Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tekakor (Fresh Yeast + Baking Powder Version)

Ronny found an interesting recipe for Tekakor. It's an original recipe based on three different ones by Anna Maria of Annas Pytt I Panna. Because her blog is in Swedish I'm going to post her recipe here in English.

Even before the bread was baked, a sweet smell of something good to come was in the air, and I can definitely recommend this recipe for people who aren't experienced bakers, because it wasn't complicated at all.

When I brought a freshy baked loaf of this bread to our neighbor (Gabriel's wife - it was his resturant that provided me with an egg on a Sunday some time ago when I was in the middle of making Cantucci di Siena) who has a rather unhappy looking expression on her face all the time, it was as though the sun broke through the clouds and she smiled and asked me if the bread had been baked at home.

One word of caution if you're a baking noob like me. You need to use 2 - 3 times more fresh yeast than dry yeast. I have a feeling this might be the reason why sometimes baking noobs end-up with bread that kind of rises but didn't rise the way it was supposed to. There just wasn't enough yeast!


2.5 dl Oatmeal

4 dl Fresh Milk

200g Melted Butter

3.5 dl Fresh Milk

1.5 Tsp Baking Powder

50 g Fresh Yeast

1.5 dl Sugar

2 Tsp Salt

18 - 20 dl Flour

Step 1: Pour 4 dl fresh milk on 2.5 dl rolled oats and let it sit for 1 hour.

Step 2: Melt the butter. Pour 3.5 dl milk onto the butter and make sure the mixture is luke warm or 37 C.

Step 3: Pour some of the mixture from Step 2 onto yeast into a bowl. Mix gently to make sure the yeast has dissolved properly, then pour in the rest of the mixture from Step 2.

Step 4: Add all the other ingredients into this.

Step 5: Mix it until it's all blended and the dough is a sticky thick consistency.

Step 6: Cover it with a cloth and let it sit for 1 hour.

Step 7: Knead the dough until it becomes resilient and manageable.

Step 8: Take balls of the dough (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a baseball - don't worry about the size too much you don't have to be very precise), roll them out and puncture them with a fork.

Step 9: Line these up on a baking sheet and let them sit for another 30 minutes.

Step 10: Preheat oven to 250 C.

Step 11: Bake the bread for 6-10 minutes. They should be golden brown in color.

Makes approximately 24 loaves.

Note: The loaves of bread will be about 2 cm/0.8 inches in height.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Havregryns Tekakor (Baking Powder Version)

I had an appointment with my Danish dentist this week and before he started he asked me if I needed anaesthetics or not. I said: Of course I do.

Then Marc said with a twinkle in his blue eyes, "Alright - but I have to ask because Scandinavians, especially Norwegians, almost never require anaesthetics."

Anyhow this made me think that Norwegians must have a very high pain threshold and perhaps the rest of us with lower pain thresholds should make sure we take it with a grain of salt when a Norwegian says to us: "It doesn't hurt that much. I wouldn't worry about it!"

Today Ronny made some Havregryns Tekakors which is a kind of an oatmeal quick bread when we discovered we were out of bread and didn't have any yeast either. This became necessary because yesterday we made some Croque Madame after I had browsed through Elra's Cooking and saw her yummy looking creations, and Ronny wanted to eat some more.

Anyhow here it is. Nothing special, but very easy to make when you need a quick fix of bread and delicously crunchy when you make it either into a Croque Madame. They also make wonderful grilled cheese & ham sandwiches and are lovely just dipped in some pure sweet honey.

Havregryns Tekakor


2 dl Oatmeal

2 dl Flour

2 Tbsps Baking Powder

1 Tsp Salt

1/2 dl Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or any good quality vegetable oil you have lying around)

2 dl Whole Milk (I guess you can use skim milk if you really want)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 225 C.

Step 2: Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Step 3: Add oil and milk and knead into a dough.

Step 4: Separate the dough into two parts and roll flat until they are 1 cm thick.

Step 5: Put these on oven paper and bake them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Note: If you want nicer looking ones you can shape them into smaller sizes or whatever you wish to do with them. The important thing is to make sure they are only 1 cm in thickness.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Japanese Teapot & Chinese Tea Cups

Well, yes....these are my clumsy attempts at trying to do what I read about today. I actually made myself read-up on food photography today and tried to practice what is preached and these are some of the shots I took. You can laugh if you want. I'm still a toddler. Maybe someday I'll be able to actually take photographs that are swoon worthy but I'm just not there yet!

