Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Morcilla or Black Pudding

Winter is the season for pork and other pig products.  Traditionally the pig is killed at the start of winter and turned into all manner of yummy things many of them preserved in the old fashioned way of smoking, curing, salting or drying.  In nearly all European countries there is a tradition of turning the blood of the pig into a blood sausage or 'pudding'.  In Spain the blood pudding is called Morcilla.  It varies from region to region in Spain and even from family to family as recipes are handed down through the generations to those families who still keep pigs and observe the traditional 'Matanza' or pig killing in December or January.

So... tonight's supper is an aubergine bake with cinnamon and Morcilla, based on a recipe courtesy of Seumas MacInnes and his Stornoway Black Pudding Bible.

First cut your aubergines in half and fry in olive oil until golden and a bit wilted.  Remove the aubergines and scoop some of the flesh out of the shells and dice it.  Cut up some onion and garlic and adding a little more oil to the pan fry them slowly on a gentle heat until the onion is transparent.

Return the chopped aubergine to the pan with the onions and add a handful of parsley chopped fine, some fresh (or dried) oregano, salt, pepper and about 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  To this add some chopped tomatoes (or a jar of passata) a handful of currents or sultanas a pinch of sugar a squeeze of lemon juice and if using fresh tomatoes some extra tomatoe juice - I am sure if it isn't wet enough you could simply add some water and let it bubble through a bit.  And then the morcilla or black pudding chopped or crumbled up.

Once the mixture is bubbling well put the empty aubergine skins into an oven proof dish and pour the mixture on top.  Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven at 180C for about half an hour covered and then remove the foil and bake for a further ten minutes.  You could add some grated cheese to the top of this before serving if you wish.

Perfect supper dish which we had with a glass of Galician cidre chilled very cold!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Winter Warming Pot Roast

I love pot roasts.  They are so much easier than a conventional roast dinner.  The potatoes and the veg are all cooked together with the meat and the gravy.  Less pots and pans to wash up which is a saving of energy and time.

I will pot roast anything - chicken, pork or beef.  Although your meal is only as good as the ingredients you use, with a pot roast it is possible to get away with a cheaper cut of meat than for a conventional roast dinner.  I actually bought a ready prepared meat loaf rather than a joint of meat.  It has herbs and pine nuts stuffed inside, but mostly it is beef with some bacon fat around the outside to keep it moist during cooking and a string vest to hold it together.  The wrapper said to cook it for an hour at 180C and then for 20m minutes at 160C.

First I sealed the outside of the meat by frying it in very hot lard on all sides.  I threw this fat away once the sealing was done as it was a little burned.  I then poured in some cheap red wine (seriously this was very cheap wine, made by a friend of ours and could probably de-scale the kettle!) about a wine glass full.  I let this bubble for a short while before adding carrots and onions and potatoes all chopped quite large and then some salt, bay leaf, pepper and some dried herbs. 

I topped it up with some water and a spoonful of Marmite.  You could add a tin of beef consomm√© at this point or some stock instead of the water and Marmite but I am using what I have in the cupboard.

The oven is at 160C and I set the timer for an hour. 

At this point I basted the meat and then realised that I had forgotten to put any garlic in so I roasted some garlic separately and added it later.  The timer was set for another hour, same temperature.  With about fifteen minutes to go on the timer I took the pot out and checked it.  The vegetables were all soft and it smelled wonderful.  I removed the meat and wrapped it in tin foil and covered it with a blanket to keep warm while I thickened the gravy. 


A little cornflour and then some damson jelly (any kind of dark sweet jelly will give the gravy some depth and it doesn't make it sweet so long as you only use a spoonful) and I left it to thicken on a low heat on the top of the stove.  Now... the finishing touches.... Yorkshire Puds!

The lid of my pot doesn't fit really snugly so I always use some tin foil to help give a really good seal, this stops it losing moisture while slow cooking.

1/4lb of plain flour and a little pinch of salt mixed with an egg and then 1/2 pint of milk until its a smooth batter. 

Some lard in the bun tins and the oven temperature raised to 220C.  Once the fat was really hot, hot enough to sizzle when the batter is poured in...

I filled each section about half full and put it back into the very hot oven.

Thirty minutes later and they are done.

Delicious!  And enough to do two days!

I love January Sunday Lunch!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Er.... Long Time no Post!

You might think we don't cook or eat here at Finca La Reina - so NOT TRUE!  But huge apologies for not updating and not posting recipes in more timely a fashion.  I have been cooking and I have been taking photographs of food, but then one thing leads to another and days and then weeks go by and I don't write the post and finally I am not sure if I remember what it was I photographed!

Suffice to say... I plan to do better from now on.  I am thinking that I might have to update how I arrange the recipes so that you can find stuff easier... but then we do try to eat seasonally so perhaps I should simply label the food by the month along with some stuff that I do all year round like eggy things.  With four hens in full production we have a lot of eggs.

So... my first post of 2014 is going to be a Treacle Loaf.

January is cold and wet here in Extremadura and so we have the estuffa (wood burning fire) going every evening and sometimes during the day too.  Ours has a little oven on the top - the temperature guage on it isn't very accurate and controlling the fire is not easy but I am very proud of my first attempt at a cake in it.

Treacle Loaf

4oz wholemeal flour
4oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2oz castor sugar
3oz sultanas
1oz butter
1tbsp black treacle
1tbsp golden syrup
1/4 pint milk

Sieve the flours together and add the baking powder, sugar and sultanas.  melt the butter and mix with the treacle and syrup then add to the dry ingredients along with the milk until you have a stiff dropping consistency.  Spoon into a 1lb loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes.  The temperature should have been 160C.  It's anybodies guess what I baked it at... certainly around 125C to start with and then towards the end it was alot more than 160C.

Given the vagaries of the oven I reckon it turned out pretty well.  At 45 minutes in I checked it and it wasn't ready but then at 55 minutes in it was ready but burned at the back and when I turned it out of the tin the bottom was very dark too!

It makes sense that the back and the bottom of the oven are the hottest parts so perhaps I will have to turn cakes half way through baking and lining the tins might help protect the base.  Anyway, I am still declaring this one a success since it tasted absolutely delicious!  Very rich and treacly and old fashioned but in spite of being over done it was still moist in the middle so I think this recipe will have to go into the Book of Favourites for doing again in the future.