Social media snacks

Log on to any of your social media pages and you’ll be tripping over links to fast food recipes, many of them are healthy and nutritious, we’ve had a fair bit of success replicating some of those BuzzFeed quick recipes. I’m unsure whether we are generally losing our attention span for reading recipes, but those fast how-to videos are fun to watch and full of great ideas for lunchtime.

Facebook friend Matthew Hirtes (The Hon Mr Gran Canaria) highlighted one yesterday, a veggie burger using red beans, so I gave it a go today with moderate success, and a little frustration!

Basically, my error lay in changing a few of the ingredients, that old problem of available pantry stock and living in the middle of fecking nowhere. Here’s what we did: (in brackets are my added extras)



©carol m byrne

Blend a jar of cooked red beans, soaked Quinoa (I used Bulgur Wheat) seasoning, herbs, chopped onion, (garlic, chili flakes and a drop or 4 of hot sauce) sesame seeds, lemon juice. Shape into patty rounds and fry in a little olive oil.



©carol m byrne

BUT…My mix was too wet, so I also rolled them in dried breadcrumbs.

Fry in a shallow griddle pan in olive oil with a little more patience than I had 🙂


©carol m byrne

Basically, then eat as you would with a burger and the usual relish, toppings and whatnot. Thanks Matthew. I think. 🙂


© carol m byrne


Rick Stein in my Spanish kitchen

Not really 🙂 Watching Rick Stein travel from Venice to Istanbul is making us dribble a bit though. It should be marked as unsuitable viewing for greedy folk prior to lunchtime.

So, after he conjured up this bean dish under the Greek sun the other day, via the Beeb, we practically ran to the kitchen to replicate it. The next day, we did it again for a lunch party of 6 friends, adding those little bits of Jamon tacos into the recipe – so this is a Spanish version – but it’s just as nice and flavoursome without.

Called Gigante something or other, because of the big beans I guess. Basically, it’s quick, easy, filling and cheap. It’s also really, really tasty.

Fry some garlic and onion in lots of olive oil. Season. (if you are choosing to add bacon or jamon then do it now).


Wilt half a bag of fresh spinach. He added fresh, skinned, chopped tomatoes. You might add a tin, but remember it should be quite dry. We used some previously roasted cherry tomatoes which we had be given 🙂

(I roast them slowly, with balsamic, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary)

So when the spinach has wilted (30 seconds or so) mix in a jar of those big butter beans, or whatever beans are in the store cupboard. I added them earlier to the pan in error, it didn’t make any difference.


Transfer the lot to the oven, and bake until it’s all combined and hot. Take out and crumble feta cheese over the top and serve. (Lidl have just had the Greek promo on, but if you needed to then any similar cheese would be great). Serve in tapas dishes.


There’ll be nothing left over!



Meatless sausages from Spain

That title sounds like a contradiction, in a country where the pig is devoured right down to the squeak.  Vegetarian I am not – but I was once, for 15 years, 2 of those in Spain.  To eat out in Spain as a vegetarian is a test in patience, as discussed last week with Kiersten, where Jamón and Tuna and even Chicken are all considered to be ‘not really’ meat, or suitable for someone who would rather not eat something with eyes.  But of course eating out in the cities as a vegetarian is easier.

Speaking of Kiersten, take a look at her Alpujarras Walking page.

So, this recipe adapted from one by the delicious Mr Slater is one we tried this week and all loved, carnivores too, and it was also a chance to test the mettle of the new pressure cooker – which, incidentally, I am terrified of.

Any Spanish housewife worth her saffron loves her beans.  Any pulse in fact, you know that appetite-whetting, mouth-watering feeling when you walk through a little quiet village around 1pm and you can smell Chorizo and onion stewed with beans?  Stews from all over Spain almost always include the humble pulse.

So we bought some dried white beans and Googled pressure cooking times, adjusted Nigel’s recipe, and came up with this:

2 cups (I use those American cup measurements for almost every recipe) dried white beans

3 bay leaves

3 large garlic cloves


Put all of these into the pressure cooker and top with 2″ water.

Cook on high for 25 minutes, until they’re squashy enough to pop the skins with your finger and thumb.




Chilli pepper

Mash the beans with 2 cups of a strong cheese, we used Irish Cheddar. Fry or boil a leek and add it to the mix.  Chop a red chilli pepper and throw it in.  Add a beaten egg and combine.



Form into sausage shapes (no sniggering in the cheap seats) then egg, breadcrumb, repeat.

