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Andalusian recipes, travel, and design

Tag: Lunch

Not Quite Icelandic Fish Soup

I have been mesmerised for days in the world of other bloggers and websites. One could almost say I have become obsessed; I’m doing research for changes that I want to make to this blog and the more I look, the more confused and overwhelmed I seem to get. My mind is doing summersaults, I go to bed thinking about layouts and wake up thinking about designs…and then there is the price factor. You have choices from a full-design by a web designer (which can be a lot of money but would save me all the hassle and time) or do-it-yourself options that would give me great satisfaction to produce, but that are not free in most cases, as there’s never a perfect template or platform to accommodate my needs. I want it all! A pretty site, a functional site and one that engages all of us, you and me.

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You may ask why I’m seeking out other sites when I’m also a graphic designer. But as we say in Spain, «en casa de herrero azadón de palo», which translates to “in the house of the metal-worker, a wooden hoe is used” because he either doesn’t have the time to attend to his own matters or doesn’t have the creativity to do so. Well, I’m way too subjective and am having trouble deciding on so many items, that I needed to do the research and also reach out to other designers.

In the midst of all this information overload and what I am sure is driving a number of designers and people crazy with all my questions and indecisions, I  haven’t been taking care of myself in the Paleo way. I feel like an artiste on a mission, who forgets to eat, wash or comb his/her hair… I can just envision myself like a Jack Pollock or a slightly entranced Da Vinci… thankfully, my husband is travelling and not witness to any of this!

However, on this journey through cyberspace, I’ve discovered some blogs that are simply gorgeous. And I don’t just mean their look, but the content. One of these such blogs is Mimi Thorisson’s Manger.  Over the past few days, I’ve come to know Mimi and her life, which is truly enviable. Her stories are enchanting, soothing and have a “je ne sais quoi” about them.. maybe because she’s half-French, is living in Medoc in the countryside, and everything seems so idyllic.

Her husband is a professional photographer and apparently takes all of the photos for the blog. They are impressive and inviting. And her recipes are simply delightful. One in particular caught my eye because of the title: Icelandic Fish Soup. Mimi’s husband is Icelandic.

I have been to Iceland twice, but I think I sort of travelled there before then as a child in my dreams. My father used to go there often because of his job, and brought me back a hand-made cloth viking doll, which I treasured for years. It’s still somewhere to be found at my parent’s house, I’m sure. Reading Mimi’s post brought back childhood memories and real memories of my trips to this island-country.

I always imagined the “land of fire and ice” to be a cold place, up in the northern hemisphere with inhospitable people… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Well, partially wrong. It is a cold place. But it could be colder actually if it weren’t for the currents of the gulf stream, which bring warmer air from Africa up to Iceland.

The two times I visited were in November; so it was dark most of the day. The sun rises about 10:30 in the morning, although it really never goes far above the horizon, and it goes back down around 3:30 or 4:00pm. The play of light is surreal and magical, just like Iceland itself.

There’s so much I could write and describe about my experience in this intriguing country, one where people do not really have last names. Okay they do, but in order to find them in a phone book, you need to know the father’s first name, then know if the person is a man or a woman which determines the ending of the “last name”, plus they are listed by first names! For example, Thorisson is the son of Thori, but Thori’s daughter’s last name would be Thorisdottir (with a little accent on the “o”). It’s a country to which I’d love to return, this time during the warmer months to see the different colours of summer.

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Whilst reading Mimi’s blog, I came across this recipe for Icelandic fish soup and felt like it was just the right thing to bring me out of my artistic reverie and trance.

Below is my version of the soup, which has warmed up my tummy and brought me back to life….

