Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bacalao Encebollado - Salted codfish in rich onion sauce


      If you ask me which part of my childhood I remember most, the first thing that comes to my mind are the numerous weekends that my parents took my brother and me out to eat.  To us, an exceptional weekend meant getting in my father's car, neatly dressed  in our Sunday's best clothes, and drive all the way without looking back,  hiding from the heat of the South of Tenerife to take refuge, at least once a month, in the colder, fresher temperatures of the North.  Our destination was a small, rural town called Tacoronte, where my father knew a local Canarian family who converted their garage into a huge restaurant to serve anybody, who like us, was looking for authentic homemade Canarian cuisine. 
     As soon as you entered the gigantic, grey painted metallic garage doors, visitors were welcomed by the patriarch, whose main job was to attend the bar. I remember my father asking for a quart of local red wine while we waited for a table. The wine, came from the owners who had a small winery, conveniently located at the back patio of the restaurant.  They harvested every year. Curiously, it was served in small pepsi bottles, and I somehow could not understand why I wasn't allowed to have some pepsi too!
     Further inside the restaurant, a small blackboard showed the clientele that Sunday's menu, which was never the same as the previous Sunday.  It all depended on the freshness of that week's available product.  As I recall today, the only dish which you could count on week after week, was "Bacalao Encebollado", or salted codfish in a rich sauté onion sauce.
   Growing up, I learned to appreciate the richness of the fish, the distinctive flavor of that particular Canarian sauce, accompanied by the starchy flavor of "papas arrugadas."  To me, it is a match made in heaven.
    I found out, later on, that the restaurant was passed on to the couple's son and daughter in law. The last time I visited, I ordered, surprisingly!, the Bacalao encebollado.  And to my dismay, it didn´t taste as I remembered.  Relentlessly, I searched my culinary memory file to find the exact codfish recipe that reminisce from my childhood. 
 Today, I want to share my  recipe with you all.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do eveytime I cook it to my family.

     Ingredients:
 4 unsalted cod fish filets
1 onion
1 small ripe tomato, cubed                            
5 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 medium red pepper
1 medium green pepper
1/3 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 bay leave
1/2 teaspoon of Spanish paprika
A dash of thyme
1/8 of a teaspoon of ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of water

     Whenever possible, I recommend that you buy unsalted, frozen cod fish for this recipe. However, if you buy salted cod fish, it needs to sit in a container filled with water for 24 hours before cooking; and you should change the water, at least once, to get rid of the excess of salt in the fish.
     Slice the onion thinly, and sauté in olive oil in a shallow pan until it becomes almost transparent.  Add the chopped garlic, the sliced peppers, and stir.  Cook for about 5 minutes, and then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, cilantro, the bay leave, cumin, and the paprika. (This is what Spanish cuisine usually refers as a "sofrito".  And most of the time is typically the base for many sauces) Stir and let cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. 
     Meanwhile, wash the codfish and pat dry with a paper towel. 
     Arrange the codfish around the pan with all the "sofrito"; pour the white wine and the water.  Stir carefully and cover to cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes.  The cooking time depends on how thick the codfish is. I suggest checking the fish after 10 minutes for doneness. 
      I like to eat my Canarian style cod fish with Canarian potatoes, called here "papas arrugadas," which has a funny translation: wrinkled potatoes (check the recipe in my blog,); or enjoy this sublime fish simply with plain white rice. 
       It is not a complicated meal, but full of hearty flavor that it is reminiscent of my childhood.  Que aproveche!
 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Adventures As A Local Food Grower


