Cooking Spain Region by Region: Asturias: Casadielles (Walnut Pastries)

These have been on my to try list since I started cooking Spain region by region and arrived at Asturias and after trying the real deal while I was on holiday in Asturias, I knew I definitely had to recreate these delicious pastries.

These pastries are stuffed with a walnut paste with warming aniseed spice and served warm...they are a definite delicacy. In Asturias they were served to us in a rectangular shape'however I opted to make them in a pasty form although this might not be the usual traditional shape. I combined two different recipes and the end result turned out to be pretty similar to the ones I tried in Asturias. This recipe makes a lot of Casadielles...in fact I ran out of pastry and to save time I cheated and ended up buying some pastry squares or obleas to use up all the filling!!!Here´s the recipe: 

1 sheet or half a kg of shortcrust pastry
150g walnuts
150g sugar
1 teaspoon of aniseed
1 teaspoon of water

1. Prepare the filling by chopping or blitzing the walnuts in a food processor and mix with the sugar.
2. Add aniseed and water and mix to form a dense paste.
3. Roll out the pastry and cut into small circles, fill with nut paste and fold over to make a pasty shape. Don´t overfill as pasty won´t shut properly and filling will ooze out.
4. Press down with a fork on the edges.
5.Place in a preheated oven at around 180 to 170 degreest C for about 20minutes or until golden.
6. Serve warm.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: D: D for Date: Pork & Date skewers

Things have been really busy lately what with birthday parties, end of school ballet shows, graduations, courses and kids that seem to be going to bed later and later. Add all that to the fact that the limited free time I have, I prefer to relax and watch a couple of TV programmes....namely Great British Bake Off  with professionals and Poldark,which hasn´t left me much time for blogging. I decided to make these Pork & Date Skewers from BBC Food recipes awhile ago but haven´t got around to blogging about them until now.

They were fairly quick and easy to make and made a tasty change. We cooked them on the electric griddle and I don´t know if it´s because I bought the wrong cut of meat or I cut the meat too thick but as you can see the outer layer of the pork got a little charred. I also doubled the quantity of dates as 5 didn´t appear too be many so maybe the sugars in the dates also contributed to the charring. Unfortunately these weren´t a hit with my toddler,who usually eats everything, and my daughter(no surprises there though!) so I haven´t succeeded in getting her to try or eat any dates yet!!In the recipe given, the pork and date skewers were served with a couscous salad but I decided to serve it with a version of Nasi Goreng.


Biergarten Spanien, Ciudad Real Restaurant Review

 I´ve decided to resurrect my restaurant reviews although in the past this has almost seemed to spell the kiss of death to the restaurant as they ended up closing!!!However, I hope this isn´t the case this time.

The Biergarten Spanien is a fairly new restaurant and which is decorated and made to look like a German beer tent similar as to what you might find in the Oktoberfest. I love the central streamers and sign post that almost looks like a maypole. You can find German beer of course but it also sells Spanish and other beer....I´m not a beer lover myself so couldn´t really comment about the beer but you get a free tapa with your beer-ours was tiny sausages but a fairly generous portion).

My parents and I opted for the pork knuckle,sauerkraut and chips or mashed potatoes while my husband chose spare ribs with chips and my daughter had a children´s portion,of chicken nuggets and chips,which was huge. I hadn´t expected the food to be the best due to the low prices and I thought that it was probably a chain restaurant and sometimes chain restaurants aren´t as good  but I was pleasantly surprized as they served decent-sized portions, the food was hot and it was really tasty. Our pork knuckle was really tender and just fell off the bone. We then had a dessert for 2.50 euros. My husband,mum and daughter tucked into a brownie with a fruit coulis and ice cream but I decided to go for something more typically German and had the apple strudel with  fruit coulis.It was also supposed to come with a vanilla cream or custard like sauce but I didn´t see any evidence of it. However, it was still delicious.

There is also a little area for children to play although it is very small and consists of only a table or two and some chairs, where they can sit and colour.

All in all I enjoyed this new restaurant where you can try some German cuisine and would definitely reccommend it. It´s good food at a reasonable price.  We will definitely be going again!!


