Friday, June 24, 2011

Partridges stewed in oil and vinegar

The other day Gemma came back from the market with a little bag containing three frozen partridges which our butcher had persuaded her to buy. We were already in pre-removals stage, the house was full of boxes and the store cupboards were running bare, but fortunately we still had the basic ingredients for a Spanish classic: perdices en escabeche.

4 partridges
2 large onions
4 cloves of garlic
6 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
250 ml olive oil
150 ml balsamic vinegar
200 ml water
1 tsp salt

  1. Cut the partridges in half lengthwise, remove any stubborn feathers that may remain on the legs or wings, and clean thoroughly. In a large pan, brown the partridge halves well on both sides, and remove.
  2. Slice the onions crosswise into rings, and slice the garlic. Pour the oil into a large saucepan, fry the onion and garlic gently, then add the browned partridges together with any juices which have accumulated, and add the herbs, vinegar, oil and salt.
  3. Cover the pan, bring to a simmer, reduce to minimum and cook for 1.5 hours.
  4. The partridges can be served hot, but I think they are actually best eaten cold a couple of days later - perfect for a posh picnic.
Happily ever after
This seemed like the perfect dish on which to end the Cadiz stage of my blog. Spanish fairytales end "y fueron felices y comieron perdices", which translates literally as "and they were happy and ate partridges". We are now heading back to Scotland for the foreseeable future, so this isn't so much the end of one story as the start of a new one, but I think the sentiment still applies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Orange and cinnamon scones

My daughter, Carmela, is a very independent 7-year-old, and this week she has exercised her autonomy by making pancakes with chocolate on a daily basis. This is great, but has had a devastating effect on our chocolate supplies. As a result, when I set out to make chocolate scones yesterday, I realised that we were all out of the brown stuff. My usual alternative is raisins, but there were none of them either, and the third option - plain - was ruled out by my son, Sammy. So I scratched my head, opened the fridge and saw a big bag of oranges staring back at me, and thought "Why not?"

Ingredients (makes 8 scones)
300g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
85 g caster sugar
75 g butter
160g milk
zest of 1 orange

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC. Measure the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar into a large bowl, mix well, add the butter and rub together lightly between your fingertips until it has the texture of breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the milk and orange zest, mix well until it comes together, tip onto a well-floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roughly shape each piece into a ball, place on a greased baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hot cross buns

One way of celebrating Easter is to dress up in a Ku Klux Klan costume and march around the street in the middle of the night carrying a giant statue of the Virgin Mary to the accompaniment of a discordant brass band:

Or you can just make some hot cross buns:


For the dough
375g warm milk
15 g of fresh yeast (or 7 g of dried active yeast)
30g brown sugar
2 tsps mixed spice
150g large raisins
zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsps sunflower oil
1 egg
650g strong white flour
5g salt

For the glaze
100g light brown sugar
100g water

For the pastry cross
75g plain flour
75g water

  1. Measure the milk into a large bowl. Add the yeast, whisk well so that it is dissolved. Add the sugar, mixed spice, raisins, lemon zest, sunflower oil and 1 egg, and whisk to mix. Add the flour and salt, and mix well.
  2. With wet hands, stretch and fold the dough by putting one hand underneath it and pulling it up, then folding it over on top of the rest of the dough. Give the bowl a quarter turn, then stretch and fold the dough again. Do this about eight times, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the series of 8 stretch and folds at 15 minute intervals for one hour, covering the bowl with a tea towel in between. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to stand for a further hour at room temperature.
  3. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface, bring it together into a ball, then divide it into 12 portions. Form each portion into a small round boule or bun, and place the buns, evenly spaced, onto a lightly oiled, floured baking sheet. Put the sheet inside a large plastic bag, making sure that the plastic is not in contact with the dough. Leave the buns to rise for 1 hour.
  4. When the buns have been rising for 30 minutes, set the oven to 190°C. 
  5. To make the glaze, mix the brown sugar and water, and heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved to form a very runny syrup. 
  6. Mix the plain flour and water together to make a stiff batter, then pipe it slowly onto the buns to make crosses. (If you don't have a piping bag, just use a freezer bag with the corner snipped off.)
  7. Glaze the buns with plenty of the syrup.
  8. Put the tray of glazed buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until they are golden brown. 
  9. Remove the buns from the oven, apply a second coat of glaze and eat hot or leave to cool on a wire rack.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Scotch pancakes

After many years of staunchly preferring thin English pancakes or French-style crepes, my kids have suddenly flipped over and been converted to the juicy wonders of Scotch pancakes (or fat pancakes, as they call them). This is the recipe they use.

200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
300g milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vegetable oil

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the baking powder and salt, mix well, add the milk, eggs and vegetable oil and whisk until you have a smooth, thick batter. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, until the surface is covered with little bubbles.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled, non-stick frying pan. When it is hot, pour half a ladle of pancake batter into it and cook for between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Flip over, and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
  3. Serve with the topping of your choice (melted chocolate, honey or just some butter).