Almendras Garrapiñadas (Caramelised Almonds)

My first real encounter with this typical Spanish delight was when I visited Ujué, a small town in the Navarre region of northern Spain. The town is worth a visit, both for its location, the architecture including an impressive 12th Century church, or for its almendras garrapiñadas.

1 - Ujué

Ujué

I would also recommend a visit to the town of Tafalla which is just 20Km away. My all-time favourite restaurant is there. My parents-in-law took me there on one of my first visits to Spain and I have been in love with it ever since. I would wholeheartedly recommend you pay the Tubal restaurant a visit if you are ever in the vicinity……..

We were told at the time that the village made the best almendras garrapiñadas in Spain and that the royal family bought them from there. I have no idea if this is a true story or not, but it certainly is a great sales pitch! So being great gastro-tourists we asked around and found what was supposedly the best place to buy them in the village. To our surprise it turned out not to be a shop, but rather a small house not unlike any other in the village. We knocked and were shown into their living room come kitchen and offered some almonds to try……

First although almendras garrapiñadas are caramelised almonds, you must forget all you know about making caramel. Here you basically add sugar to water, heat to make it dissolve then boil it to death so that the sugar comes back out and makes a gritty mess in the bottom of the pan! Couldn’t be easier right?

6 - Finished goods

The Finished Almonds

For the full post and the recipe please click here.

Green Tomato Chutney

1 - Green TomatoesThis week’s recipe is another seasonal one. I have other recipes I want to share with you, but I seem to be running from one seasonal recipe to another at the moment. This week it is a recipe to use up end of season green tomatoes. I hate to throw anything away so I thought I would share this recipe, aimed at those of you who are similarly inclined.

Apart from using up the aforementioned tomatoes, the chutney is a great 3 - Just starting to boilway of spicing up less flavoursome meats and can turn a plain meal into something much more interesting. It is also good in sandwiches. I use the chutney instead of butter on all manner of sandwiches. It moistens the perhaps otherwise dry bread and adds flavour without adding in any additional animal fats. It can turn a simple cheese sandwich into a savoury delight.

The recipe itself couldn’t be simpler. Just put the ingredients into a large pan and simmer until reduced and thick. Bottled it lasts for months.

Just click here to see the rest of the post and the recipe.

A Not Quite “Classic Date and Walnut Loaf”

Before I get into this week’s recipe, let me just say that this cake can be made with dates, it is a date and walnut loaf after all, it is just that I had other ingredients to hand!

The Finished Loaf

The Finished Loaf

A couple of months ago I made frequent trips into the hills to collect walnuts. Walnut trees are common here and grow along many of the waterways. Although people do collect the nuts here, it tends to be just from the trees nearest to the village and many that are further out are relatively untouched. It should also be said that I manage to get quite a few nuts from the closer trees too, you see I have a height advantage and can easily get to relatively inaccessible ones. I saw them sitting there in the storeroom and thought that it was about time I did something with them.

Chopped Walnuts and Dried Figs

Chopped Walnuts and Dried Figs

On the opposite side to the walnuts I saw a jar of dried figs and I had the idea to make a fig and walnut loaf.

To read the rest of the post and to see the recipe please click here.

Wild Mushroom Soup

Well Autumn is here, although at least where I am the temperatures have been far from autumnal! The leaves are starting to turn however and the vineyards are looking magnificent, a patchwork quilt of varying colours. Each grape variety has a different autumnal leaf colour and each field tends to have just the one variety of vine.

Wild Mushrooms!

Wild Mushrooms!

It has rained quite a bit though and that means that it is also time to go in search of wild mushrooms!! I sometimes think that Spaniards are worse than hobbits in their love of mushrooms. The hills are already full of SUV’s and basket-carrying locals.

The variety we collect here is lactarius deliciosus, and as its name suggests it really is delicious.

What I wanted to share with you today however was a mushroom soup I made that can be eaten immediately or easily be frozen for later.

To read the rest of the post and to get the recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup please click here.

Garbure

A few posts ago I mentioned the town of Laruns in a post on the Gâteau Basque. As I wanted to mention three different recipes related to the town I always planned on writing three posts. This is the second of the trilogy.

The French really do know how to enjoy good food. I have had some really memorable meals in France, without having gone to any of the more famous restaurants. It seems like even the local cafe in some forgotten village has a board of fare worthy of mention. They take the most simple of ingredients, with uncomplicated cooking methods, and turn out some real culinary gems. So when my wife and I decided to go on the trip to Laruns, we decided to have lunch out.

I like to try new dishes and I opted for the “Garbure”. The post today looks at this simple but oh so delicious dish. It uses confit duck leg to give the stock a good flavour.

The Finished Dish

The Finished Dish

Please click here to see the rest of the post!