Posts Tagged With: photography

Creamy Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Fancy a quick dip!  This simple, creamy vegan dip is a great way to get more broccoli into our lives.  Which is never a bad thing!

Broccoli is one of the healthiest things sprouting from the earth.  Outrageously high in vitamin C and K.  Broccoli should not be cut before storing, otherwise the vitamin content decreases and should not be washed before popping in the fridge (a general rule with all fruit and veg) as this speeds up the spoiling process.

The nutrients in vegetables and fruits is directly effected by the soil and methods used in growing.  Organic is best, but even modern organic, industrialised practices leads to an depletion in the nutrients in soil and  subsequently the things grown in it.  In the Beach House, we wholeheartedly recommend befriending local producers/ farmers or even better growing your own.

This went down a treat at lunchtime today, perfect summer dipping fodder with the added benefit of being super healthy and light.

The Bits – Males one bowlful

300g silken tofu

2 handfuls sunflower seeds (soaked overnight = smooth dip, unsoaked = crunchy dip)

1 small head of broccoli (finely chopped)

1 small clove garlic (peeled and crushed)

1/2 lemon (juice and zest)

1/2 handful of fresh dill

1/2 handful of mint leaves

1 tbs good olive oil

Cracked pepper and sea salt (to taste)

Do It

Place all in a food processor and blend for a minute, scraping the sides down if you need to.   If you have used unsoaked seeds, expect a nice crunch to your dip, otherwise, make it nice and smooth.

Beach House radishes - ready for dipping action

Beach House radishes – ready for dipping action

Serve

With all your favourite crudites, we love to dip oat cakes into ours.

Foodie Fact

By birth, Broccoli is an Italian.  A member of the cabbage family and the green sibling of the cauliflower.  It is never good soggy, steam for 5 minutes max or serve raw.  Broccoli is a meal in itself, use the leaves and stems for different textures.

Broccoli has excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, especially high in vitamin C.  We regularly add it to morning juices to gives us a gentle kickstart in the right direction.  Broccoli is also outrageously high in fibre, helping fight cholesterol and keeping our digestion ticking over nicely.  This green hero also helps our eyes and repairs our skin.  Only a handful of broccoli per day will have considerable benefits.

Summer time and dippin' is easy.....

Summer time and dippin’ is easy…..

Categories: Nutrition, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Italian Flava! Holiday Snaps of Napoli and the Amalfi Coast

ITALIA!  What a place!  Pizza, scenery, pasta, wonderful people, gelato (for Jane), stunning scenery, espresso, incredible history….so much, a country filled with endless passion for life and bellies filled with wonderful culinary creations.  Here we have just a few of our holiday snaps from June’s trip to Southern Italy.

Jane's first gelato (she was a little pleased) - Napoli

Jane’s first gelato (Pistachio flavour) – Downtown Napoli

We started off in Napoli, hiring a car and camping for most of the time.  We rarely spent two nights in one place as the allure of the open road and the fascinating sights just kept us rolling deeper and deeper into Campania.  Napoli reminds me alot of Latin America, a real vibrancy and chaos, it can be scruffy and awe inspiring  in the same alleyway, it is a hive of creativity, is crammed full of ancient historical sights and offers all the opportunity to feast like a greedy baron.

Pizza is the mainstay of things and the Marinara (just tomato sauce, a little garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, so called because the fishermen used to eat it) took dough discs to a whole new level in my eyes.  The wine was local, with a vast array of indigenous grape varieties and generally, delicious.  Apart from eating and sipping coffee with jumpers tied around our necks, we walked the cities old town, took in as many museums, cathedrals, underground grotto’s, gelaterias (Jane) and Greek sculptures as our mortal legs could manage.  Napoli is my new favourite city at a canter.

On the road lunch - Graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

On the road lunch, Italy=best produce ever! – In an old graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral - Napoli

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral – Napoli

After Napoli, and the utterly mental driving conditions (most of the cars bear the scars of the outrageously tight roads and kamikaze scooters), we drove south past Mount Versuvius (the once mighty eruptor) and headed to the Amalfi coast, a place constantly banged on about as being rather pleasant.  Well it was in a  fashion, if you are of the manicured tourist variety.  We are not.  So camped in forests when we could and only ventured into the pretty towns for dinner, which was almost always, fresh, local, seasonal, made my mama and utterly delicious. We generally found things quite cheap, making our breakfast and lunch on roadsides and picnic benches along the way with some of the best fruit and veg I have ever encountered.  Believe the hype!  Italian lemons, plums, tomatoes, olives……the list goes on, are touched with something intangible and utterly magnificent.  Food here is a way of life, a cornerstone of culture…..I have heard this all before, but to witness it first hand and even better, to taste the fruits of this fascination and tradition, made me feel like the luckiest muncher on the Med.

Temple of Poseidon - The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Temple of Poseidon – The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Camping by churches seemed to work well - Cilento National Park, Campania

Camping by abandoned churches works well –  Near Morigerati, Cilento National Park, Campania

We found some beautiful camp spots and used disused churchyards regularly.  Almost painfully romantic and with the added bonus of clean water springs to do the washing up and for the occasional bathe.  The weather was sweltering, so we rose early with the sun and generally bedded down under clear night skies, sparkling with stars and fireflies.

The awesome Hercules - National Museum, Napoli

The ancient and mighty Faranese Hercules 3AD (roughly 12 metres tall!) – National Museum, Napoli

Packing up one of our favourite campspots  - Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Packing up one of our favourite campspots – Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Stunning villages abound! - Morigerati, Cilento National Park

Stunning villages abound! – Morigerati, Cilento National Park

The national park, Cilento was a real highlight.  The second largest in all of Italy, with little villages on crags, waterfalls, endless forests and some stunning mountainous peaks, far too much to explore in the little time we had.  There seemed to be no one there and the towns were always sleepy and friendly, generally the opposite of the Amalfi coast towns which were packed full of tourists and establishments fixed to empty their pockets of silver.   We discovered a few gems on what is a dramatically beautiful, steep slope, but generally the Amalfi is a little overrated.  Its a big world, many coastlines, why should we all gather in one place?  I have to admire the marketing job done by the tourism folk, Sorrento for example is heaving with Americans who have flown all this way to the Med to see a sanitised version of what is surely, one of the worlds most stunning areas.  And, it was 45 euros for a dorm bed!  45 euros for a wonky bunk!!!!!!

Making salads on bins - A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

Roadside salads – A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

 

Stunning nature - Cilento National Park

Stunning nature – Cilento National Park

Jane just before another amazing dinner - Campania

Jane just before another amazing dinner – Castellabate, Campania

We spent a week in Cilento National Park, driving the crumbling roads and marvelling at the sheer natural beauty of the place.  It seemed impossible to escape the ancient past as we randomly came across site after site filled with magnificent ruins of towns and temples, the most impressive of which were (of course) Pompei and Paestum.  Some of the details that have survived are stunning, it feels like you’re looking directly into the lives of the people who lived more than 2000 years ago.  We know their names, how much they earned and where they worked, the Gods they worshiped, what they did for giggles and even their favourite snack bars!  These incredibly preserved relics give colour and texture to the ancient world and open fascinating windows into how our forefathers and mothers would have passed their lives.  It wasn’t all good, being a gladiator fighting lions seemed like a raw deal but I have to say, in the most part, they seemed to live well and in a highly advanced, organised and cosmopolitan way.

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) - Cilento National Park, Campania

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) – Cilento National Park, Campania

Italian beaches are strange and normally filled with sun loungers, costing an exorbitant amount of euros to perch on.  It is the only place in the world I have visited where beaches are private and fenced off!  You need to buy a Cappucino to take a dip in the ocean!  What a strange approach.  Due to this, we only spent 20 minutes on the beach, it all seemed a little hectic and the opposite of relaxing.

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) - Di Mateos, Napoli

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) – Di Mateos, Napoli

There are a few famous and touristy pizza restaurants in Napoli, but we were assured by locals that Di Mateos was the best.  Located on Via Tribuani, one of the main streets in the old town, it is always packed full and has a real buzz about it.   It was, without any peer, the best pizza I ever met.  Add to that the band of gypsy’s (not the Jimi Hendrix lot) playing as we went in and you have the full package.  You cannot beat the sound of a well strummed mandolin and some toothless yelping.  It stirs the appetite and soul.

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! - Nochelle, Amalfi

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! – Nochelle, Amalfi

After all that driving, we landed in Pompeii, not a bad little town considering the daily influx of tourist coaches.  We camped there in a little family ran site and walked the 20 metres to the main gates.  Italy really impressed me in the fact that corporations don’t seem to have taken hold.  Family ran joints, hotels, cafes, restaurants etc seem to be very much the done thing and it adds so much variety and authenticity to towns.  You get to meet the real locals, eat their food, hear their gossip and understand a little about what is actually going on.  Places ran by people who genuinely care about what they’re doing which makes all the difference.  I hear this does not extend to Italian politics, but that’s a whole different blog……

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! - Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! – Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

So Italy is nice, very highly reccomended by the B.H.K.  There seems so much to rave about but its the warmth and intensity of the locals which will stay with me.  Prego!!!!  I think Jane and I would go back now, if we weren’t tending to tomatoes and reveling in the unpredictable beauty of a Welsh summer in full swing.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

We’re Back! and India Holiday Snaps

Under the Big Tree - Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

Under the Big Tree – Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

We’re back!  In two pieces;  older, wiser and hairier!

