – cook for about 2 or 3 minutes stirring all the time to coat the rice. Add the tomatoes, the sugar, stock , the chicken and coriander plus a little black pepper. Stir once. Bring to boil, then cover the pan with the lid, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender – do not be tempted to stir! Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan and then add to the mix when the 15 minutes is up. Remove the lid – cover the pan with a clean tea towel – pop the lid back on and leave to one side for 10 minutes. Then lid off, tea towel off and stir lightly with a fork. I served it with lightly pan fried diced red chilli and chestnut mushrooms in butter.

This is a dish you can play about with – experiment with different fresh herbs, meats etc. You can use prawns or salmon too…it all depends on what tickles your fancy….or what’s parked in your fridge!

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