Posts Tagged With: spain

A Taste of Bliss – Yoga & Vegan Cooking Holiday, Spain 2018

 

We’re very excited to announce our Spanish holiday in May ’18 collaborating with the wonderful Complete Unity Yoga. 

 

Vegan Yoga and Cooking Retreat with Lee Watson and Complete Unity Yoga

5th May – 12th May 2018

 

Join us for an early summer treat in the small stunning region of Murcia, Spain.

Set in the jewel of the Spanish coast, Costa Calida,
we await to welcome you to an
unforgettable getaway.

We will be bringing you through a thoughtfully crafted program
bursting with inspirational workshops.
Wander along the beach, go swimming in the sea.
Enjoy space and time to
relax and restore healthy habits
to chase your bright future.

This is a holiday you will never forget.
A holiday that truly allows you
to zone out of your daily life and responsibilities,
to zoom straight into your inner peace, joy, and harmony,
to get a taste of bliss.

Our dedicated team of chefs, guides, yoga and meditation teachers
have ensured a program that will leave you
recharged, fresh and radiating.

Mediterranean feasting, fresh juices, and smoothies,
sunset drinks, Spanish traditional tapas, cakes, desserts
BBQ and a three-course meal in a local restaurant
You will be taken good care of.

 

Included


Airport pick-up and drop-off

Transport during the stay

7 nights at our villa right by the beach

Daily guided morning meditations

Daily yoga and pranayama classes with Complete Unity Yoga

Two specialised yoga and meditation workshops

Nourishing and deeply satisfying meals, freshly prepared by Lee Watson

Workshop on healthy diet

Bespoke recipe booklet

Cooking demonstrations

Cooking techniquies to bring home to keep the bliss growing

Trips to local treasures and gems

A unique afternoon yacht cruise

Three-Course Meal in Local Taverna

 

Find full pricing, bookings and retreat description HERE

 

Trips

 

Visit Stunning Peninsula: Rising high above the Costa Calida coast with 360 degree views of mountains and the sparkling ocean.

Visit to Moorish Tower via Antipodas: Stroll from our front door along the beautiful La Azhoia promenade up to the historic Moorish watchtower, followed by a cool drink and break on the beautiful terrace of the local taverna Antipodas.

A Unique Yacht Cruise: Sail on a classic yacht along the dramatic Costa Calida coastline of Cabo De Galos, one of the most picturesque parts of the Spain.

 

Workshops Included

 

Stress-Proof Your Life With Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness 

Why Yoga and Meditation Works and What They Have to Offer You

A Modern Approach to Healthy Diet: An insight into Ayurveda, the world oldest science of medicine and healthy living with a modern approach.

Cooking Demonstrations: Lee shares tips and tricks to effortlessly add flavour and joy to your daily cooking, and will be preparing each meal in the open kitchen. He will be available throughout the week and would love to answer any questions you might have, and from his cookery demonstrations you will be taking home skills to transform your home cooking.

*Moon Club: We are extraordinarily happy to be able to share with you this optional workshop on women’s health…..This workshop will be led by Jane and assisted by Malene Vedel giving practical exercises and techniques for you to bring home to enhance your wellbeing during your moon cycle.

 

The Yoga

 

“Will and I practice and teach yoga as a tool and a path to inner peace and radiating joy. We are trained in Akhanda Yoga, a Hatha yoga practice, that brings in all aspects of yoga: contemplation, philosophy, anatomy, mindfulness, meditation, kriya, pranayama and asana, the physical postures. This practice is for everybody and suits all levels. Straight from the street? Or advanced practitioner? This is for you!. Furthermore we bring into the classes an abundance of joy, and draw experience from a wide range of skills and courses, as well as wisdom collected on our travels around the world. Our classes are designed to give you strength and confident as well as softness and flexibility. The classes are calming and challenging, restorative and energising. They are therapeutic by nature.”

 

Yours in Yoga,

Malene – Complete Unity Yoga

 

Spain Beach Retreat - Yoga and Meditation - Vegan Cooking with Lee Watson

 

Food

 

We are excited to have Lee Watson cooking exclusively for us and doing cooking demonstrations.  During the demonstrations, Lee will be showing us how to cook a range of healthy Mediterranean plant-based dishes with loads of treats along the way.

Meals will range from Moroccan to Middle Eastern, all the way through Turkey, Italy, Greece and of course, Spain.  Lee ensures that even if you don’t eat a plant-based diet, you will not be disappointed in the slightest.  This is diverse food for everyone to enjoy!

You’ll learn a range of creative kitchen skills for a healthier, delicious approach to cooking at home.  You will get a full recipe booklet to take home and Lee will ensure you have all the knowledge to give the recipes a try.  We’ll cover creative summer salads, BBQ, homemade plant-based cheese and milk, Buddha bowls, sushi, local tapas and paella, smoothies and breakfast ideas, plus preparing a fully raw food feast and lots of ideas for desserts.

On Friday we’ll enjoy a three-course meal in a local restaurant with a stunning location overlooking the bay.  The best location in Murcia for sunset.  This is a restaurant that Lee helped to build, who make great plant-based meals.  The menu will be designed especially for our group, by Lee and their chef.

The retreat is fully plant-based, and if this is something new, we believe it is a light, nutritious and compassionate way of eating. Find inspiration to bring home, get support to make changes or just enjoy and you are sure to feel the benefits.

 

Accommodation

 

The villa is intelligently designed and eco-friendly, keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer, providing comfort year-round. Air conditioning is available throughout and there is a log burning stove.

The highlight of the villa for us is the large open plan living area, with kitchen and dining space. This is perfect for cooking demonstations and joyful moments. Enjoy the view of the beach while reading your books, writing or hanging out with good company and meaningful conversations.

The villa is located 10 metres from the beach in a quiet, residential village, close to restaurants, cafes and bars.  Other facilities include an outdoor solar heated shower and purified water on tap.

The rooms are comfortable with a homely vibe. There are a variety of different room types to suit all. Email us for more information.

This place is amazing with a essence of community and living to share.

Our daily yoga and meditation classes will take place outside on the terrace and in the garden. Wake up with soothing yoga poses under open sky in the gentle morning air providing us with a fresh boost of energy and a glow to our skin.

 

Retreat Pricing

 

Double En-Suite – 2 People £1899
Double En-Suite – 1 Person Private £1249
Double Room – 2 People £1839
Double Room – 1 Person Private £1149
Twin Room Shared – £919 per person
Triple Room Shared – £719 per person

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Local Area

 

Murcia is a small and stunning region, mainly agricultural, in the South of Spain.  Our villa is located on the Costa Calida, which is a jewel of the Spanish coast.  The scenery is beautiful, with mountains falling away into the deep blue Mediterranean Ocean.  The region is sparsely populated with lovely countryside and traditional villages.  This is the real taste of Spain and is known as the garden of Spain for good reason.  The local produce, ranging from almonds, to lemons, olives and excellent vegetables is delicious.  We offer a rare opportunity to practice yoga on a beachside location, exploring and enjoying this peaceful corner of Europe.

 

 

Diving / Snorkelling

 

Costa Calida is home to two marine reserves offering ideal conditions for divers of all levels. If you’re interested in going diving/snorkelling during your stay with us, we’d be happy to send you details of a highly recommended English-speaking dive school, so that you can book directly with them in advance. Please email us for more details.

 

 

Find full pricing, bookings and retreat description HERE

 

 

 

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Events, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoky Carrot & Red Pepper Pinchos with Avocado Aioli (Mini Spanish Not Dogs)

Smoky Carrot and Red Pepper Pinchos

Complete carrot transformation.  If you’re having a plant-based BBQ, slap these on.  It is impossible to not like them.  No one will believe what you’ve done to a humble carrot.  You made it into a delicious, smoky not dog!!  They will look upon you as some kind of food magician.  It’s a good look.  Go buy a cape.

