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IAN & SPAIN

WELCOME TO MY BLOG. HAVING LIVED IN SPAIN FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS I HAVE TRULY MANAGED TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE LOCAL CULTURE AND FEEL TOTALLY INTEGRATED. I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT MY PASSION FOR SPANISH FOOD AND DRINK AS WELL AS ITS CULTURE, PEOPLE AND PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.

9 October - The Day of the Valencian Community
06 October 2021

 

The Day of the Valencian Community (Día de la Comunidad Valenciana) marks the anniversary of King James I of Aragon's re-conquering of the city of Valencia from Moorish forces in 1238. It is also the Day of Saint Dionysius, a traditional festival for lovers, the Valencian “Valentine’s day”.

The custom on this day is to give the  person you love the ‘mocadorà or mocaorà ‘which consists of a knotted silk scarf with miniature marzipan candies in the shapes of fruits and vegetables inside.

The most widespread version of the origin of this tradition is that Jaume I and his wife, Violante of Hungary, on their triumphal entry into the city of Valencia, after defeating the Muslims on October 9, 1238, they were met by their inhabitants with gifts of fruits and vegetables from the local orchard and farms, wrapped in silk handkerchiefs.

 

 

From 1331 this date was established to commemorate the founding of the Kingdom of Valencia, which over time became a celebration of marked festivity in which the worldly pleasures were given free rein.

Unfortunately, with the abolition of the regional code of law by Felipe V in 1707, the celebrations of the 9th of October were also banned.  However, all was not lost, and with the intention of  the 9th October not losing its festive character, the guild of bakers and confectioners of the city of Valencia impelled the celebration of Saint Dionysius (Sant Donís) as the "day of the lovers".

To this day, the Valencian bakeries prepare themselves thoroughly for the 9th of October and cook thousands of marzipan miniatures; it is estimated that more than 80,000 kilos of marzipan are used to make about 250,000 "mocadoràs". In addition, the Guild of Bakers and Confectioners of Valencia convenes the Sant Donís Contest, to choose the best "mocadorà" and is the best showcase opportunity for the bakeries and pastry shops throughout the city of Valencia. Last year’s winner was El Forn de Latzer. You can see some examples here and perhaps pay it a visit if you are in the area :

 

 



Like 2        Published at 21:41   Comments (1)


Spanish Fish Recipe - Cod with Chilli & Garlic
16 September 2021

Bacalao (cod) al pil-pil is a recipe originally from the Basque country. It may be more myth than history, but there's a story that claims this Spanish dish was created during the 2nd Carlist war when a merchant ordered 20 or 22 specimens of cod before the siege of Bilbao began. Instead of 20 or 22 fish, he was delivered 20,022.

The legend says that the merchant tried to sell most of the excess cod he had received in towns within the Cantabric region but then the second siege of Bilbao began. It was in fact a fortunate mistake, as there was an important shortage of food due to ti the siege, and luckily there was enough olive oil as well. These two key factors helped soften the famine in Bilbao.

The story says that this merchant went on to become a rich man and one of the most important businessmen in the city. This dish was particularly popular during Lent, as fish was the only meat source people were allowed to consume. However, this is one version of history. There are other theories that claim that bacalao al pil-pil was the natural evolution of a dish called Bacalao a la Provenza or similar cod dishes.

Anyhow, despite its dubious origin, what makes bacalao al pil pil such a successful dish? I believe it lies in the simplicity of its ingredients: cod, olive oil and chilli. If you happen to visit Spain, most bars and restaurants in Spain will serve it so make sure you give it a try.

There is however some debate surrounding this seemingly simple cod recipe as there tends to be with most classic Spanish dishes. That debate concerns the way that the cod should be cooked. Some people believe that the cod should first be cooking skin-side up for five minutes, before being flipped over and then performing the pil pil process. Meanwhile, others say that the cod should be cooked skin-side down first, and should be skin-side up during the pil pil process. Both sides claim that theirs is the best way for releasing the gelatine from the fish to make the sauce. Maybe you should try both and decide for yourselves. I personally tend to cook it skin-side up for the first few minutes then skin-side down for the pil-pil process.

