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Tag: Turmeric

Autumn in Florida {Pumpkin Pottage with Kale, MahiMahi and Bacon}

Florida vs London

The rain was coming down in torrential buckets after the stifling heat of the day, enticing my curiosity to go outside and observe nature in the tropics. In Florida the rain is different to that in London, where moments before I had been transported by the prologue of the book I’ve just started, Capital. Here at this latitude, it is almost always accompanied by a fanfare of thunder and cracking that makes one realise the heavens can be quite ferocious and nature has no friends (as we say in Spain).

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Roasted Pumpkin Vegetable Potage

We are currently travelling through parts of Europe. My husband has to be in Austria a few days and asked me to come along so we could visit family and friends and maybe squeese in a day of early-season skiing as well. (The snow conditions in Austria are supposed to be perfect for skiing… we’ll see.)

So, once again, we are on one of our crazy road-trips, which always turn out to be a lot of fun and which we love. We usually end up seeing a number of cities and sometimes even can fit in a visit to a museum or a tourist site. On this trip thus far, we visited family in Maasland and managed to see a lovely museum. Maasland is a village in the province of South Holland and it has a long history, since about 925AD. It was also an important area, where Willem van Oranje, in 1574, finally defeated the Spaniards with an interesting strategy of flooding the lands. Most of the Netherlands is below sea level, and this area in particular is very low. One can see the old dikes and polders, part of the engineering system of sea and water management for which the Netherlands is famous.

The museum in the center of town is an old farmer’s house with 19th century period furniture. The house has a storefront filled with replicas of lots of traditional stock of Dutch candies, cacao, cigarettes, pharmaceutical drugs, cleaning utensils, cooking oils, and canned foodstuffs. They still sell some varieties of sugary sweets by weight and there were a number of children lining up to get their few euros worth of treats. I remembered my youth in Sevilla with my cousins where we used to go the corner kiosk to buy a handful of candies and chewing gums for only 5 pesetas!

The house also has a cellar, where the original family made homemade butter, buttermilk and cheeses. It’s very interesting to see all of the wooden and iron equipment used for the process of making these dairy products. What a lot of work all that was, but how healthy to make it at home! There are still many farmers who make and sell their own dairy products. In fact, our family shared with us some farmer’s cheese they had purchased especially for our visit. The taste and texture are unique and so wonderful.

My favourite part of the house was the kitchen of course. It was stocked with all kinds of beautiful enamelware.. all of which I wanted to take home! There were the traditional Dutch ovens, which can be stacked on top of each other, ladles and spoons, pots and pans, a poffertjes pan (something like “full” pancakes), teapot, coffeepot…

As we continue our trip, we are having a short break today so my husband can visit his dentist and I’m taking advantage of this time to write this post and share the recipe with you.

On Friday, the day we left London, I made this soup with some leftover roasted pumpkin from this recipe, so we could have something warm in our tummies for lunch and to hold us over until we arrived in France for dinner. It’s very easy to make and is a nice soup to serve as a starter for a full meal. You can use other vegetables, depending on your taste and what you may have on hand.

Enjoy!

ROASTED PUMPKIN VEGETABLE POTAGE

Ingredients, makes about 5 cups:

2 cups roasted pumpkin meat (I used butternut squash at roasted in the oven at 180C (350F) for about 40 minutes)
3 cups filtered water
2 leeks, finely sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 medium red onions, julienne or chopped
4 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons duck fat
bacon bits or jamón serrano bits

Method:

In a pot over low heat, melt the duck fat and poach the onions until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, excluding the pumpkin, and the spices. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add one cup of the filtered water and the pumpkin meat and mix well. Add the remaining two cups of water, mix well, and season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Warm and serve with pieces of bacon or jamón serrano.

