Milhojas de Patata, Piquillos y Lacón / Brie, Gammon and Pepper Layered Potato Cake

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Not the most elegant of titles perhaps, a shorter version just didn’t seem to do the dish justice. A disaster of a title therefore, but a dish that is absolutely delicious. When Carmen told me what her mother had made, I couldn’t help but smile, as the dish is a combination of some of my favourite ingredients. It is a happy, comforting dish that puts a smile on people’s faces. My son would say that it is impossible to go wrong when you use good ingredients, and with sweet red peppers, good gammon and melting brie cheese who am I to disagree with him.

There are two large towns either side of the village where I live, one is Cariñena and the other is La Almunia, Carmen comes from the latter. The towns, and the boroughs they represent, have jointly published a cookery book whose objective is to document the culinary heritage of the area. The book is in fact a cultural treasure and I am indebted to my wife for all her efforts in finding, and then giving me a copy of the book as a Christmas present. This book is full of great, traditional recipes and I will no doubt be sharing many of these recipes with you all.

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La Almunia

What I also like about the book are the photographs. It is full of rubicund cooks preparing local dishes in huge cauldron like receptacles that will no doubt feed 5,000! Cooking in Spain is often much more participative; family and friends get involved in the whole process, often offering unsolicited and (sometimes) useless advice. Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as you always have someone else to blame if the dish doesn’t turn out quite as expected!

To read the rest of the article and to view the recipe please click here.

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Orange Marmalade

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Although this isn’t the first article I have published this year, it is the first time I have really put finger to keyboard as the previous articles were largely written in 2016. It is therefore the first time I have sat down and really thought about 2017….. not great thoughts I might add, I am not trying to fix all the world’s problems nor indeed my own, just everyday thoughts, thoughts about the season we are in and a few ideas about what I would like to do this year.

Not that I have much time for speculative thinking as the truth is that I am as busy, if not more busy, this year than previous years. I am actually a summer person, a person who likes to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on his back. I guess that is one of the reasons why I moved from the uplands of northern England to the more sunnier clime of Spain, that and a Spanish girl……

……….. As you will have seen from the recipe, I use standard oranges. In spite of living in Spain I can’t get Seville oranges where I live. In spite of this, the recipe does provide a good, strong, orange flavoured marmalade that will bring your tastebuds back to life first thing in a morning.

To read the full article and to see the recipe please click here.

Tarta de Santiago / St. James’ Almond Cake

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This is the third and last article that I planned on writing with recipes gleaned from our summer 2016 trip to Galicia. The bad news is that it has taken me over 6 months to get the three recipes out, the good news is that I do believe that I have left the best till last. This cake is so simple, uses just four readily available main ingredients and, for those of you with allergies, it does not contain any wheat. It has to be one of my favourite cakes of all time. Although here in Spain it is relatively easy to find this cake in shops and in restaurants, the home-made variety is far superior and I would recommend even my Spanish readers giving it a try.

The cake gets its name from the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, which in turn is named after the saint who is supposedly buried in the cathedral there (Originally Sancti Iacobi or in English Saint James). The city itself is a historic and beautiful one, and is also well known as the finishing line of the Camino de Santiago (St. James’ Way) long distance walk……….

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The Cathedral

…………… Anyway, back to the cake. This is another recipe from my wife’s Aunt who lives in La Coruña, the first being the “Empanada Gallega” which I published recently. As I mentioned at the start of this article, it is so easy and really is worth a try……

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

 

Olla Tensina / Tena Valley Stew

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Well here we are again, with a brand new year before us, and what better way to start the year than with a look at one of my favourite places. I have wanted to share the Tena valley in Spain with you for some time. I did publish one article last year with a recipe from the area, Sopetas and other Spanish alcoholic beverages!, but I hardly did the place justice. I have visited the valley a number of times over the last 25 years, and although it hosts a couple of my favourite places, on reflection I have not been there as often as I would have liked. Perhpas I do need a New Year’s resolution after all?

Of the larger towns in the valley floor, the most beautiful one for me has to be Sallent de Gállego, in many ways hidden at the very head of the valley. On the road that winds up through the valley nothing can be seen of the town, then there is one last tunnel, one last bend, before one of the most splendid of views, the reservoir of Lanuza and in the distance, the Foratata mountain with Sallent at its feet. Many of the postcards of the area portray this scene, and for good reason.

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Although the town of Sallent is at over 1300m (4,250ft), a reasonable height in itself, those of you who know me however won’t be surprised when I say that I am always keen on going uphill, be it cycling, running or walking. To that end there are a couple of spots that I particularly like that are at an even higher elevation. The first place I would mention is the Arrieles tarns. At some 2240m (7,350ft) above sea level it is quite a hike, but the last tarn right on the border with France is a joy to behold. Cradled between the nearby peaks like a glassy jewel, its ice-cold waters make an excellent spot for a cooling dip after the long hike! ………

………. There are many, many more spots in and around the village that really are worth a visit, but all this climbing up and down mountains does leave one with somewhat of an appetite. What way better therefore than to assuage one’s hunger than with the Olla Tensina, a typical dish from the Tena valley…..

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