Category Archives: A love of food

Thin lemon and pistachio biscuits

These biscuits are easy to make on impulse from store cupboard and fridge ingredients. And because the recipe is by Mary Berry, it is easy to do. They are very more-ish and it is easy to four at one sitting as they are quite small. And, despite Mary Berry’s description as shortbread, they did not seem that way to me. Makes 20 biscuits
175g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
175g plain flour plus extra for dusting
75g semolina
finely grated zest of a lemon
25g pistachio nuts, shelled and finely chopped.

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. However if your oven, like ours, tends to be on the hot side, set the temperature a little lower. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Measure the softened butter, sugar, flour and semolina into a food processor. Add the lemon zest and whizz until combined. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. Split the dough into half and roll each piece into a long sausage shape, about 15cm long. Scatter the chopped pistachios on a plate and roll each dough sausage in the nuts to coat. Cover the plate with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Slice each roll into 10 even-side discs. Arrange on the baking sheets, spaced well apart as they will spread slightly during cooking.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until tinged golden and almost firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you like this, try these:-
Oh so sticky chocolate flapjack
White chocolate and cranberry flapjack
A silky dense chocolate cake

5 to remember
un bizcocho – a biscuit
enharinado/a – floured
matizado/a – tinged
la masa – the dough
una salchicha – a sausage

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook [UK: BBC]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Thin lemon & pistachio #biscuits Recipe by #MaryBerry #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Yo

Smoky spring onions and asparagus with lime

I love the smoky flavour you get when grilling or griddling vegetables. It works best with slim English-style spring onions but if you are in Spain and can only get the fat continental style ones, simply slice them lengthways; not so pretty but just as tasty.

Quantities are per person with an ordinary appetite, so if you are starving double-up the quantities. If you make too much, use later in a salad. This is nice for breakfast, or lunch with crusty bread and butter.

4 fat spring onions or very thin baby leeks
4 asparagus spears, trimmed
olive or sunflower oil
wedges of lime
coarse sea salt

Turn the grill on high. Brush the spring onions and asparagus with oil, and grill.

Do not leave, keep turning until evenly browned. Serve drizzled with lime juice and sea salt. That’s it. Simples. If you like this, try:-
Mustardy Salmon Salad
Punchy Leeks on Toast
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
una lima – a lime
ahumado/a – smoky
delgado/a – slim
gordo/a – fat
longitudinalmente – lengthways

 

Recipe from ‘Eat Your Greens’ by Sophie Grigson

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lime + asparagus + spring onions #Spain #recipe by #SophieGrigson via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22Q

A silky, dense chocolate cake

An admission. The photos of this cake are actually of two cakes made on different days. Why? Because the first time we used a too-small cake tin and the contents oozed [that’s the only word] over the baking tray. So two lessons learned: use the right size cake tin, and don’t forget the baking tray. Incidentally, the cake looked messy but tasted brilliant for pudding with strawberries and Greek yogurt!

225g soft unsalted butter
375g dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g best chocolate, gently melted and allowed to cool slightly
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 190°/Gas 5 and put in a baking sheet.

Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin, 23x13x7cm. Line the tin fully, or you will never be able to remove this sticky cake in one piece.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well.

Now add the slightly cooled, melted chocolate. Take care to blend it well, but do not overbeat. The ingredients should be combined, you don’t want a mass of bubbles.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Now, alternating, add two spoonfuls of flour to the chocolate mix followed by two spoonfuls of water. Be sure to mix in each spoonful before adding the next, otherwise the mixture will be lumpy. At the end, you will have a smooth, fairly liquid batter.

Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and place the tin in the oven on top of the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170°/Gas 3 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be squidgy inside, so a skewer will not come out completely clean.

Remove from the oven and place the tin on a rack. Leave until completely cold before turning out of the tin. It is a dense, dark cake and so may sink slightly in the middle.

Our cake is a gluten-free version of this recipe so instead of the self-raising flour and plain flour, we substituted 200g gluten-free plain flour. There is no need for baking powder in this recipe as the bicarbonate of soda acts as the raising agent.

If you like this, try:-
Chocolate flapjack
Peanut butter biscuits
An Italian cake of Spanish apples 5 to remember
sedoso/a – silky
denso/a – dense [texture]
squidgy – squidgy
en el medio – in the middle
hundirse – to sink

 

This recipe is from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson [UK: Chatto & Windus]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Chocolate cake: dense, silky, chocolatey #Spain #recipe by @Nigella_Lawson via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Y6

Best when the broad beans are babies

This is best made when the broad beans are ripe and there is a glut to deal with. Any small space on our freezer shelves are crammed with small bags of habas, they are a delight to eat in winter added to a dish of gambas al ajillo. But this pasta dish demands tiny broad beans as big as my little fingernail, just popped from the pod. If we eat it with bigger broad beans, we par-cook them first and slip them out of their skins before adding them to the onion mixture. This makes enough sauce for 2 hungry people, served with the pasta of your choice.

