Cooking Spain Region By Region: Asturias: Medallones de ternera a la asturiana: Asturian Style Beef

 Cider is one of Asturias´s most well-known and well-loved produce so it´s not surprising that it features in many of Asturian recipes, from chorizo in cider to hake in cider. So here we go with our first, and certainly not my last Asturian recipe containing cider. Asturian cider is alcoholic unlike some ciders.

I thought I´d bring you the following Medallones de ternera a la asturiana or Asturian Style Beef recipe, which is a tasty beef dish perfect for this cold weather. We loved this recipe and even my daughter had a clean plate and sometimes it´s hard to get her to even try new things. It´s great to eat this dish with some crusty bread to mop up all the juices (and there are quite a lot!) The dish itself is served on it´s own but you can also decorate it with a roasted pepper but I like to serve it alongside vegetables and sauteed potatoes. This recipe is based on the recipe and adapted from Nuestra Cocina:Asturias.

Ingredients (Serves 4):
800g rump steak(babilla de ternera)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stalk of parsley,chopped
1 small glass of cider
1 tbsp flour
handful of frozen peas
1 litre beef stock(I used a beef Oxo cube)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil and brown beef on both sides, remove from pan and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
2.Fry onion, garlic and parsley(in this order) till onion is translucent.
3. Add cider and cook till the cider has reduced, then add the flour and stir till flour is completely incorporated,making sure there are no lumps.
4.Add the beef stock gradually and then add the peas and add more salt & pepper if necessary.
5.Return beef to the pan and cook for a further 45 minutes until meat is tender.


Cooking Spain Region By Region: Asturias: Flamenquinos

Ta-da! I´m back! It´s been awhile due to various things, the hot summer weatherand being pregnant and giving birth to my baby boy so I´m just starting to get bak into the swing of things!!

It´s time to start exploring the culinary delights of a new region in Spain: Asturias. When you hear Asturias, you automatically think of cider and fabada but as I´m not that keen on fabada, I want to try some less well-known dishes so first up are flamenquinos,not to be mixed up with the Andalucian flamenquines!! These little fried "cakes" are pretty easy and fairly quick to whip up and so delicious.We loved them and will definitely be including them in our monthly meal repetoires.Unfortunately we couldn´t get my daughter to try them but I´m sure she´d love them if she tried them! The recipe is pretty straightforward if a little strange but with tasty results. My only gripe is that when it came to frying them, they started to stick to the frying pan or break up so I don´t know if this was to do with the frying pan or the oil not being hot enough or something!!(Excuse the photo...it was night and I was rushing as I was hungry and didn´t want them to go cold!!!) Flamenquinos are supposedly served as the second dish at meal times but we had them in the evening for our dinner and this recipe is supposed to be for four people but we ate it all between the two of us (and I was still a bit hungry afterwards!).

Ingredients(2-4 people)
25g butter
50g plain flour
1 small cup of water
50g Spanish cured ham
1 boiled egg
Sunflower or mild olive oil
A pinch of salt


1. Put butter and water in a saucepan and place over a gentle heat till butter has melted.
2. Add the flour and stir,not allowing to boil, until combined...if necessary,remove from the heat.When combined allow to cool.
3. Finely chop egg and ham and then add to the flour mixture and add salt and let sit.
4. Heat abundant oil in a frying pan and then drop spoonfuls of the batter into the frying pan and fry until golden brown on both sides.
5.Drain on kitchen paper.


The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge: Wobbly Apricot Tart

Sleepless nights even before the baby comes, having to get up at least 3 times in the night to go to the toilet or for a midnight snack or just because you are so uncomfortable sleeping on your side, not to mention eaing like a horse and backache! Oh, the joys of being pregnant! I´m trying to bake as much as possible before the little one comes along as I´m not sure if I´ll  have much time(or energy!) after the baby is born! Even cooking and baking is starting to be difficult now, as if I´m stood up too long I get backache and just bending down to take things out of the oven is becoming a real effort!