A super tasty, healthy, plant-based option to that ‘classic’ hot dog thing, given a Spanish style twist here.  Pinchos (mini open sandwiches) are the perfect sandwich for this time of year, light and packed with flavours.  I also like the name.  The Spanish know their way around a sandwich thats for sure.  Pinchos just look amazing when placed together on a platter, especially when mixed up like a sandwich collage.  They are way too enticing to walk by.  If you’ve been to Spain, one of those big and buzzing tapas bars, you’ll know what I mean.  In old town San Sebastien especially, there are some beautiful arrays of pinchos covering every nook and cranny of the bars.

The Alma (Soul) Vegan Festival near Cartagena, Murcia

VIVA VEGANOS!!

You can probably tell by the radiant sunshine that this was not a UK post.  Although Durham is looking very summery from where I’m sat.  I cooked it on the Costa Calida in Spain.

Jane was there recently and attended a vegan festival, small but perfectly formed, this is something brilliant for Murcia.  There were a load of food stalls, live music and plenty of organic local products.  Even artisan beer (the most popular stand).  Apparently Jane and friends were the last to leave.  The artisan beer was just too good.

Murcia, like the rest of Spain, its a highly fishy/ meaty place and there is a growing vegan community and awareness.  Of course, in Barcelona and Madrid, you can find some vegan options, but I still think Spain is one of the toughest countries to be a vegan traveller.

Murcia has always been a little forgotten corner of Spain and poor, therefore, there are some interesting recipes with only veggies.  People couldn’t afford meat, so they made veggies delicious and you can occasionally find these dishes in restaurants, but generally, they are cooked in peoples homes.  I love one dish in particular, Morcilla de Verano – here’s our recipe.  Its a vegan take on the famous Spanish ‘Morcilla’ sausage and everyone loves it.  Even proper jamon heads.

Los Veganos!!

ME AND BEYONCE

I was orginally asked to write this recipe for Shape magazine in the US.  I know it seems strange that I’m doing things for massive lifestyle mags like that, it does to me anyway.  If you’ve followed the BHK for a while, you’ll know that we’ve gone from the growing cabbages and herbs in the middle of nowhere, half way up a hill in North Wales, to the pages of swanky magazines.  I even fed Beyonce once in an article!!  Hahahahaa!  Last year I was in Hello and other mags that I’d never have imagined in my weirdest dreams that I’d end up in.  When I was younger I probably imagined I’d be plastered all over The Rolling Stone, maybe Mojo or the NME (of the 90’s) in a rock star delusion.  Life is just one big strange surprise really!!  And yes, some of my friends think its cool, but most just laugh at me.  Often.  I used to be more Johnny Rotten than Beyonce, but maybe time mellows things out a bit.  I don’t care either way, getting tasty vegan food out there is amazing!  I’d love to cook for Beyonce, Morrissey, Philip Schofield, whoever.  In fact, if we invited Johnny Rotten that could make for an interesting dinner party.

Shape didn’t quite go for the ‘pincho’ thing and instead called them Carrot Not-Dogs, which is cool by me.  This kind of thing has been around for years in vegan-ville and it’s awesome to see dishes like this getting out there.  You cannot, not, ever, not like, not-dogs!  Kids go wild for them!!

Recipe Notes

Ideal for summer light lunches or even bbqs (instead of cooking in a pan, pop them on a BBQ and baste with the marinade).  I’ve popped two methods below, one for a quick roast, and the other, the works; marinaded overnight and pan fried.  Both are delicious, but the marinaded dogs are smokier and look more like the real thing!

I like the way they look when un-whittled down.  Just a straight up carrot.  You can’t pass them off as a hot dog, but who really cares about that?!

For the marinade.  If you can’t track down liquid smoke, don’t fret, we can use some smoked paprika.  A few large pinches will do.

Ripe avocados are best.  I couldn’t get any and was asked to do the recipe at short notice.  You can see that the aioli is not totally smooth.  It’s so much better when silky smooth.

You can quite happily serve these carrot not-dogs with just the avocado aioli or even just a bit of mustard.  A nice idea is wrapping them in a blanched collard/ spring cabbage, kale leaf or even raw lettuce. A great gluten-free, mega healthy option.

Spanish food’s all about bright and vibrant flavours and colours, perfect for summer

The Bits – For 4 as a snack/ tapas

8 small carrots – roughly 5 inches long (cut into hot dog shapes)

1 red bell pepper – nice and sweet if poss. (cut into 1 cm slices)

1 large onions (finely sliced)

2 handfuls spinach leaves (finely sliced)

Cooking oil

 

Marinade

4 tbs carrot cooking stock (or light vegetable stock)

3 tbs tamari or good soya sauce

1 clove garlic (sliced)

2 cm cube fresh ginger (sliced)

2 tbs red or white wine vinegar

2 teas liquid smoke

3 teas brown sugar

 

1 large avocado (de-stoned)

1/2 lemon (juice)

Large pinch salt

 

Dijon Mustard

4 small buns – your favourite type (cut in half)

Mini Spanish Notdogs plus trimmings

Do It

Half fill a small saucepan with water, bring to a rolling boil and add the carrots.  Simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, until a knife pierces them easily, but they are not too soft.  Place in chilled water to cool quickly.  Whisk together your marinade ingredients and pour over the cool carrots.  Cover and place in a fridge over night.

In a frying pan on a medium high, add 1 teas cooking oil and when warm, add your onions.  Fry for 7 minutes, add the peppers, fry for another 5 minutes, until the onions have turned golden brown and sweet and the peppers are soft.  Set aside.

Drain your carrots, keep the marinade.  Wash out the frying pan and add 1 teas cooking oil, place on a medium high heat and add your carrots.  Fry for around 10 minutes, drizzle over marinade regularly and keeping them turning in the pan.  This will give them a nice caramelised look all over.

Put your avocado, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth.  Alternatively, pop them in a blender and blitz.

Spread a thin layer of dijon mustard on your buns, sprinkle over some spinach, followed by some onions and peppers, a spoonful of avocado and top with a smoky carrot.

The full carrot style

Quick Roast Method

Preheat an oven to 220oC.  Make half of the marinade recipe.  Toss your carrots (whole, these look great just carrot shaped) in 2 teas cooking oil and a large pinch salt.

Place in the oven on a baking tray and roast for 45-55 minutes, until tender and nicely caramelised.  After 25 minutes in the oven, baste the carrots with marinade regularly.

Foodie Fact
Carrots are filled with beta-carotene or Vitamin A.  Which helps us see in the dark.  That’s what we’re told anyway.  This myth came from WWII when the Brits spread propoganda, apparently to confuse their adversaries.  The Ministry of Food (hello George Orwell) even created a cartoon called ‘Dr Carrot’, with sidekicks Caroty George and Clara Carrot (actually made by Disney), to get kids eating more carrots.  In WWII  sugar was rationed in Britain at that time and carrots were sometimes served on sticks to kids as a sweet substitute and used regularly to sweeten desserts.  So you won’t get night vision any time soon, but your eye sight will be helped if you eat plenty of Vitamin A.

Isla Plana – the view from our local cafe in Spain

One of my favourite places in the world, Mojon Beach

Sunset on the Costa Calida, always a pleasure

Music to cook pinchos by……….

Categories: healthy, Lunch, Music, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Summer, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Pea and Mint Hummus

Pea and Mint Hummus

Pea and Mint Hummus

Now that one half (me) of the BHK is rocking Spain, things are going totally Med for a while.  Fresh, vital, packed with sun, light and easy. Tapas basically. Little plates of flavour explosions that tantalise and don’t make you feel like a stuffed courgette. Perfect summer fare.

This is a nice twist on your standard hummus, plenty of lemon to lift it and enliven and a good hit of mint. It looks so vibrant, everyone will want a dip!  The great thing about peas is they freeze brilliantly and a I used frozen peas here.  When frozen, they don’t lose much of their nutritional value or texture, so its all good.