To many people, growing plants, vegetables, or any type of greenery is an easy task.  However, this is in no way my case.  I am a very, rather I should say, extremely lousy gardener.  Not long time ago, I even tried to maintain alive a very tiny cactus that my daughter gave to me as a present for mother’s day.  Needless to say, my attempt ended up in a wrinkled, dead, sadly looking cactus. To this day, my daughter never forgave me for letting her precious gift go to waste; and she avidly promised by no means to give me another plant as a present. 
Today, I am no better plant grower.  However, through trial and error, I have learned a few tricks here and there, and thanks to our lovely, and very intelligent mother nature I can proudly say that I have fortunately ventured into the amazing habit of growing my own fruit trees in my backyard; with great success, I believe.
After enthusiastically reading, and later practicing about sustainable agriculture proposed in innumerable occasions by Alice Waters; or discovering Michael Pollan´s encouragement to bring pleasure back to eating in his book In Defense Of Food, I have found out the incredible satisfaction that is to cultivate yourself part of what you eat.  Persistence and hard work have let me to delightfully taste the fruits of my own harvest.
My story as an improvised horticulturist began in a lovely house in a nameless town, where a once manicured lawn was rapidly surrendering to abandonment and decay.  Ordinary plants disorderly grew everywhere, and the thirsty grass seemed more like a desert than an oasis.  A cadaverous mango tree was the only tree still standing in the yard.  Just a few yellow leaves decorated its treetop like a fragile, aged bold man. Nevertheless, the plot was spacious and the place had a great potential to become our home for the coming future, and the whole family absolutely fell in love with it. (It is too bad that I did not take any pictures at the time)
 Days passed, and we arduously cared for the garden.  We watered the trees, fertilized the soil, and colorful plants and flowers dressed up now our new backyard, delighting us with a gratifying sight.
   
The mango tree leaves flourished, and eventually flowered.   Precious little flower buds populated its once neglected branches.  Soon, hundreds of mini-mangoes fully developed into luxurious fruits, sweet, ripe, and juicy ambrosia, which daringly tempted every visitor who came to my house.



It was as Eve was luring Adam in God’s Garden.


One thing led to another, and sooner rather than later I had planted one papaya tree, two autochthonous banana trees, one lime tree, one avocado tree, my own aromatic herb garden, and a Clementine tree.  However, the latest did not make it to this summer.  I am, somehow, still trying to find out what happened.
Early this spring, we tasted our organic papayas, and they were sweet morsels of delight. The papaya tree is the envy of my neighbors.  And to this day, enormous papayas are continuously growing out of it.


The banana trees are about 5 feet tall and are still maturing.  I am hoping to dutifully enjoy some of my local bananas by March next year.  Like I said, patience is the key essence of being a gardener, a trait I yet have to properly develop.


The young avocado tree is still too tender to offer its fruits, but its dark green leaves are proliferating trough the branches making it hard for anyone to see the trunk.  I can imagine myself savoring the creamy almond taste of the avocados, once the first flowers appear.  I surely will share with you some of my best recipes like shrimp cocktail avocados, or red onion shavings and avocado slices dressed in balsamic vinaigrette once I collect my reward.


             Planting an herb garden is a recommendation that I seriously follow anywhere I get to live.  Nowadays, more and more food connoisseurs, great American chefs, even food bloggers like me are convincing people to get into the habit of procuring oneself a little terracotta pot, or if you are lucky enough, your own piece of land where to grow fresh oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary and anything else that you can get your hands on.  Trust me, any meal cooked with love, passion and of course, pesticide free, organic natural herbs make a huge difference in your taste buds and in the taste buds of your loved ones.
And so, my adventures as a food grower continue as I learn new things every passing day.  And to this moment, when I take a look at my garden, I can’t help but momentarily travel back in time to that first sight of my lonely, thirsty mango tree.  My neglected piece of land has become my refuge, my psychologist (because I talk to my plants,) my pride and joy.
My point behind this story is that with this recipe that mother nature has passed on to me:  a teaspoon of love, a pinch of carefulness, a bit of sun, and a dash of fertilizer you too can grow something very unique in your terracotta pots, or around your garden. Something that will fulfill an unknown sentiment inside you, which once awaken it could never be stopped, and like an addict it will require you to increase the dose.   For starters, you can procure yourself one of those small basil aromatic plants, follow my advice and the next time you need basil for your Capresse salad, use your own grown culinary herbs and taste the difference.  You’ll know what I mean.
Nothing can compare to the pleasure that it is to sample the fruits of your hard, caring labor, and for that, I am unconditionally thankful to our mother nature.
For now, I am just deciding on what tree I should plant next ...

NATY PIECHO



Sunday, March 20, 2011

One of a Kind Place

     The sun has finally shone though the unusually dark winter clouds.


     For us, Tenerife locals, a cloudy sky is not a sight we are accustomed to.  The tourism propaganda about the Canary Islands promises 350 days of sunny holidays every year.  The rest is just unpredictable.  And this week, it has been just that... unpredictable.  The temperatures have surprisingly dropped to 0 degrees centigrade in parts of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.  The rest of the seven islands are suffering similar temperatures. A powerful storm has left El Teide national park beautifully dressed in snow.  The color white has completely covered the green authocthonous pine trees above the mountains.  And even in Adeje, a town located in the south of Tenerife where it is always warm and sunny, the residents are in awe this past two days when they look up to the tallest volcano in Spain, El Teide, to see it all covered in white as if God himself had sprinkled powder sugar to decorate the top of a cake.

    Shorts and tank tops are no longer needed for now.  Instead, residents are seeking refuge from the gelid cold with coats, boots and in some cases scarves.  I, myself, had to dust off my heavy coat hidden way back in my closet.  For tourists, however, accustomed to the record breaking, freezing winter European temperatures, this is just a slightly cooler day in paradise.  Strolling down the promenade, the chilly ocean breeze represents an interlude from the high temperatures of a few days ago.  And as the vacationists walk undisturbed through the rain, a rare present from Mother Nature to Tenerife’s arid landscape, the rest of the locals hide drinking hot chocolate and "churros" in bars.  Meanwhile, everywhere you go, the topic of conversation is how abnormally cold the weather is here. If you are lucky enough to speak Spanish, the expression that you most listen to nowadays is "Brrrr! I am freezing cold today!"
     Luckily for us, it doesn’t last long.  Whereas, towns located at the north of the island of Tenerife: La Orotava, Tacoronte, La Victoria... are slowly recovering from the icy weather, clearing and cleaning up roads for regular use, the south is back to business.  Winter here, survived only a couple of days.

     Hungry tourists, in search of the first sunny rays, once more populate yesterday’s desolated beaches.  And as a Spanish saying goes: "After the storm, one can always expect the calm weather".

      The Canary Islands is one of the few places on earth where lucky visitors enjoy the pleasures of the sunny beaches of Spain while taking in a beautiful winter scene without any frostbite.  Look up to the mountains while bathing in the middle of the Atlantic and then, you realize that it is only here, where summer and winter are close friends.

     Here are several spectacular views of Tenerife taken by me.  To me the scenes are breath taking, and just by looking at them I feel better.  I hope they cause the same wonderful feeling in you too.





Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't leave Canary Islands without trying this!

     Culinary speaking, the Canary Islands have a particularly wide array of delectable typical foods. Natural, autochthonous ingredients, most of them usually common nowadays, but prepared in a unique way which makes them exceptionally appealing to the gustatory glands.  Genuine home made food that gives a whole new definition to the word comfort food. One of those indigenous aliments, and the center of our commentary, is a particular type of mollusk known by the islanders as "lapa", which translated means limpet. My experience with foreigners has showed me that unless you are a gourmet eater, there is a high possibility that you haven't heard about limpet before.  Every time, a friend visits, I invite him or her to one of my favorite local restaurants where I introduce him to this unusual dish.  And the astonished look in their faces never disappoints me. 



