Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Dia de Descanso

We've resolved the issues surrounding me having a day off and today I am doing just that. For the future I will work through on Tuesdays covering Beryl's time off (as I did last night) and then have Wednesdays off myself , covered by Favio. But am I at a loose end today? No. Some Retail Therapy is on the cards for a little later and I want to get my other computer into somewhere for possible repair.

Favio and Ana-Mary came in last night after she had finished work and she engaged me in conversation purely in Spanish and I have to say that I managed to just about "hold my own"! Whereupon she saw fit to congratulate me and my blossoming ability to speak the language. I'm quite pleased to say the least. I should imagine the Ann C's minor setback the other day has put back David's plan to resume Spanish Lessons soon, but, if I am going to be given the opportunity to practise like I was last night then things won't be so bad.

Like I said earlier, I'm going shopping to spend some of my hard earned cash on some things nice to eat so I'll be back later no doubt.

<1630> The computer repairer I want to use is shut for refitting. Sod's law again. So, the computer will have to wait. Since getting back I've been playing in the kitchen with artichokes and a chicken and tonight after dinner I'm going back "up town" to visit Tom & Mercedes in their bar, Maria's Bar, because I haven't seen them for a while and this night off is giving me an opportunity to do such things.
more follows-------->

Monday, 28 January 2008

Some News at Last!

I've just received an email from Katia (who is currently in Italy, probably Milano) with news of Lary. She's in hospital and getting better which, I presume, means that she has undergone the surgery etc. I've to email back and hopefully, once Katia is confident that we are in contact more info will be forthcoming. I'm going to pop back to the bar very shortly to show Beryl the email just to make sure that I have understood all that is written correctly. Beryl will translate Katia's Spanish for me.

Today was baking day and my loaf of bread has turned out very nicely thankyou. No more adjustments are needed to my recipe, I just need to "learn my oven" a little more. Whilst the bake is good the loaf is a little pale on the top because of my Alifoil heat shield which I'm going to try removing a short while before the end next time.

Shrimp Pasta Recipe

Helen gave me the recipe that she said she was going to today; a little history of which follows.......In America, in South Florida to be exact, there is a restaurant called Shell's. There a Missy Hartzog produced this, their Signature dish, for many years, claiming that it always "hit the spot". Which it apparantly did, legend has it that it flew out of the kitchen just as quickly as the customers were flying in. Helen says that it is good so I am going to cook it in Anas Bar one evening soon for her delectation. Personally I prefer the sound of Shell's Seafood Pasta but that's another day and a few more dollars......

Shell's Shrimp Pasta (Serves 4 to 6)
1 pound linguine
1 ounce butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces olive oil
4 ounces white cooking wine
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks finely chopped spring onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 dashes (literally) of soy sauce
16 ounces whipping cream
2 pounds peeled raw shrimp
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook linguine to al dente with 1/4 teaspoon salt and butter. Drain and set aside.
Combine olive oil, wine, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, soy sauce and cream and bring to boil. Add cooked linguine and shrimp. Stir gently, approximately 7 minutes or until shrimp is done and dish has creamy consistency. Throw in the Spring Onion at the last minute and serve immediately.

For the Seafood version substitute for the shrimp 4 ounces fresh mussels; 6 ounces chopped, cooked clams; 10 ounces fresh scallops and 12 ounces peeled fresh shrimp.

This is an American recipe and shrimp can be "translated" to Prawn.
Here in Spain I'll be using Nata para Montar as Whipping Cream.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Back up and Running

Well, after the disaster on Friday Night with the bowl of soup I've now got the website back up and running normally I think. One webcam has had to be temporarily sacrificed and I chose to lose the Terrace Cam because, at this time of year, there is not much going on in that area. Can you please let me know whether the two video links on the webcam page are functional? Just use the comment link for a quick "Yay" or "Nay"

Saturday, 26 January 2008


The Cock-a-Leekie soup was a total success last night, so much so that in celebration I took a few drinks once Beryl had taken over and came home quite under the influence. So much so, in fact, that I have "blown" my No1 computer by covering its keyboard in said soup. So, here I am, on no2 machine, minus one webcam at least. Yes, I ended up soundo on the settee last night (as many have noted) until 5am whereupon I woke up and took myself off to bed "proper" with somewhat of a sore head. For now, and until I can get the other machine repaired (if indeed it's a viable repair), I am going to have to rewrite the webcam page to account for the changes in available scenes.

Helen tells me that she has brought a shrimp recipe for me to try (which translated from American to English is, of course, a Prawn recipe.) Once I have it in my possession I have told her that I'll do a "gallon" of it and present it in the bar as a tapa. She smiled at the thought. But that is what we are going to do, maybe not a gallon of the stuff though. I followed on jokingly commenting that we'll turn El Bar de Ana into a restaurant..."over my dead body" retorted Beryl.

Ann C is back in hospital having a minor setback sorted out. David is hopeful that she will be discharged tomorrow (Sunday.)

Right now (and it is getting late) I'm going back to work on the webcam page because there is no video on the Kitchen Cam.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Burns Supper

The Sun is not up yet but I am because the shops open at 9-15, or at least the one I want to go to does, which gives me an hour-and-a-half to wakeup, get breakfast done, get dressed and out to be at the shopdoor when they unlock it. Typically when I decide to shop, the sky is looking very ominously grey from where I am sitting. But, I've just had a look outside and it is clearing from the west, the gulls are up riding the thermals and the Sun should be shining soon. So in the meantime I'm going to worry about nothing more other than something tasty to accompany my cuppa.

