Visit us at

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Warm up with these recipes from Spain!
Winter has well and truly arrived here in Australia and our cold bodies are craving warming, comforting foods which the Spanish happen to do very well. Here are some of my favorite Spanish Winter recipes.
Castilian Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo Castellana)
One of the most humble yet famous recipes of Spanish Cuisine; the garlic soup or Sopa de Ajo Castellana.  The soup made by grandmothers and mothers all over Spain, traditional and comforting. This soup can be served in individual earthernware dishes (cazuelas), in which case the egg is added after the soup has been poured. 
Serves 4
6 tablespoons of  olive oil
6 cloves garlic (more if you like!)
100 gr sliced Serrano ham (thickness your choice)
6 slices of stale bread, sliced (preferably from a crusty loaf) 
1 teaspoon sweet pimentón/paprika (use hot if you like it spicy)
4 eggs
1 3/4 litres meat stock or water
Peel and slice the garlic, it does not need to be very thin. Heat the oil in a skillet, soup pot or heat-proof casserole and add the chopped garlic. Saute until they begin to turn golden brown. When just turning brown, add the sliced ham and slices of stale bread. Fry together for two minutes then add the pimento/paprika. Brown, then immediately add the boiling stock or boiling water. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. The bread should almost dissolve into the broth. Place the soup into four individual earthenware bowls (or cazuelas) and add one egg in each bowl. Poach the eggs in the soup either in the oven or on top of the stove top. As an alternative, you can also beat the eggs and then stir them into the soup allowing it to cook until eggs have set.
Hot Gazpacho (Gazpacho Caliente)
Rural, simple and exquisitely natural, a hot variation of the quintessential Andalusian gazpacho. The following recipe is from “Cooking in Spain” by Janet Mendel, Santana books and will soon be available through Artesano. (Image not from book)


1 medium onion
1 green peer, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
50 ml olive oil
¼ tsp of saffron or paprika
¼ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon ground chilli pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 litre of water or stock
4 slices of bread, toasted and cubed
Mint for garnish and figs to accompany

In a soup pot combine the onion, pepper, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and let them stew for 10 minutes. In a mortar crush the saffron and mix with the cumin, pepper and salt. Add to the pot with the water or stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes more. Serve garnished with croutons of bread. Garnish with mint and serve with figs and pieces of green pepper and raw onions.

Meatballs in Almond Sauce (Albóndigas en salsa de almendras)
Meat balls are a favourite hearty dish and this version with saffron and almond sauce, is especially delicious.  This recipe is taken from “tapas a bite of Spain” by Janet Mendel, by Santana books, which we sell on our website. (Photos not from her book). It makes about 36 meatballs: 12 tapas or 4 main dishes.

For the meatballs
340 g minced ground beef
340 g minced ground pork
2 slices of stale bread, crusts removed
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
Flour for dredging meatballs
6 tablespoons of olive oil

For the sauce
3 tablespoons of olive oil
40 almonds, blanched and skinned
1 slice of bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 pepper corns
½ teaspoon saffron
1 clove or pinched ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
175 ml 2/3 cup white wine
240ml / 1 cup of chicken or meat stock
Chopped parsley

Combine the beef and pork mince in a bowl. Soak the bread in water or milk, cover until soft
Squeeze it out and add to the meat with the garlic, onion , parsley, salt, nutmeg and egg
Knead well to make a smooth mixture.

Form into 25mm/ 1 in balls and roll them in flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs until brown on all sides. Remove and drain.

Place 3 tablespoons of oil in a clean frying pan and fry the almonds, bread and garlic until golden. Remove. Set aside a few almonds for garnish.

In a mortar, crush the peppercorns, saffron, clove and salt. In a food processor or blender, grind together the tasted almonds, bread and garlic with the wine to make a smooth paste. Add the spices to this mixture.

Stir the almond mixture into the oil in the frying pan and add the stock. Bring to the boil, then add the fried meatballs. Simmer the meatballs for 20 minutes in the sauce, adding a little additional liquid if needed.

Serve the meatballs garnished with the reserved toasted almonds and chopped parsley.

Warming Winter's Brunch
A very traditional Andalucian breakfast, typically eaten by farmers, shepherds and workers during the winter months, out in the countryside. Very filling and warming, ideal to get you prepared for the working day ahead. This recipe is courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams.

Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
5 - 6 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
Jar white beans
3 or 4 sweet chorizo
Olive oil

Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Remove the top and seeds from the pepper, chop into bite sized chunks. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and peppers and fry until slightly coloured. Chop up the chorizo also into bite sized chunks and add to the pan, cook for a few minutes on a high heat. Add the beans and than lower the heat, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes. Serve with thick slices of fresh bread.

