Griddled Aubergines with Salsa Verde and Tomatoes

Our recent month in Spain was less of a holiday and more of a race to get through a list of household chores and maintenance, family visits and dealing with banks, bills and bureaucracy. Still, it had to be done, and there were of course a few special times of relaxation and fun with family and friends. Sometimes, though, it was nice just to have a couple of hours at our little cortijo (that’s a house in the country in Spain) and relax with a meal and a bottle of wine.

Berenjenas y Limones 001

The weather was all rather unpredictable going from an initial 40 degrees which knocked us sideways, to down below 20 degrees.  Then it jumped around from lovely to grey and cloudy, rainy and windy, then back to lovely. Honestly, we could have been in England! When we did have a comfortably warm day, we fired up the barbecue and cooked and ate outside. Some days we ate meat, but after a few weeks of a meat heavy diet, we craved vegetables. Luckily we were gifted an awful lot of salad so made a local gazpacho. Sounds weird but it works, trust me!

Big Man is not a fan of aubergines, but he did give this dish a go and grudgingly agreed that it was “comestible” – that’s Spanish for edible! Luckily we also had salmorejo (another variation of the more traditional gazpacho) my very favourite summer soup, to save him from fading away and I feasted on most of the absolutely delicious aubergine.

Ingredients (to serve 2 as a main course)

  • 1 large aubergine sliced into ½ cm slices lengthways and brushed lightly with olive oil on both sides
  • Some salsa verde (Spanish style) or just make up a mix of fresh olive oil with some finely chopped garlic, herbs and a pinch of salt
  • A large tomato, finely chopped
  • A finely chopped chilli (optional)

Fire up the barbecue if the weather permits or heat up a griddle pan. I never salt my aubergines as I really don’t find them bitter. Feel free to do this if you like, but don’t, of course, brush them with oil until you’ve rinsed them.

Berenjenas y Limones 004

Grill lightly on both sides and drizzle over some salsa verde. Cover tightly with foil or cling film so that they sweat slightly, and absorb the dressing at they cool down. Serve at room temperature with the tomato and chilli sprinkled over. That’s it, easy eh?!

For another grilled aubergine dish, take a look here.

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Secreto Ibérico – Let me tell you a little secret…

Served with grilled potatoes and aubergines and garlicky mushrooms...

Secreto Ibérico (which translates as Iberian Secret) is a cut of meat, which comes from between the shoulder blade and the loin of the prized Iberian pigs.  Even if you can only find it from regular pigs, I recommend you give this cut of meat a go for the amazing flavour you get from it.

So, this is not a recipe, more a “letting you in on a little secret”.  The reason this meat tastes so good is that the surface is marbled with fat.  It is typically cooked over a high flame or hot griddle so the outside fat melts and gives you a fantastically crispy crust, while the meat inside stays juicy and tender.

Simply sprinkle some coarse (kosher) salt on both sides, pepper too if you like, and put it onto a very hot grill pan or barbecue.

Don´t fear the fat, it will work its magic...

Cook until it is golden and crispy and then leave to rest for 2 or 3 minutes. Round where we live it is traditionally cut into little strips after cooking and served with fresh lemon to squeeze over.

Gorgeous, Golden and Grunchy..sorry, Crunchy

If you ever do come across this beautiful cut of meat….”shhhh, don´t tell anyone – it´s a secret”!

Barbecued Shoulder of Goat with Za´atar

 
So tasty!

When my pals came over from the UK recently they came bearing gifts, just like the wise men.  One package was from my lovely mother and she had made up Za´atar and Dukkah for me.  What a lovely mum I have!  We can´t get them or all the ingredients to make them up here.  At least, I can´t seem to track them down, and it´s always lovely to have a gift like this as every time you use it, you think of the person who gave it to you.

We had a very small shoulder of goat in the freezer (enough for two hungry people or two regular appetites with enough left over for sandwiches) and I thought I´d do it on the barbecue.

