Spanish winter recipes...Mmmm cazuela pies. This February has seen the second significant covering of snow over Orce village and outlying hamlets. When it comes it comes!,even in an old Andalucian cave house with 2 meter thick walls it gets cold so a good winter warming recipe is called for.
Cazuela pies will certainly keep you warm, (and your lap if you decide to enjoy in front of the tv) in fact the insulation properties of the terracotta cazuela will keep these pies hot for hours. A great way of serving up piping hot winter pies, for this simple recipe we have used beef. Enjoy.
Ingredients: 1 kilo stewing beef, cubed 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped 1 large onion, peeled and chopped 250g mushrooms, wiped and chopped half bottle red wine 2 beef stock cubes 2 bay leaves salt and pepper 300g shortcrust or puff pastry
How to cook:
1. In a large casserole dish, heat a little olive oil and butter and when it is really hot and smoking, add the beef and brown on all sides. This may need to be done in batches. 2. When all the beef is nicely browned, add the stock cubes and cook until they dissolve in the juices. 3. Add the vegetables and the wine bring to the boil. 4. Add the bay leaves and season. Reduce to a very low heat and cook covered for 3-4 hours, removing the lid for the last hour or so. 5. When the beef is done, preheat the oven to 230 degrees. 6. Spoon the beef mixture into 4-5 14cm cazuelas. Divide the pastry into 4-5 even sized pieces and roll out into rounds. 7. Dampen the edges of the cazuelas and top with the pastry. Press down to seal and flute the edges. glaze with egg wash and make a hole in the middle for the steam to escape. 8. Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is a golden brown. 9. Serve with thick cut chips for a hearty and warming winters meal.
The tostada is one of Spain’s most famous breakfasts. Usually served very simply with rubbed garlic, tomato frito, olive oil and salt morning workers can be seen in almost every bar enjoying this Spanish style breakfast with a short beer or “tubo” (named so due the tall slim glass).
I remember our first Andalucian breakfast was a traditional Spanish tosatada - kindly bought for us by the local plumber who had just fitted the bathroom in our cave house, of course it was an introduction to his favourite tapas bar as well and being the newly arrived expat we simply had to find out more about his local watering hole.
Although garlic, tomato and olive oil make the basic version, the humble tostada can be served with a multitude of toppings, this recipe involves a spicy twist with devilled mushrooms which creates one of those get up and go flavours ~ a great recipe for a midday winters lunch. Enjoy.
Half a French stick or “barra” 10 Cup mushrooms, halved 2 Garlic cloves, crushed 75ml Double cream 3 tbsp white Rioja Chili flakes Tabasco sauce Black pepper Salt Olive oil Knob of butter
1. Fry the halved mushrooms and garlic in olive oil and butter for 3 – 4 minutes.
2. Sprinkle a few chilli flakes over the top, add white wine and mix, cook for a further 2 minutes until wine begins to reduce.
3. Add the Tabasco sauce to your preference and the cream, season mixture with black pepper and salt, simmer for a further 2 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, slice the bread lengthways and toast on both sides.
“Para su pagina web!” was the cry from Antonio holding up a full cured tuna fish one Friday morning in his pescaderia. Antonio is also a glazier so one of those surprising situations you have to get used to when customers come into the fish shop and order a pane of glass for their new window…
Antonio is passionate about all things seafood, in season you can experience what can only be described as a highly impressive seafood spread with fillets, shellfish, snails, crayfish and the odd monkfish head carefully parked right in the centre of the display, usually with an unfortunate sardine or anchovy spiked on its teeth. Tuesday sees Antonio doing his rounds in his van, packed with all manner of fresh delicacies, a pair of scales and a large enough float for his euros. It was one Tuesday afternoon (that would be 7.00pm) when he passed by the office to explain in great detail his highest quality bacalao salted cod and his special order “Bonito tuna”
Now, we are already familiar with Antonio’s fabled “bacalao” but this time he presented us with some fabulous examples of full fish salt cod, high grade and weighing a very impressive 2000g. We were advised that the “orejas” or ears of the cod (those are the two flaps on the widest part of the opened fish near the top) are the best part for flavour as well as more recipes for the fish and techniques for getting the “soaking” process just right.
The real star of the exercise though was the enourmous “Bonito Tuna”. Antonio skillfully removed a sliver of flesh from the cured tuna loin and presented it to us as a mini tapa to taste test. Rustic, artisan and just as it should be but boy, the flavour, and the texture! With a little negotiation we purchased a 2kg Bacalao and a quality loin of cured tuna plus some complimentary tapas a lesson in cured fish
Over the following weekend we devised various tapas, unfortunately with this Bonito tuna there are few (if any) cooking possibilities, quite possibly a good thing as the flavour of the fish is exquisite.
