Salmorejo

A simple and “creamy” rendition of gazpacho, salmorejo is in my experience a glimpse of traditional Spanish cuisine perfect for the country’s climate. In the scorching summer months, during the afternoons of which not even the locals venture outside, this cold soup is enjoyed morning, noon and night – as a refreshing start to the day, or light evening starter.

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Tomato and Basil Risotto

Risotto is a dish unbound by season. As with minestrone (see me recipes for autumn and spring), the best seasonal produce can be used to great effect in this famous Italian rice dish. There is no ingredient on earth that can’t be put to bewilderingly good use in risotto, a fact that makes it very special and probably unique. Indeed, to celebrate the beginning of the British tomato season, this recipe for Tomato and Basil Risotto makes full use of the fruit’s flavour, texture and colour. Delicious is an understatement.

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There are a few stark differences between residing in Britain and living in Spain; the language isn’t the same; the summer in Spain is guaranteed (so much so that you could probably return your holiday to the Spanish government if it rained for more than a day); and the fresh produce is far cheaper, yet far better. To be fair that final point is tantamount to a sweeping generalisation, but unless one is actively willing to seek out superb tomatoes, fruits and vegetables in Britain one is likely to be disappointed. However, in Spain it is difficult not to stumble upon magnificent beef tomatoes the way they ought to be – large, colourful and ever so slightly cracked or split. To me there is little doubt that the reason behind this is the preposterous idea the supermarkets have that only food that looks and feels good is worthy of their shelves, despite the fact that these often haven’t finished growing or ripening. I say we do away with the waste and welcome what may not be considered first class produce into our supermarkets.

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Posting two similar recipes in quick succession isn’t something that I’d usually indulge in, but time has been short recently and pizzas are awfully quick and simple to make; particularly when using pre-prepared dough. While on the subject of dough, a couple of you weren’t sure how the quality of it would be affected by being frozen for a few days. It seems that all fears of any dough-damage were entirely misplaced, as it produced a base of exactly the same quality. However, one must ensure that the dough has completely thawed before use. Indeed, I would suggest that one ought really to remove it from any chilled environment overnight before using it for pizza. Those of you who suggested that such an act would degrade the dough ought to feel ashamed. I wasn’t aware that faith in my instruction had waned quite that much!

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There is good news to report! After having a conversation with Rosemary, author of Cooking in Sens, about beautiful skillets, my dad, a consummate charity shop ferret, received instructions to find me one. Not only did the ol’ chap deliver, he delivered in style – the skillet you can see below is not only in my eyes beautiful, it is made by AGA. Such a pan would normally set one back at least £60; this pan set us back £5 and is in jolly fine fettle. It appears that one may find it rather difficult to extoll the virtues of perseverance in charity shopping too much.

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