Onion Bhajis

Friday 13th March was the day that we escaped back to the cortijo from the coast. Little did we know then that a state of alarm would be declared the next day forbidding the movement of people and only allowing food shops and pharmacies to open. We had suspected that it might happen and so had already stocked up on some basic staples.

Normally, we would have volunteers to come and stay to hep us with the planting, harvesting, etc. but out of necessity, we’ve decided to go more self-sufficient.

On Tuesday 16th March, I harvested the remaining onions and prepared them for the freezer or fridge. There were white and red onions, of all different shapes and sizes. I thinly sliced some and used them for these onion bhajis.

Onion Bhajis
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Ingredients
  1. onions, thinly sliced
  2. 150g gram flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  8. water
Instructions
  1. Combine the onions, gram flour and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add enough water to form a moist batter, using your hands to bring the mixture together.
  3. Heat some sunflower oil in a wok or pan.
  4. Using a couple of dessert spoons, shape the onion mix into balls.
  5. Slide the balls into the oil.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes on both sides until lightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a plate with some kitchen paper.
  8. Turn up the heat under the oil until quite hot.
  9. Refry the onion bhajis for 30 seconds on each side.
  10. Serve.
Notes
  1. This recipe was made slightly more complicated by the fact that we didn't have any gram flour. There was nothing for it but to make our own. We found the best way was to first smash the dried chickpeas with a mallet before grinding in a spice grinder. We then sieved them to remove the coarser particles and reground these.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Italian-style Grilled Vegetables

Italian-style Grilled Vegetables


Previously, I had only ever thought of grilling courgettes, but thanks to Manuela (a professional cook who was recently staying with us), I have learned a whole lot more about how to grill vegetables and the flavourings and flavours that can go with them. We have experimented with vegetables such as butternut squashes and aubergines, things that I would never thought of grilling before. The secret is to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways and then sear in the flavour with a griddle pan before adding flavours such as garlic, chilli, lemon or vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

This page includes recipes for three grilled vegetable dishes: aubergine, courgette and butternut squash.

It has sparked a whole new interest in grilling things, and in the future I want to experiment not just with other vegetables but also seafood and shellfish. In preparation, we have resurrected an old griddle pan which had gone completely rusty. Here it is after the restoration work:

For all of the three recipes, you need to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways. It is then important to get the griddle pan really hot before adding the sliced vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes before turning. Then turn again, rotating through 90º so that the grilled lines cross and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes (12 minutes in total).

Once the sliced vegetables have cooked, transfer them to a flat serving dish and sprinkle with salt.

Here are some suggestions for how to dress the vegetables:

You can make up some chilli-garlic olive oil in a small container: add a couple of cloves of garlic, some sliced chilli and olive oil and blend well with a stick blender. Brush the sliced vegetable with the oil mixture and keep it in the fridge until you next need it.

PUMPKIN: finely chop some garlic cloves and parsley and sprinkle over the vegetables. Mix together some balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar and olive oil and dress the vegetables.

AUBERGINE: finely chop some garlic cloves, chilli and oregano or mint and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

COURGETTES: finely chop some garlic cloves and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

Vegan Kale and Chickpea Curry

Winter at the Cortijo: Vegan food for the olive harvest

At certain times of the year when there’s not much growing except kale and cabbage, it’s good to have some different recipes for what to do with kale.

For a good part of the year, we have volunteers coming to stay with us to help us with the farm and most of them come through Workaway. Our first ever workawayer was Tiffany from New Zealand. This recipe for a vegan kale and chickpea curry popped up on her Facebook feed the other day – I think it was posted by her mum.

The original recipe is taken from the Cooking Light website with a few modifications: as I was cooking for 6 people, and we’ve got masses of kale, I used a large bowl of chopped kale (almost an entire colander), more chickpeas and different spices.

Vegan Kale and Chickpea Curry
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large bowl of chopped kale
  2. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  4. 2 x 400g jars cooked chickpeas
  5. 1 can coconut milk
  6. 3 heaped tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  7. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  8. 2 teaspoons curry powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
  10. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  11. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  12. 1 teaspoon ground cardamon
  13. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  14. 1 lemon, juiced
  15. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until soft.
  2. Add the red pepper and continue to fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the garlic and ginger.
  3. Sprinkle over the spices and heat for another 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add in the kale and mix well.
  5. Cover the pan and let the kale wilt down.
  6. Stir in the peanut butter.
  7. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and heat to a gentle simmer.
  8. Cover and leave for about 15 minutes.
  9. Squeeze over the lemon juice.
Notes
  1. Serve with brown basmati rice.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Vegetable Paella with Tofu

This take on a vegetarian paella used chunks of firm tofu that have been marinated in soy sauce, and also butter beans and green beans as well as the usual paella base ingredients (onion, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, tomato, etc.).

Vegetable Paella with Tofu
A delicious take on a vegetarian paella made with tofu and beans.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  2. 1 large red pepper, diced
  3. 1 green pepper, diced
  4. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1 block firm tofu, cubed and marinated in a couple of spoons of soy sauce.
  6. 2-4 tomatoes, chopped
  7. 1/3 cup of paella rice per person
  8. 400g can of butter beans
  9. handful flat green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 2cm pieces
  10. vegetable stock
Instructions
  1. Heat some oil oil in a paella pan.
  2. Fry the onion, red pepper and green pepper until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, before adding the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Mix well and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Sprinkle over the rice and stir well.
  6. Add the butter beans and green beans.
  7. Pour over the vegetable stock and cook until the rice is almost cooked.
  8. Remove the tofu from the soy sauce and scatter over the top.
  9. Mix the remaining soy sauce with water and sprinkle over.
  10. When the rice is just cooked, remove from the heat.
  11. Cover and leave to rest for 5-7 minutes.
  12. Serve with garlic mayonnaise.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Courgettes 2018 – Recipe for courgette fritters

COURGETTE SEASON 2018

So the 2018 courgette season has arrived and I’m enjoying trying out new recipes to find different ways of preparing them. I prefer to pick them when they are still quite small. That way you can use several at a time when they are at their best for a side dish rather than waiting until they are the size of marrows. There are always some that get away but I’ll slice these lengthways and give them to the chickens so that they can peck out the seeds.

FAVOURITE COURGETTE RECIPE

My all-time favourite way of preparing courgettes is to slice the small courgettes into 2cm slices. Fry them in a covered pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Turn every so often so that they lose their liquid and catch a bit of colour on each side. After 10 minutes or so, toss in a knob of butter, grind over some black pepper and squeeze over some lemon juice. Delicious.

DIFFERENT RECIPES

My challenge each year is to find some new and interesting recipes to use up the abundant crop.

The first recipe I tried didn’t salt the courgettes first which proved to be a messy mistake. In the second one I salted the grated courgette and left for an hour before squeezing the water out.

This recipe is adapted from Felicity Cloake’s “How to cook …” column in the Guardian “How to cook the perfect courgette fritters“.

The second recipe worked a lot better and I’d use this technique again in the future.

Here is the recipe.

Courgette fritters
Serves 2
A simple recipe for courgette fritters
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium-sized courgettes, coarsely grated
  2. 1 small salad onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 handfuls of grated cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons self-raising flour
  5. 2 tablespoons polenta
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Put the courgette in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and mix well.
  2. Leave for about an hour and then transfer to a colander and squeeze out the water.
  3. Add the onion and egg and mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  6. Put in sponfuls of the courgette mixture and fry on a high heat for 3 minutes.
  7. Flip the fritters and fry for a further 3 minutes on the other side.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/