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Andalusian recipes, travel, and design

Category: beef | bison | venison

Beef & Kale Stew, and I’m Baaaack!

I’ve been somewhat neglecting the blog since before our trip to Spain for the holidays. I’m sorry about that, but sometimes life catches up with us in ways that are unpredictable. And then we have to prioritise. And it’s then that in my case, the blog must be put on the back burner (pun intended) for a while.

Over the holidays, I wrote up a bunch of recipes very excitedly to share with all of you; and I hope I will be able to put those up on the blog soon. I actually did a lot of home cooking with my mother whilst in Sevilla and some of the things we made are very traditional dishes from my childhood, with influences from Spain, of course, and Portugal.

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Salisbury Steak with Quick & Easy Paleo Gravy

Although I’d love to say the contrary, there are days or evenings that getting into the kitchen to cook a meal is more of a chore than a pleasure. When that’s the case, I want to make something quick and easy, yet still healthy and Paleo.

The other night was one of those evenings, which tend to happen right after a trip. The house is not spic and span, I’m tired and with a million things on my mind, and concentrating on creating a entire feast for dinner is just not going to happen. I want something that can be done in 30 minutes or less… this recipe is great for a situation like this.

Salisbury steaks are a step up from a hamburger (my original idea) and yet they seem more elaborate.

Bon Appétit!


Ingredients, for 6 steaks:

800g minced beef
3-4 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
butter or fat of preference, for frying


Mix all of the ingredients together by hand until well blended. Form steak-shaped patties and set aside. You should have about 6 medium-sized patties.

When you’re ready to place the steaks into the gravy, melt some butter or fat of preference in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the steaks on each side. Then transfer to the gravy, as per below instructions.

Ingredients for the Gravy:

3 leeks, cleaned and finely sliced – or – 3 medium onions, julienned – or a mixture of the two
2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or fat of choice
3-4 medium mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 – 2 cups filtered water


In a skillet over low heat, melt the butter or fat of choice. Add the leeks and/or onions and poach until the leeks/onions are tender. Add the mushrooms and sauté about 1-2 minutes. Add the arrowroot powder and sauté 30 seconds.

Then add the white wine and mix well. Cook for a minute and then add the water, first 1 1/2 cups and increase to 2 cups if necessary. Season to taste.

Now add in the browned steaks and cook, turning a couple of times, about 10 minutes. Serve alone or with your favourite side dish.



Ingredientes, para 6 “filetes”:

800g de carne de ternera picada
3-4 dientes de ajo, picados
1 cucharadita de tomillo
2 cucharaditas de hierbas de la Provenza
1 cucharadita de sal marina, gorda
1/2 cucharadita de nuez moscada
1 huevo
mantequilla o la grasa que prefieras, para freir

Como hacer los “filetes” Salisbury:

Amasa con las manos todos los ingredientes hasta que estén bien mezclados.  Con las manos, haz una hamburguesas en forma de “filete”, o sea, no redondas, sino ovaladas y alargadas. Ponlas en un plato hasta que las vayamos a cocinar.

Cuando la salsa gravy este lista, pon un poco de mantequilla u otra grasa a calentar en una sartén. Doramos los filetes Salisbury por ambos lados y los incorporamos a la salsa gravy, siguiendo las instrucciones de abajo.

Ingredientes para la salsa “gravy”:

3 puerros, limpios y cortados a rodajas finas – o – 3 cebollas, cortadas en juliana
3-4 champiñones medianos, cortados a trozos
2 cucharadas grandes de mantequilla o la grasa que prefieras (como la de pato/ganso/aceite de oliva)
1 cucharada grande de harina de tapioca o arrurruz (tambien se puede usar maicena, pero al ser de maíz es un grano y no es Paleo)
1/4 de cucharadita de pimienta negra, molida
sal, a gusto
1/4 taza (60ml) de vino blanco
1 1/2  – 2 tazas (375ml – 500ml) de agua

Como hacer la salsa:

En una sartén, derrite la mantequilla, y a continuación, pocha los puerros y/o las cebollas hasta que esten tiernos. Añade los champiñones y saltealos unos minutos.

