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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.

Cooking 'Old Clothes'!
Thursday, February 2, 2023

 


One of the greatest pleasures of making a good Cocido Madrileño - Madrid stew - is being able to enjoy the leftovers. It is worth cooking a little extra in order to prepare another delicious dish. "Ropa vieja" (old clothes in Spanish) is a recipe which is just as good if not better than the original stew it is made from! This dish is a very common recipe in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and even in the Canary Islands.

The base for the recipe is the Cocido Madrileño or any variety of chickpea stew, even a traditional Valencian Puchero can be used. But here I will share the recipe when using a Cocido Madrileño: 


 

Ingredients for 4 people - ROPA VIEJA 

1  Onion
300g Stew leftovers (chickpeas, meat, vegetables, black pudding etc)
1 tablespoon Sweet paprika
3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil 
2 Garlic cloves

Total time: 40m

 

So we start with the leftovers of the Cocido Madrileño stew, or any other traditional stew with chickpeas from your area. The main ingredient from the leftovers we are going to use is the cooked chickpeas, then of course the remains of the meat and the vegetables: cabbage, carrot and potato. Everything has to be well chopped so that there are no pieces larger than the chickpeas. We will also use a couple of ladles of the stew broth to give the final result a sweeter touch as I will explain later.

We start by poaching a finely chopped brown onion until it is golden brown, almost caramelized, so don't rush it. Then put it to one side. We continue to finely chop two cloves of garlic and add them to the pan with two tablespoons of olive oil, letting them brown over very low heat. When the garlic is golden, remove the pan from the heat and add a tablespoon of paprika, stirring it so that it mixes well with the oil and does not burn or it will go bitter.

Add the chickpeas, the vegetables and the very minced stew meat to the pan. Mix well and let all of it cook over low heat for about ten minutes, stirring so that the oil with the garlic, onion and paprika sauce permeates all the food. The flavour of the Ropa Vieja will depend mainly on what is left over from your stew, especially if there is more or less chorizo, bacon, black pudding, etc. as these ingredients add strong flavours.

 

 

The final touch will depend on your taste. Some people prefer to let the chickpeas cook until they are dry and crunchy and others prefer to add one or two ladles of stew broth at the end of the preparation process to make the "old clothes" easier to swallow! I prefer that to be honest.

This dish or recipe for making use of leftovers is designed to be eaten as a single dish because it has a great satiating effect like almost all legume recipes. You can give it a final touch by adding a splash of white wine vinegar - especially an aromatic one - something I do like to do and works really well.

Enjoy!



Like 1        Published at 8:24 PM   Comments (0)


Make your own Salsa Brava (Bravas Sauce)!
Wednesday, January 25, 2023

 

Patatas bravas is originally from Madrid, where it was created and then spread throughout the country. Now each region has made their own modifications such as in Valencia where they serve it with garlic mayonnaise and paprika pepper This classic tapas is basically potatoes cut into irregular chunks of approximately 3-4 cm, fried and dressed in a spicy sauce that is poured over them and served very hot.


When it comes to Patatas bravas' sauce there are two schools of thought: with tomato and without tomato. From my experience of living in Madrid and researching, I would say the more traditional Brava sauce is without tomato. It is made with a base of extra virgin olive oil, sauteed onions, garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper, wheat flour and water or chicken stock. However other ingredients are used which are well-guarded secrets by each cook who adds a special something to the recipe.

In Catalonia, the sauce is made with olive oil, chilli, sweet paprika and vinegar. The important thing is that it's spicy, in fact, its name "bravas" makes allusion to this. In the Spanish language, bravo-a means brave or fierce if referring to an animal.


Here is my take on the 'Madrid' Patatas Bravas - Potatoes and Hot 'Brava' Sauce - four portions:

4 large potatoes
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
Pepper mix: 1 tsp of Paprika (normal) + 1 tsp of Paprika de la Vera (smoked) + 1 tsp of ground Cayenne pepper (hot) + 1tsp of white pepper
1,5 tbsp of flour
1,5 tbsp of sherry vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup of chicken stock    

Instructions:

1. Par-boil the potatoes. Cut the potatoes to size - uneven chunks of about 3 - 4 cms. Put the potatoes in a pot with water and bring to boil. Let them cook for about 10 minutes.
2. Dice the onion in fine chunks and chop the garlic
3. Heat three tbs of extra virgin olive oil and stir-fry the onion until its transparent.
4. When the onion is ready, add the garlic. When the garlic is browned, remove from the heat and add the pepper mix. Stir well so it mixes properly and put at low heat.
5. Add the flour and stir in well for about a minute. Be careful not to burn the paprika.

