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

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