Spanish Countryside Breakfast

Dreamy breakfast in the hills of Andalucía

As the sun begins to rise from the back of the mountains, the low rays hit our faces, as we get ready for a dreamy breakfast. Waking up at the Spanish countryside is pure relaxation, especially when the surroundings are visually this pleasing. We watch the glorious sun come up as we hear the coffee machine ramble as it makes our first frothy cappuccino.

We stayed in the countryside hotel Balneario Aguas de Villaharta for a few nights just to relax by the pool and fully wind down. Moreover, after spending some days in various cities in Andalucía, heading out to the mountains near Cordoba was the perfect thing to do. The drive up from Cadiz to this hotel was stunning, the rolling hills of dried sunflower stretched for miles and the occasional white doted towns shined in contrast against the greenery. I must mention that driving in Spain has changed so much in the last 15years; the roads are in great condition, it is much more safe and people actually follow regulations.

We enjoy breakfast outside as the day isn’t hot yet and watch the sunlight push through the fig trees and white sun curtains. The somewhat bohemian and aesthetics of this hotel reminds me of many Puglian masserias, which is probably why I felt at home right away. The rustic white wooden tables, the tassel sunshades and even the staff wore matching linen dresses that looked so chic. After several cappuccinos and a beautiful slow breakfast, a wonderful mood was set for the entire day.

Hello Autumn.

10 hours of sleep, slow breakfasts & countryside fresh air’

Last weekend was all about cozy knits, warm cups of tea, fresh autumn air and peaceful countryside surroundings. We spent a wonderful few days at the countryside with my nephew and sister in law, letting nature do it’s magic. We spent time outdoors, went picking for mushrooms in the forest, warmed up in the sauna and made delicious food. I slept for 10 hours straight and in the morning, we cooked some pumpkin cinnamon toast, letting the kitchen linger of autumn sweetness.

We caramelized carrots with honey and pistachios and made an endive, qvinoa and fig salad to accompany them.

Pumpkin toast

Preheat the oven to 190 c. degrees.

In a saucepan, add some butter and cook little chunks of pumpkin. Add some cinnamon, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Add a bit of water if the butter sticks to the bottom. Cook for about 10minutes.

Place the pumpkins onto a baking tray and in the oven for about 20minutes until the pumpkins are lovely and golden and slightly mushy and crispy on the sides. It will make your kitchen smell beautiful, it certainly got the attention of my nephew as he kept asking what good smell was in the kitchen.

Once ready, “mush” the pumpkin pieces (with a fork) on some toasted rustic bread, add some toasted pecan nuts on top, along with a few blueberries and herbs of choice.

The End of Summer outside Dinner

‘ When the summer season comes to an end at the countryside’

As September comes to an end, so do the dining moments outside at the countryside. The last time we were at the countryside, we were able to eat all our meals outside as we were blessed with such incredible weather. Our countryside is beautiful this time of year, the trees are still mostly green but there are slight signs of fall in the crispy morning air, the lake has turned a glistering blue colour and mushroom season is at it’s best. My hubby and I swam on a daily basis and I let the nature work it’s wonders on my healing process. This season really makes us miss Bella even more as we took her to so many adventures during autumn.

We enjoyed a “last of summer” dinner by the lake with my family, where we cooked some lobster on an open fire and ended the meal with caramelized plums. We also had some tiger prawns and a white paprika salad and a hassleback pumpkin, that is perfect for September dinners. We ended the meal with playing some games outside as the sun set beautifully already at 20.30pm.

We are blessed in Finland that we have four seasons and the most exciting part is the transition process to the new one, as it brings along a sense of new beginnings and change. Our last “summer meal alfresco style” was a great transition to cosier pot meals by the fireplace and allow the cooler days stripe the nature to it’s barest. Below you can find the recipes for the paprika salad, tiger prawns/lobster, hassleback pumpkin and caramelized plums.

White Paprika Salad

  • About 7 long white paprika’s (any colour will do)
  • 1 cube chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1 cup water

Garnish

  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Place the washed paprika in an oven dish. Add enough water so the bottom part of the paprika is just covered. Brake in the chicken stock cube into the water. Add olive oil over the paprika. Cook in an oven for an hour/ 1 hour 30min. Midway cooking, turn the paprika around.

