well stocked shelves at esca
well stocked shelves at esca
a tart is, without fail, my saviour on those evenings when i haven’t given dinner a thought all day, the shops are already closed so i can’t pick up some fresh meat, and the household tummies are already rumbling. it is my failsafe go-to: ridiculously easy, and surprisingly crowd pleasing, giving the simplicity.
i always keep an armory of store-bought pastry in the freezer, both puff and shortcrust, and ensure there is one of each in the fridge at all times, for emergency dinners (particularly in the summer, when a light tart and some steamed veggies is all you need).
i throw whatever is left in the fridge on the pastry and whack it in the oven. done! even the oh-so-simple tomato puree, tomato and cheddar cheese combo is a winner when piled on top of golden puff pastry.
more often than not, i have a log of goat’s cheese and a bag of prosciutto on hand, and these ingredients, paired with some quick caramelised onions, can make for a pretty fancy dinner in under half an hour.
on this occasion, i also had some gorgeous organic tomatoes that i picked up from the market, and the adornment of multi-coloured shapes and sizes were like baubles on a christmas tree. so pretty!
take the puff pastry out of the fridge while you prepare your other ingredients. first, i chopped up two brown onions, and threw them in the pan with some butter and two tablespoons of brown sugar. toss them about occasionally so they don’t go crisp – you want them caramelised, soft and delicious. when they’re a deep brown colour and taste like sweets, take them off the heat.
roll out your pastry on to a baking tray, and scoop your onions onto the pastry, spreading them out evenly. next, crumble goat’s cheese into the gaps, followed by ripped-up pieces of prosciutto and finally, dot your tomatoes about. i fold over the sides of my pastry – partly because it gives it a nice, rustic look, and also because it won’t fit on my baking tray otherwise.
bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden, and the tomatoes warmed through and seared on the top (i like mine to still have some bite in them, but if you prefer them completely soft, throw them in the pan with the onions for a few minutes). the goat’s cheese should be softened and warm but not gooey.
buttery, flaky pastry topped with a delicious mouthful of creamy, sharp goat’s cheese, sweet onions, salty prosciutto and finally a juicy pop of tomato. serve with a summer salad or steamed greens for a light lunch or dinner. in winter, make it a heartier fare with some roasted root vegetables on the side.
I have a confession to make.
this summer i have sinned and am guilty of pure, filthy indulgence, but oh my goodness was it worth it.
wine was poured like water, bubbles have been popped at every available opportunity (we have had a lot to celebrate) and let’s face it, i have had responsibility to sample lots of andrea’s mouth-watering creations like this and these in the name of research of course. i know, i’m dedicated to the cause.
it’s sugar and gluten-free, it is also low in fat and is filled with fibre and protein to fill you up – making it the perfect anytime snack.
you wil need:
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder (i use this one)
grind the oats and add into the mixture along with the protein powder.
blend and then add in the chia seeds, mixed nuts and blueberries.
pop into the oven for around 40 minutes, but keep an eye out you don’t want your treats to be too dry.
once the bread is cooked throughout leave to cool on a rack.
while these bad boys are simply delicious on their own, you can serve with greek yoghurt or drizzled in almond butter should that tickle your fancy.
for those of you who like your treats extra sweet a smattering of nutella, cream or honey may also hit the spot. go on give them a go and be good to yourself.
if you like these you might also like to try my protein pancake recipe which can be found here.
pretty pastels, particularly cotton candy pink, fresh mint and buttercup yellow, are a staple on my fingers. so delicate and whimsical, especially when adorned with an extra flourish of matching glitter, like here and here.
and just as there are days when all i want is soft and serene, at times you just need to really up the ante, no? i’ve done it before. and I’m doing it again. it’s neon week! oh the possibilities of neon. so many options. do you want to go with the hottest of hot pinks? channel your inner traffic cone (we all have one of those within right?) with garish orange?
neon nails can instantly punch up any outfit. just like a slick of red lipstick, the small in size but high in impact colour pop can transform a drab black ensemble into unexpected fun. or better yet, for those attention seekers among us, you can do as i did and clash your neon with more neon. you’ll be a walking disco ball, and what’s wrong with that on a tuesday afternoon in the office, i ask?
i’ve given most of the neon rainbow my attention at one time or another (the american apparel range is a particular favourite) but i was strolling through boots the other day, stocking up on my fifth bottle of nail polish remover this year and minding my own business, when the barry m stand caught my eye, filled up high with some neon shades i hadn’t noticed in their collection before. in particular, this acid yellow shade. ‘hot damn’, i thought, ‘my hands need that’.
i adore this colour. it’s ridiculously fun. (the bf may have described the shade as hyper-puke though. pffft. men.) if acid yellow is a little much for you, my other neon favourite is hot pink, this one is fabulous.
one word of warning: wait until you have some level of a tan before trying this look. acid yellow is tricky at the best of times, and paired with caspar white fingers, i fear the aforementioned male’s observation of looking sickly may be accurate. this is a great one for the beach – wear with a white bikini and golden glow.
bread drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a full-bodied merlot, tantalising tapas and succulent fresh fish. sounds delicious doesn’t it?
there is very little I don’t like about mediterranean food and sampling the local offerings is the highlight of every holiday to spain. on my most recent and very brief trip to la manga i dined at my favourite restaurant amapola at the hotel principe felipe.
think big plates, small, and beautifully presented dishes full of flavour, eaten outside on the terrace overlooking the manicured golf course, while soaking up the view as the sun goes down. gorgeous.
whenever i’m on holiday by the sea i try to sample as much fish as i can and there was plenty on offer on the menu.
i opted for a salmon filet in a sesame crust with kaffir lime champagne emulsion in ginger and yuzu caviar. it was just as amazing as it sounds.
we also ordered iberian ham and a red mullet pancake which both looked pretty tasty too.
my meal continued with a fishy theme and i also enjoyed seared tuna with wasabi-inspired tempura. the fish was cooked to perfection, slightly brown on the outside, deliciously fresh and fleshy pink in the middle.
the cod proved popular at our table and arrived sat on a bed of garlic potato puree accompanied with a variety of fresh vegetables. the clean plates paid testament to the taste.
what kind of supper would end without something sweet? i like my deserts decadent, rich and gooey so the chocolate coulant and vanilla ice cream ticked all the boxes on my pudding wish list.
in previous years a meal in amapola would lead to a hectic night in the piano bar dancing along to brian chapman – who would get the guests singing and swinging along to classic, and rather cheesy tunes like sweet caroline.
for old times sake we paid a visit to the bar, but brian was noticeably absent – it was a quieter crowd too.
we were seated outside on the large terrace in the perfect spot for people watching.
while the menu was a more traditional than innovative, i was pleasantly surprised by the unfussy food.
i couldn’t decide between two starters so i enjoyed a savoury crepe stuffed with smoked salmon and avocado in a brie sauce and the sushi.
steering away from traditional spanish fare the french onion soup and prawn tempura were also ordered to start with hake supreme and cod to follow.
generous portions, well presented and the food was extremely reasonable – not sure why we haven’t been before but i know we will be back.
my trip was short and sweet but my other favourite restaurants in la manga include la cala, a seafood restaurant nestled on a cliff-top with stunning sea views and excellent lobster paella and la bodega – a firm favourite for delicious spanish tapas.
you can see a full list of restaurants here.