A short while ago we celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK. For some strange reason we celebrate on a completely different day from the rest of the world. Never mind, it’s still a great opportunity to get together, eat, drink and laugh.
We decided to go for a bit of a retro menu, a throwback to decades past, and enjoyed prawn cocktail, steak and chips and treacle tart with clotted cream and ice cream. Perfect! Because it was such a simple menu, and Big Man was on barbecue duty with the steaks, I had the luxury of time to play with ingredients and to make things a little different.
For the prawn cocktail I made a layered and pretty dish with a cucumber and ginger jelly, avocado mousse and, of course, a spicy Marie Rose sauce. Sometimes it’s fun to have an eye on the future whilst nodding to the past.
Ingredients (to serve 6 in 6 glass tumblers or serving dishes)
1 sachet of gelatine
1 cucumber peeled
A teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
A few leaves of fresh mint
Salt & Pepper
2 ripe avocados
1 heaped tablespoon of cream cheese
Salt & Pepper
A small iceberg lettuce finely shredded
2-3 cups of small cooked prawns (portion sizes are up to you!)
18-24 large cooked prawns
4 tablespoons of home made or good quality mayonnaise
1 generous tablespoon of tomato ketchup
A few shakes each of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco
Salt and pepper
Blend the cucumber, ginger and mint and drain, you only need the juice. Dissolve the gelatine according to the instructions and leave to cool slightly. Add to the cucumber juice, season lightly and add enough water to make up to 600ml. Divide the jelly between the 6 serving dishes and leave to set.
Blend the peeled avocados with the cream cheese and a little seasoning and either spoon or pipe over the cucumber jelly.
Add a layer of shredded lettuce. Mix the ingredients for the sauce together and adjust the seasoning to taste. Mix in the small prawns and divide between the serving dishes over the lettuce. Finally decorate with the larger prawns and if you’re feeling really adventurous, dust with a little smoked pimentón.
Pour yourself a glass of your favourite dry white wine and enjoy a little moment back in time.
Big Man has been in Spain for a couple of weeks so the day before he returned I cooked some dishes he would enjoy to welcome him home. This included a cake, as a special treat, and it was perfect for sitting around the next day (which was cold and snowy) with some good strong coffee while we had a good old catch up.
Regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t make many cakes, and when I do I mostly go down the “all in one” route and tend to use olive oil rather than butter. Not for health reasons, but because when I first started living in Spain it was more difficult for me to get hold of good quality butter (and getting it home before it melted in the summer was an adventure in itself). As we produce our own wonderful olive oil each year, it made sense to substitute this for the butter and I soon found that it produced light and delicious cakes…so I simply kept on using it.
This is more of a tea loaf than a sponge cake and would be delicious spread with butter (the best of both worlds! ) although it’s delicious as it is. I baked this in a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin and it cuts into about 12 slices.
100g of sultanas soaked in your favourite tea (I used a ginger tea but Earl Grey would also be fantastic) then drained and cooled
100g chopped candied peel
Approx 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
175g self raising flour mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt
60ml olive oil
2 large eggs
150g of runny honey
Preheat the oven to 185° fan oven or 195° regular oven and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Beat the oil and honey together then add the eggs one by one. Mix in the drained sultanas, candied peel and fresh ginger then mix in the flour and salt. This cake mix is as forgiving as most of my others, so you don’t need to fold things together or be particularly gentle.
Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake for approx 45 minutes. Check if it’s done by inserting a skewer and if it comes out clean, you’re done. If it needs a few minutes longer and is beginning to brown, cover with some aluminium foil and give it another five minutes before checking again.
Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling completely on a rack. Will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container.
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....