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Here in the UK, rice pudding has long been associated with nursery food (blame the Victorians, perhaps), school dinners or, at best, comfort food for the Winter.  When slowly baked in the oven the milk reduces, the rice becomes thick and a brown skin forms on the top.  The flavouring, apart from sugar, comes from a sprinkling of nutmeg and sometimes (rather unusually) a bay leaf.  Safe, but unexciting – and to some people a complete turn off.  Spanish rice pudding, however, is something entirely different and it would be so easy for the uninitiated to miss out on a treat.  Spaniards appear to have a very sweet tooth and love their creamy desserts.  The sweet vanilla custards crema catalana (a version of the French crème brûlée) and flan (similar to crème caramel) are both very popular, as is this very un-British rice pudding.  Flavoured with vanilla, coconut, cinnamon, lemon and orange rind it is served chilled and is a popular sweetener at the end of the meal in restaurants and tapas bars.  This is not a dish for a winter day (or the nursery) but ideal to finish off a summery meal.  My family’s verdict was that this was really delicious so I shall certainly be making it again, especially as it was so easy.  I would definitely serve it as part of a Spanish themed meal, possibly with some fresh fruit.  Caramel oranges would be ideal and in keeping with the Spanish theme.  A Spanish biscuit or small churro as an extra would be a good addition in place of some of the suggested serving toppings.

My starting point for this recipe was a combination of two found online.  The first – my main source – was from The Times Online: Cinnamon Rice Pudding with a few ideas from the Canadian site Lululuathome, although I did not add either the egg or condensed milk suggested in this second recipe.  The first time I used part milk and part coconut milk made from 25g dessicated coconut soaked in 250ml boiling water.  A better alternative, which avoids having to discard the coconut, is to use all milk and add 1oz/25g coconut powder.  Another alternative would be to use a can of coconut milk, which is available in a low fat version, topped up with milk.  I took my quantities from the Times recipe, which is supposed to serve 4-6 but this would give very small portions: I prefer to think of it as for 3-4 people, even though it is rich.  If it was cooked for slightly less time the portions would be larger but a little more runny.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Arroz con Leche
Spanish Style Rice Pudding
(Serves 3-4)

1¾ pints/1 litre milk (whole or half fat)
1 small/medium cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves or a tiny pinch of ground cloves (optional)
Zest strips peeled from a lemon
Zest strips peeled from an orange (plus a few thin zest strips – see below)
4ozs/125g 
short-grain rice (Spanish Calasparra or UK Pudding Rice)
3ozs/100g caster sugar (could reduce a little)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon to serve
A few thin orange zest strips to serve (optional)
A little dessicated coconut (optional)

1.  Remove the zest from the fruit with a potato peeler, making sure no white pith is included.  Put the milk, cinnamon stick and clove (if using) in a saucepan along with the lemon and orange zests.  Bring to the boil then take off the heat and put to one side.

2.  Leave for the flavours to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain and throw away the rinds and cinnamon stick.

3.  Return the milk and heat through in the saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and then add the rice.

4.  Cook on a low to medium heat.  Stir the rice and milk regularly for 10 minutes so it does not start to stick or burn.  Add the sugar and vanilla extract.  Continue to cook, stirring regularly for a further 10 minutes.

5.  When the rice mixture has thickened and the grains are cooked (they should be soft when squeezed between a thumb and finger) remove from the heat.

6.  Allow the rice mixture to cool and then chill in the  fridge.

7.  Serve chilled in small dishes dusted with cinnamon and a few strips of orange zest and/or dessicated coconut.

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Since I don’t speak Spanish (I learned French and a little German at school) I ran the words Patatas Bravas through the online translator, just out of interest.  I was surprised to find it simply means roast potatoes: but as they are roast potatoes with a Spanish twist they are unlike any roast potato I have eaten before.  Most of the recipes I found were actually for pan fried crispy potatoes rather than roasties but I am sure this could be made with traditionally oven roasted potatoes too so I have included this in the instructions.  The Spanish twist is, of course, the tangy and spicy tomato sauce which is served on top or on the side.

