Category Archives: Alfresco dining

Last Supper

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My ´Supperclub´has had a balmy summer, travelling to venues and houses of others, but ´Supper on the terrace´where it all began, some three summers ago , holds a strong place in my heart, albeit harder work, not only cooking all day, but my house has to be ship-shape, and the family have to be in Bristol fashion.

As the nights are drawing in, I decided that I would have to have my ´Last Supper´of the season, under the stars, and grapevine, whilst I could still guarantee warm temperatures and no rain.

With my No1 daughter back in Blighty now to study, she is normally my right hand girl, my steadier of nerves , and my entertainer, it was time to rope in my OH who at dinner parties is Host extroidinaire, never an empty glass, and often many a guests found on the sofa the next morn, but at ´Supperclub´front of house is not his forte.  No 1 son was also bribed to pitch in  but  he conveniently broke his big toe at school that afternoon.

Never a dull moment at La Rosilla.

So with a full house booked, prepping began in earnest, tables were laid, cutlery polished, candles lit, jazz tunes on, mojitos were mixed, and guests arrived.

Mountain living in Spain, allows me to use the most wonderful produce, that surprisingly many local eateries don´t celebrate.   Catering also for regular Vegans and veggies, who find the local approach of patatas cooked in pork fat with pork cooked in every conceivable manner the main choice on a menu – lets me offer them a welcome taste bud change, and also gets my creative mind going.

Supper on the Terrace

So what was ´The last supper ´.?

I scoured my overloaded recipe book-case, picking out old favourites, comfort food, dishes packed full of life & flavour, Ottolenghi´s Caramelised Endive & Serrano ham, Cranks´Broad Bean Pilaf & braised carrots with cumin, garlic & saffron to name a few.  Home baked rosemary and walnut rolls were served with a satisfying soup of butternut squash & almonds picked from my trees, and dessert was a sorbet of fresh picked figs  & port (the last off my tree 😦 ) , with a dark chocolate twirl.

Caramelised Endive & Serrano

Light faded, the moon shone, wine flowed and chatter got jovial,

I joined my guests with ´one for the road´and my OH was chief pot washer….well he could have done front of house ; !!

So as the season comes to an end, and the temperature drops, it has to drop soon surely ? I look forward to welcoming guests ´around the Kitchen Table´ for Autumn feasts and winter banquets.

As always La Rosilla – Unique & delicious

Celebrating local produce.

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Over a year ago I received an email from a lady in the U.K, who was planning a holiday to my area the Montes de Malaga, infact just down the ‘Mount’ and would be celebrating her 50th birthday with friends , she wanted an evening of celebrations..Could I do this  ? Of course I could !

The terrace of La Rosilla (my home) is a perfect setting for something special, unique & delicious.

I was given free rein of the menu, with the only stipulation being ‘ we want to taste Andalucia ‘ Could I do this ? Of course I could.

Surrounded by local produce of the best, Chorizo, Morcilla & Jamon, created in Colmenar, Almonds , Oranges & olives  grown on my land a Traditional mountain Menu, was born.

Seasonal watermelon was pureed and mixed with lime & white rum & mint for a welcoming Mojito, served with my infamous Beetroot gazpacho Shots & figs off my tree, stuffed with Goats cheese & drizzled with local honey.

Beetroot Gazpacho Shots

The view was absorbed and as the sunset, and chicadas grew quieter the feasting began.

Chickpeas were braised with Chorizo & spinach, and Morcilla sautéed with apple, onion & cumin, a dish that converts anyone into a ‘Black pudding’ lover.

I share with you below the recipe for the main, ‘Lentejas con Jamon y Fino’ lentils braised with cured ham and sherry, a hearty accompaniment with a deep earthy taste, this was topped with quail roasted in garlic, giving an impressive looking dish.

I baked plums from the mountain, with cinnamon, butter & orange flower water, along with a traditional whole orange & almond tort.

The night grew dark, fairy lights came on, tee lights were lit, conversation flowed, cava was sipped, birthday cake sparklers were enjoyed, and ‘Cumpleaños Feliz’ sang & a lasting memory made.

Lentejas con Jamon y Fino

Quail on ‘Lentejas Con Jamon y Fino’

lentils are a Spanish store cupboard ingredient, my favourite the Pardina lentil is dark green in colour, (similar to the Puy lentil of France) and has a deep earthy flavour, boiled to cook with a bay leaf or two, they retain their shape and texture and are delicious stirred into many dishes.

