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Tag: Spain

Once Upon A Table {Two Calamari Recipes – Papas con Chocos & Habas con Chocos}

I’ve not posted anything since last year November, so first things first: Happy New Year 2016 & Happy Chinese New Year! May it bring us all good health, happiness, and prosperity.

Yesterday the air was crisp, and the sky was so blue it seemed as if someone had taken a brush to paint it just perfectly so. There was not a cloud in sight. And the sunshine was so warm that it encouraged me to take off my jacket and walk about in short sleeves, something that normally at 14C I wouldn’t be doing. As Kiko (our mini schnauzer) and I got closer to the forrest we go through every day, we were greeted by yellow and blue butterflies bouncing around us and a couple of tiny little birds, whose feathers were iridescent in the rays of the sun, and who startled by our steps flew quickly away, chirping. I had the fleeting sensation of being in a Disney fairytale …

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Lust for Life Reclaimed & Honey-Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops

A few months ago, I started reading Paradise Reclaimed, an Icelandic novel by Halldór Laxness.  I have yet to finish it…but today, made me think of the moral behind the tale in Laxness’ novel.

I was thinking about how sometimes we must take a long journey to get us where we want or should be and to give us that depth of palette, that we would not have achieved otherwise and with which we paint our canvas of life.  At times for some of us, the road can be tumultuous, full of bumps, twists and turns, and paths that maybe we wished we had not taken but from which we cannot turn around. And then other routes appear that we are afraid or unable to take; and yet, when we actually take the leap and grab the proverbial “bull by the horns”, we are lead down a path to magical places…places we have longed for…places that provide wings for our souls to soar…

[Read more…] »

Almond-Crusted Scallops with Apple-Onion Puree

Scallops are a funny thing for me. My oldest niece used to have a severe allergy to them when she was little; and we actually don’t know if she still would have this reaction, since out of fear and for her own protection, she never eats them or anything that even contains their juices. My brother, sister-in-law and my youngest niece, on the other hand indulge in them all the time when they are in season, especially raw.  My brother, although not a fisherman by trade anymore, will be a fisherman at heart until the end of his days. I have no patience for it, but when I lived nearby I loved enjoying his bounty. We always had a continuous stream of seafood from what he caught or from the trades he made with his fisherman friends. Fresh, raw tuna, by the way, literally cut right off the just-caught fish still on the boat, is amazing. Nothing compares to eating raw fish that has just come out of the water. The Japanese have something on us there…

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The Dutch do too. I love raw herrings when we visit The Netherlands. I remember this past summer on two of our visits to Noordwijk, where I simply couldn’t get enough raw herrings with onions, and I believe I ate three in a row (and could’ve continued if not out of fear of getting an upset tummy from my glutony). Of course, as with all fish, you want it to be extra fresh and hopefully not get sick from it, if you eat it raw.

I love seafood, but strangely enough since my niece was little, I’ve hardly eaten scallops. I’ve never really given it much thought until recently, when I purchased a bag of large, frozen scallops at the Chinese market we frequent. And I’m back in love with them…

I guess that out of empathy with my niece, I reacted as I did to my horse-back riding. We used to go on weekends together, so she could learn to ride; but it was not just riding. The stables were great because we were allowed to brush the horses, saddle them up, clean them up after riding, and clean up their stalls. It sounds like an awful lot of work, and it is, but for a true horse-lover, it’s pure heaven. The longer you can be with the horses, all the better. Anyway, my poor thing started having severe asthma attacks after some of the riding sessions, one of them landing her in hospital.

So, I quit altogether. And never rode again until many years later.

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I’ve recently started taking up riding again and feel very rusty and slightly out of place… years without doing something will do that to me. I hope I can keep up the hobby as riding is not only fun, but therapeutic and helps relieve stress. Plus, it’s a beautiful way to be out in nature.

But back to the scallops….

