A Creamy, Smooth and Delicious Gazpacho

Hello Friday, Hello You!

I told you before that I am not a big fan of the Spanish cold type of soups, right?

Well, the fact is that the weather is so warm that I arrive at the end of the day so tired with the heat that my survival kit is based on cold salads and watermelon…until yesterday!

When last week I found that the sweet Hemsley Sisters prepared a Gazpacho recipe including fresh herbs and avocado, I thought to myself…And if I try to do my own instead of the stored bought one?

And voilá…A fresh, smooth, very tasty Gazpacho to refresh and bright our summer meals!

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I believe we are all still heading for a hot weekend, so either for your own home or to take it to a friends gathering, a picnic or a barbecue, try this recipe…Simply my blending all ingredients and seasoning to taste!

Happy Weekend

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A Creamy and Smooth Gazpacho

I followed the Hemsley+Hemsley recipe, with the exception that I roasted the red pepper for a nice kind of smoky flavour! The good thing of this recipe is that you can blend all the ingredients together and while you go along you can season to taste, add more lemon juice, vinegar, salt or pepper.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • ½ medium red pepper (roasted if wanted)
  • ½ large cucumber, peeled
  • 1 medium avocado 
  • 1 small red or white onion 
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)
  • 1 tsp of good quality balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of ½ a lemon or lime
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Roast the red pepper in a hot oven.
  • Chop all ingredients and throw them into the blender (depending on how strong your blender is you will need to chop more or less).
  • Blitz until smooth and taste for seasoning, adding more lime/lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper or even some more fresh herbs.
  • Check the texture, I like to have it in a bowl with a spoon so a smooth creamy texture is ideal but if you like to drink it over a glass add some cold water until you obtain the desired texture.
  • Keep refrigerated until serving.
  • Serve with some  toasted pumpkin seeds, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

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Summer Arrived but with a bitter taste!

The hot weather has been here for some days now but the fact is that Summer has just started!

This is the most desired season for many people as it means longer days, fresher clothes, summer fruits and of course holidays! 

With the immense heat we have been experiencing in Madrid we planned a quick escape and made a long family weekend not only to celebrate Summer but to rest and refresh ourselves!

But it was a bitter sweet weekend! Although we were so happy for returning to Juromenha we were heartbroken with the sad news of the fires that are still running in Portugal, with so many victims and entire families lost! We spent our weekend praying also for our relatives and friends that were nearby and spent their weekend in fear…

Apart from all the help we can do in donating through all the lines made to support the population affected, there was not much we could do….so I tried to still enjoy the blesses we were given, the health and the fact that we were there together and somehow in peace!

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Speaking about peace…this was one of the reasons why we chose to go back to Casas da Juromenha! We have been there some weeks ago for a friends weekend with no kids, we liked it so much that we decided to go back, this time with T, we knew he would love it…and he so much did!

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Apart from the peaceful beautiful scenario with a view to the Guadiana river, the houses are cosy, beautifully decorated, the garden is so well taken care and full of lavanda and rosemary which you can smell from the moment you wake up. The breakfast is so nice and the staff friendly and very helpful. It’s a place for resting and for quietness….Warm nights and a sky full of stars!

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One of the activities you can do is a boat trip through the Alqueva_Dam, we did ours at the end of the day due to the hot weather. You can do Starwatch, Kayak, and Historical Walks or simply ride one of the bicycles available and explore the surroundings by yourself! 


We left once more with the strong feeling we would be back and that this will be a good family meeting point, a shorter drive from Madrid for us and a quick one for ours from Lisbon too!

Some Suggestions:

Places to Eat

Restaurant Pata Larga in Juromenha. This is a small cosy place that makes little portuguese tapas dishes all cooked and managed by a very friendly couple. You can also order and pick up some food to eat at the house.

Restaurant A Adega dos Ramalhos in Alandroal. Typical food from the Alentejo region, tasty and also family managed. 

Restaurant Taberna do Adro in Vila Fernando – Elvas. 

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New and Old Crushes!

Hello You..from a boiling hot Madrid!

We have been having seriously hot days and nights…I have to say I quite like the warm nights, having dinner outside with 30ºC at midnight with a table full of friends and some G&Ts it’s fun…but there is absolutely no fun in walking outside at 4 in the afternoon under a boiling sun to pick T from nursery and find something to do until dinner time!

A good thing of this hot weekend was that to escape from the heath outside I could enjoy a full relaxed Sunday at home and apart from preparing the goodies you will see below, I could enjoy them watching one of the tournaments I most love….It was the final of the Roland Garros and my very Old Crush was playing for his 10th Title! It was beyond spectacular, what a happy afternoon...hard work, true dedication and humbleness! Very high expectations for Wimbledon, I believe! 

