Category Archives: A love of food

Spicy butternut salad

This started off as a simple healthy salad, one of Deliciously Ella’s recipes. And then it got complicated. There was a bunch of asparagus to eat up, so that went in. When I was picking the rocket from a pot on the terrace, I noticed the oregano was looking good so I picked some of that for the dressing. The quantity of this recipe in the book serves 4, but after a morning of tennis and gardening we were starving. So I used the whole butternut. And then I realized there was no protein in the salad, so I added a small jar of chickpeas.

So it started off as an Ella salad, and ended up as a Sandra one. Oh, and I made a mistake with the dressing. I misread ‘tamari’ and put in tahini instead. It was delicious. Next time we eat this, I’ll try it with tamari.

Serves 4
1 large butternut squash [about 1kg]
Olive oil
1 tbsp pimenton [I used ½ dulce, ½ picante]
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs [I used thyme, basil, sage and parsley]
2 bags of rocket [about 150g]
180g pitted olives [I used green Spanish olives with the stones in]
2 avocados [I only had one]
Asparagus, cooked and cooled [optional]
Small jar of chickpeas, drained and rinsed [optional]
For the dressing:-
1 tbsp tamari [or tahini!]
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh oregano [optional]

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C] Peel the butternut squash, slice into bit-sized pieces. Place the pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then the paprika/pimenton and dried herbs. Mix everything well so it is all coated in seasonings.

Bake the squash for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once it is cooked, it should be soft when tested with the tip of a knife, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool. If you tip it into a clean bowl, remember to scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the baking tray.

To make the dressing: whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Next, to assemble the salad. I layered in the serving bowl as follows: rocket, chickpeas, asparagus, olives, avocado then butternut.

Drizzle the dressing over the top, then toss gently before serving. If you like this, try:-
Smoky spring onions and asparagus with lime
Red onion & cheese scones
Trempó: a salad from Mallorca

5 to remember
se complicó – it got complicated
el tenis – the tennis
la jardinería – the gardening
estaba delicioso – it was delicious
armar – to assemble

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Butternut + pimenton + avocado salad #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25N

A chocolate and salt combination

Home-made biscuits can often be an anti-climax. Too small, too thin, too few. Not this biscuit. The combination of high % cocoa chocolate and sea salt is so sublime you wonder why we have only recently been eating it. They are so moreish that we ate half the biscuits while they were still warm.

If you are on a diet, beware. Makes 8 large cookies
120g unsalted butter
50g soft brown sugar
60g granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
120g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
75g dark chocolate, 64-71% cocoa, roughly chopped into medium pieces
1 tbsp golden granulated sugar, for sprinkling
½ tsp sea salt

Heat the oven 170C/190C non-fan. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper, and set aside.

Over a low heat, melt the butter in a medium-sized pan. Set aside to cool a little. Next, stir the soft brown and granulated sugars into the butter, then the egg yolk. Sift over the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, and combine into a soft dough.

Fold ½ tsp sea salt and the chopped chocolate pieces into the dough.

Use an ice-cream scoop or a big spoon to make eight balls. Press them lightly onto the baking tray, spaced well apart as the mixture spreads during baking. Over the top of each cookie sprinkle a little golden granulated sugar.

Bake in the hot oven for 15-18 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden with crisp edges, and the chocolate is melted.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack.

If you like this, try these:-
A gluten-free iced lemon cake
Cheesy scone bake
Thin lemon and pistachio biscuits

This recipe is by Florence Knight and was first featured in ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’.

5 to remember
un anticlinal – an anti-climax
demasiado/a delgado/a – too thin
demasiado/a pequeño/a – too small
muy pocos – too few
derretido/a – melted

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Biscuits: a chocolate & salt combination #Recipe by @FlorenceKnight #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1YN

Baked rice pudding

If you long for traditional rice pudding with skin on top, then this is the recipe for you. It is drier and more buttery, compared with the saucepan-method which tends be creamier. An English school pudding. The quantity is small, so you may want to double-up. Serves 3

45g butter, melted
60g pudding rice
30g vanilla sugar or caster sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
500ml full-fat milk
fresh nutmeg [optional]

Preheat the oven to gas 2/ 150° C. Using some of the melted butter, about half, grease an ovenproof dish with a capacity slightly over 1 litre. Into the dish place the rice, then sugar.

Pour over the milk and vanilla. On top of this, pour on the melted butter and grate some nutmeg [if using].