Whilst they are lovely just sautéed with some butter or olive oil and a little bit of sea salt, there is just so much more you can do with them. I used some in a delicate soup the other day, which gave the soup just the right touch of gourmet, as well as texture and dose of protein. In Spain, they are called vieiras and are usually eaten inside the shell, stuffed, and are a famous delicacy from Galicia. The Galicians know best how to eat seafood in Spain, or maybe it’s because they have the best seafood.

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Today, I’m sharing with you a recipe that I slightly adapted from Karlos Arguiñano, our own Spanish TV celebrity chef. He’s a delight to watch with his Basque accent and his humorous manner. He has at least one restaurant in the Basque Country and I can’t wait to go back and check it out. Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t done so yet?!

His recipes are what we call “casero” or homey, but always with his special gourmet touch. I love to watch him on television.

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I ate this all by myself as lunch with some green sprouting broccoli. But you could serve it as an appetiser for two, as well. I wouldn’t omit the Albariño from Galicia (or a fine white wine) as it adds depth to the sauce, which wouldn’t be achieved otherwise, and reduces the sweetness also. But if using wine bothers you as a Paleo person, then by all means do omit.

Almond-Crusted Scallops with Apple-Onion Puree
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Serves 1-2, depending on accompaniment.
Ingredients
  • 6 scallops
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • zest of two lemons or limes (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (butter will work well too)
  • additional sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons Albariño white wine
  • 2 thin fresh onions, finely sliced
Instructions
  1. I used frozen scallops, so I defrosted first, sprinkled with some coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven on the grill setting.
  3. In a saucepan, pour the olive oil and the finely chopped onion. Poach (on very low heat) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so they do not burn or brown too much.
  4. Add the apple pieces and cook an additional 6-8 minutes until tender.
  5. Allow to slightly cool before pouring into an immersion blender cup, food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
  6. Add the Albariño and sea salt to taste. Stir well and set aside.
  7. Use the same saucepan as you cooked the onions and apples for the almonds. Wipe it clean with a paper towel, but don’t worry about getting all the oil off, just the pieces of onion.
  8. Add the almonds and over low heat, toast until golden. Be careful to not let them burn or they will turn sour. I stir them constantly, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep stirring letting them get a bit more golden.
  9. Pour into a clean immersion blender cup or blender.
  10. Add the garlic and lemon/lime zest. Pulse until very finely chopped.
  11. In an ovenproof dish, place the scallops, drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  12. Spoon the almond mixture over each scallop (you will have mixture leftover).
  13. Bake under the grill for 5 minutes.
  14. To plate: pour some of the apple-onion sauce on each plate and place the cooked scallops on top.
  15. Sprinkle the fresh onion slices over top.
  16. Serve as an appetiser or a meal with a vegetable as accompaniment, if desired.

Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes

Fig & Olive Oil Tart

I was really debating whether to make this or simply eat the fresh figs. We bought some beautifully ripe figs the other day and I have been eating them for breakfast and as dessert; and I also used them in this delightfully autumnal recipe: Butternut Squash, Fig & Serrano Hash. 

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The problem is that I’m home alone for a couple of weeks, and I can’t possibly eat everything by myself… maybe I should be having dinner parties, while my husband is travelling for business. How does that sound? 😉

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Anyway, I was searching for a savoury fig recipe ideas to inspire me to make my own, but only found one that caught my eye. I will have to leave it for another fig occasion as I didn’t have two of the main ingredients nor anything substitutable. So, I decided that this tart sounded really good and perfect to keep around for breakfast, as well. I had to Paleolise it of course, and am very happy with the results.

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Mikel López Iturriaga is a reporter and blogger, who loves food and shares recipes on El Pais newspaper. I’ve been inspired before by a number of his ideas.

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Figs are very traditional in the Mediterranean cuisine, both in savoury and sweet dishes, and what better to pair it with than our very healthy olive oil and native rosemary!

A disfrutar!

