Plum and pecan crumble

The last bucket of plums has arrived from Pablo, so we make this crumble which we’ve flicked by many times in the cookbook and never got around to making. If you can’t get pecans, we bring ours from the UK, use walnuts. plums 10-8-14PLATEFUL1 11-8-14Serves 4-6
For the filling:-
Approx. 1kg plums
30g unsalted butter
2-4 tbsp light muscovado sugar [we used Demerara]
1 tbsp cornflour
For the topping:-
150g cold unsalted butter, diced
250g self-raising flour
150g Demerara sugar
200g pecans, some chopped finely, others left larger or whole pecans – close-up 10-8-14Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5 and put in a baking sheet. Grease with butter a 20cm round pie dish.

fruit, ready to go into oven 10-8-14Halve the plums and put them cut-side up in the dish. Squash in as many as fits comfortably, you may not need 1kg. Dot with butter, sprinkle with sugar and put, uncovered, in the oven for about 20 minutes. The aim is to get the plum juices running and the fruit on the way to being tender.

While the plums are cooking, make the topping. flour and butter in the bowl 10-8-14Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers [you can put it in a mixer, but the crumb will be very fine]. rubbed in 10-8-14Fork the sugar and nuts through the crumb mixture, and set aside. You can make this in advance, it also freezes well. crumble mix in bowl 10-8-14Place the cornflour in a bowl. Once the plums are softened, remove from the oven and pour some of the plum liquid over the cornflour. Stir to a paste, then stir back into the plums. plums with sauce added 10-8-14Add the crumble topping, pressing down lightly around the edges. ready to go into oven 10-8-14Put the dish on the baking sheet, and place it in the oven for 25 minutes or until the crumble is cooked. It should be speckled golden-brown. just out of the oven 10-8-145 to remember
en cubitos – diced
sin sal – unsalted
las migas – the crumbs
por adelantado – in advance
moteado/a – speckled

How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson 17-4-14


‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson

Stripes and lines

Stripes… field after harvest1 1-7-14Lines… line of olive trees1 12-10-13 (2)Parallel… dried-out stalks of giant fennel1 1-7-14Angular… field of drying sunflowers 22-8-13 (2)Rows… field after harvest2 1-7-14Strips…

Whoever said nature was curvy and rounded. Here we see stripes and lines all around us, some totally natural, some imposed by man’s intervention. line of olive trees - up our track 12-10-13 (2)5 to remember
una raya – a stripe
una línea – a line
la paralela – the parallel
angular – angular
una hilera – row

What a way to use up mushrooms

There was a packet of mushrooms in the fridge which were starting to look as if their best days were over. So it was an opportunity to try this Nigella Lawson recipe which I have wanted to try ever since we got her Italian-influenced book Nigellissima. It is a luxurious creamy pasta which makes you feel naughty eating it! mushroom, portobello - close-up 9-4-14marsala - close-up of bottle 9-4-14Nigella’s recipe uses only dried porcini, so I just used a mixture of dried plus the fresh meaty portobello mushrooms languishing in our fridge. recipe page - close-up 9-4-14Serves 2 porcini - dried, close-up 9-4-1415g dried porcini
fresh mushrooms [whatever you have to hand, optional]
60ml marsala marsala - bottle 9-4-1460ml water
125g mascarpone mascarpone - spoonful 9-4-14Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Your pasta of choice pasta tube - close-up 9-4-1415g unsalted butter
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and minced
Two good handfuls of freshly grated parmesan marsala - bottle top 9-4-14Measure the porcini into a small pan, cover with the marsala and water, and bring to the boil. porcini, marsla & water in pan 9-4-14Turn off the heat and allow it to stand for at least 10 minutes, I actually made it hours in advance which worked too [below]. porcini - in a bowl, marinating 9-4-14Measure the mascarpone into a bowl, adding a good grating of fresh nutmeg and ground black pepper. When the porcini have finished soaking, strain the mushroom liquid into the mascarpone bowl then whisk it together lightly to combine. mascarpone & mushroom water mix 9-4-14Squeeze the porcini out over the bowl to catch all the drips of mushroom liquid. Mix the squeezed porcini with the parsley and chop both together on a board. porcini and parsley, chopped 9-4-14Wipe the fresh mushrooms clean [if using] with a piece of kitchen towel, then slice or chop according to how you like them. I left ours in large slices to contrast nicely with the tiny pieces of porcini.

You can prepare to this stage in advance. When you are ready to eat, put the pasta water onto boil adding a pinch of salt and a dash of oil to the water.

Cook your chosen pasta as usual, meanwhile prepare the sauce.

In a large frying pan or wok, warm the butter and add the garlic, stirring it for 3 seconds. Add the fresh mushrooms and stir until softened [mushrooms notoriously soak up butter, so feel free to add a glug of oil too]. mushrooms x 2 & parsley in pan 9-4-14Next add the chopped porcini and parsley and cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the contents of the mascarpone bowl and stir until it starts to bubble. Turn the heat off.

Reserve a small cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and tip into the sauce. Toss to coat, adding a little pasta water to loosen the sauce. add mascarpone sauce to pan 9-4-14Now add the parmesan and toss again. Check the seasoning.

Serve in two warmed bowls, with extra parsley scattered over the top. parsley - close-up of single leaf 9-4-14plateful 9-4-145 to remember
una seta – a mushroom
por adelantado – in advance
la fase – the stage [of development/activity]
exprimir – to squeeze/extract
calentado/a – warmed

Nigellissima - book cover 9-4-14


‘Nigellissima’ by Nigella Lawson

Bird song: Booted Eagle

We are lucky enough to welcome a pair of visiting booted eagles to the valley each summer. They are, according to our bird book, an endangered species. We actually refer to them as ‘bootcut’ eagles, after a malapropism by a friend who was thinking about bootcut jeans at the time!



To listen to a Booted Eagle, click here for a fantastic recording by
Click here to read about the birdwatching walks by blogger Birdwatch Gaucin. Gaucin is an Andalucian village, about two hours drive away from our valley.

5 to remember
tenemos la suerte – we are lucky enough
cada verano – each summer
un error cometido al confudir un vocabulo con otro similar – a malapropism
los vaqueros – a pair of [denim] jeans
una grabación – a recording