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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.

My Wine Recommendation Nº 14 - Borsao - Garnacha Variety
08 April 2021

Many of you may already know the region Campo de Borja closely tied to the Garnacha variety(grenache). But if this Aragonese land has come to conquer the world, it has been thanks to Bodegas Borsao. A winery that has succeeded in being recognised across the globe especially in the United States and still today many people in Spain are not aware of its success within the wine community overseas. 80% of its production is dedicated to export.

The Borsao winery bet everything on the variety Garnacha and knew that they would have to suffer for several years until they achieved their objective and earned the respect of the wine community worldwide. As a result of persistence and hard work, a new wine was born and it has become one of the most sold wines internationally and also one of the most highly valued Spanish wines as well as receiving endless awards along the way. 

It is called Borsao Tres Picos and is a wine that really needs to be on your list. Admittedly it is slightly over my normal €10 limit for wine recommendations, but this is worth the stretch and still delivers excellent value for money. It's no surprise that it was awarded 'Best Value for Money Wine in the World' by The Wine Advocate 3 years in a row. This wine was the first Spanish wine made with the Garnacha variety to achieve 100 Parker points.

Its good aromatic body, with red fruit and floral nuances in the foreground, makes it an excellent example of the best Aragonese Garnacha.

The first written records about winemaking in this region date back to 1203 and were founded in the Monastery of Veruela. The monks had an essential role in the development of vine growing and winemaking in the region.

In the 19th century, private wineries in the foothills surrounding Veruela began to emerge and in the 1950´s economic difficulties pushed small producers to join forces and six co-operatives emerged, which nowadays comprise most of the D.O.

Borsao is the benchmark for premium Spanish Garnacha. It has been one of the greatest preservers of this variety and they firmly believe that it is specially suited to the region and that they must continue working relentlessly to improve the wines it produces.

Garnacha is living a huge revival worldwide thanks to its fruit-driven character, soft tannins and pleasant taste, which make it perfect to match a wide variety of meals.

Garnacha originated in Aragón, where Borja is located and it owes its development throughout Europe to the strength of the Kingdom of Aragón, whose expansion made Garnacha become well established in the Rhône Valley in the 19th century, Italy and Sardinia.

 

 

Garnacha is the most planted red variety in the world. Other names used for Garnacha are; Alicante, Aragonés, Cannonau, Garnaccho Negro, Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Roja, Garnacha Tinta, Grenache, Tintilla, Toledana,  Uva di Spagna.

During the 80s and 90s, it was extensively uprooted in Spain. However, it has been very well preserved in Aragón, where they are pioneers in single varietal Garnacha and it has contributed to its popularity among consumers.

The Hillsides of the Moncayo shelter the vineyards located between 350 and 800 metres of altitude, regulating cold, heat and moderating the effects of the North-west Cierzo, which is responsible for the characteristic wild fruit aromas (Silvestres).


All 1,500 hectares of the winery's property has been planted with an indigenous clone of Garnacha, 900 hectares correspond to “Garnacha de Monte”, i.e. Garnacha over 35 years of age, growing on hillsides, bush-trained and not irrigated.

The Moncayo hills, with their soft undulations, provides optimum conditions for growing grapes, especially Garnacha that by tradition represents 70% of the total production.

If you haven't had the opportunity to try this wine, I really recommend that you give it a go. You won't be disappointed, even though it does cost €13,80.

 


TASTING NOTES:

View: Ruby red colour, with violet reflections.
Nose: Intense aroma, with sweet and fresh notes of ripe red fruits, wildflowers, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and red berries.
Mouth: Fine, complex flavour with good acidity, with soft tannins on the palate and light notes of red fruits. It has sour and smoky notes of cherries, liquorice and oak wood.


Preparation: Maceration for 20 to 25 days. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of between 25 and 30 ºC.

Ageing: Matures for 5 months in new French Bordeaux barrels.


PARKER: 91 points - best year achieved 100
PEÑIN: 91 points

Where you can buy it click here.