Fig & Olive Oil Tart
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 9-10 figs, rinsed, dried and quartered
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • zest of one lemon, about 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups ground almonds/almond flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • butter, for greasing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Grease a tart tin with butter. The tin should be about 20cm (about 8in) in diameter.
  3. In a food processor, beat the eggs and honey for about 1 1/2 minutes, until light yellow.
  4. Add the olive oil, coconut milk, vanilla, rosemary, and lemon zest. Pulse about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the almond flour, arrowroot powder and coconut flour. Pulse until all is well mixed, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Let stand about 5 minutes to thicken up a bit.
  6. Pour into a mixing bowl.
  7. Give it a stir and add about 3/4 of the cut figs to the dough. Give it another stir to mix well.
  8. Pour into the tart tin, scrapping the bowl with a spatula to get all of the dough.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Then add the remaining fig pieces on top, placing them in a pretty design, if desired.
  11. Bake an additional 10 minutes, then drizzle with some olive oil and bake 5 minutes longer.

 

Oven-Baked Red Snapper, Spanish Style (Pargo Rojo al Horno)

We eat a lot of sea creatures in Spain. Yes I said “creatures” and not seafood because we eat almost everything that comes from the ocean. Maybe only Asians beat us in terms of culinary adventurers.

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So this weekend when we visited the Asian food market Loon Fung, I couldn’t resist buying a lot of seafood, including these gorgeous red snappers. And I just knew I had to make them soon…

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(Poaching the potatoes and onions)

My first intention was to bake them inside banana leaves. But both snappers would not fit properly in my oven dish with the banana leaf wrappings. Therefore, I had to resort to the unplanned Plan B, and baked them the regular, traditional Spanish way.

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Baking fish with a bottom layer of vegetables, especially white potatoes, onions and tomatoes is very typical in most homes and restaurants in Spain. The flavours of the fish are soaked up by the vegetables and hardly any spices or herbs are necessary to make this dish taste wonderful.

I did, however, add some choi sum leaves to get some greens into the dish. You can omit these if you like of course. And I also added some Vietnamese basil, which I also had purchased at the Asian market. I just couldn’t resist to use it. But regular basil also works well to add a nice aroma.

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As for poaching the potatoes and onions: the reason for this is that they take a lot longer to bake than the fish does. If you put everything in the oven at the same time, you’ll end up with raw potatoes. However, if instead of poaching you prefer to simply roast it all, place the potatoes and onions with some olive oil in the oven proof dish and bake about 30-35 minutes before adding the fish on top. Most fish are done very quickly, in about 20-25 minutes at the most, so be careful not to overcook it or it will turn out dry.

PS: For those of you who cannot deal with fish eyes starring out at you or looking at the head, simply ask your fish monger to cut the heads off or cut them off yourself at home. Fish heads can make great fish broth, so don’t throw them away and use them for this!

Oven-Baked Red Snapper, Spanish Style (Pargo Rojo al Horno)
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
For 2.
Ingredients
  • 2 red snappers, about 500g/1 pound each
  • some sprigs of Vietnamese basil (optional)
  • lemons slices, halved
  • 4-5 medium white potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2mm thick)
  • 2 small red onions (or equivalent), sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • choi sum leaves, from about about 4 choi sum stalks (optional)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • additional olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons white wine
  • coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Rinse and cut off the fins of the fish. (I purchased my fish scaled and gutted.)
  2. Make two or three diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Set aside.
  3. In a large, shallow pan, add the 1/2 cup of olive oil, the sliced potatoes and sliced onions.
  4. Over low heat, poach the vegetables for about 12-15 minutes, until softened.
  5. Every few minutes, carefully flip over with a spatula, so they cook evenly. Be careful not to mash the potatoes as they cook.
  6. While the potatoes and onions cook, preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  7. In an oven proof dish, large enough for the vegetables and the fish, layer the choi sum leaves, the poached potatoes and onions, and the tomatoes, starting with the choi sum leaves.
  8. Don’t pour the potatoes and onions into the dish, but instead scoop them out with some of the olive oil, but not all of it.
  9. Sprinkle the garlic and some sea salt over top the layered vegetables. (I didn’t measure the salt, but used about two pinches.)
  10. Place the fish on top.
  11. Place the halved lemon slices inside the cuts in the side of the fish.
  12. And stuff the basil leaves/sprigs into the gut of the fish.
  13. Drizzle with some olive oil and the white wine.
  14. Sprinkle some additional coarse sea salt over top (about another two pinches).
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the fish are done.