6. Add the cup chicken stock and cook for 10 minutes to make sure the flour and paprika are properly cooked. 
7. Add the salt and the sherry vinegar and cook for a further 5 minutes. If it is too thick just add a little more stock or if it is too liquidy just let if reduce further and cook for a little longer. It should be thick but not too thick. The photo should give you an idea of the consistency. But then again, choose the thickness you prefer.
8. Put the sauce in the mixer and blend until there are no lumps or use a hand blender.
9. In a frying pan heat abundant extra virgin olive oil (very important) and fry the potatoes on medium heat and then raise the heat for the last 2 minutes to crisp. Once they are lightly browned put the potatoes on absorbent paper so any excess oil is drained.
10. Put the potatoes in a large bowl and pour the desired amount of sauce.

 


 

Enjoy!



Like 2        Published at 7:34 PM   Comments (2)


San Pere in El Puig - Valencia - 29 January
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

‘L’arròs amb fesols i naps’ is a well-known Valencian dish also known as “Caldera”, ‘Olla de San Antón’ ò “Olla Pobre” (poor man’s pot). Whichever way you call it, it is a fantastic dish, which is ever so easy to make. Commonly made all around the Valencian Community during village festivities it is on a par with Paella when it comes to feeding large crowds. Traditionally made in tall cauldron pots, it can be just as easily made at home in a large casserole pot.

 

 

In the Valencian village of El Puig de Santa Maria, cooking rice in the town square has become a yearly tradition as it marks one of the highlights of their patron saint festivities - feeding the village. San Pere is a rather unusual festivities with numerous spectacles - apart from enjoying a hot plate of hearty rustic food - they also have the rather unusual tradition of throwing rats around the town square, yes! Rats! Fortunately, it is not on the same day so there is no chance of a stray rodent flying into the cooking pots! San Pere is celebrated on the last Sunday of January each year, this year it falls on the 29th.

Usually cooked over a log fire made with orange tree wood, it is custom to prepare this on the day of the villages’ patron saint and a plate is handed out to anyone who wants one. It is not unusual to see Falleros preparing it during the Fallas festivities too.

In English, we would call it ‘Rice with beans and swede’ although it does have some meat in it as well. The basic ingredients include pork (ear, snout, trotters, nowadays some lean pork is included and sometimes bacon), white sausage, onion morcillas, white beans, swedes (also known as yellow turnip), and edible cardoon, round Valencian rice, paprika and salt. As with many dishes born out of poverty, this one is no different, nowadays it isn’t unusual to find versions which substitute some of the cheaper cuts of pork for beef or lamb which also reduces the fat content and calorie count! Additionally, other areas such as L’Horta near the camp de Turia will substitute the white beans for garrafón, the large flat bean used in paellas. However, in all cases the essential ingredient that always characterises the flavour of this dish is swede, which gives a lovely sweet touch to the broth.

This rice broth or ‘arroz caldoso’ as we would call it is without a doubt the most widely established dish in the Valencian Community especially this time of year. It is, after the paella, probably the most popular rice dish for the locals and still greatly unknown by foreigners but the ritual behind this recipe does stir up a lot of curiosity. It is enjoyed throughout the L'Horta Nord (the northern region of Valencia famous for its vegetable fields)

In Vinalesa, a village in L’horta Nord they prepare their version of this dish on the 13 and 14 of October during their annual festivities. It is a recipe that is traditionally cooked by men, as with paella, in fact in Spain, men normally prepare any recipe that involves firewood. It’s sort of like the caveman syndrome. If it needs fire it’s a man’s job if it needs sweat, it for the women, that’s why the women the day before have to peel all the vegetables and are known as the ‘peladores’ or ‘the peelers’ while the men cut up the meat and prepare the wood. It’s kind of like a barbecue back home; it’s a man’s thing isn’t it? Nonetheless, all are happy and a huge quantity of food is prepared and given out to all the village.

In Godella, the Clavarios de San Antonio prepare this rice dish, en Masalfasar they also make this dish for the day of San Anton which has just past and they call it Poorman’s Pot: ‘Olla Pobre’. In Almàssera they call it ‘Caldera’, en Estivella they prepare it for the day of San Blas, en Alaquas they celebrate ‘El Porrat’ en honour of San Francisco de Paula on the 23rd of March and hand out this dish to anyone who happens to pass by. In Foios, Villarmarxante, Olocao and practically every other village in the community will have a special day for preparing this rice broth. It is unique and well worth trying. After the paella, it doesn’t get much more Valencian.