I'm having to rethink my quantities or method because I don't think that I can get a whole bird in my biggest saucepan but either way I am going to do the recipe I've already shown you which is almost a traditional one (it uses Rice instead of Barley).

I've deliberately bought the smallest bird that I could see on the shelf, and at 1.7Kgs I have just managed to stuff it into my big pot, but I can only get 3 pints of water in. That's no problem though, the rest can go in later when the bird is removed!

15:00hrs The soup has been simmering for about 2 hours and the last time I looked the meat was beginning to fall off the bones so I'm going to lift the bird out now and proceed with finishing the cock-a-leekie dish.

All done and even dusted. All that remains is to get all the kit to the bar, which'll probably take two trips but it's only a 2min walk, and hope that someone comes in to whom I can offer some. One problem though: I've only got 4 soup spoons!!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Burn's Night?

I'm must be typsy because I've just arrived home from my stint in the bar (which was very good, most entertaining and a pleasure to have hosted, with follow-on drinks with customers after Beryl had taken over) with the idea that I've said that I'll produce for tomorrows shift, which of course is Burn's Night, a limited edition of Cock-a-leekie soup, which I probably can't even spell, let alone cook! I've given some thought to it, while my dinner of Kidney Pie, Boiled Onion, Potatoes and Greens cooks, checked out some recipes, and here is what I am going to do in the morning after shopping for the stuff (prunes n'all, believe me).

1 Whole 2Kg Chicken.
.5Kg leeks (including greens, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces)
100gms Lardons (citas) of Bacon.
4 pints water
1oz long grained rice
4oz cooked, stoned prunes
One teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme

Put the Chicken and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the bird, carve and add some meat back to the broth. Add the rice and drained prunes and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for flavour and serve with a little chopped parsley.

All that aside, another re-union occurred tonight. This time Tina & Barry met up with Sue and June followed by the arrival in the bar of Helen & Ray. The photo tells all despite the fact that Barry is "otherwise engaged" ( say n'more.) My dinner is nearly ready according to the lovely aroma wafting around the apartment so I'll see you anon.

Those Meat Pies you like? Try this....Boil together some potato and one onion. When done remove and keep the onion warm while the potato is mashed with Butter and a little Milk. Cook some frozen spinach according to instructions with a pinch of ground cloves. Cook the meat pie and then serve like so - the Pie with (on the side) the whole Boiled Onion, the spinach and some Mashed Potato dressed with ground paprika (sweet or hot, your preference) accompanied by lots of gravy made from a beef cube and the potato/onion water. That is what I have just done, except that I used one of Richards homemade Kidney Pies that I have in the freezer, and I didn't want the meal to ever finish. Simply delicious..

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Towards the end of my shift tonight Helen & Ray came in because Helen had a "T" Shirt she'd bought back in Florida that she wanted to give to me. I haven't tried it on yet because I'm dealing with my Beef Stew, Dumplings, Mash and Spinach dinner - the stew is still cooking in the slow cooker while the veg and dumplings are boiled etc. Service is about 20mins away I think. Anyway all that is beside the point. Barry and Tina happened to be in the bar at the time and so another "annual" reunion occurred which I managed to snap, but don't tell!. I overheard Helen (and I'm sure that she won't mind) pass on greetings from others still in the States including Gerry & Jane who live in Michigan and haven't been able to make their annual pilgrimage here this year. They are sorely missed. My photo, taken surrepticiously with my mobile phone cam, makes 9pm look like daylight. Clever, these Japanese!!

Blow it!! I've forgotten (yet again) that the flour here is not self-raising. Not having added some baking powder I think that my dumplings are going to be a bit stodgy. Oh well, I might not need a sweet afterall.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Lefse? Nah...Lompe!!

Just goes to show how the experts get things so wrong. The recipes I dug up on the internet for the lefse I made (or finished) today all said "roll it into a round, pancake, shape. But my No 1 critic, Else-Britt told me today after she'd tasted my offering in the bar that it should be square, "what you have made is Lompe (cos it's round). Lefse is square." And didn't I know that the shape was wrong for what I was trying to do? Anyway I'm going to do it all again, properly, and when perfected, use it as a starter next time I have a Dinner Guest. Favio also tried some and was more concerned about whether the "caviar" was real than how it tasted. Tina told him the truth so maybe he stopped worrying that he might be paying me too much!!

While I've got Favio in the frame, he asked me tonight to work through and then take tomorrow off. I didn't because the three of us haven't thrashed out this night-off business together and I won't pre-empt anything by being tricked into agreements on my own. He also asked me if I had a driving license because it seems that (if I've understood correctly) he wants me A) to move into one of the apartments above the bar and B) take over the management of the bar including using his spare car to run to the Wholesalers etc. for stock n stuff, all to come into effect when Beryl retires in June and moves to America with Randy. In the meantime this Day-Off lark is becoming a pretentious issue because he seems to be angling the arrangement in such a way that he doesn't have to cover anybody. Beryl and I do not think that idea is right.

My dinner was nice. The 2nd of three portions of that Chicken Roast I made the other day. I revitalized the sauciness by adding some more Honey and a good drizzle of Soja Sauce (cos I have run out of Balsamic Vinegar) and then it went back into the oven for another half hour on a low shelf at 200C to make sure that the underdone Chicken finished off properly. It did. For the last portion, when I have it at a later date (I was told it could be frozen and it has been) I'm going to try reducing the added Honey and Balsamic, or Soja, to make a glaze that'll lay on the food rather than run off.

