After the doom and gloom of our dismal cooking arrangements, I wanted to reassure you that all is not quite so bad Chez Chica and Big Man.
We have inherited a beautiful pear tree in our new home. Well, it’s in the garden of course, not growing in the middle of the sitting room. Which would make day to day life a little awkward.
It’s a tiny Victorian back garden but we still have the original wall and it’s south west facing, so it’s warm and sunny.
Obviously, being without an oven, pies and crumbles have been out of the question but we’ve enjoyed sharing them, eating them with cheese, cooked and served with thick cream and some have been cooked and frozen for a rainy day. It’s raining today, I think we might be eating pears…
(For those of you with proper kitchens, pop over to Roger’s blog and be inspired by this beautiful recipe.)
Some friends were coming over for “Merienda” which is afternoon tea in Spain, so it was a good opportunity to bake a cake. My Spanish pals do make me smile as when we get together for coffee and cakes, they always mention what a lovely English custom it is. I smile and agree, secretly thinking that I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of occasions I stopped for a proper afternoon tea when I lived in England. Oh well, I am certainly making up for it now.
This is a quick cake to pull together. Sometimes it takes longer for the oven to warm up than it does for you to prepare the cake batter.
Ingredients (serves 10-12 slices)
One large pear, peeled, halved, quartered and then each quarter cut into three or four pieces
1 ½ cups of self raising flour, ½ cup of ground almonds, a pinch of salt, a cup and a half of sugar all mixed together in a bowl
3 large eggs, ½ a cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of almond essence, 2 shots of very strong cold espresso, half a cup of natural yogurt beaten together until well blended
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Using a large cake tin (mine was silicone, so no need to line but I sprayed with a little oil) line the base with the pear slices to form a circular pattern.
Pour over the cake better and smooth out the mixture.
Bake at 180ºC for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Eat warm or cold. Keeps well for a few days – which is good as it is quite a large cake!
Over at Lavender and Lime, Tandy has set a Weekly Food Challenge to cook using citrus fruits. Anyone who pops over to my blog regularly will probably have noticed that I use a lot of oranges in my cooking, particularly salads, so I felt inspired to take part in my first ever challenge!
I´m not sure if you´re allowed to submit two recipes, but I recently put up a post for one of my very favourite salads, Ensalada Cateta, so I´m putting that one forward too!
However, I also thought I´d like to try something different and as I´m in jam making mode this week, I had a little play around with ingredients. After the visit from my friends from the UK last week I had a few limes left over from a Mojito session, so I took it from there.
I love pears, but tend to either eat them as they are, or with cheese, or poached in wine. How about trying a chunky, spicy preserve instead? I could eat it on bread or toast, or serve it, almost like a soft quince jelly with cheese or, finally, as a sweet option drizzled over creamy vanilla ice cream.
In the end I decided to marry the pears with lime juice and fresh ginger, and I have to say I was thrilled with the results. Just a hint of the tang of lime and the warmth of the ginger combined with the fresh taste of the pears. Pears contain a lot of water so I cooked the preserve for about half an hour for the quantities given below on a gentle boil. The final result left me with soft pear chunks which still held their shape and a jelly like syrup.
I used the following:
500g of pears (peeled weight) chopped into small chunks
A piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm in length) peeled and grated
The juice of two limes
For the method I used, please see either my Ruby Jewel Jam recipe or my Summer Cherry Jam recipe. This quantity gave me two medium jars of preserve. I do hope you enjoy it, it has an almost autumnal taste to it – I think it must be the ginger!
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.....