baking some more

It doesn’t look as if we’ll be travelling abroad any time soon*, so I decided to partially make up for it by baking up another taste of Portugal.  I found this recipe for Bola de Amendoa on the Great British Chefs site. It’s a good resource for recipes and tips.

Anyway, I’d planned to make it a couple of weeks ago but had run out of ground, or indeed any kind of, almonds.  As had our local shop.  So I had to wait until we did our “big shop” (see* below) in Oban.  It was worth the wait.

I love almondy cakes, and gooey centred ones so this recipe promised a double treat.

dry ingredients

Here’s the ground almonds and butter ready to be pulsed together

 

sugar and spice

Sugar and spices

The sugar and egg yolks are whisked  up together,  salt, spice and lemon zest  folded in and then in goes the almond mixture.

all mixed up

egg whites whisked to soft peaks

Next  comes the trickiest part, gently adding in the whisked egg whites. Tricky because you have to mix it enough to avoid streaky white stripes of egg, but gently to avoid beating out the air.

Actually it can’t have been too tricky because I managed it quite successfully,  and into the oven it went.

My one mistake was using a baking tin which was a) slightly too small and b) a push rather than spring release. This meant I had a cuff of cake spilling over the side of the tin which I had to cut away to release the rest of the cake. This did mean I had a bit of cake to “test” – for purely critical purposes you must understand. So silver linings… But next time I think I’ll use my slightly bigger spring release tin, which might mean keeping a close eye on the last few minutes of baking, as the mix will be spread more thinly.

Anyway here’s a not terribly good photo of the finished cake

fuzzy finished product

I didn’t notice how fuzzy this was until it was too late

And once I realised,  I thought I’d take a picture of a slice.

But  I went to look,  and there was none left!  Cake thieves must operate in this area, who’d have thought?

I’ll just have to make another one.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay safe.

Marina xx

 

* Mind you it was a huge excitement the other day just walking in a different part of town. We went to the garden centre, along the esplanade, and then to the fishmonger.  Usually it’s the small supermarket, pick up our food hub  order and home.

Update!

I made another one,  and took a photo

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baking some more

Well it’s been nearly a week since I completed my #EveryDayinMay challenge. So it’s about time for me to post again.

June started out with sunshine, great for my daily walks and working in the garden.

Well, maybe not always working in the garden….

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MrS’s delicious homemade ice cream

But yesterday was a lot cooler, windier and rainier, just the weather for spending time in the kitchen.

I decided to try something new and flushed with my success making the Portuguese roulade thought I’d try this almondy version I found in Olive magazine. It’s more of a cake than the orange custardy pudding, so managing the rolling up would be trickier. But I have made chocolate sponge roulades at Christmas time so decided to give it a go.

That’s icing sugar lining the tin, and in the other picture ground almonds ready to be mixed into the flour, lemon zest and baking powder in the bowl. Eggs and sugar get whisked together.

egg and sugar mix

it doesn’t make for such a good photo.

And then the dry ingredients are gently mixed into the creamy egg/sugar mix, poured carefully into that prepared tin. Then baked for around ten minutes.

I was a bit worried at this point and kept a close eye on the oven. My mix hadn’t been quite enough to fill the tin so I was afraid it wouldn’t need as much baking as advised in the recipe.

After nine and a bit minutes it was ready to turn out and roll up.

all rolled up to cool

which was the part I was most nervous of.

Once it had completely cooled came more trepidation as I unrolled it for filing with raspberry jam and whipped cream, and yes I’d managed to buy the right type of cream.

filled and finished

Well I was mostly successful, only one crack. And those of you who’ve looked at the recipe  might also spot that those aren’t flaked almonds. I didn’t have any and only decided on this recipe after my trip to the shop. But I did have some walnuts which need to be used up, so on they went.

And as they say, and I think I’ve said before.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”

and serve

And though I say it myself, it wasn’t half bad

Until next time.

