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Brindisa & euskal txerria ham

On a recent chorizo expedition I ventured to Brindisa in Exmouth Market, home of the finest cooking chorizo in the land in my limited, eating-meat-for-less-than-one-year experience. I love it, the texture is soft, moist and spongy and the flavour rich. I eat far too much of it, in salads, with eggs for brunches, in pastas, on it’s own, wherever really! They sell mini chorizo and larger ones. I usually go for the mini chorizo, they’re less intimidating and if I got one of the big packets I would just have to eat the lot. Not a good idea!

So, off I went to Brindisa. I really like Exmouth Market. It’s got that village-y feel that places like Marylebone and Primrose Hill have. Lots of gorgeous places to eat like Moro and the Ambassador (I have yet to try but I have heard such good things from reliable sources) and the food market is on at the weekends. I wandered in to Brindisa and had a look around. My eye was taken by the ham. Four legs of ham in the window ready to be sliced. I was feeling carnivorous. I asked for some information on the hams, what pigs were they from, where were they from, annoying questions that were patiently answered. Two grabbed my attention – the one that moro use and the euskal txerria ham. I decided on the euskal txerria one. The euskal txerria pig is a rare breed recently saved from extinction in the Basque region in 1997 when only a few sows were left. It seems a mad concept, save a breed from extinction to kill and eat it. I had never heard of it before so asked that they write it down on the packet so that I could do my research after. [Read more]

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Chorizo, Rocket & New Potato Hash with a fried egg

Hash is one fo my favourite things to eat. It’s a popular dish in the US and is said to have originated from Ireland, travelling to the US with the migrants around the time of the great Irish Famine in the 19th century, particularly to Boston where hash houses became commonplace. It’s particularly associated with Cork where it was a principal export in the 17th & 18th centuries. All that history stuff aside, it’s a dish I grew up with, well, without the corn beef as I wouldn’t touch the stuff as a child.

Hash to me is leftover potatoes fried with whatever’s in the fridge, whether that’s sausages, peppers, beef – whatever you have, it’s leftovers. Left over potatoes always taste amazing the next day, especially when fried. I just love them! They’re great for weekend brunches or quick dinners. I grew up in quite a rural part of Ireland surrounded by farm land. The predominant crops were potatoes, cabbage and sugar beet. We loved when potatoes were in season. It was before baby new potatoes were popular so they used to be left behind the field to be collected by us for food-play. I remember one particular day cutting them in half and carving faces in, the faces never survived the deep fat fryer much to my disappointment. We would do whatever we could with them. I remember trying to make crisps and being very disappointed when they all stuck together. That didn’t stop me trying again though.

This particular hash, like most of my recent dishes, has a Spanish flavour, chorizo being the spanish flavour of choice. I had hoped to use Morcilla (Spanish black pudding) but the one I brought from Spain didn’t survive the journey. It’s a shame as I think it would have worked really well here. For veggies, you could substitute red pepper for the chorizo, I frequently do, in fact it works really well with the chorizo too so feel free to add it. The recipe doesn’t absolutely require onion, but I love the sweetness of the onion with the sharpness of the chorizo. If you want to exclude it for whatever reason it will still taste good.[Read more]

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Broad beans with ham & lemon

I am still on a Spanish buzz! I just can’t get enough of tapas. This dish was inspired by habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) that we had in Spain but using what I had to hand – bacon. We had it twice in Spain. The first time was very disappointing in Plaza Nueva in Granada, in a bodegas which looked great but unfortunately wasn’t. This, incidentally appears to be very rare in Andalucia! The beans were overcooked and I couldn’t even see any ham. However, we had it again and it was delicious, nice bright fresh broad beans amidst chunks of serrano ham, one for the notebook to try and recreate when I got back to London.

It’s broad bean season so I had no problem getting these fresh. At this stage they’re quite large but still tender. To get the best from the broad beans be sure to double pod them. This takes a while but it is worth removing the rubbery skin, especially from larger ones (you can leave it on smaller ones).

Broad beans and ham are a great combination and the lemon lifts it and makes it really summery. It’s a very nice snack with a glass of cava. I will stress that this is my interpretation of the dish and not a traditional spanish recipe. I do intend to dig out the traditional one though and will post the results here.[Read more]

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Tapas for tea

We had to do something to lift our spirits! The harsh reality of leaving our little Spanish seaside town and returning to the urban jungle that is London was a little hard to bear. Especially as it was raining. I love London but that contrast is too extreme and sudden. So, we decided we’d have a little Spanish night. We got home a little late so we didn’t have alot of time and limited it to two tapas and some Spanish rioja that we had brought back with us. We settled on a a Tortilla Española (or Tortilla de Patatas, Spanish Omelette) and Chorizo cooked in cider.

I have been making tortilla for years, it’s one of my favourite dishes, it takes a little time but you can squeeze it in after work, it’s a relatively low maintenance dish. Chorizo with cider is new, we had chorizo with cider in Andalucia and it was the first time I tried it. It was delicious, the sweetness of the cider combined with the intensity and sharpness of the chorizo. I have cooked it in red wine before so figured it can’t be much different and went with that. Easy peasy, slice the chorizo, fry it in olive oil, add approx. 150 ml cider and a bay leaf or two and braise for 10 minutes or so.

The tortilla requires a little more explanation. In Spain, they cook the potatoes and onion (otional) in about half a litre of olive oil. I haven’t done it that way yet but will soon. For those worried about the grease, don’t worry, they drain it off before adding the eggs :-)[Read more]