 

Not Quite Icelandic Fish Soup
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Icelandic
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter (I used Kerrygold)
  • 2 medium red onions, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 celery stalk, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup moscatel or sherry
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped (about 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron powder or a few sprigs of saffron, plus a few additional sprigs for garnishing
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or sea salt to taste
  • some freshly ground pepper
  • 6 hake steaks, cubed (I used frozen fish, about 4 cups cubed)
  • thyme for garnishing, optional
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter with the onions, garlic and celery. Poach (cook on very low heat) for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Add the white wine and moscatel/sherry and reduce about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, filtered water, saffron, vinegar and parsnips. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the parsnips are tender.
  4. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. I added 1 teaspoon of salt, but needed a bit more on my plate later.
  5. With a potato masher, very slightly and roughly squash the soup a bit, so that the parsnip pieces are not whole. But do not puree the soup.
  6. Add the fish pieces and cook 8-10 minutes until the fish is done.
  7. Serve immediately, garnishing with some saffron sprigs and thyme, if desired.

 

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.

Butternut Squash, Fig & Serrano Hash

I have to admit that this was impromptu decision to make this recipe… I had promised my readers to once again tackle the pumpkin fudge brownies, which I’m working to perfect. But sometimes I really am not into sweets; and making them means eating them and I still have a bunch of the first batch left. By the way, they are very fudgey, not cakey, which I’m really liking. Nonetheless, the pumpkin layer needs work to intensify the flavour. So I will make it again, but possibly not until next week…

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In the meantime, I’ve used up my butternut squash for this hash recipe! We bought some deliciously ripe figs the other day and aside from eating them, I just wanted to create a recipe. This hash can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I ate it as accompaniment to lamb chops… but the flavours go well with red meat, game and eggs of course!

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I still have more figs… maybe I will indulge in a sweet treat after all.. hmm it’s tempting for the challenge alone! Freezing is always on option I suppose. 😉

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(part of my mise en place)

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(lamb chops with the pumpkin hash)

Fig, Jamon Serrano, & Butternut Squash Hash
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 small (800g/approx 1.7 lbs) butternut squash
  • 2 ripe figs, quartered or cut in eighths if large
  • 2 medium leeks, sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons lard
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 1/3 cup jamon serrano, diced (bacon bits can be used instead)
  • freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Peel and cube the butternut squash. Spread out evenly onto an ovenproof dish.
  3. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, no longer. Set aside.
  4. In a skillet over low heat, melt the lard with the pumpkin pieces already in the pan.
  5. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. But be careful as the pumpkin cooks not too mash it.
  6. Add the leeks, figs, rosemary and thyme, and cook for 1 minute, then add the jamon serrano pieces.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes longer and turn off heat. Allow to sit about a few minutes so the flavours become more intense.
  8. If needed, adjust for salt. (I didn’t add any because the jamon serrano can result saltier when cooked.)
  9. Sprinkle with a few turns of the pepper grinder and serve.

 

Oven-Baked Red Snapper, Spanish Style (Pargo Rojo al Horno)

We eat a lot of sea creatures in Spain. Yes I said “creatures” and not seafood because we eat almost everything that comes from the ocean. Maybe only Asians beat us in terms of culinary adventurers.

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So this weekend when we visited the Asian food market Loon Fung, I couldn’t resist buying a lot of seafood, including these gorgeous red snappers. And I just knew I had to make them soon…

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(Poaching the potatoes and onions)

My first intention was to bake them inside banana leaves. But both snappers would not fit properly in my oven dish with the banana leaf wrappings. Therefore, I had to resort to the unplanned Plan B, and baked them the regular, traditional Spanish way.

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Baking fish with a bottom layer of vegetables, especially white potatoes, onions and tomatoes is very typical in most homes and restaurants in Spain. The flavours of the fish are soaked up by the vegetables and hardly any spices or herbs are necessary to make this dish taste wonderful.

I did, however, add some choi sum leaves to get some greens into the dish. You can omit these if you like of course. And I also added some Vietnamese basil, which I also had purchased at the Asian market. I just couldn’t resist to use it. But regular basil also works well to add a nice aroma.