Are oranges still in season?

I don't know if oranges are still in season but they sure are cheap. I bought five of these for 30 centimos yesterday and they are juicy and sweet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Samurai Viking Noodles

I love noodles, but there aren't any good noodle shops around here. I virtually lived on a diet of spaghetti and penne for about 2 years in Spain and then I wanted other noodles....any kind of noodles. In fact I was looking at the list of Ramen shops in Los Angeles today in We Know More Than Zagat and being envious, but hey when the going gets tough the tough get going right?

So despite the difficulties I have in purchasing good quality Asian ingredients in this part of Spain I had to do something, and after some trial and error, and a nice measure of desperation I finally came-up with this - and since I don't know what the heck this is, I've decided to call it: Samurai Viking Noodles.

In fact there's nothing Samurai or Viking about these noodles except for the fact that it has Japanese soy sauce in it and has 'meatballs' in it which are decidely not Swedish, but you'll just have to forgive me for this lapse in logic and take them for what they are.

I promise you that if you have a general liking for South East Asian flavorings such as cilantro, ginger, garlic, peanuts, chili and so might even love Samurai Viking Noodles...and if you don't, Ronny does anyway.

Ingredients for the Soup

4 Cups Leftover Broth from Shui Jiao*

2 Star Anise

3 - 5 Tbsp Japanese Soy Sauce (depending on how salty your original broth is you may need to add more)

3 Slices of Ginger

1/4 Leek

1 Tsp Sugar


Black Pepper

Hot Chili Powder

2 - 3 Tbsp Dry Sherry

Ingredients for the Meatballs

250 g Ground Pork (makes 15 - 17 meatballs)

1 Clove Garlic (crushed)

1/2 Leek (chopped finely)

1 Knob Grated Ginger

3 Tsp Sweet Chili Pepper (heaping teaspoons)

Hot Chili Pepper Powder (to taste)

1 Tbsp Japanese Soy Sauce

Pinch of Salt

A Dash of Freshly Grated Black Pepper

1 Tsp Dark Sesame Seed Oil <---If the pork is lean use 1 Tbsp

1 Tsp Dry Sherry

Noodles & Garnish

125 g (1 Bundle) Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Chopped Cilantro

1/4 Leek (thinly sliced)

2 Tbsp Chopped Peanuts

Serves 2

Step 1: Put the rice vermicelli noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water on them. After 2 minutes drain them and put them into 2 noodle bowls.

Step 2: Put the leftover dumpling broth into a soup pan with 2 star anise, the ginger and 2 Tsp chopped leeks and let it come to a boil for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the star anise and bits of ginger, then season the broth with soy sauce, salt, hot chili powder, black pepper and dry sherry.

Step 4: In a bowl mix the ingredients for the pork meatballs, roll them up into bite sized balls and simmer then inside the soup broth for 15 minutes or until cooked.

Step 5: Put some chopped peanuts and hot chili powder on top of the noodles in the bowls, then pour the soup and meatballs on top of this. Garnish with a generous amount of cilantro...and you're ready to go!

Serves 2

*Leftover broth from Shui Jiao is the water in which you have boiled your home made dumplings. The more dumplings you've boiled in this water the richer tasting your broth will be. Depending on the kind of pork you've used, the broth can vary from being very fatty or low fat on the border of being bland. Depending on the variety of ingredients you've used - your broth can be more complex tasting or quite simple. This is where I urge you to exercise your own judgment in flavoring the broth when making Samurai Viking Noodles. My recipe is more like a guideline because I haven't given you any directions on how to make the perfect leftover Sui Jiao broth have I, i.e. how many dumplings do you have to boil in how many liters of water and what ingredients have you used to make your dumplings?

Note 1: I hate this photograph. I vow to change it someday when I learn how to take better photos.

Note 2: I make my wrappers from scratch. Not sure if this is a good idea if you've made your Shui Jiao with readymade wrappers from the store. For home made dumpling wrappers click here.

Note 3: I used rice vermicelli noodles but you can probably use other types of noodles.

Note 4: This is now version 2.1 of my attempts at photographing the noodles and there's still a glaring flaw in it but what the heck.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Saga Continues...