 

Baby Calamari with Garlic

This is one of my favourite dishes from Spain, which is usually served as a tapa or a second course at lunch. I don’t eat it frequently to be honest, just because I’ve found it hard to find fresh squid/calamari where I live.

But I always have it while in Spain; and while visiting with my parents, my mother prepared this dish, which I now share with you.

My mother and father love fish and seafood, as much as my husband and I do, and have found a little place nearby at which they get really good quality and fresh seafood.. lucky them, as we’ve found that it’s also not an easy task in the US! 😉

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You can make this a bit simpler by cooking the squid with the garlic all at once, but you can risk burning the garlic. Also, make sure the calamari are completely dry; if not, they will release a lot of water and you’ll end up cooking them instead of sautéing.

Baby Calamari with Garlic
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3.
Ingredients
  • 500g (about 1 1/2 pounds) baby squid/calamari with heads, cleaned and pat-dried
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • guindilla or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • cilantro or parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, sauté the calamari (and calamari heads) with the olive oil in a pan, about 5-7 minutes, turning over a few times.
  2. Add the garlic and pepper and cook a couple of minutes longer, until the garlic are golden.
  3. Add sea salt, to taste.
  4. Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.

 

Leek Salad

This salad is usually served as a side dish at our home. But it can be eaten as a main meal or even breakfast, if desired.

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This salad served 4, as a side dish.

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Leek Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 2 large leeks, washed and with some of the top layers taken off (if necessary) and cut into 2-in pieces
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • herbs for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Steam the leeks until tender.
  2. Drain the water over a colander.
  3. Place the leeks on a serving plate and sprinkle the tomato and egg pieces over top.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and seasonings.
  5. Garnish with herbs, as desired.
  6. This salad can be eaten warm or cold.

 

Paleo Churros, the Real Deal

As I was frying these churros, my house was engulfed by the smells of the oil and the dough that transported me to the traditional churrerias in Spain. Eating churros in Spain equates to eating pancakes in certain countries… it’s not just about the  food, but the rituals that accompany it.

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For me, it reminds me of the many times my mother, my aunt and I would meet up in Sevilla to go shopping, first stopping to have a “churro con chocolate” breakfast around the corner from my great-aunt’s apartment in San Gonzalo. We still indulge in some churros with our afternoon coffee when we go shopping; but as we all see less of each other, it only happens when we are together in Sevilla.

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However, and this is a big one for me, I always have gotten an upset stomach after eating them. I don’t know if it’s the dough (made with wheat flour) or possibly the oils in which they are fried. But it hardly ever fails. So when I eat them out now, I usually have only one (and yes, I admit dipped in white, refined sugar, or dipped in chocolate as pictured below).

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But as I’m on a quest to Paleolise many of my favourite Spanish indulgences, I finally tackled the churro.

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My first attempt was based on the recipe for buñuelos (a fried-dough pastry, similar to choux) that I found in a book I bought on our last visit, called “Come Sin Gluten y Disfruta” by Begoñia Naveira. Yet, the dough was raw and still quite sticky inside after frying and baking. And honestly, it was a slippery glob when handling.

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As the process is slightly labour-intensive, I thought of giving up and trying it another day. But then my ambition and determination got the better of me, and I tried again. The secret to my success is the addition of coconut flour and altering the amounts of the ingredients a bit.

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These truly taste and feel like the real churros from Spain. I tried two ways: frying and baking. And while frying is the authentic way to make them, especially in olive oil, using a different oil (with a healthier smoke point, such as lard or coconut oil) will make them a healthier treat. If you want the real taste, though, frying them in olive oil is the way to go. And after all, this is a treat, so just don’t over-indulge!

