Pollo en Pepitoria / Tarazona Chicken

14 Finished dishPollo en Pepitoria, according to the Internet, is a typical Spanish way of cooking meat, generally chicken, where the cooking liquids are enriched and thickened by egg yolks and almonds. Although it is a traditional and therefore long-standing dish, it is not actually that common in Spanish bars or restaurants. It is however quite delicious so I decided to give it a try. It is also typical of a town not that far from here called Tarazona. We ended up stopping in the town on the way back from a very recent trip to Olite. I therefore thought it was a good excuse to publish this recipe……

The first time I went to Tarazona was around twenty years ago. We had an English friend staying with us and we were looking for somewhere different to take him. We had heard a lot about the famous fiestas in Tarazona so we set off, together with my then young son, to partake first hand of their most unusual tradition. Basically, on the first day of the fiestas, nigh on 20,000 tomatoes are thrown by thousands of people at one guy in an elaborately coloured suit! This colourful human bullseye is called the “Cipotegato”.

Archive Photograph

…………. The Cipotegato has to make a kamikaze run of just over 1Km through the streets of Tarazona, protected by his friends, whilst subject to a veritable storm of tomatoes that rain down from all sides. The run concludes in the Plaza España where, from on high, he removes the mask, that had until then hidden his identity………..

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


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Torrijas

10 Ready to eat

I posted no recipe last week as I spent Easter in the north of England. For those of you waiting patiently for something to arrive, I apologise, but as you can imagine I didn’t want to post on-line the fact that I was not at home for a week. I don’t believe in taking risks if they can be avoided, and sometimes the consequences of publishing information on-line can be far-reaching.

I left for England out of Madrid, travelling to and from the airport by car, one which was over-loaded by a couple of large, heavy suitcases. I am rather deft at over-packing suitcases, more than once they have slapped on a “heavy” sticker to warn the baggage handlers of their impending doom! The trip itself reminded me of the many times I had travelled the route when I worked and had an office in Madrid, and the fully loaded car reminded me of one particular trip back from Madrid airport one Christmas Eve……..

I had travelled down to Madrid to pick up my parents who  were to spend Christmas in Spain with my wife and with our then young children. They arrived with cases full of Christmas presents that I somehow managed to fit into the small car. They had taken a relatively late flight and it was dusk by the time I drove out of the airport, it was also beginning to snow! As we headed up into the mountains on the long drive back, it began to snow heavily. We also started to see the occasional accident where drivers had gone off the road. Even I was getting nervous by this point, but we decided to plough on.

There is a large service area called “Area 103”, which is, not surprisingly, 103 km from Madrid. As we got there we saw that the police had effectively closed the motorway off. They were stopping each car, sending just about everybody off to the parking area of the service station or back down to Madrid. When it was our turn they asked if we had chains to put onto the wheels to provide additional traction over the snow covered road. I replied in the negative, given that we had none with us. As you can imagine I was more than surprised to be allowed through, able to continue my journey north.

I have never understood why we were let through. Did they think that being English I knew how to drive on snow even without chains? Did they think that Spain would be better off without one more family of mad Brits? I have no idea, but however it was we headed off into the cold, snowy night, with “just” 200km between us and home…..…

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


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Stewed Potatoes

11 Served 03

Of course there are many dishes in Spain that are elaborate or employ more advanced cooking techniques, but it must be said that many others base their success on simple, well-cooked quality ingredients. Simple traditional Spanish meals are quite often my favourites and what I most make at home. Also, as it is Mediterranean style cooking, it is also supposedly a much healthier way of eating. There are quite a few articles on the subject on the BBC News website. Here are just a few of the ones I found:

Mediterranean diet keeps people ‘genetically young’

Mediterranean diet is best way to tackle obesity, say doctors

Mediterranean diet ‘cuts cancer’

Med diet ‘cuts lung disease risk’

Med diet ‘helps prevent diabetes’
Med diet ‘could prevent asthma’

Mediterranean diet ‘reduces pensioner brain shrinkage’

Med diet ‘reduces dementia risk’

And my favourite……..

Med-style diet ‘can battle blues’

I wonder if it is perhaps due to the wine we drink?? ………

……..And so, finally, this weeks recipe, a typical Spanish dish. This one doesn’t promise the moon, it is just a simply, everyday recipe for a warming big-soup. I think it tastes delicious and it is easy and cheap to make. As is often the case with many Spanish dishes, it has little meat, just 10g per head. The meat though, in this case chorizo, does add a lot of flavour to the soup so in spite of the small amount it is worth adding in. The other great thing about the soup is that it is better the following day. The stock thickens when left due to the starch in the potatoes. It is therefore a great dish to make the day before then just reheat when you want to eat it.

For the full article and the recipe please click here.


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

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

06 Finished cheeks 4 - Close-up

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:

98 Wine Label - Los Pilares de la Tierra - 1

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

22-cake-on-a-plate

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.

01-la-almunia-cropped

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

10-finished-dish-on-plate-4-cleaned

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.

11-lanuza-and-foratata

12-sallent-village

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.