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        When I was growing up in the kitchen drawer there was a knife known as "The knife"! It had been a carbon steel dinner kni...


Spanish Sunshine!

Liquid Salad

The E-coli outbreak in Germany last week had even rational people like me looking warily at the organic Spanish cucumber in my kitchen. I did eat it, though I washed and peeled it. Very tasty it was too.
I was surprised to find someone at a school fete refusing any sandwiches that contained salad. This was on last Friday when most salad had been given the all clear. Some times we can be too cautious, or maybe she doesn’t like salad. I do not know, but I do hope this will make us all more aware of hygiene and food preparation.

In celebration of those gallant Spanish farmers I think we all should all go out of our way to help them along by eating Gazpacho at least once a week for the summer. So here is my take on this Spanish Classic. It may not be authentic but it is an original ‘vegetable’ smoothie and a great way to get some of your five a day.
Interestingly only the garlic and scallions are vegetables in this mix, all the other ‘vegetables’ are the fruits of their plants.


3 cloves of garlic
600g vine ripened tomatoes
1 a green pepper
½ a red pepper
1 a cucumber
4 scallions
1 thick slice of white bread no crusts
1tbs of sherry vinegar
4tbs olive oil
salt & pepper
½ -1 chilli
Some extra virgin olive oil for serving.
1 hard boiled egg

Peel the garlic and put into a blender with a good pinch of salt.
Halve the tomatoes, remove the green cores.
Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers and cut into 3cm pieces.
Wash and peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthways and remove the seeds from the centre.
Chop the scallions and finely chop the chilli if you are using it.

Add half the chopped vegetables to the blender with half the bread.
Put the lid on and blend to a smooth puree.
Pour the contents of the blender into a large jug.

Put the rest of the vegetables and breadcrumbs into the blender and blend to a smooth puree.
Pour into the jug with the first batch and mix well.

Stir in the vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
If the tomatoes are not ripe enough add a little sugar.

Leave for a couple of hours in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop before serving.
Just before serving stir the contents of the jug really well and thin with some iced water if it is very thick.
Very finely dice some red and green pepper.
Peel the hard boiled egg and grate it

Pour the Gazpacho into soup bowls, sprinkle on some of the red and green pepper dice, grated egg and trickle over a little of the best extra virgin olive oil you can get.
Serves about 6

Sweet Treat

I made these spicy flapjacks to bring to the same school fete and promised the recipe to some friends. I had a great time using up some half finished packets of muesli and topping them up with rolled oats. 

One of the muesli's was a spicy granola from http://www.greensaffron.com/ , but it needed a little help.

These are more of a chewy muesli bar than a tooth shattering crisp flapjack. They provide great energy on a long walk or bike ride and are fine with a cuppa and a friend to chat to.

Spicy Flapjacks

4 cardamom pods
1tsp coriander seed
½ tsp grated nutmeg
6tbs sunflower oil
3tbs honey
160 g soft brown sugar
330 g Muesli or a combination of rolled oats, nuts seeds and dried fruit

Set the oven to GM 3/330˚F/170˚C.
Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Put the cardamom pods into a mortar and pestle and lightly crush to release the seeds, remove the green husks and add the coriander seed. Crush all the seeds with the pestle.

Put the crushed spices and grated nutmeg into a saucepan and add the oil, honey and the sugar.
Warm the saucepan on a low heat. Mix with a wooden spoon and when the sugar has melted and is beginning to bubble add the muesli.

Mix in the muesli well and pour the contents of the saucepan on to the Swiss roll tin. Spread the mixture out well and smooth down with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. When they are done the edges will have darkened a bit, take the tin out of the oven and put on a wire rack to cool. 

While they are still hot mark into bars and leave to cool in the tin. When they are cold take them out of the tin.

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