Ingredients

  • 250g Pardina lentils, rinsed and put in a saucepan with dbl qty of cold water and 2 bay leaves, bring to the boil & then simmer for 25 mins. Drain & reserve a cup of cooking liquor.
  • Olive oil to saute & serve
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 sticks of celery diced
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • Tin of plum toms, chopped
  • 1 tsp of Pimenton Dulce
  • Glass of dry sherry or white wine
  • Jamon chopped – or you could use chopped pancetta
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds.
  • salt flakes (I use maldon) & fresh black pepper.

In a large sauce pan saute the carrot, onion celery until softened but not coloured.

Add the garlic & carraway seeds and saute gently for 2-3 mins.

Add the jamon and stir for a min, or so. then add paprika.

Pour in the sherry and let everything bubble for a minute, to cook of alcohol.

Add tomatoes, then stir in cooked lentils.

It should be a thick sauce consistency, add the reserved lentil water to if it looks to dry.

Add salt & pepper to taste – Simmer very gently for 10 mins.

When ready to serve add fresh chopped parsley, & drizzle with olive oil.

You can topped with hard-boiled eggs, for a economical supper, or top with roast chicken.

Summer has arrived .

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Summer has arrived, we are always waiting for the heat to be turned on , but funny when it does we never seem to be ready for it.

After a very mild and dry winter, we were taken by surprise a few weeks a go by a week of cold and rain, the mountain and gardens and land needed it so much, and absorbed every last drop with a sigh of relief, I on the other hand had reserved this time to start the annual paint-a-thon at La Rosilla to prepare my finca to its summer glory , well this had to wait..So last week after everything had dried out, and the heat had been switched back on ,out came the brushes and off to paint I went. I’m so glad I live remotely sometimes, as I paint in little more than sunglasses and a hat , If I hear a car on the track, I dive for cover 😉

During the spell of wetness, I held a Greek Supperclub night, I wanted to transport my guests to warm & sunnier climes to come, on my menu were stuffed vine leaves, days before my event I was willing my vine to grow, for it’s green fresh leaves were needed for delectable Dolmades. So on the morning I stood precariously on my stall and picked the largest leaves I could find, then rolled into cigars and blanched before being filled with a rice, and vegetable stuffing, then baked with tomatoes and home grown olive oil to marinate. They were a delight.

Vine Leaves ready for blanching .

Dolamades

The flowers are in their full glory, hollyhock flowers are bursting open with shades of palest yellow to deepest red , Roses are in bloom and my cottage cornflowers with my favourite blue are just beginning to show their colour.

Summer alfresco eating will now be enjoyed to the max, with cooking outside becoming the norm, Paellas , BBQ’s and more..the terrace at La Rosilla will welcome it’s first guests of the season 🙂

It’s this time of year I think ‘Yes this is why we’re here’ .

 

Bring on the Mojitos 😉

La Rosilla is available for rent this summer – Just a few weeks remaining.

click here for more info.

My Paella Pan !

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This is my guest post as featured on the Cooking Outdoors blog .  So much fun sharing recipes & experiences around the world.  You can follow The Outdoor Cook on Twitter here @cookingoutdoors.

Paella or Arroces, have become part of my families’ new life, since emigrating from the U.K to Andalucia Spain 7 years ago.

Paella is a dish prepared with love and gusto, to be shared with family, friends & neighbours. It is a dish offered in most Ferias of Spain throughout the year, and comes in many guises depending on the area of Spain you live in. From the traditional Paella Valenciana, with meat & seafood, to modern-day arroces (rices) & paellas adjusted to use what it is in season, or to suit the diners.

Paelleras (paella pans) range in size from a 4 portions to massive pans measuring meters across, to feed a whole town.  This giant paella is a spectacular cooking outdoor event, when people gather from far around, to watch and taste the local dish.  Cooked above a wood fire, these experts tend their giant pans of rice, meat & stock, until the dish is ready, rested and waiting to be devoured.  Often taking hours to prepare & cook, eaten in moments.

I like to cook my Paella on a warm summer evenings just as the sun is setting over the mountains.  I usually cook a 15 portion Paella, as leftovers are delicious.  I use a large pan and special Paella gas burner, which make it very portable, and I can cook anywhere, beach, camping & picnics.

