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South Spain

paella556x300Padma Lakshmi embarks on an overland adventure across Southern Spain tasting the regional gastronomic delights whilst indulging in the local culture. Padma’s journey begins in the Andalucian capital, Seville, with breakfast; hot chocolate and Spanish doughnuts. After touring the bustling town, Padma takes a tour of authentic tapas bars. They happen upon a flamenco bar where Padma practices a few steps between sips of Sangria.

She is south bound to Jerez de la Fronterawhere Padma meets a local chef. Together they cook with fish and sherry. The next day she ventures towards to a small fishing village on the Atlantic coast, Sanlucar de Barrameda. Here Padma learns about the production of the exclusive Manzanilla sherry before buying some heavenly cakes from the local convent. A brief detour to La Mancha, rural Don Quixote countryside, where Padma attends the annual Saffron Harvest.  

manzanila and spanish olivesThen it’s back south to the Costa del Sol where on the beach she meets the Paella King, Ayo. He teaches Padma how to make the authentic festive Spanish dish. From the Mediterranean coast to the snow capped tips of the Sierra Nevada in one day. Padma stays at a local farmhouse in the Alpujaras valley. The owner Paco takes here on a donkey ride up into the mountains to hunt down the famous dry cured ham. After a hard day in the saddle she cooks an Andalucian stew with Paco’s wife and joins their family for dinner.

Passing through the Moorish city of Granada, she heads north towards Jaen for the annual bullfighting  festival. At the fight, the bull has won, and she joins disgruntled officials in a bull restaurantand discusses the issue of bull’s meat whilst tucking into some prize bull’s balls. The next day she happens upon a famous olive oil mill and learns how olive oil is essential to Spanish cooking.

La Tomatina Festival Bunol

Finally, its onto the sleepy town of Bunol to throw tomatoes at the wild Tomantina festival and back in the kitchen to make Gazpacho - an alternative use for tomatoes. Her journey ends at the world’s oldest restaurant in Madrid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Ajo Blanco (white garlic soup with grapes)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces day old bread (a 3-inch cube), crusts removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 12 muscatel grapes, halved and seeded
  • 2 ½ cup water

Method

1.
Put the bread in a bowl and add water to cover. Let soak for 5 minutes until soften.

2.
Meanwhile, place the almonds and garlic in a blender container (or, if using a hand-held blender, into a mixing bowl) and pulse until almonds are finely ground.

3.
Put the bread in a bowl and add water to cover. Let soak for 5 minutes until soften.

4.
Squeeze out the water from the bread, discard the crusts. Add it to the food processor. Blend to a smooth paste.

5.
With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream, then the vinegar and salt.

6.
Thin the ingredients with ½ cup of water to the desired consistency.

7.
Place the blended contents in a tureen, wooden bowl or pitcher and add about 2 cups of water. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and/or vinegar if necessary. The soup should be fairly tangy.

8.
Chill until serving time. Stir before serving into bowls. Garnish with grapes.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Janet Mendel’s newest book about Spanish food and culture to be published in 2002 by HarperCollins.

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Estufado de Codero y verduras (Farmhouse Stew with Lamb & vegetables)

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ pounds of lamb loin and shin
  • 5 inch piece of chorizo sausage (sliced)
  • 3 inch piece of black pudding sausage (sliced)
  • ½ cup of pancetta or fatty smoked bacon (sliced)
  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup of celery (chopped with leafy tops)
  • ½ cup of turnips (peeled and diced)
  • ½ cup of chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 1 pint of fresh stock or water
  • 1-teaspoon of saffron threads soaked in 2 teaspoons of water
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic (with skins on)

Equipment

The Spanish use a cazuela pot when cooking this dish as this is the most traditional method. A cazuela is an earthernware dish that can be used either on top of the oven over a gas flame or for baking inside the main oven. Remember to leave the dish to cool before washing as it may crack due to extreme, rapid changes in temperature. A deep frying pan is a suitable alternative to cook this recipe, however it would be worth transferring the ingredients into a more attractive hot dish before serving at the table.

Method

1.
Coat the bottom of the cazuela with olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the loin and shin meat and brown.

2.
Add the vegetables layer by layer and slowly mix in with the meat.

3.
Add the chorizo, black pudding and pancetta to the pot, then stir in the white wine, saffron and black peppercorns.

4.
Add 2 cups of stock or water and bring to the boil. Once the juices are bubbling turn the down the heat to low and simmer. Place the whole bulb of garlic in the centre of the dish. The idea is to remove the garlic just before serving but some chefs choose to keep the garlic in so they can nibble on it with bread as ana accompaniment to the main course.

