La Rosilla and Gazpacho

I’ve been having Spanish withdrawal symptoms as not been there since I got pregnant so to bring a bit of Andalucian sunshine to my blog Lynsey from La Rosilla has popped over. Originally from the Midlands, Lynsey moved over to Spain with her family and opened up a Country House Supper Club in the mountains above Malaga. She also does Gourmet Tours and Cooking Classes –  so fabulous and I’m so jealous! ;-)

Anyway, over to the lovely Lynsey …..

Summer Sun in Spain, brings with it copious amounts hectic lifestyle. Visitors, family, friends, ferias and fiesta. Over indulgence, is inevitable , eating late in the evening to dine in the cool, is more pleasurable and often we sit until the early hours watching the stars and waiting for the last cicadas to rattle, and then peace falls on the mountain.

To compensate our bodies for the, late nights, extra vino, Tinto Verano & Mojitos we partake in, nature supplies us with a bounty of fresh ingredients to give ourselves a health kick, our necessary 5 a day, and a feeling of righteousness well for a short time anyway ;)

Gazpacho is the Spanish Summer Soup, filled to bursting with freshness, ladened with vitamins. from vine ripened toms, juicy cucumbers, home grown Olive oil, and peppers, each household, will have their own recipe or take on the dish, will add different toppings and enjoy at different times. I find many of my visitors to La Rosilla, say “I don’t do cold soup” but when they take a sip, all preconceived ideas are lost, and the taste ‘Summer in Spain’.

La Rosillas take on Gazpacho.

GazpachoServes 4 – Will keep well in the fridge in a jug, for a refreshing drink.

2 kilos of Ripe Toms, Peeled and quartered saving the juice, but not seeds
2 Cloves of garlic chopped
2 slices of stale bread crusts removed
8 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 cucumber peeled
1 green pepper de-seeded

Soak the bread in a little cold water. Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend till smooth. Add enough ice cold water to make a soup consistency.Strain into a jug if you want a very smooth soup.Let stand in fridge for a few hours for flavour to develop.

To serve, pop in an ice cube, top with finely chopped pepper & cucumber. I like to add a basil leaf, a drizzle of oil, and a dash of vinegar.

Buen Provecho.

Thanks to Lynsey for the guest post – check out her blog here

Gambas al ajillo

Well it’s the final day of the tapas tour and it’s another tapas favourite and another simple dish. Gambas al ajillo are garlic shrimps and no spanish feast is complete without some sort of seafood. The spanish eat all types of seafood with shrimps or gambas being one of the most common.

Gambas al ajillo

This should ideally be prepared on the hob in earthenware dishes but I have yet to add those to my kitchen equipment (I need a bigger kitchen!!) so i used a frying pan and transferred to these ramekins to serve.

300g shrimps (I used raw tiger prawns which are found in most supermarkets)
125ml olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced.
1 red chilli pepper, cored and finely sliced
salt

Heat the olive oil in the pan, add the garlic and chilli. Add the prawns as soon as the garlic has coloured slightly, sprinkle with salt and fry. Serve immediately in the garlic and oil, with hunks of bread to mop up all those fab juices after the prawns have been devoured. The chilli should be just enough to leave a tingle but not overpower the dish.

That brings us to the end of the tapas spread and I hope you’ve enjoyed it and it has inspired you to bring a bit of the spanish tapas flavour into your kitchen.

June’s Spanish recipes will be something sweet for you to try, but pop back tomorrow for a blog giveaway!

Queso y Jamon

Firstly, apologies for the delay of this post but blogger was being naughty on Friday and I was busy being craftyyesterday. So without any more delay, here is dish 4 of the tapas feast.

No tapas spread is complete without a selection of cured meats and cheeses. This is not a recipe post but more a guide to what to include on your selection of meats and cheeses.

Jamon

In Spain, the pig is king. They use all parts of the animal, as every good nation should, and it is quite common in rural areas for families to have an annual pig sacrifice to ensure a supply of meat through the year. The annual matanza is where the families spend 3 days creating all manner of products using every inch of the animal for their consumption during the 3 day fiesta or throughout the following months. To ensure a years supply of products, a large proportion of the meat is air-cured. The legs are cured to create Jamon.

There are two types of Jamon in Spain and the difference is due to the breed of pig used.

Jamon Serrano is from the white pig, and is named from the high altitudes the drying and curing processes occur at, as it literally translates as mountain ham.This represents over 90% of the ham produced in Spain.

