Tree Weaving


The municipal gardeners came around this week and started braiding the bushes.

This takes some planning. They have to plant the things, keep them alive for a couple of years, pruning them to make a strong base with decent branches coming out it it; and to keep the sidewalk clear.  Then, one year they must let those branches grow longer than usual, pruning out the non-targeted ones.  Finally, this spring (now/winter?), they braid the 3 extra long branches together and convince them to stay vertical – which requires a long piece of rebar.

What happens is that in the next 2 or three years those three weaved-together branches form a solid trunk and you end up with a tree – made out of a bush.

A wild amount of patience is required.

Pork, potato, pesto


It was actually lamb but I like the alliteration so much that I‘ll pretend it’s pork.

Having fried up the chops and mashed up the potato it’s just drizzling pesto over the potato; since it was lamb a bit of mint in the pesto would have been interesting but I decided not to do that (since I had no mint at home).  Pesto on potato is not something I’d run into before; it works really well – and lots healthier than butter I imagine.

Burger : Beef : Home


I went through some burger experimentation this summer. Trying burgers everywhere I went.

This one was “all natural pure beef” plus a whack of parsley, salt, pepper and that’s it.   Notable, once I got home, was that the package of ground beef had an ingredients list on it; not a good sign.  It turned out that it was 90% beef, 8% cereals, water, and some natural something or other as a preservative (nitrates, for example,  can be “natural”, right?).   I was not happy. 

This one started out very flat and really bulged in the middle while cooking.  Always a problem but especially severe in this case.   It took forever to cook and was still undercooked in the center. 

Melon Granita : Cantaloupe with Cantaloupe-Ice


It was in August that I made this.   You can see how the sliver of cantaloupe is cleverly sliced along the skin and that the vertical cuts made through the flesh; with the pieces pushed in alternating directions.  You’ve seen this a hundred times at restaurants.   It’s a little bit decorative and very simple.  People seem to like it.

The granita (kind of a lumpy sorbet):

  • 1/2 cantaloupe, deseeded
  • 1/4 cup fine/superfine sugar (not a lot)
  • 2 t lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 1/2 t vanilla (liquid)
  • a pinch of salt (or less) because salt makes things taste sweeter sometimes (yes, it really does)
  1. Blend all the ingredients together; getting some air into the mix won’t hurt (a food processor is fine)
  2. Put into a freezer proof container, shallow makes it happen faster as does using metal or glass rather than plastic
  3. Mush it around with a fork once in a while (1/2 hour) and scrape the sides of the container
  4. Continue until there is no liquid left and you like the texture (3 or 4 hours probably but plan on it taking longer – just in case; it could be a little as 1 hour.  If it is happening fast, check and stir more often)
         It will be fairly granular (see picture)


Caramelized Onions



These are julienned (sliced) onions (two of them); pan fried slowly in olive oil (I use first cold pressed virgin for almost everything but this does not demand the very best – and I use it somewhat generously, as you can see).  Brown until they’re almost a jam texture. This could take a half hour, easily; probably more. Add 1 t white wine vinegar and some salt to taste at the end. At no point is any sugar used – the vinegar and salt will make it seem to taste sweeter.

Now, looking at the picture, I think these should have gone on a little longer.

There’s also another technique for doing caramelized onions that involves less oil and more water; perhaps it’s healthier. You can look at it somewhere in this other post.

Ensalada : Salad

Eat healthy once in a while. Then… add some cheese.  This is an at-home version of a salad that I used to do in a restaurant.

  • Mixed salad greens (gourmet style blend)
  • 1/2ed cherry tomatoes, cut horizontally (I put the halves face-up to catch the dressing, in the restaurant we put them face down)
  • goat cheese (chevre) , slightly microwaved to just melt it a little (several small rounds or one slice of a big round) Cut chevre with a wire-style cheese slicer; there is no other practical way
  • whole walnuts (not in the pic because I forgot them)
  • reduced balsamic vinegar (take regular balsamic, boil a bottle's worth until reduced 2/3rds, add salt - or buy balsamic glaze [shudder])
  • olive oil, virgin, first cold pressed – making sure to drizzle the face-up tomatoes
  • a few flakes of Maldon salt
As you can see I was having fun with links.

Saté Pork : Satay

I buy pork (and beef and chicken) in largish chunks, pre-cut it, bag it in meal-sized quantities and freeze it. The pre-cut bit is important to me for later usability. When I want a quick lunch I don’t want to have to thaw then trim and dice my meats. This was a stir-fry cut pack of pork.
Brown the meat real well. Not to the point where it’s simply “not red” but to where the meat has some caramelization on it; not just blah-gray. This requires a blazingly hot pan.