Bacalao al pil pil is a little tricky and does require a little technique in order to make the pil pil sauce just right. However don't be put off as even the most novice chef, with a little patience, can produce an excellent example of the dish. To make sure you get it right, here are a few quick tips. Only use olive oil as other oils and fats do not produce the same emulsion effect and make sure the temperature of the oil is quite low. You can use fresh cod or salted cod, traditionally it is made with salted cod which you need to 'desalt'  in clean water for about 24-48 hours (depending on the thickness), changing the water every 8 hours. Most claim that this is the best way but both styles of cod work.

The key is to create a good emulsion sauce with the oil and the gelatine that the cod releases. To do it the traditional way by swirling the pan is very difficult and time-consuming but the quickest way to get a good thick emulsion is once the cod is cooked you let the oil and cod gelatine mix in the pan cool down until it is warm, then transfer it to a saucepan. The next step is to get a sieve and a ladle. Ladle a little of the oil and gelatine mix into the frying pan (no heat) and stir backwards and forwards with the sieve, basically whisk it with the bottom of the sieve in the frying pan, this will help to emulsify the oil. Add a little more and repeat. Do this until you have enough sauce. Remember it is impossible to emulsify the oil if it is still very hot.

 

  


Ingredients for 4 people:


    •    8 pieces of fresh or desalted cod loins
    •    300 cc of olive oil
    •    5 thickly chopped garlic cloves
    •    1 chopped chili (5 pieces more or less)
    •    Salt to taste


Preparation:

1. Desalt the cod if necessary, remove any fish bones.

2. Add the olive oil to a saucepan at medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and brown them slowly.

4. Remove the garlic and add the chopped chilli to the oil.

5. Place the cod loins skin-side up in the oil (medium heat) for 2 minutes and then turn over for another 2 minutes, this should be enough to cook them through. (Remember you are not deep frying the fish. If it is sizzling a lot then the oil is too hot and won't release its gelatine)

5. Remove the cod loins and place them on a dish, also remove the chillis.

6. Let the oil mixture cool down and then create the emulsion as explained earlier with the sieve.

7. Serve as displayed in the photo.

8. You can accompany this dish with runner beans and boiled new potatoes if you wish.

 

 



Like 2        Published at 19:05   Comments (0)


Homemade Chimichurri for Barbecued Meats - Quick and simple!
04 August 2021

Summer is in full swing and it's time to start grilling. Whether on a terrace in the city centre, in the country or in an authorised picnic area outdoors, a barbecue is an event that always manages to gather people together. I just love the smell of a barbecue!

Today I want to share a recipe, or should I say, a version of a recipe that I first discovered in Madrid and then later rediscovered in Buenos Aires. OK, it’s not a Spanish recipe as such because the honours belong to Argentina, although there is cause to believe that it originated in the Basque country. But anyway who cares? It’s a recipe that is simple and the star of any barbecue.

When I first landed in Spain, I rented an apartment in the centre of Madrid next to Plaza de Isabel II and on the corner was a restaurant called La Vaca Argentina, in those days fat and calories weren’t on my worry list and I would visit the restaurant several times a week to have a glass of cold beer and a tapas of grilled chorizo sausage with chimichurri. I had already fallen in love with chorizo but it was the chimichurri that was amazing. This fresh, tart and tangy concoction of herbs, garlic, oil and vinegar had me totally won over. 

However it wasn’t until I went to Argentina one year that I learnt how to make it, but as is the case with most staple recipes every household has its own variation and depending on what you have available to you. This ‘sauce’ is ideal for grilled meats of all kinds, sausages, pastries, and you can even drizzle it over a margarita pizza giving it a really special touch. It just about jazzes up any meal. The great thing about it is that you can make a decent quantity and it will keep in the fridge for at least a week to 10 days. 

The Spanish connection goes back over a century. In the 19th Century, many Basques settled in Argentina and the name of the sauce probably comes from the Basque word ‘tximitxurri’ that loosely translates as "a mixture of several things in no particular order". That is effectively what it is, a concoction of herbs and oil where the order or the recipe doesn’t really matter. However, there is one step that will speed up the final result and that is adding the hot water to all the dehydrated ingredients before mixing with everything else. You should let them sit for about 30 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the dried herbs have totally softened. From that point on you can mix and match as you wish the rest of the ingredients. This is not a purist’s chimichurri recipe but my take on it, and if you don’t mind me saying say so, it is really tasty!

