Tag Archives: Spain

Pasta that bites back

This pasta is a taste of Spring in a bowl, a glorious tangy mix of horseradish and lemon. It seems that the Spanish don’t grow horseradish root, or rather they don’t sell it in the supermarkets. So occasionally we bring a jar of horseradish cream from the UK just for this. This is a very Italian dish in style, very simple to make, and like all the best Italian food it is best when made with the very best available raw ingredients.

I added two extra ingredients; long-stemmed broccoli, and toasted almonds. Actually this recipe will work well with a variety of spring green vegetables; peas, green beans, broad beans would be delicious too.

Serves 4
450g asparagus
a handful of long-stemmed broccoli
salt
450g pasta
50g butter
1 tbsp creamed horseradish
lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped chives
a handful of whole, blanched almonds, toasted

Trim the asparagus, keep the tips separate. Save the trimmings for another recipe. Pour 4cm of water into a large saucepan, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Add the pieces of asparagus stem and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus tips to the pan, simmer for another 2-3 minutes until almost al dente but still firm. Drain. Now use the same pan to lightly cook the broccoli. You can prepare to this stage in advance, cool and cover.Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of a salt and a glug of sunflower oil. Add the pasta, bring back to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, until al dente. A few minutes before the pasta is done, melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the asparagus, stir to re-heat gently without frying. Add the horseradish cream, and a splash of lemon juice to taste.

Drain the pasta, tip into the asparagus pan and mix thoroughly. Test the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with our own chives, freshly-cut from the pot, and the toasted almonds. 

5 to remember
la raíz – root
las raices – roots
el rábano – horseradish
la crema – cream
el estilo – style

 

Recipe from ‘Eat Your Greens’ by Sophie Grigson [UK: BBC Books]

Don’t know what to eat for dinner tonight? Try one of these recipes:-
Very cheesy pie
Little squash cakes with a kick
Harissa salmon salad

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A hot hot hot pasta for asparagus season #food #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2hb via @Spanish_Valley

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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

Waiting for the olive harvest to begin

The olive harvest has been delayed this year by much needed rain at the last minute. Much needed by the olives, water fattens them, but irritating for the farmers who have had to delay their schedule, postpone the arrival of machinery and men. So they are patient. Rushing in too soon after rain can mean heavy machinery becoming bogged down. Yesterday the valley echoed to the sound of chainsaws as men surveyed the groves already harvested and started with the annual pruning. Smoke soon follows as the cut twigs and branches are burned. Thin spirals of pale grey twist upwards into a clear blue sky.

And the next morning, while it was still dark, car after car head into the wilds, along tracks deep into the olive groves, to pre-agreed meeting points where coffee, bread and fiery spirits are dispensed as the sun rises and the picking machines stand ready.

5 to remember
posponer – to postpone
en el último minuto – at the last minute
empantanado – bogged down
las espirales delgadas – the thin spirals
todavía oscuro – still dark

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Waiting for the #olive harvest to begin in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gh via @Spanish_Valley

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

A creamy coconut stew

This vegetarian stew is so much greater than its individual parts. As long as you keep the basic coconut and tomato base, you can pretty much vary the vegetables and beans you add to it. Next time I make this, I will try adding some wilted spinach… I do like my green vegetables.

Serves 4

2 400ml tins coconut milk
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2-3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1-2 tsp chilli flakes
1 butternut squash, 1kg, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces [I used sweet potato]
2 medium aubergines, 600g, cut into bite-size pieces
handful of fresh coriander, chopped [I used our parsley]
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained
3 tsp brown miso paste

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C. For this recipe you will need a large casserole, which has a lid. Put the coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, grated ginger and chilli flakes into the casserole and heat gently on the hob, until boiling. Season. The tinned coconut milk may have separated, but add all the thick and thin liquid as it will melt and mix as the casserole heats. Chop the aubergine and sweet potato, and add to the coconut mixture. Once this has come to the boil, cook for 30 minutes in the oven. 

Remove from the oven, add the parsley, miso and chickpeas. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes. It is ready when the sweet potato is soft when tested with a sharp knife. Serve with brown rice. Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and, if anything, taste richer when heated a day or so later.

If you like this, try:-
Very Cheesy Pie
Salt Cod Fritters
Pistou

5 to remember
mucho más grande que – so much greater than
mientras – as long as
la próxima vez que haga esto – next time I make this
se derretirá – it will melt
cualquier sobrante – any leftovers

 

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:
A creamy coconut stew: sweet & scented with ginger #Spain #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2eN via @Spanish_Valley

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