Friday, 19 December 2014

Spanish Three Kings Cake: Roscón de Reyes

In Spain the night of 5 January is believed to be magic and exceptional, because during this night Three Kings come and bring the children (and not only) gifts - provided, of course, they were nice and well-behaved, if not, they will find coal under the Christmas tree (usually sugar or chocolate one)...

This night many cities in Spain organise Cabalgata de Reyes Magos, a traditional parade of kings. Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar ride through the streets on camels and their page boys in specially prepared for the occasion and beautifully decorated coaches or trucks and they throw candies to children. It is also the right time to deliver the Three Kings a letter with a list of gifts they want to receive. When the night comes, just before going to bed, the children prepare hay and water for the camels, and milk, sweet wine, cookies or oranges for the kings. This is quite a restless night for the children, because very often they are so excited or even frightened by the fact that the kings on camels will come through the window of their house that its hard for them to fall asleep. The following morning they open the gifts that they have requested in the letter and then, for breakfast they have Roscón de Reyes, Three Kings Cake in the form of large ring, decorated with candied fruits and often with a layer of pastry cream, whipped cream or marzipan in the center. Roscones bought in pastry shops have a small surprises hidden inside. Generally it is a figure of one of the Three Kings and dry fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned king or queen of the celebration and puts on his head a golden crown (paper crowns are normally sold with the cake), whereas whoever finds the bean should pay for the cake. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Squid with pasta in tomato sauce

Well, December has finally arrived. There is lots of festive meals recipes all around, but I still prepare the everyday ones (please forgive the breakout from the common trend). Perhaps I will disappoint a little some of you, but the truth is that for the last few years I've been out of Christmas culinary fever and apart from traditional Polish gingerbread cookies, I will not have the opportunity to prepare (or even to try) any other traditional Polish Christmas delicacies this year. I have to admit that I'm quite accustomed to the fact that on Christmas Eve there are shrimps and mussels instead of herring and carp on the table, and that there is also meat dish to be served (in Poland we don't eat meat on Christmas Eve). Quite normal becomes also the after Christmas Eve dinner meeting with friends and New Year's Eve dinner with family until the midnight and then the meeting with friends. From the beginning of December I'm eating turrons, especially the Jijona one and during the Christmas holiday season I'm going to eat truchas de batata (fried dumplings stuffed with sweet potato and almonds) for breakfast or with afternoon tea. I also look forward to try Roscón de Reyes: a traditional Spanish cake-style pastry with marzipan or cream filling in the centre (which can also be chocolate flavoured) eaten the morning of Reyes - King's Day -, which celebrates the Epiphany - 6th January - when the Tree Kings came to leave presents for the Christ child. This is the day that Spanish children open their Christmas presents (writing this I'm denying what I wrote in the previous post that I strongly prefer savoury dishes!:)....well, as you can see at Christmas, everything changes:).  

Thus, today, instead of Christmas recipe I have something for before or after Christmas: delicious squid with pasta in tomato sauce and cheery tomatoes.