*****

SOPA/POTAJE DE CALABAZA AL HORNO CON VERDURAS

Ingredientes, hace como 5 tazas de caldo :

2 tazas, como unos 500ml de carne de calabaza previamente hecha al horno (a 180C unos 40 minutos)
750ml de agua
2 puerros, cortados en rodajas finas
6-8 tomates cherry, cortados por la mitad
3 cebollas medianas, rojas, cortadas en juliana
4 pencas de apio, en rodajas finas
3 dientes de ajo, en rodajas a lo largo
1 cucharadita de hierbas de la Provenza
1/2 cucharadita de cúrcuma
salt y pimienta negra, a gusto
3-4 cucharadas grandes de grasa de pato
taquitos de beicon o jamón serrano, de guarnición

Como hacer la sopa:

En una olla sobre fuego lento, derrite la grasa de pato y pocha las cebollas, como unos 6-8 minutos, hasta que esten tiernas. Añade el resto de las verduras, excepto la calabaza, y las especias. Cuece hasta que esten las verduras tiernas. Agrega una taza de agua (250ml) y la calabaza y remueve bien. Ahora agregale el resto del agua, mezclando todo bien, y sazona a gusto con sal y pimienta negra. Calienta la sopa y sirve la con taquitos de beicon o jamón.

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Soup with Quatre-Epices

Since moving back to Europe, we make a point of doing an annual road trip to Sevilla, Spain usually in the summer or autumn. We have three important reasons for driving so many kilometers each year: one, we get to enjoy a lot of quality time together and see many beautiful things along the way, both in France and in Spain; and two, we have the opportunity of seeing family and friends, whom we wouldn’t see otherwise because of where they live, Bayonne and Vitoria; and three, we stock up on Spanish goodies, such as various 5-liter olive oil bottles, whole legs of jamon serrano, and other things we miss, that we couldn’t possibly pack into a suitcase. On the last trip, we even brought back some delicious salted cod!

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Now that we live in London, we are in France more often than when we lived in Germany. Now, we must cross the north of France every time we visit the Benelux and Germany. Consequently, we have gotten to know Calais and the surrounding region quite well. During the summer months when we arrive around lunchtime, our first stop in France is always for moules frites in Gravelines at Le 116. Gravelines is a rather sleepy little town on the River Aa; but it does have a beautiful beach, and the historical, hexagonal-shaped bastion, Grand Fort Philippe, is worth visiting. The area can be confusing for the first-time visitor as the culture, the landscape and even the names of towns are a mixture of French and Dutch. The area was part of Flanders and still has many similarities with Belgium and The Netherlands. (By the way, another very interesting and beautiful hexagonal fort town is Bourtange, near Groningen in The Netherlands.)

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Eating in France can be a hit or miss experience, we’ve discovered. Arguably one could say that can happen in every country; but when eating in France, we’ve come to expect top quality and cuisine, and it’s not always the case. Aside from our moules frites passion, we have stopped for every meal during one trip or another, and have had varying degrees of satisfaction. And some of the best meals have been when and where we least expected them.

We once had a delightful breakfast in Neufchâtel. We arrived in town just as the farmers’ market was opening; in fact, it was still slightly dark out and the morning air was quite brisk, adding a very pleasant atmosphere with which to start our day. At the market, we purchased some pungent local cheeses (Neufchâtel, of course!) from a very helpful cheesemonger and a large baguette at the nearby boulangerie (France and Spain are the only two countries in which I make an exception to eat bread, and only occasionally), which we consumed with a cafe au lait, before continuing our journey. I love visiting farmers’ markets, and I’ve found the best ones in France, The Netherlands and Germany. The only downside of travelling and visiting markets is not being able to purchase all the fresh seafood, meats and produce!

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Another memorable meal was our stop in Conty for dinner. The area is famous for le Tour de France going through it and the little restaurant at which we ate had a number of cycling memorabilia. But the best part of dinner was the cookery book, Cuisine d’Hiver, laying on a shelf behind me. I took a gazillion pictures of the recipes with my iPhone and later saved them on my computer to never look at them again. I do this a lot. In fact, I take pictures of menus with the intention of using the ideas for inspiration and later always forget to revisit them.

