Tag Archives: Comfort Food.

“There be snow on them there hills”

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When we left the U.K lock, stock, and barrel in May of 2005, we gave away to charity and friends, flogged and chucked, many of our possesions, don’t worry we still bought an arctic lorry load of belongings with us.  That was a challenge in itself, artic lorry, mountain roads, off-road tracks 😉   Of course, we offloaded our winter woolies, puffa jackets, and toboggans, why wouldn’t we? we were moving to Spain 😉 Yes, yes I know we should have done our homework, blimey I’d researched everything else, but the weather don’t be silly.

One Saturday when we were on an idyllic family walk, 2,4 & 6 years old in tow, moaning, pexels-photo-266642that it was freezing they could walk no further. Suddenly as a mother I thought, well perhaps we are a little unprepared, it became more peaceful then usual, slightly eery and a light we’d never experienced before.  Heading back to warm by the fire and soothe tetchy toddlers with comforting ColaCoa (Hot Choc) we shut the day behind us.

 

Awaking the next morning and opening the shutters the OH declared ‘Bloody Hell it’s snowing’  ‘SNOWING?’ with no central heating, and beautiful albeit rustic wooden doors and windows, the inside temperature of the house had dropped to 8 degrees.  Dragon breath and icicles from the nose were the new personal accessories.

Needless to say, the niños were delighted, wrapped up in anything we could find, off they trotted up the mountain with tea trays and plastic bags in hand as make shift sleds.  The vecinos (neighbours) were out assuring us this was the first snow they’d seen in 60 years….”oh yes just great I thought, and it’s my first year”

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When our Sun-lougers became Snow loungers 😉

After the initial shock we then had to plan for subsequent years, and actually, we are grateful to have changing seasons and weather surprises to keep us on our toes.  We learned that up in the Montes the high peaks over 800 meters often have a cover of snow, us at La Rosilla at 600m, will get a flutter occasionally during winter but more than not it doesn’t settle.

Now, this week the snow is BACK !! Last week we were basking in temperatures in the warm 20’s and now the thermometer isn’t getting above 8c in the day and freezing at night.  It all adds to the January reality that it’s not always sunshine and siestas, and that we’re going have to dig deep to keep warm, keep nourished and keep on track to fulfill our New Years earnestness.

Presently, this week the snow is BACK !! A week ago we were luxuriating in temperatures in the warm 20’s and now the thermometer isn’t getting over 8c in the day and glacial at evening time. Everything adds to the January reality that it’s not constantly bright and late lunch breaks and afternoon napping, and that we’re going need to burrow down to keep warm, keep healthy and keep on track to satisfy our New Years resolutions.

Comforting but frugal food is on the menu, soups, curry, hot-pots and a favourite of mine the wonder of the slow cooker, to allow tantalising aromas of what you have to look forward when the days chores are done.

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Some of our favourite home-made recipes are here. –

Butternut Squash and Zataar Soup.

Slow Cooking

Broccoli soup with melted cheese montadito.

Keep cosy everyone x

 

 

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When the going gets tough …

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Like many people I’m sure at this time of year, there doesn’t seem enough hours in the day, or enough pennies in the pot – Life sometimes just piles more onto your plate than you can chew …

Well when the going get’s tough I go cooking …..

So I’ve stirred up my Christmas pud, and probably made just one too many wishes…

I’ve baked 6 Christmas fruit cakes, following my old Nan’s super easy recipe, and am feeding them daily with their tot of brandy – 1 for them 1 for me 😉

I’ve made my quince jam to add a sharp & sweet addition to my Christmas ham.

Sherry & Tapas Tasting

and I’ve cooked with my dear friend Lisa aka @familyinspain who joined me on a La Rosilla Cookery & Culture Day, to sample my fayre , join me in sampling sherry & tapas, discover the local countryside, go embutido (Cured meat) shopping and click away at her heart’s content taking some lovely shots of the day.

Embutidos Colmenar

So with the advent doors being opened, oranges studded with cloves and my mulled wine pot on the stove ready for its first fill, the festive aromas fill my senses & add a little cheer.