5.
Simmer on a low heat for 21/2 – 3 hours, gradually adding the remainder of the stock or water so that the ingredients are covered at all times.
Serve with a salad and a crusty farmhouse loaf.

Serves 4

 

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Gambas Ajillo (Shrimps in Garlic)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh white shrimps, shelled
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 large dry red hot chilli pepper, chopped and sliced thinly with seeds
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • Pinch of salt

Equipment

The Spanish use a cazuela pot when cooking this dish as this is the most traditional method.A cazuela is an earthernware dish that can be used either on top of the oven over a gas flame or for baking inside the main oven. Remember however to leave this dish to cool before washing as it may crack due to extreme, rapid changes in temperature. A deep frying pan is a suitable alternative to cook this recipe, however it would be worth transferring the ingredients into a more attractive hot dish before serving at the table.

Method

1.
Heat the olive oil in the cazuela over a medium flame. Add the garlic and allow to sizzle for a minute or two, until golden in colour.

2.
Add the chillies and cook for a further minute, removing from heat when the garlic begins to turn brown. Be careful not to overcook the garlic as this ruins the flavour and you would have to start over again.

3.
Add the shelled shrimps to the pot but do not return to the heat. Leave to cook in the hot oil for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

Serve with fresh bread.

Serves 4 as a tapa or starter

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Gazpacho Andaluz

This is Andalusia’s signature dish.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of day old bread (a 2 ½-inch cube) with the crusts removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (5-6 medium tomatoes). Seeded
  • ¼-teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3- cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups water

    For the Condiments / Garnishes:

  • Chopped green pepper
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Croutons or diced bread, toasted crisp
  • Chopped hard boiled egg
  • Chopped tomatoes

Method

1.
Put the bread in a bowl and add water to cover. Let soak for 5 minutes until softened. Squeeze out the water and place the bread in a blender container (or, if using a hand-held blender, into a mixing bowl) with the garlic. Blend until the bread and garlic are smooth.

2.
To seed the tomatoes: cut out the stem and core, then cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Either spoon out the seeds or else squeeze the tomatoes through a sieve placed over a bowl. The seeds will squeeze out and the juice will collect in the bowl. It is then ready to be added to the Gazpacho as pulp.

3.
Add the tomato pulp to the bread and garlic, and puree. Add the cumin and salt and, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. As the oil is incorporated, the Gazpacho will turn from red tomato-juice to a paler, peacher colour. Blend in then vinegar. Thin the Gazpacho with water to the desired consistency.

4.
Place the blended contents in a tureen, bowl or pitcher. Chill until serving time.

5.
Place each of the garnishes in separate small bowls or on a divided relish dish and pass them around the table when the Gazpacho is served. Each person can add their desired spoonfuls on to their Gazpacho.

This Gazpacho can also be served, thinned with additional water, in tall glasses for sipping, without the garnishes.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Janet Mendel’s newest book about Spanish food and culture which will be published by HarperCollins in 2002.

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Olives Marinated in Thyme & Garlic

Ingredients

5 cups of raw olives
water
8 cloves of garlic (separated but not peeled or crushed)
handful of fresh Thyme
Fist full of wild fennel – flowers included(optional)
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp salt

Method

1. Crack the raw olives with a rolling pin against a wooden chopping board and place in a large bowl.

2. Cover with water and soak for least a week. The water should be changed daily to remove the bitterness of the olives.

3. Strain and return the olives to the bowl. Refill with clean water. Add the salt, garlic cloves, thyme, bay leaves and wild fennel if used. Mix well.

4. Strain and place ingredients in a air tight glass or ceramic jar. Cover with water and seal the jar.

Store in a cool dry place for at least two weeks before serving.

Serve as a tapa with drinks.

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Tortilla (Spanish Omlette)

Tortilla is Spain’s favourite snack. Seen and eaten in almost every tapas bar, the Spanish Omelette comes in many different guises but this is the most traditional recipe.

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • 5-6 small waxy potatoes
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • salt (to taste)

Method

1. Crack the eggs into a bowl. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt.

2. Heat oil in a frying pan (not one with a heavy base as this will prove to be a hindrance when
preparing to do the ‘flip’).

3. Add the potato and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and mash in with the potato.

4. When the mash starts to brown a little at the edges add the eggs. Make sure the mash mixture is fully submerged by the eggs. Poke it to allow some of the egg to seep in.

5. Fry gently over a low heat. While cooking shake the pan to loosen the tortilla from the base and tidy the edges up with a wooden spoon.

