Tag Archives: Spain

Baked eggs in magical mushrooms

I love these one dish baked suppers. This one can be prepared in advance and cooked later and is made of mostly store cupboard ingredients. It also performs a magic trick on cheap supermarket mushrooms by serving them in a dense rich tomato sauce. I added some additional spices to add flavour, rather than heat, and a jar of chickpeas for protein. Eat with a spoon and bread to mop up the sauce and yolk. This is great to make ahead and keep in the fridge, then put in the oven when you are ready to eat. If you make this early to cook later, remember to allow a little more time in the oven. Always taste and test before serving, and check in the centre to ensure it is full heated through.

Serves 4, or two very hungry people
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed [I didn’t have seeds so I used 1 tsp ground coriander]
2 tsp tomato paste
½ tsp thyme leaves [I used dried]
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp olive oil
25g sultanas
20g pine nuts [I used chopped almonds]
Juice of ½ lemon
250g button mushrooms, quartered
4 eggs [I used two]
1 tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
I added:-
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp pimenton dulce
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
In a saucepan place the tomatoes, coriander, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, oil and additional spices [if using]. Season with black pepper. Add 150ml water and simmer gently for 8 minutes. Increase the heat then add the sultanas, pine nuts, lemon juice, mushrooms and chickpeas [if using]. Cook for a further 5 minutes. If you are cooking later, halt the process here.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 5. Spoon the mushroom mixture into individual ramekins [if using, or into a wide baking dish]. Make a well in the mixture for each egg.

Break an egg into each hole, then top each egg with a spoonful of yogurt. Bake for 9 minutes if the mixture is hot, or 12 minutes if cold. I baked mine straight away and it was happy in the oven for almost 30 minutes, though the sauce did bubble over so I was glad I had put the baking dish on a baking tray. Next time I will:-
Leave out the fresh tomatoes and just use tinned chopped tomatoes
Use finely chopped fresh thyme
Serve with toasted sourdough bread rubbed with fresh garlic

If you like this, try:-
Moorish rice with saffron braised carrots
Herby baked halloumi with tapenade
Baked pesto and tomato pasta

5 to remember
un truco de magia  – a magic trick
una cucharada de yogurt – a spoonful of yogurt
un ramekin – a ramekin
si vas a cocinar mas tarde – if you are cooking later
a la próxima, lo hare – next time I will

 

This recipe is by TV chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson Amazon

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Baked eggs in magic mushrooms #Recipe by @AntonyWT #veggiefood https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2wK via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Black Wheatear

If we want to find a Black Wheatear here, we look around rough, stony ground and quite often spot one at the base of sheer cliffs. This mostly black bird is often hidden in the shade of boulders and scree slopes, but is resident here and we regularly see one in the valley. Its song is a beautiful whistling ‘pewp’ and harder ‘tet-tet’, but in flight it becomes a pleasant twittering sound.

The Black Wheatear seems to prefer the ground where it leaps and hops, foraging for insects. It even nests on the ground in a grassy cup in a hole in the ground, in a vacant rabbit burrow, in a stone wall or beneath rocks on a slope. It appears mostly black, but when in flight it is possible to glimpse its large white rump and tail.

Although the Wheatear has struggled in Northern Europe, here in Spain the Black Wheatear is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018.
Listen to the song of the Black Wheatear at Xeno-Canto.

5 to remember
a la sombra de las rocas – in the shade of boulders
una madriguera de conejo vacante – a vacant rabbit burrow
es posible vislumbrar – it is possible to glimpse
menor preocupación – least concern
especies amenazadas – threatened species

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackcap
Cetti’s Warbler
Robin

 

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Black Wheater? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xA via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Green #23

A fresh green wildflower growing amongst stones. A Euphorbia. March 16, 2013

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Euphorbia: a fresh green wildflower growing amongst stones #garden #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2c6

Fill your #Kindle with ebooks – why not try the Identity Detective series

No exciting books under the Christmas tree? Are you bored already? Fill your #Kindle with new ebooks by authors new to you. Or start that book you’ve been meaning to read and haven’t got around to buying? Or try the Identity Detective series.Identity DetectiveSo what’s my ‘Identity Detective’ series all about?
Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. And each new challenge makes Rose re-live her own adoption story, each birth mother and father, adopted child, and adoptive parent she talks to, reminds her of her own birth mother Kate. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother, her hopes and anxieties, her guilt and fear, and her longing to see her baby again.

Here’s what some readers said about ‘Ignoring Gravity’ 5* “Ignoring Gravity is a very enjoyable read from beginning to end. The warm story will tear at your heart strings one moment, and make you smile the next.”
5* “I gave Ignoring Gravity 5 stars out of 5 for being a thought-provoking read on a sensitive and sometimes difficult subject. Knowing who you are and where you came from is important whether you are adopted or not.”
5* “This book genuinely surprised me. Reading the first couple of pages I almost put it down but I am really glad I didn’t make that mistake because as it drew me in I found it increasingly difficult to stop reading. I love books about secrets and this was no exception.”
Amazon UK 
Amazon USA

 … and about ‘Connectedness’ Sandra Danby5* “This is a novel that I found hard to put down as it swept me along on a roller-coaster of an emotional ride. I had to pull myself together not to burst into tears. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a very well-written story about a family saga.”
4* “This novel is deftly plotted with vivid characters and a mesmerizing story. I truly loved the way Justine’s past was woven into her present, reminding us that we are all, like her art, collages made from the memories and experiences we pick up on our travels and via the people we meet.”
5* “A beautiful book on so many levels. The title and the stunning cover drew me in and the prologue took my breath away. I had to read on to know why, what, who. I felt for Justine – her ache, angst, grief, her quest for answers – all so realistic, so sensitively portrayed.”
Amazon UK
Amazon USA 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Fill your #Kindle with ebooks – why not try the Identity Detective #saga series https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xq via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Blue #29

Wild borage is flowering at every corner of the valley. May 17, 2014 

I use this book to help identify wildflowers in the secret valley… Common Wildflowers of Spain by Austen Colwell. Amazon UK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Wild borage = everywhere in May #Wildflowers #Andalucia https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xv via @Spanish_Valley 

Fifty Shades of White #8

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

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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

SaveSave

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