Jamon Serrano

Jamon Iberico is from the black Iberican pig from the southwest parts of Spain, sometimes called pata negra from the black hoof that typifies the breed. Due to the higher levels of fat in the meat, they can be cured for a longer period of time, resulting in a more complex, intense flavour with an unparralleled sweetness. The ultimate hams are known as bellota from the acorns the pigs feed on in the autumn before they are prepared for curing. The smaller and more intensive level of production means it is more expensive than Jamon Serrano but in my opinion (and I imagine everyone who has tried both) deservedly so.

Jamon Serrano and Jamon Iberico – courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams

In the UK supermarkets you can normally get your hands on some Jamon Serrano, though I was a little surprised by the blank look on the ladies face behind the delicatessen in my local Sainsbury’s the other day, normally a supermarket with a wide range of products!! Also it is much tastier (any normally cheaper) if purchased off the deli than from the prepared packs. I haven’t located Jamon Iberico in any of my local supermarkets but believe some Waitrose stores may stock it.

The best, but rather indulgent way, is to order in a Jamon from Orce Serrano Hams. They sell a wide range of full leg hams and other artisan products and provide you with all the information you need to get the best experience. It’s next to do on my foodie wish list!

Queso

To match it’s diverse range of culinary styles Spain has a huge range of cheeses. Each region produces several varieties of cheese, each one unique depending on the type of milk used (sheep, cow, goat or a mix), the method of production, the traditions and the ageing and curing processes. Sadly, the majority of Spanish cheeses cannot be easily found in the UK, with the only one that is readily available in UK supermarkets being Manchego.


Manchego is made from the milk of the Manchega sheep in La Mancha, the plateau that covers the central region of Spain and is protected by a Denominacion de Origin (D.O) that ensures the cheese is produced in this area and in a certain way. There are different varieties of Manchego, depending on the age. The type found in UK supermarkets is Curado which means it is a semi-firm cheese which has been aged for 3-6 months and has a sweet and nutty flavour. It is perfect for tapas as it not a cheese that requires an accompaniment, except perhaps a glass of Rioja.

Should you be lucky enough to live near a decent Cheesemongers then other spanish cheeses to note are:

Cabrales: a blue cheese from the mountains of Picos de Europa, Northern Spain. It is traditionally matured in the limestone caves that are typical of the region.

Torta el Casar– sheep cheese from Extremadura, with a soft centre and a strong flavour.

Tetilla– meaning little tit due to its breast like shape, it is a cows milk cheese which is mild and creamy.

Ham and Cheese – the perfect combination in any cuisine but even better done the Spanish way.

Back soon with the final day of the tapas trail.

Hasta luego.

Chorizo al vino

Chorizo is now one of the most popular and Spanish products used in the UK, popping up on restaurant menu’s around the country and found in many weekly shopping baskets. The often mispronounced product (it’s chor-eetho people!) comes in 2 main forms, a cured version that can be found on most supermarket shelves and a semi-cured sausage that needs cooking. The key flavouring in all chorizos is Pimenton (paprika) but varies according to which type of paprika is used, dulce (sweet) or picante (spicy).

It has become very easy to recreate Chorizo al vino (Chorizo in wine) dish in true Spanish form as many supermarkets now sell the cooking chorizo. I used these from Sainsbury’s and found them to be full of flavour and perfect for this simple tapas dish.

I feel a bit of a fraud posting this recipe as it only has 2 ingredients, but that’s the beauty of tapas – so simple and yet so tasty.

Chorizo al vino

150g cooking chorizo
125 ml red wine – use one that you would happily drink

Puncture the chorizo with a fork and place in a saucepan and cover with half of the wine. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and keep at room temperature for as long as possible, preferably overnight. When ready to serve cut the chorizo into bitesize chunks (for these ones I just halved them)and put into frying pan. Add the remaining wine and cook over high heat until the wine has almost disappeared. Serve with toothpicks or on top of some crusty bread slices.

Hasta manana

Patatas Bravas

Day 2 of the tapas feast and we turn to the potatoes. Potatoes come in two favourite forms in Spanish tapas. We have the delicious Spanish tortilla, a potato and onion omelette, which is often what I make for our tapas spreads as it’s a firm favourite in this household. The other potato dish that is a staple around Spain is Patatas Bravas which translates as “fierce potatoes” due to the chilli kick in the sauce.

Patatas Bravas, Spicy Potatoes, Tapas

Patatas Bravas

900g potatoes
5 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 227g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp sweet paprika
large pinch of chilli flakes
pinch sugar

 

Fry the onion in 3 tbsp of oil until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, chilli flakes (adjust to your taste) sugar and salt and bring to the boil, whilst stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and set aside. This can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.