The recipe below is my combination of ideas from several sources.  One starting point was my book of Tapas and Paella recipes: Spanish Bar and Restaurant Cooking by María Solís Ballinger & Natalía Solís Ballinger, but I also consulted the Patatas Bravas recipes of James Martin, Simon Rimmer, BBC Good Food, Guardian online, Jason Atherton in NatWest Customer magazine (New Year 2011) and the website debskitchencreations.  In most cases the sauce is based on a tin of plum tomatoes, but it can also be made using tomato ketchup (a suggestion from the book mentioned above), especially if it is home made Tomato Ketchup, something I do make from time to time.  Smoked Paprika is essential as a spicy flavour of Spain, but the recipes also variously include hot pepper from chopped chilli peppers, chilli powder, Cayenne pepper or Tabasco Sauce.  There were huge variations in the quantities used and thus the amount of heat, but I am sure this should be according to personal taste.  Herbs were added too: most usually thyme but one recipe used a bay leaf and parsley as a garnish.  Lemon added piquancy in one recipe and in another a little sugar, something I often add to tomatoes anyway, gave additional sweetness.  Yet another added tomato purée.  Jason Atherton added a chopped red pepper, always a popular ingredient in our house, after the style of the city of Burgos.  The sauce should be spooned over the Patatas Bravas at the last minute so they reach the table crispy rather than soggy.  Some recipes also serve Mayonnaise, or the wonderfully garlicky mayonnaise based Aïoli sauce on the side.  (This is the mostly used French spelling from Provence: the Catalan spelling is Allioli.)  In the book mentioned above mayonnaise is mixed with the tomato sauce, but I prefer them separately.  The dish is common in Tapas bars throughout Spain, with the pieces of potato often on cocktail sticks.  It would make an excellent dish at a buffet table or as a starter though it is delicious served at a main meal with fish (or simply grilled meat).

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Patatas Bravas
Roast Potatoes Spanish Style
(Serves 4-6)

4-6 large potatoes (one for each diner)
Olive oil for frying
Salt
For the sauce
1 large onion
2/3 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 large red pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp fresh thyme or ½tbsp dried thyme
1 small bay leaf (optional or as an alternative to the thyme)
1tsp lemon juice
1tbsp sherry (or wine) vinegar (optional)
½tsp sugar
Salt & black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish

1.  Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves.  Gently fry in olive oil, covering the pan, until transparent but not browned.  Finely chop the red pepper, stir in and continue to cook until soft.

2.  Chop or liquidise the tin of tomatoes.  Add the spices, thyme, bay leaf (if using) and tomato purée to the onion mixture and stir.  Mix in the chopped/liquidised tomatoes, along with the lemon juice, vinegar (if using) and sugar.  Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently without a lid until reduced to a thick slightly chunky sauce.  Remove the bay leaf.

3.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as needed.

4.  While the sauce is reducing peel and cut the potatoes into one inch/2.5cm chunks.  Place in a pan, cover with boiling salted water and bring to the boil.  Cook for 5 minutes and no longer.  Drain the potatoes and blot so they dry slightly.

5.  The potatoes can be either pan fried or oven baked.
To pan fry:  Put into a frying pan with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Fry gently until browned, turning from time to time as they will stick a little.
To oven bake: Put into a baking tin with olive oil and salt and place in the oven.

6.   The potatoes should be served when golden and crispy.  Add the sauce just before serving along with mayonnaise or Aïoli and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.

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A few years ago we visited the Basque region which straddles the South Western French and Spanish borders but although we went into Spain we spent most of our time in France.  One French place we visited was Espelette, home of the famous pepper Piment d’Espelette (Espelette pepper), some of which I brought back from holiday.  I am always looking for ways to use some of this mild dried pepper mixture.  Not long ago I was directed to another post about Piment d’Espelette by London Eats, when it was used as an ingredient in a Spicy Mixed Bean Stew.  I now know I am not the only person (in London too) with a jar of this delicious pepper looking for suitable recipes!

