🎄When to Eat? To do Christmas dinner Spanish style, you eat on Christmas Eve unlike here in the UK where we traditionally eat in the middle of Christmas day. 🎄A Bit of Family History At my parent’s house, we ate at 1:00 pm prompt. Overcooked dry turkey, soggy bitter whole brussels sprouts, pigs in blankets, Christmas pudding, pulling crackers, silly hats and terrible jokes. A fairly standard 1960’s Christmas dinner. UK Christmas Dinner 🎄The Christmas Sixpence At that time there was a tradition of burying a silver sixpence in the Christmas pudding. One of the lucky diners would “find” the coin, usually with their teeth if they hadn’t accidentally swallowed it! British Predecimal Sixpence Us children would be overjoyed if we found the sixpence (2½p in today’s money) and it was off to the sweet shop asap. Again in keeping with tradition, everything had to be served, eaten and cleared away by 3:00 pm ready for the annual Queens speech to the nation. So about 2 hours in total. 🎄Christmas Dinner Spanish Style Start with Tapas In Spanish homes, Christmas Eve, or La Noche Buena (“The Good Night”), is a real feast with family and friends. There are many courses starting with tapas-style appetisers, starters, the main course, dessert and concluding many hours later with Cava, Brandy and coffee. Main course Finish with espresso and brandy Most families will attend either an early evening or midnight mass and enjoy their Christmas feast from late evening onwards, sometimes into the early hours. Fiesta! There are five opportunities for Spanish families to indulge in feasting over the Christmas period: Christmas Eve Dinner – the main eventChristmas Day LunchNew Years Eve DinnerNew Years Day LunchThree Kings Day – on January 6th If you would like to try Christmas dinner Spanish style here are some suggested recipes which are favourites of ours. Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed. 🎄 Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Christmas GravySprouts and Christmas, a British Love AffairSweet Chestnuts 🎄Menu (Menú de Noche Buena) Appetisers (Tapas) Starter (Primer Plato) Mains (Plato Principal) In the Extremadura region of Spain, a traditional dish of marinated chicken prepared with almonds, saffron, garlic and orange zest is served along with other meats. Dessert (Postre) Cava, Brandy and Coffee Round off your special Christmas meal with a toast or two to good friends and family with a lovely chilled Cava. Lovely Spanish cava Cardenal Mendoza Brandy Then relax and enjoy the evening with a fine Cardenal Mendoza brandy and a liqueur coffee. Irish Coffee If you are entertaining this Christmas Eve and want to try something different for your family and friends, explore some of these dishes and try doing it Spanish style!
Lucky Grapes Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is the traditional way to welcome the New Year in Spain. The grapes are considered lucky las doce uvas de la suerte (“the 12 lucky grapes”). They have to be eaten one at a time with each of the twelve chimes of midnight. Clock face on Big Ben The Bells Spaniards listen to the bells on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. UK New Years Eve celebrations centre around the bells of Big Ben above the Houses of Parliament in London. Buying Red Underwear for New Years Eve Red Underwear Each grape represents one of the twelve months to follow and the superstitious Spanish believe that you need to wear a piece of red underwear given to you by someone else while eating them to guarantee good luck. Along with the underwear you need to have swallowed all twelve grapes by the final toll of the bell. Tips and Tactics To make grape swallowing easier and quicker: Get small green seedless grapesTry not to laugh (not easy)Concentrate on the bongs, you have about 2 seconds for each grapeUse authentic Spanish tinned seedless peeled grapes.Line up the grapes and pop them in, in tune with the bongsHalve the grapes beforehand (good for children) By the way, stuffing them all in your mouth at once or starting before the first bong is cheating and you may suffer the consequences. Tins 0f 12 Seedless Peeled Grapes If you can down the grapes while under the influence of alcohol, without descending into fits of giggles, and without gagging while all the time wearing the requisite red undergarment then you deserve the good luck they will bring. Do Christmas Dinner Spanish StyleSpanish Chorizo SausageCatch It and Cook It – Black BreamMorcilla: The Spanish Black PuddingCatch It and Cook It
Well, what do you need to know about leeks? Leeks are a member of the onion family. The Roman Empire grew them for their more refined flavour than the stronger onion. Nero Apparently, Emperor Nero was partial to them as he believed they would improve his voice. He ate so many that he gained the nickname Porophagus (leek eater). Also eaten by the peoples of Ancient Egypt and Greece, leeks are the original superfood. They are high in fibre, vitamin B and other heart-protecting substances like flavonoids and polyphenols. Leeks Saved Wales! Legend has it that the humble leek saved Wales during the Battle of Heathfield in 633AD. The Welsh army was persuaded by a Celtic monk named David that they needed to be identified in battle by wearing an emblem. The emblem chosen was a leek worn in the soldier’s helmet. The Welsh led by King Caldwallader beat the Saxons in battle and the tradition of proudly wearing a leek is continued to this day. For his actions, David the monk, now St David is celebrated each year. During this period the leek also acquired mystic virtues. These include claims that girls who slept with a leek under their pillow on St David’s Day would see their future husband in their dreams. Leeks and St Patrick The Irish too have their own legend regarding leeks. A dying elderly woman had a vision that showed her a floating herb that looked like rushes. The vision revealed that she must eat the rushes or die. St Patrick consoled the woman and transformed some rushes into leeks, which she ate. Miraculously the woman recovered. Vichyssoise Soup Cock-a-Leekie Soup How this My Thoughts on Leeks I can’t claim any miraculous cures or battle honours from leeks but I do know they taste really good and make a versatile ingredient in any kitchen. Personally, I like them braised and then finished under the grill with a sprinkling of parmesan. Traditional Fresh Mint SauceBarbequed MusselsEdible Snails – Helix AspersaCatch It and Cook It – CuttlefishCatch It and Cook It – Squid (Calamari) lovefood.combritishleeks.co.ukscottishscran.com