A Tasty Typo

Yesterday in my ramblings I wrote that I'd rolled some dough into a tube shape. Of course, I hadn't, I wasn't making doughnuts, I rolled it into a cylindrical shape!! Sorry 'bout that but the last thing I wanted yesterday was 'oles in me dough!! That would've been worser than potatoes in me socks!! And I've got some of them I can tell you. (I know but it reads well!!!)

12:25 I've just had a phonecall from Beryl; Favio is back on the "Derek must have a day off" bandwagon, despite the fact that I don't want one! We three are going to have to thrash this out together because the proposal he put to her late last night was totally unacceptable to both of us although I wasn't there, I was home in bed. I think we both know why he keeps bringing this up and we can play that situation to our advantage. But it would seem that he is happy to keep the early shift going!

Plan for the day is more of the Roasted Balsamic Chicken for my Dinner later but first....I'm going to finish the Lakserulade (which is snacky, finger food).

The classic way, it seems, is to fold the breads in half, twice, which gives a cone shape. Well, that is not the way Else-Britt presented her Lakserulade on Tunnbröd so I'm not going to do that. Instead I'm going to fold in half once to give a boat shape. The photo shows both styles and the original bread as baked. They are paper thin by the way. Apparantly that is how they should be, you should be able to see the "lefse stick" through them (the tool used to turn them but I used a spatula knife thingy instead, it's probably got a proper name which I can't think of it right now, but it's in the picture as well). My 2inch x 1/2inch patties have given a bread about 5inches in diameter. Right or wrong, that's what I got. They can be frozen by the way but I want to show off in the bar this evening so I'm going to fill all of mine now basing things on a recipe that Else-Britt gave me, which was:

Smoked Salmon
Sour Cream
Chives (garnish)

Hang on a minute! Lakserulade. Every word has a greek root so they say. Are we dealing with a roulade here? Maybe, maybe not but that is exactly what I am going to do. Roll 'em!! So forget the folding, I'm going to work with the flat round instead. Sorry, but I'm thinking out loud as I go along here. Quite enjoying it too!

I haven't got chives available so I am going to use a garlic rub to impart some flavour in their stead. My Sour Cream is going to have to be Creme Fraiche with a squirt of lemon juice stirred in (a trick Erica taught me) and my garnish is going to be "caviar" - Lumpfish Roe, just as tasty with your eyes closed!! Oh yes, I should say that the "butter" I use is a more healthy substitute.

I've grated some onion and mixed it in with Soured Creme Fraiche. Then I cut each bread in half and rubbed both with a garlic clove then spread some butter, sprinkled a little pepper on then placed a teaspoon of the cream towards one end, topped with a little Smoked Salmon and rolled it all up like a mini swiss roll. Finally I garnished the seam (or tried to) with a little "caviar". Not perfect, the half-moon shape is wrong. Next time I'll try baking the bread in rectangles. Also, I think that I was too liberal with the flour on the rolling board because the residue on the baked breads is acting as a non-stick surface and preventing me from closing the rolls as I would have liked. Anyway, the photo shows what I got for my troubles. I'll take them in to work anyway.

Monday, 21 January 2008

So Far So Good

I'm in the middle of making the Norwegian Potato Bread (Lefse) and currently have the prepared dough chilling in the fridge while I clean down my tiny working area in order to make room to be able to carry on. I have a very cheap kitchen scales that I've always believed is about as accurate as a piece of string but, today I've checked the reading it gives for an unopened 1Kg bag of flour only to find that it is remarkably accurate. So here's what I am doing:

275gms Mashed Potato (happens to be the weight of the couple that I cooked.)
2.5 fl ozs milk and melted butter.
3/4 cup of flour.
A good pinch of salt.

Very wastefully I warmed up some milk, the salt and a good tblspn of butter until the butter was melted then poured all into a measuring jug to find that I had 2/3 of a cup. Making the dough I used only a part of that and using an alternate scale on the jug I estimated that I'd used about 2.5 fl ozs. Sorry about the changing units but I'm working a new recipe here (for me) and I am having to read the measurements as clearly as I can. Conversions can come later!

Using the above quantities I have managed to get a dough that's just still a little sticky but also elastic and wanting to leave the bowl (and my fingers) clean. Then I rolled the dough (by hand) into a tube shape and now I have patties formed and chilling. They are about 2inches round and half-an-inch thick and I'm hoping that they will roll out thinly to a nice sized round ready for baking. By the way Else-Britt responded to my note about searching the Internet for ideas about how to make these with an email about a recipe of her own using Rye flour. I can't get that here but she says to use 2 : 1 Rye flour to Wheat flour for an authentic Norwegian recipe! While I'm mentioning others....thankyou to the person who has just this minute sent me a recipe for Stir Fried Broccolli with Beef. I love stir frying so when I can afford to buy the Steak :-) I'll give it a go. OK back to business and the washing up....

I'm running out of time here this afternoon so I'm not going to be able to finish this dish (Lakserulade) this side of my stint at work today; which is a shame because I wanted to take some in to the bar for others to try. Never mind. But I am going to bake one bread just to see how it is going to turn out and to do that I'm going to use my electric griddle (not unlike those sold as "George Foremans") In fact, here's a photo of it all set up and ready to go. The beauty of it is that I think I can bake both sides of the bread simultaneously rather than have to flip it using a Lefse Stick (not easy).

I'm getting there. The doublesided bake doesn't work and I don't think that the electric griddle gets hot enough so later I'm going to try my big Cast Iron one on the Gas with the burners on full blast, although I am getting a nice thin Lefse that is cooling and remaining quite pliable. But for now I'm going to leave you with this variation on the theme while I go off to the bar to work :

2145 I'm back indoors having met Helen & Ray in the bar at just on 9o'clock. Did I tell you that if there was anything I wanted from the States, she (Helen) offered to bring it? Well, I've just taken delivery of a nice big 4oz tub of Ground Black Pepper the like of which I can't buy here in Spain. Very nice too.

