Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Potaje de Berros ~Watercress Soup

We love the Canary Islands and have visited all of them on many occasions. The climate, terrain and the food is something we really enjoy and this is the reason we return year after year. Last year we booked through Monarch for our holiday to Tenerife. We stayed in self catering apartments as this gives us lots of flexibility and we can hire a car and drive around the island with its lovely coastline and mountain range. We enjoy stopping by at the local villages and farmers markets to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and also home made bread. The fruit and vegetables are always available in abundance and they look so natural and taste delicious.

Eating out and discovering local cuisine is also fun to do on holidays and our mission has been to find as many Canarian dishes  that we can that are suitable for vegetarians. Over the years we have discovered many dishes that we enjoy such as  Caldo de Papas y Cilantro (Potato and coriander soup), Mojo Verde (Green Mojo), Mojo Picon (spicy sauce),  Papas Arrugadas (wrinkled potatoe)s and Platanos Fritas (fried bananas).

On our recent visit, one of the restaurants we regularly visited was well known for their most amazing watercress soup known as Potaje be Berros. Unfortunately the soup on the menu was actually made with pig ribs which was not suitable for vegetarians, however after chatting to the owner he created a vegetarian version for us and it tasted amazing.

Its admirable that restaurant owners are very accommodating and more than willing to rustle up vegetarian dishes even if they are not on the menu. We enjoy chatting to the chefs and I have come away with some great recipes from my visits, especially an authentic Canarian family recipe for the Mojo Pican.

I was so impressed with the soup that I have recreated my own vegetarian version of Potaje de Berros- Water cress soup. The soup is very chunky more like a stew than soup and it tastes absolutely delicious.

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Potaje de Berros ~Watercress Soup
Hearty  and rustic soup with beans and vegetables nad peppery watercress.

  • 1 Medium sweet potato diced
  • 1 Corn on the cob cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 4 Medium tomatoes finely chopped.
  • 1 Green pepper finely chopped
  • 300 g fresh watercress stalks removed and roughly torn
  • 1 Red onion finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 250 g precooked flageolet beans (white beans)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Few strands of saffron
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1000 ml water 

1. In a large saucepan add the olive oil and wait for it to heat up, then add the garlic and onions and saute until translucent. 2. Add the chopped tomatoes and the diced potatoes and sweet corn and add the water. Cook the corn and sweet potatoes until almost 75 percent cooked (approx 10 mins) 3. Add to the pan, the green pepper, precooked flageolet beans, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and simmer the soup for 5 more minutes until the potatoes and corn are fully cooked. 4. At the last minute stir in the water cress and just cook for 1 more minute until the leaves wilt. 5. Stir in the saffron and spoon the soup into serving bowls and serve with hot seeded bread. 
Prep time: Cooking time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

This post is a contribution to the Monarch Island Cookbook in collaboration with Monarch 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Giveaway Food Photography Book by Corinna Gisseman

When I started blogging about 7 years ago I had no idea of food photography. The blog was just an online space to share recipes with my family and friends. It was only after a few months of blogging and after attending a bloggers event that my interest in food photography ignited and I made the decision to self teach photography by reading books and following on line videos. After all food is a very visual, when you see a plate of food it needs to look inviting, you should be able to taste, smell and want to devour it by just looking at it. To recreate this visual impact its important to plate the food in an appealing way, taking care of portion size, colours textures and styling and presenting it in the most mouth watering and appealing way. For example, looking at the collage below, do you get the urge to want to pick up a chocolate ball and take a bite, dig into the bowl of pasta or dip the churrous into sauce and devour it???  That is what food photography is all about, to visually entice and tickle your taste buds.

I used to shot with point and shoot camera and later on I invested in my first DSLR camera. I followed many tutorials and spent many hours researching and learning how to style, shoot, use my camera and take good pictures. A lot of books I found were too technical and I was continuously looking for a book that was easy to read, had simple instructions and covered a range of photography techniques from using the camera on manual settings, styling, setting up a shoot, editing and creating a perfect food photo. My search finally lead me to a brilliant book "Food Photography" by Corinna Gisseman. Corinna is a food photographer and you can see some of her amazing work at . I can't brag enough about the book I absolutely love it.
You can read all about my review of it below.

