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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.

Pipirrana Salad - From the Heart of the Mancha
28 May 2020

To be absolutely honest,  with the heat lurking around the corner I only feel like eating cold soups and salads, which can quickly get quite monotonous. So, I thought I might share another local "salad" from the Mancha. A salad, which is also enjoyed in Andalucia and no doubt has many variations the further south you go. It is called Pipirrana. Now, I have no idea why but I do know that it was able to keep a man alive for almost 50 years. My father in law lived off it literally every day. In fact, I don't really have memories of him ever eating anything else. It was his staple for as long as I knew him. He passed away many years ago but the tradition carries on in our household from time to time. One thing is for sure, it is a balanced meal.

If you read my "Lemon Salad" article last week, don't worry this one if considerably more "filling"! Let's get to work! This is what you will need:

 

Ingredients to make Pipirrana 2-3 servings:

Very ripe tomatoes - best plum tomatoes  750 g
Green pepper -  1/2
Boiled eggs - 3 large or 4 medium
Garlic - 1 small clove without the germ/root
Coarse salt -  1/2 teaspoon
Picual or Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil -
50 ml (if you don't have either, any EVOO will do)
Tuna in olive oil -  1 medium-sized can
White wine Vinegar - 2 tsp - but best add to taste - little by little. I like it quite strong so I tend to add more.

 

Steps:

1. Peel the tomatoes by scalding them in boiling water (all you need to do is cut a cross into each end of the tomato and then leave them in boiling water for a couple of minutes). Then we cut them into small cubes/chunks taking care to collect all the juice released. This is one of the secrets to a great Pipirrana. So the easiest thing is to actually cut them up in the actual bowl you are going to use for mixing all the ingredients.

2. In a mortar, we put the garlic clove, the coarse salt - you can use fine salt, but in the mortar, the coarse salt helps the blending -, a small handful of the chopped green pepper and the yolks from the 3 or 4 eggs. We grind and mash everything together and then finally add the oil, which we will add little by little until it is emulsified. You can do this in a food processor too if necessary.

 

3. We add the rest of the chopped pepper and the chopped egg whites to the tomatoes and pour over the dressing. Add the vinegar and slowly blend in to taste. You may want to add more salt at this point if necessary.

4. Add the drained tuna to the bowl and mix well, cover with a plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. The best thing is to prepare it at lunchtime and let it rest until dinner, or do it overnight.

 

 

Naturally, this recipe is open to manipulation so you can add to it whatever tickles your fancy. When you are ready to serve, just get some fresh crusty bread and start eating and soaking up that wonderfully rich dressing.

I warn you, it is extremely refreshing and extremely moreish!

Enjoy!

 

 

 



Like 2        Published at 19:05   Comments (1)


Lemon Salad - From the heart of "La Mancha"
19 May 2020

Ever since I met my wife, she has been addicted to this "refreshing" salad. Now my daughter is a devout follower too. 'Ensaladilla de limon' it is called and it is something of a tradition in the family and the region from where her family are from - La Mancha.  This unusual "salad", if you can really call it a salad, is based on six simple ingredients - Lemon, garlic, paprika, salt, olive oil and cold water. The result of this concoction is surprisingly tasty and moreish. It was a traditional refreshment that the women would take to their husbands during harvest time to calm the relentless heat of the summer. A salad that was designed for dunking bread, with a strong flavour and a strong aroma. I suppose it is the simplest kind of soup/salad you can possibly make. There are variations with tomato and cucumber but the lemon salad is by far the most popular.

It is said to be digestive and commonly believed to have high cleansing properties, so they say back in the village, helping to detoxify the body. Any experts in nutrition will be able to clarify if this is in fact true or not. Either way, it is enjoyable and refreshing when you get the balance right. It is a recipe that you will have tweek and play around with until you reach the balance you like given that these are intense flavours. Obviously, to enjoy this salad you need two prerequisites - you need to like lemon and garlic. 

If you do, crack on and give it a go!

Instructions for two people:


1.  Remove the skin from two lemons with a knife and cut them in half.
2.  Squeeze them with your hand into a bowl and then chop them up into small pieces and add to the bowl.
3.  Finely chop 1 large garlic clove and add to the bowl.
4.  Add half a teaspoon of sweet paprika - Pimenton de la Vera is best. - You may add more to taste if you want but it can get bitter so be careful, best to wait until the end.
5.  Add a sprinkling of salt.
6.  Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil - and then blend everything together with a whisk
7.  Add 1/2 litre of ice-cold water -  add half, and taste and then add the other half. If you feel it is too strong add more water.
8.  You can add more oil or paprika at this point to adjust for your liking.
9. If you feel like it, add a couple of ice cubes to keep it cool.

10. Let it sit for a few minutes to "brew", so to speak.

Alternatives - you can also add (or substitute the garlic with) finely chopped spring onion if you fancy that.

All that is left to do now is get dunking with some fresh crunchy bread!

 



Like 3        Published at 12:32   Comments (2)


Virtual Wine Tasting During Lockdown
14 May 2020

Looking for something to keep you occupied? Why not try some wine tasting? To enjoy a perfect wine tasting session at home during lockdown, you don't have to be an expert. All you need is a bottle of wine or two, or even three! Make sure it is at its proper temperature, you have a good wine glass and take your time.

Here are a few tips to help with the experience:

 

1. DO A BLIND TASTING
As much as possible, try to taste the wine without the influence of labels or prices, you will be more open-minded and allow yourself to be carried away only by the sensations. Close your eyes, smell, savour and enjoy.

2. USE A DIFFERENT GLASS FOR EACH WINE
If you are going to taste several wines, change your glass. Prepare a different glass for each wine; this way you will not mix flavours. You also need to cleanse your palette. If you don’t cleanse your palette you will have remnants of the previous wine when you go to taste the next wine. That taints the flavour and you won’t be able to accurately taste the notes and flavours in the wine. When you taste a wide variety of wine your palette can become fatigued and overwhelmed, especially if you are new to drinking wine. Cleanse your palette correctly and you will discover tastes and flavours that you never imagined. High-quality white bread is the very best food for cleansing the palette when wine tasting. Plain white bread or French bread are both ideal. Don’t put anything on it, including butter or oil. Plain crackers are acceptable as well. The reason that bread works so well is that it has an extremely neutral flavour. Professionals in the field always use plain bread and wash it down with water to cleanse their palettes.

3. LOOK BEFORE YOU TRY IT
Before tasting it, observe the colours of the wine, it will help you understand a lot about the grape. For example with white wines from the D.O. Rueda, you will discover dozens of shades: pale, straw yellow, gold ... The greenish-yellow colour, for example, makes the Verdejo grape variety unmistakable. On the other hand, using a white surface (a simple sheet of paper is sufficient) helps to better appreciate the colours of any wine and allows you to see if it is shiny or if there is any sediment - particles in suspension. This doesn't mean the wine is bad, I may add, it is a completely natural occurrence.

4. HOLD THE GLASS BY THE STEM
The reason is very simple: doing so will avoid heating the wine with your hands. Gently rotate the cup from the base in small circles an in both directions. With this slight movement, you will be able to observe, on the one hand, how the 'tears' of the wine fall (at a lower rate of fall, higher density and, therefore, more alcoholic strength) and, on the other, how the aromas come out when oxygenating the wine.

5. SMELL IT SEVERAL TIMES
Although at first glance it may be somewhat strange to smell the wine before tasting it, it is the key to appreciating it to the fullest, since smell has a sensory capacity superior to any other sense, including taste. When you first start smelling wine, think big to small. Are there fruits? Think of broad categories first, i.e. citrus, orchard, or tropical fruits in whites or, when tasting reds, red fruits, blue fruits, or black fruits. Getting too specific or looking for one particular note can lead to frustration. Broadly, you can divide the nose of a wine into three primary categories:

Primary Aromas are grape-derivative and include fruits, herbs, and floral notes.

Secondary Aromas come from winemaking practices. The most common aromas are yeast-derivative and are most easy to spot in white wines: cheese rind, nut husk (almond, peanut), or stale beer.

Tertiary Aromas come from ageing, usually in the bottle, or possibly in oak. These aromas are mostly savoury: roasted nuts, baking spices, vanilla, autumn leaves, old tobacco, cured leather, cedar, and even coconut.

You should smell the wine in a still glass and also straight after swirling the glass in circles since in both cases different smells and sensations emerge: floral, spiced, fruit, vegetables, balsamic, chemicals ... Our advice is not to wear strong perfumes and avoid external odours so that your capacity to smell is not influenced or weakened.

6. AND NOW, TASTE IT...
The time has finally come to enjoy it! In this phase, we find many characteristics that will make our wine a unique wine: the temperature, the texture, the persistence in the mouth once we have drunk it, the balance between sweetness and acidity ... Always remember that a wine is not good or bad per se; the best wine will always be the one you like best, so this is what you will need to recognise. What is it that you like about a particular wine?

Taste is how we use our tongues to observe the wine, but also, once you swallow the wine, the aromas may change because you’re receiving them retro-nasally. A few things you want to keep in mind are the following:

Taste: Our tongues can detect salty, sour, sweet, or bitter. All wines are going to have some sour, because grapes all inherently have some acid. This varies with climate and grape type. Some varieties are known for their bitterness (i.e. Pinot Grigio), and it manifests as a sort of light, pleasant tonic-water-type flavour. Some white table wines have a small portion of their grape sugars retained, and this adds natural sweetness. You can’t ever smell sweetness though since only your tongue can detect it. Lastly, very few wines have a salty quality, but in some rare instances, salty reds and whites exist.