So, now let’s talk about these goodies that made me company during Sunday afternoon and that are still (some of them only) siting on my fridge!”

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I confess I have crazy craving moments, when all I want is chocolate and no matter what I do to try to mislead these cravings there is no escape….and I end up having whatever seats in our cupboard that has chocolate on it! 

I have now resolved the issue, with these delicious, chocolatey nutty flavoured, super easy and almost a zero guilt pleasure…Raw Cacao, Dates and Toasted Hazelnuts Balls!

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Since the day my sweet neighbour E came by for a coffee and brought me these Whole Foods Market macaroons made with dates, coconut and raw cacao and my sister text me a picture of Deliciously Ella energy balls saying they were an absolute bliss…I made a pin on the idea that one day when I had a good food processor this would be one of my first recipes to try!

So…..I do now have a food processor (pure joy!) and I am so in love with it…it’s my absolute New Crush! I find all the excuses to use it…I blend, mix, crush…make sauces, pestos, icings, ice cream, everything I can possible do with it!

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So, if you have a food processor of whatever kind try this 5 min recipe, literally throw the ingredients onto the food processor and blend for 2-3 min, make little balls and fridge with it!

Enjoy!

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Raw Cacao, Dates and Toasted Hazelnuts Balls

I love the combination of chocolate and toasted hazelnuts but you can also use almonds or other nuts you like. Toasting the nuts gives a very nice flavour combination, so do spare a couple of minutes and toast them over heath in a pan slightly until just golden!  

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Makes ˜ 22 (depending on individual size)

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 g pitted dates
  • 80 g toasted hazelnuts
  • 30 g raw cacao powder plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or flavour
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Put the dates, toasted hazelnuts, cacao powder, vanilla and coconut oil in a food processor and process for 2 to 3 minutes until you see the mixture combining and coming together almost as a dough.
  • Roll the mixture into balls and use the extra cacao powder to coat them. Place the balls into the fridge and then into a airtight container and store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks…if you can hold!

Tips

  • If you want to enhance the coconut flavour of these chocolatey balls, you can use shredded coconut as a top coat instead of cacao powder, or do a mix.
  • When you buy nuts, always toast them and store in a airtight contain flask and in this way you always have them ready to make these balls or to top up a dessert (eg. ice cream)
  • If you want to boost these cacao balls with some more fibre and goodness add a tsp of chia seeds or even some protein powder for a full energy ball.

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Hello! Lunch..Anyone?

Hello You!

Long time….gosh I missed this!

This little bit when I seat and kind of write (talk) to you! This week  my Random Ss have been a bit delayed as somehow there was always something on the way and the priorities shifted…anyway…only good things!

We had the Madrid book fair in the Retiro Park on Saturday where the invited country is Portugal. It was too many people so we ended up just doing a walk in the park and went back yesterday after school! There are many activities and specially for kids is a must do! 

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This past weekend, Madrid was full of people outside celebrating another championship victory for Real Madrid, there were parties everywhere and a  very nice environment!

The weather really warmed up…it’s not a complaint but it’s a bit scary when everyone tells me that this is still far from being the Madrid Summer! One of the things I love are the warm nights…dinners outside, a glass of cava on the balcony and not even a cardigan or a scarf on the shoulders!

But for now..and to help with the warm days… Lunch!

During the week and specially on my own, I go for fresh salads and try to vary as much as possible. I normally flick through my favourite blogs and get some inspiration and see what I can do with what I have in the fridge! Yesterday my choice was based on a Double Broccoli recipe of a blog I love 101 Cookbooks! This is a nice combination of quinoa and fresh ingredients with a Broccoli pesto which is to die for!

Enjoy…and Happy Summer!

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Double Broccoli Quinoa Salad

The broccoli pesto is the star of this salad in my opinion, as it gives texture, taste and moist to the all combination of ingredients. I always have it with avocado and crumbled feta on top and replace the cream for the pesto by a couple of spoons of greek yogurt. You can use almonds but also toasted pine nuts, I have done with both and it’s always nice!

If you have trouble in cooking a good fluffy Quinoa, check Gwyneth Paltrow method on goop website, it never fails!

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Serving 1 bowl of Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • cooked quinoa (amount to taste)
  •  200 g raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 50 g toasted almonds for the pesto plus for topping
  • 30 g freshly grated Parmesan
  • pinch salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt 
  • medium avocado sliced
  • crumbled feta on top

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook the broccoli by simmering it in water but only enough for not being raw. You want it nicely green and kind of crunchy. Set aside to cool.
  • For the pesto, puree half of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, the almonds, the grated Parmesan and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil and add the yogurt and keep blending until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like it more acidic you can always adjust the amount of lemon juice. 
  • In a serving bowl, put the cooked quinoa, add the remaining broccoli florets and toss some of the pesto. Add the avocados and crumble the feta cheese, add some more of the broccoli pesto and top it with some toasted almonds. You can also drizzle a bit of olive oil over the avocado and feta.