It was very easy to pull together and quick to cook.  I made a package with a double layer of foil to put the meat in the seasoned the meat with salt before sprinkling over and rubbing in the Za´atar.

Give it a little massage...

I wrapped it up and put it onto the barbecue at a low heat for about 40 minutes and that was it.

Oh go on then....just one more slice!

We ate it with lemon juice squeezed over, a big salad and some cold runner beans from the garden dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.  Oh, and a glass of wine of course!

Pork Ribs in Barbecue Sauce

Wait for them to cool down...!

Once of the nicest things about doing a blog is that you get to “meet” new people from all over the world and share a special little piece of their lives.  In this case it´s a lot of delicious recipes and talk about gardens and food and drink – all my favourite things!

We barbecue a lot here up our mountain, and finally invested in a gas barbecue last year.  I know, to the purists, it´s not exactly the same as using wood or carbon (although we do sometimes use this method too) but it´s so quick and easy and works well for us.  Mostly we keep things simple – a sprinkle of salt, some herbs, a dash of olive oil if the food needs it and we´re off!

I personally adore barbecue sauce, but rarely make it.  Big Man always insists he´s not a big fan of sauces, but whenever I make them he seems to enjoy them greatly.  I saw Greg´s delicious barbecue sauce over on his blog Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide and thought I´d adapt it a little to make my own.  I only adapted it as we can´t get hold of all the ingredients here!  I only made a small batch and regretted it.  Big Man said on tasting the ribs and sauce “Ay, ¡que buena es esta salsa Americana!” which roughly translates to “Wow, this American sauce is so good!”.  Approval all round….

This was my version

  • A cup of chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • Half a cup of ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato purée
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of hot chili powder plus one dried chili
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • 4 tablespoons of molasses (miel de caña)
  • A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Quarter cup of water

All I did was put all the ingredients together in a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.  I kept some back and with about two thirds of the sauce I marinated my ribs.  It was meant to be overnight but we ended up eating them 2 days later.  I don´t think they suffered from the experience. 

There´s nothing like a good long soak in the bath!

When we barbecued the ribs, I heated the remaining sauce and we dipped our ribs into it, licked our fingers and had very messy but happy faces.

Merluza A La Barbacoa y Ensalada Arcoiris – Barbecued Hake & A Rainbow Salad

Dressed For Dinner

Fish Man came up trumps the other day with a whole hake in the back of his little van. It was rather large, too much for just Big Man and me, so as it was fresh it went into the freezer.

A few days later friends were coming over for lunch, and the sun promised to shine, so I decided to barbecue it.  A quick visit to the garden to gather mint and lemons, and out into the olive grove for the tops of the wild fennel which is everywhere, and I was set.

I had to gut and clean the fish, but if you´re buying from a fishmonger, I´m sure it will be cleaned for you.  It´s not that tricky (wear kitchen gloves though, or you´ll smell like a hake for the rest of the day!) but not for the squeamish.

Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper and salt the inside slightly.  Stuff it with bunches of herbs and thin slices of lemons, then sprinkle the outside with coarse sea salt.  No oil needed, but the salt will protect the fish and you´ll end up with lovely charred skin which I personally love to eat, but I know some people don´t.

Then it´s on to the barbecue for your hake.  We cooked it on a low heat and the lid on for about 15 minutes in total.  If you do use hake, but you could do this with pretty much any fish, it´s firm, so easy to turn when it´s half done.  Check it´s cooked by peeking inside – the flesh will be white when it´s ready.

Ready to eat!

I served this with a delicious salad which was so beautifully coloured, it didn´t matter that the sun went in and a big cloud hovered over us all through lunch!  I used chopped new boiled potatoes, cooked beetroot, oranges, thin slices of raw carrot and chopped chives. I made a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard powder, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper.

With so much colour, it can´t not be good for you...

Food for a sunny, or not so sunny day!