Here is the basic recipe for 6 people : 

300g Round Rice from Valencia
300g White Beans (soaked in water overnight)
300g Pork pieces (ears & snout)
300g Lean Beef in 3 large pieces
1 Pig’s tail cut into pieces
3 Pigs trotters cut into pieces
200g Pork Pancetta / un-smoked bacon
2 Onion Morcilla
1 Large White sausage – Blanquet
3 Medium-sized swedes
2 sticks of edible cardoon
3 medium-sized Potatoes
2 tsp. Paprika (de la Vera)
Saffron
Salt
           

  

The process is really very simple. Fill a large deep stew pot with 3 litres of water. It should fill the pot to about ¾’s of its maximum volume. Start to heat up the water on a medium heat with a large pinch of salt.

Once the water is hot, add all the meat to the water, cut it up previous into manageable pieces, but not too small so they are easy to remove afterwards if you don’t want to eat them. I am not a great fan of ears, snout or trotters, so I just use them for flavour and separate them afterwards. I prefer the beef and pancetta with the morcillas and the white sausage. It is important to remember to create a cross on either end of the morcillas with toothpicks otherwise they will disintegrate in the broth. Once all the meat is in, let it cook for an hour or so. 

Now you will need to add the swedes and the cardoon. Don’t chop the swedes up too small; they should be in medium-sized chunks/pieces. Let it cook on low heat for another hour. 

Now we will add a pinch of saffron and the paprika. Remember we should always cook the paprika before adding it to any dish, so get a small frying pan and add a little extra virgin olive oil, heat up the oil and add the paprika, stir it and fry it for a few seconds and then add a ladle of stock to the pan from the pot, stir around and pour it all back into the stew pot and mix in. 

Now we need to add the potatoes and the beans. Cut the potatoes into medium-sized chunks. After 10 minutes we will need to add the rice but check for salt before doing so. Once the rice has been added stir in and cook(simmer) for a further 15 minutes and then remove from the heat. If the rice is still a little tough it will continue cooking in the stock so don’t worry.

That’s it. Serve up in a bowl or deep plate with a mixed salad and fresh crusty bread with a glass of red wine. It is also customary to eat this with raw sweet onion cut into pieces and sprinkled onto the plate. Then again if you find this too complicated and happen to be within driving distance of El Puig, why not pop along on Sunday  29th and get a plate from the experts?

 

ENJOY!

                                               http://www.elpuigturistico.net/puig/Web_php/index.php



Like 2        Published at 10:22 PM   Comments (1)


Spanish Meatballs - Albondigas a la Jardinera
Thursday, December 22, 2022

Meatballs are one of those fantastic dishes for large numbers. It is easy to make in a large batch, it freezes well and who doesn't like them? In Spain, they are normally served with a vegetable sauce and are frequently called  "Albondigas a la jardinera". They are one of my staple dishes at home and I thought I would share with you the classic Spanish recipe. Of course,  there are many variations and you can modify the recipe as you wish, but this is the standard version you will probably find on a "Menu del dia" most of the year. So, let's crack on...

 


Ingredients for 4 people

For the meatball mix: 

750 g. minced meat (pork, beef)
2 medium eggs
150 g. crustless sliced bread and 5 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley plus a little more for sprinkling
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
Salt, nutmeg, and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Flour to coat the meatballs
Extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

1  onion
2 carrots
1/2 red pepper
100 g. peas
400 g. of potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
125 ml of white wine, 1/2 l of chicken broth and water (if necessary)
A few strands of saffron, salt, black pepper and 1 bay leaf
Mild extra virgin olive oil

 

When it comes to meatballs I always like to mix 50% pork and 50% beef mince. I like to buy my meat at the butcher's and then mince it at home, but any decent mince will do, to be honest. First, we are going to make the meatballs:

1. Season the minced meat, both veal and pork, in a large bowl. and mix together. Crack open the 2 eggs and add them together with the nutmeg, the fresh parsley and the slices of bread without the crust that we have previously soaked in milk for a few minutes. 
2. Let the mixture rest.
3. Laminate the garlic and finely chop the onion. Add some water to a pan and poach the onion and garlic for a few minutes. This will help the onion to soften and thus our meatballs will have a more homogeneous texture. It will also slightly reduce the strength of the garlic and the onion.
4. Once poached after a couple of minutes, drain and cool with cold water before adding it to the meat mixture, season with salt and pepper.
5.  Add a dessert spoon of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture and mix everything well with our hands until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour in the fridge.
6. . After the resting time, remove the meat from the refrigerator and start making small balls with the meat mix. If you keep your hands wet while you do this, the meat won't stick to your fingers. I normally have a finger bowl with water next to me when I make them.
6. Pour the flour onto a plate and then pass the meatballs through the flour so they have a thin coating all over.
7. Put the floured meatballs to one side on a clean plate. Shake them a little to remove excess flour.
8. Fry the meatballs in hot extra virgin olive oil, for about three minutes is enough. The idea is to seal them and lightly brown them, then put to one side. They don't need to be cooked all the way through at this stage.