Once ready remove from oven and place the paprika’s on a plate to cool. Save a few tablespoons of the stock and place on top of the cooling paprika’s. Once cooled, roughly slice the paprika into long slices and place onto a large serving plate. Add fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Add creamy feta and black pepper. Ready to serve.

Grilled tiger prawns & Lobster

  • 1 kg tiger prawns
  • Marinade (oil, chilli, parsley, garlic)
  • Lemon
  • Aioli

Directions

We cooked the tiger prawns outside on an open fire using a cast iron grid. Basically allow the tiger prawns to soak the marinade for about an hour at least. Then cook on the cast iron grid over coal, for a few minutes on both sides. Serve with lemon and aioli.

When cooking the lobsters (we used frozen, precooked ones), basically slice the lobster in half first and place each side on the cast iron grid. Brush some garlic butter on top and let it cook for about 2-5 minutes until it heats up. Serve 1 lobster per person and garnish with lemon.

Miso Garlic Hassleback pumpkin

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon miso paste
  • A few twigs of thyme
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Grounded black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Begin by halving the pumpkin lengthwise and peeling the skin of f, which is by far the most challenging part of the recipe. I used a vegetable peeler along with a sharp knife to get the skin off. Once this is done, you make narrow scores (not all the way to the bottom though so the shape does not brake) all the way across the surface on both pumpkin halves. Lay the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet lined tray.

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, miso paste, grated garlic, lemon juice, pepper and finely chopped thyme. Brush the pumpkin surfaces with the marinade and place them into the oven for about an hour or until the pumpkin is fully cooked.

Keep brushing more of the marinade over the pumpkin about ever 20minutes, so they keep moist and intensify with flavour. Once ready, grate lots of black pepper on top and a bit of Maldon salt. For garnishing, I also added more herbs to give some additional colour.

This makes the most beautiful seasonal side dish that is sweet and salty with lovely mild garlic taste in the background. The miso paste adds a lovely salty full-bodied flavour to the sweet pumpkin.

Caramelized Thyme Plums

  • Seasonal plums
  • Few twigs of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • About 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

Deseed and halve the plums. In a frying pan, add a generous amount of butter and let it melt and become a little brown. Place the plums, cinnamon and thyme into the pan and cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes, stirring once in a while. Let the plums caramelize. Serve with whipped cream and make sure to pour all the buttery goodness from the pan onto the plate.

Countryside September Breakfast

‘Cinnamon glazed apples with a sprinkle of thyme… that’s what September breakfasts are all about’

Last week, my hubby and I took a little trip to the countryside to spend the last days of summer there before the season starts slowly changing to autumn. Blessed with a heat wave, we had the most beautiful weather and therefore spent most of our time outdoors. We went to the sauna by the lake and swam on a daily basis and ate al fresco style, every evening. My parents were still there on summer holiday, so it was lovely to spend time with the family even though it was the first time there without our beloved Bella, which was quite emotional for me. We caught the most glorious sunsets, did some work on the garden and took in the warmth of the early September weather.

One of my favourite moments of the day was having breakfast by the water, just listening to the sound of the gentle waves as they hit the rocks on land. The water level was incredibly low this time, creating the most beautiful stubble shoreline.

There is an old shed and garden at walking distance from our cottage, so I often walk there to pick wildflowers, shoot photographs and this time the apples were blooming in the trees. Bella and I used to walk there most mornings and she would just sit on the side of the road watching what I was doing. I find this place to be the most beautiful during the morning, to catch that soft sensual light and soak in the peacefulness of it all. This morning I picked not only wildflowers but also a few apples that I thought I would caramelize in a bit of butter, thyme and cinnamon to go with some toast. I picked some lingonberries yesterday and mashed them up with a touch of honey that makes a great tangy base for my toast. The sweet apples (that smell heavenly) go on top of this along with a handful of blueberries. With a coffee at hand, I head downstairs to the foot of the pier.

Early September has the most beautiful nature; the sun sets much earlier but it can be really warm or really chilly. Nature has lots of hay-like growth and little by little the trees have a few splashes of yellow on the leaves. I’m still able to throw on an open back maxi and let it glide through the overgrown hay.