North Wales is shining; bee buzzing, flowers swaying, sheep baaaaaa-ing. This is definitetly the home of the B.H.K. Writing the blog from distant shores just seems a little strange, the creative culinary juices just aren’t flowing as deeply as when we’re hanging out up here with the heather.

This blog is such a big part of our life in Wales, so we’re back and ready to get stuck into good mountain living, with some gorgeous nibbles along the way……

There seems far too much water under the bridge to begin to catch up on the last 6 months. I decided to post a few travel pics to get us warmed up and reacquainted again.

I have been busy (even when travelling!) working on another food-related project which I am superbly excited about. More to follow on this soon. (Hopefully that is a decent enough excuse for not posting any news or recipes for a ridiculous length of time.)

Back in the lovely little Beach House, the fire is roaring (in June) and we are both full tilt and ready to get the garden blooming and the hob fully loaded with plenty of wonderful fruit and veggie action and no doubt some pictures of Buster the cat (who came back on our first morning back in the house, it seems we are linked with the little grey furball!).

Jane getting to grips with an onion - Udaipur, 2/14

Jane getting to grips with an onion – Udaipur, 2/14

Very brief catch up of our antics :
– We have been distant for the last 6 months, in Spain and India, spending time in the Himalayas and on a variety of beaches; cooked vegan food on farms, ate papaya straight from the tree, visited many huge desert forts and palaces, lived in huts and buses, hung out with warm tribal folk, learned to count to 10 in Hindi, practiced yoga by the Ganges, woke at 4am to sing songs, realised that there is more to life than chapatis (but not much!), ate our body weight several times over with the complete rainbow spectrum of all things curries, watched endangered rhinos play whilst sitting on a juvenile elephant, celebrated a Gods birthday……….too much. much, much to tell. Here are a few pics (most food related) that tell a better story:

It's Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

It’s Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Vadas - some of South India's finest

Vadas – some of South India’s finest

A little taster, a canape of sorts, a wee bite into our last 6 months wandering the world.  We have a massive book full of new recipes to cook and hopefully post.  Its looking like a busy summer!

Love and Peace to all of you out there…..XXXXX

It’s great to be back, Lee and Janexxxxx

Categories: photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kala Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Jane on 'The Rock' - Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Jane on ‘The Rock’ – Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Finally, we post something!!!!  We have loads of half finished bits typed hurriedly in internet cafes, but have yet had the time and drive to actually finish one off!  

We’ve been in Indian now for three months and things have been thick with experience and too many foodie experiences to recollect.  Expect many Indian themed post soon, packed full of delicious and authentic recipes……. 

Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu 21st March 2014

Kodai is a little ex-British Hill Station (somewhere where the Raj used to go and cool off during the summer months).  Lots of little Anglo Indian stone cottages with lawns and chimneys, tea rooms and a beautiful lake.  We are staying on a farm, on a steep slope, with spectacular views over the plains towards Madurai.  It thick jungle, full nature and absolutely beautiful and best of all, we have a small kitchen to play in!!!!!

A random little post here, but we are half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere (Southern India). This recipe came together on our first night in Karuna Farm, in the green and verdant Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. We have been sweating and meditating, sweating and yoga-ing, sweating and chanting our way through the early part of March in the Sivananda Ashram, outside Madurai. The temperatures soared, so it is magical to be up here in the mountains where the night air is crisp and the sunrises come on like an intergalactic firework show.

This is a spectacular little farm and we are witnessing many positive projects in motion. They are building earth ships, from recyclable car tyres and starting a permaculture project to supply the on-farm restaurant with some proper local produce.

On Sunday, Jane and I ventured up to Kodai Kanala (the main town). We walked through little villages, with many smiles greeting us, for 2 hours and then managed to catch a little rickety van the rest of the way to town (we’re quite remote here!).

Kodai is an old British hill station, with many rock built chalets and a large dollop of Christianity. It is now a popular retreat for Indian honeymooners and surprisingly few gringos on the streets.

Haggling at Kodai Market

Haggling at Kodai Market

Sunday is market day and we spent most of it wandering around and ogling the local produce. Non of it organic, but all of it vibrant and full of potential. Our accommodation, a nice little cottage in a banana plantation, actually has a kitchen!  The first time we’ve been able to cook, apart from random cooking classes and making spicy tea with the chai wallas.  I was so chuffed to be having a bash at the pots and pans again.  We filled our backpacks with veggies and fruits and have not looked back since.

Internet in India is tough and I must apologise for the lack of BHK activity in recent times. We have heads full of recipes and new ways of conjuring up tasty nibbles.  We can’t wait to share them with you all from HQ (North Wales, which seems like a million and one miles away).

WHAT IS KALA CHANA?

Kala Chana (also Desi Chana or Bengal Gram) are brown chickpeas, unprocessed and packed with fibre.   ‘Kala’ actually means black in Hindi and Urdu.  They have more of a robust texture than your average chicker.  This type of chana has been enjoyed all over the world for millenia, from ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, to Africa and Latin America.  It has been used in British cooking since the middle ages.

Chana is so versatile to a veggie cook, we can boil them, sprout them, roast them in the oven, make them into magic puree’s (like hummus) or even make desserts with them.

We love this rough chana, especially in a dish with full flavoured veggies like cabbage and beetroot. A lovely old lady was selling these bok chois, we couldn’t resist them. I have never seen them cooked in India, but you wouldn’t expect us to be traditional now would you??!!

This is a highly spiced dish, similar to chana masala in many ways. The spices are warming including cinnamon and cloves, making it very much north Indian fare. In the South we have been eating mainly coconuts and white rice, the staple down here. Generally lightly spiced bu heavy on the dried chilli.

This dish, served with a massive salad, made a wonderful change and we actually cooked it ourselves! I have to say our bellies have not felt this good in the 2 month India adventure.

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Grating the veggies for the sauce (called a masala over here) gives the overall dish a smoother texture and helps to thicken things up. Of course, grating things unlocks the flavours of the veggies and means you don’t need to cook them for so long to get maximum flavour.

I will be volunteering on an organic farm and cooking in a vegan kitchen soon, settling down a little. I imagine they will have internet and should catch up a little with the backlog of recipes and posts that have accumulated on my little computer gadget. There are some crackers!
Namaste and Much Love,

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX

The Bits – For 2
2 tbs coconut oil (or cooking oil)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed and diced)
6 large leaves bok choi (plus their fleshly stumps, chopped)
1 large carrot (scrubbed and grated)
1 small potato (scrubbed and diced)
1 big handful cabbage (grated)

Masala
1 onion (peeled and grated)
4-5 cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
1 ½ inch ginger (peeled and grated)
3 tomatoes (grated, skins discarded)
2 teas garam masala (or spice mix of your choice)
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tea cumin seeds
1 teas black mustard seeds
2 tbs curry leaves
½ teas chilli powder
½ teas sea salt
½ teas black pepper

¾ cup chana daal (soaked overnight)

Brown Chana Masala with  Beetroot and Bok Choi

Brown Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Do It
Drain your chickpeas and rinse. Place in a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for 1 hour (or until nicely tender).

Whilst they’re cooking, get your masala ready. In a frying pan, warm 1 tbs of oil, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick fry for a 30 seconds then add the onions. Fry all on a med high heat for 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic, ginger and beetroot, fry for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and cabbage. Stir well and warm through. Cook for 5 minutes and add the garam masala, chilli powder and tomato. Bring to a boil and cover. After 10 minutes cooking on a steady simmer, add 100ml water and stir, then recover. Cooking for another 10 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Now add the masala to the chickpea pan, there should be some liquid left in the pan. Stir in and thin out the sauce with more water if needed. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Be heavy on the pepper, chana masala loves pepper!

In a small frying pan, warm 1 tbs oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves on medium heat. Let the splutter for 30 seconds and remove pan from the heat.

Once the chickpeas are warm through, stir in the seasoned oil and serve.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

Serve
In these parts we’d be having rice and rice (with a side helping of rice!)  but tonight, in our own little cottage, we’re having one of Jane’s bonza raw salads; with grated beetroot, kohlrabi, peanuts, beetroot leaves, carrot, coriander and lots more market fresh bits (when Jane does a salad, the entire veg basket is used!)

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Foodie Fact
Kala Chana is very high in dietary fibre, one big bowlful of this curry with give women almost half of their daily intake of fibre (men a little less than that).  These brown garbanzos are also high in protein and rich in minerals like iron, copper and manganese.

Kala Chana is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, remains have been discovered dating back 7500 years!  India is by far the biggest producer of chana in the world, Australia is the second, which I find surprising.

