Mid-Week Spanish Feast

22 Nov

I spent three unforgettable weeks in Spain during September this year and I can’t wait to visit again. Every time I look at the photos of my adventure, I sense a feeling similar to homesickness, so I retreated to the kitchen last week and prepared a Spanish feast to share with my family.

Now, for the most important part of the Spanish feast…. SANGRIA! I wanted to bring the energy of a Spanish fiesta to the table and it wouldn’t be authentic without sangria. There are lots of different types of sangria and I tried sangria blanca (a white version) for the first time on the beach in Ibiza.

I’ve adapted traditional sangria recipes to make my own version as shown below.

3 oranges

2 lemons

1 green apple

1 white peach

1/4 cup brandy

3 cups chilled red wine

1/4 cup caster sugar

3 cups chilled fizzy lemonade

Thinly slice 1 orange, 1 green apple, 1 lemon and 1 white peach into wedges and place in a large punch bowl.

Pour in 1/4 cup brandy, 250ml orange juice, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 cups chilled red wine and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Just before serving, stir in 3 cups chilled fizzy lemonade and pour into big glasses with ice.

For entree, I made gazpacho which is a cold, tomato based raw soup originating from Andalusia. Like sangria, there are many regional variations but I chose to follow a traditional recipe.

1 1/4kg tomatoes peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped

1/2 medium onion roughly chopped

1/2 large green capsicum roughly chopped

1/2 medium Lebanese cucumber peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

A small handful of torn stale bread

Salt

Ice cubes

For the garnish you will need some finely chopped capsicum, cucumber and tomato, some ice cubes and extra virgin olive oil.

Spoon the red wine vinegar over the stale bread and set aside to absorb. Place all the roughly chopped vegetables, 1 cup extra virgin olive oil and softened bread in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. The soup will be thick so you can add ice cubes to water it down to the desired consistency. Place in the fridge until icy cold and serve with the vegetable garnish, ice cubes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

For main course I made a very hearty, rustic dish without a recipe. I love cooking with my senses and adding a pinch of whatever I feel like at the time. When I’m baking or making a dessert that needs to set, I tend to follow recipes exactly, but otherwise I use my instinct to guide me.

I fried 2 RSPCA approved pork ribs, skin side down, 1 jointed organic chicken, skin side down and 2 thickly sliced chorizos. I peeled and chopped 6 large potatoes and placed them in a deep baking tray with 6 peeled and crushed whole cloves of garlic. I placed the browned pork, chicken and chorizo in the tray, splashed over some extra virgin olive oil, salt and hot smoked paprika. I massaged the seasoning over the meat and potatoes, leaving the potatoes at the bottom of the tray, covered it with foil and placed it in the oven preheated to 150°C.

After 3 hours, I loosened the foil and turned the heat up to 200°C for another hour. The potatoes absorbed all the flavours in the pan and the meat was tender and juicy. I served bread on the side with the left over tomato pulp from the gazpacho. Pan con tomate is tomato rubbed on bread and is commonly served in Spain. At one breakfast buffet in Spain, there was a bowl of the tomato pulp to spoon over bread or tortilla de patatas (a thick cake or omelette made with slices of potato), another common dish in Spain.

Everyone loved this dish and we were sticking our bread in the baking tray to soak up the juices. It was so simple and very tasty. We were all full by this stage but of course there’s always room for dessert.

As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to certain desserts, I follow the recipe exactly unless I know there is room for experimentation. I’d never made churros (long fried dough) before, so I used a recipe by chef Miguel Maestre as shown on the Lifestyle Food program Boys Weekend. Miguel owns a restaurant in Manly, El Toro Loco and the paparajotes are a must try if you visit; I’ll tell you more about this in another post.

250ml milk

100g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon castor Sugar

125g flour

3 egg yolks

2 vanilla beans (split and deseeded) NOTE: I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste instead

Vegetable oil for frying

For the chocolate sauce

1 cup condensed milk

200g dark chocolate

splash of milk

splash of rum

In a pot, bring to boil milk, sugar, butter and vanilla beans (or paste). Strain (no need to strain if you use vanilla paste instead of beans) onto the flour and mix to dough consistency. Add egg yolks to dough.

Pour dough into pipping bags with star nozzle, pipe into hot vegetable oil and fry till golden brown.

Set aside on paper towel to dry off excess oil and dust in castor sugar (I added cinnamon as well).

To make the chocolate sauce, heat the condensed milk and whisk in the chocolate till silky consistency. Add milk and rum to taste.

NOTE: I used 70% cocoa chocolate and it sets very quickly once it’s off the heat so you have to eat fast!!! Great excuse!

Because I decided to make these last minute, I had to use a supermarket pipping bag which wasn’t the best. The churros should be fairly long but the pipping bag burst as I tried to squeeze the dough through the nozzle. I improvised and most importantly, the churros tasted delicious as you can see…..

Preparing and sharing this feast was therapeutic for me; and my family enjoyed a taste of my Spanish adventure.

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