gazpachuelo

Gazpachuelo – Sophistication itself

Now that regional Spanish food has become updated and fashionable and is often cooked by top chefs, it is worthwhile looking for good recipes, which more often than not are unknown outside their locality. 

This is the case of Gazpachuelo, a classic recipe from Málaga.

On our way to Gaucín, a beautiful village  up in the Serranía de Ronda to launch my latest book  ‘ Delicioso, a History of Food in Spain’, my husband and I decided to stop in  Malaga. I was looking for Gazpachuelo an intriguing local recipe I had mentioned in the book.  Gazpachuelo  belongs to the family of the Gazpachos or more precisely the white Andalusian gazpachos which normally are served cold and are made with almonds, which is not the case here. 

Discover Gazpachuelo

Gazpachuelo is a warm soup made traditionally with water, a spoonful or two of fresh home- made mayonnaise (or better said salsa mahonesa) and the egg whites left from making the sauce. This time I was looking for a richer fish and shellfish version but cooked without the egg whites, a recipe that I tasted many years ago. 

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A History of The Food in Spain

This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain from antiquity to the present day. 

 

 

For the purpose I looked for different versions included in Enrique Mapelli’s excellent book Papeles de Gastronomía Malagueña but in the end I decided to follow a recipe I enjoyed at Meson Antonio, a popular restaurant situated in the old quarter of Málaga.

Back in London I decided to serve Gazpachuelo at a dinner party with friends.

At Meson Antonio we also tasted the ensalada malagueña, another exceptional dish made with salted cod ( desalted and finely shredded), potatoes and fresh oranges dressed with the fruitiest olive oil money can buy and a dash or two of Sherry vinegar.

Back in London I decided to serve Gazpachuelo at a dinner party with friends. 

 

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Gazpachuelo

Start the recipe by making the mahonesa sauce and a delicate but tasty fish stock.

  To serve 2 people 

To make mahonesa, traditional cooks use virgin olive oil but I prefer a blend of virgin olive oil and sunflower oil which is less strong.

gazpachuelo

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

Sea salt

100 g. sunflower oil

20 g. virgin olive oil

Salt

white pepper to taste (optional)

 Lemon juice or vinegar to taste

A few drops warm water

In a deep bowl whisk the egg yolks and a little salt until well blended. 
Add the pepper. 

Using a jug start adding, little by little, first the sunflower oil and then the olive oil whisking constantly at a moderate speed. As it takes quite some time, whisk in both directions and change hands if needed.  

When ready adjust the seasoning adding a few drops of warm water, the lemon juice or the vinegar to taste. 

The emulsion will become slightly lighter and creamier. 

Reserve at room temperature.

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buenvino chestnut recipe

Buenvino Chestnut Puree Recipe

I had lunch today with Sam and Jeannie Chesterton at the magical world of Buenvino, their unique property and hotel at the heart of the Sierra de Aracena, in Western Andalusia.

Buenvino has been for decades a place to write, to paint and to dream surrounded by chestnut trees and wild flowers, a place to eat good food, to drink good wine and to return to as often as possible, any time of the year. Jeannie is a talented cook and Sam the best host I know. 

Furthermore Charlie, their youngest son is also proving to be a wizard in the kitchen. 

The Chestertons live just a couple of valleys away from el Zauzal our enchanting little property in Aracena, which is situated in one of those secretive places that hopefully will remain that way forever. Around el Zauzal, the Ibérico, the majestic black pig of the Dehesa forest in South Western Spain roams free as it grows fat and happy in the winter months on sweet acorns.

chestnut puree recipe

A Delicious Chestnut Puree

As autumn is approaching, he thought that the potato and chestnut puree they serve with game at Buenvino would be just perfect. They grow good quality potatoes and for the chestnuts the only thing they need to do is to walk for a few meters to the closest trees. 

Sam also mentioned a number of desserts prepared with a simple puree made just with chestnuts cooked in a light sugar syrup and vanilla pod. 

They use this puree to make a very popular cake they serve at tea time. In Aracena the traditional custom of bottling Castañas en Almibar ( whole chestnuts in sugar syrup) in autumn, has remained very much in fashion. Peeling a chestnut needs care.

‘Chestnuts are satisfyingly starchy and, once cooked, have the sweetness of a sweet potato"
Sam and Jeanney Chesterton

How to prepare an amazing Chestnut Puree

They have outer and inner skins that can be removed using different methods . To prepare a purèe all you have to do is to make a deep cut across the chestnuts and cook them in water for about 40 minutes or until softened. 

For those recipes which are at their best when the original texture and shape of the chestnuts are kept, the hard skin should be removed first with a knife, then the second skin can be softened in warm water just for about ½ minute and then it can be easily removed with your hands.

