Category Archives: books

#cookfromthebooks Week 8 – In a pantry pickle.


I was mentally pushed to the max last week.  I don’t do mess, chaos yes, but not mess ! I working hard towards having a new kitchen, it’s been in the planning stages for years.  I do love my Spanish traditional, quirky, shabby chic kitchen, but now I have outgrown it’s capabilities.  So over the last year as I have cooked, I have squirreled away some centimos towards my dream kitchen.

Stage 1 in the process, started last week, turning an old outside store cupboard, you know one of those cupboards that stores EVERYTHING, into a new bright pantry.  How I’ve always wanted a pantry, since the days I would sit tucked away in my grannies, spending hours, sorting tins, and weighing things on her brass scales. But before bright comes dust, and before order comes mess.

Sweeping, mopping, and tidying relentlessly, and relentlessly being told there is no point in doing that, drove me crazy.  To add to my chaos, I thought it was a while since I’d cooked for friends, so invited a gaggle for supper, as you do ! Fortunately when I’m creating in the kitchen, albeit while pandemonium is all around me I can focus on the food- So when the going gets tough I get cooking.

I decided on a 50’s Italian theme for my dinner, and went about the preparation for a whole host of wonderful dishes, all made with locally sourced and fresh ingredients. Peas and Broad beans freshly picked, Mangos juicy and ripe & figs dried from summer, Brocolli and the truly beautiful Romanesco cauliflower . I called on the help of my food hero ‘Jamie’ for this weeks #cookfromthebooks and heading back to one of his oldies ‘Jamie’s Italy’ , a book full of flavour and drama, and photography that transports your mind, to the aromas and tastes of all the dishes.  Our main course was from ‘Jamie at Home’ a book that celebrates home-grown and seasonal produce, tips for growing and unusual dishes you may not think of, especially good for when you have a ‘glut’ at anytime.

We started the evening, with roasted violet potatoes with caraway and roasted garlic and herb mayo for dipping, whilst sipping drinks around the fir-pit.

Jamie’s Pea & Broad Bean Bruchetta was a delight, fresh and light with a hint of mint and grating of Parmesan all pulled together with rich Olive oil, served on a warm rustic bread.

Followed by Fennel & chili risotto this is comfort food to sigh for ;), also a great way to introduce people to fennel if they have never tried, by sauteing  the fennel slowly first, allows the sweetness to come through and adds a richness and depth to the risotto.

Fennel risotto

Next I made a refreshing dish of Mango & Basil sorbet, and served it on glass canape spoons.

Here is my simple recipe :

2 ripe mangos, peeled and chopped, then blended.

1 cup of caster sugar and 1 cup of water, heated gently to dissolve.

add a handful of fresh basil leaves to the sugar water ,a nd take off heat and let diffuse for 15 mins.

Discard the basil, and add cooled sugar water to pureed mango.

Add 1 tbsp of dark rum and mix.

Put in a freezer container and leave to freeze for a few hours, then stir, then freeze again until ready to serve.

Serve with some fresh basil and a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts.Mango & Basil Sorbet recipe form La Rosilla

Our main course was a hand rolled Cannelloni stuffed with cauliflower and broccoli, the vegetables flavours are intensified as they are cooked with chilli and anchovies, before being pureed for the cannelloni stuffing, then topped with mozzarella and Parmesan for that comforting topping, simple served with some dressed rockets leaves.

50's Italian night at La Rosilla

Pud was to die for, Bustrengo a Bolognese polenta and apple cake, with sultanas and dried figs.  An Italian take on an old bread pudding recipe, heavy and moist with such depth of flavour, eaten warm with a scoop of creme fraiche and enjoyed with a sweet PX sherry, sorry not Vin Santo, but I had ot go back to my sherry roots 😉 – The cake stays moist and develops  character too, so was delicious the next day with a hot strong cup of espresso ( medicinal purposes, the morning after and all that 😉 )

Sipping my coffee and nursing my head, the dusty pantry was there in all it’s glory, now to turn it into my little den of shelves, drawers and twinkling lights…


If you would like to join in this years challenge of #cookfromthebooks I would be delighted :) Just add the hashtag #cookfromthebooks and add the logo below & link to this site.