I've been thinking all evening about the Lefse and where I was up to before I went to work and I've just checked to see how the one I've already baked on the griddle has faired while I've been out. It's fine, nice and soft and a pleasant golden colour to boot so, I think I'm going to stick with the method of bakery that I'm using, get the rest done and into the freezer and then tomorrow I can sort out the making of the Lakserulade proper.

The dish that Else-Britt brought into the bar last night was done with "Tunnbröd" (or Thin Bread in English) and I now have in my Freezer a pack of 5 slices courtesy of Richard and, would you believe, IKEA!! The pack cost me 1.50 euros and I really don't think that I could make it for myself at that price! So I'm not going to but I know that the Smoked Salmon will sit nicely on each one accompanied by Butter, Sour Cream, onion, chives, Black Pepper and my own personal twist - some "caviar" I still have left! Also I can make a comparison (just for fun) between the classic dish with Lefse and one using the Tunnbröd.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Stakkars mann.

Helen & Ray have arrived from Florida, albeit somewhat late into Málaga, but they are here safe and sound. I've left them re-newing aquaintances with all and sundry in the bar. Me? I've come home, I'm tired, I ache and I'm hungry.

I have given Swedish Anna the jar of Curry Paste that I made for her. She tried to pay me for it and seemed quite taken aback when I said that I had made it myself especially for her. I hope that she likes it as much as I enjoyed the drink that she then treated me to. As you can see I used an empty Apple Sauce jar (sterilized in the microwave) and even produced the label myself, rather hurriedly because it was near time to go to work but something was better than nothing. Terrible photo though.

Elsa-Britt and Ole-Erik sent me an email earlier today (we are actually neighbours) offering me a portion of Smoked Salmon that they could not eat because they'd brought too much from Norway. I said "yes please" and I now have it back here in the apartment having taken delivery of it in the bar tonight. They also brought into the bar earlier a little Norwegian snack made with Smoked Salmon called Lakserulade which I am about to make here for myself now because what I tasted earlier, along with other customers (there was a plateful that was handed round those present), was so nice that I've now also got the recipe. Did I say "portion" - it must be half a fish lying there sliced on the plate.

First I need some Lefse ( a potato bread)........while a couple of potatoes are boiling ready for mashing I can tell you that I was commenting about being tired, and achy, in the bar this evening after Beryl had taken over which prompted Else-Britt (whom I was sitting next to) to say, in Swedish, "stackare, stackare" which translates to 'you poor thing'. We had a giggle together about it and tonight's title is the Norwegian translation!!. Well, I am tired and achy. Perhaps I'm "coming down with something" as they say. Gripe maybe (Spanish for Flu). Who knows. The potatoes are probably mushy now.............I've just been out on the internet looking at methods of making Lefse and whilst it is easyish to make it does require chilled mash etc so there is no way I'm going to get that done tonight. So what's plan B? I don't know.

Time for bed but...

I've got a stockpot on the go and am I glad for electric! My twin hotplate electric "stove" allows me to get right down to a proper simmer, ie a bubble every now and then, and I'm quite prepared to leave it doing that for the rest of the night, which is something I wouldn't dare do using my gas hob. Luckily I have both as a choice and here, tonight, the electric option scores. Tomorrow (actually later today) I know my stock will be perfect, just perfect.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

The Best Laid Plans.

I've got the Curry Paste bottled and ready for Anna tomorrow but I've yet to start the soup making and yesterday's dinner turned out to be a Chicken Curry instead of the Balsamic Roast because the paste had to be tested. So, now, 11pm Saturday night I'm going to cook the Balsamic Roast and chill it ready for eating tomorrow. Here's my recipe as I progress :

Olive oil and a drip or two of Toasted Sesame oil are awaiting the heated oven.
One Sweet potato has been sliced into inch thick slices which has yielded 32 (quartered) chunks. They are washing in cold water.
4 smallish Parsnips have been top, tailed, chunked and added to the washing Potato. The tops, tails and peelings are starting a new 3 pint stock pot (into which will go a Chicken carcass shortly + herbs etc, but I digress - )

Hello. Stick with me whoever you are !! Might need your help later!!

The Squash (pumpkin? A very orange flesh with a paler skin and quite sweet smelling) has been peeled and chunked into inch+ pieces and is now on the heat with other veg. The peelings and seeds etc are in the stockpot. Tough baby to peel by the way!!

I've got 8 wedges of a big red onion prepped (guess where the peelings went) and a glass of Red Wine on the side (hic!) Timeout while the veg boils. Where's that Chicken carcass?? Oh yes, in the fridge.

Can't drink while cooking?? Just watch me!! At least I know that the gravy will be good (not that there's ever any left of course. CHEERS!!)

Stock (Chicken) is now on the heat as well. Could be a late night waiting for that to stew.

Veg is drained and standing (uncovered) for a few minutes. Oven is almost ready.

I never need encouragement !! OK, 5 chicken legs are in a Roasting Tin. They have been brushed with oil, the onion wedges are in also brushed with oil and the veg is about to be added (when the oven is ready).

All is roasting but I've had to use dried herbs because fresh are not easy to come by here in Spain. Smells good though, the sesame oil might add a "something" that I'll enjoy. Time will tell now.

