Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rice pudding with chestnuts

Probably many of you have noticed that I'm not a sweet-toothed person, and when it comes to Spanish food I definitely prefer salty, savory dishes over sweets. So, there are only few recipes for traditional Spanish desserts on the blog, because I'm not really into flan, crema catalana, arroz con leche or natillas....well, maybe with the exception of rice pudding (arroz con leche). My first memories of this sweet rice are from already mentioned on this blog little family run hotel in Andalusian town Laujar de Andarax, where I spend some months at the beginning of my Spanish adventure, working and learning Spanish. Rice pudding was prepared there at least once a week. On these days I was waiting for the empty pot, to eat the remains of slightly burnt, dense and still hot rice pudding. This rice, often eaten with my finger, was absolutely the best:). This dessert is quite a filling one, so I do not recommend it straight after the main meal. For me, it tastes best for breakfast or with afternoon tea or coffee. I'm sure that eating it on empty or nearly empty stomach you will certainly appreciate its delicious taste:). 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and mushrooms

This year's Catalan autumn is rich in mushrooms. I've heard that this year there are about 180 kg of mushrooms for every hectare of forest - a record from almost 20 years ago:). This is why I'm not surprised that they are all around, in every greengrocery and market, and also in my kitchen:). I eat them several times a week; sauteed in olive oil or butter with a hint of garlic and parsley, or I simply add them to meat and seafood meals or to soups. The second star of this year's autumn season in my kitchen is a sweet potato, which I add to the traditional lentil soup (instead of pumpkin), and which enrich the taste of other casseroles, stews or desserts. I have to admit that this year I haven't tried yet the roasted chestnuts - sold in Barcelona by street vendors - (probably because of very warm autumn), nor have I made any dish with chestnuts.... I'm going to get down to it very soon. Meanwhile, today I have for you a delicious roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and mushrooms:).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Mackerel stew

In humid autumn days, which fortunately doesn't happen here very often, I fancy warming, one-pot meals that help me forget for a few hours about this unbearable, damp chill. The whole process of preparation the meal fills the kitchen with warmth and aroma of frying garlic and lightly toasted smoked paprika that stimulate the senses, warm my body and give me energy. One of this kind of dishes is popular in Catalonia and Valencia suquet - fish stew with aromatic sauce and vegetables. Was invented by fishermen who were trying to made the most of unsold fish or seafood while preparing their everyday meals. Traditional suquet, apart from fish or seafood, also includes potatoes, tomatoes and smoked paprika, which give the dish a characteristic red colour. The basis of this fish stew is rich in flavor fish broth prepared from fish heads and bones. Fish, which I added to today's stew is mackerel, which intense flavor harmonizes perfectly with very simple, but incredibly aromatic sauce of tomatoes and paprika.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wild mushroom empanada

I would say that empanada is a huge baked dumpling or pie, and an older brother of empanadillas, which are small baked dumplings, popular in Spain and several South American countries. In Spain, the most popular are empanadas from Galicia. Their dough contains quite a large amounts of fat (lard or olive oil), flour and water; sometimes a liquid formed during the preparation of filling is also added to it. Fillings are quite varied: meat, fish, seafood, vegetables or mushrooms, but the basis of almost all of them is sofrito: chopped onions and green and/or red peppers fried in olive oil, to which grated tomatoes or tomato sauce is often added. Typical Galician empanadas are prepared in large circular baking tins. The dough should be rolled out quite thin into 2 circles - one for the bottom and the other on top of the filling. The sealing of typical Galician empanada is done by forming spiral shaped edges and its top is often decorated with dough strips. In the middle of almost every empanada you will find a small hole, which helps the empanada to ''breathe'' during baking. Normally it's cut into wedges, served hot or cold, as a snack or appetiser. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Panellets: traditional Catalan sweets

Panellets are traditional Catalan sweets associated with All Saints day or the night before this day. In these days families and friends meet together and celebrate very popular festival called Castanyada, which consist of a meal of hot toasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, panellets and sweet moscatel to drink. Panellets are made out of marzipan dough prepared by mixing together almond flour, potato or sweet potato and sugar. They come in many different shapes and flavors, although the traditional ones are small balls covered with pine nuts. You can also find them with coconut, chocolate or dried fruits. Traditional recipes for these sweets contain almost the same amount of sugar as almond flour, but for me these are simply to sweet, so this time I decided to add only 100 g of sugar per 250 g of almond flour. In addition to classic ones, rolled in pine nuts, I also prepared the coconut and chocolate ones.