A hummus twist

A hummus twist

In Spain, the hummus wave is really hitting.  We went out with out mate in Madrid, a cool area and all the bars were serving hummus.  It seems like all the cool kids were at the crudites.  I think hummus is such a staple now in the UK, its nice to give it a twist now and again, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a well made ‘normal’ hummus.  I like mine nice and thick and creamy, with plenty of tahini.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

*Warning* – my posts from Spain may get a little erratic at times.  I’m normally tucked away in one of the the few local bars that have wifi.  There is a heady atmosphere of shouting and laughter and I’m no doubt sipping a ferocious black coffee.

Give peas a chance;)

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The Bits – Makes one big bowlful

480g chickpeas

275g peas

1 tbs dried mint

1 big handful fresh mint (finely sliced)

150ml olive oil

4 tbs tahini

1 1/2 medium lemons (juice)

2 big cloves garlic (crushed)

1 teas salt

50ml chickpea cooking broth

 

Do It

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until nicely smooth, drizzle in the chickpea broth (or water) until you get the consistency you like.  Remember that the hummus will thicken up in the fridge.  Check seasoning and served with a crazy array of chopped vegetables, flatbread slices, oat cakes, whatever tickles your fancy really.

View from one of the local interent hubs/ bars

View from one of the local interent hubs/ bars.  Life’s a long beach!

Categories: healthy, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad – A Real Taste of Murcia!

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

Butter Bean, Lemon and Black Olive Salad

A simple sunshine salad which makes a great quick summertime lunch.  Ideal served as a side or starter, add some chunky croutons or toasted nuts for a more substantial dish.

The sun is coming and with it comes sprouting a host of beautiful fruits and vegetables. Summer is an exciting time of year, we can finally don shorts again and be collectively surprised at how white our feet are! The flip flops are out in force, maybe a vest and we’re into the garden with salads and fizzy glasses. Certainly in Spain, salads are an every day delight.

There is a global constant that baffles me. You visit local markets and shops (this does not apply to the sub-Saharan region) and there are a wonderful selection of fruits and veggies displayed. You then go to the restaurant next door to find that none of the lovely local fruits and veggies are present on the menu. It’s a strange old situation. The world is addicted to potatoes and tomatoes it seems. Murcia is similar. Although this is the ‘garden’ of Spain, and possibly Europe, a Murcian salad consists of onion, tomato and some black olives (plus tinned tuna if you’re particularly unlucky). This is my version of the local salad using things we can all get our hands on.

You can’t just throw things into your finest salad bowl and expect magical results, salads need a little thought. There’s a balance there. I’d say always gently handle and chop your ingredients and toss them together with care. You want a nice combo of flavours and textures, without over doing it. Salads are our chance to showcase amazing produce and whenever possible, lets buy good stuff for our salads. You might be able to hide vacuous tomatoes in a stew, but in a salad, they just look so lame.

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

Puerto Mazarron market in full swing

DOWN AT ‘EL MERCADO ESTUPENDO’

I’ve just been down to the local Sunday market here in Mazarron and beeeee jeehzus there is a startling array of amazing produce at the minute. Piled up like technicolour forts; melons like beachballs, bewildering varieities of tomato action, gangs of crimson peppers so deep and vivid, every conceivable shade of olive and crispy, fresh donuts (churros). Well, they seem to balance up all the healthy veggie behaviour. Spain is hot in weather and generally, super chilled in attitude. My kind of combo. ‘Manana!’ (tomorrow) is the Murcian moto. Their crest is probably a tranquil terrace scene, but I can’t verify that. Today is for enjoying…..

I rock up mid-morning just after the donut breakfast feast that’s washed down with goblets of brandy or thick coffee (maybe beer) sometimes a combination of them all will lashing of condensed milk and randomly, nutmeg. It’s a coffee called an Asiatico and is more like several desserts in a small glass swimming in a few shots of black espresso. If you’re lucky, you can score a fresh orange juice, but expect at least two funny looks as you make your way back to a wobbly plastic chair in the sun. Sunday is a good day here.

There is a whole host of other items sold at the market; counterfeit cd’s, plants, leggings, trees and the occasional pot or pan or pot plant. There is also a very cool pan pipe band from Peru who belt out all the classics. I must say, I just focus on edibles. I have a routine, I sweep past with an empty backpack, the first pass. I am above temptation. I don’t buy anything. This is a strict regime, fact finding, and essential for quality control and price comparison. There is no Asda price in Murcia, you’ve got to do the leg work and have hawk like instincts. Bargains are fleeting and sometimes well disguised.

I asses the form and then stop for a well earned cafe americano (sometimes plus a few crispy donuts). If I don’t have donuts, the lady will feel sorry for me and give me some anyway. Older ones from the bottom of the pile. A donut constant that I go with. Then the fun begins. I have pockets of small change and throw myself into the crowds of haggling Spanish and Moroccan housewives, all at least half my size and double my strength, who posses pin sharp elbows. Dead legs and worse have been known around the olive stand and especially at the bargain tomato family and always at the toothless apple dude.

Tomatoes - so many new types to try in Murcia

Tomatoes – so many new types to try in Murcia

The olive stand is a piece of work, ran by three generations of a family. It seems they’ll pickle or preserve anything going. Capers, caperberries, garlic, cucumbers, pink pickled onions the size of a cricket ball, the olives are pretty hot too. You’ll always get a few freebie tasters if you offer equally confused and intrigued expressions. Have you tried a purple olive? I went for some bitter bright green local olives today, they love their bitter olives in these parts, stuffed with lemon rind, minced onion and rosemary. Quite a thing I can assure you.

I know each stand intimately by now, after ten years, I’m one of the villages most well schooled veg selector. They all have their stregths and weaknesses and I try to spread the wealth (amounting to a few euros) around. I’d say on average, the fruit and veg here is at least 1/3 price in a UK supermarket. The Spanish supermarkets also charge more than Mazarron market. The market shifts from town to town, four days a week, I’ve been to each location but the Sunday one is the best. People are letting there hair down and there is a sense of celebration, most of the stall owners clutch a cold can of beer, churches occasionally ring bells and you’re never far from a chuckle or guffaw.

It’s a tough old life in Spain guys!! I’ll keep the sunny plant-based correspondence flowing. Here’s what I did with todays haul.

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

Mazarron sunsets are regularly a bit special

Recipe Notes
For a more filling salad, drizzle some bread with olive oil and toast under a grill. Roughly chop up and toss in a little more oil, a pinch of salt and a few pinches of dried herbs like oregano and thyme. Scatter over the salad before serving.

Pickled garlic is not that easy to find but it is a superstar ingredient. Use a couple of cloves of fresh garlic instead, it’s worth noting that the flavour is different, pickled garlic is sweet and mild tasting pretty well pickled! I find it quite addictive and sometimes just eat it straight up, I find its quite nice served with nibbles.

I find the lemon and a good extra virgin olive oil is more than enough dressing wise.

Spain boasts very fat and creamy butter beans. Seek out some beauties for this salad, they are one of the highlights.

Using pitted olives is a good idea.  An unexpected olive stone is always an unwanted crunch.

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

Great with some toasted croutons or a handful or toasted almonds

The BitsFor 4 as main course, 6-8 as side salad/ starter

500g cooked or 2 tins butterbeans (the fatter, the better)
1 small sweet onion or 3 spring onions (finely sliced)
6 medium sized tomatoes (ripe and sweet)
1 handful pickled garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
1/2 courgette (diced)
1/2 cucumber (diced)
1 head baby gem lettuce or similar (sliced)
2 big handfuls black olives

1 handful parsley (finely sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juice and zest)
Salt and pepper

Do It
Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and the juice and zest of one lemon. Toss gently together with your hands.

Scatter over the parsley, some salt and pepper and croutons if your using them. Serve with more wedges of lemon if you fancy a little more zing and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.

2016-05-08 17.05.07

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, photography, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Summer, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Pablo’s Perfect Pancakes plus my Top 5 Pancake Tips

Jane and our amiga Rach in the backstreets of sunny Granada. Yesterday.

Jane and our amiga Rach in the backstreets of sunny Granada. Yesterday. I think they went to the Alhambra later…..Que vida!