Stay safe,

Marina xx

Baking 4, Focaccia

Making those treats for DogS yesterday was fun, and it reminded me that baking doesn’t have to mean cake. So I had a rummage around in my recipe folder for this recipe from the BBCGoodfood website.

Focaccia.

I remembered it was tasty, not too tricky to make, and would be ready in time for supper.

 

ingredients

here are the ingredients*

*don’t hate me for having yeast, I had a pre-Covid stash.

It’s not always been the same story for bread flour, but our local shop has a good supply at the moment .

So dry ingredients first, mixing in the salt and yeast separately, before they all get mixed together. Then it’s time to drip in the oil, and add some water, to bring it to the right texture for kneading

 

Making bread is fun, and kneading the dough is soothing

And it’s a good lesson in patience, proving first for an hour in the bowl, then 45 minutes in the tray.

 

All puffed up and almost ready to go

second rise

 

A few finishing touches

and then into the oven it went.

And the finished article?

Baking 3

But with a difference, I’m baking dog biscuits.

MasterS gave us this book for Christmas

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it’s full of recipes for dishes you can share with your dog. Now we have a rule that DogS is not fed at the table while we’re eating. Ok, except for occasional* bits of cheese when she looks specially hungry.

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But I thought it would be nice for her to have some nice tasty homemade treats. Although I have to balance that with the knowledge that she will happily graze on rabbit poo**

I found a recipe that a) required only ingredients I had to hand and b) included some of her favourite things. No, not rabbit poo, tho’ I’ve access to a plentiful supply of that. Cheese and carrots. And had the added attraction of parsley, for fresh breath. DogS is mostly pescatarian which gives her a certain, piquancy around the mouth area.

Here’s the ingredients and the rolled out dough.

 

Now the book said to use a bone shaped cutter, but I don’t have one of those.

So I tried free hand

ready to bake

but quickly swapped to the star shaped cutter

And here they are all baked and ready to eat

all baked

that’s the most bonelike one at the front 

But as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

So I’ll leave you with DogS,

Who I think approves.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*quite often

**and on one memorable occasion sheep poo. The outcome was not pretty, and smelled worse.

Salamanca

I’d intended documenting my walk today, but the weather was against me. It’s really wet and windy, more Autumn than Spring. So I’ve decided to focus on another city from our October trip.

Salamanca in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region. We treated ourselves in this city and stayed at the plush Hospes Palacio de San Esteban , converted from part of a Dominican convent and right in the old heart of the city.

outof windowThis is the view from our room, into the cloister. Opposite is still a religious building.

We all had comfy beds, 

and treats too but we ate ours up before I could take picture of them.  DogS was made very welcome and we were allowed to leave her in the room while we enjoyed our dinner.

hoteldinner

We had an afternoon and one full day to explore. For our afternoon we just wandered around getting a feel for the city. Next day we headed out for breakfast , where DogS made a friend.

meeting a daxieHe was a lovely wire haired dachshund.

We  gave her a good walk along the river Tormes, where we met another dachshund! A smooth, black and tan one this time*.  We’d decided that we wanted to visit the Casa Lis a gorgeous Art Nouveau, or Modernista as it’s known in Spain,  building housing the museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. So once DogS was happily tired we took her back to the hotel where she could enjoy her luxury bed.

Now, when I was choosing my photos for this post I was convinced that there must be some I’d not loaded from my camera, or accidentally deleted. I mean I don’t have any of the Plaza Mayor**, one of the main sights of Salamanca. But there’s a good reason why I have none of the Casa Lis collections, photography isn’t allowed inside. You’re encouraged to just look at and enjoy the exhibits.  To be in the moment with them.

There’s a cafe inside but we didn’t want to leave DogS alone for too long.   We collected her from the hotel and looked around for a nice place for lunch. 