Countryside Delights

‘Warmest Summer memories at the countryside’

I have taken a few months of my blog to regroup from the passing of Bella and I thought after our holiday to Spain, it was time to get back on track. I have some photos left from summer which I will gradually be sharing as September begins. Hence, these images are from end of June when we took Bella to the summerhouse for the last time and when we celebrated my hubby’s birthday with my parents. Thankfully I have lots of photos so her memory is strong with me for the rest of our lives. When the weather is amazing, our favourite place to eat is just by the lake where we have a rustic table and a place for an open fire. I still remember the warmth of the day, we swam between the main course and desert and enjoyed a gorgeous meal of tartar and lamp chops. I made a birthday layer cake with espresso flavour and inside a grapefruit curd topped with blueberries. My mom and I picked wildflowers for the table while Bella lay peacefully sleeping in the sunny garden. I love dining alfresco style, a table filled with candles, overlapping clothes and picked flowers from the nature along with rustic pots of herbs that seamlessly collides with natures surroundings.

Summer Shrimp tartar

  • 2 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked shrimps
  • 1 large teaspoon Dijon
  • Few drops of tabasco
  • 2 spring onion finely chopped
  • 1 juice of lime
  • 1 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
  • ½ cup chopped radish
  • ½ cup of chopped dill
  • 1-2 teaspoon sesame oil

In a bowl, mix together the sesame oil, dijon, lime juice and tabasco. Mix in the finely chopped shrimp, dill, radish and spring onions. Fold in the sour cream. Leave it to sit in the refrigerator for about 30minutes before serving. With the help of a mould (we used small coffee cups as we did not have a mould at hand in the summer place) add a serving on each plate and garnish with more dill and pumpkin seeds. Serve with toasted bread and lots of extra shrimps that you peel yourself.

Refreshing Watermelon Salad

  • 1 medium roughly chopped watermelon
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped rich feta cheese
  • Black pepper/salt

Mix all the ingredients together

Crispy Lamb Chops

  • A few racks of lamb chops, cut individually
  • For the marinade: grated garlic, oil, soya sauce, chilli, rosemary

In a large bowl, add the marinade and lamb chops together for a good hour or more.

Grill both sides of the lamb chops until they are beautifully crispy on the outside. We actually overcooked them on the open fire but I don’t mind this with lamb chops as the fat around the meat melts wonderfully at this stage giving the chops lots of flavour. I also love an almost burnt dark crust to the surface. Add some salt and pepper in the end and garnish with a few herb leaves.

Countryside weekend

Countryside life

We spent a weekend in July at my husbands family countryside. We always sleep in a little shed away from the main house that overlooks right into the lake. Bella slept between us in bed and she went swimming the first thing in the morning, sometimes at night time too. We spent the majority of the time outdoors; went rowing, picked wildberries/blueberries, grilled and spent some qulity time together with the family.

spinach from the garden for our daily salads

coffee break in the woods while picking wild strawberries

Birch leaves for the sauna that we press against our faces as a little spa moment

Crayfish Party & Heat waves

“It is that time of year again”

When your instagram story temperature reader is constantly above 28 degrees celcius, you know there is a heat wave in Finland. We went over to my brothers and sister-in-laws summerhouse over the weekend for a crayfish party. We were blessed with constant sunshine and we spent the majority of the day, floating in water, seeking for shade and playing beach games with little B, my adorable nephew who is just the cutest. My brother made us several apperol spritz, while my darling sister-in-law made both of us Danish crowns. Later in the evening we through on the lightest summer dresses and ate the first jumbo crayfish of the season and experienced the most magical golden hour.

These spilling apple trees have always been my favourite that will be ripe in the end of August.

We grilled some pulpo the following day combined with a cauliflower mash just as they do in Spain.

Cherry Bread, Slow Mornings.

Slow mornings and cherry bread

My favourite part of the day is the morning when nature awakes and there is a feeling of calmness in the air. The countryside particular has a spectacular start to the day as the soft hues push through the woods and gleam across the summer greenery. You can hear the wild animals making noises and it’s that first sip of coffee across my lip that gives me pure pleasure. The sun is low as it rises making it the perfect time to sit outside of the house and let it warm my sleepy cheeks.