*Bonito and Philadelphia Spinach wraps
*Bonito and Apple Toasts
*Bonito and Avocado
*Bonito Summer Salad
When the following Tuesday arrived we were invited to photo shoot some full tuna fish before Antonio began his rounds, this time we were in the fish shop so took the opportunity to snap some hanging bacalao too. The full tuna comes as an open fish, the back is tied on two bamboo canes, fillets and half fish are also available. It is worth noting that Bonito is very different to “Mojama” (air dried tuna loin) each have exceptional flavour with the Bonito being more moist than the air cured loin.
If you fancy a loin or two of Bonito tuna then it is special order, however it is available most Tuesdays and Fridays so don't hesitate to get in touch ~ we guarantee it will be worth the wait.
Mussels...arguably the king of shellfish. Its often very difficult to walk by the fish shop in Orce village, especially on Fridays, owner Antonio has a long marble topped bench crammed full with all manner of seafood delights. At the far end though is a spot reserved for mussels where he piles kilos of them into a mini mountain, carefully discarding any that look like they won't make the grade.
"¿cuántos kilos" He always asked that as we usually buy a couple of kilos for ourselves or even double that if the rellies are over and a big seafood paella is on the cards. When these mussels are in season boy are they good...! Enormous tapas, hearing them clunk and rattle as Antonio shovels them into a bag immediately gets you thinking of parsley and white wine - or another favourite we recently discovered "mussels in Asturian cider" as well as summer salads drenched in extra virgin olive oil.
If you fancy something different to do with mussels but yet incredibly simple then why not try a mussel and serrano ham salad ~ or iberico ham if your in a more gourmet mood... Both work very well in this land and sea affair.
1kg Fresh mussels, cleaned 100g Serrano ham 1 Baby lettuce 1 Tomato 2 Slices white bread, cut into squares Cracked black pepper Salt White wine Broadleaf parsley
1 Teaspoon cider vinegar 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Wine from the mussels
1. Place the mussels into a Spanish olla or cooking pot and steam in a splash of white wine for 5 – 6 minutes until all shells are open.
2. Remove the mussels from their shells and keep to one side, retain the wine mussel liquor and reduce over a high heat.
3. Mix 1 tablespoon of mussel liquor with the olive oil and cider vinegar, season with salt and pepper, mix well.
4. In a frying pan add a drop of olive oil, slice the ham into strips and fry.
5. When the ham is crispy, add a little more olive oil to the pan and fry the bread, turning regularly.
6. On a serving plate arrange the baby lettuce leaves with slices of tomato.
7. Toss the mussels, fried ham and bread and place on top of the salad.
8. Pour over the dressing and garnish with torn up parsley.
Pan fried mackerel is an exceptionally easy dish to make, get your fishmonger to fillet the mackerel for you and you have the basic ingredient for a delicious Spanish summer dish. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy from a fish quay or even catch your own then this dish can also be
*cooked outdoors with ease. Great seafood flavours!
You will need: (serves 4)
4 Large mackerel fillets
Handful fresh thyme
Knob of butter
1. Place the mackerel fillets skin side down onto baking tray.
2. Season with the thyme, salt, pepper and grate over with lemon zest then drizzle with olive oil.
3. Leave to marinade for at least 10 minutes.
4. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon then oven bake on a high heat for 10 minutes.
*For outdoor cooking simply prepare the mackerel in the same way described but marinade for 30 minutes. Lightly fry in olive oil or butter for 5 minutes skin side down.
This simple recipe for barbequed mustard chicken is quick and easy to make and works perfectly on the barbeque. We cooked this recipe after being given a rather large jar of hot Dijon mustard from a French neighbour in Orce village. The chicken pieces are marinated in the mustard for a few hours before being thrown straight onto the grill, the end result is an almost nutty flavour from the mustard together with the smoky flavours of barbequed chicken pieces.
With winter truly upon us we have been cooking some great typically Andalucian meals over the past few weeks, the threat of snow and hard frosty mornings always gets us in the mood for lighting the wood burner and cooking something with a bit of character for evening meal.
Our winner for best Spanish winter recipe this year is 'Butterflied Lamb & Garlic Asado', a take on the Andalucian lamb asado which uses the famous Cordero Segureno from the Granada region of Spain.
A very simple recipe to prepare and cook, use a terracotta roasting tray if you can and you will get that reassuring 'thud' when the spoon hits the bottom whilst serving up this delicious dish. This Spanish asado is juicer than its close cousin as the lamb is cooked as whole piece instead of steaks. Pop this one in the oven or woodburner and you will create an aromatic dish that is sure to impress the guests as well as the tastebuds!
Spanish salsas and chutney - cupboard fillers for the winter and when you can make your own they taste even better. One of the main ingredients is of course the tomato, vine ripened if possibe but anything ripe and red will do - the ugly ones pack the most flavour!
If you are lucky enough to have a local Spanish greengrocer who grows his own or get given tomatoes by your Spanish neighbours then why not try making a chutney, just as easy as a Spanish salsa but with more clout after it has matured, brilliant with a wedge of Manchego or Manchego reserva and especially tasty for some reason in winter...
Recently we really got into Spanish style chutneys, there are so many great ingredients you can put into them including spices and if like us you like a bit of chilli to liven things up then some of the red stuff adds a great kick.
You can find our recipes for Spanish chutney, salsas, pate and dips on this page (we also love anchovies which make a regular appearance).
An exciting new dining experience has been launched in Oxfordshire this month and what’s more you don’t have to leave home to enjoy it! Dine-in with Style is a quality, stylish, dining experience featuring gorgeous food, beautifully presented in your own home.
The company is the brainchild of Nicola Southall of Bloxham, Banbury. Nicola, wants to create special dining events, equivalent to a first class restaurant experience, in a client’s own home. Dine-in with Style brings a relaxed, but professional, restaurant feel to your own home, enabling clients’ to entertain in style at home with fabulous food beautifully presented, with the table designed to complement the evening.
A number of specialised food themes and menus are available including Italian Trattoria, Greek Taverna, Fish, Ladies Pink night, Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, Chinese or any style of great food the client might require, all creatively designed complemented by themed table settings.
Speaking about the company launch Nicola says, “I want to provide clients’ with top quality cuisine in the comfort of their own homes, for special occasions, all complemented by themed table settings which invites you to sit down and enjoy a unique dining experience. “The simplicity of our service is that you can leave the whole event, whatever the occasion, to us allowing you to thoroughly enjoy the event, be it a birthday party, anniversary dinner, special business occasion, or just a great get together with friends and relatives, knowing that we are in control in the kitchen and even do the washing up!”.
All the food is prepared in Nicola’s kitchen and then finished in the clients’ kitchen before being served.
Nicola’s service includes the following:
Full consultation to discuss your particular requirements
Spanish sheeps cheese with chili pepper? Will it be good? You bet! Direct from the region of La Mancha comes this fabulously different cheese with a bit of a kick...
One of the good things about being in touch with your Spanish suppliers is that on occasion you can accept being the guinea pig and lend yourself to some taste testing of new products, the kind people at Piconero based in La Mancha Spain sent us a new cheese to nibble at and we were not disappointed, in fact the camera came out, the description done and the new sheeps cheese with chili was on the website the very next day.
I love cheese but have to admit that I am no expert - I simply go by aroma then taste and texture then ultimately if I enjoy it or not! Before moving to Spain from the UK my experience of cheese was crackers, grapes and apple with a full blown mature blue stilton accompanied by a half decent port or a bossy red, Brie often entered the equation to calm to taste buds... but in the main I enjoy cheese with attitude! Where we are you cannot get a good old Stilton and although there are all things blue they never really hit the spot like a good old English ripe wheel of goodness!
However, being a lover of chili I was looking forward to a new Spanish cheese, something infused, strong and with a kick, those specks of red in the image pack some punch but it builds, when you first taste this cheese its like a normal Spanish sheeps cheese then the flavour intensifies and you soon realise why a good red wine is necessary as well as some fresh cold fruit to refresh the palate.
This one really is a cracking find, not just because on it is now on our website but because we genuinely enjoy it. The two new partners to this cheese completing a brand new trio from La Mancha are goats cheese with garlic and another sheeps cheese (this time with coffee). A delicious selection of new ideas, get the port on standby...
Earlier in the year we set about the project of building a clay oven on the patio, not an easy job using Spanish materials (traditional curved oven slabs) but in the name of keeping everything traditionally 'Andaluz' the oven was eventually finished and works great for cooking the usual suspects like pizza and bread (garlic and rosemary bread being a firm favourite).
Now the Spanish summer is in full swing we tend to use the oven for cooking hot tapas or a midday light lunch and this is where the terracotta cazuelaperforms really well. As as cooking vessel designed to cope with and retain the heat the 'cazuela' is suited a multitude of tasks, one of which is cooking food in olive oil. The famous 'gambas al pil pil' (chili garlic prawns) may spring to mind but for this very simple tapas recipe we are using fresh mushrooms bought from our Spanish greengrocer.
Leave the mushrooms whole, place in a 23cm terracotta cazuela. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and mix well. Place in oven and cook on 220 degrees for 20 minutes.
Our clay oven was approximately 250 degrees with the fire going inside so the mushrooms took slightly less time, you also get that lovely smokey flavour with clay oven cooking. As a tapa these mushrooms are great, just make sure to have some fresh crusty bread to hand to mop up that delicious olive oil infusion afterwards.
Spanish seafood tapas are extremely popular in the summer months and with octopus being fairly cheap it is a firm and delicious favourite which is easily cooked. A whole octopus may seem like a challenge but usually the octopus or ‘pulpo’ is ready cooked making it very easy to work with. For this simple tapas recipe you will need half a medium octopus and a tagine - the magic cooking pot which retains flavours and is suitable for a multitude of cooking tasks. Terracotta tagines are also suitable for the barbeque or grill which is how this recipe has been cooked. Great flavours, easy cooking!
You will need: (5 – 6 tapas servings)
Half a cooked octopus
10 Garlic cloves
500ml Olive oil
Equipment: 24cm Tagine
1.Prepare the octopus by removing the beak and chopping into bite sized pieces (leave the thin ends of the tentacles quite long for presentation. You can also simmer the octopus for 30 minutes to make it more tender even of pre cooked.
2.Peel and dice the garlic cloves.
3.Add a splash of olive oil to the tagine and fry off the garlic before adding the rest of the olive oil
4.Slice the courgette and add to the oil with the octopus.
5.Cook over the grill for 10 – 12 minutes giving a quick stir half way through.
6.Serve in tapas bowls or cazuelas with cocktail sticks for perfect seafood tapas.
What is it about a black bean salad that practically shouts, “summer potluck”? The mercury has been edging past a hundred degrees lately here and I’ve been getting nostalgic for some of the picnic foods I remember having often as a kid.
The basic structure of a black bean salad is black beans (canned or freshly made) with corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh). Parsley, basil or cilantro add an herby note to the flavors. Tomatoes or red bell pepper some sweetness and color. Lemon juice and or lime juice some acid. Jalapeno or cumin will give it a kick, and avocado and olive oil will smooth it down.
What I look forward to most in the summer? Stone fruit! We have trees, our neighbors have trees, and when the fruit on a tree ripens, it usually ripens all at once, setting up a flurry of activity. We eat (more like gorge on) the fresh fruit, make pies and cobblers, and freeze, dry, and can whatever’s left.
Apricots and cherries come into season about this time, early summer, which is a great excuse to pair them in a rustic tart such as this one.
Flank steak is a lean, somewhat tough but flavorful cut of beef that benefits from the tenderizing effects of a marinade. It is best cooked medium rare and thinly sliced at an angle across the grain of the meat.
Prepared this way, marinated, cooked quickly at high heat, thinly sliced, flank steak practically melts in your mouth. This recipe calls for grilling the steak, but if you don’t have a grill, you can prepare the steak on a large cast iron frying pan as well.
In my parent’s garden, there lives The Beast, a 5 foot tall zucchini plant that puts out 2 full-sized zucchinis a day. Even with all the great zucchini recipes we have, it’s hard for three people to consume 14 zucchini a week. (There’s also a pattypan squash plant.) So around this time of year I’m always looking for ways to use up my overflowing vegetable drawer of zucchini.
The best thing about making too much rice is that you have leftovers for fried rice, you know, the kind with some egg swirled in, chopped vegetables and a soy sauce based sauce. If you also happen to have some leftover cooked salmon (I know, it’s a stretch, but you might, right?) this salmon fried rice is one of the best possible things you could make with it.
When I first encountered strawberries in a green salad years ago I didn’t quite know what to make of it. They’re red, but they’re not tomatoes, what are they doing there? One bite and I was a convert! Strawberries are juicy, tart, and sweet and make a playful addition to salads of all kinds, including a quinoa salad.
When I was tasked with testing vegetable noodle makers—aka “spiralizers”—I was hesitant. Growing up with a Chinese father, I primarily ate an Asian-inspired diet that included a lot of rice. But on special occasions, I had another option: noodles. And like most kids, when given the choice between rice and noodles, I’d always pick noodles. Noodles, in this case, meant ramen, lo mein, soba or egg and I loved them all—and still do. I was afraid that vegetable versions of my beloved noodles couldn’t come close to my enjoyment of the starchy originals.
Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans, and scientists believe the advent of cooking played an important role in human evolution. Most anthropologists believe that cooking fires first developed around 250,000 years ago.