     Limpets are gastropods.  Particularly, in the Canary Islands, there are three different types well known by the natives: white limpet, black limpet and a type of limpet only found in the island of Fuerteventura.  The latest considered to be the biggest and most delicious.  Limpets have only one shell and they are usually found solidly attached to the abrupt, irregular rocks that form the magnificent coast of the islands.  Their consumption goes as far back as the guanches, or the first known natives to the Canary Islands centuries ago.  And the tradition lives on. 
     Nowadays, the government has declared "lapas" protected autochthonous specie, due to its exhaustion by unscrupulous poachers.  The law establishes that limpets can only be captured during the months of May, June, October and November.  By doing so, the specie will reproduce quickly avoiding the disaster that will be its complete disappearance. 
     Canarians cook "lapas" in many ways, but my favorite recipe is grilled with mojo verde.  It is easy to prepare, and as unpleasant they are to look at, the savoriness of this dish is luscious and divine.  I assure you that you will not find quite a sumptuous delicacy anywhere else. 
     The following recipe is how I like to prepare them.
     Ingredients:
· 2 pounds of limpets (1 kilo) with shells
· 4 garlic cloves                                                   
· 1 cup of chopped cilantro
· 3/4 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
· 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
· 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
 · coarse sea salt to taste (1 teaspoon approx.)
 · Freshly ground pepper
 

     Introduce the garlic cloves and salt in a mortar and crush.  Add the cilantro, black pepper and cumin and mix well.  Pour the olive oil together with the vinegar and blend all the ingredients.
     Heat up a skillet, BBQ, or grill.  Carefully, arrange the limpets, shell up when the grill is hot, and spoon the mojo on top of each limpet, one by one.  Let them cook until they are soft.  This process will take approximately 5 to 8 minutes. 

Do not overcook them because they will dry up and become chewy. 

 
  I know it could be very hard to find limpets in your hometown.  Sometimes they even sell them frozen.  However, there is no better pleasure than eating them fresh, and they are much better if they come from the Canary Islands.  Reason enough for you to travel here and try them up for yourself.  If, by any chance you are here, or plan to be here in the near future, make a note in your diary to ask for fresh "lapas" with canarian mojo at a good local seafood restaurant.  And, of course remember to accompany it by one of the popular white wines from Guimar, Tenerife.  

Que aproveche!
 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kazan Restaurant - The Best Sushi in Tenerife

     Japanese cuisine is fairly new in Tenerife.  Not too many years ago, only few people knew about the art of eating Japanese food.   Of course, some had been familiar with how it looked like, mostly through T.V. and a few Manga televised cartoons, and just very few of them had eaten it abroad. Nowadays, things have changed.  Japanese restaurants are proliferating everywhere in the Canary Islands.  And although, they have nothing to do with Canarian cuisine, they are adapting and getting inspiration from autochthonous ingredients such as local fish.  You can call it a fusion kitchen;  however, always keeping true to the Japanese tradition.
     A Japanese meal is like dancing the waltz.  You must know the moves that transport you from dish to dish.  The experience of eating Japanese food takes you to a place in your heart, mind and of course, your gustatory glands that you never knew it existed.  It is sublime, and  it must be experienced at least once in your life.  If you don't like it, it is fine, but if you dare to try it and so it happens that you be pleased by it, then, it will definitely become and addiction.  At least, this is how I feel.
    One of my favorite Japanese restaurants in Tenerife is called Kazan.  It is located in the capital, Santa Cruz, in one of the many little alleys of the city, close to the harbor.  Just by looking at the outside, you get the feeling of what you will find inside:
   
  
Simplicity in the decoration of the interior, but with taste and comfort. 

     The Chefs, always keeping themselves busy, are part of the whole environment.  And the service is friendly and attentive.  They usually welcome patrons with an sample dish that changes according to the chef's inspiration.

     The menu does not exclusively include sushi and sashimi, but a variety of Japanese traditional dishes that will satisfy any connoisseurs' delicate palate.
     On the day that my husband and I visited Kazan, we were presented with a taste of Japanese marinated seaweeds, followed by a sunomono salad made of different types of fish, a Kyoto roll, two pieces of smoked ox sushi,

and to top it all of we had the Kazan sashimi platter.

