Tag Archives: Sandra Danby

Bird song: Cetti’s Warbler

This non-descript bird is small and difficult to see, but its pretty name commemorates the Italian zoologist Francesco Cetti. Their song is used to signal their presence, a sort of bird ‘I’m here’, and plays an important role. The Cetti repeats the same basic phrase every few minutes so once we’ve identified it, we can track its progress across the valley. Their distinct songs have a structure unique to them and allow them to be sure they are not inadvertently mating with another type of warbler.

It is an explosive, metallic call of ‘chich’ or ‘plit’, and sometimes it seems to shout ‘chee’, ‘chewee’, ‘chewechewechewechewe’. Which, though totally irrelevant, reminds me of Chewbacca.

Listen to the song of the Cetti’s Warbler at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
la cetia curruca – the cetti’s warbler
indeterminado – non-descript
un zoólogo – a zoologist
por inadvertencia – inadvertently
aparearse – to mate

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Goldfinch
Griffon Vulture
Blue Tit

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Cetti’s Warbler? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29O

A January salad

England meets the Moors… a typical English vegetable, cold and shredded, and mixed with Moorish flavours. What’s not to love? forkfulThis is an unusual and tasty salad which deserves a spot on your regular winter menu. The dominant flavour changes from mouthful to mouthful, one moment lemony [lemon juice, sumac], the next fruity [pomegranate molasses and seeds].

Don’t worry about leftovers. If there are any, they taste better the next day. Simply keep in a sealed plastic box overnight in the fridge.

This is another recipe by Gizzi Erskine.

Serves 2 hungry people for lunch, or 4 as a side salad
300g Brussels sprouts, shredded [using the slicing attachment of a food processor, or by hand with a knife]
Seeds of one pomegranate
100g pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tsp sumac
For the dressing:-
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
6 tbsp olive oil [this is our own, hence the dark green colour]
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper brussels-sprouts-slicingPlace the shredded Brussels sprouts into a large bowl and set aside. dressing-ingredients-our-green-olive-oilIn a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Pour the dressing over the sprouts and leave to macerate for 15 minutes [a minimum, longer is fine].

When you are ready to serve, transfer the sprouts to a serving bowl. Over the top sprinkle the pistachios, pomegranate seeds, fresh chopped herbs and the sumac. Mix, and eat. bowlfulFancy a different salad? Try these:-
A fresh salad for winter
A mustardy leeks vinaigrette
Trempó

5 to remember
típico/a – typical
un bocado – a mouthful
despedazar – to shred
la melaza de granada – the pomegranate molasses
la sumac – the sumac

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pistachios & pomegranates: an exotic salad #recipe by @GizziErskine via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Vu

Wild rosehips

I grew up thinking hips and haws were different things, hips belonged to roses, haws to hawthorns. So I thought. Now I realize they are different names for the same thing. A rosehip, or haw, or hep, is the red or orange fruit of the rose. They begin to form after pollination in the spring or early summer and ripen in late summer and autumn. Here, they hang onto the wild rose bushes all winter. If the birds don’t spot them.

Rosehips are high in vitamin C and, knowing this, I really should pick some and have a go at making something. Tea, jam, syrup. They can also, apparently, be eaten raw; if you avoid eating the hairs inside the fruit. I’ve never done this and I do not recommend eating anything picked wild unless you are 100% sure what it is: if in doubt, take it to your local farmacia.

5 to remember
un arrecife – a rosehip
la polinización – the pollination
tener una ida – to have a go
no lo recomiendo – I do not recommend
la farmacia – the pharmacy

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Hips, haws & heps: wild roses in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley #garden http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29g

Brazil nut pesto pasta

If you are trying to increase your daily intake of vegetables, then try this pasta dish that includes a minimum of four, and could be more depending on what you add. The base is a dairy-free pesto, the creaminess of regular pesto is provided by the combination of avocados and Brazil nuts. We made the quantity below and found it sufficient for three meals for two people – so one pot went into the fridge and the third into the freezer.

Next time we make it, I will stir fresh mint leaves into the pasta at the end, and even more lemon juice.

Serves 4
For the pesto:-
120g Brazil nuts
50g pine nuts
1½ avocados
50g rocket [I used a bag]
large handful of fresh basil leaves [I used a bag]
juice of 1½ lemons
8 tbsp olive oil
For the pasta:-
500g your choice of pasta
2 courgettes, chopped into thin slices
1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
225g peas [I used frozen]
salt and pepper

First, make the pesto. Place the Brazil nuts and pine nuts into a food processor and whiz for a minute until they are completely crushed. Add the avocado flesh, basil leaves, lemon juice, rocket, olive oil, 8 tbsp water, salt and pepper. Blend again until you have a creamy sauce, as smooth or chunky as you prefer.

Next, cook the pasta. Heat a large frying pan with a little olive oil. Add the courgettes and broccoli, salt and pepper, and fry lightly for 5-7 minutes until they are cooked and lightly golden. While these are cooking, prepare your peas: if you are using fresh, cook them lightly in a saucepan; if frozen, zap them in a bowl for a couple of minutes in the microwave. Drain and add to the frying pan.

