Archive for the ‘Spanish’ Category

We ate this in a restaurant a few months ago and was delicious. I have been wanting to cook this dish since then. The ink gives the dish a salty taste of the sea and the “chipirones”  even came with their ink conveniently packaged in a small perforated plastic bag. Now that’s evolution for you.


  • chipirones (baby squid) prepared
  • the ink of the chipirones
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil to soften. Add the baby squid on a low heat.

Add tomato puree, and the wine and a little seasoning. cook in the pan for about 20 minutes on the low heat. At the end, stir in the ink and serve with basmati rice.


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Simple and delicious. This is an absolute staple of the Spanish diet. Un bocadillo de Calamares (a squid sandwich) is a Madrid favourite, the most famous place to get them being “El Brilliante” near the Reina Sofia art gallery. If cooked correctly they should be soft, not chewy. You should be able to get them fairly easily in most places and the fishmonger will usually cut them into rings for you.


  • calamares (squid)
  • flour
  • eggs
  • salt
  • olive oil for frying


Heat some olive oil in a pan to a medium high temperature.

Wash and dry the squid rings, they will retain a bit of moisture so that the flour will stick to them. Then put them in the flour with a pinch of salt.

Dip the floured squid rings in a bowl of beaten eggs, and then immediately put them in the hot oil. Fry for about 2-3 minutes until the batter is golden brown in colour.

Serve immediately. Good luck and we are always keen to hear if you have tried to make anything from our instructions.

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I was very fortunate to be invited by my student and friend Andres to lunch. Andres is from Sevilla, living in Madrid and wanted to give me the opportunity to taste some of his favourite dishes from his homeland of Andalucia. The restaurant is named after the tower of the cathedral in Sevilla. As you will see from the pictures below, is littered with bullfighting memorabilia, as the owner was actually a “torero” himself and from his earnings in the plaza de toros of Spain has managed to establish numerous restaurants across the capital. There is even a Bull’s head in the main dining area as if to keep an eye on you while you eat.

The food was wonderful, and made with a lightness of touch that might appear simple but believe me, takes time to perfect. The wine was “Verdejo” and was served very cold. It was really fresh tasting and accompanied the fish wonderfully.

The matador pictured below is “Manolete” which is also the name of a 2007 film starring Adrien Brody and Penelope Cruz. He was arguably one of the most famous matadors in Spanish history and regarded by many as the best ever. He was, according to Andres, famed for his ability to allow the bull to pass several times whilst remaining on exactly the same spot.

To start we ate “tortillita de camarones” which was a batter made from special flour, I believe it was corn flour, eggs and water, mixed with tiny prawns and parsley and fried in very hot olive oil. The result was a kind of cookie like texture, crispy on the outside with some give in the middle.

Next was “Boquerones fritos” deep fried battered anchovies. As you can see, from the picture, they look beautiful. Different from my attempt a while back as you have to have thoroughly dry the fish in order for the batter to coat the fish successfully. Check out my effort here… I will be returning to this dish.

Here is a photo of the next course. more batter but this time, two different items. On the left we ate “huevas fritas” which is fish eggs served in there own bags! On the right, “bienmesabe” (roughly translated as “I like the taste”) this was dogfish, marinated in vinegar and herbs and then battered and deep fried in hot olive oil. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was a new flavour for me, so fresh tasting (a sensation that I am always striving for in the kitchen.) Wonderful.

Next up, “berenjenas fritas” or aubergine fritters with a hidden surprise of pickled beetroot and pieces of sliced onion underneath. Again, cooked with such an amazing lightness of touch.

Finaly the meal was ended with a glass of sweet Andlucian dessert wine from Cordoba with a little Manchego cheese and friend almonds. A delicious end to the meal. Thanks again to Andres for not only inviting me, but guiding me through specific Andalucian dishes that I might not have had the foresight to try!

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Morcilla is Spanish blood sausage, or black pudding if you come from the island to the north of France that precedes its name with an adjective. This was simple and delicious.  Morcilla was bought it the biggest market in Madrid, to the north of the city in an area called “Cuatro Caminos”. Everyone says that the best Morcilla comes from and is eaten in Burgos, maybe it’s like Guinness and doesn’t travel. The Morcilla is simply sliced and fried in a drizzle of olive oil for about 5 mins. As it fries, you’ll get the aroma of cinnamon, onion and whatever other magical things they put in it… oh yeah, blood! Not one for the vegetarians.