 

 

 



Like 1        Published at 20:37   Comments (2)


It's Easter and Torrija Time!
29 March 2021

 

It's Torrija time! Torrijas are a typical recipe at Easter, so there is clearly no better time than the present to give this heavenly treat a go! And if you like them you don't need to wait until next Easter to make them again, just crack on! They are really easy to make.

It basically consists of a few slices of Torrija bread, soaked in plenty of milk or sweet white wine, previously infused with citrus peel and other spices. It is a very easy recipe to make and it is absolutely delicious. Here I am going to give you both recipes for making Torrijas; either with wine or milk.

INGREDIENTS FOR ABOUT 15 TORRIJAS:

300g of special bread for Torrijas - available in your local bakery or Mercadona - (you can use a loaf of brioche if you can find Torrija bread)
Orange and lemon peel.
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 branch of vanilla
800ml of sweet white wine or 800ml of milk
2 eggs
Vegetable Oil, to fry them
200g of sugar (only if they are milk or if you are making the syrup option)
3 tablespoons of sugar and one of ground cinnamon

 

 


Steps to follow:

1.- If we are going to make them with wine, heat 800 ml of sweet white wine together with the citrus peels, the vanilla and the cinnamon stick and, just before it starts to boil, remove it from the heat and let it cool down. The wine will be impregnated with the flavour of cinnamon, vanilla and citrus but it may be very rich for some of you, but this is the traditional way.

If necessary, to weaken the intensity of the wine, something that is often done is to only use only 400 ml of wine and prepare a syrup with 400 ml of hot water and 200 g of sugar (maintaining 800 ml of liquid). Then you mix and heat it with the same ingredients as before.

2.- If we make them with milk, we put the milk in a bowl, together with the same ingredients as with the wine, but also adding 200g of sugar. We heat the milk with all these ingredients and, just before it starts to boil (we don't want the milk to boil as it takes on an unpleasant taste), cover the bowl, and let it infuse for at least 2 hours.

3.- Cut the bread into slices, if it is not already cut. They should be 2 or 3cm thick. Lie them flat in a large container, such as the baking tray, leaving a small gap between one slice and another.

4.- Pour the liquid of choice over them: wine or milk, previously strained to eliminate the citrus peels, cinnamon and vanilla. Let everything rest for about 5 minutes so that the bread soaks up and absorbs the wine or milk.

5.- After 5 minutes turn the slices over one by one so that they can start soaking up on the other side. Leave them for another 5 minutes.

6.- Now, we are going to dip the Torrijas in beaten egg and fry them. Do this very carefully because the bread will be very soggy and can easily fall apart. So one by one, pick them up carefully with your hands or a spatula, and dunk them in the egg and then fry them in abundant and very hot vegetable oil (180ºC). Fry for about 1 minute on both sides. Then let them rest on some kitchen towel.

7.- Finally, when you have fried all the Torrijas and they have cooled down a little, we need to mix three tablespoons of sugar on a plate and a tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the Torrijas.

Now they are ready to eat! However, it is better to eat them once they have cooled down completely. It is not necessary to refrigerate them and they will last for several days but, the truth is, they will probably be eaten before they go bad!

Enjoy!



Like 1        Published at 13:47   Comments (0)


15' Express Recipe - Beans & King Prawns
22 March 2021

 

There are times when we just simply lack the time or even the desire to cook and as a result we all too often resort to the so-called fast-food or ready-made meals. A good alternative is to resort to a healthy express recipe that is still homemade but with a few shortcuts. One example is this recipe for "White Beans & king Prawns" that you can have ready in 15 minutes and put a smile on everyone's face.

If you find this recipe useful and would like more express versions of traditional Spanish recipes just let me know in the comments section and I will do my best to share some more!

Ingredients for 4 people:

1  Jar white cooked beans - 400 g
12 Large king prawns (Gambones in a Spanish supermarket - frozen are fine)
2 tablespoons of fried tomato in olive oil - jar 
4 Garlic cloves
1 Medium onion
1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley
500ml fish or seafood stock - I prefer seafood stock - enough to cover all the ingredients and a little more which will evaporate off during the cook. 