     I have to say that by the time we ate this whole plate of fresh seafood, my stomach could not handle any more food.  I was satisfied.  But, my husband, who can not get enough of Japanese food, had to have the last bite.  He finished his opulent meal with an eel hand roll, all washed down with cold sake, the Japanese liquor made of rice.  This is what I call a complete meal.
    Kazan is open for lunch and dinner, from Monday to Saturday. 
    The address is as follows:
Paseo Milicias de Garachico, 1-local 4
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Phone: 922 24 55 98
      For more info you can check their Facebook at Restaurante Kazan.     

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Las Rejas Restaurant

       The Canary Islands is a hot  travel destination mainly for British and Germans tourists,  and now even for Russians travelers who have discovered the spectacular, one of a kind scenery that the islands have to offer.  The wonderful beaches and the tropical weather are usually the main attraction, but I wonder if during their stay tourists have the time to discover their amazing culinary secrets.  If you look hard enough you will find unique local eateries and restaurants among the volcanic scenery. And one of this places is Mesón Las Rejas, a family owned restaurant located in a little town called La Camella which translated means the female camel, at about 10 minutes drive from Playa de las Américas, Tenerife.

     Established since 1990, the owner, José Peña Avero, who likes to be called mesonero, meaning the one who attends el mesón (restaurant), and his son, José Antonio Peña, who follows his father's footsteps in bringing an excellent culinary tradition to this town, personally welcome each and every patron who comes to eat quality spanish food, and to drink splendid wines at their restaurant.  This is a place who takes pride in having many local loyal customers and an ever increasing number of foreign guests.


    Day by day, Peña makes sure that his mesón opens its door with the best, freshest products from all over Spain.  No wonder the famous French culinary guide Michelin recommends Mesón Las Rejas as one of their favorites places in the South of Tenerife.


     It is here where you can find a whole piece of fillet Mignon baked to perfection in a clay roof tile and covered with local coarse sea salt;  served with a variety of savory sauces and accompanied by crispy, golden brown, and extra crunchy local potatoes.  This dish will be forever in your heart and mind.  For sure, you will not forget your vacation in Tenerife.
    Other favorite of Mesón Las Rejas, is the Villagodio.  It is a carefully aged, large cut of meat,  presented raw at your table where you cook it to your delight in a portable gas stove that they conveniently set up on top of your table.  No need for herbs or marinating sauces that mask the true flavor of the meat, just local salt and pepper are surely enough for you to enjoy the most tender, juicy, and savory steak that you ever tasted.  It is an authentic carnivorous feast, and of course one of my favorites.

                            

     Such a succulent meal, asks for a bottle (maybe two) of a great Spanish wine.  If by any chance you need guidance in choosing your bottle, confide in Peña for the best recommendation.  Hi is a true sommelier.  Their respect for wine is so that they even built a wine sanctuary.


  
      Here, customers enjoy the aromas and savour of the best of the best Spanish wines at the right temperature thanks to the air conditioned built in cave.  It is a must see if you come to Las Rejas.
      Las Rejas is open everyday for lunch and dinner, and they also have private rooms for large parties.  The interior has been carefully decorated to resemble one of those fresh patios from Andalusia, Spain.  And as soon as you enter you feel right at home.  This is what I call good ambiance, good service and better food.


     For more information or a to take a peek at their complete menu and wine list, you can check their website at www.mesonlasrejas.com.  The link is also available through my recommended sites, on the upper right of my blog.
     Make a note to yourself to reserve a table at  Las Rejas the next time you visit Tenerife, you will not be disappointed.  I give you my word.  Que aproveche!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Fair and Square

