Sunday, 16 December 2012

Fabadas asturianas

Post coming soon but here is an in progress photo

Carrot pineapple muffins for a sunny sunday

It all started two weeks ago at our office's xmas dinner.  My workmate Rich, an intrepid baker, received a muffin tin and festive muffin cases from his secret santa.

 I told him about my muffin bible and how i worked my way through the book cover to cover and back again, making my daily batch of 'muffin of the day' at the cafe where i worked in Aberdeen.  I've never had a bad batch from the recipes in this book. Ever.

 So anyways, i took the book out last weekend and made a batch of the apple spice muffins.   This weekend it's 18 and sunny and in a more tropical spirit i decided to do the Carrot Pineapple variation.

Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Makes 12 normal sized muffins

200g (about 2 medium sized) finely grated carrots
120g well-drained crushed pineapple, or 4 slices chopped
255g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
110g white or soft brown sugar
120ml milk or water
85g melted butter
Optional add-ins: raisins, sultanas, walnuts, desicated coconut
  1. Grease muffin tin cups.  Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Prepare the carrot and pineapple and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg with a fork.  Stir in the carrot and pineapple, sugar, milk and melted butter.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Stir only enough to combine the ingredients.  If using add-ins add before the final few stirs.  The mixture will be lumpy.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let rest in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack.
  7. Best enjoyed sitting on a sunny patio on a sunday morning.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dema's Mom's Falafel

Last weekend i had a craving for middle eastern food and decided to make some falafel. My usual source for recipes is the infinite wisdom of Claudia Roden. I have my ma's well worn copy of her guide to food of the middle east (this is where kelsie gets her recipe for no-fail hummous) and i have a newer book called Arabesque which features the food of Morrocco, Turkey and Lebanon.
On this occasion i decided to ask my workmate Dema, who is Palestinian, for her tips. She in turn asked her mom and i was all set to go.
To accompany i made some tahini dressing, pitta bread and a pickled red cabbage carrot salad.

500g dried favas or chickpeas
2 onions grated
1 bunch parsley finely chopped
1 bunch coriander finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp baking powder

First soak the dried beans in plenty of water for 24 hours.
Drain well and grind to a smooth consistency in a food processor. You need to scrape down the side of the bowl from time to time to ensure a uniform consistency.
Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well blended.
Set aside in a bowl for 30 minutes.
Heat a wok or pot with vegetable oil until a piece of bread dropped in sizzles and turns brown.
Form walnut sized balls of the falafel and flatten slightly. Add to the hot oil and fry until golden brown all over.
Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you fry the rest.
NOTE: this recipe makes a LOT.

Tahini dressing
2 cloves garlic crushed to a paste with salt
3 Tbsp tahini
1 lemon juiced

Whisk all the ingredients together. Add 50ml water or enough to thin it out to the consistency of double cream. Adjust seasonings.

Pickled Red Cabbage and Carrot Salad
2 carrots, grated
1 small red cabbage, finely shredded
1 lemon, juiced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 pickles cut into slices
3 pickled chilies cut into slices
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Oleoturismo: a mini road trip in search of olive oil

It all started with me doing a google search for "slow food sitges". I found out about two slow food restaurants right on our doorstep and widened the search to Tarragona which is high on my list of places to visit. There are lots of roman ruins there and three more slow food restaurants.
One that stood out to me is called El Celler de l'Aspic. I became fb friend with them and the other day they posted that their supplier just released this year's olive oil.
So then i became fb friends with the Cooperativa Agricola Riudecanyes.
And i found out they have a shop where you can buy their products.
And for the past three days i have been harrassing kelsie about doing a mini road trip to visit them. Because well, we finally finally got a new car. This wasn't too bad for a first road trip. It's about an hour and some on the toll road. The tolls one way add up to almost 8€. You basically drive down the coast past Tarragona and then head a few miles into the hills. When we arrived in Riudecanyes we managed to catch the last cars that were driving through on the RallyRACC catalunya-Cost Dorada Race. The town was heaving with spectators. They were there to see the cars and we were there to see the olive oil.
The man at the shop was really helpful and explained the difference between the filtered and unfiltered oils. We bought a couple lires of the filtered. It's more fruity than grassy and is going to be enjoyed as long as we can make it last. We also picked up some tapenade made from the same arbequina olives, some moscatel and a package of hazlenuta.
In the same building as the shop is a small info area showing how olive oil produced from harvest to bottle as well as descriptions about the other fruits of the local countryside.
If you are further afield than a mini road trip, fear not! They also have an online shop where you can order direct.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pane co' santi

It's my turn to bring breakfast in for my office mates tomorrow.