Cut the potatoes into small cubes and spread into a roasting tin and toss in 2 tbsp of oil and season. Roast for 40-50 minutes until crisp and golden. Tip the potatoes into dishes and spoon the sauce over once reheated.

Serve with cocktail sticks for a true tapas experience.

Disfrutas! (enjoy!) and I’ll be back tomorrow with some chorizo.

Croquetas de Jamon

Croquetas (Croquettes) are a popular tapas dish in Spain, and are in fact found in many cuisines around the world. They are in essence a small fried roll encased in bread crumbs. In many countries the filling is mashed potato with flavours of meat, fish, shellfish or vegetables.

In Spain they are instead filled with a thick bechamel sauce and often have ham, serrano jam or prawns in. Totally not good for you but totally delicious!

Spanish Tapas Croquetas de Jamon

To make Spanish Croquetas you first need to make a thick bechamel, then add whatever ,filling you like, roll into cylindrical shapes, smother in breadcrumbs and fry. It’s a simple recipe but it can get quite messy when creating them so be prepared for sticky fingers!!

Croquetas de Jamon

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
250ml milk
1 egg, beaten
100g breadcrumbs – I used the Panko japanese ones for extra crispiness
80g ham, chopped into little chunks
nutmeg
salt

Heat the olive oil till it is hot but not smoking. Take off the heat and add the flour stirring constantly till it is a paste. Return to the heat and slowly add the milk, little by little, stirring to form a smooth sauce. Add a touch of nutmeg, pinch of salt and the chopped ham and mix in frying pan until it is thick. (A little less ham would than in the picture is what you should aim for, I was a tad too generous with the ham!)

Leave to cool and then chill in fridge for as long as possible. I did it for 45 mins but would leave it longer next time, even overnight. Form the mixture into little sausage like shapes, then dip into the egg followed by the breadcrumbs. Fry the croquettes in oil – I used a deep fat fryer at 140 degrees. Once golden brown take out and enjoy.

 Hasta manana

Tapas takes me back

As many of you are aware or as the name of the blog suggests I have a love of all things Spanish. On a regular basis I cook with Spanish ingredients like chorizo or Pimenton – smoked paprika. But every so often I crave an authentic Spanish food experience. Unfortunately we don’t have any good local tapas bar nearby (or even not so nearby) so I often create tapas style dinners at home.

The contents of these vary each time, sometimes they are typically Spanish, with all dishes that could be found on a tapas bar in Spain, and washed down with a glass (or two) of Rioja. However, I will admit that sometimes when time is short or ingredients not available I opt for something not too authentic to add into the mix. As long as it fits the bill of being able to pick at and share amongst friends it might find it’s way onto the tapas spread, like potato wedges, pate and even chicken dippers!

Last weekend, with the bit of sunshine the UK was basked in reminding me of my second home, I had one of my “cravings” and set to creating a typical feast of Spanish tapas dishes.

It consisted of a variety of traditional Spanish tapas dishes and the obligatory glass of vino Tinto.

From left clockwise

  • Croquetas de jamon

  • Patatas Bravas

  • Chorizo al vino

  • Serrano Jamon y Queso de Manchego

  • Gambas al ajillo

Each day this week I will be sharing with you how I created each dish, so pop back tomorrow for the first recipe.

Hasta manana folks

 

 

A visit to my second homeland

May has been a hectic month, with a very busy social and work life. Part of that was caused by a 5 day business trip to my Head office, which is located in Ourense, NW Spain. Whilst I love any excuse to go back to Spain, please don’t think this was just a jolly, it’s actually quite hard work! We take a group of customers out to the quarries to see how our roofing slates are produced, so it’s a lot of hosting and translating for me, but I do love it! The worst thing is the travelling as it’s quite a drive to this remote part of Spain.

O'Barco, Ourense, Galicia                                             

Glamourous? … maybe not!

For me the best thing about going on these business trips, is not only to see my colleagues and practice my spanish, but the food! If you weren’t aware already (not sure how it might have escaped you if have read any of my random tweets or earlier posts) but I love Spanish food. I love how each dish is simple but tasty, langostines in garlic, jamon iberico, grilled seabass, tortilla espanola, …. must stop or else will be drooling over the keyboard!

The only downside for the purpose of this blog is that because the eating was all business dinners I didn’t think it right to photo the food. So whilst I have no pics of the food I ate during my trip, I did get an hour to myself in Oviedo on the Saturday, I headed straight to the supermarket.