Paella 228x300 Have Paella Pan Will travel   Guest postIt is a very social affair, often friends gather around the ring whilst cooking, many times offering their suggestions or preferences and expertise for the perfect Paella.

A favorite with my Family is Chicken, chorizo, asparagus and wild mushroom.

Based on 15 servings:

 The secret is to have all ingredients ready prepared, so you are ready to cook.

Ingredients

Olive oil

1kg of chicken pieces / skin off – Bone-in fine

1 large chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into 1 cm slices.

1 glass of white wine.

1 onion – diced

1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced

1 green pepper – diced

1 red pepper – diced

Handful of fresh thyme

1 dried ‘Nora’ pepper

1.5 kg paella rice ‘calasparra’

1 large tin of tomatoes

Saffron

2 sachets of Paella seasoning or ½ tsp each of Paprika, turmeric, fenugreek.

2 litres chicken stock

1 hand of Asparagus, trimmed.

500 g mixed fresh wild mushroom or preserved in brine

Lemon to decorate

Preparation

Prepare the chicken by marinating in olive oil, thyme, slat and pepper.

Make up stock and add saffron to infuse.

Put a layer of Olive oil in your Paella Pan to cover the bottom.

Heat gently, add your whole Nora pepper,  then chicken and thyme.

Brown the meat nicely, then stir and fry 10 mins.

Remove the Nora pepper

Add onion, garlic and peppers – Fry for 5 mins until soft.

Add chopped mushrooms and Chorizo – fry for 2/3 mins

Add tinned toms, and break up in pan, add white wine & stir & bubble.

Season with Salt & pepper

Stir in seasoning / spices.

Add handfuls of rice around the pan, to let rice absorb some of the juices, stir.

Pour in stock and saffron, stir so rice is distributed evenly.

Simmer for 5 – 6 mins then reduce heat to medium low.

DO NOT STIR ANYMORE cook for 20/25 mins until all liquid absorb, you may need to add a little more – you want you rice to be ‘al dente’.

5 mins before end of cooking, lay the Asparagus on the top in a circle, it will cook in the steam.

Turn off heat, and cover with a clean cloth, foil or as sometimes in Spain newspaper, to rest and flavor infuse.

Decorate the edge of the pan with lemon wedges, and sprinkle on some more fresh thyme.

 107 0247 225x300 Have Paella Pan Will travel   Guest post

Buen Provecho x

Cooking in the great outdoors .

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Cooking outdoors, in the fresh air, is a part of our life since moving from the U.K to Spain some years ago, that has become a regular affair, and something that we never take for granted.

You can’t beat that hunter- gatherer feel, back to basics, fresh ingredients, the smell of wood burning on the bbq or Sardines releasing their oh so Spanish seaside smell into the air.

When we have a day in the garden, or should I say on the mountain, chopping logs, pruning, preparing for winter, there’s nothing better than, making a pan of ‘Patatas al lo pobre ‘ a local dishe of potatoes, peppers  onions , garlic cooked in stock, wine (maybe my addition)  & vinegar, on  the gas stove, and cooking some chorizo on the bbq, to eat with chunks of bread, washed down with some local Hooch.

Patatas a lo Pobre at La Rosilla

The children’s obligatory marshmallows on the barby treat for after’s,  gives them as-well the necessary boost to finish the jobs they started…

All over the world, there are many outdoor cooking styles to be enjoyed and shared, my friend at Cooking Outdoors, believes in getting out of the kitchen, lighting the fire & start cooking outdoors, and reading his blogs, he shares some delightful recipes.

Enjoy the Autumn outside, don’t hibernate indoors 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My summer “foodie’ joys of Spain.

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Chilled Albarino, from Rias Baixas

 A Sundowner.

Creamy goats cheese from Colmenar baked on-top of caramalised onions.

Kids getting stuck into fresh seafood.

Mejillones Marinera.

Tapas with a cool beer.

Gambas Torpedos – Prawns wrapped in noodles & fried till crisp.

Salad & Sardinas.The taste & smell of a Spanish Summer.

Tomatoes from the garden, olives from the tree.

Gazpacho – 5 a day in a bowl – Giving the liver a breather.

and of course not forgetting the obligatory Paella the ultimate one pot.

a feast for family & friends.

‘VIVA VERANO’


Pipirrana What a lovely name for a salad.

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Pipirrana, what a lovely name for a dish.