 

You will need the following:

 

 

1 Cup of chopped fresh parsley 

2 Tablespoons of dried oregano                                        

2 Finely Chopped dried Ñora peppers

1 Tablespoon of crushed dried chilli flakes

1 Tablespoon of dried basil

4 or 5 Freshly peeled garlic cloves, finely minced (or put through a garlic press)

¼  Cup of red wine vinegar

½  Freshly squeezed lemon (juice only)

5 Chopped sun dried tomatoes

¼ Cup hot water

½ - ¾   Cup of mild olive oil (add to taste – if vinegar is too strong)

1 Teaspoon black pepper

1 Teaspoon sweet Paprika

 

 

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix and then fill a sterilized jam jar with all the mixture and let it macerate in the fridge overnight before using it. It is always best after about 6-8 hours. Then just drizzle it over whatever you want! I highly recommend what is called a ‘Choripan’; a grilled chorizo sandwich with chimichurri sauce.

 

 

 

Absolutely incredible! Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 16:26   Comments (5)


Discover A Valencian Delicacy
28 July 2021

 

 

The Valencian 'clochina' is considered the finest mussel in Spain.... so what do we know about this mollusc? What sets it apart from the other varieties? Are Valencian Clóchinas better than traditional mussels from Galicia, Cataluña, Scotland or even any other part of the Northern hemisphere? 

 

 

 

 

Three difficult questions to answer but let's concentrate on the latter of them. Are they better?

 

The Valencian clóchina is a true delicacy, superior in taste and organoleptic qualities to its Galician, Catalan or even Scottish cousins. ​ That said they are extremely scarce and highly localised in both region and season. The main difference in flavour is due to the breeding ground being in the Mediterranean sea which is saltier than other harvesting regions such as Galicia or Scotland. Quality control and technique also plays an important role. Modern cultivation of the Clóchina dates from the late nineteenth century and it all began on two mussel rafts positioned in the very same port of Valencia as we see today. The rafts in those days collected about 35,000 kilos during the season but the popularity of the Clóchina with Valencian families meant mussel ​​rafts were increased until they reached the twenty-two they are today. The inexorable growth of the port forced them to move to the outer harbour, finding even better waters with a calm current that kept the breeding ground clean while at the same time did not disturb the mussels. For farming Clóchinas they have always used old barges, these were the basic supports from which structures were built to hang the special breeding ropes, a technique that has been passed from father to son for over a hundred years.

 

 

 

 

 

The Clochina farmers share a similarity with normal crop farmers, so much so that their work shares similar terminology to that used in the field; they 'plant the seeds (when they tie the baby molluscs to the breading rope with netting) and 'harvest the barge' (when they pull in the fully grown mussels). However, it is the lunar calendar that governs the whole process which is from the full moon of April all through to the waning moon of August.

 

Its production or harvesting is limited to the period from May through to August (The Clóchina farmers always make reference to their season as the months without an 'R'), so any other product that is offered at different times of the year will be Galician mussel, French or Catalan, but never Valencian Clóchina. Luckily we have just entered the season for Clóchinas and now would be an ideal opportunity to try them if you have the chance, I highly recommend them. They are wonderful as a starter for almost any meal and so simple to prepare. Not only are they far superior in taste but their texture and colour are also different to other mussels. The Clóchina is slightly paler in colour and much more tender than normal mussels, so you need to be careful as they are fairly easy to overcook.

 

HOW TO PREPARE CLOCHINAS:

 

To prepare Clóchinas all you need to do is to clean them by removing any debris hanging from the shell, scrub and rinse with cold water, so they are nice and clean. The traditional way is to place some extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan with a couple of rosemary leaves a teaspoon of peppercorns then pop in the mussels. Heat them on high heat and cover them with the lid of the pan until all the mussels have opened, shaking the pan from time to time, then serve with a slice of lemon. Alternatively, you can pop in a squeezed lemon quarter with the rosemary so the mussels cook in the lemon juice, although this sometimes overpowers the flavour if you use too much, so be careful. Other alternatives are to add two crushed garlic cloves, a  little chopped parsley and a tablespoon of dry white wine, absolutely fantastic.