 

Categories: Curries, Dinner, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Simple Chickpea & Pumpkin Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew with load of lovely coriander

In the Beach House we love simple cooking with a smile and this stew definitely makes us beam a bit.  We’ve just landed in Spain after a crazy few weeks in the UK for a variety of reasons that we’d prefer not to bore you with.  I am super busy on a food based project that I will no doubt tell you about soon, but until then, the posts are going to be few and far between as I type my little fingers to the bone.

Some of you may have read about our winter retreat last year, near the sleepy port town of Mazzaron, up near the hills (you will no doubt be unsurprised to hear).  It’s a real country area and the Med sparkles from our terrace every morning and each night sky is filled with incredible maps of stars.  All that sun means there are some amazing veggies for sale here in the markets and we have loved having a dabble and a haggle!  We pick up ridiculous bargains and then get home and wonder what on earth we are going to do with it all…!  We only have a little kitchen and the Beach House Kitchen (Part II) is slightly underequipped compared to the gleaming ‘Thunderbird 1’.

Our favourite new bit of equipment is a wooden handled knife that we picked up off a flamenco-loving-gypsy-with-a-mullet for a euro.  It seems to be impervious to bluntness.  The Excalibur of onion chopping and potato peeling.  It is worth mentioning that we buy lettuce and tomatoes from this fellow’s Mum, who normally wears a pink dressing gown and a has a cigarette hanging from her mouth.  The dressing gown is held together by a piece of frayed string and is probably one of the most fashionable statements on display, come market day, in little Puerto Mazarron.  We love that market, but this week it was called off due to adverse weather conditions.  It rained a little and was a little blowy!  We wouldn’t get much done in Wales with these kind of restrictions.

We have just spent a busy week with my Mum doing plenty of café and bar hopping and taking in a few ancient looking little towns along the way.  Unfortunately every time we’ve got the camera out, at least one of us has been stuffing our face with tapas, so we are short of pleasant pictures of us lounging around the place.  I’m sure you can imagine the scene we enough and I hope we are not rubbing in our good fortune to be here.  To balance things out, I have had my normal restaurant experience in Spain, which go a little something like this:

Step 1)  I apologise profusely for being a non-ham eater, smile through the imminent baffled glare and disdain, then fully expect the worst…..

Step 2)  I am faced with a decision to eat around fish and or meat or go hungry.

Step 3) The next course arrives and I revert to Step 2

Step 4) I end up just eating fruit for dessert

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Vibrant veggies in the mix

Having said that, the wine is good and cheap and this carries me through each disappointing dining experience.  You’ve got to love the people in our local restaurants though – a brilliant bunch of rogues, fishermen and real characters.  Veganism has not reached these parts, but when it does, it will be repelled with sharp sticks and incredulous words.  NO HAM!  What are you, insane!!!!!  I love them all, even if they think I am from the planet Parsnip.

NB Casa Monika’s in Puerto Mazzaron is not included in this generalization, as one of the LOVELY owners Jose is Vegetarian/ Vegan, and the food rocks. Thank YOU.

So……we keep things even simpler in Spain and this was a stew we had for dinner last night and thought you guys would love.  The chickpeas here are little works of art, after soaking they swell up like small plums and the spices are very, very potent.  The smoked paprika almost takes your breath away and the cumin we can still smell even when its sealed in a jar in a cupboard (at first Jane thought I had some strange musty body odour thing going on).

We use a lot of vegetables here, making full use of our mammoth stash, but you can really pick and choose what ever is handy.  The classic combination of warming spices and chickpeas will lend itself to almost any vegetable.  As you can see, I like to sweeten it a little with dates, it seems in-keeping with the style of the dish.  You can always omit the sweetener, or use some honey or brown sugar.  Another idea we have been playing with recently to good effect is adding a little soya milk to stews and soups; it is surprisingly creamy and changes the texture.  You may like to throw a cup of soya milk in here and see how it goes (it will go well!!!!) Jane did it by mistake the other day confusing the carton of stock with Soya milk in a pea and mint soup… it was a lucky accident (the less said about her vegetable stock-on-muesli accident the better though)!

The coriander and glug of olive oil at the end sets this dish apart, as with so many stews and soups, that little finishing touch makes all of the difference.  Golden olive oil warmed on a stew is something almost to gorgeous to describe in feeble words.  I am sure Jane would say ‘It’s ace!’ and I would certainly agree.

I’d love to think that we’ll be posting again soon and we’ll be drinking G and T’s on the terrace on your behalf!  It’s a Beach House life, what can we say!!!!!

Lovely salad accompaniment

Lovely salad accompaniment

The Bits – For 4-6

1 inch and a half square ginger (grated), 3 garlic cloves (peeled and grated), ½ tsp cinnamon,1 tsp ground oriander, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground cumin

2 tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree (depending on how good your tomatoes are), 1 carrot (finely diced), handful of cabbage leaves (or other greens), 1 onion (finely sliced), 1 cup of pumpkin (medium sized cubes), 1 small courgette (same size as pumpkin), 2 handfuls of spinach leaves.

3 cups of chickpeas (with cooking juices), 4 fresh dates (finely chopped), 1 cup vegetable stock, sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Fresh coriander leaves and stalks (for topping)

Do It

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in fresh water for roughly 45mins- 1 hour  (add 1 teas of bicarb of soda to speed up the cooking process).

In a hot pan, brown the onions for 3-4 minutes. Then add the fresh ginger, garlic, pumpkin, carrot and courgette. Fry them off for 5 minutes.

Now add the cabbage leaves, cumin, sweet paprika, ground coriander, cinnamon, and chopped fresh tomatoes (with the tomato puree if you’re using it). Time for the chickpeas with their juice from their cooking and a good old stir.

Add one cup stock if needed (if you haven’t got enough chickpea juice). Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are nice and tender.

Sprinkle in spinach leaves cover and turn off heat.  Leave for 5 minutes and give a final stir and serve.

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

We Love It

This is our every day type stew, full of veggies, flavours and goodness.  This is the type of winter fuel that sparks us into life! We worship the tasty spicy-ness of this dish.

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are super high in fibre and are renowned for their ‘filling’ properties.  Eat a few, feel full, don’t snack on all those beetroot crisps you’ve got locked away in the cupboards.  Chickpeas have been shown to help stabilise insulin and blood sugar, they are also awesome for your digestion and colon.  Lovely little chickers!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

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On the funghi hunt, lost and wandering up the Nantlle Valley, we’ve had magic weather even in October.

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Pleasant views abound – from the Nantlle Ridge (behind our back garden)

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The man with a sock on his head – harvesting our potato crop. Smaller potatoes this year but more of them.

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Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

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A small tree in our garden suddenly started to sprout apples. It’s an apple tree!!!!! Wahee. Lucky us, this is part of the windfall apple bonanza.

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We’ve had so much sun this year even the sunflowers had a growth spurt.

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Part of our winter preparations, HEAT! Scavenged logs meet Mr Chainsaw = cosy nights by the fire. Time consuming, but free.

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We’ve had some gorgeous beetroots this year, three varities and all of them awesome and sweet.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.  Then POW tofu inspiration strikes!

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A Great Beach House Bake Off!

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Love CoconutsX

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Your Gracious HostsXXXXXXXXX  At Jane’s parents gaff

So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Blooming Marvelous! Garden Update

The Queen of Salads!

The Queen of Salads!

Well, well, well……I mean really.  We had a summer, a proper stint of sun.  We woke every morning expecting it to be sunny.  How rare, how brilliant!  The garden has appreciated the warmth and light, things are blooming like never before in our little mountain abode, we can’t keep up with the progress, most of the time just letting nature do its thing and appreciate what comes from that.  This generally hides our lack of discipline with gardening and confirms our inherent feeling that nature cannot be contained in a plant pot, or bossed around.  Our potatoes seem to appreciate the approach!

The Potato Patch

The Potato Patch

Courgette Flower

Courgette Flower

The Beach House Garden is quite big and wild, after not strimming for a while it was resembling a Welsh jungle and wild things lurked out towards the horse field.  Fortunately they were just frogs and the occasional mole, although the rabid sheep have been making unwanted appearances in the garden.  Feral lot that they are.

So this year we have some decent looking beetroots, rhubarb chard, cavolo nero and even courgettes coming along.  The herbs have gone wild (which we always enjoy) and as I said, we have three varieties of potatoes leaping from the ground at an alarming rate.  Come early August and freak storms permitting, we should have a reasonable bounty to play with in the BHK and share amongst our nearest and dearest.

'Erbs running wild

‘Erbs running wild

Raw Earth Month marches on bathed in sun and good vibrations.  I have to say, the food has been grand and we are trying our best to post more recipes.  Our month of total raw/ vegan-ness ended yesterday, no booze, coffee, consuming, chemicals, lights, washing machine etc for over a month now and going strong.  Once you start this and feel good about it, it’s always hard to get back off it.  I am sure one day a scone will come along and that will be it!  Until then we are thinking another two weeks are in order.  There are two bottles of cava primed for the closing ceremony, we’ll have a picnic in the back garden on the stone circle and eat sandwiches and a lemon drizzle cake (Jane’s favourite) and get slightly sozzled in the sun (hopefully).