  • Morcilla

for the salad

  • mixed leaves,
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • handful of walnuts
  • some blue cheese
  • handful of raisins

for the dressing

  • 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Fry the Morcilla for 3 minutes on either side in hot olive oil, serve on freshly sliced bread with the salad. Enjoy!

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I bought 3 sweet potatoes at the market the other day and was wondering what to do with them. Tortilla wasn’t at the top of the list to be perfectly honest. Curries, soups and flavoured mash was what I had in mind, however we had 6 eggs that needed to be eaten, so tortilla it was. I was thinking about how to go about this as obviously the qualities of sweet potato differ from a normal spud. Firstly, I made sure that the olive oil was really hot as I didn’t want the potatoes to soak the oil and become really soggy. I found that it also needed a touch more seasoning. I quite liked it, but Nancy thought it was delicious, so I would say it is definitely worth a go.


  • 4 free range eggs, beaten
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt


I like to saute the onions in a tbsp of olive oil in a small pan on a low heat for a long time. This gives the tortilla that sweet caramelised  flavour When they are cooked, set aside.

Meanwhile, in a larger pan, heat a lot of olive oil to a high temperature. Carefully place you potatoes in the oil and cook for about 8 minutes. They should crisp up a little if the oil is hot enough. Remove the potatoes from the oil and set aside to cool. Then place the cool onions and potatoes in the whisked eggs and add almost a flat teaspoon of salt. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a small frying pan, on medium heat. 

Pour the mixture into the pan and leave for 3 minutes or so. Then, place a plate over the pan and press to form a seal. Flip the tortilla and the slide back into the pan. Shape the tortilla with a spatula. cook for a further 3 minutes and flip again, (this will help to shape the tortilla. Serve with some good bread. This particular loaf was from a Galician bakery near plaza mayor in Madrid.

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Crema Catalana

This was dessert at the Catalan feast… Very similar to Creme Brulee, it contains all the usual goodness of a dessert. Eggs, milk and a load of sugar. The use of a kind of branding iron to encrust the sugar is traditional but new to me. It’s as common place in a Catalan kitchen as having an electric kettle in England or a refrigerator specifically used for Mountain Dew in the United States, sorry. Again, thanks to Sergio for all of the effort and showing me how to caramelise the sugar Catalan style.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick – optional
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch


Bring the milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon to the boil over low heat. Next, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool down, then strain the milk and cream mixture to get rid of any lumps (removing the cinnamon stick in the process.)Mix the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar until you start to get  thick creamy texture. Now it’s time to dissolve the cornstarch in 4 tbsp of the warm milk mixture that you just made,  stir it back into the remaining mixture, this will thicken it even further and act as a stabiliser. Mix the milk in with the eggs and sugar and put it all in a pyrex bowl (or similar)  over a pan of simmering water. Stir continuously until the cream thickens even further, making sure that it doesn’t boil. When this has thickened up nice, let the cream cool  for a minute and and pour it into the bowls or ramekins. Put these in the fridge until they’re cold, or for as long as you want, (even overnight) when you are ready to serve, sprinkle a generous amount of the remaining sugar over each bowl or ramekin.

Heat the iron over the stove, and press it against the sugar until it is starts to burn and caramelise. It’ll form a lovely crust. Careful not to leave it on the sugar for too long otherwise it’ll go black (another way is to use a blow torch.) Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Botifarras con judias blancas or in Catalan, Botifarra amb Mongetes is a delicious speciality of the region. Another dish that has it’s origins in peasant food. Cheap to make, full of protein and uses local ingredients to their full potential. I think that this is going to be a theme that I will explore more and more. I love the idea of using every ingredient to it’s full potential and minimising waste.

A few years ago I stayed with friends in New York City and the friend in question’s father was a cook that had been featured in magazines for his ability to get everything possible from an ingredient. Personally I think that doing this needs imagination, a deep understanding of the qualities of every part of an ingredient and a level of awareness of how important it is not to waste food. I’ll breathe now. Thanks again Sergio for another amazing dish.


Serves 4

  • 4 botifarras or something similar

for the beans

  • white beans
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 botifarra
  • bacon or pancetta
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • parsley


Heat a 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the the garlic in olive oil on a fairly low heat, being careful not to burn it. Add the bacon or pancetta and pieces of sliced sausage.

Then add the beans and a pinch of salt and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve hot with the botifarra. Simply fry the botifarra in a small amount of olive oil. Sergio cooked them on a hot plate and they were delicious, so I guess that’s the way to go.

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