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As for poaching the potatoes and onions: the reason for this is that they take a lot longer to bake than the fish does. If you put everything in the oven at the same time, you’ll end up with raw potatoes. However, if instead of poaching you prefer to simply roast it all, place the potatoes and onions with some olive oil in the oven proof dish and bake about 30-35 minutes before adding the fish on top. Most fish are done very quickly, in about 20-25 minutes at the most, so be careful not to overcook it or it will turn out dry.

PS: For those of you who cannot deal with fish eyes starring out at you or looking at the head, simply ask your fish monger to cut the heads off or cut them off yourself at home. Fish heads can make great fish broth, so don’t throw them away and use them for this!

Oven-Baked Red Snapper, Spanish Style (Pargo Rojo al Horno)
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
For 2.
Ingredients
  • 2 red snappers, about 500g/1 pound each
  • some sprigs of Vietnamese basil (optional)
  • lemons slices, halved
  • 4-5 medium white potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2mm thick)
  • 2 small red onions (or equivalent), sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • choi sum leaves, from about about 4 choi sum stalks (optional)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • additional olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons white wine
  • coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Rinse and cut off the fins of the fish. (I purchased my fish scaled and gutted.)
  2. Make two or three diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Set aside.
  3. In a large, shallow pan, add the 1/2 cup of olive oil, the sliced potatoes and sliced onions.
  4. Over low heat, poach the vegetables for about 12-15 minutes, until softened.
  5. Every few minutes, carefully flip over with a spatula, so they cook evenly. Be careful not to mash the potatoes as they cook.
  6. While the potatoes and onions cook, preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  7. In an oven proof dish, large enough for the vegetables and the fish, layer the choi sum leaves, the poached potatoes and onions, and the tomatoes, starting with the choi sum leaves.
  8. Don’t pour the potatoes and onions into the dish, but instead scoop them out with some of the olive oil, but not all of it.
  9. Sprinkle the garlic and some sea salt over top the layered vegetables. (I didn’t measure the salt, but used about two pinches.)
  10. Place the fish on top.
  11. Place the halved lemon slices inside the cuts in the side of the fish.
  12. And stuff the basil leaves/sprigs into the gut of the fish.
  13. Drizzle with some olive oil and the white wine.
  14. Sprinkle some additional coarse sea salt over top (about another two pinches).
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish are done.

 

Baby Calamari with Garlic

This is one of my favourite dishes from Spain, which is usually served as a tapa or a second course at lunch. I don’t eat it frequently to be honest, just because I’ve found it hard to find fresh squid/calamari where I live.

But I always have it while in Spain; and while visiting with my parents, my mother prepared this dish, which I now share with you.

My mother and father love fish and seafood, as much as my husband and I do, and have found a little place nearby at which they get really good quality and fresh seafood.. lucky them, as we’ve found that it’s also not an easy task in the US! 😉

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You can make this a bit simpler by cooking the squid with the garlic all at once, but you can risk burning the garlic. Also, make sure the calamari are completely dry; if not, they will release a lot of water and you’ll end up cooking them instead of sautéing.

Baby Calamari with Garlic
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3.
Ingredients
  • 500g (about 1 1/2 pounds) baby squid/calamari with heads, cleaned and pat-dried
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • guindilla or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • cilantro or parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, sauté the calamari (and calamari heads) with the olive oil in a pan, about 5-7 minutes, turning over a few times.
  2. Add the garlic and pepper and cook a couple of minutes longer, until the garlic are golden.
  3. Add sea salt, to taste.
  4. Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.

 

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.

 

Asparagus Quiche with Spaghetti Squash Crust

The other day for breakfast, I made a similar quiche with smoked salmon and grated yuca as a crust, but the pictures I took were really bad. So, I didn’t think that I could create this post, while still in the US. (The light quality in Florida is surprisingly not good compared to my own kitchen in London. Who would’ve thought?! So the pictures are still not great, but okay enough I hope.)

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Today, we went to repeat the quiche again with yuca, but when we cut the yuca, we noticed sadly it was rotting inside. So instead, my mother and I decided that we would do a spaghetti squash crust, as we both love this vegetable.

