Tag Archives: living abroad

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

Asparagus field… gone to seed

Ever wondered what an asparagus field looks like when the crop is finished? This is it. Fronds of fern-like, feathery leaves, which look more at home in a florist’s vase than in a farmer’s field past its best.

Done right, a farmer should only have to plant an asparagus field once. Once planted, that is the only crop for that field. Which means yield is very important. At least one year must pass before the crop is harvested. The first thing you notice is the spears, poking out of the brown earth like green fingers. Once the crop is finished, the plants will continue growing, up to 3-4ft by summer.

5 to remember
la cosecha – the crop
las frondas – the fronds
plumoso/a – feathery
una floristería – a florist
un jarrón – a vase

Green shadows

In the height of summer, even the shadows here are green as the light seems to reflect the green of the hills and trees which surround us. The word sombra doesn’t just mean shadow, as in the dark area produced when an object comes between the rays of the sun and a surface. It also means the desired seat at a festival or concert, seats shaded from the full heat of the sun are always the most expensive. In the old bullrings, you will see signs for ‘Sol’ or ‘Sombra’. Here our gardening tasks are punctuated by frequent sojourns seated in the sombra of our big walnut tree, time to catch our breath and eat a slice of watermelon.

5 to remember
la sombra – the shadow/the shade
los rayos del sol – the rays of the sun
el más caro – the most expensive
una tarea – a task
una rebanada de – a slice of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Green shadows: summer in the #hiddenvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22x

Doesn’t this make you smile?

Are poppies the most cheerful of wild flowers? They are one of the first to appear here, and are still nodding to us as we pass by in late summer.

Follow us on Twitter @HiddenAndalucia
For sale: €595,000. To buy, click here

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Who doesn’t love poppies? #villaforsale #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Y1

Clouds gathering

Is there rain up there in those clouds? Will it be the last rainfall until November?

Coming from the UK where in an average year 133 days of the 365 are rainy or snowy and we get a measly 1200-1600 hours of annual sunshine, I longed to move to Spain for the warmth and the sun. Here, where we get a staggering 2500-3000 hours of sunshine a year [see table below] I don’t mind the occasional downpour, the day or two of rain. And the earth, the sponge that it is, soaks it all up.

[Metro Maps]

5 to remember
¿hay? – is there?
viniendo del Reino Unido – coming from the UK
mezquino/a – measly/paltry
ocasional – occasional
un aguacero – a downpour

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Clouds gathering, but I don’t care #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-226

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

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 http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pl