No I don't mind. I'm not publishing your "comments" because they are not. More of a conversation between. There are a lot of people here n Torremolinos and indeed all round the world who have fond memories of the Red Lion and I feel priviledged to have served Barry & Tina just tonight in Ana's Bar when they called in for a quick snifter on the way home to continue enjoying their retirement.

Oh!! I will take the skin off!! Too much fat for me thankyou!! I've got your recipe printed and am following it (almost) to the letter. So I won't forget what comes next, believe me.

Initial 30min roast is over. 5 tblspns of Balsamic (the bottom of my bottle) and a tblspn+ of honey have been drizzled over and the whole returned to the oven, uncovered, for 15mins where I expect it to brown under the top grill element. Smells good.

Yes, I know the Cam (and the other two towards the beach). I live just a few minutes walk away as the scene in my webcam (San Miguel Steps) gives away.

My favourite pastime, throwing smallish dinner parties as previous posts here of mine have indicated. So, the roast is now out of the oven and resting for a few minutes. Time to try I think.

No you are not keeping me up, I often cook at this hour if I've got an idea to try. My oven is obviously slow though...the dish needs another 15 mins at least because the chicken is underdone. But the flavours are there that's for sure. And I've got leftover boiled veg that I'll throw in the stock tomorrow after I've strained it off the chicken carcass etc.

I'll be up a little while longer yet, the stockpot needs about another hour yet. Nice talking to you. Thumbs up was given, more would be nice, and who the heck are you?? EMAIL ME, the address is on my profile page, just click it, write a note and send it.. I already know you are from (around) Liverpool so I'll know its from you.

I can remind you of how your Mum used to make a stock with pleasure but here is not the place. Email me from my profile page, then we can talk.

Friday, 18 January 2008

The Season starts Here

It is a glorious day; plenty of sun, nice and warm and the forecast is set fair for a few days to come. So I have taken advantage of the weather and done some shopping in Fuengirola which means that later on today after work I will be cooking making soups, curry pastes and most importantly, my Dinner which is to be the recipe for Balsamic Chicken that I was sent the other day. Just one problem, I think that I have bought a small pumpkin and not the Butternut Squash as specified. Never mind. Let's hope it won't notice.

A couple of excellent sessions in the bar of late and as we are expecting visitors this weekend (hopefully Elise has already arrived) I have high hopes for the next few weeks. Favio has started to mention about me having a day off one day a week. I not too bothered about it but if he insists then so be it. Can't stop right now or I'll be late for work but I'll come back later tonight while I'm cooking...

2135 - Elise is here, we met in the bar earlier. Right now I'm at home because I've got some cooking to do and she has gone to a local restaurant (The Beirut) to eat. I've left a message with Beryl to the effect that if Elise wants a drink and a natter tonight then give me a call on the dog & bone (which I won't answer) to let me know that she is in the bar waiting. In the meantime I've got curry paste to make, dinner to cook and a cauldron of soup to start.

The recipe for my dinner tonight was sent to me via this blog by an anonymous reader :

Easy Balsamic Roast Chicken.
Preheat oven 200c/180c fan/gas 6. Cut the butternut squash, sweet potato and parsnips into large chunks.
Put the oil into a large roasting tin and heat it in the oven. Put the squash, sweet potato and parsnips in a pan, cover with cold water heat until boiling.Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes,then drain. Leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile cut the onion into 8 wedges.
Put the chicken into roasting tin, skin side up,and surround with the vegetables, tucking the herbs in between. Roast for 30 minutes basting occasionally.
Mix the balsamic vinegar and honey. Remove the chicken from the oven and drizzle with the honey mixture. Cook for another 10 - 15 minutes, then serve. Hope you try this...its lovely.

My version is going to be slightly different (dictated by shopping quantities and errors :-)) I'll let you know how I got on tomorrow (and what I actually did).'s 5 past midnight and I've just noticed a missed call on my mobile at 2146 from Elise...probably she was waiting for me in the bar but I didn't hear the call. Too busy cooking. The curry paste has turned out well though. I've made it pretty potent with extra chilli powder, pepper and ground mustard and added vinegar as well as water (a trick I learned from a real live Indian Chef in West Malling, Kent) to form the paste. I think that Anna will like it, used in small doses, and it'll keep for ages provided an oil layer is maintained on top in the jar. I made this one once when you came to stay in Manchester and you liked it as well, or rather the chicken curry it went towards making so I think it's worth a page over on My Kitchen.

I had an email from the website hosts yesterday advising me that my bandwidth quota was almost used for this month already so I've had to shell out a few more dollars to increase the quota. Getting far too popular is my website. That's twice I've had to increase bandwidth requirements, the first being when I ran the webcam at the Red Lion closure party. Talking of which, Ann S recently sent me this snap of a crowd outside said party. I won't identify the folk cos I don't know them all but one or two of the faces in shot use Anas Bar now (that's Erica's Dad behind the guy in the waistcoat by the way.)

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Plenty to Do

0830, the day has not long dawned and I'm up with good intentions of getting stuff done today! Tea is brewed and a basket load of washing is already in the machine. I just hope that the promise of showers today is wrong but, peering out of the window, it seems that it probably isn't. Wet weather plans are minimal: I've want to write some emails to folk in America and the UK today, specifically Arkansas, Michigan, Florida and Burnley in response to receipts from them prompted by a recent posting here of mine that 'touched' them.

