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Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in spinach (3)

Saturday
May312014

Fried courgette flowers stuffed with spinach, goat's cheese and feta

I was really excited when I saw these beautiful courgette flowers (that’s zucchini flowers for my Aussie readers) at the farmer’s market near my work on Friday. It was a beautiful spring day so I felt it would be criminal to walk past them. 

In an ideal world I would have lightly battered and deep-fried these beauties, but I don't have a deep-fryer and I was worried about ruining them, so I decided to pan-fry them instead. The result was delicious, but quite different from what you might expect if you have ever ordered them in a restaurant. I managed to get a little crisp on them, but nothing like a batter and they were much more delicate to handle when they came out of the pan. I still highly recommend them though. 

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Monday
Nov052012

Claudia Roden's potaje de garbanzos y espinacas

(Chickpea and spinach stew)

For my birthday my Mum gave me Claudia Roden’s fabulous cookbook, The Food of Spain. The reason I like this book so much is because the recipes are real and unadulterated Spanish food. The other Spanish cookbooks I have are full of fantastic but extravagant recipes that I could never hope to source the ingredients for in London or which are too fiddly to make for anything other than a special occasion. Roden’s book is full of the kind of recipes Spanish people actually cook and eat regularly, rather than the sort of thing you find in fancy restaurants.

I have tried to replicate this Spanish staple several times and it has never tasted quite like it does in Spain. This time it did. I am usually quite good at guessing how to make something and I got close in terms of the spicing, but there are a couple of things I never would have picked up on. For example, I wouldn’t have guessed it was thickened with stale bread fried with garlic and blended to a cream with hard-boiled egg yolks and stock. This, Roden suggests, is the key:

This is a Castillian version of a thick soup that is eaten in many parts of Spain during Lent, when it is known as garbanzos de virgilia (meaning ‘chickpeas of abstinence’) … It is surprisingly delicious and satisfying, with a rich texture and an intriguing flavour that comes from the mashed paste of fried bread, garlic and spices that is stirred in at the end.

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Monday
Jun132011

Tapas no.5: Two tortillas

 

As you may have gathered, I am loving the Movida Rustica book, but one thing I have found is that it tends towards more obscure recipes using unusual or ‘fancy’ ingredients which, apart from being difficult to source, are not fully representative of the type of food one finds in a typical Spanish restaurant. I was surprised, for example, that there is no recipe for tortilla de patatas  or Spanish omelette, a dish that you would have to go very far out of your way to avoid when dining out in Spain, or at least in Andalucia. Fortunately, my host Mum in Seville taught me the tricks of the trade and, although I have still never made one as good as hers, I am getting closer with each try.

The first recipe below is for a traditional Spanish tortilla based on Carmen’s recipe. I asked Carmen why my tortilla was never as good, I talked her through my recipe and at the first step we discovered my main problem; I was cooking the garlic. Carmen puts her garlic in raw, or at least some of it, and WOW does it make a difference. In addition to parboiling her potatoes, Carmen also deep fries them. However, I don’t think this makes a significant difference to the flavour and given this is already a high calorie dish it seems a bit like overkill.

The second recipe is from Movida Rustica, a spinach and white bean tortilla in saffron sauce. I have made this several times now, sometimes substituting asparagus for spinach. I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist and still favouring tortilla de patatas, but this is great if you are hosting a tapas themed dinner party and want to impress with something more exotic. 

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