Cooking England County by County: Cambridgeshire:Huntingdon Fidget Pie

We´re kicking off the first "C" county with Cambridgeshire,again a part of England that is unknown to me including typical dishes from this area. Apparently as it is very flat, many airfields were built there during the Second World War and is still used for many army and RAF operations however Cambridgeshire´s economy is largely based on agriculture. It´s not surprising that one of it´s typical dishes is this Huntingdon Fidget Pie, which is packed with bacon & apples and was usually prepared during harvest time to feed the workers.It is a mystery how this dish got its name. I´d never heard of it before, let alone tried it but I´m so glad I have now. It´s definitely worth making  and it has become one of my favourite pies. The smell of it baking alone had me salivating! I mean, come on, bacon and apples in a pie.....what´s not to like?

I looked at various recipes including one in my Farmhouse Fare cookbook and one from the Essentially Catering website. I wanted to make as "traditional" a Huntingdon Fidget Pie as possible. I wasn´t sure if it was supposed to have a pastry bottom or just a pastry lid and whether to layer the filling as one recipe said or to mix up all the filling together due to the variations in the recipes. Also the quantities were huge, enough to make 4 pies so I ended up adapting the recipe from the Essentially Catering website. I had some frozen leftover shortcrust pastry ,which I had defrosted,and then I decided to chuck all the filling ingredients  in as this seemed a much quicker option than layering it.

Ingredients (for 2-4 people)

125g shortcrust pastry
112g streaky bacon (as I couldn´t get this I used smoked bacon)
80g onion,chopped
112g cooking apple(I used Reinetas),peeled, cored and cubed
4-5  fresh sage leaves,chopped
Pinch of salt & pepper
                                                      1/4-1/2 cup of water
                                                      Beaten egg for glazing

1.Preheat oven to 200ºC.
2. Chop bacon and mix with chopped onion and apple.Season with salt,pepper and sage.
3.Place filling in pie dish.
4.Roll out pastry for pie lid and place on top of the pie,crimping the edges and sealing well.
5. Cut a cross in the middle of the pie and fold back edges of cross to make triangles and exposing the filling. Add water.
6. Brush with beaten egg and bake for around 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.


Cook & Learn about the world: Afghanistan:

 So welcome to a new regular post I´m going to be blogging about frequently: Cook and Learn about the World. Inspired by the Global Table Adventure blog, I decided that I wanted to also cook the world so my family could try new cuisines and dishes from different countries, eat more variety and hopefully encourage my daughter to be less of a fussy eater while at the same time learn about these countries and cultures and become more tolerant and open-minded. And after the recent attack in London, it couldn´t come at a better time.

The first country on the list is Afghanistan and I was excited to try this cuisine as I´ve never eaten Afghan food before. I turned to Global Table Adventure´s Afghan recipes and decided to make the following recipes:Burani Bonjon (or Spicy Braised Aubergine with Seer Moss(Garlic Mint Sauce);Kabeli Palau(Twice-cooked Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots)and Firnee (Cardamom & Rose Water Custard). I chose these particular dishes as they were the ones that I liked the sound of the most but also because I thought that my children might like/eat these better than the others.Although I used Global Table Adventure´s recipes for Afghanistan, for other countries I might use other recipes I find in addition to those of Global Table Adventure.

The first dish I made was the Kabeli Palau(Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots). I made the slightly quicker version using chicken breasts and chicken stock(yes, with an Oxo cube!) and even though I made the "quick" version, this recipe did take quite a lot of work but in the end it was so worth it.The rice with tender chunks of chicken lightly spiced is reminiscent of Indian cuisine(one of my favourites!) and the crunchy yet sweet carrot and nutty garnish just finishes off the dish perfectly. I´d definitely reccommend trying this dish.It was a real hit with everyone except my daughter who only ate the rice(and that was with loads of ketchup!!)

The second dish I made was Burani Bonjon(Spicy Braised Aubergine)& Seer Moss(Garlic Mint Sauce) I made this as a side dish. Unfortunately I didn´t make all these Afghan dishes on the same day as it would have made an ideal side dish for the Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots. I knew my daughter probably wouldn´t try this dish with it being a vegetable dish but you can live in hopes....I think my 18mth old had a little bit although I think he spat the aubergine out. This was tasty without being too spicy and the garlic mint yoghurt sauce was a great accompaniment to it...very garlicy. I had to use dried mint as didn´t have any fresh so I think the mint flavour was lost a little. Again, I´d definitely reccommend trying this dish.
 Finally, I made Firmee(Cardamom & Rose Water Custard). Both of these flavours were pretty new to me,especially the rose water...which I managed to find in a Morrocan food shop. The recipe itself is pretty easy to make(just make sure you add warm milk to the cornflour not cold otherwise it won´t thicken..I realised this later on but corrected the problem and managed to thicken it up!!)I couldn´t find peeled pistachios so peeling the pistachios was probably one of the things that took up most of the time in this recipe and then grinding it and the cardamom...luckily I had my trusty Thermomix! Unfortunately, we weren´t very keen on this dessert as it has a very strong, perfumed taste despite me only making half the recipe and using half the amount of the rose water.Neither of my children tried this dessert either.

