Tag Archives: andalucia

Padron Peppers with Garlic

17 Sep

If you see these tiny green peppers in the supermarket in the UK, (I know you can buy them in Waitrose), you may think, err, what do I do with these and pass them by.  So next time you see them, put a bag in your basket.  We see them so often here in restaurants and bars, and I cook them at home myself – they are a lovely accompaniment to many dishes, or just on the side with other tapas.


They take no time to prepare and are absolutely delicious.  A funny thing though, one in a few dozen is like a chilli pepper so take care!  The rest are mild and tangy when cooked – or you can chop them into salads.


Take one bag for 2-4 people

Four or five cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

Sea salt


Heat some good olive oil in a frying pan – the Spanish deep fry them, but I just move them around in a small amount of oil, so have a go at whatever you prefer.


Throw in the chopped garlic and cook for a minute

Then simply empty the bag of Padron peppers in too, and cook gently for 4 or 5 minutes.

Tip onto a serving plate and sprinkle some good sea salt over


Serve with a lovely chilled glass of dry sherry – absolutely gorgeous!

Courgette Flower Tempura

14 May

Ok, this is one of those things which only cooks or people with allotments would ever get excited about – most people would not ever give them a second thought, know about them or if they do, care.


I first had these stuffed with something fantastic like goose liver parfait (sorry) at the Moulin de Mougins in the South of France around 30 years ago (yikes) and because they just looked so beautiful I have never forgotten them.  Anyhow, the difficult thing with these is that you never see courgettes with the flowers left on in shops because they do wither very quickly.  You need to pick them, carry them home carefully and use them that day.

Courgette Flower Tempura

On Friday, I went to my friend Nevenka’s farm shop in Vera as I often do on Friday mornings.   Opening times are11 am until 2 pm.  It is well worth a visit for gorgeous citrus fruit, particularly limes as she has 400 lime trees!  But also, lovely preserves, chutneys and other condiments. She always has some lovely fresh vegetables too, potatoes, beans and whatever is in season and also loads of gorgeous fresh herbs – all of her vegetables are organic – she often has things which you cannot buy here – last week I had a bag of mange tout – absolutely delicious – and on Friday she had the most beautiful baby courgette with the flowers on.  I had quite a lot to do on Friday as everyone was coming around for the opening of the Friday night outdoor cinema and I was preparing a little supper.  But as said, these beautiful pale flowers come along once in a blue moon and so I took four and thought that I would make a tiny starter for lunch.  I really would have liked them stuffed with crab and crème fraiche and chives, but I thought, get real – just look in the fridge and see what is there.  So when I got home, I pulled out some cream cheese and mixed in some chilli sauce put teaspoons of the mixture into the flowers.  Then I made up some tempura batter – plain flour, a tablespoon of cornflour, a little sea salt and some sparkling water.

Then all you do is drop the stuffed flowers in the batter with a slotted spoon and deep fry in vegetable oil until they turn the palest golden colour.  Because the oil is so hot, everything stays in tact, nothing oozes out and they just look stunning. They need to be drained on kitchen paper and eaten immediately with a little chilli sauce.


Mick said they were sensational so I will be popping back to Nevenka’s this week in the hope that there will be a few more for me to steal!



4 May

I think one of the things I like most about living in Spain is the way that certain types of food is just, well, so Spanish!   Churros is one of them.  And the way that you find it – i.e. literally on the streets, out of vans, at fiestas and in cafes.  I can’t think of an English equivalent that is so universally found.  I have mentioned churros before, but thought that some of you might like to have a go at making them and so have included a recipe.  This is something which you will only ever do if a) you love cooking b) you have an extractor fan and c) when it is a miserable day outside and you have nothing better to do!  But let me explain a bit more about the famous Churros.

A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut is a fried delicacy

There are two types of churros in Spain, one which is thin (and sometimes knotted) and the other which is long and thick (porra). They are both normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate

Churros are typically fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle.

Churros are often sold by street vendors, who will often fry them freshly on the street stand and sell them hot.  You get a lovely brown paper bag full for a euro! In Spain churros are available in cafes for breakfast although they may be eaten throughout the day as a snack. Specialized churrerías can be found in the form of a shop or a trailer during the holiday period. Big Spanish cities have churrerías throughout their streets but we usually just get them from a van either at Vera market on a Saturday or Villaricos market on a Sunday. I have to admit that I have only eaten them 3 or 4 times in 8 years because they are so delicious, but so bad for you and I am scared of it becoming a regular thing!

The dough is a mixture of flour, water and salt.

In south Spain the word churro usually refers to the thicker variant, called porra elsewhere. The thicker variant is usually fried in the shape of a continuous spiral and cut into portions afterwards. The center of the spiral is thicker and softer, and for many a delicacy in itself.

It may seem obvious, but DO TAKE CARE if you decide to be adventurous and try out the recipe below.  This is not a recipe for kids as it involves boiling hot oil!  If the oil is too hot it will really splash so imagine you are making chips – the oil doesn’t need to be any hotter than that!


For the churros:

90g caster sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

125g plain flour

125g self-raising flour

a good pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 litre sunflower oil for frying

For the chocolate sauce:

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

50g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons golden syrup

300ml double cream


Serves: makes 16 long sticks

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.

Make the chocolate sauce. Put all the chocolate in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the golden syrup and cream and heat over a low heat, stirring continuously, to melt the chocolate, being careful not to let it burn.

Sift the flours with a good pinch of salt into a metal or heatproof bowl and make a well in the centre.

In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil and 450ml boiling water together, and pour into the well, beating it well with a fork to get rid of any lumps. The dough should be slightly soft and sticky to touch. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Fill a large, heavy bottomed saucepan (or Wok) with the sunflower oil – it should be about one-third full. Heat the oil to 170C or until a small piece of bread browns in less than 30 seconds.

Add the dough to a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and squeeze out churros directly into the hot oil, cutting them with a pair of scissors into the length you want. Be careful not to cook more than three at any one time, or they will all stick together. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes until crispy and golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Reheat the chocolate sauce and pour into little cups for dipping with the churros.

If you don’t have the energy to make these, search out a Spanish restaurant on google!

There are plenty in London I know.  El Cantara in Soho is a good start!