Raya a la Gallega – Galician Style Skate

Anyone who has followed this blog for some time (and I thank you!) will know that I am a great admirer of the food from Northern Spain. A great favourite is Pulpo a la Gallega – Octopus Galician Style which basically means served with boiled potatoes and seasoned liberally with fruity olive oil, coarse salt and pimentón. I used this style of serving with other fish and seafood, it works fantastically with scallops.

Raya a la Gallega (7)

Time this week to turn my attention to Skate, which I generally pan fry or oven cook. Why not try it “a la Gallega” as well? Online recipes told me that the fish is indeed served like this but more traditionally it’s poached. Sorry, no poaching for me I just didn’t fancy it.  I lightly griddled it before placing it on top of cooked, diced (well…”chunked”) potatoes and then dressed it with our own olive oil, Maldon sea salt and smoked pimentón.

Raya a la Gallega (1)

Perfect, two small skate wings made a fantastic sharing dish for two hungry folk but would have been ideal as a starter for 4-6 people. Definitely a dish to be repeated and absolutely perfect with a chilled glass of Albariño.

Advertisements

Tartiflette – a dish to warm the soul (but only if you’re not counting the calories)

Reblochon is a delicious soft French cheese which is wonderful eaten “as is” but when cooked in a typical dish of Tartiflette, reaches another level of gorgeousness. Well, if you love soft creamy melted cheese it does!

The weather in England taunted us with its spring like warmth and Big Man decided that it was perfect weather to start painting the outside of our seaside house. Of course, day one was perfect as we prepared. We covered what felt like miles of guttering with newspaper and masking tape. We bought paint and thinner and got our brushes and rollers ready. Day two the painting commenced. And the clouds moved in, the temperature dropped and rain looked ominous. We were working at the back of the house which gets the sun, so at least when there was a break in the clouds we could enjoy a little of its warmth.

Tartiflette (3)

Day three, second coat of paint. The clouds were there to stay. The odd splash of rain (or was it a passing seagull?…I prefer not to dwell on it). But we persevered. Luckily the paint was made for British Weather (oh yes, the word Weather deserves a Capital Letter) and dries in 20 minutes.

Job done but we were chilled through. Time for some hearty Alpine food, and to hell with the calories!

Ingredients (to serve 3-4 people)

  • ½ Reblochon cheese (the original recipe calls for a whole one but we found half to be plenty)
  • About 700g small or medium potatoes in their skins
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips (or use a packet of lardons)
  • About half a glass of dry white wine
  • 100ml cream
  • Black pepper

Boil the potatoes in their skins until just cooked (timing will depend on their size but probably 15-20 mins). Drain and leave to cool slightly before peeling them. These can also be prepared ahead and left to go cold before peeling and slicing not too thinly.

In a frying pan with a little oil, add the bacon, garlic and onions and fry until the bacon starts to go crispy and the onions brown a little at the edges. Pour in the wine and cook until about half the wine has evaporated.

In an ovenproof dish put about half the potatoes, then the bacon and onion mix and then the rest of the potatoes. Now slice your cheese in half so that you have two half moon shapes and lay these on top of the potatoes. Keep the skin on the cheese and if it helps to distribute over the top more evenly, cut into triangles.

Tartiflette (6)

Pour the cream over the whole thing and season with black pepper. Bake at about 200C for around 30 minutes or until the cheese is starting to become golden and the cream is bubbling. Delicious with a simple salad.

And don’t forget to wash your paint brushes or you won’t be able to use them again….

For a vegetarian version of this dish, pop over to Promenade Planting and see Claire’s great version!

Slow Cooked Duck Legs with Potatoes

I was thinking of Confit of Duck, as you do, as I had a couple of duck legs planned for dinner. Of course, all the decent recipes wanted really long slow cooking, preferably a day or so in advance. I also didn’t have any duck fat to hand so had to think of an alternative. An “aha” moment came to me, not the Norwegian band from the 1980s you understand, although they did have their charm, but a turning on of a little light deep within the little grey cells. Patatas a lo Pobre, poor man’s potatoes. They are slow cooked in olive oil so there was no reason why the same process couldn’t work for my duck legs.

Slow Cooked Duck with Potatoes (4)

For those of you who are now digging deep within their own little grey cells to think of an A-ha song, here’s one to hum along to.

Now, back to the cooking.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 2 duck legs, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 very large potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • ½ a red pepper cut into thin strips
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic (peeled or unpeeled)
  • About ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat the oven to low (Gas 3 or about 130 degrees C)

Pour the oil and wine over the potatoes, onions, garlic and peppers, season and mix. Place the potato mix into the bottom of an ovenproof dish then place the seasoned duck legs on top. Cover with foil and put into the oven for about 3 hours.