      I would like to establish that none of the restaurants mentioned in this blog have paid me in any way.  I personally do my own reviews and dutifully I pay for each and everyone of them.  I have to say that I do not accept any money, in any form, nor as a gift from anybody related to any of the restaurants, hotels or shops that I may write about in Canarian Chef.  I, myself, decide when, where, how and to whom I make any reviews, comments or recommend in my blog.
    I wanted to create an objective travel blog, leaving the decision making to any of my visitors, many of whom may potentially travel to the islands and check by themselves my personal recommendations.  I try to be as fair as I can be.  My experience in each and everyone of the places mentioned is described exactly as I lived it, nor better or worse.  I tell the truth, whether the place is good or absolutely bad.  You can count on my objective opinion.
    Truth is that I usually chose above average restaurants in my reviews, but... hey! why do you want to go on vacation to a new place if not to experience the culture and of course, the food.  After all, we all live once.  And, as I always say: Que aproveche!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tomatoes are not just for salads

    If you ever thought that tomatoes are just for salads or pasta sauce... well, you are wrong.  Last week, I was delighted to try a new use for tomates, in a preserve.  I had the wonderful experience of eating a bruschetta made out of tomato preserve.  My taste buds went crazy trying to identify all the ingredients the preserve was made of.  But, surprisingly I could not identify them all.  All I could say was how tasty and original this simple bruschetta was, yet so utterly delicious.  The person responsible for this epicurean delight was a friend of my husband whom I just recently met. His name is Mel Aguirre.  He is a canarian born from the island of La Palma who has many culinary secrets well kept.  But the secret to his "mermelada de tomate" (tomato preserve), he had to tell me.  It took me several days of begging, teasing and finally harassing, for Mel to give me the recipe.  And today, I will reveal this secret to you all.  I must confess that it is a time consuming recipe, although the results are worth any effort.  I assure you will not be disappointed.  One tip that I can give you for those who are in quite a hurry, use a pressure cooker.  It shortens the cooking time, however I am afraid it will also lessen the complexity of the flavors.  Patience is the key to this delectable tomato preserve.
     Tomatoes are very popular in the Canary Islands since it is one of their principal agricultural exports, along with bananas.  So it will not be difficult to find them all year around.  And England is one of the main beneficiaries of the canarian tomatoes because it is one of our main importers of agricultural goods.  Anyhow, in today's world it doesn't really matter where you are.  You can find tomatoes anytime thanks to the advances in agriscience.   So there is no excuse for you to try Mel's famous tomato preserve.
And here, toasting for good times are my husband and my dear friend Mel Aguirre.  Salud!
Authentic Canarian Tomato Preserve
   The tomato preserve bruschetta has a deep sweet and salty flavor enhanced by the Blue Stilton cheese.  Stilton is a cheese from the United Kingdom, and it comes in two varieties: blue and white, blue being the most appreciated.  No wonder British call it "the king of cheese."  Anyhow, if you can not find it in your market, substitute it by any quality Blue Cheese. 
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds of small ripe tomatoes (1 kilo)
  • 2 pounds of granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lime peel 
     Cut the tomatoes in cubes and introduce them in a large pot with the sugar.  Let it sit for 10 minutes for the sugar to mix with the juice released by the ripe tomatoes.  After this, put the mix in the stove on medium heat and when hot, add the cinnamon and the lime peel.  Blend it well with a wooden spoon, lower the heat to the minimum, and cook for about six hours.
    After six hours of cooking, take out the cinnamon and lime peel, and set aside.  Put the rest in a food processor and mix for about 20 seconds.  Pour it back into the pot, add the cinnamon and lime peel that you previously had set aside, and place it back on low heat for four more hours.
    Meanwhile, sterilize several glass jars by putting them a few minutes on boiling water.  This is to prevent any bacteria from contaminating your preserve.
    When the preserve is finally ready, fill the jars with it and secure the lids.
    I find that this tomato preserve is also a good pairing sauce with roasted pork tenderloin.
    Que aproveche!
 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Almogrote

The Canary Islands are known for their variety of food.  Each island has a particular taste for a particular item.  The same ingredient can be used in different ways from one island to the other.  Take cheese, for example.  Each island has a distinctive method for making it.  In Tenerife is abundant, fresh goat cheese.  In Fuerteventura you can taste the rare Canary Islands sheep cheese.  It is like Manchego cheese, but softer and milder.  In El Hierro, the smallest island of all, you can get Pimento Cheese, a ground paprika coated cheese.  Each one of the seven islands are different in its own way, although maintaining their identity as The Canary Islands.

