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Greek Salad

Things have been a little quiet at “The Pear Tree” recently. But we have been making lists of things we want to cook and things we have been practicing and  will be posting shortly. Another thing is that I keep forgetting my camera when we are at restaurants or markets or places where we have had amazing food. I am working on this, so hopefully more posts in the coming days. Here is a traditional Greek salad, without lettuce.

It was made for the night of the Eurovision song contest, for which we made food from a lot of countries. Bangers and Mash – UK, Goats cheese – France, Chorizo and Salchichon – Spain Smoked fish- Scandinavia and a shredded beetroot salad to represent the Ukraine, Moldova and other other eastern European countries. I love beetroot.The Greek Salad was dressed with fresh Olive oil from our friend Gabri’s mother. It is truly delicious.

Ingredients

  • fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • feta cheese
  • black olives, pitted
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • a little salt

Method

Chop the ingredients and mix together. drizzle with olive oil to finish and season with a little salt.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method


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.

Chilean Tortilla

Thank you to our lovely friends Gina (pictured below) and Maddie for inspiring a delicious dinner! We decided to each prepare a dish from a country that we’ve lived in. Maddie brought her favorite Ecuadorian bread, Dave and I made the Spanish calamares a la romana as seen in the previous post and Gina showed us how to make a Chilean tortilla, a staple of her diet when she lived in South America.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 carrots
  • 4 spoonfuls of flour
  • 2 spoonfuls of sugar
  • salt

Method

Grate the carrots and fry them for a bit in the oil and sugar so that the flavor comes out. When they start to soften put them in a large bowl and mix in the eggs, flour and salt. Pour the oil into a pan and wait until its hot, thus ensuring that the mixture won’t stick to the pan.

Pour the mixture into the frying pan and basically follow the same directions as written in our previous post about tortilla espanola. You’ll have to flip this tortilla so you’ll need a big plate, strong arms and some courage! When the tortilla is cooked through (not too runny or soggy in the middle), serve on a plate.

Thanks again to our friends for expanding our blog and our stomachs with food they hold dear to their hearts.

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Caramel Popcorn

Afternoon snackage was sweet, sticky and buttery popcorn. The trick is to make the popcorn just right so you don’t burn it or leave any corn kernels behind. To be honest, the first attempt was a bit of a disaster. The second batch was better. Next time, I’ll just reach for the microwavable popcorn. It tastes good, it’s fool proof and there’s far less washing up. One thing we did discover is that you need to pick out the unpopped kernels before you add the caramel, as they stick to the clusters of popcorn and put you in danger of a trip to the dentist. Anyway, definitely recommend trying this. It’s something different and if you’re looking for a few more calories, this one’s for you.

Ingredients

  • popcorn
  • 200g sugar
  • 100g butter, cut into chunks
  • salt

Method

Pop the corn kernels according to instructions on packet. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top if they’re not already salted.

In a saucepan heat the sugar over medium heat and do not stir. When the sugar begins to brown, you need to move it around by picking up the pan and swirling it around so that it caramelizes evenly. Now add the butter and stir rapidly until it becomes smooth and a light brown color.


I found that I needed to drain a bit of the butter that didn’t incorporate itself into the caramel. Then pour the caramel over the popcorn while simultaneously stirring the popcorn so that the caramel doesn’t get cold and solidify in one area.

Eat and enjoy!



We had Jess and Sergio over for dinner the other night to repay them for the Catalan feast… Finding it difficult to think of a classic British starter, without the fresh ingredients that I grew up with readily available, I decided to serve a miniature version of an English breakfast as a fairly small opener. It worked really well. I would have liked to have done  something really fancy with the presentation, opting instead, due to a severe lack of  inspiration, to keep things simple.

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 4 rashers of bacon
  • 4 small sausages
  • 4 quails eggs
  • baked beans
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 10 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Fry the tomato in a little olive oil at a high temperature. grill the sausage and bacon. Fry the mushrooms in a little olive oil with the garlic for about 15 minutes, heat the baked beans. toast the bread and cut into circles, finally fry the quails eggs in a little olive oil for a minute or so, until the white is cooked. Assemble and serve immediately.

La Giralda

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!