Friday, November 21, 2014



 Cookbook Sale!

For holiday gifts or for yourself. 

Special low 

prices on two of my cookbooks.

Go to .

Santana Books, my publisher in Spain (specialists in books about Spain in the English language) is having a clearance sale on books in stock.  You can order books direct from the publisher on the  Santana Books web site. Shipping is available worldwide (see below for costs). 

COOKING IN SPAIN, by Janet Mendel (2006). €6.00 (+ shipping)

Take a cook’s tour through the culinary regions of Spain. Savor slow-simmered stews, delicately spiced sauces, honeyed sweets. Learn how to make an authentic paella. Put together a menu for a tapas party. Here are recipes for Spain’s most famous dishes as well as many more of the world’s most interesting preparations for seafood, meat, vegetables and desserts.
First published in 1987, COOKING IN SPAIN is the classic book on Spanish cuisine. The sparkling new edition (2006) has a fresh format (433 pages) and new photos,  ensuring that it continues to be the best and most complete book in English about Spanish cooking.

Key features include
  • More than 300 recipes with in-depth information on regional specialties.
  • Tips on how to buy the best at the market and how to prepare it in the kitchen. 
  • Complete Spanish-English glossary with more than 500 culinary terms. 
  • Handy conversion guide and easy-to-use index to recipes and ingredients. 
  • Striking full-color photographs by J.D.Dallet.

TAPAS—A BITE OF SPAIN, by Janet Mendel (2008).   
€5.00 (+ shipping). 

An exciting and visually striking treatment of a favorite Spanish subject—tapas. This book will get you right into the tapas experience.
I’ll take you tapa-hopping round Spain and show you how to enjoy tapas in the tascas and tabernas. Recipes for authentic Spanish tapas make it easy to  to translate those great dishes to your own kitchen.

Key features include

  • A tasting guide to regional tapas 
  • 140 kitchen–tested recipes (292 pages)
  • Tapa-party menus 
  • Guide to choosing wines to accompany tapas
  • Handy Spanish-English glossary 
  • Full-color photographs by Michelle Chaplow.
Shipping prices for the cookbooks:
Spain €1.50 for one book.
Europe €7.00 for one book.
Rest of the world €14.00 for one book.
If ordering more than one book, add €1.00 for each additional book.

Holiday sweets. (Photo J.D.Dallet)
Cinnamon Lard Biscuits

This recipe is taken from COOKING IN SPAIN. Measurements are in metric weights. (Biscuits are cookies or small cakes. Icing sugar is confectioner’s powdered sugar. An oven tin is a baking sheet.)

Mantecados along with polverones and roscos are beloved Christmas pastries. These are called mantecados because they are made with manteca, lard, a by-product of winter’s hog slaughtering. Butter can be substituted, but they are not as authentic. If desired, the biscuits can be wrapped individually in a square of tissue paper, twisting the ends to enclose them.

270 g plain flour
30 g ground almonds
170 g lard
130 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
icing sugar, for dusting

Spread the flour in an oven tin and toast it in a hot oven until lightly coloured, stirring so it browns evenly. When the flour is cooled, mix with the ground almonds.

Beat the lard until very creamy. Beat in the sugar, egg yolk and cinnamon with salt and 2 teaspoons of water.

Add the flour-almond mixture a little at a time with the sesame seeds. Turn the dough out on a board or marble work surface. Combine the dough by kneading it with a few squeezes. Gather into a ball and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Roll or pat the dough to a thickness of 2 cm Cut into rounds about 5 cm in diameter and place on an oven tin.

Bake in a moderate oven (180ºC/350ºF)  about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Makes about 20 biscuits.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Chad and Hanna  prepare meatballs for a tapas party.

“Great meatballs,” says Chad, stirring them into the saffron-almond sauce. “I’ll make these at home using moose meat with a little pork.” Moose meat? “Well, I wouldn’t buy beef if I’ve got the freezer full of moose.”

Chad and Hanna live in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada), where moose is more common than beef. Somehow, via many Google searches, they have found their way to my kitchen in Spain for a four-day cooking course. The meatballs (here, a mixture of ground beef and pork) are part of our grand finale tapas party.

The kitchen sojourn is part of Chad and Hanna’s first-ever trip to Spain. Chad is a Canadian federal fishery officer (sort of like the salmon police) for Yukon and northwest British Columbia. Hanna is a big game outfitter ( who operates a hunting camp in northern British Columbia. A world away from the Mediterranean.

Nevertheless, they are pretty savvy about olive oil. (Hanna wonders if her bottle of olive oil, left in the kitchen at base camp, will still be good after being frozen during the winter. Not a question I can answer.) They have heard of smoked pimentón (paprika) and saffron. But, it’s for me to introduce them to many more Mediterranean foods.

