Carrot and olive oil cake

Carrot and olive oil cake

carrot and olive oil cake

By using extra virgin olive oil, this carrot cake had a great taste, was seriously moist and one of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of sugar in the cake itself as 500g seems a lot and so next time I might try using less sugar – possibly 350g.

I’ve just realised that I never say anything about heating the oven to 180ºC. When I bake cakes, I use the wood-fired oven after making pizzas for lunch so it’s more a case of waiting for the temperature to drop from over 350ºC to around 200ºC. Normally this takes about four hours or so and then the temperature will remain constant.

INGREDIENTS (CAKE):
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
500g brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
125g walnuts, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, coarsely grated

INGREDIENTS (ICING):
125g salted butter
250g light cream cheese
250g icing sugar
grated zest of 2 large oranges

METHOD:
Line a deep-sided roasting tin with baking parchment. The size of the tin I used was 32cm x 22cm.

In a large bowl beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs. Slowly add in the flour, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add the grated carrot and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl and then add all the other ingredients. Mix well and then keep in the fridge until needed.

Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to cool completely and then spread over the icing.

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Chicken Run 2

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This year I have put three of the hens in a pen in the bottom field. The idea was that this would be their final resting area but I’ve since changed my mind. Two of the hens are from the eggs that I incubated by crossing our hens with the neighbour’s rooster and I’ve become attached to them so they’ve been granted a wildcard to old age.

The white posts mark the borders of the pen and you can see two of the black hens together. The lines of vegetables to the right of the tractor are potatoes.

In their summer residence, they are protected by an electric fence surrounding a walnut tree and have free range of the first hen house that John built for them. Although they were reluctant to venture in at first, they are now happy to lay their eggs in one of the partitions. They tend to sleep, however, on some of the branches of the tree above it. This is good news and makes me happy. The other day on our morning walk to Marchalejo, we saw a pack of three foxes and then a single fox so it is good that we have the three types of fox-protection: electrocution, canine and flight.

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Tuesday 12th July 2016

lavender summer cortijoblog
Today was a balmy hot day at the Cortijo and temperatures are abnormally hot for this time of year. The lavender is in full bloom and there are loads of different butterflies and bees collecting pollen from it. One of these days we will have our own colony of bees so that we can reap the benefits of this hive of activity.

There are also some beautiful flowers on the way to the swimming pool:

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Aromatic cabbage salad – hvidkålssalat

Aromatic cabbage salad

Apparently cabbage is very popular in Denmark and this dish is similar to coleslaw but without the mayonnaise. This recipe for aromatic cabbage salad combines the cabbage and dried fruit with a simple olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice dressing.

aromatic cabbage salad

INGREDIENTS:
Thinly chopped cabbage
Vinegar
Olive oil
Star anise, ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
Dried fruit (e.g. plums, figs or prunes), chopped

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish potato & radish salad – kartoffelsalat

Danish potato & radish salad

Every country has a different recipe for potato salad and each household makes it their own. In this Danish potato & radish salad, the potatoes and radishes are combined with onions, chives and garlic and dressed with a mixture of sour cream or Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise.

Danish potato & radish salad - kartoffelsalatINGREDIENTS
1 kg of new potatoes, cut into chunks and cooked
Radishes (as many as you like), thinly sliced
3 spring onions or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 handful of chives, chopped
2 tablespoons home-made mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt/sour cream
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt
pepper

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Anna and Sebastian, two Danish workawayers, prepared these Danish vegetarian dishes for Sebastian’s birthday meal. I loved their idea of preparing a delicious vegetarian meal with a Danish theme but using as much of our home-grown vegetables and produce as possible. All of the dishes are vegetarian and the patties are vegan.

The main course consisted of spicy lentil patties with a Danish potato salad and a cabbage salad, along with our normal green salad and pan-fried courgettes. Sebastian made some fresh mayonnaise in advance. He some in the potato salad and added some chilli powder to the rest and thinned it down with some lemon juice for a spicy dipping sauce for the patties.

This was followed by Danish-style pancakes with raspberries and cream.

To see the recipes, click on the photos below.

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

Dried, rapid green lentils were used for these patties and cooked in advance before adding the onions and spices. The patties are actually vegan and some of the tastiest I’ve ever had.Danish vegetarian dishes: aromatic cabbage saladGround star anise and dried plums were added to this Danish-style coleslaw.Danish vegetarian dishes: Danish potato saladIn Denmark, sour cream is generally used for this potato and radish potato salad. However, as it’s impossible to buy that here, Anna and Sebastian used Greek yoghurt instead.

