Monday, 19 November 2012

Mediterranean Style Recipes

Recipes enjoyed in Spain

Having spent three weeks in Benahavis, a village full of gourmet restaurants just North of Marbella, I got to thinking about the food I used to cook in Spain, taking full advantage of the fresh produce available.

One of the favourites was the North African dish Ajja which can be adjusted according to what is available in the store cupboard. It was a favourite of the workmen who spent many long hours laying tiles around the garden.  They started at 8 a.m. and stopped for a packed lunch of chorizo, cheese and tomato in a large baguette at 10.30 a.m. on the dot.  This "snack" would be accompanied by a glass of red wine or a bottle of strong lager.  Then they would work through until 2 p.m.  Sometimes, I would make Ajja and give them a plate to enjoy with more wine on a table under the massive rubber tree, providing shade from the midday sun.

Recipe for Ajja


4 coloured peppers (green and yellow perhaps, but any ones will do) sliced
half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
salt and pepper to your taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
2/3 crushed garlic cloves
2 chopped tomatoes (with skin removed if you can bother)
some cold water
6 beaten eggs
chopped onions (optional)

Pour the olive oil into a non-stick frying pan and add the chorizo sausage.  Stir with a wooden spoon occasionally and when the red coloured oil comes out of the sausage, it is time to add the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper, garlic and fry for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, a dash of water, followed by the beaten eggs. 

Now is the time to add the sliced peppers if you want them not overcooked.  However if you prefer them a bit mushy, you could add them right at the beginning with some chopped onions.

Stir the eggs and mess it is more scrambled than omelette.

You can vary this according to taste.....swap the chorizo for minced meat, change the cayenne pepper for harissa paste (just a touch) or tabasco sauce, or if you like HOT food, use all three!

Recipe for ENSALADILLA RUSA (Russian salad, spanish tapa style)

The name for potato salad in Spain is ensaladilla rusa, or Russian Salad. Why? It is said that a Russian invented the salad.  We don’t know what the original Russian salad was like, but the Spanish have made their own version and eat it as a tapa or a side dish.

Ingredients:  for approximately 6 servings

  • 6 potatoes
  • 2 roasted red peppers (bottled is fine)
  • 1 x 16 oz can of peas and carrots, drained
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 x 6 oz can tuna, drained
  • mayonnaise
  • 4-5 spears white asparagus for garnish


Scrub the potatoes to clean off any loose dirt.  Pour water into a large pot, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Place potatoes in the pot and boil them with skins on until they are cooked, but not too soft. Test the potatoes by pricking with a fork to make sure they are cooked, but still firm. Don’t overcook the potatoes or when mixing the salad, you’ll end up with mashed potatoes!
Drain the water from the potatoes and add cold water, covering the potatoes. Change every few minutes until the potatoes are cool enough to handle with your bare hands.  Refrigerate for a few minutes to cool further. Remove from refrigerator and peel potatoes. Cut into small (approximately 1/2") cubes. Return to refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
Boil the eggs until hard then leave them to cool.
Put approximately 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise into a bowl. Slice one of the roasted peppers into chunks  and add to bowl.  
Drain tuna thoroughly, then crumble with a fork and add to bowl.  
Drain carrots and peas and add to bowl.
Peel an egg, chop and add to bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
Add the mayonnaise mixture to the potatoes and mix thoroughly. If necessary, add more mayonnaise. Place the mixture onto a pretty plate.  Smooth the top of the potato salad, preparing for decoration.
Slice remaining red pepper into thin strips and arrange on top of salad. Drain the white asparagus and slice hard-boiled eggs carefully. Use both to decorate the salad.

Recipe for King Prawns in a Wok

Extra large uncooked king prawns with shell on
Potatoes, peeled and cubed
Spring onions (chopped)
Garlic (crushed)
Piri piri….dried chillies
Lemon juice
Soy sauce
Chopped parsley
Yellow pepper (sliced in chunks)
Olive oil to fry or sesame
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry potatoes in olive oil in wok.  Add spring onions and garlic, chopped parsley, piri piri, salt, pepper, soy sauce and chopped peppers.  Cook for about 8 minutes, then add the prawns and lemon juice for about 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle more parsley on top.

To be served with fluffy white rice and lemon finger bowls on the side.....get stuck in.

If serving to children, it might be better to take the shells off, before cooking the prawns.

28th January, 2013

This is an adaptation of a Claudia Roden sofrito.  I call it

Lamb in Yellow Sauce


Splash of vegetable oil to fry
Large leg of lamb
2 large tablespoons of turmeric
Juice of 2 or 3 lemons
Salt and pepper
A cup of water, depending on the size of the cooking tray....just enough to let the lamb steam, not stew
Large size potatoes sliced into rings

Seal the lamb in oil, just to stop the blood escaping from the joint.  (Use a flat tray which is suitable to use on the top of the hob and in the oven).

Then add the turmeric, salt and pepper, lemon juice and a little water just to cover the bottom of the tray, so the meat cooks in steam rather than stews in water.  Cover with tin foil to allow the lamb to cook inside with steam, very slowly for at least two hours, but preferably three hours.  Open the tin foil and if the lamb is falling off the bone, add the potatoes to the juice, reseal with foil and simmer for a further 20 minutes to half an hour until the potatoes are tender.  The meat should be falling off the bone.

Serve with rice and a chopped salad, (tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce).

21st September, 2012

This one isn't strictly Mediterranean:  It is from Ecuador.

Ecuadorian Lamb Stew
3 fl.oz. Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
14oz tin tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
Half tsp hot chilli powder or harissa
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp salt
2lbs leg of lamb, cubed
8fl. oz dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Seal the lamb in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Take the lamb out to rest on a plate and then add the onion and garlic together with more olive oil to the pan.  Fry for 6-8 minutes.  Place the meat back in the pan with the onion and garlic.  Then add tomatoes, chilli, coriander seeds, wine, salt and stir.  Simmer 30 mins at least.  Add peppers last of all and cook a further 20 minutes.  Decorate with the coriander leaves and serve with pure white Basmati rice.

Cubed lamb, either fillet neck, or a whole leg deboned
Tbsp paprika
2 medium sized onions chopped
2 tbsp flour
6fl oz white wine
10fl oz veal or chicken stock
Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf)
Tomato puree
8oz mushrooms
10fl oz double cream
Chopped fresh parsley for decoration

Brown lamb in butter; add onions, salt, paprika.  Sprinkle with flour.  Pour on white wine and boil for 5 minutes.  Add stock, tomato puree, bouquet garni and simmer for 30 minutes.  Fry mushrooms in butter.  Remove lamb with slotted spoon and pour in cream and cook till sauce reduced.  Return lamb and mushrooms and simmer for a further 20 minutes.  Serve with chopped parsley and buttered noodles or other pasta.  Also goes well with white rice and a mixed chopped salad.

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