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Almogrote – Canary Island Cheesy Tomato Spread

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This recipe is translated (by me) from “Lo Mejor de la Cocina Canaria”, quite a cheap, small book, that is totally packed with traditional Canarian campesino recipes without any modern embellishments or attempts to update recipes, which is very much a strength. All the recipes are real rural Spanish cooking, packed full of garlic, oil  and big flavours. I think there is probably an English version floating around, at least in some gift shops somewhere on the islands.

This recipe makes quite a simple, but sophisticated-feeling started, which is enjoyed smeared on crunchy bread and goes very well with a glass of wine.

 

. The traditional cheese is hard matured goats cheese. Other strong salty cheeses work well in this too, for example if you happen to have an old block of Parmesan that is going hard around the edges and you don’t know what to use it for, try making this!

– Recipe –

Ingredients

250g hard Cheese // 250g ripe Tomatoes // 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled // 1 small hot Chilli, veins and seeds removed // Oil // Salt

  1. Pound the Garlic with the chilli and a little salt in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Remove the skin and seeds from the Tomato, and then cut and squash the pieces with a fork.
  3. When it is well-ground add the Garlic and Chilli paste and mix it all in.
  4. Grate the Cheese and mix it in with the paste, add a splash of Oil and then beat the paste with a fork until you have made a well-integrated sauce.

Serve with crusty bread, Enjoy!

Chipacitos Correntinos, Argentinian Cheese-Bread

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There a are hundreds of variations on this recipe and loads of names for them, chipá, cuñapé, pão de queijo. The recipe originates with the Guaraní people of Southern South America and can be found in the areas they originate from, so Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay. This recipe comes from Corrientes, a very green province, flanked by two enormous rivers in the far north east of Argentina.  The most important thing, more important that whichever name you may choose to use, is that they are delicious and very very cheesy!

The flour for this recipe can easily be found in Asian and African supermarkets, but is rare in the typical large British supermarkets, it can be found named as ‘tapioca’, ‘manioc’, ‘mandioca’, or ‘cassava’ and listed as a ‘starch’ or ‘flour’, there is no difference between these, if it has any of these names then you have the right product. The original recipe I was given suggested using Gouda cheese, but after looking around online for a while I settled for a mix of Parmesan and Manchego, which produced a flavour I was very satisfied with.

– Recipe –

Ingredients

500g  Tapioca Starch // 1 Egg // 100g Butter or Lard (at room temperature) // 100g Grated Parmesan // 100g Manchego Cheese, cut into 5mm cubes // 1 soup-spoon of Salt // 160 ml Milk // 160 ml Orange Juice

  1. Mix the Flour with the Salt by hand and then rub in the Butter, continue rubbing in all of the Cheese until it is incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the Eggs, the Orange Juice, and the Milk.
  3. Slowly mix the liquids into the Dough, a little at a time and then add more Milk as needed (literally a drip at a time) until you have a firm, but not damp, Dough. When I made it the Dough would occasionally crumble, but could easily just be rolled back into shape.
  4. Roll the Dough into roughly 2cm wide tubes and then cut into 2cm segments. Roll these segments in your hands into small balls. Put them to cool in the fridge or the freezer.
  5. Heat the oven to 220c (200c fan over, gas mark 7), and then when piping hot, put the cold balls in on a tray. Cook for approx 10-14 minutes until just starting to brown in places.

Best enjoyed while piping hot! The texture will firm up and change as the balls cool, they will keep for a day or two, but it is hard to keep them that long!

Ropa Vieja de Pollo Canaria – Canary Island Style Shredded Chicken and Chickpeas

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The Cuban version of this dish, made with slow-cooked beef flank, is much more famous, however Canary island style Ropa Vieja is equally delicious.The flavours are smooth and subtle producing a delicious and hearty meal that really is worth giving a go. The recipe I am translating is from Lo Mejor De La Comida Canaria (Felisa Vera & Remedios Sosa),  the original mixes beef or pork with chicken but I have adapted it a little to make a chicken only recipe, for two reasons: 1. because that is what in had in the pantry, and 2. because in the restaurant menus I saw in the Canary Islands Beef and Chicken versions were offered but not mixed.

A few notes for the recipe, make sure you keep the extra stock from cooking the chicken. I often use chicken stock as the base liquid for cooking rice, but otherwise you can use it for soups and stews. While I used Rice the original recipe called for frying Potato cubes and mixing them in just before serving, either option or using other side dishes is fine, just choose something starchy that will absorb the delicious flavours of the juices!

