Results tagged “tomato”

Beetroot gazpacho

spain
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This twist on the traditional Spanish tomato and bread soup was inspired by a delicious beetroot version I had at La Taberna del Pindal in Arenas de Cabrales in Asturias, Spain.  The trick is to roast half the beetroot to bring out its lush sweetness, and grate the other half raw to keep its vibrant colour and fresh taste. Combined with the usual tomatoes, peppers and onions it makes a fantastic purple gazpacho, which is even better the day after it’s made, when the sweet, sour, earthy and bright flavours really seem to sing together.  So, if possible, start this recipe one or two days ahead. I used sourdough rye bread as it’s what I had, and it seemed right with beetroot, in a northern European sort of way.

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Top 10 tastes of Spain

spain
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Various people had told us the food wasn't good in Spain.  Even the Spanish food writer and historian Clara Maria Amezua, who we'd first met at a conference in Greece in May, lamented the decline of Spain's gastronomy.  She attributes this to Fernando and Isabella's (los Reyes Catolicos) expulsion of the Moors and Jews at the end of the 15th century.  With them went many sophisiticated and richly flavoured north African and Sephardic dishes.  But, as we found, traces of their culinary traditions are still to be found. 

And what's more, the ingredients in Spain are glorious.  Top quality fresh vegetables and seafood, in particular, are widely available. Here are ten our favourite taste memories of our journey through Spain, from Catalunya to Andalucia, via the Basque Country, Galicia and Castille.  Often the most delicious things we found were the simplest; those showcasing just one wonderful ingredient...

Sweet, sour and red all over

spain
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Smtomatobeer0001.jpgDown the pub, fancy a nibble with your pint... what do you get?  Presumably a packet of crisps or a packet of peanuts.  Maybe pork scratchings if you like that kind of thing.  Chances are it'll be very fatty and salty, devoid of vitamins, and not terribly good for your heart.  Not so in Spain...  

Ottoman or not?

bulgaria, greece, romania, turkey
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Now that we've spent some time in Turkey, some in Romania and Bulgaria before that, and now some in Greece, it's been interesting to try to spot various culinary connections between them.  It's not all pleasant, but they have a lot of shared history via the long presence of the Ottoman empire in Eastern Europe.  Greece was under Ottoman control for hundreds of years; and while Romania (and especially Transylvania) was nominally independent for much of that time, the word "nominally" should be stressed.

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Ottoman chefs: could they tell their
aubergines from their tomatoes?

In some cases, of course, there are clear similarities in techniques and ingredients, but there's really no way to know whether Romanians influenced Turks, or Turks influenced Romanians, or whether they both just thought that spicy meatballs tasted nice.  But in others, you can get some help from the language: if a stuffed vine leaf in Greece has an originally Turkish name, the odds are that it has at least some Turkish origins.

But sometimes we have to do a bit more detective work.  In Romania, the word for tomato is "red" (roşie), and the word for aubergine is "purple" (vinete): so you might ask your greengrocer for a kilo of reds and a kilo of purples.  This does sort of make sense - tomatoes are red, after all, and aubergines are purple - but why just these two?  They don't call cucumbers "greens".  And tomatoes certainly aren't the only red things in a Romanian kitchen, what with all those peppers around.  Well, a conversation with Anca in the Carpathians, a conversation with Özge in Istanbul, some dictionary work, and all became clear ...

Spanish chorizo, cherry tomato and butter bean salad

spain
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This week I bring you a more-ish warm salad, inspired by that Moorish London restaurant on Exmouth Market. This one's for Tara, who has abandoned me at Chez Panisse to go and work at Moro for a while. Hopefully I'll get some more yummy Spanish recipes from her as a result.

Smchorizobutterbeansalad0010_r1a.jpgAll still goes well in the restaurant kitchen. I've had good days (another soup proclaimed 'delicious' by the chef), bad days (a soup proclaimed only fit for the compost), fun days (sausage-stuffing, lemon-preserving, chicken-boning kinda days) and bizarre days (such as the day I lost my bra strap somewhere in the restaurant, lord knows how or when, but it must be there somewhere...).
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