Category Archives: food

fabada con almejas/beans and clams…

We need to talk about food so it’s time for another recipe from my mum…for those who don’t know she was a professional chef for 50 plus years, now in retirement she still lives to cook and i for one am not complaining! Here is how she makes Fabada con Almejas or Beans with Clams, it’s rich deep and unctuous in flavour and always has to be eaten with really good crusty bread.

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Into a large pot put:

1 large onion cut in half, 1 large leek cut into 2 or 3 big chunks, 2 big carrots cut into 2 or 3 chunks each, 3 large peeled but whole cloves of garlic, a good glug of virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and 750g (or thereabout) of dried white beans (soaked overnight) *

Add plain cold water, enough to just cover the contents in the pan, add some saffron and put to boil,  (adjust seasoning to taste) and cook until the beans are almost tender**. When the big chunks of vegetables and garlic are soft, fish them out and liquidise them in a blender with a little of the bean liquid and/or cooked clams liquor (see below). Put the thick veg puree back in the pan with the beans to thicken the sauce. Meanwhile fry some sliced garlic in a frying pan with lots of olive oil, when the garlic begins to be golden, take off the heat and allow to cool a little, add a teaspoon of Spanish sweet paprika, stir it in and deposit the oily mixture into the pan with the beans. Add a little chilli at this point (flakes or powder).

While the beans are cooking:

In another pan pour in a little cold water and add some salt, a bay leaf and washed clams (anything from a half kilo to a kilo) NO wine necessary. Put on the hob and bring to the boil, cook till the shells are open and remove from the heat. Drain and reserve the (sieved) liquor from the clams. Add the clams to the cooked bean stew and add as much of the clam liquor as you need to loosen up the sauce. Cook altogether for a couple of minutes to amalgamate nicely and make sure the beans are fully cooked. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Sounds a bit more fiddly than it is and it’s really REALLY work the bother (and it’s not that much bother!)

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*about those beans…well it’s easy if you are in Spain, you just use Asturian fabas/beans i think you can find them in the UK  if you look hard! Don’t use Judion beans, ‘cos the skins can be a bit tough. Basically you need a big fat white dried bean that has been soaked overnight… but don’t use butter beans…they are not robust enough and they will beak up in the cooking process. The quest is yours!

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** how long to cook the beans? in the photos above mum used her own beans fresh from the garden so it took less than half an hour till they were tender, but if you are using pre soaked dried beans it can be anything from 45 mins to over an hour, you just have to keep checking them.

other foody posts on this blog:

preserving wild garlic tortilla de maiz y chicharrones fabada asturiana lemons mrs beeton and colombia merluza-a-la-cazuela lebre con castañas callos a la gallega ossobuco vs xerrete in praise of colombian food restaurant still lives few flowered recipes first forage of the season nose to tail and farajullas flloeira cocido gallego albariño wine genius chorizos returning to the matanza chocolate con churros pani puri sunday cicchetti tea-break baracca empanada revelations in a milanese restaurant further adventures in foraging cooking the haul foraging2 foraging nose to tail (s)light relief pulpo a la gallega the matanza morcilla and dying arts jamòn serrano

dosa takeaway…

If you are still bemoaning the fact that fish and chips no longer come wrapped in newspaper, come to India…

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Now i know this does not look too pretty but trust me, its utterly delicious and the best takeaway breakfast…

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It consists of the classic south Indian dosa pancake (made from a slightly sour batter) with a little chopped raw onion in the middle.  Also in the middle you will find a little plastic parcel with some fiery hot chilli sauce and some groundnut (peanut to us) chutney which is also good and spicy.

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It’s all wrapped up to take away first in a banana leaf and then in newspaper wrapped up with a little thread to hold it together and all for the princely sum of 20 rupees…like i said, it aint pretty but it’s HEAVEN!!!

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Another version…

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…again i know it looks a little prison foodish but really, its delicious; dosa with coconut chutney and dal from Vijayawada bus station…i thoroughly recommend…

preserving wild garlic…

Back to those foraged leaves from the previous post…Most important thing, having made sure you picked them from a safe place, wash the leaves really thoroughly…

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OK, so i already posted how to make a pesto from few flowered leeks, for the recipe click here

i decide to do the same with the wild garlic leaves…works really well but be warned this is a far more pungent (but delicious) version…after processing more than half a kilo of wild garlic, my home smells really REALLY of garlic for a day or two!

The pesto freezes really well, i use an ice cube to portion it out.

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I have so many leaves that i try some other methods of preservation. I make a wild garlic paste by whizzing it up with some olive oil – the ordinary kind, nothing fancy- and salt (for every 100g of leaves use 100g of oil and 6g salt) . I read that this will keep in a sterilised jar in the fridge for many months…just make sure you top it up with a layer of oil to stop the leaves oxidising. I use it to boost the flavour of soups or stews or in marinades.

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…and do not disguard the stalks, they are delicious, i wilt them along with some of the leaves, v nice with steak or fish, or add them to a daal.

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tortilla de maiz y chicharrones fabada asturiana lemons mrs beeton and colombia merluza-a-la-cazuela lebre con castañas callos a la gallega ossobuco vs xerrete in praise of colombian food restaurant still lives few flowered recipes first forage of the season nose to tail and farajullas flloeira cocido gallego albariño wine genius chorizos returning to the matanza chocolate con churros pani puri sunday cicchetti tea-break baracca empanada revelations in a milanese restaurant further adventures in foraging cooking the haul foraging2 foraging nose to tail (s)light relief pulpo a la gallega the matanza morcilla and dying arts jamòn serrano

wild garlic in currie…

…it all started off with a walk up the Pentland Hills, then down to Currie and along the Water of Leith into Edinburgh.

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So walking along the Water of Leith we came across the unmistakable and pungent (in a good way) smell of wild garlic…

P1080502we try to pick only from the steepest banks in the hope that it is less likely to be tainted by…i don’t know… dog pee…??

i love this season, i usually go down to the Hermitage to forage for few flowered leeks (similar to wild garlic but a little less pungent). Anyway we came across MASSES of the stuff easily spotted by the clumps of ribbony, silky leaves (almost like lilies) and of course the aroma. We picked around a kilo between  two of us (worth a fortune in shops at the moment)

I rush home to process it all as an hour or so after picking, the leaves to wilt, clocking up 20km of walking.

deeksha, muggu and dosas…

Morning walks are always enlightening, trying to find new routes, little angles i have not yet explored. The earlier i go the better, these were all taken around 6.30/7.00am…

A group of Ayyappa Deekshas getting close to the end of their period of abstinence, coming back from Temple:

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…and early morning is the best time to catch the muggu drawings freshly done, in this house a mother and daughter were both busy making their muggus. The father called me over seeing my camera and asked me to photograph them, the daughter did not want to be photographed…just her work…and as she was less experienced than her mum, she was still working from a notebook of patterns. Most households have these books and during festive periods the newspapers also produce patterns to be copied…

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…and taking a shortcut towards Gannavaram in another small village near ours they are, in impromptu Indian style, selling breakfasts of dosas and idlis (delicious crepes and fluffy steamed “cakes” both served with coconut chutney -my fave- or a sicy broth known as sambar) and savory spicy donuts…it’s all good…

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