Pine cones bearing pine nuts.
We pick almonds from the tree to crack, to use in the almond sauce and to toast for snacking—perfect with Sherry. I show them where the pine nuts come from—the Mediterranean stone pine that towers over my patio (pine nuts go into the chard with raisins side dish). Hanna gathers some of the pine cones bearing the tiny nuts to take home to her kids.

Home-cured olives with herbs.
They taste my home-cured olives. I show them which trees I picked them from (fat manzanilla variety) and describe the simple process of soaking in water then placing in a brine with garlic, thyme and fennel. For our cooking, I fill a bottle with new olive oil from the mill, received in payment for the 50 kilos of olives I picked.

Málaga raisins.
At the market Chad and Hanna buy Málaga moscatel raisins still on the stems, local dried figs (we’ll use them in a pumpkin-quince compote). I introduce them to membrillo—quince fruit and delicious quince jelly made from the fruit that we use to make an autumnal sorbet. From the spice vendor we get a mix of spices for our Moorish pinchitos (mini kebabs), saffron (unfortunately, this is not the finest La Mancha saffron), pimentón, and nutmeg, from Indonesia, but essential in Spanish meatballs. Hanna has never seen whole nutmegs before.

At the fish monger’s, Chad, who monitors wild salmon runs on Yukon rivers, is not too impressed with the Atlantic farmed salmon on sale here. We buy squid, shrimp and mussels for paella. He’s pleased to see that shrimp come with their heads on, which we’ll use to make a simple stock for cooking the paella.

Sizzling shrimp pil pil.
Later, Chad says the shrimp they trap off their trawler in southeast Alaskan waters is so much sweeter than the ones we have bought here. “No comparison.” But, he is crazy for gambas al pil pil, shrimp sizzled in olive oil with garlic in small cazuelas. “That’s amazing. I can’t wait to try it with our shrimp. We have to get some proper cazuela dishes for the boat.”

Gazpacho for a sunny fall day.
Back in the kitchen, on a sunny fall day, we decide to make gazpacho as well as a hearty chickpea, chard and pumpkin soup. Hanna suggests adding sliced radishes from the garden to garnish the gazpacho. Nice.

Hanna chops pumpkin for soup.
Chard and pumpkin go into a hearty fall soup with chickpeas.

Chad shows expertise in flipping his first real Spanish potato tortilla. We finish lunch with a sampling of several Spanish cheeses, all with denominación de origen.

A selection of Spanish cheeses to sample.
Olive oil lights.

For Hanna's birthday we have a gorgeous almond torte (recipe next week), bubbly cava and "candles." Hanna is charmed by the floating wicks of my olive oil lamps.

Links to recipes that are mentioned in this blog :
Soup with chickpeas, chard and pumpkin (berza de acelga).
Paella with Chicken and Shellfish
Sizzling shrimp (gambas al pil pil).
Meatballs in almond sauce (albóndigas en salsa de almendras).
 Moorish mini-kebabs(pinchitos morunos).
Pumpkin-quince compote (arrope con calabaza).
Chard with raisins and pine nuts (acelgas con pasas y piñones).

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Look at these beauties! Purple carrots.
Carrots were not always orange in color. A vegetable from central Asia, carrots originally were purple-skinned. The Arabs brought the vegetable to Spain and, supposedly, the Dutch developed the orange cultivar in the 17th century.

Now the purple ones are being grown again in some areas of Spain. In Málaga province, the village of Cuevas Bajas is commercializing zanahorias moradas, purple carrots. I had seen them on TV, on my favorite chef program (Cómetelo, on Canal Sur). Then, the other day, there were purple carrots at my local market! Irresistible.

Purple carrots, washed but not peeled.
As you can see in the picture, the carrots are a dull purple color. Peeled, they reveal a bright violet color beneath the skin. Sliced, they show pale yellow flesh with a sunburst of purple in the centers. Wow.

Cut in half, the carrots reveal a purple rim, yellow centers.
Peeled, the carrots are a vibrant violet color.
The raw carrots are gorgeous in a salad. Cooked, the purple outer rings darken and somewhat stain the yellow interiors. Still interesting, but not as stunning as raw.

Sliced carrots and radishes with slivers of cheese in a salad.
The taste? The purple carrots are sweet and earthy, like any good carrot, but more so. Unlike regular carrots, the purple ones contain a powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin, also present in blueberries, black raspberries and other blue and purple fruits.

Cooked, the purple carrots lose some of the vibrant color, but taste wonderful

Carrots with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Zanahorias con Pasas y Piñones

Serve these carrots hot or cold.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 pound purple carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves or parsley

Cook the carrots in boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain.

In a small saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onion for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the carrots and raisins and sauté until the carrots are heated through. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the mint leaves or parsley.

Cooked purple carrots with pine nuts, raisins, garlic, onion and sprigs of mint.