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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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Casa Mingo

Went for lunch on Sunday at the Asturian restaurant “Casa Mingo” here in Madrid. Sat on the terraza in the sunshine. “Casa Mingo” is a old Madrid favourite, it opened it’s doors in 1888. It still attracts swarms of people to sample the succulent chicken, simple salads and loads of Asturian cider to wash it all down with. The salads arrive in metal trays that are freshly wrapped with the dressings attached. It’s kind of like how all fast food should be. Apparently the cider is also brewed and bottled in house. If you are not familiar with the art of cider pouring in Spain, below is a photo I took in Asturias to illustrate, the inane unfocussed gaze is all part of it. Thoroughly recommend a visit if you’re in town.

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Huevos Rotos, or broken eggs, is a classic Spanish dish which I genuinely love. It is really simple, but relies on really good ingredients. The eggs should be free range and really fresh, the Jamon or cured ham, of good quality and of course, like all Spanish dishes, it is all in the execution. The most famous place to get this dish in Madid is at Casa Lucio’s on Cava Baja, La Latina’s most famous street. Casa Lucio serves huevos rotos to the rich and famous, Hilary Clinton, The King of Spain, Juan Carlos II and Will Smith to mention a few, not all at the same time I don’t think but who knows… The dish really varies from place to place, but I like to serve it with Jamon and Pimiemtos de Padron.

Ingredients

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 3 free range fresh eggs
  • 8 pimientos de padron
  • a few slices of jamon serrano
  • salt
  • olive oil

Method

Chop the potatoes into the shape you want. I went for fries, as a preference, some dice the potatoes, others slice into chips.

Meanwhile heat a large amount of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, carefully put the potatoes in, as there is a risk of being burnt by the hot oil. Cook in the oil for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and going crispy. Set aside. Now in another frying pan, heat a little olive oil on a medium heat in preparation for cooking the eggs. Fry the eggs for a few minutes until dine to your taste, spooning hot oil over the yolk to cook the white. I like the whites of the eggs to be cooked but the yolk quite runny so it drips down over the potatoes. When they are done, place them on top of the potatoes, and the “break” them with a knife and fork allowing the yolk to drizzle of the potatoes. Place some thin slices of jamon on top, garnish with pimientos de padron and serve immediately. Hope you like this classic Spanish dish.

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Pimientos de Padron are small green peppers usually served as a racion ( a large portion of tapas) in bars in Madrid. Also pimientos de padron are unusual in the fact that every once in a while one is really spicy, usually they are quite sweet, kind of like a safe, foodie version of Russian Roulette. They really are so good and a must try if you ever come to Spain… I don’t know if they’re readily available elsewhere but trust me, these are some good eating!

Ingredients

  • pimientos de padron
  • olive oil
  • rock salt
  • knob of butter

Method

This really is so simple. First give the pimientos a good wash and dry them off. Heat some a couple of tablespoon of olive oil in a pan until it’s really hot, then add the pimientos de padron. Add a good amount (about a teaspoon) of rock salt.

Keep the pan moving so they don’t burn but the skin should blister. They should take about 3 or 4 minutes. At the last second add a know of butter and serve.

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Beef Burgers

Decided to make burgers tonight for our friends… Bought some top quality beef from the market and added all of the trimmings. We have a pub quiz team, which often trades under the name Hamburgers and Guns, so it’s sort of in honour of that. Sometimes only a good ol’ burger will do. And for Nancy a taste of home. AMERICA YEAH.

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 1 kg beef,
  • 2 red onions finely diced
  • 1 red chilli (optional) finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Cilantro/coriander chopped  (optional)

Method

Fry the onions in olive oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes or so until they go translucent. Set aside to go cold. This stops them from being crunchy when you bite the burger. Now make the patties, in a bowl add all of the ingredients and bind them together. Make into patties, not too thick otherwise it’ll be difficult to cook.

Heat some olive oil in a pan, when hot add the patties and reduce the heat to medium.Cook for about 10- 15 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking. Serve in a toasted bun with the salad and dressings of your choice. Anyway you know what to do, you’ve had a burger before.

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Made this for lunch… I bought ready made pastry so it was really simple. Here you can buy them all pre-rolled and cut into circles again, not sure how easy this would be to get hold of in other countries. I’ve just read a bit more information about how to cook empanadillas and it seems that you have to deep fry them… I will cook them again soon, and I will write another post.

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • a large can of tuna
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • tabasco sauce

Method

Soften the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Remove the skin of the tomatoes by putting them in a bowl of boiling water. Add the rest of the ingredients and make into a sauce. Add a little tabasco to give it a bit of spice. Make the sauce quite dry so it won’t run out of the pastry. We soon discovered that the grease proof paper that each pre-cut pastry came in was really helpful and by folding the pastry using the paper, you could easily place the pastry wherever you want on the tray. We also made a  couple of sweet pasties with apple,  (just chopped apple, brown sugar and cinnamon blasted in the microwave with a lid on for a couple of minutes to make a purée). We then glazed the empanadillas with egg and baked in a hot oven 200°C for abot 20 minutes until the were golden brown. Hot or cold these are so good.

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Boquerones (Fresh Anchovies)

Cooked these for lunch today. It worked really well and was very light. A quarter of a kilo cost the princely sum of 1 Euro… I made a simple batter, fried them in olive oil and added a squeeze of lime. Not sure how easy they are to get hold of in England or America but here in Spain they’re everywhere. Bought these from the brand new market on Calle de Barceló.

Ingredients

for the batter

  • 75 grams flour
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100 ml milk

other ingredients

  • 1/4 kilo of fresh boquerones
  • lime

Method

Mix all of the ingredients of the batter in a bowl. Wash the the fish thoroughly in water. Then dip the fish into the batter and straight in to very hot olive oil for a couple of minutes until the batter browns nicely. Serve with bread and a squeeze of lime.


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