Not long ago I promised Swedish Anna (she used to own the bar; hence its name) that I would make and give to her a jar of my Curry Paste because she loves all things curry and chilli. In order to do that I have to go to Fuengirola Market where there is a Herbs & Spices stall, the like of which I have never seen anywhere else, where I can buy all the ingredients. Then round to the veg stalls and finally to the Scottish Butcher for some more sausage. But if it begins to rain soon I will probably knock that idea on the head. Having said that I need to get flour in for my next breadmaking stint and restock the meat shelves in the fridge etc etc so I really have to go out to the local supermarket (Mercadona) whatever the weather does.

David mentioned in passing the other day that he is intending to restart Spanish Lessons again now that Ann is well recovered and that he wants to continue with me giving him computer lessons in return. I last had a lesson in July, when I was started "on" past tenses and every lesson was pushing my comprehension of the language on by leaps and bounds - it's not just the grammar theory anymore, it's all useful, practical stuff that I can use with Larisa, Favio et al.

10:00 Oooh I dunno, the skies are clearing a little so I think that I might chance my arm, put the washing out to dry when the machine finishes its cycle and catch the train to Fuengirola where I can do the market and Mercadona.

more may follow------------->

What can I Say?

Thanks to the person who has sent a Chicken recipe which I have published in the comments to the previous post. I'll definately give it a go, because it sounds very nice, and then add it to My Kitchen accredited as "anonymous" :-)

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A qwicky

Just a flyin' visit back to the apartment. I'm waiting for an egg to hard-boil, some tinned New Potatoes to reheat so that I can have a quick corn-beef salad before rushing back to the bar to get drunk with Beryl's Husband Randy. He is going home to the states early on Thursday so last chance to say "goodbye" is tonight (tomorrow he and Beryl want to themselves). Get drunk? I joke, I think.

I know Nothing....

...and I'm not from Barcelona!! I've just had an email from Larisa whereby she says to stop worrying, she is fine and returning quickly
(...y vuelvo rapida) although she probably means soon. She still has not given me any idea of the problem she has other than those headaches she was getting as a result of medication. So I'll stop worrying. And wait.

Austen doesn't seem to have received the Birthday Card that I sent so I'm glad that I backed it up with the txt this morning to which he has responded.

Do you remember Sue & Alan in the Bar Jardin? Well, I've had a phonecall from them this morning, "out of the blue", which I missed 'cos I was still in bed. Later I will call them back to find out what goes on so to speak. I've a sneaky feeling that I'll be going over to Montemar this Sunday for a reunion with them (and Fred & Pauline as well I expect.) ....Nope, wrong. Just some questions about the upcoming Wedding. Seems we will all be meeting at the reception.

Marmite Supper

I went back to the bar tonight at about midnight to find Beryl on her own apart from her Husband Randy. I stayed until 2am and not one single customer came in. My shift was quiet as well but at least I did not have a 2 hour interlude with no-one. That's January for you: a quiet time. Back home now I've got two slices of my bread toasting which I'm going to spread with good old Marmite and devour with gusto. The Chicken is all gone now and the bones and carcass have produced a very respectable soup (combined with a few vegetables and laced with a drop of Dry Sherry.)

Favio came in and Ana-Mary when she had finished work in El Bajondillo just after 1am and the Secret Admirer cropped up in conversation again. Apparantly she has a serious interest in me and my wellbeing. Nice to know. She has been talking to Ana-Mary about me by all accounts and I'm told that she is coming to the bar more often than is usual bearing in mind that she lives in Málaga City. I don't normally see the visits because she hasn't quite worked out that I'm only there until 9pm unless of course I go back later for a drink and some company (as I did tonight.)

Today is Austen's birthday of course so I'm hoping that the card I have sent has arrived in time but just in case not I'm going to txt him later this morning with a "Happy Birthday".

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Before I carry On

I'd just like to say thankyou to those that contacted me yesterday about the day's post. I usually can't send individual replies because there is never enough time in my little humdrum day but you can rest assured that all email/comments/IMs are received and read. And further to requests I've edited my Profile with contact details. Oh, and thanks to the person who unwittingly confirmed that one of my webcams actually works. Great stuff. What my Mum is going to say when she realizes that her "mail" is being read by others I don't know but I think I'll keep a low profile, just in case! ;-)

OK, It's Sunday
Egg n Bacon day with fried homemade bread but first I've got yesterday's dishwashing to do and an email to write - no, I haven't done that yet, I'm still composing the thing in my mind (and that is not easy in Spanish).
1430 and the email is away. Hopefully it will be in her inbox if she goes out this evening to check at the same time that she did yesterday. Last time I looked (an hour or so ago) it was -34C including the wind chill so rather her than me. Actually here it went right down to 3ºC last night for a little while, staying at 5ºC for the best part of the night though. That makes it the coldest night so far this year.

2145 and I'm back indoors after a relatively quiet session in the bar. The drawbridge is up, a couple of candles are lit, it's time to settle down. I haven't had my 2 glasses of Vino Tinto yet but I'm not going to go back out because I can comply with Doctors orders here, indoors, thankyou very much, courtesy of Favio's Christmas Hamper and I MIGHT even unwrap the xmas pud and steam a portion of it to celebrate 1 year and 2 weeks of no smoking (I forgot to mark the occasion on the proper anniversary, 31st Dec.) But first some Chicken for Dinner. Chicken in Vermouth to be precise, courtesy again of the aforementioned Hamper. I don't drink Vermouth, you see, because I don't like it but I sure can cook with it, I think. Put your pinny on, here we go, let's try this...

CHICKEN BLOG (Makes a meal for one)
Olive Oil
1 small Onion
3 or 4 juicy Garlic cloves
200ml Tomato puree/Frito
6 button mushrooms, halved
1/2 cup of Sweet Vermouth
1 tblspn Lemon Juice (see notes)
1 tspn Dried Tarragon
1/2 tspn Black Pepper
Cooked, carved White & Brown Chicken meat "to taste", be liberal!!

