Tag Archives: Spain

Fifty Shades of White #8

White vinca, growing wild and clambering up the hillside. February 11, 2015

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White vinca, growing wild & flowering #Gardening #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2c2

Salmon and new potato traybake

This is a versatile supper dish that, with a few seasonal amendments, works well throughout the year. And it is very tasty! In spring add asparagus, in the winter use leeks and frozen peas, add baby broad beans in the summer and in the autumn try Brussels sprouts. If you can get lightly smoked salmon fillets, they work well too.

Serves 4
2 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
750g baby new potatoes
3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves [I used a combination of tarragon and dill]
juice and zest of a lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
175g leeks, trimmed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp crème fraiche or natural yogurt
1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
4 fillets salmon
200g frozen peas, gently defrosted

Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan/ gas mark 7. Pour the oil into a large roasting tin and out in the oven to preheat.

Cut the potatoes into evenly sized quarters and out into the heated tin. Add 1 tbsp tarragon and half the lemon zest. Season well and toss well to coat in oil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the leeks in a bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Set aside for 10 minutes, then drain. 

For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, crème fraiche, capers, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1tbsp tarragon and 1 tbsp water (to loosen the mixture). Season to taste. After 15 minutes, remove the potatoes from the oven and test. They should be almost tender; if they’re not put back into the oven for another five minutes. If they are almost tender, add the drained leeks, toss briefly with the oil then place the salmon fillets on top. Over the top sprinkle the remaining tarragon and lemon zest, check the seasoning.

Scatter frozen peas on top then return to the oven for a further 8-10 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.

To serve, drizzle with the dressing and squeeze the lemon wedges. From a recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine.

If you like this, try:-
Mint, lime & lentil salad
Punchy leeks on toast
Roasted cauliflower salad

5 to remember
el estragón – the tarragon
un filete de pescado – a fillet (of fish)
agotado – drained
a lloviznar – to drizzle
un trozo – a wedge

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Salmon & potato traybake: a versatile supper dish that works well throughout the year #Spain #Recipe by @GHmagazine https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2mk  via @Spanish_Valley

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Bird song: Nightjar

I know someone who once saw a Nightjar in Spain at dusk in the summer.

[photo: Mull Birds & Jim Bevan]

I have never seen one, but I have heard them sing. Such a strange, haunting song ‘churr-churr’ which can vary from a soft purr to a harder wooden rattle. It flies at dusk and dawn, on the hunt for moths and insects, with its mouth wide open.

Actually, I may have seen a Nightjar but thought it was a Cuckoo or Kestrel. It is similar-sized and shaped, with pointed wings and a long tail. All sorts of ancient myths exist about Nightjars, principally that they steal milk from goats. The latter belief led to the Nightjar’s nickname ‘goatsucker’.

Listen to the Nightjar’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
tal vez lo he visto – I may have seen
de tamaño semejante – similar-sized
de forma semejante – similar-shaped
último – latter
la creencia – the belief

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Red-Legged Partridge
Wren
Woodpigeon

 

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 Nightjar? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aI

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Moorish rice with saffron braised carrots

I hesitate to call this dish a pilaf as that is an Indian term, but whatever the correct name is this is delicious. And it has limitless variations which makes it a great store cupboard meal. Served with carrots braised in a delicious saffron sauce, both dishes are quick and easy to make for a supper dos juntos or for a cozy supper with friends. The pilaf can be prepared in advance and reheated in a large frying pan.

Serves 4
For the pilaf:-
250g basmati rice [I used brown]
200g frozen broad beans
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 large shallots, finely sliced [I used 2 red onions]
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp raisins
30g flaked almonds, dry toasted until pale golden
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the carrots:-
500g carrots, baby carrots if possible, washed and cut into batons
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tso cumin seeds
150ml water
generous pinch of saffron
½ tsp Marigold bouillon powder, or ½ crushed vegetable stock cube
4 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
a dash of Tabasco
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To serve:-
A couple of generous tbsp of natural unsweetened yogurt
Juice of a lemon

Prepare the pilaf ingredients:-
Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with its volume in water. Leave the lid on at all times, the only exception being if you need to add a splash of extra water [as I did]. Bring the water to the boil and immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer for 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand with the lid on for another 8 minutes. This method produces dry rice suitable for the frying to follow.

