Portuguese sardine pate (paté de sardinha)

Pate de sardinhaI’m keeping on a Portuguese theme this week, perhaps in an attempt to recapture holiday memories in these early days of autumn.

For me, Portugal is synonymous with sardines, an economical and delicious fish, and best served as fresh and as simply as possible. Although this Portuguese sardine pate recipe uses tinned sardines, it’s simplicity itself.

Paté de sardinha is ubiquitous in restaurants, arriving before a starter, alongside sourdough and salty grey-green olives. We always bulk buy it to bring home but it never lasts more a month in our house because it’s so popular, so making our own makes perfect sense.

This recipe is cheap, quick and easy, and is loaded with lots of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as being high in calcium (if you buy the tinned sardine variety with bones left in) and protein. It’s good for breakfast, spread on toast which has first been rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil, or for a picnic dip with crackers. Or try it in sandwiches for a speedy lunch.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tins of Portuguese sardines in sunflower oil, 120g each, oil drained and reserved

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp of sunflower oil, reserved from the sardines

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and chilli flakes to taste (I used a large pinch of each)

Method

Simply put all the ingredients in a jug and blend with a stick blender, or blend in a food processor.

Serve with toast or crackers.

Portuguese sardine pate

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Cockle Tempura

Cockle tempura
Inspired the original and utterly wonderful cockled popcorn on a recent visit to No 1 Cromer, I decided to try recreating it at home with successful results! I can’t justify stealing No 1 Cromer’s fabulous name, though, so renamed it the rather more prosaic cockle tempura. If you’re ever in Cromer, visit No 1 Cromer; they make brilliant seafood dishes. I also had a particularly tasty crab salad.

I adapted a tempura recipe from http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-tempura. As the Gluten-free Recipe Box explains, the secret to good tempura is cold ingredients, hence the rather unusual start to the beginning of this recipe. Of course, you can simply plan ahead (which I didn’t) and put the flour and water in the fridge for an hour or so instead.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

50g rice flour

30g cornflour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

80 ml sparkling water

sunflower oil for deep-fat frying

200g cockles

Method

Mix the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda together, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, along the water.

When they’re cold, whisk them together. Heat 2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 190°C.

Add the cockles in batches to the batter, because it’s best not to crowd to the pan when you come to cook them (I divided them into three batches).

Mix well, then use a metal slotted spoon to remove them, placing them in a separate bowl (I found this helped me with the next stage).

Drop the battered cockles carefully in the hot oil using the metal slotted spoon, trying to separate them as they go in, otherwise they will clump together.

Fry for 30-60 seconds, then remove them using the slotted spoon and place them on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Tempura cockles

Mung bean curry

Mung bean dalA change in the weather and the beginnings of an autumnal cold has made me crave warming, nourishing curries this week. I also like to cook a big pot of soup or curry to have for lunch during the week.

This easy mung bean curry recipe is also cheap and very satisfying, either served simply with plain boiled basmati or as part of a thali spread, with lime pickle and yoghurt.

I would like to serve this with chapati too, but since going gluten-free have yet to find a decent recipe. I tried a 100% gram flour one to go with this curry, but the dough was too hard to work with. So please let me know if you’ve got any easy gluten-free chapati recipes!

I made this curry quite dry, but if you’re in a soupy mood, then feel free to add more of the reserved stock to make it more liquid.

Serves 4

Ingredients

200g whole green mung (or moong) beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp sunflower oil

6 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 green chillis, finely chopped and deseeded depending on heat required

2 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

4 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

small handful fresh coriander, stalk finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

small handful (10-15 leaves) curry leaves

Method

Put the mung beans in boiling water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until just soft. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan.

Fry the garlic, chillis and spices on a medium-low heat, without letting the garlic colour, for five minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes and salt, cooking for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Add the coriander stalks, curry leaves and mung beans, putting in about a wine glass of the drained mung bean cooking water, or as much as required.

Simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with basmati rice or chapati.

Okra curry

Okra curry with chutney and raita

I fully got into the curry vibe during a weekend visit to Easton, Bristol, this weekend, with an evening at the wonderful Thali Café and a shop at the Sweet Mart.

