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.

Chickpea courgette mash

Chickpea courgette mash

chickpea and courgette mash

Chickpea and courgette mash

This recipe for chickpea courgette mash is made with the same ingredients as those used in hummus: chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice as well as the courgettes. Inspiration for it came from the courgette hummus recipe.

The important thing about growing and harvesting courgettes is to pick them when they are small before they get too big. My favourite way of preparing courgettes is to thickly slice the courgettes and then slowly fry them in a splash of olive oil before dressing with salt, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a knob of butter.

Courgettes or zucchini are low in calories and contain folate, potassium and Vitamin A. They are extremely flexible and can be prepared and eaten in many different ways (raw, boiled, fried, roast or barbecued). Interestingly enough, there is no difference between a courgette and the larger marrow, it’s simply that courgettes are harvested earlier while marrows are left to grow larger. That said, however, some species taste better as courgettes while others taste better as marrows.

In the summer when courgette production is in full swing, it’s good to find new ways of cooking courgettes. For more recipes for courgettes, check out this recipe book on Amazon: What Will I Do with All Those Courgettes?

INGREDIENTS:
courgettes, cut into 1cm cubes
400g cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cumin
olive oil
salt and pepper

METHOD:
To make the chickpea courgette mash, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the cubed courgette. Fry gently until they have lost all their liquid and are almost starting to brown.

Add the chickpeas, garlic and cumin and stir well for a minute or so. Stir in the tahini and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Heat through.

Remove half of the mixture to a bowl and blend with a stick blender. Pour back into the frying pan.

The idea is to evaporate some, most or all of the liquid depending on how dry you want it. I like to make it fairly dry so that it browns as you continue frying it.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs

Peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

Peeling hard-boiled eggs in ice

 

An eggshell is permeable to air and water. A newly laid egg is covered by a natural coating called the bloom. This prevents loss of moisture from the egg and bacteria getting in. In my opinion, it is better to take advantage of this and not wash the eggs. The eggs are protected naturally and so do not need to be kept in the fridge. You can then wash the eggs just before you use them.

There are two membranes inside the shell: the outer shell membrane which adheres to the eggshell and the inner shell membrane surrounding the egg white and yolk. As time goes by, air enters the egg through the pores and fills the gap between the two membranes and the egg cell expands. It is this gap between the two membranes which affects how easy it is to peel a hard-boiled egg.

I’ve read that in order to peel very fresh eggs, it helps to immerse them in cold water and ice cubes so I thought I would give it a try to see if it helps. For the purpose of the “eggsperiment” I used 15 eggs of varying sizes and laid between 0 and 3 days ago (0 being a couple of hours previously).

The eggs were cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes. Cold water was then run over them and they were they plunged into the iced cold water. I left them for 45 minutes.

I found that eggs laid the same or the previous day were very difficult to peel. Eggs that were two days old were OK. Eggs which were three days old or more were good. I also found that putting the eggs in ice made no difference whatsoever and is not worth doing.

 

Smoked salmon pasta

Smoked salmon pasta

smoked salmon past

Smoked salmon pasta

This pasta dish is made with smoked salmon, spinach and cream cheese. A couple of spoonfuls of the pasta cooking liquid are added to the dish at the end to moisten it slightly. The dish is then served with freshly ground black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.

INGREDIENTS:
100g pasta per person
1/2 or 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g spinach per person, finely shredded
50g cream cheese per person
 zest and juice of 1/2 – 2 lemons
1/4 – 1 packet smoked salmon
handful of basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil

METHOD:
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water.

Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large wok. Gently soften the garlic for a few minutes before adding the spinach to wilt. Add the cream cheese and mix well to combine, before adding the lemon zest and juice. Season with black pepper.

Drain the pasta, keeping back some of the cooking liquid.

Add the smoked salmon to the sauce along with the pasta and basil. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of cooking liquid to slacken the pasta slightly.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.