Tag Archives: living abroad

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

Along the Thyme Track in January

It’s winter in January, but there are some days when it feels like summer. I’m not saying it doesn’t rain here, or there aren’t cold days when all we want to do is hunker down in front of the log burner. But more often than not the sky is so blue that the only reminder, as we walk along the Thyme Track, that it is winter is the lack of leaves on trees.

5 to remember
hay – there are
se siente como – it feels like
más a menudo que no – more often that not
un recordatorio – a reminder
la falta de – the lack of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The days when winter feels like summer in #Spain #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Rn

The veggie patch in December

It looks rather forlorn now, a tangle of dead and drying branches, leaves dessicated and turning to powder. But look closer and there is the glow of decaying colour, fading, squashed tomatoes the colour of blood, pale green peppers still hanging, yellow globes of aubergines, and towering skyscrapers of cabbages gone to seed.

5 to remember
abandonado/a – forlorn
una maraña de – a tangle of
aplastado/a – squashed
un globo – a globe
un rascacielos – a skyscraper

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Forgotten but not fruitless: the veggie patch in winter #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1BZ

Winter on the Thyme Track

The character of the Thyme Track is different from the house-side of the valley which we see every day. The Thyme Track runs around the edge of the valley where it takes a sharp turn, like an elbow.

There are pine trees on the opposite hillside, wild herbs [including the eponymous thyme] line the track used by the occasional farmer reaching his remotest olives, and nesting holes stand empty until spring. In this tranquil wilderness, birds flourish. Resident blackbirds greet my approach and there are flocks of small brown birds which fly in flurries and move so fast they challenge my identification skills.

5 to remember
el carácter de – the character of
un giro brusco – a sharp turn
un codo – an elbow
epónimo/a – eponymous
la más remota – the remotest

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Winter: wild herbs, berries, shadows & a flurry of small brown birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1BK

December in the valley

Really things never stop growing here. In winter it is rare for it to be cold enough to stop the hardiest plants from growing and the bursts of searing heat from the winter sun help too. So in corners in the wintering valley are bursts of colour, new flowers, olives ready for the harvest, alongside dried autumnal fruits fit for nothing but lunch for the birds.

5 to remember
los más fuertes – the hardiest
lo suficientemente frío – cold enough
calor abrasador – searing heat
una ráfaga – a burst
junto a – alongside

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Fruit & leaves hang on: December in the #hidden valley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1B3

A squashy lasagne

The smell of this baking is wonderful, it’s the cheese as it browns on top. Our stockpile of butternut squash means I pounce on any new recipe featuring the golden squash. This is a healthy version, I had to adapt it slightly as some things I either didn’t have or are unable to buy here [I’ve made a note so you can amend as you prefer]. just out of the ovenparmesan, wedgeIt seems a long time since our butternut squash plants first took hold in the huerta last June [below]. And we are still eating them, months later! butternut squash - the huerta in JuneServes 6
Olive oil
1 large butternut squash, approx. 1.5kg
1 level tsp ground coriander
4 cloves garlic
1 fresh red chilli [I used one tsp of Lazy Chilli from a jar]
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
200g spinach
60g Parmesan, grated
6 pasta sheets [I used half this amount, using gluten-free pasta sheets which I boiled for 5 minutes first]
400g fat-free cottage cheese [can’t buy here, so I used a soft goat cheese]
100ml semi-skimmed milk [I used skimmed]
1 tbsp sunflower seeds [I substituted pumpkin seeds]
1 sprig of fresh rosemary lasagne sheets, rawPreheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Rub two baking sheets with a little oil. squash, ready to be roastedPrepare the squash by halving and de-seeding. Leave the skin on. Slice into 1cm half-moon shapes, and lay in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the ground coriander, plus a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 50 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden. squash, roastedMeanwhile, peel and slice the garlic. If using fresh chilli, de-seed and finely slice. Put a large pan on a medium heat with a tbsp. of oil, add the garlic and chilli. Cook for three minutes or until lightly golden. garlic & chilli, fryingadd tomatoes & vinegar to garlicAdd the vinegar and tinned tomatoes, break them up roughly in the pan, plus water from one tomato tin. Simmer on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened. I simmered mine for half an hour and it didn’t want to thicken so I mixed one tsp of cornflour in a splash of water, and added this to the pan. This did the trick.