When working with my OH at our Golf Academy, many of our members, have heard through the grapevine, or by myself that I’m a little obsessed about food.  Many of the men, are very proud of the culinary skills, and are more than happy to demonstrate to me, and I have no objection, as this results in many delicious lunches prepared for me, in the beautiful alfresco setting at the golf course.

Yesterday was no exception with the lovely ‘Javier’ rustling up his take on ‘Paella’ and the wonderful summer salad.

Pipirrana is a fresh, chopped Spanish salad, and like many Spanish dishes, there are many takes on it.  It basically is ‘Porra” the thick, soupy tomato dip, before it has been blitzed in a blender, with a few personally chosen added ingredients, my favourite being ‘Pulpo’ or crabsticks.

It is a refreshing salad to have on the side of any grilled, barbecued meat or fish dish, or on top of Bruschetta as a canapé.

Pipirrana

Ingredients.

All ingredients should be peeled and finely chopped.

Cucumber

Tomatoes

Onion

Green Pepper

Olive Oil

Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and Fresh ground black pepper

Toppings

Crabsticks, hard-boiled eggs, pulpo. / Optional

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl; add oil and vinegar to coat and season.

Buen Provecho.

Family, frolics, ferias & figs.

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By now at this time of year, I am operating on autopilot. Copious amounts of fun, food, ferias and frolics are starting to pay its toll, not to mention the complete families birthday celebrations to boot. August at La Rosilla is one hectic time.

But just as I think, ‘that’s it no more DETOX please’, another invite, another birthday, another do to plan, pops up.

In between all the revelry, I try and snatch the odd few mins, to take stock, and one of my favourite ways to do this is to indulge in gods on food FIGS straight from the tree. They took their time this year, to be ready and dripping from the tree, or maybe it was just the fact I was waiting, salivating for their ripeness.

Figs matched with some of Andalucia finest other ingredients creates a dish to be proud of, try it I’m sure you’ll agree,

 

Figs, baked with Goats cheese, wrapped in Serrano ham, and drizzled with cana miel.

  •  Take a handful of figs, cut a slit in the top of each, and stuff with a wedge of Goats cheese.
  • Wrap each fig in a slice of Serrano ham.
  • Fit figs snugly in a baking dish.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 15 mins, till oozing and soft.
  • Remove from oven and drizzle with Cane honey.

Savour and enjoy and mop up the juices with crusty bread.

Heaven on a Plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Stars.

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My first Private Dining event went fabulously last night. I was booked to cook for 14 Australians, who were staying in the most wonderful villa, this was their welcome meal, and only a couple of the party knew, so was a great surprise for all the others.

They were the most lovely family, who had traveled from all over the globe for a re-union, and I was to tempt them with local delights & flavours, whilst they soaked up the atmosphere and charm

It was a pleasure to cook in such a divine location, even the sweltering heat, didn’t dampen my brow !

I welcomed them with a selection of Embutidos, cured meats, salamis, chorizos, jamon, lomo & salchichon, all made in my local town of Colmenar, together with a cheese platter, of goats cheese with a rosemary and thyme crust, the delightful Spanish manchego and a sheep’s cheese with paprika.

Home cured olives, and warm herb & hazelnut bread accompanied the beginning of their feast.

They had chosen a selection of starters, then a giant paella to share.

My daughter entertained with a beautiful flamenco dance and all regalia, and was given a standing ovation.

Supper was finished under the stars, Fruit platter and chocolate fondue & Limoncello drizzle Cake, and with children moonlight dipping in the pool to keep cool.

I love how the joy of food, brings folks together, creates memory moments, full bellies & and the taste of things to come ……

My hanging garden.

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My hanging Passion flower garden, is a little hidden oasis, buzzing with bees, busy collecting the nectar for their ooh so delicious honey. It’s a cool spot to retreat to on a hot balmy day, and comes to magical life at night, when it is lit with twinkling fairy lights, and flickering candles.

A perfect spot for a romantic dinner, and if things get to hot under the collar, we can always cool off with a refreshing dip in our plunge pool. Special occasions supper at La Rosilla ‘Supperclub’ can be enjoyed here too.  Small groups of visitors for cooking & culture classes, can sit and soak up the charm.

I dream about the oncoming weeks, sitting and indulging with a plate of unctuous figs, baked with goats cheese, honey and a fresh torn basil leaf…..Bring it on.