My view:I really enjoyed the food from Afghanistan and would love to try more dishes now including the other recipes featured in Global Table Adventure. However, dessert was a little disappointing.I´ll definitely be making both the rice and the aubergine dishes again in the future.Delicious!!

My children´s view: Not such a success with the kids. The rice was the most successful especially with my 18 mth old and we mananged to encourage my daughter to eat it with copious amounts of ketchup and by saying that it was a special "paella".

Now for the learning part, you can find educational activities about Afghanistan on both Activity Village & Enchanted Learning,however you have to pay to become a member to obtain these activities.I found the following page with various educational activities about Afghanistan and printed out the Afghanistan flag for my daughter to colour.However, we haven´t done anything else so I was a little disappointed that she hasn´t learnt more about this country. I´d love to know of any books aimed at children about Afghanistan or any other activities....please feel free to share them with us. I´d also love to hear if you make any of the dishes too!

Just adding on this quick. I´ve found a book about Afghanistan at my local library(and even better it´s in English!) which looks like a great way to teach my daughter a bit about Afghanistan. It´s called The Sky of Afghanistan by Ana A.de Eulate and illustrated by Sonja Wimmer. I´ve only just borrowed it from the library so we haven´t read it yet but it appears to be a lovely story about an Afghan girl, a dream and a song for peace and it is also beautifully illustrated.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: D: D for Dates: Wild Rice with Dates & Walnuts

Hello strangers! Finally back again to bring you this month´s Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge and we´ve reached letter D. I decided to choose dates for the letter D as it´s something that although I like we hardly eat but now after reading the nutritional and health benefits of eating dates....I think it´s something we´re definitely going to be consuming more often. Plus I have discovered lots of yummy recipes to try!!

First a quick look at some of the nutritional benefits of dates. Dates contain a wide range of essential nutrients and are a fantastic source of potassium.They are rich in dietary fibre, so therefore helps protect the colon mucous membrame from cancer-causing chemicals. They contain tannins which possess anti-infective,anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties.They are also an excellent source of iron. They also have many other health & nutritional benefits which you can read more about here .

The first recipe using dates I decided to try out was this Wild Rice, Dates & Walnuts despite the fact that it isn´t very toddler friendly because of the nuts and even though I suspected that my daughter would not so much as touch it!I thought at first that I´d overcooked the rice as it looked quite clumpy/ mushy but however the end result was delicious and I´m glad I tried it. It is quite reminiscent of couscous and the sweetness of the dates and the crunch of the walnuts gives it added texture and flavour.As predicted though my daughter wouldn´t try it.I adapted the recipe from my New Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book.

1/2 chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
1/2-3/4 cup of wild rice,rinsed and drained
1 cup of chopped celery
200ml chicken stock(I used Oxo chicken stock cube)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup pitted dates,chopped
1/8 cup chopped walnuts(toasted if time)

1. Cook onion in hot butter for 10 minutes until tender.
2. Add wild rice and cook for 3 minutes while stirring.
3. Add celery ,chicken stock and water and bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes(the original recipe said 40 minutes but mine was ready between 15-20 minutes) until rice is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed(much like a risotto).
4.Stir in dates and walnuts and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes.
5. Serve as a side dish with chicken or fish.


The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge: Hot Chocolate Souffle

 It´s been awhile since I´ve done a GBBO technical challenge and when trying to decide what to make for Valentine´s Day this year, I knew that this Hot Chocolate Souffle was the perfect dessert for this special day.

My husband isn´t a fan of fondant or buttercream and while I like to experiment and perfect different skills on Valentine´s bakes...it is pretty much wasted on him. However, he does love anything chocolately so thought I´d be onto a winner with this souffle.And this delectable, gooey,chocolately yet light souffle did not disappoint.Chocolate is always a necessity on Valentine´s Day!! I think both of us could even have gone back for seconds!!!