Then it was time for more exploring. We spent a long time looking for the stone frog on the facade of the university , before we realised we were looking at the wrong building! MrS eventually spotted it with a little help from the guidebook 

exterior universityWe had time for one more visit and decided on the old Cathedral. So we followed the map and walked round and round looking for the way in.  No luck, we could only find the entrance to the “New” Cathedral***.  I can’t remember how we found out the truth, it’s a “Russian doll” type set up. The old Cathedral is inside the new one.  And we’d only had a glass of wine with our lunch. We had planned on taking turns on going in, while the other stayed outside with DogS. I went in first, it was about fifteen minutes before last entry. But then it took a while to find the old Romanesque parts. And I didn’t want to be scurrying through not looking at anything else. By the time I reached the old parts I realised that there wouldn’t be time for me to get out, again,  find MrS,  and for him to buy a ticket and visit. So I stayed until closing time, and it was one place where I did take lots of  photos. 

We only touched the surface of a lovely city and would like to go back some day.

ham

Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

*DogS has a “fur-cousin” Lemmy who is a mini longhaired dachshund – there’s picture of him here.

**It’s beautiful, with cafes and shops at street level and balconies above. Like many Spanish plazas it was once the site of bullfights. When we visited, the centre of it was full of stalls  being prepared for a fair or exhibition,  but it didn’t open while we were there. 

***the “New” one is pretty old too 

 

Towns that smell of chocolate*

To be honest I think I’ve only ever been to the one, although both Edinburgh, my home of nearly thirty years, and Carlisle, smell of biscuits.**

The chocolatey town? Oloron Ste Marie  in the south of France, where we visited the Lindt factory. Actually that’s a bit misleading, I don’t think you can take factory tours. What you can do is visit the FACTORY SHOP.

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chocolate similar to that available

A bit of a disclaimer, that bar of chocolate was not bought in Oloron. I mean really what were  you expecting? That I’d saved a bar of chocolate for over six months? I think I do quite well giving it up for the six weeks of Lent.

And I wrote about what happened to my virtuous plans of avoidance yesterday.

The pretty bag on the other hand is genuine. You can buy Lindor boules in a huge variety of flavours. More than shown in that link. Arrayed as a massive Pick’n’Mix. And then there were the boxes of chocolates, bars of all sizes, bags of rejected misshapes, and end of line flavours that didn’t fly.  I really was quite good, several boxes of chocolates and most of the pick and mix came home with us. And a fair quantity of that made its way to others as a gift. But I did enjoy a “lucky dip” into the misshapes as we travelled about.

There’s a lot more to Oloron than chocolate. It’s a pretty place to wander around with its two mountain rivers or “gaves” which merge to form the “Gave d’Oloron”.

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this is the Gave d’Aspe

And the church of Sainte Marie d’Oloron is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit when that’s possible.

 

It’s also one of the few places where traditional French berets are made. We found them in this beautiful traditional shop, Souviron Palas.

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I decided against a beret but we found some good Christmas presents there.

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The weather wasn’t so great on the day of our visit to Oloron-Ste-Marie,  but we did enjoy some Autumn sunshine while we were in the area. And glimpses of the Pyrenees.

 

A demain

Marina xx

*It really did

**Edinburgh’s Sighthill district is home to Burton’s biscuits and the smell of shortbread often fills the air. In Carlisle the scent is  Carr’s water biscuits

 

Baking again

I had planned on not eating cake, chocolates and puddings for the next few months after a massive binge at Easter.

Planned.

Things have not really gone to plan.

First MrS made ice cream, and then there have been sooooo many bargain chocolates in the shops. Calling out to me to be saved.

So today which started out a little grey and wet seemed to be an ideal time to do some comfort baking.

A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for a Portugese Orange Pudding from Sarah Beattie *. It was delicious and reminded me of some of the things we’d eaten in Guimaraes.  In fact it was so delicious that we ate it all up before I had a chance to take a photo, hence the empty plate above.