We went to the unemployment office this morning and they demanded that Ronny submit an 'escritura de constitucion'. I clearly told them he was just an employee and not the owner of the company, and that no other employees have turned this document in, but they insisted he needed to do this - so we came back here and Ronny called his boss in Sweden who told him he didn't understand why he needed to do this and why doesn't he call the accountant?

Well, we have been trying to call this accountant 4-5 times this morning and he hasn't answered any of our calls yet. There isn't even an answering service. His phone just rings and then disconnects.
I'm not surprised because the last time his boss told Ronny to call this guy this is what happened too pretty much. So why be surprised? The guy isn't going to change his ways.

Ronny's boss suggested Ronny just go the accountant's office, but hey it's in Malaga. He's probably not going to be there.

Ronny's boss doesn't even know how to get this document himself so how's Ronny going to ever get his hands on it?

In the mean time the clock keeps ticking. We have less than 11 days now to get our act together and reapply for his unemployment benefits or he isn't going to get anything.

Ronny is down there as we speak and he's going to try and call his boss on my mobile so he can talk to the Torremolinos people about why Ronny doesn't need this document but I fear we are just going to get a huge phone bill and will be back to square one.

Anyway this is nothing to be surprised about or shocked really - but typical of Torremolinos and this whole area. If you ever need to do anything with any government offices or even some local businesses, you are going to be involved in the most excruciatingly frustrating saga of all times....because this is the way things are in Andalucia. Vale?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spicy Winter Squash Soup with Fresh Basil

The saga of Ronny's unemployment continues. We received a notice from the unemployment office on Friday saying that they couldn't pay him his benefits because his company doesn't exist and he isn't a resident of this city. It doesn't matter that the rest of his colleagues have already received their first installments and that he has been paying taxes all this time. It's called Spanish bureaucracy.

I'm a bit worried because although he's registered as a resident, his name hasn't been 'inscribed in the city hall' (empadronamiento) and I feel they may use this against him. Whatever it is - they're making a guy who isn't going to get paid much in benefits use more money just trying to get to the small stash of money that will pay for his food bills. Isn't life grand?

Anyhow today I have a pretty uninspired photograph of a pretty nice tasting soup. In case you're wondering, I wasn't trying to draw anyone's face with the basil.

I made this soup with a winter squash that had been sitting in my refrigerator for some time. It was sitting there because I bought it and then fell ill and it sat there getting cold while I had a cold.

Granted that spices themselves aren't exactly cheap - a squash doesn't cost much and has many health benefits so you might consider making this if you don't hate spices or winter squash and are feeling the weight of the credit crunch in some way.


1/2 Winter Squash (remove the seeds and pulp and cube them)

1/2 Leek (finely chopped)

1 Clove Garlic (finely chopped)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Cup Milk (more or less)

3 Tsp Cumin Powder (add more if necessary later on)

1 Tsp Paprika Powder

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of Cinnamon

Chili (as much as you dare)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

1 Chicken Bouillon

Step 1: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in your soup pot and then throw in the garlic and leeks and braise them until they are nice and soft. Throw in all the spices and let them release their flavors.

Step 2: Add the winter squash and braise them a bit until they are all evenly covered in oil.

Step 3: Add enough water to cover the squash, add the chicken bouillon and bring it all to a boil and then simmer the soup for 30 minutes. The squash should be nice and soft at this point.

Step 4: Put the mixture through a blender until smooth and put it back in the pot and then add the milk.

Step 5: Heat it up again, and make some more adjustments if necessary. The seasonings you might consider adding would be salt, black pepper, cumin and chili. Don't add anymore of the other spices as they can be overpowering and ruin your soup.

Step 6: When you think the soup tastes just right serve it with a generous amount of chopped fresh basil on top.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Biscotti: Pasta Frolla and the Rest of the Story

I think I mentioned earlier that when I was hunting down an alternative 'biscotti' recipe I found out that 'biscotti' did not mean the same thing that it does in the English speaking world.

Anyway, this is one of the 'biscotti recipes my friend Valeria Bandini gave me. It's called Pasta Frolla. Basically even though 'biscotti' means twice baked/cooked - these days it's a generic term for any kind of 'cookie' or 'biscuit' and includes things that aren't baked twice.