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Growing up in Spain, I used to eat it every once in a while as “cabello de angel”, which is a candied spaghetti squash or “cidra” squash. But since then, I had not tried it again until last Christmas when we visited my parents. I absolutely love it, especially in savoury cooking. But I have not been able to find it in London yet… so whenever I’m at home with my parents, it becomes a special treat to eat spaghetti squash!

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I wish I could say I’ll be repeating this at home, but mostly likely not unless I find the squash in London… however, I’ll be making the yuca crust quiche again as soon as I can! I’ll be sharing the recipe too.. so stay tuned. 😉

Asparagus Quiche with Spaghetti Squash Crust
Recipe Type: Main
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Serves 4-6 or one 10-inch quiche.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (use about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of the meat for this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk/almond milk/dairy milk (I used almond milk, as that’s all that we had left)
  • a bunch of thin asparagus (about 2 cups), cut in halves or large pieces
  • 1 medium tomato, cut in thin slices and then halve the slices
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Carefully split the spaghetti squash in half. (It can also be baked whole, but it will take longer.)
  3. Remove the seeds and sprouts, if any, with hands.
  4. Place cut-side down on a baking pan.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender.
  6. In the meantime, poach the asparagus in some water, until just tender. Remove from water and set aside.
  7. Allow the spaghetti squash to cool a bit before removing the meat with a fork.
  8. Mix about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of the meat with 2 tablespoons of butter and mix well.
  9. Add sea salt and pepper, to taste. (Remember that the egg mixture will also contain seasoning, so don’t go overboard.)
  10. Pat the squash into a quiche form, covering the sides and bottom.
  11. Bake at 400F (200C) for about 5-8 minutes, until golden and slightly crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.
  12. In a saucepan, over medium heat, cook the leek slices with the 3 tablespoons butter, until tender.
  13. Allow to slightly cool before pouring into the beaten eggs.
  14. Add the milk, nutmeg, sea salt and pepper to taste.
  15. Place the poached asparagus pieces on top of the spaghetti squash crust.
  16. Pour the beaten eggs and leeks over top, covering the asparagus evenly.
  17. Place the tomato pieces on top.
  18. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

 

Quick Breakfast Mofongo with Calamari

Sometimes I get bored of eating eggs for breakfast. And although I have read that we can eat as many eggs as we want every day, a little voice in the back of my mind keeps telling me that too much of anything is probably not a good idea…

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I tend to eat leftovers from dinner or create a quick breakfast like I did today with things I have on hand. Breakfast for me is no longer the typical “bread with something”. It hasn’t been for a long time; and I feel much healthier, my internal system works much better, and I am satiated for much longer during the day. Breakfast has become my most important meal of the day, and one I actually look forward to each morning, especially at home.

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To make this mofongo, I used ripe plantains, so it resulted in a sweet-savoury mix. However, to make a real mofongo, use green plantains instead.

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I’ll be posting a “real” mofongo recipe soon, once I am in my London kitchen. 😉

Quick Breakfast Mofongo with Calamari
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Latin American
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Serves 1.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium ripe plantain (or green plantain)
  • 4-5 baby squids/calamari, cleaned and pat-dried
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil or fat of choice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • cilantro or parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut the plantain into slices.
  2. Add some olive oil or fat of choice to a pan over medium heat.
  3. Saute the plantain pieces until golden brown on each side.
  4. Place the cooked plantain pieces into a mortar, and with the pestle roughly grind them up with 2 minced garlic cloves.
  5. Place the mixture into a small bowl or mould, creating a “hole” in the middle in which the squid will later be placed.
  6. In the same pan as before, add a bit more olive oil (or fat of choice) and stir-fry the squid with the remaining garlic clove, until tender.
  7. Add sea salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. On a cutting board, cut the squid into bite-sized pieces and spoon over top the mofongo bowl.
  9. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.
  10. Eat immediately and enjoy!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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! 😉

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(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).
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  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.

