Cubiletes de Amalia - Foods from Asturias

Behind every family recipe there is love. Pure, simple love. And fond memories. Cubiletes have been a long tradition at ours and it is one of the most coveted recipes I have. Every year, on December 23rd, Amalia and my mum would make cubiletes and casadielles for Christmas Eve. The roles in the kitchen were always the same: Amalia led, my mum followed and I observed.

Amalia was generous enough to share her family recipe with my family some +30 years ago. She started giving some of these treats to my dad –back then her neighbour- on Christmas and when he got married, she taught my mum how to make them. She was one of the most loving, caring, humble and respectful people I have ever met. She wasn’t my grandmother, but I love her as if she was. It breaks my heart that today we will be doing the cubiletes without her, that we don’t have her warm smile, her loving words, her advice and experience leading the baking session. But the thing about family recipes is that they keep the essence of the person who passes it on long after they are gone. She isn’t here, but somehow she is.

Los cubiletes de Amalia

Merce, Amalia’s daughter, has been kind enough to let me share her mum’s recipe with the world and I will always be grateful for that. You are a lucky bunch, trust me.


Cubiletes, a step by step recipe

Yield: 24
You will need cup-shape moulds

Ingredients for filling
250g ground almonds –if you can toast and ground them on the same day much better-
250g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
8 tbsp white wine
powdered sugar to decorate

Ingredients for the pastry
500g flour
2 tsp baking powder
160g sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp white wine

Cubiletes

We will prepare the filling first as we need to let it rest while we make the pastry.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients gently until well incorporated. Once you have a soft paste let it rest while you make the pastry.

In a medium bowl, add flour and baking powder. In a big mixing bowl, mix sugar and egg until well incorporated. When you have a yellow paste then add unsalted butter, white wine and olive oil. Once all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly add slowly the flour and baking powder mix and stir with a wooden spoon. You will know that the dough is ready when it isn’t sticky and you can handle it with your hands.

Cubiletes

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Take a little ball of dough and place it into a cup-style mould. With your hands, shape the ball of dough into a thin layer, stick to the mould. The thinner the better. Then add the almond filling with a spoon. The filling will expand while baking so leave some space on top.

Cubiletes

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes keeping an eye on them to avoid burning.

Let them cool and then dust with powdered sugar.

Cubiletes
 
 
 
Membrillo - Monica R Goya

Membrillo

A homemade quince paste recipe

Lee en castellano


Turkey might be the leading country in producing quinces, but in northern Spain we are anything but short of these quintessentially autumn fruits.

Membrillo - Monica R Goya

The quince tree is native to the southwest Asia region and it is believed that the word marmalade originally refers to quince jam (from Portuguese marmelo, which means quince).

Quinces are one of my favourite fruits, so delicate and special, only apt for those who try hard enough as it is almost inedible –too hard and too sour- when raw. However, there was a time in my childhood when I hated quinces for it meant hours spent by a casserole, just stirring. My mum, dad and I would take turns. Stirring boiling quinces is a dangerous affair (the bubbles might burn so try to avoid any contact by all means). And I didn’t even like quince paste back then!

Membrillo, quince paste - Monica R Goya

Nevertheless, at some point in my childhood that changed and every time I passed by my mum’s quince trees I could almost smell the soft, aromatic membrillo (quince paste) that we make every year at the beginning of the autumn, when her trees are laden with fruits.

Luckily some years ago my mum upgraded her recipe to a simpler one and the hours of stirring have been substituted by blending. Sometimes she is still nostalgic of her previous method and does it the long way. I must admit I am don't.

Quince tree - Monica R Goya

Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Nothing reflects better the flavour of autumn in Asturias than membrillo paired with some of our excellent blue cheeses, maybe Cabrales or Gamonéu. I love it on spelt or rye sourdough bread.

Yield: two rectangular pieces

Ingredients
1kg quinces cored
700g sugar
Juice of one lemon

Two sealable containers of a shape of your choice


Wash the quinces, cut out the cores with a sharp knife and roughly chopped them in small chunks. Put them in a large pan together with the sugar and the lemon juice, cover and let macerate for 24 hours.

