Cod Fishballs

18 Fishballs on a plate

The recipe this week is a local one, from a lady in the town of La Almunia de Doña Godina who was born in 1917. An old and traditional recipe therefore, just what I like! Some though might think it strange, that in this land-locked region where I live, fish plays such a big part in the traditional recipes? Spain is large, so main cities and regions are at some distance from the sea. It should be noted though that Spain is also a peninsula, and that it is bathed by both the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.

Towards the south of this region, the Mediterranean sea lies ever closer. There is in fact only a relatively thin strip of land, part of Catalonia in fact,  separating us from the sea. It is sad to think that the way things are going, although it is close, we may need a passport to get to the sea, we may need to change currencies before we can buy a beer at the beach and Barcelona Football Club will no longer be able to play Madrid unless it is an international match!

Seriously, what is it these days with this push for separatism, and I don’t mean just in Catalonia? Without travelling very far indeed we have seen or are seeing similar tendencies in the Basque Country in Spain, and Scotland and Wales in Great Britain. Statistically therefore Catalonia would appear to be far from an isolated occurrence……..

 

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

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Palometa en salsa / Atlantic Pomfret in Sauce

20 Palometa en Salsa

So why Atlantic Pomfret when there are so many other better-known fish to choose from? In spite of what you might think, it was not my intent to baffle you all with a relatively unknown fish. I chose the fish in question for a couple of reasons…….

Firstly, because I had never tried it before. That alone is reason enough for me to buy it, as I am not particularly interested in playing it safe where food is concerned. Secondly, it was recommended by the Greenpeace website I often frequent, which portrays the fish that are in season and therefore environmentally better to eat. Thirdly, it had been caught by relatively traditional means in the sea. I am very much against fish farms and avoid consuming their fish whenever I can. Although we have done much to better the conditions of the land animals we eat, giving them better more natural living conditions, I am not convinced we have advanced much in the world of pisciculture.

I am not a vegetarian, I eat just about anything that falls on my plate, I do however try and eat sensibly and as ecologically as I can.  I look for animals that have been reared naturally or caught in the wild and I also try to eat local produce. I grow my own fruit and vegetables as naturally as I can. I believe it is the healthier option, it is also often the cheaper option.

The hunting season here started last weekend. The neighbour passes me his excess, so my freezer now has a couple more rabbits and a hare than it did. He started giving me his game some time ago, and he always gave it to me skinned and ready to cook. One day he forgot, the rabbits arrived whole, hide and all!

Many, many moons ago back in Lancashire I used to go hunting with local farmer friends. Recalling how they skinned their rabbits I decided to give it a go……..

 

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

Tarta Tres Chocolates / Three Chocolates Tart

23 Tarta tres chocolates - Cut

The recipe today is a simple yet spectacular pudding. It has an absolutely perfect cake shop like finish with glossy smooth lines and a mirror-like surface…… and you won’t believe how easy it is to make. It is a chocoholic’s dream given form!

It was given to me by a young lady from here in the village. She is a bright, respectful girl, full of vitality and plans for the future, an example of what is best in the youth of today. Unfortunately I suspect that she is in the minority.

The youth of today, at least where I live, show a singular lack of respect for others and the property of others. I see them here, taking anything that’s not tied down, damaging whatever falls in their path, be it the work of man or of nature. Not only are they oblivious to reprimand, they take it with an insolent stance that borders on outright defiance.

In the village here the mayor has done much to improve the town, with some new installations and improvements to the existing ones. Returning home yesterday I saw further evidence of vandalism and the first daubs of graffiti on walls. This is a small village with perhaps a dozen children and adolescents, yet even here there is a growing disregard for the property of others….. and unfortunately it is more than just one or two of them. From where I sit and write this I can see much of the village and the majority of the youth at play……..

01 Alfalfa

Graffiti is a scourge that is difficult to eradicate, any would-be poet can cheaply buy a tin of spray-paint and scrawl his thoughts across some publicly or privately owned space. What is it that makes them think that they have the right to paint on the buildings of others? Then of course there are those that consider it art!! Most of what one sees goes little further than to profess the love, or hatred for some person or cause. If one is very lucky, at least the message will be grammatically correct and have few spelling errors……. 

02 Panaderia

Having said all the above, one of the nearer villages opened its doors, or should I say walls, to graffiti artists…… and the emphasis here is on the last word, artists. They have turned the village of Alfamén into an open air art gallery…………

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Mantecados / Almond Biscuits

18 Baked

I was up in Sallent de Gállego in the Pyrenees a couple of weeks ago. As I have mentioned in the past, it really is a beautiful place to be and somewhere I keep saying I will visit more often…… although I never do! When we visit the town we always go to the local bakery to buy some “mantecados”, they really do bake some of the best I’ve tried. The problem is of course that they are so good that they soon disappear. I decided therefore it was about time I made my own version of these mantecado biscuits.

