Category Archives: Spanish

Assorted tapas

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This blog post is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while, using a few recipes from a great book I won at work!  With a few colleagues we had a really nice picnic in the park and all brought different dishes.  There was a prize for the most creative/colourful dish and my spicy couscous recipe won!!!

I had some free time today, so randomly selected 3 recipes as well as using some leftovers from a dish I cooked last night 🙂  I prepared them pretty much all at the same time but I will try and put some separation in here so it’s easier to follow and to group the many pictures in this veritable feast!

Broad beans with cheese and prawns

To start this recipe off I boiled 6 large shell-on prawns for 8 minutes and in the meantime chopped half a block of edam cheese (the recipe said gruyere but I went with edam) and boiled the broad beans (whole pods with the edges trimmed and then chopped into large pieces) with some dried thyme in the water for 7 minutes.

Once they were both done I let them cool before peeling and deheading the prawns and adding to a bowl with the cheese.

I then added a bit more thyme to a bowl and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  I then poured this sauce over the prawn, bean and cheese mixture and served.

 

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Aubergine and pepper dip

Luckily I got an array of aubergines in my organic veg box this week so this recipe was perfect to make some headway into them!

I pricked two aubergines with a fork, along with a red pepper, drizzled in olive and oil and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.  You will see the picture below also shows roasting garlic which is for the next recipe!

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Once they were cooked, I let them cool a little and then peeled the aubergines and chopped the flesh into large pieces.  I removed the seeds from the pepper and also cut this into large strips before cooking in some oil with the aubergine for 5 minutes.

I then added them to a blender along with 1 tablespoon of coriander, half the juice and rind of a lemon, half a teaspoon of paprika and some salt and pepper and mixed to a puree.  I served the puree on bread but I do think this dip would be better with tortilla chips or something similar.

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Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

For the final dish here (although I did start this first as the potatoes took the longest to cook!), I halved potatoes and then cut the halves into three.  I drizzled over some olive oil, some salt and also one crushed clove of garlic.  Then I put them on a baking tray and cooked for 1 hr 15 mins.

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While the potatoes were cooking, I used the cloves of garlic I had roasted from before (1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves, drizzled with olive oil on 200 degrees for 25 mins) now they were cool.  I removed the skin and mashed until relatively smooth.  I added them in a bowl with 1 pot of natural yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and seasoned with salt and paprika.  Then I covered the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill while the potatoes continued cooking.

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I did reduce most of the ingredients with the intention of being able to serve 2 but we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow so I would say all of the above would serve 3-4 people.

I enjoyed making all the recipes and was certainly good to make some headway into my tapas cooking experience.  I guess I’m still a bit of a whole dish kind of person so it’s good to extend my repertoire a little further!

And as for the favourite dish… it was probably the potato wedges with the roasted garlic dip!  Really tasty, quite easy to prepare, really enjoyed the crunch of the potatoes with the freshness of the dip!  All were good though and definitely will be repeated.

A big thanks to my work colleagues for letting me win and to Noa for choosing this great prize 🙂

Finally, I wanted to make a brief mention of the fourth dish as although it wasn’t from the book, it did accompany this tapas lunch as well as making a tasty dinner last night!  It was vegetable and salmon bake; another recipe from the BBC.  Really creamy and tasty and a definite recommendation!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/vegetableandsalmonch_84182

The one lonely picture from today (it wasn’t intended to be a blog post but was too delicious not to mention!):

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Filed under Cheese, Fish, Food, Food blogging, Healthy, Herbs, Recipes, Salad, Spanish, Starter, Tapas, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Empanadas and chocolate fondant

My realistic target is to blog once a week now on weekends so with this weekend be relatively clear, I thought I would go for 2 dishes in the same post and my first blogged dessert. Usually I don’t cook many desserts (which is not to say I don’t eat them!!!). Normally I prefer to focus my attention on savoury dishes but this chocolate fondant has been on my mind for a while…  Also as I am gaining a little more confidence with my cooking, I wanted to see if it really was so simple to make a pot with a gooey centre… And actually it was!

For now back to the empanadas! Again I’ve wanted to make these for a while as they are quite a typical spanish dish. I made these with tuna but there are many different varieties of course. The full list of ingredients is at the bottom of the post. From the original recipe I made 3/4 of what was recommended, partly as there are only 2 of us at home so 24 portions seemed a bit gluttonous but also because we were close to a flour shortage and i could not forego the chocolate fondents now that they seemed so close!  So the adjusted ingredients below should make you between 16-18 empanadas.