 

Valencian Clochina mussels release an intense salty stock that is bursting with flavour and impossible not to soak up with some lovely crusty bread.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!



Like 1        Published at 20:56   Comments (0)


Avocado and King Prawn Gazpacho
22 July 2021

This week I would like to share with you another gazpacho recipe as temperatures seem to be warming up even more, and a refreshing dish is ideal for any meal.  Yes, I love avocados and I am always trying new ways to enjoy them! My last gazpacho recipe was based mainly on courgettes but combined with avocados and today's recipe also involves avocado but with a different approach. It is slightly lighter than the previous recipe but also wonderfully refreshing and delicate in flavour. Ideal as a starter for any meal, be it fish, meat or rice and if you prefer a more filling dish just add more prawns and accompany with some bread! Avocados are readily available right now too so no better time to give it a go!

 

 

This is what you will need for 4 servings:

For the gazpacho:

2 avocados
1 green bell pepper
1 cucumber
1 spring onion
½ clove of garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1 lemon
Pepper
Salt


For the garnish:

12 peeled king prawns
Some baby leaves - mixed salad
2 pear tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar cream
Olive oil
Pepper
Salt

For the aromatic oil:

10 basil leaves
Extra Virgin olive oil

  • Peel the cucumber, wash it and chop it up. Squeeze the lemon. Wash the pepper, clean it and chop it. Peel the avocados cut them in half, remove the stones, take out the pulp and drizzle it with the lemon juice to prevent it from oxidizing.

 

  • Clean the spring onions, removing the roots and the green stalks, and wash them. Peel the garlic. Chop both, and place them in the blender, with the avocado, cucumber and pepper. Add the oil and vinegar. Add Salt and pepper then add a glass of water and blend until you get a homogeneous cream. Put the cream in the fridge, in a covered container.

 

  • Now prepare the aromatic oil: wash the basil leaves, dry them with kitchen paper and chop them up. Grind them with the oil until you get an emulsified mixture. Wash the tomatoes, cut a cross into each end of the tomatoes, and scald them in a saucepan with boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain them, cool them in cold water and peel them - where you cut the cross you will see that the skin has started to peel away. Cut them into medium-sized segments and remove the seeds.

 

  • Wash the king prawns(peeled) and pat them dry. Heat a few drops of oil in a nonstick skillet; add and sauté for 1 minute, just until they change colour. Remove and season.

 

  • Wash the salad leaves, pat dry and chop lightly. When ready to serve, divide the gazpacho into 4 bowls or deep plates and arrange the tomatoes, shrimp and salad leaves on top. Water with a few drops of balsamic vinegar cream and a string of the basil oil which you previously prepared. 

Enjoy!



Like 3        Published at 22:10   Comments (0)


Green Summer Soup - Courgette and Avocado
06 July 2021

 

If there is something I love about summer, it is the possibility of enjoying a great variety of seasonal vegetables, fresh and tasty vegetables that with really simple techniques can be transformed into authentic delicacies.

Great cooking skills are not necessary here in order to enjoy this season; salads, barbecues and grilled vegetables or cold soups are some of the dishes that we can make with minimal effort and with wonderful results. Light dishes that help us cope with the heat in the best possible way.

If you have already tried gazpacho in all its versions: salmorejo, white garlic or even with melon, you will almost certainly love this delicious cold courgette soup I am going to share with you today.

This fresh courgette soup is really very simple to make, just follow the steps below:

INGREDIENTS COLD COURGETTE SOUP

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 50ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini   1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts, raw, unsalted or fried
  • 30 ml sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan with water and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. This will stop you from having garlic breath all afternoon.

Cut the ends off the courgettes and remove only half of the skin, cut into small cubes and add to the food processor. 

Soak the cashews in advance, for at least two or three hours, drain and add to the food processor.

Start by blending the courgette with the cashews at high speed for one minute. Stop and then add the avocado pulp, the cooked and peeled garlic, the basil, the vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper, and the cold water. Keep blending for another minute until it is smooth. To obtain a really smooth emulsion, keep adding the remaining olive oil little by little, blending it for 30 more seconds or so.