Bake in the oven for a total of 2½ hours, giving it a good stir after first 30 minutes and then 60 minutes. If you stir by using the wooden spoon slightly at an angle, you won’t disperse too much of the nutmeg on top. Serve. This is a Nigella Lawson recipe and she suggests serving this with golden syrup and a dollop of thick double cream.

If you like this, try:-
Hybrid Crumble
Perfect Pear Cake
An Out-of-the-Ordinary Clafoutis

5 to remember
anhelar – to long for [something]
más seco – drier
comparado con – compared with
cremoso/a – creamier
en la parte superior – on top

 

Recipe from ‘How to Eat’ by Nigella Lawson [UK: Chatto & Windus]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Traditional English rice pudding in #Spain #Recipe by @Nigella_Lawson via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-232

A super green salad

This is my attempt to recreate a salad I ate for lunch in London recently. I had to substitute a few things but I was pleased with the result. I ate the ‘Avocado, Courgettes, Superfoods Salad’ at The Wolseley restaurant. Do give it a try. Its name does sound incredibly worthy, but it is very tasty on a hot summer day.

All the amounts are approximate, this salad served two. Feel free to add and subtract according to what ingredients you have. If the salad doesn’t look big enough for how hungry you are feeling, simply add another vegetable or handful of nuts. I resisted the temptation to add potatoes or tomatoes as the notion of a pure green salad was appealing, but don’t let that stop you.

Serves 2
A head of broccoli
Frozen peas
Rocket
Two handfuls of fresh basil
A bunch of asparagus
One avocado
A generous handful of assorted nuts [we used whole almonds]
2 tbsp of assorted seeds [we used pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and chia]
A generous helping of your favourite salad dressing [ours is traditional French, made with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and a tsp Dijon mustard]

Heat a dry frying pan on a high heat and toss in the nuts [chopped if they are large] and seeds. Stir quickly until they start to brown then remove from the heat and place in a bowl to cool.

Prepare the broccoli, separate into bite-sized pieces and cook quickly in boiling water. Be careful to remove from the heat while still crunchy, this salad does not work with over-cooked limp vegetables [eat them raw if you prefer]. Drain and rinse in cold running water. Set aside to drain completely.

While peas are cooking, prepare and cook the asparagus. As with the broccoli, be careful to undercook slightly. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the avocado, cut in half and remove the stone. Slice the flesh into bite-sized pieces.

Now assemble the salad. This is how I did it. First in the bottom of the serving bowl I put a layer of alfalfa seeds and fresh basil, followed by the cooked green vegetables. On top of that I placed the avocado then sprinkled the nuts and seeds.

Pour the dressing over the top, toss carefully to everything is coated, then serve. Alternative ingredients which would work well in this salad include:-
Courgette
Runner beans
Green beans
Salad onion
Cucumber
Raw spinach
Any salad leaves
Shredded raw Brussels sprouts
Sprouted lentils [from the chilled salad cabinet]
Edamame beans
Melon
Green apple
Any fresh herbs you have

If you like this, try:-
A mustardy leeks vinaigrette
Courgette flower frittata
Roasted chickpea Greek salad

Read more about The Wolseley and see its menus here.

5 to remember
mi intento – my attempt
recrear – to recreate
resistí a la tentación – I resisted the temptation
los ingredientes – the ingredients
alternativa – alternative

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A super green salad #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26a

Lighter brownies… Lighter? Brownies?

The concept of luxury brownies and lighter brownies seems a contradiction in terms to me. But one afternoon, craving something chocolately but having a small amount of chocolate chips in the baking drawer, I hit upon this recipe for which I had all the ingredients. Truth is, if you didn’t know they were called ‘lighter’ you wouldn’t have guessed.

This is our gluten-free version of a Mary Berry recipe made with eggs from our neighbour Pablo, and walnuts from our trees. 75g plain chocolate broken into pieces, or chocolate chips
100g margarine
3 eggs
350g caster sugar
120g plain flour [we used gluten-free plain flour]
1 tsp baking powder [we used 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder]
175g walnut pieces, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas4. Grease and base line a 30x23cm [12x9in] roasting tin or brownie tin with greased greaseproof paper. This bit is important as brownies, by their very nature, are very sticky.