Self-raising flour was used for the pancakes instead of plain flour and they were lovely and fluffy. They were flavoured with ground cardamom. Once they had been cooked, they were served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

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Spicy lentil patties – linsedeller

SPICY LENTIL PATTIES

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

INGREDIENTS:
Use a measuring jug to measure out the ingredients. We used a mixture of walnuts and almonds for the nuts and seeds.

200ml dried green lentils, boiled until tender
100ml nuts or seeds
100ml oats
100ml flour
100ml water
2 onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper

METHOD:
Mix all the ingredients together. Heat some oil in a frying pan. Make the mixture into small patties and fry on both sides until crisp and heated through. Put on a plate and cover to keep warm.

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Steamed broccoli with Asian dressing

This is a great idea for when the broccoli season starts. The salad can be served warm or cold.

INGREDIENTS:
broccoli florets
inch ginger, finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, cut into strip (remove seeds if you don’t want too much heat)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

METHOD:
Boil some water is a saucepan and steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Add the florets while they are still warm.

Olive Oil FAQ

Click here if you would like to BUY OUR OLIVE OIL.

OLIVE OIL FAQ

Is oil made from green or black olives?
All green olives eventually go black. The olives in Spain are mostly green in mid November but by January almost all of them have turned black.

Is olive oil made from the stones or the flesh of the olives?
The oil in olives is concentrated in the flesh not in the stones. After milling, the stones are mostly intact. Stones do not make any distinctive contribution to the flavour of the oil and in some extraction techniques the stones are removed.

What is the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most expensive. Extra virgin olive oil must be extracted using only mechanical means without the addition of any solvents and with a temperature of less than 30C.

Extra virgin olive oil must have less than 0.8% free fatty acid because better oils have a low acidity. Each time an olive producer takes a load of olives to the mill, a random sample is taken and this is analysed in a laboratory. The acidity influences the amount that is paid for the olives.

Extra virgin olive oil must have a peroxide value of less than 20. The peroxide level is an indication of how much oxidation has happened, all oils oxidise but excessive oxidation results in rancid flavours.

In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass an official chemical test in a laboratory and has to be evaluated by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council.

What is the basic process of olive oil extraction?
First the olives are ground up into a paste. This was traditionally done with 3 massive heavy conical stones which were dragged around in a circle by a donkey. One of the cooperatives where we take the olives uses a more old-fashioned technique (click here for more info).  Nowadays,  the olives are ground up using electric motors. Traditionally the olive oil paste was then spread out on circular mats which were stacked in a press and pressure applied to squeeze the oil out of the paste. Pressing the olive paste would now be considered an old-fashioned technique and nowadays most oil is extracted in centrifuge-based systems.

Can I use olive oil for frying?
Olive oil is versatile and can be used for roasting, sautéeing, shallow frying, dressing and drizzling. Since it has a high smoking point (210ºC) which is higher than the ideal recommended frying temperature of 180ºC for most foods, it can also be used for deep-fat frying and many chefs recommend it.

Click here if you would like to BUY OUR OLIVE OIL.

Novella Carpenter – Urban farmer

Novella Carpenter

Novella Carpenter

There are not many people crazy or weird enough to actually enjoy producing food on a small scale so for me it was really great to read Novella Carpenter’s book. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.
Her book describes how she got into urban farming in a rough barrio in Oakland California using a vacant lot next to her house. She also has kept pigs, goats, chickens, bees, made wine, grown vegetables, planted trees etc but in an urban environment. The video below has an interview with Novella and it gives a very brief idea of what she does. Like us, Novella is a sociable person who would not want to be socially isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Part of her childhood was spent in the middle of nowhere and it seems that the urban farm satisfies both the urge to be sociable, be part of a city  and also  the appreciation of nature and a more rural life. We ourselves have a similar dilemma but we solve this problem by having visitors and volunteers. If you like the idea of self sufficiency this book is a great read. Novella has a very pleasant way of writing and I particulary like her no nonsense style which includes plenty of  swearing. If I were inventing a fantasy neighbourhood including the most interesting people  I would definately have Novella as one of my  neighbours. She also has a blog here

The book is available at Amazon UK
or Amazon USA