 

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp

During our travels this summer, we spent some time in The Netherlands; and one evening, we ate at a lovely restaurant in Lisse, near the beach. If you’ve ever eaten out in The Netherlands, you know that evening is prime time and usually quite expensive. On the up side, the food is generally fresh and delicious.

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And as usually happens with me, since I want to try everything that sounds intriguing or new, my eyes are bigger than my stomach… I ended up ordering an avocado appetiser and a full entree. Fortunately, the fish entree was normal Dutch portions, or else I would’ve had to leave it there or exploded. 😉

The appetiser was an avocado stuffed with shrimp and other ingredients, which I cannot recall. What I do know is that it was rather creamy. In Spain, a halved avocado stuffed with shrimp and/or ensaladilla is tapa that is very typical in Granada, where bars give you a free tapa with a paid drink. I can’t recall the last time I had a stuffed avocado, so the appetiser in Lisse tasted sublimely divine!

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In recreating this, I thought I would first steam the shrimp and use mayonnaise, to achieve the creaminess…but after messing up a batch of mayonnaise*, I changed my mind.

(*Mayonnaise is not that difficult to make. But my blender broke a couple of months ago, and instead of replacing it, we purchased a food processor that has a blender as well. However, this blender doesn’t work for making mayonnaise. I’ll have to resort to my mini-pimer -immersion blender- from now on. But today, I was too lazy to keep trying.)

Back to the avocado: Sometimes it’s actually good that things don’t work out. If they had, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this delicious combination.

How I came up with the idea? Simple. I love garlic shrimp, and that mixed with the natural creaminess of avocado is, for me,  just a perfect match.

You can use this recipe as an appetiser for 2 persons or a meal for one. I had the whole avocado as lunch… talk about ingesting a lot of good, healthy fats! 😉

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Serves 1 as a meal, or 2 as an appetiser
Ingredients
  • 1 whole medium avocado
  • about 2 cups medium to large shrimp, raw or uncooked frozen (defrost prior to cooking)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • chili powder, optional
Instructions
  1. Half the avocado and take the pit out.
  2. Scrap out most of the meat, leaving a very thin layer to hold up the shell better. Set aside.
  3. Chop up the meat into squares and place in a bowl. With your hands, squish the squares a little bit, to crush some but so that most keep their shape. Set aside.
  4. In a pan, place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the minced garlic and the shrimp.
  5. Add a dash of coarse sea salt, and over low heat, cook just until the shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook, or they’ll be dry and hard.
  6. Pour the shrimp with garlic and olive oil into the bowl with the avocado pieces.
  7. Add some chopped parsley or cilantro and mix well. (If you want to incorporate some chili powder for extra flavour, do so now before mixing.)
  8. Spoon the mixture into the avocado shells, sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, and garnish with additional parsley/cilantro if desired.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. (I added a leftover, hardboiled quail egg as garnish, but it’s not essential to the recipe, of course.)

 

Roasted Summer Vegetables, Red Mullet & The Borough Market

Here’s the dish for this post… but first a little bit about my visit to the Borough Market in London….(you can skip to the bottom for the recipe).

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A few days ago, I visited the Borough Market in London with a fellow Paleo blogger, Ceri, from Natural Kitchen Adventures. I had been wanting to go for quite some time, but for some reason it just seemed too far a trip. It turns out it’s not and it’s quite easy to get to. In fact, for those of you in London, it’s literally right above the London Bridge tube station and very close to the Shard. One word of caution though: take a few bags (and plenty of money!), as you’ll want to buy everything in sight! 😉

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Ceri and I met in person last year and had been wanting to do a market outing together for some time; and now we finally got around to it. She has been to the market many times before and acted as an impromptu guide, showing me around the vegetable, butcher, fish monger and specialty stands.