Heat a pan of water, then rest a bowl over the top and melt the chocolate slowly with the margarine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light. As we used Pablo’s eggs, we checked each first for freshness by breaking into a separate small bowl. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and carefully fold in, so that you fold in air. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bang the tin on the table, to eliminate large bubbles.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the brownie is well risen and a dull crust has formed. If your oven, like ours, is unpredictable, check after 20 minutes and if necessary rest a piece of foil over the top to prevent burning. The brownies should be a little gooey in the centre.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out, leave to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. 5 to remember
una corteza – a crust
apagado/a – dull [coloured]
impredicible – unpredictable
si es necessario – if necessary
en el centro – in the centre

 

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

If you like baking, try these other recipes:-
Gluten-Free Cherry Cake
Apple and Cinnamon Cake
Cheesy Scone Bake

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A contradiction: ‘lighter’ brownies #Spain #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24p

A fresh cherry cake

I have never tried putting fresh cherries into a cake before, but when Pablo arrived with a bucket full of cherries from the tree in his front garden, I had to be adaptable. This is the result. It won’t keep long, and is best in the fridge. But somehow I don’t think that will be a problem.

150g butter
150g sugar
a punnet of cherries, rinsed, stones removed & halved
3 large eggs [or 4 of Pablo’s]
75g plain flour [we used gluten-free]
1½ tsp baking powder [we used 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder]
100g ground almonds
50g shelled walnuts or almonds, chopped roughly

Set the oven at 180°C. Grease and line a square 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep, with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, I always mix my cakes by hand as it seems easier. Break the eggs into a small bowl [I do this one at a time with Pablo’s eggs in case there is one that is not so fresh]. Beat the eggs gently, then add bit by bit to the butter mixture.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, stirring to mix, fold them gently into the butter mixture.

Fold in the ground almonds, then the nuts.

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin, give the tin a firm tap on the counter to help the mixture settle and get rid of air bubbles. Place the cherry halves evenly into the cake mixture, they will sink during cooking so this is not an artistic process. Bake for 40-45 minutes, test with a skewer, if the skewer comes out clean the cake is done. Remove the cake from the oven and set the tin on a cooling rack. Once the cake is cold, remove from the tin and peel off the paper.

5 to remember
las cerezas – the cherries
un balde – a bucket
adaptable – adaptable
pero de alguna manera – but somehow
las burbujas de aire – the air bubbles

 

This is an adaptation of a Nigel Slater cake recipe.
‘The Kitchen Diaries’ by Nigel Slater [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you like this, try these:-
Iced Apricot Fruit Loaf
A Simple, Classic Madeira Cake
Fragrant Pineapple Cake

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Don’t eat all those cherries, make a cake #Recipe by @NigelSlater #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-23k 

A salad, involving melons

This is one of those salads that sounds so simple that you wonder ‘what’s the point?’


The point is to use the very freshest ingredients, in season: melon, tomato, cucumber. The cucumber is important. If you can, use Spanish pepinos, the short fat warty-skinned variety which put English cucumbers into the shade. This is a Rick Stein recipe which he made in France. Spanish ingredients do the job just as well.
The only change I made was to add handfuls of fresh baby mint leaves, and use sherry vinegar for the dressing.

Serves lunch for 2 hungry people, with crusty bread and butter
½ ripe piel de sapo melon
pepino or ½ English cucumber
225g tomatoes, skinned
100g firm, crumbly goat’s cheese
Handful of fresh mint, rinsed
For the dressing:-
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Jerez sherry vinegar
Pinch of caster sugar
Sea salt flakes, and coarsely ground black pepper

Make the dressing first by combining the ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.

Cut the melon into four wedges, scooped out the seeds with a spoon. Slice the flesh away from the skin and cut each wedge into long thin slices. pepino, slicedPeel the cucumber and slice on the diagonal into 3mm-thick slices. Slice the tomatoes. Arrange the melon on the base of a large serving plate, cover with the cucumber and tomato slices.


Crumble the cheese in small pieces on top, then scatter with the mint. Spoon over the dressing and serve straight away with bread and butter. crusty bread & butterFor more about Rick Stein, visit his website.

Three more salads to try:-
Hot hot chickpea salad
A gooey creamy salad
Spanish tuna and tomato salad

5 to remember
incluso – involving/including
la más frescos – the very freshest
en estación – in season
la diagonal – the diagonal
esparcir – to scatter

French Odyssey by Rick Stein

 

‘French Odyssey’ by Rick Stein [UK: BBC Books]

 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A French salad made with Spanish melons #recipe by @Rick_Stein via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Nb