Fry until golden brown….eat 🙂

*Save a few of the cooked beans, add another clove of garlic, juice of a lime, a chilli, fresh mint, olive oil and blitz to spread on griddled breads.

Oui Oui to Cassoulet

When you’ve put 3 meals a day on the table for 2 kids for almost 2 decades, a lunch out at someone else’s table is always welcome! Doffing the apron, we set out on Sunday for the long road to Lynne and Lester’s cortijo. Actually, it’s a mere twist of the Alpujarran mountain to get there, but their vertigo-inducing track would turn the thinnest milk to double cream… if you remember, it’s the one where Stan attempted to increase my fitness last New Year and almost managed to do me in instead. Hey, was that a plan? 

So we took our time as the jalopy doesn’t need anything else to fall off the bottom of it – and really, the place is totally reachable in 5 minutes, and so entrenched in birdsong and total peace when you get there it’s worth it. It’s the site of an ancient watermill in huge swathes of it’s own land. You can buy it if you like, read all about it here.

Even nicer was the dish of the day – Cassoulet –  of course, a recipe from France.

Stew. It’s one of those dishes where every country has their own lovely version, and I guess the closest Spain would come to this one is Fabada from Asturias. Here’s a recipe for Fabada.

Lynne’s version of Cassoulet is pretty authentic – and I had a warming glass of Pastis too to complete the true taste – a perfect combination for a cold day, guaranteed to impart a red glow Rudolph would be proud of.

Here it is, do try it, and let us know what you thought 🙂 The layering of ingredients is pretty, the end result was trés tasty!


1 tin of duck confit, 600 grammes of dried white haricot beans, 100 grammes jamon, 4 slices of streaky bacon, 400 grammes of good quality sausage, 500 grammes of carrots, 2 sticks celery, 1 large tin of tomatoes, an onion, cloves of garlic to taste, breadcrumbs and chopped parsley to garnish
The night before put the beans to soak in plenty of cold water. Next day drain off and discard the water. Put the beans to cook in fresh water for about an hour. Meanwhile chop the carrots in rings and chop the celery. Par-boil them. Chop the jamon into small pieces. Remove the duck from its grease and remove its skin. ( traditionally the skin and some grease is left on, but it is less healthy!) Chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Cut the sausages into pieces.
Line the bottom of a large casserole with the streaky bacon. Drain the beans. Put half of the beans into the casserole. On top of them add the duck, the jamon, the sausages, the carrots, the celery, the onion, the garlic and the chopped up tomatoes. Cover with the remaining beans. Pour on the tomato juice and about 250-300 ml of water. Cover the top with as many breadcrumbs as needed. Cover with a lid.
Cook at gas mark 4-5 for approximately 2 hours. If it browns too quickly turn down the heat.

Á votre santé!


Cortijo – Farmhouse or country house.

Fabada – Asturian stew with beans.

Jamon – air dried ham from Spain.



A supper date…

…at our English friends house – they were here for 3 weeks and had the neighbours in fora chinwag and a chomp! Pete and Carole always put out a huge selection of nice food, so I cobbled together a quick tray to take – this one is Moroccan in flavour, and is quick to make up, the Spanish friends didn´t touch it though – too foreign!

Hummus, here´s my recipe some juicy dates, crudities and a little cous cous mixed with mint and cucumber, onion and tomato.  Shape the cous cous in a circle – it looks better, and add a few pitta slices, and a bowl of local olives made pretty with a leaf from the tree and a wedge of lemon….hey presto! Apologies for the pic – I think I had the wrong setting on, but you get the picture!

a little bit of everything

Sunday Lunch

…with friends. An invite to Sunday Lunch here in Las Alpujarras is less of a Roast Beef affair and more of a trip to a Bodega, tasting the new wine….

and an enormous bubbling pan of Arroz.

A sort of  Paella with more liquid, crab, elvers, prawns, mussels, and squid compete with garlic, onions, vibrant peppers and golden saffron.

People drift in and out, a glass and a plate always proffered, plates of olives, capers, chorizo and cheese for a long sobre mesa first course…Rosario cooks the best Arroz…who would want Bisto when you can have this?!

serving up

Let it snow, Let it snow, Take it Slow

Yes, we had a good sprinkling of the white stuff last night, big powdery flakes that were melted away today by the Andalucían sunshine, but hopefully that will have improved the Ski conditions up at the the Sierra Nevada...

Cold weather, warm stew based dishes – a slow cooker bought in one of my more clever moments is the basis for this recipe, but a watched pot or for authenticity a tagine from Morocco will do.

Think Morocco and sunshine, zingy spices and warmth! More

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