It may have been around a year since you last made pancakes, don’t fret a jot, we are here to ease you into an evening of perfect flippin’ and crispy edged perfection.  Jane has popped over to Spain and was last night giving this pancake recipe a dry run in the back streets of Granada (very nice indeed) whilst I kept my head down in the Beach House avoiding storm Imogen (nicely named).  So, we’d like to share one of the easiest ways to make the perfect pancake and a few key tips to ensure pancake paradise is yours……

Pablo (or Paul to some) is my sisters newly crowned husband.  I’m still getting used to the new title.  Pablo is a passionate cook and regularly comes up with sensational dishes, over Christmas, one that stood out for the whole family was Pablo’s perfect pancakes.  You could really wish for no more in a pancake recipe.  This is as easy as it gets, but the outcome is light, fluffy and hopefully, crispy around the edge.  Perfect for pancake day, or any day for that matter.

Pablo at the wedding party with our mate Nick

Pablo (right) at the wedding party with our mate Nick

I wish we ate more pancakes in Britain and didn’t reserve them for one night of frantic flipping.  I think our nations happiness index would leap with an increase in pancake munching, they are so fun and versatile; sweet or savoury, thick or thin, wholegrain and nutritious or light and white…….we all know how we like them.  I like mine with a fruity sauce or something rich like this wonderful coco and peanut sauce I just came up with.  Jane is a purist and opts for a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of sugar.  Each to their own!

If you'd like pancakes like this, check out these tips...

If you’d like pancakes like this, check out these tips…

TOP 5 TIPS FOR PERFECT PANCAKES

1. Don’t over oil – lightly grease your pan and remove any excess oil with a paper towel.

2. Practice makes perfect – The first couple of pancakes may be a little strange, but you’ll get the hang of it!

3. Regular heat – Consistent pancakes need a consistent temperature. Warm up your pan on medium heat and turn down the heat slightly if needed.

4. Flippin’ Marvellous – Make pancakes small to ensure an easy flip.  Always loosen run a spatula under the pancake before trying to flip, otherwise you may pull a muscle and generally look a bit daft as the pancake clings to the pan.

5. Portion control – use the same amount of mix per pancake.  Sounds obvious, but for best results, keep a measuring cup handy and add the same amount of batter to the pan.  They’ll take the same length of time to cook, look great and there will be no arguments over who got the runt of the litter!

And voilà! Perfect pancakes every time! 

Right………..lets rock a perfect Pablo pancake!

I use cups here because I love America and it cuts out unnecessary scale faff.  These are not supposed to be huge, pan filling pancakes.  They are harder to handle.  These are roughly 6 inches in diameter, light and fluffy.  More like an American style pancake than a French style crepe.  Thats how Pablo likes ’em……

The Bits  

Dry

1 1/4 cup strong white flour/ all purpose flour

2 teas baking powder

1/2 teas salt

2 tbs light brown sugar

Wet

1 cup (250ml) non-dairy milk (we use soya)

1 tbs oil

2 tbs water

(should equal 1 1/4 cups in total, if not, add a splash more water)

Jane flippin' in Spain

Jane flippin’ in Spain

Do It

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until all is combined.

(Check the top 5 tips above to make sure you are fully prepared for pancake paradise……)

Grab a medium sized frying pan (preferably with a nice thick bottom on it) and warm on medium heat.  Add a couple of drops of oil, coat the pan, then add roughly 1/3 cup pancake batter.  Let it naturally form a nice circular shape, leave to cook for 3 minutes, then flip over using a spatula to loosen it from the pan.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  If the colour is too dark or too light, check the heat and/ or cook for longer/ shorter with the next one.

Like I said, the first pancake at least, is a loosener, a warm-up.

Serve straight from the pan with accompaniments of your choice.  There are some ideas on our last post Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce for sauces etc.

Rach presenting one of Pablo's finest - Happy Pancake Day!!!!

The delightful Rach presenting one of Pablo’s finest – Happy Pancake Day!!!!

 

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara (Red Pepper & Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

There are zillion and one Xmas stylee recipes floating around at the minute, but I would like to take things is a slightly different direction here.  All the way to Lebanon!!!

Here’s a little festive taste of the Southern Mediterranean, with plenty of warming spices and a really rich and luxurious dip.  This Muhammara recipe is one of my all time favourite dips/ purees and it features in our cookbook.  It is an ideal alternative to hummus at this time of year.  I love hummus, but a change is always good!

Everyone is roasting cauliflower at the minute and I’m all for it.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of the cauliflower and transforms it into something spectacular.  Cauliflower is worthy of taking centre stage and in this recipe, with a few adornments, it shines.  The spices and pomegranate molasses here really takes it up a few notches.

I would eat this as light lunch around the festive season, when you have maybe gone overboard the day before, and it is nice and easy to get together yet bursting with vibrant flavours.

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med's a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med’s a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

Jane and I are not long back from Spain, where we had a magnificent time by the beaches and mountains of Murcia.  Regular Beach House readers will know that its one of our favourite spots in the world and we return their regularly.  You will also notice, by the beaming sunshine, that this dish was cooked in sunny Espana.  My parents own a little house out there and I’ve lived and worked over there so its just like going home really.  Our Spanish lingo is improving and we seem to do a load more socialising over there than we do in Wales, something to do with the free-flowing tapas and wine no doubt.

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spain

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spa

WHAT TO DO WITH POMEGRANATE MOLASSES?

I know that Pomegranate Molasses may not be top of your Christmas/shopping list this week, but it is a brilliant addition to your cupboards.  It can be used to jazz up roasted roots and veggies, as it does in this recipe.  It has a lovely sweet and sour flavour (think cranberries) and is high in sugar, meaning it adds to the caramelised effect we all know and love in roasted roots et al.

It can also be a wonderful sub for citrus in dressings and adds richness and depth to stews, dips (see below) and soups.  Have a play with it!   We also like it drizzled on bread or mixed with tahini to make a delicious spread for toast or even stir it into hot or fizzy water for a refreshing drink.

Pomegranate Molasses is something that is used so frequently in countries like Lebanon and Turkey, where Pomegranate trees are as frequent as oak trees are in Wales.  It is an ideal way of preserving gluts of Pomegranates and turning them into something gorgeously versatile.  It is basically pomegrantes juice cooked down, way down, until a sticky syrup is formed.  You can buy it in Turkey in plastic water bottles by the side of the road. PM is tangy and not overly sweet, unless sugar has been added, check the bottle.

I will be looking at posting a few more festive fav recipes on the blog before the big day.  I’ve just roasted a load of chestnuts and they need a home.  Any ideas?

There are loads of our holiday snaps over on our Facebook page and I am always sharing tasty things on Twitter.

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Recipe Notes

When cutting the cauliflower, don’t worry too much about small pieces that break off.  These can be kept and used to thicken/ flavour soups, gravies and stews.  They can also be sprinkled into salads.

Baharat is a spice mix from the Middle East.  You may also like to use garam masala, ras el hanout etc.  Spice mixes which include warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg etc are perfect.

If you do not have pomegranate molasses, use a squeeze of lemon juice and sweetener of your choice; brown rice syrup, maple syrup etc.  This adds that gorgeous sweet and sour finish to the roasted cauliflower.

Fennel seeds are a great addition to many dishes and worth buying.  They add a little explosion of that unmistakeable aniseed/ fennel flavour.  I understand that they are not a regular ingredient and can be omitted, add a few more cumin seeds if you are fennel-less.

I know Christmas is a super busy time of year, you can buy pre-roasted red peppers in most shops.  They are normally jarred and stored in oil.  This will save a little time with the Muhammara.

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

The Bits – For 4

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower

1 medium sized cauliflower (cut into 2 inch florets)

2 small onions (cut into 1/8’s)

1 head of garlic (top trimmed off to expose cloves)

 

1 teas fennel seeds

1 teas cumin seeds

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 teas baharat (or other spice mix)

2 teas pomegranate molasses

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip) – Makes 1 small bowlful

2 red peppers

2 tbs olive oil

1 teas chilli flakes

2 slices wholemeal bread (crusts taken off, stale bread works best)

2 big handfuls walnuts

1 1/2 tbs pomegranate molasses (or 1/2 lemon juice)

1 teas unrefined brown sugar or sweetener of choice

1/2 teas smoked paprika

125g firm tofu

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Garnish

1 handful fresh parsley (chopped)

Big glug extra virgin olive oil

Large pinch of bharat and smoked paprika

 

Do It

Preheat an oven on high, 240oC.

