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

Old Mother Hubbard’s pasta

I’ve looked, and looked, there’s nothing there…

Not a fairy tale, but the reality of the plaintive cry from the nearly 18 yr old son with no brain.  Honestly, that’s a bit harsh, but just a bit.

There’s always something in my cupboards, after nearly 7 years on my Alpujarras mountain I have learned to keep basics in, to remember that the M&S food hall is not 5 mins walk away like it used to be, and to regret that the take away will not deliver 1114 metres up the mountain.

But, it has made me a better cook, and I throw away nada. Ever.  I can make a bolognaise into a lasagne, or a chilli, and even carry on with empanadas if there’s anything left.  Stews and casseroles morph into pies, mash becomes fishcakes, stuffing gets rolled up in pastry with any cooked meat to make a sausage roll with a difference.

There’s usually a plated up meal or two in the freezer, but the pop-it-y-ping (microwave to you) went bang over Christmas and I can’t afford to replace it just yet…

So, lesson 1 and 2 for can’t cook- won’t cook son.

Fishy pasta

Boil the pasta – doh.

Sauté garlic, onions, halved cherry tomatoes, add a splash of the undrinkable vino from the butcher – don’t ask, it’s a long story –  I only sent Isobel for firelighters.

Add tomato frito, mixed herbs, salt and pepper, a few black olives to be pushed to the side of the plate, a tin of tuna, or those tasty mackerel fillets that sound like horse or onion or something in Spanish – stir it together. Grate over Parmesan.  Eat.

Ask your mum to put the plate into the dishwasher.


Bacon creamy pasta.

Boil the pasta.  Sauté the onion and garlic again, add bacon bits, lardons or a few rashers of bacon snipped into small pieces.

Add a little frito, a tub of cooking cream – nata para cocinar – herbs, black pepper, no salt as the bacon is salty enough.  Stir the pasta through the hot sauce and serve.

Repeat the steps with the mother and the dishwasher.

Easy Pea-sy Pasta

A quick favourite stand by lunch, added iron in the spinach for the kids – especially for moody hormonal teens –  and worth sharing with you, so I will.

What do you need?

  • Frozen peas
  • Bag of fresh spinach leaves
  • Macaroni or similar pasta
  • Garlic – about 3 cloves chopped
  • Butter
  • Olive oil

Fry the garlic in the butter with little oil. Cook the peas and also the pasta, add the peas to the pan with the garlic and just wilt the spinach –  and then tip into the blender, mix until smooth.ImageImage

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix gently….top with some fresh Parmesan shavings, a bunch of chopped mint, season and go….the kids´ll never know…sshhhh

By the way, it´s darned tasty too!

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

Something for the weekend…

Josh decided to stay over at a friend’s house last weekend, their village fiesta was on and a party night was planned with lots of….no, wait, I’d rather not know…! The village in question was Cherin – a short trek of about 40 kms over the mountain on the other side of Ugijar, home to our ‘local’ supermarket so tied in with a restock of the fridge Stan took him. More

Getting Arty-farty

Neighbours in for an unplanned drink? Don’t panic….quick tapas are the best tapas, what’s in season? Tomatoes right now…here’s how to make them arty farty in 2 minutes!

By the way, the balsamic reduction can be made in half an hour over the stove, or by popping to Lidl like me – it’s with the ketchup!

3 arty blobs of balsamic reduction


draw a sharp point of a knife quickly down

With chopped Tomatoes, crushed garlic and olive oil. ¿Quieres Tapas?


Okay, so not Tapas, not even Spanish, but hey, I like it!

What I really like is using leftovers, I am the leftover Queen.  All those years in the Eighties starving in London…well, usually a toss-up between a meal or going for a drink with friends, the beer won out every time!

So you’ve slow roasted some tomatoes, with garlic and sea salt, a splash of balsamic, a sprinkle of sugar, blitz it up and add it to whatever – lots of bolognaise left over means Lasagne, a little cayenne and chocolate and we have Chili, or this week…Calzone.

The kids call it Foldyoverpizza – I guess it is – and with the addition of some dough from the breadmaker, a meal. Here it is in pictures!

Leaving the dough to double in size

Add the bolognaise, sprinkle on cheese

fold over, seal and egg wash (yolk and water)

bake for 25mins at 200ºC

serve with a quick salad...

...Mmmm, tasty!


Had some delicious Alioli with little cubed roast potato last night up at Bar Atalyón in Murtas last night.

I always buy it, and assumed it was like mayo but with added garlic, on noticing Toni had a big homemade supply I asked for the recipe, and here it is. Tried it today and it works, perfectly, and took 15 seconds to make!

Whatever the quantity you want, use twice as much olive oil as cold milk. Add garlic chopped finely, again as strong as you like, salt to taste. Whizz all SLOWLY in a blender and…..

That’s it!

Terésa said she adds a slice of white bread and ground almonds, and uses it as a spread, like Hummus.

Sorry no pics, Josh managed to break his foot last night and I am a little pushed for time!

More TopTapas soon…

A few posts on the move from Blogger!

Kidneys in Sherry

Weather’s a bit cold….a few days of rain in store for us and it’s our fiesta weekend here in Murtas Las Alpujarras – so a quick warming dish, if you like kidneys that is! More