Yellow Lilly's (I think) growing in the pond

Yellow Lilly’s (I think) growing in the pond

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

We are so lucky to have wild strawberries growing this year, if we can grab them before the birds take their share!  They are the sweeetest, fragrant little things.  Just one tiny strawberry can change your day, much better than their big brother variety.

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries

My hayfever has taken a back seat now that Jane’s magical herbalist friend has sent some little sweet pills through.  I can now enjoy the garden without fear of pathetic dribbles and sneezing fits taking over.  Hoorah!  This has made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the dramatic transformations in these green and golden hills.

We are being battered by odd humid, tropical storms at the moment, but somewhere behind those grey clouds, there’s a sun waiting to get busy.

On a walk near the Beach House

On a walk near the Beach House

Some classic George (you saw this one coming surely!):

Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of our garden produce in our recipes very soon, there is nothing quite like cooking with your own veg.  I am lucky enough to be working at a wonderful retreat centre at the moment and cook with alot of veg grown on the land.  There is something intangible and whole heatedly enjoyable about cooking with such produce.  It makes all the difference and the flavours are spectacular!  Eating the stem of a rhubarb chard recently is a food experience I will never forget!

Enjoy the heat wave (while it lasts)!

Categories: Garden, Raw Food, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Spring arrives in a blizzard – The Beach House Garden

Spring  hits the Beach House Garden

Spring hits the Beach House Garden – Dark and Gloomy

Well Spring is here and we’re hanging on in the middle of a blizzard. The Beach House is a sturdy little cottage, but the garden is looking anything but spring-like.

The whole of North Wales, and Britain in general, is getting a good covering of springtime snow.  This day last year the temperature was 21oC.  You may be British, or know Brits, we talk about the weather alot over here, mainly because we have such interesting weather!  You never know what to expect, which doesn’t help a novice gardener.

We have planted a few seeds already, granted very prematurely and they are doing well on racks beside the fire!  Rainbow chard is beginning to sprout and I fear for these little things when they are thrown into the garden, open to our mountain elements.  Maybe we will have an indoor garden this year!

Last years gardening adventures, in sunnier times

Last years gardening adventures, in sunnier times

It is so cold at the moment, even our semi-wild cat Buster has come inside, to shelter from the winds (see below).  Buster is our gardening companion and an expert at getting in the way.

Last years attempts at growing had mixed results (to say the least). Slugs had a field day in the very damp conditions and we became more a slug diner than a organic veg patch. We had some success with a variety of potatoes and the occasional leek, but really, most things flopped.  We have new strategies and fresh energy this year to quell those slimy critters and hide our plants from the wind.  Our green beans ended up mainly in the opposite field last time.

This year we are going for alot of beetroot, some leeks, many potatoes, some green beans and greeen and red leaves (rocket, raddichio etc).  We’d also like to grow some squash and plenty of kale and chard.  We’ll let you know how it all goes.

Thankfully, we have little expectations this year and even in this small garden patch, are now fully aware of the difficulties of approaching a ‘self-sufficient’ lifestyle.  There is so much to learn and only so many seasons left…

Hope you are all nice and warm and cosy wherever you are.

Buster checking out the bin

Buster checking out the bin

More from Buster (the worlds coolest creature)

More from Buster (the worlds coolest creature)

 

Categories: Garden, Spring, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kale, Carrot and Apple Juice

Kale, Carrot and Apple Juice

Kale, Carrot and Apple Juice

The ultimate early morning kickstart! This juice will definitely get you wide awake and feeling wonderful.

The combination of kale and a whole lemon here (zest and all) make it a real eye opener, very different and refreshing flavour.  You can also use something like a savoy cabbage here which also has great flavour.  Who knew that cabbage juice could be so tasty?!

You will need a juicer to make this green and lean juice, and if you don’t have one, this juice is the perfect excuse to get one!

Jane and are glad to be back in the Beach House and eating our favourite foods.   After our experiences last summer with the raw food diet, we are planning another venture into crunch this year, probably starting in late June (after Jane’s birthday).  Last year we celebrated in a windy tent on the Pembrokeshire coastline with a salad and raw starwberry tart.  Delicious, but lacking bubbles!

If this doesn’t wake you up of a morning, then I would advice you go back to bed and try again tomorrow.

PS – This is serious detox territory too.

Make two glasses:

The Bits

1 apple, 2 handfuls of green leaves (savoy cabbage or kale), 3 good sized carrots, 1 inch cube of ginger, 1 lemon (whole)

Jane loving the juice!

Morning juice smiles

Do It

Pop all in the juicer, we add the lemon first, then ginger and normally finish with the carrot.  It is dense and juicy and seems to flush out any lingering bits.

Serve

Straight away with smiles.

We Love It!

Jane and I are not really morning people, our bed is normally the only warm place in the beach house!  But this juice will drag us out and with the ginger kick, wakes and warms!  Its a beauty.

Foodie Fact

Kale is one of natures most amazing gifts.  Kale helps the body detox, lowers the risk of the big ‘C’ and actually lowers cholesterol (I love these types of food).  Kale is packed with Vitamin K, C and A, Kale also has ‘unusually’ high levels of flavanoids and carotenoids which highly reduce oxidative stress (which is definitely not good for you).  Read more.

Tunes

I can think of no better soundtrack to this juice, Mungo Jerry:

Categories: Detox, Juices, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Punjabi Rajma Chawal – Red Kidney Bean Curry

Kitchen in a Punjabi Dhaba – http://alexbecherer.tumblr.com

A simple bean curry and very much a nutritious staple in India homes and especially the legendary roadside Punjabi Dhabas.  This red kidney bean curry has a fantastic full flavour and is easy and cheap to get  together (it’s also a super healthy bite).

Punjabi food is renowned as one of India’s finest.  Very rich and packed with spice.  Punjab is a state located in the North West of India, bordering Pakistan and is home to many Sikhs.  The Golden Temple in Amritsar is rightly regarded as one of the most awesome religious monuments.  The Punjab is a very arable region, meaning a great diversity of produce.

Punjabi dhabas are famous for their cheap, fresh and super tasty food.  They are basically an eatery, that have spread around India and the world.  Wherever there are Punjabis, there are Dhabas!  In a Punjabi Dhaba the food is always quick and plentiful with a constant stream of fresh rotis from the tandoor oven and top ups of all curries, relishes and rice dishes.  Its a great way to eat, a real food experience and you always leave with a full belly.

These Dhabas started to feed truck drivers originally and the range of dishes are quite standard from Chandigarh to Chiswick.  Dal Makhani is one of my favourites; a dark, rich lentil stew.  It will be here on the BHK soon (I can’t believe its taken this long!)

The Golden Temple at sunset

Chilling at the Golden Temple at sunset

For years I was disillusioned with kidney beans; I didn’t like the name or the way they were served (normally in an insipid tomato stew, aka the dreaded British style chilli con carne).  I was ten years old at that time and have come a long way round since.  This is one of the finest way to serve a kidney bean, the rich and spicy tomato sauce compliment the earthy bean well.

In India it can be difficult to get beans, but the rajma (kidney bean in Hindi) is easily found and consistently tasty with mounds of chawal (rice).  I cannot go long without a bean hit after all.

This is something that I have been whipping up after work recently and although the list on ingredients looks a little extensive, its actually a stroll once you get into the groove.  Instead of all the individual spices, use something like a Garam Masala mix or even a good quality curry powder.

We normally stir some soya yoghurt in just before serving to give that extra touch of richness.  The finer you chop or grate your vegetables the greater release of flavour.  The just disappear into the sauce.  Grating garlic, ginger, onions and even tomatoes is a great way of making an intense fresh sauce, much, much better than anything you can buy in a tin.

The Bits

2 tbs cooking oil (unrefined)

1 onion (grated/ finely chopped)

4 cloves garlic

2 inch cube of ginger (both grated/ crushed)

4 tomatoes (chopped finely/ grated)

1 teas fennel seeds

1 teas cumin powder

1/2 teas turmeric

1 teas coriander powder

1/4 – 1/2 teas chilli powder

sea salt (to taste)

For the beans

2 cups dried red kidney beans (tins can be used, but not as good)

4 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon (or 1 teas cinnamon powder)

1 bay leaf

Topping

1 handful torn coriander leaves

1 tbsp soya yoghurt (stirred in – optional)

Gorgeous spicy tomato sauce get down reducing

Gorgeous spicy tomato sauce get down reducing

Do It

Beans – Soak your beans for 12 hours in cold water.  Rinse well and cover with 2 inches of water and bring to the boil, add your spices and allow to boil, then lower heat and pop a lid on.  Leave to simmer for 1 hour, until they are nice and tender.  If the beans are falling apart slightly, no problem, this will help to thicken the sauce.  You can of course use tinned beans if you’re in a hurry.

Sauce – In a frying pan, add your oil and on a medium heat cook your onions until golden, then add your ginger, fennel seeds and garlic, give it another three minutes, now its time for your tomatoes and spices, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cover and cook until tomatoes are nicely softened, 6-8 minutes is fine.