I had this recipe lying around for some time and didn't have a chance to make it, but yesterday Ronny's mom and partner called and told us they were coming for a visit so I whipped this up really quickly!

The resulting cookies were buttery, light, crusty and quite delicious with confectioner's sugar sprinkled over them.


250g Flour

125 g Butter

110 g Refined White Sugar

1 Egg

1 Egg Yolk

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180C. Make sure the butter is soft and mix it in with the flour to make a flaky dough and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Just be careful to knead the dough as little as possible only doing this enough so that it all sticks together. Keep in mind the same things you would when making a pie crust. If you over knead the dough, the cookies will not be light and crusty so this is important.

Step 2: Roll out the 'pasta' or dough and cut into desired shapes.

Step 3: Bake in the oven until the light colored dough has a golden hue. This will be between 10 - 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Note 1: I noticed that because I didn't roll out the dough evenly enough some browned faster than the others - so I had to take them out of the oven while the paler ones were left in there to get a better tan.

Note 2: I'm a food blogger and I don't even have a cookie cutter so I used a glass that used to contain lemon sorbet with limoncello. It's not that I've never owned any cookie cutters but they all got lost when I moved countries. I didn't realize cookie cutters would be so difficult to find in this area of the world.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Biscotti: Round 3 - David Lebovitz's Chocolate Biscotti

I think I've mentioned that I've been wanting to make David Lebovitz's Chocolate Biscotti and I finally managed to scrape together a 'semblance' of the ingredients necessary for this and made them.

The problem with this recipe is that using a superb cocoa powder is so integral to it that you almost want to give-up if you can't get your hands on any.

That said - even without superb cocoa powder nothing David makes could be possibly bad - or so I told myself and went ahead and made it anyway with the only cocoa powder I could find in stores that were walking distance from my area. Problem is I still haven't recovered entirely from my bout of flu and couldn't travel very far. I don't have obvious symptoms anymore but I still feel pretty weak so going to another city to buy cocoa isn't something I want to do yet.

I couldn't find any chocolate chips either so I substituted this with a bar of Lindt Excellence 70% dark chocolate which I chopped up into small pieces. As I opened the package I realized there was only 100 g of chocolate even though the recipe required 120 g of chocolate chips.

I also have to add that I used whatever sugar I had lying around for the glaze and it wasn't demerara sugar.

Plus, I still haven't managed to procure any almond essence.

So let's say there were lots of deviations from what I was really supposed to do. All the little details that count and make the difference between 'very good' and 'excellent' were not there - and my cocoa was not Valrhona but Valor!

Something worries me about Valor as the container has interesting labels saying that it's 'sugar free', 'fat free' and that it's '100% natural'. These are rather funny things to be advertising about pure cocoa powder. It also says: 'Suitable for diabetics'. Whatever. But at least it's pure cocoa powder and doesn't have anything else in it and it doesn't taste terrible. It's nothing special, but it tastes like....cocoa powder.

To sum it up, the chocolate biscotti with the watered down ingredients were delicious, but they weren't heavenly as I'd hoped they'd be and I blame it on the fact that I didn't have EXACTLY the right ingredients. I mean after all David states very clearly: "Use a good-quality cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch-process for these, whichever one you like. Just remember that the chocolate flavor of the finished cookies is dependent on the quality of cocoa powder you use."

Don't get me wrong. The biscotti were still very good despite all these issues. But I'm sure they'd be even better if I'd had the right cocoa, right sugar and almond essence. Like I said before, it was the difference between 'very good' and 'excellent'.

That said, I made 48 of them and by midnight there were only 30 left.

Breakfast Habits

These days, I usually have a bowl of fruit for breakfast. I tend to favor apples, oranges and kiwis but if I see anything that looks tantalizing, I might put it in my shopping basket and add it to my usual mix.

If you're living in Spain and you're not eating a lot of fruit - you're really missing out on something.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rutabaga Mash Croquettes à la Japonaise

The way these croquettes turned out all out of shape and looking like baby aliens from outer space, it brought back memories of things the Japanese used to say to me when I would fail to perform some task perfectly and properly. They'd say: You're clumsy like a foreigner.

When I told Ronny this he laughed.