 


Now for the sauce:


1. Wash and dice the onion. Laminate the garlic clove and place in a wide deep pan. Add a dash of virgin olive oil and poach the onion and garlic in a little water for about 3-5 minutes until it has almost evaporated completely.
2. Cut the carrots and the red pepper into small pieces. 
3. When the onion has gone transparent, add the rest of the carrots and red pepper and sauté them all together. 
4. After a minute or so,  add a heaped teaspoon of flour to the pan and toast the flour for a minute, stirring well.
5. Let the ingredients release all their liquids for about 5 minutes. When it has reduced, pour in the white wine and let it cook over high heat to cook off the alcohol and  until the wine has reduced a little - about 10 min
6. Now add the meatballs to the pan. Don't put them on top of each other. Try and use a wide pan so they all have their own space.
7. Add the saffron and the bay leaf.
8. Add the chicken stock and the peas and let them cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. If the stock is too thick you can rectify by adding more water. Make sure the water is boiling so it doesn't stop cooking.
9. Once the sauce has reduced to the right consistency season and taste for salt.
10. Let the meatballs rest for about 5 minutes and serve with fried potato slices, chips, mashed potatoes or even white rice. Or you could just eat them as they are with some crusty bread.

 


Serve and enjoy!



Like 5        Published at 2:59 PM   Comments (1)


"Puchero de Nadal" - Valencian Stew for Christmas
Thursday, December 15, 2022

Although Christmas Eve is probably the most lavish meal of the Christmas holidays in Spain, originally it was Christmas day, much as it is in the UK. It was a day for bringing together the entire family including grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins and any other family member that you may not have seen throughout the year. Depending on the family, each year it would move house and thus the hosting of this enormous event would be shared amongst the family members. Nowadays, still very much a family event though, Christmas Eve and Christmas day is now normally split between the parents and the in-laws, one day with each.  

 

 

Each region of Spain has its own tradition for the Christmas menu, which is determined mainly by local cuisine, for example on the coast seafood or fish is common and inland, meat plays a more important role such as roasted suckling lamb, however nowadays most regions tend to combine both, especially on Christmas Eve. However, Christmas day in the Valencian community is a day for enjoying a rather special typical dish called ‘Puchero de Nadal’ ó ‘Cocido Navideño’.  Effectively it is a stew with giant meatballs but it is enjoyed in two stages. It may seem very simple and rustic but it is a very long meal and takes time to digest. It contains almost everything you could possibly imagine putting in a stew. What makes this stew different from the rest of the stews in Spain is the use of local sausages and local vegetables. The Valencian community is well known for its vegetables and this is well portrayed in the Valencian ‘Puchero’.

As with most traditional recipes, there is nothing written in stone, except using a giant cauldron!  So grab the biggest pot you can find otherwise there is no way all the ingredients will fit in. Remember the stock, the meat and the vegetables can all be frozen afterwards so if you have a lot left over, you will, ration it out in Tupperware and freeze it for another day or use it for another recipe as mentioned later on.

For the stew you will need the following :

½ medium sized Chicken (approx. 1,25kg of meat)
2 large meatballs (recipe as follows)
1 piece of bone marrow
1 piece of knee bone
150 grams of beef 
1 Blanquet sausage 
1 Onion Morcilla sausage 
100 grams of pork fat
300 grams of chickpeas (soaked in water overnight)
Saffron
1 stick of Celery, 1 stick of Cardoon, 1 sweet potato, 1 white turnip, 1 yellow turnip, 1 parsnip, 3 potatoes, 3 carrots, 1 leek, 5 runner beans and ¼ cabbage. (As far as the vegetables go, you can chuck in whatever you have at hand, but this is the standard recipe in Valencia)

So, to make the stew it is as easy as cleaning and peeling the vegetables and placing them all in the pot with the meat and the meatballs, except for the carrots, potatoes, runner beans and the morcilla. These need to be held back for later as they cook more quickly. Cover with water and slowly bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low heat and let it simmer for 90 minutes. Remember to skim off the foam that rises to the top. After 90 minutes pop in the rest of the ingredients that were held back and then simmer for another 90 minutes. To make the meatballs all you will need are the following ingredients:

2 eggs.
150g lean minced beef
150g minced pork.
1 sausage (with skin removed)
200g Breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. Fresh chopped parsley 
50g Pine nuts
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon powder
10ml fresh Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Stew net for binding
Cabbage leaves for wrapping up the meatballs.   

 

                   

If you feel like saving some time you can always make the balls the day before. Mix the meat, salt, pepper, parsley, cinnamon, eggs and pine nuts to taste. Pour the breadcrumbs in and knead it all together until it forms a thick mass. Add the lemon juice and knead it all together again. Separate the meat mass into two parts and then roll it into two large balls. Once you have made the balls wrap each ball in cabbage leaves and then place them inside the stewing net and tie them up tight and add to the rest of the meat for the stew.

Once the stew is ready it is customary to first enjoy a bowl of soup from the stock cooked either with rice or noodles. Some may add a piece of the meatball to the soup and others may add a bit of everything and then move on to the rest of the meat and vegetables, the choice is yours. It would also be customary to make 'oven-baked rice' (arroz al horno) the following day with the leftovers. So there you have it, a very hearty meal from the heart of Valencia and ideal for this time of year, it may not look very sophisticated but it tastes incredible! 

 

 

    Enjoy!

 

 
 


Like 3        Published at 12:03 PM   Comments (0)


Chorizo a la Sidra - Cider Chorizo - a festive snack
Wednesday, December 7, 2022

There aren't many recipes that encapsulate the essence of traditional Spanish cuisine like this one. Cider Chorizo from the northern region of Asturias is a much loved classic. Extremely simple to cook but reliant upon the quality of the ingredients, this incredibly tasty recipe is am absolute star winner at any tapas get together.


Asturias is a breathtaking part of Spain and is mainly known for its impressive landscapes of stunning natural beauty. The high mountains roll down to meet the sea and form a dramatic coastline. However, Asturias is also well known for its vast orchards and its centenary expertise in making some of the world’s best cider. One of the main ingredients in this recipe. The cider from Asturias is natural, bubble-free, cloudy and above all dry. It is an apple cider that goes magnificently well with the local fresh "non-cured" smoked chorizo (at most semi-cured) to bring this Spanish masterpiece to life, a treat for anyone's palate. It couldn't be easier, but you will need to find the right ingredients and I promise you if you haven't tried it before, you are in for a treat! 

** If you have trouble finding dry Asturian cider in the UK it is available on Amazon - "Trabanco" dry Spanish Cider. Asturian fresh chorizo is also available online at the Tapas Lunch Company in the UK **

 In Spain, all ingredients are readily available in all supermarkets. For example in Mercadona you can find the following:

  

 

Ingredients:

4  Cooking chorizo – fresh, non-cured (semi-cured at most) and smoked if possible - not "picante" - spicy.
1 bottle dry apple cider – from Asturias. Alternatively a natural dry cider with no added gas. Sweet cider will not work!
2  Bay leaves
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

 


1. Prick the chorizos with a fork. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan and cook them for around 2 minutes until brown on the outside.
2. Pour the cider into the saucepan. The chorizos should be completely covered by the cider. 
4. Stir in the bay leaves.
3. Cook over medium heat for around 25 minutes. The liquid should reduce until it starts thickening.
4. Take the chorizos out. Slice them up thickly and then put them back into the pan to be cooked for a further 5 minutes. They should be tender not tough, if they are still a little tough cook for a further 5 minutes. Depending on the type of chorizo you buy they will take more or less time.

 

Serve immediately with crusty bread.



Like 4        Published at 8:04 PM   Comments (1)


Traditional Aioli - How to make it and how to cheat!
Thursday, December 1, 2022

'Aioli', ‘All-i-Oli’ or ‘Ajo Aceite’ in Castillian Spanish, is probably the simplest and one of the hardest recipes you will ever try to make. Simple, because traditionally it only has three ingredients, and hard because it will make you break out in a sweat, especially if you make it in summer!

All-i-Oli is often translated and served as garlic mayonnaise but in fact, it is not mayonnaise at all, it's not far off mayonnaise but it isn’t mayonnaise.

This is probably the recipe where your choice of olive oil is most important as it is the main ingredient and is pretty much 90% of the final product. So if you want to make it you need to find a very good quality extra virgin olive oil, which is fruity but not too bitter and not very pungent. The variety Arbequina is by far the best due to its high quantity of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) that favours the cohesion of emulsions and sauces. However, any good extra virgin will do. Cornicabra is very popular as is Serrana de Espadán here in Valencia. But if you can’t find these varieties look for an Extra Virgin ‘Suave’. I have read many recipes throughout the net suggesting sunflower oil and refined oils for this recipe. Please do not use these types of oils as they will definitely not give you the same result and are far less healthy.

The recipe I am going to share with you is the authentic one, the one passed on from generation to generation, not the popular garlic mayonnaises being offered around most of Spain (However I will also tell you how to make that towards the end of the post). It is a recipe that dates back thousands of years and has spread all over the Mediterranean so I can assure you it was never made with refined olive oil or sunflower oil. Basically, All-i-Oli is an emulsion of olive oil, garlic and salt, nothing else. The secret to the recipe is in the technique, which does take a bit of practice. This is not mayonnaise, a traditional recipe that originated from Mahon in Menorca, as it does not use egg yolk or lemon.  In the case of mayonnaise, it is the egg that acts as the emulsifying agent and with All-i-Oli, it is the garlic that has the emulsion-producing properties.

 

Ingredients

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic

& Rock Salt

 

How do we make it the traditional way?

To start with we need a pestle and mortar, not a blender or a mixer, this is a traditional recipe and must be done by hand to achieve the best results.

For this recipe, we will use 100ml of olive oil and 3-4 large cloves of garlic. Depending on how strong you like it you can add more or fewer cloves to the recipe. As this involves a substantial amount of garlic it is a good idea to remove the roots of the cloves before starting. This means slicing it down the middle, and lengthways and taking out the core of the garlic, this will help reduce the characteristic bad breath and the taste of garlic coming back up throughout the day. It is the root of the garlic that our stomach finds so hard to digest and it just seems to linger around for most of the day!

 Once the garlic is peeled and the cores removed place them in the mortar with a pinch of rock salt and start grinding them. Once we have a lumpy paste we need to start adding the olive oil. It is very important not to add too much or too quickly. Patience is a virtue with this recipe. Start by adding the oil drop by drop and move the pestle in a circular action from left to right following the hands of the clock. Once you have started this action you should not stop until the Ali Oli is ready.

This is when it gets a bit tiring, as you need to apply force as well and keep the pestle moving at a constant speed to draw out the juice from the garlic. Slowly you start adding more olive oil, little by little but always waiting until the previous dose has blended with the emulsion. This continues until you end up with a thick sauce/paste or find the consistency that you prefer. The whole process can take up to 15 minutes. You will probably have problems along the way to achieve an emulsion, it takes practice and isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is really worth the effort! Here is a video that might help ...

 

 

 

For those of you who find it too difficult there are a couple of tricks that help to keep the garlic moist and facilitate the cohesion of the emulsion, one is adding 3 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mortar at the same time you add the garlic and the salt. This will help you keep the emulsion stable and also reduce a little bit more the pungency of the garlic.

 

GARLIC MAYONNAISE.....and cheating

Finally, if you prefer garlic mayonnaise, which isn't as strong, the only thing you have to add is an egg yolk (no egg white) to the garlic with the lemon juice before you start adding the olive oil. Another trick which works with either recipe is making a little ball of dough from a loaf of sliced bread and wetting it with water. You add this dough ball when you add the egg or just before adding the oil and grind it into the mixture, this will help create the emulsion and stop it from separating!

 

No time? Don't mind cheating a little?....

Although this may be cheating I know dozens of restaurants on the Balearic islands which use this quick method for their popular 'Pan y All-i-Oli' (one of them told me about it) and it goes down a treat, I use it too and to be honest and I have grown to love it!. Sometimes I just find All-i-Oli too strong and this is just perfect. All you will need is the following:

   

1. Tub of fresh All-i-Oli from the supermarket

2. Hellman's Mayonnaise (Do not substitute for a different mayonnaise)

3. Finely ground Black Pepper

Quite simply add equal parts of Allioli and Hellman's mayonnaise to a bowl and sprinkle in some black pepper. Mix well until completely blended, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and serve with some crispy bread.

 

 

 

In Valencia, it is particularly common to eat All-i-Oli with anything from fried potatoes seasoned with paprika or Black rice which is a dish that uses the ink from squids. It is very versatile and fantastic with vegetables, fish and meats so use it to accompany anything you want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Like 3        Published at 9:06 AM   Comments (1)


How an Olive Compound Can Help Stop Infections
Friday, November 25, 2022

A compound found naturally in olives helps fight bacterial infections, according to an international patent application by Spanish scientists.

They say hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives of it can disrupt quorum sensing (QS) – a way in which bacteria ‘talk’ to each other – thereby making infections less virulent. With antibiotic resistance increasing, this is seen as a promising way of treatment.

Madrid-based patent applicant Seprox Biotech, which sells hydroxytyrosol (HT), claims that HT and its derivatives hydroxytyrosol acetate (HTA) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) have good anti-QS activity, making them useful for preventing and treating many kinds of infections.

It said in its application that 'in vivo' uses could include pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of bacterial infection. 'Ex vivo' uses include in the manufacture of food, food packaging, medical devices and pharmaceutical compositions, including application to or use in the making of surfaces – such as in medical devices and foods or food packaging – to inhibit formation of bacterial biofilm.

Biofilm formation – where microorganisms latch onto a surface – is a big issue amid increasing use of implants, artificial heart valves and so on, but can be extremely resistant to removal and disinfection, it said.

Titled “Use of hydroxytyrosol and derivatives thereof as quorum quenchers,” the World Intellectual Property Organization patent application lists a wide range of bacterial species for which hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives could be used as quorum quenchers.

These include forms of Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella – often culprits in food-borne illness – and three types of Staph.

The application describes tests of HT, HTA and DOPAC on several common infectious bacteria and validation against the QS biosensor strain C. violaceum. These led to the conclusion that while the tested compounds can’t be considered effective antimicrobial agents for the tested strains (as very high concentrations are needed), they did demonstrate QS inhibitor capacity.

Seprox Biotech said the formulas which are the subject of its patent application can be synthetic or extracted from their natural source, in which case a high level of purity is needed.

Hydroxytyrosol can be found in the leaves and fruits of the olive tree, and in extra virgin olive oil, and is especially abundant in olive oil mill wastewater, from where it can be recovered, it said.



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Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Breakfast Reduces Inflammation
Friday, November 18, 2022

Studies published in 'Food Chemistry' show that adding phenol-rich olive oil to breakfast successfully lowers the inflammation linked to 'metabolic syndrome'.

Inflammation is associated with metabolic syndrome, an increasingly common condition characterised by the presence of three of the following pathologies in an individual: obesity (particularly abdominal fat), high blood pressure, a low level of “good” HDL cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar and a high level of triglycerides. Left untreated, metabolic syndrome can trigger diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

The studies brought together forty-nine patients with metabolic syndrome added 40 ml of high-, medium- or low-phenol virgin olive oil to their breakfast. The high-phenol olive oil (398 parts per million) breakfast neutralised pro-inflammatory gene expression in patients while reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines in blood plasma. The result was an overall lower level of post-meal inflammation.

Phenols — phytochemicals found in plant-based foods such as olives, coffee, tea, and chocolate — have been enjoying the nutritional limelight as an increasing number of health-related benefits are revealed. While the lion’s share of studies to date focus on their anti-oxidant benefits, growing evidence shows that phenols also reduce inflammation.

Chronic low-grade inflammation precedes and predicts the onset of diabetes in adults with metabolic syndrome and researchers believe it plays a similar role in cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that over 30 percent of all adults in the USA have metabolic syndrome, a phenomenon seen in another western countries and quickly spreading to developing countries including India, China and Brazil.

These studies add valuable information on understanding how phenols reduce inflammation by modulating cell signaling pathways and suggests that a breakfast that includes phenol-rich olive oil helps alleviate inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome and related diseases.

One way of knowing that your olive oil is high in Phenols is its taste. Phenols give olive oil its bitter taste, so the bitterer it is the more phenols it has. Examples of varieties that are high in phenols are Picual, Cornicabra, Hojiblanca and Empeltre. In supermarkets, you will more readily find Picual, Hojiblanca and Cornicabra.



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What is so special about Manchego Cheese?
Thursday, November 10, 2022

                                        

Over 12000 years ago in Europe and the Middle East the first herds of Aurochs (ancestor to the cow) started to roam the plains. Leather bags were filled with the milk from these extinct bovines and placed over heated stones. Occasionally, the milk became a paste that separated from the liquid residue and was found to be edible. Slowly but surely, this accidental 'discovery' was mastered in order to produce the paste in a controlled manner, improving its quality . The most important archaeological discovery in "dairy history" may be the Sumerian Frieze (about 5000 years old) in Baghdad’s National Museum, which represents the phases of animal milking and milk curing. However in 2003 it was announced that a chemical analysis of 6000-year-old pottery shards showed ancient Britons also had a taste for cow's milk and goat's cheese, becoming the oldest proof yet of cheese consumption.

 

 

Cheese became later became popular in Greece and Rome and cheese production expanded throughout Europe by the Middle Ages, its consumption was widespread, mostly in monasteries, where the production of some of the best-known cheeses of today began. 

 

Of the 100 different kinds of cheese produced in Spain, 12 are protected by the Denomination of Origin (D.O.P.) label. Manchego cheese is without a doubt the most important and well-known sheep’s milk cheese in Spain. The shape and aspect of this cheese are very characteristic thanks to the traditional use of 'esparto' grass moulds which imprints a zigzag pattern around the cheese. The small wooden boards used for pressing the cheese also imprint the typical 'wheat ear' pattern on the top and bottom.

    

These rustic moulds are used outside of La Mancha as well. Thus, there is other Spanish sheep's milk cheese with similar shapes and markings, known commonly as "Manchego style" cheese. However, the true Manchego cheese, is made only from whole milk produced by the "Manchega" sheep raised in the "La Mancha" region. This region is a vast high plateau, more than 600 meters above sea level, which extends from east to west and north to south, adjoining the provinces of Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real and Albacete. Manchego cheese has a long historic and literary tradition, as it was mentioned by Cervantes in the legendary "Don Quixote of La Mancha". Today, there are two types of Manchego cheese: the farmhouse type, made with unpasteurized sheep's milk and the industrial type, made with pasteurized milk. In both cases, however, milk from Manchega sheep is the only type used. The climate is extremely continental with cold winters and very hot dry summers.

 

La Mancha is a region with a long live-stock breeding tradition. Wool and animal bones have been found in some archaeological sites, as well as different utensils used to produce cheese as early as II century BC.

 

In the late XIX and beginning of XX centuries the first studies on Manchego Cheese were published. During this century the increased specialization of the farms has made La Mancha the base of a powerful cheese industry. Manchego Cheese producers have artisanal techniques while still managing to have intense production. Manchego Cheese has been protected by the Denomination of Origin since 1984. The D.O. stipulates the exclusive use of milk from manchega sheep, as well as an ageing period of a minimum of 60 days.

 

 

Manchego is an aged cheese, from semi-cured to cured, unpasteurized or pasteurized. It is produced through an enzymatic coagulation. The paste is pressed and uncooked. The base milk has to have a minimum of 6% fat. The milk coagulates at 28 to 32 º C (82 a 89 ºF) after adding animal curd. Occasionally lactic ferments and calcium salts are also added. This results in a compact curdle within 45 to 60 minutes. The curdle must then be cut to obtain lumps of 5 to 10 mm. The resulting lumpy paste is then slowly reheated to about 40ºC (104ºF). The liquid is removed and the dried paste is put into moulds where it is pressed for several hours. The salting is external, and it is achieved either by rubbing with dry salt, or by immersing the cheese in highly salted water, or a combination of both methods. The percentage of salt in the weight of the cheese can not be higher than 2.3% after two months of ageing. The ageing process must be done in fresh areas, with a humidity level of 75 to 85%, for at least 60 days.

 

The wax rind is closed, with a yellow to brownish beige colour and should not be eaten. The interior is firm and compact, with only a few small air pockets unevenly spread out. The colour should be ivory to pale yellow. The taste is very characteristic, well developed, but not too strong, buttery and slightly piquant, with a sheep milk aftertaste.

 

The intense taste and crumbly texture make it perfect to eat as it is, with just a slice of bread. A technique which is very popular in the Mancha is to cut the cheese up into thick slices and then place them in a glass jar, you then fill up the jar with extra virgin olive oil, picual is fantastic for this, and this not only preserves the cheese even longer but intensifies the flavour over time and increases the piquant of the cheese. Quite a delicacy.

 

It is also great as the focal point of a starter, Manchego can be served with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, serrano ham, crusty bread and a robust red wine or dry sherry. It is also unbeatable with a bit of Branston's!

 

It is equally enjoyable as a snack or dessert with fruit, fruit tarts or jams. The aromatic intensity of a Manzanilla wine makes it an excellent choice for this cheese. 

 

If you are looking to try a great Manchego Cheese, one of my favourites, which is also available in large supermarkets is  Dehesa de Los LLanos, one of the best Manchego cheeses around and was voted best cheese in the world in 2012. It is a Manchego Viejo as it is cured for a minimum of 9 months, so it is a strong cheese but it is absolutely phenomenal.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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