Instant lunch

You know what it’s like, you come home, hungry, scroll down through Facebook, see a dish and have to have it? Yes, me, today. Back from a walk in the sunshine with the dogs and starving. I saw a plate of grilled courgette, and thought, I have to have those. In the salad drawer of the fridge I have a couple of those little round ones, no idea what the difference is, besides shape,  but if you know, do enlighten me.

Wherever I go I pick up some spice, a taste of an enjoyed adventure.

A recent trip to Ireland saw an addition to the ever growing spice shelf – Lebanese Baharat, a subtle mix of Middle-Eastern flavours. Not so Irish, eh?! Dublin is such a cosmopolitan place, there’s every kind of food to be sampled and enjoyed. I picked up that spice from Fresh ‘n’ Fruity, the amazing little greengrocer shop that is just steps from my mother’s house in Lucan.

So, today I coated the sliced courgette with olive oil, salt and the spice mix.

courgette

Grilled on the Weber for a couple of minutes each side for nice charred stripes, and enjoyed with a simple salad, fresh tomato, celery and lettuce – more oil, a splash of rice wine vinegar. The spice mix made all the difference, a subtle, aromatic taste.

Yes, the sunshine helps 🙂

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)

©

SONY DSC

©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.

©

SONY DSC

©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 🙂

SONY DSC

©carol m byrne

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

SONY DSC

© carol m byrne

Habas for homely Spanish comfort food

Every country has its comfort food. A shepherd’s pie with creamy, soft mashed potato, a good old chicken and leek pie lifted from the oven with wonky pastry and juices everywhere, or a bowl of steaming Irish stew fit for a soft day.

For us here in the Alpujarra region of Spain, it’s a springtime thing, and the arrival of the first carrier bag of crackingly fresh habas kindly offered by our neighbours, who grow the stuff on a Jack and the Beanstalk scale.

Usually with a few fresh pea-pods thrown in, I open the bag with pleasure, and we sit side by side, our backs warmed by the sunshine, podding and separating the little green jewels from their furred homes. The peas are popped into our mouths as we go, the habas mostly make it to the colander.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Habas con Jamón

Heat some Olive Oil. Gently sautée some finely chopped onion and garlic. Add some Jamón offcuts, or a packet of Jamón tacos to the pan to fill the kitchen and the street with a mouthwatering scent. A splash of white wine or that Fino in the fridge door added to sizzle. Add the newly liberated habas, a litre of stock, and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and silky, and one testing taste leads to another. Add freshly milled pepper but no salt. Hey, lunch is ready, did you get the bread? A slather of salty butter and we’re ready to eat! Sit down there, won’t you?…

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).

DSC09376.JPG

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.

DSC09377.JPG

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.

DSC09383.JPG

There’ll be nothing left over!

 

 

Waiter, there’s a snot in my milkshake…

Love the pig!

Love the pig!

Well, you just never know, do you?

This Horse-y hoo ha that has smothered the news lately makes you think. Think about what you eat, because after all, we are what we eat. Simple.

Cheap meat equals cheap content, and ambiguity – where did it come from? How many air miles are on it? How fresh is it?  And now….WHAT is it?

We’ve been to France, we’ve probably eaten horse, that’s not the argument really.  It’s knowing we’re eating it, and being happy about it.

Here in the Alpujarras, we wince at the pig being killed at Matanza – but enjoy the chorizo, morcilla, longaniza, and other tasty porcine entrails – we know where it’s from.

The wine we drink is the one from the grapes we harvested, to help our neighbour. No fish guts, no nasty preservatives.

Our olive oil is first press, green, from Carolina, I can point you out her trees close to Torviscon.

Our bread is freshly baked over wood, daily. Sometimes it would be nice to have something different, but that’s what the Panadero bakes.

We could buy all these things in Dia, or Aldi – cheaper, but inferior.

Next time you’re on your dwindling UK high street – doesn’t matter where, they all look the same –  then pass by the growing number of charity shops and betting shops – seek out your local butcher or baker – and do yourself – and your digestion – a favour.

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

Previous Older Entries