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As for the baking: I like the results, but it’s more of a choux pastry then, instead of a churro. So… this recipe lends itself to more experimentation and to making some “Neapolitans” filled with cream and some delightful choux!

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I also froze some of the fried churros to see how they would “work” the next day. I took them out of the freezer, and stuck a few directly into the oven at 180C (350F) and heated them up for about 5 minutes (probably effectively 3 once the oven reached the temperature). They were delicious! I would say they were even better the next day!

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I left the choux-like mounds (pictured above) at room temperature overnight and they were also very nice the next day. They held their shape and texture, and the inside was still perfect.

And one last word of praise to this recipe: they do not seep in the oil when frying. The inside stays nice and dry, which is a really good thing since the real churros actually sometimes get oily inside.

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So go ahead and give this a try! I can’t wait to hear your feedback. Personally, I’m ecstatic that this worked and I know I can create more things with this basic recipe. 😉

¡que aproveches!

Paleo Churros, the Real Deal
Recipe Type: Dessert, Breakfast
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 100g (7 tablespoons) butter, measured when slightly softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea/himalayan salt
  • 33g (1/4 cup) coconut flour (scoop and scrape method)
  • 66g (1/2 cup) arrowroot powder (scoop and scrape method)
  • 3 eggs
Instructions
  1. Be prepared for some intense stirring and a bit of a workout. But these churros are worth it.
  2. NOTE: You will notice that the amounts are given in both metric and U.S. And although the amounts are not an exact conversion, they both work. I’ve tried it both ways to ensure both are foolproof. Don’t “mix and match”; either stick to metric or U.S. when making this recipe.
  3. I recommend preparing and measuring everything out before starting, as you will have to move rapidly and will not have time to measure once you’ve commenced the process.
  4. Also, crack the eggs in individual bowls before hand. (I always crack eggs separately when cooking/baking to ensure I don’t throw away a batch because of one bad egg.)
  5. Prepare your piping bag and tip as well. I used the Wilton 1M.
  6. Combine the coconut flour, arrowroot powder and salt together in one small bowl.
  7. Over low heat, in a medium pot, melt the butter in the water and when it starts to bubble, immediately, still over low heat, dump in the flours all at once.
  8. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until a ball is formed, which will be in about 30 seconds or less. (The dough will become a ball as you stir and will be sticky in itself but not stick to the pot. See photos attached.)
  9. Keep stirring for about 1 minute in total.
  10. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. (I actually timed this.)
  11. Add one egg at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition.
  12. The dough will slightly come apart when you first add each egg, but once you stir long enough, it comes back together, although never as dry as like in the beginning. (The dough starts to get noticeably stickier after egg number two.)
  13. Once all the eggs have been incorporated and the dough is well blended, spoon the dough into a piping bag.
  14. For Spanish looking churros, you’ll want to use a star or round tip. (Churros in Spain are typically either star shaped – pictured- or long round pieces.)
  15. Heat your oil of preference in a deep pot or a deep fryer (for an authentic Spanish taste, use olive oil).
  16. Once the oil is hot enough, carefully pipe the dough into the hot oil. You can use a pair of scissors to help you cut off the dough. (Be careful not to burn yourself or cause splatter.)
  17. Make either long or curled shapes.
  18. Fry turning over with a tong until golden brown on each side.
  19. Note: as the oil gets warmer, the dough will turn darker quicker, but still needs to be cooked through.
  20. Remove the churros from the oil with the tong and place on a plate prepared with paper towel (to absorb the extra oil).
  21. Serve immediately with thick, sweetened hot chocolate or dip in some coconut sugar.
  22. This dough also worked well in the oven, for a “healthier” version:
  23. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  24. Place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet.
  25. Pipe out desired shapes. Depending on what shape you choose, the baking time will have to be adjusted.
  26. For churro shaped rounds or “sticks”, bake about 8-10 minutes, turning over half way.
  27. For choux shaped mounds, bake 15 minutes. (These are also good the next day, stored at room temperature.)
  28. You can also freeze the fried/baked dough and reheat in the oven at 180C (350F) for about 5 minutes.