 

    

 

Although we can make this recipe by cooking the beans fresh and preparing a homemade fish or seafood fumet, I assure you that this express version has nothing to be ashamed of. Trust me!

  • First, start by breaking off the heads and then peel the prawns and clean them. You can butterfly them by cutting a line along the back and also remove the black thread (digestive tract). 
  • Pour the stock into a pan add the prawn heads - heat the stock and squash down the prawn heads to release their flavour. Let the stock boil for a few minutes.
  • Now we need to prepare the sauce by frying the finely chopped onion, the garlic cloves, also finely chopped, and two tablespoons of fried tomato. Fry together for five minutes. Meanwhile, wash the beans well.
  • Now add the prawns to the pan and cook them for about 2 minutes. Add the beans to the saucepan and then add the stock (pass the stock through a sieve first). Salt to taste, add the parsley and then cook it all together for about 3-5 minutes on high heat to reduce the stock a little. If you like it a little spicy, now is the time to add a couple of dried chilis. 

 

Now all you have to do is serve with a side of crispy bread and a green salad.



Like 2        Published at 11:32   Comments (7)


Utter Eggcellence!
04 March 2021

There are many interpretations of the Spanish omelette: completely cooked all the way through, moist but slightly cooked in the middle and still runny almost raw in the middle.  It wasn't until I lived in Madrid that I discovered the full potential of whisked eggs and a few potatoes. It was then that I discovered eggcellence! Forgive the pun! But in Madrid, they do omelettes differently. They are largely golden and runny. So, if you happen to be fussy about raw egg or harbour a fear of salmonella poisoning, this is where to stop reading. 

 

One of the best places I remember was Bodega de La Ardosa, a taberna which was established in 1892 but its history as a taberna goes back a further 100 years and was even regularly frequented by the famous painter Goya in 1799. A very traditional bar that offers excellent products and popular Spanish tapas made with authentic culinary talent. Joselito ham, squid, salmorrejo, 'ajoarriero', salted cod, the list is extensive ...but I could never resist their very famous Spanish potato omelette, which is made continuously throughout the day due to such high demand. The bar is run by Angel Monje and officiated by his mother, Concepcion Marfil, who has what is considered the "special touch" when it comes to tortilla española. Her omelette has no special ingredients or any secret recipe; it is quite simply incredibly tasty. It all comes down to temperature, timing and quality of ingredients. Orchestrating all three to perfection, she produces an omelette from the Gods. 

She uses five medium Monalisa potatoes, seven eggs, half a large onion, Lorietta extra virgin olive oil, from the region Montes de Toledo (variety Cornicabra) and salt. Just before preparing each omelette, she peels the potatoes, washes them and cuts with a knife, widthwise, with a length of about 3 centimetres and a thickness of between 2 and 3 millimetres. She tosses them into a bowl, along with the julienned onion and salt. Meanwhile, she has placed a frying pan with plenty of oil over medium heat. Hot, but not smoking, she adds the potatoes with the onion, where they remain covered by the oil, frying more than cooking, but never over a very strong flame, always medium heat, for about fifteen minutes. During that time, she moves the potatoes every three minutes, so that they are all done equally, homogeneously. After the quarter of an hour, approximately, she takes them out and leaves them in a container to drain the oil, for which he uses a slotted spoon, with which she presses them lightly to help release the oil. She beat the eggs in a bowl until they are fluffy and aerated. 

She adds the potatoes and the onion. It is kept together for just half a minute, just enough to be able to mix and distribute the egg, potatoes and onions evenly. She places a small, but deep cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Drizzles some extra virgin olive oil over the pan and spread it all over the base and the side of the pan. When it is hot, but not smoking, she adds the tortilla mix, just half a minute, constantly running the slotted spoon around the outer edges. She turns it over using a plate and cooks the other side for half a minute too, curving the edges in the same way with the slotted spoon. Then she takes out and serves. Sounds simple right? But it takes many many omelettes to achieve perfection and this is utter eggcellence!