Back in November I came across a quick and easy recipe called Spanish Gammon Hotpot from The Vicar’s Wife.  (Just a few weeks ago I re-posted her wonderful recipe for Whole Orange Cake.)  The word hotpot, however, is a bit too English for me and reminiscent of Lancashire Hotpot, which is something entirely different, so I have renamed it.  Amanda (the Vicar’s Wife) suggested that it was an adaptable recipe, so that is just what I did.  I am not a great fan of baked beans, though I admit they have their uses, instead using a chick peas plus some mushrooms and garlic. (Amanda suggests haricot or cannellini beans as alternatives.)  For the meat content I used a thick bacon steak, but it could just as well be diced bacon or the leftovers from a piece of gammon, or even chunks of lean belly pork, plus some Chorizo sausage added for extra Spanish authenticity.   As well as the smoked paprika I included a small amount of the piment d’Espelette for a little extra heat.  I liked the idea of adding olives – rather sadly I am the only person in our house who likes them – and had intended to do so, but forgot.  There will, however, be a next time.  The meal was served with crusty bread and green salad.  This speedy supper is definitely a meal for my ‘make in 30 minutes max’ category.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spanish Style Gammon Stew
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
8ozs chopped bacon or leftover ham/gammon
25g/1oz piece chorizo sausage
50g/2ozs button mushrooms
1 x 400g tin tomatoes, slightly chopped
1 x 400g tin chick peas (originally baked beans)
½-1tsp piment d’Espelette or dried chilli to taste (optional)
1tsp smoked paprika
12-15 stoned halved black or green olives (optional)
Salt/black pepper to taste

1.  Gently fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and translucent.  Stir in the garlic and mushrooms.

2.   If using cooked meat reserve it until later, but uncooked bacon should be added now.  Mix in well and cook for 5 minutes.

3.  Add the chopped pepper, tomatoes and chick peas (or other beans) along with the piment d’espelette and smoked paprika.  Cover with a little water.

4.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the peppers have softened.

5.  Serve with rice or crusty bread and a green salad.

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I was reminded today that this coming weekend it is just eight weeks until we go on holiday.  We are off to France again, but will also spend time in Spain, hence this month’s Spanish style theme.  Apart from a few days in Barcelona as a special birthday gift some years ago, I have only made day trips across the border into Spain from France.  One vivid memory I have from my first day trip into Spain on a family holiday in the 1970’s were the huge piles of melons by the roadside.  In particular I remember the golden Rugby ball shaped Honeydews and enormous green and cream striped Watermelons.  I also remember that we ate melon every day for most of the rest of the holiday!  When watermelons start to appear on our local market it really feels as if summer has arrived, so as a foretaste of our travels it seemed appropriate to start with this simply made drink.

One of my favourite ways of enjoying watermelon is as a drink, usually the thick mostly seed free but unstrained version for breakfast or as an everyday liquid dessert.  Strained it can be served as an alcohol free drink on a hot afternoon in the garden or at a dinner party.  I cannot remember where I got the idea of adding the mint, with which I am usually generous, but it makes a really refreshing addition.  The finished drink is an attractive rosy pink colour, flecked with green.  I was not surprised to find other recipes for melon based drinks including one in the July/August 2010 edition the free Tesco instore magazine.  The recipe below is my own method but I have added the helpful information from the Tesco magazine as well.  A melon will last for several days in the fridge once it is cut: I usually juice either a half or a whole melon at one go, depending on size and number of drinkers.  In a lidded jug container it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days although the flavour does begin to deteriorate after the first day.  I have seen suggestions for drinks using other types of melon too: honeydew, Charentais or Cantaloupe with either strawberries or with ginger ale also sound delicious.  (A slice of melon topped with chopped preserved ginger and a little ginger syrup is an easy and popular dessert in our house.)  See recipe for further serving information.

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Minted Melonade
(This recipe is a rough guide as it depends on melon size but a large melon will provide drinks for 6-8 people, maybe more especially if diluted)

1 large watermelon
4 stems mint, more for a stronger taste – some recipes say 8 leaves, which is hardly enough
To serve
Ice (optional)
Small sprigs of mint to garnish
Ginger ale, Lemonade, Sparkling water or Sparkling wine (optional)
   or
Gin (optional)

1.  Wash the surface of the melon well, place on a large plate which will collect the juices as it is cut.  Depending on the quantity of juice needed cut the melon in half.  (If only using half a melon the remainder should be stored cut edge downwards on a plate in the fridge, but the remainder should be used up in around 3 days.)

2.  As they collect, pour the juices from the plate into the liquidiser.  Using a spoon scoop out spoonfuls of melon (alternatively cut the half into wedges and remove chunks with a knife).  Place separately in a bowl, discarding the large black seeds.  There may be small whitish seeds as well but as they are softer they usually disappear when liquidised.  These can be discarded as well if wished.

3.  Thoroughly liquidise the melon in several batches, including a little mint with each.  Pour the thick liquid into a large jug or fridge storage container.

4.  Taste the melonade and adjust the mint flavour by returning a cupful of liquid to the liquidiser with extra mint.  Thoroughly mix into the whole batch of melonade to make sure the mint is evenly distributed.  The melon is usually sweet so no additional sweetener should be necessary.