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Buenvino Potato and Chestnut Puree

This recipe which takes time to prepare, looks great and tastes even better. This is a perfect dish to serve in a dinner or festive party.

  To serve 10 to 12 people (2 to 3 per person)

chestnut puree recipee

Ingredients

500 g peeled chestnuts

500 ml chicken stock, plus more if needed

500 g potatoes

60 g unsalted butter

milk, to thin the puree if needed

salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Simmer the chestnuts in stock until they are very tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Puree in a blender adding enough of their cooking liquor to make s thin puree. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, boil and mash them. Combine with the chestnut puree and warm gently, stirring in the butter and more stock or milk; enough to keep it light. Season well.

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canalones a la catalana 2

Canalones a la Catalana

Surprise, surprise, one of the most popular foods among young Spaniards is pasta which today is prepared, like in most countries, following best known Italian recipes.

Long gone are the days in which with some exceptions in Catalonia, macarrones con tomate y chorizo or with carne picada (mincemeat), recipes well adapted to the ‘Spanish taste’ of the past (never al dente) were almost the only pasta dishes included by home cooks in their weekly repertoire. To evolve from the Macarrones con Tomate to the delicious Canalones a la Barcelonesa took a long time. 

Let’s trace its History.

Canalones' Origen

Going back ten centuries, historical records confirm that in Spain pasta was originally introduced by the Arabs

There were recipes for fideos, a thicker version of angel air, as well as another  type of pasta shaped as little rounds. 

Macarrones known in Arabic as Aletria were equally popular with the upper classes and yet since medieval times  and until the 17th century pasta dishes were difficult to find in Spanish cookbooks.  To prepare Macarrones con Tomate y Chorizo, the pasta is boiled first and then blended with a rich tomato and chorizo sauce before the dish is cooked in the oven with cheese on top. 

 

In Andalusia there have always been Cazuelas con Fideos and in the rest of the country rich soups prepared with angel’s hair.

Canalones as a Festive Dish

By the 19th century the arrival in Barcelona of Italian cooks hired by the Catalan high bourgeoisie brought to the city an unstoppable interest for pasta that can still be seen everywhere, although these dishes tend to be adapted to the Catalan taste.

The canalones which is a festive dish, is an adaptation of the famous Cannelloni Rossini. In the Catalan version the pieces of meat are first sautéed or roasted, and then minced, while in the Italian dish the meat is used minced from the beginning.

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Canalones a la Catalana

This recipe which takes time to prepare, looks great and tastes even better. This is a perfect dish to serve in a dinner or festive party.

  To serve 6 to 8 people (2 to 3 per person)

  You will need 2 packets of Spanish canelones which I buy on the internet.

Ingredients

400 g quality stewing beef, cut into medium size squares
400 g pork loin, cut into squares
550 g chicken drumsticks
2/3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 pieces
1 leek, chopped, green parts removed
2 small onions, peeled and half
4 ripe tomatoes
½ head garlic
dash ground cinnamon
1 dry bay leaf
dash grated nutmeg
a generous dash black pepper
60 ml olive oil
20 g lard (optional), cut into small squares
30 ml brandy
1 slice of bread without crust, soaked in cold milk, drained

For the béchamel sauce

1 L whole milk
150 ml fresh single cream
45 g flour
55 g salted soft butter
a dash of grated nutmeg
a dash of white pepper
salt to taste
25 ml dry fino or amontillado Sherry

Place the meat and the vegetables in a roasting pan in one layer. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, nutmeg and the black pepper. 

Add the garlic, the bay leaf and the lard. 

Pour in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. 

Roast for 30 minutes at 190 degrees C. 

Turn the meat and vegetables and pour the brandy in. 

Reduce the heat to 170 degrees and carry on roasting for another 25 minutes. 

Turn the meat and vegetables again and reduce the heat another 20 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes or until the meat is very tender. 

Remove the chicken bones and using an electric robot or mincer blend all the meat coarsely together with the soaked bread. 

Pass all the vegetables through a sieve. 

Reserve the rest of the pan juices. 

Blend the meats with the vegetables and reserve.

 


 

To prepare the béchamel sauce, bring the milk to the boil. 

In a separate saucepan add the butter and when melted add the flour stirring constantly. 

Cook for a few minutes at medium heat without taking colour. 

Add the milk and working with a metal whisk blend well before adding the nutmeg, and the pepper. 

Carry on stirring and return to the boil. 

Cook until the milk reduces by ¼. Reduce the heat slightly before pouring the cream. Cook until the taste of flour has disappeared completely and the sauce has reduce by a 1/4. Remove from the heat, Add the Sherry and set aside. Add a few spoonfuls béchamel to the meats, blending well.

Set aside a large bowl with water and ice. In a large saucepan , boil the pasta for a few minutes until just tender. 

