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New Year Cooking!

The last time I wrote on this blog was September 2015!!!  I hadn’t even realised that it was that long.  I’m lucky enough to still get views of my old posts after all this time but it’s about time I put something new up here!

With the new year arriving, it was the perfect excuse to get a bit more serious about cooking again.  I’d missed it

This post has a lot of random dishes in it but maybe if I get better at my categories and tags, some people will find the dishes and get to enjoy them a bit.

I’ll write it in the random order the photos have appeared here so starting with the New Year’s Day omelette!

The inspiration for this dish (and many things in my life) was my boys!  Our year started with a fight about eggs.  You see we only had 5 and odd numbers and 2 year old twins do not mix!  Who SHOULD get that 3rd egg; it’s the big questions in life that matter the most.

Once the fight was over, we had 5 eggs spread across a bowl and a cup so when the boys weren’t looking, I snuck them into the kitchen and decided to make an omelette of courgette, asparagus, tomato, chorizo, cheese which I spiced with cumin and coriander; my top spices I think!  Well and chilli but the chorizo was already spicy so that was enough to give that flavour.

Turned out pretty well and led to 4 happy bellies in this house.  A small crisis when Martí realised his cup of eggs had disappeared but he was appeased with orange juice until the omelette was ready.

The next dish was prawns (from Palamós).  We had this as the last dish in last night’s new year’s eve meal.  Montse had requested big prawns (“not like the small ones you eat in the UK”!) so that’s what we had!  I should say thanks at this point to Montse for taking 10 mins to explain to me what big prawns are 😛  “yes, I know the difference between big and small”…”yes but you only have small prawns in the UK”…”no, we don’t but anyway, I get it”…”no but get the big ones”…”yes, the big ones.  I’ve lived here 8 years now, let’s see if I can master the buying of the big ones”  Mission accomplished with the ever thorough and patient Montse 🙂

The recipe was buttery chilli prawns.  Super simple; melted butter with some olive oil, added garlic, 1 red chilli, paprika, juice of a lemon, fried for a couple of minutes before adding the prawns and cooked them for a few minutes, stirring them.

Really tasty!

This dish was cooked for New Year’s Eve also.  Scallops in a sweet chilli sauce and it was the winner of the night!  I fried some garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.  I added 1 tablespoon of water also and simmered for 5 mins.  Meanwhile I fried the scallops for 90 seconds on each side, added them back into the (clean) shells and poured over the sauce and some fresh coriander.  So good, I could have eaten another 2 for sure!!!

The next dish was how we started New Year’s Eve.  Guacamole with tortilla chips; a dish suitable for the boys also!  The biggest challenge here was to find ripe avocados which is no mean fete.  I think I did it so another moment of happiness from that!  I mixed two avocados with lime juice, chopped chilli, a little bit of onion and fresh coriander.  Another super, simple, tasty dish!

To get me motivated and in the mood for the New Year cook-off and party a huge glass of this helped!

Finally I finish with how it started; on New Year’s Eve Eve when I prepared hummus and and aubergine and red pepper dip.  These actually took much longer to prepare than any of the other dishes so maybe good that I did them ahead of time.  I’ve featured both of these on the blog before so linking to the recipes here:

Simple hummus

Assorted tapas

So, all in all, a great combination of dishes.  We could combine the dips while the boys were still awake and save the more fine dining pieces when it was just the grown ups 🙂  And for me, to focus on cooking again was a real luxury!  Writing this has taken a long time, is probably a bit random but also a good therapy and message to start the year as you mean to go on.  To anyone, still reading to this point, thank you for spending these minutes with me!!!

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Filed under Eggs, Healthy, Herbs, Hummus, Moroccan, Simple, Uncategorized

Moussaka

The inspiration for this recipe came from the veg box again, having received three aubergines this week.  When I thought what I could do with aubergines my mind went back to growing up and my mum making delicious moussaka!

I did a quick search and the first recipe online that I found was from Rick Stein, who I love, so all in all a quick recipe search!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/moussaka_70308

The day started early in the supermarket trying to get lamb mince.  I don’t think it is so common in Spain but as in all good supermarkets, they have quite an extensive butcher counter we were able to get some minced for us.  A few eyebrows were raised when we said we wanted to mince that nice piece of leg that they had but anyway we achieved our goal!

The recipe does take a couple of hours so make sure you set enough time aside.

I started by browning the onion and garlic, before adding the lamb mince and frying for 3-4 mins.  I then added the wine, tinned tomatoes, half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I didn’t have a stick) and about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I didn’t have it fresh!).  I then left it to simmer for about 40 mins.