Agrega la harina de tapioca/arrurruz/maicena y frie la unos segundos. Echa le por encima el vino y deja cocer unos minutos. Ahora añade el agua, primero los 375ml, y si hiciera falta, el resto. Mezcla bien y sazona.

Ahora incorporamos los filetes, previamente dorados. Cocemos unos 10 minutos hasta que la salsa espese y los filetes esten hechos por dentro, dando le la vuelta a los filetes de vez en cuando. Se puede servir con puré de patatas, coliflor o la guarnición que nos guste.

Dutch Tomato Soup with Meatballs – Hollandse Tomatensoep met Balletjes

My husband, who’s Dutch, has been begging for me to make this dish for over a week now. The ironic thing is that I’ve never made tomato soup on my own until now. I always relied on my mother telling me what to do; and it’s been a long time since I’ve made tomato soup.


Yup, you guessed it: I had to call her for her recipe. 😉 After speaking with her, I did a quick search on the internet to know if the traditional Dutch soup has any special spices or whether or not it is made with cream. My mother’s tomato soup is made with “hierbabuena” or mint; however, the Dutch version is quite basic, so I decided to keep it simple.


Well, I got my husband’s seal of approval, both on the tomato soup and the meatballs. However, he did mention that in The Netherlands, the meatballs are cooked inside the soup?  I’ve asked a few Dutch friends for their versions of this, but I haven’t heard back yet… therefore, I’ll have to let you all know when I find out.


The truth is I’ve never fried meatballs before, until this recipe. I have a couple of meatball recipes already on the blog, one is a family recipe, and the other is for a Spicy Paleo Meatball Soup, where in both I cook the balls in the soup/sauce.

However, in my quest for the proper ingredients of the soup, I ran into the advice of Mark Sisson. And I have to be honest, I rather like the extra flavour frying adds to the meatballs and the soup. And as I said, I got a “Dutchie’s” seal of approval on the overall taste… so that’s a few positive points in favour of frying! 😉


(Yet next time I make this, I’ll try cooking them in the soup itself… I’ll get back to you on those results as well.)

The soup is delicious on its own and very easy to make. And while creamy, it contains no cream, not even coconut milk. So, if you’re not into meatballs, give this soup a go by itself. It can be accompanied by or garnished with pieces of whole, roasted vegetables, bacon bits, a drizzle of olive oil (or truffle oil, as a friend of mine suggested.. she’s the garnish queen, so I would take her advice!), a sprinkle of cheese (if you do dairy).. or anything with which you would like to pair the flavour of the tomatoes.

And as the Dutch say, “eet smakelijk”!

Dutch Tomato Soup with Meatballs – Hollandse Tomatensoep met Balletjes
Cuisine: Dutch
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Makes 36 mini meatballs and about 4 1/2 cups of soup (about 3 servings of soup).
  • For the meatballs:
  • 800g minced/ground beef (or half beef, half pork)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flaxmeal
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • some fresh parsley, chopped
  • coconut oil or butter, for frying
  • For the tomato soup:
  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • parsley, for garnishing (optional)
  1. For the tomato soup:
  2. Place the olive oil in a medium-sized soup pot with the carrots, onion, garlic and celery pieces.
  3. Over low heat, cook about 10 minutes, until the carrots and onions are slightly tender. Stir frequently to not burn.
  4. Add the peeled tomatoes, water, and bay leaf.
  5. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and allow to cool directly on the stove top.
  7. In the meantime, make the meatballs.
  8. For the meatballs:
  9. Mix all of the ingredients (except the coconut oil) together, by hand. Do so, until well blended.
  10. With a tablespoon measure, scoop out the mixture onto a cookie sheet (covered with parchment paper).
  11. Once all of the mixture is scooped out, with your hands form balls out of each tablespoonful.
  12. In a pan, add some coconut oil or butter (about 1-2 tablespoons) and brown the meatballs, a couple of minutes on each side.
  13. Place back on the cookie sheet.
  14. Bake at 180C (350F) for about 20 minutes, turning over half way. (Also, if you have two cookie sheets, place one on the middle and one on the top shelf. Swap them half way as well.)
  15. The meatballs can be cooked completely in the oven; however, they will not be as pretty as with this method, since they do release some liquids. This can also slightly happen even after frying. Simply scrape that off, if you want a prettier dish. If looks are not an issue, this doesn’t alter the flavour at all.
  16. Back to the soup:
  17. Remove the bay leaf.
  18. With an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup.
  19. Pour it back into the soup pot. Add salt and pepper, to taste; and warm up.
  20. Add the meatballs to the soup, just before serving or in the individual serving bowls. (If they are slightly cold, you can also add them in the pot, while you warm up the soup.)
  21. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil for a nice touch.


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.)


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.


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.


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
  • 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
  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.


Beef Brisket Stew with Dates

I found the inspiration for this recipe in a Spanish cookbook my mother has, wrote it down and have made it a number of times in the past. But since I started this blog, I hadn’t revisited this dish.


It has a delicate combination of sweet and savoury flavours, which provide the brisket with depth and delicious aroma, and has an almost exotic feel to it. I’m happy I found the recipe again, as I plan to make it more often.



Beef Brisket Stew with Dates
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Serves 3-4
  • 1.5kg beef brisket, rinsed and cleaned if necessary
  • 2 medium red onions, cut julienne style
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into medium pieces
  • 3/4 medium green paprika pepper, sliced julienne style
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups bone broth (or water, if you don’t have it; however, the taste will be different and you’ll need to adjust for salt)
  • 10-12 dates, pitted
  • coarse sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil (or fat of choice)
  1. Prepare all the vegetables and dates.
  2. Rinse and clean the brisket.
  3. In a deep and large enough pot, place a few tablespoons of olive oil and the brisket.
  4. Over low heat, brown the brisket on both sides.
  5. Add the onions and poach.
  6. Add the carrots, peppers, dates and wine.
  7. Cook about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Then add the bone broth and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. (Turn the brisket over, every 20 minutes or so.)


Spicy Paleo Meatball Soup

It’s not exactly cold in London right now, but it’s also not warm. I guess one could call this a traditional English summer, where we have a warm day or two here or there amongst many other that are less than acceptable.


However, I’m very excited, as tomorrow we are headed to the races at Royal Ascot for the second time since we’ve moved to the UK! Going to Ascot was very high on my list when we knew we were being sent to London. And we are hoping for sunny skies and warm temperatures…


But today, the menacing clouds were calling out for soup. I saw this great recipe on Swiss Paleo and the thought of putting meatballs and cabbage in a soup somehow appealed to me. So, I just had to make it! I did adapt it a bit though giving it a Mexican flare with some spiciness and cilantro.


For my usual recipe for meatballs, try this one, which I borrowed from my mother’s repertoire.


Meatball Soup
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
  • For the meatballs:
  • 750g ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • For the soup:
  • 3-4 tablespoons of lard
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 leeks, sliced (I used 3 because they were small)
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 can (400g) tomatoes
  • 1/2 head small red cabbage, chopped
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • coarse sea salt (I used 2 teaspoons)
  • lime juice (optional)
  • extra cilantro, for garnishing
  1. For the meatballs:
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with your hands.
  3. Form small balls, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. I made 28 balls.
  4. Set aside.
  5. For the soup:
  6. In a soup pot, place the lard, leeks, carrots and celery. Heat over low heat until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook about 1 minute.
  8. Add the water and cabbage.
  9. Cook for 10 minutes.
  10. Add the meatballs, placing them carefully into the sauce. Cover.
  11. Allow them to cook about 10 minutes, before stirring.
  12. Cook for a total of 35-40 minutes. Add the additional cup of water, if necessary.
  13. Cook the last 10 minutes uncovered.
  14. Garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of lime juice, if desired.

Balsamic Pepper Rumb Steak

These steaks are delicious and juicy, and are perfect for any occasion, on the stovetop or BBQ. Prepare the night before for extra succulent results or the morning of using the steaks.



There’s no need to add any grease in the pan when cooking, simply pour the marinade over the steaks and cook to your liking.