Membrillo - Monica R Goya

The next day the sugar should have dissolved and quinces should be covered in an aromatic lemony syrup. Bring to the boil in a medium heat and then simmer for about 45 minutes over a low heat or until the quinces are tender. The paste should have a dark red, brownish colour. Blend and transfer the paste into a sealable container. Leave it to cool and then store in a sealable container for up to a year*. Once opened store in the fridge.

(*) Anything with so much sugar will keep a year or forever!

Membrillo and Gamonéu cheese - Asturias - Monica R Goya
 
 
 
Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

A family affair

A freestyle tomato sauce to make now

Lee en castellano


When you come from a family with a garden and with a stubborn zero-food waste attitude, it’s only natural that preserves are an important part of your pantry.

This freestyle sauce has been in my family for years, it is rich and runny, with a soft texture. It incorporates elements from other Spanish classics such as the fritada riojana (that also includes peppers) but it has been basically something that my mum and aunties came up with trying to use the surplus vegetables from the garden.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Back home in Asturias there is a sort of tomato canning weekend every year. It involves a few members of my family and the mission has been the same from the beginning of time: using all the surplus tomatoes from the garden and making canned tomato sauce that will be used throughout the year, until the new season comes.

I only appreciated the superlative importance of that tomato canning season when I left the nest to go to university. Suddenly I forgot the hassle of making it and felt fortunate to have those jars at hand in my pantry. Being able to prepare pasta or fish with a delicious sauce free from hidden sugars in no time was a real blessing.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Tomato sauce, step by step recipe

Ingredients

Yield: 9 medium jars

3kg ripe tomatoes
600g red peppers
250g green peppers
1kg onions
50g garlic
25g salt
*Bottled lemon juice or citric acid

As with any preserves aiming for a long shelf life, jar sterilisation is the most important part of the process. Wash all the jars and lids in hot soapy water. Once the jars and lids are clean, soak them in boiling water for fifteen minutes. Make sure you use a jar rack or a towel so that the jars don’t touch the bottom of the pan.

We always use a large pot so that we can do them all at once, but when I do it on my own I need to do several batches as I don’t have such a large pot. Any option is ok as long as the jars and lids are soaked in boiling water for fifteen minutes. Then you can use kitchen tongs to pull them out upside-down on a spotlessly clean kitchen towel to dry.   

If you don’t have a garden it is worth asking your farmer at your local market. Many times the farmers have “ugly” produce that they don’t bring to the market because they know they won’t sell. However, if you ask for it, they might be able to bring you the tomatoes that otherwise would be discarded at a reduced price. And everyone wins.  

Dip the tomatoes in plenty boiling water for three or four minutes to skin them more easily. When they cool, skin them and put aside.   

In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté the peppers, onions and garlic in a good olive oil until soft. Then add the skinned tomatoes and continue cooking uncovered until they have reduced to a jam looking sauce. Stir often to prevent it from burning.

Once the sauce has cooled, pass it through a food mill –or do it directly in the pan with an electric hand blender-. Add the salt to taste towards the end.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Ladle tomatoes into the sterilised jars and add a tablespoon of olive oil per jar. Then seal and process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. The jars must be covered by at least 3cm of water. Once they cool leave them upside-down on a flat surface for twenty-four hours and check for liquid loss.

*While researching this recipe I found out that to be canned safely in a boiling water bath all foods should be high acid. The tomato sauce isn’t naturally high acid enough to be on the safe side, and this is achieved by adding bottled lemon juice or citric acid to the sauce. This is to prevent botulism, since it cannot grow in high acid environments.

The proportions to be added to the jars prior ladling the sauce would be as follows:

For jars around 500g/a pint:
¼ tsp citric acid or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice 

In our recipe lemon has never been added and it has always worked fine. Obviously we always check that the sauce is ok before cooking with it, but we are incorporating the lemon solution from now onwards.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya
 
 
 
Strawberry and Lemon Pie | Monica R. Goya

Of Pies & Romerías

Fruit pies full of juicy joy are the perfect companion for a summer party where everyone enjoys, aka, a romería

Lee en castellano


Warm weather in Asturias is synonym of town fairs and romerías (popular parties where food and dancing reign, usually celebrated in the field near a chapel or church on the day of the patron's day).

I have very fond memories of the summer romerías, where most of the family and some friends would gather together and had a feast based on seasonal, simple food. Each person would bring something. The food was nothing too elaborate. Someone would bring a savoury pie –tuna & peppers or chorizo & onion, both were classics-, others would bring a Spanish omelette, salted pork shoulder, some charcuterie, of course cheese, maybe some homemade bread, fruits –figs and plums come to mind- and some easy-to-carry dessert. The mandatory drink was –and still is- Asturian cider.

Strawberry and Lemon Pie | Monica R. Goya

Western Asturias holds many of these summer memories. Due to the ongoing rural exodus, most people have left the countryside for the urban life. However, summer is the occasion when many come back to their villages -or their parents and grandparents' hometowns- and re-connect with former neighbours and friends.

Romerías are a time for gathering, for sharing the simple pleasures of life. My memories tell me that the picnic blanket was always under a tree. That contrast of the bright fruits against the white blanket has stayed with me since. After the copious amount of food and drink, adults would devote to the infamous siesta –something that really doesn’t happen as often as Spanish clichés suggest- and children would run around freely. I didn’t realise then, but I can see now how heavenly that was.

My grandmother used to make apple and pear pies as both fruits would be available all-year round at her farm. This is a tweak on that tradition.


Strawberry and Lemon Lattice Pie
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients for a 9" / 21 cm lattice pie
Crust
280g flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
250g unsalted butter
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Filling
180g granulated sugar
40g cornstarch (cornflour in the UK)
A pinch of kosher salt
900g strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lemon, seeds removed and sliced as thin as you can
1 egg
Demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)
 

For the crust I followed Bon Appétit's recipe to the letter. You can find it here.

What I have -painfully- learnt is that if there is one thing that is extremely important when making buttery crusts, that is to manipulate the dough as quickly as possible and to keep it chilled.

First, make sure you have enough space in the fridge for a baking sheet. Then flour your surface and roll out one of the disks of dough -leave the other one in the fridge for now- until you have a circular base of around 13"/33cm. The quickiest the better. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and return it to the fridge. Do the same with the other disk of dough and once you have a round, transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper and place it together with the other round in the fridge. As long as they are separated with the parchment paper, you can put one on top another.

In a large bowl, mix granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the strawberries and lemon slices and stir all the ingredients. Ensure the fruits are coated by the sugar mixture.

Preheat oven to 175C (350F). In a small bowl, beat egg with 1 tbsp of water. Slightly floured the pie tin. Take one of the round doughs outside the fridge and very carefully, transfer it to the pie tin. With your hands, lift the edges so that the dough slumps down into the pie tin. Then press it very softly with your fingers against the pie tin. Let at least 2" overhang. Place the tin in the fridge and take out the remaining round dough, cutting it into four (as the picture below) or as many strips as you wish. If you are unsure, this video is very good.

Take out the pie tin from the fridge and pour the strawberry filling, scraping all the remaining juices. Brush the edge with 1/2 egg wash. Lay the strips on top, arranging them alternatively over and under lengthwise to create your desired pattern. 

Fold up the edges of the bottom round -where you applied the egg wash- and seal them with the edges of the top round, now displayed in a lattice pattern. Brush the strips with the remaining egg wash and if you go for it, sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar. 

Foil-lined a baking sheet -I used parchment paper and it worked fine although foil is likely safer- to avoid the juices bubbling over on the baking sheet and the consequent nightmare to clean. Place the pie tin on it. Bake for an hour or until the juices are bubbling and the dough is golden brown. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and let sit at least four hours before serving. 

