Tortilla de Chorizo (Spanish Chorizo Tortilla)

I vividly remember a particular lesson at school in Food Technology when the teacher showed us how to make Spanish Tortilla. The moment she whacked the tortilla in the oven, my skin crawled! I told her that Spanish people (at least all the Spanish people I know) NEVER put it in the oven! Calling her out on her error was a bad idea; she wasn’t impressed and I ended up in trouble. Oh well, it was worth it!

The main reason I used to be worried and therefore hardly ever made tortilla was because of the art of flipping it (as opposed to the sacrilegious act of putting it in the oven), however with practice (and a few tortillas on the floor) you can master this art. You can use a plate that is slightly bigger than your frying pan or a frying pan lid.

Traditional tortilla is made with potatoes and onions (for those who like onion) but my favourite is with added chorizo. Everytime my mum made  a plain tortilla and a chorizo tortilla, the chorizo one would always be finished first.

Traditionally, the potatoes are cut in a style known as patatas panaderas (baker’s potatoes). I was taught by my mother to hold the potato in one hand with the knife in the other. You then cut small thin-medium pieces around the potatoes which results in irregular pieces of potatoes ergo not round. However, you can always quarter the potatoes and cut into thin-medium slices instead.

Ingredients

6 eggs

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 medium potatoes, in the panadera style

1 cooking chorizo

Salt, to taste

Olive oil

Method

Fry the potatoes and onion in plenty of olive oil until nice and soft. Using a fork break some of the potatoes while turning them; they don’t need to browned like chips, just soft and cooked thoroughly.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the raw chorizo. To this mixture add the cooked potatoes and onion (make sure you use a slotted spoon to get rid of most of the oil). Mix well.

Pour this mixture back into the frying pan. Mum’s trick: reserve some of the beaten egg to use later.

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4 Poke some holes in the tortilla to evenly distribute the egg.

5 Now it’s time to flip!

6 When the tortilla has been successfully flipped (or scraped off the floor haha) poke some more holes in it and add the reserved egg mixture from before. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

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7 Flip once more and then cook for no longer than one minute.

8 Flip or slide onto a plate and serve.

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Note: in my house we eat the tortilla quite eggy and runny but if you prefer you can cook it longer so it’s more set. This style is known as Tortilla de Betanzos (Betanzos Style Tortilla). Betanzos is a town in A Coruña (Galicia, Spain) and is famous for its tortillas.

 

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Shawarma ad-dajaj شاورما الدجاج (Lebanese Chicken Shawarma)

Surprisingly, I was first introduced to shawarma when I lived in Granada, Spain. It was a staple of many student nights after a night of partying. Most kebab places in Spain sell shawarma rather than “normal” kebab, most probably because of the influence of its Arab community; we were after all an Islamic country for centuries.

The meat is normally stacked onto a skewer and cooked on a rotating spit hence the etymology of the word: from the Turkish word çevirme meaning “turning”. It is similar to Turkish Döner and Greek Gyro. Thankfully you don’t need a spit at home to recreate this dish.

The meat is traditionally wrapped in Khubz Lubnaani (Lebanese bread similar to Mexican tortilla or pita) and stuffed with pickles, salad, toum and/or hummus.

Ingredients

8 pieces of chicken (you can use any but I prefer thighs and drumsticks)

2 cups plain yogurt

1 cup vinegar

½ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp. oil

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. baharat 7 lubnaniya

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. hot pimenton (or paprika)

Salt & pepper, to taste

To serve:

Toum

Salad (of your choice)

Mint leaves or other herbs (optional)

Method

1 Marinade the chicken in all the ingredients and leave overnight to marinade. If you are short on time you could cook it straight away or leave for a few hours instead.

2 Place in a oven-proof dish and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

3 Remove the aluminium foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the chicken has browned.

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4 Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

 

To assemble:

1 Toast some Khubz lubnaani (Lebanese bread) over an open flame (optional)

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2 Spread some toum on the bread and place some of the chicken on top. Add some salad and mint leaves. Roll and dig in!

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Toum ثوم (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

In Arabic, toum, is the word for garlic and surprisingly (NOT) this sauce’s main ingredient is just that.

This Lebanese garlic sauce is similar to Ajoaceite (Spanish Garlic Mayonnaise) but is even more intense. I am always partial to garlic in large amounts but even I need a good rinse of mouthwash after eating this sauce before socialising with other people who haven’t dined on the same.  You can slather it on Lebanese bread to make chicken shawarma but it is just as good for dipping bread-but that may be a step too far for most.

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

1 pinch coarse sea salt

1 egg white

Few drops of lemon juice

¼ cup of vegetable oil

Method

1 Add garlic and salt into a pestle and mortar and pound into a paste. Apart from taste, the salt also acts as an abrasive and draws out the moisture from the garlic and thus making the process much simpler.

2 In a food processor add the egg white and blitz until it has turned white. Add the garlic paste and blitz again.

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3 Add a steady stream of oil while blitzing until the sauce has thickened.