    Today, I am going to talk Almogrote.  Almogrote is a fine, exquisite cheese paté, made of cured cheese. It is made with leftover Canarian cheese that has become tough and hard to eat.  Almogrote comes from the arabian vocabulary, "al mojrot", meaning cheese sauce.  The natives from the island of La Gomera, where almogrote is more popular, have taken the arabian influence in the islands to a whole new level to offer us this magnificent delicacy.
     Out of the Canary Islands, it is very hard to find the authentic Canarian cheese to make almogrote.  But I found that with a good quality Manchego cheese, you can achieve the goal of making a decent almogrote.
First of all, I recommend to let the Manchego cheese dry out a few days (5 days) before actually making it. Just let the cheese sit in a shallow plate, outside the refrigerator covered with a paper towel, at room temperature.  Remember to discard the excess grease that will come out of the cheese as it dries out.  After the cheese is dry and tough, then you are ready to delight your friends with home made almogrote.
And the ingredients that you will need are:

  • 1 cup of cured cheese
  • 1 whole cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
     Introduce the cheese, cut in pieces, in a food processor and break it up a little.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until you get a smooth paste.  You can add a bit more olive oil to soften the paste a little bit more if needed.
     Serve almogrote with toasted slices of bread.
     Qué le aproveche!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Canary Islands Day

     Every May 30th, the Canary Islands celebrate "El día de Canarias", or the Canary Islands day.  This is to commemorate the creation of the first democratic parliament governing the 7 islands.  The government takes part in extensive celebrations throughout the archipelago.  People take over the streets dressed as "magos canarios", or typical folk clothing, and they dance in the town squares where local orchestras play  traditional folk music.  There is also a wide array of popular foods, like "papas arrugadas con mojo", the infamous "wrinkled potatoes with green mojo", "garbanzos compuestos", cheek peas in sauce, or the islands' famous "gofio", a flour sometimes made out of wheat and others made out of corn, that locals mix with milk and honey and they shape it like a ball, cut it, and eat it as if it was bread.  This is the day when tourists get an accurate display of what the Islands culture is all about.
    Today, is that day.  And I, have no better way to celebrate it with you all, than to share the recipe for this "wrinkle potatoes with green mojo."  For those of you that never tasted these potatoes,  I recommend you to try and make them, because the flavor that you get in your mouth is worth it.  And, if by any chance you go to the Islands, do not skip this dish, taste it, and if you have time tell me all about it.
Wrinkled Potatoes
  
 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of red potatoes (1 kilo)
  • 3 cups of kosher Salt, or Coarse Sea Salt
     Fill a big saucepan with water, add the salt and cook it on high heat.  Clean the potatoes and add it to the pan.  Lower the heat to medium.  Cook until the potatoes are firm but tender.  After approximately 30 minutes, introduce a fork in one of them to check if they are cooked trough.
    After the potatoes are done, drain all the water from the saucepan and, once more put the pan in the heat to dry up the potatoes.  Move them constantly to prevent from burning.   The potatoes are ready when they start to show a white crust all around.  This is the salt that covers them when all the water dries up.
    While the potatoes cook, it is time to make the "mojo verde."  This sauce is mainly made out of cilantro, herein the green color.
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
     First, start by smashing the garlic in a mortar (a bowl for mixing or pounding).  Then, add the cilantro
and mix it well until it looks like a paste.  Pour in the cumin, the salt and pepper and give it a stir.  Finally, add the olive oil, stir, and then the vinegar.  Mix all well and pour it onto a bowl.

  This is how it should look if you have them together.  Enjoy it and as Canarians say: Que le aproveche! Which translated means Bon appetit!