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So, when my duck fat arrived in the mail the other day, for some reason I thought of France. And no, I still haven’t used any of the recipes from the cookery book in Conty, although I’ve placed them all in a folder to have them printed. That’s a step in the right direction, I think. In the meantime, I came up with this French-inspired soup recipe to use up the sweet potatoes I had on hand.

I went to grab some quatre-épices and found out I was out of the spice mix. This is another food item I tend to purchase when travelling through France, that and herbes de Provence. The spice mix usually includes pepper (white, black or both), ginger, nutmeg and cloves. For the soup, I created my own combination by using equal parts of black pepper, nutmeg and cloves and adding some freshly grated ginger.

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To add some kick, which my husband tends to appreciate, I included some chili powder, as well. And I added turmeric for the health benefits and for a more intense colour.

As the duck fat was not enough fat for my interpretation of a healthy meal, I garnished the soup with some chopped, hard-boiled eggs and pieces of jamon serrano, along with some chopped chives for additional flavour. You can omit these, but if you want a more well-balanced dish, I wouldn’t. (Of course, bacon or ham can be substituted for the jamon serrano.)

The sweet potato and zucchini soup is my homage to our trips through France… if I can’t be in France on a daily basis, I can bring a little bit of France to me by way of the very healthy and delicious duck fat and quatre-épices. I hope you will also enjoy!

Bon Appétit!

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Soup with Quatre-Epices
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Makes about 10 servings.
Ingredients
  • 900g (just shy of 2lbs) sweet potato, peeled and roughly cubed
  • 2 medium zucchini, partially peeled and roughly cubed
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup duck fat
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 7-8 cups filtered water, or if you have chicken or duck broth, much better
  • 3 teaspoons coarse sea salt (adjust salt if you use broth and/or to taste, of course)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • For garnish, if desired:
  • hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • jamon serrano or bacon pieces
  • chopped chives
Instructions
  1. Place the duck fat, onion and leek in a large pot. Poach over low heat, about 8 minutes until the onion is almost translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, zucchini pieces, and the spices and stir well.
  3. Cook about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and 4 cups of filtered water or stock.
  5. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool, enough to handle safely.
  7. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
  8. Add 3-4 cups of additional filtered water.
  9. Add sea salt, adjusting to taste.
  10. Add chili powder, if desired.
  11. Stir well.
  12. Heat through over low heat to warm enough to serve, about 5-7 minutes.
  13. Garnish with hard-boiled egg, jamon serrano and chives, if desired.
  14. (The soup freezes well for later use.)

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Cream of Swede (Rutabaga) & Turnip Soup with Kale-Cashew Pesto & Scallops

Living in the United Kingdom gives me the possibility of exploring the countries which are part of it, enjoy the unique opportunity of experiencing London as a local, and also have the chance to try what for me are new vegetables and fruits… quite a comparison contrast, but all three are high up on my list.

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For me, trying new food is always interesting and fun. Such has been the case with the swede, or rutabaga. Before arriving in England, I believe I had never even seen or heard of it. In fact, I remember the first time my husband, who many times does the shopping, brought it home. I had to take a picture of it and send it to a friend, who had already been living here longer and is an avid gardener and foodie, to see if she knew what this strange white and purplish thing sitting on my counter was!

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The inspiration for this recipe came to me last night, as I was trying to fall asleep… I am starting to feel slightly obsessed! 😉 This actually has an explanation that is more logical: the turnips were starting to go soft and I needed to use them. So what better than a creamy soup for a chilly and wet day?

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I purposely kept the soup’s flavour a bit neutral, not adding too many spices so that it would pair well with the kale-cashew pesto I had planned. The addition of the scallops came a bit later to me, as I wanted to include some protein in my dish.