#cookfromthebooks cooking challenge 2014


#cookfromthebooks week 6 (Weather week & TV gone)


What a week, crazy weather all mixed up, days of warm sunshine, lashing rain and then winds to make Kansas look positively calm.  Battening down the hatches and waiting for weather to arrive, can seem quite exciting.  Mountain living is a guarantee that we receive extremes of all weathers and seasons, and within the ‘Expat online’ community always a great talking point, well we are British after all 😉

Number 1 daughter returned home from a very wet Herefordshire for her half term break, hoping for her cockles to be warmed and her pale skin to be rosied but we can’t always provide !! So it’s home fires burning, hot bots in  bed and 2 pairs of socks to keep her tootsies warm.  Candles are always at the ready at La Rosilla , baskets filled with tee-lights to be lit  in every room, normally to create a cosy ambiance but at this time of year for necessity too. With wind and rain comes the power-cuts, all part of the adventure of our lifestyle.

Food for family and friends we can provide, nothing beats gathering around the dining table when there has been a week of conversation topic making. So I set the table, invited friends for supper, scoured my cook books for my week 6 #cookfromthebooks  challenge, for family friendly recipes, ( our guests not quite so adventurous as us in food tastes 😉 A homely Chicken, Bacon and pea pie would see fit, chosen from Rachel Allens ‘favourite food at  home’ Rachel Allen Favourite food at home

I find this cook book, uplifting, clear and easy to follow.  Good hearty recipes, beautifully captured in photos.  Family favourites, dishes for occasions and basic must know tips for all cooks.

The Chicken pie with bacon and peas wasn’t a fast throw it all together affair, but worth the time and effort.  Like normal I adapted it to suit our tastes and and what I had in the fridge.  The pie in the recipe can be topped with mash or puff pastry, I used a filo topping, to add a slightly more sophisticated pie, to serve for supper guests.  I also used pancetta, instead of ham, which added an extra richness.   I served this with roasted butternut squash cubes, in caraway , not all guests were willing to try ‘Can’t do orange veg’ they said !!! and for  green, french beans sauteed in butter & garlic.

No photos this week of my ‘Pie’, with power on & off, candles lit and my wine glass full, this rare I know, slipped my mind 😉

Pud was a comforting cherry crumble or La Rosilla chocolate Brownies, La Rosilla Browniesthe children all bagsied the Brownies so I sneakily hid a butternut squash cube in them, but the devils caught me out 😉 – The crumble topping was unusually made I thought.  I always rub my flour and butter together to make bread crumbs then add sugar , oats and cinnamon – but in Rachel Allen’s recipe for Rhubarb, plum & cardamon crumble, she prepares her dry ingredients then pours on melted butter and quickly mixes – It did provide a dense crumble topping but I found quite clumpy – I think in future I’ll stick to my usual, on saying that with the bowl placed dangerously near to my place, I did manage to secretly have a few portions 😉


To finish the week an event we knew was looming on the horizon, but hoping it wouldn’t and not knowing when it would, came to fruition.  For many Ex-pats living in Spain, we have a guilty pleasure, or for some of us a necessity to watch UK TV to keep us up to date of our home-land, receive world wide news in our own language, or for me the obligatory watching of the many ‘Foodie’ programmes .  Never have I watched a ‘Soap’ in 9 years but Saturday Kitchen, Masterchef & my ‘Jamie’ these are my moments of weakness and now they are GONE !! The UK have changed their satellite position, and now we can no longer tune in to our favourite channels 😦 .  There are ways and means, and options being advised, sold, hawked as days go by, but as in sit, switch on and watch NO ! I know we’ll get used to it, and maybe find that life we actually came to live on a mountain for.  I have a pile of books to get through, jigsaws to make, and DVD’s to watch, so once I’ve finished sulking and got my head around it, all will be fine….Hurry up summer, when late night terrace sitting, and the only thing we watch is the night sky for shooting stars.

Until then a plateful of home-made ‘Melting Moments’ from my treasured, well thumbed, Nan’s ‘Bero’ recipe book, will do the trick.


140 g S.R Flour

80g caster sugar

120g Margarine / butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Oats, dessicated coconut & cranberries to decorate.

  • Cream togwther butter & sugar, add vanilla.
  • Stir in flour and mix well.
  • With your hands bring dough together.
  • With wet hands divide mixture into 36 balls and roll and coat with coconut or oats.
  • Place on a greased baking sheet slightly apart and flatten a little add a dried cranberry to some.
  • Bake at 160c for 12-15 mins until golden.




If you would like to join in this years challenge of #cookfromthebooks I would be delighted :) Just add the hashtag #cookfromthebooks and add the logo below & link to this site.