 

Strawberry and Lemon Pie | Monica R. Goya

 

 

 

 
 
 
Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias

Blood Orange, Requesón & Polenta Cake

Citrus fruits have a long standing tradition in Asturias and they make a heavenly combination together with local requesón, almonds and corn flour

Lee en castellano


One of the most exciting seasonal foods to have in winter are citrus fruits. From Niembru to Doiras, it is not uncommon to see lemon and orange trees laden with fruits all around Asturias, for citrus fruits have a long standing tradition in the region.

In the 17th century they were one of the main exports to important trading ports in England and The Netherlands, where Asturian oranges were very well regarded. According to the book “Asturias y el comercio con el norte de Europa (1650-1700)” written by Luis Cueto-Felgueroso, ships loaded with Asturian citrus fruits, -oranges and lemons mainly- set sail from the Asturian coast regularly at that time.

Spain is the main European producer of citrus fruits and it is among the top ten in the world. However, these days it is hard to find Asturian citrus fruits outside the region. 

Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias

When Liz Prueitt of San Francisco based Tartine Bakery posted on her social media her adaptation of the classic River Café polenta cake, she almost broke the Internet. The baking-world bit of the Internet I mean. Since I saw her recipe I have been daydreaming of making that cake with my uncle’s oranges and delicious Asturian requesón. Unfortunately, my uncle’s oranges didn’t make it safely to London, but the requesón did.


Blood oranges, requesón and polenta cake
Adapted from Liz Prueitt who adapted it from the River Cafe Cook Book

If you have a very sweet tooth, please choose the sweeter option in the sugar measurements. The resulting cake from adding less sugar has a very citrusy, not that sweet finish. This cake is gluten free.

Ingredients
 
Topping
25ml water
70gr sugar (if you want a really glossy-looking cake, add between 40 and 50gr more of sugar and 5ml more of water)
2 oranges (blood oranges make a more colourful cake)

Cake
120gr sugar (150gr if you go for the sweeter option)
120gr butter
3 eggs (separated)
170gr requesón (the original recipe calls for ricotta, similar, but not identical, but obviously you could use it if you don’t find requesón)
1 lemon and 2 oranges (zest and juice)
60gr cornflour
135gr ground almonds
A pinch of salt

Butter and flour a 9” or 10” (anything between 22 to 25cm) round cake tin and line it with parchment paper. If you want to be very cautious, flour the paper too. Mix the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and spread it on the bottom of the tin. Cut the two oranges in thin slices –the thinnest you can- and arrange them on top of the sugar/water mix trying to cover all the surface of the cake tin, ideally in a single layer. It is tricky because the orange slices are very fragile, but try your best. The thinner the slices, the better the cake will look.

Preheat your oven to 160C (325F). Cream together the sugar and butter until you get a pale, soft batter. Add the three yolks and then stir in vigorously the requesón. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and two oranges and a pinch of salt.

Mix the cornflour and ground almonds and fold in the batter. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and mix them in. The batter will be very thick and consistent. Pour it into the cake tin and spread it evenly over the sliced oranges –already on the bottom of the tin-.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. As always, time depends on the oven but around 40-50 minutes.

As much as you might want to see how it turns out, make sure you let it cool for at least 30 minutes before unmoulding it. Invert, unmould and transfer it to a platter or cake stand.
 

Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias
Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias
Blood orange, requeson and polenta cake | Monica R. Goya



 
 
Traditional Asturian frixuelos / Foods from Asturias 01

L'Antroxu and the Frixuelos

L'Antroxu is the Asturian carnival and frixuelos -together with pork meat- are the stars of the menu

Lee en castellano


During Antroxu (as carnival celebrations are referred to in Asturias) the staple dessert in every Asturian home is frixuelos. Although recipes vary by the area where they are made (some add milk, some don’t, some add anisette, broth...), frixuelos essentially consist of a very thin pancake (the thinner, the better), fried in just a dash of olive oil, golden in colour and tender. They are very similar to the French crêpes but smaller in diameter –some even say the Asturian are the precursors of the French ones-.

Although just a few years ago it felt as if the art of making frixuelos was about to disappear, only kept alive by home cooks, nowadays almost every chef in the Principality has rescued them from oblivion and it is easy to find them in most menus across the region.