I’m in love with the combination and hope you will be too! If not, I hope you are at least inspired to come up with your own mix.

Cream of Swede & Turnip Soup with Kale-Cashew Pesto & Scallops
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Soup serves 6.
Ingredients
  • For the soup:
  • 1 swede/rutabaga, about 600g (1.3lbs), peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 turnips, about 400g together (1lb), peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 large leek, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
  • For the pesto:
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • For the scallops:
  • 2 scallops (or more if desired), per bowl
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme sprigs, as garnish
Instructions
  1. For the soup:
  2. In a large pot, place the swede, turnip and leek pieces with 3 cups of filtered water.
  3. Cook over low heat, for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Set aside to slightly cool.
  5. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
  6. Add 3 cups of filtered water (or more if too thick for your taste) and stir well.
  7. Add the salt, turmeric and mustard and place over low heat to warm up.
  8. In the meantime, make the pesto:
  9. Roast the cashews in a dry skillet until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir frequently so they do not burn.
  10. Combine the cashews and garlic in the food processor and process until very finely ground.
  11. Add the kale leaves, sea salt and pepper and process again until well chopped.
  12. Continuing processing, while adding the olive oil in a steady stream, until you have a creamy paste. (You can refrigerate or freeze, if not using all of it.)
  13. For the scallops:
  14. Place about 1 tablespoon of olive oil per 4 scallops, in a pan. Over medium heat, cook the scallops, until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes each side.
  15. For serving:
  16. Pour two ladles of soup into each bowl.
  17. Drizzle with the kale-cashew pesto (the amount desired) and place two (or more) scallops into each bowl on top of the pesto.
  18. Finish with a sprig of thyme for each bowl.

 

Lamb Kefta Tagine with Zucchini, Updated

Update, 2 December 2015

I originally created this recipe for my first and only guest post to-date on another blog in October of 2013. It’s been over two years! And so much has changed in my life, and also in that of Naz’s, the author of Cinnamoneats where this post was originally featured. Back then, we were both living in the UK and now we are both ‘back’ in the US.

Naz is making big changes to her blog, rebranding it and in the process she’s doing away with guest posts. Coincidently, I was looking for this recipe to make again this week and went to her blog only to find it ‘under construction’ (she’s working diligently to have it ready soon!). Thankfully, I had the recipe saved in email and am now adding it to this post so we all have it readily available.

Original post, now with recipe included

Welcome to my first guest post on another blog! Naz, from Cinnamoneats, and I follow each other on Instagram and Facebook and have discovered we have quite a lot in common, aside from both being expats (she’s from Australia) living in the UK and being Paleo bloggers! I love her site and her delicious recipes and interesting posts; so it’s an honour to be featured on her blog today.

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Naz originally asked me to share a traditional Spanish dish, but as I don’t have anything planned in the near future, I didn’t want to keep her waiting indefinitely… Therefore I thought something Moroccan would be suitable, as that’s very close to my heart and culinary interests as well. I’ve spoken about my passion about the Maghreb cuisine and how I have a ton of Moroccan cookery books… and this recipe is adapted from one of those books, which I purchased on my last trip to Spain.

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Cocina Marroqui, by Ghillie Basan, is a great resource for recipes of tagines and couscous, as well as spice blends and tips on how to prepare delectable Moroccan meals. Ghillie even discusses odd bits about the culture and the people of this colourful country.

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(mise en place and the lamb/mouton meat mixture)

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(on the left is the base for the tagine; on the right are the vegetables poaching)

Tagines are very easy to make and usually encompass combinations typical of the local cuisine, such as spicy with fragrant or sweet and savoury. In this particular recipe, ras-el-hanout is the star. Once you take your first whiff of this spice blend, you’ll either be totally enchanted or possibly really dislike it (although I doubt that). The combination of spices and edible flowers plus chili and turmeric make it quite unique and aromatic, as well as healthy.

