The pomegranate flowers burst open

Pomegranates are always the last to burst into life. pomegranate flowers1 17-5-14Their flower buds are the last to form, the last to open, their fruit the latest to appear and last to be picked. pomegranate flowers4 17-5-14I like the way they are out of kilter with the orchard fruit: pomegranates and figs are the only fruit which grow wild in our valley. We do nothing to them, and we share their harvest with the birds. pomegranate flowers2 17-5-14pomegranate flowers3 17-5-145 to remember
el último – the last
el huerto – the orchard
estar estropeado/a – to be out of kilter
crecen salvajes – they grow wild
compartir algo [con alguien] – to share something [with someone]

A French tart in Spain

Apologies to anyone French reading this, as this recipe is for an untraditional pissaladière. It uses shortcrust pasty which, I know, sounds odd. Trust me. The best-ever pissaladière we have eaten was at a small restaurant in Earl’s Court, London, this is our attempt to recreate that experience, adapted from a variety of recipes.tart - cut into 23-7-14We serve this as a tapas starter when friends come round for supper, or as part of a lunch buffet on a hot summer’s day. It is excellent eaten the next day, cold.

Serves 4
One sheet of ready-made shortcrust pastry
4 tbsp olive oil
500g onions, thinly sliced
1 bulb of garlic
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 egg yolk for glazing
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful of black olives, pitted
1 80g tin anchovy fillets, drained, halve the fillets lengthwise preparing the roasted garlic  23-7-14First roast and mash your garlic. Set aside. onions – prepared  23-7-14Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions gently for 20-30 minutes until softened and beginning to caramelize. onions and thyme in pan 23-7-14Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook gently for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and cook gently for another 10 minutes so any liquid reduces. When the onions are meltingly soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. onions - cooked  23-7-14Lightly oil a shallow baking tray. Roll out the pastry to a 40x25cm rectangle and place on the baking tray. Using a sharp knife, score a 1cm border around the edge, and then score the edges with a zig-zag pattern. Glaze the border edge with egg yolk. Place the baking tray in the fridge to chill for a moment.

Spread the mashed garlic over the pastry base, avoiding the edges, then spread the onion mixture on top. Arrange the anchovies in a criss-cross pattern, putting an olive into each anchovy ‘window’. tart - ready to go into oven 23-7-14Bake for 25-30 minutes [read the instructions for your pastry, and check earlier if required].

Serve warm, cold or reheated, cut into squares. Eat with your fingers.

5 to remember
francés – French
alguien – anyone/anybody
sin hueso – pitted
un ramito – a sprig
la yema – the yolk

He ain’t heavy…

It was an unequal battle: one dead cicada, one ambitious fly. orange insect 25-8-14The orange-bodied fly was 1 inch long, but less than half the size of his fanciable dinner. The cicada looked about 3 inches long, toe-to-toe. We watched as the fly struggled to lift the dead cicada, managing to get one or two inches off the ground before dropping his prey. Very loud buzzing, a huge amount of effort. The fly gave up, the cicada abandoned. Imagine how frustrating that must have been!

5 to remember
pesdado/a – heavy
ambicioso/a – ambitious
no identificado/a – unidentified
apeticible – fanciable
la presa – the prey

Golden fluff

These golden balls of fluff are the seed capsules of the oleander, our most prolific shrub. Oleanders – or ‘elfas’ as Pablo calls them – grow wild everywhere here. They are tough as anything and seem to survive in the driest, barren hillsides. For us, they are maintenance-free, covered with flowers and grow to imposing heights, up to 6 metres.

They are toxic in parts, particularly to animals when consumed in large quantities, though we have never experienced any difficulty. We enjoy the red, pink and white flowers. Everything about the oleander is big; and its fruit capsule can grow up to 9 inches long.

5 to remember
la adelfa – the oleander
dorado/a – golden
una bola de pelusa – a ball of fluff
prolífico/a – prolific
un arbusto – a shrub

Baby apples

A promise of food to come. Apple apples1 17-5-14Tarte tatin. Eve’s apples2 17-5-14Apple pie. baby apples3 17-5-14Apple cake. baby apples4 17-5-14Poached apples with sultanas and cinnamon… for breakfast. baby apples5 22-5-14An apple… that crunches when I bite into it. baby apples6 22-5-14Baked apples, core removed and filled with brown sugar and raisins… with custard. baby apples8 22-5-14

Crusty bread, manchego, and apple chutney.

5 to remember
un pastel – a pie
la crema – the custard [hot sauce]
una pasa – a raisin
una tarta – a tart
una conserva agridulce que se come con queso – a chutney

Click here for the 10 best apple recipes, according to The Guardian.

Date granola bars

I’ve always been a fan of granola bars, they’re a satisfying and ‘good’ choice at a coffee shop. But I’ve never made them before now. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from a new cookbook, Deliciously Ella. There’s been a lot of publicity about Ella Woodward in the UK, this book is based on the plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free diet she adopted after illness. dates 1-5-15plateful 1-5-15These granola bars are based on dates and remind me of the date slice my mother baked when I was a child: so, an instant hit. mug of sunflower seeds 1-5-15Note: Ella cooks using cups, ie her own standard coffee mug, but she does include the weight equivalent. I didn’t weigh anything, instead I used my favourite ‘Pride and Prejudice’ mug [above]. Also, you need a blender [below].

blender, after date mix 1-5-15Makes about 20 bars
20 medjool dates [350g]
1 mug sunflower seeds [175g]
1 mug pumpkin seeds [175g]
1 mug flaxseeds [200g]
1 mug raisins [200g]
2 mugs oats [240g]
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C. dates, pitted 1-5-15Pit the dates, place in a saucepan with 2 mugs [600ml] boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, until they are really soft.

While the dates cook, place the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, raisins and oats into a large mixing bowl. oats and raisins 1-5-15oats, seeds added 1-5-15Once the dates have cooked and are soft, put the dates and liquid into a blender. chia seeds, tbsp 1-5-15cinnamon, tbsp 1-5-15Add the chia seeds and cinnamon to the dates. Blend until smooth. add date mix to oat mix 1-5-15Add the date mix to the oat mix, and stir thoroughly until everything is coated and sticky [below]. mix ready for oven, spoonful 1-5-15Grease a large 40x28cm baking tray with coconut oil. Pour in the granola and press it down firmly so it is tightly packed and smooth on top. ready for the oven 1-5-15Bake for 20 minutes. cut the slices after 10 mins in oven 1-5-15Remove from the oven and, using a sharp knife, score the lines for the bars [above]. Place in the oven for a further 10-20 minutes, until the top turns golden brown. just out of the oven 1-5-15Cut into bars while hot, and allow to cool on a baking rack. Store in an airtight box. store in a box 1-5-155 to remember
el dátil – date
una barra de granola – a granola bar
las semillas de chia – the chia seeds
deshueasdo/a – pitted [stones removed from dates or olives]
el aceite de coco – the coconut oil

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward 1-5-15


This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward [UK: Yellow Kite/Hodder & Stoughton]