Start by roasting the peppers for the Muhammara.  Rub oil over the peppers and place on a baking tray.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning them once, until they are slightly blackened and soft.  Place in a bowl and cover.  Once cooled, cut in half and remove the seeds, peeling off the skin.  It should slip off nice and easy.

In a bowl, gently toss the cauliflower, onion and garlic in the oil, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and salt.  Scatter over a baking tray and place in the hot oven.  Roast for 12 minutes.

Turn all veggies over using a flat spatula (including the head of garlic), there should be some nice caramelised edges forming on the cauli and onions, this is definitely what we want.  Even nice, dark charred edges are great for this recipe.

Now sprinkle over the baharat spice and drizzle over the pomegranate molasses, give the tray a little shake and pop back into the hot oven for 10 more minutes roasting, until dark golden and crispy.

While all the roasting is going on, you can make your Muhammara.  Place the peppers and all other ingredients in a food processor and blitz until creamy.   Check the seasoning and scoop into your most attractive bowl.

Warm a nice big shallow bowl or serving platter and scoop over your cauliflower.  The garlic will be nice and soft, just pop the cloves out of their skins and scatter over the dish.

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

Serve

Sprinkle a little more Bharat over the cauliflower and finished the Muhammara with a drizzle of delicious olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika and a little freshly chopped parsley.

The Roasted Cauliflower and Muhammara will be delicious with a crisp, green salad and a bowl of olives.  In Peace & Parsnips I recommend warm black olives and toasted pitta bread.  Pickles of any variety will be a great addition.  Now this is really starting to sound like a feast fit for the festive season!

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Foodie Fact

Pomegranate certainly brightens up this time of year and I much prefer the flavour to cranberries, our festive staple for tanginess and that lovely festive touch of bright red.    Pomegranate is packed with vitamins C and K and is also high in calcium and potassium.  Pomegranate is also a good source of fibre and will help to keep our heart, digestive and immune system healthy.  Perfect food to get us through the dark, winter days.

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

 

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T - Murcia, Spain.

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T – Murcia, Spain.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Massive Festive Hug!

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The depths of winter on Mojon Beach

Just a quickie to say:

MEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRYYYYY CHHHHHHHHRIIIIISSSSTMMAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!!X

and then:

HAAAAPPPPYYY NNEEEEWWWWWWW YYEEEEAAAARRRR!!!XXXX

Hope you have a very magical time with plenty of tofu pie and pumpkin crisps………and the odd sherry to wash it all down.

It seems like an ice age since we last said a little ‘hello’. We have been suffering from a very Spanish dilemma over here in Murcia, cooking loads of gorgeous nibbles and bites, but easing into the manana (tomorrow) lifestyle a little too easily. “Manana, manana, manana…..” its a magnificent way to live, but leads to a lack of posts and far too much time to contemplate dinner whilst lounging on a beach. Its 20oC today, Christmas Eve and we are soaking up the rays on behalf of all Beach Houser’s out in lands not so well endowed with festive sunbeams. We salute you!

We are planning a quiet Christmas on the terrace with my Dad and some stunning local vino and a mammoth veg-fest terrine (not necessarily in that order!).  Jane is plotting a platter of potato served three ways, as you all know, Jane is partial to a patata or three.  Dad is fully on board with the vegan express and we’re going totally  vegetal this festive period.  Bravo big man!

2014 has been a great year at the Beach House, thanks for all of your support and inspiration. Jane and I are in India in the new year, so you can expect plenty of curry based action very soon. Our new year resolution will be to whip up more posts, hopefully this year, we’ll actually get around to it. Life so rich and ‘Manana’ an ever viable option…..

Peace, Love and Light,

Lee and Janexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Winterwonderland (a massive calcite wave with turquoise pools) Pammukale, Turkey

The Winterwonderland (a massive calcite wave with turquoise pools) Pammukale, Turkey

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CHEERS! (G+T’s all round)

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 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

Morcilla De Verano – Spanish-Style Aubergines

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Morcilla De Verano

A traditional vegan classic from the south of Spain, originally cooked to replicate Morcilla (black pudding basically).  You regularly see it served around Murcia, especially on tapas bar counters.  Its a great option for me in the land of jamon.  All Murcians know the dish and are rightly proud of it.  We’ve added some tempeh to the traditional recipe making it more of main event.  I love cooking aubergines right down with sweet onions and the addition of proper Spanish herbs and spices really pack a punch flavour wise.

Even though its called a ‘summer’ dish, we think this is great all year around.  Due to its slightly meat like texture, this is a dish to sate all.  We’re always trying to find dishes that will appeal to meat eaters aka most of our family and friends.  This is exactly what this dish was created for, people couldn’t afford meat and were looking for a delicious substitute.

You know, I love Spanish food and this dish really taps into the rustic heart of their magical range of cuisine.  Spanish food speaks of the land and culture.  It is the perfect expression of such a diverse land and for me, the cuisine of the South perfectly matches the arid plains and craggy red mountains.  Its rugged, its got bags of soul and it can take your breath away.

As some of you will know, my parents have a little place over in Murcia, Jane and I are regular visitors chasing the sun and the peaceful Med life.  This dish is based on a recipe passed to us from wonderful friends over that way, Fey and Jose.  It is actually Jose’s brother Andres recipe and he created it in an attempt to eat less meat (he’s a real maverick in the area, only 0.3% of Spain’s population are veggies after all).  I still have the little scrap of paper that he wrote it down on one night, for me that is real soul cooking.  This recipe is connected with so many memories of wonderful people and places, we can’t help but love it.  We have of course made our usual Beach House alterations, but this does not stray too far from Andres Murcian delight.  Gracias HombresX

Recipe Notes

Don’t be shy with the oil here, remember it is Spanish after all!  The dish should be slightly on the oily side which of course makes it very rich and satisfying.  After eating this for dinner Jane exclaimed “I feel like I’ve just eaten meat and two veg” rubbing her belly.  Always a good sign.

We decided that this is a star dish and very versatile.  It could be used to stuff a vegetable, a courgette or potato sounds perfect.  Of course, its great for tapas and picnics and is lovely even when served cold.

Buen Provecho!

The Bits

2 small aubergines

1 courgette

1 small onion (all three finely diced and kept seperate)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

2 teas sherry vinegar

2 teas sweet paprika

1/2 teas cinnamon

1/2 teas all spice

2 teas fresh oregano (finely chopped) or 1 teas dried

200g tempeh (or tofu)

1-2 teas sea salt

1 1/2 teas cracked black pepper

Olive oil (for frying)

 

Topping

2 tbs toasted pine nuts or almonds

 

Do It

This is a three part saute/ pan frying routine, meaning a number of stages until your meaty morcilla is just right.  The trick is to get everything nicely caramelised, bringing out maximum flavours.

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First saute, courgettes and aubergine

Start with your aubergine and courgette.  Add 2 tbs of the oil and warm on a medium heat in a heavy based frying pan.  Add the aubergine and saute for 8-10 minutes, until nice and golden and releasing some of their liquid, then add the courgettes and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  This is the real flavourful aspect of the dish, the aubergines should be nicely browned and gorgeously sweet by this stage.  Set aside.

Next, your tempeh needs sorting.  Chop it up finely, it will resemble dried scramble egg.  Add 1/2 tbs of oil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until it is beginning to get brown around the edges.  Set aside with the aubergine mix.

Now, add 1 tbs oil, fry the onions in the same pan (wipe out if necessary).  Lower the heat if things are getting a little hot.  Stir, the onions should take 6-8 minutes to become golden, we don’t want to rush them and risk burning them.  Once they are golden, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, pop your vinegar in to a big hiss.  Now it’s time to spice things up.

