Visit Your Local Farmers’ Market

I’ve recently acquired a favourite indulgence that might seem a little odd to some of you and others may question why I only discovered it a short time ago. Brightly coloured produce pilled high, bustling aisles packed with people searching for ingredients, rough voices bellowing the latest offers. What am I talking about? My local farmers’ market, of course.

 
 
Although technically not my local market – although can anywhere on the tiny island of Tenerife not be considered local for anyone who lives here? – my favourite one has to be the Mercado de Nuestra Señora de Africa in Santa Cruz. Here you’ll find not only a spectacular array of the finest fruit and vegetables, but also a great selection of fresh cuts of meat, a huge choice of home-made pastries and stalls offering locally-produced wine and honey.
 
 
I had not been to this farmers’ market in some years and I was surprised to see some almost prestigious-looking shops in the otherwise rough-around-the-edges market. The first one to catch my eye was a modern, yet quaint tea-room called Mi Rincon Favorito (My Favourite Corner). Unfortunately, different varieties of tea don’t usually get me excited but even I was stunned at the sheer amount of choice available here.
 
 
Not only was their selection of teas fantastic, but they also had every flavour – is this the correct way to describe it? – of incense imaginable, as well as loads of coloured and flavoured sugar crystals packaged in cute little bags with ribbons. 
 
It’s typically Spanish and very old-fashioned – possibly even bordering on misogynistic – but every time I see this scene it always makes me smile. The women, most of them between 50 and 70, go off in large groups to gather what’s needed for the week’s food and gossip about last week’s events. Meanwhile, the men reside in large cafes in the centre of the market, happily putting down each others’ favourite football teams and drinking Tenerife’s favourite beer straight out the bottle – Dorada. This scene probably doesn’t sound that unusual – until I point out that it takes place at 9am. This will go on until well into the afternoon, until the women – laden with bags – have to prise their drunken husbands away and get them home. Ian and I opted for a coffee instead.
That’s one of the reasons I love farmers’ markets so much – they aren’t just places to buy the freshest and best-priced produce, but they are microcosms in their own right. They are places to meet new friends and keep in touch with old ones. They are places to get a hold of the best seasonal produce available whilst also supporting local farmers. Personally, I think of farmers’ markets as places to discover food the likes of which I have never seen before.
 
There is something incredibly exciting about coming across something bizarre-looking here. For me, it was the pink/purple broad-bean looking things on the right of the above image. Do I ask the person behind the stall what they are and how I should cook them? Or should I just scoop them up and experiment on my own? The second option sounded more fun – but I really should have asked for some advice! They didn’t turn out well at all.
 
But that’s all part of the fun of it! If you always stick with what you know, you’ll never discover anything new and where’s the excitement in that? but beware, if you’re like me, and are drawn by bright colours when food shopping, you’ll be trying to snap up almost everything you lay your eyes on.
 
So this weekend, don’t lie in bed until noon and grab yourself a bowl of cereal for lunch. Get up early and head down to your local farmers’ market and pick up a load of interesting ingredients to make a great dish. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Taco Chilli

Chilli is a great dish to enjoy on cold winter evenings. I came up with this recipe in an attempt to find a type of chilli that I enjoy. I love the idea of succulent beef chunks in a rich, spicy tomato sauce, but when it arrives on the table, I’m always disappointed. I’m not sure if that says more about my fussiness or my cooking!
This chicken taco chilli recipe is a great Mexican take on a traditional classic. The additional ingredients really take this dish to a whole other level that I feel regular chilli recipes really lack.
I can’t wait until the clocks go forward! These pictures were taken using the mother-in-law’s daylight lamp and just seem to give the photos a hint of blue. Bring on summer!
 
Ingredients
1 chicken breast
1/2 onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 red pepper
1/2 cup kidney beans
3tbsp sweet corn
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2tbsp tomato paste
3tbsp taco seasoning (I used this recipe for home-made taco seasoning – it’s my favourite!)
Recipe
1. Place the chicken in a saucepan and add enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for between 20-30 minutes. When fully cooked, drain the water and shred the chicken with two forks.
2. Chop the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the kidney beans, sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and taco seasoning. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
3. Add the shredded chicken and cook for a final 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Valentine’s Day in Rome