400g podded broad beans
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
250ml hot water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g parmesan, freshly grated
pasta of your choice

In a large heavy saucepan, cook the onion, garlic and parsley slowly in the oil for 5 minutes or until very soft. Add the broad beans and stir for several minutes. Add the water and cook until the beans are tender. Add salt and pepper. Put half of the beans in a food processor and pulse-chop to a coarse puree. Return to the saucepan and mix with the whole beans.

Cook your preferred pasta. Drain, then add to the sauce and stir. Check seasoning, and serve with the parmesan. 5 to remember
la haba – the broad bean
el perejil – the parsley
el robot de cocina – the food processor
preferido/a – preferred
el condimento – the seasoning

This is our adaption of a River Café recipe, reliable as always.
‘River Café Cook Book Two’ by Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers [UK: Ebury Press]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Carrot, Olive and Orange Salad
Cheesy Nutty Herby Mushrooms
Courgette Flower Frittata

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Best when the broad beans are babies #Spain #Recipe by @RiverCafeLondon via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-20x

Roasted asparagus

This is a recipe by American cook, Ina Garten. It is so unbelievably easy a child could do it. Eat it hot as a side, or cold as a tapas. It’s also great as part of a buffet supper.

Serves 8
2 lb asparagus
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. If the stalks are thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Using your fingers, toss the asparagus so each piece is evenly coated with oil.

Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 25 minutes, until tender but crisp.

That’s it. Couldn’t be easier.

Try these other asparagus recipes:-
A heavenly soup for asparagus season
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Wild asparagus and scrambled eggs for lunch

5 to remember
increíblemente – unbelievably
un niño – a child
parte de – part of
duro/a – tough
eso es – that’s it

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Roasted asparagus, the easy way #food #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1UC

Cupboard cake

I think of this as my cupboard cake as the afternoon I first made it, my sole motivation was cake. I didn’t want to go out to buy ingredients, which discounted fruit cake as I had run out of sultanas and raisins. I spent a pleasurable half an hour leafing through various cookbooks before I found this Mary Berry recipe. She calls it her ‘Cherry and Almond Traybake’. But in our house, my name has stuck.

225g glacé cherries
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g soft margarine
225g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
75g ground almonds
5 eggs
25g flaked almonds Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and base line a 30x23cm roasting tin with greased greaseproof paper.

Cut each cherry into quarters, put into a sieve and rinse under running water to remove the sticky goo. Drain well and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper. If you skip this step, your cherries will sink in the baked cake.

Measure all the remaining ingredients [excluding cherries and flaked almonds] into a large bowl and beat well for one minute to mix thoroughly.

Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top, and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until well-risen, golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Remove the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.

My cake is a gluten-free version of this recipe so instead of the self-raising flour, I substituted 275g gluten-free self-raising flour and 2 tsp of gluten-free baking powder.

If you like this, try:-
A cake to make on a cool afternoon
An apple and cinnamon cake
White chocolate and cranberry flapjack

5 to remember
las cerezas glacé – the glacé cherries
agradable – pleasurable
media hora – half an hour
en el centro – into the centre
la motivacion – the motivation

 

 

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book [UK: BBC]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Cupboard cake: easy, quick & very tasty #Spain #Recipe by #MaryBerry via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Zh

Roasted cauliflower salad

This winter salad is so much more than its individual elements. Once you get over the idea of putting warm cauliflower into a salad, this will quickly become a favourite. With everything assembled and ready to go as soon as the cauliflower is cooked, the combination of melted blue cheese, walnuts and cranberries is moreish. The original recipe calls for dried sour cherries which we didn’t have, but cranberries provided a good sweet/sharp kick. There are many variations of this salad possible, if you alternate the type of nut, salad leaf and dried fruit.

Serves 2
1 cauliflower, broken into florets about the same size
2 tbsp olive oil, & extra for drizzling at the end
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small bag of baby spinach
100g blue cheese, crumbled [we used Roquefort]
A handful of dried sour cherries [we used dried cranberries]
A handful of walnuts
Cherry vinegar [we used Jerez sherry vinegar]

Heat the oven to 180 [deg]C/200 [deg] C non-fan].

Put the cauliflower into a roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender when tested with a sharp knife and has crispy bits. Rinse the spinach and arrange in a large serving bowl. Top with the roasted cauliflower, cheese, cranberries and walnuts.

Drizzle the vinegar and extra oil, as much as you prefer, and serve warm.

If you like this, try these salads:-
A mustardy leeks vinaigrette
Waldorf salad with Brussels sprouts
Salty and hot hot salad

This recipe is by Norwegian chef Signe Johansen, click here for her website.

5 to remember
las cerezas agrias – the sour cherries
los floretes – the florets
aproximadamente del mismo tamaño – about the same size
los trozos crujientes – the crispy bits
noruego/a – Norwegian

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A salad with roasted cauliflower #food Recipe by @SigneSJohansen #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Xz