Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Much more than wineries...

Normally when we go on vacations or for a long weekend, we tend to organize everything till the minimal detail (I say "we" referring to the usual practice, because normally I'm a complete exception to this rule), which may turn your holidays even more stressful than the normal week routine...

As I said before, I will be the exception to this rule, usually quickly look at some guides or blogs to see what to do, where to eat and visit, but usually we just follow our intuition when we are already there.

In last weekend's trip the surprise factor was completly enhanced. Apart from visiting the wineries Portia, a birthday gift from my friend Ana, we hadn't anything planned... which in this case was clearly a good choice ... In terms of tourism, the weather forecast could not be worse: cold and rain. For this reason, as I wrote on yesterday's post, we decided to choose a comfortable hotel to stay - Hotel Boutique & Spa Capítulo Trece, and the plan was no more than rest and rest...

We left Madrid by mid-morning, and after 150 kms between rain and some snow we arrived Maderuelo. After the check in in the hotel we asked for some advice about where we could have lunch and then come back to the hotel for the planed target: a nap!
Following the recommendation we went to lunch at Ayllón, a medieval village where after the great lunch at La Tenada del chispano we went for a little walk and, as it didn't stop raining we returned to the hotel to rest ...

On Sunday, after the wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we visited the winery of Portia, that you'll be able to read about it tomorrow here on the blog. We had lunch in Aranda de Duero, and as it stopped raining, we went through the Parque Natural del Río Hoces Riaza where for the first time in my life I saw vultures, Gyps fulvus, which made me recall the afternoons spent with the Owl Group observe birds in the nature reserve of the Tagus estuary in Portugal ... 
A pity not to have a little more zoom for pictures and take a closer look ...

Finally, taking into account the weather conditions it was really a great surprise this two-day trip on the region of Castilla y León, Spain.

Travel roadmap:
Lengh: 2 days
Region: Castilla y León, Spain

Where to sleep: Maderuelo - 150 kms north of Madrid
What to see:

Parque Natural del Río Hoces Riaza (home to the park is in Montejo de la Vega de la Serrezuela)
Wineries in the region of Ribera del Duero
Where to Eat:
La Tenada del Chispano (Ayllón)
El Lagar de Isilla (Aranda de Duero)
Casa Pablito (Corral de Ayllon)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A new chapter in Maderuelo

Javi and Isabel are writing a new chapter in the history of the medieval village of Maderuelo...
Due to the bad weather forecast for the weekend we looked for  a comfortable and charming hotel where we could relax and "switch off" from the stress of the previous week... Today I still think that if I put the keywords: rural housing, rest, zen, kindness in a search engine the result would certainly be: Hotel Boutique & Spa Capítulo Trece...
Every detail has been carefully thought and installed. From the exterior of the building that cannot be differentiated from the surroundings to the excellent quality of materials that, despite the bad weather conditions, allowed us to relax in total comfort.
With only 5 rooms we stayed at the "hide of the wind", ( a bedroom with a large bathroom, wireless as in all the hotel and plenty of light. And if you are concerned about cold?! The excellent quality of materials and radiant floor took care of it ...
Downstairs, there are the other special areas. Apart from the breakfast/dinning room and the living room, there is a small Spa composed by a sauna and a jacuzzi where we enjoyed alone an hour of relaxation with a perfect ending, a natural fruit juice prepared at the moment!

As I started this post, this space would not be the same without the enormous value added by all the details that its owners daily take care of ... The delicious breakfast that both carefully prepare, the permanent concern to help us on where to visit, where to eat, what wines to buy, if we'd rested well, or if something was missing but, at the same time with the right distance for to let us an atmosphere as relaxed and romantic as possible.
As an improvement opportunity, to serve dinner or a snack on Sunday, so after relaxing in the spa you do not have to go out from hotel to have dinner ...
I end as I started this post, wishing Isabel and Javi many years to writing the "thirteen chapter" of the history of Maderuelo ...

C / San Miguel # 18 40554
Maderuelo Segovia, Spain
TEL: 921 556 395
FAX: 921 125 696

Walking around:
- Natural Park del Hoces Riaza
- Aranda de Duero
- Ayllón
- Wine Region "Ribera del Duero"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

15 minutes meal: John Dory fish with Cornbread

Specially thinking about those who do not have time to cook during the week but want to avoid buying precooked food here is a recipe that you only need 15 minutes...

You will need:
4 john dory fish fillets
1 cup cornbread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
a splash of extra virgin olive oil
juice of half lemon
a handful of parsley and fennel a bit of fresh mint

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and let it rest. Mince the cornbread getting a kind of coarse sand and mix it with finely choped the aromatic herbs, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, juice of half a lemon.
Put the fillets on the oven tray over a sheet of cooking or aluminium paper. Cover it with the mix of cornbread previously prepared. Bake in preheated oven at 200 º C for 10 minutes and is ready to eat ...

Tip: To vary chop one fresh chilli and mix with the bread ...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

100 Followers on Facebook!!!

This week we've reached my two first "Traffic" objectives for the blog! 3.000 visits on the English version and 100 followers on Facebook
Because this blog is all about share, please share it, comment it, share your experiences and recipes! 
And Thank you so much for your support because: 

YOU are the reason this blog exists!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fried goat cheese with nuts and Raspberry vinaigrette

To close up the weekend, I prepared a menu with one common element: Raspberries ...