Instead of sweet chorizo you can use the picante or hot variety for extra bite! You can substitute the white beans for chick peas or even baked beans.

Paella "Pablos Paella"
ahh the Paella.."When people think of paella, they almost always imagine the seafood variety although traditionally it was made with rabbit, chicken and pork. The dish originated from the region of Valencia where it was cooked by the men who worked in the countryside. They set a large paella pan over a wood fire and used whatever ingredients were to hand - meat, rice and vegetables. The dish has hardly changed over the years although there are many different recipes and variations" excerpt Orce Serrano Hams. Paella Great all year around but in Winter I like to serve the meat variety rather then the seafood variety.

This recipe from “Mouth-Watering Spanish Recipes” by Gayle Macdonald and Victoria Tweed. Their book is available as an e-book online. Follow link below.

Gayle: Pablo is our neighbour and also a chef in the village. We are very lucky to be treated to little morsels of whatever has been cooking that day...if there is any left over. One bright January day, he invited us and some other neighbours round for his famous paella, cooked on the barbecue. During the cooking, he let us in on some of his secrets, which I am happy to share below.Victoria: The meat is cooked on the bone and the barbecue method of cooking adds lots of outdoor flavour. 
Serves 10-12~ 20 minutes preparation ~~ 50 to 60 minutes cooking

Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
1 rabbit, cut into pieces
2 chicken legs, cut into pieces
250g (8¾ oz) pork ribs, cut into small pieces 
(ask your butcher to do this)
1 large onion
1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
4 cloves of garlic
6 ripe vine tomatoes
1kg (2.2 lbs) bomba or paella rice
1½ litres (51 US fl.oz) chicken stock
Good pinch of saffron
Olive oil
Lemon wedges to serve

1) Salt the pork ribs and set them aside.
2) Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and slice the garlic. De-seed the peppers and chop into
small pieces. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.
3) Put the stock on a low heat to warm through gently. In a pestle and mortar, grind the saffron,with a little heated stock, and leave to stand.
4) Heat a little olive oil in the paella pan and add the chicken. Cook until browned all over, then add the rabbit and the pork. Continue cooking until all the meat is nicely browned all over.
5) Add the garlic and the onion, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the peppers and cook for about five minutes more.
6) Add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft. (Don’t worry if they begin to stick, in fact it is better if they do! 
7) Add a little stock (about 1 full cup) to the saffron and season with salt.
8) Add the rice, a cupful at a time, counting as you go. (You will need approx. 1.5 cups of stock to every cup of rice.)
9) Stir the rice and cook until it turns translucent. (Again, don’t worry if it sticks, it all adds to the flavour! In fact, when the rice sticks to the bottom of the pan and goes crispy, it is known as socarrat and is a sign of a good paella.)
10) Add the hot chicken stock, counting as you go, to get the correct ratio of rice to stock. (If the pan seems full, leave it for a bit, and, when the liquid has reduced, you can add more stock.)
11) Check the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
12) Give the paella a stir and then check the heat.
13) The paella needs to be left alone now, to cook gently. Enough heat is needed to ensure the paella is slightly bubbling all over, but not boiling too much. 
14) Leave to cook for about 15 minutes, regularly checking the fire. You may stir the paella
provided there is liquid. Once the liquid begins to be absorbed, shake the pan from time to time but touch it as little as possible.
15) After 15 minutes, taste the rice. If it is still quite hard, add a little more stock (or hot water) if necessary, and cook some more. Adjust the seasoning.
16) After 20 minutes, the rice should be nice and tender and all the grains separated. Cook for 5 more minutes if necessary.
17) Remove from the heat and cover with a towel, foil or newspaper. Leave to stand for 5
minutes, while you enjoy a glass of wine!
18) Garnish with lemon wedges, place in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in.

Spanish Hot Chocolate (Chocolate a la Español)

      You cant go past a Chocolate a la Español on a cold winters day or night. Rich and delicious. 

For 4 persons/or allow 50 grams of chocolate for each cup


 2    50 gr good quality dark chocolate,

500 ml milk,
2 teaspoons cornstarch.



Chop chocolate into small pieces. Place in a small saucepan. Add milk to chocolate in saucepan, and heat over low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the mixture just begins to boil. 