This pork (500 grams [1#] was marinated for a couple of hours in

  • 2T olive oil
  • 2T soya sauce
  • 2T white wine vinegar
  • 1t Habanero hot sauce (should have used more)
before flash-frying it.

Served with some peanut sauce (Indonesian/Dutch) and plain white rice. No recipe for the peanut sauce because I made it from a pack (for shame). The sauce was slightly disappointing so I’ll probably not do that again.

Sloppy Joes of a sort : Curried Chilied Ground Beef

This will be the last uitsmijter post for a while. It happens that this one reminds me of sloppy joes. Do you remember sloppy joes? My mom used to make them often and we thought they were quite a treat.

Sloppy Joes were made of ground beef, tomato sauce and chili spices, more or less, I think. We always had them open faced.

This one I did yesterday was with cheese under and an egg on top – which brings it into uitsmijter territory. This is how it was constructed:

I was having fun with foto editing tools – that’s a single picture.

  • 500 grams [1#] of ground beef
  • 1 T of masala curry paste (Indian)
  • 2 T Thai red chili paste
  • 1 T of 7-spices mix (Moroccan, called hanout sometimes)
  • 400 ml of tomato sauce (tomato cooked with olive oil and onion)
  1. Fry the ground beef in just a drop of olive oil (or not) with just a dash of salt
  2. add the pastes and the tomato sauce
  3. taste as it reduces to adjust the spices. If you’re nervous about hotness use just one tablespoon of Thai chili paste for starters and adjust it later
  4. simmer to reduce to on-top-of-bread consistency
  5. add salt (do not skimp on the salt) at the end

This might seem a horrible confusion of flavour sources but these do really go well together.
We’ll cal it
fusion rather than confusion.

Croquette / Donuts

Creative chefs make the craziest things. This is Terraza Carmona again where I go sometimes to have the gourmet version of tapas; more like what you might encounter in a north american so-called tapas place. This is a croquette but made in the shape of a little donut.


I want to know how this is done. I suspect the filling might be frozen at one point. That’s the only way I can figure they’d hold their form to be breaded.

Smoked Salmon Uitsmijter


The layers are

  • toast
  • 3 herb mustard
  • gouda cheese, slice
  • smoked salmon
  • soft fried egg
  • habanero hot sauce

Basically a super-duper toast.  But healthy and tasty and easy.

And did I say tasty?

Jade Plant


Jade plant (crassula ovata) . As you can see, they just grow in the street here. This thing is wel over a meter [yard] wide.  Winters never get below freezing and they don’t get specially watered in the summer (very hot dry summers) – and they survive. 
Perhaps we over-think the houseplant situation. I’ll get a picture again later when this thing flowers.

Kids’ Eats

It’s amazing to me what some kids eat as “meals”. I was chatting today with a friend and it was all about this one youngun’ that was into eating mac&cheese (the box sort) every single day – for breakfast. Really, that’s not a bad breakfast – starch, protein, some milk product; beats a cereal bowl full of choco-sugar super-puff-crunchies any day.

It seems so little; but I remind myself that these kids aren’t very big at all. All generally healthy though so someone’s doing something right.

So here’s a couple of pics of “dinner” for the kids of another friend of mine: The nuggets and chips:
that was what was left after a few bites for dinner and doggy-bagged for later.

Second up – pasta, with no sauce please:
this little remnant was not bagged for later.

The adults ate a pizza with a bunch of toppings:
there were even pizza leftovers.

Flat-top trees


This is a very popular way to trim the trees.  There must be some practical reason for it – that I can’t yet figure out. 

Tuna and Potato

Just a pan fried tuna steak and some creamed potatoes (with a carrot & onion sauce)


The sauce got spotty from tuna-water/fat/oil so was not as pretty as I wanted; but had very tiny-tiny onion and carrot pieces which is what made it special.

Lots of times when I was working in restaurant kitchens the only difference I noted in some recipes was that we chopped the veggies with great precision and in very small pieces.  That’s the thing with this dish; chop very small and make them all nice and same sized. The onions and carrots make this a sweetish sauce and the vinegar balances that.

