Friday, 28 February 2014

Crispy pastries, bathed in honey syrup and flavored with white wine

Pestiños, is the name for the pastries presented in the title. They are usually prepared during Lent and especially during Holy Week (Semana Santa). As is usual with traditional recipes, there are almost as much recipes for pestiños as Spanish villages. Some add the anise seeds, some do not bath them in honey, but sprinkle them with sugar, and some do not prepare them for Lent, but make them for Christmas. Also at issue is their origin - some believe that they originate from Seville whilst others claim that they are from Cordoba. One thing is certain: these are Andalusian pastries, because not hard to notice that they resemble, flavorful and bathed in honey, Arabic sweets.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Clams with garlic and parsley and artichokes

Yesterday I had a plan to prepare razor shells, but unfortunately I picked the wrong day!. Why?. Let me start from the beginning: last Friday, looking for culinary inspiration for the coming week, I went to the nearby market Sant Antoni - I like going there from time to time just to wander around and see what fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits are in season. In almost every fish stall I noticed razor shells, snails, all kinds and sizes of clams, and on some of them even goose barnacles. I immediately decided that on Tuesday (not Monday, because on that day nobody buys fish, seafood or meat, because they are not fresh) I will prepare razor clams. So, yesterday morning I went to the market. To my surprise I did not find them in any stall, and when I asked what was going on and why on Friday all had them, but that day no one did (actually it's a little strange that their season has ended so abruptly, I thought), a nice gentlemen explained that on Tuesday it did not pay to bring them because almost nobody wants to buy them, and those are one of the seafood that cannot be eaten the next day. Perhaps there is some logic in it...anyway, I will come back to buy them on Friday. For this reason, today there is no razor shell, but there are clams, and with clams there are artichokes.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Catalan pa amb tomàquet

I overheard once such a comment: ''In most places in which pan con tomate is served, they have no clue how to prepare it''. It caused that every time I ate this bread in a tapas bar or a restaurant I was wondering whether or not this one is the properly prepared:). So, I started to look for information on the true Catalan pa amb tomàquet. Since then, I know one thing for sure: this is not a slice of bread smeared with grated tomato mixed with olive oil and salt!. The authentic pan con tomate is prepared by rubbing a slice of bread with ripe tomato, cut in half - ideally if it's tomato called tomate de colgar/tomàquet de penjar. In old times, these particular tomatoes came from the summer harvest and were subsequently eaten during the rest of the year. Normally, the tomatoes were attached to a string and hung in places such as attic, where very slowly were becoming ripe. A characteristic of these tomatoes is that the pulp is very soft, juicy and easily moves away from the skin, therefore, after the tomato is rubbed into bread what remains is only its skin. Pan con tomate is prepared from fresh bread, or slices of bread toasted in the oven, toaster, or on a grill, and it is mostly bread called pan rústico / pa de pagès. Often, but not always, the first step is to rub the bread with garlic clove cut in half. Then the tomato is rubbed into it and finally the bread is drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Pa smb tomàquet can be eaten just plain, without any additives, or with serrano ham, chorizo sausage, or with a variety of cheeses. The key to the perfect taste of pan con tomate are undoubtedly good quality ingredients: crispy bread, very ripe and juicy tomatoes and good quality olive oil.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chicken with dried plums, raisins and pine nuts

Chicken with dried plums also known as chicken in the Catalan way (pollastre a la catalana), is a Catalan dish - as the name suggests - most often prepared for special occasions and holidays. Traditionally the whole chicken stuffed with meat, botifarra sausage, dried plums and pine nuts was roasted; but it was in old times when normally there was only one dish on a table which was supposed to fill up all members of the family. Nowadays, however, the tables are full of countless different dishes and the traditional chicken would be simply too much, so it's often replaced by pieces of chicken with dried plums and pine nuts. To prepare this dish you will need liqueur wine, called in Spanish vino rancio and known colloquially enhanced wine, due to the fact that it has more alcohol than a regular wine. If you do not have this kind of wine you can replace it with Spanish Sherry wine (Jerez), with Port, Madeira, Marsala wine or with rum or cognac.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Avocado milk chocolate mousse tartlets

Today I propose very unorthodox tartlets: without baking, with no flour, eggs or fat, but with creamy avocado and milk chocolate mousse, which reminds me of the avocado shakes with a drop of chocolate sauce, which I discovered in Indonesia. Their crust is a combination of cocoa powder, dried dates, almonds, oat flakes and orange juice. They are not only very tasty but, as you may have guessed, also very healthy. Their taste and texture will definitely surprise - and I hope in a positive way - people with any knowledge of the ingredients used to prepare them. It just so happened that I made them on Valentine's Day, therefore the heart on one of them:), and I must admit I was a little stressed waiting for the reaction, but I quickly found out that quite unnecessarily, because the tart was approved just after the first bite and even praised with words: ''muy buena'', he said:). I saw the recipe on this site:, you will find many other very original recipes there.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Shrimp and green garlic tortilla

I think that I've never met a person who was in Spain and did not try the traditional Spanish tortilla de patatas, called as well tortilla española, which is a variation of an omelette with eggs and fried potatoes, to which sometimes onion is added - a recipe for it here.

Spaniards eat tortilla for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or simply when they feel peckish. You will probably find it on the menu in all bars and restaurants serving tapas, where it's dish up mostly cold, cut into wedges and put on a piece of bread. Very popular in Spain is also serving tortilla baguette sandwich, cold or hot, which is probably, next to serrano ham sandwich, the best-selling food on Spanish railway stations and airports.

There are, of course, many variations of tortillas: with mushrooms, ham, vegetables, spinach and cheese, or the one that I suggest today: tortilla con gambas y ajetes (tortilla with shrimp and green garlic). In fact, a combination of shrimp and green garlic is more frequently served with scrambled eggs (revuelto) than in tortilla, but I prefer it in the second form:). And one more thing, this tortilla is very tasty, but unfortunately after eating it you will breathe the smell of garlic, so just in case do not schedule any important meeting for this day:).

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Artichokes stuffed with mushrooms

Being in a middle of the season for artichokes, it's quite difficult to pass by the stalls sagging under, as beautiful as any flower, artichokes. This is one of the reasons they have appeared on my table today. This versatile vegetable can be served in many ways: raw, boiled, fried, breaded, grilled, etc., but for me, the best ones are these baked with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Eating artichokes prepared in this way is, kind of entertaining, because it involves peeling the outer leaves - which are too hard to eat them -, to finally get to their delicate and melting in your mouth centre, called the heart (in Spanish corazón).

Today, however, I suggest the recipe for artichokes stuffed with fried mushrooms and onion, topped with grated cheese and then grilled in the oven. But before starting to prepare them, I have some practical tips for you:
  • Artichokes will keep fresh longer if you store them wrapped in a plastic bag, in refrigerator.
  • It's better to wear rubber gloves when preparing them to prevent dark spots on your hands.
  • After peeling, artichokes turn black very quickly, so it's advisable to put them in water with lemon juice.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Crispy orange - almond cookies

Crispy and flavorful cookies in the shape of tiles, called in Spain tejas (teja in Spanish means tile), are a great accompaniment to coffee or tea. Their only drawback is that they contain quite a lot of sugar, which when baking converts to caramel - and this in any way is the disadvantage of the cookies, but on the contrary, it complements their extraordinary taste. Apart from caramel, you can taste the abundance of orange flavor - thanks to the addition of orange juice and zest - and detect pieces of almonds, which give them extra crispness. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Black bread rolls

This rolls look definitely more like black stones than bread, and I assure you that not only in the pictures:), it's their charm:). Their unappetising appearance fortunately does not take away from their taste. What makes them black is - as you may have guessed already- a squid ink. While eating them you taste the presence of garlic, shallots and white wine. First, I thought about making black dumplings - which I certainly will prepare in the near future - but finally I've decided to make these rolls, and all thanks to one of the TV culinary shows 'saber cocinar', in which these rolls appeared and immediately caught my attention. Aren't they original? I like them both: the savoury ones, with ham or cheese, or the sweet ones, with orange jam for example.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Shrimp, mushroom and green asparagus soup

I don't know about you, but I'm slowly starting to evoke spring:). Today I've bought a huge solar yellow bouquet of mimosa, which spread sweet honey scent all over my place. I also gradually begin to replace a thick winter soups with the lighter ones, to which I usually add a lot of green vegetables. This is why I've added green asparagus to the soup that I've prepared today. Unfortunately they are not from Spain, but according to the information on the package, they have flown straight from Peru:). Usually, I try to buy local products and I don't support the consumption of ''fresh'' vegetables, which have flown more than 9500 km in a plane refrigerator to finally find themselves at my table. However, to be quite frank, I'm pretty fed up with winter, so I decided to break my own rules and surround myself with spring colours like green and yellow, because I hope that thanks to that spring will be here soon:).

Monday, 3 February 2014

Fried mussels

Mussels are one of the seafood, which I could eat every day. They taste good, are quick and easy to prepare, providing the shells are already clean, because this step is probably the most laborious and time - consuming. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, but I like them just plain, without any additional ingredients. I clean the shells scraping them with a knife, pulling off the 'beards' and washing them under cold running water. Next, I put them into an empty pan or pot, cover with a lid and steam until the shells are open, shaking the pan frequently.  Finally, I drain them and they are ready to eat:).

Today, however, not about this way of preparing mussels. The recipe for fried mussels called in Spanish mejillones fritos is from the book of very popular Spanish culinary author Simone Ortega. Her book ''1080 recetas de cocina'' first published in 1972 has sold over 3,5 millions copies and has received nearly 50 releases. Many of the later books Ortega wrote with her daughter Inés Ortega, among them released in English ''The Book of Tapas'' in which I have found the recipe for fried mussels and which includes over 250 new and traditional recipes for Spanish tapas.

The sauce which I have prepared for the mussels is inspired by the different recipe for mussels, but comes from the same book. You can replace it with any other tomato sauce, ketchup or mayonnaise sauce, or simply serve the fried mussels with no sauce, but with salad, for example.