Remove the pasta one by one and place then in the cold water. Again, one by one, place the canelones on top of a clean tea towel, covered with another one. When dry, start stuffing the pasta. 

Place a spoonful of the meats in each square and roll but not to tight to a canelone shape. 

Line an oven proof dish with some of the béchamel Place the canelones in one layer in an oven proof dish or several individual dishes , and cover with the rest of the béchamel sprinkled with grated Mahon or Parmeggiano cheese as well as a little butter on top. 

Return to the oven and cook for a few minutes at 200 degrees (just to take colour).

Serve on top with a little of the slightly reduced pan juices.

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spanish food facts

All about Spanish Food

Spanish food has been encapsulated in what has become known as ‘Mediterranean’ and yet only half of the country can be strictly considered as such.

The north of Spain is green. It is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and heavy yearly rainfall while the luminosity and intense blue coloured skies of the south are magical throughout the year, Africa is not far away.

spanish food regions

Spain Food and Regions

The diversity of some of the regions is such that in some cases it  is not difficult to find sharp differences between the food of the coast, the interior and the mountains, after all Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe. 

To simplify things it used to be said that in Spain the north was associated with rich stews, and sauces, Castile with the roast and Andalusia with frying particularly fish, but to generalise about the food of the different regions of Spain can be quite misleading. Some signs of identity may help.

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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Spain is an important producer of fresh fruit and vegetable

Spain is an important producer of fresh fruit and vegetables including some lesser known which are associated with a particular region such as borage, white asparagus, cardoon as well as   peppers of all colours: Padron from Galicia Piquillo from Navarre and Choricero from the Basque Country. Since the Seventeenth  Century, tomatoes and peppers have been added to the ancient onion sauce sofrito which is used as a base in many recipes everywhere.

In a country with limited grass, butter is mostly used in the preparation of desserts

Olive oil is the main cooking fat used in the Spanish kitchen and yet pork fat was and still is used in certain parts of the country. In a country with limited grass, butter is mostly used in the preparation of desserts and confectionary. In the last twenty years Sherry vinegar,  a secret well kept by cooks in Jerez , has substituted other types of wine vinegars.

Most importantly Spanish creativity in the kitchen has contributed to an updating and improvement of home and regional cooking as well as the offerings of modern tapas bars and local restaurants dotted all over Spain.

Spanish Food: Lentils and Rice Recipes

Lentils, chickpeas and bean dishes have lost in recent times some of their popularity in home cooking but now are offered in fashionable restaurants as a  speciality of the house served on certain days of the week.

Rice brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors after the 10th Century goes well beyond the Paella and sweet Arroz con leche asturianoThere are more than 100 different rice dishes cooked in Catalonia, the Comunidad Valenciana and Murcia , as well as in Andalucia and many other parts of Spain.  Dishes cooked with pasta which was brought first to Spain by the Arabs and centuries later by the Italians are still gaining ground. In Alicante the dish Fideuá is cooked with the pasta called fideos in a paella pan.

paprika spanish food

Pimentón, the Affordable Spanish Spice

There are very few spices used in Spain today. From Galicia to Castile, from Andalusia to Navarre and from Murcia to Extremadura, pimentón, the affordable Spanish spice made from dry sweet or hot peppers brings every day colour and flavour to sauces and stews. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world , appears today in very few Spanish recipes with the exception of  Paella Valenciana and in the Asturian Fabada. It is produced in La Mancha, in central Spain.  

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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Use of the Herbs in the Spanish Dishes

Fresh parsley is the Spanish herb por excelencia. In Andalusia mint and coriander flavour soups and broths while fennel is favoured in the Balearic Islands and in Andalusia for curing fresh olives.

Dried, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf are present in many  stews and other platos de cuchara (spoon recipes).

Fish and shellfish, fried, grilled or in a tasty stew, is  loved everywhere in Spain.  

With the exception of Green Spain in the North and in Extremadura on the border with Portugal where beef is excellent, the historical preferences for pork and lamb recipes are in evidence.  

Veal from young animals (not to be confused with veal produced from milk fed animals) is as popular as the grilled rib of beef, chuletones  traditionally offered at the Basque  asadores  and cider houses.  Hams, both Serrano and Ibérico and a great selection of cured meats and sausages including chorizo are also to be found in local carnicerias (meat shops). In markets, chicken (pollo), small game and eggs are sold in special shops known as pollerías.

spanish food facts

Top 10 Interesting Spanish Food Facts

Spanish cuisine is a melting pot of cultures, flavours and ingredients: Greek, Roman, Jewish and Moorish.