Food Photography by Corinna Gissemann is a wonderful book. It is the perfect beginners guide to create beautiful food photography. The book has 11 chapters covering all aspects of photography.

Chapter one gives advise about the gear you would need such as  lenses, tripods, memory cards, hard drives, tripods, artificial light sources and white balancing. This chapter is really useful and the advise given is really helpful for someone starting out in food photography.

Chapter two covers the basics of the camera such ad setting the aperture, setting the exposure time, ISO sensitivity and how the three work together.

Chapter three covers different types of lighting and the different ways you can use it in food photography.

Chapter four is a really useful chapter, here you can learn all about the different angles of photography,framing, rules of thirds, composing colours with the use of a colour wheel. This chapter also has some great tips on capturing the mood  and creating depth of focus in the food photos.

Chapter five covers styling, this is the most useful chapter and the author shares so many really useful tips and tricks.

Chapter 6  this is by far the most useful chapter . In this chapter the author shows you step by step techniques on setting up a photo shoot and styling five different set ups from start to finish. It is really detailed and clearly presented.

Chapter 7 is all about  image processing in lightroom, a great tutorial in how to edit the photos.

Chapter 8 this covers useful tips and tricks and cheats to keep the food looking perfect in your shoots.

Chapter 9 is all about home made props for the photo shoots. A lovely chapter that covers some great ideas on using household  products to create great food props.

 Chapter 10 and 11 are about boosting your creativity and finally putting everything into practice that is covered in the book.

I have found this book really useful, it is written, keeping in mind a complete beginner tackling food photography but it still covers topics for an advance photographer.

Do you like taking photos of your food? Are you one of those people who won't allow anyone to disturb the food until you have clicked some picture?? Have you had any embarrassing situations whilst taking food photos??? Do share your anecdotes in the comments below about photographing food.I would love to read all about them.

Book Details: 
Food Photography by Corinna Gissemann
Publisher rockynook
ISBN 978-1-68198-101-7
I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

You can check out more details of the book and where to purchase it here. I am really excited that I have a copy of the book to giveaway to one simplyfood reader.

How To Enter:
  • Simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
  • Entries can be via blog comment, Facebook, Twitter etc
  • Competition ends 3rd February 2017 12.00 am
  • This giveaway is open to all readers over 18 who live in the UK,
  • The winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter (which uses and announced on this page. 
  • Prize: Giveaway Food Photography Book by Corinna Gisseman

All entries will be verified, failure to follow instructions correctly will result in participants being disqualified. Please do not cheat.

How Rafflecopter works:

  • You will need to complete the mandatory entry first – usually making a blog comment. You can do this by clicking on leave a comment at the bottom of the post and leaving your reply in the comment box. Please note your comment will not show immediately as it needs to be moderated however rest assured it will appear on the site, so carry on with rest of entries.
  • Login to Rafflecopter – click to see what the question is. Make a comment answering the question on the blog.
  •  Go back to Rafflecopter and click the green button to tell me you have made a comment, this will unlock all the other options. All entries are checked to see that the mandatory question is answered, if its not all bonus entries will become void. 
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Vegetarian Vermicelli -Fideo Pasta bowl.

I really enjoy pasta and find that it is a staple in my families meals. There are so many varieties in many different shapes and sizes. A few of my favourites are the classic spaghetti (cord shape), penne rigate (quills), tagliatelli (ribbon pasta), farfale (bow ties), vermicelli (thin hair like pasta), Fideo Vermicelli  (cut small cord shape pasta) and rotini (spiral pasta).

Different pastas serve different purposes, some with ridges coat thick sauces better, the smoother pasta are great for creamy sauces. One of my favourite quick pasta dish is Fideo Vermicelli, it cooks in a short time and is perfect stir fried with seasonal vegetables. This is one dish that features in my meal planner every week. Its great hot or cold and packs well for lunch. In the picture below you can see the texture of this Vermicelli Fideo pasta.

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Vegetarian Vermicelli -Fideo Pasta bowl.
Delicious Vegetarian Pasta tossed with peppers, carrots, sweetcorn.