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I then started on the aubergine base, by cutting my aubergines lengthways into thin(ish) strips.  I used 2 rather than 3 in the end as it seemed like a fair amount already.  I think this was a wise choice also considering how full my dish got at the end!

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I fried the aubergine strips in batches adding a bit of salt and pepper as I went and then layered them at the bottom of the dish.

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The final step was to make the béchamel sauce.  I melted the butter, added the flour and then slowly added the milk, stirring constantly.  Then I let it simmer for 10 mins before adding the cheese and then beating in the eggs.  It made for a rich and thick béchamel.

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I layered the meat sauce on the aubergines, followed by the béchamel sauce.  Fairly straightforward but clearly my dish wasn’t big enough as I couldn’t fit all the sauce in and you can see it was pretty full!  The problem I have though is that in my very small kitchen, I have a very small oven so bigger dishes are not an option right now.  But in other exciting news, the renovation of our new place is reaching the final stages so possibly my next post will be from a normal size oven but still in a relatively small kitchen 🙂

Size issues aside, the recipe is great.  Yes, it does take a bit of time but it’s not complicated and the taste of the moussaka is rich and filling!

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Filed under Casserole, Cheese, Food, Herbs, Recipes, Slow cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Assorted tapas

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This blog post is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while, using a few recipes from a great book I won at work!  With a few colleagues we had a really nice picnic in the park and all brought different dishes.  There was a prize for the most creative/colourful dish and my spicy couscous recipe won!!!

I had some free time today, so randomly selected 3 recipes as well as using some leftovers from a dish I cooked last night 🙂  I prepared them pretty much all at the same time but I will try and put some separation in here so it’s easier to follow and to group the many pictures in this veritable feast!

Broad beans with cheese and prawns

To start this recipe off I boiled 6 large shell-on prawns for 8 minutes and in the meantime chopped half a block of edam cheese (the recipe said gruyere but I went with edam) and boiled the broad beans (whole pods with the edges trimmed and then chopped into large pieces) with some dried thyme in the water for 7 minutes.

Once they were both done I let them cool before peeling and deheading the prawns and adding to a bowl with the cheese.

I then added a bit more thyme to a bowl and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  I then poured this sauce over the prawn, bean and cheese mixture and served.

 

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Aubergine and pepper dip

Luckily I got an array of aubergines in my organic veg box this week so this recipe was perfect to make some headway into them!

I pricked two aubergines with a fork, along with a red pepper, drizzled in olive and oil and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.  You will see the picture below also shows roasting garlic which is for the next recipe!

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Once they were cooked, I let them cool a little and then peeled the aubergines and chopped the flesh into large pieces.  I removed the seeds from the pepper and also cut this into large strips before cooking in some oil with the aubergine for 5 minutes.

I then added them to a blender along with 1 tablespoon of coriander, half the juice and rind of a lemon, half a teaspoon of paprika and some salt and pepper and mixed to a puree.  I served the puree on bread but I do think this dip would be better with tortilla chips or something similar.

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Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

For the final dish here (although I did start this first as the potatoes took the longest to cook!), I halved potatoes and then cut the halves into three.  I drizzled over some olive oil, some salt and also one crushed clove of garlic.  Then I put them on a baking tray and cooked for 1 hr 15 mins.

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While the potatoes were cooking, I used the cloves of garlic I had roasted from before (1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves, drizzled with olive oil on 200 degrees for 25 mins) now they were cool.  I removed the skin and mashed until relatively smooth.  I added them in a bowl with 1 pot of natural yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and seasoned with salt and paprika.  Then I covered the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill while the potatoes continued cooking.

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I did reduce most of the ingredients with the intention of being able to serve 2 but we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow so I would say all of the above would serve 3-4 people.

I enjoyed making all the recipes and was certainly good to make some headway into my tapas cooking experience.  I guess I’m still a bit of a whole dish kind of person so it’s good to extend my repertoire a little further!

And as for the favourite dish… it was probably the potato wedges with the roasted garlic dip!  Really tasty, quite easy to prepare, really enjoyed the crunch of the potatoes with the freshness of the dip!  All were good though and definitely will be repeated.

A big thanks to my work colleagues for letting me win and to Noa for choosing this great prize 🙂

Finally, I wanted to make a brief mention of the fourth dish as although it wasn’t from the book, it did accompany this tapas lunch as well as making a tasty dinner last night!  It was vegetable and salmon bake; another recipe from the BBC.  Really creamy and tasty and a definite recommendation!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/vegetableandsalmonch_84182

The one lonely picture from today (it wasn’t intended to be a blog post but was too delicious not to mention!):

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Filed under Cheese, Fish, Food, Food blogging, Healthy, Herbs, Recipes, Salad, Spanish, Starter, Tapas, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

2000 hits! Thank you!!!

2 days ago I reached another milestone;  2000 hits on my blog!  I was in Scotland at the time, hence a late post but I wanted to say thanks again to everyone who reads my blog; to the regulars and those who come across it for just one post or more.

I know I have a fair few followers who are friends and family so a big thanks to them for continuing to support me in my efforts to improve my cooking 🙂  I really enjoy cooking already but the positive feedback definitely motivates me to carry on blogging.

And then to people who just come across my blog by some other means; thanks for taking the time to read it and for the comments also!  I’ve said it before but it gives me great pleasure to know that people are interested in looking at the food I cook, it continues to be a surprise to me 🙂

I think when I reached 1000 hits I had big plans to overhaul the blog (and never did!) so for now I will just say that I intend to carry on doing something I love;  cooking, taking the pictures and publishing them on here 🙂

From a very happy almost chef (pictured with one of her favourite things)!

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Filed under Food blogging, Uncategorized

Seared salmon with leek mash and mustard hollandaise sauce

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Today is a holiday and to celebrate that and reaching 2000 hits on my blog (!!!), I wanted to make something I’d not done before.  I was searching by the ingredients I had in the fridge and found this recipe which is on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/searedsalmonwithleek_88794

So I’d definitely made mash before (!) and salmon so the unknown piece in this recipe was the hollandaise sauce.  It turned out to be not that complicated despite not really having the full list of ingredients (at least not quite enough butter!).  The BBC recipe suggests that the ingredients listed make enough sauce for 1 person.  Now, I’m not sure if people exist that would eat that much hollandaise sauce but my recommendation is that it makes easily enough for 2-3 people 🙂

Despite cooking quite frequently, new sauces do still seem like a step into the unknown so it was good to have done this one and seen that it is fairly straightforward.  The end result was that it tasted great, especially in the combination with the mash and salmon but perhaps with that much butter, anything would!  Now just to perfect my sauce spreading on the plate…

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Filed under Fish, Food, French, Recipes, Uncategorized

Kohlrabi, leek and courgette soup

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I’ve had 3 kohlrabis in various vegetable boxes now.  I’m still learning about them and so far have definitely found them much better in soups.  I tried this recipe today and really enjoyed it so thought it was the best one to share.

I used half a courgette, one leek, one onion, one kohlrabi for the vegetables, chopping them into fairly big pieces.  This probably makes enough for four people.

I started by melting some butter in a large saucepan, adding the chopped leek and frying gently for 5 minutes.  I then added the rest of the vegetables along with 750ml of chicken stock and some chopped parsley and simmered for about 25 minutes.  I blended it until it was quite smooth and served straight into bowls before adding some freshly ground black pepper, a spoon of double cream and topping with some more parsley.

Another tasty dish and fast to make, just a shame it is 25 degrees outside so we are not really in soup season!  I think if the kohlrabis keep coming, I will have to advance the repetoire!

 

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Filed under Food, Herbs, Recipes, Soup, Starter, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Beef stroganoff

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Another week brings another veggie box delivery and this week I had a fair amount of courgette and onion.  I also had frozen some nice cuts of beef and given that I usually have a good supply of cream and creme fraiche in the fridge, this dish came to mind.

I did a quick search and loosely based it on this recipe from Rick Stein:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beefstroganoffwithma_71568

After a lot of Italian and Chinese cooking, it was good to make a recipe from a different place; Russia 🙂

I didn’t have mushrooms or sour cream but substituted the mushrooms with courgette and the sour cream with a mix of creme fraiche (about 2 tablespoons) and double cream (about 100ml).

I started by gently frying the courgette and onion in melted butter with half a teaspoon of chilli powder (didn’t have paprika either!) for about 5 minutes.  I removed them from the pan before adding the strips of beef and cooked for one minute.  At this point, different from Rick’s recipe, I added the onion and courgettes back in and added the cream/creme fraiche mixture and simmered for just over a minute before adding the lemon juice and fresh parsley and serving with rice (not matchstick potatoes!).

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It is a really simple dish, quite versatile as you can see by the amount of ingredients I changed and really, really tasty!  Another happy Saturday night meal and giving some comfort before watching England lose in the World Cup! 😦

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Filed under Beef, Food, Herbs, Recipes, Rice, Uncategorized, Vegetables