Taste and adjust for salt, add a dash of lemon juice to give it a twist, if you want, or an extra dash of vinegar. Add more water if you prefer a finer consistency.

We can accompany this cold cream with croutons or and some crispy serrano ham cooked in the microwave. 

Serve the soup at room temperature, or slightly chilled. You could add a chopped egg or sprinkled feta cheese with chilli flakes, or whatever you can think of!

Enjoy!

 



Like 1        Published at 15:36   Comments (0)


Finding Paquito
28 June 2021


"The Paquito" is the result of a campaign to promote the consumption of lamb in Spain. It imitates the popular "Pepito", a beef sandwich which can be found in bars all across Spain. There are countless recipes popping up every day with the only requirements being that it must have lamb and obviously bread as the base ingredients.

The INTEROVIC (Interprofessional Agroalimentaria del Ovino y el Caprino) has launched a campaign in different Spanish bars to include the "Paquito" in their menus. This lamb sandwich has spread to hundreds of establishments in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona and will soon spread to more cities.


The decrease in demand for lamb, suckling lamb and goat meat put producers and INTEROVIC on alert, hence they have launched this campaign to encourage its consumption, especially among the younger generation. This program, supported by the European Union, will last for three years.

There are countless recipes on offer as you can see from the link provided below, but I wanted to share one I came across in a bar in Valencia called Gastromantic.

 

 

Although not especially Spanish, it is more of a fusion sandwich well worth trying.

If you can't go, to make it at home you will need:

Mollete bread -  a Muffin-type roll
2 Leg of lamb steaks
Mayonnaise
Korean chilli
Red cabbage
Cucumber
Yoghurt sauce
lime juice
Feta cheese

  • First, fry or grill the leg of lamb steaks and then shred them with two forks.
  • Mix the yoghurt sauce with a splash of lime.
  • Cut up the red cabbage in thin slices and the cucumber in thin strips and crumble the feta cheese.
  • Mix everything together to make the sandwich filling.
  • Mix some mayonnaise with some Korean chilli or sriracha sauce, whatever you can find more easily. Spread the hot mayonnaise on each piece of bread and then fill with the lamb filling.

It is now ready to eat!

 

For more recipes go to Buscando a Paquito

 

Enjoy!

 

 



Like 1        Published at 22:04   Comments (1)


Horchata Valenciana - The Summer Refreshment
21 June 2021

For those who are not so familiar with this summer refreshment, I thought I would share some of its history and how it is grown in and around Alboraya, next to Valencia.

It is made from chufa, which in English would be the tiger nut and as a drink it goes back thousands of years. Old civilizations such as the Egyptians left samples of this healthy product in their tombs and sarcophagi. Also, diverse Persian and Arab authors already mentioned in their writings the digestive benefits of the chufa. But it was in the 13th century when the Arabs introduced their crop in the Mediterranean area. 

Valencia was and continues to be the only area in Europe where chufa is grown. Currently, it is farmed in 16 towns around the area known as L'Horta Nord (or the Northern fertile land), which surrounds Valencia.

Alboraya is the world capital of Horchata and if you ever happen to be passing through Valencia I highly recommend you visit Horchateria Panach on the main road that runs through Alboraya. It is as good as it gets and also at an unbeatable price.

 

 

The chufa is cultivated in sixteen Valencian towns in the L'Horta Nord area, where a few specific climatic requirements combine and make it the only area of Spain where such a unique tuber is cultivated. About 5.3 million kilograms of tiger nut is produced in this area, of which 90% are covered by the Denomination of Origin.

The tiger nut from Valencia (Cyperus esculentus) is a herbaceous plant of around 40 to 50 centimetres in height. It has a rhizome radicular system from which some little roots grow and in the tips of these roots, the tiger nut is formed. 

The chufa is sown from March until May, a date which is determined by the previous crop. Before the planting begins, a series of preparatory work is carried out, so that the soil remains spongy, loose and well levelled. The planting is carried out in a mechanical fashion, in ridges 20 cm high with 60 cm between them. The depth of the seed is from 4 to 5 cm. The depth of sowing is an important aspect since the yield and the quality of the tuber depend greatly on these measurements. 