 

 



Like 4        Published at 20:42   Comments (1)


Could Red Wine help with Covid?
16 February 2021

Recent studies report that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, peanuts, pistachios, and dark-skinned berries, could help reduce the severity of Covid-19.

Scientists from Laval University (Canada) have shown through a study that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, increases the concentration of the protein ACE2. This can be found in the tissues of the digestive system and lungs and has been linked to a reduction in the severity of the acute respiratory distress syndrome that is sometimes associated with Covid-19.

That said, researcher Román Zinovkin from the Molecular Biology Laboratory of Moscow State University M.V. Lomonosov explained that increasing the amount of ACE2 increases the probability that the virus will enter the cell. Also, Flip Kopylov, professor at the Department of Cardiology, Functional Diagnosis and Ultrasound at the University of Séchenov, pointed out that even though resveratrol is one of the agents that affect the concentration of ACE2, tests have only been done on animals so far and the effect in humans is not guaranteed to be the same.

According to an article by Lucia Malaguarnera, a researcher at the University of Catania (Italy), the antioxidant has a suppressive effect on the cells of the immune system, which is crucial for this research and has a beneficial effect on respiratory difficulties.

Additional research has suggested that resveratrol exhibits inhibitory effects on virus replication in some viruses, including herpes simplex and the coronavirus. Although it’s still too early to suggest that resveratrol can treat this new virus, these research results are significant and do demonstrate that resveratrol could possibly be developed as a potential treatment for coronavirus and other diseases caused by coronavirus according to experts.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to note that much more research needs to be done and until those results come are released, the effects of resveratrol on coronavirus remain uncertain.

However, what we do know for sure is that there certainly seems to be no harm in enjoying a glass of red wine and if we’re lucky, it may even do us some good. 

Another of the nutrients that are positive and helps provide more and more strength to tackle Covid-19, is vitamin D.

Vitamin D and its efficacy in patients with Covid-19 is becoming the ally of scientists and health workers this year. Numerous previous studies have shown a direct relationship between vitamin D and people infected with Coronavirus.

The majority of patients with Covid-19 have a common denominator: a lack of vitamin D. According to a study carried out by the University of Cantabria during the pandemic, 80% of patients with Coronavirus have a vitamin D deficiency.

Recently, several studies carried out in Spain have shown that 50% of the Spanish population shows vitamin D deficiencies. A percentage that increases to 80% in people over 80 years of age. Something to keep in mind...



Like 2        Published at 14:31   Comments (1)


How to swap your "Green Residency" Certificate for the New TIE Photo ID Card
12 February 2021

Last July, Spain introduced the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjero) for foreign residents, a biometric credit card-sized photo ID that replaces the previously issued green EU residency A4 certificate or the small green residency card.

However, it's important to remember that for UK citizens who have already been registered as residents in Spain and are in possession of either of the green residency documents, the TIE card is of course optional.

That’s because both of these ‘residencia’ documents - whether temporary (less than 5 years of residence) or permanent (more than 5 years) - already guarantee British residents rights in Spain under the Withdrawal Agreement. That said, it is certainly an advantage to get one. Up until now those with only the green A4 sheet had no way of proving their identity legally without carrying their passport -  a Spanish driving license, although in most cases suffices, it is not a legal form of identification. So basically, we now have a legal ID card available meaning we can leave our passports at home once and for all. So what's not to like about it?

How do UK citizens who are already registered in Spain apply for a TIE and thus swap their Green A4 certificate for a photo ID card?

I have put together this document to show the steps you need to go through. It is shown with Valencia as an example, as I am based here, but it will work for any city in Spain. The procedure is the same. Just click on the link and download the document.