So as I look ahead to a month full to bursting, with much work and I hope much more play, I wish you all a happy and calm countdown…..

and let’s remember it’s just 1 Day !

Girl Guide Motto – Be Prepared ;)

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I always thought my early years as a Brownie and later as a Girl guide, would bode me well in the future.

Be prepared and all that !!!

But every winter or start of, I think my brain fuddled from the heat of the summer, forgets my past and all it’s promises to  do my best.

We know its coming, the first rains that is, one things for sure in Spain, the expat in us still likes to think of the weather first and foremost, so it’s our daily morning ritual to check the forecast.  But complacent we are , with our high temperatures & clear skies, we think the rains are a  novelty, ‘Oh the land needs it’ we say, ‘No rain for 4 months, it’ll be a refreshing change’.  We live in denial of the coming winter  months, thinking they’ll never arrive, but they do, oh do they…

and guess what we’re never prepared.

Where has my view gone ?

So today as I sit typing away , jeans on for the first time in months, hearing lashing rains on my roof, and seeing pouring rains running under my doors..no we don’t have gutters or weather strips, just lovely rustic wooden doors ;), with electricity on & off, no satellite signal .  With winds gusting, so I feel like I’m in Oz, and branches crashing all about .  I sit and think ‘Is this living the dream’ …you bet it is …how dull life would be if it were all the same.

There’s just one thing it calls for on a day like this, comfort food, so with our supper bubbling on the stove, filling the house with aromas and warmth.  It’s homework time by candle light….

I would share the recipe, but sorry got fallen trees to move….next time x

Now where are my Hunters & Barbour……………………..

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 two favourite things ..

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Dinner & dancing, two of my favourite things… So to start off the season of my supperclub ‘La Rosilla – Supper on the Terrace’ , I planned ‘Tango on the Terrace’ . Now this year the weather has been all over the place, by this time of year we are almost guaranteed balmy nights of lazy, long suppers, but not this year, and not on my inaugural night.

 

Busy cooking in the kitchen, and shouting orders to ninos to sort plates, cutlery and glasses, writing lists for the OH to prepare..no matter how organised there seems always so much to do at the last-minute. The weather in the meantime, was there on the back of mind, and cooking with fingers and toes crossed, and twitter friends crossing fingers and toes for me two, I kept popping my head out to see, checking ‘eltiempo’ for its hourly updates..and thinking please god, be nice to me.

 

At the 11th hour, we took the gamble and laid our tables for 16 , and my prayers & extremity crossing worked, not balmy and sunny, but just good enough.

 

 

Guests arrived promptly and were served Mojitos, and Empanadas, before sitting down, to their night of feasting and frolics.

Erika & Ken from Casa Media Luna – Tango Holidays entertained our guests beautifully with their graceful dancing, with the mood of dance in the air, my daughter decided to do and impromptu ‘Flamenco’ so quickly swapping her apron for a shawl, and sensible shoes to her dancing shoes, she too added wonderfully to our evening.

 

With the warmth of patio heaters, and a few guests still sipping, we sat down to join them, trouble is when you sit down you don’t want to get back up….3.30 am…WE MUST GET UP 😉

 

 

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.

Simply stylish & a little wow !

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I’m always on the look out and designing new, amuse bouche, canapes or as I like to call them ‘Foo Faahs’ …It’s a lovely way to greet guests at La Rosilla, along with a cocktail maybe a mojito or my favorite Kir Royale.

Dainty bites, full of artistic flair, maybe with ingredients they haven’t tasted before, well maybe not together.

This week I made Morcilla topped with a fried quails egg, and a sprig of thyme. Together with a Beetroot gazpacho shot, and celery stirrer..refreshing and oh such a fabulous colour. In fact my daughter chose her paint colour for her room, after seeing a ‘Beetroot Shot’ 🙂

 Have a go ..

 

Take two cooked beetroot (not pickled) – Blend with a hand held blender.

Add 2 tbsp of Greek Yogurt.

A good dash of Vodka.

A sprinkling of cumin seeds.

Whiz once more.

