I’m Over There!

Today I’m guest blogging at the fabulous Limes and Lycopene.

Find my post here.¬† ūüôā



We’ve been dog/house-sitting for the last few days.¬† Great fun – especially when the three dogs are Irish Wolfhounds and the views from the house are as spectacular as these:





Earlier this week Molly posted a recipe for boiled kale which had me dashing out to the shop to try and find some of that dark green, crinkly veg.¬† It wasn’t easy to find¬†but, goodness, it was worth the hunt.¬†¬† Molly’s dish was superb and it inspired me to experiment with a brassica that I now so much wish I’d planted for a winter crop.

The following was one of my experiments and tonight’s dinner.¬† And it was delicious.¬† Just delicious.¬† Really.¬†


Baked Kale with Potatoes (adapted from The Cook’s Companion¬†– wow, what a book)

(serves 2 as side dish)

1 tblspn olive oil

1/2 onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

300g waxy potatoes, skin on and sliced thinly

Handful of black olives

1 tblspn capers

100g chopped kale (large stems removed)

100ml white wine

100ml water



Parmesan cheese

  • Soften the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat.¬† Add the garlic and fry for a minute more.
  • Add the potatoes, olives and capers and toss well.
  • Add the kale and the liquids.¬† Bring to the boil then transfer everything to a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.
  • Bake for 35 minutes in a 180oC oven, shaking occasionally.
  • Season carefully before serving drizzled with lemon and sprinkled with parmesan.

Patatas Bravas

D and I had a Spanish night earlier in this week.¬† He didn’t come to Madrid with me last weekend¬†and I wanted to share¬†some of the food ideas I had picked up.¬† In particular patatas bravas and clara.

The latter is a shandy made from light Spanish lager and cloudy lemonade rather than the standard clear lemonade Рvery simple but wonderfully refreshing.  The former dish is one of my favourite tapas Рfried potatoes topped with a picante tomato sauce. 

Traditionally the potatoes in this dish are poached in olive oil before being fried over a high heat but I just couldn’t bring myself to use all that fat.¬† Instead, I blanched the unpeeled¬†potatoes in water before roasting them¬†with a mere brushing of oil.¬† It worked very well, I thought.¬† ūüôā


Note: The following recipe makes a lot of sauce.  We used half of it over two nights on potatoes and the rest was diluted with stock and cream to make a rather tasty soup.

Patatas Bravas (sauce adapted from Moro)

(Tapas for 4)

500g small, waxy potatoes – halved



Olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

1 green pepper, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 tspn chilli flakes

Bay leaf

Glass of white wine

400g tin plum tomatoes

1 tspn sugar

1/2 tspn smoked paprika

Cayenne pepper (optional)

  • Parboil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes.¬† Drain and layout on baking tray.¬† Brush thoroughly with olive oil and sprinkly with salt and paprika.¬† Roast in a 200oC over for 30 minutes until crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce.¬† Fry the onion and pepper in a little olive oil until soft (medium heat).
  • Add the garlic, chilli flakes and bay and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the wine.¬† Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid by half.
  • Add the tomatoes and sugar and mash down to a pulp.¬† Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Blend until smooth.¬†
  • Add seasoning and cayenne to taste.
  • Serve potatoes in a heated dish with the sauce spooned over the top.

My Madrid

A few people have asked¬†me for recommendations on where to go and what to do in Madrid.¬† Must say, I feel entirely under-qualified to do such a thing for this was my first trip to the city and a short one at that.¬† But is was a wonderful weekend and I did discover some absolute gems.¬†¬†So here they are: my own personal favourites from a short but highly pleasurable trip to Madrid¬† ūüôā

My Favourite Tapas 

La Casa del Abuelo (Grandad’s House).¬† Their¬†garlic and chilli prawns were to die for.

My Favourite Place for Breakfast 

El Brilliante in Atocha.  The churros con chocolat here were perfect.  Crisp doughnuts and thick, not-too-bitter hot chocolat.

My Favourite Early Evening Spot 

Hmmm, don’t know the name of this bar but it’s located across the square from the main entrance of the Reina Sofia Museum, near the above mentioned El Brilliante.¬† It has a “Y” in the name….¬† Anyway, it’s a wonderful place to watch people going into the museum (free from 6pm – 9pm), hanging out on the square or draping over their balconies.¬† And they serve you wine in very cool little glasses (see picture above).¬† Small things..

My Favourite Late Night Spot 

Plaza Santa Ana.  Stunning, vibrant square with lots of outdoor seating. 

My Favourite Museum

Reina Sofia.  What can I say?  I prefer modern art.

My Favourite Surprise

Atocha train station.¬† There’s a rainforest in the train station!¬† Really!¬† With terrapins!¬† Superb.

 My Favourite Stroll

Well, we used this walking tour one of the mornings and I thoroughly enjoyed it.¬† Make sure you map it out first though.¬† We didn’t and got more than a little confused at times.

My Favourite Other Thing

El Rastro flea market.¬† Takes place every Sunday morning.¬† HUGE and full of tat.¬† Great fun.¬† ūüôā


If you whisper “what’s that?” to Marco very quickly and excitedly, he goes nuts.¬† He¬†bounds up to the livingroom window and looks up and down the street growling and wuffing¬†ready to protect us from those crazy¬†neighbourhood cats or the odd buggy wielding mother.¬† It’s a habit we shouldn’t encourage really but I couldn’t help but laugh this weekend when David walked into the kitchen and spotted the above vegetable.¬† “Whassat?” he asked loudly and Marco went mental.¬†

Fair question though.¬† Romanesco do look¬†odd with their strange geometric patterns and almost luminous green colouring.¬† If martians had veg, I reckon they’d look like this.

In actual fact, romanesco do not have an intergalactic ancestry; they are part of the brassica family and can best be described as a funky cross between brocolli and cauliflower.  As a fan of both of these vegetables and as someone who appreciates pretty food, I am always excited to find a romanesco on sale.  More often than not, it ends up being cooked in the following way.

¬†A fabulous end for a fabulous veg, I think.¬† ūüôā


Romanesco with Coriander and Chilli (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey)

(serves four as a side dish – two as a main)

1 large head of romanesco or brocolli or cauliflower

Large thumb of ginger, chopped roughly

2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

1 tblspn ghee

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 hot chilli, chopped

Big handful of coriander, chopped roughly

1 tspn cumin

1 tblspn coriander

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt to taste

  • Cut the romanesco into florets, halving any particularly large ones.¬† Rinse and set aside.
  • Whizz the ginger, garlic and turmeric in a blender with a little water to create a paste.
  • Heat the ghee over a medium-high heat and add the ginger paste.¬† Stir and cook constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chilli and coriander.¬† Cook for another minute.
  • Add cauliflower and the rest of the spices and lemon juice.¬† Stir well to combine then add 30 mls of water.¬†
  • Cook over a high heat for a few more minutes then reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan.¬† Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season very carefully and serve.