Fried anchovies – not for the squeamish

WARNING – IF YOU DON’T LIKE PHOTOS WITH BLOOD AND GUTS PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS POST

I often get the impression that people don’t eat fish more because they are not sure how to prepare them, so here we are going to show a step by step method for preparing anchovies to be shallow fried.

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First wash your fish and pat them dry

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Now cut off the heads and pull out the innards

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Spinkle with a light layer of salt to absorb moisture, dip them in flour & shallow fry in olive oil

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Serve with a slice of lemon, some lettuce, bread and a glass of white wine. Simple and great food.

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Faves a la Catalana

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This is Mediterranean cooking at its simple best. Fresh, seasonal ingredients and good quality olive oil – nothing more, nothing less. This is the meatless version of the classical Catalan dish that I usually make. The traditional dish usually has slices of botifarra (Catalan blood sausage) and maybe botifarra blanca (white Catalan sausage). The most important thing about this recipe, and all seasonal cooking, is that the ingredients are as fresh as possible.

Ingredients

500g broad beans (preferably in their pods)
small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 ripe tomotoes
sprig of fresh mint
sprig of fresh thyme
half a bay leaf
glass of anis
salt & black pepper

Shell the broad beans (if you’ve got kids, get them to do this and they are more likely to eat the dish). Finely chop the onion and slOOwly sweat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan with the diced garlic. Add the herbs and then the tomatoes – without skin or pips (to remove the skin, make a cross in the bottom of the tomatoes, put them in boiling water and in water with ice cubes. The skin will then come off easily.)

When the liquid from the tomotoes has evaporated, add the beans, a little water and the anis. Season and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes. If using sausage, add after 15 minutes and cook around 5 minutes .

Serve with bread to mop up the juices.

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Spanish food event in Johannesburg

The Slow Food Johannesburg Convivium are holding a Spanish food event on May 6th with Spanish food, wines and exhibitions.
For all the details and an excellent summary of Spanish cuisine, check out the event page here

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Lentejas

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Lentejas is one of those classic Spanish dishes that really has no translation (literally lentils) – it just is. A staple of the good old menu del día, usually to be found steaming onto restaurant tables on Mondays, lentejas should not be confused with ensalada de lentejas, or lentejas con… – no, lentejas is simply lentejas.

At its most basic this dish is just the pulse cooked in a pot with garlic, maybe a bit of bacon, ham and/or chorizo, and a bay leaf or two. No two cooks do it the same and my recipe is an adaptation of the magnificent lentils served up in the Bar Fayon here in my village in Huesca. The señora in the Fayon basically gets the lentils cooking, makes a sofrito and then adds the two together after pushing the sofrito through what in Spain is called a chino (see photo below). This is great because it means that you can use ingredients that your kids probably wouldn’t eat if they could see them.

Ingredients

250g lentils (pardina)
Half a head of garlic (or less or more to taste)
Half a leek
A couple of carrots
Tomatoes (a large tin if you don’t have fresh)
Small green or red pepper
A chorizo
Wine
Cumin
Paprika
Bay leaf
Parsley
Salt & black pepper

Rinse and check lentils for stones then cover with plenty of water. Throw in the bay leaf and bring almost to the boil. Cover and simmer. Get the sofrito on the go – heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan and slowly brown the chorizo and sweat the garlic.

Roughly chop the rest of the vegetables into small pieces and add them, the ones with longest cooking times first.

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If using chorizo, try to get the juices really flowing, turning the colour of the oil. When the vegetables have softened, turn the heat up add the white wine and let reduce. Then add the tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer.

When the carrots can be mashed with a fork, remove the chorizo and pass the sofrito through the chino strainer, or blend it and add to the lentils which should be cooked. Add the cumin, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for around 10 minutes. In Spain everybody likes lentils in their own way with more or less liquid. If you have too much, turn the heat up and let it evaporate. Serve the lentils in a bowl and top with slices of the chorizo. For a vegetarian/vegan version just leave out the spicy sausage

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Eat the Bikini

This post was inspired by Ben at Notes from Spain who wrote about what he calls “the humble sandwich mixto” – check it out here

In Catalunya this staple of bar-hoppers and niños is known as a Bikini – apparently named after the legendary Barcelona club of the same name, as this was the sandwich of choice of punters filling the bars around the club. Ana happens to make a mean Bik, so we decided to share her recipe.

Remember that this is a cheap bar snack and therefore best made of processed crap that normally wouldn’t get a look-in here, but it just can’t be done any other way (I admit that while I can take the plastic cheese, I do need some real ham, however).

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(sorry about the quality of the photos but it’s the best we could do with a hungry 5 year old desperate for his favourite snack)

Ingredients

Sliced white bread (generically known as pan Bimbo)
Margarine
Processed cheese slices
Ham (jamon dulce or york not serrano)

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Start assembling the Bikini – top a slice of bread with the ham and then the cheese & cover with another slice of bread.

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Spread margarine over the top, and then place margarine side down in a hot frying pan or skillet.

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Press down with a spatula, then carefully spread margarine over the top (mind you don’t burn your fingers), cooking over a medium flame.
Lift the sandwich up and inspect the bottom – if it is done to your satisfaction, flip it over and get the margarine side down in the pan.
Press down with the spatula again.

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When cooked to perfection, wash the Bikini down with favourite brew (or Estrella if you don’t have your favourite brew to hand). If you leave out the ham, this could be a great vegetarian snack too.

Thanks again for the inspiration Ben!

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Granada tapas & Valencia market

Guardian.Co.Uk Home | Guardian.Co.Uk

Two interesting articles in the Guardian today – The top 10 tapas bars in Granada and the refurbished Mercado Central In Valencia

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