I mixed the flour with the butter by hand trying to get close to a breadcrumb like consistency. Then i added about 1.5 eggs with the wine (keeping the remaining half aside for basting at the end). I was a bit worried at one point that the consistency didn’t look right but after a little while longer it looked fine. The recipe actually says do not knead the pastry too much else the end product will be tough. I’m not sure whether I did or not but for a first attempt I needed the pastry to be solid at least and not breakung apart! So after being happy with the consistency, I wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, i cooked the chopped onion for about 5 mins, added the tomato sauce and cooked for 10 mins to thicken.  Then I added the tuna, roasted pepper, parsley and freshly ground pepper and mixed together.

I rolled out half the pastry and used a mug to make as many circles as possible.  I repeated this process with the left over pastry until I had used it all (it made 16 circles for me).

Then I put a little bit of the tuna mixture in each circle, folded and pinched together at the sides to seal them.  I put them on an oiled baking tray and basted them with the leftover egg.  Then I cooked them for about 30 minutes at 190 degrees until they were golden.

While they were cooking I got on with the preparation for the chocolate fondants.  I melted the chocolate with the butter in a glass dish over a pan of simmering water.  Meanwhile I mixed the flour with the beaten eggs and sugar until smooth.  Once the butter and chocolate had fully melted I left to cool for about 30 mins before adding to the flour mixture and mixing again until smooth.  I poured this mixture into 4 buttered ramekins and put in the fridge for 10 mins before then cooking for 15 mins at 200 degrees.

The results were great!  The empanadas were a little harder than the ones you get in the bars here (according to my photographer!) but I put this down to the fact of maybe kneading for longer and also because they were oven baked rather than fried.  The taste was still great in my opinion.  They are quite fiddly to make but it’s another recipe ticked off my list!

The best was the fondants!  They were very gooey inside when we put our spoons into them and the taste was really good too.  I will definitely be making these again as they are fairly simple to make and look and taste great!

Ingredients

Tuna empanadas

  • 300g plain flour
  • 60g softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 ml white wine
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 150g chopped tomatoes (from a can)
  • 200g of tuna (from a can)
  • Half a roasted pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Chocolate fondants

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g chocolate (I used cooking chocolate)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour

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Filed under Chocolate, Desserts, Fish, French, Pudding, Spanish

Calçots with Romesco Sauce

Calçots are a type of onion and are a tradition to be eaten in Catalunya from February to April when they are in season. The event of eating calçots is called a calçotada and it is quite typical for a group of family/friends to share in this event whether it be in a restaurant or masia in or out of the city or done at home or in a designated calçcotada area in the countryside.

I have tried a calçotada in a restaurant in a former masia before but I was lucky enough to have one at my parents-in-law’s place last weekend!

The first steps to the event was making the romesco sauce.

Romesco sauce

  • 2 dried capsicum anuums (ñoras)
  • 200g almonds
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 pieces of bread soaked in water
  • 350g can finely chopped tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar to taste

First mix the nuts in a blender, fry the garlic in halves in the olive oil until slightly golden. Add the chopped nuts and the garlic to a bowl with the soaked bread. Add the chopped tomatoes to the remaining oil and fry gently for 1-2 mins. Add the tomato mix to the bowl, with the sun dried peppers and blend until smooth. Add vinegar to taste.

You can leave the mix in a covered bowl over night. It can also be nice to add a bit of chilli powder or fresh chillies to make the sauce a bit spicy.

The calçots

Approx. 10 per person
Selection of meats for barbecuing (we had spare ribs, pork loin and rabbit)
Sauces to serve (romesco, bbq and alioli)

Using a bbq grilling tray, bbq the calçots over the fire for about 3-4 mins each side until fairly blackened and making a sizzling noise (you might also see foam coming out of the calçot when cooked). Do in batches to get even coverage. You can keep them warm in foil or newspaper once cooked while you cook the remainder.

Season the meat and then grill/bbq the meat according to taste.  If barbecuing on the open fire, the meat should be cooked above the white charcoal or wood (rather than the open flame).

Eat the calçots first with the romesco sauce.  To eat, you peel away the blackened outer skin and dip the “clean” calçot in the romesco sauce, holding the calçot at the end and lower into your mouth.  Be warned, it can get very messy!  When eating this in a restaurant you are usually given a bib!

For the second course, eat the selection of cooked meats with the three sauces.  You could also have potatoes or chips as a side dish.  And it is common to have plenty of wine throughout the whole meal!

