Spanish style

So we just got back from Spain. I can’t wait to go back there again. Seriously, I want to live there! If anyone knows of a job opening there… I am game!

I thought I might add a recipe to my blog while we were in Andalucia, but I was really to busy, with, well, enjoying all that Spain has to offer. I am talking food and wine ofcourse, but also sun, loads of sun, nature, history, flamenco music and dance and brushing up on my Spanish and talking to the local people. Upon arriving back home the temperature was a lot less agreeable and it was pouring with rain… I really don’t know whether to post some sort of hearthy stew or other warming dish, or write about sunny Spain and it’super tasty foods and tapas… Well it is going to Spain, what else?!

All the foods we had there… loads of meat, what else. I am talking ham, chorizo and lomo. Delicious pork. Not a lot of chicken and beef to go around, they do love their pork. If the pork here would be as tasty as in Andalucia, I would eat it all the time, now I rarely eat pork. Then there is the manchego cheese, queso fresco, queso de cabra… Then we move to the warm dishes such as fried eggplant – OMG never had eggplant that good. Of course it is fried and covered in syrup, but it is so finger licking good, worth every calorie! I plan to recreate this dish soon! We also have the abundance of homemade croquettas, which I fear will be a bit harder to make, but I will attempt those too! Let’s not forget about the soups: warm garlic soup, cold gazpacho and salmorejo, silky smooth gazpacho made with white bread. Seeing we had days as hot as 30 degrees celcius, that cold soup tasted amazing! I really wanted to make salmarejo today, but it is pouring with rain. No cold soups. What then…. Maybe we will just have it easy tonight and feast on all the delicious things we brought with us: some heartwarming red wine, delicious sausage, cheese. The only think I will make are roasted red peppers, or pimientos in Spainish. This is easy and quick, and a perfect accompaniment for every tapas board. I also love it on a manchego sandwich or on a green salad. With some nice olive oil, sherry vinegar and a good glass of red wine perhaps?

OK I must run to the gym as soon as possible, looking back on our stay it looks like all we did was eat… But we walked a lot to, discovered Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Fronterra, Arcos the la Fronterra, Ronda, Grananada… All beautiful villages, cities and nature. Some of these places I had actually visited before, but I never tire of strolling through Seville, driving around and for miles and miles, just seeing olive trees and cork oaks. Strolling through the Alhambra palace again it took my breath away, just like it did the first time, just like it would do on another visit.

So please, get going. To Spain. Bring me some jamon while you’re at it.

Spanish roasted red peppers 

The red peppers in Spain are enormously huge. I never knew peppers could grow so big, and be so sweet as well! They are just perfect, but I think our own red peppers will do nicely too.

Ingredients:

– 2 large red peppers

– salt, pepper

– good quality olive oil

– vinegar of your choice

Heat your oven to about 250 degrees Celcius, or as hot as it can get. Put your peppers on a tray and into the oven. You don’t have to do anything with them, just turn them every five minutes. Check after 20 minutes if they are blackened en the skin is starting to come of. If so, take them out. I have noticed that in some ovens this will go a bit faster or slower, maybe also depending on the peppers. Give it more time if needed, do not worry if it blackens. There are other ways to roast peppers, but I prefer this one, just too simple!

Leave them to cool slightly so that you can touch them, then start pulling of the skin. This should be fairly easy. If the skin does not come off, they need more time in the oven. When you remove the skin, you automatically remove the black bits. Remove the seeds as well.

Cut up the peppers in long small strips. Put them in a bowl and grind over fresh salt and pepper. Use a good drizzle of olive oil and vingear. I like mine quite sour because of the sweetness allready in the peppers, but add vinegar and oil to your own flavor. Also, there will be juice coming from the peppers. No need to throw this away, just mix it in.

There you have it allready, something typically Spanish, but also something fast, delicious and not super unhealthy ;-). Disfruta! (Enjoy:-)!)

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Chilli con Quinoa

Time for some hearthy food! Chilli time! We have been trying to have some veggie and fish days as well, and not just eat meat everyday. I don’t think we succeed every single week, but I do try. That’s why I opted for a veggie chilli this week. Goes perfect with the Paraguayan cornbread from my last post!

Quinoa is all the rage I know, and quite healthy too. But you can definitely substitute it with amaranth or bulgur or something like that. Quinoa is a great superfood, but we noticed first hand what the downside is of us now liking quinoa so much: the locals don’t get to eat it anymore! For hundreds of years quinoa been a staple in their diets. I am talking about people from Peru and Bolivia mostly. They make bread, soups and even apple juice with quinoa. Delicious, super healthy and part of their tradition, diet, culture and lifestyle. Now it’s much more profitable to just sell quinoa for about ten times as much too us foreigners then to eat it themselves. And there is only so much quinoa to go around (because it can’t simply grow everywhere) meaning that we basicly eat their quinoa. When we were over there it felt kind of wrong. On the other hand they do really need the extra money that quinoa brings to their country… so what to do here? I really don’t know. We eat quinoa from time to time,not a lot, but I don’t ban it from my kitchen either.

The choice is up to you! I don’t think it’s a bad idea to realize from time to time where your food actually comes from. Is it local, is it seasonal? I have mixed emotions about quinoa, so for the rest of my dish I used local, seasonal veggies from the market here. I also made this dish once with amaranth wich turned out just great as well. Amaranth cooks faster then quinoa, and it’s also a plant from South and Central America.

Time for the musing to stop, let’s start cooking!

Ingredients (servers about 4)

  •  350 grams of cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli or jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, or the equivalent in fresh, chopped tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 100 ml of water
  • 200 grams of corn
  • 200 grams of beans
  • 400 grams of seasonal veggies (carrots, cilantro, leeks, celery, bell pepper… whatever there is and whatever you feel like!)
  • seasoning:
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • salt, pepper
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp cilantro or coriander
    • 1 tsp of paprika powder
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
    • good splash of worchester sauce
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • juice of one lemon (or lime)

 

Cook the quinoa as instructed. Start chopping your veggies of choice. Drain the quinoa once cooked and set aside. Once you have chopped everything up we start on the chilli.

Put a pan on the stove and heat some oil. Add the onion, when the onion starts browning add in the garlic and finely chopped chilli or jalapeno. I always remove the seeds from my chilli, otherwise it is too hot for me. Feel free to add them with the seeds – all at your own risk! Give it a stir and mix in the other veggies.

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When everything has browned slightly, stir in the tomato paste. Then we add the water and diced tomatoes. Time to add all of your seasoning as well. As always, free feel to adjust it to your personal preferences and tastes. Make sure all the veggies are covered with the sauce, add the lid, and let it simmer for about ten minutes.

After ten minutes, stir and taste. How is the flavour? Are your veggies cooked? If necessary add more herbs, stir and cover again to let it simmer some more. Repeat this process. Are you happy with the flavours? Then we are almost there! Add the cooked quinoa and let it the quinoa heat up in the sauce. It will absorb some of the chilli flavours, lovely!

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Taste one more time. Happy? Let’s eat! Serve with some cornbread and a fresh salad, for example. If you have any leftovers, save them for tomorrow or freeze in a container for an evening you  need a quick, healthy meal. Just a few minutes and the microwave and there you go!

 

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