I find it easier to decant it into a squeeze bottle.

Then squeeze into shot glasses.

Decorate with a celery stick, or cucumber and a black olive.

Simply Stylish..with a little wow.

Sun Dried Tomatoes.

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Rushing through the market the other day, the Fruit and Veg stall, grabbed my attention. Bursting at the seems, with lush seasonal goodies. Strawberries, ruby-red and glistening, Cherries deep burgundy, just waiting to be worn as cheeky earrings, new potatoes freshly dug, the first apricot and peaches sitting perfectly waiting to be chosen.

For me bundles of Asparagus, armfuls in fact, to be lightly steamed, and drizzled with melted butter, to be roasted with olive oil, rock salt and a grating of Parmesan, to be wrapped in Serrano ham and grilled on the plancha…for my children dipped into boiled eggs – “Posh Soldiers” we call it.  Made into a tart, puff pastry rolled out into a rectangle, covered in herded cream cheese, asparagus placed on top, drizzle of olive oil, crack of black pepper, a touch of salt, baked till golden ..Delish.


Tomatoes too, big bunches, firm and red on their vines..tomatoes that smell of tomatoes.

Buying at the market, always involves huge lots, that’s how you get your bargains. So ladened too with my toms, I’ve made fresh tomato sauce to freeze for Pasta dishes at a later date..

On Saturday we woke to the most glorious sunshine, with temperatures to boot..ah that had me thinking, make the most of the day. So I made my first batch of Sun Dried Tomatoes for the season. To be enjoyed over the next few weeks, with crumbly goats cheese, piled on hot crusty bruchetta, or just greedily from the jar.

SUN DRIED TOMATOES .

Firstly cut each tomato in half, and scoop out the seeds.

Lay on a baking sheet, I cover mine with baking parchment

Put a drop of olive oil into each cavity, and leaf or two of fresh thyme, and sprinkle of fine rock salt.

Place in the full sun , in a hot place, in the fresh air. They can be covered with a fly net .

Leave all day, once they have shriveled, they are ready. If like me you may like a little juiciness in them..I think these are known as ‘Sunblush‘ One hot day should be sufficient, if you want them drier, bring in at night, cover, and put them out the next day.

Once dried, take a sterilized Jam Jar, put a little EVO in the bottom, and then stuff you toms in the jar. I add a garlic clove sliced in half, and a few sprigs of Thyme and Rosemary.

These little gems if not devoured before should last a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Ferias & Food !

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Spain wouldn’t be Spain without its many Feria’s, no matter how large or small, they are all just as important to the locals.

Our tiny hamlet Solano, nestled high in the hills of the Montes de Malaga, is part of the larger town of Colmenar & on May 3rd (Depending on weather) our Feria de Pipa is celebrated. The town-hall organise for all the Town folk, to be transported in the Campo (Countryside) for a day of feasting and revelry. So our sleepy mountain top, becomes alive.

Colmenar is famous for its embutidos, (cured meats and sausages), and on large barbecues, these are grilled to crispy on the outside and oozing in the middle, spicy Chorizos & rich Morcilla (black pudding) is crudely placed on Pan Cateto, home-made bread baked in bread ovens in the town. The pan is able to soak up the juices of the meats – Delicioso.

Queuing becomes a norm, as plates of meats, are passed overhead, underarm, any way the can to reaching hands. Beer is flowing on tap, and refrescos too.

Of course a Feria wouldn’t be a feria without the obligatory Paella, cooked over open fire, and this year we were not to be disappointed. Paella, of rabbit, chicken and pork, with green beans and artichokes. The chefs ( local town folk) sweated and toiled for us all to enjoy.

At the end of the day, we are all presented with the traditional (El Hornazo) a bread baked hen, stuffed with a hard-boiled egg. A work of art, for all. These were made in times of old, at the beginning of lent, when many were not permitted to eat eggs, and eggs were often thought of like meat as a protein, so they were hard-boiled to preserve them to enjoy after the religious Easter period.

We have a family of ‘Los Hornazos’ this year, the dog even sneaked a crafty one too.