Iberico Ham

Posted December 28, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Christmas, Spanish

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Check out these splendid specimens of cured Iberico ham hanging out in the supermarket.  Arturo insisted on buying in a whole one as he claimed last year a single ham lasted him six months.  We’re making well sure that this year it won’t!  In Cataluña people eat lots of ham finely sliced with bread rigorously rubbed first with a clove of peeled raw garlic, and then with a juicy chunk of ripe tomato.  Bread prepared in this way is known as ‘torrades’ and it’s certainly an outstandingly handy way of making sure your toast is moist.  That’s something to consider, as the bread here seems to be solely white, crunchy and refined.  We have it toasted every morning which is lovely for a change… as we never eat white bread at home, but I think it would tend to lose its novelty after a short while of waist expansion.  We have hardly seen a fruit or a vegetable for days.  However, we’ll certainly see some tomorrow, as we are off to the exciting and colourful La Boqueria food market in the central of Barcelona.  Last time I went – four years ago with my mum – we were unable to have a really good look around as we were being followed by a shady man intent on snatching our valuables.  This time however I will be with two fairly large Peruvian males and I will surely not be able to resist taking lots of pics, so please stay tuned!

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Gloriously Gastronomical Getaway

Posted December 25, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Christmas, Spanish

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We’re spending the holidays in Spain, enjoying a gloriously gastronomical getaway and staying with Tito’s brother Arturo and his girlfriend Silvia.  We brought my mum along, Silvia’s mum has joined us, and Santa’s here too, apparently.  Below is a typical Catalonian bread called Coca, decorated with pretty preserved fruits and pine nuts.   It’s more usually enjoyed for a summer festival, but it’s so beautifully festive we couldn’t resist eating it for Christmas breakfast, with strong, freshly brewed coffee. Bon Nadal!

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Spiced Turkey Stuffed with Cranberries, Raisins, Garbanzos, Black Olives and Feta

Posted November 30, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Christmas, Peruvian, Recipes

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This was the trial run for Christmas – we can now rest assured that this recipe (adapted from typical Chiclayano home cooking) is scrumptious enough to serve up to family and friends with the utmost confidence.  The three and a half kilo turkey we procured was far from enormous, but as there’s two of us it has lasted all week.  This has been just great as the flavours mature with time and become even more delicious… 

You will need: 

1 Organic turkey – 3 ½ kilos (if your turkey weighs more or less, adjust the other ingredients accordingly)
Olive oil for basting
8 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon each of: aji amarillo, aji panca (if you can’t get South American condiments you can substitute paprika), cumin, salt and pepper
6 or 7 cloves of garlic – crushed
3 cans of garbanzos – drained
200 grams of mixed raisins and cranberries
100 grams of dried, salted black olives
1 packet feta – diced 

Total cooking time: 2½ hours

Marinading time: 24 hours 

Marinade the turkey in cider vinegar, crushed garlic, pepper, salt, aji amarillo, aji panca and cumin for 24 hours.  Pierce the turkey and rub the marinade well into the skin. Turn the oven to 220ºF, and cook in a large roasting dish, covered with foil for one hour and a half. 

Mix the garbanzos, raisins, cranberries, olives and feta in a large bowl.  Remove the turkey from the oven and stuff with the mixture.  Baste generously with olive oil. Turn the temperature down to 180ºF. Put the turkey back in, with the foil removed, and cook for a further hour. 

Enjoy this as a meal in itself.  In Peru, on Christmas Eve, it’s served with wonderful, homemade cinnamon-infused hot chocolate.  The spicy, sweet, savoury and salty flavours are an adventure for your palate.  I just love it, and we’ll definitely be preparing this wonderful meal at Tito’s brother Arturo’s place in Barcelona this Christmas (less than a month away now!).