Balsamic Pepper Rumb Steak
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Serves 2.
  • 2 rump steaks (or beef cut of choice), rinsed
  • For the marinade:
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons whole, black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  1. You’ll get better results by marinating the night before or at least 4-5 hours before cooking.
  2. For the marinade:
  3. In a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic.
  4. Add the peppercorns and crack.
  5. Add the rosemary and sea salt and grind to mix well.
  6. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix well.
  7. Pour the marinade into a plastic bag or sealable container.
  8. Place the rinsed rump steaks in the marinade and seal the bag/container.
  9. Allow to marinade either overnight or at least 4-5 hours before using.
  10. Cook the rump steaks with all the sauce on the stovetop or BBQ until your liking.


Roast Beef with Apples, Gravy and Paleo “Yorkshire Pudding”

My husband went shopping again and this time brought home a beef joint perfecting for roasting. I took it out in the morning to thaw, precisely the day that I had plans to meet some friends for lunch.. I wan’t quite thinking straight or could remember exactly how long it required to be done to perfection. So, on my way home from our luncheon, I was panicking a bit and needed some reassurance.


I checked out Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which helped with the times, and in addition offered inspiration for accompaniments, that I had not even thought of! duh… how can you have a beef roast, especially in England, without the traditional gravy and Yorkshire pudding!


Of course, pudding in England is not exactly what one would expect across the pond… and in all honesty, I’ve only had it once in a restaurant and didn’t like it, and that’s not even mentioning it’s was not Paleo. I think the culprit for not falling in love with this English tradition were that my expectations were along the lines of the cream-like dish the Americans call pudding, instead of the bread-like English version.


But either way, I was determined that my not-so-traditional Beef Roast must be accompanied by some version of “Yorkshire pudding”, one that soaked up the juices and the gravy….so, I used the following recipe for a basis, and took it from there. Purists will gawk at my recipe for sure, but the results were so nice for my palate, that I’ve created a bread! (So it pays to experiment in the kitchen for sure… ;-))


The gravy I made from the drippings of the beef roast, which since it included apples, has a unique flavour that is quite delightful!



  • 2 eggs, which equal about 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chestnut flour
  • 1/4 cup ground arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  1. If you make these alongside the roast beef, the oven should already be at 200C (approximately 390F). If not, then preheat the oven to that temperature.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt. Add the flours and baking soda and mix well. Allow to sit for about 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency.
  3. Pour into paper muffin holders or a greased muffin tin, and bake for about 12 minutes.



  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ground arrowroot
  • drippings from the roast beef, as much as possible
  • olive oil


  1. In a saucepan over medium to low heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Add about 1 tablespoon (adjust to the amount of liquid you will be adding) of arrowroot. Mix well.
  3. Immediately add the liquid drippings of the roast beef.
  4. Stir until the gravy is thick.
Roast Beef, Gravy and Paleo “Yorkshire Pudding”
Cuisine: British
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 kilo roasting beef joint
  • 4-5 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 medium red onions, quartered
  • 4 celery stalks, cut in large pieces
  • cherry tomatoes, about 20 small
  • 4 apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 240C (460F).
  2. Rinse and prepare the vegetables and the apples.
  3. Place in an oven proof dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt and pepper over top. Mix well.
  4. Rinse the beef and place on top of the bed of vegetables and apples. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C (390F).
  6. Bake for 1 hour, for a medium-well roast beef, turning over after 30 minutes.
  7. Bake about 15 longer for medium-slightly pink. (Adjust according to the weight of the beef, of course.)
  8. Serve with “yorkshire pudding” and gravy over the beef and vegetables, if desired.



Bison au Poivre & Caramelised Leeks

Oftentimes, my husband is responsible for doing the grocery shopping alone. As we live in London and only have one car, it’s generally more practical for both of us to shop together on the weekends; but sometimes, that’s just not possible or we are to lazy to do so. So, he ends up with the “food list”, which never is delivered complete or some additions are made. Some of these additions are fun and exciting and new, like bison or reindeer. Other additions include some junk food, which if it were up to me would be prohibited in our household! 😉


But back to the bison: I had never cooked it at home until recently and thought that treating the steaks like a regular piece of red meat would suffice. So, our experience at home has ranged from too well done and dry to finally getting it right!

They are really delicious “au poivre”, especially cooked on low the entire time.

I served them with a unique Puree of Butternut Squash and Chestnuts and a side of asparagus, which I accompanied with caramelised leeks.