Add your paprika, all spice and cinnamon, saute for a minute, stirring all the time and not allowing the mix to stick.  Then add your herbs and the aubergine/tempeh mix to the pan.  Stir well and warm through for a couple of minutes.  Your ready for the plate.

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Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Serve

In a warm serving dish, topped with some pine nuts and a sprinkling of paprika.

We served our morcilla with some steamed green vegetables (broad beans, runner beans and broccoli) with some pan fried lemon cabbage.

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Morcilla de Verano – looking good!

We Love It!

Really satisfying rustic style Spanish fare.  I imagine this is pretty close to Morcilla itself and cannot wait to try it out on some meat eaters.  Dads coming soon, one of our favourite guinea pigs.

Foodie Fact

Pine nuts are just incredible little things.  Now so expensive, but worth every penny as a treat item.  They can make a real difference to a dish, especially when roasted a little to bring out the flavour.

Pine nuts are full of vitamin A, so you’ll be able to see in the dark.  They have good levels of vitamin D, for the bones and are also rich in vitamin C and iron.  They are quite fatty, which is obvious when you enjoy them, but its mono-unsaturated fats.  Pine nuts are also packed full of energy, great on cereal for a morning buzz and fizz.

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Served with some blanched summer greens – Not bad for Thursday!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Pimiento, Noras and Potato Soup

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A soup with a kick and a tickle that is bound to get you buzzing this winter. A real Sopa de Espana here, all ingredients coming from the Mazarron area.

Many people have asked what the heck we are doing going on a three month holiday. Who one earth do we think we are?!!!!!etc….. Well, we’re making soup; and other things. This soup sprang up from a little potter in the kitchen and rifle through the veggie box.  It’s not snowing in the bay, but it can get slightly chilly some night fall.

Here in Murcia, people are wrapped up warm, scarves wrapped around their faces and big thick coats are all the rage. It’s 18-24 degrees! It makes me smile and also admire the resilience of the good folk of Britain and other cold parts of the world. This soup is an offering from the Beach House Kitchen to all those shivering and sniffing their way through with a smile.

Noras are little dried red peppers sold all over Spain and normally used when preparing stews and soups. They add a lovely sweet, peppery tang to all they touch and remind me of the wonder food of Mexico, where the dried chilli is king. Dried peppers come in many shapes and sizes, some large black and sticky, some dark red and spicy.

Pimiento is another word for pepper, red pepper, we love it because it sounds so Spanish! We are lucky (we know this!) to have wild thyme growing in the ramble (dry river bed) below our home.  Splashing a little olive oil on the top of a soup really adds richness to proceedings, olive oil is of course ubiquitous with all things Spanish food. It’s crops up in biscuits, cakes, shower gel and even amazing crisps (crisps fried in olive oil seems so decadent!). We need alot of calories and fat in winter months when the body is trying to keep us from perishing! Olives lend a hand here. My friend Chris, who lives here swears by it and claims bread is ‘merely a vehicle for olive oil’.

The veg. stock we used here came from last nights dinner, the water used for cooking potatoes. Such a shame to throw it away, it is packed with flavour. Back in Wales, we’d blend this together with a hand blender, soups with potato in always blend amazingly well. They go very creamy and full. Here, we enjoyed the texture of the lumps and chunks, listening to Ravi Shankar (r.i.p. Ravi ji) and toasted our friends and family on the grey island, hoping they were all cosy and shiny.

Gorgeous Spanish Tomato

This recipe makes one big panful, enough for approx, 6 decent bowlfuls.

The Bits

1 onion (sliced), 1 stick celery (sliced), 2 large potatoes (firm variety/ cubed), 3 noras (finely sliced), 2 large tomatoes (skin them if you have the time), 2 heaped teas smoked paprika, ½ teas chilli powder (we used a fresh green chilli named ‘Pimiento Padron – Shepherds Peppers’. Que rico!), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas fresh thyme, approx. 1 1/2 -2 litres good veggie stock, 1 big handful coriander, good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Do It

In a large soup/ saucepan heat a little oil, begin to sweat off your onion. After the onion becomes glassy and soft add your noras and cook for 2 minutes, then add your paprika, thyme and finally your balsamic vinegar. This will begin to bubble and evaporate, stir well and get all the ingredients nicely involved with each other. If things get a little sticky and dry, add a splash of veggie stock to loosen things up. Season nicely.

Now for the potatoes and peppers, cook for 5 minutes until softened, then add you tomato and cook until the tomato has broken down and formed a sauce like consistency. Then add your stock and stir, bring to the boil and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender.

Pimiento, Noras and Potato Soup

Serve

Piping hot, topped with a handful of coriander, a splash of olive oil (a la Espana) and big cry of ‘Buen Provecho!’ My thing with soups is, not too hot! Firstly you’ll burn your poor mouth and secondly the flavours come out a little better when the soup has cooled a tad.

We Love It!

Even though we are not freezing and are wearing our shorts, we know this soup would hit the spot in our little wintery cottage back home in Wales. A lovely tangy soup with all the joys of a fiery chilly kick.  Wicked winter warmer.

Foodie Fact

Paprika (or Pimenton) is a superb, bright red spice used in traditional Spanish cooking.  There are several different types of Paprika; namely spicy, sweet, smoked or combinations of the above.  Paprika is made from dried and ground red chillis, traditionally peppers were dried under the sun.  One of the finest areas for Paprika in Spain is Murcia, the region that we call home.

Jane under Spanish skies

Jane under Spanish skies, Puerto Mazzaron

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

Coriander and Mint Tea with Lemon Flower Honey

Coriander and Mint Tea with Lemon Flower Honey

Coriander and Mint Tea with Lemon Flower Honey

A refreshing green leaf tea with the gorgeous addition of local lemon flower honey, perfect for a cleansing morning tipple.  We need all the help we can get in the mornings to get fully charged!

The lemon flower honey comes from a local co-operative in Murcia, Coato, who produced organic produce in a region where that term is rarely used.  We visited recently and stocked up on all things Spanish; olives, almonds, olive oil, dried chillies, paprika, saffron……the list goes on, we got carried away.  This honey is really something different, worthy of the name ‘Gold Liquid’.  It has a mousselike white honey on the top and then sticky, lemony honey below. Lucky us!

The Bits

1 handful of mint leaves (stems are fine), 1/2 handful of coriander leaves and stems, honey to taste.

Do It

Add all to a kettle and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.

We Love It!

Full of green goodness with wonderful local lemon honey.  What a treat!

Foodie Fact

Coriander is full of anti-oxidants and dietary fibre, it also has bags of potassium, iron and calcium to get you in good shape for the day ahead.

 

 

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Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

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Kumato, Avocado, Butter Bean and Piquillo Salad

A salad to light up any table with a wonderful combination of strong colours and sweet flavours.  I know we always rave about our food, but we happen to like it!  This salad is a combo of all the things we adore in food; beans, sweet things, crispy veg and a tangy dressing.   It’s a hearty salad and ideal for a main course.

All ingredients are from the local market, grown by people who love their plants.  I swear you can taste the difference!

Piquillos are something new for us, I have never fully appreciated their potential to tantalise.  A proper taste explosion!  There is such a wide range of flavours that can be experimented with when marinating.  The process is the same with meat and veggies, peppers are ideal for the slow soaking process.  Really getting the flavours in there and becoming nicely tender.

Piquillos are little red Spanish chilli peppers, which are spicy in a soft way. To make our marinated peppers, we roast them off first, get a little colour on them, and pop them in a jar and cover with olive oil and a drop of honey.  Herbs and spices can be added, we like them nice and simple.  Seal well and leave for a few days, longer if you can, and enjoy on all salads, sandwiches or served straight up as a nibble/ tapas treat.

Kumatos are a real star.  A type of tomato grown in these Murcian parts, dark green (or called black by some!) and full of a vibrant sweet flavours.  Very fruity indeed.  I did not fully understand the wonder of tomatoes until I visited southern Spain.  They grow all around this region, unfortunately mostly in longs bags in massive plastic covered farms.  These beauties came from an old mans back garden and you can taste the love!

