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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Travel Guru at Annie B's Spanish Kitchen

It's always such a pleasure to welcome new visitors to the kitchen but even more so when they love their experience enough to shout it from their blog!!

Thank you Cathy. Come back for more Sherry soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Roof with a View

The crowning glory of Annie B's Spanish Kitchen is without doubt the azotea (roof terrace). If you tell someone Spanish you have an azotea, they will know you are in Andalucia. They are only refered to as azoteas in this part of Spain.

On days like today when the sky is the deepest blue and the sun is waving at me, the view from my azotea never fails to take my breath away. Nothing ever looks as good when taken with my camera (unless you can eat it!) however in this photo you are looking over the beach at Zahara de los Atunes, towards the northern coast of Morocco. Everything that enters into the Med does so through this Estrecho - ships, boats, basking sharks, whales, dolphins and of course the blue fin tuna at this time of year.

This azotea is an idyllic place to sip on your chilled Manzanilla and munch on a few olives whilst the world remains static in front of you.

Ven y disfruta

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Almost Summer at Annie B's Spanish Kitchen

It's almost summer here in Vejer. The tomatoes are getting sweeter, the strawberries more red, the Almadraba is about to start, asparagus season is here and the 2010 Rosados are yummy! Glorious blue skies and warm sunny evenings

Yesterdays class - appreciating Vejer, Manzanilla, Boquerones, Gambas, Corvina a la Sal con Salsa Verde, Gloria Moscatel from Chiclana, Orange & Almond Cake, Barbadillo 2010, tasting of Jamón, Paletilla y Serano and sooooooooooooooooooo much more

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dia de Andalucia

Today, 28th February, is Andalucia Day - celebrating the autonomy of Andalucia since 1980. It's my adopted home. An enormous state. You can ski and swim in the sea on the same day. It is full of natural beauty and scrumptious raw ingredients which go beyond their natural raw yumminess and can be preserved into some of the world’s finest - Jámon, Sherry, Tuna. The oranges, lemons, salt & fish, particularly all cephalopods (squid, chocos, pulpo etc), must be amongst the best in the world. Andalucia is as yet unknown as a gourmet destination. All this wonder in Andalucia - in particular in the province of Cádiz, would be nothing without the joyful souls of the people who are Andalucían. Los Andaluces, their joy, their souls, their family respect, the driving (yikes!), the stop work at 2pm ethic, the music, partying and love of life.. Especially in summer, when it’s too hot for strawberries and the tomatoes are at their sun-kissed best. The beaches of Costa de la Luz – glistening Atlantic coastline and acres of sandy utopia. Vejer is a pretty fab place to be – not always, just almost always.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Citrus Heaven

One of the most wonderful things about returning to Vejer from a wintry UK is the wonderful sight of the orange trees in Los Remedios, laden with glistening bright naranjas. This time of the year, freshly squeezed orange juice is at its best. Mother Nature having her hand in our winter injection of Vit C no doubt!
Everyone in town knows someone with orange and lemon trees in the Campo (countryside), so I'm luckily always being offered bagfuls of these wonderful Andalucian winter fruits. However, I remain mesmerised by the thrill of picking my own. Scratching the skin of a newly picked lemon can push me into the realms of a dream world. I wonder if in a previous life I maybe made my fortune from lemons or perhaps I was the Goddess of Lemons (who was she???). There is definitely something about freshly picked lemons that makes my heart sing.

Preserved Lemons originate from Morocco and have been used in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries. Preserved in salt and spring water for weeks before use, the salt introduces another flavour to the bitterness of the lemon, creating a salty lemony explosion in your mouth like nothing else in the world!

There appears to be no definitive recipe on how to preserve lemons but the method described below, works for me. You can Google and watch films on YouTube to give you more confidence for your first time.

Preserved lemons are a shockingly wonderful addition to loads of dishes. Here are some of the ways we use them at Annie B's Spanish Kitchen - wonderfuly mixed with carrots & carrot puree, diced & mixed with other goodies through Bulgar wheat or couscous, stuffed into a chicken before roasting (breast side down of course so that all the yumminess soaks into the breast during cooking), diced & sprinkled with parsley, tuna, onion, olive oil & Sherry vinegar then folded through hot potatoes.

