Poached yellow figs in white wine

This is another fig recipe, this time for yellow figs with a different flavoured sauce made  with orange juice and white wine.

Yellow figs, halved
Glass or two of dry white wine
Squeeze of honey
Cinnamon stick
1 orange, juiced and zested

Bring the wine, honey, orange juice, orange zest and cinnamon to the boil and reduce down slightly for about 5 minutes. Add the figs and cook gently for another 10 minutes. Turn off and leave to cool. Serve with mascarpone cheese mixed with vanilla and icing sugar or vanilla ice cream.

TO BAKE:
After reducing the sauce down, make cuts in each fig and squeeze. Put in an ovenproof dish and pour over the sauce. Cook in the oven (180ºC) for 35 minutes. Serve with lemon sorbet.

Gluten-free clementine Christmas Cake

I saw this cake in the Good Food magazine and have cooked it several times for Janet, John’s mum for Christmas. Even though I don’t particularly like Christmas, I love the smell of this cooking at the beginning of December. It’s not always possible to get all the different types of dried fruit in Spain, so just use whatever you can get your hands on.

4 small clementines
200g unsalted butter
275g dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, etc.)
100g glacé cherries, quartered
2 tablespoons brandy
200g soft dark brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
pinch ground cloves
140g ground almonds
100g polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cover the clementines with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 hour and then drain.

Heat oven to 180ºC. Line a 20cm tin with baking paper.

Remove any pips from the clementines and pulse in a food processor.

Combine the dried fruit, cherries and brandy in a bowl. Add the celemtine pulp and mix well.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale. Gradually add the beaten eggs. Mix together the dried ingredients and fold into the egg mixture, adding the fruit mixture.

Spoon into the tin, smoothing the top and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 160ºC and cook for a further 40 minutes. Cover top with foil if necessary to prevent excessive browning. If you’re using a fan oven, reduce temperature by 20ºC.

Leave the cake in the tin for 30 minutes to cool before turning out.

Poached figs in red wine

juicy fig

A juicy fig straight from the tree.

The fig season is one of my favourite times of the year. We’re lucky in that we’ve got both purple and yellow figs. For this recipe I prefer to use the more robust purple figs. I’ve got another recipe for the yellow ones. Again the measurements are rough and I normally allow 2-3 figs per person.

Purple figs, left whole
Glass red wine
Spoon or two of sugar
Cinnamon stick
Couple of cloves

Bring the wine to the boil with the sugar, cinnamon and cloves and reduce down slightly for about 5 minutes. Add the figs and cook gently for a further 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave to cool. Serve with mascarpone cheese mixed with vanilla and some icing sugar.

Pork with green peppers and tomatoes

This recipe is my take on the dish served in the bar in La Peza, Granada.

At this time of year, it’s the perfect recipe to use up some of the tomatoes and green peppers on the huerta.

Up in the mountains I don’t have an oven so I used a pressure cooker but it could also be started off in a casserole and then put it in the oven.

I haven’t put any quantities, although I used about 8 large green peppers, a couple of kilos and a half of tomatoes and about 750g of shoulder pork.

Liquidize lots of tomatoes with some sugar, salt and pepper. Add some olive oil and reduce down until you get a thick tomato sauce.

Use a pressure cooker and fry a chopped onion in olive oil. Then add loads of chopped green peppers and fry for a further five minutes or so. Add the chopped shoulder of pork and a couple of spoons of the tomato mixture. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. When the tomato sauce has reduced down, add to the pork and season. Add some stock if necessary. Serve with new potatoes.

If I was going to put it in the oven, I’d make the tomato sauce first and then continue as before, cooking for about 90 minutes in a moderate oven. It would probably be a good idea to put in some small jackets potatoes at the same time.

When I spoke to the son of the man who cooked this in the bar, he said he didn’t add any stock and depending on the quality and flavour of the pork it might not be necessary.

Choto in sauce

We went round to our neighbour’s house this evening to ask about building work and they were in the middle of preparing a mountain goat. It was being cooked by one of the members of the “Peña de Caza” in La Peza and would be taken down later for one of their get-togethers. They’d been authorised to shoot two young mountain goats to keep numbers down but in the end had only seen and shot one. There was a bit of a discussion about the recipe and whether beer should be added or not, but in the end only some water was added. Here’s the recipe.

