Sunday, 31 January 2016

Cous cous with capers as a cold salad


250g of fine cous cous
2 large tomatoes chopped in cubes
Half a cucumber diced
Half a red onion, diced
A handful of parsley, washed and chopped
A handful of mint, washed and chopped
Roughly 15 capers or caperberries
Juice of a whole lemon
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Put the cous cous in a pyrex bowl and pour on 300 mls of boiling water or a light stock.  Leave for 10 minutes then fluff up with a fork.

Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients and place in a pretty serving bowl.  When the cous cous has cooled down, add to the bowl and stir thoroughly.

Great as a side salad with grilled or fried chicken pieces.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Chicken Thighs in a rich tomato sauce


1 onion, peeled and chopped into large chunks
6 chicken thighs with skin on, or skinless if you prefer
2 celery stalks, washed and sliced
2 large carrots, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 oz of butter
A dollop of tomato puree
A tin of good quality tinned tomatoes
A tablespoon of oregano
Some fresh flat leaf parsley, or dry if you don't have fresh to hand
A pepper.  Any colour will do.  I used a yellow one, cut into slices
Salt and pepper to taste
A chicken stock cube
Some pitted black olives

In a wide and deep frying pan, fry the onions in a mixture of olive oil and butter.  Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent.  Then add the chicken thighs (if keeping the skin on, cook until the skin is crispy), sear the chicken until slightly brown, then add the carrots and celery.  Boil a kettle of water.  Put a dollop of tomato puree in the pan and cook down a little in the oil (add more oil if necessary), then add water to cover, salt and pepper.  Then add the chicken stock cube or fresh chicken stock if you prefer.  Add the oregano, chopped parsley (save a little for decoration) and the tinned tomatoes, then stir.  Bring to a boil and stir everything together, then reduce to a simmer for half an hour.  Add the yellow pepper and olives.  Sprinkle with a little fresh parsley

Serve with white rice, or baby potatoes and butter beans with parsley.

Have you tried Ajja? Do you know what it is?

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.  Here is a photo of the shady area under the rubber tree:-

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!

Monday, 11 January 2016

More for Foodies - Egyptian Ful Medames

A great brunch idea for Sunday mornings


1 tin of Ful Medames (from Middle Eastern shops)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To serve:
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Lemon quarters
Boiled eggs

Put some olive oil into a non stick frying pan.  Add the tin of Ful Medames and crush with a fork.  Heat through slowly.

Serve with quartered boiled eggs and sprinkle both with chopped parsley.