When the juices of the duck legs runs clear, remove the foil and turn the oven up to the highest setting, remove the foil, drain off any liquid and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the duck legs are browned and the potatoes and peppers start to char.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes before tucking into meltingly tender duck and potatoes. Fight using your fork with your loved one for any crispy bits in the pot.

If you fancy an oriental influenced duck dish, take a look here.

Griddled Cod with Oven Braised Potatoes

I’m surprised I don’t post more cod recipes, considering how much of it we eat. Typically here it’s salt cod, but sometimes we can now get hold of fresh too. Fish Lady surprised me yesterday with some beautiful (and huge) fillets of cod. Perfect for lunch in the garden.

Bacalao a la Plancha (2)

Often cod or bacalao is served over patatas a lo pobre here (slowly braised in olive oil) but it was too hot to stand over a pan of hot oil and my waistline, I knew, would thank me for cooking the potatoes another way. The oven was on as I was baking bread, wisely I was keeping cool outside. I decided to cook the potatoes in the bottom of the hot oven and then to cook the cod in my griddle pan at the last minute.

Ingredients (no measurements here, you know how much you can eat!)

  • Cod Fillet cut into portion and lightly oiled and salted on both sides
  • Potatoes cut in half then into thick half circles
  • A large onion quartered and cut into thick slices
  • About 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A cup of stock (I used chicken but you can use vegetable or water)
  • Half a sliced red pepper (or use some slices of tinned roasted peppers)
  • Seasoning

Mix the potatoes, peppers and onions with the oil and season. Put into a deep ovenproof dish, pour over the stock and cover tightly with foil (or a lid). Cook on high for about 40 minutes and then for 20 minutes with the foil removed.

10 minutes before the potatoes are ready, heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and then cook the cod filler starting with the skin side down. A couple of minutes on each side is probably fine, depending on how thick they are.

Bacalao a la Plancha (7)

Serve the cod on top of the potatoes with some fresh lemon.  I also had a bowl of home made tomato sauce which we spooned over the top. Filling but not too heavy, and only a few minutes spent in the hot kitchen….perfect!

Another way with runner beans – Spicy Beans with Prawns and Potatoes

Yes, it´s that runner bean time of year here Up the Mountain. We´re picking them daily, freezing some, giving some away and of course, eating plenty.

This was a light supper dish that was quickly pulled together as I had already blanched the beans and had some cooked potatoes in the fridge (a staple in our house for potato based salads) and some cooked prawns. If you don´t have these ready though, it´s not the work of hours to blanch some beans and boil some potatoes before throwing in raw prawns to cook through at the end.

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a light meal)

  • About 500g of sliced, blanched runner beans
  • 2 medium cooked and peeled potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • About a cup of cooked, peeled prawns
  • 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 fat cloves of crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½-1 teaspoon of hot or sweet pimentón (or chili powder)
  • Olive (or vegetable) oil
  • Salt

Into a deep, heavy frying pan pour a few tablespoons of oil for frying and quickly fry the potatoes until they start to brown over a high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and add the ginger, garlic, cumin and pimentón and fry gently until the garlic and ginger have softened.  Now add the beans and continue to fry gently until they have cooked through.  Add the prawns (I chopped mine as they were quite large) and taste. Add salt if necessary. This would be great with some finely chopped coriander but I didn´t have any. Serve hot with crusty bread or try this beautiful recipe for pita bread from Tandy over at Lavender and Lime.

Broad Bean and Potato Soup

So, regular readers of this blog (and I thank you!) will know that here in Andalucía we tend not to waste much when it comes to food. All the unsual bits get used from the meat we eat, and even our broad beans shells, when they´re young and tender, get used in tortillas, scrambled eggs and cooked with jamon.

Another Andalucían dish using broad beans is called Cazulea de Habas which translates as a broad bean stew. As ever, I asked around for recipes and this time I tended to get pretty much the same replies from everyone.  An exceedingly simple and humble dish. Well, a little dull if I´m being truly honest, but that is just my opinion. I asked Big Man if he was sure he wanted me to make it, as it had been his idea in the first place. Well, he said, maybe you can give it a little Chica Andaluza touch to make it more exciting. So I did.

It´s still a simple and humble dish, but with some nice flavours going on and more filling than its ancestor. I also have some suggestions for making it your own, so here goes.

