Guide to the best cafés and bakeries in Ciudad Real, Castilla La Mancha- Part 1

Long time, no hear but I´m finally back,this time with a guide to the best cafés and bakeries in Ciudad Real. Although Ciudad Real is a fairly small city, it has its fair share of cafes and bakeries. I´m going to give you a tour of some of my favourites.

La Deliciosa,  located in the Plaza Mayor, or main square, is a cafe and cake shop rolled into one and is one of my favourite places to go for breakfast. I am definitely one of the ¨regulars¨ and even know my name and my order. 
I love the doorstep-sized toast here with butter and jam although they also offer a more Spanish style breakfast with baguette- style bread, olive oil and tomato. In my opinion, it´s also one of the few places where you can get a decent cup of tea (although in any cafe you go to in Ciudad Real, always ask for the milk to be separate, otherwise you get milk with tea rather than tea with milk!) They also serve delicious cakes although I often stick to the toast but can´t resist their Tarta de Santiago (almond cake), when they have it, nor their torrijas although these are not always available. 

La Deliciosa has two seating areas, inside the café and outside on the terrace, weather permitting. The only bad point about this cafe, is that it is often busy, especially at certain times, so finding a seat can sometimes be a bit tricky. 
Pasteleria Mas Cuqui is a fairly new bakery that has opened recently in Ciudad Real. It is a cosy, comfortable bakery and cafe ran by Venezuelans with fresh,homemade food, with one of their specialities being Venezuelan arepas with various fillings and other typical savoury Venezuelan treats such as pan de jamon(ham bread) & tequeños (cheese rolls). 

They sell a variety of cakes, both individual cakes or pieces and whole cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls. They have certain cakes that are always on the menu but each day there are different cakes to try.

 Everything I have tried is delicious and is a reasonable price. Service is very friendly. I have tried Papelón con limon (a sweet lemonade drink) with a small Black Forest cherry cake,which was heavenly..I thoroughly recommend you to try this cake, a Nutella cupcake and an Oreo and passionfruit brigadeiros,which are similar to truffles. The passionfruit brigadeiro was to die for!


Cooking England County by County: Chester: Chester Pudding

 I´d never heard of Chester Pudding, let alone tried it, until I started looking at traditional old British recipes and came across this dessert. It´s a Victorian regional variation of lemon meringue pie so it does not disappoint. The tart lemony curd with a marshmellowy, melt in the mouth meringue topping and lovely, short pastry is a winner.

I had some frozen ready-made shortcrust pastry in my freezer so ended up using that instead of my usual homemade shortcrust pastry and I think it was the only thing that let the pie down.  I may have halved the recipe but I didn´t make any further changes to the recipe. I used the following recipe from the Oakden website. You have to be careful when adding the ground almonds to the meringue as you might lose some of the air and lightness that you´d whipped into the meringue.


Cooking England County by County: Cheshire: Cheshire Cheese Soup

 Cheshire is in the north-west of England,very close to my neck of the woods and is known for its cheese, which is a crumbly, mild cheese,similar to mild Cheddar or Lancashire cheese. It also features in many regional recipes,including this one for Cheshire Cheese Soup. If you are unable to buy Cheshire Cheese you could substitute it for a mild Cheddar.

I´m not really that keen on soup but I enjoyed this soup and it is lovely to mop up with a fresh, crispy French baguette...even if it doesn´t look so appetizing in the photo. Perfect for cold, autumn and winter days! I used the following recipe. Enjoy!


Cooking Spain Region by Region: The Balearic Islands: Cocarrois or Spinach Pasties


 When you think of the Balearic Islands, you tend to think of beautiful beaches and crystalline waters and you probably aren´t far wrong. The Balearic Islands are formed by Mallorca, Menorca,Ibiza and Formentera. The only island of the Balearic Islands I have been to is Ibiza but I was more into the clubbing scene at that time and typical gastronomy could not have been further from my mind!I don´t recall even seeing these typical spinach pasties, or Cocarrois, let alone trying them. However, I decided to have a go and making them for this month´s Cooking Spain Region by Region and they were definitely worth it.

The pastry was a very short, crumbly pastry made with lard and olive oil, which was new to me and it was filled with spinach, pine nuts, currents and smoky paprika. These could easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using vegetable shortening. I´d definitely make these again even though unfortunately I couldn´t persuade the kids to try them. The recipe is taken and adapted from the book ¨ Las 1000 Mejores Recetas de Cocina¨. I think I halved the recipe which made about 3

Cocarrois (serves 4)
 400g plain flour
50g lard
50 ml olive oil
40g sugar
50ml water
1 egg
3/4kg fresh spinach
50g currants
40g pine nuts
1tbsp of sweet, smoky paprika
40ml of olive oil
Salt & pepper to season