And although lamb is used in this recipe, you could very well make the tagine with beef or a beef/pork combination. It’s a great dish to make ahead and then heat up on the stove top. In fact, the longer you let it sit, the better it tastes as the flavours really permeate into the meat.

You can accompany the dish with some green vegetables or a fluffy “cauliflower couscous”…

Lamb Kefta Tagine with Zucchini

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 30

Ingredients

For the Meatballs/Kefta
500g ground lamb
2 small red onions (finely chop 1 1/2 of the onions; julienne the remaining 1/2 onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons Ras-el-Hanout
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3 cups filtered water

For the vegetables
2 medium zucchini, roughly peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium aubergine, roughly peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Tagine:
1 tablespoon ghee
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, julienne-style
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 to 2 cups water from cooking the meatballs
coarse sea salt, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt)
fresh mint leaves, chopped, for garnishing

Method

Mix the ground lamb with the onion, garlic, mint leaves, ras-el-hanout, chili powder, and the sea salt. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Scoop out balls with a measuring tablespoon and with your hands create the meatballs. Set them aside on a platter or clean surface.

In a deep, but wide pan, place about 3 cups of filtered water, over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, carefully add the meatballs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they cook on all sides and do not stick to the pan or together. (I stir, moving from the bottom of the pot so I don’t break the meatballs.) With a slotted spoon, remove from the water and place on a plate or in a bowl. Set the water aside.

In a large saucepan, over low heat, add the zucchini, olive oil and garlic. Poach uncovered for about 10-12 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the aubergine and cook an additional 7-8 minutes. Stir frequently.

In the meantime, in a tagine (ceramic pot or another saucepan), sauté over low heat the 1/2 julienned onion and the cumin seeds in the ghee and olive oil, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the 1 1/2 cups of water from cooking the meatballs. (Add the remaining water only if necessary.)

Place the meatballs/kefta inside the tagine, along with the poached vegetables. Stir well. Add coarse sea salt, to taste. I used about 1 teaspoon. Cook covered for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then uncovered and cook an additional 12-15 minutes, or until liquid is partially reduced.

Sprinkle with fresh, chopped mint as garnish.

Ras-el-Hanout Spice Blend

Have you walked through a spice market in the Middle East or a spice souk in Morocco? If you have, you know how your senses go into a whirlwind and don’t know what to focus on. First it’s the wide array of colours, and then the fragrant aromas start to hit you… all at once.

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I personally have to make a halt to control myself from plunging into each sack of spices. When I open a jar of Ras-el-Hanout, I am automatically transported to a spice souk… it’s like all the spices come together in a perfect medley, which is intoxicating and delectable altogether.

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What is Ras-el-Hanout? It’s a delicious and aromatic blend of spices, typically used in the Moroccan cuisine, especially in tagines. You can purchase it ready-made in many supermarkets or online, but nothing will beat a homemade version, with which you can tinker and adjust to your particular palate. Additionally on the plus side of making it at home is that the spices will not loose their intensity, as you can control the amount you want to make based on how often you will use it.

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Ras-el-Hanout encompasses a powerful bouquet of aromas from India, such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger, with native African flavours, and the delicate perfume of lavender and rose petals. It’s a poetic combination, which will add a very unique character to your dishes.

As I use this spice mix quite frequently, I have made enough to last me a few months. Also, I’ve made it a bit less piquant so I have room to expand on the level of heat when cooking. One word of advice: use the freshest of spices you have available, as that will create the most pungent mix.

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The recipe below is an adaptation from the one in Cocina Marroqui by Ghillie Basan.

Ras-el-Hanout Spice Mix
Recipe Type: Spice Mix
Cuisine: Moroccan
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Total time:
Makes about 1 cup.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon anis seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 20 fresh mint leaves, toasted about 5 minutes in the oven at 180C (350F)
  • 2 small guindilla peppers
  • 1 tablespoon edible, dried lavender flowers
  • 20 edible, dried rose petals, crushed
Instructions
  1. Grind all of the ingredients, except the lavender flowers and rose petals, until fine. Depending on your method, the mixture could turn out a bit more coarse or fine.
  2. (I ground my spices in the food processor bowl of my immersion blender. A coffee grinder will probably also work just as well, although you’ll have to do it in batches. A regular food processor may also work. In the worse case scenario, you can hand grind the spices in a mortar and pestle.)
  3. Add the lavender flowers and crushed rose petals to the mixture and blend well.
  4. Place into an airtight container for storage.
  5. This can last for 6 months with the adequate room temperature, although I always use it up way before that time period!

Roasted Pumpkin-Carrot Soup

What happens to pumpkin that is about 1 month old? not much really.. it’s still usable and edible! At least mine was. Before our USA/Mexico trips, I had cleaned out the fridge and frozen some vegetables in preparation. But some other things I had left out, like the butternut squash on the counter and carrots in the fridge. The carrots were limp, but still good enough for making soup. So, that’s what I did.

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I roasted both the squash and the carrots together; and I used half the squash to make waffles (a recipe I want to remake before I share) and used the other half for the soup.

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The curry mix can be used for any of your favourite recipes, and if you don’t like the seasoning, simply use your preferred spices to add flavour to this soup.

Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin-Carrot Soup
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1/2 smallish butternut squash (or 1 heaping cup roasted pumpkin meat)
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups filtered water (or 3 cups water and no milk)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons curry mix*
  • cooked bacon bits or jamon serrano pieces
  • cooked asparagus tips
  • drizzle of olive oil for garnishing
  • For the Curry Spice Mix:
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Cut the butternut squash in half and place in cut-side up in an oven proof dish.
  3. Rinse the carrots, and without peeling, place next to the squash.
  4. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until squash is tender.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to be able to handle.
  6. Remove seeds from the squash and remove the meat. For the soup, you’ll need 1 heaping cup of pumpkin meat (or a little more if you prefer).
  7. Peel the roasted carrots by carefully tearing off the skin with a knife. Cut both tips off, as well.
  8. Place the pumpkin meat, carrots and 1 cup coconut milk in a blender or food processor (or you can puree using an immersion blender as well).
  9. Puree until smooth. Add 2 cups of water and mix well.
  10. Add the seasoning and spice mix and stir until all is well incorporated.
  11. Place the soup in a pan and warm up over low to medium heat.
  12. In the meantime, cook some bacon / pork back rashers. Cut them into pieces. (If using jamon serrano, simply cut up some pieces, enough for the number of servings.)
  13. To plate: pour the soup in the bowls, sprinkle with some bacon bits/jamon serrano pieces and the asparagus tips, and drizzle with olive oil.
  14. For the Curry Mix:
  15. If your spices are “whole”, simply grind them up in a coffee grinder.
  16. Mix all the spices together for the curry.

 

Lamb Tagine with Vegetables, Honey & Dates

If you’re a regular follower of my blog and Facebook page, you will know by now about my passion for Moroccan food. While we were in Spain this past month, I bought a bunch of cookbooks, including a two Moroccan ones. And then my friend Pedro, from Colesterol Sin Fronteras, presented me with a third! So, I have no excuse but to use them, of course…

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Perusing through one of them, I came across the idea of a lamp chop and date tagine. But since I had some kale on hand and a few different vegetables than the recipe called for, I came up with my own concoction, which I share with you now.