I stocked up on okra, because as I live in the wilds of Somerset, even in a town like Frome, this vegetable is something of an exotic novelty for me these days. I love their impossibly funky bike wheel pattern when they’re sliced open, and their weird and unique ooziness.

This recipe is adapted from one I learnt at Little Cove Yoga Retreat in Goa. Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients; like many curry recipes, there’s really not that much to it once you get started, as most items listed below are spices you can just throw in.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

5 cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded depending on heat preferred

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

300g okra, washed, topped and tailed

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp salt

25 g fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard, coriander and fennel seeds for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions, ginger and chillies, cooking for 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, slice the okra into pieces about 0.5cm thick.

Chopped okra

After the onion has cooked for 10 minutes, add the garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the okra and 50ml of water and cook, covered, on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the coriander and cook for another 5 minutes.

Okra curry

Caldeirada de lulas (Portuguese squid stew)

Caldeirada de lulasI love Portuguese food, particularly seafood. My favourite dish is sardinhas assadas, preferably served at a rustic seaside bar with a cold Sagres or a glass of Vinho Verde.

I also love the various tiny artisan cheeses, fish pate, chewy sourdough and gorgeous salty olives that come before your starter in restaurants; watch this space for a Portuguese sardine pate recipe.

This summer I had some fantastic squid in both Spain and Portugal, including the relatively unusual albondigas de choco, another recipe that will be featured here sometime soon.

But for the time being, I’ve made a caldeirada de lulas, which I took to my monthly food club this weekend, with Portugal as its theme for September. The key to the delicious rich sauce is to cook the onions until they start to caramelise and to be generous with the wine. I try to get hold of cuttlefish for this recipe as it’s so much cheaper than squid.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 kg squid or cuttlefish, cleaned weight (ask your fishmonger to do this, as this is not a job for the squeamish!)

4 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 peppers, sliced

2 small glasses of white wine, preferably Vinho Verde

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut slices as thick as a £1 coin

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sea salt

White crusty bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan/325ºC/as mark 3.

Cut the squid or cuttlefish into thick slices of 2 cm by 5 cm.

Heat the oil in a large roomy pan.

Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Stir in the peppers, leaving to cook for another 10 minutes, before adding the garlic, and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf and potatoes, and bring to the boil.

Stir the squid in the stew.

Once it’s simmering, season to taste and then transfer the stew to a casserole dish and place, covered, in the oven for an hour.

Season, then sprinkle with coriander.

Portuguese squid stew

Easy masala dosa

Masala dosa

I love masala dosa but an authentic recipe takes some preparation, involving soaking urad dal and rice over night, grinding them the next day and then leaving them to ferment. So when I saw a bag of dosa flour at Bristol’s Sweet Mart I realised I could make reasonable dosas without much hassle at all. The flour and water batter does need leaving overnight, but it’s easy to prepare. Our children love pancakes, so this recipe has the added bonus of being a real crowd pleaser for a family meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Dosas

Sunflower oil for frying

200g dosa flour (I used Jalpur Dhosa Mix Flour)

Enough warm water to make a thin batter, about 500-600 ml

1 tsp salt

Potato masala

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

12 curry leaves

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

800g cooked potatoes

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chat masala (optional)

Chat masala salad

3 tomatoes, third of a cucumber, diced

half a tin of chickpeas

2 spring onions, finely sliced, or a handful of chives, snipped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)

Pinch of chat masala (optional) and salt

Raita

250g natural yoghurt

half a garlic clove, crushed

small handful of mint, chopped

pinch of salt

Method

Dosa batter

Mix the dosa ingredients together and leave overnight.

Masala potatoes

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat.

Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions. Cook for 5-10 mins until soft.

Add the cumin and coriander seeds, garam masala and chat masala and cook for 2 minutes, before adding the cooked potato. Heat through and keep in a warm oven.

Dosas and potato filling

Dosas

Traditionally dosas are cooked in a flat tawa pan but you can also use a crepe pan, or non-stick frying pan. Heat ½ tsp of oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add a ladleful of batter (I made a rough spiral to cover the pan as thinly as possible).

Gently flip with a spatula when one side is done, after a few minutes. Keep the dosas warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

To assemble, put a few dessert spoons of potato mix on a dosa and fold over. Serve with the chat masala salad and raita, along with lime pickle and mango chutney.

