Take a good fresh roll (bollo) and slice it open.
Drizzle a good olive oil over it.
Take a good fresh roll (bollo) and slice it open.
Drizzle a good olive oil over it.
Bizcocho is a type of cake Spaniards eat for breakfast, at the eleven o'clock coffee break, for the merienda (a snack at six in the afternoon or so), or even for dessert. Though they resemble pound cakes in appearance, bizocochos are much lighter and less sweet. Like magdalenas and so many other Spanish cakes, bizocho is really meant to be dipped in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even a sweet wine. If you are unfamiliar with bizcocho, it's best to think of it as a sort of soft biscotti.
Bizcochos come in many different flavors--orange, lemon, coffee, coconut, and so on. This one is chocolate. I got the base recipe from the classic Spanish cook book Manual de Cocina, but I threw in some untraditional chocolate chips.
Here's how to do it:
6 tablespoons of butter (or substitute coconut oil for a coconut-y bizcocho)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 and 1/4 cups of flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the butter and the sugar until creamy. Stir in the eggs and the milk. Stir in the cocoa and the baking power. Stir in the flour a little at a time, and finally the chocolate chips.
Rub a loaf pan with butter. Dust it with flour. Pour the batter in.
Bake it at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it's done.
If you've ever had breakfast in Madrid, you've probably had magdalenas (aka madalenas), the Spanish version of the French madeleine. Most magdalenas are flavored with citrus zest (either lemon or orange), but otherwise they can vary quite a bit. Some resemble little spongecakes. Others are more like pound cake. The ones I made for this post taste a bit like powdered doughnuts to me, but Ana, who knows her magdalenas, says they are closer to bica, a Galician bizcocho. I will post about other styles of magdalenas, as well as sobaos and other Spanish breakfast cakes, in the near future.
Note: like many olive oil cakes and pastries, these magdalenas actually taste better the second day. Hot out of the oven they will have a disappointing, "bread-y" taste, so plan ahead and make them a day before you eat them.
1 cup of sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup of spiced olive oil (see my post on how to make Spiced Olive Oil, aceite desahumado)
3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
First make the Spiced Olive Oil.
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar well.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl.
Mix the milk and yogurt in a cup.
Stir a little of the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar, then stir a little of the milk mixture in. Keep alternating, and stirring, until it's all combined.
Stir in the spiced olive oil and zest.
Put the batter in an oiled muffin pans or papers. Sprinkle each muffin with a little sugar.
Bake them 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the biggest magdalena. If it comes out clean, they're done.
Cool the magdalenas on racks. Again their flavor and texture will be much better the second day.
Serve them for breakfast, for a mid-morning coffee break, or for the merienda.
Posted at 07:41 PM in breakfast-desayuno, snacks/merienda (late afternoon snack)/café de las 11(midmorning coffee) | Permalink | Comments (3)
Spaniards celebrate the Epiphany (día de los Reyes, or Reyes) with a wreath-shaped holiday bread called roscón de Reyes, a.k.a rosca de Reyes, but increasingly roscones are eaten throughout the holiday season, and beyond.
In every roscón there is a tiny prize (usually a porcelain or plastic figurine), and whoever finds the prize in his or her slice of roscón is supposed to have good luck.
Here are some prizes from roscones de Reyes we've eaten over the years:
In Spain roscones de Reyes vary from bakery to bakery. Some roscones are yellow and brioche-like, while others are white, like a sweet roll.
Many roscones in Madrid are flavored with anise, a very popular spice in old fashioned Spanish sweets. The toppings will differ from day to day--and from roscón to roscón--even in the same bakery.
Some are sprinkled with sugar and walnuts. Others have decorations of candied fruit and almond slivers. I've seen them with powdered sugar or a glaze.
When we're celebrating día de Reyes here in the U.S., I make a roscón de Reyes at home. See my post on roscones de Reyes for a recipe and more information.
If you have a hispanic community in your area, it's often possible to find a baker who will make a roscón de Reyes for you, especially if you order in advance.
Churros are basically a fried olive oil pastry. (There are many types of olive oil pastry in Spain, but the churro is the best known internationally by far). In flavor, there's nothing quite like a churro. The closest thing to churros in the U.S. is probably the funnel cake--but I prefer churros to funnel cakes. In Spain churros are usually dipped in thick hot chocolate or a milky coffee, café con leche, when eaten. Often they are also sprinkled with sugar, or rolled in it, at the table.
Churros are eaten for breakfast, as a midmorning snack, or at the merienda (late afternoon snack).
In Spain churros are sold at churro shops (churrerías). These shops are everywhere, and often very good, so most Spaniards don't bother making churros at home. They just walk down to the corner churrería and by a bunch. Here in the U.S. the on-line Spanish food store La Tienda sells frozen churros. Churros are also easy to make from scratch at home.
I found my recipe for homemade churros in the Taco Calendario del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús--a traditional Spanish page-a-day calendar, which includes daily quotes, moon phases, saints for the day, advice, history, humor, and much more information, including, it turns out, how to make churros.