  • 125 grams dry Vermicelli Fideo Pasta
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 teaspoon salt for pasta water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 30 g frozen peas
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and diced
  • 30 g frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 30 g mixed red /green peppers diced
  • 1 small red onion finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
  • 1/3 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Fresh coriander sprigs finely chopped for garnish
  • 1 Red chilli finely chopped
  • Lemon wedges for serving

1. Put water in a large pan and bring it to the boil, add the vermicelli pasta and salt and cook until the pasta is a l dente. Drain and keep aside. 2. In a pan add the olive oil when its hot add the onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. 3. To the onions, add the diced carrots, peas, sweetcorn, finely chopped red chilli and peppers. Cook the vegetables on a low heat for about 5 minutes until they are cooked.4. Add the salt, chilli powder, turmeric to the vegetables and saute for 1-2 minutes.5. Stir in the cooked vermicelli pasta and toss everything together. 6. Transfer the pasta to serving bowls and garnish with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.  
Prep time: Cooking time: Total time: Yield: Serves 2

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Vegetarian Cheats Mince Pies

Its Christmas Eve and there is only one sleep left before Christmas day, the excitement in the house is electrifying as most of the preparations are ready for the big day. So before bed time the last thing to remember is to leave a glass of wine and a mince pie for Santa and of course a carrot for Rudolf.

Most people either love mince pies or hate them, unfortunately I am not a big fan of them although my family love them. However being vegetarian we find it hard to find vegetarian mince pies as a lot of shop bought pies use suet and often gelatin.

I have always created a "cheats" mince pies for my family, sometimes its ok to cheat by buying ready made pastry and organic mince meat. These take less than 30 minutes to make and taste delicious.

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Cheats Vegetarian Mince Pies
Delicious pastry with fruity mince meat.


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C 2. Dust the worktop with some flour and roll out the short crust pastry to 3 mm thick. Using a cookie cutter in the shape of a flower cut out 12 flower shapes.3. Cut out 12 smaller flower shapes for lids.4. Line a muffin tin with  the large flower shape pastry and make sure you push the pastry in the cavity to make a case shape.5. Fill the pastry cases with the mince meat and place the smaller flower shape on top to make a lid.6.  Brush the tops with a little milk and place the mince pies in the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.7.  Remove mince pies from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Once cooled remove them from the tins and dust with icing sugar.
Prep time: Baking time: Total time: Yield: 12 pies

I hope you enjoy these delicious mince pies, I am sure our Santa will as he always leaves a note asking us to leave him extras!!!!

I would like to also wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy the festivities with family and friends.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Chocolate Pistachio Bark

I love making edible presents and one of my favourite treats that I make every Christmas is chocolate bark. The beauty of this bark is that you can flavour it with any combination of ingredients to make it unique for the person's taste for whom you are gifting it to. Some of my favourite chocolate bark ingredients are nuts, berries, popping candies, crushed  nut brittle, dried fruits and spices such as peppercorn, chilli flakes and also sea salt.

This Chocolate and pistachio bark with flaked almonds is a lovely Christmas bark which makes a perfect gift for a nut lover.

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Chocolate Pistachio Bark
A combination of dark and white chocolate topped with flaked pistachios and rose scented flaked almonds.

  • 240 g Dark Belgium Chocolate broken in to small pieces.
  • 200 g Milk Chocolate broken into small pieces..
  • 30 g flaked pistachio nuts 
  • 30 g flaked almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • 4 drops rose essence

1. Place the flaked almonds in a zip lock bag, add the red food colouring and rose essence and 1/2 teaspoon water. Shake the bag until all the flaked almonds are coated in the red colouring. Transfer the almonds on to a tray that is lined with kitchen paper and leave the almonds to dry completely. 2. In a double boiler add the dark chocolate and melt it .3. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and pour a thin layer of the dark chocolate on it.4. Using a clean bowl melt the white chocolate on the double boiler. Once the white chocolate has melted fill up a piping bag with the melted white chocolate and swirl it on the dark chocolate in a random pattern.5. Garnish the chocolate bark with the flaked pistachio nuts and the rose flavoured red almonds.6. Leave the bark to set in the fridge for 30 minutes after which using a pizza wheel score the bark into squares. Return the bark back to the fridge to chill fully for another 3 hours.7.  After three hours, remove the bark from the fridge and peel it away from the grease proof paper. Break it into pieces on the score lines. Transfer to gift box.
Prep time: Total time: Yield: 40 pieces

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