It has been enriched by the climate, geology and spectacular topography of the country which has encouraged a variety of regional food traditions known as Cocinas : Basque, Galician, Castilian, Andalusian, Catalan and others. Food in Spain has been shaped by the country’s complex history, as foreign occupations brought religious and cultural influencies that determined what people ate and still eat.

spanish food facts

Americas' Influences

It has continuously evolved with the arrival from the Americas of enriching foodstuffs including cocoa, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and peppers as well as with new ideas that came, in the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly from France.  Looking for an identity in the professional kitchen, in the last forty years, Spanish chefs have developed a creative and innovative alta cocina which has already influenced restaurant food all over the world.

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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Spanish chefs have developed a creative and innovative alta cocina

Looking for an identity in the professional kitchen, in the last forty years, Spanish chefs have developed a creative and innovative alta cocina which has already influenced restaurant food all over the world.

Spanish creativity in the kitchen has contributed to an updating and improvement

Most importantly Spanish creativity in the kitchen has contributed to an updating and improvement of home and regional cooking as well as the offerings of modern tapas bars and local restaurants dotted all over Spain.

Recipe: Escalivada de pimientos, cebollas and  berenjenas  (Escalivada of peppers, onions and  aubergines) is a perfect combination of Old and New World foods.

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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spanish fruit recipe

Delicious Spanish Fruit Recipes

Fresh Fruit Spanish Recipes in the Modern and Traditional Kitchens of Spain

Oranges and lemons, quinces, pomegranates and strawberries, melons and watermelons, grapes and apples frequently appear in traditional and modern Spanish recipes.

Leaving desserts aside, some of these recipes are in their own right first courses or main courses that  add to the table an original and exotic array of flavours, colours  and textures, many of which  date back  to Moorish times.

Delicious recipes with Fruit

The juice of the bitter orange is essential in preparing  Caldillo de Perro (caldillo is a broth and  perro a dog) , which is a strange name given in Cádiz to a delicate fish soup cooked with hake.  In Valencia breast of chicken is cooked in a sweet and sour sauce prepared with sweet oranges.  

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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Pomagranates are wonderful for Spanish Fruit Recipes

Pomegranates figure in tasty salads such as the escarola con granadas (frisse leaves and pomegranate seeds) as well as in recipes with duck cooked in a rich sauce made with the same fruit.  In Spring and Summer strawberries are nowadays used in a brilliant cold soup that often includes beetroot. Is is named incorrectly in my view gazpacho de fresas y remolacha.

Even if this recipe is a winner, the name of well known recipes should not be given to other dishes that have little to do with the original ones.  

Melón con Jamón is one of the most Delicious Recipes with Fruit

Melon con jamón is served in many other countries, but in Spain the combination of Ibérico ham and the sweetest melons becomes a festive treat.  In Asturias apples and cider are included in large fish dishes cooked in the oven.

These ingredients are also used to prepare pork loin or chicken drums with cider and apples.  Once the meat is sautéed, onions are added  followed by the cider and the apples. In other parts of the country breaded fillet of pork with sautéed sweet apples are favoured by the young. The recipe is simple to prepare and affordable.

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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How to prepare a delicious Pork with Cider and Apples:

  • 1 fillet of pork, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • olive oil for frying
  • 3 apples, cut into wedges
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

In a small frying pan sautée the apples in the butter sprinkling the sugar on top. Let them take some colour.  Reserve. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Coat the meat first in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in another pan and start frying the meat in small batches, turning once or twice until they take a light brown colour. When cooked place them in kitchen paper and then serve piping hot accompanied with the apples and a green salad.

spanish-eggs-recipe

Life and Food in the Basque Country

Ask any Spaniard where you will find the best food in the country and the answer is invariably the Basque provinces.

Bask Country is the region through the eyes of men and women whose lives embrace every aspect of its cooking and culinary traditions, and records the recipes she has learned from them.

Discover Bask Cuisine

If you go there, you have to discover from market to caserìo, or farmstead. Discover that the strength of Basque cuisine comes from the quality and range of local produce: superb fish from the Cantabrian coast, cheeses and wild mushrooms from the mountains, and vegetables and fruit―including apples for cider-making―from the caserìos of the valleys.

MORE THAN 80 AUTHENTIC RECIPES

Evocative descriptions of cultural and culinary traditions, making this an ideal book for the inquisitive traveler who enjoys good food.

Discover the historical influences and fierce regional

Another remarkable aspects that you discover in the Bask Country are from a fisherman, a craftsman of wooden cheese-making utensils, a wine producer,..in all of them you will  pride behind this distinctive culinary repertoire.

Life and Food in the Basque Country

Try to discover their food and see how it is based on rich popular traditions. If you want to have already a taste without living your own country , have a look in Life and Food in the Basque Country

More than eighty authentic recipes punctuate evocative descriptions of cultural and culinary traditions, making this an ideal book for the inquisitive traveler who enjoys good food.

MORE THAN 80 AUTHENTIC RECIPES

Evocative descriptions of cultural and culinary traditions, making this an ideal book for the inquisitive traveler who enjoys good food.