Finely dice onion.
Crush and chop garlic
Destalk and halve button mushroom caps (discard stalks)

Gently saute your onion and garlic for a few minutes in some Olive Oil then add the Tomato Puree/Frito, Vermouth, Lemon Juice, mushrooms, tarragon, pepper and Chicken and, using a low to medium heat, reduce the sauce by about half always paying attention to the risk of sticking ie stir it regularly. Serve with some fried rice and garnish with Spring Onion (especially the green bits, they look pretty!!)

1) Do not chuck the mushroom stalks away, keep them handy for the next stockpot you start (or throw them into the one that you have on the go already.)
2) Use the lemon juice to adjust the sweetness of the dish.

Not bad even if I say so myself so I'll be putting the recipe up on
My Kitchen
very shortly.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Loafing Around

I had an SMS from a friend in Leeds yesterday confirming her arrival here in Torre next Friday. I don't know at what time she (Elise) is due to land but we've already kind-of-agreed that she'll come to see me in the bar sometime after 5. She is only staying for 3 nights having asked me a week or so ago to book them for her at the local Hostal. My commission? Some Yorkshire Tea and Indian Oxos. Bless her. I've known her since my days in the Bar Jardin when she was introduced by another customer, Colin (since deceased) one Sunday Lunch session. She also made friends with Erica and is the one who coined the phrase "Erica from America" when referring to that young lady. She comes to stay for a few days every year and last year I met her at the airport etc etc but this year, what with the job an'all, I haven't offered to do that (to carry her bags) and, anyway, she's coming with a "mate" so I'm sure that they will manage. Last year she came on her own but the year before she came with a mate and I can remember Erica and I, her and her friend having a couple of great nights out in local eateries and bars. Colin is the reason why I'm here in this quarter of Torremolinos, it was he who first introduced me to the Red Lion, Anas Bar and El Bajondillo because he used to bring me over here every Sunday on my night off and we would "do the rounds" among the local bars, find a bite to eat (he enjoyed Italian), listen to Ana singing in the Cafeteria Bar in the Hotel Bajondillo (which actually isn't, it's the block of holiday apartments which Austen used last year, but it's easier to describe as a "hotel") and then leave me to walk the Paseo back to MonteMar at 3 in the morning. I got on nodding terms with the local bobbies patroling the paseo at that hour: I was there every week, so were they, when they would, from behind, poke the nose of their patrol car just beside my knee and pace me for a minute or so then pass on by with a nod and "Señor" and I'd nod back with a gracias. Even now, what, 3 to 4 years on, in town, I still get acknowledged by those officers who recognise me. Colin's untimely death at 66 changed everything here, life hasn't been the same since, other Pillars of the local society have also died, Erica went back to America, Harry went back to the UK, Larisa spends time back in Omsk, Katrina went home, Carolina "disappeared" (now living in Majorca I hear), all has changed. But Elise is coming for 3 days and her presence, for me, is a slice of the old days so to speak. Yes, I've only been here for 5 minutes in the big scheme of things but those few minutes started off being fabulous; now it's so different. But the sun still shines.

But what was I going to say? Oh yes, my second loaf has turned out far better than the first and I don't think that I'm going to get it much better as a basic bread because I cannot get Strong Flour here in Spain. Anyway the photo is of number 2 and very nice it is too. I can slice it thinly, it doesn't break up as soon as you touch it, I can fold a slice over without it "snapping", the crust is nice and soft. In all, somewhat near what I am after and all courtesy of a "Chef" called "Kenwood". I'm pleased with it. WOAH! "You've got Mail" my system says and at this time of day (1510) it can only be.....YES!!!...... 'scuse me I'll be back in a minute........

The photos that I've been waiting for. Taken by Katrina during that Lunch we all had together at Lary's apartment a few weeks ago. Trouble is that there must be a dozen that she has sent and the sheer size of the posting has knocked my machine for 6 (I'm actually working with my 2nd machine right now while the other reboots). I've seen the accompanying message though - "Que haces ahora?" - what are you doing right now - (amongst other bits and bobs). My reply is going to be "waiting for you to tell me what's happening, what the Doctors have said, when are you coming "home"?? etc etc etc. But I can't send a reply yet's time to go to work!!!! Sod's Law, again. Can I swear? Thankyou. S..t!! I've turned my reheating Chicken Curry off because I'm not hungry now, although I was starving half-an-hour ago. I just want to get work over, get back home and send an email. And for that I am sorry, but I really miss her. More than maybe even I have realized in the past.

Friday, 11 January 2008

It Ain't 'alf Cold Ma

It's early morning here (4am) with a temperature of 9C but in Omsk it's a much cooler -29C at the moment (which is 8am there) so I am not expecting to hear any news today. Later I may send an email but for now I'm going to bed and in what's left of the day later when I get up I want to bake some more bread.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Here I go again

I'm just watching Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) roast a chicken using a flavoured butter between the skin and the flesh. For the record he has used Parma Ham, Lemon Zest, Thmye, Garlic and salt & pepper to flavour the butter. Why I am telling you this is because, coincidently, mine is already in the oven. Prepped in the same way BUT I used a Chicken Jerk spice mix that I brought back from America earlier this year, plus some dried thyme, to enhance some of a "butter flavour" margarine product that I use these days. Butter is nice (probably better from a flavour point of view) I agree but I have to be conscious of my fat intake and choose to use alteratives. This time I've not used a stuffing mix inside the bird either so I'm hoping that 75mins for my 1.8kg bird will be enough in my little oven and that I won't end up with "pink at the bone" this time. It's not for todays dinner mind. Oh no. Today I have Pork Pie. Real Pork Pie. Baked at home by Richard to a recipe he has been perfecting this last 3 months or so and absolutely delicious with salad and pickles etc. He has actually involved me and a few other local residents in Taste Testings this last couple of months and, taking onboard our comments, has arrived at a 'committee job' that is just perfect. Shame that you don't live in Torre and don't know Richard....his pies are the best.