Before use,they need to be rinsed, the flesh pulled away, discarded and just the skin used.

In the UK, you need to seek out unwaxed, preferably organic lemons. The skin should not be shiny, which indicates it has been waxed.

Here is how I preserve my lemons.

Sterilize a jar big enough to hold the lemons you wish to preserve. Wash and scrub the lemons. Cut into quarters but NOT all the way to the bottom. The lemon should open out like a flower. Pack rock or sea salt(at least a tablespoon) into the lemon by opening out each half making sure that all exposed flesh is in contact/covered with salt. Pack lemons one by one into the jar. Add another couple of tablespoons of salt, perhaps even a Cinnamon stick and a few bay leaves and cover with bottled water. I leave half an inch at the top of the jar to fill with olive oil.. Turn the jar upside down every couple of days until you can see that all the salt has dissolved. Leave for a month before use. I never keep mine in the fridge. Lemons were preserved in the days before fridges were available.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Another glowing report - blush, blush. Thank you Margot!

Annie B's Spanish Kitchen: by Margot & Alice, mother & daughter from Auckland, New Zealand.November 2010

This is the most fun you will ever have in class. What a great decision it was to book a couple of days in Annie's Spanish Kitchen. From the first contact Annie was so helpful and informative - and patient with all my questions as I tried to work out how to get to Vejer from Seville by public transport! It is much easier to hire a car but it is possible to catch a bus at San Fernando which drops you in the village. We arrived in appalling weather, checked into the Hotel El Calif and were soon collected by Annie for the short walk up to her home. By then the rain had stopped and the evening was beautifully clear as we walked along the ancient cobbled streets of the village.

The 'Anniepov' (vodka/pomegranate) welcome cocktail soon obliterated any memory of our wet journey while we chatted to our fellow cooks and watched Annie finish the slow-roasted Spanish pork that was to be our dinner. It was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and accompanied by fabulous sherries and wines.

The next morning our cooking classes began at 10am with preparation of a Moroccan inspired lunch of marinated chicken, pomegranate couscous (incredible luscious pomegranates had just come into season) and our own designer vegetable stacks. The orange and almond cake complemented the chicken dish perfectly. We sat around the pool laughing, drinking fine sherries and wines and eating a sumptuous lunch - congratulating ourselves on the design of each vegetable stack. Annie teaches in her own home which is a delightful village house of many levels furnished with beautiful Spanish touches. The rooftop has glorious views all the way to the coast. In the evening we went bar-hopping in the old town with Annie guiding us in tastings of the finest Iberico hams, shellfish and sherries.

On the second day we visited the fish market in the neighbouring town. It was fascinating to see the varieties of fish, vegetables and fruit, many of which we had never seen before. We were intrigued to discover how many parts of a rooster can be used in cooking - and what's more there is a vacuum pack specifically designed for every part of that rooster's anatomy! Annie bought several varieties of fish and a large bag of fresh Anchovies.......specially for us to learn the finer points of filleting an anchovy. Easier than it sounds thank goodness - rip the head off, pull out the guts, gently open it out and the backbone lifts out miraculously to leave you with a (nearly) perfect flattened anchovy ready for marinating and eating. The flavour is nothing like the canned salted ones we are accustomed to. It is delicate and very more-ish. Lunch that day was whole fish baked in salt creating the most delicious moist fish. In the evening we returned for our final meal which was a paella cooked by Annie's lovely Spanish assistant with instructions from Annie as we went.

The two days whizzed by - we learned a lot of dishes and handy cooking hints (like how to deseed a pomegranate and how to make a veggie stack) but most of the time we were just having fun. Annie has the perfect touch as a hostess. She is warm, charming, generous, friendly and lots of fun as well as being an incredible cook and teacher. I cannot recommend her kitchen classes highly enough. We were sad to leave this lovely village and Annie's great company.