Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

14 Ready to eat

Stuffed piquillo peppers is a dish one would serve in Spain on special occasions, but is in fact so easy to make it could be served every day. These peppers look good and taste good, thanks to their bright red colour, their rich flavour and their mild peppery warmth. They really are fantastic peppers to cook with and are common in many traditional Spanish dishes.

So, you might ask, if this recipe is so good, then why have I taken this long to publish it?

As an ex-IT engineer, I could blame it all on the recipe database programme I have….. but that would be an over simplification. The problem is that the database I have is too good, and storing recipes in it is in fact too easy. The tool I use can generally automatically grab recipes from websites….. I don’t have to type anything, just press a button. My over-active button pressing finger mean that I have lost control of what I have……

…….Anyway, back to the recipe. This one is a gem as I said above, get the right peppers and give it a try, you will not be disappointed:

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


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Carrilleras de Cerdo / Pork Cheeks

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Not my usual format of article this week as I am going to jump straight into the recipe. Apart from not having fully thought out where this article will actually go, I wanted to talk about the recipe before some of you decide not to read any further. Yes, pork cheeks and they are delicious, trust me!! If my recommendation is not enough, you might not be aware that it is served in one of the finest traditional London restaurants, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, and it is far from the cheapest starter on their menu……

It is some time since I sampled this restaurants board of fare, in fact it was many years ago when I found myself in London, on business, with a small group of Americans. I was volunteered to choose the restaurant, and chose Simpson’s. It is of course quintessentially British and perfect for visitors looking to immerse themselves in Simpson’s 185 years of culinary history. The truth is that I also wanted to try the restaurant as my parents-in-law had gone there on a sightseeing trip to London and had extolled its virtues to me on numerous occasions since………

……..In some ways the result is much like a “beef bourguignon”, where the slow cooking tenderises what is a relatively poor cut of meat whilst the red wine adds depth of flavour to the plate of food. As it is a local recipe and the cheeks are cooked in wine, I chose a bottle from the village here that a neighbour had kindly given us:

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


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

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.

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.

Coney Rice

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Do you remember the “good old days” when you could call a company and get a real, living breathing person on the other end? In the dim and distant past when the oxymoron, “intelligent systems”, was just a few sparking neurones in some computer programmers head? Today I thought I would share with you a tale of man against machine which left me wondering just what the world was coming to.

A few days back I had to call a utility company to increase our contracted service and therefore increase the monthly charge we paid. The call was of course answered by a machine with a list of menu options and the associated keys I ought to press to have my call attended to correctly. Of course something always goes wrong and after about half a dozen calls I was no nearer having my monthly charge increased. I spoke to lots of polite agents, all willing to help. Unfortunately of course, as I had gone through to the wrong departments, the agents were unable to help and, of course, they were unable to transfer the call to the right department………

………….. So why a diatribe on intelligent systems? Well I received a request to facilitate the translation of my articles on the blog-site.  For those of you who need it, you will now see a button down on the left underneath my photograph……

…………today’s recipe, as it is a dish made with wild rabbits. You can of course use shop-bought rabbit or indeed other meats, for example chicken. It is a simple but delicious dish which I hope you will enjoy. 

For the full article and the recipe, please click here.

Coca en Llanda (Valencian Walnut Cake)

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Zaragoza is at the centre of a motorway hub with major roads heading south towards Madrid, north-west towards Bilbao and the Cantabrian Coast, east towards Barcelona and the Costa Brava and south-east towards Valencia and on to Alicante. In spite of this, most people from Zaragoza tend to travel to the Pyrenees or to Salou depending upon whether they want mountains or beaches for their holiday break. The same is true for many of the villages around the city.

Although we live in a village relatively close to Zaragoza, living as we do to the south-east, we and most of the people from this area tend to take the nearby motorway towards Valencia and Alicante. We like the food to be found between Valencia and Alicante, especially the paellas and, with the exception of few over-exploited beaches, we find many of the towns are small and still retaining much of their original charm. One such town is Oliva.

2016 09 12 Sant Roc Church Oliva

We ended up there on a whim, spending a most enjoyable weekend at a rural hotel called “El Sequer”…………

The hotel itself is a jewel, tucked away amongst palm trees and orange groves. The hotel and rooms are beautifully decorated with antique furniture and fittings. There are comfortable rooms to relax in within the hotel, but better still are the outdoor seating areas within the gardens or beside the pool.

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Breakfast was served in the gardens of the hotel, with a view across the gardens, pool and orange groves. It was here, amongst a selection of other local delicacies that I first tried the Coca en Llanda. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and told them so. The following day I was welcomed to the breakfast table with a new, freshly made one……..

…….. The Coca en Llanda is typical from Valencia. Coca is the local word for cake whilst Llanda is the metal tray in which this cake is baked. The Coca is normally rectangular in shape and should be around a couple of inches, five centimetres tall.

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

Liebre con Alubias (Beans with Wild Hare)

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I heard a new term this last week, “Nature Deficit Disorder” (NDD). Although not a recognised medical condition at the moment, I guess it is only a matter of time before it becomes one. Yet another medical condition or label we can assign to our children. It is almost as if we need new terminology to legitimise our / their poor habits or behaviours. NDD is all about children losing contact with nature, they are not experiencing it, they are not even seeing it first hand. The nearest many of them get to nature is looking at images on a computer screen.

Not so long ago the majority of children spent most of their free time playing out in the streets, parks and countryside. In fact the biggest challenge for parents was rounding up their wanderlust imbued offspring of a night…….

……..  I have always been an outdoor person and, luckily, I have always been pretty observant too. There is nothing I like more than to wander through the wilds, quietly, often on my own, absorbing the sights and sounds of nature. In the area where I live there are many wild animals and exotic plants and flowers for those with the eyes to see……

……… What for me has been the sight of the year though is a genet, a beautiful and illusive creature I have managed to see a couple of times at dusk……

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Genet (Archive Photograph)

……… This week therefore I wanted to talk about hare, and the typical dish from the village here. The neighbour, Javier, is a hunter and some time ago he gave us our first wild hare. His wife explained a local recipe to us, that we have repeated on numerous occasions over the years. It is as simple as it gets, just four ingredients. The results are delicious and perfect for these cooler and wetter autumnal and winter days.

For the full article and the recipe please click here.