Chutney and dips

Zhoug (green chilli sauce)

Zhoug green chilli sauce Zhoug (pronounced ‘shug’, as in the first syllable of sugar) is a green herb chilli paste from Israel and a perfect accompaniment to my wild garlic falafel. The first time I tried zhoug I was hooked, spreading it on toast, to replace olive oil for a Spanish pan con tomate, stirring it through couscous or bulgar wheat or adding a dollop to tomato soup.

It’s important to use good-quality coriander, not the flaccid kind you find in growing in pots in the supermarket. If you see a good bunch of coriander but don’t have time to make zhoug immediately, wrap the bunch in some dampened kitchen roll and keep it in a bag in the fridge to stop it wilting (this method works well with parsley too).

Zhoug is supposed to be fiery, so use the seeds if your chillies aren’t particularly hot.

If you don’t use it straight away, zhoug will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks – if you can resist eating it, of course!

Ingredients

50g fresh coriander, including stalks

2 green chillies, seeds left in

1 garlic clove, crushed

1½ tsp cumin

1/8 tsp salt

4 tbsp olive oil

Method

Finely chop the coriander, green chillies and crushed garlic; it’s worth using a mezzaluna for this if you have one. (I prefer the texture of zhoug chopped by hand rather than using a food processor, which can make the end result rather mushy.)

Add the cumin, salt and olive oil.

zhoug with falafel

Baked wild garlic falafel

wild garlic falafelI recently tried making some baked falafel, using a brilliant recipe by Jessy Ellenburger at Instructables. Continuing my wild garlic fetish, which seems to be my theme of April, I decided to make a similar recipe, replacing the usual falafel herb ingredients of parsley and coriander with yep, you’ve guessed, wild garlic. Baking means that this is a healthy and super-easy falafel recipe.

I love a good sauce with my falafel and so whisked up an easy tahini sauce (see below) to go with them, along with the Israeli zhoug, an easy recipe for green chilli sauce shared with me by my friend Marie. To finish it off, I made a simple tomato salad sprinkled with finely shredded wild garlic. I added more wild garlic to the salad leaves that went in the pitta, for a real wild garlic extravaganza!

easy tomato salad with wild garlic

Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas, drained

50g wild garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp salt

Pitta breads, extra wild garlic, salad leaves, tomatoes and tahini sauce (see below) to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C. Whizz the chickpeas and wild garlic in a food processor until mixed but not blended to a paste.

Add the onion, spices and salt.

Form into small walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly.

uncooked wild garlic falafel

Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by whisking together 4 tbsp of light tahini, 3 tbsp water and juice of a lemon, plus a crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt.

You could also make some zhoug at this point – see my recipe for this here.

Serve the falafel stuffed in pitta with salad, drizzled with the tahini sauce and zhoug, alongside a tomato salad (see above.)

wild garlic falafel in pitta breadI’m entering this seasonal dish in Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Red lentil dahl

Red lentil dahl recipeBeing lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Goa in February, I embarked on a culinary odyssey, consuming nothing but Indian fare for two weeks, sampling as many new dishes as I could and watching people cook wherever possible. So be warned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring Indian recipes galore, as I try my best to recreate the gorgeous Goa deliciousness.

I learnt the most watching Sooni, the talented cook at Little Cove yoga retreat where I stayed, who created the most delectable vegetarian thalis every day. I also had a brilliant cooking class with Ahmet in Arambol, who shows his students how to make 10 separate dishes in a morning.

This dahl recipe is an adaptation from these experiences.

Dahl in South India is served with the consistency of a thin soup. I’m normally a die-hard brown rice fan, but dahl cooked like this is begging for a pile of fluffy white basmati to soak up those lovely yellow juices.

The main ingredients are readily at any supermarket, but if you can get hold of the optional extras, they’re worth adding, to take your dahl to another level.