 

Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon & Almonds – Champiñones Rellenos con Beicon & Almendras

I seem to have a bad case of brain fog, and I cannot figure out why. Although it could be due to eating out this weekend and eating a good dose of Japanese and Chinese food… if there’s one thing I’ve been very strict about avoiding is gluten and sugar since I started Paleo. However, when eating out, it’s nearly impossible to avoid one or the other or both, which can be very frustrating especially at Asian restaurants. Thankfully, I don’t have a really bad reaction to gluten, other than brain fog and a little bit of bloating. (Both of these “symptoms” I’ve only really noticed recently. Before going gluten free, I never appreciated that these symptoms were possibly due to gluten.)

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Anyway, it’s been hard getting back into the routine of things and blogging again. We were on a road trip for 2.5 weeks, and after getting home, I had to organise, clean and prepare the house for our family guests this past weekend. Needless to say, the blog was relocated to the back-burner (pun intended ;)).

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That doesn’t mean I’m not cooking on a daily basis. It’s just that I don’t have time to photograph the food and write about it. But as I feel that I’ve been neglecting my readers, I made an extra effort this weekend to at least take pictures of a new recipe that I developed for our tapa lunch yesterday.

After the whole Saturday of sight-seeing in London and wonderful weather, yesterday we stayed home and shared some Spanish goodies and tapas made especially for our family. I made a sweet potato Spanish tortilla and some individual milhojas de berenjenas (layered aubergines), while my husband cut some raw-milk Manchego cheese and some Caña de Lomo (a type of cured pork loin, which is a delicacy in Spain), we recently purchased in Spain. We also enjoyed anchovy-stuffed olives and marinated capers. And to top it off, I created the following stuffed mushroom recipe.

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We love mushrooms and have them often “al ajillo” or with garlic. I also incorporate them into a lot of dishes; but yesterday I wanted them to be the star on their own and decided stuffed would be a nice alternative and something a bit easier to make while we enjoyed the conversation with our guests.

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These mushrooms are easy to make. The primary work is in the chopping and preparation of the ingredients; but once you do that, the rest can be done in a jiffy.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon & Almonds – Champiñones Rellenos con Beicon & Almendras
Recipe Type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 16 – 18 button mushrooms
  • 3 pork back rasher or pieces of bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a handful of raw, blanched almonds
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
Instructions
  1. Take the buttons off the mushrooms and set them aside. Clean out the mushrooms and rinse them in water to remove any dirt. Set upside-down on a paper towel to drain.
  2. Wash the stems and with a knife, chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter in the olive oil and cook the onion until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and mushroom stem pieces. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, to release any liquid in them.
  5. Add the back rasher pieces and cumin and stir well. Cook about 1 minutes and remove from heat.
  6. Place the mushroom caps with the open-side up in an ovenproof dish.
  7. Fill with the bacon-onion mixture. Set aside.
  8. Preheat oven to 180C.
  9. In the same saucepan, add a drizzle of olive oil and over low heat, brown the almonds, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn them, as they will turn sour. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  10. Pour the almonds and oil into a mortar with the peppercorns. Ground with the pestle into coarse pieces.
  11. Spoon the almonds-ground peppercorn mixture over the filled mushroom caps.
  12. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and serve immediately.

 

Spanish Spiced Hamburgers with Sweet Potato Chips

I’ve never really like hamburgers. Can you believe that? Well, okay, I’ll admit I love them off a barbecue grill with the right toppings and I especially love them with these spices.

My aunt Virginia, from whom I learned this recipe, makes a version of these, which are truly the only way I’ll eat a hamburger at home. And my husband loves them so much, he ate three the other night! (Mind you, he’s not Paleo and eats his with a burger bun.)

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I served these over a bed of wild rocket (arugula), topped them with some avocado and tomato slices, a sprinkling of fresh onions, and accompanied them with some sweet potato chips or crisps.

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For the sweet potato chips: simply peel the amount you want to use, slice thinly with a mandolin (careful to not cut yourself,  these things are very sharp), sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and toss in a bowl, then fry them in plenty of oil. I used olive oil in a deep pot (I haven’t yet opened up my deep fryer), turning them frequently with a slotted spatula to ensure they didn’t stick to each other and didn’t burn.

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I cooked my burgers in lard on a frying pan on the stove. The lard gives them an added flavour, but I imagine on the bbq they are also great.

Spanish Spiced Hamburgers with Sweet Potato Chips
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 500g minced (ground) beef
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • a sprinkle of turmeric for colour (I used probably about 1-2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • lard, for cooking
  • sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced with a mandolin
  • olive oil, lard or other fat for frying the potatoes
Instructions
  1. For the hamburgers:
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with hands.
  3. Form hamburger patties of the size you like. (I made 4 medium ones and a tiny one with this amount of meat.)
  4. Melt about 2 tablespoons of lard in a frying pan.
  5. Cook the burgers to your liking.
  6. For the sweet potato chips:
  7. Simply fry them in the grease of preference. I used a slotted spatula and stirred frequently to ensure they did not burn or stick to each other. They fry much quicker than regular white potatoes do.

 

Beef Brisket Stew with Dates

I found the inspiration for this recipe in a Spanish cookbook my mother has, wrote it down and have made it a number of times in the past. But since I started this blog, I hadn’t revisited this dish.

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It has a delicate combination of sweet and savoury flavours, which provide the brisket with depth and delicious aroma, and has an almost exotic feel to it. I’m happy I found the recipe again, as I plan to make it more often.

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Beef Brisket Stew with Dates
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Serves 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1.5kg beef brisket, rinsed and cleaned if necessary
  • 2 medium red onions, cut julienne style
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into medium pieces
  • 3/4 medium green paprika pepper, sliced julienne style
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups bone broth (or water, if you don’t have it; however, the taste will be different and you’ll need to adjust for salt)
  • 10-12 dates, pitted
  • coarse sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil (or fat of choice)
Instructions
  1. Prepare all the vegetables and dates.
  2. Rinse and clean the brisket.
  3. In a deep and large enough pot, place a few tablespoons of olive oil and the brisket.
  4. Over low heat, brown the brisket on both sides.
  5. Add the onions and poach.
  6. Add the carrots, peppers, dates and wine.
  7. Cook about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Then add the bone broth and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. (Turn the brisket over, every 20 minutes or so.)

 

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style

The traditional way to have this dish is in individual oven proof clay dishes. However, I don’t have any at home. I must remember to buy them on my next trip to Spain.

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You can however, of course make this on the stovetop in a regular frying/saucepan, like I did today.

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Gambas al Ajillo is a dish, typical from the region of Andalucia (Southern Spain) but that is widely eaten in other areas of the country, as well. It’s easy, quick to make and delicious. You only need five ingredients: shrimp, olive oil, garlic, and guindillas (cayenne peppers), and some sea salt.

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Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 kilo medium to small shrimp, peeled (with tail on is ok)
  • 1 large head garlic, cut the cloves in lengthwise slices
  • 3-4 guindillas (dried cayenne peppers, more or less to taste, of course), sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • a bunch of parsley or cilantro, chopped (I prefer cilantro)
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan, heat up the oil over low heat with the garlic and guindillas.
  2. Sauté until the garlic is toasted and starting to change colour, but do not burn or they will go sour.
  3. Add the shrimp and sea salt.
  4. Turn up the heat to medium and sauté the shrimp until they are done. I like mine about 1 minute past turning pink. Longer makes them hard and dry.
  5. Drizzle with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.
  6. If you prefer to make them in individual bowls:
  7. Follow all the steps, but do not cook the shrimp in the pan. Sauté them about a minute, then pour them into individual oven proof dishes.
  8. Bake on the top rack at 200C (400F) just until they turn pink. Stir if necessary.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately with another plate underneath. (This is the traditional way to have gambas al ajillo in Spain, in individual pottery dishes.)

 

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