Tag Archives: Andalucia

Spring patchwork

At no time during the year does the landscape change more than during the spring. A day of sun or rain alters things dramatically. Overnight, buds of tightly-woven almond blossom burst open, winter-sown wheat takes on a deeper more luscious tone of green, and the fields of peas seem to grown centimetres within hours. And so the agricultural patchwork of parcelas changes from pale greens and browns, divided by the haphazard lines of silver-grey stones and paler dried earth, to deeper tones, helped often by a night-time sprinkle of drizzle.

5 to remember
en ningún momento – at no time
el paisaje – the landscape
dramáticamente – dramatically
durante la noche – overnight
los campos de guisantes – the fields of peas

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Spring draws its patchwork of colours & textures in #Spain #countryside via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pw

An easy iced cake

Glace cherries are one of those childhood things which, for me, takes me straight back to the kitchen and ‘helping’ my mother make cakes. They are sickly things really, but I loved them. The redness? The stickiness? The fact that they were a treat and not considered appropriate for an everyday cake?

This cake by Mary Berry satisfies my need for glace cherries on a wet Sunday when I fancy cake. It is pretty foolproof in that all the ingredients go into a large bowl at the same time for mixing.

Makes 1 x 2lb loaf [900g]
75g glace cherries
3 extra large eggs [I used 4 large eggs]
175g self-raising flour [I used gluten free plain flour plus 2 tsps gluten free baking powder]
100g soft margarine
100g light muscovado sugar
100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
150g sultanas
For the icing:-
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water
2 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped loaf-tin-linedPre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Lightly grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with greased greaseproof paper.
First, prepare the cherries. Quarter, wash and thoroughly dry on kitchen paper.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and then measure in the remaining cake ingredients including the cherries. Beat well until the mixture is smooth.

Turn into the prepared tin, level the top, and bang the tin on the worktop to eliminate bubbles. ready-to-go-into-ovenBake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, firm to the touch, and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. It is cooked if a fine skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn it out and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cold, it is ready to be iced. Measure the sifted icing sugar into a bowl. In a small pan, heat the apricot jam and water until mixed [do not overheat]. Pour the jam onto the icing sugar and mix to a smooth texture. Spoon over the top of the cake. Decorate with a sprinkle of chopped apricots down the centre of the cake.

Fancy another cake? Try making these:-
An apple and cinnamon cake
Peanut butter biscuits
An Italian cake of Spanish apples

5 to remember
tamizado/a – sifted
la mermelada – the jam
no sobrecalentar – do not overheat
una textura suave – a smooth texture
los albaricoques picados – the chopped apricots

mary berry's ultimate cake book 20-1-14

 

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
An easy iced #cake with apricots & cherries #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wf

Wildflowers/White

The white wildflowers are my favourites. There is something pleasing about the juxtaposition of white and green and, at the time the white wildflowers are everywhere, the spring hills are at their greenest. That said, there are so many different shades of white I struggle to describe them without sounding like colour names on a paint chart. So, here are some whiteish wildflowers, photographed on my morning walks along the tracks.

5 to remember
la yuxtaposición – the juxtaposition
por todas partes – everywhere
más verde – greenest
me esfuerzo por – I struggle to
un gráfico de la pintura – a paint chart

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Wildflowers come in many colours in #Spain Here are some white ones #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1PP

Sweet Carrot Salad

This is a lovely sweet salad. A large bowlful is a main course, but it also works as a side salad and travels well in a plastic box for picnics. Carrots are naturally sweet and are a traditional combination with oranges, but what makes this a little different is the addition of ground cumin and plump raisins.


Serves 4
4 carrots
200g raisins
5 oranges
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp date syrup or maple syrup
200 raw cashews
180g pitted olives, green, black or a mixture
salt and pepper

Top and tail the carrots, then peel off the outer skin and discard. Peel the rest of the carrots into thin slivers and place in a large bowl big enough for mixing. Turn the carrot as you peel, to ensure your strips are thin and less uniform. carrots, peeled, in dishNext, put the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you prepare everything else.


Peel four of the oranges and chop into segments, removing as much of the pith as possible. Place into a small saucepan with the ground cumin and the date syrup.


Sauté on a medium heat for about five minutes or until they are soft. Pour the fruit and all the juice over the carrots.

Now add the cashews to the same pan. Cook over a medium heat for about three minutes, so they soak up the orange flavour and brown a little. Add to the carrots.

Squeeze the juice of the final orange onto the salad, then add the olives. green olivesDrain the raisins, add to the salad with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well, and serve. plateful5 to remember
una caja de plastico – a plastic box
un picnic – a picnic
un dátil – a date [fruit]
el jarabe – the syrup
deshuesado/a – pitted

Looking for other salads?
A pimped-up version of a Delia salad… griddled courgette & feta salad
Aubergine & herb salad
Mustardy salmon salad

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward 1-5-15

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward [UK: Hodder & Stoughton]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sweet carrot salad: what’s not to like? #recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Nm

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb

A stew with fresh thyme

When we cleared the rockery bed of old thyme, straggly and past its best, I set aside a bunch for cooking. I had this stew in mind, full of rainbow vegetables, the sort that tastes better the next day after a night in the fridge for the flavours to develop. thyme, just pickedcourgette, sliceServes 4, if eaten with chunky bread
2 large onions, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and cut into chunks
2 large courgettes, sliced into slices as wide as a Euro coin
400g jar chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Large bunch of fresh thyme
Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped in the pan, onions & red pepperGently warm a couple of tbsp. of olive oil in large deep frying pan, and add the onions and red pepper. Allow to soften over the moderate heat. in the pan, add courgettesAdd the courgette slices, two sploshes of balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, garlic, capers and thyme. in the pan, add thyme, capers & balsamicTuck the thyme down into the vegetables. If you think it is necessary, add more olive oil. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, check the seasoning. At this stage, Nigel Slater [for this is one of his recipes] adds 8 basil leaves – I didn’t because I didn’t have any]. Cook through until warm. Check the seasoning, and add more pepper or vinegar as you prefer.

Serve in a deep bowl with crusty bread, we eat it with Mercadona’s gluten-free baguettes. plateful, close-up5 to remember
ralo/a – straggly
las alcaparras – the capers
un recipiente profundo –  a deep bowl
el pan crujiente – the crusty bread
un baguette – a baguette

Got enough room for pudding? Make this:-
Canela apple cake
Crispy pear crumble
Plum and pecan crumble

a year of good eating by nigel slater

 

Recipe adapted from A Year of Good Eating by Nigel Slater [UK: Fourth Estate]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A stew with fresh thyme #recipe by @NigelSlater via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KJ

Merendera

This is a new wildflower for me, I’ve never noticed it before: are the conditions this year most suitable for it? merendera1 23-3-16It is Merendera Montana, growing as a scattered carpet of white flowers. The leaves come later. Each flower is star-shaped with six petals. According to my flower book, the petals are pale lilac but ours here are white. Common throughout Iberia in rocky areas, sparse grass and mountain pastures: sounds just like our valley, then. I found these in a rocky spot beside our track where it winds through the olive grove.

5 to remember
las condiciones – the conditions
dispersado/a – scattered
una alfombra – a carpet
en forma de estrella – star-shaped
los pétalos – the petals

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pretty white star-shaped #wildflower: Merendera in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Jd