99 Sallent

These biscuits tend to have ground and chopped nuts in them, often almonds but also hazelnuts and pine nuts too. I used almonds, as I have lots of them from the orchard.

01 Almonds

Almond trees grow very well here and there are many fields of them around the village. As with many crops they are harvested by machine now instead of by the traditional manual methods. To collect the almonds the locals would lay nets under the trees then hit the branches with the locally available canes. The almonds would drop from the trees and be collected in the nets.

99 1 - Almonds, Collecting

Nowadays they use tractors with a special attachment that shakes the whole tree, with the almonds dropping into a special net that extends mechanically, like a butterfly’s wings,  unfurling from the tractor to wrap around the trunk of the tree.

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

Pollo al Chilindrón / Chicken in Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce

10 Finished dish

I have been quite busy the last few weeks. Having said that, those that know me would say  that I am never really not busy! Let’s just say then that I have been more busy than usual, processing all the fruit and vegetables this season brings. I am slowly filling up the larder, airing cupboards and freezers with bottled jams, chutneys and sauces, cupboards full of onions, garlic, apples and almonds as well as frozen fruit, vegetables and ready-made meals. I don’t mind, my efforts feed us through the winter months, and, to be honest, I like to be busy.

My Mother tells me that when I was a child the doctor prescribed “knock-out drops” to put me out when my energies showed no signs of waning. This would no doubt be frowned upon today. Nowadays my mother would have been given a booklet with advice on how to cope and I would have been assigned an acronym to cover my affliction. I don’t know if knock-out drops still exist….. but I do know my wife is searching incessantly for some…….

Today’s recipe is a simple traditional Spanish chicken and tomato dish. I chose it for a couple of reasons. Firstly it is quick so I can dedicate more time to the harvest. Secondly this dish uses tomato sauce, something I have in abundance at the moment. You can grow your own vegetables to make your own as I tend to do or, you can can go for the quicker option of buying what you need from a shop. Whichever route you take I would recommend that you buy the best ingredients. As this dish is so simple, there is nowhere to hide. I cook everything in the one pan, so there’s not much washing up with this recipe either!……………..

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

Natillas

05 Finished with sponge and cinnamon

Natillas are a traditional Spanish pudding that is similar in many ways to a posh cold custard! It is therefore very simple, but if made properly is quite delicious and it is one of my favourite Spanish desserts. This recipe was kindly given to us by an instructor at the Catering School in Ateca, near Calatayud in Spain. This gives me a segue, perhaps tenuous at best, to the diatribe for this week. Given that here in Spain June is the month of final school exams, and for the teacher this means long days of marking and soul searching, I thought I would talk about a teacher’s lot here in Spain.

But what is to teach?…… perhaps I should start there. According to my trusty Collins Contemporary Dictionary from 1959 it is “to instruct, to educate, to discipline, to impart knowledge”. You will notice that there is nothing in the description about the measurement of a student’s ability to assimilate what he has been taught i.e. the setting and marking of exams. This to me is logical, wherever one looks in industry the work produced is always checked by an independent team or group. The worthiness of a new car is not checked by the team that built it, the correctness of a new computer programme is not checked by those that wrote it. So why do many teachers fight for the right to set and mark their own exams?……………..

99 Ateca

Ateca

………………… to read the full article and view the recipe, please click here.


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Bizcocho de Almendras / Almond Cake

07 Finished cake, cut

A couple of weeks ago I published an article titled Pollo en Pepitoria / Tarazona Chicken. As I mentioned at the time, we were on the way back from a weekend in Olite. This recipe is also inspired by that weekend away.

We actually stayed in the Parador in Olite. For those of you unfamiliar with the Spanish Paradors, they are state owned hotels in renovated castles and palaces. They are in some of the most amazing buildings, often perched on high with commanding views. I also believe that they are reasonably priced and as such I would recommend them to anyone. We opted to eat one of our meals in the Parador and we were served what they called an Ujué almond cake…………..

………………… My first visit to the town was many, many years ago. I liked it then, but it has in fact improved since that first visit. Whilst we were there we could see that they were re-cobbling many of the streets. From the areas that were finished we could see that it was well conceived and constructed and should improve and harmonise the structure of this medieval village. They have also done work in restoring the church and the availability of tourist information at key points within and without the building itself. The church itself really is a magnificent edifice to behold………….

2017 03 21 Ujue

………The cake is really simple to make and with some flaked almonds and icing sugar can be made into quite a centre-piece for when next you have some friends over…….

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


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge