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Raiding the cupboard and the freezer
19 March 2020

This current situation calls for drastic measures and of course simple cooking. With limited ingredients available in some supermarkets we might find ourselves raiding the cupboard or the freezer to whip together a meal for the family. I am trying to avoid going to the supermarket at all costs and getting creative with the pantry and the freezer. I pulled out some 'longanizas' - sausages and found a kilo of dehydrated white beans. I always tend to have dehydrated legumes in the house, just in case - chickpeas, lentils, beans etc. So, with my new found ingredients I decided to make a classic - Beans and Sausages. 

During my student days it was one of my all-time favourite meals - on toast - although I must admit it they were the Heinz tinned baked beans and sausages, God I loved those sausages, absolutely no goodness to them, but I just loved them all the same. To be honest, healthiness never even crossed my mind then. But now the time has moved on and fortunately I have discovered wonderful dishes in my time here in Spain and one of them was precisely this - Beans and sausage, but with a twist. So I thought I would share it with you today, as you shouldn't have any trouble finding the main ingredients, others can be substituted for what you do have.


Spanish beans and sausages: Ingredients for 4 people:

400 gr. white beans - dehydrated or bottled 
8 fresh sausages -  or frozen, as in my case!
200 gr. pumpkin - can be substituted with carrots or tomatoes
1 large brown onion - finely chopped
1 leek - again substitute spring onions or chives.
3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
Water - If you have chicken stock or beef stock this will help boost the flavour.

Extra virgin olive oil
Parsley - either fresh, frozen or dried.

The first thing you need to do is add the garlic, leek and onion to a pressure cooker (without the lid on) with a little Extra virgin olive oil and simmer on low heat for about 8-10 minutes. Chop up the pumpkin (or the carrots/tomatoes) and add it to the pot. Season with salt and cook it all together for a further 7- 8 minutes, until they are tender. You may want to add a little water (or chicken stock if you have it) to help soften the carrots if you use them - but make sure all the water has evaporated before blending - Remove the vegetables and place them in a blender, pour in a little water or chicken/beef stock and blend it to a puree.





Pour the puree back into the pressure cooker, add the beans (which should have been in water overnight if they were dried white beans), cover with water or stock and add a pinch of salt. 




Close the pressure cooker and cook for 10-12 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can still cook them but they will take a little longer (45 minutes) to cook but keep an eye on the water so they don’t dry out too much. 

Another option is if you are in a rush is to buy the beans that are already cooked in a glass jar. If you do this, you only need to add very little water/stock and cook them on a slow heat for about 8-10 minutes. 


Now for the sausages… Brown the sausages on a griddle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Cut them in half and add them to the pot. Stir in on low heat for a couple of minutes and sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley over the top and mix in well. 



Now serve with a nice piece of crusty bread, if you are lucky enough to get some!! and a glass of red wine!... - can be substituted with beer, whisky, gin, vodka - anything you can find!

Stay safe, stay at home and eat well!

We will all beat this virus together!


Like 1        Published at 12:51   Comments (1)

Cooking Paella For 40 People!
13 March 2020

Fallas has now been cancelled or at least delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak. To be honest, they should have cancelled the events even earlier, they took 11 days to come to their senses. Let's hope they did it in time. That said my Fallas adventure has now come to an end! After over 20 years of living in Spain and Valencia, this year was the one my family and I decided to join a Falla...sod's law! Paying all year, dresses made and fitted and only two weekends to show for it, oh well, there is always next year!

However, I did manage to have a little fun this year as I was roped into making an "Arroz a Banda" last weekend for 40 people. "Arroz a banda" is basically a fish and seafood paella. A Scotsman making paella for so many people had its attraction with the local folk and I was the centre of attention throughout the process. Now, I have made quite a few paellas in my time but never one for 40 people so I had to keep my wits about me. The difficulty rises exponentially the bigger the paella gets. They all knew this and were really worried they would end up going hungry or having to eat a practically inedible every 5 minutes I had someone trying to help me....or distract me, I wasn't quite sure!

I wasn't the only one cooking, there were three others cooking a paella of the same size, lunch was for 160 people and without realising it, it had turned into a competition. When spectator started to realise that I kind of knew what I was doing they started getting a little nervous and tried even harder to distract me or misguide me:

"I think it needs more salt",

"You had better add the rice now or you won't have enough stock", 

"Is it yours that is burning?"...

I just closed my ears and did my thing, hoping everything would come together. Measuring the stock, controlling the heat distribution, spreading the rice evenly around the paella, carefully preparing the "sofrito" [a combination of fried grated tomato, onion, stock reduction and garlic] and a little patience...

Thankfully, it all came together and the result couldn't have been better given the ingredients that were available: Fish and Seafood stock, tomato, onion, garlic, squid and prawns, sweet paprika, salt and saffron.

My fellow "falleros" were quite taken back at the result and full of admiration and respect. My next challenge will be a paella for 80...fingers crossed!



Ingredients used: Quantity will depend on numbers but you can adjust as you wish. 

Fish stock - either homemade or from Mercadona: always 3 parts stock to 1 part rice (by volume, not weight) When you add the stock - always 8 minutes on high heat then drop to low until all stock has evaporated.

Round paella rice - about 100g per person

Onion - 1 medium or every 2 servings

Garlic - pressed - 1 clove for every two servings

Peeled plum tomatoes - grated - 1 per serving

Large Raw Peeled Prawns - 50 grams per serving

Giant Squid (Pota in Spain) - 50 grams per serving

Salt - to taste

Saffron -  a pinch

Sweet paprika - 1 teaspoon per serving

The process is very similar to the Fideua recipe, only once you have finished frying the tomato, onion, garlic, seafood etc you will need to add the rice and fry the rice for 3-4 minutes moving it constantly then add all the stock and distribute the rice evenly throughout the paella pan. Raise the heat and boil for 8 minutes then reduce to medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Watch carefully as you may need to adjust the heat as you go.

Good Luck, if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!



Like 3        Published at 20:24   Comments (1)

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