– Recipe –

Ingredients

500g Chickpeas // 1kg Chicken (use a small whole bird in large cuts or thighs) // 1 small glass of White Wine // 2 Tomatoes // 1 Onion // 1 Bell Pepper // 3 Garlic Cloves // Thyme // Bay // Saffron // Parsley // Paprika

  1. Put the Chickpeas to soak (unless using canned in which case add them to the stock at the end of stage 3)
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the Chickpeas with the meat cut into large chunks and a big sprinkle of Salt.
  3. When the meat has softened (45 minutes + depending on the size/type), reserve the stock for later use, chop and shred the meat into strips.
  4. Finely chop the Onion and Tomato, and chop the Bell Pepper into small cubes. Grind the Garlic to a paste and mix it in, add a liberal amount of Black Pepper, a teaspoon of Paprika, a pinch of Saffron and Salt.
  5. Fry this mix with a little Oil, when it is almost all cooked through add the glass of Wine, a handful of chopped Parsley, a teaspoon of fresh Thyme leaves, a Bay Leaf and the Meat/Chickpea mix.
  6. Simmer the mix for a few more minutes, season if needed, and then serve hot.

Enjoy!

Bienmesabe – Canarian Creamed Almond Pudding

Served over icecream

Bien-me-sabe translates as “tastes good to me”, which is such a strange name for a dessert, but at the same time a fitting description. It is a popular and fairly simple dessert in the Canary islands, and like so many Spanish dishes it has it’s origins in Arabic cuisine. A bit of internet sleuthing suggests that a lady called Matilde Arroyo was responsible for making the recipe as popular as it is today in the islands, every website on the topic seems to repeat that she is “la madre de bienmesabe”. I didn’t get to go to La Palma island, but here is a link to her award winning pastry shop. I also found recipes for an Andelucian version “Bienmesabe Antequerano”, which seems to be essentially the same only some of the recipes use sweet wine as an ingredient. Depending on how much water you boil off (and also if you chill it) bienmesabe can be prepared as anything from a thin sauce to a set dessert.

Some recipes call for toasted almonds and the original recipe I am translating uses raw almonds, however here I am using blanched and peeled ones as it just saves an awful lot of time and effort. I have included an image of the recipe I am translating, if you look at it you will notice I have quartered the amounts of ingredients as this is a very rich recipe. This amount makes more than enough to use it as a sauce for topping ice-cream for 4 or so people. Only make more if you are going to be feeding quite a large group of people or are happy to face the consequences of tooth decay!

– Recipe –

Ingredients

125g Blanched and Slivered Almonds // 190g White Sugar // 125mls Water // 2 Egg Yolks // Zest from half a Lime // 1/2 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

  1. Peel and grind the Almonds (to a texture like grit, most pulverized with some small pieces remaining)
  2. Make a syrup by slightly heating the Water, and adding the Sugar when it has warmed a little, stir regularly.
  3. The moment the syrup is ready (the Sugar has dissolved) add in the Almonds, Lime Zest and the Cinnamon. Leave it on a low heat to thicken for a few minutes, cool it.
  4. When it is cold beat the Egg Yolks into the paste then put it on the heat until it just reaches a boil.
  5. Let it cool before serving. In some areas it will also be topped with peeled toasted Almonds.

Enjoy!

Juicy Argentinian Empanadas

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These are delicious! And everyone knows that, which is why there are already a million empanada recipes online, so I don’t think anyone is ever going to see my recipe, which is a shame as these are delicious and the recipe comes straight from Corrientes Province.

You can fill empanadas with literally anything you like as long as it is tasty, the filling suggestions I was given with the recipe are; ham & cheese, cheese & onion, pancetta plum & cheese, blue cheese & bacon, sauteed vegetables, humita (similar to tamale dough), mushroom, cheese and sherry, tomato cheese & basil, tuna, mixed cheeses… you get the idea, sweetened and fruit flavoured empanadas can also be made as a dessert.

– Recipe –

makes roughly 40 empanadas

– The Filling –

1.5kg Beef (Sirloin Tip is very cheap and ideal, otherwise Chuck, or Rump Roast) // 250g Lard // 125ml Vegetable Oil // 4 medium Onions // 4 Red Bell Peppers // 1 large Potato //  1 Beef Stock-cube dissolved in 50mls Water // 1.5 tablespoons Paprika // Cumin, Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Finely dice the Beef into very small pieces or mince using the coarsest setting possible (you want the beef to still have texture).
  2. Peel and then chop the Potato into 1cm cubes, to help them keep their texture mix these with a cupful of vinegar and then wash them with a small amount of cold water.
  3. Warm the Lard in a pan and mix with 75ml of the Oil. Finely chop the Onion and Bell Pepper, add the onion to the pan for a few minutes and then the Bell Pepper. Add the Beef to the mix and season well with the Cumin, Salt and Pepper. Add in the Stock and the Potato cubes, then when the meat is cooked through mix in the Paprika. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Allow the mix to cool and then leave to thicken in the fridge for at least a few hours or  at best a day.

– The Dough –

1kg Plain Flour // 250g Lard (or Butter) // 250ml lukewarm Water (mixed with one soup-spoon of Coarse Salt) // 1 tablespoon Paprika

  1. Mix the Flour with the Paprika and make a well in the middle.
  2. Melt the Lard and mix it into the Flour. Slowly add the Water to the dough, a little at a time until it is smooth and moist but not too sticky.Leave the dough to rest for an hour.
  3. Cut the dough into manageable sections and roll the sections out (wide rectangles work better than rounded shapes). Use a saucer about 10-14cm wide to cut out circles of the dough. Then rub Flour on the surface of each of the circles and stack them on a plate and store in the fridge.

