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Andalusian recipes, travel, and design

Tag: Moscatel

Not Quite Icelandic Fish Soup

I have been mesmerised for days in the world of other bloggers and websites. One could almost say I have become obsessed; I’m doing research for changes that I want to make to this blog and the more I look, the more confused and overwhelmed I seem to get. My mind is doing summersaults, I go to bed thinking about layouts and wake up thinking about designs…and then there is the price factor. You have choices from a full-design by a web designer (which can be a lot of money but would save me all the hassle and time) or do-it-yourself options that would give me great satisfaction to produce, but that are not free in most cases, as there’s never a perfect template or platform to accommodate my needs. I want it all! A pretty site, a functional site and one that engages all of us, you and me.


You may ask why I’m seeking out other sites when I’m also a graphic designer. But as we say in Spain, «en casa de herrero azadón de palo», which translates to “in the house of the metal-worker, a wooden hoe is used” because he either doesn’t have the time to attend to his own matters or doesn’t have the creativity to do so. Well, I’m way too subjective and am having trouble deciding on so many items, that I needed to do the research and also reach out to other designers.

In the midst of all this information overload and what I am sure is driving a number of designers and people crazy with all my questions and indecisions, I  haven’t been taking care of myself in the Paleo way. I feel like an artiste on a mission, who forgets to eat, wash or comb his/her hair… I can just envision myself like a Jack Pollock or a slightly entranced Da Vinci… thankfully, my husband is travelling and not witness to any of this!

However, on this journey through cyberspace, I’ve discovered some blogs that are simply gorgeous. And I don’t just mean their look, but the content. One of these such blogs is Mimi Thorisson’s Manger.  Over the past few days, I’ve come to know Mimi and her life, which is truly enviable. Her stories are enchanting, soothing and have a “je ne sais quoi” about them.. maybe because she’s half-French, is living in Medoc in the countryside, and everything seems so idyllic.

Her husband is a professional photographer and apparently takes all of the photos for the blog. They are impressive and inviting. And her recipes are simply delightful. One in particular caught my eye because of the title: Icelandic Fish Soup. Mimi’s husband is Icelandic.

I have been to Iceland twice, but I think I sort of travelled there before then as a child in my dreams. My father used to go there often because of his job, and brought me back a hand-made cloth viking doll, which I treasured for years. It’s still somewhere to be found at my parent’s house, I’m sure. Reading Mimi’s post brought back childhood memories and real memories of my trips to this island-country.

I always imagined the “land of fire and ice” to be a cold place, up in the northern hemisphere with inhospitable people… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Well, partially wrong. It is a cold place. But it could be colder actually if it weren’t for the currents of the gulf stream, which bring warmer air from Africa up to Iceland.

The two times I visited were in November; so it was dark most of the day. The sun rises about 10:30 in the morning, although it really never goes far above the horizon, and it goes back down around 3:30 or 4:00pm. The play of light is surreal and magical, just like Iceland itself.

There’s so much I could write and describe about my experience in this intriguing country, one where people do not really have last names. Okay they do, but in order to find them in a phone book, you need to know the father’s first name, then know if the person is a man or a woman which determines the ending of the “last name”, plus they are listed by first names! For example, Thorisson is the son of Thori, but Thori’s daughter’s last name would be Thorisdottir (with a little accent on the “o”). It’s a country to which I’d love to return, this time during the warmer months to see the different colours of summer.


Whilst reading Mimi’s blog, I came across this recipe for Icelandic fish soup and felt like it was just the right thing to bring me out of my artistic reverie and trance.

Below is my version of the soup, which has warmed up my tummy and brought me back to life….


Not Quite Icelandic Fish Soup
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Icelandic
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Serves 4-6
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter (I used Kerrygold)
  • 2 medium red onions, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 celery stalk, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup moscatel or sherry
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped (about 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron powder or a few sprigs of saffron, plus a few additional sprigs for garnishing
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or sea salt to taste
  • some freshly ground pepper
  • 6 hake steaks, cubed (I used frozen fish, about 4 cups cubed)
  • thyme for garnishing, optional
  1. In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter with the onions, garlic and celery. Poach (cook on very low heat) for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Add the white wine and moscatel/sherry and reduce about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, filtered water, saffron, vinegar and parsnips. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the parsnips are tender.
  4. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. I added 1 teaspoon of salt, but needed a bit more on my plate later.
  5. With a potato masher, very slightly and roughly squash the soup a bit, so that the parsnip pieces are not whole. But do not puree the soup.
  6. Add the fish pieces and cook 8-10 minutes until the fish is done.
  7. Serve immediately, garnishing with some saffron sprigs and thyme, if desired.


Dairy Free Chicken Liver Pate

Here’s my revised version of chicken liver pate, which is less complicated than the first one I posted. It is pictured with the Rosemary-Coconut Savoury Bread.




  • 350g chicken livers, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped or julienne style
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups coconut milk, full fat
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of gelatine powder (one package)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 125ml Moscatel or another sweet dessert wine (optional) + 2 tablespoons gelatine.


  1. Place the chicken livers, onion, garlic and olive oil in a deep pan. Over low heat and covered, cook until the chicken livers are done, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Once the livers are done, set aside until they cool at room temperature.
  3. In a blender or food processor, add the cooked chicken livers, onion, garlic and 2 cups of coconut milk. Pulse until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Add the additional cup of coconut milk and pulse further to incorporate.
  5. Add the sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Return to the same pan used before and heat, but do not boil.
  7. In the meantime, mix the gelatine with the cold water and allow to sit about 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add to the liver mixture and cook until the gelatine is fully dissolved and blended into the mixture.
  9. Remove from heat and place in ramekins or your preferred glass container, which can also be used to serve.
  10. Refrigerate until set.
  11. Heat the Moscatel or sweet dessert wine. Add the powdered gelatine and dissolve completely.
  12. Pour over the pate ramekins and refrigerate again until set.
  13. If you prefer, the Moscatel or sweet wine can be omitted. I like the contrasting sweetness it provides to the pate, but it’s not a necessary addition.


Homemade Pate (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm… if I may say so myself! This is absolutely delicious! I just can’t get enough of my homemade pate with Moscatel gelatin.

But then again, I’m a pate lover. However, I find it  hard to get good quality pate that has no wheat or strange additives in it at the store or even in restaurants, unless one pays a fortune. And maybe even then, there are things lurking in the pate I would prefer to avoid.

So, I’ve resorted to making my own at home! It’s actually quite easy and it’s very tasty. Did I mention delicious? hmmm… read on and make at home too!


Ingredients, makes about 250ml or 1 cup:

  • 250g chicken livers
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Moscatel wine or wine of preference (optional)
  • 100ml almond milk
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 50ml Moscatel
  • 2 gelatin leaves

In a saucepan over low heat, add 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and poach about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed and cleaned chicken livers and saute 2 minutes. Pour the tablespoon of Moscatel or wine over the livers and continue to cook until all the blood is gone.

In a blender, pulse the livers and onions with the almond milk. Season to taste. Pour into a pot and over low heat, cook 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, place a leaf of gelatin in cold water to soften. When it’s soft, add to the liver mixture and cook until completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the pate into a serving mold and refrigerate until set. Make sure the liver pate is completely set before the next step.

To make the Moscatel gelatin: Place another gelatin leaf in cold water until soft. In the meantime, heat the wine until bubbly. Allow to reduce the alcohol and then add the gelatin leaf. Cook until completely dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature, then pour over the pate and refrigerate until set.

(You can also make the gelatin with fish tails and bones by cooking the bones with the liquid, such as the almond milk or the wine. I just didn’t have any home to with which to make the gelatin.)

The addition of the Moscatel gelatin is optional, but I like the combination of the sweetness from the wine with the liver flavour.


Garbanzo Lemon Tart with Moscatel de Chipiona

I had placed some garbanzo beans to soak overnight two nights ago with the full intention of making hummus, which I love. But last night I was rummaging through old recipes that I have written down from my mother, and I found one that intrigued me.
Garbanzos may seem like a strange ingredient for a sweet dish, but this actually tastes delightful, and you cannot pick out the bean flavour at all.
Garbanzo Lemon Tart with Moscatel de Chipiona (Tarta de Garbanzos con Moscatel de Chipiona)
  • 250g garbanzos beans, soaked overnight and cooked
  • 10 eggs
  • 275g honey
  • zest of a large lemon
  • juice of half lemon
  • 3/4 cup Moscatel de Chipiona*
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • juice of half lemon
Preheat oven to 200C.
Soak the garbanzo beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain and cook in fresh water, without salt, until tender. Once the garbanzo beans are cooked, drain and allow to cool at room temperature. In a blender, grind thoroughly.
With a hand mixer (or in a blender), whisk 8 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs. (Reserve the egg whites.) Add the honey, blend well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and ground garbanzo beans and blend well.
Butter and line with parchment paper a spring-form baking pan. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake at 200C for 40-45 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes. Pour the Moscatel over the cake, fully drenching it. Allow to soak and cool thoroughly before removing from pan. Once the cake is cool, remove from pan and remove the parchment paper from the cake.
Place on serving platter.
Beat the reserved egg whites, until soft peaks form. Add 2-3 tablespoons of honey, depending on how sweet you desired the meringue, and the juice of half a lemon. Continuing mixing until stiff peaks form. Pour into a piping bag and pipe onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pipe into desired shapes (I made little star-shaped mounds). Bake at 160C for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully, as they can burn quickly.
Decorate the sides of the cake with the meringue mounds and garnish with marigold leaves.
*Moscatel is a sweet wine made in the province of Cadiz, and originates in the region of Jerez, more specifically in the town of Chipiona. I’ll write more about this wine in another post.