I didn’t have much opportunity to blog this week because I was enjoying a much-deserved Valentine’s holiday. I did manage to write up a couple of chocolate themed posts, though:
Triple Chocolate Mouse Cake
Valentine Brownie Bites
Whilst in Rome, we visited two cupcake shops! It probably doesn’t sound very exciting to most people, but in Tenerife I have yet to find a proper cupcake shop, so each time before we venture away, I always research any nearby cupcakeries.
We popped into Sweety Rome for a chocolate brownie with caramel frosting and a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.
Unfortunately, neither of them was up to much and we were left really disappointed. The caramel frosting tasted very peculiar, the cupcake was heavy and the frosting was rock solid and looked like it had been put on with an ice-cream scoop.
However, we did visit another cupcake shop during our stay – The Perfect Bun. Everything about this place was amazing. As soon as we walked through the door we were welcomed by the amazing smell of freshly baked cupcakes coming just out of the oven.
We tried a Valentine’s cupcake (chocolate cupcake with raspberry frosting) and a strawberry cupcake (chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting) – both were fantastic. The cupcakes were soft and moist, whilst the frosting was creamy and fluffy.
We got to savour these great cupcakes in a cosy little corner filled with comfy furniture and cute baking pictures. There were many beautiful large cakes in addition to the cupcakes. Ian’s favourite was a winter-themed igloo cake – he was shocked that everything down to the penguins were made out of cake and not plastic!
We enjoyed so much delicious food in Rome. Slices of pizza were cut from great big slabs – no round pizzas here! Every single cafe or pizzaria seemed to use only the freshest ingredients which made every bite fantastic.
I didn’t think Nutella was much of a big thing in Europe – Rome definitely proved me wrong. Sandwich shops served it between bread, bakeries served it inside croissants, pizzarias served it between focaccia and cafes even served small tubs of it to eat on its own! I even found small jars of Nutella which were intended to be used as Christmas decorations!
Due to the snow, loads of the major tourist attractions were closed, but we did manage to visit:
The Trevi Fountain
The outside of the Colosseum – it was closed the whole time we were there!
St Peter’s Basilica
Ian was brave enough to climb the 600+ stairs to the top! Even the photo of the view makes me feel dizzy.
I’m really glad to be home – I couldn’t stand the cold temperatures any more. Instead of using the fridge in our room, we kept our drinks on the window-sill outside because it kept them colder!
I hope you all have a great weekend!

Valentine Brownie Bites

These thick, gooey brownies are hiding a delicious secret that you’ll love when you find out! Each heart-shaped brownie bite has a square of chocolate baked inside. I chose to bake square’s of Milka’s caramel hazelnut chocolate into mine, but you can pick whichever chocolate bar is your favourite. Just imagine – Milky Way, Twix, Snickers…So many possibilities!
I made these brownie bites using cute heart-shaped moulds I picked up – making them just perfect for Valentine’s Day! These brownie bites can be made using any moulds you like so you can make them all year-round! This recipe made around 8-10 brownie bites using my small moulds.
It’s our last day in Rome and we’re off for a romantic dinner right now. Which place has Boyfriend chosen for a memorable Valentine’s dinner in Rome? A Cuban restaurant… I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m hoping for the best!
I hope you guys all have a great Valentine’s Day!
Valentine Brownie Bites
Ingredients
60g dark chocolate
60g unsalted butter
100g granulated white sugar
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
50g all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
8-10 squares of whichever chocolate bar you choose
Recipe
1. Preheat oven to 165C. Grease 10 small heart moulds.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl and leave to cool before stirring in the sugar.
3. Whisk in the vanilla extract and egg then stir in the flour and salt.
 
4. Pour a small amount of the mix in each mould then place a square of chocolate on top of the brownie mix. Fill the moulds to the top with the rest of the batter. 
5. Bake in the middle of the oven for around 25 minutes then remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Smooth, velvety and rich – this triple chocolate mousse cake is the perfect way to end an indulgent Valentine’s Day meal. Made up for three sumptuous mousse layers, this dessert not only tastes amazing, but also looks stunning.
Pink Recipe Box hasn’t been very active this week because I got taken to Rome for my birthday and Valentine’s present! There has been a huge number of hurdles to jump over since we got here: flights delayed, sudden on-set of a throat infection, make up bag lost, heavy snow forcing ALL major tourist attractions to close… I still can’t get my head around the fact that they actually close huge things like the Colosseum and the Pantheon because snow was forecast.
But anyway, back to the dessert…
Each layer is made in the exact same way, just using a different kind of chocolate. This recipe makes quite a lot of mousse – I’d say around 6 portions – but they freeze really well so you can just keep them frozen until your next chocolate craving hits.
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Mousse
1/2tsp gelatine
1tbsp water
60ml milk
70g finely chopped dark chocolate
140ml double cream
Milk Chocolate Mousse
1/2tsp gelatine
1tbsp water
60ml milk
70g finely chopped milk chocolate
140ml double cream
White Chocolate Mousse
1/2tsp gelatine
1tbsp water
60ml milk
70g finely chopped white chocolate
140ml double cream
Recipe
1. Pour 1tbsp of water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine on top. Leave the gelatine for about 5 minutes – until it has soaked up the water.
2. Heat up the milk in a saucepan over a medium-high heat until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the gelatine mix to the saucepan. Stir really well until the gelatine is completely dissolved then pour over the chopped dark chocolate. Leave to sit for 2 minutes and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
3. Separately, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Mix a small amount of cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up, then gently fold the rest of the cream in. Pour into a cylindrical mould and place in the freezer.
4. Repeat the above steps with the white chocolate and pour on top of the dark chocolate in the mould and leave to set in the freezer. Do the same again for the milk chocolate and freeze until set. Remove the mousse from the freezer at least 2 hours before you’re ready to enjoy it.