I was a bit worried it might have been beginners luck

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ingredients all measured out

I’d halved the ingredients, I didn’t want to be too greedy. And so had to estimate the cooking time. Would it work second time around?

All mixed up and ready to go. Hmm, a bit too much air beaten into the eggs?

Out of the oven and ready to roll………it’s a bit bubbly.

 

But I think I just about got away with it.

And the finished product

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seems to be ok

But as they say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”

That’s going to have to wait a while, it needs to cool down first.

And since the sun has come out

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I’ve managed to put the washing out too

I think I’ll go and give  MrS a hand in the garden. That way I won’t feel so guilty eating it later .

Enjoy your Saturday and stay safe.

Until tomorrow

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*Check out her page, it’s full of lovely recipes. The one I made was posted around the 16th April.

Stopping for lunch

These days I start thinking about lunch pretty much right after breakfast, certainly no later than mid morning.

Who am I trying to kid?  This is normal , not lockdown behaviour for me.

I have to be very, very busy or ill,  not to have at least part of my mind on my next meal.

That’s today’s lunch by the way, cheesy beans on toast. Nothing fancy but quite delicious.

Anyway, lunch at home might be important, but lunch on the road?       Well…….

On our October trip, yes that again,  I planned our pitstops around nice breaks for lunch. And the chance of a bit of sightseeing. We were doing far too many miles to rely solely on the delights of the motorway service station*  And  they are rarely dog friendly**

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“Dunno why. I has luvverly table manners”

So,  on the road in October. Our first stop was  The Fleece Inn in Lancashire. Not only a pub and place to stay, it was also a shop and community hub. I hope it’s surviving the lockdown.

The book has been great way to find off motorway stops but it’s not infallible. We once drove miles along twisty car filled roads in Surrey to find a place that was dog friendly only on its very small terrace. Luckily it was a sunny day.

On the way  to Saumur we stopped off in Angers, to view the Tapestry and eat crepes in a cone. And in a damp Pamplona,  with MrS feeling a bit ill back at the hotel, I trudged around trying to find somewhere I could get a waiter to serve a crazy lady outside***

Street scene in Angers, my lunch in Pamplona.

On our return through France, away from the motorways we found a couple of towns that would have been fun to explore.

We made a planned stop in Rodez as it was convenient for our route between Albi and Le Puy . It looked interesting with a fine church and a fancy new museum****. But we just stopped for a quick lunch in a tiny cafe and filed it away for “future visit”.

We stopped a bit longer in Laon, unplanned this time. It  happened along conveniently at lunchtime. It was a bit like Le Puy, though not so far off the beaten track. Obviously hugely important in the past,  a stop for pilgrims along  the Camino.  As so many of our stops had been, though mostly by chance.

Its fine Cathedral was visible for miles, high above the otherwise flat countryside.

The empty streets were being prepared for Christmas and there seemed to be a municipal rollercoaster. This turned out to be a funicular, which like too many of the shops, had been closed for a few years.  Our first choice restaurant wasn’t dog friendly, not common in France, but we didn’t go hungry.

Rainbow drops and our robust lunch

It had a melancholy air.

Wandering about, eating lunch in a cafe, being among people.

Life enriching things.

Missing things.

Things I hope will return.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*there are some really good ones, check out the Westmorland group

**Cairn Lodge on the M74 is an exception, there is an indoor dog friendly eating area. Best if you are travelling with someone as you can’t take them into the food service area.

***we found very few places where DogS was allowed inside in Spain, so it was tricky alone on a wet day.

****where we parked, it seemed secure and I’m quite paranoid about parking when we have a fully laden car.

Le Puy en Velay

I’m back with the armchair travel. In Le Puy. A stop on our return through France in October.

And at first I wasn’t sure whether I did like it.

Actually it was strange and beautiful on first sight.  Approaching from the hills we could see its stripy cathedral, and  weird volcanic toadstools, those topped with churches and statues instead of pixies. Then as we spiralled down towards the town,  it looked a bit sad, and more than a little rough around the edges.

