Tag Archives: living abroad

Fifty Shades of White #6

Plum blossom. April 5, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The fruit is coming… plum blossom in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2b4

Sweet potatoes + coconut + ginger

Once made, this dish will quickly become a favourite. Either as a vegetable side dish or, with added protein, a vegetarian supper dish. It includes three of my favourite ingredients: sweet potatoes, coconut and ginger. It smells divine while cooking and is a pretty golden colour when baked. Try it! Oh, and you haven’t misread the amount of fresh ginger. It is a lot, but essential to the overall flavour.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish, or 2 hungry people as a main course
4-5 small to medium sweet potatoes, about 1.5kg
100g piece of fresh root ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400ml tin coconut milk
grated zest and juice of 2 limes [I used lemons]
2 tbsp of maple syrup or clear honey [optional]
300g tin haricot beans or chick peas

Heat the oven to 180°C/200°C non-fan].

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1cm slices. Put into a large casserole dish, about 21×28 cm with a tight-fitting lid [if you don’t have a lid, use foil]. If using haricot beans or chick peas, add them to the casserole.

Next, prepare the sauce. Peel the ginger, garlic and de-seed the chill. Chop them roughly then put into a bowl and whizz with a hand blender [I used the food processor, then switched to the hand blender halfway through cooking and found it easier]. Add the coconut milk, lime or lemon zest and juice, and maple syrup if using, and whizz again with the hand blender. Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly so the pieces are completely coated. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole with the lid, and bake in the oven for 1 hour until the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the top is browned. Serve with a side of lightly steamed spinach. 5 to remember
la leche de coco – the coconut milk
una batidora de mano – a hand blender
ajustado/a – tightly-fitting
la tapa – the lid
divino/a – divine

This recipe is by Sarah Raven. Read her gardening advice here.

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Smoky spring onions and asparagus with lime
A super green salad
Cauliflower salad with spinach yogurt

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sweet potatoes + coconut + ginger: what’s not to love? http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2co #Spain #recipe via @Spanish_Valley

Old walls

Parcelas, parcels of land or fields, are generally marked here in this rough stony country by a line of stones. The stones will have been cleared over the centuries, thrown along the boundary as impromptu dividing lines.

Parcelas can be square but are most often around here irregularly-shaped given that they follow the countours of the land and skirt around huge boulders. In some places there are old walls, dry stone walls, where perhaps a richer farmer wanted to make a statement of wealth. Many of these old walls remain, standing firm, or tumbled around larger fincas.

5 to remember
la antigua muralla – the old wall
una parcela – a parcel
en general – generally/in general
impromptu – impromtu
una línea divisoria – a dividing line

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
This is rough stony land & the farmers put the stones to good use #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pg

October in the valley

From the palest Lemon Yellow through creamy Transparent Gold Ochre to the bright Cadmium Scarlet and Cadmium Orange, the look of the valley is changing daily and looks like something out of my watercolour paintbox. Some trees remain defiantly green – the evergreen Holm Oaks and Pinus – and deciduous Poplars. But for other deciduous trees, autumn is here. Green leaves change colour in the autumn when trees have taken all the food, the chlorophyll, from the leaves. Chlorophyll is the biomolecule which absorbs energy from sunlight and gives leaves their green colour. So at this time of year when sunlight weakens, the leaves stop making food and this green pigment is broken down into colourless compounds. It is then that the yellow pigments are revealed, and other chemical changes can cause red colouration. Today the #secretvalley is a #yellowvalley.

5 to remember
mi acuarela paintbox – my watercolour paintbox
la clorofila – the chlorophyll
la biomolécula – the biomolecule
absorbe la energía de la luz solar – it absorbs energy from sunlight
debilita – it weakens

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Going yellow: October in the #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28J

Walnuts, almost ready

The walnuts are almost ready, the husks are splitting and the nut is visible inside. They haven’t fallen from the trees yet though, so perhaps there is another week to wait.

Harvesting is simple: just pick them from the ground where they have fallen. To check for ripeness, open a nut: if the tissue between the kernel and the shell is brown, they’re ripe. If a good few have fallen, the rest may fall too if you give the tree a shake [do it the Spanish way and spread an old blanket or sheet on the ground first].

The next step is to remove the husks. Wear gloves to do this, as the tannins will stain your hands brown. Once the husks are removed, wash the shells with a high-pressure hose. Inspect the nuts and discard any with discoloured or cracked shells. Lay them in the sunshine to dry. Before storing, open a few to test for dryness. If you can open the shell easily with a nutcracker, and the nut inside can be broken in two, they are ready to eat.

Walnuts will keep in their shells for several months. If storing the shelled nuts, keep them in an airtight container.

For recipes including walnuts, try:-
Lighter Brownies
Walnut Teabread
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
las cáscaras – the husks
visible – visible
la madurez de – the ripeness of
el núcleo – the kernel
los taninos – the tannins

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #walnuts are almost ready to harvest #nature http://wp.me/p3dYp6-256 via @Spanish_Valley

Cauliflower salad with spinach yogurt

I have discovered a new favourite vegetable: roasted cauliflower. And not just in winter, but in summer salads. This is a warm salad with gentle Indian spices and a cooling spinach yogurt.

Serves 4-6
2 heads of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tbsp ground cumin
3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300g puy lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
15g fresh coriander leaves, chopped [I used parsley]
15g mint leaves
3 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
Sea salt
Black pepper
For the spinach yogurt:-
1 tsp capers, rinsed and finely chopped
375g natural Greek yogurt
15g mint leaves, finely sliced
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt
Black pepper
100g baby spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

Place the cauliflower florets on a large baking tray and sprinkle over the cumin. Drizzle over 1-2 tbsp oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and bay leaf. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are just tender. Drain.

Make the spinach yogurt: whizz together the spinach, capers, yogurt, mint and olive oil in a food processor. Squeeze over the lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper.

Fry the lentils: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, chopped coriander, paprika and cooked lentils. Season well with salt and sauté over a medium-high heat, shaking the pan to move the lentils around. Fry until the lentils are slightly crispy. To serve: spread the spinach yogurt onto a serving platter. Combine the roasted cauliflower with the fried lentils and herbs, drizzle with olive oil, season again to taste. Spoon the cauliflower mixture over the yogurt, and top with the toasted flaked almonds. If you like this, try:-
Mustardy Salmon Salad
Linguine with Broad Beans
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
suave – gentle
indio – Indian
las especias – the spices
una llovizna de – a drizzle of
servir – to serve

 

This recipe is from Neighbourhood: Salads, Sweets and Stories from Home and Abroad by Hetty McKinnon [UK: Shambhala]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Cauliflower & spinach: a warm spicy salad #Spain #Recipe by @hettymckinnon via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25j

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