Prepare the cottage cheese, tip into a bowl and break up with a fork. Add the milk to loosen the curds, and lightly season with pepper. goat cheese, spoonfulWhen all the elements are prepared, you can start layering the lasagne. Jamie specified a 25 x 30cm baking dish, when I cook this again I will use an old-fashioned deep casserole dish. First, spread a layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of raw spinach leaves, a layer of roasted squash, a fine grating of Parmesan, and a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat this until you run out of ingredients [reserve some Parmesan for the topping], finishing with a layer of lasagne sheets. layering the lasagneAdd the toppings, first spoon over the cottage cheese. Sprinkle with the seeds and the remaining Parmesan. Rub the rosemary sprig in a little oil, then strip off the leaves and scatter over the top of the lasagne. ready to go into the ovenBake at the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbling. plateful

Jamie Oliver

This recipe is from Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

5 to remember
blanco y algo líquido – squashy
nuestras reservas – our stockpile
parece – it seems
hace tiempo que – a long time since
libre de grasas – fat-free

If you are feeling hungry, try these recipes:-
A tea of Salmon Traybake
Poor Man’s Potatoes for tea
A vegetable stew from Granada

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Butternut squash lasagne #Spain #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1IH

A winter treat

This is comfort eating at its healthiest, but I challenge you not to want second helpings. It’s a vegetarian take on lasagne, layers of veggies and tomato sauce, but without pasta. Though if you are feeding a hungry horde it would work with a couple of layers of pasta sheets. Unlike lasagne, you don’t have to make a cheese sauce; instead there is a creamy sauce whizzed up in the blender. dishing upThe recipe is by Anna Jones, a chef who first worked at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. This background explains why her recipes all have an Italian-feel.

Serves 6
For the bake:-
4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1cm rounds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
rosemary leaves, picked from a couple of sprigs
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 red onions, peeled and roughly sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme
400g spinach, washed
200g ricotta
100g Parmesan
For the creamy sauce:-
1 x 400g tin butter beans
grated zest and juice of a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 240° C/ fan 220° C/ gas 9. parmesan, gratingLightly grease two baking trays. Arrange the sweet potato discs in one layer on the trays, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, until just cooked and browning around the edges. sweet potatoes - ready to go into the ovenWhile the potatoes are cooking, make the tomato sauce. Fry the sliced garlic in a little olive oil, over a medium heat, until it begins to brown around the edges. Add the rosemary, stir. Add the tinned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and leave for 10 minutes, simmering lightly, until the sauce becomes thicker and sweeter. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. tomato sauce in the panIn a separate frying pan, soften the onions in a little olive oil with the thyme, over a medium heat, until soft and sweet. This will take about 10 minutes. spinach, added to the onionsspinach, wiltedThen add the spinach, a little at a time, and let it wilt. sweet potatoes - just out of the ovenWhen the sweet potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven. Turn the oven down to 220° C/ fan 200° C/ gas 7.

Now make the butter bean sauce. Put the tinned butter beans and the liquid from the tin into a blender, add the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. butter bean sauce, in processorBlitz it so the sauce is smooth and loose enough to spread . If it is too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of water and blitz again.

Once the separate elements are ready, you can begin layering in a large ovenproof dish. Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, then a layer of spinach, then dot over half the ricotta and a thick layer of grated parmesan. If you are using pasta, add a layer of lasagne sheets here. Next, add a layer of sweet potatoes, then some of the butter bean sauce. Keep layering, finishing with a layer of butter bean sauce. Grate Parmesan over the top, plus a drizzle of olive oil and a few more thyme leaves. ready to go into ovenBake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top. platefulDon’t worry if you cook too many sweet potatoes. We did, so the leftovers were thrown into a potato mash mixture with cooked sprouts and fried onions, and made into potato cakes. We eat these for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

5 to remember
una horda hambrienta – a hungry horde
las alubias grande – the butter beans
los elementos separados – the separate elements
una capa – a layer
no se preocupe – don’t worry

Still hungry? Try these puddings:-
Not just your everyday pudding… pain au chocolat bread-and-butter pudding
Rice pudding with almonds
The best-ever plum clafoutis?

a modern way to eat by anna jones 8-6-15

This recipe is from Anna Jones’ book, A Modern Way to Eat. Find more of her recipes at her website.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A winter treat… sweet potato lasagne #recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Hb