The taco calendario's churro recipe is the best I've found, and the simplest: churros are nothing but a dough of wheat flour, salt, and hot water, fried in olive oil. This makes them the perfect pastry for vegetarians, vegans, and people, like me, on low-cholesterol diets. If you see a churro recipe calling for eggs and leveners and such things (I often find these in American food magazines), don't bother. Churros are supposed to be simple.
To make churros at home you will need a pastry bag or a churro maker. You will also need a good bit of olive oil (two cups or more is usually necessary, depending on the size and form of your frying pan).
Part of the challenge of making churros is squeezing the dough out of the pastry bag or churro maker into the hot oil, to give the churros the correct shape (they're usually curved into an oblong loop). When in Spain I watch professional churro makers (churreros) at work every chance I get in hopes of improving my skills.
Notice the churrero in the picture above shapes the churros with his bare fingers as they fall into the hot oil--something I don't recommend trying. As with all kinds of deep frying, it's important to BE CAREFUL when making churros.
Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
a pinch of salt
abundant olive oil
Put the flour in a bowl. Boil the water and salt. Pour the boiling water onto the flour and stir it with a wooden spoon until it forms a stiff dough. Put the dough into a pastry bag or churro maker. A wide star-shaped nozzle works best. When the pastry bag cools off enough to handle (but is still quite hot) squeeze the dough into hot olive oil, at least 1-2 inches deep. (I fry churros in a wok).
When you have your loop, use a knife to cut the dough off at the nozzle. Fry the churro about a minute on one side, until golden brown and give it a turn.
Fry it on the other side. Your goal is a crisp golden churro. A slight creaminess in the center is acceptable, but you want the churro cooked through. Make a trial churro or two to get it right.
Sprinkle the churros with sugar, if you like. Serve churros for breakfast or as a snack with hot chocolate or coffee, or as a dessert with a melted chocolate dipping sauce.
In yesterday's post I gave an authentic recipe for torrijas. Today I'll write about a vegan version of torrijas, which has no milk or eggs, and zero cholesterol. While the flavor is not quite the same, these are quite good and can be used in all the ways you would the real thing. Torrijas are a versatile dish, much more than a Spanish substitute for French toast. See yesterday's post to learn more about how and when torrijas are enjoyed in Spain.
Here's how to do it:
good day-old bread (any of the Spanish breads I've written about, except maybe rye, would work well)
soy milk (I use unsweetened)
oat flour (or oat meal ground in a coffee grinder)
cinnamon & sugar
Cut the bread into slices 1 inch thick. Trim off the crusts if you like. Dip the slices in soy milk. Roll them in the oat flour until well-coated. Fry them in hot olive oil. Drain the torrijas on paper towels. Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. Serve them as a dessert, as a late afternoon snack (merienda), for coffee break, or even for breakfast. Like traditional torrijas, vegan torrijas are good at room temperature.
Posted at 01:37 PM in breakfast-desayuno, desserts, low cholesterol , snacks/merienda (late afternoon snack)/café de las 11(midmorning coffee), Spanish Holiday Recipes, Spanish Holiday Traditions, vegan , vegetarian | Permalink | Comments (0)
Fresh-squeezed orange juice is the norm in Spain, not the exception. Go to just about any cafeteria in Madrid and order a zumo de naranja and the bartender will squeeze it right then, usually in front of you. To pour a glass of the pasteurized or from-concentrate stuff would be unthinkable.
Esperanza, my mother-in-law, always keeps a couple of bags of Valencia oranges on the cool part of the patio. She makes me an orange juice when I come to the breakfast table, and not a second before. She believes that oranges begin to lose their vitamin C the moment they're squeezed, and so feels it's essential to drink the juice right away. All I know is that her orange juice tastes fabulous--much, much better than orange juice that has been allowed to sit around in a pitcher all morning.
The orange juice in Spain impressed me so much that I planted orange trees all over our yard. Being able to grow citrus is one of the advantages of living in Central Florida. Here's our Hamlin, an early variety of juice orange.
We have later varieties, too, including the Spanish classic, Valencia. Together they provide us with fresh juice nearly 8 months out of the year.
If you'd like to enjoy fresh-squeezed juice the way Spainiards do, the first thing to do is hunt down a source of good oranges. This isn't always easy. A lot of the citrus fruit sold in grocery stores just isn't very good, or it's overpriced. Try the farmer's markets and the roadside stands.
A good juicer is worth the investment, especially if you drink orange juice every day. We used to struggle with the little $20 models. Finally my parents gave us a Breville 800CPXL Motorized Citrus Press. If we had known how much work it would save us, we'd have bought one years ago. Squeezing a glass of juice with this thing takes less than a minute, and unlike the cheap plastic machines, it stands up to daily use--and the dishwasher.
Finally, follow the Spanish example: don't juice the orange until the moment you want to drink or serve it.
Here's our Duncan grapefruit--a Florida classic, nearly forgotten, but in my opinion, the best of all grapefruit.