This is a very filling meal and a really nice sociable event to have with friends or family!

Thank you to the guest chefs for the inspiration and hard work and for the use of their kitchens!

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Filed under Catalan, Food, Recipes, Spanish, Uncategorized

A recipe from closer to home

For my second entry I wanted to make something that was closer to home so either Spanish or English.  In fact, I believe this is cooked all over the world but it is very synonymous with tapas bars here in Spain.  Although this recipe is a fairly standard one to start with, my hope is if I master these then in the future I can experiment with lots of different fillings such as some great ones we had in a tapas place (name to follow, when I remember!) in Poble Sec (a quarter here in Barcelona) which included ricotta and spinach.

So croquetas de jamon…!  (full recipe shown at the end of the post)

Ingredients - gold star for anyone who notices a discrepancy with the ingredients listed below

Again, I already had most of the ingredients (I always keep a supply of breadcrumbs in the freezer).  I just needed to buy mushrooms so a good recipe to do as a last minute option.  In addition, this recipe fitted around my day in that while the mixture was cooling for 2 hours I could have my Spanish language exchange so convenient too!

About half the chopped mushrooms!

After melting the butter and adding the onions, I started working on chopping the mushrooms realising you need quite a lot of space to finely chop 115g of mushrooms!  I didn’t measure this precisely though so maybe I had too many…

I cooked the mushrooms for 5 mins, added the flour, stirred over a medium heat for 1 minute waiting for the mixture to go dry, crumbly and to change colour.  It was definitely dry but I’m not sure it was particularly crumbly and for me, the colour changed more when the mushrooms were cooked rather than when the flour was added!

After adding the milk and stock the mixture was very smooth and it thickened well upon heating.  I added the ham and pepper, put in a bowl to cool and went to meet my friend to talk English and a bit of Spanish 😉

Mixture just before cooling

After 2 hours I returned and with the mixture, flour, eggs and breadcrumbs started to complete the croquetas.  This part was the most tricky as the mixture was so sticky.

Sticky!

My hands were very messy even before getting to the eggs so I’m afraid my end product was not so neat but I’m still at the stage of cooking where taste is much more important (I suspect that will never change!).  I followed the recipe and managed to get 9 (rather large)  croquetas using the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs specified (which I then chilled in the fridge for 30 mins before cooking).  This left me with about half of the mixture remaining which I will use in another batch.  9 large croquetas between 2 people seemed enough!

I cooked them for about 3 minutes and they held together well while cooking (unlike the frozen variety that I have tried many times that always look a bit naked after cooking), they were golden and actually very tasty!  I would recommend this recipe and the last stages could be fun with kids (as in flour, egg, breadcrumbs, NOT cooking them in the 170 degree oil!).

I think a nice salad would go well with these croquetas or they could be presented alongside other tapas dishes.  For us, what with 4.5 giant croquetas each, a little bit of pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato, salt and olive oil) was perfect!

I will cook croquetas again but will definitely be experimenting with different flavours.

Croquetas

  • Butter                       90g
  • Onion                       1 small, finely chopped
  • Mushrooms           115g, finely chopped
  • Plain flour              125g for mixture plus 60g extra for coating
  • Milk                          250ml
  • Chicken stock       185ml
  • Jamon                      115g, finely chopped
  • Eggs                           2
  • Dry breadcrumbs 50g
  • Oil                               For deep-frying

Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan and add the onions and cook for 5 mins.  Add the mushrooms and also cook on a low heat for another 5 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add the flour and stir over a medium heat for 1 min.  The mixture should become dry, crumbly and change colour (I think just dry is fine!).  Take off the heat and add the milk, stirring until the mixture becomes smooth.  Add the stock, put back on the heat and stir until the mixture boils and thickens.  Add the ham and some freshly ground pepper, stir and put in a bowl to leave to cool for 2 hours.

Take heaped tablespoons of the mixture and roll into croqueta shapes about 6cm long.  Put the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into 3 separate bowls/plates.  First put the rolled croqueta mixture in the flour, then egg (letting the excess drip away) and then the breadcrumbs.  Put on a tray to refridgerate for 30 mins.

Add suffucient oil to a saucepan (I would say so that about half the croqueta is submerged) and heat on high until you can drop some crumbs of bread in that start to cook and turn brown.  Then turn the heat down slightly to medium-high and add the croquetas, frying for 3 minutes.  Be careful not to overload the saucepan.  If necessary you can cook the croquetas in batches.

Drain well on kitchen towl before serving.

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Filed under Food, Recipes, Spanish