Get your beans into the mix (we used our flash new slotted spoon here.  Hoorah!) add all the beans and 250ml of the cooking stock (more can be added if sauce is a little thick).  Heat through, a gentle bubble, for 10 minutes more and you’re ready to get Dhaba’d!

Punjabi Rajma Chawal

Punjabi Rajma Chawal

Serve

Stir in your soya yoghurt and pour over fluffy rice and a chapatti (if you are very lucky and have time, make your own!).  Coriander leaves scatter very well here.

We Love It!

Simple and full of the spices and aromas that make India cooking so tantalising and satisfying.  Heres to all those Dhabas out there!  Dishing up brilliant food for pennies and keeping the truck drivers of India rotund and smiling.  Much better than a Little Chef I can tell you!

Foodie Fact

Red kidney beans and beans in general are full of fibre (in fact they are the best source of fibre) that benefits not only the digestive system but also lowers cholesterol.  These beans are a virtually fat free source of protein,

We get alot of our foodie fact information from the comprehensive site W H Foods.  Whats in a  kumquat?  W H know these things.

Tunes

The thing I love about cooking all this Indian food in the Beach House Kitchen is the opportunity to share my favourite Indian artists.  Here’s the master Ali Akbar Khan and another mesmeric raja:

Categories: Curries, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Feta and Apple Quinoa Tabouleh

Feta and Apple Quinoa Tabouleh

Feta and Apple Quinoa Tabouleh

 

A very tasty tabouleh-like salad that is bursting at the seams with flavour, nutrition and texture.  It has everything we love in a salad, crunch, creaminess and a zesty kick to top things off.  Colour is also one of the elements that makes tabouleh salads like this stand out from the iceberg lettuce brigade.  I don’t mess around too much in the presentation stakes, but a salad like tabouleh, with good fresh ingredients just looks wonderful no matter what you do to it!  A tabouleh is the perfect way of showcasing amazing produce.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a wonderful sprout/ seed, related to Kale and the fuel for many an Inca in times gone by.  I presume we all know what it is by now!  It seems to have been all the rage for many years and rightly so.  It has a great, strong flavour and is superbly healthy (see below, ‘Foodie Fact’) which is the main reason we have used it here instead of the traditional bulgur wheat.

Tri-colour tabouleh is a new one on us, Jane picked it up in Glastonbury.  It has a slightly fuller, earthy flavour than normal especially when roasted slightly before cooking (top tip!).  It initially reminded us of France, tri-colour and all, but it’s tabouleh heart is most certainly in the middle east, however the flavours here are quite European!?  A suitably confused dish, ideal for two nomads living on a green hill then (that’s us!).  Tri-colour quinoa seems to be a mixture of red, black and normal beige quinoa.

Tri-colour Quinoa

Tri-colour Quinoa

The ingredients here are changeable, please replace the cheese with tofu  if you are vegan; and use whatever is seasonal and looking good. As always, let your imagination run wild!

Midway stage of prep

Midway stage of prep

This recipe fills one very lucky salad bowl.

The Bits

250g tri-colour quinoa, 2 handfuls rocket, 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts, 1 cup pitted green olives,125g aged feta (cut into 2cm cubes), 6 cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters), 1 yellow pepper (chopped small cubes), 100ml good fruity olive oil, 1 small red onion (finely diced), 2 stick celery (finely diced), juice of 1 lemon, 1 handful chopped parsley, 1 handful chopped mint, sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Do It

In a saucepan, roast the quinoa on a medium heat until it is going slightly brown (5 minutes). It will pop a little, let it. Then cover with 1cm of water (thats 1cm above the quinoa) and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil and lower heat and cover. It will take 15 minutes to cook, then fluff up with a fork and set aside to cool.

Place all ingredients in large salad bowl and gently mix together. Whisk up your lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.

Roast off your pine nuts on a medium/low heat until getting golden. Keep an eye on them, they are precious these little fellows and burn easily.
When quite cool (but not cold) add your quinoa to the salad mix and combine gently together. Serve immediately to great plaudits and smiles.

Feta and Apple Quinoa Tabouleh

Feta and Apple Quinoa Tabouleh

Serve

Here we added a few more greens to finish (mint and rocket), we actually like it slightly warm, it brings it all to life and the olive oil will give off a very fruity aroma.  For us a tabouleh is a main course affair, definitely not a side salad.  This is a star and needs no trimmings!

Every angle covered here, another one for good luck!

Every angle covered here, another one for good luck!

Foodie Fact 

Quinoa is a great source of amino acids, the vitamin B’s and has the highest level of iron found in any grain.  It is also a great source of protien.  Quinoa is the only grain that contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs, the Incas knew this and called it the ‘Chisiya Mama’ – the mother grain.  The early Andean civilizations ate more quinoa than corn!  Quinoa is pretty much the complete food.

PS –  Its also gluten free. X

Tunes

What better way to celebrate cooking with some ‘tri-colour’ than with some Serge Gainsbourg, ‘Alor, voila!’:

 

Categories: gluten-free, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dark Chocolate Masala Chai

Dark Chocolate Chai

Dark Chocolate Masala Chai

This is luxury chai (tea in English).  Packed with chocolate and spice, I can assure you they don’t drink it like this Chandhni Chowk (Delhi)!  But it’s a luxury take on the classic Indian masala chai recipe.

I have been playing around with my masala chai recipe for years and this is the best.  We normally drink it without the chocolate, this is just something for a very special treat.  The recipe works very well by itself.

Masala chai is more a potion, an elixir, than a mere hot beverage.  Add fresh chocolate shavings to the mix and you have something rather special indeed.  I have heard rumours about adventurous folk even adding a glug of brandy or whisky to it, I can imagine that to be quite a thing!

Masala chai basically means mixed spice tea and is normally brewed in the milk, rather than adding milk later.  It normally contains black tea, but we also love it with rooibos (for those not sipping caffeine).  Tea from Assam is best due to its dark orange colour and robust flavour.  Darjeeling tea is best reserved for drinking black or with a touch of milk, after all it is the champagne of teas don’t you know (normally meaning more expensive and well marketed!)

Indians now drink the most amount of tea in the word, chai (tea) is part of Indian everyday life and chai wallah’s (like Starbucks but more low-key and infinitely better) dot every street side around the country.  Thats over 1 billion people hooked on the spicy sweet goodness of chai and its really all down to the Brits.  Tea has always been grown up near Darjeeling and Assam in the wet and wonderful northeast of India, but it was the Brits who began to plant it on an industrial scale and ship it back.  What a meddling lot we were!

Sweetening chai is a must and we like to use jaggery if we can get it or dark sugar.

Star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg……this is truly a magic potion and it tastes pretty darn magic too.  I love this combination of spices and if you can get them all fresh and whole, the chai will be much better for it.  Powders are decent, but a proper chai should be simmering for hours and all of those massive flavours infused.

We have used soya milk here because we like the taste, but any of your favourite milks will be fine.

Traditionally, chai should be taken from small tea cups or even glasses, definitely not big mugs.  Chai is to be slurped and enjoyed, made a fuss of and very much savoured.  The smaller the tea cup the better (almost espresso size), this also has the advantage of prolonging chai time.

Bring on the potion!

The Bits – Makes one large sauce pan full, enough for 8 small cups

Beach House Chai contains:

1 stick of cinnamon

4 star anise

6 green cardamom pods (crushed)

4 cloves

2 heaped teas grated ginger

1 teas all spice

3/4 litre of soya/ almond milk, 1/3 litre water

3 good black tea bags (assam preferable, loose leaf tea is alot better and more traditional)

2 heaped tbs jaggery/ dark brown sugar or sweetener of choice (chai should be served nice and sweet)

1 big handful dark chocolate (grated)

Many other spices can be added including fennel seeds, cumin seeds (very warming), peppercorns, saffron, liquorice or even rose….the list goes on and each area of India has a particular favourite.

Do It

Get the water boiling in a large saucepan, add all the spices and turn down to a rolling simmer, leave for at least 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse (longer is better).

Now add milk, bring to a boil and then add your tea leaves/ tea bags.  Stir in and help the tea infuse.  Bring back to the boil.  Leave until you are happy with your chai shade, deeper is better.  Stir in your sweetener and chocolate.

Taste and adjust sweetness.

Serve

Strain into little cups with plenty of slurps and great conversation.  A biscuit would be nice!

We Love It!

This chocolate masala chai adds a whole new level to the chai experience, its a dessert in a cup and with that amazing mix of spices is the perfect antidote to a grey March day.  Indulge!

Foodie Fact

Black tea is the oxidised leaf of the tea bush, if it wasn’t oxidised it would be green tea (which makes sense!)  Black tea has many health benefits and considerably less caffeine than coffee.  It has a high level of anti-oxidants, it boosts the immune system, helps the heart and even lowers the level of stress hormones.  What a grand cuppa!