Ingredients to serve 4

  • 500g of thinly sliced tender broad bean shells (save the beautiful beans for something more glamorous)
  • One medium potato per person, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks (this is not included in the original recipe)
  • One medium onion finely chopped
  • A large spring of fresh mint and a bay leaf
  • Water
  • Pinch of saffron or half a teaspoon of turmeric (here they use colouring…eek!)
  • ½ teaspoon of sweet pimentón
  • ½ teaspoon of hot pimentón (optional, not in the original recipe, but I used it)
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic peeled and halved lengthways
  • About 10 peeled, raw almonds
  • A large slice of day old bread (something like sourdough or ciabatta)
  • Olive oil for shallow frying
  • Seasoning

Put the bean shells, onion, mint and bay leaf in a pot and cover well with water. Boil until the shells are really tender (this can take about 30 minutes, so be patient). About 20 minutes into the cooking add the potato. Meanwhile fry the garlic and almonds until browned, put into a blender jug. Now fry the slice of bread on both sides until browned and also add to the blender jug. Add the saffron and pimentón and a large ladleful of the cooking water from the beans. Blend (I use a stick blender) until you have a smooth sauce. Add to the beans and season. I found it needed quite a lot of salt.

Now, you´re done! However, you could serve it with a softly poached egg on top or some pieces of grilled chorizo or morcilla (blood pudding), although it will obviously no longer be a vegetarian dish.

It´s a simple dish, but a lovely starter using seasonal vegetables or with a few additions could be a hearty main dish for two.

Big Man approved the changes, and we agreed that the Chica Andaluza version was much more tasty than the original!

Curried Meatballs

A recent tidy up of my cookery books turned up two Indian books by Anjum Anand which I had hardly read.  Time to put that right I thought, and next thing I was in the butcher´s shop ordering pork mince.

Of course, pork would not typically be a meat used in most Indian curries for religious reasons, but this would be great with any other meat. For a fantastic recipe using minced beef, check out Frugal´s gorgeous Beef Kofta Curry recipe.

As ever, I had to make a few small changes, but not too many. I had no fresh coriander so substituted dried, ground coriander and the same went for fresh ginger. We can get it here, I just didn´t have any to hand and when the craving for curry strikes, you have to go with it!

This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Made Easy.

For the meatballs

  • 300g lamb mince (I used pork)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks (I used 1 teaspoon of dried coriander)
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (I used ¼ teaspoon of dried)
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt to taste

For the Curry Sauce

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small shard of cinnamon
  • 2 ½ medium tomatoes (puréed) – I used 1 ½ cups of my conserva from last summer
  • 800ml water (I used about 300ml)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ – ¾ teaspoon of chili powder (to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together plus 3 tbs of the onion you have chopped for the sauce.

Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and remaining onion and fry until the onion is golden brown.

Add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and cook gently for about 8 mins then add 200ml of water and cook until thickened.  Add the spices and salt and any remaining water (I didn´t add much as I continued cooking with a lid on my pan) and simmer. Meanwhile roll the meat into walnut sized balls and drop them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer, turning the meatballs gently half way through, for about 20 minutes. Add the coriander and serve with rice, naan bread, popadums…however you like.

We ate ours with my Sort of Saag Aloo made with the first of our spinach which is now ready to eat.

…and a cool and creamy raita (I´ll give you that easy recipe another time)…

This was a warm but not too hot curry with the lovely flavours of cinnamon and ginger, definitely one to make again.

Tortilla de Patatas – Potato Omelette

This was a two egg omelette made in a small, deep frying pan

I can´t believe that I haven´t posted my version of this Spanish classic.  Probably one of the most famous tapas dishes in Spain, simple, economical and delicious. Can be served hot or cold. There is always a great debate about how to cut the potatoes.  Ask 5 people and you´ll get five different answers – the choice is yours.

Ingredients per person

  • One large potato peeled, halved and cut into thin (but not wafer thin) slices or chunks
  • Half a medium onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of cornflour (optional)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil for frying

Put the potatoes (and onion if using) into a deep frying pan with straight sides if possible. This helps with turning the tortilla.  Choose the size of pan according to how many people you are cooking for – you want the tortilla to be deep, so a smaller diameter and a larger depth works well.  Cover with plenty of olive oil (this can be drained and reused) and use a low heat to braise the potatoes until they are tender, turning them over gently a few times during cooking.

Drain the potatoes and save the oil. In a large bowl beat the eggs and milk together and if you want a thicker, spongy texture to your tortilla, add the cornflour to a little of the milk then mix in with the eggs.  Season with salt then add the potatoes to the eggs and mix gently. The secret to a successful tortilla, I´ve found, is to have a high quantity of “filling” in relation to egg.  The egg binds the potatoes (or whatever vegetable you choose to use) together.

