I can’t believe that it’s September already, and I’ve not written anything on C&T since the start of August. There were quite a number of reasons for this – one of which is that frankly I haven’t been trying new recipes or doing any baking. (I feel an updated Coffee Date post is on the horizon…)
Although this blog is practically here to profess my love for the kitchen, our summer months here in the Med are too much, as in there’s way too much heat and humidity in the air already. My adding to it in the house is no help at all. So I’m taking a break.
However this won’t last long now – I know I have to get back into the swing of things very soon, so this simple salad is a good way to start.
Continue reading Halloumi, Plum tomato, Mixed Greens and Baby Spinach Salad, and a Mustard Dressing
This is a very easy recipe I make whenever I plan a Mexican-inspired supper. It takes minutes to prepare from start to finish and for me it’s well worth it. I must confess I prefer something like a guacamole than mashed up beans and was quite averse to it when I first tasted it. (Reason behind this: kidney beans are not one of my favourite things!) However I grew to like it; it complements the freshness of guacamole in texture and taste. And it’s pantry-friendly. You don’t really need to go out and buy any special ingredients for this. You might have all the ingredients right now. The traditional recipe calls for pinto beans but I use kidney beans instead, just because they are easier to find. All you need are:
- 1 x 400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small shallot
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup vegetable stock (you might need a little bit more as the beans cook)
- salt (preferably coarse and crushed) and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh coriander (or parsley), to sprinkle over the beans in their serving bowl
- Set aside around a third of the kidney beans and in a bowl mash the rest with a fork. Don’t fuss around with this. A rough mash is more than enough.
- Place a pan over the heat and when it’s hot enough add the olive oil and the shallot. (If you don’t have shallots or onions, you could even use a couple of spring onions. Just add them straight with the garlic to avoid any burning.*) Let the shallot cook until it turns a light golden colour.
- Add the garlic (if you didn’t add it before*) and the spices.
- Give everything a good stir and immediately add the mashed kidney beans and half the amount of stock. Let the mixture thicken slightly for around five minutes, and tip in the unmashed beans. Loosen the mixture now by adding the remaining stock slowly, and just enough for the beans to loosen but still stay somewhat thick.** This might take up to two to three minutes.
- Season with the salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and add more if necessary.
- Place the beans in a serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh coriander.
Before I go I must apologise for the lack of a proper photo for this, but in the so-called chaos of my kitchen I totally forgot to take a close-up picture of the finished thing! I hope you can see it clearer in the picture!** Also, don’t let the number of steps put you down. It’s one of the easiest recipes out there. Enjoy!
My idea of a lovely evening would be inviting some friends over for a simple supper, which I can prepare in less than 30 minutes – in less than 10 preferably! I love my kitchen and spend days and days cooking and baking but I do get tired sometimes. So anything that can help me prepare an informal party in no time for and with the people I love spending time the most is always welcome in my book. It takes away the stress and panic, and I think that the simplest meals can be the best meals. These fajitas also take away the assemblage, which in this case is done by others! All you have to do is some prepping – cooking the meat in minutes in a pan and chopping the veggies. Easy stuff.
You can make these fajitas with chicken or beef, or any mixture of veggies you like. If you’re using any kind of meat, the trick is to marinate it well ahead of time to make it moist and tender. Who would want a dry fajita anyway? I had one once and it was stringy and chewy. Not nice. I made this some weeks ago after a very full day when I really didn’t want to spend more time in the kitchen than I had to. There was a little planning beforehand, nothing big – I knew I wanted to cook something quick, simple, and without too much work.
So I bought some rump, cut it into thick strips when I got home and marinated all of it for a couple of hours in the fridge. I then shallow-fried it and left it in the pan till it cooked to medium/rare, keeping an eye on it, as always. You don’t even need any oil if that’s what you prefer, especially if you use a non-stick pan – the marinade has plenty of moisture anyway. But I don’t like burnt meat, so this time I played it safe. All you have to do then is to chop a red pepper, throw in a yellow pepper for luck, dice one or two fresh tomatoes. Place these in individual serving bowls, together with a packet of ready washed rockets leaves and you’re done. Place everything on a corn tortilla, wrap it up and eat. For something extra you can serve it with cornbread for a meze style meal. Perfect for summer. The following is what you need for the marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small cubes or crystallized ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder)
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cold water
Place the meat in a bowl and pour the marinade over it. Mix it well, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for an hour or two or until needed. Cook and serve on corn tortillas with greens and other vegetables. Easy!