Octopus

Fancy some octopus or prawns? There was so much choice and it was all so fresh, and this was in a standard spanish supermarket. It reminded me of how poor the selection of fresh fish is in our supermarkets in the UK, and whilst I do admit things have improved over recent years I think we still lag behind.

Whilst fish is not suitable for packing into the suitcase (it did cross my mind for a millisecond!) I did bring home some cured meats including Jamon serrano, Chorizo and Morcilla (spanish black pudding). Mainly because I have converted my other half into a spanophile. Is that the right word for the spanish equivalent to a francophile? In fact is there a word for a lover of all things Spanish? Anyway as he wasn’t able to join me on the trip I thought it best to bring a little something home and during the lovely weather we had in the last couple of weeks we enjoyed a tapas meal on the patio.

Tapas, Chorizo, Jamon

Chorizo in Wine

There is nothing better than some jam, chorizo, smoked salmon served with some crusty bread and a green salad. The other pot had some garlic mushrooms which are also perfect on slices of crusty bread too.

The trip was good but it has made me yearn for a holiday to Spain, so I can sample some more spanish gastronomic delights and share it with the hubby too of course!! Not a possibility this year sadly but for now we still have some chorizo to keep us happy!There is nothing better than some jam, chorizo, smoked salmon served with some crusty bread and a green salad. The other pot had some garlic mushrooms which are also perfect on slices of crusty bread too.

Since getting home from the trip I’ve been fairy busy with work but also with some more foodie experiences which I can’t wait to fill you in on including dinner at Weston Park and a cupcake decorating class with Sarah at BlueDoorBakery.

Will be back soon with more tales from this staffordshire senorita!

Tortilla de patata perfected

So it’s been a while since my first post and before I get stuck into this one I feel I should tell you why. 2010 did not start out as planned, taken down by the sickness bug in the first few days and attacked by the dreaded “woman flu” made the first two months of 2010 hard. This was in addition to a hectic few weeks at work and a wedding invite order to do in my spare time, so it’s been a struggle to keep on top of the housework let alone think of blogging!! I have however managed to try out some new recipes and have eaten some lovely food in past two months, but unfortunately none has been photographed or noted down to share.

However, the one thing that has been a regular item on the menu is the humble spanish tortilla, which I find a huge comfort at any time of the year. In winter it makes a perfect breakfast with a strong coffee and a huge hunk of crusty bread, in summer I like it with a simple tomato salad. It’s also perfect as an item on a traditional spanish tapas menu, so versatile and so very tasty.

After living in Spain for a year and a half I came home with a huge love of the spanish tortilla. In Santander where I spent my first 6 months they have a regional speciality of creating toppings for the tortilla, whether it be simple like ham and cheese or something a little different like tuna or blue cheese. Furthermore, despite my well travelled antics across Spain I have never found anywhere serving it quite the same! My year in Madrid learned me to love the tortilla in it’s simplest form and this is what I have been trying to recreate on my return home.

I set to work trying out various recipes, because whilst the ingredients are always the same; onion, potatoes and eggs, the method of preparation varies and seems to be the key to creating the perfect tortilla. Many of my first attempts lacked the mositness and flavour of the ones in Spain, being a little dry or bland. So after many practices I think I have now perfected it and patience is the key!

Tortilla de Patata

700g of potatoes, I use desiree for their waxy texture and they’re always readily available. Peeled and sliced thinly. 
1 large spanish onion, sliced thinly and seperated into half moon shapes.
4 medium free-range eggs, beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tblsp olive oil

In a large frying pan gently heat 4 tblsp of oilve oil and place in all the potato and onion and slowly fry. Now this is the important bit as at first I tried to rush it but this where you build up all the flavour.The best is to take your time with this, I normally let it fry for about 40 mins and as the onion and smaller potato pieces turn golden brown and caramelised I remove them from the pan, and keep going till all of it has a golden colour.

Let the potato and onion mix cool slightly and then mix in the beaten eggs until the potatoes are coated in the egg. Season the mixture generously.

In a smaller non-stick frying pan heat the remaining oil and once hot pour in the potato mix. Again use a moderate heat and let it cook slowly. Once the eggs have started to set I tend to shake the pan so the tortilla doesn’t stick and then once it looks set and safe to turn over, normally after about 5 minutes, place a plate over the pan and flip over so the tortilla is on the plate and then slide it back into pan on uncooked side to finish cooking for a couple of minutes. Turn out onto serving plate.

 


Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

 


Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

This is best served once left to cool and is better at room temperature rather than chilled. It will keep for a few days, though it never lasts that long in my house!