Tag Archives: spanish finca

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

Harissa salmon salad

This recipe can be made two ways: quickly by opening two tins and a jar, or more leisurely by poaching a salmon fillet, making your own harissa paste and cooking lentils. It is a creamy spicy salad which can be made hot hot if preferred by increasing the amount of red chilli added, and can even be served hot in winter.

Serves 4
4 new potatoes, cut into ½ cm dice
1 tin 400g brown lentils
120g 0% fat natural Greek yogurt
1 tbsp harissa chilli paste
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Large handful of fresh parsley [we added fresh chives]
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 200g tin of wild red salmon, flaked [we used freshly poached salmon]
Freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile cook the lentils if using dried, or heat the tinned lentils in a saucepan.

To make the dressing: combine the yogurt with the harissa and garlic.

When you are ready to eat, fold the dressing into the lentils, add the onion, herbs, chilli and potatoes. Season to taste. Spoon into a serving bowl, and scatter salmon flakes over the top.

If you like this, try:-
A Super Green Salad
Smoky Spring Onions and Asparagus with Lime
Cauliflower Salad with Spinach Yogurt

5 to remember
desecado – deseeded
la pasta de harissa – the harissa paste
combinar – to combine
cuando estes listo – when you are ready
dispersar – to scatter

 

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:
Warm & spicy harissa salmon salad #Recipe by @AntonyWT via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27H

Walnuts, almost ready

The walnuts are almost ready, the husks are splitting and the nut is visible inside. They haven’t fallen from the trees yet though, so perhaps there is another week to wait.

Harvesting is simple: just pick them from the ground where they have fallen. To check for ripeness, open a nut: if the tissue between the kernel and the shell is brown, they’re ripe. If a good few have fallen, the rest may fall too if you give the tree a shake [do it the Spanish way and spread an old blanket or sheet on the ground first].

The next step is to remove the husks. Wear gloves to do this, as the tannins will stain your hands brown. Once the husks are removed, wash the shells with a high-pressure hose. Inspect the nuts and discard any with discoloured or cracked shells. Lay them in the sunshine to dry. Before storing, open a few to test for dryness. If you can open the shell easily with a nutcracker, and the nut inside can be broken in two, they are ready to eat.

Walnuts will keep in their shells for several months. If storing the shelled nuts, keep them in an airtight container.

For recipes including walnuts, try:-
Lighter Brownies
Walnut Teabread
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
las cáscaras – the husks
visible – visible
la madurez de – the ripeness of
el núcleo – the kernel
los taninos – the tannins

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #walnuts are almost ready to harvest #nature http://wp.me/p3dYp6-256 via @Spanish_Valley

Abundance in the huerta

The huerta is at its messiest now as unpicked veggies bolt and plants get leggy. There are still veggies to be picked however, tomatoes are lingering beneath heavy branches collapsed onto the earth.

Tomatoes the size of small melons, which make excellent tomato sauce, squirrelled away in the freezer for a winter’s day when we long for the warmth of a summer day. Wrinkled, over-ripe vegetables are piled up, destined for Pablo’s pigs. Once the last vegetable is picked, the huerta will be ploughed into the earth again and so the cycle leading to next summer’s vegetables begins.

5 to remember
en su más sucio – at its messiest
zanquilargo – leggy
arrugado – wrinkled
ser arado – to be ploughed
el ciclo – the cycle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Overflowing with abundance: the veggie patch in September #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27i

After the almond harvest

I didn’t know, did you, that the almond nut is actually called a ‘drupe’ which grows from the tree’s fertilised flowers. The drupe has a leathery hull which surrounds the nut, furry, giving it the look of an unripe peach. When this outer husk dries and splits, it is time to harvest the almonds which for us is August.

I remember our first time in Spain, waking up early one August morning to a knocking sound in the distant hills. Mystified, we got out the binoculars and watched two men in an orchard. They were behaving oddly, knocking the trees with long sticks. I now realize that the method for harvesting almonds is similar to that of olives: spread a tarpaulin or net beneath the tree, whack the tree with a stick so the nuts fall.

Harvest here is over for the year, a few drupes still hang on the trees as a reminder that we missed a few.

Try these recipes featuring almonds:-
Hybrid Crumble
A Super Green Salad
Rice Pudding with Almonds

5 to remember
un casco – a hull
correoso – leathery
es tiempo de – it is time to
los binoculares – the binoculars
desconcertado – mystified

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
After the almond #harvest in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-275