I mean what do they mean by 'clumsy like a foreigner'? Are non-Japanese people really clumsier than the Japanese? I don't think so, but I did notice that as part of their education, Japanese children were trained to perform manual tasks in a very precise way so that the average performance of the Japanese citizen was generally quite good when it came to things like wrapping gifts, making croquettes or doing anything that required attention to detail and precision.

I mean have you seen the systematic and beautiful way in which they gift wrap things at a Japanese department store.? And have you seen the way they gift wrap things at El Corte Ingles?


Leftover Rutabaga/Carrot/Potato Mash

200 g Ground Pork

1 Clove Garlic (Chopped Finely)

1/2 Onion (Chopped Finely)


Black Pepper



2 Eggs (Beaten)

Bread Crumbs*

Sunflower Oil

Step 1: Stir fry the garlic, onions and ground pork until there are no more juices running and it's fairly dry. Lightly season this with salt, black pepper and chili.

Step 2: Mix this with the Rutabaga Mash.

Step 3: Form the mixture into desired shapes and dip them in flour, egg, then in the bread crumbs.

Step 4: Deep fry them and they're ready to go.

You can have these with Japanese croquette sauce or with soy sauce. I prefer the latter because I'm a weird Japanese who is as 'clumsy as a foreigner' anyway. These were quite good and I'd make them again even though my kitchen counter looked like a war zone in the aftermath.

*Panko if you can get any but I used the regular stuff you can get in Spain.

NOTE: When the rutabaga mash is cold it's much more manageable. Next time I'll let the pork/onion mixture cool down to room temperature, mix it with the rutabaga mash then let it sit in the refrigerator to cool down first.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Biscotti: Round 2

After some discussion with two of my Italian friends it was decided that what I meant by 'biscotti' is what is called 'Cantucci di Siena' in Italy - in other words the stuff that the Italians dip in Vino Santo which has been popularized in the English speaking world as something you dip in coffee.

I had plans to make it today and then yesterday I stupidly forgot to buy eggs.

Talk about dumb. I bought flour, butter and everything else but I forgot to buy eggs.

Anyhow I had exactly 3 more eggs in the refrigerator so I thought I'd go ahead and make it anyway. You should have seen my face when I began to crack the eggs into the bowl and noticed that the third egg was already cracked! And well, on a Sunday - stores are closed.

The blood literally drained away from my face and I stood there immobile for a few seconds while I wondered if 500 g of flour, 300 g of sugar 100 g of butter and 50g of almonds were all going to go to waste because I didn't have enough eggs.

Horror! Pandemonium! Panic!

Anyway I calmed down after awhile and walked to the bar restaurant nearby owned by the president of our community Gabriele and asked them if they would sell me 1 egg - explaining to them what had happened. Fortunately for me Gabriele happened to be there and his hired workers saw me saying 'hola' to him and they gave me an egg and didn't even charge me for it saying I was their neighbor.

I'm telling you, these people saved my day - and my Cantucci di Siena - and I am really really grateful for this.


500g Flour

300 g Sugar

100 g Butter

3 Eggs

1 Tbsp Honey

50 g Broken Almonds

50 g Other Types of Nuts (Optional)

50 g Chocolate (Optional)

1 Tsp Baking Powder

2 Tsp Bitter Almond Extract (the kind suitable for consumption of course!) - Optional

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 C. Take the tray out, because if it gets pre-heated the biscotti will turn very brown on the bottom side.

Step 2: Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar.

Step 3: Add the eggs, softened butter, honey and almonds into the flour and mix with a spoon first and then use your hands to get it to stick all together and make two logs.

Step 4: Bake the logs on oven paper for 20 ~ 25 minutes. I bake mine on the rack that's second from the top for 25 minutes.

Step 5: Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes.

Step 6: Slice them into 1/2 inch pieces.

Step 7: Lay them on the paper again and bake them for 10 minutes. Turn them over, then bake them for another 10 minutes.

Step 8: Remove them from the oven and cool them and they're ready to go. Pour yourself a Vino Santo or make yourself a coffee and start dipping!

Unlike the previous recipe I tried - the dough was manageable without any modifications and I made 2 logs. The Cantucci di Siena were much softer than the previous 'biscotti' I made after the first baking and I had some trouble slicing it perfectly - even after baking it at 180 C for 25 minutes. You can of course blame the poor quality of my serrated knife and after cutting the first log, I switched to my trusted Wusthof Grand Prix II which did a much better job.