I had some leftover marzipan and as I love marzipan and thought this dessert looked delicious,I decided to make this Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge recently.It is actually quite simple to make, the hardest thing to make probably being the pastry and getting it thin enough for a tart. This particular tart pastry contains egg,which makes the dough much stickier and harder to work with... I always seem to find pastry with egg in much more difficult to handle! I rolled out the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm but it still stuck a little to the clingfilm. I´d be grateful for any other tip about how to roll it out without it sticking and breaking! My other problem was that I didn´t have a big enough fluted tart tin so had to use a cake tin so combined with the trickiness of the pastry, the presentation of the tart isn´t quite as nice or as professional as I´d have liked...it looks a bit more like a pie than a tart. However, this tart is absolutely delicious! I hadn´t expected it to go down with some of my family as they aren´t so keen on marzipan but they thoroughly enjoyed it too!Plus it´s a great way to use up any leftover marzipan too!So, here´s a link to the recipe. I thought it looked like loads of marzipan so didn´t put quite the full amount in but it is absolutely delicious, so don´t skimp on the marzipan!


Cooking Spain Region by Region: Aragon: Rejanes:(Almond Sponge Cake)

 I´m finally back! It´s been awhile,   I´ve been meaning to make this cake for awhile now but I´ve been busy cooking and baking other things,plus I haven´t had much time for blogging. Another reason for my lack of blogging recently is that I have something baking...yes, that´s right...I´ve got my own little bun in the oven!!

I decided to make this cake as I like all the ingredients, although it doesn´t appear to be very well-known. I´ve adapted the recipe from a book from the library about " La cocina de Aragon" although I don´t remember the title very well. Although quite a plain sponge cake, it´s lovely, light and very spongy....I think it´s ideal to have at breakfast and dipping it in your Caola Cao or other chocolate drink..or failing that, to have with a nice cup of tea. It was a big hit with my husband & daughter too!The recipe was a little incomplete as it didn´t give the amount of flour needed, the size of tin needed nor the temperature of the oven so a little bit of guesswork was used but all in all I was quite pleased with how it turned out!

150g  unsalted butter,at room temperature
150g sugar
8 eggs
150g ground almonds
2 tbsp baking powder
around 70g plain flour(this was where the guesswork came in)

1. Grease and flour a loaf tin (I think my loaf tin was a little small as it rose quite a bit out of the tin)
2.Separate the yolks and the whites of three eggs, then beat the egg whites till they have stiff peaks and put the yolks to  one side.
3. Mix the ground almonds,sugar and butter(chopped into small pieces) until well combined.
4.Add the 5 eggs and the 3 yolks and mix well, then add the sieved baking powder and flour to the mixture and stir until well combined.
5. Add the egg whites"meringue" and fold gently into the mixture and then pour into the loaf tin.
6. Place the cake in a preheated oven at 160º C(a little guesswork was required here too,I think I started off with the temperature at 170ºC and then lowered it to 160ºC...it got a little golden brown on the outside so I also ended up covering it with tinfoil) and bake for 30 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean when inserted.
7. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from cake tin and then leave to cool on a cake rack.


Cooking England County by County: Bristol: Bristol Cake

I have been a bit quiet lately as I haven´t had much time for blogging. We have moved onto a new county, Bristol, and finding recipes has become a bit of an elusive task as no matter how much I delve, the only recipe I´ve managed to come across so far is this delicious Bristol Cake recipe, and another reason for my silence. It is yet again an unknown dish that I´d never heard of before but it´s definitely a keeper, as the resulting sponge cake has a lovely flavour and taste. In my opinion, it is a slightly drier or denser type of sponge cake and I usually prefer a spongier,moister cake but next time, I´d cook it for slightly less time than the recipe states maybe 10-15 minutes less,just to compare it.

My only qualm with this recipe is that it doesn´t reccommend the size of cake tin to use and I think I put it in too small or too shallow a tin as it was quite full and I think that is what might have caused it to dome and crack in the middle. However, as I have never seen or heard of this cake before, I don´t know what it´s supposed to look like and whether it is normal for the cake to dome and/or crack. My baking friends, Amelie, Cristina, Rosa, Ana,Halima,Glo and Nati, are often a great source of help and support to me and they reassured me that this cake looked pleasantly rustic otherwise it might never have made it to the blog and it definitely turned out to be a success.Oh, and one more thing, if anyone does know of anymore regional recipes from Bristol, please let me know!


