Wednesday, 22 October 2014

What I Did On My Holidays: Andalusian Cookery Class

Regular readers (and people that I actually know in real life) will know that I recently went on holiday to Spain, specifically Andalusia.

We stayed in a small family-run eco-hotel called El Geco Verde in the Antiplano de Granada region - a mountainous, rocky region that produces a great deal of olive oil and almonds. 

While I didn't do any baking during my holiday, my mother and I did in fact spend a morning learning how to cook some of the typical dishes of the region under the tutelage of a local woman called Felli and with our hostess for the week, Ilaria, translating.

That's Ilaria on the left and Felli on the right.

So Mother Chambers and I prepared an array of Andalusian delights, while Father Chambers amused himself by biking up and down hills in the surrounding area.

We made tortilla espaƱola, a lovely thick soup called maimones and arroz con leche (cold rice pudding), although I have tweaked the recipe for that before giving it to you - we found it a little too sweet.

So today I am taking a break from the usual baking to give you recipes to make these Spanish foods. Not my usual style, but think of it as a bonus - I got a lovely holiday, now you're getting some lovely recipes to make up for my absence over that week.

This will make a Spanish omelette about the size of a large dinner plate and enough maimones for 4. When we were cooking, we kept the olive oil from frying the potatoes and onion for the omelette and used it for the maimones, so it was already flavoursome. One thing I would say with the omelette is that you will need a good non-stick pan. Or it will stick and disintegrate.

First lets make the omelette.

You will need:
5 potatoes
8 eggs
½ onion
2 tsp salt
A lot of olive oil

1. Peel the potatoes and then slice very thinly - you can even use the peeler to slice the potato. Also slice the onion into thin strips. At the same time, heat up a large frying pan on the hob and only add the oil once the pan itself is hot. You will need enough oil to almost cover the potato and onion.

2. When the oil is smoking, add the potatoes and onions to the pan and turn the heat down as low as it goes. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to turn the potatoes and onions every few minutes so they do not stick or brown too much.

3. Beat the eggs and salt together in a bowl until the eggs are of an even colour and consistency. I'm aware there are only 6 eggs in the picture below - that's because Felli decided later that we needed more.

4. When the potatoes and onions are tender and just starting to brown a tiny bit, take them off the heat and add to the eggs, stirring together.

5. Drain off most of the oil and put it aside, leaving about 3 tbsp to stop the omelette from sticking. Return the heat to medium and then, when the oil is hot, put the egg mixture in, turn the heat back down and move the eggs and potato around constantly as if scrambling eggs. 

6. When the mixture looks like very wet scrambled eggs (see below picture) flatten it out in the pan and stop moving it around. Just use the spatula or a palette knife to fold the edges over towards the middle every few seconds - this gives the omelette its rounded edge.

7. When there is almost no liquid egg left on the surface of the omelette, get a large plate and place it top down on top of the pan. Flip the pan so the omelette is on the plate, return the pan to the heat and gently ease it back into the pan to cook the other side. 

8. Cook the omelette on the other side for about 2 minutes, then take it off the heat but leave in the pan for a further 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate.

So now your main course, the omelette, is ready. Lets move onto the starter. You can of course start cooking the maimones from the minute you drain the oil off the potatoes and onions, as that's the oil you're going to use.

You will need:
2 potatoes roughly chopped
half a dried red pepper roughly chopped
300g oyster mushrooms, torn into large strips
1 green pepper, diced
1 quarter of an onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 peeled and chopped tomato 
2 tsp sweet paprika
4tbsp semolina flour
1l water
2tsp salt

1. Fry the potatoes and the dried red pepper together in the oil drained off from the potatoes and onions for the omelette.

2. When the potatoes are starting to become tender and are golden brown, add the paprika, tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, mushrooms and salt.

3. When the vegetables are cooked through and have released their moisture, add the semolina flour and stir well to coat them in it. Then add the water. 

4. Simmer the maimones until it is thick and you can no longer taste the semolina flour.

Now for pudding. If the weather is hot, you will want to make this first and chill it so that it is cold before the rest of the meal is ready. If you're in Britain in late October, as I am right now, you will probably not want to let it cool before you wolf it down.

You will need:

200g quick cook long grain rice (if you can't get quick cook then cook rice for 10 minutes in boiling water before draining and adding to the milk)
1 litre of milk
100g light brown soft sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
grated zest of one lemon
1 whole nutmeg

1. Put the milk, lemon zest and cinnamon sticks in a pan and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the rice and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, stirring almost constantly as the rice starts cooking to avoid it sticking.

3. When the rice is cooked though and opaque and the milk has reduced down to a creamy mixture, remove from the heat and quickly add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Carefully fish out the cinnamon stick - preferably using kitchen tongs or similar so you do not scald yourself.

4. Ladle the rice into glasses or pudding bowls. Grate a light dusting of nutmeg over each.

5. Either serve immediately or chill in the fridge.

Your Spanish banquet is complete:

So there you go, Spanish delicacies with which you can impress your friends, family, colleagues, enemies, pets...

Adios, amigos,


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