Remove from heat. Dissolve cornstarch in a little cold water in a cup. Add corn starch solution to chocolate mixture. Return to low heat, and, stirring constantly, cook until the hot chocolate thickens. Serve hot. If chocolate is too bitter add some honey or sugar to taste. delicioso.........

I hope you enjoy trying some of these favorite winter warmers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An authentic taste of Spain, cooking with Cazuela’s

Photo Courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
A cazuela (pronounced ka'swela) is a terracotta or earthenware cooking dish.  They come in many sizes and are a staple in every Spanish kitchen. They are made in such a way that the terracotta dish is slowly fired in a kiln, producing a cazuela that is close to a brick in density. Because of this classic process, cazuelas hold a slow, steady heat, allowing foods to cook gently and evenly. You then serve cazuelas straight to the table where your food continues to simmer or sizzle for another 5 - 10 minutes.

With their rustic and classic design, the Spanish Cazuela not only looks fantastic on the table but they are extremely versatile. You can cook a large range of dishes from stews, to tapas dishes, and even a roast, then you simply serve the dish straight to the table. They can be used on on gas/electric/ceramic stoves, in the oven, or over an open fire or BBQ grill. You can use a cazuela in place of a skillet, a paella pan (a paella becomes “rice cazuela”), a sauté pan, or an oven casserole. You can sauté and brown foods in a cazuel by just adding enough oil to cover the bottom surface and heat the oil until very hot. Don’t crowd the pan with the foods to be browned. 

Photo Courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
One of the great things about Cazuelas is that come in a range of sizes from a mini 8cm cazuela, great for serving olives and nuts, up to 3 feet in diameter! Whilst Artesano doesn’t offer the 3ft ones, yet!, we do have a range from 8cm up to 37cm.  Just about every Spanish household has a range of cazuelas in it’s kitchen, often passed down from mother to daughter. Cazuelas are also your classic tapas dish used in tapas bars and restaurants throughout Spain. 

In Spain, cazuela is both the name of the cooking vessel and of foods cooked in it. Most cazuela dishes start with a sauté, or sofrito, and finish braising with liquid.

Recipes to try in your cazuela.......
The following recipes and photographs have been kindly provided by Orce Serrano Hams, in Spain.  For more fabulous authentic Spanish recipes please get yourself a copy of the new fantastic cook book, “Mouthwatering Spanish Recipes” from co-authors Gayle MacDonald (Orce Serrrano Hams) and Victoria Twead, author of Amazon best seller “Chickens, Mules and two old fools”. See book on right hand side of blog and click on the image to take you to where you can get yourself either a ebook or a paperback. I highly recommend it.

Butterflied King Prawns in Garlic Butter
This Spanish tapas recipe for butterflied king prawns make perfect starters. Cooked in their own individual mini cazuelas these tapas can be served hot at any function or as simple tapas. Spanish cazuelas retain heat very well so your prawns will remain hot sizzling away in garlic butter, serve with crusty bread for mopping up the garlic butter.

6 prawns per serve, 
Photo by Ian MacDonald 

You will need
6 King prawns per 12cm cazuela
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
75g Butter
Parsley, chopped

-Start by shelling the prawns but leave the tails on.
-Run your thumb down the length of the back and remove the black gritty string.
-Rinse the prawns then, using a small sharp knife slice the prawns down their backs but not all the way through.
-Open the prawns and arrange in their cazuelas.
-In a bowl mix the butter together with the chopped garlic and parsley then add a good spoonful to each cazuela covering the prawns.
-Cook over the gas stove or in a hot oven for 5 – 6 minutes until the prawns are done.
-Serve sizzling hot with fresh crusty bread.

Chorizo Braised in Red Wine
The Spanish chorizo, a highly versatile sausage that comes in many forms, chorizo extra, chorizo duro, chorizo picante, "fire" chorizo . . . The chorizo makes ideal tapas and can also add a real Spanish twist to an abundance of recipes. Here we have something very tasty and very simple - spicy chorizo braised in red wine. Delicious Spanish tapas full of earthy flavour!

Makes 10 - 12 tapas

Photo by Ian MacDonald 
You will need:
6 Cured chorizo sausages
1 Bottle of red wine (such as Rioja)
5 Garlic cloves (crushed)
Handful of oregano
Tablespoon of lemon zest
Black pepper

-Place all of the ingredients in a large terracotta cazuela.
-Pour in the wine so that the chorizo sausages are half to two thirds submerged.
-Bring to boil then reduce the heat and simmer.
-Turn over the chorizos and continue to cook for 12 - 15 minutes.
-Once cooked, cut the chorizo into segments and place on cocktail sticks ready to serve.