SPAM History Let’s go back in time to World War II. Fish was unavailable so we Brits made SPAM fritters instead for our weekly deep fry with chips. SPAM is canned pork luncheon meat made in the USA by Hormel, introduced in 1937. It became popular during WW II because of the difficulty in getting fresh meat to front line troops. Wherever US troops served it became popular with the locals and part of their diet. Monty Python SPAM became so deeply embedded in British culture the Monty Python team even wrote a song about it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBcY3W5WgNU They went on to produce a musical called Spamalot, a stage version of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A very tongue in cheek take on the Arthurian legend. SPAM Facts The billionth can of SPAM was sold in 1959, the year I was born. In 2006 pre-packaged SPAM fritters made a return to the shops. However, SPAM fritters are really easy to make and you can’t beat the taste of homemade beer batter. If you fancy trying another British classic, have a look at Toad in the Hole. Black Pudding Fritters in Beer BatterBest Chips EverGoulash with Mash aka GoumashMashed PotatoCatch It and Cook It – Skate Recipe – SPAM Fritters SPAM Fritters Slices of SPAM deep-fried in beer batter 350 g Spam (1 can)130 g Plain Flour240 ml COLD Beer1 tsp Baking Powder¼ tsp White Pepper¼ tsp Sea saltOil (for deep frying)Optional:8 slices Cheddar cheeseDijon mustard (as needed) Remove spam from tin (follow instructions on can, make sure it comes out whole). Place on chopping board and slice into 8 equal sized wedges. I find this easiest by halving (2), halving those halves (4), then halving each of those (8).Lay each wedge flat and very lightly spread with dijon mustard (not too much, just enough for the cheese to stick ~½ tsp). Lay each slice of cheese on top and firmly press down so it sticks to the spam.Combine flour in a bowl with baking powder, white pepper and salt. Making sure the cheese stays intact, carefully (but thoroughly) coat each fritter in flour.At this point pour 750ml-1litre oil in a deep pan and heat it to 180°C/356°F.Once all the fritters are coated in the flour pour in the COLD beer. Use a whisk to stir (don’t over beat or the bubbles with burst, some small lumps are fine). If you go OTT with the beer and it’s too thin just mix in a few pinches more flour, vice versa with the flour. Again, you want the batter as airy and cold as possible so don’t beat the hell out of it.Use a fork to lower the fritters into the batter, allow them to fully coat, then carefully transfer into the hot oil. Work in batches of 3-4. You want to work fairly quickly as you want the batter to be as cold and bubbly as possible.Once the fritters are in the oil the temp will drop, so try and keep it at a steady 180°C/356°F (increase the heat as needed). Allow them to fry for a couple of minutes, then flip and continue cooking until golden. Remove one by one and place on a wire rack with paper towels UNDERNEATH (don't place them straight on paper towels or they'll go soggy). Repeat with the second batch. Main CourseBritish Mushy Peas For a truly authentic experience serve your fritters with a helping of mushy peas. I was first introduced to mushy peas while working in Manchester, North West England in the 1980s. I have to be honest, I didn’t like them then, and I still don’t. Credits: WikipediaHormel
My wife’s parents were Irish, mother from Dublin and father from Newry, lived in London, and following regular visits “home” would always return with some genuine white pudding in their suitcase. Their return was looked forward to with great excitement and no sooner had the suitcase been opened, the frying pan was on and white pudding on toast was being devoured with great pleasure. Irish pudding on toast Black pudding (blood sausage) may be more popular worldwide, but white pudding is very popular in Ireland and an important part of an Irish breakfast. White pudding is similar to black pudding, but it contains no blood—only pork, spices, and usually oatmeal. Clonakilty black and white puddings from County Cork are our preference with quite a peppery taste. They have been making black pudding since the 1880’s using an unchanged recipe to this day. Their white pudding is a relatively new addition only sold since 1986. Clonakilty black and white puddings If you fancy a proper fry up Irish style, Rachel Allen makes a fine breakfast in her book Rachel’s Irish Family Food, © 2013 Harper Collins Publishers Irish weekend fry up Credits: Wikipedia black and white puddingFX Buckley Butchers white pudding
Spain’s answer to our black pudding is a mile from the slice you’ll get with your fry-up. It’s a spiced blood sausage, delicate, with a gentle tang. Recipes vary across Spain from the loose, rice-flecked morcilla from Burgos to morcilla de Arroz, the variety made with onion and rice. Morcilla pronounced mor-thee-ya, is generally much less firm than our British black pudding (try the ‘Bury’ variety if you can find it), and as such is great for stirring through dishes. Another favourite way to serve morcilla is stuffed into squid – a classic combination. If you’re one of those who can’t bear the idea of black pudding, then morcilla may be for you – most people visiting Spain will try it and love it before they know what’s gone into it. It’s worth sourcing a good one -try www.brindisa.com for a tasty version. They freeze well too- so when you get them, freeze them into batches of two for quick and easy use. Taken from an article by deliciasburgos. Credits: deliciasburgos.es