The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge: Scones

Ready, get set.....BAKE! Yes, I´m back with another Great British Bake Off technical challenge! I have also recently seen that GBBO will be back soon for anothe Great British Comic Relief Bake Off and also that it won an award for Best Skills Challenge Award at the National Television Awards so it couldn´t be a more appropriate time for another technical challenge. As you can see, I am not baking the technical challenges in any kind of order but rather by what takes my fancy. Now, it´s high time to bake one of the steely-eyed judge´s challenges...yes, it could only be Paul Hollywood´s scones!

I am in a baking group and we often take turns to meet in one another´s houses and bring our bakes to share while we have a chat and this month it was my turn to host it. The perfect opportunity to try out this challenge and introduce them to another typical British delicacy! Perfect! What I didn´t realise before I made the scones is that they don´t keep very well and only last around 2 days (I kept mine in an airtight tin and covered them with clingfilm) as I made them the day before my vistors were due. However, I´d advise freezing them before cooking and then taking them out of the freezer to defrost as and when required.

I didn´t find the scone recipe to be so problematic as I followed the recipe to a tee. I mixed the ingredients together very gently as indicated in the recipe and tried to handle the dough as little as possible. One of my doubts was whether I needed to add all the milk as the recipe says you might not need all of it but I think the best thing to do is follow your instinct which is what I did, so because I thought the dough seemed wet enough I didn´t add all of the milk. Another doubt I had was about the cooking time as all ovens vary and I put the fan on, and I hardly ever use the fan when baking. The recipe says to bake for 15 mins but as I had the fan on I wasn´t sure if this meant it would take less time,which it did...it only seemed to take around 10 mins. However, when I opened a trial scone, when I pressed down on it,it seemed a bit doughy so back in the oven they all went for a few extra minutes.The worst thing was I couldn´t cut into anymore to check if they were done!

I was very pleased with how my first scones ever turned out with this recipe....they were light and fluffy....and very moreish! I served them with plenty of butter, raspberry jam and whipped cream and they went down a treat with my baking group! They would have been even better with clotted cream!!!


Cooking Spain Region by Region: Aragón: Aragon-style Meatballs( Albóndigas al queso Aragon)

We´re already two weeks into January and probably most of us have already broken our New Year´s resolutions and let´s face it, it´s probably not going to get any easier. Not with these meatballs hanging around anyway so why don´t you give them a try...you know you want to.....!

I´ve decided to cook an extra main dish recipe from each region so instead of only 2 main dishes, there will be three main dishes and two dessert recipes as there is so much variety of regional dishes. I´m sure I´ve already told you that lamb is one of my favourite meats so these meatballs were screaming out to be made. For some reason, lamb mince is hard to find in Spain...it isn´t sold in supermarkets in those plastic trays....and even in the butcher´s, you don´t see ready-minced lamb...you have to ask the butcher to mince some lamb for you. I chose to get very young lamb(cordero lechal) as it was smaller, otherwise I´d have had to ask him to mince a whole leg and it would have been pretty expensive. It´s also impossible to find Aragon cheese where I live and I have no idea what it´s supposed to taste like so I substituted it for Manchego cheese (semicured). The recipe is adapted from the book Cocina Aragonesa and is supposed to be for 4..I made slightly less and still had quite a lot of leftovers so I think you could halve the recipe and still have enough to feed 2-3 people!

Ingredients(for 3-4 people)
550g lamb mince
85g Aragon cheese(or you can substitute this for another Spanish cheese such as Manchego)
1/2 large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 egg
2 slices of bread
2 tbsp plain flour
1 small glass of milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried mint (you could cut down on this amount if you prefer a subtler taste)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.Soak the bread in the milk and then drain excess milk, break up the bread and mix with the meat.
2, Peel and finely chop the onion (I think next time I will try grating them so they are even smaller) and add to the mince along with the egg, the dried herbs and the salt and pepper and mix till combined.
3. Peel the garlic clove and place in a mortar with a pinch of salt and then grind with the pestle and then add to the meat mixture.
3, Cut the cheese into cubes and form walnut-sized balls with the meat mixture,enclosing the cheese cubes.
4. Heat the olive oil and coat the meatballs in flour and then fry the meatballs in the oil until golden brown and cooked through.
5.Drain on kitchen paper and serve while still hot.

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