Sunday, 22 February 2015

Spanish Omelette (A lighter version)

With my new obsession with sweet potato in full swing, (it's a carb that's good for you, fills you up and tastes amazing- what's not to like?) I've been thinking up ways to substitute it where I would usually use white starchy potatoes in a recipe. Sometimes this doesn't work. For example, with bangers and mash- as much as I love sweet potato, when I have sausages, I just have to have them with creamy, buttery white mash. However, in the case of this Spanish omelette recipe I tried  recently, I think it does work.

On a recent trip to Madrid, my passion for Tortilla de Patatas was re-ignited. The thing I loved about a classic Spanish omelette is how comfortingly carb-y and stodgy it is, with a single slice being able to fill you up. I wanted to try and keep this element, but also see whether substituting some sweet potato in could add a bit more flavour, with the added bonus of making it a little lighter, a little healthier, whilst still retaining that bite you get from a lovely big slice of potato layered Spanish omelette.

 So what I did was to take a classic Spanish omelette recipe and replace half of the white potatoes with sweet potato. The result was delicious, a sort of cross between a Spanish omelette and a fritatta I suppose. You could use only sweet potatoes if you wanted, and do away with the white potato altogether. Maybe not a traditional Spanish omelette (I'm sure anyone Spanish reading this would be unimpressed!) but delicious none-the-less. I also used coconut oil and a little olive oil for mine to make it slightly less fatty- the traditional recipe uses vegetable oil which is not so good for you.

With this omelette the flavour combinations are endless- I've kept my recipe quite traditional and simple, but you could add some delicious sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, whatever you fancy to mix it up a bit. Chunks of chorizo would work beautifully too if you like your meat. Enjoy with a crisp dressed salad, a dollop of fresh aioli, sour cream or crème fraiche.

Ta-da! My lighter version of Tortilla de Patatas- a great lunch box filler, 

1 large white onion, sliced finely
1 large red pepper, sliced
1 large white potato (waxy variety is best as they hold together better)
1 large sweet potato
1 x 400g bag or a couple of good handfuls of spinach. 
10 free range eggs (it's worth getting the some proper free range ones- the orange yolks are far superior, and given that this recipe is 80% egg it really makes a difference)
Handful fresh Parsley, chopped
Bunch of chives, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper

1. In a large, fairly deep, non-stick frying pan, fry the onion gently in some coconut oil or olive oil, until softened and starting to caramelize.

2. Add the red pepper and cook for about 5 mins more.

3. Meanwhile peel both the potatoes varieties (sweet and white) and slice into quite thick discs about half a cm thick,

4. Put both the sliced potatoes into a sieve, cover with a saucepan lid or tinfoil/cling film, and steam over a saucepan of boiling water until cooked through but still firm (approx 10-15 mins). Leave to drain.

5. Boil a kettle of water. Put the spinach into a colander, and pour the hot water through it to wilt it slightly (this will make it easier to get it to fit in your pan). Leave to Drain.

6.  Break the eggs into a measuring jug and whisk them up. Add lots of salt and pepper, and the chopped parsley and chives.

7. Add your cooked slices of potatoes and spinach to the frying pan and stir through gently, taking care not to break the potatoes up, but making sure they are distributed nicely over the pan and throughout the onions and pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Pour the beaten eggs and herb mixture over your vegetables evenly. Allow to cook on a medium-high heat for 15 minutes, until almost set and golden brown underneath (check with a fish slice). While this is cooking, turn the grill on to medium-high to preheat,

9. Pop your omelette under the grill for a few minutes, until you can see that the egg is fully set. Then you're ready to serve!

The Proper Stuff- the Tortilla de Patatas on a recent trip to Madrid- spinach on the left, chorizo on the right. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Poires Belle Helene

Poires Belle Helene (or poached pears with chocolate sauce) is a totally indulgent and beautifully simple dessert. We are lucky enough to have a little pear tree in our garden, so when that bears fruit we tend to eat a lot of pear-based dessert like this, as well as pear and almond tart, another family favourite.

You can poach the pears in advance, and then store in the fridge in an airtight container in the sugar syrup for a few days. The cold pears, combined with the hot chocolate sauce is just heaven!


4 Pears
4oz or 115g golden caster sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 vanilla pod

Chocolate sauce:

150g good quality dark chocolate
100ml double cream
2 table spoons of Poire William liqueur (not essential, but adds a nice dimension to the sauce)


1. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with just over 1 pint of water. Pour in the golden caster sugar, lemon zest and juice. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, just to split it open, and add that to the water too. Give it all a stir, and heat until it is nearly simmering, and all the sugar is dissolved.

2. In the meantime, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on. Slice the very bottom of the pears off, to create a firm base on which they can stand upright. 

3. With the sharp end of the peeler (if your peeler has one- if not use an apple corer or a small sharp knife), carefully remove the core of the pears, leaving the stalks on.

4. Place the pears in the saucepan upright, and make sure all the pear flesh is submerged in the liquid (if not, add a splash more water). Poach for 20 mins, or until the pears are soft through. When they are cooked, remove from the heat, and just leave them to cool in the syrup.

5. To make the chocolate sauce, break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl, and add the cream and pear liqueur if you are using it. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with a couple of inches of water. Place on a gentle heat, so that the water is just simmering. Don't allow it to boil, or touch the base of your bowl with the chocolate and cream in it. Stir every now and again, making sure it doesn't catch on the bottom, until your sauce is silky and smooth,

6. To serve, scoop your pears out of the syrup, drain and put in your serving bowl. Pour over the chocolate sauce and serve with vanilla ice cream or cream (or both!).