Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spanish olives

One of the big changes is moving away from the old town is that I no longer have the central market next door. However, there is a smaller market about 15 minutes up the road, which in some ways I prefer. Partly because I had spread myself too thin at the old one, and found myself sneaking around between different butcher's stalls trying to convince them all that I was a regular customer who deserved the best treatment, like a 19th century French politician who has taken on more mistresses than he can handle. (And I will still be going back into town for Antonio's retinto beef. "Nobody beats my meat".)

I was worried that the olives in the new market would not be up to the ones Matías sells in the town centre, which unfailingly came with the comment "bien despachado" (a generous serving) and the advice to keep them in the fridge. Fortunately there is a good olive stall in the new market, too, and my favourites are these "verdiales gordas". I don't know why, but Spanish olives don't really seem to make it to the UK, where most olives are either Greek or Italian. I guess, also, that this kind of light treatment is less well-suited to transport and extended shelf-life.

Spicy cabbage with black beans and fish sauce

I have had a cabbage lurking in the bottom of my fridge for a couple of weeks now, looking accusingly at me out of the salad tray from time to time. Fortunately it was plastic-wrapped and was able to remain fresh while I got round to deciding what to do with it.

Cabbage on its own can be a bit boring (or even composty), so I think it benefits from strong flavours. I guess this is the thinking behind sauerkraut, and this is a sort of oriental version. It's quite salty and hot, and the black beans give it a slightly smoky flavour.

vegetable oil
1 green cabbage
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of black beans
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of chilli sauce

  1. Remove the core and cut the cabbage into fine strips. Chop the garlic. Rinse the black beans in water to remove some of the salt, and chop.
  2. Fry the garlic in some vegetable oil for 30 seconds or so, add the black bean sauce and fry for a few seconds more, then add the cabbage, fish sauce and chilli sauce, stir well, cover and cook gently until the cabbage is cooked but still has a little bite. (Around 10 minutes).

Small is beautiful
Here is my kitchen, complete with laptop on the left and empty beer bottle on the right.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Carrot mojito

A really simple thing to do with carrots, which makes a change from the usual cumin and vinegar treatment.


1/2 kg of carrots
1 lemon
1 teaspoon of salt
large handful of chopped mint

  1. Peel the carrots and steam them (whole) until they are just cooked. Allow to cool, then cut into fattish slices and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a glass, add the salt and chopped mint, and stir well.
  3. Pour the dressing over the carrots, mix and serve.
Blue is beautiful