The Chinese Experience Shock

Posted November 20, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Chinese, Restaurant Reviews

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There are a few reasons for the sparse entries of late, most of which have passed.  My 30th birthday caused considerable distraction, as did visitors from the States and a 3-week long case of the dreaded lurgy.  Furthermore serious harassment (talcum powder and toilet paper all over our cooking implements, for example) from our crazy housemate Captain K has monumentally distracted from my desire to be in the kitchen.  We are hoping he’ll be out soon, but in the meantime, we are enjoying restaurants more than ever before! At Chinese Experience (Shaftesbury Avenue – closest tube Leicester Square) the staff greet you with the kind of beaming smile so rare to find in Chinatown.  They’ll sweep you pleasantly through to seating that is a little cafeteria-like, but try not to let that put you off.  There is a special menu that is currently (still!) 50% off before 4.30pm Mon-Fri – this means that the gorgeous selection of Dim Sum is a total steal at £1.30 – £3.20 per dish of 2-4 pieces.  Pictured above is the devastating Prawn Chung Fun (white, slimy bliss featuring lovely big prawns) and the unrivalled Peking Ravioli in Chilli Sauce (a hot, sweet, fresh fusion taste – I always insist on ordering one portion entirely for myself).  I also highly recommend the Pan fried sweet potato cakes, order these for dessert after you’ve finished the main course and they will come promptly – hot, sticky and crispy-skinned to the table.  Top Tip: If you turn the teapot lid upside down they’ll bring you a steaming fresh pot of Jasmine tea too.  Just don’t do what I did and dodge out to the ladies leaving the husband to pay – he pocketed the much-coveted 20% off card (good anytime – though understandably not in conjunction with the lunch deal) that came with the bill! 

Banana Toffee and Raspberry Caramel Infusions

Posted October 26, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Tea/Infusions

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I know, I know, they sound simply vile, don’t they?  But they’re not, I swear. Well, if you like that kind of thing… which I do.  I picked up the Banana Toffee infusion in Wholefoods from their extensive collection of exciting teas and brews in a kind of ‘hee, hee get a load of this’ way – however was then compelled (by Tito) to purchase it for a thorough investigation at home.  The ingredients are:  honeybush, cinnamon, liquorice root, pineapple, natural banana flavour (5%) and natural flavour (5%) – so slightly less than pure, unadulterated plant material seems to be in there, but hey, it’s a heck of a lot more diet-conscious for satisfying a sweet tooth than, erm, a toffee banana?  I also grabbed the Raspberry Caramel one yesterday, as I had to make a trip to High Street Kensington anyway to get the security tag removed from my *fabulous* party dress purchased on Sunday at Oxford Street’s swarmingly busy Topshop (glad I noticed beforehand – ‘shoplifter’  was not the image I’d hoped for on my 30th!).  But I digress.  The Raspberry Caramel infusion is delish – creamy and sharpish and very, very strongly scented.  They both looked so nice perched on the table in Wholefood’s lovely café area, looking out on the high street.  I sat there as I lunched on a selection from the hot buffet.  That meal is a different story, and is as yet too painful to recount.  I have satisfied my curiosity regarding the hot buffet – and my advice is DON’T.  EVER.  Do yourself a favour, and buy some unusual infusions and lovely teas instead.

Gorgeous Foodie Print Bowls

Posted October 24, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Things that look like food but aren't

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I don’t have any smarties, olives or crisps in the house right now, because if I did I would immediately proceed to scoff the lot.  But I am absolutely desperate to entertain so that I can buy some of each and display them fetchingly them in these gorgeous foodie print bowls.

Fresh Apple Salsa with Roast Pork and Veg

Posted October 23, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Recipes

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My mum, a very traditional British-style cook, has always served apple sauce with pork, and it’s certainly very common to enjoy that touch of sweetness with the meat.  I don’t, however, have the faintest idea how to make apple sauce, as when I lived at home I was far more often listening to the tender vocalisations of Axel Rose and Sebastian Bach in my bedroom than learning how to cook from my long-suffering mum, more’s the pity.  However, when faced with a tasty hunk of meat to jazz up without Tito’s magical Peruvian spices (he’s working late tonight) I fortuitously came across this super salsa recipe on Heidi’s rather inspiring site 101 Cookbooks, which in turn is from a Fran Gage book.  It’s zingy, healthy and satisfying and combined deliciously with the gem squash, sweet potato and spinach I had prepared. 

Fresh Apple Salsa

2 tart apples, locally grown if possible
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno chile
1 fresh
Anaheim chile
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted
2 tablespoons peeled and finely slivered fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut the apples from the cores, leaving the skins intact, and cut the fruit into 1/4-inch cubes.Toss the apple pieces with the lime juice and set aside.Cut the chilies in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white ribs. Slice them thinly. Add to the apples. Add the onion, cilantro, walnuts, ginger and salt and mix thoroughly.

Serves 4 to 6.