Tunes

Making chai in your home, you need some real India rajas to get the spices flowing.  Here is the late and and sorely missed Ravi Shankar playing with his daughter Anoushka:

 

 

Categories: Recipes, Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

greenPOWsauce! (aka Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

A simple and lip smacking sauce from our hombres in Mexico.  Salsa Verde is so fresh tasting, especially when lathered on a street taco in Mexico City.  Viva la verde!  Summer is on the way, we need to get these recipes gathered and prepared.  Here comes the sun……….

With a fridge full of amazing green herbs and lemons all around, making this was a real no-brainer.  I have played around with the spices here, but I think it adds even more punch and flavour to the sauce.

I was first introduced to this incredible, tangy number in a Mexican street stall lathered all over a street taco with lashings of raw chillis (normally after a few late night tequilas). The art of a good taco is in the balance of all the ingredients, but for me the salsa verde was always the most interesting component. How do they fit so much POW (followed instantly by a TWANG) into a sauce?! Later I found out and have been making variations ever since, normally potent concoctions with herbs, citrus and chilli as the core (and of course the essential tomatillos (green tomatoes).

The Verde is a super healthy affair also, making your own sauces cuts out the middle man, who usually enjoys adding scary sounding chemicals to sauces and no doubt bags of white sugar and other baddies.

Local lemons

Local lemons

This salsa is easily prepared and you may want to chop up your garlic, lemon rind etc depending on the potency of your food processor.  We think its best to mash it all up in a pestle and mortar (and hope you have time for this).  Here in Spain, our blender/f.p. is more of a smoothie maker and woefully under powered for the umph a salsa verde needs, you should be left with a vivid green sauce, all the bits well blended and together, mingling and sharing.

Due to the tomatoes, salsa verde doesn’t hang around to long in the fridge, its best eaten fresh poured over roasted veggies or in sandwiches/ tacos/ enchiladas/ burritos etc and we also use it in cooking as a sauce.  Salsa Verde will also grace any pasta, I wonder if they’ve thought of it in Italy yet!?

Tomatillos can be a little hard to get hold of outside Mexico, other green tomatoes work almost as well.

Happy whizzingX

Makes one decent size tubful

The Bits

4 large green tomatoes/ tomatillos, 1 tbsp capers, 1 ½ big handfuls of fresh coriander, 1 of parsley, 1 of mint, 1 teas roasted fennel seeds, 1 teas roasted coriander seeds, 1 teas ground coriander, 2 fresh red chillis (jalapeno?  Gauge how hot you like it), 3 cloves of garlic, 2 lemons (juice and zest), 150ml olive  oil, hefty pinch of sea salt

In the mix - Salsa Verder

In the mix – Salsa Verder

Do It

Pop all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz away until deep green and extremely tasty.  Or if you lead a life of leisure and want to do it properly, add garlic, seeds, capers, chilli and lemon zest to you pestle and mortar, add a little oil and get mashing!  Add this potent paste to your food processor with the other ingredients and blitz for 2 minutes.

Serve

Its very easy to just ladle this straight into your mouth!  We would however recommend it mixed in with roasted veggies and will zing up any rice dish.  Use it as a sauce and revel in the goodness.  Jane and I would also have it thinned out a little, as the perfect dressing for a lively salad.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

We Love It!

There is nothing like the bite and zing of a salsa verde, citrus and herbaceous with hints of spice.  It’s really, very healthy too.  The only sauce for a spring barbecue and salad session.  Why not start early this year!

Foodie Fact

All those green leaf herbs are superbly good for you, packed with anti-oxidants.   Tomatillos were originally cultivated by the Aztecs and contain more minerals than your average red tomato.

Tunes

The only soundtrack to salsa making, Santa Esmeralda – ‘Please don’t let me be misunderstood’ (bad miming and all!)

Categories: Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ciambotta – Italian Butter Bean Stew with lots of Greens

From the top of Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

From the top of Knicht – Snowdonia, Wales

We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!

After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.

We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store).  We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.

We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age.  We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.

This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians.  But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the vegan parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian Mum’s to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)

To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette.  But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!

We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)

Bon Appetito!

 

The Bits – For 4 hungry folk

3 cups cooked butter beans

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion (finely sliced)

1 stick celery (finely sliced)

2 large carrots (small cubes)

1 large parsnips (small cubes)

4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)

2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced)

1 big handful of cherry tomatoes

1 lemon (juice and zest)

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoons dried basil

2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice)

2 tbs vegan parmesan cheese (buy online and in selected shops)

Do It

Cook off your beans for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs and tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.

At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, greens and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes.  If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heat through.

Serve

We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else!  A little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely.  It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order.

In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stews to add some creaminess.

We Love It!

The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.

 

 

Tunes

As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’.  Wicked!:

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifa is one of the windiest towns in the world, home to windsurfers and a whole host of eccentric folk (apparently the relentless wind sends people mad!)  Most places in Spain have three winds, Tarifa has five!  It is located directly across the med from Tangiers, an equally nutty Moroccan town.

Tarifa has long been regarded as a great example of the merging of all things Hispanic and African, not to mention, there is an awesome band named Radio Tarifa who rock our worlds (see below), they’re also a mix of Moroccan, flamenco and other beats. Really when you get down to this coastline, cultural borders blur into one hectic mix of all things med. There is an ancient feel in the air around here, Romans, Greeks, Punics, Carthagens…… it makes sense that people who want to live in such beautiful climes and always have done.

I learnt to make good cous cous and tagine on the open fires and portable gas stoves of Morocco, in garages, date plantations and even the odd oasis. Moroccans are like Italians when it comes to their cooking, namely, don’t mess with it brother!!!! Keep it the way it has always been and momma knows best et al. Which is cool, makes things easier.  I cooked a tagine in the Atlas Mountains and added beetroot to the mix and then spent the rest of the evening in some form of food induced exile.  They turned their nose up at my meddling with the ancient, alchemical laws of the tagine.  Seems I haven’t quite learnt my lesson!

I have had a good meddle here. I love to add a little tahini to the mix to add some richness and paprika is a superb local delicacy that creeps into most things I cook over here on the Costa Calida.  The rest is all fine, fresh, fresh, med veg and fistfuls of cumin from the markets of Marrakech to get things flowing in the right direction.

The secret here is a thick and rich sauce to start with and gently steaming the other veggies over that. This makes this dish brilliantly tasty and the veg chunks are cooked until perfectly tender and succulent.  The nature of tagine recipes is wide and uber-complex, but this one is straight forward and mighty fine.  A tagine is just the pot’s name really, it’s unique conical shape, but it’s what goes into it that matters.

I serve this with fluffy cous cous in a tagine dish, there is  plenty of gorgeous sauce to make the cous cous nice and moist. My tagine dish has a very sticky base, otherwise I would cook the sauce in the tagine base and then whack the lid on. That would be the authentic route, but I have used a pan here to make this easier and avoiding sticky situatioGod, I love Morocco, the dunes of the Sahara and the peaks of the Rif mountains are just a hop, skip and ferry away from here and it is calling my name in capital letters.  It’s such a massive empty place, full of amazing people and tasty treats.  This tagine takes me back……

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

Tarifan Vegetable Tagine

The Bits

2 med onions (finely sliced), 6 cloves garlic (finely chopped), 3 inch cube of ginger (finely chopped), 5 big fat plum tomatoes (chopped rough), 1 courgette, 1 large red pepper, ½ large butternut squash, 4 large carrots (all veg chopped into large chunks), 4 teas ground cumin, 3 teas paprika, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas ground coriander, ½ handful roughly chopped dried apricots, 6 dates (finely chopped), 1 heaped tbs dark tahini (dark has a more intense flavour, but regular tahini is fine), 2 cups good veg stock, s + p to taste
350g cous cous (for three), 1 pint good veg stock, 1 teas cumin seeds,

Do It

Get a nice good glug of olive oil hot (high heat here) in a large saucepan, pop your onions in and cook until soft and going golden, add your garlic and ginger and your spices. Stir well and often, get it all combined nicely, then add your chopped tomatoes and stir in. It should all be smelling amazing and cooking down well. Taste and adjust accordingly. When the tomatoes have all broken down, 5-10 minutes, add all of your other veggies, stock and dried fruit stir in a little. Stick a lid on it and leave for 30 minutes to cook slowly, no peeking!

When the lid is taken off, you’ll have a gorgeous tagine waiting with plenty of rich sauce to be soaked up by the cous cous.

To cook your cous cous, warm a pan with a little oil and toast your cumin seeds for one minute, then pour in your cous cous and stir well, add some s+p to taste and pour in some freshly boiled water (straight from the kettle is good).

Cover the cous cous with water, 2cm above and then cover tightly with a lod and leave for 20 minutes to cook off the heat. When you lift the lid, fluff the cous cous well with a fork and add a little oil if it needs a little help.

Puerto Mazarron Sunset

Puerto Mazarron Sunset

Serve

As warm as you can, in a tagine dish preferably. Lay out plenty of cous cous on the base, spoon over plenty of sauce and then scoop on your vegetable tagine. Cover with more sauce and a good drizzle of great olive oil.

We like to eat out of the tagine dish in a communal fashion, pop it in the middle of the table and enjoy with your nearest and dearest, just like in Morocco. We had ours with hummus or a nice garlic yoghurt.

At the shepherds house - Bolunuevo, Mazarron

At the shepherds house – Bolunuevo, Mazarron

Foodie Fact

We use tahini in many ways, but here it adds a creamy richness to the tagine without the use of our old friends butter/ cream and the dairy gang, with the added advantage of awesome health benefits and easy digestions.  Tahini is full of vitamin B’s, essential for keeping the body ticking over, enhancing metabolism and sorting the immune system out.

Tahini is also rich in calcium and a small blob can contain up to 35% of your required daily intake.  Many people believe that tahini boasts the highest levels of calcium in any food!

Here’s the soundtrack to our Tarifan Tagine, the incredible Radio Tarifa:

Categories: Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Himalayan Porridge

 

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Himalayan Porridge

We are a long, long way from the Himalayas at the moment.  We can see the beautiful blue Mediterranean from our terrace!  There are a few hills, but thats it for undulations.  It is winter here in Murcia though and it can get a little chilly in the mornings so this very special porridge has kept Jane and I nice and cosy.

This recipe has made it’s way to the Beach House all the way from the high Himalayas in northwest India, a tiny village set below some of the most beautiful mountain ranges imaginable.  Our wonderful friend Mary is spending the winter up there with her new husband Arjun.  Mary is braving  -20oC weather conditions and much snow in a small traditional house.  The peace and beauty of the place is truly magical.

This porridge is a recipe that they make together regularly to warm their cockles; simple, cheap and very hearty.  This porridge sticks to the ribs all day and acts as central heating for the body way up there in the mountain airs.

I visited the Himalayas a couple of years ago and was blown away by the beauty, diversity and scale of this mountain range.  I had the pleasure of meeting Mary in the small village that she now calls home, but luckily visited in the summertime when it is snow free!

Up in the Himalayas, near the source of the Ganges, 2010

Up in the Himalayas, near the source of the Ganges, 2010

This porridge is super high energy food and will set anybody up for the day ahead.  Nuts, honey, oats and coconut mean that it’s a very tasty treat too and the spices add a very Indian flavour.  Most of the ingredients must be soaked the night before, this makes them swell up and release more nutrients, it also makes them easier to digest and cook.

We didn’t have cashews for the recipe, so we used hazelnuts instead.  Cashews will certainly give it more of Himalayan feel, they are freely available up there.

Remember to cook your porridge on a low heat and stir regularly.  Good porridge needs good lovin’ and attention.  No lumps, nice and smooth.

We have made this recipe dairy free by using soya yoghurt and milk and it is equally delicious.

Over to Mary, way up their in the rare airs……

The Bits

2 mugs of organic oats, lots of whole organic milk, 1 small handful of freshly grated coconut, 4 cardamoms, 1 small stick of cinnamon, 1 full handful of organic sultanas, honey (to taste), handful of cashew nuts chopped and roasted (without using oil), live Greek yogurt

Do It

Leave all the ingredient’s (bar honey, nuts and yogurt) soaking in milk overnight. In the morning add more milk and simmer as slowly as possible (this is one for the bottom of an Arga) for 30 minutes using one of those flat metal mats to diffuse the flame.

Pour onto a dinner plate and spread evenly. Wait for 5 minutes then cover with a thin’ish layer of live curd (organic thick Greek yogurt will suffice), drizzle honey on top and sprinkle with halved roasted cashew nuts.  Serve the liquid from the coconut first to aid digestion. The nuts and coconut take a number of hours to digest so it’s very satisfying for us poor sadhus!

Serve

Allow to cool (remember the three bears story!!!!) and top with more nuts and raisins.

Himalayan Porridge (by the pool!)

Himalayan Porridge (by the pool in a tapas bowl!)

We Love It!

Just thinking about Mary and Arjun sitting around their fire and eating this breakfast fills us with the magic of travel and the beauty of world.

Foodie Fact

Oats are a hardy grain that flourishes in the worst of soil conditions.  Even though most oats are hulled this does not remove their bran and germ, this maintains their nutritional and fibre properties.  If sustenance and energy is what you are looking for, you cannot beat an oat.  They are also great for people suffering from diabetes or heart conditions due to some unique antioxidants.

Mary at her tiger pool up in the Himalayas

Mary at her tiger pool up in the Himalayas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Breakfast, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Raw Power Balls

Apricot Sesame and Tahini – Raw Power Balls

These are real super fuels, if you need power and energy, look no further.  These Raw Power Balls are like duracell batteries for the body.

We love a good raw bar.  Nutty or seedy.  Carob or crunch.  Nak’d and Nine Bar are just a couple on sale in the UK which are perfect when you fancy a treat but don’t want to eat a load of junk.  Making them yourself however is a lot more fun and allows your creative side to get busy.

These little balls pack a serious punch, tasty and like rocket fuel, your energy levels and vitality will leap when you try them.  We experiment with this recipe all the time and they are the perfect snack for a long day walking up steep hills (and then down again).  I eat them at work and they keep me rocking all day.  The measurements are rough here, they don’t need to be exact, handfuls are accurate enough.  This is a simple, quick snack that serves as a tasty last minute treat.

Packed with nuts and date, you need to take it easy with this type of snack.  They are very filling and packed full of sugar, hence the power.  Too many and you’ll negate any benefit gained from all that raw goodness (by getting fat!).

They don’t need any preparation, but the dates and nuts will be better for a soak.  They swell up and even taste better. They become softer and easier to blend.  Soaking will also release many of the useful enzymes and nutrients that are otherwise closed off to the body.  If you do decide to soak your bits, keep the juice, date juice is lovely and sweet and the nut juice is packed with nutrients.  We add it to juices, stews or soups.

You may also like to make these into a truffle.  Heat up some chocolate (in a bowl above a pan of steaming water) and roll you power balls in them until well coated.  Place on a tray, covered with baking parchment and stick them in the fridge.  Once the chocolate has hardened, they are ready to be enjoyed.  That’s surely a treat worthy of a special birthday walk or even a dessert in its own right (just make the balls slightly bigger).

On a wander, seeing some flowers.

Here are a few of our favourite Power Ball flavour combos:

The Bits

Makes six decent power balls

Basic recipe:

1 handful of good dates (we like medjool, soaked for 2 hours), 1 handful of almonds (soaked overnight), 1/2 handful of cashews (soaked overnight)

Dark Chocolate Orange

2 heaped teas cacao powder, 3 teas orange blossom water or 2 teas orange zest, 1/2 handful of raisin (soaked) 

Apricot, Sesame and Tahini

3 teas sesame seeds, 2 teas tahini, 1/2 handful of dried apricots (soaked and chopped)

Walnut Apple Pie

1 handful dried apples (soaked), 1 handful of walnuts (replace almonds), 1/2 teas cinnamon

Lemon Cardamom

2 teas lemon zest, 2 teas crushed cardamom seeds

Coco Choco Mint

1/2 handful of fresh coconut (blend first), 2 teas cacao powder, 2 teas finely chopped mint leaves

Vanilla Cashew

1 teas vanilla extract, use only cashew nuts

Very Berry 

1 handful of dried cranberry, 1/2 handful of dried blueberry, 1/2 handful dried cherries, 1 teas vanilla extract

Seedy Wonder

1/2 handful sunflower seeds, 1/2 handful pumpkin seeds, 1/4 handful sesame seeds, 1/4 handful poppy seeds

Ginger Bread

1/2 teas all spice, 1/2 teas dried ginger, 1 handful of pecans (replace almonds)

Maple Fig and Lavender (CAUTION – very sweet!)

1 teas maple syrup, 1/2 teas dried lavender, 1/2 handful dried figs (soaked and chopped)

Peanut Butter 

2 teas peanut butter, 1 handful of raw peanuts

The list goes on…………..like kids in a sweet shop……

Do It

The technique is always the same.  Put it all into a food processor, blitz until smooth (or chunky, you decide).  Get your hands in there and roll out a decent sized ball between your palms.  That’s it!

Place in the fridge for a while to make them firmer and a little less sticky.  They last for a long time in a sealed container in the fridge and can even be frozen and munched at a later date.

Chocolate Orange – Raw Power Balls

Serve

Preferably on top of a peak or in a forest somewhere far away from anywhere.

We Love Them!

Better than a biscuit and full of only raw goodness.

Foodie Fact

Dates give you a hefty dose of protein and fibre.  They are also high in calories, essential when wandering around the countryside (or city for that matter).  They are also a good source of Vitamin B and you’ll even get a splash of C thrown in as well.

Sun on flowers, taken on a walk in the woods

Categories: Desserts, Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beach House Garden – Summer Update

The Beach House Garden

Well there has been little summer to speak of really. The clouds parted today, so I went outside and took a few pictures, but really this summer has been very strange.  Even the old timers down the farm say they cannot fathom what is going on.  The soil should be warm and it is cold and damp, meaning the plants don’t know what to do.