#cookfromthebooks cooking challenge 2014

#cookfromthebooks Week 3


I’m really enjoying my #Cookfromthebooks challenge and the family are enjoying the results too – everybody’s happy.  I do find it hard to just pick one recipe, from one book, maybe that will change as the year progresses.  I relish time spent browsing through my cookery books, especially on days when I’m fasting (I’m on the 5:2 well 6:1 most weeks as I’m maintaining 🙂 ) I find browsing recipes on my low cal days , a sort of control testing and I can dream about plates to come !!

So onto this weeks choices, a chilled Saturday night supper & lazy Sunday luncheon by the roaring fire, temperatures have dropped in the mountains and we needed comfort & warming up.

On to Saturday night – Spiced mushroom and chickpea burgers – taken from Sam Stern’s Get Cooking.  Sam wrote his books as a teenager with a passion for cooking.  I recommend his books for any cook starting out,  perfect for students going off to Uni, to learn some dishes, that are not quite the norm, which pack a punch of flavour.  Sam describes the ingredients and recipes in a youthful and fun way . I like to include a couple of meat free days into the week, for cost and health reasons, so a tasty veggie burger would win all-round.

Sam Sterns Get Cooking book reveiw


These burgers are similar to falafel, but a little more robust, even a hardcore meat eater would be satisfied .  I chose to serve ours with wraps and salad, and a greek yoghurt and mango chutney dressing.

MAKES 6 – We decided in the wraps they would be better made smaller so easier to fold .

Olive oil for frying

2 onions, finely chopped

2 cloves,garlic crushed

dried chilli

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp lemon grass paste

250g of chestnut mushrooms

juice of a lime

1 x 400g jar of chickpeas, rinsed

handful of fresh breadcrumbs

dash of tabasco

handful of fresh chopped coriander

plain flour for shaping

Mushroom and chickpea burgers

  • Gently fry onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add, chilli,cumin.coriander, turmeric & lemon grass cook for 3 mins.
  • Add mushroom and lime cook for 5 mins, & season.
  • Tip into a large bowl.
  • Blitz chickpeas in a food processor or crush with fork until broken, add to the bowl.
  • Add breadcrumbs, tabasco, fresh coriander and salt & pepper.
  • Flour your hands and shape the mixture into burger shape.
  • Chill burgers in the fridge for 1/2.
  • Fry in batches for 3-4 mins on each side in olive oil until golden.
  • Serve in warmed buns or wraps 🙂

TIP : I chopped onion, mushrooms and garlic in a food processor to get a uniformed chop, this helped the mixture bind too.


Instead of the normal winter roast for our Sunday lunch, I decided on finger lickin’ ribs, and Oh boy they were just that, perfect comfort, sharing food.  The recipe was taken from one of my favourite books Marie Claire’s Seasonal Kitchen, a perfect coffee table book, with breathtaking and mouthwatering photography, and recipes displayed in seasons.  Clear and precise recipes and some unusual twists.

marie claire seasonal kitchen


These ribs had the most delicious marinade that they sat in overnight, thus tenderizing the meat and allowing the ribs to bathe in flavour.

250 ml soy sauce

175 g golden syrup

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp tomato puree

zest & juice of 1 orange

1 tbsp mustard powder

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 bay leaf

2 racks of trimmed ribs

Delicious ribs recipe from La Rosilla

Probably the bestests ribs 😉

  • Put all the ingredients except ribs, into a saucepan mix well & bring to the boil, stirring so it doesn’t stick.
  • Sit the ribs in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade, leave preferably over night.
  • Line a ceramic baking dish with parchment, it saves a sticky mess when cleaning up 😉
  • Arrange ribs in the dish and pour over any remaining marinade.
  • bake for 15 mins, then turn the ribs and bake for 15 more mins.
  • Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

We served our ribs, with creamy mash, green beans dressed in garlic and the most wonderful purple carrots roasted with caraway and pink peppercorns.

purple carrotsFAMILY RATING 10/10



If you would like to join in this years challenge of #cookfromthebooks I would be delighted :) Just add the hashtag #cookfromthebooks and add the logo below & link to this site.

#cookfromthebooks cooking challenge 2014

Spanish Cooking – Book review


Nothing makes me happier or more content, than to while away a few hours, reading a good book, especially if it is full of recipes, beautiful food photography and writings of a chef from the stories experiences and memories from their lives that have been centered around food, sharing and families.

Miguel Maestre’s new simply titled book ‘ Spanish Cooking’ delivers just that, traditions, and tastes from his life in Spain growing up in the South Eastern province of Murcia.

To read my full review visit the fabulous site Books4Spain .

Books4Spain has an extensive selection of over 70 Spanish cook and recipe books as well as has thousands of books in English about Spain,