Tag Archives: Andalucia

Abundance in the huerta

The huerta is at its messiest now as unpicked veggies bolt and plants get leggy. There are still veggies to be picked however, tomatoes are lingering beneath heavy branches collapsed onto the earth.

Tomatoes the size of small melons, which make excellent tomato sauce, squirrelled away in the freezer for a winter’s day when we long for the warmth of a summer day. Wrinkled, over-ripe vegetables are piled up, destined for Pablo’s pigs. Once the last vegetable is picked, the huerta will be ploughed into the earth again and so the cycle leading to next summer’s vegetables begins.

5 to remember
en su más sucio – at its messiest
zanquilargo – leggy
arrugado – wrinkled
ser arado – to be ploughed
el ciclo – the cycle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Overflowing with abundance: the veggie patch in September #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27i

After the almond harvest

I didn’t know, did you, that the almond nut is actually called a ‘drupe’ which grows from the tree’s fertilised flowers. The drupe has a leathery hull which surrounds the nut, furry, giving it the look of an unripe peach. When this outer husk dries and splits, it is time to harvest the almonds which for us is August.

I remember our first time in Spain, waking up early one August morning to a knocking sound in the distant hills. Mystified, we got out the binoculars and watched two men in an orchard. They were behaving oddly, knocking the trees with long sticks. I now realize that the method for harvesting almonds is similar to that of olives: spread a tarpaulin or net beneath the tree, whack the tree with a stick so the nuts fall.

Harvest here is over for the year, a few drupes still hang on the trees as a reminder that we missed a few.

Try these recipes featuring almonds:-
Hybrid Crumble
A Super Green Salad
Rice Pudding with Almonds

5 to remember
un casco – a hull
correoso – leathery
es tiempo de – it is time to
los binoculares – the binoculars
desconcertado – mystified

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
After the almond #harvest in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-275

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

Año si año no

Some fruit trees have a tendency to bear a greater-than-average crop one year, followed by a lower-than-average crop the next. This pattern is known as ‘alternate bearing’ or ‘biennial bearing’ although Pablo calls this año si año no or ‘year yes year no’. So far our olive harvest has borne out this pattern, though our trees are young and have been harvested for only two years.

There is a theory that by giving the olive tree excessive nutrients in its first two years of life, alternate bearing can be minimized. This was not our experience. However summer pruning and perfect irrigation can make a difference, though we have not yet tried these techniques. Looking at the trees, this year is a yes year.

5 to remember
una tendencia – a tendency
este patrón – this pattern
rodamiento alterno – alternate bearing
bienal – biennial
una teoría– a theory

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Año si año no: growing #olives in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26X

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

A surprising visitor

This was a first: every time we have spotted a wild animal or bird in the valley we have told Pablo who says ‘Yes, I’ve seen thousands of those.’ But when we told him about our latest sighting, he was dumbfounded. He has never seen an Egyptian Mongoose, or meloncillo as the Spanish know it.

[photo: Wikipedia]

Not native to Spain, the mongoose was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula during the Arab occupation 711 AD through 1492 AD. It is thought the moors introduced the mongoose, and probably the genet cat too, to hunt rats. The mongoose certainly eats snakes. It is a meat-eater – rodents, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects – as well as fruit and eggs. To crack open an egg, the mongoose throws it between its legs against a rock or wall.

One explanation for the fact that we’ve lived here all this time and have never seen one before, is that they are largely nocturnal. We saw two pups which disappeared rapidly into a bank of romero. They were spotted only once, and it is likely they are living in a rabbit warren.

Watch a meloncillo at You Tube.

5 to remember
la Península Ibérica – the Iberian Peninsula
nocturno – nocturnal
un carnívoro – a meat-eater
es probable que – it is likely that
un conejo warren – a rabbit warren

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Egyptian mongoose in the #secretvalley #WildAnimals in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-264

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