  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 carrots (same volume-wise as the onion)
  • very good olive oil
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • salt
  1. Chop the veggies super fine in nicely even-sized little cubes (you will need a sharp knife and/or a mandoline [like me])
  2. Sauté the veggies in the oil very slowly; until quite soft (without browning; this could take a half hour, easily)
  3. Add the vinegar
  4. Add a good dash of salt (this makes the whole thing taste sweeter – really it does)
  5. Be prepared to add more vinegar to get an attractive sauce consistency; add a bit at a time and switch to water before it gets too vinegary (you can make this sauce far (days) in advance, it keeps well [because of the vinegar] and can be heated later when “finishing” a dish {this is what we do in restaurant kitchens})
  6. Fry up the tuna steak in a frying pan
  7. When the steak is done transfer it to the sauce’s sauce pan, with its juices (there shouldn’t be a lot) – to infuse the sauce with some tuna flavour.
  8. Warm slightly and serve

I cooked a potato and creamed it (potato, salt, butter, pepper) so I would have something on the side to soak-up the sauce.

You can double, triple, quadruple the sauce recipe – no problem.

Pretty good with whitefish too (maybe cod, for example); but I like the look best with brown/tan fishes. Maybe not a great combo with salmon… I’ll have to think about that.


This is what happen to the street when it rains a little.  Nothing dramatic - not storming, not pouring nor pissing down; just a shower – maybe a bit more than a drizzle.  Notice: As a former Vancouverite I know 42 different words for rain.

Lack of drainage – since it doesn’t rain a lot here.


Happily, the sun came out a 4:00 p.m.

Vieira : Scallop

We ate this every single year at xmas or new years in Galicia. 


After (well… 1/2 way) – it’s scallops, mushrooms and cream – that’s about it.

Sauté the mushrooms, add cream, then add the scallops (whole or chopped in chunks) – cook briefly.
Ladle into the shells, cover with breadcrumbs and toast under the broiler.

You could get fancy and sauté a bit of onion before (& in addition to) the mushrooms – or finely chopped leeks.

Save the shells for next year.

Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips [Crisps] (with Anchovies) : Boquerones y Patatas Fritas

It’s a tapa. You take your average potato chips (crisps to the Euro-anglos) and drape some marinated anchovies over them (marinated in oil and vinegar and a little salt).  What you get tastes like those Salt & Vinegar flavoured potato chips that I used to love as a kid; but now with all natural ingredients.

salt vinegar04012010828

See also a variant with Boquerones without chips.

Tapas – Often Fried and Salted

I was up in Madrid and popped out for tapas at a little Asturian place nearby.  Ordered all the favorites since I don’t get up there often and we don’t have a place like this anymore down here at the beach. We did… but last season the owner turned the place from a tapas bar into an Indian restaurant - - quite a dramatic change.  Now, for tapas, I have to go to the next town over.

Here’s what I had and how they are prepared.  Try it at home.

Morcilla: blood sausage, with rice and onions.  These were probably sliced and deepfried; at home I just do them in deepish pan.

These are little fried anchovies – Boquerones Fritos or Anchoas Fritas; dusted with a little flour before frying then salting (coarse salt) – they were beheaded and gutted but not deboned; probably soaked in lemon and water for a few hours before cooking.

Pimientos de Padron (from Padron in Galicia) are small hot peppers.  An occasional one is super-spicy and surprises you; a sort of Hot-Peppers Roulette.  Fried and salted.

Asparagus, green. Fried and salted. You can see an anchovy spine and hot pepper caps on the edge of the plate there.
tapa-asper-08122009782 Tags:

Beans : Fabas : Pork and Beans

Simple winter food (okay, it’s been more like 20-25 degrees C lately [that’s 70 or 80 F] but technically it’s winter) .

Soak the 250 gr [8 oz] of white beans overnight and drain away that first round of water.

Cover with water and add the sausage, black sausage and pork-fat-bacon (traditionally you might put an ear or a trotter in as well); no added salt.


Cook, simmering, until the beans are just starting to go soft – skim off any foam and maybe the oil/fats from the sausage as you go. Keep the lid off to reduce the liquid (but add water if needed while cooking to just cover the beans. Might take an hour at least (depends on the bean).

Add a spot of saffron and a cup of simple thick tomato sauce (tomato and onions, basically). Reduce to a saucy consistency.


Slice the meats before serving (remove the ear and trotter entirely and toss them [unless you’re a huge fan of gristle {some are}]).

This is what pork and beans was before Heinz got into the business.

See also an earlier post about Fabada Asturiana from 2005 with a properly written out recipe for something similar.



It was a bit windy the other day.  The tumbleweeds tumbled through. As you can see in the picture above tumbleweeds can be quite large; approaching the size of a small car.  Enough to knock you down if they come at you.

Remember those spaghetti westerns of the 60s?  The Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone type?  They were often filmed here in Andalusia. 

Happy New: A bit of Fun: “If I Didn’t Have You”

Tim Minchin

It’s fun, maybe a little silly; maybe a little bit true.
Listen to the words