Onion Bhajis

Friday 13th March was the day that we escaped back to the cortijo from the coast. Little did we know then that a state of alarm would be declared the next day forbidding the movement of people and only allowing food shops and pharmacies to open. We had suspected that it might happen and so had already stocked up on some basic staples.

Normally, we would have volunteers to come and stay to hep us with the planting, harvesting, etc. but out of necessity, we’ve decided to go more self-sufficient.

On Tuesday 16th March, I harvested the remaining onions and prepared them for the freezer or fridge. There were white and red onions, of all different shapes and sizes. I thinly sliced some and used them for these onion bhajis.

Onion Bhajis
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Ingredients
  1. onions, thinly sliced
  2. 150g gram flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  8. water
Instructions
  1. Combine the onions, gram flour and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add enough water to form a moist batter, using your hands to bring the mixture together.
  3. Heat some sunflower oil in a wok or pan.
  4. Using a couple of dessert spoons, shape the onion mix into balls.
  5. Slide the balls into the oil.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes on both sides until lightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a plate with some kitchen paper.
  8. Turn up the heat under the oil until quite hot.
  9. Refry the onion bhajis for 30 seconds on each side.
  10. Serve.
Notes
  1. This recipe was made slightly more complicated by the fact that we didn't have any gram flour. There was nothing for it but to make our own. We found the best way was to first smash the dried chickpeas with a mallet before grinding in a spice grinder. We then sieved them to remove the coarser particles and reground these.
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Italian-style Grilled Vegetables

Italian-style Grilled Vegetables


Previously, I had only ever thought of grilling courgettes, but thanks to Manuela (a professional cook who was recently staying with us), I have learned a whole lot more about how to grill vegetables and the flavourings and flavours that can go with them. We have experimented with vegetables such as butternut squashes and aubergines, things that I would never thought of grilling before. The secret is to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways and then sear in the flavour with a griddle pan before adding flavours such as garlic, chilli, lemon or vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

This page includes recipes for three grilled vegetable dishes: aubergine, courgette and butternut squash.

It has sparked a whole new interest in grilling things, and in the future I want to experiment not just with other vegetables but also seafood and shellfish. In preparation, we have resurrected an old griddle pan which had gone completely rusty. Here it is after the restoration work:

For all of the three recipes, you need to thinly slice the vegetables lengthways. It is then important to get the griddle pan really hot before adding the sliced vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes before turning. Then turn again, rotating through 90º so that the grilled lines cross and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes (12 minutes in total).

Once the sliced vegetables have cooked, transfer them to a flat serving dish and sprinkle with salt.

Here are some suggestions for how to dress the vegetables:

You can make up some chilli-garlic olive oil in a small container: add a couple of cloves of garlic, some sliced chilli and olive oil and blend well with a stick blender. Brush the sliced vegetable with the oil mixture and keep it in the fridge until you next need it.

PUMPKIN: finely chop some garlic cloves and parsley and sprinkle over the vegetables. Mix together some balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar and olive oil and dress the vegetables.

AUBERGINE: finely chop some garlic cloves, chilli and oregano or mint and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

COURGETTES: finely chop some garlic cloves and sprinkle over the vegetables. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.

Tuna and Egg Empanada Gallega

Tuna and Egg Empanada

Empanada is a Spanish pie which is typical of Galicia in the north of Spanish and is also called Empanada Gallega. The empanada is traditionally filled with meat, tuna, vegetables, and seafood or shellfish and usually is served cold. It is a great way to feed lots of people and also good for picnics.

You can make the pastry from scratch or you can buy a packet of pre-prepared dough which has already been rolled out.

It’s also a great recipe to prepare in the wood-fired bread oven after you have cooked pizzas for lunch and the oven has been left to cool down a bit. If you prepare some larger amounts of the pizza toppings (e.g. onion, green pepper, red pepper), then you already have your vegetables prepared for when you are going to cook it later.

Tuna and Egg Empanada Gallega
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, finely chopped
  2. 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  3. 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  4. 240g tinned tuna
  5. 4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  6. 1 egg, beaten
  7. 200ml tomato sauce
  8. extra virgin olive oil
  9. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion, green pepper and red pepper until soft.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and continuing frying until the mixture is quite dry.
  3. Flake in the tuna and the hard-boiled eggs and stir well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, unwrap the pastry and place the greasproof paper on a large baking tray.
  7. Place one of sheets of pastry on top of the paper.
  8. Spread out the filling to within an inch of the edges.
  9. Put the other sheet of pastry on top, matching up the edges.
  10. Using your fingers, create a rope-like effect by rolling over the edges.
  11. Brush the top with the beaten egg.
  12. Bake in a 180ºC oven for 4 minutes until the top is golden.
  13. Leave to cool before serving.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Featherless Hens

Featherless Hens: Supplementing their diet with egg yolks and eggshells

 

 

 

PROBLEM: a featherless hen

I have decided to see whether it is possible to supplement a hen’s diet with egg yolks and eggshells in order to improve the amount of calcium she consumes so that her feathers can grow back.

Although this hen does not have many feathers, she is a good layer and generally lays an egg a day. I thought her feathers would grow back when two of the other hens who had been picking on her and pecking her died but I’m still waiting. Although some feathers did grow back, she is still a long way from full feather form.

I have in the past given her crushed up calcium tablets but that hasn’t seemed to work. So I decided to try an experiment. My theory is that she is using all her calcium resources on egg production and so I would try to replenish them by feeding her egg yolk and eggshell.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: supplement her diet with egg yolks and eggshells

The experiment started today (29th May 2019). I ground up some eggshells in a spice blender. I then mixed an egg yolk and a teaspoon of eggshell in a jam jar lid and fed it to her. 

A hen is at the peak of her laying life when she is 35 weeks old. She will normally consume 4g of calcium a day. She consumes most calcium in the early hours of the day but also a small amount throughout the day.

0.5g of her daily calcium intake is indigestible and is lost through faeces, 0.4g is lost through urine and 0.1g is used for bone regeneration. The remaining 3g is used in the egg process: 2g for the eggshell and 1g for the yolk and albumen.

The photo at the top of the page shows her today. The photo below shows her and some of the other hens finishing up the leftovers.

 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY CRUMBLErhubarb and strawberry crumbleWe’ve now got a fair amount of rhubarb and so we decided to do something with it and make a crumble. In the end, we made two: the first with rhubarb and strawberries in an electric oven and the second with rhubarb and apples in the bread oven.

The crumble can be prepared in advance and then cooked before serving but it is a good idea to only add the crumble topping to the fruit just before baking to stop it going soggy.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 600g of rhubarb
  2. 400g strawberries
  3. 50g brown sugar
  4. 140g plain flour
  5. 100g oats
  6. 120g brown sugar
  7. 120g butter (at room temperature), cut into pieces
Instructions
  1. Cut the rhubarb and into small chunks and the strawberries to a similar size.
  2. Heat the rhubarb pieces in a pan with a splash of water and 50g of sugar for 3-5 minutes and then add the strawberries.
  3. Cook until soft.
  4. Taste the juice and add more sugar if necessary.
  5. Separate the fruit from the syrup.
  6. To make the crumble for the topping, mix together the flour, oats, sugar and butter together with your fingers to make crumbs.
  7. Transfer the fruit to a baking tin with a few tablespoons of the syrup and top with the crumble mixture.
  8. Cook in a hot oven (200ºC) for 30 minutes. You can always finish it off under the grill to brown the top if necessary.
Variation
  1. Substitute cooking apples for the strawberries and cook at the same time as the rhubarb, adding more sugar if necessary.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/