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

May in the valley

Early morning: chilly, pull on a pair of jeans and t-shirt.
Mid-morning: jeans off, shorts on.
Early-afternoon: too hot, into pool, out of pool in 30 seconds. The thermometer [which says the water is 23° must be lying].
Late-afternoon: skin pink.
Early evening: forget bug spray, get bitten.
Evening: jeans on.

Blackbirds nesting.
Pair of cuckoos fly in formation, cuckoo-ing to each other.
Three bee-eaters choose a branch of the big walnut tree in front of our terrace as their summer roosting spot.
All the artichokes explode at once, overnight they go from the size of a golf ball to a child’s football.
The wild asparagus has gone to seed.

5 to remember
frío – chilly
un par de vaqueros – a pair of jeans
el termómetro – the thermometer
en linea – in formation
el uno al otro – to each other

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Jeans on, jeans off, shorts on: welcome to May in the #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley

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

Harvesting in May

Barley and wheat are major grain crops in Spain and the latter crop is grown all around us here, principally because it is favoured by our warm dry climate. In wetter parts of the country, or where irrigation is used, wheat is crowded out by corn/maize. According to the ‘Grain Market Report’ from the International Grains Council [IGC], 6.2m tonnes of Spain’s 18.5 million tonnes total grain production in 2015 was wheat. Maize accounted for 4m tonnes, barley 6.7m tonnes. If the prayers of farmers in spring are answered, there will be abundant quantities of both rain and sunshine. Around us, some farmers have started the wheat harvest. After showers at the weekend, now we see full sun forecast for every day ahead.

5 to remember
el trigo – the wheat
el campo de trigo – the wheatfield
la cebada – the barley
una tonelada – a tonne
principalmente – principally

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Harvesting in May #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley

The sound of moving water

The sound of moving water, waves & waterfalls, are proven to de-stress the mind
Follow us at

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A waterfall: proven relief for stressed minds #villaforsale #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia

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

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