This is not the first souffle I´ve made as I´ve already made Mary Berry´s lemon souffle(here´s a link to my previous GBBO souffle challenge) also for a GBBO challenge, and they were also delicious if a little sunken.This is only the secod time I´ve made souffles and the first time being out of chocolate. The recipe(click here for the Queen of Baking Mary Berry´s recipe!) itself is actually fairly simple if you follow it closely although I think it´d be a whole lot more difficult under the time pressures and only the basic outlines of the recipe that the contestants had to face. The hardest part for me was adding the cooled cocoa milk to the eggs and whisking as I thought it hadn´t cooled enough so I thought the eggs had started cooking and then when I put it back on the heat , it didn´t appear to be thickening!I thought it was going to be a complete disaster!!
                                                  The only changes I made to the recipe were that I only made half the amount as the original recipe is enough for 8 people and as I don´t have a souffle dish big enough, I decided to make it in individual ramekins,which were pefect portion sizes. Half the recipe made 3 and 1/2 ramekins-thought the 1/2 portion would´ve been ideal for my toddler but he didn´t seem too keen and surprizingly (or maybe not!) my daughter wouldn´t even try it! Oh well,more for us...tomorrow´s dessert is sorted out too!! I also made a heart template and dusted the souffles with icing sugar to decorate it more for Valentine´s Day. Served warm with a nice dollop of cream or ice cream and you have the perfect Valentine´s dessert to dive into.This dessert has now become a new favourite of mine and one that I will be making again!                    


Cooking England County by County: Buckinghamshire:Buckinghamshire Cherry Bumpers

I love anything with cherries or cherry flavoured from yoghurt to Cherry Coke and especially cherry desserts so when I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it! Even though cherries aren´t in season at the moment I had a big jar of pitted cherries just begging to be used!

Apparently these cherry bumpers are traditional at the end of the cherry picking season in August and are made "bumper" sized for the pickers!!Here is my version of Buckinghamshire Cherry Bumpers based on this version from the blog AllKitchenRecipes. I only made 3 due to their size!!They are delicious served warm with some cream or ice cream!!

100g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
50g butter
4- 4 1/2 tsp cold water
125-135g fresh cherries(pitted) or cherry pie filling
1/4-1/2 tsp brown sugar(depending on how sweet you like it)
To glaze: milk & caster sugar


1. Prepare shortcrust pastry by rubbing butter into flour and salt until it ressembles breadcrumbs, add cold water and mix till it all comes together in a dough.
2. Roll out the pastry till it is 5mm/1/4inch thick and cut rounds using a medium sized saucer.
3. Place cherries in one half of the round leaving a 1cm border and sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries.
4.Damp the border with water and fold over the rest of the pastry to form a pasty shape and then press a fork around the edges, then put a cross at the top of the bumper. Don´t overfill the cherry bumpers or the filling will ooze out.
5. Brush with milk and sprinkle caster sugar on top of the cherry bumper and place on a baking tray covered with baking parchement.
6. Bake in preheated oven at 180ºC for around 20minutes until golden brown.

Our verdict: Delicious!! Like I said I love anything cherry flavoured or with cherries.

My kids verdict: My daughter wouldn´t even try them unfortunately and my son who usually eats everything didn´t seem too keen either!


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: C for Cabbage: Fried Cabbage with bacon

So we´ve arrived at the second C for cabbage recipe in the Eat More Variety Challenge,in which I decided to use cabbage as a side dish. Cabbage is a vegetable we hardly eat and neither of my children have tried it before and this is a great way to jazz up cabbage and make it more palatable for fussy eaters or those who aren´t keen on it. Add bacon and garlic and what´s not to like??We loved it and even my 1 year old gobbled it down although my elder daughter wouldn´t  even try it. So an epic fail on trying to get my fussy eater to eat more variety and get more veggies down her! I won´t be giving up though, I have found some other cabbage recipes that I´m going to try out and hopefully eventually one of them will persuade her to try it!!I do know that I´ll be repeating this cabbage dish and cabbage is going to become a vegetable we consume more often.

The recipe I used was adapted from Delia Smith´s Complete Cookery Course, with the changes being that I used less cabbage than in the original recipe.I used around 350g as although we are 4 I knew that both my 1yr old and my daughter wouldn´t eat a huge amount of cabbage and I think there was plenty...we even had leftovers. I still used the full amount of bacon though. I´d definitely reccommend trying this dish as the bacon gives the cabbage a lovely taste and the crispy charred bits of cabbage and bacon are full of flavour.

