Tag Archives: living abroad

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

The feather of …?

Found on our terrace. One feather.

The feather is 22cm long, barred, cream and brown. My current guess is that it belongs to a male buzzard, although the white at the base of the feather could suggest a sparrowhawk. I used Raptors: a field guide for surveys and monitoring at Eurapmon, the body which researches and monitors raptors in Europe. I was surprised by the wealth of feather identification guides online, it is not something I have researched before.

Do you know which bird this feather belongs to?

Read about the song of the Sparrowhawks, here in our valley.

5 to remember
una pluma – a feather
listado/a – barred/striped
mi conjetura actual – my current guess
me sorprendió – I was surprised by
conectado/on-line – online

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
What type of bird does this feather belong to? #Birds in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24U via @Spanish_Valley

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