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If you haven’t been, it’s a must see, even if you’re just a tourist in London. It’s really a beautiful market with mostly organic produce, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish. I honestly can’t speak much about some of the specialty shops, as I didn’t visit them. But there are a load of places selling pastry, chocolate and sweets and even organic muesli and cereal mixes. There’s also a Spanish shop with a wide variety of cheese (many unpasteurised), jamon serrano, salted cod, and other traditional foods. And there are plenty of places to eat, although most of them are not Paleo-friendly.

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On one of our turns around the stalls, we bumped into Hook & Son, a raw milk supplier and producer of raw cream, raw yoghourt, raw butter and raw buttermilk. I hadn’t had raw milk since I was a child in Spain, so it was quite a treat to sample it again. I must say, it’s so delicious and creamy! And it didn’t even bother my tummy. I’m lactose intolerant and regular, pasteurised milk sits like a bomb in my belly. Granted, I only had a little bit… but Ceri and I did share an apricot-flavoured, sugar-free yoghourt and loved it! What’s even cooler about Hook & Son is that there’s a British documentary that has been made called The Moo Man. Stephen Hook, the very friendly and informative farmer, who attended to all our queries, is the protagonist (along with his herd and family) of the film, which apparently was a surprise hit at the Sundance Film Festival 2013. I look forward to finding a screening near us, as it’s supposed to be a very interesting and heart-breaking love story of Mr. Hook’s journey to remain organic and preserve his herd and farm. I also look forward to finding the time to visit his farm. But in the meantime, the good thing about Hook & Son is that they deliver raw milk all over England and Wales! That’s quite exciting for me, as I want to make good quality kefir and pasteurised milk doesn’t cut it. (For more information on the film, please check: moomanmovie.com.)

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Anyway, at the market, we really had to struggle to control our shopping impulses. Everything is so beautiful. The fruits and vegetables look simply amazing and picture perfect. So much so, that I actually succumbed and bought a purple cauliflower, some yellow courgettes (zucchini), purple kale, and some figs, which were simply just too expensive, but I hope worth it!

As we were ready to leave, Ceri took me over to The Ginger Pig stand, a butcher, specialising in organic, grass-fed lamb, beef, pork and poultry. We kindly requested some beef bones for broth and the nice butcher gave us a bag full!

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It was not easy to leave the market, but at least we left happy and already brainstorming how to use our purchases…

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And here’s a recipe with the yellow courgettes that I bought. I used both the yellow and green ones I had previously on hand to add more colour to the dish. But you can make this with just the regular green ones, and also add in aubergines, if you like (I would’ve added them, but didn’t have any left).

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Roasted Vegetables with Red Mullet
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Serves 2.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 red mullet filets, depending on appetite and size of filets
  • 1 medium green zucchini (courgette), sliced diagonally to make larger “rounds”
  • 1/2 large yellow zucchini (courgette), sliced diagonally to make larger “rounds”
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
  • Herbes de Provence
  • freshly ground rosemary
  • coarse sea salt
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • freshly chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fish filets and set on a paper towel over a plate. Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and set aside.
  2. Prepare the vegetables.
  3. Preheat the oven at 180C (350F) while you set up the vegetables, as follows.
  4. In an ovenproof dish, alternate between the zucchini, tomato and onion pieces, layering until you have covered the dish and used up all the vegetables.
  5. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle some coarse sea salt over top.
  6. Sprinkle some Herbes de Provence (I used about 1-2 teaspoons) and some rosemary (I used about 1/2-1 teaspoon) over top.
  7. Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the zucchini are tender.
  8. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Let sit a few minutes before serving to absorb the vinegar flavours.
  9. About 10 minutes before the vegetables are ready, you will need to cook the fish.
  10. Add some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a pan and set the filets and garlic inside.
  11. Over low heat, cook the fish, turning over to cook each side, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  12. (Red mullet filets shrink quite a bit and also may “shrivel” up. So, make sure to cook just long enough, but not overcook or it will be too dry.)
  13. Serve immediately with some freshly chopped parsley as garnish and the roasted vegetables as accompaniment.