Tag Archives: andalucia

Mini Orange and Almond Wholemeal Bread Cakes

1 Mar

The inspiration for this recipe came from Denise at Bread Expectations. She made cute little sweet bread cakes using Panko breadcrumbs rather than flour and topped them with berries and sugar. This idea really appealed to me as I had just made a huge amount of wholemeal breadcrumbs in my new food processor. I save the ends of the wholemeal bread that I buy and freeze them. My food processor broke ages ago and I have only just replaced it so I had a huge bag full of bread waiting to made into breadcrumbs.

So what do you do with three, one litre ice cream tubs worth of wholemeal breadcrumbs? Well, I used some to make my Veggie Burgers, froze a load and I just had to try these breadcrumb cakes. It seemed like fate. I didn’t have any berries to use but what I do have is oranges. At times it seems like I have the whole of Andalucia’s orange harvest in my kitchen. Not that I’m complaining…..

The trees are beautiful to walk past every day and the oranges I have at the moment that were given to me by Rhian are so sweet and delicious. I want to make the most of them. The other trees that always seem to be growing side by side with the oranges are almonds. They obviously like to be around each other so I need no more inspiration than that……

Also Denise’s recipe called for vanilla extract. I have run out and you have no idea how difficult it is to get vanilla here. You can’t even buy that nasty vanilla essence. So I used almond extract instead and added in some ground almonds for good measure.

These little cakes are made with yeast. Now, me and yeast have issues. As in, it never does it’s thing for me. I called these cakes “mini” because they didn’t rise but I still wanted to share them with you because they are really moist, light & delicious. Denise thinks it may be because of the wholemeal breadcrumbs having less gluten than the white Panko. So, feel free to use panko or homemade white breadcrumbs if you want a rise. (Not the fine store bought kind). Whether they rise for you or not these little sweet bread cakes are definitely worth the risk…..

Mini Orange & Almond Breadcrumb Cakes

makes 12, vegetarian. Adapted from a Bread Expectations recipe

  • 1oo gr soft butter
  • 100 gr caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oranges
  •  a few drops of almond extract
  • 100 gr wholemeal breadcrumbs (or Panko)
  • 50 gr ground almonds
  • 1 packet dried yeast 7 gr
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Butter/oil a muffin tray or use muffin cases. Zest 1 orange. Segment both oranges over a small bowl to catch any juices. First peel the oranges with a knife on a board by cutting off the peel & pith from top to bottom all the way around. Hold the orange over the small bowl and segment the orange by cutting out each segment  in between the membranes. When you have cut out all your segments  and set them aside, squeeze the remaining membranes to release the juice into the bowl.

Add the yeast to the orange juice (there should be about 6 tbsp juice) stir it around and leave for 10 minutes to froth. Cream the softened butter, caster sugar and salt together until light & creamy then beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated each time. Add a few drops of almond extract, 3/4 of the orange zest, the breadcrumbs, ground almonds and the yeast mixture when it’s had 10 minutes. Mix everything together well until you have a sticky, porridge like batter.

Half fill the 12 muffin cups with the mixture, top each with 2 orange segments and sprinkle over the brown sugar and ginger mix. Finally put some of the remaining orange zest on top. Leave the muffin tray in a warm place for an hour or until almost doubled in volume (Hopefully)!

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Bake for 15 -20 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool slightly then remove from the muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.  These little cakes are perfect for afternoon tea. So get out your best china tea set dust them with icing sugar and invite your friends round for a chat..

You can ask them how they get on with yeast……..!

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies at The Lakes

21 Feb

Wholemeal cookies taste really good and they are healthier. Don’t kid yourself though there’s still butter and sugar in there but chocolate is an antioxidant so that makes up for it – sort of!!  These were part of a picnic we took the lakes at El Chorro yesterday.

 Half an hour away at  Malaga Airport, millions of tourists arrive every year and get on a coach to Marbella or Fuengirola to spend a week or two on the Costa del Sol and fly home again completely unaware that this exists. Whether this is a great oversight by the Andalucian Tourist Board or whether they are purposefully keeping it a secret I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame them. At this time of year it is all but deserted except at the weekends when a few Malaguenos bring a picnic or some meat to barbeque.

It does get busier in the summer when we all escape the heat of the city or towns to swim in these freshwater lakes. There are campsites, picnic areas, public barbeques, canoeing, pedalos, and fantastic walks. It is great for kids and adults alike there’s something for everyone. Whether you like to do a lot or very little,  you can find your perfect spot here……

The colours are amazing. The bright turquoise of the lakes contrasting with the dusky pink terracotta soil and green patchwork landscape take your breath away every time you come. You never quite believe it’s real. 

The geology is stunning too. The Washer Up tells me this is sandstone (he studied Geology at university). Is it just me or does this (above) remind you of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona? You know the curved balconies?

The thing is they are not actually lakes. They are man-made reservoirs. Franco flooded the whole area, including some villages, to create the water reservoirs for Malaga. How something so beautiful can be man-made doesn’t make sense to me. Especially made by that man. It must have been the best thing he ever did…..

Anyway we found our picnic table with a view (above) and sat down to make our egg salad sandwiches…

If you want to know how to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg see my instructions here…..

Then we shared a cookie before going for walk around the lake and finding a sheltered sunny spot to read the paper. Does a Sunday get any better than that? I don’t think so, the cookies are pretty near perfect too….

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

makes 18 – 24, vegetarian.  Adapted from a Culinate recipe

  • 380 gr wholemeal flour (I used self-raising because that was all I had and 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225 gr cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 140 gr brown sugar
  • 200 gr caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 gr plain chocolate (70%) roughly chopped into 1 cm chunks
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sieve the flour, baking powders and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl or food processor on low whisk/mix together the butter & sugars until blended, about 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is combined. Mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again.

Add 3/4 of the chopped chocolate & hazelnuts to the mix saving the rest for the tops. Mix until evenly distributed.  Take a heaped tablespoon of the batter and put it onto the lined baking sheet, pressing it down slightly. Leave about a 3 inch gap between each cookie, they spread like mad. You should only have about 6 cookies per sheet or they will all blend into each other. Sprinkle a little of the leftover chocolate & hazelnuts on top of each cookie and press in lightly. Put one sheet in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third. Bake for 10 minutes then swap the baking sheets around (top to bottom etc) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven & leave to cool on a rack on the baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

These cookies are deliciously special enough to serve as a dessert, warm and chewy, straight out of the oven with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream melting on top. Or leave to cool, store in an airtight container and they will firm up to a more crunchy everyday cookie.

Share them with friends or do like the Andalucian Tourist Board and make them your best kept secret……

Buen Provecho!

Local Goat’s Cheese and Pear Salad with toasted almonds and rosemary honey dressing

31 Jan

 

Today while walking the dog I walked past lettuces, Romaine, Lollo Rosso and Cos …

Almond trees with their beautiful barely pink blossom….

A bee on wild rosemary flowers…..

Some unexpected pears amongst the ever present mandarins……..

And some goats which reminded of my visit to the local Goat’s Cheese producer “El Pastor del Valle”….

 This just shows how my mind works and proves that I am thinking about food all the time. While I am walking the inspiration and ideas come from all around me and somehow work themselves out into a finished dish….

This salad can be served for lunch or as a starter. It would also work as a dessert/cheese course after a meal or with drinks. Just arrange the pears, cheese, almonds and honey on a board with some biscuits and let everyone help themselves. The flavour combination of sour sharp goat’s cheese, sweet honey, juicy pears and crunchy almonds is a lovely alternative to the Stilton, Pear & Walnut classic….

Goat’s Cheese & Pear Salad with Toasted Almonds and Rosemary Honey Dressing

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
  • about 150gr goat’s cheese (I used a hard goat’ cheese but you can use a soft rind) sliced
  • a handful of toasted almonds, plus extra for garnish
  • some mixed lettuce leaves (a big handful each)
  •  about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 tbsp sherry (Jerez) vinegar (or balsamic)
  • 2 tbsp rosemary honey (just use normal honey and add about 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary if you don’t have any)
  • salt & pepper
  • rosemary flowers to garnish (if you can find some) but not too many they are very strong

Wash & pick your salad leaves and put them in a large bowl with the sliced pears, cheese and toasted almonds. Pour the olive oil, vinegar and rosemary honey into a small bowl and whisk together well. Season with salt & pepper and taste, you can add more oil/vinegar/honey to your taste. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss together with your hands. Pile onto your serving plate(s), add a few rosemary flowers onto the cheese & pears and top with some more toasted almonds…

 It really is that simple, enjoy!!

    

“Goatherd’s” Pie – A lentil bake topped with local goat’s cheese mash

21 Jan

This is my vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie. For those of you who don’t know, Shepherd’s Pie is a British dish made with minced lamb (hence the shepherd) and vegetables topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven. It is classic, British, cold weather comfort food.  I have replaced the minced lamb with lentils and put some goat’s cheese through the mash. The idea came from seeing these goats and sheep grazing together while I was walking the dog…..

They like to eat trees….

I remembered that there is a local goat’s & sheep’s cheese producer in Alhaurin, where we live, that I have been meaning to check out for a while.

“The Shepherd of the Valley Cheeses”

I was greeted by this dog as I got out of the car. If by greeting  you mean, barking constantly, following me and trying to bite me as I left. But don’t let that put you off. They have great selection of goat’s and sheep’s cheeses, just ring on the bell…

I bought this hard goat’s cheese (it looks like Manchego) which is delicious. Every goat’s cheese I’ve bought before has been the soft rind kind that is sold in supermarkets. This is quite different and a nice change. It is quite crumbly and the flavour is sharper than a sheep’s or cow’s milk Manchego.

They also have a goat’s Requeson which is a type of ricotta that I am looking forward to trying next time I go. I will try to take some more pictures then and I would like to have a proper tour of the factory when I’m not being chased by a big dog……

“Goatherd’s” Pie Recipe

serves 4-5, vegetarian

  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled & quartered
  • about 75ml goat’s milk
  • 75-100 gr goat’s cheese, grated or crumbled plus extra for topping
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 big, red (or not) onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks & leaves, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a large sweet potato (or 2 carrots) diced
  • 5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • about 175 gr (1 cup) uncooked brown lentils
  • 400 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • 200 ml (1 cup) water
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh/dried thyme leaves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp or more of tomato passata (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp english mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • breadcrumbs (I used toasted garlic breadcrumbs)
  • grated/crumbled goat’s cheese
  • olive oil

Put the potatoes in cold salted water, bring up to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Heat up the goat’s milk and pour it onto the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher until smooth, stir in the goats cheese and season well with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning/add more cheese. Set aside.

Rinse the lentils in a sieve and pick out any stones. Put them in a small pan with the veg stock and water, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a deep pan, over a medium heat and throw in the onions, celery, sweet potato/ carrots and season well with salt & black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and sweet potato have softened then add the garlic, herbs & spices. Stir everything together until well combined. If it dries out at any stage add a splash of wine or veg stock.  Preheat the oven to 200C. Add the mushroom, peas, tomato passata/frito, Worcestershire sauce & mustard to the vegetables.  Lower the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring, adding more tomato passata if it’s looking dry. When the lentils are cooked tip them into the veg saucepan, combine everything well, check for seasoning and pour into a baking dish.

Top with the mashed potato, spread it out evenly, sprinkle/crumble over the goat’s cheese, then the breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 35 minutes until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling around the edge..

Serve with a green salad for lunch or for something more substantial steam some broccoli and serve it with some veggie gravy on the side…

Maybe I should take some for that dog next time….

Buen Provecho!

Beautiful Almond Blossom and Amaretti Biscuits

18 Jan

You can tell that Spring is just around the corner when the almond trees start blossoming. All of a sudden from nothing and out of nowhere they are everywhere. Beautiful candy floss trees with their barely pink flowers brighten the landscape with hints of pink fairy dust….

 Each tree has its own personality and unique beauty….

Closer up the blossoms are white with fuchsia pink centres and the nut grows underneath it…

With all this inspiration I had to make something with almonds. Something delicate, beautiful & light to match the almond blossoms. These  biscuits are not strictly speaking ” Amaretti ” biscuits they are called Ricciarelli. A deliciously light, moist almondy biscuit from Siena, flavoured with orange zest. The lightness comes from them being made with ground almonds, sugar &  egg white. There is no flour or butter in this recipe…..

Ricciarelli (Almond Biscuits from Siena)

Adapted from  The Travelers Lunchbox  Recipe

Makes about 16, vegetarian

  • 150 gr ground almonds
  • 140 gr caster sugar
  • about 75 gr icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • the zest of  1 orange
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  •  about 1 tsp orange juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sieve the ground almonds into a bowl to get rid of any big lumps. Mix in the caster sugar, 50 gr of the icing sugar, the baking powder and orange zest until well combined. Beat the egg white in a clean bowl to soft peaks then stir it into the almond mixture. Mash everything with a wooden spoon, add the almond extract and the orange juice and mix it all together until you have an almondy paste like in this photo below.

Put the remaining icing sugar on a small plate (you may need more). Take out a small amount of the paste and roll it into a ball, in the palm of your hand, about the size of a walnut. Roll it slightly to form an oval (almond) shape and roll it in the icing sugar, flattening it out slightly. Put it on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the almond paste leaving enough room in between each one for them to spread a little.

Sieve over the rest of the icing sugar and leave at room temperature to dry out for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. They will still be meltingly soft in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving and store in an airtight container.

Serve after dinner with coffee or as an afternoon sweet treat..

These are the best almond biscuits I have ever tasted. Moist and chewy in the middle like a marzipan melting moment. They are really easy to make too. Everyone would be really impressed if you were to make these for a dinner party and they would also make lovely gifts. Just remember about the drying time of 2 hours, it may seem like a pain. I can’t stand waiting either, especially for these, but they are definitely worth the wait…..!

Christmas Carbicide and Boxing Day Bubble…

29 Dec

On Christmas Eve we walked up to these rocks….

Then the Washer Up made his amazing vegeatble sushi rolls stuffed with omelette, carrot, spring onion & spinach which we served with sushi ginger, wasabi paste & soy sauce… yum!

Followed by a spicy miso noodle broth with pak choi & shitake mushrooms..

And then we played cards..with the cat!

On Christmas morning we walked up to our favourite hilltop retreat and ate mince pies..

From there we could see this waterfall on the mountain over the other side of the valley and decided to walk there on Boxing day… more of that “adventure” later…!

Our Christmas Dinner was “Potatoes Four Ways” also known as “Christmas Carbicide!”..

This consisted of (clockwise from bottom right) Dauphinoise Potatoes, Potato Fondant, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Mash & Polenta Encrusted Roast Potatoes. As you can imagine I have only just emerged from my carb induced coma.. The stuffing on top is Sage & Onion. I think my favourite was the Potato Fondant which is a disc of potato cooked slowly in butter & stock.  We served this with roasted shallots, peas & green beans with garlic & ground almonds..

This was all covered with “purple” gravy (don’t ask- it was red onion gravy but I blitzed it so it was purple!) nice…
We had red wine with dinner which was probably not a good idea, the Washer Up is not good on red wine…

So it was with a hangover on Boxing Day morning that we embarked on our trip to the faraway waterfall…. We parked at Barranco Blanco and took some pictures of the lovely waterfall there….

We couldn’t get down to the bottom because of all the water but you can see some more pictures I took there earlier in the year here.

We set off on the path around the valley and looked back at our favourite hilltop, where we walked to on Christmas day..

We passed another small waterfall on the mountain path before we went “off road”….

So, The Washer Up said it would only take us about 20 minutes off the path to reach the waterfall. Needless to say we ended up on a steep incline head height in thorn bushes with no idea how to get out! It was impossible to reach the waterfall through all the spikey bush but we got near enough to take this photo. There were three levels of waterfall..

It was pretty scary trying to find our way back to the path, but we haven’t given up. Next time we are going to go along the river bed at the bottom and see if we can reach it from that direction….

By the time we arrived back at home we had been out for about 3 1/2 hours so we were starving. What was in the fridge? Leftover potatoes and veg from our Christmas dinner. So it had to be Bubble & Squeak with a Fried Egg…

Put all of your leftover potatoes (mash & roasts) in to a bowl with the leftover veg and stuffing and mash with a potato masher. Shape into a ball and place a slice/chunk of goat’s cheese in the middle roll it up again to seal it and shape into patties.
Sprinkle some flour/breadcrumbs/polenta on a plate and lightly coat the patties to give it a nice crust. Fry in hot butter & olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side (turn them over when browned). When they are nearly cooked crack two egs into the same pan and cook until just set.
Serve the Bubble & Squeak straight away topped with the fried egg (and some HP sauce!). The addition of the goat’s cheese is a Nigel Slater idea. I’ve never tried it before. It’s lovely when you cut into the Bubble & Squeak and the cheese oozes out. With that and the soft egg yolk …..heaven!!
Hope you enjoyed your Christmas too xx

Andalucian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and a tricolor salad)

8 Dec

We have picked up our bottles of the olive oil we helped to harvest here a few weeks ago and it is amazing. The flavour is so far superior to that of anything I have ever bought, I want to put it on everything. Its viscous, cloudy, golden greenness is a joy to behold. I think  that this olive oil and the bouganvilla flower should become the emblems of Andalucia, they represent the beauty and flavour of the region perfectly..

And I’m going to put it on an Italian salad! Oh well, these are the ingredients I have in my possesion: avocadoes (loads of them -windfalls!), juicy Spanish tomatoes (full of flavour right now), mozzarella cheese & our homegrown basil. What would you do?!

Andalucian Tricolor Salad

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 large spanish tomato, sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella, sliced
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil (Andalucian preferably!)
  • Jerez- sherry vinegar (or balsamic)
  • salt & black pepper

Alternate the slices of tomato & mozzarella around the plate and top with the avocado slices in the centre. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt & sherry vinegar and tear over some fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the olive oil generously over the salad and crack over some black pepper..

Serve with some rustic toasted bread drizzled with more healthy, fabulous olive oil… Enjoy!!

Keralan Soft Boiled Egg and Aubergine Curry

4 Dec

Kerala is one of those places I dream of visiting. An Ayurvedic retreat specialising in vegetarian food near the tea & cardamom plantations would be perfect. A place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, somewhere like this…

Until that time comes I am happy to cook my own versions of Keralan dishes from home and use my walking as a means of rejuvenation. Today we walked to the top of a hill  I had been intrigued by for a while. It has some trees and what looks like a retreat or chapel at the top and I wanted to walk up there..

We had to walk up hill through the pine forest to get to the fire break, which is what looks like the path from down below.

When we got out of the forest about half way up we could see Alhaurin(the town where we live) and the snow on the mountains in the distance.Nearer the top we could see over the other side down to the coast and the sea. This is the Costa del Sol seen from the other side. The side that most tourists never see….

At the top was a deserted building that looks like it  is used for observation or maybe a forest warden’s office.

Whatever its use is, it is now our own private hilltop retreat! It’s free and the views are priceless…

It’s not Kerala but we can walk there in an hour and stay as long as we like….

I think this will be the first of many times that we will find ourselves at this sheltered hilltop retreat, but next time we will take a picnic, we were starving by the time we  had walked home. Definitely in the mood for a Keralan curry…

 Keralan Egg & Aubergine Curry Recipe

serves 2 or 3  vegetarian

  • 1 large aubergine cut into quarters, lengthways and chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 2 or 3 large eggs (1 egg per person)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • oil for frying (coconut oil would be good)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  •  2 cardamom pods (crush and use the seeds)
  • 250ml -500ml veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or jaggery)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • salt & black pepper

*Punch pooran is a spice mix made with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds. fennel seeds & fenugreek seeds. You can get it from Indian supermarkets or from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion & spices. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens then add the chilli, ginger & garlic. Mix everything together adding a little veg stock to stop it drying out. Add the aubergine chunks, stir to coat them in the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes until the aubergines begin to soften & brown slightly. Season well with salt & black pepper. Add the chopped tomato, vinegar, tamarind & sugar, stir and add about 250 ml of the veg stock. Cook gently for about 15 – 20 minutes until the aubergines are really tender and the sauce has reduced. You can add more veg stock if it seems too dry. Stir in fresh coriander and check seasoning.

Meanwhile put a small pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling turn it down slightly and cook the eggs in the boiling water for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwys.

Serve the aubergine curry topped with the soft boiled eggs and some extra chopped coriander.

I served this curry with some onion seed flatbreads see recipe here and a dollop of  Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh mint & lemon juice. Some coconut and cardamom infused rice would be lovely too.

The combination of the sweet, spicy aubergines with the texture of the perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg is so lovely, you wonder why you have never tried it before. It may sound strange but it is really delicious.. Enjoy!!

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

29 Nov

 

This is a very common site here in Andalucia at the moment. The iconic orange trees laden with ripe fruit are everywhere. We took a right where we normally go straight on, on our walk today and came across a gorgeous lush green valley where these mandarin trees were growing. We followed the steep path down to the river bed where the dog had a drink and we had a rest before the the long walk back uphill…

There was a different microclimate down near the river to what we are used to. A different smell of damp leaves and there was even some diamond-like dew on the leaves. I haven’t seen dew since I left England and was really amazed with the diamonds….

Even the flowers are mandarin coloured its like the whole valley is bathed in lush green with highlights of tangerine..

The mandarins are being given away or, even worse, rotting on the ground. We have a mountain of them in our fruit bowl and although they are sweet and delicious as they are I wanted to try a Nigella recipe I had seen for a clementine cake where you boil the whole fruit and then blitz it up with the rest of the ingredients. This recipe uses 4 or 5 clementines/mandarins and as we have many more I wanted to make a mandarin syrup to drizzle over it so it soaks into the cake to make it really moist….

This cake is made using ground almonds rather than flour which makes it even more moist and gluten free.

Mandarin Drizzle Cake

adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • 4 or 5 mandarins/clementines (about 375gr total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225gr sugar
  • 25o gr ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

For the syrup

  • 110gr caster sugar
  • 110 ml mandarin juice

Put the mandarins in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook over a lowish heat for 2 hours. Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary. (Don’t do what I did and leave the water to dry out while on the computer and burn the bottom of the pan & the mandarins!!)

Drain and leave to cool slightly then cut in half and remove the pips and any green stem bits on the outside. Put the halved mandarins(peel & everything) into a food processor and blitz. You can then add all the other cake ingredients to the food processor and blitz together. Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

Butter a 21 cm springform cake tin and put a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Have a circle of foil ready to cover the top after about 40 minutes to stop it burning. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for about 10 minutes on a rack.

Meanwhile make your syrup. Put the sugar & mandarin juice in a small saucepan over a low ish heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Take a cocktail stick or wooden skewer and make lots of holes in the cake that go right to the bottom.

Spoon the syrup, carefully,all over the top of the cake letting it soak in until you have used all of the syrup. When the cake is cold you can remove it from the tin.

This is a deliciously moist cake with an intense mandarin flavour and aroma. Serve, as it is, with coffee or with some ice cream or creme fraiche as a dessert…

The Day We Helped With The Olive Harvesting

16 Nov

Our friends Andrew & Margarita have an olive grove. Some of the trees are really old and some of them they have planted themselves 10 years ago “to fill in the gaps”. About this time every year they ask for volunteers to help with the olive harvesting and in return you receive a bottle of gorgeous green, organic, first press olive oil that you helped to harvest. How fabulous is that!

This is one of the older trees, isn’t it beautiful? Apparently you can tell the age of an olive tree by counting the number of people who can stand around its base holding hands. Its 100 years for every person. Some of these trees are over 500 years old. You can understand the great sense of privilege & responsibility Andrew & Margarita feel to be looking after these trees. Most of the trees they have are of the “Manzanilla” variety.

This is our friend Chris and Rufus walking down to the olive grove. Look at the view, and we had perfect weather for it, such a beautiful day..

There are two main ways to harvest the olives. The first way we used for the trees with less olives was with a kind of bib/basket hanging round your neck to catch the olives as you pick them with your hands.

Here I am with Rufus modelling the olive catcher..!!

This is The Washer Up, Chris & Ole demonstrating the other method, for trees with more olives. A large net is placed on the ground around the trunk of the olive tree to catch all the olives as you rake them off the branches.

The olives fall onto the net and, when the whole tree has been harvested, the net is collected up, so that the olives are all in one area.

This is The Washer Up with Andrew picking out any twigs and leaves from the olives..

The olives are then tipped into crates. I love the colours, you just don’t expect olives to be so bright and candy coloured..

The Washer Up, up the tree to get the highest olives down with the little rake.

At 2 pm Margarita prepared a lovely lunch for everyone which included an Olive Tapenade aperitivo which was delicious. I don’t usually like tapenade (or olives!) but this was really good, it tasted  more like a pesto because of all the fresh herbs she used in it.

Margarita always serves a jug of water with fresh mint from their garden which I think is a beautiful idea, one I will be using in the future definitely!

Margaritas Black Olive Tapenade

  • prepared black olives
  • garlic
  • lots of fresh herbs (margarita used basil and sage I think)
  • fish sauce (or salt)
  • really good olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or use a stick blender and pulse until smooth- ish. I haven’t included measurements for this recipe as I don’t know them and anyway I think that tapenade, like pesto, is one of those recipes that you feel & taste as you go along and create to your own taste.

Here is Margarita and the rest of  “The Olive Harvesters” enjoying a fabulous lunch on the sunny terrace. As well as the tapenade Margarita cooked a lovely Pumpkin, Chickpea & Acelgas Stew using the pumpkin & acelgas (chard) from their vegetable plot. The pumpkin she used was a variety called “Onion” beacuse that’s what it looks like. It has a bright orange flesh and delicious texture and flavour when cooked. She added a little pimenton picante (hot paprika) to spice it up a little which was perfect.

For dessert we had some fresh Moscatel grapes from the vine. The grapes have been covered in newspaper to protect them from flies etc.

The grapes were sweet and delicious, the perfect end to a lovely lunch and a brilliant day, thanks Andrew & Margarita. I can’t wait to try the olive oil that we helped to harvest, expect lots of dishes using extra virgin olive oil coming up ..!

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