Ingredients

250g red split lentils

1tsp tumeric

1tsp salt

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tbsp curry leaves, fresh or dried

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

½-1 red or green chilli, deseeded (depending on heat required) and finely chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbsp freshly ground coriander or coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala (see my recipe to make your own)

Small bunch of fresh coriander (about 25g), chopped

Optional:

1 tsp mango powder

1 tsp chat masala

1 heaped tsp fenugreek leaf

Serves 4

Method

Rinse the lentils and cover them with a litre of cold water, then add turmeric and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped garlic and chilli, stirring for a few minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add the coriander and garam masala, along with the mango powder, chat masala and fenugreek leaf, if using. Stir for a few minutes then add a bit of water to make a thick paste and stop the spices from sticking.

Add the cooked lentils and their water, adding an extra 100ml if you want a thinner soupy consistency. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, before adding the fresh coriander.

I serve this with some jeera rice (fry 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds for a few minutes, then add basmati rice for four people and fry, before adding enough water to cover, and simmering until done), but chapatis are equally good, especially if you’re serving it as a soup.

Gluten-free muhammara

Muhammara I first had muhammara, a delicious Syrian red pepper and walnut dip, at my favourite restaurant, Frome’s wonderful High Pavement Evening Café. They specialise in Middle Eastern and Spanish dishes; I’ve had many a fine meal there and can recommend it wholeheartedly. (Make sure you sample a manzanilla or oloroso on the brilliant sherry menu too.)

It took me ages to remember the name muhammara but once I did, I became slightly obsessed with recreating its intense flavour. The first time I made it I used Turkish red pepper paste, which I bought in Bristol’s Sweetmart. Last weekend I’d planned a Middle Eastern mezze spread but Bristol is a long way to go from Frome for a jar of pepper paste, so I thought I’d have a go at making it with roasted red peppers. But if you can buy a jar of red pepper paste, it does save time, as does using shelled walnuts, although the flavour isn’t nearly as good.

Unlike the traditional version, which uses breadcrumbs or bulgur wheat, I decided to make a gluten-free muhammara, and serve it with bread on the side for dipping. I made the easy yet delicious Eastern-style focaccia recipe from Sabrina Ghayour’s gorgeous Persiana book, cut into fingers, and za’atar pitta bread triangles (see below). If you can’t get any za’atar you can use a sprinkling of smoked paprika and cumin instead, or just brush the triangles with olive oil. You could also serve it with plain pitta bread, flatbread or sourdough.

Ingredients

Muhammara

10 red peppers

200g walnuts

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tsp chilli flakes (Aleppo ones are the most authentic)

6 tsp cumin

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

Chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

Za’atar pitta triangles

1 packet of 6 white pitta breads

3 tsp za’atar

150 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Serves 8-10 as part of a mezze spread

Method

Roast the red peppers preferably on an open flame on a gas hob, under a grill or in a hot oven (220ºC, 200ºC fan, gas mark 7) until the skin turns black and blisters. This takes about 20 minutes. If you’re doing them on the hob or under the grill, turn them regularly.

Roast the red peppers preferably on an open flame on a gas hob, or under a grill or in a hot oven (220ºC, 200ºC fan, gas mark 7) until the skin turns black and blisters. Turn them a few times during the 20 minutes or so it takes for them to blister.roasted red peppers

Meanwhile shell the walnuts (if necessary) and roughly chop them.walnuts

Slice open each pitta bread carefully so you have two ovals. Then halve each oval and cut each half into rough triangles. Mix the olive oil with the za’atar and brush onto the triangles, laying them out on to some baking trays so they’re in one layer.pitta bread

pitta bread trianglesWhen the peppers are done take them out and turn the oven down (200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas mark 6). Put the peppers in a sieve or colander with a plate over the top, and place it over a bowl to drain.

Put the pitta triangles into the oven (which should be slightly cooler now) and put a timer on for 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them, remove the seeds and roughly chop them.

Keep an eye on the pitta breads to make sure they don’t burn, giving them a shake after 5 minutes.za'atar pitta triangles

Put everything except the walnuts in a food processor and blend to a rough paste (I prefer muhammara with a bit of texture), or use a blender or stick blender. Add the walnuts and blend again briefly. Taste and add more spices or salt if needed.

Take the pitta breads out when they’re lightly toasted and put on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on the muhammara.muhummara gluten-free dip

As this recipe is feel-good healthy and has a spicy kick to it, I’m entering it for the current Spice Challenge, with the theme Temple Food.Spice Trail