Labneh, Dukkah and Matsoni

13 Finished Labneh and Dukkah

I wanted to talk to you about three things today, labneh, dukkah and matsoni. As you will see from this article, all three items are more or less related. Labneh is a soft cheese made from thick Greek yoghurt, matsoni is a type of yoghurt and dukkah is a spice mix that goes well with labneh. I have been experimenting with the three of them over the last couple of weeks and thought it was time to share my findings with you all. Let’s start with matsoni.

I have made my own yoghurt in the past and I still have a yoghurt maker, but for a number of reasons it has pretty much sat there collecting dust after my initial enthusiasm wained. Recent changes in yoghurt availability, or lack of, here in the village shop had me thinking that the time was ripe to start making yoghurt again. At more or less the same time I heard about matsoni, also known as Caspian Sea yoghurt. There are a couple of things that attracted me to matsoni…….

Firstly you don’t need a yoghurt maker! The bacteria in matsoni can do their work at around the 20ºC mark. Here at least the temperature is often above this. Even now, in winter, I have had no problems as I just put the mixture near a radiator. Even though our radiators switch off at night, this has in no way deterred the bacteria from performing their function!

Secondly, you can make this yoghurt ad infinitum. If you want to get away from shop bought products and their additives, this is the one for you. Just hold back a small portion of one batch of yoghurt to make the next, it is as simple as that!

14 Matsoni

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

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Scones

19 Scones

Scones, there are few things that are quite as English as scones….. just think afternoon or cream tea in a flower filled garden on a nice sunny day. Ok, I know, the sunny bit is stretching it a little, but you get the idea. Just perform a search for “cream tea” in your favourite internet browser and you will find that just about all the photographs on display show a plate of scones!

The custom of afternoon tea supposedly originated in the 1840’s at the behest of Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford. Before the end of the century it had become common amongst the upper and middle classes. To be honest, I have never really partaken of afternoon tea as such, but it does remind me of the afternoon meal observed at the farm I worked on for a while in my teens.

20 Freisans

Archive Photograph – Freisans

The farmer’s wife would serve a fine spread of cakes and pastries at around 5:00 pm, for the whole family, temporary workers and hangers-on (me). The large farmhouse kitchen would be full, at least temporarily, with delicious smells and hungry mouths. It was designed as a large snack, something to tide them over before a larger more formal meal, once milking was finished. On that dairy farm at least, the day began and ended with the milking of around one hundred Friesians.

Scones also take me back to my infancy and watching mothers and neighbours baking. Perhaps I was, unbeknownst to myself, attracted to the idea of baking and cooking in general? More likely I guess it was simply that I wanted to be first in line to sample the still warm fare, or my desire to help them clean up after their baking, by licking out the bowls and spoons!

Archive Photogrpah - Cream Tea

Archive Photograph – A Cream Tea

But of course licking out the bowls is no longer safe, the killjoys are out in force to destroy yet another humble yet enjoyable pastime……. I have just read an article on the BBC’s news website that particularly dismayed me and in more ways than one…….

 

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Patatas a la Riojana

31 Patata a la Riojana

A couple of weeks back my wife and I went for a weekend away to the Parador of Alcañiz. Paradores are state-run hotels that are well worth a visit if you are in Spain. Often perched on high, these old castles, palaces and monasteries are both luxurious and spectacular. If you want more information, I mentioned them in a previous article that you can read here or visit their website via following link: Paradores website.

2017 11 02 Parador Alcañiz

I had been to this particular Parador before, having had a sumptuous meal there some years ago. I had been invited to attend the wedding banquet of a friend of mine, but at the time I did not stay overnight. I had been in the general area before too, and knew a little of the city, but this was the first time that I would be spending significant time there.

Alcañiz has some very impressive buildings, including the Parador, theTown Hall and various churches. I would also recommend going underground and visiting the impressive medieval tunnel system and also the underground fridges. In winter snow used to be brought down from the surrounding hills and packed into these fridges to eventually form blocks of ice. The more wealthy citizens could then buy chilled drinks in the warmer summer months.

2017 11 10 Subteranean Pasages

Alcañiz also has a river running at its feet, with overhead pedestrian walkways that I particularly liked, first for the view and secondly, because they led us to the lunchtime restaurant of our first day there………………

2017 11 15 Walkways with historic centre

…………… And so, after my customary mental musings let’s get back to the recipe for today and those Patatas a la Riojana. Simple, basic Spanish ingredients but with a flavour and colour kick from the typical Riojan choricero peppers. A perfect warming and delicious dish for these colder months of the year!