 

 

The harvest is carried out from November to January. Once the plant has completely withered and dried, it is burned and the ashes and remains are cleaned up. Then, it is sown again mechanically. A few weeks after the new planting, the tuber germinates. You shouldn't miss the opportunity to see the legendary irrigation ditches of Roman origin, improved and expanded by the Arabs throughout the area, which still remain.

Legend says that a young villager from the fertile area of Valencia known as L'Horta offered King Jaume I a white and sweet drink. The King, very pleased, asked; "Qué es això?" (What is this?), and the young woman answered, "Es llet de xufa" (It's tiger nut milk). The King, having tasted the drink replied, "Això no es llet, això és OR, XATA" - This is not milk, this is gold (=OR), pretty girl (=XATA)"

Legend or reality, the drink became famous throughout the country, adopting the name of Horchata de Chufa. This drink is a refreshing and essential product in the Mediterranean diet thanks to its innumerable and healthy benefits.

 

 

Known since antiquity as a source of vitamins and nutrients, the horchata is also considered a source of health and energy the world throughout. Along with its delicious and refreshing flavour, several medical studies have accredited its many beneficial properties for the body. Investigations have concluded that the horchata has great digestive properties thanks to its high level of amino acids and starch.

Several prestigious specialists from the University of Valencia have also determined that it is rich in minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and iron as well as unsaturated fats and proteins. It is also recommended for all types of people, from the youngest to the oldest. The natural horchata can also be drunk by patients with a declared lack of tolerance to lactose and it is recommended for pregnant women as it includes more iron and potassium than a glass of milk.

It is an energising and nutritious drink that, thanks to its characteristics, has become part of the Mediterranean diet. Its cardiovascular properties are similar to those present in olive oil and it helps in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides as it has over 77% of oleic acid. All these characteristics make the Horchata of Chufa of Valencia a very complete and nutritious drink thanks to its macro and micronutrients. So be sure to try some the next time you are in Valencia this Summer. Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 15:32   Comments (3)


Asturian 'Cachopo'
15 June 2021

Veal "Cachopo" is an Asturian recipe that consists of a breaded fillet of veal which is stuffed with cured serrano ham or cured beef "cecina", and cheese which is normally a variety typical of this autonomous community, such as cabrales, but you can use any cheese you prefer. It would effectively be the same as a typical Schnitzel but stuffed. If you go on vacation to Gijón or Oviedo, you mustn't leave without trying it! But until then, you can prepare it at home ... What you will need is a couple of very thin veal fillets and, if possible, try and get large long ones. If you go to your local butcher they will normally be able to cut you the perfect fillets. Veal is what is normally used, either rump or silverside cuts, but if you prefer a 'beefier' fillet feel free to get aged meat, just make sure they are thin cuts. 

The full ingredients to make Asturian Cachopo are as follows:

   

               Serrano Ham                                                                  Cecina

 

 

2 very large thin beef steaks -  normally rump steak or silverside cuts - in Spain, 'Cadera'. (If you have a meat hammer or a rolling pin, tenderize the meat and thin it out if it is too thick)
Some slices of Serrano ham or cured beef Cecina.

Cheese slices - whichever variety you prefer
Flour, egg and breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

 


 

Steps to take:

1.- Season the beef fillets (be careful, don't add too much salt to them than the cheese and the ham or cecina, whichever you decide to use, already have salt and it could become too salty)

2.- Spread out one of the fillets on a cutting board and cover it with the cheese of your choice cut into very thin slices. On top of the cheese add the slices of Serrano ham or Cecina, until it is completely covered. Then place another veal fillet on top. It basically looks like a sandwich with the meat acting as the bread. 

3.- Carefully pick up the whole piece and place it on a plate or dish with flour. Turn it over so the meat is covered in flour, then repeat the process with beaten eggs and finally with breadcrumbs. A little trick is to let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour so that all the ingredients cling together well. 

4.- Heat up plenty of olive oil to 170-180ºC. Enough to completely cover the Cachopo. After two or three minutes, when it is golden brown, remove it from the oil and place it on some absorbent kitchen paper before serving.

Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 13:17   Comments (0)


Ensaladilla Rusa - The very Spanish, Russian Salad...
09 June 2021

Russian salad or also known as Olivier salad outside Spanish borders is one of the legendary recipes of Spain's bars and restaurants. It is a homemade recipe that the Spanish have adapted, and as its name indicates, is of Russian origin, surprise, surprise. 

Many people still believe that Russian salad is actually Spanish although, in reality, the original recipe has its origin in Moscow. The first "Russian" salad was made in 1860 by chef Lucien Olivier, a chef at the famous restaurant "Hermitage" in Moscow.

The exact recipe — particularly that of the dressing — was a zealously guarded secret, but it is known that the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally. The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French white wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however, remains unknown.

At the turn of the 20th century, one of Olivier's sous-chefs, Ivan Ivanov, attempted to steal the recipe. While preparing the dressing one evening in solitude, as was his custom, Olivier was suddenly called away on some emergency. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ivanov sneaked into Olivier's private kitchen and observed his mise en place, which allowed him to make reasonable assumptions about the recipe of Olivier's famed dressing. Ivanov then left Olivier's employment and went to work as a chef for Moskva, a somewhat inferior restaurant, where he began to serve a suspiciously similar salad under the name "metropolitan salad". It was reported by the gourmands of the time, however, that the dressing on the "Metropolitan" salad was of a lower quality than Olivier's, meaning that it was "missing something."

Later, Ivanov sold the recipe for the salad to various publishing houses, which further contributed to its popularisation. Due to the closure of the Hermitage restaurant in 1905, and the Olivier family's subsequent departure from Russia, the salad could now be referred to as "Olivier." At some point, it reached Spain as well as other countries, but Spain really "adopted" it as its own and it has now become a staple tapas all over the country.

Russian salad is one of those starters that cannot be missing from a Summer lunch. I always enjoy starting my barbecue with homemade gazpacho or salmorejo and some Russian salad with barbecue toasted bread. Although it is served throughout the year, it is still a very summery recipe. It must be said that there are a thousand ways to make a Russian salad, in each household they use different ingredients, but in this recipe, I am going to explain my version and the typical Spanish version. 

The typical Spanish ingredients are boiled potatoes, peas, carrots, tuna, olives and mayonnaise. From here each person can play around with their own ingredients, be it prawns, chicken, ham or whatever. I think that the mayonnaise for this recipe should always be homemade, although you can of course use bottled if you don't know or don't have time to make it - I prefer Hellmann's but that's up to you.

 


INGREDIENTS:


For the Spanish version:

2-3  Potatoes – medium-sized (400-500g)
2  large boiled eggs
2  large boiled carrots
1/2  White Onion – finely chopped
200g Cooked garden peas
8  large Gherkins – diced
12  Anchovy-stuffed green olives – chopped
200 g Tuna steak in olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
Salt
  
For the mayonnaise:

1  Egg
250 ml Extra virgin olive oil "suave".
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Salt
 

 

 

 


 

 


My version :

I swap out the tuna for shredded roast chicken breast and my olives are not stuffed, just pitted. Everything else stays the same.

 

 

Steps to take:

  • Make a simple mayonnaise by placing all the ingredients in a tall jug and blend them with the help of a hand blender until you achieve a smooth thick emulsion. It may take a bit of practice.
  • Place the potatoes and the carrots in a cooking pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to boil and cook for 25 minutes until the vegetables become well-cooked throughout, but be careful not to overcook them or they will disintegrate when you chop them up and mix them into the salad.
  • Boil the eggs - make sure they are hard-boiled.
  • Boil the peas - once ready add them to a large salad bowl.
  • In the meantime, finely chop the onion, the gherkins and the olives. Crumble the tuna or chop the chicken and place it all in the big salad bowl.
  • Once the carrots and the potatoes are cooked and cooled, peel them and diced them. Then add them to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Season to taste and add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and then more if required. Remember you can always add more but you can never remove the mayonnaise, so don't overdo it straight away. Mix everything thoroughly and place it in the fridge for a few hours so that it really cools down. This salad is much much better when served cold!
  • Take the salad out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before serving and serve with breadsticks or crusty toasted bread slices. 

 



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