 

GO TO DOCUMENT

 



Like 0        Published at 15:31   Comments (7)


"In February for the Master and in March for the Servants"
09 February 2021

The Calçot season has arrived (pronounced calsot) and those who don’t know what I’m talking about are in for a mouth-watering and extremely fun surprise! Calçots are a typical dish from the Catalonia region of Tarragona, specifically from the town of Valls however their popularity is spreading all over Spain and is also common in the Valencia rural region. If you have never experienced a “Calçotada”, the name given to the entire lunch ceremony you will now have a new excuse for inviting your friends over, as this is a dish that should be enjoyed in numbers as it can get very messy and first-timers beware, Calçots leave their ‘mark’ in every sense of the word! There is a saying in Catalan that clearly defines the best time to eat Calçots:

“ In January for the peasant farmers, In February for the Master and in March for the servants” so we are clearly entering the right month for trying this fantastic dish.

So what exactly am I talking about? Calçots are a type of onion, something between a spring onion and a leeK, with no bulb. The origin of the variety is disputed, but the most commonly accepted version of its history is that they were developed by Xat de Benaiges, a peasant farmer from Valls at the turn of the 20th century. He is said to have been the first to plant the sprouts of garden onions, covering them with earth so a longer portion of the stems remained white and edible. This technique is known Catalan as calçar, a Catalan agricultural term which means to cover the trunk of a plant or vegetable with soil. As the plant grows, soil is continuously added and replanted until it reaches a certain length, hence the name calçot. 

The Calçots are chargrilled on an open wood fire or a barbecue with a high flame. You can also cook them in the oven but the result is not the same. So I highly recommend this dish as a starter for a barbecue. It may not be ideal weather back home for a barbecue but in Spain, the weather right now isn’t too bad! ( At least in Valencia...today!) In Catalunya, this is a massive family event and many villages celebrate the season’s harvest by organising street barbecues for the inhabitants.

                

 

It symbolises the renewal of friendships as the entire event is carried out around a bonfire making for a long day of eating and talking. However, the most important part of this dish is the thick sauce that you dip the Calçots in called Salvitxada ó more commonly known as Romesco

 

 

Traditionally Calçots are served on a clay roof tile to keep them warm and are eaten standing up, once the Calçots are ready their outer skin will have hardened and turned black, totally charred. You hold the Calçot by the green leaves and remove with the other hand the charred outer skin, and the tender sweet white onion is revealed. This is dipped in the sauce and then raised up, leaning your head back, you lower the Calçot into your mouth.

It can get very messy as the sauce drips and your hands will go black, so be very careful not to scratch your nose! The first time I ended up pushing my hair out of my eyes, rubbing my eyes due to the smoke and I can assure you I wasn’t a pretty sight. I looked as if I had been down a mine all day! It is customary to wear a bib when eating Calçots, yes a bib, even the adults. If you ever go to a restaurant to eat Calçots you will automatically be given a bib and the day you try it you will almost certainly appreciate it!

 

 

The star of this recipe is the sauce - Romesco - so I am going to share with you the traditional recipe. As with many Spanish recipes, there are slight changes depending on the region and then every family adds their special touch. The same thing happens with the Paella and Gazpacho and a number of other well-known dishes. However, this is the standard recipe the majority work with. Once again it is greatly dependant on olive oil and local Mediterranean ingredients, so it is very healthy and finger-licking delicious.

If you are a knife and fork person and a prisoner to creature comforts, this dish is not for you!

 

 

 For the Claçot sauce this is what you will need:

·         150ml Aceite de Olive Extra virgin – Arbequina variety if possible

·         1 whole head of garlic unpeeled

·         100g of peeled almonds

·         100g of peeled hazelnuts

·         4 slices of one-day-old baguette bread

·         1 Ñora pepper or Choricero pepper

·         3 ripe tomatoes

·         Wine vinegar

·         Salt

·         Pepper

·         Paprika

 

If you made the Ali Oli the other day you can go and get out your pestle and mortar again! However, if you are in a rush you can use your blender with this recipe.

The first step is to soak the Ñora pepper in lukewarm water for at least 12 hours. So do this the night before, as they are sold sun-dried. The Ñora pepper is like a cherry red pepper in size and it is not hot but has a very distinct flavour.

