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

Whose tail is this?

When I opened the door I stepped back, at first glance I thought this was a long, dried-up, dead worm. On closer inspection it was something more fascinating: the tail of a lizard. lizard tail 14-5-14Six inches long, so its owner must have been a fair size; say 10-12 inches in total. Before his loss. I’ve heard that lizards lose their tails in pursuit, in danger, in panic. It is said that the tail continues to wriggle after it is shed. For sure, something large and hungry was chasing the tail’s owner. We will never know the full story.

5 to remember
a primera vista – at first glance
reseco/a – dried-up
un gusano – a worm
en una inspección más cercana – on closer inspection
en persecución – in pursuit

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Is it a worm, is it a snake? No… #Wildlife in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1rn

Meet our neighbours…

Our local goats, on their way to some tasty grass.
Follow us on Twitter @HiddenAndalucia

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Our local goats know where the best grass is… #villaforsale #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1XT

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

April in the valley 2017

Think of a colour, and at the moment in the valley there is a wildflower. Blue vinca, white hawthorn, pink Arabian pea, greeny Cypress spurge, yellow charlock, and the promised red of peony plus scarlet berries. Even the threshing patch has a yellow flush as wildflowers and fresh grass grow thigh-high. And all around us is green: ivy green, grass green, wheat green, wild oats green, leaf green, moss green. I love this time of year.

5 to remember
en el momento – at the moment
una flor silvestre – a wildflower
las escarlata – scarlet
un color – a flush
amo – I love

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Green, everywhere in the #secretvalley & wildflowers of every colour #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ub

Salty and hot hot

I didn’t realize until eating this warm salad, but it is really a jazzed up version of a Greek Salad. Cucumber. Feta. Olives. Tomatoes. Oregano. Except the feta is baked in the oven with garlic and chilli so it is crispy and hot. Delicious, and different. salad-bowlpepinos1Serves 2

200g feta cheese, crumbled
1 small red chilli, finely chopped, or ½ tsp lazy chilli
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano or dried basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out, and sliced
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
½ Spanish salad onion, or red onion, thinly sliced
200g green and black olives, pitted
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 180°C/200°C non-fan. feta-ready-to-go-into-the-ovenPlace the feta on a baking tray and sprinkle with the chopped chilli, garlic and oregano. Drizzle with the olive oil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare all salad ingredients and place into a serving bowl and toss them together until well combined. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. olives-addedcheese-just-out-of-the-ovenAs soon as the feta is crispy, remove it from the oven and place on top of the salad. Serve immediately. This is more filling than it looks, if you are very hungry eat it with crusty bread and unsalted butter. plateful5 to remember
al horno – baked
salado/a – salty
flojo/a – lazy
el orégano – the oregano [the herb]
longitudinalmente – lengthways

Fancy a fruity pudding? Make this:-
Plum and ginger compote
Apricot and peach compost crumble
Plum and pecan crumble

eat-live-go-by-donal-skehan

 

Adapted from a recipe by Donal Skehan from ‘Eat. Live. Go.’ [UK: Hodder & Stoughton]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Very salty and very hot: try this Greek salad #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1S7

Galls in springtime

As summer approaches, it is almost time for gall wasps to lay new eggs. But last year’s galls are still around. I’ve written about galls before, in the autumn before and after hatching. Galls are tough, they hang onto trees through winter storms, or fall and bounce. These are galls which have over-wintered, day-by-day being hidden by the fresh green growth on the holm oak trees. They are mysterious objects, like small packages containing a secret. Which of course they did. There are about 1300 different species of gall wasp, and 70% choose a type of oak tree as host plant. The holes may be either exits, or attack holes by predators such as woodpeckers.

Read more about oak galls in the #secretvalley, before and after hatching.

5 to remember
resistente – tough/resilient
antes y después de – before and after
día a día – day-by-day
misterioso/a – mysterious
un secreto – a secret

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oak galls survive the winter in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1U3