Traditional Asturian frixuelos / Foods from Asturias 02

The origins of the Antroxu celebrations are far from clear. It has been traditionally believed that, just like carnivals, they can be traced back to the Greek and Roman festivities held to honour Pan and Dionysius, with some authors arguing that carnivals have their origins as far back as 5,000 years ago, around the time of Egyptians and Sumerians. Etymologically speaking, most agree that carnival is derived from the Latin “carnem levare”, which means something along the lines of “neglecting the flesh”. In Asturian language, l’Antroxu and its variations (antroido, antroiro, antroyu, antrueyu or entrogio) also have a Latin root, introitus, which means entry.

As well as carnival, Antroxu also refers to the parts of the pig which during carnival are given as presents to neighbours that have helped with the seasonal pig’s slaughter or to those who haven’t done it themselves. After all, Antroxu is all about eating well and in abundance in order to endure the forthcoming sacrifices of Lent, which starts the day after, on Ash Wednesday.

In Asturias, Antroxu’s classic menu would consist of pork in its many incarnations, such as Asturian stew (chorizo, bacon, black pudding et al) or a full pig’s head. For in Asturias, the nose-to-tail movement heralded by many like Fergus Henderson from London’s St. John, has been performed for centuries.

Traditional Asturian frixuelos / Foods from Asturias 03

In my granny’s village in Western Asturias, the menu was invariably pig’s head (presented on the table in all its glory) with sides consisting of baked potatoes (named cachelos, the same as in neighbouring Galicia) and cimos (parsnip’s sprouts) and for dessert, you guessed it, frixuelos.

It was a custom in some villages in Western Asturias to make a scarecrow named Don Carnal or Antroiro, dressed up in rags, his head a parsnip. As my dad remembers it, everyone regarded Don Carnal as a folk who ate a lot, kind and smiley. Traditionally, it was the guys in the village who would build Don Carnal and put it up next to some other neighbour’s door or house. It was them who decided what neighbour would be awarded Don Carnal based on who was the grumpiest, the one who couldn’t take a joke and would make a scene, therefore embarrassing himself in front of the rest and being laughed at for the next few days.

Nowadays every town and municipality holds its local parade and celebrations where carnival-goers dress up and sing and have fun, for that is what Antroxu is all about. The cities where Antroxu is said to be more popular these days are Gijón and Avilés.


Asturian Frixuelos, a step by step recipe

I still have a vivid memory of the first time I tried preparing frixuelos - it was a complete disaster. I was in London and Pancake Day celebrations were in full swing, which are on the same day as Antroxu Tuesday. This was the day that frixuelos would be had almost religiously back home, and I just decided to give it a go. The problem was that my little North London kitchen had too much nostalgia but not a decent frying pan. And that was the recipe to my sad disappointment, making me almost give up forever on the art of making frixuelos and leaving my work colleagues without the treat of trying the Asturian Pancakes I had been annoucing for so long.

To avoid all this, it is crucial that the dough is left to rest for at least one hour, as is having a decent non-stick frying pan. My mum -who stood by my side on the other end of our skype call listening to my whining- even went as far buying me a special dedicated frixuelo frying pan in an artisan's market in Vegadeo, Western Asturias, which I hold very dearly. It is basically a cast iron pan, very thin and flat and, I can't stress it enough, non-stick.

Traditional Asturian frixuelos / Foods from Asturias 04

Ingredients

Yield:  between 12 and 15 frixuelos / 6 people

4 medium organic eggs
500ml whole -ideally fresh- organic milk
200g flour
Zest of one lemon (optional)
1 tbsp anisette La Asturiana (optional)
2 tbsp sugar (optional)
A pinch of salt

Fillings (whipped cream, sugar, honey, chocolate spread, jams, confitures...)

In a big bowl, beat together the eggs and milk and add the sugar and salt until incorporated. Sieve the flour –to avoid lumps- and whisk it in and mix well until they are well incorporated. Then add anisette (you can buy La Asturiana's here) and lemon.