White Rose

Our lonesome Kori Squash and Rainbow Kale

We have had a few minor successes, mainly down to raiding our neighbours horse field for massive piles of poo.  It’s like magic dust. One sprinkle and the plants shoot up. The potatoes love this environment and sprang up, they are just starting to flower and we may have a look soon to see if we have any tasty little tubers.

The Potato Patch

Rampant Foxglove

 

 

After an epic battle with slugs and snails, we have managed to get one squash plant through the madness. We have been trying all sorts, beer traps, gravel and jagged rocks, I have been on many stealth nighttime missions to snatch them off our precious green friends. Sometimes it felt like a losing battle, but now things are established and semi-blooming, all these efforts seem worthwile. The squash is growing nicely and we hope to have our first Welsh kori squash soon. Beetroots, rainbow kale, runner beans and hannibal leeks are all holding in there.

The Beetroot Jungle

Flowering Succulents

We have also diversified in the herb garden, with some different types of thyme and our new favourite, ginger mint. A wonderful thing that has its own bed to go wild in. We have been loving wandering out to the herb garden and cutting our own fresh herbs. A real cooks treat (even in the howling gales).
We think it will be a late summer (we hope!) and in late September, we will be cooking with our first batch of Beach House Veg. We will keep you posted.

Beauty Beets

Kori Squash and Runner Beans

Tomato plants (hiding in the green cupboard)

 

Categories: Garden, Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto (Raw)

Raw Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto

We felt like a little starter, something to nibble on.  Nibbles seem to be the new thing, judging by the snack section in our local supermarket.  We seem to becoming a nation of rampant nibblers (dipped in hummus of course).

Italians are the kings of the nibble, tied with the Spanish, but they tend to make it more of main meal, a la tapas.  Antipasto (translated as ‘before the meal’) is always the perfect accompaniment to nice glass of chilled something and good conversation as the sun is beginning to settle down.

This raw June (just passed) we have been mainly having large salads for dinner.  We didn’t manage to arrange a dehydrator for the month, which would have meant many dried, crisp goodies.  Instead we have normally opted for large bowls of salad, normally a green leaf based salad, a dip/ hummus/ raw cheese (something with a creamy texture), olives/nuts/pomegranate etc and one salad that is made of primarily harder fruit and veg (like this antipasto).  All this served with a lovely dressing.  The combination of these salads is tantalising!  We cannot get enough of them and have decided to extend raw June in the future……………our rawness may never cease!?

This is a clean and citrus antipasto dish that boasts fresh, fresh flavours.  The ideal pre-dinner plate to get the palate zinging.  The combination of sweet pepper, tomato and pomegranate is a taste explosion that is difficult to match.  If this little plate doesn’t liven up a dinner party, your friends may be comatosed!

The asparagus here was the last of the season from our local farm shop and very much relished.  It is not essential to the dish, but a real treat non-the-less.  The subtle flavour and crunch of raw asparagus will be missed until it re-emerges next year.

You can serve this with other antipasto favourites to make a platter, olives, artichoke hearts, chunks of cheese, marinated mushrooms etcetc.

Organic peppers and tomatoes will make all of the difference to this dish and your salads in general.  The organic veg flavour is infinitely better.

Thanks to Mimi Kirk and the brilliant ‘Live Raw‘ book for inspiration here.  If you live on a drab island like ours (where June resembles November) it is wonderful to leaf through the pages of this book and see the Holywood lifestyle and sunshine!  How I miss the sun.

Sweet, sweet tomatoes

The Bits

Antipasto 1 red pepper (sliced thinly), 1 yellow pepper (sliced thinly), 1 bunch of asparagus (cut into batons), 1 small pomegranate (seeds (or arils as they are called) only, no pith), 1 big handful of the sweetest plum tomatoes (we used red and yellow ones here)

Marinade – 4 tbs good olive oil, handful of fresh basil leaves, 1-2 cloves of garlic (crushed), a pinch of marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil, juice of 1 small lemon, 2 teas capers, pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Do It

Whisk your marinade then combine all ingredients in a tupperware and mix together gently, don’t break up the asparagus and tomatoes.  Make sure all is coated with the marinade.  Leave in a fridge overnight or for at least a couple of hours to infuse.

Sweet Pepper and Asparagus Antipasto – So colourful, its worth a second look

Serve

On a nice big serving platter with whatever accompaniments you prefer.  You may like to add a little torn basil leaf as a topping and of course, some nice toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil if it takes your fancy.

We Love It!

It is so full of crunchy flavour and pomegranate in a salad is a revelation.  I’m not sure if my Italian friend would agree with such an addition, not proper antipasto they would say, but they only know what mama taught them!!!!  (Sorry guys)

Foodie fact

Most of us are aware that pomegranate is good for us.  You can buy it in juice form all over Britain, it is most definitely a super fruit of note, packed full of the antioxidant punicalagin which scavenges free radicals from our bodies.  Hooray!  One of my favourite pomegranate products is the pomegranate concentrate, it adds an incredibly intense flavour to anything it touches.

The worlds finest pomegranates are grown in southern Afghanistan, although I heard that Iraq had some tasty arils also!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Black Olive Tapenade with Beetroot and Red Onion Salad

Beetroot and Red Onion Salad with Black Olive Tapenade

Tapenade is one of those things that we don’t eat enough of.  Everytime we have it, we say the same thing, “Why are we not eating more tapenade!”  It is delicious and is one of those classic summer dishes that reminds me of holidays in Greece and France.

I ate alot of tapenade at break times whilst picking grapes in Beaujolais.  We’d have it spread over warm baguettes, with local cheese and lashings of whatever wine was in the bucket (purely medicinal, it helped to dull the back pain you see).  I believe that the intense satisfaction I got from munching the tapenade pulled me through those back breaking times.  The wine was certainly nothing to get excited about, unfortunately.

This is a wonderful concoction of flavours that I’ve had a little play with (of course) and omitted the use of capers due to a forgetful moment at the shops.  The unique caper-ness has been replaced by the gorgeous sun-dried tomato.  Not a bad substitute!  I have also added raisins to add a little sweetness, the black olives can be a little bitter in these parts, Wales not being high on the olive producing charts.   The rest is fairly classic tapenade, forming a delectable black paste that can be spread or dipped as you choose.  I love this type of food, which is greater than the sum of its bits.

I normally think of Tapenade as being a Greek dish, but it actually hales from Provencal in France.  Traditionally this puree contains caper, anchovies, black olives and olive oil.  The French would normally serve it as an hors d’oeurve or stuff it into a steak.

Tapenade is alot like pesto (see our ‘Hazelnut Pesto‘ post) in that it is a joy to behold sitting in the fridge door.  It just hangs around and marinates, getting better and better.  It goes well in so many things and mixed with some oil, makes for an instant wonder dressing.  The best part is that it has a gourmet flavour with very little needed in way of preparation.

The way you chop up your veg has a major effect on the presentation and texture of a salad.  Have a little think before you begin to chop about what type of effect you’d like to create.

If you spend a little more on good quality olives here, it is well worth it.  The black variety are normally a little cheaper and in their own way, just as good as some of their greener brothers and sisters.

The Bits

Tapenade – 1 cup black olive, 6 sun dried tomatoes, 2 cloves crunched garlic, 1/2 red onion, 1/4 cup raisins, juice of 1 lemon, handful of chopped parsley, sprig of rosemary, pinch of thyme and oregano, glug of olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt (to taste), glug of olive oil (if needed)

Salad – 1 nice red onion (thinly sliced), 4 small beetroots (cut into eighth’s), 2 cups of spinach (chopped), 3 carrots (grated), 2 stalks celery (chopped), 1 cupful of sprouts (we used green lentil sprouts)

Black Olive Tapenade in the mix…..

Do It

Tapenade – Add all ingredients to a food processor and begin to whizz.  As it becomes sticky, trickle in some remaining olive oil to create a beautiful, shiny puree.  Keep in a sealed container in the fridge overnight for maximum marination (new word for you there!).

Salad – We put the red onion and carrot into a food processor and grated, then chopped the celery, spinach and beetroot separately.

Serve

Thin out some tapenade by adding the same quantity of good olive oil and whisking well.  You can lower the amount of tapenade if you’d prefer a lighter dressing.  Pour the dressing over the salad and give a good mix in.

Place in your favourite salad bowl and top with a handful of green lentil sprouts (see our ‘sprout‘ post for how to sprout your own, its quite simple).  Then spoon on some tapenade.

We have also used it to flavour soups and stews and of course in post June days we’d have it lathered on some warm oat bread.

We Love It!

This tapenade has a great balance of bitter and sweet, with the beautiful silky texture of pureed olives.

Foodie Fact

Olives are one of the oldest foods known, dating back 7,000 years.  Black Olives are left to ripen for longer on the trees, green ones are picked earlier, they generally have a milder flavour.  Olives are a good source of iron (which helps to carry oxegen in our blood) and are low in calories with plenty of good fats.  They do however contain a decent amount of sodium and should be eaten in moderation if you’re keeping an eye on salt intake.

Twelve black olives provide 1.8mg of iron.  Interestingly women need 18mg of iron per day and men only 8mg.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments