Beautiful Bakewell Cake

The 23rd April, the day before we left for our whirlwind trip to the UK, was St George´s Day. Yes, he who slayed the dragon and is the Patron Saint of England despite not having a very clear connection to my place of birth. Although this is not typically celebrated as special day in England, I decided to make something to remind me of it in honour of the day.

A traditional Bakewell Tart consists of a pastry base with a jam and sponge filling with almonds and may well have originated in the town of Bakewell in England. I´d be happy to be enlightened. The version of this delicious dessert is a cake and was inspired by a BBC Good Food recipe. As ever, I had to adapt!

Ingredients

  • 140g finely ground almonds
  • 140g softened butter
  • 140g caster sugar (the recipe calls for golden caster sugar)
  • 140g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • About 5 tablespoons of strawberry jam (this was my main change as the recipe calls for 250g fresh raspberries)
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and base-line and grease a deep 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Blitz the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla extract in a food processor until well combined.

Spread half the mix over the cake tin and smooth over the top. Scatter the raspberries over (I spooned over the jam) , then dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and roughly spread – you might find this easier to do with your fingers. Scatter with flaked almonds and bake for 50 mins until golden. Cool in the tin then remove and dust with icing sugar to serve.

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Habas con Jamon – Broad Beans with Cured Ham

Now, if there was a prize for the least photogenic dish in the world, this one would be up there with the final contenders. It´s a very simple and tasty dish, especially made with the young tender broad beans which are in season right now. Our vegetable patch is delivering nicely and I make these regularly.

And then I take a photo. But to no avail. Broad beans braised slowly for about 30 minutes just don´t look pretty. You have the photos to prove it here. Sigh. If only they were as photogenic as Roger´s beautiful beetroot. But what they lack in looks, they make up for in taste, you´ll just have to believe me on this.

It´s quite a versatile dish – it is served here as a tapas, a side dish or with fried or poached eggs as a light supper dish. It can also be mixed into beaten eggs and made into a tortilla or huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs).

Ingredients

  • 500g of young broad beans (podded, but keep the skins and slice them into 1cm pieces)
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • About 6 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced lengthways in half
  • 100g of finely chopped jamon (or use lardons or pancetta)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Sweet pimentón (optional)

The Spanish way of making this dish is to braise the onion, garlic and beans (pods and skins) in olive oil until tender. It does taste wonderful but this is how I do it.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and  add the bean pods and skins and cook for about 4-5 minutes until just starting to become tender. Drain. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a deep frying pan that has a lid (or that you can cover with foil) and gently poach the onions and garlic (with the lid on) until they are soft.

Another dish..another day...and no, still not pretty!

Now add the beans and continue to cook gently, stirring to mix the beans into the oil every so often, with the pan covered. They will simmer and braise until very tender. Near the end of the cooking time add the jamon which will also cook through. I also like to add a sprinkle of pimentón when I add the jamon, but this is not typical. Taste and season if necessary and serve hot or cold.

For a similar dish using runner beans, take a look at this recipe.

Big Man and I are heading to the UK tomorrow. We have packed our umbrella as I think we have a few rainy days awaiting us. I won´t have access to e-mail but I look forward to catching up with you all next week – hope it´s a good one for everyone!

Going to the Wedding Dress 2

Sewing Alert –click away now if you´d rather read a recipe!  Why not try this one for a change of scenery.

The second dress, a Butterick Pattern (B5556) was finished in time for the wedding last night. Ooh it was a typical late night, so am feeling rather jaded today.

As I stood in the garden asking Big Man to take some snaps for the blog, the wind whipped up and you can´t really see  the general soft meringueness of the skirt with the petticoat underneath (with a layer removed).

I did a few twirls to show off the five, yes five, metres each of skirt and lining which I finished the same way at the Going to the Wedding Dress 1.

Give us a twirl!

I hand stitched the zip, which turned out well and was very happy with the dress apart from having needed to be a little braver in taking the waist in a little more. I loved the stand up/fold down collar.

Elvis Collar

Hey ho, at least it meant I could eat in comfort.

And there was plenty of room in the dress for hugging and kissing the bride and groom, most of the 500 guests (gulp…that´s not a wedding, it´s a Corporate Event) and eating cake.

Stem Gingernuts

A recent post on cheesecake made with a biscuit base, started a dialogue about biscuits. The lovely Tia mentioned that she enjoyed Ginger Nuts, a biscuit enjoyed widely in the UK with a cup of tea or coffee.  I said I would try to find a recipe (and I did find a Delia Smith one which was a huge disaster), then the equally lovely Evie from Pendle Stitches sent me over the recipe she uses to bake for her family.

Of course, I had to give them a go.  Result? Fabulous, better than shop made and even without the Stem Ginger (which I couldn´t get hold of) they were amazing.  Thanks Evie, these will become a family favourite here too!

Here´s Evie´s recipe, and like her I added extra ground ginger (another half a tablespoon).

Stem Gingernuts (From The Great British Book of Baking)

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger (I usually add a bit more because I love my gingernuts to have bite)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 pieces stem ginger, drained and finely chopped (this is ginger in a sweet syrup which you can buy or make your own)

Preheat oven to 170oC/350oF/gas 3.  Grease or line baking trays.  I just use parchment.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, bicarb of soda and sugar into a mixing bowl.  Gently melt the butter with the syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside until barely warm.

Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, add the beaten egg and the stem ginger and mix with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly combined, roll the mixture into 24 walnut-sized balls, using your hands.

Arrange on prepared baking trays, spacing well apart to allow for spreading.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until a good golden brown.  Keep an eye on them and, if necessary, turn the trays around halfway through the cooking period so that the biscuits brown evenly.

Leave the biscuits to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, or make a large pot of coffee and scoff the lot!

Secreto Ibérico – Let me tell you a little secret…

Served with grilled potatoes and aubergines and garlicky mushrooms...

Secreto Ibérico (which translates as Iberian Secret) is a cut of meat, which comes from between the shoulder blade and the loin of the prized Iberian pigs.  Even if you can only find it from regular pigs, I recommend you give this cut of meat a go for the amazing flavour you get from it.

So, this is not a recipe, more a “letting you in on a little secret”.  The reason this meat tastes so good is that the surface is marbled with fat.  It is typically cooked over a high flame or hot griddle so the outside fat melts and gives you a fantastically crispy crust, while the meat inside stays juicy and tender.

Simply sprinkle some coarse (kosher) salt on both sides, pepper too if you like, and put it onto a very hot grill pan or barbecue.

Don´t fear the fat, it will work its magic...

Cook until it is golden and crispy and then leave to rest for 2 or 3 minutes. Round where we live it is traditionally cut into little strips after cooking and served with fresh lemon to squeeze over.

Gorgeous, Golden and Grunchy..sorry, Crunchy

If you ever do come across this beautiful cut of meat….”shhhh, don´t tell anyone – it´s a secret”!

Flat Ruthie Ventures Up the Mountain – Strawberry Jam & Coffee and Baileys Ice Cream

For any eagle eyed readers out there, you may remember that Flat Ruthie of Cardboard Me Travels sneaked into my suitcase on a recent trip back from the UK.

Stowaway on Board!

While she was here she took the opportunity to do some sightseeing, so we didn´t see her for a while. However, it´s strawberry time here and as soon as she heard I had bought a few kilos of local strawberries, she finally joined me again.

Obviously, as we were going to be cooking, she insisted on a little apron, so I obliged.

We weighed out a kilo of washed, chopped strawberries then simmered them until slightly soft. Then we added a kilo of sugar, a sachet of pectin and the juice of half a lemon and boiled until setting point.

Ruthie stood back for a while as burning jam can be pretty dangerous but she was pleased to see how well it all turned out.

The next morning the sun shone brightly and I called her to join me for breakfast in the garden.

I think all her sightseeing must have worn her out as she stayed in bed and missed breakfast completely.