5.  For a lighter thinner drink the liquidised melonade should be poured through a sieve.  (It may be possible to use the remaining pulp to make minted melon sorbet, but I have not tried it – I will update this post if I do!)

6.  Serve chilled in tall glasses or poured over ice.  Garnish with a small sprig of mint.

7.  Alternatively serve Minted Melonade as a mixer.  I researched a little further and I discovered several recipes where melon juice (with or without the mint) is served with gin.  Tesco has a recipe for Watermelon Cooler, a version of the drink served with ginger ale, a squeeze of lemon or lime and an optional measure of gin.  The July/August 2010 issue of the free instore Tesco magazine has a recipe for Melonade with mint where the basic juice is topped up with the sparkling Italian white wine Prosecco, one of my favourite sparkling tipples with a squeeze of lime juice to give ‘extra tang’.

8.  The juice can also be simply diluted with ginger ale, lemonade, or sparkling water but take care not to dilute too much as the delicate flavour could quickly be lost.

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The inspiration for this colourful recipe was provided some years ago by a contestant on the BBC programme Masterchef.  The contestant did not win: actually I think that he or she may not have progressed to the next round of the competition, however we all thought the dish produced was a winner.  I cooked it the very next day and it was delicious – and then forgot about it.  Why I did not write anything down I don’t know!  Several months later we remembered it again, but not the exact ingredients, so this recipe is a guess – and I think I have remembered fairly well, though have possibly added some ingredients not in the original.  Anyway, irrespective of how true it was, we are happy with the result.

If anyone has any information on the original Masterchef recipe or chef I would love to know – I think it was the 2008 competition initial heats. The combination of white fish, butter beans and pepper is really well complemented by the chorizo.  A little smoked or unsmoked bacon could be added as well for extra flavour.  As an alternative, the fish can be cut into pieces and mixed in with the vegetable mixture and either transferred to the oven as below or finished on the stove top. The chorizo and peppers give this dish a Spanish flavour and in the Basque country bakaiļao (bacalao – Spanish) or Salt Cod is often used, although I have not used it myself.  Salted cod should be soaked for at least 2 hours before draining and using and the dish may need little or no added salt.  See also my post on making Salt Fish at home.

100_4860 Fish w chorizo, b beans & peppers

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

White Fish with Chorizo, Butter Beans & Red Pepper
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
100g/4ozs bacon (smoked or unsmoked – personal preference)
50g/2ozs chorizo, diced
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
400g/14oz tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
4  tomatoes, quartered (can use tinned plum tomatoes if fresh not available)
4 pieces white fish (I used pollack, but another type can be substituted)
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
A little more olive oil to drizzle
Salt & black pepper
Chopped parsley to serve

1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

2.  Gently fry the diced onion and bacon together in the olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Add the diced chorizo, chopped red pepper, butter beans and tomatoes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.  Season to taste.

3.  Tip the vegetable mixture into a large shallow dish and place the pieces of fish on top in a single layer.  Add the lemon juice with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter over  the zest.

4.  Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, uncovering the dish for the final 5 minutes of cooking time.

6.  Serve the fish on top of the mixed vegetables, sprinkled with a little reserved lemon zest, chopped parsley and accompanied with a side salad and crusty bread.

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Last year on holiday in the French Basque country the Spanish influence was clearly visible on the menus and in the supermarkets.  One of these was the Tortilla, sometimes called a Spanish Omelette – a Spanish word being used just over the border.  In Italy the word used for this type of dish is Frittata.  The French word is, of course, Omelette, which is the English word too: usually a very plain dish, but not an easy one to perfect and made with a few added herbs – very different from the rather substantial Tortilla.  In its simplest form, the Tortilla is a potato and onion filled omelette, sometimes including bacon or ham.  In a French supermarkets we found a pre-cooked Tortilla which just needed reheating in a frying pan.  We tried one out of interest and it wasn’t too bad, but not a patch on the home cooked version.  Tortilla is so simple to make and the basic ingredients (eggs, onion, potato plus, if you wish, meat, tomato, or a green vegetable) are usually readily available in the kitchen. It is a good way to use up leftover meat, especially ham, bacon, poultry or sausages – I have made Spanish style omelette on many occasions without a recipe.  Tortilla is an inexpensive and substantial quick and easy meal, whether for a family supper or eaten with friends at lunchtime and can be served hot or cold, although I have to say I much prefer the hot version. 

