Monday, July 11, 2011

One Very Divine Salad - a perfect starter

This yummy salad of Fresh Figs, Cabrales Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Bacon, fried and then pan de-glazed with PX Sherry, was the first thing I served to guests on a recent course. When at the end of the course we were discussing favourite dishes of the week - guests kept refering back to this spectacular salad.

For years I’ve been assembling a salad combo of Avocado, Bacon, Mango & Walnut with Roquefort. Not because I don’t want to use a Spanish blue cheese, it’s just that the much sought after blue cheese of Spain’s dairy herds in Asturias, Cabrales, has been impossible to find here. That was until recently when Palomita (the best deli in town) started stocking it. It was one of those real jump up & down for joy moments when I saw it winking at me from Mari-Paz’s deli counter. In the past I’ve mixed brevas with Roquefort and even had the opportunity to use mango with Cabrales, but – WOW – Brevas with Cabrales!! It was incredible. I’m not one for keeping left over salad because lettuce looks really unappealing when it’s been ‘cooked’ by vinegar but the salad combo was so delicious that the tiny bit leftover was popped into the fridge and the following day - the flavours were still sensational.

This is what you need - one salad bowl and the following ingredients assembled to make this scrummy salad of total divineness.

Fresh Green Fig Salad with Cabrales Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Fried Bacon de-glazed with PX Sherry - serves 4

  • 8 x large Brevas or fresh figs, peeled & quartered
  • 1 x pkt of chopped bacon bits (approx 120gms)
  • 100mls PX Sherry to de glaze
  • Huge handful of peeled Walnuts, toasted lightly in dry fry pan
  • 100gms of Cabrales or Roquefort or Stilton – crumbled
  • The best sweet lettuce you can find – Romaine, lettuce hearts etc
  1. Begin by washing and drying the lettuce and put in bowl.
  2. Toast walnuts in dry fry pan and decant onto a plate after toasting.
  3. Wipe fry pan clean of any walnut skins with a dry cloth and return pan to a high heat.
  4. Cut figs into quarter, peel & scatter over lettuce along with crumbled Cabrales and walnuts.
  5. Grind some Black Pepper on top.
  6. Add bacon to burning hot fry pan then patiently leave to sizzle and brown for maybe a minute before you start to toss/stir. When browned you may want to wipe away excess fat with paper towel.
  7. Turn the heat down and add PX.
  8. Bubble until slightly reduced.
  9. Scatter over salad with a good slug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a generous splash of Sherry Vinegar.
  10. Toss gently.
Buen Provecho!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Calmer Moments

Sometimes the going can get tough in the kitchen, normally due to lack of Sherry, but we have the most comfortable reclining chairs for you in which to sit back and relax....................

Monday, July 4, 2011

PX Monday

An amazing Oasis Tart was made in class today. First we made the pastry shell and then after baking it blind, we filled it with a divine concoction of dried figs, moscatel raisins & dates, all soaked in PX Sherry, mixed with a creme friache & flaked almond custard. Served warm with even more creme fraiche, a sprinkling of cinnamon and several glasses of chilled PX. Sooooooooooooo incredibly yummy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Annie B's Spanish Weddings!

My rooftop azotea has been the setting for many fun and crazy things over the years so when Ken and Jackie asked if they could use it as the setting to recommit to each other in front of their teenage children, to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary, I answered with a very definite YES.

Having found the services of Ale to guide them through the event and Marco to speedily make commitment rings, the bride and groom arrived with 3 bewildered children - wondering what was happening. They thought their parents were dragging them off to a Flamenco class!

Both Ken and Jackie had prepared little vows for each other. And with a splash of Cava and Sherry, it was one of the most romantic moments ever!

And the next one please!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The fino things in life | Travel

A great article by Charles Campion in London's Evening Standard about the glories of Jerez and Sherry.

The fino things in life | Travel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cooking for One

Blissful lunch for ONE! Yummy green beans and pinenuts bought in Tangiers yesterday with BBQ Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Sunday's Baba Ganouj (which tastes even better today). Plus a fab chilled Mahou. Don't ever think that cooking for one can't be fun :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bakewell Paper Management

Poor Juan the Fruteria I pester him most days with the same question – ¿De donde?. Provenance. If it’s not from the provinces of Cádiz, Grenada or Málaga – I think twice. I reluctantly support the poly tunnel barons of Almeria in times of emergency. However, there are times when kitchen staples such as oranges, lemons and grapes are just not in season here. If not available in Spain, you can be sure they come from South America. At a push, in August, oranges will even be coming from South Africa. It’s not that I’m working on reducing my carbon footprint, more that I work on supporting what’s local and seasonal. On just about everything – that is everything apart from bakewell paper and chocolate.That I bring from UK. Oh yes - Waitrose Essential Baking Parchment is TOTALLY essential in my life. You can almost find a substitute for every kitchen ingredient but there is no substitute for this magical paper.