Sunday Lunch Spanish Style!

Tapas-1-300x201 (1)It was pictures like this and of course, spending time in Spain that inspired me to write my debut novel Flip-Flops, Fiestas, and Flamenco. Who wouldn’t want to be sitting at a small table overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean while enjoying a light lunch? Maybe a slice of Tortilla, some crispy deep fried  calamari, fresh bread and olives. Feeling the warmth of the sun caressing your skin and your worries drift away on the gentle breeze. The sound of the waves lapping against the golden sand, the odd seabird and the heavenly scents of the sea mingled with lemon, freshly baked bread, fresh tomatoes, and deep fried seafood. The only thing missing is a large jug of Sangria.

It’s raining here in Newcastle at the moment, the sky is a  dark shade of grey. A pile of ironing is beckoning and I’m on my own so it looks like a microwave mac & cheese for lunch. but at least I can escape for a little while as I’m writing the second book in the Series, High-Heels, Hope and Haciendas which will be realised at the end of this year.

Ah, Memories!

Celebrating my love of Gin

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I consider myself a bit of a Gin connoisseur and am a regular visitor to Dacantus in Newcastle upon Tyne, where not only are there 100s of different Gins, but you also get a delicious tapas served with each one you order. No other spirit has the distinct flavour that Gin has, My perfect moment in time, would entail sitting on a tropical beach, a good book and a refreshing G & T by my side. I am writing the sequel to Flip-Flops at the moment and as with the first book Abby invents strange and wonderful concoctions. This time, though, she develops some rather tasty Gin cocktails (obviously I will need to test them all!)

If any of you have any Gin Cocktail recipes you would like to feature in the upcoming sequel High-Heels, Hope and Haciendas please comment below. If I use any you will receive a mention and a free copy of the book when it is released later this year.

Excerpt from Flip-Flops

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Abby turned back to her boiling fruit. “Have a nice time,” she mumbled, pulling a face. She honestly couldn’t fathom what Lou saw in that man. Mind you, Lou hadn’t, and still didn’t like Mark, so maybe it was she whose taste in men was shit. Maybe she was completely wrong about the swarthy creep, in which case, from now on she vowed to make more of an effort.

Abby preferred to make jam in the mornings as it was a sweaty job. She was trying out a couple of new recipes as well as making a batch of peach and amaretto jam, which was one of the best sellers at the Wednesday market on her recently acquired stall.

She hoped the raspberry daiquiri mixture she was experimenting with was going to prove just as popular, along with carrot cake, and pear and ginger flavour she still had to do. Rows of sterilised jars stood to attention like a glass army on the worktops, along with piles of pretty labels Eduardo had printed for her on his computer. She banished cats and dogs for safety and pilfering reasons. She was happy in her work, humming, mixing, and pouring.

Outside, a loud crash almost caused Abby to scald herself. Quickly turning off the heat, boiling fruit abandoned, she ran outside to see that Santos had somehow opened the gate and now had his head stuck in a tin bucket containing the remainder of the pears.

Thrashing about, he’d destroyed two plant pots – maybe more when she had a chance for a closer inspection – and was standing forlornly not knowing what to do. Abby was having a hard job keeping a straight face as speaking softly she approached him, and with a bit of maneuvering, removed the bucket from his head. She escorted the braying donkey back to the field where the chickens and goats were all peering through the fence at the mayhem. She could have sworn they were laughing.

Abby’s Recipes-Bacon Jam

20140809-Tomato-Bacon-Jam-Jennifer-OlveraT-thumb-1500xauto-408989Those of you familiar with my book  Flip-Flops, Fiestas and Flamenco will know there is a collection of recipes at the end. Food is an important aspect of the story and Abby’s culinary concoctions feature throughout the novel with varying degrees of success. This was something I really enjoyed writing about as I love cooking and like Abby am quite experimental in the kitchen. Here is the recipe for her Bacon Jam. Delicious served on bruschetta on its own or with cheese, try it on your homemade burgers or with roasted potatoes.

 Bacon jam

450g smoked bacon, cut into 2cm pieces

1 medium red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

45g dark brown sugar

1 tsp dried red chili flakes or 1 fresh chili finely chopped

125ml strong black coffee

65ml cider vinegar

85g maple syrup

Method

Fry the bacon until it begins to crisp (don’t burn) then leave to drain on kitchen paper. Meanwhile, fry onion and garlic until soft, add rest of ingredients and 100ml of water. Simmer for one hour stirring occasionally. (I do this as I come inside to top up my glass of sangria.) Add more water if necessary. After leaving to cool for around 20 minutes, pulse in a food processor until the jam reaches the consistency you require. Pour into sterilised jars, refrigerate for up to one week.