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Lamb Tagine with Vegetables, Honey & Dates
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Moroccan
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3.
Ingredients
  • 600g lamb chops (about 6 smallish chops)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 2 cups kale leaves, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 4 mushrooms, clean and cut into fourths
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • a few sprigs of saffron
  • 1 stick cinnamon, halved
  • 1 + 1/4 cup filtered water (more if necessary)
  • butter, ghee or oil of choice
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw honey (more or less, to taste, and optional)
  • coarse sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of sesame seeds, raw or roasted (optional)
  • some mint leaves, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse and and lay to dry on a plate or paper towels the lamb chops. Sprinkle with some sea salt and set aside, while you prepare the vegetables.
  2. In a tagine or other pan over medium heat, melt about 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add the lamb chops and brown on both sides, making sure all of the blood is gone.
  4. Remove the lamb chops from the tagine/pan.
  5. In the same tagine/pan over low heat, melt another 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Add the onions and whole garlic cloves.
  7. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are almost translucent.
  8. Add the rest of the vegetables, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon and 1 cup water (add more water during cooking, if necessary, to not dry out the vegetables completely).
  9. Mix well, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add the honey and mix well.
  11. Place the lamb chops back into the tagine/pan.
  12. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup (or slightly more if necessary) water over top.
  13. Cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes (depending on desired tenderness of meat), turning the chops half way through.
  14. Season with sea salt and pepper, if necessary, or leave the seasoning to the individual plates.
  15. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped mint leaves, if desired.
  16. Serve immediately.

 

Chicken Masala

I am not passionate about the Indian cuisine; in fact, there are only a few dishes that I truly enjoy, and mostly have to be without much chili. Of course, I opine like this without ever having set foot on the Indian sub-continent… maybe a trip to India would change my mind and taste buds… In the meantime, tikka masala or chicken masala is one dish that I do like to order when going out. And it so happens that this dish is almost considered part of the national British cuisine! When eating out however, I’m always weary of the sauce and what is used to thicken it. Additionally, it’s invariably served with rice.

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So when I saw a version by The Urban Poser for a masala side dish, I knew I had to try it. What I’ve created below is an adaptation of Jenni’s recipe.

The unique component is the method of cooking the cauliflower “rice”, which makes the vegetable crunchy instead of mushy. My husband is not a fan of cauliflower “rice” and the only way I’ve enjoyed it before is as fried “rice”. However, after eating this, my husband was very complimentary and said he had not even noticed it was cauliflower at all!

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That’s quite a positive comment coming from his very critical palate!

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I created my own mixture of Garam Masala spices, based primarily on the recipe Jenni recommends, and added a few other spices of my own. You can, of course, simply substitute for a ready-made Garam Masala mix. The chili, I added separately in order to control the spiciness to my preference. Feel free to add more or less chili, depending on your taste.

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Also, I would recommend using dark chicken meat instead for a tastier and more moist version of this dish. I just didn’t have any on hand.

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(These last photos are the progression of the cauliflower cooking, so you can see the colour transformation.)

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Chicken Masala
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 500g chicken breasts, washed and cut into bite-size pieces (if you prefer to use dark meat, it’s tastier)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green paprika pepper, chopped or julienne
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, partially peeled and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons Garam Masala, from the mixture below*
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • lard
  • butter
  • fresh cilantro
  • For the Garam Masala:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Instructions
  1. Mix the spices for the Garam Masala and set aside.
  2. Clean the cauliflower and cut into large florets. “Rice” with a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a wok or large shallow pan, melt about 2 tablespoons of lard.
  4. Cook the chicken pieces until done, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to brown on all sides. Remove from pan when done and set aside.
  5. In the same pan over high heat, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil of preference.
  6. Immediately add the “riced” cauliflower and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  7. Allow the cauliflower to fry until it starts to brown a bit, then stir it around, again spreading into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Repeat a few times until the cauliflower starts to get brown and with slightly black flecks all over it. Remove from heat and transfer to a separate dish. Set aside.
  8. Again in the same pan, add another tablespoon or a bit more of butter and melt over low heat.
  9. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and sauté until the onion pieces are translucent.
  10. Add the carrots and zucchini and stir fry until “al-dente” or to your liking.
  11. Add 3 teaspoons of the Garam Masala mix, sea salt (to taste) and the chili powder. Stir well and cook about 1 minute.
  12. Add the chicken pieces and mix well.
  13. Add the 1/3 cup water and mix well. Cook until the water has evaporated, but a bit of sauce is left.
  14. Turn off the heat and add the “riced” cauliflower. Mix well.
  15. Serve immediately and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

 

Spanish Spiced Hamburgers with Sweet Potato Chips

I’ve never really like hamburgers. Can you believe that? Well, okay, I’ll admit I love them off a barbecue grill with the right toppings and I especially love them with these spices.