Nevertheless, this time I decided to look for a basic recipe with correct quantities as I wanted to post the Tortilla here.  I found a good recipe in one of my favourite cookery compendiums, Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition – Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave.  My adaptation of the basic recipe is given below with the added ingredients separately shown, but next time I might choose different ones.  One good addition would be chorizo, a spicy Spanish sausage, which would help add a little Spanish authenticity to the dish.  I found that having a very low heat under the tortilla from when the eggs are added helps to keep the underneath from burning before everything is properly set, plus the finished Tortilla is much easier to remove from the pan. 

Variation – see further down: 
Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel 
100_4194 Tortilla with bacon, mushroom & spinach

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Tortilla Omelette – with Bacon, Mushroom & Spinach
(Serves 4) 

Basic recipe
Knob of butter and 1tbsp olive oil for frying
45og/1lb potatoes, peeled, sliced and par-boiled until just cooked
1 small onion thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper
4 eggs, beaten
5fl ozs/¼pint/140ml single cream (Elmlea low fat is ideal) – optional 

Additional ingredients for this version
100g/4ozs bacon pieces, chopped
50g/2ozs button mushrooms, quartered or sliced if large
50g/2ozs chopped spinach, well washed and drained
50g/2ozs grated cheese, Spanish Manchego or Mozzarella if available, or Cheddar 

1.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and very gently fry the  onion until soft.  

2.  After about 5minutes stir in the cooked potato and season with salt and pepper.  If you are adding extra ingredients you can add them now, apart from spinach and others which need very little cooking. 

3.  Leaving just a thin film in the pan, pour any excess oil into the beaten egg.   

4.  Quickly stir the spinach, if using, into the pan at this point and then pour in the egg mixture.  Beat the egg well, mix with the cream if using and then pour back into the pan over the potatoes and onions.  

5.  Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring a little to work the egg through the mixture so it can set evenly.    

6.  Be careful that the underside does not burn and when it is golden gently ease the Tortilla away from the pan.  

7.  You can either turn the Tortilla by inverting the pan onto a plate, inverting onto a second plate and then gently returning to the pan or instead of inverting you can finish cooking the top under a medium grill.  If you want a cheesy top then scatter over the grated cheese before grilling until it bubbles 

8.  Serve in wedges with a salad, either hot or cold.  This could also be cut into small pieces and served as part of a buffet. 

Vegetarian Variation: 
It goes without saying that Tortilla in its simplest form with just egg, onion and potato is vegetarian, but the addition of other non-meat ingredients is popular.  Mushrooms and/or chopped fresh tomato is delicious as is a cheesy topping. 

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Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel Tortilla Omelette

Basic recipe as above,  including potato
   plus
Red onion in place of white (optional)
1 small packet of smoked salmon offcuts
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
2-3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Fry fennel with onion in butter/oil mixture.  Par boil potatoes, preferably new ones, with sprigs of mint.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes with partly cooked onion and fennel to allow flavours to be absorbed.  Combine with the salmon, cut into large pieces, pour in the egg mixture and cook, as above.  Serve with salad or peas.

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The family felt that this had an ‘All day breakfast’ feel to it and it certainly would not be out of place as a ‘brunch’ meal as well as being a tasty and not to heavy main meal.  It was listed in the book as a substantial snack, but I served it as a light supper dish on a hot day.  I did not want to add chips, perhaps the natural choice,  so we had boiled minted new potatoes which I would recommend or you could add crusty bread if you wish.   The original recipe used cayenne pepper but I used smoked paprika – it seemed the right choice to go with a Spanish themed recipe – and dusted a little over the finished dish with some additional parsley.  I also used a larger amount of sweetcorn, by mistake –  I had added a whole tin before I realised the quantity was wrong.  I have given the larger quantity as we liked it!  If you want less corn then add half a tin.  The remainder will freeze well for another occasion. I also feel that the combination of ingredients would be the basis for a good Spanish Omelette. You could make most of this in advance adding the eggs when needed as the whole dish will reheat in the oven.  As an alternative the bacon could be replaced with sausages, either ‘frankfurter’ type or pre-cooked traditional chipolatas, cut into small pieces and spicy Spanish Chorizo sausage would be a good addition, especially with the smoked paprika.  Vegetarian sausages are readily available.