When she did eventually get up she decided she needed a good strong coffee to get her going.

No decaf in this house!

As I was making ice cream from Chgo John´s amazing recipe, she had the bright idea of replacing the pistachios I had wanted to use (but couldn´t find) with a shot of coffee.  I didn´t have half and half either so she explained to me that I could substitute a mix of both half whipping cream with half full fat milk for this part of the recipe.

Just as we were about to pour the ice cream mix into the machine she decided that about 100ml of Baileys would also be a good idea, so we put that in too.

After a little churning and a couple of hours in the freezer it was time to taste the ice cream. She took her pinny off to eat and her verdict was….mmmm, we´ll definitely make this again!

Finally I can take my pinny off and have a little break!

Thanks for the visit Ruthie, it was fun. Do keep the pinny, it suited you and it definitely won´t fit me!

Going to the Wedding Dress 1

Sewing Alert –click away now if you´d rather read a recipe. Why not try this one for a cold, rainy Saturday?!

So, the Vintage style dress is finished and I have to say I am really very pleased with the way it has turned out.

The pattern is Vogue V8789, view A.

Wish I had a waist like that!

I have also made a silk shawl with a hand rolled hem to go with it, to cover up my shoulders.

I tried out a few new techniques (well, new to me). A horsehair hem, hand stitched to finish it off. This adds a little body to the hem. I had bought a net petticoat to wear underneath but when it arrived I looked like a giant meringue so back it went into the wardrobe.

I sewed a satin bias binding in a contrast colour to the lining.

I hand stitched the bodice lining to the bodice. I really enjoy sewing by hand.

A grosgrain waist stay (I think that is what it is called) was hand stitched around the inside and this really adds shape to the waist when it is worn.

But…the weather has turned cold and damp. The wedding is next Saturday so I have started work on the other Vintage style dress I had planned to make as it has sleeves. It´s the Butterick 5556…hopefully I´ll have it finished this week and then depending on the weather I can decide which one I´ll wear.

Meanwhile, the dogs snooze in the not so sunny sun room while the rain comes down, and I´ll get on with my sewing.

Yes, that is a jamon bone on the sofa which they had clearly dragged in out of the rain and which I only noticed when I downloaded the photo! Naughty pups...

And now, if you enjoyed seeing my Going to the Wedding Dress, why not check out my blogging pal Evie´s Actual Wedding Dress.  What a very talented and beautiful bride!

Curried Meatballs

A recent tidy up of my cookery books turned up two Indian books by Anjum Anand which I had hardly read.  Time to put that right I thought, and next thing I was in the butcher´s shop ordering pork mince.

Of course, pork would not typically be a meat used in most Indian curries for religious reasons, but this would be great with any other meat. For a fantastic recipe using minced beef, check out Frugal´s gorgeous Beef Kofta Curry recipe.

As ever, I had to make a few small changes, but not too many. I had no fresh coriander so substituted dried, ground coriander and the same went for fresh ginger. We can get it here, I just didn´t have any to hand and when the craving for curry strikes, you have to go with it!

This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Made Easy.

For the meatballs

  • 300g lamb mince (I used pork)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks (I used 1 teaspoon of dried coriander)
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (I used ¼ teaspoon of dried)
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt to taste

For the Curry Sauce

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small shard of cinnamon
  • 2 ½ medium tomatoes (puréed) – I used 1 ½ cups of my conserva from last summer
  • 800ml water (I used about 300ml)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ – ¾ teaspoon of chili powder (to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together plus 3 tbs of the onion you have chopped for the sauce.

Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and remaining onion and fry until the onion is golden brown.

Add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and cook gently for about 8 mins then add 200ml of water and cook until thickened.  Add the spices and salt and any remaining water (I didn´t add much as I continued cooking with a lid on my pan) and simmer. Meanwhile roll the meat into walnut sized balls and drop them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer, turning the meatballs gently half way through, for about 20 minutes. Add the coriander and serve with rice, naan bread, popadums…however you like.

We ate ours with my Sort of Saag Aloo made with the first of our spinach which is now ready to eat.