Starting with a bitter taste, fried goat cheese with nuts and raspberry vinaigrette as starter and as a main dish duck magret with mashed sweet potatoes and basil, accompanied by raspberry sauce, this time sweet ...

Specially in this menu preparation, I must highlight the importance of mise en place and organization in the kitchen in order to control the times and avoid serving any of the two dishes out of the ideal cooking point of temperature, since processing times are fairly short ...

This time I decided to start in reverse order, and then on Sunday to share the recipe magret, today I leave you the recipe entry!

You will need:
Dried fruits (can use hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts ...)
100 gr. raspberries
Goat cheese chèvre
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
20 ml red wine vinegar

Mince the raspberries and pass through a colander in order to obtain a smooth cream without seeds. Add the sugar, salt and vinegar, emulsify the extra virgin olive oil and let it rest. With a knife finely chop the nuts until a coarse sand, (avoid using a shredder because it will be powder ...). Remove the skin of the cheese and, on a hot pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, sauté on both sides.

Serve it with the raspberry vinaigrette and chopped nuts ...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mise en WHAT?

In professional terms the mise en place is to have already prepared in advance all possible elaborations when you start cooking ...

Before giving up reading the rest of the post answer three quick questions:

1. You have limited time to cook? Specially during the week?
2. You don't want to spend you precious free time during the week in the kitchen?
3. Are you looking for healthy / cheaper meal?

If you answered yes to two of the three questions, don't stop reading 

Questions 1 and 2: Yes! can save much time!!

The next question you will ask is: ok, this is all very nice words, you mean I'll change one hour cooking per day for the whole weekend?... the answer is obviously NO!
I just "changed the chip" when I am preparing my meals, each time I use more the technique of mise en place adapted to my domestic scale. For example, today's dinner, as I had to peel prawns for a pasta, I used the shells and heads to make a shrimp broth and stored it in a Tupperware on the freezer for a seafood rice or soup. Yesterday at lunch, I doubled the doses of the sauces and froze the rest, which will allow me to significantly reduce the time it will take the next time ... The basics, for example the tomato sauce which I use for pizza or for some pasta dishes,I've done exactly the same. The main tip is to organize yourself in order to manage the storage capacity and store for a suitable time, preventing the food from losing most of it's properties...

Question 3: Yes! You can save your body and your budget too!!

If you are one of those who buys everything packaged or pre-cooked (I confess that sometimes I surrender too), try to read the ingredients, especially preserving substances or those you don't manage to understand what they are... When using fresh ingredients, it is true that they will have a shorter duration but much more quality and unique flavour ...
And price? returning to the example of the shrimps: instead of use only the seafood and throw the rest away, I took the rest to a shrimp broth. I was not only able to use it all but also avoided having to buy pre-cooked broth .. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Magret de Canard (duck breast) with Sweet Potato and Basil Purée

After several days of a diet based on vegetables and fish, today I prepared a meal specially dedicated to meat lovers of good meat ...

Despite this recipe,  from the book Taberna 2780 - experimental cooking, was not specially difficult, the mise en place, which I will detail in the next post, and the coordination between the different steps  were fundamental to get this dish and the starter , fried goat cheese with nuts and rasperbery vinaigrette in the correct cooking point and temperature.

You will need: (for 2 pax)
1 duck breast (magret)
1 orange juice
2 tablespoons of honey
salt and freshly ground pepper

For mashed potatoes
1 sweet potato
handful of basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil

For raspberry sauce
100 g of berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
5 g of sugar
50 ml port wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt

Carefully cut the skin of the duck breast avoiding to reach the meat, place it in a bowl and mix with orange juice and honey previously dissolved. Season with salt and pepper and let rest.
Bake the sweet potato. when it is still hot, peel it and mash well into a purée. Put back in pan, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of milk, stirring well until the purée has the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper and add the finely chopped basil.
In a saucepan bring together the berries, sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and port wine and bring to boil until it evaporates 2/3 of the liquid.
Meanwhile, in a  hot pan place the duck breast with the skin side down for about a 3 minutes (there is no need to add oil because the fat duck will melt), flip and cook a minute. Finish in the oven at 180 ºC, avoiding the meat to dry and burn.
Let the meat rest two minutes, slice and serve immediately ...

  • Depending on the preferred point of the meat you may cook it a bit more in the pan
  • It should be served rare
Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Vegeterian" Aubergine

Today's recipe is specially dedicated to my dear friend Sofia. Because of the distance I was unable to be at Lisbon to celebrate her birthday today. 

You will need: (for 2 people)
white wine
1 aubergine
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion
2 carrots
1/4 courgette
red pepper
4 tomatoes 
grated Parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine in two halves and, in each half, make deep cuts diagonally carefully avoiding to cut the skin. put it on a tray, with the fleshy surface upward, with a bit of salt and a splash of extra virgin olive oil and put it in preheated oven (180ºC) for approx. 25 to 30 minutes.

Cut the carrots lengthwise and then cut into small slices, chop the onion and garlic and let it cook in a pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Add the chopped spinach into julienne, add a little white wine and cook. Add a few pieces of red pepper and then the chopped tomato. After removing the aubergines from the oven let it cool and then, with the help of a spoon, add the aubergine flesh to the remaining vegetables and sauté it a little bit.

Finally fill the two halves of Aubergine, top with some breadcrumbs and finally the grated Parmesan.

Take it again to the oven till the cheese is grated. 
Hope you enjoy it!