Once the pasta is ready, drain and add to the frying pan. Toss. Add a spoonful or two of pesto.If you like this, try:-
Sweet potatoes + coconut + ginger
A walnut sauce for pasta
Little squash cakes with a kick

5 to remember
una nuez de Brasil – a Brazil nut
un mínimo de – a minimum of
el tercero – the third
la próxima vez – the next time
aún más – even more

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pesto for pasta: Brazil nuts & rocket #Spain #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fA via @Spanish_Valley

Very cheesy pie

This pie is just what you need in that odd time between Christmas and New Year. It is comfortable food, filling, cheesy, makes the kitchen smells divine, and takes a while to put together. So, it’s ideal to make when time stretches ahead of you and it’s cold outside. 

You can make the cheesiness stronger or subtler by varying the type of cheese you use.

Serves 6
5 large white cabbage leaves, stems removed and leaves halved [I used a Savoy cabbage]
salt
2 potatoes [450g], peeled and thinly sliced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
small handful of tarragon leaves
300g mozzarella, thinly sliced [I used French mild goats cheese]
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

Place the cabbage pieces, in four batches, into a large saucepan of salted boiling water, and cook for two minutes. Drain, refresh in iced water and set aside on kitchen towel to drain well.

Add the potatoes to the pan, cook for two minutes. Drain, refresh in iced water and set aside on kitchen towel to drain well.

Use six of the largest cabbage leaves to line the base and sides of a lightly greased 22cm round cake tin. Leave approx. 8cm of leaves hanging over the side of the tin. Depending on the size of the cabbage leaves, you may need to cook more – I did.

Into the tin, place a layer of potatoes, slightly overlapping the slices. Next add a layer of onion, tarragon and cheese. Repeat this twice to create three more layers, until your ingredients run out. Fold over the overhanging cabbage leaves and press well to enclose.

Place the tin into a large deep-sided roasting tray, and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the tin. Cover the whole thing with kitchen foil. Cook for 60-70 minutes, or until the pie is tender when tested with a skewer.

Remove the foil, brush the top of the pie with the olive oil, and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy.

Remove the tin from the water bath, cut into wedges and serve.

This recipe is by Donna Hay, check her website for more recipes.

5 to remember
una tarta – a pie
el estragón – the tarragon
dependiendo de – depending on
pendiente – overhanging
profundo lado – deep-sided

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Yogurt and Roasted Butternut Salad
Linguine with Broad Beans
Habas a la Granadina

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Very cheesy pie = comfort food #Spain #Recipe by @donnahay http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2eo via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Grey Wagtail

This is a misleading name for a pretty bird which flies past with a flash of yellow. The Grey Wagtail is the slimmest of the wagtail family and is resident here all year round. The male is generally more yellow than the female, though is less obviously yellow throughout the winter months. I wonder if that is partly a natural reaction to camouflage: in the summer, yellow is an effective disguise amongst the bright green leaves but in winter a yellow bird would be easy to spot amongst the bare branches. It is a shy bird with a large voice: its call is a sharp and explosive ‘tchik’, ‘zi’ or ‘zi zi’. Its breeding season is April to July and it nests alongside fast-running streams or rivers, or on an embankment between stones and roots.

Listen to the call of the Grey Wagtail at the RSPB website.

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

5 to remember
una cigüeña gris – a grey wagtail
engañoso – misleading
el más delgado  – the slimmest
explosivo – explosive
el camuflaje – the camouflage

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Roller
Blackcap
Booted Eagle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Grey Wagtail? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29a

A walnut sauce for pasta

We love walnuts, just as well as we have about 20 trees. There are many versions of walnut sauce and we have tried a lot of them, this recipe is from the River Café Cook Book Two. We always eat sauce for four and pasta for two, but if this is too much sauce for you it keeps well for a few days in a sealed pot in the fridge. I also threw in huge quantities of parsley and basil, because I had them, which proves this recipe is elastic in terms of quantities!

2kg walnuts, shelled and bitter skins removed
Breadcrumbs, from any type of stale loaf
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
150ml olive oil
100g parmesan, freshly grated
4 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped Soak the breadcrumbs in 150ml milk.

Set aside a few walnuts for serving. The recipe says to pound the rest of the walnuts with the garlic in a mortar, I used a food processor. Add a little salt, then the parsley, and pound some more.

Squeeze most of the milk from the breadcrumbs, keep the milk. Add half of the breadcrumbs to the mortar and mix. Add the olive oil gradually, plus a little milk to loosen the paste. Stir continuously so the sauce is well mixed. Finally add half the parmesan and basil, Season. The finished sauce should be thick and green.

Cook your preferred pasta, drain and return to the saucepan. To serve, add the rest of the basil, parmesan and a few pieces of uncrushed walnut. I also stirred wilted spinach into the finished pasta.

5 to remember
el pan rallado – the breadcrumbs
la leche – the milk
la albahaca – the basil
una pasta – a paste
la mitad – the half

 

Recipe from ‘River Café Cook Book Two’ by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray [UK: Ebury Press]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Courgette & Chick Pea Stew
Cheesy Scone Bake
Ricotta Cheese & Pine Nut Chilli 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lashings of herbs & nuts: walnut pesto #Spain #Recipe by @RiverCafeLondon http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ec via @Spanish_Valley