Salads like this deserve a decent plate to be served on, not stacked up in a bowl.   This adds a little theatrical joy to the dining experience.  Get your largest, finest plate and spread the gorgeous ingredients out in a haphazard, indulgent fashion.

I like to serve the salad with warm butter beans, it brings the flavours out even more.  If you use warm beans, serve straight away, things can get limp.

Time for the assembly…..

Makes one large plate of salad, good for two as a main serving.

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The Bits

5 medium kumatos (or the best tomatoes you can get your mits on), three large handfuls of chopped swiss chard, 2 cups of cooked butter beans, 1 cup chopped piquillos, 1 avocado (chopped into chunks), 1 handful of fresh coriander,

Dressing – 3 tbs great olive oil (or use the oil from the piquillos, even better), 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Do It

Lay your chard out onto the plate and pop the rest of your bits evenly on top, leaving the coriander until last.  Drizzle with a little dressing and keep some on the side for people who love their tang!

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Kumato, Butter Bean, Coriander and Piquillo Salad

Serve

Centre stage maybe with some crusty bread and lashings of olive oil.

We Love It!

Rich and sweet, just like us (not!)  A real gourmet salad treat.

Foodie Fact

Piquillos are traditionally grown in northern Spain and are full of vitamin C  (comparable with a citrus fruit).  They are also rich in many other vitamins and are generally served in Spain stuffed and roasted.  They’re great stuffed with cream cheese and herbs.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Murcian Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Manchengo Burgers (with Aubergine Buns)

Happy day at the Sunday market (with backpack full of good stuff), Puerto Mazzaron, Spain

Hola from Murca, Spain!  We’ve moved here for a few months, following the sun!

It’s been a while beloved Beach Houser’s, too long, but we’re back with a bang and a massive burger treat.  The search for the tastiest veggie burger is a quest to be taken very seriously.  These are at the very least, a contender, with Aubergine for buns and a nice cheesy chilli kick.

Cracking burgers these with inspiration straight from the local markets of Puerto Mazzaron, Murica (a region known as the ‘garden of Spain’ or ‘veggie produce heaven’).  It’s not hard to be inspired in Murcia, the air smells of rosemary and herbs with tomatoes, lemons and almonds growing freely all over the place.

The local Puerto Mazzaron Sunday market is full of old time geezers and their wives selling their wares, mostly out of the backs of dilapidated jollopy type vans.  There is at least some organic produce here, but it’s never marked, we just pick the most misshapen, curly, funky looking varieties and this seems to work.  The flavours are amazing, a humble pepper can fill me with so much joy.

Mazzaron market is a real feast for the senses and like all markets in the world, I feel in my element,  free to sniff out the finest produce and really get to grips with a culture and place.  The market is the beating heart of a town, the fact they are dying out is a huge shame.  Food says alot about us and in Murcia they sell it whilst swigging cold beers, potent coffees and doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate all washed down with ham, ham and more ham.  This can only mean more veggies for us.  Buena Suerte!

We didn’t fancy any salt in these burgers, so the olives were a great local addition.  Packing loads of flavour and decent hit of salty tanginess.  The olive counter at the market is a large row of buckets with a mind boggling number of varieties.  We love the fat little green manzanilla’s, the spicy gazpacho mix and the sweet red peppery ones.  You can get olives anyway you like here, stuffed with lemon or even a whole chilli!

Jane on the mountain top behind our little casa – Isla Plana, Murcia.

Manchengo comes in various guises and I normally like the cured option, slightly saltier and harder, on the way to a pecorino.  Jane opted for the semi-cured variety this time which was a real surprise.  After munching much cheese in France, this Spanish stuff is really decent.   Semi-cured manchengo is very creamy and light, perfect for a tasty burger, adding a load of richness.  Add to that the local organic hot paprika, rosemary from the rambla (one of the dried river that runs below us) and the smells and flavours of Murcia are all here, in burger form!

Aubergine buns!?  Why not.  Tastier than bread and a healthier option.  Feel free to pop them into a proper bun if you fancy.  The only thing was, our burgers were way too big for our buns (never a bad thing), so we were forced to improvise and make it into something resembling an aubergine bruschetta.

These are burgers to crack out when you are in carnivore territory and you need something packed with flavour and filling. This is no flimsy veggie option, this is one for big eaters and lovers of rich food.  Ideal for barbecues.

We have no internet in our casa, so we hope to connect again soon, but who knows!?  Rest assured, we’ll be eating our way through the ‘garden of Spain’ and thinking of you all.  Watch this space for more BHK Espana antics.

QUE RICO!  Murcian manchengo, rosemary and sweet potato burgers

Makes four massive burgers.

The Bits

1 medium sweet potato (cut into 1cm cubes), 1 ½ cup brown lentils, 1 yellow pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1 aubergine (cut into 4 large wedges for the buns), 100g Semi-cured (curado) Manchengo (chopped fine), 20 plump green olives (mas o menos, chopped fine), 2 heaped teaspoons hot paprika (add ½ teas cayenne pepper if you don’t have hot paprika), 1 heaped teas Dijon mustard (when in Spain!), 2 teas balsamic vinegar, 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped fine), lots of cracked black pepper, your favourite oil for frying (we used a nice sunflower)

Topping – Sweet Red Piquillos (red peppers, roasted and marinated in olive oil), thin slices of good tomato.

Do It

Cover your lentils with water, 1 inch above, add 3 bay leaves and a little sea salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes until tender.  Drain well (keep the juices for soup or stew.  Yum!) and set aside.

Flavours of Spain – The Yin and Yang of manchengo and olives.

Fry off your onions and pepper on medium heat in a good glug of oil until they are nice and golden, soft and sweet.  Set aside, cover and wipe out pan with some kitchen paper.

Add your little cubes of sweet potato and cook briskly and stir well until soft and getting caremelised, 10 minutes more or less, add your garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add your onion  mix and paprika, rosemary, pepper and mustard, cook for a few minutes on a low heat then add your chopped cheese and olives.  Stir well and combine your 2 cups of cooked lentils. Set aside.

Mash it up! Burgers getting a good pasting.

Pop the oven on, 200oC.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Get a masher and give the mix a thorough mash up.  Some chunks are allowed, all adds to the texture.  Grab a baking tray, get it oiled up (use some tin foil if you prefer), form large balls of the mix in your hands, it’s going to be sticky but that’s where the fun lies!  They should be a real cupped handful per burger (you may need to lick your fingers afterwards, this is encouraged).  Drop the balls in a neat(ish) fashion onto your tray, making four large balls.

Add your 4 hefty chunks of aubergine to the tray and drizzle/coat all with some nice oil.   Your burgers need to be formed, use a spoon to push and level out your burgers, make them thick and roundish, use the curve of your hand here.  You should be left four fat half pounders.

Top with a little cracker pepper and into then into the oven for 30 minutes (check them after 20 mins).

They may blacken slightly, the sweet potatoes caramelising, this is good and will be great for the flavour.

When handling the burgers take care, you need to have good spatula skills here.  They may fall apart unless handled with love.

Serve

If your burgers fit in your aubergines (you have huge aubergines!) then make a classic burger, topped with some gorgeously piquant and sweet piquillos and a few slices of tomato.   A salad would be nice.

QUE SABOR!  Murcian Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Manchengo Burger (with Aubergine Bun)

We Love It!

Very, very tasty burgers.   The cheese inside makes them really rich and the effort put into crafting them is well worth it.  The roasted aubergines are a find, crisp and juicy, perfect with this sort of dense veggie burger.

Foodie Fact

Aubergine, Eggplant, Brinjal, whatever you want to call it, it tastes good and does you good.  Aubergine is low calorie, high fibre, full of the vitamin B’s and some Brazilian scientists have said that it can help control blood cholesterol.