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Note: If you have the patience, you can skip the food processor and make it in the pestle and mortar, which is the traditional way after all, but it’s hard work…

 

Mămăligă cu brânză şi ou (Romanian Cornmeal with Cheese and Eggs)

Mămăligă, you say? I can imagine most people asking themselves: “What the hell is that?” I didn’t have a clue either. Mămăligă is Romanian for polenta or cornmeal.

My discovery of the year has to be a Romanian Delicatessen I found in Valencia called Extra Aliment: Produse Româneşti şi Balcanice. I never thought anything of it but one day I decided to venture in and investigate! I am now obsessed by their telemea cheese (similar to feta) and all their meats such as kabanos, kaiser, cârnaţi olteneşti, muşchiuleţ bănăţean…drool. The lovely lady in the Deli recommended me to eat my newly purchased telemea with mămăligă…and that’s exactly what I have done!

I was always a bit apprehensive to make cornmeal/polenta because of the myths surrounding it that you have to constantly stir it till your hand fell off. While this is true to a certain extent, you do not by any means need to hover over the pan for the full 30 minutes. You do however, need to have your eye on the ball and stir it around every now and again to prevent it from burning to the bottom of the cooking vessel.

Ingredients

2 parts coarse cornmeal

8 parts water

Salt, to taste

Telemea cheese (or feta)

Kaiser (or smoked bacon), thick slices

1 egg

Pepper, to taste

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Method

1 Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, reduce the heat to a low flame and add a steady stream of cornmeal while stirring vigorously to avoid any lumps. Once the cornmeal starts to thicken, cook for around 30 minutes. Stir every 5 – 10 minutes to prevent it from burning. When it’s done check for seasoning but bear in mind the kaiser bacon and telemea cheese are already quite salty.

2 Meanwhile, fry Kaiser in a frying pan with a miniscule amount of oil. Set aside.

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3 To assemble:

Use some of the Kaiser fat to grease the bottom and sides of an ovenproof dish. Spread in a layer of mămăligă , a layer of Kaiser and telemea and then top off with more mămăligă. Make a small well in the mixture and pour in the egg. Cover with more telemea and Kaiser.

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4 Bake in an oven for 20 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your personal preference.

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As they say in Romania: Poftă bună! 

Higado de cordero al ajillo (Spanish Garlic Lamb’s Liver)

I remember as a child absolutely loving liver but later on in life I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. It’s only been recently that I have rekindled my love affair with this overlooked offal jewel.

A few weeks ago I had a nice glass of wine and a tapa of liver in a recently opened bar in the centre of Valencia; it was so good that I had to make it at home.

I can imagine most people turning their noses up at liver and most probably won’t even bother to click on this post after seeing the word liver but if you do by chance come across my words, give it a go even if you think you don’t like it. Lamb’s liver has a subtle mellow flavour, unlike cow’s liver which is rather pungent, and is a great source of iron.


 

This post is also part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Jazz from Dash of Jazz and the theme is NOSTALGIA.

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Ingredients

4 medium thick slices lamb’s liver

2 Tbsp. ajo y perejil marinade

Garlic sauce:

2 Tbsp. ajo y perejil marinade

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. hot pimentón (or paprika)

Salt, to taste

Method

1 Marinade the lamb slices with the ajo y perejil. Leave for a few hours or preferably overnight.

2 Make the garlic sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a pestle or mortar (or any old bowl). Combine well and set aside.

3 Heat a griddle pan and when hot fry the liver for a few seconds on each side. It really does not need long at all and you don’t want overcooked liver.

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4 Transfer to serving plate and spoon over with the garlic sauce.

Higado de cordero al ajillo

Enjoy with a nice glass of wine and a good chunk of crusty bread. Have it as a tapa or serve it with some mashed potato and make a meal out of it. 

Asian Chicken & Rice Noodle Soup

I’m a bit obsessed by soup and trying to eat healthily at the moment. Gotta make some room for all that food I will undoubtedly gorge on during Christmas and my visit back to Blighty; gotta take full advantage of the foods (mostly unhealthy) I miss from the other homeland.

This is just a simple Asian inspired chicken noodle soup rustled up in a jiffy.

Ingredients

2 chicken drumsticks

2 chicken wings

5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated

Shiitake dashi (liquid from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms; make sure you sieve it before using)

1 star anise

½ stick cassia

3 thick slices ginger

1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

1 large carrot, diced

Rice noodles, soaked in hot water for 2 minutes and drained (or according to package instructions)

Sesame oil, to taste

Lime juice, to taste

Method

1 Place all ingredients except for the mung bean sprouts, carrot and noodles in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim off impurities and then simmer on low for 30 minutes.

2 Adjust seasoning to taste and then add mung beans and cook for 5 minutes.

3 To serve: place noodles at bottom of bowl and then pour over the stock and chicken. Add raw diced carrot and season with lime juice and sesame oil.

Asian Chicken & Rice Noodle Soup