Tag Archives: spanish finca

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

Through the year: the walnut tree

For a year I have taken photographs of the big walnut tree closest to the house, watching its transition through the seasons. Each month brings something different, something to enjoy about the way nature reminds us life is cyclical. Heat, rain, sun, frost, drought, hail, wind, whatever is thrown at this tree it follows its seasonal progress. And I find that reassuring.

January-March
Bare limbs, yellow and green shadows, silvered bark, smashed walnuts trodden underfoot…

April -May
New life, green leaves, baby walnuts, blue sky, a flash of orange pomegranate flowers…

June-July
Dappled shade, woodpeckers drumming, walnuts fattening…

August-September
Summer’s end, autumn heralded, green leaves powdered with August dust, walnut shells hardening…

October-December
Leaves yellowing, drying and falling, walnuts gathered, shells broken underfoot. The annual cycle begins again.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
proclamar – to herald/proclaim/announce
moteado – dappled/mottled/speckled
en polvo con – powdered with
anual – annual
el ciclo – the cycle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Through the year: the big walnut #tree #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2cK via @Spanish_Valley

Little squash cakes with a kick

These little squash cakes are a great recipe to have on stand-by as they are easy to make and can be adapted into infinitesimal variations. The butternut squash can be swapped for sweet potato. Thinly sliced red onions can be used instead of spring onions. Swap the plain flour for gram flour and they become gluten-free. Serve with tomato salad, as we did, for a light summer lunch. Eat any leftovers for breakfast, topped with a fried egg. Izy Hossack, whose recipe it is, suggests serving it with a tahini dressing [the recipe for which is below] but we had a jar of home-made harissa paste in the fridge so combined a spoonful of that with a spoonful of natural yogurt to add another layer of spice.

Makes 6-8 cakes
For the tahini dressing:-
2 tbsp tahini
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
For the cakes:-
200g butternut squash [about a 1/3 of a small one], peeled
2 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled
3 tbsp plain flour
2 spring onions
½ red chilli, very finely chopped [or ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes]
Olive oil or rapeseed oil for cooking.

To make the dressing, put all ingredients into a screw-top jar with a pinch of salt. Put on the lid and shake. Set aside. This will keep in the fridge, in the sealed jar, for up to a week.

To make the squash cakes, first grate the peeled butternut squash and potato. Place in the centre of a muslin square or a clean tea towel. Gather up the corners to make a bundle, then squeeze over the sink to expel as much liquid as possible.

Place the squeezed squash and potato into a bowl. Add the flour, spring onion, chilli and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, combine it together. Form six little cake by flattening each mound with the back of a spoon.

Coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with a thin layer of oil, and set over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cakes. Cook until they are a dark golden colour and crispy underneath. Using a spatula, flip them over and cook on the other side until golden.

Transfer onto a plate, lined with kitchen paper, while you cook the remaining cakes.

Serve with the tahini dressing and your own choice of salad.

Eat the leftovers with a fried egg. If you like this, try these:-
A Stew with Fresh Thyme
Poor Man’s Potatoes
Cheesy Nutty Herby Mushrooms

5 to remember
infinitesimal – infinitesimal
los restos – the leftovers
hasta – untilpor otro lado – on the other sideuna espátula – a spatula

 

This recipe is from The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack, click here for more of her recipes.
‘The Savvy Cook’ by Izy Hossack [UK: Mitchell Beazley]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Little squash cakes with a chilli kick #Recipe by @izyhossack #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ca

Is it a soup? Is it a stew?

It’s pistou. A kind of main meal version of the Italian soup minestrone. The name comes from the sauce, drizzled over the top before eating. Pistou is similar to pesto, but without the pine nuts, and adds a kick of fresh green intensity.

Serve it in a deep bowl and eat with a spoon. Ultimate comfort food. It is very forgiving. Adapt the ingredients according to what is in the cupboard or the fridge. I forgot to buy green beans and courgettes, so added more carrots and frozen peas. Try it with different beans, red kidney beans turns the soup a darker red.

Serves 4
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 leeks, roughly chopped
4 new potatoes, roughly diced
2 carrots, sliced
1.3 litres vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato puree
2 courgettes, thickly sliced
85g French beans, cut into 1cm pieces
50g frozen peas
1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 400g tin flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pistou sauce:-
4 garlic cloves
40g Parmesan, grated
14 fresh Basil leaves Heat half the oil in a large saucepan then add the onions and leeks. Cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, carrots, stock, bay leaves, tomatoes and tomato puree and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the courgettes, French beans, frozen peas and tinned beans. Return to the boil, cook for a further five minutes. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, make the pistou. With a hand blender, or in a pestle and mortar, blend the garlic, Parmesan and basil with the remaining oil. If it is thick, add a touch of water to loosen into a smooth paste.

Serve, with a small dollop of pistou on top. If you like this, try:-
Salt Cod Fritters
Blue Cheese Coleslaw 
Cauliflower Salad with Spinach Yogurt

5 to remember
una versión de – a version of
es parecido a – is similar to
según – according to
me olvidé de comprar – I forgot to buy
un montón de – a dollop of

 

This recipe is by TV chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson.
‘The Essential Diabetes Cookbook’ by Antony Worrall Thompson [UK: Kyle Books]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pistou, made in #Spain, a French #recipe by @AntonyWT http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dm via @Spanish_Valley

Caqui, on and off the tree

The calix is the most distinctive part of the caqui/persimmon/sharon fruit, staying attached to the fruit after harvesting and remaining on the ground after the rest of the fruit has been eaten or decayed. In botanical terms, the fruit is actually a berry [as is the tomato] and has a high glucose content. Some fruits are more astringent than others, containing a high level of tannins, but it is these fruits, unpalatable when under-ripe, which are the sweetest when fully-ripe. If you can lift the calix away easily, the fruit is ready for eating. If you want to speed up the ripening process, try wrapping the fruit in paper and putting in the sun for several days.

5 to remember
el calix – the calix
adjunto/a – attached
más distintivo/a – most distinctive
un alto contenido de glucosa – a high glucose content
astringente – astringent

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Caqui, on & off the tree: persimmon #trees in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1R3