Cazuela Pies
Beef and ale pie. Try this Spanish twist on the traditional beef and ale pie, cooked individually in terracotta cazuelas (earthenware dishes) these pies can be made as large or small as you like. The Spanish cazuela has a knack of keeping food hot for a very long time so these pies are best to cool for 10 minutes once removed from the oven. You will also need a litre of premium San Miguel beer for this recipe . . . a delicious winter warmer!

Makes 4 individual pies in 14cm cazuelas

Photo by Ian MacDonald 
You will need:
1 kilo stewing beef, cut into chunks
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8-10 medium mushrooms, wiped and cut into quarters
Good handful frozen peas
1 litre San Miguel beer
2 tablespoons, plain flour
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

-Heat some olive oil and butter in a large stewing pot and when nice and hot, add the beef. Cook off until brown all over.
-Add the flour and cook, stirring for a few minutes
-Add the vegetables and continue to cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.
-Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves and the beer.
-Bring to the boil and then reduce to a very low heat and cook, covered for about 2 ½ hours.
-Add the peas and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cook uncovered for another hour or so until the beef is melt in the mouth tender.
-Transfer the stew to individual cazuelas and top each one with shortcrust pastry.
-To make the pastry stick, dampen the edges of the cazuela with a little water and then flute the edges of the pastry and trim off the excess.
-Make a slit in the top of each pie and top with a little egg wash.
-Bake in a hot oven for around 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Serve with chips – lovely!

Cazuela omelette /Breakfast / Brunch / Dinner
Well it’s kind of an omelette anyway, you know when you just have one of those days when there is not much in the fridge and you decide to invent something using the contents of the fridge. Very rustic, easy to make and filling, for the recipe below we use a 20cm cazuela, although you can always make them in individual, say 14cm Cazuela for one serving. Note: something like asparagus may need par boiling first

Photo by Ian MacDonald 
Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)
6 eggs
Pancetta or Serrano ham or bacon
Green/red pepper
Manchego cheese 
Anything suitable from the back of the fridge
Ground black pepper
(substitute for Manchego is a sharp, hard Spanish sheeps milk cheese. You could substitute parmesan, romano, or a very sharp, white English cheddar.

-Pre-heat oven to 180 deg
-Whisk the eggs in the cazuela
-Slice /chop  ingredients apart from the  cheese 
-Add ingredients to egg and mix well
-Grate a little manchego cheese over top
-Season with dried thyme or smoked paprika
-Bake in oven for 15min

Cazuela care and use
First Care
They should be soaked (completely immersed) in water for 24 hours prior to use for the first time. Dry well, then coat the inside with olive oil and place in a medium-low oven for 40 minutes. Frequent use is the best method for seasoning cazuelas. If you live in a very dry climate you may want to resoak occasionally.

General Use
Once their moisture content is restored, they can be used over direct flame (gas or electric range) on low to medium (high heat not recommended), in the oven, or in the microwave. If using an electric or ceramic cooktop, it is suggested that you always use a heat diffuser when cooking in earthenware. Start them with the burner on low heat. When the rim is warm to the touch, you can turn the heat up. Never heat an empty/dry cazuela. Take care not to set a hot one down on a cold surface, as it might crack. Really big cazuelas are heavy and not easy to manoeuvre in and out of the oven. Small cazuelitas are fine for microwave cooking and reheating.

I wash mine by hand because I think they look to nice to go into a dishwasher but cazuelas may be washed in the dishwasher if they are placed so the rims do not bang against another dish as this may cause chipping. The cazuelas are durable if given minimum care & not subjected to abrupt temperature changes.

We use cazuelas for everything from roasting chicken, a range of seafood and meat dishes, rice dishes and cooking and serving tapas. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hosting a Tapas Party


Everybody loves tapas! They are the very essence of life in Spain. It is such an essential ingredient to Spanish life that the Spanish people have a word for the ritual of tapas bar hopping, tapeo!

Tapas are In and Tapas are Hot so I have chosen our first blog to feature the well loved tapa and where better to celebrate this wonderful tradition then in your own home, where you can share tapas with friends by hosting your own tapas party! 

Hosting a tapas party is a fantastic way to get friends together to enjoy some great wine and food and celebrate this fantastic cultural gift to the world, from Spain. My main resource for this blog comes from Janet Mendel's wonderful homage to tapas called “tapas a bite of Spain”. In her book Janet writes about the Tapas way of life, Planning a tapas party,  and shares her favorite tapas sourced from her thirty years plus living in Spain. Her book, published by Santana Books can be bought via our online shop.
In Spain it is a way of life to stop in a tapas bar on your way home from lunch or dinner and have a vineto, a little glass of wine, or cañita, a short beer with just one small tapa or if you go out with a group of friends, and visiting several tapas bars, then your de tapeo, on a tapas crawl! The tapeo is a movable feast, where you stop by one tapas bar to taste its house speciality and then move onto the next bar to try something else, then onto another for yet another round. The tapas experience is not just about the food and the drink, although this is a big part! its about, as Janet Mendel writes "conviviality". In Spain going out for tapas is a social event. It is with this vision in mind that you plan your tapas party.
Planning your Tapas Party.                                                                                                         Part of the tapas tradition is that you eat them standing up.   In many popular tapas bars, space is at a premium and there’s no room for tables, so you stand at the bar. This tradition translates well to a party atmosphere.  Whether your party is for a few friends, a drinks party for 10 to 20 people or a sit down dinner party, serving Spanish Tapas is a wonderful way to entertain.  Here are a few hints from, Janet Mendel,  to think about when planning your tapas party.
Calculate quantities?
-For six  to eight people allow for at least four different tapas. Each person will eat three or four of each one.
-For twelve people allow six to eight tapas, a guest will eat two or three of each.
-For parties more then 12, serve as many as 12 different tapas and expect each person to eat two or three.

What type of party, traditional tapas style or sit down dinner?                                                                                     Think about whether your guests be seated at a table or moving around the room standing or sitting where they choose. If they are seated you can present some tapas in individual small dishes with spoons or forks, so saucy foods are ok. If your guests are to be standing with a glass of wine or sangria in one hand, they will only be able to pick up tapas that are easily handled with one hand. Tapas on tooth picks or on bread are best.

What to serve it in?                                                                                   
Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
Think about your serving capacity. You will need lots of small serving dishes/side plates. Make sure you have enough to go around. If you don’t have enough then plan tapas that can be picked up from a tray and don’t require dishes. Make sure you provide plenty of napkins as even finger foods can be a little messy. In Spain, tapas are served in little cazuelitas, pottery dishes, for individual tapas. At Artesano we sell a full range of cazuelitas ( the smaller sizes) or cazuelas the larger sizes for more then a single serve (racion).

How much and when to serve?
Tapas have their pace, which is leisurely. And a tapa is a small bite of food, an individual portion. So with these two key components in mind instead of serving all the tapas at once, try setting out one to two  tapas dishes every half-hour or so, that way your guests will taste each tapa individually and before they fill up on the current tapa, the next one is being served. 

Photo courtesy of Orce Serrano Hams
Use small plates about the size of a side plate. Although your tapas party, may have never been intended to include dinner, allow for some guests arriving early and staying late. On one hand make sure the tapas are substantial enough but don’t try and feed guests a meal. As Janet says you just want to titillate their taste buds.  (See our range of tapas plates and bowls in our online shop).


Well you cant really have a tapas party without several jugs of Sangria. You can serve it in any sort of jug but if you want an authentic looking table have a look at our Sangria jugs in our online shop. There are many many great Sangria recipes available we have included Janet Mendels red wine Sangria in our blog recipes, you will find the links below. Here in Australia you can buy Spanish wines, for example wines from La Rioja are excellent, and beer, for example Moritz, can be found at selected bottle shops if you want to have more of an authentic feel.
                                                                                                                                                        Review our tapas range of products at our online shop
I have selected some of the most well-known and popular tapas for you to choose from and have chosen recipes with ingredients that are easy to come by here in Australia. Tapas can be as simple as serving “aceitunas alinadas” (marinated olives) and “almendras fritas” (fried almonds) or there are those that take a bit more time like a Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omlette) and Mejillones Rellenos (Spanish stuffed mussel). Of course no tapas party can go without some jugs of sangria served chilled.
Click on the link below for tapas recipes
Sangria - Red Wine Sangria
Almendras Fritas - Fried Almonds  
Aceitunas Aliñadas - Marinated Olives
Alioli - Garlic Mayonnaise
Salsa de Tomate Frito - Tomato Sauce
Tortilla de Patatas - Potato Tortilla
Patatas Al-i-Oli – Garlic Potatoes
Calamares fritos _ Fried Squid Rings
Gambas al ajillo – Garlic Prawns
Tigres – Tigers (stuffed mussels)
Chorizo ​​a la Sidra - Chorizo in Cider

Una buena alimentación!