Tag Archives: food

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

A simple, classic Madeira cake

Who knew a combination of butter, eggs and lemon could be divine. This is the type of plain cake I used to think boring when I was a child. Now, I know differently. Made with a lot of unsalted butter and a hint of lemon, it is a creamy, silky mouthful which I never tire of. It also makes a lovely pudding with sliced fresh fruit and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.

240g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
a little extra caster sugar for sprinkling [we used Demerara]
grated zest and rind of a lemon
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour

Butter and line a 23x13x17 loaf tin.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3.

Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, with a tablespoon of the flour for each. Then gently fold in the rest of the flour. Finally, add the lemon juice.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, and lightly sprinkle the top with sugar. About 2 tbsp should be enough.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.Remove to a wire rack. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

Our cake is a gluten-free version of this recipe so instead of the self-raising flour and plain flour, we substituted 300g gluten-free plain flour and 1½ tsp of gluten-free baking powder.

If you like this, try:-
An apple and cinnamon cake
Cherry cake
An easy iced apricot and cherry cake

5 to remember
precalentar – to preheat
uno a la vez – one at a time
limpio – clean
debería ser suficiente – should be enough
sustituimos – we substituted

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:
Madeira cake: who can resist this most classic of cakes? #Spain #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Xn

Thin lemon and pistachio biscuits

These biscuits are easy to make on impulse from store cupboard and fridge ingredients. And because the recipe is by Mary Berry, it is easy to do. They are very more-ish and it is easy to four at one sitting as they are quite small. And, despite Mary Berry’s description as shortbread, they did not seem that way to me. Makes 20 biscuits
175g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
175g plain flour plus extra for dusting
75g semolina
finely grated zest of a lemon
25g pistachio nuts, shelled and finely chopped.

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. However if your oven, like ours, tends to be on the hot side, set the temperature a little lower. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Measure the softened butter, sugar, flour and semolina into a food processor. Add the lemon zest and whizz until combined. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. Split the dough into half and roll each piece into a long sausage shape, about 15cm long. Scatter the chopped pistachios on a plate and roll each dough sausage in the nuts to coat. Cover the plate with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Slice each roll into 10 even-side discs. Arrange on the baking sheets, spaced well apart as they will spread slightly during cooking.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until tinged golden and almost firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you like this, try these:-
Oh so sticky chocolate flapjack
White chocolate and cranberry flapjack
A silky dense chocolate cake

5 to remember
un bizcocho – a biscuit
enharinado/a – floured
matizado/a – tinged
la masa – the dough
una salchicha – a sausage

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook [UK: BBC]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Thin lemon & pistachio #biscuits Recipe by #MaryBerry #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Yo

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 http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22Q

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 http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Y6