An hour-and-a-half later and yer'tis. Browned off and resting. This time I'm going to resist the temptation to eat the best part of a breast while testing that it is done. Tonight I'll do something for supper involving my homemade bread, a little cold chicken and some cranberries in one form or another but right now it is time to think of other things like going to work.

It was a busy session in the bar this evening. Marred of course by the inevitable flood in the loos but, Favio got on the phone tonight to a plumber chappie so maybe things are going to get sorted out in the not-too-distant future. And a good thing too because the first of the regular American visitors has arrived. A lady called Fay, from Washington I believe. Everybody was surprised to see her so 'early' in the year but she says that it is her normal time to arrive. In the next few weeks we are expecting the rest to arrive followed by some good times in the bar.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


I've been watching the weather in Omsk; down to -27C this last week so it is no surprise to me that Larisa has waited until today (a more comfortable -10C) to pop out to the local Internet cafe to check her email and respond to my New Year/Birthday greeting. She tells me that she is fine, that the Xmas/New Year celebrations continue in Russia until 10th Jan, and that on that day she has further appointments with the Doctors. She says that she will let me know what's going on after her appointment but if that doesn't happen I'm not going to worry, she doesn't have the convenience of an Internet Connection at home, it's very cold and the walk to the Cafe is not something to undertake lightly. I remember the other extreme: going to the Library in South Carolina in record High Temperatures to make contact with you through email and I remember moaning about that discomfort!! And bearing in mind that the idea is to get "Fast-Tracked" she may not have an opportunity to write anyway.

It's a chilly 12C here, showers are around and the sky is very grey. There is not much light so I've got all lights burning here in the apartment and, as usual, I'm amusing myself in the kitchen. I was going to go to the shops but the weather has put me off that idea but I must get some more breadmaking stuff in, my firstever loaf is nearly all gone and I'm anxious to make more bread (one loaf at a time of course) trying slight changes to the basic recipe until I get it just the way I would like, which I will. The first has a slightly heavy crumb, a brown tint in colour and a hard crust so I'm going to try putting milk in the mix and cut down on the yeast quantity. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Those Breadcrumbs

I've taken a Kilo of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, a pint of tepid water with 50gms of yeast and a tablespoon of honey dissolved in it and made a dough in my mixing machine. And, hey presto, it's rising now on it's first proving!!

As for the chicken, I stuffed it with Sage & Onion and roasted it yesterday. It came out pink at the bone so obviously I didn't allow enough extra time for the extra weight of the stuffing. I reckon that my oven is "slow" though because the same calculations have worked before in other ovens so it's going to be interesting to see how the Bread turns out. Being pink at the bone isn't TOO much of a worry because the carved meat is to be reheated in the microwave etc so the cooking process will complete then. I hope. do you know when the dough has doubled in size? I can't remember how big it was at the start!! But it IS getting bigger (I`ve never, never, not ever made bread before). Hmmm, I going to presume that the longer the proving, the lighter the texture, so, when it touches the ali foil covering the bowl I'll consider it risen enough assuming that that will be "well" doubled in size. Isn't cooking fun?. Some folk consider it a science. Me? I suck it and see (as they say!)

OK, total success so far. 2nd proving is underway whereby I've actually placed the dough in the Loaf Tin so that when ready the whole caboodle can go straight in the hot oven. I'm just hoping that there IS more than one way to "skin a cat", straight into the tin? No-one else seems to do that!

Now it is in the oven, where time alone will do the telling. I've covered the tin with AliFoil to try and cut down the effect of the bare element in the top of the oven, there to act as a grill of course but I can't turn it off in this particular oven, so, plan B is always to cover the food loosely ( so that I can still see it!). I forgot to grease the tin (I thought it was non-stick) so I've had a little job getting the loaf out but, with little damage I've succeeded. Looks good. Smells good, and despite no E Numbers it tastes good. The Breadcrumbs? I've got a packet that I bought from the supermarket in the cupboard already!!

Friday, 4 January 2008

The Three Kings

Hmmmm.... here in Spain they celebrate the festival of Christmas on 6 January (although, craftily, they also celebrate to a certain extent on 25th Dec.) and it is known as the Fiesta of The Three Kings, who bring gifts on the eve of the 5th etc etc. Well, not being one to be outdone with double celebrations I've bought a chicken. A whole one, and over this weekend I'm going to celebrate "The Three Kings" with it roasted, complete with Bread Sauce, stuffing and Couscous. Different and interesting. As I write the bird is roasting, dried fruit is soaking and Milk is steeping with onion, cloves, garlic and Bay Leaf ready for whatever I come up with in ideas for a Dinner tonight after work, tomorrow and Sunday. I'm expecting my 1.7Kg bird to do me 4 meals at least. I just hope that there is not a bag of giblets inside because if there is, it's still there!! Ooops. I have also bought Flour and Yeast because tomorrow I'm going to make my own breadcrumbs using my "new" Kenwood Chef. Boy that Chicken is beginning to smell good!! It's the bacon y'know, the only way to auto-baste a bird.
more follows----->