Don´t forget that you are welcome to join in the Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge anytime. All you have to do is publish  your cabbage recipe on your blog linking it back to this post and leaving a comment on this post and at the end of this month I will publish a round up of all the recipes with links to your blog.


Cooking Spain Region by Region: Asturias: Tortilla de Manzana(Apple Omelette)

Despite not having published a recipe for my Cooking Spain Region by Region, it doesn´t mean that I haven´t been trying out some dishes from Asturias, one of them being Patatas en Salsa Verde(Potatoes in Green Sauce) and although they were ok,the results weren´t as successful as I´d hoped.So I thought I´d try my luck with a typical dessert or cake from Asturias,seeing as I haven´t made any yet.
 I decided on this Tortilla de Manzana or Apple Omelette because of it´s orginality and because I thought we would enjoy it and I was definitely not disappointed. Furthermore, it´s the first "trampantojo" I´ve ever made...a "trampantojo" is a Spanish word to describe food that looks like another food e.g. a burger which is actually made of chocolate etc so is sweet but looks like a normal hamburger. This tortilla looks like a normal Spanish omelette but is actually made of apple and is a dessert. This dessert could probably be eaten hot or cold but I definitely reccommend eating it warm and with a nice big dollop of ice cream or                                                           fresh cream.I went back for seconds.

I´ve adapted and translated this recipe from a book about cuisine in Asturias but I can´t remember the name. So without further ado onto the recipe:

IngredientsI(2-4 people....I halved the recipe which was for 4 people but I think it´s enough for four people)
                      2 big apples(I used Ambrosia)
                      2 eggs
                      50g butter
                      1 tbsp sugar
                     1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
                     1/2tbsp breadcrumbs
                                                      1. Core and peel apples and chop into thin slices.
                               2.Put apple slices in a pan with  172 tbsp of butter, ground cinnamon and 1/3 cup of  water as shown in the photo above(I would reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup next time I make the recipe as I believe there was too much water) and cook on a gentle to medium heat for about 15-20mins or until the apples are soft (The recipe I was following was a bit vague and didn´t say how long to cook the apples for...)
3. Add the sugar and stir well and then add the breadcrumbs until well combined.
  4. Place apple slices in a bowl(drain if there is too much liquid or juice)     and add the beaten eggs.                                                                      5.Melt some butter (I used around 35g of the 50g which I think was         plenty) and fry until the eggs start to set,then using a plate flip the tortilla over and fry until golden brown and cooked through.

My verdict: A new favourite Spanish dessert. I´ll definitely be making it again and c´mon apple & cinnamon and eggs-what´s not to like?

My kids vedict: Unfortunately my kids were a little less enthusiastic. My daughter wouldn´t even try it just for a change and my son tried it but spat out the apple slices. He´s never appeared to be very keen on eating apple slices or chunks though.Oh well,more for us! Maybe I´ll have better luck with them eating it next time.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge C for Cabbage: Bubble & Squeak

Hello,it´s been awhile and I won´t kid you, what with a teething, clingy baby turned toddler and two night owls by the time I get them off to sleep, I´m usually pretty exhausted myself and barely have time during theday to cook and bake,never mind blog!!

So here is the long overdue monthly Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge...this time it´s the letter C´s turn and I chose cabbage. I neither love nor hate cabbage..I can take it or leave it but it´s something we don´t eat a lot of as it´s not my favourite. Plus it smells like farts when you cook it so the whole house stinks and it makes you fart-hehehe!

Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and dietary fibre and in fact contains more than 20% of the daily value for each of these nutrients per serving. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and folate.Studies suggest that cabbage and other similar leafy vegetables may have protective effects against colon cancer. Red cabbage may also contain potential anti-carcinogenic properties.

I decided to make the British classic,Bubble & Squeak, despite never having facied trying it before and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it actually it. It is a great dish to use up leftovers, particularly leftover cabbage and is also vegetarian. Sorry about the photo...it tastes a lot nicer than it looks...but like I said as everything is done in a rush and I didn´t want my Bubble & Squeak to go cold, didn´t have much time to spend taking a better photo! Apparently, Bubble & Squeak was a popular dish during World War 2 because it´s an easy way to use up leftovers during a time when food was subject to rationing. I used the following Delia Smith recipe and the only alterations I made were that I didn´t use a whole cabbage and instead of using beef dripping for frying, I used either olive oil or sunflower oil. I´d definitely make these again as it´s a tasty way to use up leftovers and eat cabbage. Unfortunately I couldn´t persuade my daughter to try it though!
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