  • 1 large leek (or two, if the leeks are smallish), cleaned and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of “grass-fed” butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  • 1/2 cup of white dry wine


  1. In a saucepan, over low heat, soften the leek in the butter.
  2. Add the honey and cook 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and cook until it is reduced in half and the sauce is thicker.
  4. Pour over your bison steaks and/or the accompanying vegetable.
Bison au Poivre
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
  • 2 bison steaks
  • 2 tablespoons black and/or pink peppercorns
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • coarse sea salt
  • olive oil
  1. In a mortar, crack the peppercorns.
  2. Add the garlic cloves and grind them with the pestle.
  3. Add sea salt, to taste, and mix well.
  4. Pat the mixture onto one side of the steaks.
  5. Over low heat, cook the steaks to your liking.


Butternut Squash Cottage Pie

Yesterday was one of those days, where you take something to thaw out in the morning and then want to make something completely different with it than originally planned. I put out some minced meat, thinking it would be easy to make some meatballs or hamburgers, since I’m working all day on some design projects, which are soon due.

Well, I ended up spending most of the day in the kitchen instead, making a cauliflower and kale soup, some chicken liver pate, and this incredibly easy and tasteful dish! The British are not particularly known for their cuisine… but this is a twist on a classic recipe.

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie (when it’s made with lamb instead of beef) has been known since the late 1700s, when the potato was introduced as an edible crop, which was affordable to the poor. Traditionally, the pie is made to use leftover roasted meats, and there are variations in most European countries. Historically, mashed potatoes were used to line the pie dish and as a pie crust to the meat mixture inside. Interestingly, the first mention of “cottage-pye” in the UK was in 1791, when the Reverend James Woodford refers to eating it with “rost beef” for dinner.

Our culinary cultures are strongly influenced by our history, what is locally available, what a conqueror or invader brings to our land, what our ancestors brought back from other lands, and how we prepare and eat our food…for me, it’s always so interesting and so much fun to learn from other countries and enjoy foods from around the world. I hope you enjoy that I also share this passion with you in my culinary adventures!

For the original inspiration, please check out Nigel Slater’s recipe.



  • 1 large butternut squash, about 1.5 kilos* (another delicious alternative: 1 small cauliflower + 1 small swede + 5-6 roasted garlic cloves)**
  • 750g minced beef
  • 2 large leeks, using the white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, deveined and sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cubed or diced
  • 5 white mushrooms, cubed
  • 2 smoked bacon back rashers, or about 1/4 cup bacon, cut into squares (preferably nitrate free)
  • butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 450ml filtered water + 100ml filtered water
  • 4 teaspoons arrowroot powder


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cut the butternut squash in half and place in an oven proof dish.
  2. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until done.
  3. In the meantime, clean and prepare the vegetables.
  4. Cut the bacon back rashers into small squares.
  5. In a large frying pan, soften the leeks in some butter (I used about 1 tablespoon).
  6. Add the bacon back rashers and cook thoroughly without burning.
  7. Add the celery, carrots, and zucchini. Sauté until al-dente, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add the minced meat and cook until brown.
  9. Add the mushrooms.
  10. Now add the sea salt, thyme and pepper to taste, and about 350ml of filtered water.
  11. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Add the arrowroot powder (dissolved in some broth) with the remaining water and simmer an additional 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally.
  13. Once the meat and sauce are done, set aside.
  14. Scoop out the meat from the squash with a spoon. In a bowl, mash the butternut squash with a potato masher and some butter to taste. (I used about 1 tablespoon.)
  15. In an oven proof dish, pour the meat sauce and spread evenly. (Make sure the dish is not too large that you don’t have enough mashed squash to cover all of the meat, or that the layer of meat ends up too “thin”.)
  16. Top with the mashed butternut squash. Pull a fork or spoon across the surface to create peaks.
  17. Sprinkle with some ground thyme.
  18. Bake at 180C, for 40 minutes until the top is crisp.

*If you prefer potatoes, use the same amount and mash them with butter, as well. Other options are turnip and parsnip mash, but this may be a bit sweeter.