They are not easy to find in the UK as they are typically from the Murcia region in Spain. If you can’t find one use a normal red pepper or a choricero pepper.  Once the Ñora had swollen with the water remove it and scrape away the pulp from the skin and keep to one side. We only want to use the pulp, at first sight, you might think that there is hardly anything there and that it hasn't really rehydrated but it has, you'll be surprised how much pulp you manage to scrape off the tough skin. Make sure you discard the seeds.

If you are using a barbecue place the 4 tomatoes and the head of garlic on the barbecue covered in tin foil until they are cooked, the last 10 minutes leave them open so they can char slightly. The garlic will take slightly longer. The cloves will be soft inside when they are ready. You should slice the bottom of the head of garlic so the heat can penetrate more quickly and so you can also control when the cloves are ready. When ready remove them from the grill and peel the tomatoes and the garlic cloves and place to one side. If you are not using a barbecue you can grill them or use a hot plate grill to char them. The next step is to brown the almonds and the hazelnuts in a pan with a dash of olive oil, you can buy them already toasted. If you do, you can skip this stage. We don’t want them dark brown, just slightly golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and add a little more olive oil, place the stale bread slices in the pan and toast them slightly until they are golden brown too and then put them to one side. Now we have all our ingredients ready, we can start blending.

 Initially, we will grind the nuts in the pestle and mortar, you can use a blender but we don’t want a powder so be careful not to blend them too finely. They need to be small but not so small as we can’t see them in the sauce. This will help give consistency to the sauce and help it stick to the Calçot. Then we add the peeled tomatoes and at least 3 cloves of grilled garlic along with a healthy dash of extra virgin olive oil. Blend slowly or manually using the pestle and mortar. The next step is to add the Ñora pulp and the fried bread. Break the bread up into little pieces and put it into the blender/mortar. Season the mixture with salt and black pepper, a dash of wine vinegar (white or red) and a small teaspoon of paprika. At this point you can add more cloves of garlic if you feel you would like it to be stronger in flavour, this is a personal question of taste, some like it very strong and even chuck in a raw clove of garlic to spice it up a little, I don’t think it is necessary. Finally, blend it all together in the blender or the mortar and slowly add extra virgin olive oil and extra vinegar if necessary to the mixture until you reach a thick consistency, taste and adjust, as you feel necessary. You may find you want a little more vinegar or little more salt, practice will make perfect. It should have a tangy, nutty flavour to it.

If you don’t have a barbecue you can char the Calçots over a gas flame until they turn black using a grill rack, then quickly wrap them totally in tinfoil and place them in the oven at 200ºC for about 10-15 minutes in an earthenware dish. If you weren’t able to barbecue the tomatoes or the garlic, grill them slightly until they have charred slightly and then place them in the oven until they soften along with Calçots.

Now you are ready to eat your Calçots, just slide off the outer skin, it comes away without any problems then dip the Calçot in the sauce and eat! No knives and forks here! It’s time to get messy! Don’t forget your bib!

If you don't manage to find any Calcots and still want to try this dish it also works well with grilled Bimba broccoli - on a griddle with a little salt and olive oil -  you might want to steam them a little first to soften them up slightly.

If you have decided to use a barbecue then the ceremony doesn’t end here, traditionally the meal would continue with chargrilled sausages and meats all washed down with Cava!

 

 

 

Enjoy your next Calçotada!

 



Like 2        Published at 21:48   Comments (1)


A Chicken Stew with an unusual name...
28 January 2021

Even though the weather has taken a turn for the better recently, I don think winter is behind us just yet so I thought I would share with you a wonderfully warming chicken stew recipe, but with a very peculiar name: The Secretary's Chicken - "Pollo a la Secretaria". It earned this peculiar name as a result of the cook's forgetfulness. A group of friends from the Jaén town of Alcalá la Real, who met in a farmhouse to celebrate the day of San Roque were supposed to be sitting down to enjoy a typical rice dish when halfway through the preparation, the cook was going to add the rice and realised that he had forgotten to bring this seemingly important ingredient. Fortunately, one of the attendees, who happened to be the secretary for the local town council suggested that the chicken could still be cooked even without the rice and that he should just crack on with the recipe without it, and the result was a complete success, so the dish was baptized The Secretary's Chicken. It really is an easy recipe and ever so tasty so let's give it a go:

 

 

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 Free-range chicken chopped up into pieces (about 1,5 kg)

75 g Green peas

200 g Serrano ham cut into small cubes

6 Garlic clove

Saffron - a few strands 

200 ml Chicken stock 

1 Chicken liver (if you buy the chicken from a butcher say you want the liver too)

3 Onions (sliced)

200 ml White wine

Extra virgin olive oil three tablespoons

2 Bay leaves

Fresh parsley - a few sprigs

1/2  Large green pepper (sliced)

1/2 Large red pepper (sliced)

1 Large grated tomato

 

Start by frying the peeled garlic cloves (whole, without chopping them up) together with the chicken liver for a couple of minutes. Once they are ready, blend the garlic and liver with a few sprigs of parsley and a tiny bit of water in a blender. Once you have a thick paste put it to one side. Be careful not to add too much water. Start with a half a tablespoon and add accordingly.

In the same saucepan with which you fried the garlic, brown the chicken pieces.  Brown them really well, if you need to add a little more oil, do so, but make sure they are nicely browned. This is what adds extra flavour to the dish. 

Once fried, put the chicken to one side. Using the same saucepan again, fry the onions and the peppers. When they begin to brown and soften, add the grated tomato and the white wine.

Now, put the chicken pieces back in that you fried earlier and add the garlic and liver paste, the bay leaves and the saffron. Mix all together and then add the peas, the ham cubes and the chicken stock, let it simmer together for about 25 minutes on medium heat until the chicken is tender. Taste for salt and add if necessary.

Remove it from the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes. 

 

 

I like to serve this dish with fresh potato chips (not frozen) fried in extra virgin olive oil, but you could also serve it with white rice or on its own with some crusty bread.

Enjoy!



Like 1        Published at 19:14   Comments (7)


Spanish Tapas - Zarangollo from Murcia
21 January 2021

It may not look very photogenic, but "Zarangollo" is one of those dishes that makes any Murcian's mouth water. Simple, popular and of humble origin, Zarangollo shares characteristics with so many other recipes from Spanish gastronomy, but it has 'something' that makes it a very special dish.

As is the case with many recipes in Spain, being so simple, every household has it's own particular version as well as accepted variants with different ingredients throughout the Region. It is a typical dish during the Spring Festivities and the September Feria, with close ties to Murcia's tradition of vegetable growing.

The three basic ingredients for Zarangollo are onion, courgette and egg, and it can also include potatoes. The most traditional preparation consists of frying the spring onions ó sweet onions with the vegetables.

Ideally, prepare twice the weight of courgettes to onions. Here the star is the courgette. It is also best to choose medium-sized specimens, which you can either peel or not. Personally, I don peel them. Use a small amount of oil to avoid soaking up too much fat, the only real trick is to let the vegetables cook slowly in their own juices until they are very tender. Don't rush it. Eggs, if possible, should be free-range. They are always thrown in without beating, stirring very gently so that the mixture is smooth. Fancy giving it a go? This is what you'll need for 4 people:

 

1-2 Large sweet brown onions or large spring onions

3-4 medium-sized courgettes / about 1kg

3 Large Free range eggs (add more if they are small)

Extra virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Black Pepper


Steps to take:


Peel the onion and wash the courgettes. Cut the first one into a fine julienne. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion with a pinch of salt. Lower the heat and fry until very tender and they start to caramelize a little.

While the onion is cooking, wash and peel the courgette if you wish to do so, I don't peel it though. If you do, be careful not to remove too much flesh. Slice the courgette into thin discs.

Add the courgette to the onion, season lightly and stir well. First cook over high heat stirring constantly, so that the water is released. If all the ingredients don't fit at once, wait until it reduces a little to make room for the rest. It will reduce in size considerably.