Categories: Dinner, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rasta Pasta Sauce

Jane in the ‘Lemons’ kitchen

We’re down in Mazzarron, Murcia (Espana!) and having a ball, basically taking along break and getting down with the Spanish vibes (manana!).   Lack of internet means little Beach House stuff, but we are getting a little more organised, so hope to be posting a few bits in the near future.  The sun shining, the weather is sweet……yeahX

After a wander down the local fruit and veg market we headed back to the ‘Lemons’ (our little flat near the sea) along the beach full of inspiration and big bags of odd looking tomatoes. We came up with this gorgeous and simple rich-tasting pasta dish using aubergines and yellow peppers.  We called it rasta pasta, you can take it easy, whip it up in minutes and spend more time in the sun with some good tunes.

Buen Provecho, JaneX

Getting things started, Aubergine and Peppers frying up

The Bits

1tbs cooking oil, half a large aubergine (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized yellow peppers (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized onions (chopped into 1cm cubes), 3 cloves garlic (chopped finely), 5 tomatoes, cracked black pepper, sea salt, 1tsp of mixed herbs, 1tbs balsamic vinegar, 1tsp runny honey (local por favor), fresh parsley, brown spaghetti (we liked).

Do It

Chop the aubergine into rough cubes and fry in oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and keep cooking until everything is soft and roasted and smelling good.  Put them in a bowl and cover.

In the same pan, fry the onions gently on a lower heat in a little more oil, for about 5 mins until soft. Then add the chopped garlic and cook gently so everything goes caramalised.

Chop up your tomatoes roughly, then add to the pan. We left the skins on. Pepper and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs, balsamic vinegar and honey and turn up the heat to medium. Stir everything around then cover and leave to reduce for 15 minutes until the sauce is perfectly thick and ready for the pasta.

Rasta pasta in the mix

Serve

We used brown spaghetti which was beautiful or whatever pasta you prefer.  Mix all mixed together with a little splash more olive oil making it juicy and rich. Oh and a rather decadent side salad with avocados and sprouts.

What a feast!

RASTA PASTA

We Love It!

This dish is a wonder and has virtually no fat. It proves that the need for cheese with pasta is a myth and it has all the colours of reggae! Yippeee!

Foodie Fact

Aubergines are brilliant!  Low in calories and rich in fibre, they are full of the vitamin B’s and are good for anti-oxidants.

 

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beach House – On The Road

We’re on the road, zig zagging our way down Britain then France and Spain, in our trusty car ‘Hooty’. Expect more news and foodie words and pics soon, but with so much adventure afoot, blogging is taking a back seat.

We love you all and will see you soon.

Peace and Love,

Lee and Janexxxxxxx

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Raw Fruity Cereal

Sprouting Breakfast Salad

This mornings breakfast was very good looking (and tasting), I felt it deserved to be shared with the world.

Adding wheat sprouts to meals is great for us as it gives that sugary wheaty boast that we normally get from our muesli. The wheat sprouts are very easy to grow and have a nice soft, chewy texture.

Wheat has addictive qualities and the bread at work last night smelled amazing. This is probably why I opted for a sprouting breakfast.

I dislike using out of season produce, but it seems unavoidable at the moment.   Jane and I are always up for a bargain and visiting the shops, found some amazing berries from Spain on sale.  We love Spain, so we snaffled them up.  They were .30p a punnet!  Of course, they lack flavour and the magic of a seasonal berry (preferably ate straight off the bush), but we are not an island blessed with abundant fruit reserves.  I also thought that somewhere in the world, you may live in a land where the sun shines and fruit is always on the menu.  You may have a mango tree in your back garden! (We have a hawthorn and a couple of gnarled crab apple trees).

Raisins add a lovely sweet surprise to this awesome morning bowlful of happiness, you could used diced dates or figs.  Try soaking your raisins overnight, they become nice and plump and give off a nice raisin drink for slurping or using in cooking.

Wheat sprouts

The Bits

Enough for two decent sized bowls.

1 apple, 1 pear, 1 carrot, 1 kiwi, 1 large handful of wheat sprouts, 1 handful of blueberries, 1 handful of blackberries, 1 handful of raisins, soya milk.

Do It

Slice apple, pear, carrot and kiwi, we don’t peel anything (except kiwi).  Just wash or scrub them.  Use your creative flair and mix all nicely in your fanciest  bowl.  Mix some sprouts and raisins into the salad.

Serve

Use the rest of the sprouts for topping with the berries and some nice chilled soya milk (add as much as you would with your favourite cereal).  If I was having this for lunch and not watching my food combinations, I’d have some seeds with this.  Pumpkin and sunflower would be my choice.

Buster and I busy gardening

We Love It!

Its fruity cereal!  It is bursting with vitality and crunch and not as stodgy as our average muesli counterpart.  It also contains no fats, so the good nutrients can get straight into your system and get some morning work done.

Foodie Fact

Don’t throw the water away when you sprout wheat, it has many restorative powers.  You can even mix it with ground seeds and leave it for a day to make a sort of cheese.  It can also be used to make the drink Rejuvelac, which was created by Anne Wigmore of the Hippocrates Health Institute.

This mornings Beach House tune is by Panda Bear ‘Alsatian Darn’:

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Music, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ang’s Avocado and Mango Salad

Lovely Ang with cake and coffee

This one has floated all the way over from New Zealand.  That’s a long way for a recipe to float.

Big hugs and thanks to my ace mate Ang for this one.  Ang was a resident of Barcelona, but has recently left Catalonia for her native island, New Zealand.  In our topsy-turvy world of hopping around the place, I haven’t seen Ang in way to long, this salad reminds me of the amazing healthy food (and warm cookies) that she used to whip up in Spain when I visited.

This is exactly what we are looking forward to eating this month of raw-ness.

Ang is one of the most thoughtful and loving people I’ve met (not to mention rather amusing).  So here is ‘Ang’s Avocado and Mango Salad’ in all its glory, just like Ang, it’s fruity and sweet:

Try this one on for size – 

2 avocados
1 mango
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 small onion
1/2 red capsicum/pepper

Dice all of the above into tiny cubes and mix with a dressing made of the following:

1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp lime juice
Clove of garlic, crushed
Fresh red chilli, finely chopped
S&P

Enjoy!
I make this to take to parties or picnics but always leave a portion at home because it’s even better the next day.

This is adapted from a recipe in my beloved ‘The Essential

Vegetarian Cookbook’ by Murdoch books ISBN 0-86411-510-5 in which you also use chopped roma tomatoes, black beans, corriander and rocket.

Do you have a raw recipe we could try?

Ang’s Avocado and Mango Salad

Categories: Friends of B.H.K, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Holiday Photos – The B.H.K hits Spain

Jane walking in the forests of the Espunas. 12oC, sandals and snow.

Viva Naranja!

Under an old olive tree. La Santa Monastery

View from the terrace of Antipodas Restaurant, La Azhoia (with the bar mascot)

Our local goats cheese platter.

Jane in the Monastery Square, La Santa

Sunset over the Port of Mazzarron

Gorgeous local Raf tomatoes. Sweet, sweet, sweet...

Hello Beach House Folk,

So this is where we’ve been,  doing what we do best, going on holiday!  Hopefully this explains the lack of Beach House Kitchen action recently.

We visited Murcia, the Costa Calida, a magical place.  We have done all our ‘foodie’ friends proud by eating and drinking in brilliant ways and of course taking it very easy.  Que Vida Espana!

The produce in Murcia, known as the garden of Spain, is exceptional and some of our favourite times were spent in the markets practising the lingo and meeting the farmers.  Buying fresh dates, figs, almonds, amazing vegetables (peppers, aubergines, artichokes), olives, lemons……….etcetc.  The list goes on and on here.  The earth seems very arid in the whole area, but a little sun goes a long way!

We are going fully Raw in June, we met some amazing so we need some help planing for that.  Whats your favourite salad/ juice/ smoothie?  We met some guys in Spain who really inspired us in this respect, very shiny people, cheers Rob and LindaX

We will be back to full throttle soon-ish.  Watch this space…….

Peace and Happiness,

Lee and JaneX

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Living, photography, Raw Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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