**For another alternative: use 1 small head of cauliflower and 1 small swede. Clean, cut both vegetables and steam until soft. You’ll have to steam the swede longer than the cauliflower. Mash with a potato masher or in a food processor the cauliflower and swede, together with 1-2 tablespoons of butter plus 5-6 roasted cloves of garlic. Season with sea salt before placing over the ground meat mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Beef & Butternut Squash Stew

Before leaving on our trip, I made sure our fridge was clean and mostly empty, except for a few vegetables that I knew would still be fresh when we returned. One of these vegetables is butternut squash, which I actually didn’t leave in the fridge and with which I cook a lot during the fall and winter months, as one can see in previous recipes.

Our vacation was a lot of fun and spent in the best company, my parents. 😉 Okay, I’m a bit biased, but we did have a great time. We enjoyed mostly warm and sunny weather in Florida and even had the opportunity to include some sports, beach and sightseeing. So, arriving on Monday to a chillier and very grey London was somewhat depressing. But one of the things that makes me happy is my kitchen and cooking… so I’m at it already.

Yesterday, I baked some “sourdough” grainfree bread, which is totally amazing (click here for the recipe) and made this stew for dinner.


Ingredients, for 4

  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 kilo stewing beef, cut into 5cm (1inch) chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of Chinese spinach (optional)
  • 2 celery stalks (branch, not full bunch), chopped
  • 1/2 large butternut squash (approx 600-700g), cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • sea salt and black ground pepper, to taste
  • 12-15 “canned” artichoke hearts (we buy ours in Spain, and they come in a glass jar, not a can), cut in halves
  • zest of one lemon


In a large pot, add the olive oil, garlic and onions. Over medium heat, cook until the onion starts to become transparent, but not loose its colour. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the white wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add water and remaining vegetables and spices. Simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the meat and squash are tender. (If you want a thicker sauce, add 3 cups of water instead.)

Remove from heat. Add the artichoke hearts and lemon zest and allow to sit 5-7 minutes before serving.

My Moussaka

I love to cook, but some days I’m a bit lazier than others and just don’t feel like having the mess to clean up afterward. Today was one of those lazy days. Plus I had gone out in the morning to meet some ladies from my “Spanish Ladies Group” and when I got home I was too hungry to wait for a proper meal. Thankfully, I never keep junk food at home, if not I’m sure I would’ve succumbed. But I was good and ate some hummus, fresh mozzarella and a wild rocket, jamon serrano and pomegranate salad for lunch. That brought me back to life and so I was ready to attack making this dish (which had been intended for lunch), albeit still not wanting to make a mess.

Moussaka is a dish from the Eastern Mediterranean, made in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and other countries. It’s typically made with a bechamel sauce, just like lasagna is made in many places. Some bechamel sauces include egg, creating a custard. Lamb is the most common red meat used, but it’s quite delicious with beef too; and the variety of cheese is really up to your taste.

My version does not have bechamel (that would have meant more dishes to clean) and I used the cheeses I had on hand, which were ricotta and mascarpone.

If you prefer to make this with bechamel (with animal or nut milk), it does make a creamier dish.



  • olive oil
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 750g minced beef (I used meat with about 10% fat to make this dish a bit richer)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 5-6 large tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
  • 7-8 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (don’t be afraid to add more of this spice; although it’s generally strong, it disappears into the meat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground basil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 500g ricotta
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 3-4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


For the meat sauce: Over medium heat, place about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan or wok. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently so the garlic does not burn. Add the meat and cook thoroughly until brown. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring a few times to mix well. Add the red wine, the tomatoes and spices (except the cilantro or parsley). Stirring frequently, simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C. In the meantime, rinse and partially peel the aubergines. Cut in slices, lengthwise. Place aubergines in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10-15  minutes, flipping the slices from the bottom to the top, so the top ones do not burn. Set aside on a separate plate.

For the assembly: In the same ovenproof dish used before, place a layer of the aubergines. Spoon about half of the meat sauce over this layer. With your hands, scoop out half of each cheese and place in lumps over the meat sauce. Sprinkle the cilantro or parsley over the cheeses. Repeat with a layer of aubergines, meat sauce and cheeses. Sprinkle with some additional ground nutmeg.

Bake at 180C for 30-35 minutes. Serve with some extra cilantro or parsley over top, if desired.