Boost Your Meal Time With This Authentic Spanish Recipe!

Looking for a Sharing Meal for Family or Friends? Read On!

My husband and I lived part-time of the year in a small village about 40 minutes south of Valencia, about 10 minutes drive to Xativa, and about 20-25 minutes to the beaches of Gandia and Cullera, Costa Blanca, Spain. We can’t wait to return. Valencia, for myself, is an area that is not as popular as the major cities of Barcelona and Madrid. But I think it offers so much in its history, food, festivals and beaches.

The people in our village that we resided in are working class, with most men working on their own or on more extensive orange fields (campo) that surround this area for as far as the eye can see. If it’s not oranges they grow and pick, then it is persimmons (caquis), flat peaches (melocotones), some do paella rice (arroz), others do crops of onions (cebolla), garlic (ajo), spring onions. But mostly, it is Oranges (naranja). Our village has a charm about it, and the people in the village are the ones that bring about that charm with their big hearts and great sense of humour.

The food that we eat with friends, through their generosity, is fantastic, wholesome food. All the meals are robust, full of texture and flavour. And that’s what it’s all about, flavour. The recipes I am writing about, and have cooked, have been passed down from mother to daughter, mother to daughter. There is little to no change in what they do to their recipes. So if a stock cube is called for in a recipe, it would be so that it cuts down the preparation time in their busy lives.

Gazpacho Manchego

Gazpacho Manchego Tortas

So just to make it clear, this recipe is not the soup of Gazpacho. Gazpacho Manchego is tiny squares of dried flat pieces of bread, cooked in a broth with meats, like chicken and rabbit, which is delicious! And if you are a bit squeamish on the rabbit, I ask that you try if you have never tasted it. It has a similar taste to chicken, and that is why it goes well with the dish. Unfortunately, the rabbit is not as famous as it once was here in Australia. But there are some butchers throughout that sell them or order them for you and cost very little. However, if you just don’t care for the rabbit, then add another kilo of the chicken pieces.

Bread is a staple in Spain. So it is served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am lucky we live just near a local market (supermercado), and our windows overlook the Plaza and street. So we see many walking early to get first dibs on fresh baguettes. And since many women in Spain hate to waste food, they will use their old bread for dishes. In this recipe, you can use day old bread or the tortas can be purchased online or at specialty delis.

When this is cooked, it is presented to the table in the pan and we give a round of applause to the cook and for such a great meal. Mostly we grab a spoon or fork and eat from the pan, saves on washing up, but can be dished out. It’s fun and makes meal times so more personal.

This recipe is in a 42cm (16.5 inches) paella dish on a gas ring cooker. Medium to high heat. For those who don’t have a paella pan, you can use a large frypan or one of the cast iron, dual handle pan on the stovetop, be it electric or gas on a medium to high heat. Adjust your chicken and rabbit if smaller pan, or save some of the meat for another dish. Serves 6.

Ingredients:

1kg chicken pieces or thigh meat
1 kg rabbit chopped into quarters
4 garlic cloves whole
2 bay leaves,
a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried herb
1 large skinned tomato – grated or chopped finely
1 onion chopped – grated
salt
Splash of olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika 
2 chicken cubes
Gazpacho Manchego Tortas  (1 packet = 2 people) or 2-3 large day old baguettes ripped into bite size pieces

Method

Place into a large pot the rabbit and chicken. Pop in the bay leaves, garlic cloves, thyme, sprinkle of salt, and cover with water. Add the chicken stock and over low heat stew until the meat is cooked and coming off the bones, continuously checking that the water level doesn’t get too low.  

When the meat has cooled, shred it off the bones. Reserve the broth in the pot to add later, but strain for tiny bones and the herbs.

On a hot paella pan, add a good splash of olive oil and sauté onion and tomato. Add the tortas or the chunks of stale bread and spread them about the pan. Add your shredded chicken and rabbit, a sprinkling of smoky paprika and stir. Careful not to burn or tear during this time. 

Bit by bit, pour the reserved broth into the paella pan, letting the tortas soak up the broth. Do Not Stir the Dish. You do not want the tortas or bread wet, sloppy or falling apart. And if there is not enough broth, add a little water and another chicken stock cube. 

Cook until tortas or bread are soft, yet hold their form and broth has soaked up, but nothing is dry or stuck to the pan.

Serve with; you got it, Crusty Bread and a glass or two of excellent Rioja.

Best Almond and Orange Cake

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This is a lovely gluten-free cake that I have started making this year. I have always wanted to make one; however, two things made me hum and ha about it. One was would it be very overbearing with the peel taste, and two, was it too complicated and fiddly? I am not a marmalade person and this is the reason I was swayed in not making one sooner.

But No.

This cake is rich and rustic. It has a flavour and texture which is lovely in the mouth; especially if you have it with a good dollop of pure cream or a sprinkle of icing sugar. It is a pleasing cake for lunches, desserts, coffee with friends, or that afternoon tummy rumble on a cold afternoon.

Ingredients

2 navel oranges (wash if shop bought and not spray free)

250gms of caster sugar

250 gms of almond meal

6 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

50gms of flaked almonds

BEFORE BAKING:

Place the oranges into a pot of water and bring to the boil for 2 hours. If the pot starts to dry out, add more water, but I have never had this happen as of yet. The end result should be wonky looking oranges that a skewer will go through like soft butter. Remove the oranges out of the water and let them cool down completely. When the oranges are cooled down completely, place into thermomix or blender and blitz until no chunks and smooth and put this to the side. You could do this a day or two ahead when you have time, but keep in a container in the refrigerator until you need to use it. 

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Turn on the oven to 160 degrees.

For the springform pan, I like to unhook the pan and then cover the bottom plate completely with baking paper. I then push the plate back into the bottom lip of the outer pan ring, clipping it tight, cutting away the leftover paper if sticking out too much from around the bottom. I do this because I have had little accidents where kids have used the springform and put it out of wack and it will not sit proper within the ring. I find that with doing this, nothing will drip out if it is out of wack and not sitting tight into the lip. I then grease the inside of the springform pan and place baking paper also around it, trimming any excess. This cake will stick if no baking paper on the sides.

Next, beat the eggs and caster sugar in a bowl or in thermo and beat until it is pale and slightly frothy. This may take a couple of minutes. Add your cooled orange gunk and mix. Once that is done, then you will add in the almond meal, baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Pour your mixture into your springform pan and sprinkle on the flaked almonds for a nice crunch. Cooking time is between 55 minutes to 1 hour on 160 depending on your oven. I start checking on the cake from 50 minutes onwards.

To know when your cake is ready, your tool of choice to skewer should come out clean or with a little crumb. Leave to cool in the pan completely, so it’s easier to slice.

Buen Provecho!

 

 

 

 

 

Rise and Shine

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Ciabattas have turned out well.

Today is bread making day and I am chuffed at my loaves so far. It may seem tedious for some with the whole outlook of making your own bread, but for us, our nearest bread shop is 45km away. And the taste of making your own outweighs the loaves wrapped in plastic bags.

The time in making bread is therapeutic, and I listen to Radio National with a cuppa as I do my mixing, rising and baking. I do get up early to do it, and with the weather becoming very chilly, I had the fire blazing this morning. We are lucky to have a double burner that is half in the lounge room and half in the kitchen to warm up the place. So baking bread is lovely on days like these.

When Hubby woke this morning, he walked into the kitchen and gave me a big smack-a-roo on the lips and said: “Love the smell of fresh bread”.

I love mornings like this.

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Foccacia with potato, rosemary, garlic and salt.