All the ingredients are well mixed when you get a soft, runny and lump-free mix. Cover and let it rest for at least one hour, ideally longer. (This will make dealing with frying the paste much easier).

To fry the frixuelos, heat a non-stick pan to medium heat and while you wait, whisk the batter slowly to make sure there are no lumps. Add a dash of olive oil and spread it across the pan with a brush or rolled kitchen roll (I use the latter). When warm enough, ladle the runny batter into the pan (3/4 tablespoons, the amount is pretty intuitive).

At this point being fast and a calm multi-tasker is key. Hold up the pan and swirl to make sure the runny batter covers the base of the pan and doesn’t get stuck in the centre. As soon as you see the rims turning golden, you can flip it to cook on the other side. I use a flat wooden spoon, some people use tongs or slotted spoons. It is very delicate and each person needs to find whatever works best. Tilting the pan usually works and prevents the paste from sticking. My grandma used to flip them over in the air, just by swinging the pan, but everyone knows that grandmothers are in a different league.

Each frixuelo takes under a minute to make on each side. Usually frixuelos are piled-up in a single plate where they keep warm. Continue with the rest of the batter, whisking it before ladling if needed. 

You can serve them warm or cold -they reheat very well- and they are super versatile. You can have them on its own or fill them with almost anything. From whipped cream, to sugar or honey, jams and confitures, lemon curd, chocolate spread… you name it. In Asturian kitchens the pile of frixuelos is presented on the table in one single plate and each person takes its own and fills it with whatever they like the most.

 
 
Foods from Asturias - Mónica R. Goya

Almond & hazelnut-chocolate linzer cookies

These rich cookies make a delicious edible gift and add happiness to the festive season

Lee en castellano


In most parts of the world the act of giving is a way to let others know that you care about them. However altruistic giving can be, the act itself has different levels of effort and surely edible presents are high in the rank of the most appreciated gifts.

Asturias is no different. It is very common to share foods among friends, especially fresh produce if you grow it (fruit & veg) and home treats made from it (quince jelly, jams, cider, cordials…).

As a child my Christmas cravings were never fulfilled until the parcel with dozens of delicious cookies baked by my dear auntie, who lived in the other corner of the country, arrived.

That day was one of the most special days of the festive season. My mum and I would head to the post office to collect the parcel with some goodies and most importantly, those cookies. They would feature different classic shapes, like hearts and stars. They would keep its delicate almond aroma even days after they had been baked. My dad, who is a sweet-dismisser, would be the person in charge of the cookies (aka making sure the cookies lasted until NYE). He loves those cookies.

Little did I know that I would get to understand every layer of meaning packed in that box full of cookies. When you live abroad one of the things that makes you feel at home is the smell and taste of family recipes. Likely because the smell, texture and flavour are the closest you can get to your roots, to feel at home away from home.

This year I recreated a similar Christmasy almond treat to the one my auntie used to send us, but in the form of linzer cookies, adding richness to it via a chocolate and hazelnuts' homemade spread. Linzer cookies make an ideal edible gift for the festive season upon us.


Almond & hazelnut-chocolate linzer cookies
(Inspired by my auntie Sioni's recipe and Smitten Kitchen's)

Yield: around 25 sandwich cookies (50 individual cookies)

150gr ground almonds

250gr all-purpose flour

¾ tsp baking powder

240gr unsalted butter, soft

115gr soft brown sugar or coconut sugar

70gr granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

200gr hazelnut chocolate spread

Powdered sugar for dusting

 

In a medium bowl, mix the ground almonds, flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat together both sugars and the butter until it becomes soft and creamy and the sugar has dissolved. Then stir in the egg yolks and vanilla and beat together until incorporated. Whisk in the dry ingredients and mix well until both mixtures are well incorporated.

Divide the dough in two more or less equal portions and wrap each in cling film, trying to make a flat shape, more like a frisbee than a ball. This is so that it is easier to roll out later. Let them chill in the fridge for at least one hour, ideally two.