Fry the onion in quite a lot of oil and then add the goat chopped into pieces and some chopped garlic. Fry for about 20 minutes, adding some water and more oil if necessary. After 20 minutes, add fresh chopped tomatoes, green peppers and seasoning and keep frying and cooking for another 30 minutes or so. Taste and test and adjust seasoning as  necessary. By the end of the cooking time, the goat was deliciously tender and quite well seasoned.

The idea is to serve the dish in its pot in the middle of the table with every one digging in with forks and mopping up the sauce with bread.

It was interesting that no stock was used – only water.

Chocolate frigerator cake

This is another recipe for the cherry season. Because I was making it for the party, I used one of those aluminium trays from Mercadona for two packs of chocolate.  Any mixed fruit will do – cranberries, cherries, walnuts, nuts, dried apricots, raisins, etc. and you basically add the amount below or as much/many as you think the chocolate will take. You can also do it with milk chocolate if you prefer. The quantities in brackets are the measurements for the party and for two packs of chocolate.

CHOCOLATE FRIDGE CAKE:
350g (500g) plain chocolate
150g (215g) unsalted butter
175g (250g) digestive biscuits – broken with a rolling pin in a bag into small pieces
300g (428g) mixed fruit.
honey

Melt chocolate and butter. Add everything. Put in tin. Put in fridge. Eat.

Cherry cheesecake

A recipe for the cherry season.
The measurements are bit more complicated as they depend on the size of your tin. A normal-sized round one needs about 1 pack Philadelphia and 1 of those Danome semicircular pots of Greek yoghurt. As I was making two cheesecakes for the party, I was using two 28cm tins which took 2 tubs of each. What I normally do is put whole biscuits in the tin to see how many I need more or less and then crush those, adding enough melted butter so that they hold together. It’s best to make it the day before you need it to allow the base to set.

hobnob biscuits
butter
squeeze honey

1 tub Philadelphia light
1 tub Greek yoghurt
squeeze lemon juice
grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
spoon icing sugar

fruit
spoon of jam (same flavour as fruit)

Crush biscuits to crumbs and mix with melted butter and squeeze of honey. Press down into tin with a potato masher. Leave to cool and harden completely in the fridge.
Beat cheesecake ingredients together. Keep cool and smooth over base when base has hardened.
Melt jam and add fruit, mixing over a heat to soften fruit slightly. Leave to cool.
It’s best to put the cheese mixture on the base the night before and then put the fruit on just before serving.

Beetroot salad with yoghurt dressing

INGREDIENTS:
3 cooked beetroots, sliced
2 cartons natural yoghurt
mint, chopped
lemon juice
olive oil
handful raw almonds, chopped
salt and pepper

Arrange the beetroot slices on a large flat plate. Squeeze over some lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the yoghurt with a spoon of lemon juice and mint. Season with salt and pepper.

Shortly before serving, smear the yoghurt over the beetroot and then sprinkle over the chopped almonds.

Vegetable and potato Spanish omelette

This recipe is for a healthy alternative with extra vegetables – one way of using up the green beans which are in abundant supply at the moment.

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
1 medium-sized potato, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
a handful of green beans
4 eggs
salt and pepper

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onion first and then green pepper until soft.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and green beans in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

Drain the potatoes and beans and then add to the frying pan. Add some more oil and salt and press down so that the bottom fries until it is golden brown. Keep turning and pressing down and leaving to fry for another couple of minutes as though you were cooking bubble and squeak.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes/beans and mix well. Season the egg mixture to taste.

Heat some oil in a frying pan. Gently pour in the egg mixture. Cook for 1 minute on high and then turn down and cover for 2 minutes.

Using a saucepan lid which is large enough to fit the pan, cover and turn the tortill and then slide it backinto the frying pan. Push down the edges with a spatula.

Cook for another 1 minute on high and then turn down heat and cover and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Next time, I might try 1 minute on high and 1 minute on low as this tortilla is cooked through and I prefer it a bit moister.

Vegetable Paella/Risotto/Rice dish

Paella cooking on a flame

INGREDIENTS (for 8):

1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
5-6 tomatoes, chopped
green peppers
mushrooms, sliced
packet frozen artichoke piece or baby artichokes
handful of green beans, chopped
aubergine, cubed
400g jar chick peas
chilli powder
cumin
500g rice
smoked salt
smoked paprika
1.5 litres vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Fry the onion in oil until soft and then add the green peppers, aubergines and mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and then add the spices and the tomatoes. Reduce down then add the chick peas and artichokes.

Stir in the rice and then add the stock.

Cook until the rice is cooked.

Gooseberry Fool

This year there were plenty of tiny gooseberries and enough to do something with them so for a quick pudding I whizzed up some gooseberry fool. Here’s the recipe. As the gooseberries were very small, I didn’t think it necessary to blitz them after cooking them and it was nice to have a bit of texture.

INGREDIENTS:
500g gooseberries
125g sugar
125ml whipping cream, chilled
1 pot natural yoghurt, chilled

Combine the gooseberries and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring so that the sugar doesn’t stick.

Cook for 10 minutes and then leave to cool.

Whip the cream and combine with the yoghurt and mix the fruit through.

Chill.

 

Strawberry Jam

The strawberries are now in season and producing lots so it would be a shame not to make the most of them. The only problem with jam-making in Spain is that you can’t buy jam sugar with added pectin and pectin only seems to be available in specialist shops in Madrid. This recipe therefore only uses normal sugar.

The first recipe produced a vibrant red more liquid version with the fruits holding their own better and and the second a more solid, paler jam which was not so runny. Jam-making is a work in progress and this page will be added to in the future. My ideal scenario would be to add some pectin – possibly pectin made a stock when the quinces come into season. The recommended amount of sugar for 1000g of strawberries was 500g sugar but in order to cut down on this we used 350g instead.

I think that the jam produced in the first recipe would be fantastic mixed with fresh strawberries or cherries for the topping for a cheesecake.

RECIPE 1: RUBY RED RUNNY STRAWBERRY JAM

INGREDIENTS:
1000g strawberries
350g sugar

Mix the strawberries and the sugar and squeeze through your fingers to pulp.

Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 6 minutes.

Pour into sterilised jars.

Immerse the jars in boiling water and cook for a further 10 minutes.

 

RECIPE 2: MORE SOLID STRAWBERRY JAM

INGREDIENTS:
1000g strawberries
500g sugar
30ml lemon juice

Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice together and squeeze through your fingers to pulp. As I was going to be boiling this recipe for longer, I didn’t want to mash the strawberries as much as in the previous recipe.

Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 20 minutes.

Pour into sterilised jars.

Immerse the jars in boiling water and cook for a further 10 minutes.

 

Salmorejo

The tomato season will soon be here so I’m trying to perfect a recipe for salmorejo as an alternative to gazpacho.
Here’s the recipe I used today. It seemed to be a bit tasteless so I added a couple of capfuls of balsamic vinegar which lifted it up a bit. I’ll top it with some chopped ham and hard boiled eggs from our neighbour Jacinto’s chickens. The recipe I used recommended skinning the tomatoes but I don’t think that’s necessary. The recipe below makes enough for three people with some over.

INGREDIENTS:
500g ripe tomatoes
100g stale bread, soaked in water
100ml olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt
balsamic vinegar

Chop the tomatoes, removing the core. Add all the other ingredients and blitz. Add as much of the water for soaking the bread as necessary.

Chill before serving with chopped hard-boiled egg and serrano ham.

Chicken casserole

Basically, you can chuck in any vegetables you like. Here’s what I cooked yesterday.

INGREDIENTS:
1 leek, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
some mushrooms
some frozen baby artichokes
some frozen butter beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
seasoned flour (salt, pepper, cumin, chilli powder, mixed berbs)
chicken pieces

Heat the oven to 180ºC
Coat the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and fry in some oil in a casserole. Add all the other ingredients and another couple of dessert spoons of the seasoned flour. Add the chopped tomatoes and some chicken stock. Stir well and then put in the oven for about 90 minutes.

Beef curry with spinach

This recipe would work equally well with lamb – the secret is to cook it slowly and for a long time so that the meat is tender.

INGREDIENTS:
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cloves
8 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
300g stewing steak
300g frozen spinach
4 pots yoghut

Heat some oil in a casserole on the top of the stove and add the whole spices. Fry for a couple of seconds and then add the onion and garlic. Fry on a moderate heat until soft and then add the meat, cumin, coriander, chilli and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat. Add the yoghurt slowly and bring back to the boil, adding a couple of yoghurt pots of water. Add the frozen spinach.
Put into a pre-heated oven (160ºC) and cook for 3 hours. Serve with basmati rice.