My aunt Virginia, from whom I learned this recipe, makes a version of these, which are truly the only way I’ll eat a hamburger at home. And my husband loves them so much, he ate three the other night! (Mind you, he’s not Paleo and eats his with a burger bun.)

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I served these over a bed of wild rocket (arugula), topped them with some avocado and tomato slices, a sprinkling of fresh onions, and accompanied them with some sweet potato chips or crisps.

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For the sweet potato chips: simply peel the amount you want to use, slice thinly with a mandolin (careful to not cut yourself,  these things are very sharp), sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and toss in a bowl, then fry them in plenty of oil. I used olive oil in a deep pot (I haven’t yet opened up my deep fryer), turning them frequently with a slotted spatula to ensure they didn’t stick to each other and didn’t burn.

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I cooked my burgers in lard on a frying pan on the stove. The lard gives them an added flavour, but I imagine on the bbq they are also great.

Spanish Spiced Hamburgers with Sweet Potato Chips
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 500g minced (ground) beef
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • a sprinkle of turmeric for colour (I used probably about 1-2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • lard, for cooking
  • sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced with a mandolin
  • olive oil, lard or other fat for frying the potatoes
Instructions
  1. For the hamburgers:
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with hands.
  3. Form hamburger patties of the size you like. (I made 4 medium ones and a tiny one with this amount of meat.)
  4. Melt about 2 tablespoons of lard in a frying pan.
  5. Cook the burgers to your liking.
  6. For the sweet potato chips:
  7. Simply fry them in the grease of preference. I used a slotted spatula and stirred frequently to ensure they did not burn or stick to each other. They fry much quicker than regular white potatoes do.

 

Popcorn Cauliflower

Seriously I don’t know why I’ve missed out on this dish up until now. I’ve seen the idea pop up here and there on other Paleo blogs, but for some reason it didn’t really appeal to me.

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But today, talking with my parents over Facetime, both of them told me about the “popcorn” cauliflower my sister-in-law had made the other day. When they rave, you know it’s good! 😉

So, I took the idea, added spices, and it was part of our lunch today! I also envision these as a great “tapa” or appetiser for parties (although you may want to hold off on the turmeric in that case, if you make it a finger food).

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Give this a try… I think you’ll love it, even if you’re not a huge cauliflower fan. The texture is really nice and the flavours make the veggie less bland. But go ahead and experiment with other spices for other variations. (I can just imagine making them with cinnamon and cumin for a Moroccan touch…hmm…)

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Popcorn Cauliflower
Recipe Type: Side
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
For 2 persons
Ingredients
  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup melted lard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili (more or less to your taste, however)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small florets.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Drizzle with the melted lard to ensure all the pieces are coated.
  5. Mix the spices together and drizzle over the cauliflower, ensuring that the pieces are well coated.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the top rack.

 

Homemade Curry Powder

I apparently have run out of curry powder. It’s not a spice mix that I use too often, so I haven’t noticed until today when I needed it.

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But as I always have many spices on hand, it was easy to make my own homemade curry powder. I used a few different recipes for inspiration, making a mix of the ones that “felt” right.

Here’s my version, which I used for this recipe of Chicken Curry.

Homemade Curry Powder
Recipe Type: Spice Mix
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Total time:
If you do not have ground spices, simply ground them yourself in a coffee grinder.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the spices together.
  2. I store mine in a glass jar.
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