After baking them for 20 minutes they weren't looking very brown at all on top but I turned them over and found that they had browned very much on the bottom side. I think it might be better to turn them after the first 10 minutes and then bake them for another 10 ~15 minutes. In fact that's how I'm going to do it when I make them again.

The flavor was much better this time and I think that all I need to do is to make sure I turn them over faster. I'm quite happy with this recipe. Thanks Valeria!

Note: Recipe courtesy of my friend Valeria Bandini.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cornmeal Blini with Kalles and Yogurt

I've been wanting to try making Blinis - especially these Cornmeal Blinis I saw on Chow for some time and this morning, I finally made them.

Although we went to the market yesterday and bought some lovely fresh vegetables, we never made it to Carrefour to buy other food supplies and we are running low on everything. We don't even have butter anymore because we used it all up eating 1 kg of artichokes last night.

I saw a half empty tube of Kalles in the refrigerator and some plain yogurt and the pretty little dill plant on my balcony and thought: hmm...

And this is what I made: Cormeal Blini with Kalles and Yogurt.

Halfway through our blinis, we ran out of Kalles and topped the rest of them with some Cannellini Bean Spread from Steamy Kitchen, which I had conveniently tucked away in my refrigerator.

Note 1: I had to add more milk to thin out the batter because it was too thick when made according to the specifications of the original recipe. When the batter is thinner it's easier to make smaller, daintier blinis.

Note 2: " When bubbles form evenly on the top of the blini, turn (just once) and cook until golden." This never happened, so I turned them over when I saw some bubbles or the edges looked a bit brown or cooked. Don't wait for bubbles to form as they don't always materialize. Basically they should be easy to turn over. If they're not and create a mess it means they weren't ready to turn over. When they're ready they will feel resilient and spongy when pressed lightly.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

World Nutella Day

Today is World Nutella Day. Because there's a storm coming to Costa del Sol and I only found out about this when I went to Bleeding Espresso this morning, I really didn't have much of a choice as far as ingredients go.

The roundup of all entries will be published in Bleeding Espresso and Ms.Adventures in Italy on April 9, 2009.

With a storm coming there is no natural sunlight here either so my Nutella & Marshmallow Parcels look kind of ghostly.

All you need to make these are: marshmallows, Nutella, rice paper and oil. Dampen the rice paper, wrap up 1 marshmallow and 1 tsp of Nutella in the rice paper and deep fry them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

Ever since I saw the movie 'Fried Green Tomatoes' I've wanted to eat some fried green tomatoes. In fact there's little else I remember about the film except the scenes of the protagonist frying some green tomatoes inside a frying pan.

Anyway after a grueling morning visiting some Spanish utility offices where you were kept waiting whether there was anyone else waiting or not - and of course the waiting time was even longer when there actually were other people waiting - I saw a grocer selling the most glorious looking green tomatoes I'd ever seen in my life.

So after purchasing 2 of these beauties, I made some lovely fried green tomatoes using this very simple recipe. They were succulent, juicy and crunchy and had this aroma that made me think of spring.

Isn't Spain wonderful?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Easy Ribs

I love ribs. My mom used to make them when I was a kid. When I was a university student I went to Tony Roma's every chance I got. I couldn't make them in my apartment because I didn't have an oven.

I didn't really make ribs in Spain because it's not something you'd cook for one person, but now that I have a strapping young viking living with me - there is no such thing as cooking 'too much meat' - so you see, I can cook ribs again.

How nice is that?

Anyhow one of the high points of living in Spain is that they have excellent pork and lots of it. So every once in awhile when I see lots of ribs being sold - I buy some and cook them like this. It's all very simple without any complicated steps:

Ingredients for Marinade

1 dl Soy Sauce

1 Cup Sugar (brown sugar if you have some but white will do)

A Handful of Salt (not table salt obviously)

Chili (as much as you dare)

2 Star Anise (pour some boiling water over them in a bowl and let them steep)

5 Cloves of Garlic (Crushed)

1 Knob of Ginger (Grated)

Step 1 : Steep 3 racks of rib in this marinade overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2: The next day, preheat the oven to 140C and lay the ribs inside 2 casserole dishes or 1 if you have a gigantic one.

Step 3: After 1 hour, turn them over and cook for another hour.