It didn’t help that I missed the entrance to the hotel parking on my  first two, was it three? passes.  But it is best that I’m driving in these circumstances. I’m much less law-abiding than MrS, and happy to simply stop in the street.  And MrS, has far better language skills. So off he went to the hotel and got directions. And in fairness  he was told that no-one ever found their way into the carpark without help.

So we set off for a little explore, and gradually my opinion and spirits improved.

Le Puy sits not quite in the centre*of France, but feels as if it is. It’s roughly equidistant from Clermont Ferrand and Lyon, just under two hours by road from either. And it isn’t on a major motorway route. Because of all that volcanic activity the approach roads are  scenic but not the easiest drive. And like many provincial towns in France its economy is a bit depressed. It used to make money from tanning and lacemaking. There’s no tanning any more, but you can buy and watch lace being made by hand in the traditional ways.

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It’s gorgeous but sadly not as fashionable as it once was.

Le Puy is known for its green lentils, but less so for another green  “foodstuff” – Verveine. Nope I hadn’t heard of it either but it was everywhere. It used to be made in a beautiful distillery** in the centre of the town. It’s still distilled locally but out of the centre.

 

It did seem to be a popular digestif, and not only in the more touristy restaurants.

We ate well in Le Puy;  dinner at the traditional and historic Tournayre,  lunch at a friendly bistro near the cathedral, and dinner again at Brasserie 912  which had great  vegetarian options. And yes, that is a lentil burger.

 

And of course, we visited that amazing stripy cathedral  the top of the town.

So yes, I did like Le Puy.

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“I liked it too”

A demain

Marina xx

 

 

 

*that’s a service area with a fantastic view, this was taken in February on a different trip. P1010856

**I haven’t many photos from Le Puy although I ‘m sure I took lots. You can find out more about Verveine here.

Friday Night Dinner

Now I’m being a but naughty with this post. Am I talking about the TV show? Or my actual Friday night dinner. Actually a bit of both. If you’re unfamiliar with the show then.. well, you’ll need to hurry but you can find it here.

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So what’s the connection? In the show the two grown up sons Adam and Jonny return to their family home every Friday for Shabbat dinner. There’s also a return to their teenage (or earlier) behaviours.  They squabble and prank each other,  and alternately tease their Mum or vie for her attention.  This seemed familiar, not the way the brothers behaved to each other, but their regression. For years whenever I returned home I’d become the sulky teen I had never actually been. It also made me think of the last Christmas we had when my Mum was well, and how much she enjoyed having both her girls around her having a good natured competition over a quiz. And I identify with Jackie Goodman, because I love it when MasterS* visits. And love to cook for him, even though he’s a good cook himself**. It’s not a return to the family home for him, unlike the Goodman boys he’s  had at least six of those. And he’s never lived in this house.

Which brings me to my Friday night dinners. That tradition started at the turn of the century. I had split up from MasterS’s father and moved into a flat of my own. MasterS lived between our two flats*,** spending Wednesday through to Sunday afternoon with me. I didn’t work Fridays and the mornings would be school run, an actual run, and the shopping run. School finished at lunchtime, I’d pick up MasterS, sometimes we’d have lunch in a cafe and then we’d go home for the weekend. And in the evening MrS (though he wasn’t that then) would come around for Friday night dinner.  A tradition began. And continues.

These days it’s usually just the two of us, oh and DogS of course. But some things don’t change. I try to set a pretty table, we have meat , or more usually fish (we don’t eat these much during the week), and wine. Even though neither of us have “nine to five” jobs any more,  Friday marks the start of the weekend. We have lunch out,**** do the shopping,  go to the fishmonger, then go home to prepare our Friday night dinner.*****

Until tomorrow

IMG_0016 *and girlfriend

** they both are

***we lived fairly close to each other in the same city

****prelockdown

*****keeping this going