If you have some zucchini or pumpkin flowers in your garden, do not hesitate to try this delicate pilaf (risotto) dish perfect for a main dish or for a side dish. The colourful and tasty combination with tomatoes and parsley makes this dish very attractive, elegant and special. It is not difficult to prepare a good risotto, but you need to choose the correct rice and not to skip the roasting procedure, add the wine and then add the boiling liquid (usually broth) in small portions. As rice, we suggest following varieties: Arborio, Carnaroli, Roma or Vialone. Carolina, Asian or other similar “dry” rice kinds are not suitable for a good risotto.
Risotto ai Fiori di Zucca – Pilaf with Zucchini Flowers
Traditionally bakers make this rich Alsatian (southern part of France near the Swiss border) bread in hand-painted earthenware molds, but steel, non-stick-metal or glass molds are fine too. The size of the mold corresponds to about 2 liter. This soft savory Gugelhopf (or Kugelhopf or Gugelhups) is perfect to be served (if possible lukewarm) as appetizer with some wine and it goes always very quickly.
substitute walnuts with pecan or almonds
add chopped rosemary or thyme
substitute bacon by diced cheese
add fried onion rings
substitute pork bacon by dried smoked beef or turkey bacon
1/2 cup walnuts (pecans works well as well), coarsely chopped
For this recipe, you have to activate the starter combining the sourdough starter you kept in the fridge with the same amount of each water and flour (each 100 g). Best do it the evening before and loosely cover in a bowl; it should be ready after about 10-12 hours at room temperature. At this time starter should be very active and spongy.
Note: his is left to mature (ferment) until ready to be used to mix into a dough.
Now it’s time to add the ingredients for the dough. Add the milk, the 350 flour, the salt, the butter and the egg.
Knead with the hock until it looks smooth and it begins to loosen from the walls. Cover and let rise until it doubles the volume. Depending on the kind of your culture, this can take 4-8 hours.
Dice the bacon into 5-8 mm cubes and roast in in a pan. If it loos to much fat, drain it.
Bring bacon and nuts into the risen dough it over several times. I don’t knead it in order to keep the dough as soft as possible.
Make a hole into the center of the dough and place it in the prepared tin (please butter it before; you may also use the fat of the bacon).
Cover and let rise in a warm place until it at least doubles the volume. This may take about 2-3 hours.
Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes in the lower half of an oven preheated to 200°C. If notice that during the baking time the surfaces begins to turn to dark, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Wait a few minutes before unmolding and serve it possible lukewarm.
Purple llium with Bombylius major (commonly named the large bee-fly or the dark-edged bee-fly).
In the garden you can let you mind stopping from the busy routine, realise that a few square meter are an entire world, discover new plants and animals, listen the song of the birds, be amazed by the beauties, understand how fast everything is developing and finally you find rest and relief.
Even a small pond of little more than a square meter is like a small universum. We discovered an unexpected guest in our mini-paradise. the deaf adder (Anguis fragilis).
Every year we saw a few deaf adder here or there, but we never saw them disappearing under the roots of our yellow iris around the pond.
These legless lizards (no snake or worm, please) are also sometimes called common slowworms, blindworm, or regionally, a long-cripple.
These reptiles are mostly active during the twilight and occasionally bask in the sun, but are more often found hiding beneath rocks and logs. They are carnivorous and, because they feed on slugs and worms, they can often be found in long grass and other damp environments (in our case near the pond).
Make a surprise to your family serving a slice of this vegetable terrine with some spiced sauce as the Canary mojo rojo. This served with a hunk of crusty bread, any salad greens, cheese, cured meat, smoked salmon or what you like, makes an elegant brunch or a light meal for warmer days.
Boil the beans in salted water add the green beans and cook for 10 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the beans.
In the meantime fry onion and garlic with the oil until just tender, then add the drained mushrooms. After one minute, remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs with the cream and with the cooking water. Season with the ginger, salt and pepper.
Line a terrine with aluminum foil and coat it with oil.
Pour a few spoons of egg mixture, arrange over this first half of the beans, then the mushrooms mixture, after this the second half of the beans and finally pour gently the remaining egg mixture.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until firm and until the tip of a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the foil Serve warm or cold.
Note: Traditionally this kind of preparations should be cooked placing mold of the terrine into a bigger mold (roasting pan) with boiling water. I did not do it in this way and the simple baking in the oven worked well for me.
Gardening is wonderful relaxing way especially when you find your way to keep it easy.
As we started with the garden, we did not really know which plants are best suitable for the soil and which one would grow and bring us the best without spending a lot of time and money in order to have a nice garden.
In our case in spring, iris flowers make our garden beautiful with almost no work and we know that next year they will be here again!
In the photos: Iris Pseudacorus (Yellow Water Iris) and Bearded Iris (Iris germanica).
Mugardos is a small fishing borough and municipality in the Comarca of Ferrol, located in the province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia, north-western Spain.
It’s here that you can find this delicious octopus stew, but now, as we are not allowed to travel, you can prepare it yourself and create a small vacation at home.
This recipe is calculated for 2 people, but you may boil more octopus and use only the quantity you need (you may also use more) and reserve the remaining for another preparation.
Note: this recipe is perfect if you have some octopus leftovers and you wish to serve more people! I our case I doubled the quantity of potatoes for a full dinner; for this reason this is a variation of the original dish.
Pulpo alla Mugardesa - Octopus and Potatoes Stew from Galicia
1 green pepper (I used another red pepper as did not have the green one), diced
250 g potatoes, peeled and diced (I doubled the quantity of potatoes to 500 g)
1 bay leaf
100 ml white wine
200 ml reserved liquid from the boiled octopus
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
Some smoked paprika (pimienton de la Vera)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a pinch of salt, when the water begins to boil you need to grab the octopus from the head and ‘scare it’ by dipping it in the water 3 times and pulling it out. This makes the octopus stiffen, so the skin does not fall during the cooking process and makes the tips of the tentacles curl. Cook your octopus between 20 and 25 minutes on a medium heat. Make sure the octopus is covered with water throughout the cooking. Towards the end of the cooking process, you can check if the octopus is ready by piercing the thicker tentacles with a wooden skewer to check if they are tender enough. Octopus should be al dente, just like pasta. You should feel the same resistance as a cooked potato. Once the cooking time is complete, allow the octopus to rest in the cooking liquid before you drain it and use it for this recipe. I prefer to drain the octopus and let it cool down before slicing. Do not discard the water!
Fry onion and garlic in a non-sticky skillet at low temperature until translucent.
Add peppers and fry a few more minutes.
At this point, add potatoes, bay leaf, and fry for other 2 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for 2 more minutes.
Now add the cooking water from the octopus, the paprika (as well as the smoked one if you like). Add little salt.
Let simmer covered slowly until potatoes are almost done. Add some more cooking liquid form the octopus if needed. The sauce should be liquid but thick enough to bind a little bit.
In the meanwhile, slice the octopus.
Add octopus and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Stir only gently and let simmer for 2 more minutes.
For the best taste, keep warm (do not boil it again) for about 10 minutes before serving.