Tips

  • All ingredients can be prepared in advance and you just have to assemble the salad bowl before serving. Quinoa holds very well in the fridge for some days or you can froze it as it defrost very quickly.
  • If you have too much of the pesto, keep it and use it as a topping for a nice salmon dish or even in a cold pasta salad.
  • This is a very good option for a packed lunch.

 

From Mammy with Love…Happy Children´s Day!

Hello June!

What a way to start this Summer month….with a celebration for Children!

Children´s Day is celebrated all around the world on various days but for me born and raised in Portugal was always on the 1st of June!

In school we would always have something different and special happening and at home parents and close family always got us a little gift… somehow my Mum had this thing of giving both me and my sister new underwear…which until last year was always super welcomed!

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Yes, we got gifts from my Mum on this Children´s Day until last year…Mine arrived by post on a very sad day for us… there were gifts for all V&C family: for me, for A and a book for T with a message from grandma Zézinha…was the last we had and the message that came with the box is with us forever!

The families got bigger and this was extended to our little ones….We carry on my Mum´s tradition and passed it to our kids. We bought a little gift for T which he woke up to this morning and last week when in Lisbon the cousins exchanged a little present between them (somehow my sister kept the underwear tradition for T..ahahah)!

So, as in any other celebration day, we got Cake for Breakfast of course!

I set the table last night so he could see the present and the cake after waking up… It was simple and pure Joy!

A slow breakfast, all at the table to contrast with the fast and sometimes stressed ones during the week days!

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Passing these simple little traditions not only gives us a sense of Home wherever we are but also make me feel this confort of keeping memories alive!

So, as my Mum and until I am able to, for T…today will always be a Special Day!

Happy Children’s Day

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An Orange, Almonds and Polenta Cake

I have done this cake over and over again and it´s always a success and so simple to make!

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It was the first time I replaced the plain flour by polenta and used unrefined sugar instead of caster sugar. I knew T would be crazy and would want to have more than one slice so I tried to make it as healthier as possible.

The taste is still amazing, a crumbly texture with a blend of zesty flavour from the cooked and blended orange and the moisture of the almonds. I have also drizzled some reduced orange juice on top and I had mine with a spoon of Greek yogurt! Spot on!

Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 large oranges (1 to cook and 1 to juice)
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g of sugar (I used raw coconut sugar which is darker and gives a darker colour to the cake, but you can use caster sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 50 g polenta
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or flavour
  • Greek yogurt to serve (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a 20 cm baking tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Wash one of the oranges, cut in quarters and in a sauce pan with water bring it to boil and then simmer for 30-40 min until the skin is soft. Drain it, cool and blend all the orange with the peel into a purée. You can use a hand blender or a food processor.
  • In a bowl whisk the eggs and the sugar until paler and fluffy. If you are using a darker sugar than caster sugar this will have a more brown colour. 
  • Fold in the baking powder, almonds and the polenta. Add the orange purée and the vanilla.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 30-40 min or until the cake is golden and the skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool.
  • Juice the other orange and in a sauce pan reduce the juice to half. Pour it on top of the cake. You can decorate with some orange zest and serve it with a spoon of Greek yogurt.

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Time…

…on a constant look for it! 

time

(Not a Random List and not in a Random order….but sometimes priorities do shift…)

Time for T 

Time for Me

Time for Me&A

Time to Cook, to eat and enjoy…

Time for the house…

Time to Study and for long Job applications…

Time to run from one place to another doing random needed things…

Time for some exercise…

Time for Family, for Friends…for far away messages and calls…

Time to Stop…

Time to stop Time and enjoy simple moments…

Time for all of YOU, for my posts and recipes…prepared with dedication and full honesty…

And

Sometimes Time is just not enough…and life happens in between…

We had a no kids weekend celebrating a Friends birthday in a place which we will go back very soon and I’ll tell you all about it! We had so much Time

Time to rest, to stop, to eat, to enjoy, to laugh…and to switch off this constant parent alert sensor we have when we are with T….

The days flew by but passed slowly….On Sunday when we saw him again it seemed that Time passed by him and made him grow so much in just a couple of days…what a funny thing…

Talking about posts and recipes…Get some strawberries, while still in season, you may be lucky and find those nice sweet small ones, and try this Strawberry and Chia Seeds simple jam.

On warm days you can have it with some vanilla or lemon ice cream or simply use a spoon of it to add to your summer yogurt breakfasts! Of course you can also use it for the classics…spread it over a nice Victoria Sponge Cake, Toasts or have it with your scones! 

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