When the courgette is slightly cooked, lower the heat and let it cook slowly. This will create a concentrated flavour and also a very smooth texture. Stir from time to time and keep cooking until very tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Finally, crack the eggs directly on top, season them and stir gently, mixing them into the vegetables and breaking the yolks. The idea is that they cook little by little, staying very juicy or almost liquidy, without transforming into scrambled eggs or an omelette.

Cook for a few more minutes over very low heat until the texture is right, they should juicy but not a liquid. Until you give this a go many not know exactly what I am trying to describe! Remove from the heat and let them rest for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately or refrigerate when cool. It can hold very well for several hours in the fridge, so you can make it ahead of time if you need to.

 

 

Zarangollo can be accompanied by salad and, of course, bread to dip. However it doesn't have to be the main meal, you can combine it with almost anything from Pisto to chips or even meat and fish.

So, there you go. Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 14:02   Comments (0)


Spanish Comfort Food- Iberian Pork and Chorizo Casserole
14 January 2021

When the weather is really cold, as it is at the moment and half of Spain is under a metre of snow, few things are better than a hot slow-cooked stew to satisfy your appetite. The famous Spanish dishes known as "Platos de Cuchara" are on everyone's mind. Something wholesome to warm the body. Today I bring you another interesting recipe made with typically Spanish ingredients. A beautifully rich and flavoursome braised pork and chorizo stew. If you have never tried it, it is well worth a go! Who doesn't like chorizo? Unless you are vegetarian of course. It is a recipe I love to accompany with mashed potatoes, not particularly Spanish though!

Although this is not a traditional recipe as such, the result couldn't be more Spanish. Although now isn't an ideal time for getting families together around a table, it is a recipe that will work wonders when feeding numbers. I love how the combination of pork shoulder and chorizo is complemented by the tanginess of the black olives and the sweetness from the paprika to create a tastebud bomb of a recipe which will definitely be a hit.

So why not give it a go and try out this delicious braised pork and chorizo stew. Don't forget the secret to a fantastic result is patience and slow cooking. It takes the time it takes, you just can't rush it. For six people you will need the following - if it is too much, you can always freeze the extra.

INGREDIENTS:

225g chorizo fresh cooking sausage  - at most semi-cured 
4 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
1 kg of lean Iberian pork shoulder, cut into large 3 cm cubes
180 ml of red wine - Crianza is ideal - Mercadona sell a great Crianza for €2,2 (Torre Oria)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato puree
400g of ripe chopped, skinned plum tomatoes - you can also use tinned
400ml fresh chicken stock - or ready-made stock from the supermarket if you don't have any.
4 springs of thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, chopped
4 bay leaves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons of caster sugar
110g pitted black olives

 


INSTRUCTIONS

 

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan.

2. Skin and thickly slice the chorizo, add to the heated frying pan and fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the chorizo is lightly browned.

3. Using a slotted spatula, put the chorizo into a large, casserole pot, I use my old faithful Le Creuset pot. Try to keep as much of the oil as possible in the frying pan.

4. Add another tablespoon oil to the frying pan if necessary and brown the pork in batches before adding to the casserole pot.

5. Pour the wine into the frying pan and let it to come to a simmer, deglazing any of the caramelised meat juices stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol and then pour into the casserole pot.

6. Lower the heat, add the remaining oil and chopped onions to the frying pan and fry gently for 10 minutes or until soft, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the chopped garlic to the onions and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

7. Stir in the paprika and then add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and herbs. Cook for a couple of minutes and then pour it all over the chorizo and pork in the casserole pot and mix it up well. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Bring the casserole pan to a quick simmer, turn the heat right down to a minimum and cover. Cook for at least 1 hour, stirring from time to time. 

9. In a small pan, boil the sherry vinegar and caster sugar until it has reduced to about a teaspoon. Then stir it into the casserole with the black pitted olives.

10. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the pork is really tender. 

 

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice or simply eat it on its own with some crusty bread.

Enjoy!



Like 7        Published at 14:25   Comments (4)


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