6.As the egg starts to set, place a plate over the pan. Holding it with both hands quickly ‘flip’ the tortilla over on to the plate and slide back into the pan to cook the other side.

7. Keep shaking the pan lightly so the tortilla does not stick to the bottom.

8. Once it feels firm on the edges and soft in the middle (after about 1 minute) then slide the tortilla back onto the plate. For the brave heart you can do the flip again if you wish.Do not over cook this. The middle is meant to remain runny and gooey.

9. Let the tortilla rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Then, cut into cake slices (starter) or cubes (tapas) and garnish with green olives.

TV Shows: Planet Food - South Spain Recipes: Urta Con Verduras

Serves 4

(Red Band Bream with New World Vegetables)

Ingredients

  • 2 large whole red band bream
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large tomato, quartered
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dry fino Sherry

Method

1.
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees.

2.
Pour the olive oil into a large oven proof dish (ceramic baking dish) enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Layer the dish with half the vegetables.

3.
Clean the fish thoroughly. The bream can be baked whole or gutted if preferred. Prepare the fish by shaving some of the excess scales from the outer body, slice diagonally into the meat 3 times on one side using a very sharp knife. Place the fish on top of the layers of vegetables.

4.
Cover the fish with the remaining vegetables. Add a little more olive oil and a pinch of salt.

5.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

6.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour the sherry over the baked fish. Return the dish to the oven and bake for a couple of minutes more. This allows the sherry to infuse into the fish, giving it the distinctive Andalucian flavour.

Serve half a side of fish to each person, accompanied by a crisp green salad.

Planet Food - South Spain Recipe: Paella

Paella is Spain’s most famous dish. The heavy rice-based speciality is laced with saffron orpaprika and can contain intriguing morsels of seafood, meat and vegetable. Every region of Spain favours particular ingredients, however, and has its own distinct method of preparation.

Paella is often served at lunchtime on Sundays and holidays, and is particularly tasty when cooked outdoors over a wood fire. Huge pans of paella are cooked up on the beaches of Southern Spain, catering for masses for hungry holiday-makers in authentic Spanish style.

Origins and History

The dish evolved when the Muslims first came to El Palmer in Valencia, in the 8th century. They brought with them sacks of a strange white grain now known as rice, and the locals learnt to combine what ingredients they had to hand – such as seasonal vegetables, wetland wildlife (frogs, ducks, snails, eels, partridge) and spices – to this otherwise bland new staple.
Interestingly, Valencian paella doesn’t usually contain seafood, an ingredient strongly associated with the dish. In other regions variations have grown up which include locally available produce: in the areas around Seville and Cadiz you’ll find big prawns and maybe lobster, and along theCosta del Sol mussels, prawns, red peppers and lemons are favoured ingredients.

Though original recipes used saffron to spice up the dish, these days it’s worth more than its weight in gold and unless you’re eating at really classy joint in La Mancha, the prime saffron growing region, it’s likely that paprika will be used as a cheaper alternative.

Serving Suggestion – Serves 4

The secret of cooking up a good paella is in getting just the right rice texture after cooking – it should be loose, dry and soft, and be tinged with the combined taste of the other ingredients. Follow our simple recipe to cook up an authentic paella storm:

Ingredients

• 3 tbsp of olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with a little salt
• 6 chicken thighs
• 1/2 green pepper, deseeded and diced
• 1 large ripe tomato, skinned and finely chopped or grated
• 8 king prawns, keep their shells, heads and tails on
• salt (to taste)
• 2 cups of risotto or pudding rice / Spanish short grain rice
• 10 threads of saffron, soaked in a little boiling water
• 1 cup of sliced calamari
• 8 cups of fresh chicken, vegetable or fish stock

Method

1. Heat the paella pan of the right size for 4. It should be wide enough to cover the dry rice in a thin layer. As soon as the pan is hot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, let it heat up. Then add the chicken thighs, a pinch of salt, and let them brown slightly, turning them patiently.

2. When they are cooked through, (no juices run pink), add the green pepper and tomatoes.

3. Add the rice and stir in until translucent. Add the saffron with the water it has soaked in and stir well. Then add the stock, half first and then submerge ingredients. Add the king sized prawns.

4. Bring to the boil and leave to cook without stirring for 12 minutes adding more stock if the surface dries out. After 12 minutes the rice should still look succulent and juicy. Remove from the heat, cover with a thick cloth and leave to stand for a further 10 minutes for the rice to finish soaking up the remaining juices.

5. Feel welcome to dress the paella with thick slices of lemon, salt and a touch of olive oil.

 

Places Mentioned - Spain

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