Pour a little oil into your frying pan and when it is hot, turn the heat down low, add the eggs and potatoes and cover with a lid.  This now needs to cook very, very slowly until it sets in the middle and the bottom starts to brown.

Turn the tortilla using a large plate and then slide the uncooked side into the pan. Timings will depend on how large your tortilla is.  If you are unsure about flipping the tortilla, pop the frying pan under a hot grill for a few moments to completely set the top, then flip it.  Once it is browned nicely on both sides, turn out onto a plate and enjoy it hot or cold.

For a less authentic but less calorific version of this dish, use potatoes cooked in their skins. Peel and slice or cut into chunks and then warm them through in a very little oil before adding to your egg.  I use this method more often than the “oil braising” method to help in the waistline war, and no one has noticed the difference!

For another version, take a look at my Potato and Brocolli Tortilla here.

Boulangère Potatoes

I have a rather too close relationship with potatoes. Damn Christopher Columbus or whoever it was who bought them back from the Americas.  I particularly like them smothered in butter if they are baked in their jackets, or cooked in olive oil when roasted.  Or how about butter, cream and cheese if they are mashed? Oh dear, I can´t always have naughty potatoes and sometimes plain boiled with a drizzle of olive oil just doesn´t do it for me.

Boulangère Potatoes are a good option if you are trying to be a little sensible with the calories, or if you just want to go mad with the dessert. They´re also wonderful when you are entertaining, as apart from tasting fantastic, they can sit quite happily in a warm oven for quite a while and come to no significant harm. Boulangère is the French word for Baker.  Many families in the past did not have ovens in their own homes.  They would take a dish of these down to the village baker who would kindly pop them in to cook in his still warm oven when the bread baking was done. What nice people bakers are.

To serve four people you´ll need about 1kg of potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer but you can also do this by hand or in a food processor), 2 medium onions thinly sliced, olive oil, seasoning and about half a litre of vegetable or chicken stock.  If you have it, some fresh thyme is also good but right now I´m in a bit of a huff with Big Man as he dug all mine up a while back thinking it was a weed! Rosemary also works well with this dish.

Lightly oil the base of an oven proof dish and start making layers of potato, onion, herbs and seasoning. Finish with a layer of potatoes, season and then pour over stock to completely cover.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in a at 200ºC/Gas 6 for about 45 minutes, then take off the foil.  The potatoes and onion will be soft now and most of the liquid will have disappeared.  Continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the liquid has all gone and the potatoes have browned.  If you find it has cooked through but the potatoes are still a little pale, put under the grill for a few minutes.

Either serve immediately or leave at the bottom of a low oven until you are ready to eat.

Green Summer Vegetable and Chicken Casserole

Now that we are starting to have a little drop in temperatures during the day, and a nip in the air first thing in the morning and last thing at night, we know that autumn is just around the corner.  While this means saying a gradual farewell to summer, it also means an autumnal welcome to the next season and the food and change in cooking it brings.

Off out for a busy morning and knowing I was not going to be in the house while it was still relatively warm, prompted me to cook the first casserole for a long time.  We came home to delicious chicken, vegetable and brothy smells and apart from opening the wine and grabbing the loaf of bread left for us earlier that morning on the gate by Bread Man, there was nothing more for us to do other than set the table and enjoy lunch.

The dish was a celebration of almost the last of many of our summer vegetables.  The bobby (french) beans finally started producing yellow as well as green beans, with kilos of them stored in the freezer for the months ahead.  The green peppers are still doing well, we´ll see how much longer they last.  Our onions have dried out nicely and are sweet and delicious and I had been hoarding the last handful of potatoes we had left from our first ever potato crop.

Into a big pot went two large legs (drumstick and thigh) of our free range chicken, some chopped peeled potatoes, large chunks of courgette given to us by a neighbour along with some whole unpeeled garlic cloves.  A few chopped green peppers, a roughly chopped onion, a few handfuls of green beans and some seasoning finished off the ingredients.  I covered everything with water and bought it to the boil then put a lid on the pot which then went into a very low oven for about 5 hours. You could, of course, cook it much more quickly on the stove top with equally good results if you´re not off out shopping for the morning!

And that was it…memories of summer and anticipation of autumn all in one delicious bowlful.

Am off to London to visit my family tomorrow for a week.  Will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and posts, but apologies if I can´t always comment.  Looking forward to a proper catch up when I return!