Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Instant Lime & Mint Granita

I have an incredibly huge kitchen in my house in here (particularly when compared to the average kitchen in a flat in Spain, which was my previous one). However, for reasons that I am still trying to figure out, the freezer is really, really small.
I used to have always my ice cream bucket in the freezer, so that when I wanted to have my home made ice cream (and it used to be quite often, honestly), I could -easily and quickly- have it.
Now it is not longer the case, and ice cream asks for a bit more of planning from me.
So, thinking on a quick way to solve the urge for a truly home made treat, last week, over the lovely summery weather, I made this instant lime granita.
The result is so good I cannot avoid to share it.
Are you up for a granita???

You're welcome.

Instant lime and mint granita
Ingredients (for 4 people)
Juice of 6-8 lime
100 grams sugar
100 ml warm water
600 grams ice cubes
8-10 mint sprigs
Mix the juice, the warm water and the sugar until dissolved. Taste and correct sugar as needed. Take into account that it should be really tasty, as the flavours will dilute once the ice cubes are added.
Put the liquid into the food processor. Add the chopped mint sprigs and pulse a few seconds, just for a good mix of the ingredients. Add the ice cubes and grind until you have the texture you like.
If you are more lemonade than granita person, just use 200 grams ice cubes and 600 ml water instead.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Scallops with crispy bacon and white wine sauce and "Giro Grande Partenza" from Belfast!

Friday starts the Giro d' Italia. Although I am not passionate about cycling, -certainly I am not a huge fan at all, I used to follow cycling competitions in Spain. But the news this year is that the Giro starts here in Belfast. As strange as it sounded the first time I heard about it (several months ago I thought they were joking when I was told it for the first time) now I got used to the idea. I think of it now as the most natural thing in the world, after weeks in which the city has been getting covered in pink, I am even getting used to a new form of excitement from kids and adults alike over this event, absolutely new for the place. 

I'm still amazed at how surreal the whole thing is, but I am finding lovely all the excitement that surrounds me, and the pride of local people wanting to take the opportunity to show the world how beautiful their home is. It is mixed, however, with  my concern over the tremendously chilly weather that awaits  the poor runners, who in the end are the real stars of the show, (although sometimes all the showbiz style of this things makes it really difficult to remember that, in the end, this was supposed to be an sport event). 

So if any of you follows the Giro “Grande Partenza”, you will almost certainly have a look at the same streets I walk through every morning on my way to work. You might take a glimpse at the impressive University building right close to my office, or see the equally impressive Titanic building (which, by the way, is another of those things that make me smile. You will agree with me that there is some dark sense of humor in making such a tribute to the most famous shipwreck in history. Although, as they say here: “she was perfect when it left here").

If the weather is generous enough and you are lucky, you might also have a spectacular view of astonishing green landscapes, wild seaside and rock cliffs, as wild as they can only be thanks to the wind and constant rain that waters tirelessly this part of the world. And with a bit of luck, just for once, all those good feelings and all those desires of looking forward to the future will be the only news that would come out from here. 

So with all this just around the corner what I want is to prepare a colorful , fast , tasty seafood dish as this one that I prepared today.

 This is the simplest thing you can do, but it is one of those showstopper starters you will use once and again.

Scallops with crispy bacon and white wine sauce

Ingredients (for 2 people)

8 -10 beautiful scallops without coral (frozen if you cannot get them fresh)
80 grams of bacon or pancetta into small dices
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 glass of white wine ( the better the wine, the better the sauce, so go for the best you can afford)
20 grams of butter
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Some sprouts for garnish ( optional)
Olive oil


Prepare a light b├ęchamel. Start by melting butter. Add flour and cook it slightly before adding the wine. If necessary, add some more wine, until having a creamy light texture. Add a hit of nutmeg, salt and pepper (not too much as bacon will be already salty).
In a large skillet, sautee the bacon in a little olive oil, until crispy, but not dry. Remove and let drain on kitchen paper. In the same pan, at medium heat, fry the scallops lightly. Add a bit of salt and pepper, and serve immediately putting some sauce, scallops and bacon in the dish, and garnishing with sprouts.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Spicy roasted vegetables soup

I do not know about you, but I am desperate right now for being on a diet of vegetables and fruit, for a week at least. It is not that I have had too much during the holidays, really. It is more the fact of just having so much food around, all the time, for so much time that made me so full of everything!
The whole family came back home a couple of days ago, and even though tomorrow it is not a bank holiday here, I could not resist the tradition of preparing a Roscon de Reyes (you can see my traditional recipe here), sharing it with some friends while the girls watched the Parade from Madrid on the computer, and be able to, finally, say goodbye to Christmas Holidays.

Right now I feel like having fresh, clean, simple food which do not leave me with a sad stomach. If you love food, you know that some foods leave your stomach kind of sad. You know the food is fine, but you do not feel full, it leaves you with a feeling of emptiness, even knowing that you had enough food. It is not always the same kind of food, it is not even a matter of portion size. It is only that sometimes you need some comforting food, something nice, nutritious, healthy but delicious, that allows you to go back to normal.
Form me, that kind of food is always a soup. I always feel like having soup. Summer, winter, no matter what. You can put into this one nearly anything you have at hand, and you will hardly get wrong. The difference from other soup recipes is that for this one I have roasted the vegetables first with a pinch of harissa. It gaves a wonderful and special taste to the final soup. The result is a simple, fresh, delicious one. Just like the promise of a whole new year full of new recipes that we will devour one mouthful at a time. 

Spicy roasted vegetables soup

1 small onion
2 small potatoes
2 carrots
1 small leek (just the white part)
1 red pepper
1 teaspoon of harissa (o ras el hanout, grounded)
Olive oil
1 spoonful of natural yogurt, to serve (optional)
Black pepper, grounded

Preheat oven at 180┬║. Peel, clean and cut the vegetables into similar portions. Put them on an oven tray, covered with oven paper. Add some olive oil and the harissa, and mix well to cover the vegetables.  Put them into the oven for 20 minutes. Once the vegetables are roasted, put them in a saucepan with enough water just to cover them, and cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Blend the soup into a silky texture, and serve with a dollop of natural yogurt, some olive oil and a pinch of freshly grounded black pepper.