Roscón de Reyes, a ring-shaped loaf of slightly sweet bread, is traditionally eaten in Spain on King's day, January 6th, and the night before, but in recent years Spanish pastry shops sell roscones de reyes throughout late December and early January. Some sell them nearly all year! Each roscón contains a prize--a tiny figurine. The person who receives the piece of roscón with the prize within is believed to have good luck. Here's a little whale Ana found in her roscón a few years back (I've placed a quarter beside it so you can see how tiny it is.)
Obviously, it's important to be careful to avoid biting into or swallowing the prize, especially if you're serving the roscón de reyes to children. I suspect such accidents are rare in Spain: everyone is so eager to win the prize, each piece is investigated thoroughly before anyone takes a bite.
If you're trying roscón de reyes for the first time, it's important to approach it with the right mindset. Because it looks so much like a giant doughnut, many non-Spaniards, including me, assume it will taste like one--and so are often disappointed when they bite into it and discover it's hardly sweeter than many American dinner rolls. Although roscón de reyes is usually eaten after the meal, it is not exactly a dessert. Esperanza, my mother-in-law, explains it like this: "It's not a dessert, it's a tradition."
Another thing that's important to understand about the roscón de reyes: it can be dipped in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, as some Americans dip their doughnuts. A typical roscón de reyes will be slightly stale by day two, but this isn't an issue because it will surely be dipped.
Roscones de reyes vary quite a bit from bakery to bakery. Some are yellow with eggs or yolks. Others are white. Some have toppings of candied fruit, others sliced almonds, or only a dusting of sugar. (See my post on decorating roscones for more information). Some have flavors of anise--a common spice in Spanish sweets. But all of them are basically a ring-shaped bread with a prize inside. Seeing who will get the prize is half the pleasure of eating roscón de reyes.
I've tried many different recipes for roscón de reyes over the years. The following is our favorite, loosely based on a recipe for multipurpose sweet dough from Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers. While the ingredients are not quite traditional, it tastes very much like the white (non-eggy) roscones de reyes we have in Madrid. Reinhart's book also contains a more complicated recipe called "All-purpose Holiday Bread" which makes a good eggy version of roscón de reyes.
All the ingredients listed below are common and probably already in your pantry and fridge, except one: the prize. You will need some sort of tiny figurine--something that won't melt. Ana collects these things, so I just select one whenever I make a roscón de reyes.
Here's the recipe
For the dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 heaping cup of plain yogurt (non-fat is fine)
a prize (a small figurine of some sort)
For the glaze:
1 cup of confectioners' sugar
a dash of milk
a few drops of vanilla
If you would like to top your roscón with more than a simple glaze, see my post on decorating roscones.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dough. Stir it well. Knead the dough a few minutes. Shape it into a ball. Place it in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let it rise for a couple of hours.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a long rope, about an inch in diameter.
Rub the prize down with a little oil. Make a slit in the dough with a sharp knife. Insert the prize. Pinch the dough back closed, and try to forget where you've put it.
Place the rope of dough on an oiled baking sheet. Connect the ends, forming a ring.
Cover it with plastic wrap and a clean dishtowel. Let it rise an hour or two, depending on the temps in your kitchen.
Bake the roscón de reyes in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, stick a toothpick in. It should come out clean.
When the bread is baked, mix the glaze. Just combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Go easy on the milk. Add just a small dash at a time and stir. The glaze should be thick. It thins when you spread it onto the warm bread.
Spread the glaze onto the bread. At this stage you can also add chopped nuts, candied citrus peel, and other toppings. (See my post on decorating roscones).
This is traditionally eaten the night of January 5th and on the morning of the 6th, King's day, but it's great any time during the holiday season--as a dessert, for breakfast, or for the late afternoon snack, the merienda.
Serve with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and don't forget to dip it.
Posted at 02:00 PM in breakfast-desayuno, desserts, low cholesterol , snacks/merienda (late afternoon snack)/café de las 11(midmorning coffee), Spanish Holiday Recipes, Spanish Holiday Traditions, Spanish Traditions, vegetarian | Permalink | Comments (1)
Toasted bread rubbed with garlic, olive oil, and tomato is one of the easiest tapas of all, and one of the best. Just toast a slice of really good bread (see my posts on bread). Mince a little garlic, mix it with a fruity olive oil. Drizzle this mixture over the toast.
Now rub the bread down with half of the best tomato you can find.
This is no time to be gentle. Smush the tomato against the bread as you rub it. The idea is to spread all of the flesh and juice of the tomato onto the bread. And that's it: your pan con tomate is ready to eat.
If you prefer you can chop the tomato fine and spoon it over the toast. Many Spanish hotels will serve a bowl of chopped tomatoes alongside your toast for breakfast: this is what it's for, and it's great (and a perfect option for vegans and people on low-cholesterol diets).
Or you can slice the tomato and arrange it on top of a toast you've already drizzled with olive oil and garlic.
Any of these make a quick, easy tapa--something to nibble with a glass of wine while you're making dinner.