Meanwhile, cook the frozen broad beans, drain and set aside. Dry toast the almonds in a frying pan without oil, set aside. If, like me, you plan to eat this as a vegetarian main meal rather than a side dish, cook your puy lentils, drain and set aside until you are ready to eat. For the carrots:-
Place the carrots in a large saucepan [I used a deep, wide frying pan with lid] with the olive oil, ground cumin, cumin seeds, water, saffron, bouillon, garlic and Tabasco. Add seasoning as preferred. Toss well so the carrots are well covered with oil, and lay them flat in one layer. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. Try not to lift the lid unless it looks as if it is sticking, if it is just give it a quick stir and replace the lid. If it looks a little dry, add a splash of water. Test with a knife to see if the carrots are ready, they should be covered in the sticky saffron sauce.

Assemble the pilaf:-
In a large wide frying pan, add the olive oil and heat gently. Fry the shallots for about 3 minutes and add the garlic, stirring until they are pale golden. When the shallots are almost cooked, add the cumin seeds [if you forget, as I did, they are fine if added with the rice]. Now, add the cooked rice, broad beans, raisins and lentils [if using]. Return to a gentle heat and stir to combine until thoroughly heated through. This process will take as long as it takes for the carrots to cook.

Serve the rice with the flaked almonds sprinkled on top, with a side of carrots and lemon-flavoured yogurt. What would I do differently next time?
Substitute frozen peas for the frozen broad beans
Stir fresh spinach into the hot rice and allow it to wilt
Substitute chopped dried apricots or dates for the raisins
Substitute a tin of chickpeas for the cooked puy lentils
Serve with braised green beans, cooked in the same way as the carrots
Serve with roasted aubergine, sliced and tossed with olive oil and roasted on a tray in the oven

If you like this, try:-
A courgette and halloumi feast
A cassoulet of aubergines
Asparagus and lemon risotto

5 to remember
dos juntos– two together
un batido– a shake
si parece un poco seco– if it looks a little dry
las semillas de comino – the cumin seeds
sabor a limón– lemon-flavoured

 

This recipe is from ‘The Cranks Bible’ by Nadine Abensur [Weidenfeld & Nicolson]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Moorish rice with saffron braised carrots #Spain #vegetarianfood https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vi via @Spanish_Valley

#Christmas is coming… give someone a signed paperback

Are you planning your Christmas present list yet? If you know an avid reader who loves the touch and smell of real books, why not give them a signed paperback copy of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ or ‘Connectedness’? ChristmasSimply click the link below to order at my website. Payment is quick and secure by PayPal and you can specify your personalised dedication.

It couldn’t be easier! Available in the UK only.

Order ‘Ignoring Gravity’
Order ‘Connectedness’

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Give a signed copy of IGNORING GRAVITY or CONNECTEDNESS as a #Christmasgift https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2wF via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #41

Giant seedhead of the century plant. July 1, 2014

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Giant seedhead of the century plant #Countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bX

The javelina, or is it?

The name of this orphan has caused some confusion. Our neighbour Pablo, whose son stumbled on the baby during a hunting trip in the hills, calls it a javelina. In fact javelina is another name for a peccary, a medium-sized hooved animal, part of the pig family. But the new occupant of the vacant hen house looks more to me as if it is a wild boar piglet, the clue being its distinctive stripes which have faded over the last two to three weeks as it has grown.

I suspect the confusion has arisen because the peccary/javelina is often kept as a pet or raised on farms as a source of food. Needless to say, Pablo had his family have no plans to eat their javelina which at the first opportunity is out of his pen and into the house. Cheeky and curious, when missing he is apparently found most often underneath the bed. No word on their plans for him when he is older!

5 to remember
un huérfano – an orphan
la confusion – the confusion
talla media – medium-sized
enganchado – hooved
distintivo – distinctive


Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife [UK: Collins]

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The javelina: an orphan, now a cheeky addition to ‘la granja’ #nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2nx via @Spanish_Valley