…and a cool and creamy raita (I´ll give you that easy recipe another time)…

This was a warm but not too hot curry with the lovely flavours of cinnamon and ginger, definitely one to make again.

A Walk on the Wild Side

Andalucía is a region of contrasts. Magnificent cities, historic monuments, skiing, countryside and the famous Costa del Sol.  It´s all there and usually not more than a couple of hours away from wherever you are.

At the weekend we drove slightly north from where we live, over the border from Malaga province into Granada province, Big Man´s heartland and into some wild and rugged scenery.

Near his home town of Ventas de Zafarraya is an area of fertile plains.  A huge amount of vegetables are cultivated and grown there and this provides much needed employment for many people.

Moving north again you come to the beautiful town of Alhama de Granada and between these two towns are a series of lush green plains divided by area of rough, rocky, almost lunar landscapes.

Water comes up through the rocks and provides irrigation and drinking water for plants, animals and Cortijo dwellers.

Some Cortijos sadly remain abandoned, mainly due to the inheritance laws here in Spain which pretty much oblige you to leave your property to your offspring. When families have 10 or more children, it´s understandable that families were often unable to come to an agreement regarding whether to sell, divide or buy each other out.

After a magnificent lunch of goat cooked over an open fire we set off to walk to a local goat farm and buy cheese.

There were plenty of goats…

….and it was milking time.

Some of the group also bought milk, luckily I had been given some that morning by one of our local goatherds.

Posh Milk Bottles!

There were one and two week old kids….adorable!

A family of strange looking turkeys were keeping everyone in line out in the yard.

Our walk took us past a tree which the locals called a Millennium tree, because of its supposed age.

It took five women to get their arms around it….and sometimes it´s good to hug a tree!

And finally a walk back to the Cortijo for coffee and cake.  Sometimes the simple things in life are just what you need.

A Cake To Take Visiting – Orange, Almond and Raisin Cake

Wrapped Up and Ready to Travel!

Customs vary immensely the world over, but some are the same regardless of where you are. When visiting friends for a meal, a little gift is customary. If it´s home made, so much the better, especially if it´s edible.

My mum passed a recipe on to me when I was last in London. She thought it would appeal because the finished cake is not too sweet (she knows I don´t have a hugely sweet tooth), uses oil instead of butter (so much easier here where butter is rarely used) and contains ingredients which are local to Andalucía – oranges, almonds and raisins. Perfect, all I needed was a chance to make it.

Easter weekend was a mix of quiet and hectic for us. Saturday found us heading across the “frontier” from Málaga province to Granada, to a remote area to join some friends in their Cortijo for lunch and a walk.  More of the walk another day as I got rather carried away taking photos.

The cake was made the night before and was a huge hit. It´s very moist and is a cross between a cake and a dessert and would also be perfect served with whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 150g raisins soaked in 50ml of amaretto (warm the amaretto and leave the raisins in soak for at least an hour) If you don´t want to use alchohol, a delicate tea would also be perfect for soaking.
  • 2 oranges (as bitter as you can find)
  • 4 eggs
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds (I left mine quite coarse, it´s up to you how fine you grind them, this cake the cake a nutty texture and a rougher look on the top)
  • 150g self raising flour (or plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder)
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and line a 24cm springform tin.

Place the whole oranges in a saucepan of water and ensure they are covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender. Blitz 1½ oranges until finely chopped, reserve.  Squeeze the juice from the remaining half orange then set the juice aside.

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy then whisk in the sugar.  Fold in the almonds and olive oil then sieve in the flour then fold in.  Gently stir in the pulped oranges and half the raisins and pour the mixture into the tin, spooning the remaining raisins over the top of the cake.

Bake for about 60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven but keep in the tin. Place the juice of half the orange and the icing sugar in a pan and dissolve the sugar.  Pierce the cake all over with a skewer and pour the orange syrup over.  Leave in the tin to cool then remove and enjoy.

PS. I think this would also be great made with polenta!