Traditional Spanish gazpacho

It’s hot and my choice for lunch today is a traditional Spanish gazpacho. It takes very little time to make, you’ll have to chill it well and serve with your choice of garnish.

Ingredients

  • 100 g slightly stale crusty white bread
  • 1 kg very ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 ripe red pepper and 1 green pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs sherry vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnishes

Let the bread soak in cold water for 20 mins. Mix the diced tomatoes, peppers and cucumber with the crushed garlic and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Squeeze out the bread, tear it roughly into chunks, and add to the mixture.

Blend until smooth, then add the salt and vinegar to taste and stir well. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to get a velvety consistency  then cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Serve with garnishes of your choice: the traditional are diced pepper, cucumber and onion. But you can be creative and add diced black olives, hard-boiled egg, parsley  that also works well, and many people add spring onion, cubes of Spanish ham, cheese and so on.

Tortilla Española

I studied in Spain in 1987/88 “Lengua y cultura Española” – Spanish language and culture and it was my first interaction with the real spanish culture (after being on vacation there a few times before). Our teachers tried to make it fun to learn the culture, we had several trips to different parts of Spain, but we also learned how to make the real gazpacho Andaluz and tortilla Española. We were invited to one of our teachers house to see how to make those typical Spanish dishes and still remember that afternoon towards the end of the school year. I still make this tasty tortilla as Julian and Ana taught us. Hope you enjoy it too, it takes a little practice to flip the tortilla, but practice makes master.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 large eggs
  • ca 3-4 dl of olive oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 0,5 cm thick. If you slice them a bit thick, don’t worry – it will simply take a bit longer for them to cook. Peel and chop the onion. Put potatoes and onions into a bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.

In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium/low high heat. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. The oil should almost cover the potatoes.

Leave in pan until the potatoes are cooked not browned. If you can poke a piece of potato with a fork and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Remove from the pan and allow oil to drain.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour in the potato onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon.

Pour 2 tbs of olive oil into a small, non-stick frying pan (aprox. 22 cm) and heat on medium heat. When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly “browned.” The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Place a large dinner plate (that covers the pan) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for a few minutes to rest.

Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve. If eating as a main course, cut the omelet into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.

If you are serving as an appetizer, slice a baguette into pieces about 3 cm think. Cut the tortilla into 4 cm squares and place a piece on top of each slice of bread.

It is simply delicious served with sofrito, fried tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers and olive oil sautéed in a frying pan.

Spanish onion and almond soup with Saffron

Also known as “Cebollada con Almendras”, an Andalusian recipe that I love. I cook sometimes with olive oil in stead of butter and serve it chilled, right out of the refrigerator on hot summer evenings.

Ingredients:

  • 40 g butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of saffron strands
  • 50 g blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground
  • 750 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 ml dry sherry
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs sliced almonds, toasted
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over a low heat to prevent it from burning. Add the onions and garlic, stirring frequently for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the saffron and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Add the ground almonds and cook, stirring continuously, for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, sherry and salt and plenty of pepper. Bring it to the boil and then simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Process the soup in a blender until smooth, then return it to the rinsed pan. Reheat slowly without allowing the soup to boil, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning.

Scoop the soup into bowls, garnish with the toasted almonds and a little parsley and serve immediately with some fresh farmers bread.

Risotto with peas and saffron

  • 6 dl chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 ts crushed saffron threads
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 250 g Arborio rice
  • 2 dl white wine
  • 50 g shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat chicken broth (I use cubes) and saffron in a pot over medium heat.  Once hot, but not boiling, reduce heat to low and allow simmering.

In another large pan melt 2 tbs of butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onions are soft it takes about 5 minutes. For risotto I use a cast iron pan. It gives a more even heat in the pan, which is the most important for making risotto.

Stir in the rice just until it is coated in the butter but do not brown. Pour in wine and cook until wine absorbs. Pour in one scoop of hot saffron chicken broth. Stir consistently until liquid is absorbed. Repeat process, one scoop at a time, until the rice has absorbed all broth. Before you pour last scoop of broth, add the peas (in the summer I use fresh peas, but if you use frozen peas you will have to defrost the peas first).

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining of butter and the Parmesan cheese until melted. You want a soft velvety consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Blushing polenta

This is one of my favorite recipes from my childhood. My grandmother used to make polenta and serve this with lots of feta cheese, ricotta or cottage cheese, top it with a poach egg and serve it with lots of sour cream on the side…. I even remember my chair in the little kitchen… I have great memories from my grandparents kitchen. Some of my recipes are as I remember those but with my own touch. Well, enjoy this polenta…

 

Ingredients

  • ½ kg polenta (cornmeal)
  • 250 g feta cheese
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon  oil to brush
  • sour cream
  • 1 egg per person

Polenta: Prepare the polenta as indicated on the package. Once the polenta is boiled until a porridge, pour half of the polenta in an oven proofed dish that is brushed with oil. Sprinkle the mixture of crushed feta cheese and  ricotta cheese. Pour over the rest of polenta and bake in middle of the oven at 200°C. for approximately 20 min. Take the dish out of the oven, let rest a few minutes.

Poached eggs: Boil ½ liter water with 1 teaspoon salt. When the water boils, pull the pot away from the heat while breaking the eggs. Then cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Take the eggs up with a sieve.

Serving: serve a slice of polenta with a poached egg and two spoons of sour cream. Delicious….