1. Mix the egg, lard and olive oil until creamy, then add the sugar and water and mix till combined,add the flour gradually and knead till it has some consistency. Cover and allow to rest for half an hour.
2.Wash the spinach leaves, chop and boil for 10 minutes, then wring as much water out of the spinach as possible.
3. Fry the spinach in a little oil for a few minutes,season with saly and pepper and add the currents, pinenuts and paprika, stir quickly over the heat for a short time.
4. Roll out the pastry..it is quite crumbly so my advice is to roll it out on top of plastic wrap or Clingfilm. Using a small saucer or pizza cutter cut into circles of around 20cm and place filling in the centre of each circle.
5. Double the pastry covering the filling to form a semicircle or pasty shape,sealing the edges of the pasty.
6. Heat the oven to 180/170º C and place ¨Cocarrois¨ or pasties on a greased baking tray and cook for 25 to 30 mins until a pale golden.
7.Serve hot or cold.
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Cook & Learn About the World: Algeria: Twabaa: Algerian Lemon & Olive Oil Cookies

Since the lockdown started I´ve actually managed to get back my cooking and baking mojo and when I find time blog about it again!! I wanted to get back to my challenges and when I saw these biscuits thought they´d be ideal for the Algeria Cook and Learn about the World. Even better is that they don´t require any special or difficult to buy ingredients, unless you choose to use orange blossom water,which is not hard to find where I live, but as it´s optional you can also choose to leave it out although it might lend a slightly more authentic flavour.

Although they are essentially a biscuit or cookie, Algerian Lemon and Olive Oil Cookies are quite crumbly and more cake-like in texture. They are simple to make, the most difficult part being creating the hole as the dough tended to spring back. I basically followed the recipe from Tara´s Multicultural Table but omitted the orange blossom water. I also used a mild olive oil and next time I make these would try using extra virgin olive oil as I think it would give the biscuits more flavour. We really enjoyed these biscuits and I´d definitely make them again. Unfortunately,we didn´t do much learning about Algeria this time but if i´d love to hear about any activities that you do or find about Algeria.


Cook & Learn about the World: Algeria: Algerian Lasagne

I made this awhile ago but haven´t got around to blogging it as I have so little time these days!! I love lasagne so this dish really appealed to me and I was not disappointed. I followed Global Table Adventure´s recipe almost to a tee, and hardly changed anything, maybe I made half the amount of the recipe and as I don´t like my food too spicy, a smaller amount of cayenne pepper. I made this for my parents and they really enjoyed it too so I will definitely make it again...it´s just a shame my kids wouldn´t try it!!We don´t eat a lot of pulses so it was great that it also included chickpeas.It seemed strange to have two lots of carbohydrates, with the potatoes and the pasta and also double the protein with the meat and the chickpeas all together but it just works...although it´s very filling.You won´t need a dessert.However, as it is difficult to buy lamb mince where I live in Spain I shall probably make it with chicken mince in the future.

Here are some activities you can do with your kids before or after eating some of the Algerian dishes you´ve cooked so they can learn more about the country and its culture. Kid World Citizen has some nice activities including art and books about Algeria and the website Activity Village also has some interesting activities such as maps,a flag colouring page etc. although its drawback is that you have to pay to become a member in order to access the activities.

Let me know if you cook this dish or any other Algerian dishes and your opinions. I´d also love you to share your child´s work or what they learnt about Algeria.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: F: Fish: Monkfish Kebabs

 It´s back! The Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge is back and to kick off we´re continuing with the letter F. I knew immediately which ingredient to choose for F! Fish without a doubt! We don´t eat enough of it as I´ve never liked it, neither the taste,the smell nor having to touch it and my hands smelling fishy. We only eat it once a week and I can only eat white fish battered(usually frozen battered tilapia!) and my daughter is also not so keen on fish so hopefully I can discover some new recipes that will change our minds. The first recipe I decided to try out was one I came across in a book about feeding babies and  toddlers and family food; monkfish kebabs. The recipe is very simple and fairly quick to make and it was a hit with both my husband and my son.However, I chickened out of trying it....I think it would taste too fishy for me and my daughter refused to try it at first ,then she eventually tried it but spat it out so a bit of a mixed result.I don´t think this is going to convince my daughter and I to eat more fish though.

If you´d like to join in with the Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge, either make this recipe or make your own fish recipe and blog about it linking back to this page. I´d love to see your fish recipes and get more inspiration of ways to eat more fish especially for those who don´t like fish!

Ingredients (for 2-3 people)

1 tomato cut into 6 slices
1/2 small red pepper,cut into squares
1/2 small yellow pepper,cut into squares
3 mushrooms
monkfish tail cut into about 12 cubes
juice of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of black pepper
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1.Heat the grill and soak 3 wooden skewers.
2.Thread a slice of tomato,monkfish,red pepper, monkfish,yellow pepper and then a mushroom onto the wooden skewers.
3.Mix olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper together.
4.Place kebabs on top of oven tray covered with tinfoil and brush the dressing over the top.
5.Grill for 5 mins,then turn over and cook for a further 5 mins till fish is cooked.

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