Step 4: Turn the heat-up to 200C and cook for an additional 20 minutes and they're ready!

Serves: 1-3 people depending on the people.

Kimchi Inspired Radish Salad

Today I was browsing the web when I saw this wonderful Cubed Radish Kimchi. I had just purchased a few smallish radishes from the grocer downstairs. I've made it a habit to check their vegetable/fruit section from time to time since they seem to have fresher produce. They also always have better winter squash.

Anyhow, as much as I love cubed radish Kimchi, I didn't have all the ingredients so I made a salad inspired by this lovely Korean pickle.

Let me warn you that this salad is not for those who are squeamish about chili or garlic because it goes heavy on these ingredients and not only will you taste its intense flavors - other people will probably notice it too - so don't eat this if you're planning to go out and socialize!


1.5 - 2 Cups Cubed Radishes

A Small Piece of Leek (Sliced Very Finely)

1 Filet Anchovy (Chopped)

2 Tbsp Dark Sesame Oil

Coarse Salt

Chili (as much as you dare - if you can get the Korean variety it will look a lot better and taste better)

1 Clove Garlic (Crushed)

1 Small Piece of Ginger (Grated)

A Pinch of Sugar

Toasted White Sesame Seeds

Step 1: In a glass bowl, put some cool water and a handful of salt to create a salt brine.

Step 2: Put the cubed radishes into the water and let them soak for 20 minutes.

Step 3: In the mean time mix the sugar, anchovy, leeks, chili, ginger, garlic, sesame seed oil in a bowl.

Step 4: After 20 minutes, drain the radishes and mix with the mixture in Step 3. Taste and if needed add more salt.

Step 5: Toast some sesame seeds and sprinkle over the salad.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Biscotti: Round 1

I just recovered from a cold or flu or whatever it was that was making me feverish and ill and you can tell how long I was bed ridden by the number of days I didn't post in this blog.

Anyway when I woke-up this morning it was pouring - a very unusual thing in the Costa del Sol and something I welcome since we apparently still are in the middle of a drought. No, it's not over yet until our water reservoirs are fuller.

I've never made biscotti before but I've always been curious and now that there are lots of recipes all over the Internet, I thought I'd do some preliminary research and read through a few recipes and then choose one and try my hand at making these wonderful crunchy things that you dip in your coffee.

To be honest, my first choice was David Lebovitz's Chocolate Biscotti, but the Carrefour near me is having its regular inventory problems and this time they've been out of cocoa for more than a week. We probably won't be seeing anymore cocoa for another month now if ever we see it again. Right now all they have is the sugared variety or the type that has rice flour and other things mixed into it and this just isn't what the doctor has called for...I mean the recipe has called for.

Anyhow after I sent Ronny on 3 failed cocoa buying missions I gave-up and have chosen to make the biscotti from On the Hob or in the Oven while looking at the step-by-step instructions with photographs from Smitten Kitchen.

The only modification I made to the recipe was using 1 Tsp Amaretto instead of 1/2 Tsp Almond Extract - mainly because I still haven't found any almond extract in this part of Spain yet. Other than that, I followed the recipe pretty much as it is.

The batter was kind of sticky so I did have to add some extra flour when kneading it. Otherwise, it was a sticky unmanageable mess.

I also didn't wait for it 'to cool completely'. To be honest I was just impatient after an hour or so and cross referenced David's recipe where he said you could cut the biscotti and rebake it after 15 minutes so I cut my half-baked biscotti at this point, into 1/2 inch slices not 1/4 inch slices. If I could change anything I'd divide the dough into 2 parts next time, because my biscotti are gigantic. I think I prefer them to be more petite, mainly because I am.

I then put them in the oven for 10 minutes to see how they browned since the original recipe said 10-15 minutes, whereas David's recipe said 20 - 30 minutes at a higher temperature 350F/180C.

I ended-up turning them over after 10 minutes (even though they didn't brown) and put them in for another 10 minutes - which totaled to 20 minutes more baking.

At this point, I touched the biscotti to see if they felt 'mostly firm', but felt they could use a little more baking so set the timer on for another 10 minutes. Total cooking time: 30 minutes.

I wasn't entirely happy with the results. The Biscotti were good but not great - maybe because I didn't have almond extract - but who knows? So I'll be experimenting with this over the next few months or until I get it right.

( be continued)