The original recipe for Eggs Flamenco comes from Salads & Snacks by Carol Bowen, first published in 1981 by Sundial publications as part of a extensive series of paperbacks available from Marks & Spencer.  A second and similar version of the recipe , called Pan-fried Ham & Vegetables with Eggs, is found in  The Spanish Kitchen by Pepita Aris.  The main difference is the addition of 115g/4ozs grated cheese (Cheddar is suggested but Spanish Manchego would be much better).   This is sprinkled over the top of the dish after the eggs, melting whilst they cook, or alternatively added and flash grilled once the dish has been removed from the oven.

100_4646 Flamenco Eggs

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Eggs Flamenco
Huevas ala Flamenca
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g/8ozs lean bacon or ham, diced
60g/1oz chorizo, chopped or in small slices (optional – can be increased)
2 red peppers, cored, de-seeded & sliced (or 1 red & 1 other colour)
375g/12ozs halved cherry tomatoes or 6-8 medium, cut into 8 or sliced
4ozs/125g button mushrooms, sliced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of Cayenne pepper or Smoked paprika
1tbsp freshly chopped parsley (plus a little more to garnish)
1 x 325g/12oz tin sweetcorn, drained – use less if you prefer
A little more smoked paprika & parsley to garnish
4 large eggs (ie, 1 per portion) – use ducks eggs if available
4ozs/115g grated Manchego or Cheddar cheese (optional)

1.  Pre-heat oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4

2.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic gently until soft, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the bacon, chorizo and red peppers.  Fry for 10-12 minutes, or until the peppers are soft.

4.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, salt, pepper, cayenne or smoked paprika and parsley.  Continue cooking for about 5 more minutes until the tomatoes go very soft.

5.  Stir  in the drained sweetcorn and remove from the heat.

6.  Pour the mixture into a heavy based ovenproof  dish.  Make evenly spaced depressions in the mixture with the back of a spoon and into each break one egg per person.  If using, add the cheese now so it can bubble and brown while the eggs cook, or it can be added at stage 8.

7.  Place in the centre of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs have set and the yolks are as you like them – do not cook for too long if you prefer your yolk to be soft and runny.

8.  If using cheese and it has not been used already, add it now and place under a preheated grill for no more than 5 minutes until bubbling.  Just before serving sprinkle with the remaining chopped fresh parsley and a dusting of smoked paprika.

9.  Serve hot with crusty French bread or boiled new potatoes or chips plus a simple green salad.

Vegetarian Variation:

This is easily adapted as it would be no problem to cook a meat free version, possibly using vegetarian sausages though it would be good without any meat substitute.

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I usually do not like the combination of meat and fruit together, but I broke my own rule for this as it didn’t seem as if it would be too sweet. I was proved right.  The recipe was very simple to cook and absolutely delicious.  The chicken was beautifully tender in a buttery orangey sauce with the hint of mint giving an unusual twist. It would be a perfect summer entertaining dish, provided you did not want to make it ahead of time.  If you are not over generous on the butter for the sauce it will not be too high in calories, although you do need to use a reasonable amount as the flavour would not be the same without it. The original recipe specified ‘two large knobs’ of butter, so I guess it is up to the cook to decide just how much that is!  Do remember to zest the orange (you may need two) before squeezing.  If you warm the fruit slightly before squeezing it will yield more juice – I always use a microwave oven to do this.  If you do not have fresh mint then wait until you can get some.  The recipe just would not be the same with dried mint.  The addition of the olive oil helps to stop the butter from burning – this and the orange zest are additions I have made to the original recipe.

This recipe was first published by food writer Keith Floyd in his book Floyd on Spain, which accompanied the television series of the same name.

100_4262  Chicken with orange and mint

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chicken with Orange & Mint
(Pollo con Naranja y Mento)
(Serves 4)

4 skinned boneless chicken breasts (4-6ozs/125-175g each)
Salt & black pepper
2 knobs butter (I used about 1oz/125g in all)
1tbsp olive oil
zest of 1 orange
150ml/5fl ozs freshly squeezed orange juice
2tbsp chopped fresh mint
Sprigs of mint & orange slices or some reserved zest for garnish

1.  Rub the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper to season them.

2.  Melt about half of the butter in a frying pan with the olive oil and gently saute the chicken pieces for 4-5minutes, turning once, until they are light gold.

3.  Pour in the orange zest and juice and when it is simmering cover and cook for about 8-10minutes.  When almost cooked stir in the chopped mint.  At the same time add the remaining butter which will enrich and help thicken the sauce.  Be careful that the chicken does not overcook.  It can quickly change from soft and moist to being dried out.