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Candied Ginger Brack

11 Bought Brak

My Mother, in spite of just having reached a significant birthday milestone, is “como una rosa”…… like a rose. An English one, and a red one at that. Today however my recipe comes from the white rose county of Yorkshire. My Mother gave me a version of a Yorkshire Brack, a Stem Ginger Brack, when I was over for her aforementioned birthday. It was delicious with butter, or indeed with custard, as per the image above.

We visited a couple of garden centres whilst I was there. My Mother enjoys going to them and, given the lousy weather up North, I guess there isn’t much else one can do on a typical inclement, windswept day. It is also true that garden centres have come of age and offer a wide range of services. I tend to focus on the seeds and plants which, although of great interest to my Mother too, are but a small part of what is on offer in your average modern garden centre……..…

06 Lilly - To use - Updated

A recent article in the British Daily Mail newspaper stated that “there are around 2,700 garden centres in the UK, and the market is worth £5 billion a year”. With the abundance of garden centres I see around my Mother’s, I would suggest that the article has vastly understated these numbers. The article also stated that they have become “destination stores” or “retail experiences”. From what I saw after visiting a couple on this last trip, I can say that this is certainly the case!

08 Poppy - To use - Updated

Garden centres have changed over the years and probably the last thing a visitor needs these days are green fingers or eau de manure! It is hard to find one without a café or restaurant, a food section  and a section dedicated to the home…. something indeed to tempt just about everyone. My Mother and I ended up in once such mega-centre, a place called Barton Grange. They had a fine selection of plants, and all the now typical aforementioned sections, but they also had two other items I thought worthy of mention…… firstly they sold the “Stem Ginger Brack” my Mother had fed me, and secondly they had some unusual sculptures on show. You can see photographs of them throughout the article. Apart from being expensive sculptures by an American artist called Clark Sorensen, they also have a practical purpose……. but can you guess what it is?…………………

 

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Chicken Korma

23 Chicken Korma

There are a couple of food bloggers I follow fairly regularly and others whose blogs I visit when I see something interesting. From time to time I see an article or an advertisement that entices me to view their site. Some turn out to be good, whilst some of course are poor. Recently I saw a Spanish blogger posting a recipe for a chicken curry. I couldn’t really make out what was being shown in the photograph of the dish as it was just a thumbnail. Intrigued I decided to visit the blogger’s website.

The picture turned out to be an insipid slice of chicken breast on a bed of a yellow sauce that looked far from appetising. To be brutally honest it looked like someone’s stomach contents that had decided to revisit the world of the living! Talking to people here in Spain my impression is that people really didn’t know much about preparing Indian food at home. I decided therefore to aright the wrong and publish one of my Indian dishes that is both tasty and very easy to make.

My first taste of Indian food was far from a pleasant experience. Back home, in the North of England, “real” men used to go out of a night, down multiple pints of beer in imitation of a drought-stricken camel, then hit the local Indian for their spiciest Vindaloo. I am sure the Indian restaurants threw caution and their cookbooks to the wind, forsaking flavour and balance and concentrating just on making it as hot as possible. They were probably laughing all the way to the cash register………

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

La Crème Pignoulet / Crème brûlée

22 Le Crême Pignoulet : Crème brûlée

The French have done it again, they have left me speechless and not for the first time. I am talking food of course, and their attitude to it! I was in France over the summer and I had one of the simplest, yet sublimely made puddings in years.

So what is it with the French and food? I put it down to the love and care they invariably lavish on the cooking of their food. Don’t get me wrong, once can find excellent restaurants across the globe. Here in Spain for example there are some of the best restaurants in the world. France also has some really excellent world-class restaurants, but it is the quality of your average village restaurant that is worthy of note.  They will often serve an exquisitely prepared meal for a relative pittance. The pudding I ate, the object of this article, was served to me as part of the restaurant’s 12€ daily three-course menu.

I had gone over the Pyrenees and was eating in one of my favourite restaurants in the town of Laruns. Both the town and the restaurant have been the object of previous articles, but I can never resist just popping over the border, filling up the car with local edible French goodies, then topping up my own tank with a good meal in the restaurant there.

The restaurant is called “L’Arrégalet” and is on a side-street not that far from the central square:

01 The restaurant

They call their pudding “La Crème Pignoulet”.

02 Their Crême

I don’t often ask the restaurants I visit for any details of the food they serve, they are after all running a business, creating and serving their dishes to make money. It does not therefore seem appropriate for me to “steal” any of their secrets, and publish them on the Internet for all to see.

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

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

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