I decided to try this recipe from Twelve by Tessa Kiros. She says the reason it might be called saint's bread is that the ingredients of olive oil, walnuts and sultanas are saints themselves.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lunch Adventures: Mayura Lounge


Indian food for a Spanish palate. For lunch you have a choice between the Indian thali menu or the Mediterranean menu. The thali menu on this particular day had: samosa, chicken saag, rice, lentils, vegetable curry and chapatis. The menu also includes drink (i paid extra for a Cobra beer) and dessert (i chose mango lassi). There are several supplement options if you want additional items like pakoras or a meat other than chicken. Overall the food was nicely spiced but not overly hot. The green chile chutney gave everything a nice extra kick of heat.

Mostly lounge style seating consisting of low sofas/chairs with lots of cushions. Our group sat at the long bar which is divided in the middle by a water feature. Hint: if you sit at the bar you get a discount on the price of the menu.


menus came in english and spanish. our orders were taken quickly and the food came out pretty fast. paying took a bit longer because we were each paying separately.

11.80 for the indian menu

Calle Girona, 57 Barcelona
Tel: 934 814 536

New Series: Lunch Adventures with Restaurant Tickets

One of the best perks from my new job at Xing is the booklet of Sodexo restaurant tickets that I get every month. Each booklet has 43 tickets, each ticket is worth 3 euros. Most of the restaurants around where we work accept these tickets in lieu of cash. This amounts to 129 euros tax-free each month. Can't beat that! It's also a really good way to encourage us to get to know our work colleagues better as we inevitably go for lunch together in a group. Such a nice contrast to the rushed sandwich or tupperware leftovers eaten at your desk, in front of the computer.

The Lunch Adventures posts are going to be all about where we go for lunch and what we eat. And don't forget, if you have Sodexo restaurant tickets, all the places i write about accept them.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Sucking vegetables: The Way of the Calçotada

I have a friend Don Purple who is a stylist in New York. Part of what makes him a good stylist is his vast collection of things he's picked up over the years. I remember the last time i saw Don we were in Scotland and his favorite thing to do was trawl the numerous charity shops looking for "collectibles". At that time his collectibles were all porcelain white animals. Anything…bunnies, kittens, puppies, would be considered and sometimes purchased. I confess i didn't understand it really, it was just 'stuff', but years later when i saw some of the brilliant photos he styled it clicked.

I'm a collector too, although my stuff isn't porcelain white animals. My stuff is local food experiences. It's not necessarily about exotic or hard to find or 'best in class' ingredients. It's more about the particular local ingredients and how they're celebrated in the local culture. Like….german rye bread slathered with schmaltz...

or the famous pork pies from the Ginger Pig...

I like to go to someplace new and eat something from that place -- doing that sears that place on my memory better than any instagram can do.

Lucky for me there are a ton of regional food festivals here in Catalunya. i've already missed the Fesolada (white bean festival) in Sant Pau. And i know that on the horizon there will be a chicken and artichoke festival in Prat Llobregat this month

Right in our town of Castelldefels we had a Calçotada. The featured ingredient is the calçot. It's basically a variety of spring onion. I noticed that all the local fruiterias (where you also buy veg) had stands of calçots cropping up around the beginning of january. when i asked my team mates about them they told me about Calçotadas which are meals centered around the calçot.

the usual way of preparing and eating calçots is to grill them over a barbecue until the outer layers are completely charred and the inside is cooked to a sweet pulp.

Since there's already a barbecue going the rest of a Calçotada is made up of grilled meats and maybe even potatoes and artichokes.

the other essential element of a Calçotada is the romesco sauce that you dip the calçot in before eating it. apparently it's the quality of the romesco that distinguishes a good Calçotada from an average one. and of course the other essential requirement is the company of good friends to enjoy the experience with.

there's a definite learned technique to eating a calçot. at last week's Calçotada our friend asela demonstrated the technique. first, peel off the charred outer skin. next, swish the cooked white part in the romesco. finally suck the end, pulling the onion up through your teeth to get every last juicy bit.

kelsie wasn't too impressed with the sucking vegetables bit. she was far too fascinated with our new friend alba who was captivated by the oranges we had.

i of course sucked and savored every last calçot and had enough to last me until next year's festivities.