Before coffee, I had a swim to make the most of the refreshing lake water, which is the ultimate way to start the day. The mirrored water feels soft against the skin and does wonders in softening the body and hair.

I decided to wake up the rest of the family with the smell of fresh cherry bread as we had lots of cherries leftover in the fridge. Fresh cherry bread makes the perfect summer time breakfast or subtle treat that I enjoyed on the edge of the pier.

Summer Cherry Bread

  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • about 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4cup fig jam
  • 1 zest of lemon
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped almonds

Garnish: mixture of seeds/nuts/cherries brushed with a bit of oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius. Butter the bread tin base and set aside. Pit and dice the cherries and place into a bowl. In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients; flour, almonds, salt, baking powder & soda. In another bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil and sugar with a hand mixer. Once the texture is smooth, mix in the egg. Pour in the vanilla, lemon zest and fig jam and continue whisking with the handheld mixer.

Add the cherries to the dry ingredients and then mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently stir together. (If the consistency looks too dry, you can add a splash of oatmilk or apple juice to liquefy it. The moistness of the cherries or jam can vary, so this tip will help) Pour into the bread tin and garnish the top of the bread. Add some halved or whole cherries and nuts/seeds of choice on top. I used cashews, chia, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Brush a bit of oil on top of the garnishing and bake in the oven for about 50minutes. Once ready, let it cool for about 15minutes and enjoy with some fig jam and fresh cherries.

Seafood Countryside Lunch

Eating lunch outside in the midst of nature is the most wonderful feeling at the countryside. I love dressing up the table with wildflowers and my entire family loves eating tapas style food, so we make a real event out of lunch time. We grilled some green mussels, had asparagus and smoked some salmon as well. Spending hours around the table is what the countryside life is all about…

We smoked some wild salmon in a smoker and served it quite naturally with dill, salt and pepper. The smokey flavour pushes wonderfully through, so you prefer to keep the fish as simple as possible due to it’s mild flavour.

Grilled Green Mussels

  • Green mussels (we used frozen pre-cooked ones, already halved because of the ease of transporting them to the countryside)
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves Grated garlic
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive oil

Make the topping for the mussels by mixing together the softened butter, oil chopped parsley, garlic and chilli. Add a little chunk of the butter mix on top of each halved mussel. Grill the mussels for about 5-10minutes. Squeeze lemon on top and a little bit of maldon salt.

White Asparagus with Lemon butter

  • White Asparagus
  • 1 lemon
  • About ½ cup melted butter

Remove the ends and bad bits of the asparagus and boil for about 5 minutes until the stems are soft. Melt the butter in a saucepan, letting it become slightly brown. Add in the lemon zest of 1 lemon and thin slices of spring onion. Turn off the heat but let the sauce infuse the lemon flavour for a few minutes. Pour this on top of the asparagus; squeeze more lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and white pepper.

Summer Breakfast by the lake

Calming Countyside mornings

I opened the door this morning and felt the sun on my face and the smell of the lake and forest in front of my eyes and took in the soft air of June. Its a green palatte as far as the eye can see, nature is soft and pure full of movement, eventhough it seems so calm and still to look at. With my basket in hand and feet bare, I walk down from our house to the water while everyone else is still tucked in bed.

One of my favourite spots at our countryside, is just on the edge before the pier starts overlooking the lake and lining of the shore. There is a slight wind in the air making the waves crash against the rocks on land creating the most soothing sounds. This is pure calmness to me, the fresh air brushing against my face, newspaper in one hand and hot tea in the other. The morning light brushes through the birch trees casting all kinds of shades on my breakfast layout and the sound of the birds is as lively as ever during nesting season. I picked some wildflowers the night before and for breakfast I have oatmik english breakfast and a bowl of porridge. The porridge is slow cooked in milk and salt topped with cherries, nuts and seeds. I love to add fresh herbs and a dollop of butter on top and a final sprinkle of lemon zest for that summer infusion. I find overblooming peonies so beautiful to photograph and they are bursting with scent at this point in time. Make sure to create slow breakfast moments for yourself this summer, they will recharge you with all kinds of positive energy.