Texture: Your tongue can “touch” the wine and perceive its texture. Texture in wine is related to a few factors, but an increase in texture almost always happens in a higher-alcohol, riper wine. Ethanol gives a wine texture because we perceive it as “richer” than water. We also can detect the presence of tannins with our tongue, which is that sand-paper or tongue-depressor drying sensation found in red wines.

Length: The taste of wine is also time-based, there is a beginning, middle (mid-palate) and end (finish). Ask yourself, how long it takes until the wine isn’t with you anymore?

Think: Did the wine taste balanced or out of balance (i.e. too acidic, too alcoholic, too tannic)? Did you like the wine? Was this wine unique or unmemorable? Were there any characteristics that shined through and impressed you?

 

 

7. DO THE TASTING IN GOOD COMPANY

The best way to taste wine is with other people, either in person (if you share the same household of course) or via video call, so that each person shares their perceptions!

Always remember that the same wine is perceived differently in each individual palette. 

So why not organise a wine tasting session with your friends or family. It is something that you can do together via ZOOM or SKYPE and is a great reason to get together online!

Just simply organise to buy the same wines and then set a date and a time and have some fun!

 



Like 0        Published at 17:06   Comments (0)


How to make - Avocado Gazpacho
12 May 2020

 

This week I thought I would share with you a summer recipe as temperatures seem to be warming up, and a refreshing starter is ideal for any meal. Although most cold soups in Spain are based around the tomato such as Gazpacho Andaluz or Salmorejo, this one is based primarily on avocados. It is wonderfully refreshing and delicate in flavour. Ideal as a starter for any meal, be it fish, meat or rice. Avocados are readily available right now too.

The avocado is a product originally from the American continent, where the Aztecs believed it had aphrodisiac properties. Since pre-Columbian times it has been cultivated in Mexico and the rest of Central America under the name "ahuacatl".

In the seventeenth century the Spaniards, who named it the Indian Pear because of its similarity to the national pear, was taken by them to the West Indies, while the Portuguese took it to Brazil.

In the eighteenth century, the Spanish adventurers introduced it into the Canary Islands via the Botanical Garden of Orotava, where it jumped to the Peninsula.  Now it is generally cultivated in the Mediterranean area, from Murcia down to Andalucía.

It is such a simple recipe to make and healthy at the same time, so I hope you enjoy it.


The Ingredients you will need for 4-6 people are the following:

4 large ripe avocados - make sure they are ripe and not hard.
2 large chicken carcasses for stock ( or ready-made chicken stock, enough for 4-6 servings)
1 cup evaporated milk (approx. 200ml)
1 sweet potato
1 lemon
Water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably a good Picual – eg. Oro Bailén)
Salt, Pepper
Parsley

 

  


Put the chicken carcasses in a pressure cooker with water (covering the carcasses), two sprigs of parsley and a pinch of salt. Close the cooker and cook on mark 2 for 5 minutes once the safety valve has risen. Once cooked, sieve and let it cool down.

Cut 3 avocados in half and scoop out the flesh into to a bowl. Add the juice of half a lemon. Blend with and electric mixer. Pour part of the chicken broth and continue blending, it should have a light consistency. Add the evaporated milk and continue blending. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into very thin strips “Julienne” style, effectively we want potato straws, so nice and thin. Fry in a pan with hot olive oil. Remove to a plate with some kitchen towel in order to remove excess fat.

Peel the last avocado, scoop out the flesh and dice it up into bite-size cubes and place to one side. 

Serve the soup in bowl and place in the centre a little chopped avocado and fried sweet potato on top. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and you’re ready to go.

You may want to accompany this starter with some toasted bread topped with Iberian ham and olive oil, it accompanies the avocado really well.

The sweet potato is a potato-like tropical tuber. They differ in that this potato has a thicker skin and a more elongated shape, but more so in the flavour, which is sweet thus adding a wonderful touch to the dish.

This dish is highly recommended for all children, youth, adults, athletes, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly.

It high contribution of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats makes it a recommended dish especially for those with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Monounsaturated fats have the property of reducing the rates of total blood cholesterol because they elevate the so-called "good cholesterol".

As for the vitamin content of this recipe, there are three that deserve more attention for their antioxidant capabilities: vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

Furthermore, due to its richness in magnesium and potassium, and its low sodium level, this recipe is highly recommended for those who suffer from hypertension or heart conditions.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 



Like 0        Published at 16:20   Comments (0)


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