Before you start, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Take just one of the two portions of dough out of the fridge and roll it out until 1/4inch (0.6cm) thick approximately. Cutting out the cookies can become a real challenge if the dough becomes too soft. If this happens refrigerate/freeze the dough until it becomes firm enough again.

Using a medium size cookie cutter of your choice cut out the cookies and transfer them to the baking sheet, then the fridge. Once you have cut out all the cookies, take half of them and using a smaller matching-shape cookie cutter; cut openings (around 1 inch/2cm) in the center. These will later become the lids.   

Heat oven to 180C and when ready, bake the first batch. Since everyone has his own pace in the kitchen it is better to avoid wasting energy heating the oven too early. Also, chilling the cookies in the fridge while waiting for the oven helps the dough holding its shape better, getting clean, sharp edges. 

Bake until cookies are golden brown, about  7-10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. 

To powder the lids, put together the cookies you previously removed the centres of, the ones with a ring shape. If you want to avoid a sugar mess, just place them on a cooling rack with a tray or parchment paper underneath and then sprinkle the powdered sugar using a sieve.  

Take a spread of your choice (jams, chocolate-nut spreads…), -in this case I have used homemade hazelnut chocolate spread- and add a teaspoon to the centre of each cookie base, then spread it until the entire surface is covered. Set rings over the spread to form the sandwiches. 

Cookies keep well in an airtight container for several days.

 

 

 
 

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

Berries are plentiful in Asturias and it is relatively easy to find them in the wild; on the other hand, who can resist homemade ice-cream? 

Lee en castellano


The first time I dared to make ice-cream was a couple of Christmas ago, when we had to spend the holidays away from home because of work. Our family, unwilling to let us spend Christmas without turrón (Spanish nougat), shipped over one too many bars (Italian mums take the credit, but Spanish ones are as feeders) and by the 8th January, the actual date when Christmas is over in Spain, we still had plenty. Unable to find any places to have turrón ice-cream, I decided to give it a try. The result, without an ice-cream maker, was excellent. Soft still consistent and full of flavour, I couldn't help but wonder if the berries ice-cream would turn out as good. It did. And here you are the recipe.


Homemade raspberry ice-cream

(adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food)

 

3 egg yolks (optional)

120ml single cream

150gr sugar (divided)

225ml double cream

600gr fresh raspberries

A couple of drops of vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

 

If you decide to do the variation with the eggs (if you don't have an ice-cream machine the eggs will help), whisk them shortly. Add the single cream and 100 grams sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. It is very important that the mix doesn't boil, so medium heat is best. Stir the mixture to a light cream and when hot add the egg yolks. Keep on stirring until the sugar, eggs and cream mixture thickens and make sure it doesn't boil. When the cream is thick remove from the hob and strain it quickly. Immediately after straining add the double cream, cover the mixture and chill.

While the mixture chills, wash, dry (the drying part is important as raspberries tend to retain loads of water) and hull the raspberries. If you are privileged enough to pick up the raspberries on the day that you are planning to make the ice-cream the flavour will be more intense. As with almost anything, the fresher the fruit is, the better. Purée the raspberries and if you don't want the seeds, strain the purée before adding the 50 grams of sugar. Let it macerate in their own juices. Stir occasionally until the sugar has melted completely. 

Once the cream mixture is cold add the raspberries. You can enhance the flavour adding the vanilla and salt. 

If you have an ice-cream machine, from this point you can follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't, like it's my case, you will spend the next four hours checking your ice-cream to make sure you prevent the hard ice crystals from ruin it. First put your mixture in a durable moderately deep container -stainless steel for example- and after 30 minutes, open the door and check it. You need to stir vigorously the mixture with a spatula or whisker, breaking up any frozen bits and taking special care around the edges which is where the hard ice crystals will be forming first. Return to the freezer and repeat this process 7 or 8 times, stirring while the ice-cream freezes. 

The ice-cream will last up to a week in the freezer, but the first 3 days will be the best. If this sounds too much of a hassle, you can always go to El Malaín and have theirs.