4.  Serve with saute potatoes, or simple boiled minted new potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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This uncomplicated dish has quickly become a firm favourite, especially as it can be cooked quickly and in one pan. Mixed colour peppers make it extra colourful. It is a warming dish for a winter evening, but can be eaten all year round. Smaller quantities could be served as a light meal or as part of a Tapas menu.

This recipe was originally published in the ASDA supermarkets free instore magazine, January 2008 issue.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spanish Style Pork & Peppers

50g chorizo, diced
1 large onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
500g Pork Fillet cut into 3cm pieces
3 medium sized peppers cut into strips, preferably red, green & yellow
400g can of Plum tomatoes, chopped
1-2tbsp smoked paprika
12 black or green pitted olives
Chopped parsley to serve

1. Cook the chorizo and onion together with the chilli over a medium heat. There should be enough fat from the choirizo to cook the onion without adding any more.

2. Add the pork and peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and paprika. Heat until simmering and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add the olives, cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

5. Serve with rice or naan and chopped parsley.

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Having arrived back from a wonderful few days in Barcelona and still marvelling at the extraordinary genius of Antonio Gaudi and his fellow Modernist artists and architects, I decided we ought to eat one of our favourite Spanish style dishes.

I adapted this dish from a recipe by food writer Keith Floyd taken from his book Floyd on Spain, which accompanied the television series of the same name. The original recipe was for Rabbit with Red Peppers but it seems almost impossible to buy rabbit now in UK shops and supermarkets, especially the boned frozen (ready for use) variety. In fact the only time recently I have seen fresh whole rabbit in a local butchers shop it was frighteningly expensive. (At one time frozen boned rabbit in small bags could be bought in Sainsburys, but it has not been available for some years. If anyone knows a UK supermarket that stocks it I would be interested to know. Thanks.)  The chorizo is essential. If you don’t have it wait until you do and make something else instead this time! Everything else can be adapted if necessary. A 400g tin of tomatoes can replace fresh, if not available. Red peppers can be changed to a mix of red, orange & yellow, all of which are sweet, though green peppers might be less successful. I now use either chicken or turkey as a substitute and for an everyday meal the diced chicken or turkey breast meat can be replaced with the meat from skinned chicken thighs. (It is easiest to cook thighs whole, removing meat from bones towards the end of the cooking time.) One chicken thigh per person should be adequate but it does depend on size. … and do try this recipe with rabbit, as per the original idea, if you can get it. Perhaps one day I will!  Smaller quantities of this recipe could be served as a light meal or as part of a Tapas menu.

100_2357-crop-spanish-style-chicken-with-red-peppers

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spanish Style Chicken with Red Peppers
(Pollo con Pimientos Morrones)
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1lb/450g tomatoes, chopped – skinned if you wish
Sea salt
1lb/450g chicken (or turkey) breast, skinned and diced (or meat from chicken thighs)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2ozs/50g smoked ham or bacon (original recipe has Serrano ham)
4ozs/100g chorizo sausage, diced – or, if thin type, sliced
1lb/450g red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into eight
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or thyme or rosemary)

1. Heat some oil in a large saucepan (big enough to eventually take all the ingredients). Put in onions, cover and cook over a low heat (to sweat them down) for about 20 minutes – do not let them brown.

2. Add tomatoes and sea salt to taste, cover and simmer gently.

3. Place more oil in a frying pan and brown the pieces of meat a few at a time. If using large pieces this can take up to 15 minutes.

4. Add garlic and season with black pepper. Add diced ham or bacon and chorizo.

5. Now spoon this meat mixture, reserving any remaining oil in the pan, into the large pot with the onions and tomatoes and stir well. 

6. Into the remaining oil in the pan, to which you can add a very small amount more oil if necessary, add the sliced peppers and stir well. Cook briskly in the oil for a few minutes until they have softened and then add to the pot with all the other ingredients.

7. Sprinkle with parsley and check seasoning.

8. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes. If using chicken thighs, once they are cooked through remove them from the sauce.  Return the meat to the pan when you have stripped it from the bones, which should be thrown away.

9. Garnish with a little more chopped parsley. Serve with rice or crusty bread and salad. If you want a hot vegetable in place of salad then peas are good.

(This recipe was first posted on 22 April 2008 at my original blog Meanderings along the narrow way)

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