– Finishing –

a bunch of Green Onions // 4 Eggs // Black Olives

  1. Hard boil the Eggs and when cooled chop into small cubes, chop the Olives into pieces of equal size and finely chop the Green Onions.
  2. Take out the Dough disks from the fridge and hold one in the palm of your hand, place a heaped tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the disk then sprinkle the Green Onion, Egg and Black Olives on top.
  3. And now the hard to explain bit, not least because I am not all the great at it, so here is a video showing how you hacer el repulgue, or crimp-it as we Brits say.
  4. The recipe-giver had no idea what the cooking temperature is (apparently she normally looks at the size of the flame), so we went heated the oven to 200c and for half the batch and shallow-fat fried the rest in a pan. If cooking in the oven then glaze the Empanadas with Egg, if frying leave unglazed.
  5. They are done when they are golden all over and piping hot inside.

Enjoy!

How to make delicious Fruit Liquors: a tribute to Japanese Umeshu

Umeshu after 4 months of soaking

There are a lot of wild plum and greengage trees near to my house and they all seemed to crop incredibly well this year, after starting a gallon of plum wine and making a lot of plum jam there were still thousands of fruits on the trees, the majority of which I knew would simply rot and go to waste on the floor. So I started looking into more ways to use the fruit harvest when someone mentioned that it would probably be pretty easy to make a drink like Umeshu… Well that turned out to be a great idea. The Japanese plum or ume (Prunus mume) is halfway to an apricot in flavour, so tastes slightly different to this recipe which used the fruit of a sweet, late-season red-skinned cultivar of Prunus domestica. But like with Umeshu I only used the still-firm unripe fruit. I think the similarities between the two flavours are close enough for this to be a very similar drink, and using wild plums fits much more into the whole gathering ethos than paying hefty import costs for something only slightly different to the fruit I can get for free.

This basic recipe can be used for any fruit liqueur, at the moment I am also making blackberry whisky using the same principle, and next summer I am going to be making batches using strawberries and currant fruits from the garden too. You simply need to steep fresh fruits with sugar in a hard alcohol of your choice for at least 3 months (and preferably around 6), to produce a delicious and versatile liquor.

– Recipe –

  1. Clean a tall jar with a tight fitting lid, the bigger the jar the more drink you can make.
  2. Wash the Fruit you are going to use, discarding any damaged or discoloured fruit.
  3. Pour the fruit into the jar until it roughly half fills the jar and then weigh the Fruit.
  4. Measure out half the weight of the fruit in Sugar, then pour both the Sugar and the Fruit into the jar.
  5. Pour your chosen alcohol in (Vodka is best for a clean fruit flavour) until the Fruit is covered completely by roughly an inch of alcohol, close the lid and shake well.
  6. Put this in a cool dark place for at least 3 months (and preferably around 6), shaking it every week or so.

Enjoy!

Kvass – Russian Rye Beer

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If anyone browses the drink section on this blog maybe they will notice that I am a bit of a fan of lightly fermented alcoholic drinks. This is now number 4, after being given a recipe from a friend I had to have a go at making it.To recap we have had tepache – made from pineapple, ginger beer – everyone knows that, sima – made from lemons, a bit less usual but not too odd sounding, and now kvass – made by fermenting rye husks!

It’s light and summery tasting with a delicious sour twang, perfect for hot days (which are sadly drawing to a close for the year!). To make kvass you need to use proper loaves of rye bread (not the crispbread stuff that is easier to find in the UK), most cities in the UK now have a few Polski skleps so try one of those or health food stores to find the bread if it isn’t readily available. When complete the drink will come out in the 1-3% percent range and get stronger (as well as less sweet) the longer you leave it. The recipe was given to me by a friend and has been pretty much copied straight here, just with a little reformatting.

 – Kvass –

Ingredients

1 loaf of rye-bread // 8 litres of water // 55 grams of yeast // 220 grams of sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter) // raisins (a handful)

  1. First, you need to slice the bread and put it into oven (to rusk/dry it). Be careful not to overcook it.
  2. Then you boil water and add the sugar into it.
  3. Put the rusks into a pot and add the sweetened water. Leave it until it cools down.
  4. Next add the yeast. Don’t cap the bottles you’re using (my mum used big 3-litre glass bottles), just cover them with a canvas or a towel and leave them on the table or window sill for one day to a day and a half.
  5. After that, filter it and add some more sugar and raisins. You can also add peppermint/blackcurrant leaves or ash-berries (we’ve never tried this, though).
  6. Leave it for one more day, filter it again (you can wash the raisins and put them back into the drink). Pour it into plastic bottles and put into fridge, it will be ready to serve once chilled. You can adjust the flavour before serving by adding more sugar if needed.
  7. The mash left from filtering can be used again (put rusks, yeast and sugar again). If re-used the next portion will be tastier and stronger.
    That’s it.

Enjoy!