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 Elle Draper

Beat the winter blues with hearty Spanish cooking

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Have you got a case of the winter blues? How about organising a tapas evening to bring a bit of Spanish sunshine to your dreary winter day? Whether you’re in Spain, the UK or anywhere in the world, sharing food with friends and family, and laughing off the winter blues is a great way to keep the joy of spring going all year round.

Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean that tapas is off the menu. Spain gets its fair share of winter sun, but temperatures do drop over the winter months. Packed full of hearty soups and stews, the Spanish winter menu gives everyone a warming glow during colder weather. Whether you are living in Spain, or just want to bring a bit of Spain to your British winter menu, you can’t beat a sumptuous stew or a warming bowl of soup. Here, Dakota Murphey working alongside Marbella’s longest established real estate agency Panorama, has put together her 3 favourite winter warmers for you to enjoy. Cheer yourself up with the ultimate in comfort food.

Beat the winter blues with hearty Spanish cooking

Kale, potato and chorizo soup

  1. Chorizo and Kale soup

Nobody can resist a warming bowl of soup in the winter months, and what could be more delicious and nutritious than a bowl of Chorizo and Kale soup. Packed full of flavour and goodness you’ll be sure to make this time and time again.

Ingredients

  • 2 large leeks
  • 3 large carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1½ litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 150g finely diced chorizo
  • 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
  • 100g Kale
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the garlic and carrots. Wash and finely slice the leeks and the Kale (remove the thick white stalk if you prefer).

In a large pan, gently cook the chorizo until the oil oozes out (a couple of minutes is usually enough, you may need a glug of olive oil if there’s no fat coming from the chorizo), add the garlic, the vegetables and the thyme (except the Kale leaf). Gently cook for 10 minutes adding a ladle of the stock if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add cannellini beans and the rest of the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes.

Finally add the sliced Kale and cook for 3-4 minutes until the Kale is cooked but still vibrant in colour.

Serve with fresh bread. Delicious.

  1. Estofado de Ternera a la Catalana (Catalan beef stew)

We love this recipe from THE FAT EXPAT. This is a hearty stew indeed, with a cheeky chocolate twist. While the recipe makes enough for 6 generous meals, if you’re preparing for tapas it will feed more, or you can freeze some for another day. We like swapping the brandy for a generous glass of red wine, or sherry, but go with brandy if that appeals.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg lean beef cut into 2cm cube
  • 100g pancetta or smoky bacon cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned deseeded & chopped
  • 20 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 100ml brandy (or a generous glass of red wine)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 20-30 small shallots
  • 30g dark chocolate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon stick
  • ½ orange zest, peeled

Fry off the beef to seal it over a high heat, in batches so that it dry fries and doesn’t ‘sweat.’ Reserve the beef in a bowl and add the flour to this, tossing it so that the beef pieces are coated.

If the pan has really browned up, deglaze it with a glug of red wine and reserve that too. Fry the onion in the oil until it’s softened and starts to brown and then add the garlic and the pancetta.

Take the heat up to high and add the beef and then the tomatoes. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the beef stock and the pepper, bay, thyme, cinnamon and orange zest, stir it all up and then pop in the chocolate. Also add the red wine you used to deglaze the pan if you did that bit.

Turn the heat down to as low as it’ll go and leave it to cook away for at least an hour, giving it the occasional stir. The longer you manage to cook it the better it will taste.

  1. Espinacas Con Garbanzos (chickpeas and spinach)

This slightly spiced dish of chickpeas and spinach is incredibly comforting. Espinacas Con Garbanzos is a traditional tapas, and is popular during the winter months. This dish is great served with spicy sausages.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1 large bag of spinach washed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot or sweet paprika (use hot paprika if you like some spice)
  • 1tsp sherry vinegar
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes diced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Put spinach into the frying pan and wilt (this literally takes a couple of minutes). Remove spinach to a colander and set aside.

Put a drizzle of olive oil into the pan if required, add onions and gently fry until opaque and soft. Add the cumin, garlic and paprika and fry for a further two minutes.

Transfer onions and spices to a food processor, along with the wilted spinach. Blitz, but not to a paste. You want the spinach to retain some texture.

Put the chickpeas into the frying pan with the diced tomatoes. Fry for 30 seconds, then add the ingredients from the food processor. Warm through until mixture is piping hot.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to tapas serving dishes and drizzle with a little olive oil. You can sprinkle with some toasted slivers of almond if you like.

Serve with crusty bread. Scrumptious and wholesome.

A cocinar! (get cooking).

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